Social Issues

From Hurt To Healing: Recovering From Adultery in the Age of Lemonade

*May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In a special article written by guest contributor, Neena Robertson, she gives us a few tips to begin the healing after experiencing adultery.

#MayisMentalHealthAwareness #MotivationMonday #TimetoHeal

Neena

Neena Robertson
Mental Health Therapist

Photo credit: Shanika Clegg (SJC Photography)

 

From Hurt To Healing: Recovering From Adultery in the Age of Lemonade

A few weekends ago I got to spend some much needed quality time with my cousins. Between work and relationships and just life in general, a trip out of town seemed to be what everybody needed. So, we piled into a rental car headed to New Jersey for family fun and a photo-shoot. My latest stab at graphic tee’s featured subtly dismissive statements purposely placed upon bright and bold colors. Manhattan, the perfect backdrop for messages that remind us to live our lives un-paused, un-phased and unbothered by other’s attempts at relevance at the expense of our own. After wrapping up the shoot and a long day in the city we trekked our way back to Jersey, kicked off our shoes, put on pj’s and huddled up beside each other to finally relax. The weight of the world lifting as our oneness filled the room and our giggles drifted us back to girlhood memories.

I was barely 5 years old when I was introduced to Vanity 6 by way of Prince. But age didn’t stop my cousins and me from memorizing all the words to “Nasty Girl” and gyrating on cue when the beat dropped. I imagine this was well before the parental advisory label and well before Tupac took Dr. Delores Tucker to task for her objection to his objectification of women. At the time, it was just music and we were just children. We had no real concept of sexuality but we somehow instinctively knew the song was in fact sexy. “Nasty Girl” essentially severed as our introduction into womanhood. As time moved on we would be exposed to other artist, have deeper conversations and greater experiences that would expand upon our knowledge of femininity but those first moments of yoni discovery were definitely shaped by the brainchild of a 5 foot man in heels.

Just a few days after Prince’s untimely death, Beyoncé had the audacity to drop music that was so bitterly sweet on a climate that was so raw with grief. And although I wasn’t in the space to watch her HBO special that day, I was wise enough to eventually witness her offering to the world later in the week. What I experienced during that hour long “film” felt more like someone’s journal entries come to life than it did a musical source of entertainment. On one hand I found myself sympathizing and feeling sorry for a woman who had somehow convinced herself that she could be crazy enough in love for two people and naive enough to think she could shame  her man into having  some act right. Yet on the other hand I felt pure elation. Just the thought of her identifying her perpetrator on national television on HIS channel gave me a sense of joy. Kind of like when Angela Bassett set the Benz ablaze, the signature black women’s way of letting the village know a brotha has done her wrong. Lemonade tasted like sweet public revenge against all men who were living foul. I was totally feelin it!  But more importantly I was proud of her for owning what I can only assume was her truth and honoring the voice that refused to take responsibility or blame for Jay-z’s alleged indiscretions. As a couples therapist I find that far too often it’s the woman that’s left behind to carry the weight of a cheating spouse, to clean up the mess, to hold the shame. And so I was proud of Beyoncé for resisting that socialized response, proud to be a woman, proud to black and proud to be privy to such a seemingly personal experience.

As a mental health clinician I am often invited into the inner workings of relationships and asked frequently for insight into what went wrong and what can be done to create lasting change. The answers are never easy when it comes to infidelity as the mix of emotions experienced by both the victim and the perpetrator are intense and extensive. Most times however, I find myself encouraging couples to do these 3 things

  1. Simply Pause

Take stock of who they are in the moment and who they aspire to be. I find that when people are able to become more future focused, it helps to guide them through whatever current circumstances they may be facing.

  1. Get Some Space

Whether that means spending a few nights on your best friend’s couch or taking a solo trip to “anywhere but here”, it’s important to step away from a disappointing situation in order to gain a new and fresh perspective.

  1. Embrace Your New Normal

Far too frequently, fear keeps us from accepting and seeing the beauty in something new. Maybe after an affair a relationship no longer exists, and maybe that’s ok. Maybe it’s not the complete end of the world that we’ve told ourselves it would be, maybe there’s something awesome waiting to be discovered in one’s new single life. Or maybe after an affair a relationship is able to heal and move forward in a way that would not have otherwise happened had it not been for the infidelity. Maybe new lines of communication can now be explored; maybe the couple can begin to relate to one another differently after experiencing such heartbreak. The point is to embrace whatever is next as opposed to running from it.

I was proud to witness Beyoncé not only embracing her new normal in front of millions of onlookers but graciously doing so with the love and support of other women who too had persevered.  Of course the media and people so intrigued by misery were eager to focus their attention on the alleged affair while others aggressively spent the first 48 hours interrogating every possible mullato from here to Hollywood (bless the beehives hearts). But In reality, being consumed by that shallow level of conversation totally misses the depths of this body of work. I encourage others to go deeper than just Beyoncé and Jay, wider than what the masses and massa’s dictate is worthy of our discussion. Instead, having the courage to acknowledge the constant presence and importance of sisterhood throughout.

PSA

PSA Tees

Scene after scene, different shapes, sizes and hues of melanin, parading across the screen unapologetically black. Each woman, illuminated by another woman’s light. Reminding me of all those moments, when anchored by my cousins, I was able to live beyond the moment, beyond fears and rise victoriously in the face of disappointment. A skill many women have learned to implement in their daily lives. Black women in particular. The ability to press on in the midst of opposition, love in the midst of hate, create life in the face of death, mask depression with tribal paint, turn pig intestines into delicacies, and lemons into lemonade. Boldly asking on whose authority does one attempt to interrupt our lives, disturb our peace, and shake our calm? Becky who? “They” who? For where one or more black girls are gathered there is no such thing as defeat. There is hope, there is resilience, there is laughter there’s love, there’s dancing, there’s music and there is magic…black girl magic!

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