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Sisterhood of Suffering: Alexandra’s Story

July 14, 2016

The tragic killings, which occurred over the past week, and everything that has happened in connection to them have left so many of us feeling raw and uncovered. Some of us are enraged. Some of us are confused. Some of us are ambivalent. No matter where you land, make space for self care and remember to call on your sisterhood. Identify, point out and call on the tribe of women who have shown and proven that they will hold space for you while you journey through. Alexandra McKnight, a past intern for The Beautiful Project has so eloquently shared with us how she saw this exemplified in her life. Take whatever necessary and appropriate measures that this moment calls for in order for you to be well. And remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Be a fully participating member of the sisterhood by giving to and receiving love from the sisters around you. Together, we’re a force. #liveoutthecreed

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Because Black people don’t get depressed and you just need to pray more were the mantras that cycled through my head, making me feel guilty for feeling undone, it was often my choice to hide my depression.

Besides, Black womxn don’t have time to fall apart, that isn’t a luxury afforded to us.

So, I repeated my colored girl mantras again—

through middle school—

and again—

through high school—

and again—

through college.

After my 23rd birthday, I decided I would start seeing a therapist. We spoke about my mother and my emergence into adulthood. The words depression never entered the space between us during that six-month frame and I didn’t acknowledge her existence after our 50-minute hour. I realized, after our work had ended, that I had been hoping she would say the words I couldn’t, that she would name the pain for which I carried shame.

Fast forward two years and this time, I felt completely dismantled—crying on the kitchen floor, panic attacks when trying to leave the house, paralyzed in my bed.
Alexandria McKnight img“I get it now. I understand how someone lets the other foot slip off the ledge.” I kept my eyes fixed straight ahead of me, wiping away the tears as quickly as they spilled over.

It was a late night in a coffee shop doing graduate schoolwork and Donna was with me. We graduated from college together and she’d become my grownup best friend—Scandal and wine Thursdays after half-off sushi and Saturday morning runs before manicures.

I can’t tell you verbatim what her response was. It could have been,

“Girl, you ain’t the only one. I’ve been there. Tell me more.”

Or, she might have said,

“I know that pain. Thank you for sharing. What can I do?”

But I can clearly recall what I felt: relief. In that moment, I was free of judgment and shame; I was gifted with a space of shared pain and understanding. As a Black womxn, she saved my soul with her sympathy and ability to meet me out on that ledge.

Our friendship has been steadfast and has endured distances of over 1,000 miles—celebrating one another’s achievements, dismissing bug-a-boos, having virtual vent sessions, secretly planning her engagement proposal. And through the years, numerous life struggles have come up against us individually, and even a few within our friendship. What has never waivered, however, is her commitment to me and willingness to support me when it feels like my world is collapsing under my feet.

She has been selfless in her love towards me.

My heart soars with gratitude for Donna and the way she fearlessly embraces me at my weakest.

It is my honor to call her friend.

 

If you are interested in submitting a story to our Sisterhood Storytelling series, head to our Get Involved page for more information. Also be sure to check out the rest of our series in our Gallery.

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