Family secrets and dare we say lies, affect all of us. There are critical conversations that we avoid, but very much need to have. These conversations will improve intimacy and communication with our loved ones. Let’s jump in!
“Black folks don’t get depressed. Black people don’t need therapy.” Many of us have been raised hearing these detrimental lies. This mode of thinking denies us our humanity. Just as critical as knowing physical ailments, we need to know about family mental health history. This is challenging as for decades, the old folks just said, well that’s just crazy Uncle Louie or Aunt Ida. Well, this is no longer acceptable. Have conversations not only about past mental illnesses, but also about current mental health challenges. If someone needs help for their depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, help them get there.
My family, like most of ours, is certainly no stranger to family beefs. Factions of my family have even altered their last named by one or two letters to disassociate from the rest. What this means is that there are close family members who have met each other and not even realized that they are related. You can see how this can get tricky.
In some families, there is great shame around relationship challenges from infidelity to divorce. But if we are going to do better than our foremothers and forefathers, we need to know what they experienced. For example, knowing that my grandmother’s sister who raised my mom divorced her husband for mistreatment and infidelity gives me tremendous courage. To know that she was able to stand up for herself at a time when women did not makes me say, yeah! Go auntie, go! I certainly am not going to put up with B.S. that she did not.
High blood pressure? Diabetes? Sickle Cell? What illnesses and conditions run in your family? Diseases, family history, and genetics are an important conversation to have. It’s really important to know what’s in your DNA as some illnesses can be prevented. Knowing your family history may affect how you choose to eat — or even who you choose to have children with. In addition, if there are medical; challenges that you are facing, it could be really valuable to other family members for you to share your experience and treatments.
We not only need to have open conversations about family history, but we also need to have conversations about what people are facing presently. If someone needs to take their medications, lose weight and eat better, tell them.
My mother has met uncles and other family members as an adult that she’s never heard of. So have I. The cause is family infidelity and cheating scandals. Although these situations are almost always ugly, it is really important to not hold the children in the situation culpable. Siblings should know each other. This is healthiest for all members of the family.
Money is one of the most awkward but necessary conversations to have. No one likes to think about mortality, yet we will all die one day. When you or your loved ones go, what will be the money situation? Who will have custody of whose children? Who will pay for funerals, taxes or debt? Have the conversations!
We now know that addiction is a disease, and it is a disease that is hereditary. Science has also shawn that we can change certain things in our DNA. Nowadays, these issues can hide as prescription drug abuse is on the rise. Being a drug or alcohol addict is not cute, fun, party behavior or a personality trait. If an intervention is necessary, galvanize forces, do the research and make it happen.
No one wants to have a conversation about rape and molestation, but no one wants to be raped or molested either. These conversations are taboo and ugly, but so is the experience. My family has history of molestation and abuse like many of ours. Let’s have these conversations openly. Stop victim blaming and shaming and punish offenders. Let’s shine a light on this ugly history.
Having these awkward conversations will not only improve your communication, but also your relationships. Take this list and make it happen.
Abiola Abrams is the author of the award-winning Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love, Manifest Your Miracles meditation album and African Goddess Affirmation Cards. The popular lifestyle guru is also the founder of the Sacred Bombshell Self-Care Kits, blog, web TV show, and online academy at SacredBombshell.com. Follow her on Twitter to continue the discussion about this week’s hot topic, and then email her your burning questions now. Anything you send will be posted anonymously, promise.