Soooo get this- I had a conversation the other day with a friend that went something like this:
Me: “So what do you have planned for the holidays?”
Friend: “Not much…I still have to work and probably will visit family.”
Me: “Oh nice!…family back home?”
Friend: “Actually… well no…they’re here. [Awkward laugh] I just found out I have an older sister I never knew about.”
Me: (Silence) “Wait, what?!”
We talked about this long lost sibling as if we were discussing a pair of keys that had finally been found after giving up on finding them long ago. The whole time I kept thinking “Wait?! Are we really having this conversation??”
But just as struck as I was by the craziness of the situation, it also amazed me that she felt free enough to even tell me…yes, we are friends and there should be a certain level of openness, but we’re also both from a close-knit community and our kind of communities often have their boundaries. The thought often is, “I’ll hug you, open my home to you…but tell you what I’m dealing with? Nahhhh dog.” Well maybe not nah dog…maybe more like “Mba! Haba!”
I, of course, brought this observation up and it lead to a great conversation on the secrets we keep within our community. We talked about how she is probably not the first or only one in our close knit community who’ve had to deal with something as life-altering as this. I know of others who are carrying the weight of being raped by a father, didn’t have a mother in the home because she was deported […and it was the dad that made the call to Immigration, let’s be real now…], deal with drug abuse, and have had secret pregnancies and secret kids. Secrets. Huge, big, sticky secrets that already alone are big messes, but left alone to rot and fester become an even bigger mess, often taken out on those they are affecting.
Many would say, “My business is my business…You can’t trust people anymore….often times not even family.”
This scares me.
When we get to a place where we fear even family as the enemy, we’re in a heap of mess.
So, Naija to Naija, na wettin? [Or insert your own cultural group here]. Ask yourself: Are you that person that makes it hard for others to be open because you gossip? Are you that one that’s secretly laughing at someone in their misery? Are you the one who will smile at someone in public and trash the person behind their back? And lets be real… I know I’m talking mostly to women out there. Hello!
I say this with much seriousness in my heart–People are literally dieing inside with the weight of their burdens and secrets and feel they don’t have a single person to open up to, despite being surrounded by brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, friends.…why are we making it harder for them?
As good as our culture is about staying close, honoring family above all, and respect, we are equally as bad about being transparent, being non-judgmental, and protecting each other in our weaknesses. There are many among us who have painful secrets & deep wounds that would best be healed if they were brought to light in the safety of a welcoming community.
So, I ask…are you going to help make that safe community?
So talk to me. Do you feel scared to open up about your issues because people might gossip? Do you belong to a community that’s close, but closed-hearted, to each other’s issues? Tell me about it & leave a comment below!