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It’s Ok If You Can’t Do This.

I hope you and your loved ones enjoyed Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day or whichever remixed version of the day that spoke to your heart and circumstance. I enjoyed the day by buying me and my kiddo some roses and baking THEE best heart-shaped brownies! If you are still floating on a love bubble, feel free to read my Gift to You from last year. The sentiment still applies!

In addition to Valentine’s Day, here’s to hoping you enjoyed the Super Bowl festivities last Sunday held in the city where I grew up–INGLEWOOD! I am still reminiscing about the halftime show. However, there was an experience prior to Super Bowl Sunday that I want to offer as an illustration of today’s title “It’s Ok If You Can’t Do This.”

I drove out to take my mom her new cell phone. I wanted to take care of the transition to the new device myself so mama wouldn’t have to deal with it.  Initially, I had no problem getting the settings right and beginning the transfer of the data from the old phone to the new device. We watched the soap opera “The Young and the Restless” while the transfer process continued. Suddenly, I noticed that the process stalled at 64%. My first thought was it was possibly just a connection issue and it would resume when the issue was resolved. It didn’t. I then spent the next  2 hours trying to troubleshoot the problem.

During my two hours on the “struggle bus,” I found myself getting agitated and grumbly:

Then, the more critical thoughts touched the sore spots in me:

As my mother watched me retracing my steps with the phone activation, she said something that brought me right back to my childhood:

“Ke’, you’re so hard headed. Just take the thing to the store and let them fix it.”

Hearing this comment only made me dig deeper into my empty reserve to figure out how to solve this problem. I Googled and read how-to’s, should-do’s and might-do’s. Nothing worked. 

As I sat there attempting to complete a task that I had done numerous times for myself but totally baffled all the molecules in my body right then, it all came flooding at me. The pandemic. The divorce. The isolation. The uncertainty. The exhaustion. The expectations. All of it. Then, I heard myself say the words I have been feeling for years:

I can’t do this.

There was no melodrama connected to the statement. Just a calm proclamation that I gave myself permission to speak aloud…in front of my mother. Now, I’m not sure what kind of relationship you have with your mama, but I try to make it seem like I have everything under control in front of mine. I tend to make myself scarce when situations feel a bit beyond me and will re-emerge when I feel like Life and I are on good terms (I call these times my “cocooning moments”). So for me to speak my truth was one of the most vulnerable moments I have ever allowed myself to have in front of her.

Tyra Banks means serious business when she is rooting for you!

Apparently, mama was not shaken by my announcement, nor was the apartment or the rest of the world (as I sometimes tell myself will happen if I am unable to do something). My mother 1) heard me 2) told me where to go and the best route to get to the destination–circumventing the Super Bowl traffic and street blockades and 3) did not call me a miserable hot mess of a failure as my internal critic had warned.

I went to the phone store, sat with a nice team member who met some minor challenges with the phones as he went about the process at first (I felt a bit of vindication at that point). He went and grabbed that lovely cable from the back and connected the two phones. While we waited, we enjoyed a nice chat about the neighborhood both currently and back when I was growing up. After 15-minutes, the process was complete and I returned to my mom’s place with her new phone in hand.

So, what are the takeaways other than to never call me to set-up your Android phone?  Well, here are the 7 Questions that came to me on my drive back home:

  1. Make a list of challenging situations from your past that you made it through that seemed insurmountable. Take deep breaths as you recall each one. What comes up for you?
  2. What were the internal and/or external supports that helped you get through the situation?
  3. What is your internal conversation around asking for help?
  4. Are there any cultural, familial or gender influences on your willingness to ask for help and if so, what are some healthy ways you can dismantle them?
  5. Have you ever experienced asking for help and receiving a response that created a hesitancy to ask for help moving forward? Write it out.
  6. Do you have people in your life that you can trust with your “this?”
  7. Identify a situation in your life currently where you are feeling less confident, less resourced, and/or less skilled. How or in what ways can the person or people in #6 support you in moving forward?

Remember: It’s ok. It is ok if you can’t do this…right now. Because the truth of the matter is you CAN “do all things…(Philippians 4:13)” and we all need support sometimes.

Find someone with whom you can safely lay your burdens down. You may be surprised to learn that they have been waiting for such a moment as this one to show you that you do not have to shoulder “this” all on your own (Thanks Mama).

May you and your loved ones continue striving for love, justice and liberation in your lives!

In Solidarity.

Therapist: Anthony Parham
Episode 18 – Part 2: 360 Degrees of Power & Pride
Psychologist: Dr. Satira Streeter Corbitt
Episode 17: Black Love, Black Genius and the Power of Sankofa
Sociologist: Dr. A. Rafik Mohamed
Episode 12: Politics, Hip Hop and Re-Membering Home

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