All posts by Chanshie B

About Chanshie B

My name is Chantellee Britton. I have a passion for writing and editing.


Is this what I really need?

To be confined in the arms of my lover?

To be confined with one person to eternity?

For you to be trapped in my head?

For me to be trapped inside my head?

For all I think about is you?

Why should I spend all my time with you?

What about my friends?

What about your friends?

With over 7 billion people on Earth, why do we get to declare that our forever should be with only us?

What should I ever do if I meet someone else that I actually like?

What about that person who I feel connected to?

Why can’t I get over you?

The truth is, I feel confined to you and on some days I wish you feel confined to me too…

Culture of Nothingness

I can hear the pain in your voice, yet still you say nothing is wrong.

I can see the tears rolling down your face, yet still you say nothing.

I have heard stuff that you are going through, but you opened not your heart to share it with someone.

Why does it feel so wrong to bare the most ugly and painful parts of us with everyone?

As Caribbean children we are taught to bite our lips and nod our heads to the point that saying nothing transcends everything.

We wobble in pain, grief, uncertainty, chaos and misery but we have no courage to speak. We force a smile or put on a facade just to avoid being asked why we are sad.

And the funny thing is, even in our greatest moments nothingness seems to prevail over everything.

Why are we so reluctant to share even our wins and our success?

It is as though we were indirectly taught that silence is everything. We turn a blind eye, we cover our ears and we bound our tongues only to pretend that what we have witnessed, heard and want to say is imperceptible.

There are a myriad of reasons we do not want to share certain aspects of our lives with the world. I, however, no longer am afraid to speak my truth.

Some wise person once said that with experience comes knowledge. And I can attest to that as each day I live, I have learned that:

  • It does not matter if those who have ill-will hear of your pain or your triumphs (they are not a part of your life anyways)
  • Not because you have bad experiences and speak of them, it does not necessarily mean you are bitter or hung up on the past
  • Self- expression is great
  • Your story (whether good or bad) may just save someone
  • You only hurt yourself when you keep everything bottled up inside
  • Open up your heart and share the good and bad if you feel comfortable or inclined to.

So, today I implore anyone (Caribbean affiliation or not) who is reading this to remember that it is ok to choose someone to share your wins and losses with.

It is totally fine to even share them with the world.

Do not be caught up in the culture of silence and nothingness.

Take the time to understand yourself in your best and worst moments. Embrace who you are. Share your stories with the world- they may just be a safe haven to someone somewhere.

Disappear with Me

A few years ago one of the sweetest couple I know suffered an unimaginable accidental loss. There is always something about accidents and loss that almost always remind us of three things:

  • as humans we are vulnerable
  • we should always cherish the life we live and
  • our life can be shorter than what we have in mind.

There are things that happen to some people who we may say are undeserving of the pain and suffering that was haphazardly brought upon them.

I remember talking about how beautiful the wedding looked, the food and the chef. And in the moment when I thought it was lone celebratory happiness, we received the devastating news about an accident that had occurred.

In that very moment, I pledged that I will always be happy by surrounding myself with only those who care, who had ‘good vibes only,’ and those who ensure my tranquility and peace of mind.

For a while I was doing well but as usual life happens.

There are some things about the dark that are absolutely unsure.

When we think of the dark or darkness, we think of total absence of light, evil or danger. On the other hand, darkness can also alludes to tranquility, solace, control and isolation. The truth, however, is that you cannot always tell what you will find in the dark.

There are times in my life when I can feel the darkness creeping in. My chest tightens, my heart rate elevates, my sleeping pattern is disrupted, I am extremely lethargic and I can barely make it to the bathroom to take a shower. In those very instances I am overwhelmed, depressed and I begin my days in isolation.

If I may be transparent, oftentimes I do know my triggers but there are days when things that I might have tucked away in my subconsciousness resurface and take a toll on my mental state.

It might sound weird but the truth is whenever I disappear I enjoy raveling in the dark ALONE until I am able to find ‘myself ‘again.

I have a couple friends that within 48- 72 hours of disappearing, they will immediately text to ask when I am coming back to the real world- they have learned how I am. There are others who think I am just ignoring them. Some even think that I am busy with my other sets of friends.

I almost never clarify the misconception. I, sometimes, am too overwhelmed by my own personal happenings or mishaps to explain the struggles that I am experiencing. I also always find it to be so painful reliving my darkest moments. As such,I choose silence over explanation and try to pick up where we left off.

About three years ago, some sweet lady asked me a series of questions, vetted my answers and then gave me some advice.

Everything that was said is what I already knew but had never put into perspective. I came out of that conversation with a plethora of information that helped me accept my flaws, weaknesses, strengths, vulnerabilities and myself.

All of the above mentioned tenets laid a new foundation with how I handle both my social and intimate relationships. I think my biggest flaw is embedded in my strongest feature. I am vulnerable because of my ever so willingness to help.

As a consequence, I have made it my duty to incorporate certain things in shaping the person who I am today:

  • I have learned that it is perfectly fine to not save everyone who comes my way,
  • to know that not everybody who asks of me will receive,
  • to always ensure that I reserve some of me and,
  • to not give all of me away because no one is deserving to get more from me than what I give to myself.

I know it all sounds so selfish. But if you truly know me that would probably be one of the last adjectives you would use to describe me.

Now that I have let you all in on some cup of ‘tea’- as my fellow young generation would say, I want anyone who is reading this to know that it is perfectly pleasing to love every inch of you. Do not feel guilty to change how you operate within your relationships, especially if your new actions will bring you satisfaction, peace and happiness. Protect your heart, body, mind and soul from friends, family and strangers who will ruin you and bring you running into the darkness.

Take some time away from everyone if that is what works for you because the truth is you may never know what will happen if the darkness consumes you.

Disappear with me in the dark to self- evaluate and reconstruct because it is better to seek control and understanding than to be destroyed by it.

For My Father, I hope you can read

There is so much damage that can be done to a child who does not have the right tools as he/she grows.

Sometimes we have all the material things, a traditional family (mom, dad and child), one parent (a mom or a dad) or an adoptive parent (strangers who become your own flesh and blood) to help mold us into the person we are today.

The reality is there is a child somewhere who does not have any of these things.

The effects of an absentee parent can never be ignored. I am grateful enough to never had a biological father in my life and came out without any ‘daddy issues,’ as psychiatrists and people like to put it.

I had a grandfather who loved me as much as he loved his own children. An uncle, who every time he was around treated me like a daughter and not like a niece. A few random men who made it their duties to care for me emotionally and financially as if I were their child.

Maybe all of this saved me and for that I am thankful.

But daddy I have a few questions that have been boggling my mind:

  • what did I ever do for you to think I do not deserve to have you as a part of my life?
  • why do you think it was ok to not give me your love?
  • why do we have no bond, even though I tried to create one when I was older?
  • why is it so easy to go about your day without thinking of me?
  • why was is it so easy to take care of all the women in your life but not me?
  • why did we live minutes apart but you never showed up unless you were being paid to deliver sand at my house?
  • why did you be a father to my sister but not to me?
  • why did you not be a father to my other sister who is living with your parents but you are a father to another child who was born around the same time? Are we both excluded from your life because we have things in common?
  • why did it take a strange lady to encourage you to make me a part of your life?
  • why did you let my mom struggle even though you could afford to care for me financially?
  • why did you left your responsibility up to other men?
  • why did you had to let my aunts and uncle had to help my mom financially?
  • do you ever remember that you have a child who is existing in some part of the world?
  • why is it so weird that I do not think of you? Is it because you also do not think of me?

This is for my father and I hope you can read.

Quarantine and Think

When it comes on to the future there is always a high level of uncertainty. Despite this known phenomenon, we are still grappling with this pandemic and its effects on our lives. We are wrapped in a never ending cycle of disbelief and are very much puzzled by the current disruption we are encountering.

For the first time in my life I have witnessed worldwide disruption.

I will definitely be able to tell my children and my grandchildren that I was a part of this horrific historical event. And the sad truth is, a part of me feels elated to be living in a time that will definitely be written down in our history books.

I cannot quite imagine what life was like in the Great Depression of the 1930s or even during World War I. However, I am sure that those era are very much similar to the havoc COVID-19 has been reigning down on us.

It is the first time in a long while that students are pulled from schools, almost every business is closed and those who always whine about having to turn up to work on a daily basis, have no choice but to stay at home- unless of course they are essential workers.

One of the most prevalent topic that has been parading through this whole quarantine life is money. Most people are taking the time to start a new business, are being encouraged to ensure that they have residual income or are thinking of how they can make better financial decisions once this ‘new normal’ has passed.

All of this is completely understandable. However, with so much time to just sit at home and think, I have thought of so much more than financial stability.

Please do not get me wrong.

I do understand that money is just as essential as our basic needs- food, shelter and clothes. There is no doubt that the amount of money you have determines the lifestyle that you live.

The reality is everyone needs money.

I, however, cannot stop thinking of how COVID-19 has reinforced a factual ideology. The ideology of how unpredictable life is. Everytime I think of what we are experiencing, the only thing I can say is ‘this is so crazy.’

Although I should not be reacting like that, since I already know that tomorrow is not guaranteed and noone knows what the future holds.

During this time, I, like many of you, have thought of money, how it is needed and how saving for a rainy day is not just a saying but a philosophy that we need to live by.

However, I just happen to be indifferent towards the overzealous attitude most people tend to have about money.

The truth is there is so much more to life than what’s in our bank accounts. And if for some reason you are in disagreement, just check how often celebrities, socialites and affluent people have committed suicide.

So let us get back to the things I have been thinking about during quarantine.

Some important things (not money) that I have thought about and would like to share with you are:

– if this disease should be the end of humanity, it would not have mattered if we are rich or poor,

– we should not confine ourselves to unhappy situations,

– our happiness and peace of mind are essential,

– learn to be kind to everyone,

– learn to love, share and encourage good,

– we should take pride in both our health and mental well-being,

– be accepting of others even if they do not share our beliefs, values and faith,

– appreciate our freedom and make good use of it,

– seize the moment, and last but not least;

– do what we desire as you only live once (Y.O.L.O).

The complex road to a man’s heart

The complexity of human interaction can be found in one of our most humble characteristics – our uniqueness. The more I keep in touch with people the more it is obvious that no two people are a like.

Whether it be on a social or an intimate level, we find ourselves hanging out or planning to start a life with those with whom we have found some level of comfort or connection. It is expected that people with shared beliefs, values, goals or desires will unify because they have similarities.

However, at the center of all that is uniqueness. A crucial factor that oftentimes disrupts the natural flow of things.

It is always so amusing to interact with people of different nationality, race, social and geographical background. The experience we get from being exposed to a diverse population is thrilling and suspenseful because you never really know who you will get.

What do I actually mean?

Have you ever met two people who are identical in terms of socioeconomic and geographical background? One may turn out to be the most welcoming person you have ever met. On the contrary, the other may be the most obnoxious person you have ever encountered in your life.

Everything I have said so far is relatable on a social level. However, on an intimate scale, our unique principles and behavior may also turn out to be detrimental to the happiness and peace we so often venture out to find in the arms of our lover(s).

Relationships are fueled with high velocity of emotions. There is love, passion, sex and chemistry. All of which can be tumultuous. We all crave for that relationship that makes us feel like we are on a high. It is so exhilarating to talk about the new found fling or lover.

The sad thing, however, is that relationships are similar to a story plot. They all seem to have a climax and then a fall. After being with someone for a while, you start to realize that love becomes customary.

You love them and you know that they love you.

It is just a weird form of knowledge that you have without needing “I love you” to be said to you every second of the day.

When you are at this point in your relationship, you start to have epiphanic revelations. It is as though the emotions were clouding your sight. You start to realize that there are so much complexities associated with keeping a relationship alive.

All the things that you like and love, all the things that make you irritable and annoyed take precedence and if you are not careful the life you once yearn for will be instantly snatched from you.

And the sad part is, everything you experience from this point on all boils down to each person’s uniqueness.

The way to a man’s heart is really complicated and challenging. It is never smooth sailing. There is just a level of intricacy that reveals itself after the honeymoon phase has passed.

Because of this I want you to always remember these little things:

Don’t be hard on each other because you think someone has lost their touch, Don’t go having affairs because you want to get that thrill back and Don’t be quick to think that it is the end.

Although, maybe it is.

The Black Woman and The Weight on her Shoulders

There is so much stigma when it comes on to the expectation of who the black woman should be. For those who are black and a woman, if someone should ask you to describe who you are as a black woman, what would you say? I am sure that some of the words that you would use are: strong, powerful, beautiful, sexy, subservient, angry and resilient.

Angela Neal- Barrett (PhD) sums up the renowned characteristics of a black woman as being ‘The Strong Black Woman,” “The Angry Black Woman” and “The Jezebel/Video Vixen.” The first two adjectives are pretty straightforward. The latter may not be so plain sailing but for those who do not know it describes the black woman as a sexual being.

But are we only those things? Are we only capable of being those things? Why should it be rewarding to only be those things? Most importantly, why should we be ashamed to be vulnerable, depressed and speak about the burdensome circumstances that we have endured?

In fact, there are many studies that have conclude that black women are underrepresented in regards to addressing their mental health issues.

Today, I will no longer neglect the fact that many black women are suffering mentally.

As a black woman, have you ever wondered how it is so easy to sit with all of your friends and speak about your toxic relationship, about the man you are keeping who belongs to someone else or even the girl you are planning to attack?

It is, however, not so easy to sit and express to ALL of your same friends the things that keep you up at nights. To share with them how powerless, depressed and anxious you feel.

And someone somewhere may be saying, why do you have to bare it all to your friends. What about your family? The heart-wrenching truth is that while as a black person we say and act on the premise of family before others or family being everything, we are the first to hide our self-loathing and struggles from our family.

We do this because we are scared of their judgment. We do this because we fear how it may affect their perception of us. We do this because we are afraid that instead of advice we are given ultimatums.

Worse, if you are from a Caribbean background like myself, some of the first responses after self-expression to friends and family are usually nothing is wrong with you or why are you so dramatic or, the one I hate the most, there is someone somewhere who is going through worse situations than you.

Support like these will definitely push a turtle back in its shell.

In todays world, we have to be more mindful of the silent cry from our ‘strong,’ ‘angry’ and ‘sexual’ black women. Do not sweep the cry for help under our rugs because we think nothing should be too stressful for our friends, our mothers or our daughters. Society’s expectations of us have indeed cast a shadow on how in touch we are with our ‘negative’ emotions. But this definitely does not mean that we cannot try to start making a difference.

The most alarming thing in writing this article, is the discovery of the lack of evidence to support the topic of mental health in regards to Caribbean black women. I am sure somebody has done some research. But clearly it is so limited to the point that a search on google will take countless hours before you find a single article.

Of course, our solution does not lie in research. It lies with us. We have to start accepting that as a black woman we are not only confined to being strong, angry and sexual. We have to know that there is nothing wrong with addressing our personal struggles. We have to remove the negative stigma that is associated with seeking professional help that can save us from self-loathing and self-harm. We have to do this in order to remove the weight from our shoulders.

We should try and start today. Do it for ourselves. Do it for our children and our children’s children. I know it may sound cliche but we need to do this so that one day we may be able to break the racial and generational cycle.

Every Parent

There are many things that shape us into the person we are today. The family, however, is the first and most important source of socialization that imparts knowledge, beliefs and values.

The title alludes to one element of our family. An element that is subjective and critical in determining how we turn out to be.

So what does the title mean?

  • Every parent, biological, legal guardians or adoptive, treats their child in the way that they think is best for their well-being.
  • Every parent imparts ways, knowledge, beliefs and values that may flourish or ruin their children.

My mother was the first from whom I learned the things that I liked, hated, dreaded, wanted to emulate and was against. She was the first tangible source of all the things that I want to be and did not want to be.

Her flaws were parallel by her compassion, unmatched sacrifice and commitment. She did her best with what she learned from her parents, the life she had before me, when I was born and the challenges that she faced raising me.

Twenty-eight years later, I look back on my life and I am puzzled with what ifs. I judge her shortcomings and I wonder if things would have been different. If I would have been different. If her efforts could have been more and if they were, if they would have yielded better results.

My intention is not to talk only about mothers or about my mother. My desire is to talk about parents in general. However, in my case a mother is all I had and as such I have to speak of my parenting experience through her.

In 2015, I sat in a classroom in Garden City, NY reading Philip Larkin’s poem “This Be the Verse.” If this poem has never crossed your path, you should probably google it. It best summarizes the subjectiveness of parenting. It speaks of all the unintentional good and bad of the actions of our parents. Larkin tells us how our parents best intentions of raising us may only have turned out into “the[m] fucking [us] up.”

At a tender age we may not understand. More importantly, we will not be able to notice all the psychological ways in which our parents’ actions have affected us. Some of us may have identified the negative consequences of our parents’ attempt to raise us only when we have become adults. On the other hand, some of us may never live to know that the way we are today is as a result of how we were raised and what we were exposed to.

Nevertheless, we all should be grateful for the life we have now. We should try to fix whatever that was ruined within us on our own. We have to move on from the past by acknowledging and making peace with the fact that our parents were raising us in the best way they knew how to. Blame not our parents. Remember that whatever they did or did not do, “they may not [have] mean[t] to.”

Chanshie B