Sometimes we are Ralph Angel
I was watching my weekly obsession Queen Sugar. And the past two weeks, the episodes have spoken to me on such a spiritual level that I truly thought I was in church. So, there may be some spoilers in here if you have not watched this season but I do not care.
As the background music began to play in one of the scenes in episode 7 of season two, I immediately started crying.
The past two episodes have been about the siblings addressing the past hurts between each other, and as the episode continues we find out that even Aunt Violet and Ernest had some sibling issues. These scenarios brought up feelings that I guess I have not been wanting to address.
I am the youngest of three children. I have two older sisters who are pretty amazing. One has her PhD. and the other is an M.D. I am extremely proud of them for their accomplishments. I mean its hard out here for black people and especially black women. I love watching them spread black girl magic at every turn in their careers. And together, we are a force and people should be shook with every step we take; however, just like the Bordelon siblings we all have issues between that is is not allowing us to always be in sync.
As much as I wish I could say I was a Nova or a Charlie, I am Ralph Angel. I am the one who has made the mistakes. I am the one who at some point has put our family dynamic on edge and pushed it out of sync. But also like Ralph, I have made significant changes for the better and my siblings are forcing me into the same box.
Granted, Ralph does not want to listen and sometimes I am the same way. However, the thing that Ralph has done is addressed his faults and even taken the blame for what he has done while his sisters have yet to do that. He even finds himself telling his sister that "you cannot tell me how to feel." This is a phrase that I have found myself saying to one if not both of my sisters numerous times.
In these scenes, I saw myself and I saw my hurt in every last one of their faces. The siblings, just like me and mine, are dealing with the unaddressed grief of losing a parent. Somewhere in the conversation, the finger pointing comes out. Blaming each other for this or that. Tit for Tat as my sister would say.
I would like to address how that feels. When you are willing to take ownership for your faults and actions and trying to move forward but everyone around you is not and still blames you for everything.
It hurts. I spend quite a bit of time crying in my bed after I get off of phone calls with my family after I have tried to explain my feelings, but they are made to be invalid feelings.
I spend quite a lot of time falling into silence randomly throughout the day. Staring off into the distance. Lost in my thoughts. I feel quite a number of my therapy sessions are about my family issues. And depending on the topic of the phone conversation, almost every time I have to take my anxiety medication that will help me fall asleep because I am thrown into an anxiety attack which is usually associated with uncontrollable tears.
The background music I was referring to earlier that moved me to had lyrics that went like this: "They say time heals all wounds...I don't agree...Everyone needs a scar...They're all over me...They remind us where we've been...And they teach us where to go If you haven't forgiven...It's time to let them know"
And, I guess for me I think time heals all wounds; however, some wounds cannot heal with time only. I mean we put bandaids on physical cuts and neosporin and you clean them. Basically I am saying: why do we not tend to our emotional wounds as we tend to our physical wounds? Scars teach you things and remind you of where you have been. And that can be good or bad.
Emotionally, scars are usually bad--especially when dealing with family. The line in the song about teaching us where to go if you have not forgiven is really crucial.
Apart of emotional healing, especially in family, is going back to the person who caused it and forgive them. That wound will stay gaping open with every encounter unless you address it. You will enter in every conversation or encounter with that person with that pain on your mind.
I think in families, we think there is this mixed up definition of what boundaries are as well as expectations. And as I have gotten older, I have ran into instances where hurt comes from differing of familial expectations and lack of understanding someone's boundaries. Lack of acknowledging of boundaries creates issues like we see in this week's episode of Queen Sugar.
I know that when there is no discussion of boundaries either everyone thinks your business is their business and if you do not tell them something, you are being sneaky. Or, you put an entire wall up to avoid being hurt again. Or your put a wall up because you are trying to be a better person and not be forced back into the box that they want to keep you in.
Family hurt is not talked about a lot in the black community and its connection to depression and anxiety. Yes, people make jokes about women with "daddy issues," but they are real. There are daddy issues, sister issues, brother issues, and mother issues. Family has the power to invalidate every feeling that you have because they do not try to understand where you are coming from.
As Ralph Angel sits there at the table confused to why they do not understand why their father left him the land and they think he is being vindictive by letting them know. He sits at the table and realizes that he has fucked up but they will not let him make a new name for himself, instead they are going to hold him to his past while they get to leave theirs. They place all the blame on him and try to escape clean as a whistle. Now i do think Ralph could have done a better job at articulating everything, but he surely tried to pick up that mirror and force them to look at themselves--and of course they did not like what they saw, but who does.
I am taking responsibility for my actions. I am Ralph Angel (to an extent). I am acknowledging that I placed myself in quite a number of situations, but I have changed and I am creating dialogue. Begging to be seen in a new light, but the family does not want to change the light bulb in the lamp.
I hope one day to get to a point where a phone call with my family does not leave me in shambles, but I feel that I will probably reach a point of not communicating for a while before that happens. I am slowly changing my expectations of what can and cannot be given to me by them. I am setting up boundaries in my life that will help me get to where I need to be. But some days I will cry and sink into myself and that is okay, because I am learning to let me be okay without everything around me not being okay. I am Ralph Angel, I now have 600 acres of fresh land with me that I can use to build a new life for myself and create my new normal. I hope to bring my family with me so we can all enjoy it.