Recently I was able to join Charge Peer Educator Ashlee Mitchell for a discussion about one of BET's most popular series "Being Mary Jane" starring Gabrielle Union as 'Mary Jane'. Mary Jane is a successful and educated black woman living the "good life" so to speak. She makes her own money, drives her own car & lives in her own home. She doesn't have to rely on or depend on any man to finance her life. This beautiful, successful woman however, doesn't seem to love herself in the capacity that she should. She finds herself being intertwined in many meaningless relationships, as she even takes on the role of a mistress. The show gives viewers a look at an African-American woman living in today's society and how she goes about her life. As a black woman myself, I wonder...am I Mary Jane? How can I relate to her? Or how do I not relate to her?
CPE Ashlee decided to host a program entitled "Am I Mary Jane?" - an open discussion about black women in relationships, in family dynamics, in society, and in the work place. This discussion brought a few young ladies out and it went smoothly. The main connection between these young ladies and Mary Jane came from Mary Jane's personal life, in particular, and her relationships with men. One relationship that was discussed often was that of Mary and Andre, a married man with kids. His promises that he'll marry Mary are just filled with sweet nothings as he won't leave his wife and family at home to be with her. We see Mary shifting into this weak, broken down woman as Andre becomes one of her main concerns throughout the series.
The sad reality is that 8 times out of 10, we as women allow a man to consume us in such a way that we start to forget ourselves. We start to worry about the man and his feelings so much that we start to not care about our own. Mary Jane, for example, gets so emotionally wrapped into these men that she deals with that she eventually does crazy things, such as stealing one's semen (in either season one or two, I don't remember), or the typical repetitive calling and texting. We as women tend to see a man as our one and only source of happiness when in reality, that source of happiness needs to come from within. If you cannot be happy within yourself or be confident/love yourself, you start to crave that from others.
In this discussion, one girl spoke about how she was in an unhealthy relationship and she too, felt as though she could relate to Mary Jane in the way that a man made her "crazy", and how that man was her only source of existence. As dramatic as it can sound, many other heads nodded and fingers snapped in agreement. Now, what can we do to stop this cycle? Why do we become so dependent on someone as our means to keep going?
We compiled a small list of ways to steer away from losing oneself in another, and this list is as follows:
Get a hobby
Have more "me time"
Have more "girls nights"
Do more than just sit around and focus on what that person is doing all day long. It can become physically, mentally, and emotionally draining.
I walked away from this discussion wanting to uplift more of the black queens in this world to continue promoting self-love and self-indulgence, and of course "being somebody" before "being somebody's". We are our own individual at the end of the day. We do not belong to anyone but ourselves, and we need to continue acting as such.
"Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.” Alice Walker