Hillary recalls some of the changes she experienced in her mood and mentality after receiving the counseling she needed.
OBOS Today: What were some of the changes that you saw in yourself after um getting some counseling and some counseling that maybe was you know the correct kind of support that you needed?
Hillary: Um, I definitely felt, I felt lighter. I stopped putting so much pressure on myself and putting such a burden on myself to be perfect because I always felt like I needed to be perfect, you know. My parents are from Ghana. They’re from West Africa. They came here so then you know I can be successful, and I’ve and I’ve always been told you must succeed, you must you know have it all together, and one thing that I saw is that I was. I was taking it easier on myself. I wasn’t so hard on myself. I wasn’t so harsh on myself. Because I’m, I’m my biggest critic. I constantly criticize myself, something that I’m still working on and stuff. And I had to understand that like in life like it’s not everything is going to be perfect. And I shouldn’t put the pressure on myself to be perfect regardless of what my family members think, regardless of what anybody thinks. I’m not expected to be perfect. And I saw a change in my relationships, especially my romantic ones. I stopped choosing men that were emotionally unavailable, um, and I often felt comfortable being with men like this because I didn’t really have to cry in front of them, I didn’t have to show them who I really was. I could just put on a facade and always be happy, but what I realized is that I need someone who is okay with seeing me cry, is okay with seeing me vulnerable, and you know, is okay with us expressing our feelings because that’s, that’s, that’s a quality that’s now important to me because that’s how I deal with myself and my own mental health.
OBOS Today: Do you think you could elaborate why you were so afraid to be vulnerable in some of these relationships?
Hillary: I think it’s cause oftentimes, especially for a Black woman where you know there’s always the stereotype of Black women being stronger, being Black, you know, Black women not showing any emotion, and I definitely adhered to that for years. I never cried in front of people. The only places that I would cry would probably be in my room and like in church sometimes. But I never cried in front of someone because I didn’t want them to see me as less than, or as weak, or as you know, oh you know she’s vulnerable so I can take advantage of her you know. I don’t trust, especially men, I don’t trust them like that. You know I have my own insecurities and trust issues so like for me being vulnerable in front of a man is like, is a form of intimacy that I was afraid of. Because what if this person hurt me after. Like how am I supposed to go on if I was vulnerable with someone and now, they’re out of my life?
OBOS Today: Do you think this inability to be vulnerable or this fear of becoming vulnerable with people you know who may take advantage of that vulnerability, did that reflect on your self-esteem or how you valued yourself or viewed yourself?
Hillary: Oh absolutely. Um, because I sort of blocked myself from being vulnerable. I would sort of get mad at myself even when I had a valid reason to cry, valid reason to be upset, I would always talk myself out of my feelings. I didn’t even talk to my best friend about my feelings, and I feel like as, as you know girls and you know as girl, as young women, you know, it’s important to have a good unit around you and stuff and I wasn’t able to take advantage of that because I had so many walls up, it just made me very insecure. I was I was waiting for someone to take advantage of me. I was waiting for someone to, to hurt me so I’d have a valid reason to be angry. And I had to understand that like that’s not how things work. Like a part of life is sharing yourself with others. And if you’re not able to do that then you’re not really living your life.