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  • Writer's pictureArchuleta A. Chisolm

You Are Your Best Thing

There’s a moment in Toni Morrison’s book Beloved when male character, Paul D, tells the main female character, Sethe, “You are your best thing.” He says this to her because although she survived the unthinkable, she had lost her sense of value and worth. Sethe believed her value and worth only came from being a mother. But when she lost a child in death, she believed the best thing about her had gone away.

Black women are raised and conditioned to believe that there is something virtuous about putting ourselves last in our own lives. We watched our grandmothers, mothers, and aunties do it. We subconsciously learned to sacrifice ourselves, to meet the needs of others before we meet our own.

Truth is, we don’t understand self-care, self-worth, and value. It's much deeper than a bubble bath and glass of wine. We feel guilty if we put ourselves first. When we love and nurture from this place, those who should benefit from what we give end up with care that is fragmented. The best thing we can do for ourselves and for those we love is to unapologetically love ourselves.

A woman who knows and understands that she is her own best thing is a woman who has done intentional self-reflection, has asked herself some hard questions and has determined that she will relentlessly pursue the finding, valuing, and honoring of her own life.

The woman who knows she is her own best thing reflects on her life, and when she discovers ways in which she has betrayed herself by putting others first, she makes changes. She understands that this is not a selfish act but an act that will cause her to love more purely.

The woman who knows she is her own best thing is not afraid to give herself the time to retreat and replenish. She is not afraid to make herself a priority in her own life; nor is she afraid to demand appropriate love and care from those in her life.

Women are able to do this when they understand that they are their own best thing. We must set appropriate boundaries that we will not allow others to cross. We cannot allow ANYONE to disrespect and cross boundaries with us. We must understand and operate intentionally because we know that we are our best thing—we are a gift to ourselves and our loved ones, and that precious gift requires special care.

1 comment

1 Comment

Joy Williams
Joy Williams
May 10

So very interested to read this Archuleta - thank you for sharing 🙏🏼🙂. These very same thoughts relating to Sethe have been emerging in me over recent months. My name is Joy - I was raised in a Happy-Clappy-Baptist Church. A Sunday school chorus we sang was ...

J.O.Y. J.O.Y. this must surely mean,

J.esus first

Y.ourself last

O.thers in between

Today I mark the 10 year anniversary of the last day I was in the presence of my one a only best Beloved daughter.

She has shunned me.

I have lost a large part of myself as a consequence of the unwelcome estrangement.

Toni Morrison's portrayal of Paul D's words to Sethe will form the motivation behind my stumbling…

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