Micro-Aggression and the Giving Away of Trust

 

“Traumatic events are extraordinary, not because they occur rarely, but rather because they overwhelm the ordinary human adaption to life.”

-Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery

My Dear Readers:

What is betrayal?  When is a betrayal not a betrayal?  And why do betrayals result in traumatic impacts in our lives?

Betrayal is the result of disloyalty.  To be betrayed is to be attacked by someone with whom you have shared your vulnerability and to whom you have exposed the psychological self.  Betrayal can be intentional (treacherous) or unintentional (unconsciously or due to ignorance).  For a betrayal to occur, however,  there must be a relationship. If no relationship of any kind exists, there cannot be a betrayal.  As a result, in some cases, what feels like betrayal is not actually what it is.

Regardless of what the act is called, the end result is that someone feels betrayed.  In my piece Ten Flashes of Light in the Journey of Life, one “flash” speaks to understanding betrayal by others or in some situations, the betrayal of the self by the self.

“Respect all, love all, yet remember that trust, is earned, not given away to the undeserving.”

Below is such a story………

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Dear Dr. Kane:

I am a physician, and over the years, I have learned not to take insults personally, but I was surprised at the level of anger I experienced regarding a recent incident.

I was having trouble with an old injury I sustained in college, so I sought medical treatment in the hospital I work for.  While responding to questions about my history, the attending physician asked me if I used drugs.  Thinking he was being a wise ass with the question, I said yes, once in a while I take an aspirin.   He replied, “No, I meant street drugs.” I reminded him that I was a physician, just like he was, before I told him no.

As I left his office, I wasn’t just angry, I was furious.   How dare he ask me, a fellow physician, whether I was using street drugs!  I was especially angry at the fact that he actually waited for the answer, and then, had the audacity to be surprised by my reaction!

I feel so betrayed. He is a fellow colleague, a member of the same medical fraternity I’ve sworn myself to.  When I attended medical school, I thought I would be accepted by my peers for my intellect, but I still have to deal with racism, which still lurks below the surface.  In an indirect way, they made it clear that they did not accept me.

I am currently in my residency. I have paid my dues in this profession, yet I am being treated as if I was a street thug.  Had I been white, I’m sure that he would have delivered a higher quality of care.  I feel betrayed, angry, stressed and on edge, waiting to be racially insulted again by another colleague.

This incident occurred several weeks ago, and I still can’t seem to get past it. I have had to deal with racism all of my life, but I thought that once I made it through school, life would be different.  Do you have any suggestions on how to forget this even happened so I can move with my life?

Sizzling in Spokane, WA

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Dear Sizzling,

This story is an example of the micro-aggressions that African-Americans and other ethnic minority individuals may face on a daily basis.  Such actions, which constitute group rejection of the individual’s identity, can have long-term impact on the individual’s emotional state, such as trauma and severe psychological wounds.

That being said, we as individuals can benefit from these events by understanding the true nature of what has occurred and what possible role we may have in reinforcing this traumatization.

What we want to do here is to understand the perception of the attending physician, and the basis of that perception, which may be that he is viewing you, a black male, not as an individual and member of the medical profession but rather, through the lens of his own membership of a privileged group, being white and male.

I want to honor your feelings here. You obviously feel disrespected by your white colleague. Such feelings may warrant an emotional response such as anger, the action of betrayal as I have defined it previously is not indicated within this incident.

In order for you to have been betrayed, there must first be a relationship between the two of you. Other than sharing the same gender (male) and profession (medicine), there is no relationship here.  Since there is no relationship, there can be no betrayal.

However, an emotional response due to lack of respect is warranted.  The offending behavior of the white colleague can be attributed to privilege, which can be defined as a specific right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to individuals as a class due to their institutional power.

Privilege in the dominant culture is extended into two areas: male privilege and white privilege.  In male privilege, the institutional power is in relation to gender, i.e. male vs. female.  In white privilege, the institutional power is in belonging to the white racial group, and that power is used in relation to other racial groups.

Every male, regardless of race or ethnic origin, experiences privilege.  Such privilege may be different due to one’s own individual position in the social hierarchy, but every male, simply by being born male in this society, benefits from privilege.  In contrast, being members of the same profession does not automatically confer membership in the group.

In this situation, your error is the assumption that being a member of the same profession means that your colleague will perceive you as being in the same group (and having the same privilege) as he does.  However, his reaction to you shows that this particular privilege cannot be assumed; it must be authorized and validated by members of the group holding the privilege.

The variable that sets the two of you apart, of course, is race.   Your privilege as a black male is limited to the boundaries of the black community;    for your white male colleague, being a member of the dominant societal group, his privilege is limitless and therefore has no boundaries.

One may argue that such questions about illegal drug use are standard during a medical examination.  If this is true, then:

  • Why are you upset at being asked such standardized questions?
  • What courtesies and assumptions do you perceive are granted to your white colleagues that you, as a black male, do not receive?

This may be where you went wrong.  Take some time to accept responsibility for allowing yourself to be emotionally and psychological vulnerable to someone who may not have deserved such openness.

  • You assumed that your colleague does not possess stereotypical assumptions, thoughts or images of black males.
  • You didn’t realize that as a member of a privileged group, the white colleague might have viewed you as a member of a group (black males) stereotypically known for involvement in the usage of street drugs.
  • You assumed that since the two of you share the same profession, that your colleague would be able to view you as an individual, and not subject you to the stereotypes he may harbor of black males as a group.

Feelings of anger, stress and hypervigilance are natural in such situations, but over time, can be emotionally destabilizing.  However, due to a misconception of your relationship with your colleague, this feels like a betrayal to you, even though it doesn’t meet the criteria for betrayal.  So, what is it?

There are two phenomena which appear to be occurring simultaneously.  These are identified as micro-aggression and insidious trauma.

Micro-aggression is a form of insidious trauma.  Micro-aggressive assaults are often described as brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative racial slights and insults towards ethnic minority people.

Insidious trauma arises when there is a culmination of negative experiences affecting members of stigmatized group of actions that are directly traumatic.  Racism operates as a form of insidious trauma by constantly denigrating the value of the lives and intelligence/skills capacities of people of African-American descent and other ethnic and racial backgrounds.

From all appearances, you believe that the actions of your colleague were intentional.  However, even if it was unintentional, does this mitigate or lessen the impact of insidious trauma?

The response is no.  A micro-aggressive assault, regardless of its intent, remains assaultive and the wound it creates is imprinted permanently upon the psyche of the individual who suffered the assault.   It remains the responsibility of the aggressor to step outside of his group privilege to educate himself, especially as he continues to encounter black males.

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Concluding Words

This incident occurred several weeks ago and I can’t seem to get past it. 

When we are impacted by psychological attacks, we seek to move past the experience as quickly as possible.  Although this may be a normal human reaction, the actual psychological response will be to store the incident in our memories, and draw on that pain and suffering from time to time.

I have had to deal with racism all of my life. 

In your letter, you shared how you learned not to take insults personally in the healthcare profession and was surprised at how angry you were about this incident.  In this situation, however, you are not the healthcare provider, so the anger that surprises you is actually about your vulnerability as a patient, not in your capacity as a healthcare professional.

I had thought that once I made it through school, life would be different. 

By now, you already realize the error you made—believing that your status as a physician would be your protection and thus, elevate you from the racism you have endured all of your life.  The intense anger you feel about the experience may just as much be an acknowledgement of your own error as it is about what you can expect in the future.

Do you have any suggestions on how to forget this even happened so I can move with my life?

Despite your accomplishments and status as a physician, you cannot control or alter the ways in which others view you.   Although you have the ability to hide behind your career, you are still in severe psychological and emotional pain and now you want to “forget” and go on as if nothing happened.

I believe that specific events happen to us in order to wake us up to reality. In seeking to forget, you are seeking to run away from the traumatic experience, but it will be there forever as a permanent imprint within the psychological self. At this point, what you want to do is to find balance—to know that the trauma is potentially out there, but to live your life with that knowledge and prepare for it, instead of ignoring it and hoping that it will go away.

The body holds onto and remembers what the mind struggles to forget.

Until the next crossroad…the journey continues.

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No Room For Error: The Pains Of Young Adulthood

 

“This is pure and simple racism. Things have not changed much in the South.  It is still white versus black. “ — Anonymous

My Dear Readers,

Last week, I came across the viral video of a confrontation between a young Caucasian female, and a young black male. The two were engaged in a verbal dispute, which escalated into a physical confrontation, and ended when the young man punched the woman in the face and quickly exited the bar.  I found this story to be interesting from a psychological point of view, so this week, I will explore the concepts of historical trauma, institutional racism and modern racism as these relate to this incident.

The young man was later identified as De’Andre Johnson, a black male freshman football player at Florida State University (FSU).   He was initially suspended from the football team when the encounter came to light, but was subsequently dismissed from the team after the media released the video showing him punching the young woman in the face.

The general consensus within the African-American community is that Johnson, in being dismissed from both the team, expelled from the university and charged in criminal court with battery, is being treated unfairly and targeted because he is an African-American male athlete.  Regarding the incident, questions such as the following are being raised:

  • Was race a factor in the young man dismissal?
  • Were the penalties excessive?
  • Has the life and career of De’Andre Johnson ruined?

In my work as a clinical traumatologist, I have been able to show a direct relationship between the four hundred years of racism, oppression and discriminatory treatment of blacks in the form of slavery and segregation and its intergenerational transmission and the institutional and modern forms of racism that continue to impact and traumatize African-American citizens today.  In the case of Johnson’s dismissal, the face of racism has changed from being overt, (open) to covert (subtle).

If racism was a factor, (and I contend that it is,) it is essential to clarify the specific form of racism that would have been utilized in the dismissal of De’Andre Johnson.  Because these actions are being taken within an academic system, the specific form of racism found here is named institutional racismInstitutional racism restricts people of color from having choices, rights and mobility.  It is the utilization and manipulation of legitimate institutions with the intent of maintaining an advantage over others.

Was race a factor in the young man’s dismissal?

From “Good Morning America”:

“Surveillance cameras inside the bar appear to show Johnson punch a woman in the face while they argued. Jose Baez, Johnson’s lawyer, said Johnson tried to ‘de-escalate the situation,’ but the woman ‘kneed him in the groin area’ and ‘took another swing before he retaliated.’ Baez said that his client punched the woman after she called him racial epithets and provoked him.  Baez said Johnson was not the initial aggressor but is ‘owning this’ and trying to learn from the experience.”

The president of FSU, in his statement on the incident, stated that playing football for FSU is a “privilege, not a right.” It is a clear message to all players, black and white, that FSU, not the coaches, players, alumni or fans, owns the “privilege“of athletes playing football for FSU.

Did FSU restrict De’Andre Johnson from having choices, rights and mobility?  Considering the definition of institutional racism, was FSU utilizing manipulation with the intent of maintaining an advantage over others?  The answer is yes.

The specific type of privilege that characterizes the FSU president’s comments is male privilege. Male privilege is defined as a special right, advantage or immunity granted or available only to individual as a class due to their institutional power in relation to women as a class. 

All males, regardless of their race, benefit from male privilege.  The difference lies in the fact that male privilege of the white majority dominates every aspect of American society, while male privilege of people of color, particularly the black minority, is limited to the boundaries within their respective communities.  In essence, this reinforces historical trauma and intergenerational transmission as this privilege reflects the similar privilege enjoyed by the dominant society during the era of 400 years of slavery and segregation.

In this situation, male privilege as an expression of institutional racism and societal demand asserts itself in the attempt to control the behavior of black male members of the FSU football team. In essence, the idea that playing football for FSU is a “privilege, not a right” reflects the president’s assertion that black football players are not only being afforded the privilege of limited acceptance and entrance into the dominant society, but such privileges can be removed at any time.

In this situation, De’Andre Johnson violated the boundaries of the privilege that he was granted, and without any kind of hearing, had that privilege removed, and was subsequently returned to the lower echelons of the limited privileges which exist within the African-American community. The dismissal serves as a message of warning to the remaining black members of the team that they too will be subject to such harsh actions should their actions and behaviors be deemed to warrant such a response.

Racism has most definitely changed over the years.  Gone are the days when racism was overt, and racist actions and behaviors were done openly. Today, racism is more subtle and covert, imposed without open acknowledgement.  I call the forms of racism we are most likely to see today modern racismModern racism is a form of unconscious racism that reflects anti-Black feelings among the affluent middle class.  This kind of racism sets expectations for the following:

  • How African-Americans should act,
  • What African-Americans deserve, and
  • Whether they should be treated equitably.

Those endorsing the ideology of modern racism do not define their own beliefs and attitudes as racist.  Modern racism is insidious because those who engage in such behaviors deny racist attitudes in a defensive manner, yet continue to engage in generalizations and suppositions about people of a specific group based on “evidence,” usually taking the form of anecdotes or personal encounters.

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Concluding Words

The actions I have discussed here are not examples of “pure and simple racism.”  Race relations have improved between blacks and whites throughout the country.  However, racism is still a factor in all segments of the United States. It is only the type of racism (now modern) and its implementation (now covert) that has changed.

De’Andre Johnson and his mother spent most of the week making the rounds on talk shows like Good Morning America & The Today Show expressing remorse, accepting responsibility for his actions and seeking a second chance to redeem himself.  It was a testament to the power of modern racism and the impact of privilege. Historical trauma comes into focus as the black male capitulates to the power of the dominant majority. Once again, the historical trauma is silenced, and African-Americans are left fearful of the next dismissal and waiting for the wrath of the dominant majority to lessen so that life can return to normal.

As for De’Andre Johnson, his life and football career has not been destroyed, just interrupted.  By laying low, staying out of trouble and showing acceptable behavior, in time he can redeem himself and be welcomed back to college and professional football as long as he (and other black athletes) remember the lesson that “playing football is a privilege, not a right.

“To err is human” is a common expression, but we should not believe there is always room for error.  In some cases there is no room for error. None.

-Ten Flashes of Light for the Journey of Life

Until the next crossroads…the journey continues.

 

 

 

 

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The Reflection of Complexion: Colorism In The Black Community

 

My Dear Readers,

Last week, the state legislature of South Carolina voted to remove the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds.  Celebration and relief pulsed throughout the United States, since in the days previous, the focus of the media and of general sentiment was on the racism and oppression it represents against African-American people, and more vividly, the use of the flag by Dylann Roof in the days before he shot 9 people to death at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Historical trauma is best described as the intergenerational transmission of responses to cumulative massive trauma associated with historical events. All African-Americans are descendants of people who were traumatized by slavery, so it is safe to say that all African-Americans have unresolved issues of historical trauma due to being descendants of slaves and the consequences of segregation.  Both of these systems were reinforced with violence (lynching, beatings) or threats of violence (burning of crosses, homes/business, churches).

Racism can be divided into two broad categories: attitudinal and behavioral.   In attitudinal racism, individuals are defamed because of shared characteristics.  In behavioral racism, this can be any act by an individual that denies fair and equal treatment to a person because of shared characteristics or ethnic group membership.  Another type of racism, individual racism, is enacted in the belief that one’s own race is superior.  It requires that the individual actually exhibit behaviors that demonstrate the superiority of his/her race and the inferiority of others.

As a people who have been traumatized by 400 years of oppression by the white majority, it is easier for African-Americans to point the finger at the external oppressor instead of looking at ourselves and examining the psychological harm and wounding that we do within our own racial group.  Because we have been subject to attitudinal, behavioral and individual racism in our oppression by the dominant majority, we have accepted their impression as our reality, and we now reinforce it in our own inter-generational transmission of trauma.

In this week’s blog, I want to explore one of the ways in which historical trauma in African-Americans presents itself: intra-racism, which can be described as racism and oppression which is forced upon the group by other members of the same group.  The specific form we will discuss is called colorism.

Color and skin shade have been points of contention throughout the generations.  It is an issue in which we feel the pain of rejection and the burn of isolation, and then, inflict it upon others in our same racial group.  This pain continues to simmer as those in our community refuse to talk about its psychological and emotional effects.

Colorism takes on different forms in in its description; the term “redbone” is a term historically used in much of the southern United States, particularly in Louisiana, referring to people of African and Caucasian mixed racial heritage. It was a pejorative nickname that the dominant majority used to isolate them; an expression of contempt or disapproval for those who were the result of sexual liaisons between the two races. Such relationships were viewed by whites as an open statement of not only unfaithfulness to one’s spouse, but a statement of moral weakness– “lustfulness of the darkies” was ultimately considered to be treasonous to the white race.  Still, over time, members of the mixed race community were seen as a means of understanding the “strange ways of the African.”

The term redbone gave rise to another term of colorism, high yellow, which was more frequently used in African-American communities, and often carried a class distinction as well.  It is noted in some cities that:

“Social life was dominated by light skinned high yellow families, some pale enough to pass for white, who shunned and despised darker African-Americans.  The behavior of high yellow society was a replica of high white, except that where the white woman invested in tightly curled permanents and, at least if young, cultivated a deep sun tan, the colored woman used bleach lotions and Mrs. Walker’s Anti-kink or the equivalent to straighten hair.”

Colorism in its use of social class distinction was not limited to the southern region of the United States.  It was prevalent during the Harlem Renaissance as well:

“These social distinctions made the cosmopolitan Harlem more appealing.  Nevertheless, the Cotton Club of the Prohibition era had a segregated, white-only audience policy and a color conscious “high yellow” hiring policy for chorus girls.  It was common for lighter-skinned African-Americans to hold “paper bag parties” which admitted only those whose complexion was lighter than that of a brown paper bag.”

Another example in which colorism was the acceptable practice of the day is in the 1942 Glossary, the famed African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston created a “color scale” which ran in the following order:

  • High yellow
  • Yellow
  • High brown
  • Vaseline brown
  • Seal brown
  • Low brown
  • Dark brown

So, what does past societal or community beliefs (e.g., light skin is favorable over dark skin); behaviors (e.g., creation of a color scale) and actions (e.g., discrimination and contempt for darker skinned African-Americans) have to do with today?

Specifically, the broad categories of racism (attitudinal and behavioral) and the specific type (individual) have been generally been used to explore the racism that has been externalized from one group (whites) upon another group (blacks), but this has been ignored when it comes to intra-racism.  We must want to understand that although these societal institutions which created such beliefs, behaviors and actions may no longer exist, the usage of such distinctions created historical trauma and their effects have continued through inter-generational transmission.  In this continuance, that inflicted pain continues to be felt today.

Colorism and its attributes served to increase the impact of identity and self-esteem related psychological issues among people of darker complexion.  However, colorism has also traumatized and impacted lighter skinned African-Americans as well.  This is evidenced by the Black Pride (“Say it loud, I’m Black & I’m proud”) movement of the late 1960’s and 70’s period, which generally excluded those who were “lighter than a brown paper bag.”

It is during this period in which African-Americans rejected being identified as “Colored” altogether and began replacing the term Negro with the term Black.  This was also the beginning of the era of “payback,” in which darker skinned African-Americans began to question the “blackness” of light skinned African-Americans.  This resulted in pain, anguish and suffering when they, being of lighter complexion find themselves being rejected by darker African-Americans because of “not being black or having black enough features,” but were still considered too black by white society to be accepted there as well.  In essence, it is the same intra-racism, just that the perpetrator and the victims have traded places.

I was recently facilitating a series of group therapy sessions in which the patients were exposed to complex trauma in the form of historical trauma. These five individuals are in various phases of processing and releasing their internalized torment.  They are men and women of varying degree of skin tone and complexion.  Below are some samplings of their experiences: (Note: the names and professions have been changed to protect confidentiality)

  • Traci (transit planner) was with a group of friends admiring the newborn baby of one of the members of the group, and taking turns holding the baby. As Traci was reaching out for her turn to cradle the child, the child’s mother snatched the child away stating, “You’re too dark to hold my baby.”
  • Joseph (nurse) shared his story of being the butt of jokes at school because he was of light complexion. Joseph adds although he could have passed for white, like his mother urged him to do, he wanted to be accepted by other blacks as African-American.  He remembers being devastated to the point of considering suicide as the answer to relieve his suffering.
  • Peter, also an African-American (lawyer) remembers not being allowed to enter parties because of his inability to get pass the brown bag taped to the front door. He added that if one’s skin (hand being placed next to bag) was darker than the bag, the “darkie” was not allowed to join the party.  He told us of his feelings of standing outside the window looking in, wanting to be in the group.
  • Tess (middle school teacher) acknowledges becoming deeply depressed when she was rejected from the cheerleading squad at her high school even though she was clearly one of the best candidates. She was told that the other girls had informed the cheer coach of feeling uncomfortable because of her light skin and “white features.”
  • Dana (police officer) recalled an incident in which she was refused service by a waitperson who told her “I am not going to serve anyone who is darker than me.”

All of these incidents of rejection were based on race.  All of these individuals are responding to experiences of racial oppression that occurred within the African- American community.   Besides being experienced by African-Americans, these stories have three common variables:

  • Skin tone
  • Class status/occupation (middle class/professional) and
  • Trauma impact due to racism.

In addition to responding to a complex combination of historical trauma and intergenerational transmission, all five individuals are also responding to betrayal trauma.  Betrayal trauma is a violation of implicit and explicit trust.  The more “extensive” the betrayal is, the  more traumatic it is, and the closer the relationship, the greater the degree of the betrayal.  In this case, all of the individuals were responding to the betrayal of their trust in members of their own racial group.  These traumas have impacted the group members in different ways:

  • Peter has deep distrust of light skinned African-Americans;
  • Traci viewed her dark skin as unattractive, thus developing intense feelings of resentment towards her psychological self.
  • Dana, who has children from a biracial marriage, (African-American/Caucasian) is deeply troubled when it comes to discussions on race and how her children view themselves and are viewed by others.
  • Joseph says that he continues to remain fearful of rejection when interacting with dark skinned blacks. He admits that he allows himself to be manipulated by other African-Americans just so that they will accept him.
  • Tess states she is only attracted to dark skinned males, but she acknowledges her inability to maintain a successful intimate relationship. She admits not wanting to be vulnerable and exposed due to fear of rejection.  She admits to running away from relationships when they reach a state of becoming “serious.”

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Concluding Words

The removal and subsequent retirement of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse will only bring temporary relief to the groups who sought its removal.  Complex trauma, including historical trauma and betrayal trauma, are permanent imprints on the psychological selves of so many in that state, and across the country.

This trauma will never go away.  My southern grandmother used to say: “Muddy waters rise to the top, ” and just like that muddy water, traumatic memories will continue to escape and travel upward and out from the psychological self.  The real question remains, will we live in fear of the traumatic memory, or will we learn to balance the traumatic memory within our lives?

It is time that the African-American community begin to hold community meetings, facilitated by mental health clinicians and begin to process the deep psychological wounding caused by the slavery, the resulting Jim Crow Laws and its aftermath, racial segregation. Furthermore, we as a community must want to examine the role that intra-racism plays in the continuance of oppression with in the black community by members of the same community.

“A wise person learns from his/her mistakes, makes corrections and finds the right path; the foolish one will continue without direction, never finding the road even when it is in front of his/her face.”

-Ten Flashes of Light for the Journey of Life

 

Until the next crossroads….the journey continues.

 

 

 

 

Bobbi’s Saga: Role Models

 

Larger societal groups such as family, community, and society have historically played a large part in reinforcing the concept of “role modeling” within individual people.  In reviewing numerous definitions of the term, I came upon several that suit this month’s installment of Bobbi’s Saga:

  • A person regarded by others, especially younger people, as a good example to follow.
  • A person who serves as a model in a specific behavioral or social role for another person to emulate.
  • Someone who another person admires and tries to imitate.

The first definition seems somewhat “canned,” and lends itself to excessive vanity. The second one would probably assist in earning the grade of “A” on an academic assignment.  The third sounds more “real” and thus will be the one we use this week.

Many people go through life consciously attaching to models stating, “I want to be just like him (her).”  However, role modeling can be, and usually is, an unconscious action derived from observing and following the behavior and actions of another.

Just as a role model can be defined as a person that others seek to emulate, a role model can also be someone who demonstrates behavior that others reject and avoid.

This month, Bobbi’s Journey of Self -Discovery continues as she takes conscious action to not be like her mother and as a result, her mother becomes her role model as to how not to treat or interact with her children.

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Role Models: My Mother, The Woman I Wanted Not To Be: Journal Entry 1/20/14

Sometimes, when I feel I need to be held and kissed, I wonder if it is because I wanted so much more affection as a child.  I don’t remember my mother telling me she loved me.

She could have told me I love you often.  I just don’t remember being nurtured and feeling like I was important or special.  Like no matter what I did in life, I was loved.  I wanted to have unconditional love.

I remember things Mother said like:

“I brought you into this world, I’ll take you out.”

“If you ever go to jail, don’t spend your dime calling me.”

“You are going to be a prostitute.”

She called me a whore.  It would be nice to have memories like being told you are special, important, smart, beautiful and wanted.  But that was not my life.

I used to tell my children I loved them from the time they were conceived.  I used to talk to them and tell them how much I loved them before they were born.  By the time they were born, I knew them.

There was nothing in life that would ever make me not love them.  I would tell them multiple times a day.  They understood and felt my love.  As a mom, making sure your children know how loved and cherished they are, is your most important job.

Now if anything happens to me I know they knew they are loved.  That makes me happy.  I felt I have done a good job.  I made sure they were loved the way I was not.

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Concluding Remarks-Dr. Kane

In this entry, the common theme is her commitment to her children knowing that they were valued and loved by her. It is in her repeated validation of them that she affirms her true and deep love for them.

The urge that drives Bobbi may be the fear of the life that she herself was forced to endure, which rose from the inability to attain the basic human need of unconditional love of the person who gave her life.  This urge may be viewed as the psychological self, working in advocacy for her children to provide the nurturing that she herself was denied.

In a way, Bobbi may be working in anticipation of her own death by her own hand.  It may be the intensity of her pain and suffering on this earth that drives her to suicidal ideation.  Yet, it is the love for her children that maintains her existence.

Not being shown love by her mother, Bobbi does not know how to live; she knows only how to exist.  As her love grows for her children, she continues her efforts to survive so her children can have the life that was denied to her.

In this writing, we can see Bobbi’s conscious decision to accept her mother as a role model in the lives of her children. Bobbi demonstrates not only the behavior she wants for her children and also, what she “wants not” to model for her children.

Bobbi’s love, unlike her mother’s, is given unconditionally.  She struggles valiantly to insure that her children, as they grow to adulthood, do not suffer the emptiness she herself has experienced during the four decades following her ejection from the home and placement in the state foster care system.

During the preceding four decades, Bobbi teeters between the states of existence and survival.  It is only following the attainment of adulthood for her children that Bobbi will become free to begin the next saga of her journey of self-discovery, driving and the empowerment that accompanies it.

This stage, the third of five, dwells within the transitional and experiential stages of the “Journey for Self Discovery,”  the stages of which are existence, surviving, driving, striving and thriving. This usually begins with the individual living in their fear, as opposed to living with their fear, and Bobbi’s journey is no different.  During this journey, however, Bobbi will learn to balance her fears so she can live with fear instead of in fear as she begins to acknowledge that these fears are a permanent fixture in her life.

Please continue to join us as we walk with Bobbi on her journey!