Going to Therapy Pt. 2
[insert the precarity of Black life]
Life goes on, I guess, and I keep on living. Money gets a little better. I am meeting many new people, some of whom are interesting. I learn about a podcast and online community called Therapy for Black Girls, and despite the host’s disclaimer, I use the episodes as a guide post for healing. My mental health is feeling less static, the hope of possibility in my periphery. So many women, with a similar frame of reference. So many healers with a similar point of origin. But they are expensive, or not accepting new clients, or both. The work of finding a provider who can care for you in a way that is useful can be and is very discouraging. But I knew that I didn’t want to keep considering the pills in the drawers by my bed.
I get a job with some health insurance and a freer schedule. An in-network PhD with a Black-sounding name is my first choice. She was slim, brown, and well accessorized. Through her smile, she spoke sharply, directly, in a Brooklyn accent. On her wall, in her midtown suite, her gigantic degrees are framed and hung salon-style. I read them, as we talk, whenever I want to shift my gaze away from hers. The psychologist is about the same age as my older sister. In 50 minutes time I bawl my eyes out, then go back to work. Something has shifted. I rarely cry in front of strangers. Turns out though, my insurance doesn’t cover any of her $300+ fee. I think, at least she knows her worth.
My first therapeutic encounter with a Black woman unfurled a vulnerability I hadn’t felt since the last time I got my hair braided. The packed Harlem salons filled with Black women. Sitting in the company of Black women, in certain contexts, allows for an easy unraveling. In the same way I can gaze at a woman in the shop with her hair half done, and she will return that gaze; I could relax in the face of this Black mental health worker. We shared something, an understanding of being on this side of the color line and what that means when combined with the interpretation of our bodies, our perceived gender. Though I had only one session with her, I know that therapy could be a safe space, with the right person.
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