We’ve all heard about the Ciara prayer. You know, the one she prayed right after her relationship with f–kboy extraordinaire, Future, fell apart and just before she met, fell in love with, and married the man of her dreams, Russell Wilson? At this point, some of you may have realized that the Ciara prayer doesn’t work the same for everyone. So has Trey Anthony renowned public speaker, counselor, and comedian. So she decided to write a book about it titled, Black Girl In Love (With Herself). We had the privilege of catching up with Trey to discuss her new project. Check out our full conversation below.
MN: I know that there is an entire Black Girl In Love (With Herself) movement, but what inspired you to write this book?
Trey Anthony: I’ve always been a big lover of self-help books you know? I read them all — The Four Agreements, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, The Secret, you name it. And for me, I always felt that as much as I resonated with a lot of the information in the book, there were some things that were definitely missing, that didn’t recognize my experience as a Black woman. And so, for me, I wanted to talk about it from my perspective of what things I face daily as a Black woman and taking care of myself. You know, also dealing with the trope of the strong Black woman and what does vulnerability look like in that space if you’ve been always conditioned to be the strong Black woman. And also, to look at the daily microaggressions that we face as Black women. When you move through the world as a Black woman, there’s a different journey that we go on and I didn’t think that was being addressed in the self-help market adequately. So for me, that’s kind of where it started.
At first, I wanted to write this kind of like a love story for Black women about how to manifest a really good relationship. That was the proposal that I actually did, to tell them how to manifest that really great love in their lives, right. So it was kind of based on the Ciara prayer that all of us know that Ciara did [laughs]. Well, that’s what I thought I was going to be doing. The universe has a way of laughing at every single plan you make. When I wrote the book proposal, I was in the middle of what I thought was a really committed relationship. Then, five months before the first draft was due to the publisher, my whole life blew up in my face and so the Ciara prayer just didn’t work. I was like, “Oh!” This is a book of what happens with the Ciara prayer is on the other side and when you find yourself on the bathroom floor.
MN: That’s real.
Trey: I’m being really honest. It really was me going, what the hell happened to my life and what happened to the vision that I was creating for my life? And so this book is for anyone who has found themselves in a life that they don’t recognize and kind of saying, “What the hell happened to my life and how do I get back from the bathroom floor?” It helps you to recognize how you got there because the only thing that is consistent in anything that shows up in your life is you. This book is about how to take ownership of what shows up in your life and how to have the best life that you deserve.
MN: What sort of tone or vibe can readers expect from Black Girl In Love (With Herself)?
Trey: I used to be a counselor. I started out being a counselor for abused women and children and then I also do stand-up, and my family is also Jamaican and we’re known to laugh at ourselves. So there is definitely a strong memoir piece and tone. Some of the feedback that I’ve gotten from people is that they are surprised at how vulnerable and truthful I have been about using my own personal stories to show in various ways how I messed up and have done things that really weren’t honorable to myself because I was dying for somebody to love me and gave away permission to someone to love me instead of giving it to myself. There is some honest truth-telling in it. There are definitely some comedic moments because I’m a comic and that’s where I go. I give it to you straight no shooter and that’s how I deal with my clients. You should be able to laugh at some of the things that you have done in desperation to get love, but you also then have to kind of go, “Okay, now that I know this and I’m laughing, how can I prevent that from happening ever again and doing the work?” So in every chapter of the book, there are worksheets that ask you to get really deep and personal. Affirmations to change your thinking. T+hen my favorite part of the book is the Black Girl Playlist. I think every single Black girl can talk about how music has saved their lives at various points. So that is also part of the book — examining which songs, at various parts of my life, really help to save me. Music is a huge element of the book as well.
MN: As I was reading a synopsis of Black Girl In Love (With Herself), I saw that self-love and self-care are largely discussed. Considering your counselor background, what is the relationship between self-love and self-care and can one exist without the other?
Trey: Definitely not. You have to do them interchangeably. You have to do them both together. And I think when you get to the point of self-love, you will realize that you need to take care of yourself. You believe you are worthy of love. You believe you’re worthy of tenderness. You believe you are worthy of being able to express vulnerability. In the book, I talk about how I was always saying to my friends, my friendship circle, and my sister-friends, “Hey, girl you’ve got this. Yes, you’re strong. Don’t let this get you down,” but what if you don’t got it? How can we create those safe spaces for each other and ourselves to say, “Hey sis, you may want to cry about that”? “Hey sis, you may need to take a minute for yourself instead of being everything for everybody. Hey sis, maybe this is the time for you to start exercising instead of being an emotional eater about things that are bothering you.”
I talked about my own journey. Instead of crying about something or expressing hurt, I would turn to chocolate brownies or KFC and eat every single emotion. It wasn’t until I decided no, I need to really check that. “What’s bothering you?” And also, looking at the trope of the strong Black woman and where I learned that from. My mother and grandmother. In the book, I talked about how when I was at the lowest point in my life, my mother is an amazing mom, but she would say to me, “Well, remember me and your grandmother had it worse than you,” and so that gives me no room for me to acknowledge the pain that I was going through because it became just comparison of my pain worse than your pain. I don’t wanna play the comparison game anymore with pain. I just want you to acknowledge that I am in pain right now and I need to acknowledge that for myself. I think that as Black women, we’re not allowed to have that vulnerability because it has not been safe for us to fall apart. Whereas with white women, everybody’s handing them the Kleenex box at all times. We don’t get that same luxury. I talked about that in the book. How many of us have been in meetings where a white woman will fall apart and everyone hands her the Kleenex box and we walk out of that same meeting and go into the bathroom stall and cry by ourselves?
That has happened to so many of us, time and time again. This isolation of not being able to say, “I’m not good. I’m not. well. I’m actually struggling with this.” It’s kinda like an oxymoron to say a Black woman is weak or a Black woman is feeling down or depressed. We are not allowed to have that. And so that’s what I address in the book. We need to really start examining why we’re not allowed certain privileges and why we don’t even give them to each other.