Reading “Longing to Tell” by Tricia Rose was difficult because it was a book filled with so much abuse that real life Black women experienced. It is a very power and wonderful book to read but it left me reflecting on how strong I am in the experiences and challenges that I have encountered and endured. All of the women were brave to share their stories and Shanice’s story really resonated with me. Shanice is a single 22 year old Black one without a child that is in a predominantly white college class. She was raised catholic, learned information about sex from her older half-sister, and was abused by the only two men that she has ever loved in her life.
A prominent theme that most, if not all of the women in the book experienced, were there parents’ disconnect with them as they grew into their womanhood and started discovering their own sexuality. My own experience on the day I falsely thought I had gotten my period (I had learned all about it from my older sisters and panicked when I felt cramp like symptoms) connected with this particular theme. It was on a Sunday morning before we left for the Catholic mass, I told my mom and she pulled me aside, gave me a pad and sternly told me that I would get pregnant and have a baby if I was to have sex. I cried the whole drive to church wearing the itchy dry stupid pad and have ever since hated my period. I had to awkwardly talk to my sex ed teacher (who mostly taught about STD/I) in high school about sexuality in order to learn more about sex. I wonder if Black parents get the same parenting handbook? I was lucky enough that when I decided to have sex that I didn’t mess anything up physically.
The women also touched upon their different definition of intimacy and for me intimacy is all about the emotional connection, something completely separated from sex. Intimacy is being able to lie there with someone and bare yourself raw emotionally by sharing the emotional things that make you vulnerable, that make you weak because you are completely trusting that other person with the materials that make up your soul. The last guy that I was intimate with left, just stopped replying to my texts and phone calls – at first I thought that he had been dreadfully hurt but it turns out that he didn’t want any part of the mess that was my life. Growing up I was taught to bottle it all in. Take the hitting and don’t cry because then they’ll show you something to really cry about. Don’t share anything emotional with the siblings because they will always use it as a bargaining chip against you. Growing up all types of emotionally messed up, add the physical stuff, and then the past sexual stuff from the family friend that had kept trying to escape its mental prison, it just got too much to bare. I considered running away multiple times, more times than I can count. When the class listened to “Runaway Love” by Ludacris and Mary J. Blige it really brought back all the pain, memories, and plans of trying to escape it all. This week was a very emotionally challenging week which I appreciated because it made me realize how stronger I have become by getting through all of those past challenges.