Eyes Wide Shut to Open: Why I Choose Visibility Over Silence

One thing I love about the warm weather is being able to be outside, indulging in a bit of nature, without it being a problem (i.e. cold fronts, snow, slippery ice). When I take my lunch breaks, if I don’t have errands to run, I tend to drive to the parking lot of the former Marsh Supermarket at Trader’s Point, park alongside one of the trees for shade and chill. I roll the windows down, turn on YouTube or Netflix and let the next hour be dedicated to kicking my feet up in the breeze. I’m not the only person. Plenty of people have this habit all over the city as I have noticed. Parking lots during the summertime, are the working force’s favorite place to be. Even though I’m usually watching something or lip syncing to music, I never fail to find myself reflecting on something. Recently, I was thinking about my upcoming book release and how exciting it is, but also what people might think vs. what it really is. That is, assuming people are thinking about my book. This led to me thinking of my blog and how it started. This, of course,led to a whole rabbit hole of overthinking. My next mental landing strip was at the memes that remind us to be quiet. The ones that tell us it is better to suffer in silence than to let anger make a public fool of you (did I just make that up or is it a real meme? Cause its kinda dope). There’s one currently going around social media that sends a shout out to the people who are healing from painful things they don’t talk about.

Now, before I go any further, this blog is not to combat these memes or this perspective. I actually agree with it to a certain extent.

But when I was sitting there thinking hard over an episode of Coach Snoop and a disgusting black and mild, it was no secret that I am (or at least have been in these last hand full of years) the complete opposite of those memes. Through this book, my blog and often my social media posts no matter where they appear (twitter, Facebook or Instagram), I am vocal. At times, I’m loud. I pull back the curtains and share. I use my blogs and poetry as my sounding board when I need to, vomiting up what isn’t agreeing with me in the same manner as I would shout out the blessings of the day. 

I was listening to somebody do an interview recently and they spoke of telling other people not to believe what they see on social media because it’s all a lie. They went on to say people have social media lives and then they have real lives and these lives are not one in the same. Once again, I somewhat agree with that statement but I don’t think it holds true for everyone. Actually, I know it doesn’t.  I know MY social media is all facts. When it comes to my life, good, bad or in between, I don’t share anything to myself “look” a certain way. I am not a person in need of validation or pity. Before I was a creative, I was a human. A woman. I have experiences out here that go beyond show flyers and my blogs are hardly ever political. I write most things, whether a status, a caption, a blog or a tweet, from a personal space.

Sometimes it’s a lesson and other times, it’s pure hurt or anger, but it’s always authentically me. If social media is to be a reflection on my life, then I only know of one way: the truth. In that reflection, you will find creation and joy, but you will also find pain and disappointment.

With that being said, let’s double back to my lunch break-think tank, party of one. The memes declare that we should not let the tongue expose our woes to the masses. People tend to agree, as most people do NOT share the inner workings of their lives as much as they share these memes, which is perfectly fine. In fact, folks talk shit about people who ‘overshare’. It’s interesting that I hear people suggesting that folks aren’t sharing their real lives on social media when the culture of social media is to advise that people only share the good parts. Now I’m not suggesting everyone share every aspect of their lives at all. That’s certainly not healthy. I just question how we can expect to see authenticity when we sell faux living using our share buttons? And if all we are gonna look at is fake shit, then why are we following each other? I definitely believe one should be mindful of what they share; I know I certainly am. But this idea that I should keep all my less-than-savory feelings and experiences to myself is some shit I don’t subscribe to.

After I fooled myself into over-liking a dude that didn’t give a shit about me, I felt like holding that in would create an emotional inferno that I wouldn’t survive. So, I tipped myself over like the hot tea kettle I became and poured it out until I healed.

Why I Chose Visibility

I’m not going to speak for anyone else in this post. I’m speaking for myself and while I hope that someone can relate to this and feels understood, I understand that sometimes, we stand on a limb alone. I don’t suspect that to be the case here but I don’t reject it either. My words felt useless as a teenager. Anytime I have been tasked (which is what it felt like…a task) with defending myself or standing up for myself, my words seemed to fall on deaf ears. I had a boy that I didn’t get along with who spread rumors around the neighborhood that I was sleeping with my dog.

Since I was a known dog lover, the kids in the neighborhood went with it. It didn’t matter what I said to people, I would still get teased about trying to make my dog have sex with me. So, I stopped walking the damn dogs. I don’t think I would sit on the porch with them much after that either. I had to change the way I moved because my voice did nothing to help. There were so many instances of this. I don’t think any of this info is new to the blog, nor is the fact that I grew up feeling invisible.

Through my relationships with men and women, the continued path of invisibility grew longer and more tiring. I became a non-communicative, emotional recluse as a means of self-protection. I felt like if I didn’t share what I felt or thought, I wouldn’t get hurt by the rejection of what I said. My silent retreat became my way of survival. But my means of survival was also doubling as luggage and the more I added to my back, shoulders, and hands, the less open my heart was. Then there was that ‘other’ part of silence:

I had become not just a captor of what I felt, but also a protector of others…specifically the ones that hurt me.

M30 w/the Silencer

Silence can be good. Like the memes and people suggest, sometimes it’s the best thing for you. Silence is a necessity; it’s in the quiet that you find the loudest answers sometimes. Silence provides the ability to listen for God’s voice speaking from within you. Silence is your friend. But there is a method to utilizing silence and if mishandled, it can be your enemy. You know you have to verbally express your desire to remain silent if you are arrested? You know that remaining silent can work against you? Silence at the wrong time can be the greatest resource of energy for your enemy.

Holding in my feelings might have allowed the mindlessness of not having to deal with excuses and trying to reason with folks, but for some of them, my silence was their elevation. It allowed them the freedom to not feel wrong. As a matter a fact, often times my silence made my perpetrators feel wronged. The right silence at the wrong time will give muscles to the swine looking to feed off of passivity. I’ve fed plenty of pigs that didn’t turn into bacon. There is nothing in my life that I would do over-

-Well, I’d definitely undo the rebound play that wanted to shot his ball in my niece’s basket.

But I digress.

I do know that not speaking up for myself left me several situations over the course of my life that could have been avoided or prevented, most notably the La Douleur Exquise situation (if you don’t know #readmyblog). I had never felt so dead and so invisible in my life. Not before or since to be honest. Not to that extent. But it was also that situation that changed my silence.

I once wrote a poem called Say Something. You can listen to that here:

People loved this poem and would request it when I got on stage at the open mics or invite me to perform somewhere and ask for it. I struggled with remembering it or being able to do it and eventually stopped sharing it. It was because I wasn’t living that life for real. I wasn’t “saying something” when I needed to and had a hard time ‘performing’ something that ultimately ended up as a personal self-help poem. That poem is circa 2007. La Douleur Exquise came about in 2009. I have mad respect for those who deal in silence because it can be overwhelming. I also make my voice intentional, and if I ever feel like my motivation behind something I’ve shared was foul, I delete it. I have before. I will again….if necessary. But I stand by it all.

The listening skills of those who trespassed against me were too lax. I had chosen others, ease, and comfort over me; now was the time to choose me.  No matter how uncomfortable it made me, I decided to choose visibility.

 

Shot by Jo.Seph McCoy

 

So to the women out there who reject the memes and theories that suggest we shut up and deal with it like big girls who don’t cry, I say this:

Yes to you sis. Yes to your vocal chords. Yes to your fingers. Yes to your writings, your prose, your poetry, your notes and one liners, jokes andTwitterr threads. Yes to the songs you are writing. Yes to the songs you are singing, the poetry you are sharing and the off-top-someone-needs-to-listen-to-this feelings that you were compelled to express that night. YES SIS! Yes to your love of self. Your love of your own well being and your emotional competence. Yes to vocal visibility. Yes to visibility PERIOD! Yes to ‘reclaiming your time’ and power and not EMPOWERING hurt by choosing a corner to secretly be in pain in. Yes to healthy confrontation. Yes to emptying luggage and bags with each word you speak along the way. Yes to not living a lie. Yes to being done with empowering others to hurt you. Yes to taking your power back Queen. Yes to your books. Your releases. Yes to your healing sis. To all of you, whether it’s Karryn Stephans tell-all style or kibbles and bits like say a Januarie York blog, I say yes. Also, yes to those who are silent. Who embrace the quiet, who pick up their toys and go when it’s their time and give no pushback that the masses can see. You’re a fucking superwoman too you know?!!! This isn’t about one way being right over another; this is about women owning their stories and the right to share them from the perspective of which they were experienced. My book is no different. In fact, when I think of my book, I think of the choice to be silent and how if I had remained accustomed to that, this wouldn’t be. And if there is one thing I KNOW for certain, it’s that my book is the shit. Shout out to all of us. Shout out to me.

Two of my favorite quotes are here:

“If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it” (Zora Neale Hurston)

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” (Anne Lamott)

What I find in both of these quotes is empowering and forever inspiring. Both women speak of your right to take your pain and your stories, no matter what parts of them it is that you choose to share, and OWN them. When you own them, you make the choices of what to do with them and how. You find the why in sharing before sharing. I don’t share any of my private business without it having a point or intention. Even in the beginning, when the blog was on Google and named A(Muse.)D., the purpose was self-healing, which is great enough for me. Sometimes it’s not about everyone else. And then, sometimes you just know you got something that could save someone’s heart. I do not encourage angry sharing (although I most definitely did that in 2017). This is not an outcry for the right to be hurt and tell all of somebody’s business, put them on blast and hurt them. That’s not what any of this blog is about. It’s never been and my upcoming book isn’t either.

This is about, as my former therapist used to say, “walking in your truth.”

Shot by Abdul/JusFam Photography

When we walk in default silence, expressing little and holding our most soul-changing pains inside, we are not owning our stories. We are not owning what has happened to us as Anne Lamott says we do. We are actually loaning them out to others, similar to a library. Between Zora and Anne, I am reminded of own my life’s story and take pride and comfort in not feeling regulated to invisibility or silence.

 

I sometimes post things in fear, with my finger hovering over the POST option for moments before. I wonder will there be backlash but then I remember it’s not too many people reading this blog and that helps. LOL! But before I let fear stop me from sharing my truest version of myself at the time of posting, I say this in my head: “they might kill you for it, but they’ll never be able to say you enjoyed the pain.” Operation fuck it, feel it in effect.

Speak sis.

Be selective. Be intentional. Be aware. But own your life. Own your story. And speak.

There is freedom sitting on your tongue waiting for you to taste it.

~j

Falling in Love w/Fly Weights

“I looked good on his arm

As if I were candy paint decorating his suit jacket

Cherry red on suicide doors

My sepia arm dripping in jewels like daytime glitter.

Alternating from faux to French diamonds,

Because every girl needs costume and real jewels.

Accessorizing his east side accent like English language blanketing German subtitles,

the paparazzi loved the way we made an entry,

Arms criss crossing melanins.

We looked fly together

But I was interlocking elbows with an anchor that could halt the Titanic….”

~nomaD, J.York, October 2018

To know me is to know how much I love pictures. I come from a picture taking family. My grandmother owned all the cameras and never fell short of snapping her favorite polaroid to capture photos of the moment. It’s been almost a year since she passed and the one thing I’ve wanted to do was go to her house and look at her old picture books. I know if I do, all those people will come alive in her dining room for me one more time.

Gmom looking through polaroids while Gdad was kinda over it.

Pictures are my thing and it’s no secret that I had hoop dreams of learning photography and specializing in black and white shots. I have several clouds saving pictures for me, including Google and Amazon, as well as a site called Smugmug that I found years ago. My photos automatically upload to these clouds so there is never a shot or video that gets deleted w/o the ability to be recovered from somewhere. As of recently, the newest social trend is to give us a glimpse back in the past. It started out on Facebook but now Google and Prime (as well as others I’m sure) have made it where you can check out the photos you took from “on this day”, circa whatever year. Every day for the past few months, I log onto Prime and do something I’ve never been good at doing: deleting pictures. I delete every and any trace of photos that have my ex in them, no matter how fly the picture looks. On Google, you can do a face recognition, so I did that and removed him completely from my Google cloud. Prime requires me to do this every time they prompt me with a flashback. And I oblige it, daily. Matter a fact, let me check now.

 

I do this daily. I remove all evidence of him from my life and from inadvertently “popping TF up” when I least expect it. I know I can’t possibly scrub my IG and FB page clean without some help, but the least I can do is get those fauxtoshoots off my clouds. All my clouds are too high up to be holding onto this many pictures of Polyester Peter. But you know why there are so many pictures (there are HUNDREDS)? Because we looked so good together. I mean, we looked F L Y !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On our worst days, we could snap a picture that would make my eyes flutter hard enough to kick the 808s in my heart. He was always game to snap as many pictures as I wanted him to. I thought he was just as eager and excited to see us frozen in beauty the way we would be. It wasn’t for ‘likes’ or for public consumption although I made the mistake of sharing our flyness with the world (something that will NEVER happen again. My weddings guests will have to read braille to know what’s happening).

I just loved him. I love pictures. We were fly. It was a triple lutz win worthy of an audience!

But that’s all we ended up being: fly LOOKING.

We were anything but mid-flight.

Yep. We were a crash that looked pretty during the fall. The reality was I was holding hands with a gorgeous weight. For all the times I stared intentionally into his eyes, I fail to understand how I couldn’t see the lies I was being told or the fact that he was an anchor on my hand. A body of bricks. Concrete love, and I was lost in his jungle putting on makeup and pretty dresses.

Venice Beach Plane Failure – during a long period of silence between the two of us. I didn’t know he took this.

Which brings me to the point (finally) of this blog.

It is all too possible to fall in love with a fly ass weight. What does this mean? It means the person (male or female) that you have entered into a relationship with has all your love but no wings, no feathers and no ability to help you fly. No matter how hard you pull them in the direction of up, they will always bring you down. It might not necessarily be on purpose at the onslaught, but there comes a point in the relationship where I believe they make a choice to love you ill and pull you towards ashes and dust. I happen to believe if we are “returned” to Earth after our demise, six feet back into the ground, then our lives are not meant to be lived there; we are supposed to be on the up and up until they lower our caskets or spread our ashes. But there are times when we meet and fall in love with people who can only offer us first base. As the relationship progresses, you start to see the ship isn’t moving and every time you cut the anchor free, another hindrance finds itself in the way of your partnership motion. Congratulations, this is falling in love with a fly weight. 

That weight might dress well, have beautiful eyes that beckon your staring and their skin might appear to be made of golden sunrays but that doesn’t mean their arm doesn’t require a forklift or that their love isn’t the foundation for being grounded. No matter how much they support your grind (which is usually just above the surface) or how often they call themselves “your biggest fan”, they will begin to treat you in ways that don’t reflect what you expect (or what their mouth says). Soon enough, you will become disgruntled and sorrowful when you look around you and see your flight has been halted. Realizing letting go might gift you your travel back will undoubtedly be a painful recognition.

Let go anyway.

Flies vomit when they land btw. .. on whatever they’ve landed on.

The question becomes why is this person a ‘weight’ instead of a wing? Well, there is often one simple answer (although depending on the situation, there may be several more): Jealousy.

The wrong person will see your natural flyness (including but not limited to the way you look, the personality you own, how you carry yourself, how you handle life, how you chase down and achieve your goals and where you are in life) as a hindrance to their personal greatness and the relationship overall. I’m not sure why it is, but some people don’t notice when a person is trying to BUILD WITH them instead of against them. I’m sure it’s associated with whatever baggage they have in tow. But their blindness can keep you out the sky indefinitely while interlocking arms with them and snapping selfies for the gram. Your IG feed can easily become your relationship’s only means of protein.

Jealousy is dangerous, ugly and unloving and it camouflages itself as support, love, and light. But in reality: welcome to the darkroom. It will either kill you or stop your train. Muthafuckas will take from you when they are jealous of you and in a relationship with you. Money itself is too simple. If they know you as a hustler, they will see money as replaceable; they can’t take JUST that (although they will take that too). They take/want your soul. That’s where the satisfaction comes from. Your spirit. Your confidence. Your pride. They take one feather at a time from your wings until they’ve grounded you in a position where they can start trying to mold you into who they now believe you should be to or for them. Their greatness is defined by how weak you are for them. If they can put you in a position to compromise what YOU think, want, know, deserve and push back against, they feel empowered. If they, in their insecurities and fears, shortcomings and missteps, can put an ounce of mental control on us, to tame us, to mend us towards fixing their shit and not working on our own, to pull us down from their words, their ill-fated love, and poor decisions, then they have empowered themselves even more. The more power they collect, the bigger they grow and better control they have over something (usually these people have little control on anything else in their life).

We, the women of great internal power and audacious love, LOOK good on their arms. We look fly. It tells the world what they can pull and keep. It shows people something.

“Look who (s)he walked in with!!”

“How did (S)HE get HER?”

This is ego-lower self food, and it does more speaking on their behalf than they are willing to do for themselves. That’s why they accuse you of caring so much about what other people think. It’s not because you do and they know this. It’s projection baby!! When I tried getting back w/my ex in the late summer of 2017, I hosted a party shortly afterward with my friends. He got mad that he wasn’t invited and accused me of caring about how my guests would look at me if they knew he was back around. Let’s be 100 tho: I couldn’t give a fuck what anyone thought about who I choose to love and why. It was never that. It was all about what I thought about it and I wasn’t ready. But that grassroots attempt at a mindfuck almost worked. THEY care what other people think. Don’t fall for the projection!  Their (wo)manhood has plenty of stock invested in the “fly look” of the two of you that is based on your flyness PRE-their ass.

Here we are: these daring, brilliant, talented women with exquisite beauty that we don’t even rely on. Women who know ourselves.  Women who care for our loved ones. The villagers. Women who uphold honor, love, and respect and demand all of it. Women who build the table and pull out our own chairs. Women who aren’t content with chasing dreams; we massacre goals and create new ones to tackle.

To have US on their arm shows the world they are fly.

Then WE look fly in pictures.

No one can see our secret: that our arms are attached to weights.

And no wing can fly above an anchor. The only means is cancellation or cutting the ropes. It may be one of these most painful retractions of your life. You will ask questions that won’t generate responses that kiss it, kiss it better. Your trust may be broken as well as your heart and your mental state might be challenged for a period of days or weeks (and for some, months). You’ll indeed feel HEAVY as fuck !!!!!!!!!!!

Photo by ANKH Productions

As if you weigh 3 tons and can’t be bothered to pull your weight throughout an entire day (or you may instantly feel great, unbothered and ready for a do-over with a better candidate). But trust me when I say releasing the hand/arm that you are holding, snapping pictures with and looking good next to (also known as a WEIGHT) will open the sky up for you. The sidewalk will become a liftoff. You need not run. Just keep walking.

I assure you, as God and myself is my witness, you will be flying before you know it. While there might not be a hand to hold onto during your ascent, don’t trip. Fuck em and feed em’ concrete! FLY sis. Evict any negative energy from that person (pictures off cloud, phone, old gifts, left items, etc) and move UP with your life.

Fly until you fly into someone already up there, looking for you….we gotta learn that stopping to catch your breath doesn’t mean to pick up worm unless you’re eating it.

Don’t accept less,

Don’t be sorry,

Photo by ANKH Productions

and never settle for being grounded after you’ve left your mom’s house.

~J

 

***Dedicated to my sisterfriend that inspired this conversation recently. I hope you know who you are <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 27th: Pt III, Love is a Two-Way Mirror

September 27th 2017.

September 27th wasn’t the day I got quietly engaged or destination married. And it wasn’t sad. Matter a fact, creating those imaginary thoughts in this blog series made me feel goofy in a sense. I really do love, love and I take it for granted as much as it takes me. I grew up lacking an emotional male connection. There is no denying the effects it has on your growing up when one tries to give a love to someone they’ve never properly received it from. This isn’t to take away from the stepfather I had; he was a great provider. But our reality is my pre-teen and teen years were spent arguing about who spoke to who and not about emotional paternal guidance. It’s unfortunate but hey, what can you do? You do your best with what you know and I suspect my stepdad is no different.

What I know about love and loving men comes from what I have collected from my attempts at loving. I have pieced together what I THINK is good love – albeit healthy love – based on what I have done right and wrong in past relationships. The biggest problem with this is I’m picking up individual needs and applying them to other individuals, with other fucking needs!!! It’s not fair or right and it’s not how love -healthy love – really works.

I have struggled to understand how I could be attracting the type of men that I do when I don’t do the shit that they don’t. What I experienced in this last relationship was nothing like what I felt I was giving. I gave honesty – I received lies. I gave I threw away memories in the trash that I had kept for years – he kept his white woman friend on the side doing who knows what. To me, on the surface (which is basically where I have been), this is a no-brainer. Why would these things happen to me if these aren’t the types of things I’ am doing? How could I attract them if I wasn’t doing them? Is it karma?

“..but love, it is YOU that I take for granted.

Curse you to be damned for what a human being has done when it was ‘we’ who spoke French first.”

~3461, JYork

Maybe it’s my loaded karma. Love owes me an ass whooping  for some of my not-blogged-about shit so there’s that. But what I also have come to understand is it the surface things that I didn’t realize I was putting so much stock into don’t matter. My stable job or my new(er) truck or how many times I can fly to New York in a year won’t count in the preliminary hearing.

What brings these particular moths to my flame is the energy of my inability to offer proper love. I am attracting at the level I am LOVING; not at the level I am in life.

Huge difference.

Until now, I haven’t known this. I hadn’t ever questioned HOW I give my love.  I have loved at the top of my game every single time. I’ve given all of me with each trip down the hopeful road to forever but it’s been a point of foolishness at times. Everyone doesn’t get all of you. People are supposed to work for your heart and the love you give out. You can’t be so hopeful that you give away all of your goods (and I’m not talking about sex at all) too quickly. You need to be able to reel yourself back when the time presents that necessary, which it will more often than not.

Otherwise, you will constantly sink in the pitfalls of the wrong men. I thought I knew this. Shiiiiit, by this relationship, I thought I was great at this. Part of my actionable-love was being a giver but you’re not supposed to do that. You can’t go around giving and giving – the only thing you’ll do is end up with a bunch of taking/taken ass men in your past. The majority of these men won’t help develop and deepen your understanding of love. They will keep you operating at a lower level. Sometimes that level will be beneath where you are in life otherwise.

If you learn to love through your experiences, then who you are experiencing love with matters a great deal.

I’m not sure how those of us who missed that father experience (or even a supplemental male role model) are supposed to properly learn to love the opposite sex (granted that’s what we are attracted to). It’s the same for heterosexual men who lack mothers; how are they to know how to care for a woman? Date a guy with mother issues and you will find he is just as volatile and emotionally inconsistent as women with father troubles. Then there are the people who grew up with no parents.

All these single people learning through DIY methods on each other.

Are our mothers (fathers) supposed to provide sufficient love from both sides of the perspective when the other is not available? Being the ‘mother and the father’ is more than showing up to sports games and cooking dinner and cleaning and providing. It’s also loving, teaching and guiding this young person who will eventually be an older person. They will live and love based on the knowledge they obtained at home. In the event this information is not properly passed on to you, where does it derive from? Aside from immediate counseling or intentionally seeking a mentor of the opposite sex, how do you learn to love who you will love?

When is the last time you were in a relationship consciously loving someone badly? And “love” doesn’t just mean how you show affection or support. It’s also how you deal with opposition within the relationship, how you communicate, what you hold important. . . it’s a listing of traits and ideas. I’ve looked at love with such high regard that I never stopped to question if  I was giving it defectively.

I saw that Will Smith posted this today about Jada Pinkett and love:

via Will Smith

I’ve never thought of love in such a grand way when it comes to giving it. Until now. I’ve always assumed that the energy I give off through my love was not just enough but right! Despite the notion that I don’t operate out of ego in certain situations, there are countless others of which I do.

And maybe that’s the key to learning how to love properly. The right person will challenge your love in a such a way that won’t make you question yourself but will reveal the needs for growth.  You have to be able and willing to do the necessary examinations on yourself. Our ego tells us if the other person isn’t meeting our current demand of the month, then we don’t have to meet theirs. Highe- self tells us that it doesn’t matter what they aren’t doing. Besides, these aren’t demands; they are ways to elevate. If we take Will Smith’s perspective into account, then that means the other person is not operating from ego in suggestion they make or needs that require addressing. They understand that the growth of you, as you should be not as they would have you, is the growth of all things attached to you. But that takes a special type of person. One that is crafted especially for your individuality and I’m not sure if you get one or more…

…but I can say I’ve had one. Unfortunately, he wasn’t my forever, although still a special and necessary person. We were mirrors of each other in a number of ways. We each gave what we had to give.

You can’t get someone to challenge your love until you are ready to receive that challenge. I’m guessing the more you transcend, the more you open yourself up to others who have peaked to that higher level of self as well. Ultimately this should lead to your one person if the tale of a one and one only exists. If not, then at least the pool feels more like the waters you think you should be swimming in.

By the time I met XXXXX, my idea of love had derived from all the wrong people. Even if you take the best parts of the wrong situations you can’t get a healthy idea of how to love on an elevated level.

Assessing how you love means crashing headfirst back into your past and finding out who you took your lessons from. Who made you believe X = Y? Were they ever logical? What percentage of you is loving from an absence: father, brother, dominate male figure? What makes you believe you give healthy love and how can you validate those beliefs?

There are plenty other questions one could ask themselves in an effort to find out how they give what they hope to receive. I found myself asking a ton of them on September 27th. I didn’t get it that day, but I eventually understood that I’m loving at a lower level while thinking my affection style is as advanced as I am with the rest of life.

Nah sis,

nah.

This doesn’t mean I’m less deserving of trustworthy, good treatment but it does mean that what I am pulling in won’t get higher than what I’m putting out.

I questioned myself for weeks trying to understand why I kept seeing signs telling me it’s me. And this may not even be all of it. It’s a huge revelation nonetheless. XXXXX doesn’t feel like a mistake. He feels like a culmination of all the lessons I needed to learn collectively. My reflection in his eyes wasn’t always heels and pretty dresses and I saw it for myself. We were a beautiful but explosive situation that could have been but ….

Mourning one while looking at another heartbreaker DJ. #Lifeism

is what it is.

If you are not ready to see yourself through love’s eyes, then you will not attract someone that will make you. You will keep getting duds and thinking everyone is shitting on you until you advance to your personal next level. I never met anyone that challenged how I gave my love. I guess you could say I’ve collected hella good and bad ideas and called them the right way. But they were too often based on faulty people and situations, acts of survival and loss of self. I’m a whole different woman today than that the girl that collected her ideas of love.

As mad as might be for a long time coming about things that happened, I also must give myself space to grow. That means recognizing self not as a victim but how I contributed to our demise. I pulled in a certain type of energy (man) because I was at a particular level of lovING. My hurt can’t make me see our failures to each other as something that overrides our successes. We gave birth to a newness in each other that I don’t think can be denied. Our relationship turned our skin inside out so that we could both see how much ego we were operating from. There was a genuine love created but it couldn’t be sustained at the levels were both on. He was the first person to do many things, most of all being the first to make me look at myself.

Our loss should be so great that causes us to look inward in an effort to eradicate the possibility of this ever happening again.

September 27th wasn’t spent in the white vacation secrets of Santorini, Greece or engaging in Puerta Vallarta by way of cruise ship. It was a slow day, full of TV, cleaning, and self-observation. We had only recently stopped talking to each other and it all felt fresh again. But – we tried.

I pray we both learned from it all . . .

Accidental phoNo pic from fair

 

Shopping in Walmart like old days

If Will Smith is right, then many of us have had it all wrong including me. Love means trusting in who you fell in love with on a vibration so high that you understand their natural evolution is a prerequisite to you getting what you need in the relationship. It’s not wishing them into your fantasies-come-alive. Love doesn’t envy the yester-you; instead, it will cherish your right now and be inspired for who you will grow into. Love means knowing how to chin check your ego because that hoe will have you single AF and running through I Wish I Never Met You music.

We’ll get to my cracked reflection in January.

 

“Not All Black Men”: #PinningTheTailOnTheDonkeyOfTheDay

“Most men fuck women to destroy them . .  .”

~TK Kirkland

 

For nearly 39 years, I have watched black men drop the ball on me in every way imaginable. Starting with my natural father and blood brother to the man I planned to marry to the guys on the street and complete strangers and the play brothers and the guys I grew up with – -*the men I love so dearly have often left me hanging or worked overtime at disrespecting the very nature of my heart. Or at least, this is how it FEELS. I am currently searching my reserve tank for something to keep believing in them, loving them and fighting with and for them but it has thinned to the thickness of a single hair follicle. Recently, I watched a black man tear down a well-known black business woman in Indy. He trashed her restaurant, her food quality, and her prices. After legions of supporters chimed in, in her favor, he went to battle with each one (mostly women), myself included. He trolled our pages and insulted us based on what he was able to see. He referred to the sole black man (that I saw at that time) as a bitch ass nigga because he defended her. He even disrespected her mother by calling her a bitch (after she stated she was her mother). While other people get angry and go back and forth with this type of stuff, I get sad and seemingly ill. I can’t participate because I start shaking internally. My eyes cross, my heart breaks and tears sometimes form.

This has been a relatively hard blog to write.I’ve feared that my current relationship standing and my past baggage would sponsor a blog post that was too full of ‘black girl attitude’ instead of magic, and come off as whiny, full of complaints and inexperienced with more than one type of black man. What I am about to say is not without merit nor do I lack taking ownership for what I have entertained and allowed to permeate my life (in the cases where I could help it). I’m not another blogger using her platform to tear down the black man. I’m not that. I am a whole woman with validity to her claims, experience under her belt and just enough wisdom to know that some shit just ain’t right. I’m fine with being labeled as angry because….well, fuck it, I AM!

And I have EVERY right to be; to authentically feel WTF I am already feeling! I don’t hate black men and I am absolutely still full of love for them.  It’s just time for me to take the sugar spoon away and be real: our trust has been broken and our bond needs critical repairing, but no one is fine-tuning this shit except me and I’m damn near done completely.

I LOVE black men and I always have. I’ve loved them hard, relentlessly, and wildly on purpose; with intention and out loud. I could never claim to be perfect and I’ve always been on the learning curve of love, but I’ve given it as best as I had to put out.  I’m here for them. Once upon a time, I wrote for and performed to them. I loved them on stage as much as off. I got my first standing ovation from a room full of hood rich dudes who were there to stand their hip-hop grounds on a night that poetry had tried to ease in and take over. The poem, “Convicted Felon”, was written about struggles of re-entry and they ate it up. I wanted them to know that I was present for them and their struggles. In Louisville one night, I won audience favorite after doing a poem about black men being kings. That came w/a $100 and a standing ovation in a room crowded with black men. The hugs and high fives left me feeling like I had done my job: I let them know that SOMEONE (me) is rooting for them and can see them! I’ve never masked or hidden my love, support, and desire for their presence in my life, yet I find this has made me nothing more than a target with a fat ass.

“…and even if I end up spending my life without one of you/I will forever long to hold onto you like the sun longs to hold onto blue skies that are decorated by white clouds./ I will forever try to build you up/not tear you down.”

I’m not in denial about my rocky relationship with black men. I must specify “black men” because that’s who I have dealt with. I know other men of other races do the same shit; but my allegiance is to black men and gotdammit, I want my fucking reciprocity! More than that, I want this breach repaired. I don’t want to have to rely on men of other races – I WANT to love black men; but I don’t want to love for two anymore. It’s time that I just do my part; not both of ours. I have so much material where I have written them into the parts of my life that I needed or wanted them. I didn’t call them kings in a poem and treat them like peasants in real life. I’ve created fairytales with my words and I admit that was a mistake. In hindsight, I wonder did I think that I could write myself into a healthy space with black men in general? Had I been thinking that whole time that I could show them my authentic self via poetry and that might attract like-minds and good fruits of the harvest? Because if I did, I can say that it didn’t work.

It attracted more enemy-like predators. They saw my vulnerabilities and used them to their advantage while assisting in destroying my overall feelings regarding black men in general. Time and time again, I’ve been nothing more than an experimental situationship for them, and I’ve watched them ride off on white horses with other women. Literally.

PICTURE IT:

During my sophomore or junior year of high school, I was called a nigger by a white man entering a nearby Walgreen’s that I was leaving out of. We almost bumped into each other and that was his response. It was so unexpected that I don’t think I responded. I was shocked quite frankly and I was also skipping school sooooo, I didn’t tell anyone. That was the first and only time that I’ve been called that to my face, although I’m sure many have mumbled it about me under their cowardly breath. I was called a ho when I was in the seventh grade. The guyS that started spreading rumors about me at age 13, some true and plenty others embellished at that time, were all black. They lived in the same neighborhood as me and went to the same school. These guys had me thinking I was a slut before I ever lost my virginity. I was bullied, laughed and pointed at, made fun of me and alienated…all because of black boy joy, circa 1992. I took the long way home from the store, I had to transfer schools and I literally peeped around corners to see if I saw any trace of them when I was outside.  They made my life HELL. I lost my ‘friends‘. My shaky self-esteem plummeted and my reputation in my new neighborhood was trashed by the first two people I met: black boys. This continued until I left the neighborhood for good in 1998 @19 years old.

My point of that is not to rehash old memories but to show a juxtaposition of the hurt inflicted upon me by white men vs. black ones. It’s TROUBLING !!! Do I trust white men more than black men (or at all for that matter)??

I’m not stupid. I know they really don’t GAF about me. But I am an observer and what I have seen and experienced has shown me that most of the black men I come across don’t appreciate, want or love me either. It feels worse than that one time Walgreens occurrence or the subconscious thoughts other races may have because black men are who I associate and fight with and love greatly. I don’t want to feel this way about them. I WANT to feel like they look at me and see light and love, but I don’t really think so anymore. My own father and brother never saw worth in me. My brother has a bunch of children. I’m no one’s aunt. It makes me wonder what I did to deserve this shit? I’ve been stolen from, used, abused, left out of town, molested, nearly raped, killed and of course, cheated on and lied to while looking me in my eyes all by black men. Some of this I played a role in but not all of it and I’m not willing to take EVERYONE’s blame on my shoulders anymore. I’ve beat myself up for years over the choices and things I’ve done in the name of love or men. THIS BLOG IS NOT WRITTEN WITHOUT PRE-ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF MYSELF! I am responsible for what I allow. It’s just right now, I’m allowing myself to be honest.

I’m often perplexed as I listen, read and watch the seemingly effortless disrespect and mistreatment of black women by black men and boys. It bothers me to no end and maybe that is because my own personal relationships have always been met with an ICU-ending. It doesn’t matter what the context of our relationship was; just about every black man that I’ve ever had a relationship of any significant sort with has left me feeling unprotected and disposable. #NotAllBlackMen

I recently realized that I’ve been giving out labels that come with expectations to men who don’t want to or simply won’t meet those expectations. Matter a fact, I don’t know that they even wanted the labels. That’s not fair of me. These men aren’t required to protect me in any capacity (and they don’t).

What have I done to deserve their protection or respect aside from being born awesome? These the types of questions I ask myself before writing blogs like this.

Photo by ANKH Productions

But I’m not tripping: There IS a lack of protection by the black man of the black woman. I’m not the only person who feels this way. Other blogs have been written before this. VSB wrote one and received quite the backlash (from black men) because how dare they call them out on their shit? I got into a back and forth on FB with a guy about that exact blog because he wanted me to give him proof that it was valid. Instead of saying ‘fuck you and your proof’, I stopped the conversation. #IAmTheProof

I know if a man is reading this blog, his thoughts whilSt reading this might sound like “well, it’s #NotAllBlackMen.” While my personal relationships play a great deal into my perceptions, it’s not solely based on me. I sit and observe, listen and read things that further push me over the edge all the time. I envy the women who proudly profess their support and love for black men. I see stuff like this all the time:

It’s not that I don’t agree because I do. But I don’t feel it reciprocated in action towards me and never have. And so I also have mad respect for those who stand firmly in their disgruntled truth: that they are disappointed and untrusting of these beautifully created, melanted humans. When one of the young ladies from my neighborhood lab told me about two young guys, no older than 14, cat-called and heckled her and another 10-year-old little girl, I was sick. Their behavior was problematic AF and also learned. It may have even been taught to them. The young ladies asked to be left alone and were met with more advances. The ten year was a bit scared and the 14-year-old told me that she knew better than to show her fear because it would only increase their behavior more. TEN. FOURTEEN. They shouldn’t have to experience that and young boys shouldn’t be taught that girls (women) are owed to them. The inability to accept no for an answer or resorting to increased haggling/violence (resulting in fear for the girls/women) comes from a sense of entitlement.  #WhoTaughtYouToHateMe

The Common Denominator

Maybe the problem IS me. Seeing as though I am the common denominator, maybe I’m the issue. Do I hold them too high to their mistakes? Group them all together unfairly? Because it’s #NotAllBlackMen and I know that. I’ve seen ‘good’ black men; they are just a rare sighting in my personal life. Do I take how black men act towards me and other black women too damned personal? Does my disappointment stem from my inadvertent daddy/brother-search in niggas who are only good for slinging dick left to right or loving me tight for a few months or a couple of years? Do you know how many seasonal ‘brothers‘ I’ve put in my heart since poetry came into my life? #TewDahmnMany. You know how many of those brothers called/inboxed/dropped by to see if I was surviving my newest emotional apocalypse? Not even half. And honestly, I guess I haven’t done that for them either. It’s not their job to come check on me; ‘brother/bro’ is just a title – not a lifestyle they have to live. I take the blame for unnecessarily putting dudes in exalted titles and hoping no unspoken expectations are broken. I am no longer that growing teenager that needs her big bro or dad to fight these dudes for her; I fight my own battles. Kendria stands up for herdamnself against the atrocities of how she’s been treated. I’ve learned to stop giving away permanent titles to people who may be temporary. If my biological brother thought of me as trash, what chance did I stand with anyone else in that department? For these reasons, identifying the role I play in the demise of my own heart and respect for my black brothers is crucial.

Overall, I feel extremely failed by the black men I’ve loved. According to social media, it’s ALL me. It’s me suffering from low self-esteem or not loving myself enough. I attract these types of men due to my energy, says the media of socialites. My energy brings the shit to the plants huh? These damn memes and posts get on my EMM EFFIN nerves!!! It’s not that they don’t have truth (for SOME), but they do rush to put all the blame on the person who was mistreated. We love to preach to women and tell them to step to the mirror and love themselves more. There is some weird societal enjoyment in suggesting that the deficit resides solely in us as opposed to telling men to love themselves enough to realize without us, there is nothing. Where are the memes and posts and status’ that suggest to men that they stop using and abusing women? The memes that challenge their self-love based on their mistreatment of us?

In Summation . . .

I have a memory during my teen years of sneaking off into the alley with my neighborhood obsession. His name was Devon. I loved Devon for some reason although, even at such an early age, he didn’t respect me. Maybe he didn’t know how….nah, he knew how. He did it well with others but he saw the cracks in me and used them to his advantage. He was one of the first two guys I met when I moved on Cornelius. One day, while still a virgin, I met him in the alley and let jack off on a pair of checkerboard shorts I wore. The garage we stood behind belonged to a house I’d later move into at age 27. When he was done, I can’t remember what it was I wanted from him – a kiss or hug? For him to walk me back to the front? I don’t know, but it was something that he wasn’t willing to give. He zipped his pants up and started walking down the alley while I stood against the garage in tears. I will never forget him looking me dead in the eyes, walking backward and laughing. Then he took off running.

There it is folks.

That is the summation of my experience with black men. #NotAllOfEmTho

You know I gotta say that before one of them gets their boxer briefs in a bunch and hunts for me with the ‘you hate black men’ inscribed pitchforks. LOL.

Black men don’t like being talked about and called out on their shit. They don’t like being the center of attention if it ain’t what they deem good attention. They want women to stand by them, fighting, fucking & loving no matter what. My ex complained that our sex life wasn’t satisfying – but he carelessly had been telling lies the whole time. How do you have the expectations of getting your dick sucked on a regular when you have all these secrets, plus a white woman on the side? That goes back to that entitlement. It has been my experience that the men I have loved have all felt entitled to my body. They treat me like I OWE them sex. I once told a man I was not in the mood for sex and he didn’t respect it at all. When I later told him that it hurt me how he treated me that night, he called me crazy and said I was tripping. Some of them think we are deserving of their inability to take ‘no’ for an answer. That same man wrote hundreds of poems to women – calling us Queens and talking about what we deserved. But wait – I should blame myself for that. Right? You’ve read it before in my blogs. Or maybe not because when I wrote in great detail what happened, I privatized it days later. I have been protective of black men to a fault. Even my ex, who I blasted across social media. I’ve tried to rewrite how the public saw him many times because I love him. I know his good side; he loved me, although quite incorrectly. I got mad at myself for calling him out. But the reality was, once our ship sank, my body erupted like a volcano that had been FULL to the max of niggashyt that had been collected over 38 years. There was no time to make any other choice except scream at the top of my lungs. 8 months later, I am still smoldering.

Devon walking away from me in that alley was quite the significant foreshadow to my future. The black men I’ve known (#notallblackmen) would much rather piss on me and laugh in my face as they walk away and watch me cry about it. It’s as if they get a hard-on because of it. Becoming Devon’s girlfriend later in life symbolizes how I accept the bullshit and hope for greater anyway. I almost included an example of the few good men that I know to help balance the blog with black Light. But this isn’t about them. Today, I hope by purging this from my system that I will set forth a chain reaction of personal healing. Not just healing for my most recent ex, but a true repairing of my relationship with black men. I don’t want to sink into the abyss of fuck them.

But I got both heels and a spare in the quicksand.

I will pull myself out without a doubt. I always do and it’s always me and God. But who I will be when I emerge is only God’s best guess. If most men fuck women to destroy them, then consider me in repair from being fucked and fucked over and now standing on an emtpy train of my pieces, trying to reconfigure who TF I am. This is what devastation looks like on me:

Photo by ANKH Productions

 

SN: I do want to shout out a man I’ve referred to as my brother for years now. I won’t name him here, but he sent me over 70 text messages in an effort to help me stitch these breaches back together. He also reaffirmed that I don’t need to suffer in silence. That even though my feelings might not be shared by anyone but me, I have the right not to sit in silence and pretend. I’ve done enough loving out loud to be able to sit down and say “I’m tired boss.”

Thank you. I appreciate THAT push from a black man who knows my story.

~j

 

Intensive Care Unit: The Surgical Yes

I started binge watching Grey’s Anatomy a few weeks back and ever since the onslaught of Owen and Christina Yang’s relationship, I have found myself entranced by the storyline. Yang and Owen had an indisputable love for each other, but their conflicting overall desires for their lives as individuals and as a couple wouldn’t allow them to prosper. Over the course of several seasons, the audience is pulled from north to south in their love story. They have passion, desire, and unfiltered love; it’s undeniably present. But Christina doesn’t want to be who Owen wants her to be (a mother). And Owen can’t shrink his needs to fit Christina’s plans for her future (winning the Harper-Avery surgeon award). On one of the final episodes of her Grey’s Anatomy career, Yang finds herself asking a newly-paralyzed but conscious husband if he would like to end any life-saving techniques, as his distraught but supportive wife stands on side listening. At the exact moment of his response, Yang envisions two different scenarios, neither of which resulted in dual happiness for both her and Owen.

In the first scenario, Owen’s desires to be a father were fulfilled by Yang’s willingness to carry and care for not one, but TWO children (keep in mind she NEVER wanted kids). She lost or gave away the opportunities at winning the research award she once passionately sought after and secretly confessed to her best friend Meredith that she knew messed up. She aged with a disturbed happiness that glowed across her face as she introduced the award recipient who was one of her former interns. This is what self-disappointment looks like.Related image

In the second flash, the shoe was on the other foot. Christina was on her 4th award win and dedicated her time to continued research efforts. Owen, on the other hand, still wanted to be a father and had turned to drinking to cope with the dreams he gave up on for love. This eventually led to him being considered for termination due him working under the influence and creating a hostile environment for the attendings. Christina no longer wanted a relationship with him and while talking to Meredith, she asked her “don’t let me go back to him.“During her award acceptance speech, she asked a series of three questions that encapsulated her daydreaming and aroused my inquisitiveness.

“Do you know who you are? Do you know what has happened to you? Do you want to live this way?

I watched their relationship and particularly this episode during a time in my life where I was mourning the loss of my own failed-future alongside someone. I found myself relating my failures (and wins) to what Yang was going through. Who would have guessed that I would find myself connecting to a fictional, non-black Cardiothoracic surgeon who was once in love with a black man and ultimately married a white one? I found so many parts of my personality showing through her passion for …..herself! When she asked herself these three questions, she inadvertently asked me. And now, after the revelations and epiphanies I had from watching these old reruns, I am asking myself AND you!

“Do you know who you are? Do you know what has happened to you? Do you want to live this way?

I tend to use my age as a scale to measure my life’s progress. It’s not because I really subscribe to the idea that by a certain age certain things should have happened (although I do believe there is a hint of truth to it depending on the circumstances). It’s more because I tend to look at things from the standpoint of how many years I’ve been on earth and allotted the time to get shit done! So when I say at age 38, I should be able to answer these questions without blinking, it’s not because that’s my worldview on humans, age and progression but rather because, after three decades of living, I should fucking know these answers….even if they change in a week!!

In the circumstances where Christina gave birth to two children, she was miserable! It was on her face, with her plastic smile and her aloof conversations. She looked like she regretted her choices, and she did; she had long stated that she never wanted to be a mother and now here she was the mother of two! It wasn’t her dream she was living – it was Owens.

No one wants to or even should live that way. It’s mentally and emotionally dangerous. Owen was in complete bliss as he played with the boys while Yang confessed to Meredith that she knew she had made a mistake. When one of her kids got sick in the middle of her research, she passed her award-winning project off to someone else, who ultimately ended up being the recipient of the award she had spent a lifetime hoping to earn. She had given up her dreams to live for someone else’s, and in the process, the things she wanted most were never achieved. It was a life she was born for that never finished getting actualized. The minute she chose Owen’s dreams over hers, she died and was reborn as a version of herself that he was creating.

So what is the point of this blog? I am asking both myself and you the reader if you are able to answer these questions and what you will do if the answer to the last question is NO? At some point in my last relationship, I began to feel like Christina. I had not been rewatching old Grey’s episodes at the time and maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have felt so wrong. I started to question whether I was eager to marry the wrong person. I never told him these things because I never wanted him to feel like he wasn’t enough. It wasn’t that – everything that he was at face value was enough for me. But I was concerned that in my love for him and excitement for our future, I would end up compromising parts of dreams that my long-term joy needed me to experience.Image may contain: one or more people and closeup

I wanted to leave the city and much like Christina, I expressed that from the start. I never wanted to spend an indefinite amount of time in Indianapolis, but I had fallen in love with an active father of two children. Who was I to move him away? He used to tell me not to worry; that it would all work itself out and I trusted in that. But in the back of mind, I worried that I would hit a point of no return with Indianapolis and he wouldn’t even have teenagers yet (his kids were under 13). I was willing to be the puppeteered Yang over the authentic Christina. I was trying to prove to myself that the things I had come to find I needed weren’t that big of a deal in comparison to love. That love was, dare I say it: ENOUGH.

When you get fed up with your own fronting, as posted by Tamar Braxton

Sometimes, our authenticity will come at a price.  Listen, if you know anything about me, you know I love me some love! It’s beautiful and in many ways, it will carry and sustain you and be enough. But love isn’t the end all be all and it’s certainly low on the priority scale when it comes to goal-setting and achieving unless that’s what all you really want. 

If we are seeking a true unimpeachable human experience, then sometimes, that means choosing ourselves OVER the things that come into our lives and compromise who we are and/or what we want.  Selfishness is a form of self-care. When Christina was envisioning these scenarios, she didn’t lack love and respect for Owen nor did she think he was out to hurt her. To the contrary, she adored HIM. But she didn’t adore motherhood or want it. . . EVER. She wanted to pursue her passions and dreams and to her, they held the same weight of importance and value as motherhood. When she attempted to see herself living without her dream while creating a world for Owen to be happy, she saw sadness and disappointment. Regret. On the flip side, when it was Owen who she imagined doing the sacrificing, it led to his misery and ultimate downfall. His lack of personal fulfillment lead to him becoming an alcoholic. You are going to cope with the decisions you’ve made and it’s not guaranteed to be in a healthy way, so you might as well create and live the life you envision, alongside people whose ultimate goals aren’t out of alignment with yours. At no point did both of their goals find a common ground and therefore, there was no possibility of true happiness, or better yet longstanding JOY between the two of them.

The Bottom Line:

It doesn’t matter what your gender is or how you identify sexually or beyond; choosing to exist in the stories of other people rather than the passionate future you desire to create for yourself will undoubtedly cause you great unhappiness. There has to be a way to co-exist and climb the ladders of life successes together OR understanding and ACCEPTING that you can’t be together due to the vast differences; anything else is just wasting love. It will more than likely HURT to choose yourself sometimes; it’s like a surgery with no anesthesia. But when you emerge from recovery, you are a better, more healthy YOU. It’s worth it to choose yourself when you otherwise being left out of the equation.

Do you know who you are –

What do you like? What is your perception of the world and of life? What brings you joy and what causes you grief or pain? What upsets you? How do you love? Are you awake, alert and involved or are you just existing? What do you want for yourself? What would make you feel successful? What are you dreams and where do they lie? 

Do you know what has happened to you –

What caused you to think and feel this way? Are you ok with that? Who hurt you? Who made you laugh? Where were you when the ball dropped? What did it look like when you got back up? How long were you down? How hard do you fly? What shapes you? What caused you to fear? What has helped you believe? Who did or do you run to? Did you know that you own the rights to everything that has happened to you? Now, what are you going to do with that? 

Do you want to live this way –

If you died today, on a scale of one – five with five being the highest possible feeling, how would you rate your overall satisfaction with how you lived your life?  What surgery needs to be done to achieve a 5…today? How can this answer be YES?!

Welcome to the Intensive Care Unit. Extreme care will be taken of yourself by yourself from this point on. Take a second and ask yourself Christina Yang’s questions. Allow your imagination to create potential layouts of what your future may look like depending on the door you choose. And when you are searching for the answers, be sure to open discernment’s door for the people, places and/or things that you need to let go of. You will find this to be a necessary surgery in order to get a Yes answer at the end of the third question.  

WOMAN’ing: Ch 69 – The (re)Tired Red Cape, Part V of V.

You know why this is Chapter 69? Nothing to do with sex. Everything to do with no matter how you slice it or what way you turn it, the results are the same.

I NEVER intended on being Superwoman.

black-wonder-woman-e1426461792686

Never.

But once I decided to adult, I was immediately outfitted for my red flowing cape that would hang off my back no matter what outfit I put on. When I wear a dress, there is a long, flowing cape behind me. When I wear a suit, the cape is blowing in the wind and sometimes wrapping around my pants legs near the thighs. In sweats, my cape looks like it doesn’t belong but it’s still there riding my back like a cliché phrase about monkeys. And when I am naked, there she is: my cape. My big ass red cape, hanging from neck as if it were sewn into my skin.

Am I to never depart from this role of superwoman?

What’s funny about this title, is there are countless songs dedicated to the independence of women, particularly black women. For some reason, black women have to make their independence known to the world but the dosage must be in small teaspoons at a time. We wouldn’t want to emasculate the men or intimidate other women. We also wouldn’t want Jill with the Stringy Hair to feel like we were coming for her space right? So when we go to the club dancing to I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T, and songs that fit that culture of music, we must make sure we only spell it out once so as not to offend others. Lol. Superwoman – the title that nearly every black woman has but no one really wants.

Folks think we want to be superwoman and that is simply not the truth. We were not built to maintain life and all of its ups, downs and mediums, all the stress and trauma, the good and the great, alone. I don’t believe that. I believe it’s possible to never spend your life with someone else. I believe it’s possible to try love and decide for yourself that you are better without it and that’s ok. But I also believe that we were made to have a partner. The fact that pickings are slim and partners, true PARTNERS, are few and far in between has made more women Superwoman than ever intended to be. We have to be responsible for EVERYTHING. EVERY DAMN THING. We are not just head of household, we are the head nigga in charge and for those that don’t like that term, sorry. That’s the way the saying goes . .  .

“**yelling at maximum lung capacity*

I’M TIRED OF BEING SUPERWOMAN DAMMIT!!!!!!!!!!!

We are the preacher, the teacher, the mother, the daughter and sister, the wife or girlfriend and for some, the side chick (you may not like a woman’s choices but  that doesn’t mean she isn’t out her making other Super fucking decisions). We are the  bread winners, the cooks, the maids, the stress relief, the emotional beings, the love leaders and the dream catchers. In addition to all of this, we must be responsible for goals, dreams, spirituality, teachings, education, orgasms, and manage any mental health issues or problems we may face, all while spending up to a week per month bleeding and trying not to be pissed off about it.
WoooMFinSah.”

Nothing stops when we have kids. It doesn’t stop when our cycles have us bent over the toilet trying to vomit up our mistakes of the last 3 weeks. Nothing ends because we have a bad day or are struggling through another bout of depression. Nothing stops for us – we must keep going.

I know, I know, all of this is true for men and women, white and black.

Welp, I’M TALMBOUT BLACK WOMEN TODAY!!!

While I do believe that women of all races are tasked with holding the world up on their shoulders, it’s no secret that black women are expected to hold the world while flying through the air without dropping a single thing, all while looking good for our flip floppy ass men. If you are a white woman reading this and find yourself offended by the idea that your privilege prevents you from being spoken for in this particular blog, then I advise you not to return here because there is more where this comes from and I can’t tell you when I will vent my black life opinions and experiences and won’t hold them back for sugary words and friendly comments. Besides, if we were being absolute 100 about it, what it means to be a white superwoman is a completely different definition than the black woman’s experience as such, AND someone is always looking to cape for a white woman whether it be white men, BLACK MEN, society, the community, etc….. A white woman’s superwoman cape is always at the dry cleaners and she never takes it there herself. A black woman’s cape is always attached to her MFing back.

We are the ones that seem to be continuously pushed to the bottom of the totem pole no matter how hard or fast we climb. Our men turn their backs on us at the drop of a white tear, jobs act like they don’t see our qualifications despite our continuing advancement up the education meters and journalists try to refute any good information released about us at every opportunity to click-clack their typing fingers.

I had another blog that I started writing on this topic but decided to start over from scratch after a viral FB thread that I scrolled upon. By now, you may have seen it and might even know some of the women commenting. I don’t at the present time know the origin of the thread or what brought about the tearfully white comment but a precious and privileged white woman left this in a black women’s comment section: “I wish I could have been born a black woman because you all are so strong”, or some derivative of bullshit like such. The post has gone viral because of the eternal dragging that she received, but the comment and the subsequent responses got me thinking about the title of superwoman and our addictive disdain of such.

Superwoman Can’t Die…

…Because if she does, the rest of everything that has been dependent on us for survival will fold and not many of us will chance that. Either we have to be taking care of the kids or going to work or working on our schoolwork or cooking and cleaning or tending to our men or finding out they are cheating and caring for our own feelings or caring for ailing family or marching on the frontlines or pushing our not-for-profit or having contractions while signing paperwork for keys to new buildings after burying close family members and remembering to feel beautiful inside and out. Much like a run-on sentence, there are no breaks and or breaths. We push through and plow unbroken grounds in search of ourselves all while trying to maintain our professional and personal lives. Sure, as I said earlier, this is nothing no one else hasn’t experienced. No, you don’t need to be a black woman to go through this. But as a black woman, I guarantee the Superwoman title is exacerbated by a thousand knots. Let’s use that FB comment I saw for example, which you can find here. One of the commenters shared some screenshots from a black man that inboxed her separately asking if “all white women were considered ugly” and how “in his opinion, most of them look better than black woman, who look like dogs” or some other type of animal he referred to us as.

Wait –

Bish what????

We can’t even stop to take our fucking worn down heels off before we have to stand back up, cape blazing as usual, ready to defend ourselves and our sisters because some flagrant ass nigga thought it necessary to socially degrade us as a whole while casually forgetting that his blanket statement would also include his mother and any other black woman in his life. But I don’t know, some black dudes act like they were pushed out of Jill With the Stringy Hair’s snatch. FoH.

And for that, we must be on at all times. We must always be in charge of who we are. If we don’t command and demand our respect and for that of our sisters, we will be disrespected at all costs. You don’t get the title of Superwoman because you get up and go to work every day. You get it because YOU are work…every day. It takes work to go beyond every barrier set in place to be the ending factor. Superwoman has to be dedicated to herself in an unforgiving way that opens up the valley for her ascent. But she’s hardly ever traveling alone. There is always family, friends and lovers in tow. . .

We are grinding for everyone at once to a point that we don’t know if we are putting ourselves first or last anymore. At the same time of our Super Grind, we are watching our sisters be killed by the police at a rapid rate. We are holding names like Sandra Bland and Korryn Gaines close enough to our hearts that we can feel their final breaths. We stand in the front of the protest lines with signs and grief and strength unfounded because we refuse to sit quietly while our men are hunted, our children are unprotected and our women and girls become easy targets for police assaults and murders. It’s a weight that sits on our hearts relentlessly and even when our emotional hope is drained, we still stand in resilience and solidarity with each other. This is why I say this isn’t about white inclusion. Sorry, not sorry. White women will never know what it’s like to hold the house up, keep self together and watch our families be ripped apart or worse, to be on the burying side of a racist system that supports the hunting and killing of black people. This is a daily occurrence. There are instances that happened last week that we may never hear about and those women, those black superwomen, will experience their losses and grief alone. They won’t have the nation marching and begging for rights that should be a no-brainer for every human. Even when our home lives are in an uproar, we still find time in our stress to care about someone else and see to their needs. 

Superwoman can’t die. She can’t pass away quietly in her sleep or take a vacation indefinitely and leave her calendar book at home. Superwoman must always be on. If not, who will? If we don’t get it done, who will? Who’s going to take the overflowing trash out the door without us having to be a reminder or do it ourselves? Who gets the furniture moved and the rooms changed for a fresh feeling in the house? Who will fearlessly climb up a southern flag pole, snatching down the offensive confederate flag all while knowing the repercussions of doing so will be grand? Black women, in particular, have this Superwoman thing down to a science. When we do ask for help, we have about five to ten minutes maximum as a grace period to allow for it to start to get done. After that time is up, we toss our cape in the wind and fly to solve the shit ourselves.  Recently I saw this meme:

Recently I saw this meme: black-womenIf this isn’t a perfect description of superwoman, I don’t know what is. I almost want it tattooed on my arm but I never wanted the title of superwoman to begin with.

The Title We Never Signed

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Photo Credit: Roberto Nencini

Superwoman is a misleading title that none of us signed up for. I didn’t grow up with my head in comics and I was never a fan of Superman or any of the other Marvel heroes. The closest I got to that type of stuff was enjoying the Thundercats theme song but even still, I never watched the show. On the flip side, I never expected to get married, birth two kids and live in a suburban household with the perfect Ken-doll looking husband. I didn’t grow up with adult expectations and no one ever really tried to implant anything on my psyche. I just grew to know that one day, I would be able to do whatever  I wanted to do with my life and I was looking forward to it (adulting per a teenage mind, smh). I did a mad dash out of the house at 19 and never looked back. But in hindsight, I’m certain I wasn’t looking forward either or else I may have noticed the big ass red cape standing in the way of the door that I would have to put on in order to exit.

I came flying through these Indianapolis streets, cape blazing, weave blowing with crooked smile on my face in attempts to save the world from itself. I offered up every saving grace I could muster from a couch for flagrants to sleep on to my credit for niggas to fuck up. At one point, I had two apartments in my name, neither of which was home to me anymore. Saving people is what I grew accustomed to doing until I counted more losses as a result than wins. But my never-ending flight through the sky was far from over.

My sister has been a single mom for 20 years. She worked her way up working customer service for a pizza company to earning her MBA and becoming a senior analyst at her company. In addition to that, she’s a professional accountant, an Uber driver, computer savvy to the highest degrees and has done all of this while raising a daughter alone. My mother is an only child, much like the daughter she birthed. She has been a caretaker since I was a junior in high school. One after another, a sick family member would make their way into our lives and deem my mom responsible for their well-being until their death. She has been fixing meals, running errands, going to doctors appointments, talking to hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, washing, cleaning, bathing and caring for as many as six people consecutively over the past 21 years. Let that marinate: TWENTY ONE YEARS. She did all this while going through her own health crisis including but not limited to breast cancer that, at times, left her hospitalized on several occasions. All of this took place while she was raising a daughter. As I wrote about in a previous blog, my aunt has struggled with depression for as long as I could remember. Her depression was intense and she would spend days in the bed sleeping or melancholy in spirit. Although she was a married post office retiree, she was expected to hold the house down. She paid the mortgage, the bills and since my uncle couldn’t read, she took care of anything that came in the mail and all things in between. My uncle, although a very great uncle to me, was not a great man to my aunt and definitely not the head of household. Still, he treated the home as if it were his and like she was a squatter. It’s not a lifestyle I could condone for myself but my aunt handled her business, through her depression and a relationship that was detrimental on herself. She may have seemed weak to other folks but as an adult woman, I can see how thick her cape actually was. #CapeStrong. My grandmother was the second oldest of five living children. I’m not sure where her amazing strength of life originated from, as she seems to be the only one of her siblings with the tenacity and the resilience that she possessed. She was blessed to love and be loved several times in her life. I know of three men, one she was married to and two who were long-term mates, who had her heart but not her mind. Each of these men passed away and while I was not around to meet my grandfather and see my G-Mom’s strong will, I can only imagine it based on what I have seen: she never grieves. Not the way most of us do. When the last love of her life, the man I refer to as my grandfather, passed away somewhat suddenly (no disease…he fell and hit his head), my grandmother never let anyone see her cry. No tears were shed at the funeral and just like all the other friends and family I bid farewell to alongside her, she was stoic in her demeanor and always found a reason to flawlessly smile. I’ve written in blogs about the day I was leaving my house a few years back and saw her outside crying. Her tears were so huge I could have stepped inside of them. I will never forget it because I had never seen it. I saw her try to wipe them in enough time for me not to notice, but I did. I often find myself thinking of that day and wondering what caused her tears. Was that day a culmination of life??? …a climactic moment of weakened shoulders hoisting a tired red cape?? She has Alzheimers now and truth be told, I don’t know how she could not have it. How could one store as many emotions away as she did and be the matriarch to her family AND her friends and it eventually not wear her thin in some way? I think being superwoman stole my grandmother from us. 14054582_1059928167431556_446721301327248467_o

No one signs up for this invisible role of impossibilities. We aren’t numb, non-humans who fly across the sky without catching a breath. We aren’t superhumans and we aren’t God, although each of us has the presence (IMO) of God within. To be super is to be excellent. Glorius. Splendid. Marvelous. These are all synonyms associated with the word itself and I don’t deny that they fit every black woman I’ve ever met. But it’s hardly a round-the-clock situation. I belong to a group called The Healing Circle, where women post their prayer needs, vent, uplift, cheer up each other and more. It’s a safe, sacred space on FB (can you believe it) where women have gotten to know each other simply through trying to empower each other throughout the day. I see first hand through this group that every day isn’t a great day. Some days are mental game changers and others seem like finales. There are moments where we have nothing but questions and feel undesirable to even ourselves. Our gears get tired, our immune systems get weakened and we struggle sometimes through bouts of depression, anxiety, and panic. Superwoman, by comic definition, would never experience these things and therefore she would always be able to fly with ease. There is no trouble that scares her backward and there is no past that she just can’t get over.

But in the real world, our past effects our current decisions, our hearts are bruised and at times broken for extended periods of time and we are in and out of confidence depending on who we are and where we are in life. Times get hard and we aren’t detached from how it makes us feel. Things need to be done and we aren’t in the position NOT to do them. #FuckItIWillDoIt. We are in the process of forgiving, understanding and moving on, on a daily basis. Four out of four women are trying to forgive someone right now for some type of transgression. I made up that statistic and I highly doubt I’m wrong.

We don’t want this fucking cape yo!!!!!

We don’t. We have earned our crowns but these capes are overrated…yet so necessary. If not us, then who? After so long of caping for thyself, it becomes hard to let go of the ropes. Trusting another person to take of things the way you know you would can be such a stressor that it’s just more simple to BE superwoman at all times.

We don’t want to do everything ourselves. I have proven it to myself, my family and the world that I can handle life. I can make a way out of no way. I can sleep without electricity until I get paid, I can humble myself and talk to Citizens Action Program to help me with winter assistance. I can swipe my food stamp card at the grocery proudly. I can weather the stressful storm of unemployment and I rock THE FUCK out of interviews. I can work for Goodwill and Target for minimum wage during my maximum 30s. I can swindle, scam, scheme and finagle my way wherever I NEED to be. I can and I will maintain my household at all costs. There is no question about that. Now I want some help. At nearly 38 years old, after having been on my own for nearly 20 years, I officially want to retire this ugly ass red fabric that is weighing my back down and I want someone to help. I want some contribution to these bills. I want to be able to buy myself something without taking from something else. I thank God that I no longer need to ask and give my uterus up in order for the government to give me assistance, but even if that weren’t the case, I don’t want to do all the talking. I need someone else to call the plumber and the mechanic. I want some help washing dishes because sometimes I let them pile up too much.

I have two dogs and when it’s vet time, I need help dammit ! I want to not have to pay for my own entry, drinks, and parking; I want to be treated like a Queen by my man. I want my friends to give friendship that is truly unconditional and in return I seek to provide the same. I want them to reach out to me when I’m struggling and can’t do so for myself. I want to let them know that I am thinking of them when they think they are all alone. And everything that I want for myself, I want for every woman who is battling this superwoman role. It feels good to accomplish stuff that people think you can’t, but after so many accomplishments, sometimes, you want to kick back and relax.  There is an ever growing list of expectations associated with bearing this title of super. You become EXPECTED to take care of things and to have it all together. Sometimes tho, you fucking don’t want to ! You want to stop being the caretaker for the day and stop feeling like you can’t grieve your losses. You want the bills out of your name. You want help raising your child. You want a loving ride home from the hospital and you want get well soon flowers hand delivered. This isn’t about having a man. This is about not doing every damn thing ourselves, all the fucking time. That help can come in many forms…companionship is merely one.

Even superwoman needs a day off.

But if history has taught me anything, it is that our role as Superwoman is immortal.

Eternal.

It is forever.

Superwoman can’t die.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t often want to retire our tired, red capes and just be women. 

 

~j

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WOMAN’ing: Ch. 25, F*#@ It, I’m On One – Pt IV of V

It was the night of the Michael Jackson and Prince ICON party at the Vogue…I had bought tickets weeks prior and was stoked to attend the party that would include live performances, lots of music from both artists and their musical friends, as well as a huge dance floor to party the night away. I got cute. I wore a tutu blue jean dress with some cute hand gloves and put my hair up in some funk-driven style. It was my guy and I’s first time going out to this type of setting and we had plans to set the dancefloor on fire. We arrived and were able to make our way to the front of the stage just in time for one of the many dope performances planned for that night. I saw a few people I knew and gave out hugs in between getting myself ready for a long night of sweaty foreheads and  tired feet. My guy stood behind me as the artists began to take to the stage and prepare to sing. I stood in front of him looking at the stage when I started feeling dizzy. I’m a smoker and thought maybe it was from that and would subside in a minute but it didn’t. It progressed forward with the dizziness moving from my head to my eyes and then I started to sweat profusely. It hit me so suddenly and so hard that it was almost hard to deny. I stood there trying to see if I could tough it out but at the point that I could feel the sweat running down my head (mind you, we had just arrived about 10 mins prior and had not done anything but walk from the door to the stage), I knew what time it was. I hesitantly turned to him and said ‘I need to go outside, I’m having a panic attack.’ He didn’t miss a beat or ask any questions; he just turned and came out w/me. I walked as fast as I humanly could from the stage to the front door. More people had arrived so the crowd was thicker and I was moving so fast, I didn’t really know if he was still behind me or not. The band began as soon as I got to the front door but I felt like if I stopped, I would drop dead. Literally those exact thoughts.

We got outside of the venue and I walk-ran to a picnic table in front of a sushi restaurant that sits next to the Vogue. I sat down and could barely see anything. I was so dizzy and scared and sweaty  and all I could think was ‘I need to be out of these clothes.’ My guy was there and I could tell he was scared but at this point, my breaths had shortened and I was dry heaving for air. I unzipped the front of my dress to let some air get to my body, no longer concerned with anyone who might see me. Logic time had passed; this was me trying to find my safety net. I felt like I was dying. I am not sure what dying feels like but that is my best guess. As I struggled to get a whole, relaxed breath, my entire body became drenched in sweat. I’m sure I was shiny because I was so sweaty from head to toe and I was shaking from the inside out. Nothing about me was put together and I could not find my footing. I was terrified and so was he. He sat with me, holding my hand while I continued to try to just catch a whole breath. About ten minutes passed before he asked if I wanted to leave; I said yes. Party was over before it began. He had to walk to get the truck and I could tell he didn’t want to leave me but I told him I was ok. When he disappeared into the dark, I cried as best as I could. I think I cried so I could see if I had ANY control over anything in my body. I cried because I was scared and worried that I would be dead when he got back to me. When he got back with the truck, I got in and we went home. I had the window rolled all the way down, face towards the wind and the seat leaned back. The panic attack was starting to subside but it felt like if I moved or blinked too fast or hard, it would resurface. It was the first panic attack I had since 2010 but since it wasn’t my first panic attack, I recognized the symptoms and was able to remove myself to a ‘safer space’ (loose term) until I could get home.

As we come to the last two blogs of the WOMAN’ing series, I had to take a minute out to discuss mental health issues. I am not here to be a doctor in literary form and not only do I not have all (and in some cases any) of the answers, I also am not sure of all the different types of mental disorders that people suffer from. I do realize this is not solely a woman’s problem and that men suffer from many of the same things I have discussed throughout this series, however, women are expected to be emotional yet in emotionally in control of ourselves. We are expected to be the nurturers and the ones that bring the ‘love’ aspect into things but are also expected to be ok. We are expected to not need help, professional or personal. We are expected to have this side of us together, when in fact, all of the stimuli we receive in trying to be everyone’s everything often has negative mental effects on us, therefore exacerbating any mental deficiencies we may have or worse, creating new ones.

I have had a pill bottle full of depression meds for two years now. When I moved, I considered throwing them away, but they now sit in my office as a ‘break open in case of emergency stash’. I have never taken meds before. I got them in the middle of 2014 when I thought I was going to lose my shit. I have never so much as twisted the bottle. The weird thing is when the doctor handed me the pills, I felt some sense of relief having told someone that I was going through a severe depressive storm that I was not yet able to pull myself from even with the tools in hand. Having him hand me those pills that I knew I would never take made me feel good because for the first time, I had told someone that could help me that I was depressed. I don’t particularly want my personality to become dependent upon depression meds to be able to make from hour to hour so I’ve never taken them but I did find myself on a lightning end to my depression. I am going to speak very candidly from this point forward on three different things regarding mental illness:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety/Panic disorder
  3. Mild/Severe Personality Changes

Shall we?

Depression is not an Adjective:

Growing up, depression was not something that I was not privy to. My aunt suffered from depression from the onset of her mother’s death when I was like 5 or 6 years old through current. I suspect her home life with an emotionally abusive husband did nothing to help her through it. I would hear her talk of her racing and scattered emotions and since I spent a lot of time with her, I would see her go through them sometimes. She would sleep through whole days and wake up not knowing if she was at the beginning or end of the week. I assume she was doing a lot more crying than I ever knew of, but her face always told a story of weariness and tire. She looked emotionally spent when she wasn’t in a good mood and I know now that was part of the depression but as I was growing up, as much as I understood, I still didn’t. It wasn’t until I realized I was battling the same type of mental demons that I fully got the impact of depression and how debilitating it is. While on the outside, it looks like ‘why doesn’t she just get out of the bed’ or ‘why do you stay’ or ‘why won’t you ‘ yada yada yada. Everyone outside of the window has all the answers for someone else’s life but few for their own.  My first conscious dealing with depression was in the early 2000s when I was, much like my aunt, in an emotionally abusive relationship. I do not blame him or the relationship for my depression; it was just part of the saddening motivation. People use the word ‘depressed’ so flagrantly. It’s been as whored out as ‘woke’ or ‘overstand’ or some of the other words that lose their meaning over time because we have removed the true definition for them in our conversations. Depression is not a fleeting sad moment. It’s not someone passed away and you’re grieving. That’s called grieving. It’s not you lost your job and now you’re stressed. That’s called stressed and there might be some sadness associated with it, but tears and sad faces don’t equate to depression. Depression is in your brain. It’s the overwhelming sense of sadness and even fear when you get a promotion and everyone is cheering you on. It’s the death of a loved one that renders you unable to continue; you can’t get out of bed, you can’t go back to work, you can’t be bothered to talk to other people. It’s you existing solely in your emotions, whatever they are (they aren’t always sad). It is physical. It is being down on yourself about everything from a simple catalyst. Depression can be triggered but it need not be. It is a silent creeper that is relentless in its pull on your coattail. Depression simply put is a beast that can’t be resolved by someone coming over and making you laugh. It isn’t helped or cured by someone telling you that you don’t feel what you feel or you are kidding and lying to yourself.

While society still struggles to know how to deal with depressed people and learn constructive, healthy ways to address and assist them, depression gives no  fucks and the flippancy or unbotheredisms of us as a people tend to further an individual’s depression higher up the charts. It’s dangerous to say you are depressed when you are just sad.  Sadness is a part of life and for some people, so is depression, but the two are not inclusive of each other. The danger of using those two words interchangeably lies in confusing people into believing that depression is as easy to suffer from as apple pie in a white family’s oven. It’s not. Depression has it’s chosen ones and I do believe that it can be developed as well (not just the way your brain was wired at birth), but it’s not what occurs when you stub your toe and can’t get over the pain so you lay down and don’t move while watching tv. Depression wants solitude, silence, loudness, movement, tears, anger, fights, help, hugs, phone calls, shouting matches, more tears – depression wants EVERYTHING and yet nothing helps until it does. It doesn’t always have a ‘sad’ face and sometimes, you know you are going through another bout simply by your physical reaction to things. I have no ‘answer’ or solution for depression and curing the mind and heart of such a dangerous place. But I do know we need to stop just tossing it out there as an adjective. It’s not a way to describe how unhappy you are at the moment. It’s a mental imbalance. An emotional meat-grinder. A growth stunter. Depression is not an adjective. We have to be responsible for our language because it creates cultures and beliefs that sometimes aren’t true.

Stop saying you are depressed when you are sad.
Stop telling people they are just sad or ok when they say they are depressed.
Stop being dismissive. It just creates a wider funnel for depression to drown the sufferer in.
Stop using it like it’s candy. If you aren’t depressed, that’s great. If you’ve never suffered from depression, that’s great. Don’t pull yourself into a storm you don’t understand because it’s a disservice to those who do get it.
Depression is not an adjective. It’s a legit illness.

Anxious for the Panic Room

I still remember my first panic attack. It was at my mother’s house. We were standing outside on a warm summer day and both me and my mom were standing at the back of my stepfather’s truck when this  rush of sweat came over me just like at the Vogue most recently. I stood as long as I could until I had to go sit on the porch steps to catch my breath. I tried to act like nothing was wrong although I was completely terrified because not only was I profusely sweating, but now I was dizzy and my heartbeat was racing. I went into the house, laid on her living room floor and prepared to die as I cried and begged God not to let me pass this randomly on my mom’s living room floor. Clearly, I made it. But it would take talking to my friend at the time to help me make sense of what happened and even then, I still didn’t believe it. Not until I had another one and began to read about panic attacks.

On the soul food series, Terri suffered from panic attacks. They attempted to address that silent stressor but when I was watching, I couldn’t understand it. I never understood it what was going on with her or why. After I became in tune with my own, I went back and rewatched the season w/Terri’s attacks and what a difference a panic attack makes. Shit! I completely got it and truthfully, that is EXACTLY how I felt. Watch this ten-minute clip to see the randomness and the accuracy of panic attacks, at least from my experience:

That is a legit interpretation of panic attacks, even down to the way Bird reacted. My guy was similar in reaction….while he didn’t sing old church hymns to me, he was scared and tried his best to offer comfort and bring me down. He told me in the days afterward how frightening the situation actually was. I am not sure why my panic attacks started. They aren’t frequent and sometimes  there are years in between them, but when they happen, THEY HAPPEN!!!!! Listen, all over the web you can find articles and pages dedicated to panic attacks, what to do, why they happen, etc, etc.

This one is pretty well detailed in the symptoms.

That fear of dying is so real. You literally feel like this is the end and OMG why is it ending like this of all ways?

Of course, stress, whether internally (your own personal stress) or external (adopted stress of loved ones), can bring on an attack but when they will happen is anyone’s guess. The unpredictability coupled with the fear associated with panic attacks keeps me on edge when I find myself sweating or feeling nauseated or dizzy. Most times it’s nothing, but the fear persists just the same. The last attack, I tried the methods that are often suggested including trying to stay mentally calm, taking deep slow breaths (which is hard when your breath is stunted), getting air but I can’t say how much they helped.  There are anti-depressant meds you can get to help with easing the frequency of attacks but they don’t stop them completely and to be perfectly honest, I’m a bit over the idea that everything can be solved by a little pill somebody created out of who knows what. Finding the route cause of your panic attacks would be the greatest hope one would have for fighting back and I’m sure there is some type of natural supplement that could assist. I don’t have them frequently enough to have invested much energy in combating them, but if you are reading and aware of some natural cures or something aside from popping pills, drop it in the comments !!! Talk back <3

Fuck It, I’m On One

 

I have only tickled the fancy of the surface with this blog. Mental illness issues are abundant yet they are shunned and whispered about. To me, this portion of my journey through my womanhood includes being honest with myself about who I am and how that affects me in positive and/or negative ways. Being honest with yourself means owning up to your mental strengths….and weaknesses. It doesn’t matter if you have an IQ of a genius or daily struggles with bipolar disorder, owning your mental space is what will allow you to continue to grow. It’s what allows the necessary help get to you even if that’s a depression prescription that you never take. But somewhere tiptoeing on the axis of womanhood, there is a silent creeper that affects millions of women but we hardly see it as news or hear it about it in conversations.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) came into my life about five years ago when a dear friend found out she was suffering from it. During the beginning days of her period, she would get irritable and jumpy. What would usually be a simple argument would be like WWIII and anyone could get it !!! She was given some meds to take and I can’t remember if they were birth control pills are anti-depressants, but with her emotions being an absolute mess on a monthly basis, she tried them. I think the results fell in the middle of the spectrum. In the blog prior to this, I talked about the effects of aging and how I feel about it. I wrote about how my period has changed over the years and become an untrustworthy (although reliable) reminder of my womanhood every month. One thing I failed to address was PMDD and how it suddenly appeared as part of my PMS symptoms. I am self-diagnosed so there is room for me to be in error on this but I’m about 100% I’m correct. Real quick, cause you know I love definitions:

Dysphoria – A profound state of unease or dissatifaction. Dysphoria may accompany depression, anxiety or agitation.

Out of nowhere, over the last 3-4 years, I noticed a change in my personality that occurred at the exact same time every month: during my period. Let me back up first. When I a teenager and even throughout the majority of my 20s, I didn’t suffer from any PMS or sickness or mood alterations when I had my cycle. It was business as usual on all other fronts. The closer I got to 30 and then afterward, I started to develop PMS symptoms and cramping which I have charged to the game as aging. But these last few years, I noticed something else. Something new. Something a bit more dangerous. My attitude: tolerance, patience, conflict resolution – all greatly affected and down in numbers. In other words, I have none of those things. My tolerance and patience levels are zero and my conflict resolution is sarcastic at best. Now whatever you have imagined it, quadruple it and that’s me barely “able to can” as Awesomely Luvvie would say. I have screamed so loud that I’ve become hoarse. You want to talk about uneasiness?? Lord Jesus, I can feel myself shaking internally and I know it’s time for everyone to hit the deck, she’s about to blow !!!  Then the next day, I’m looking and thinking back with embarrassment like ‘who the fuck was I?’

My friend and I aren’t the only sufferers of this. I mean, there are enough of us for them to concoct another lab pill with a commercial attached (but be careful on taking meds because the symptoms could be as small as a rash to as final as death..lol). One day we were talking about it and how people who don’t and have never experienced it don’t really understand how heavy and detrimental the symptoms can be. Men of course totally don’t get it and with both of us, it showed up so late in life that people are looking at us like ‘well you weren’t this way just last year.’  Yeah well, DUH MF !!!!!

If you add PMDD on top of a nervous and mental system that is known for panic attacks and a depressive nature, there is no telling what you might get. I once had an ex tell me I had personality issues. I had another tell me that I go from zero to a hundred really quick and then my currency seems to think something along the same lines. Everybody can’t be wrong, but that doesn’t make them right. I wonder how much of what we experience in life effects us in our menstrual cycles? I recently obtained a therapist and will have my first appointment with her soon. Something that I have wondered about in regards to personality & bipolar disorder, as well as PMDD, is do the people on the other side of us take our mental issues seriously enough to attempt to NOT trigger them?

Here’s an example: Accountability is something that is big to me. I am not always in the right and while criticism of myself may be hard to digest at times, I still understand that I have to be responsible for the things I say and do and how they make other people feel. Even if there is something mentally different about me, I still have enough ‘norm’ about me to know that I have to respect how I’ve made folks feel even when it’s bad. For me, a person holding themselves accountable is HUGE so when you avoid accountability or deflect (which another pet/personality peeves), it has the ability to instantly take me to 100 depending on what time of the month it is (and sometimes NOT depending on that at all). I’m an only child and so was my mom so I didn’t even grow up with cousins my age. There was no one else to put the blame on when something was messed up. I’ve always had to be called to bat for what I pitched out so it’s a hard pill for me to swallow when I see someone can’t be accountable for the things they’ve said and done. So again, I go back to the question of triggers.

Are the people on the other side of us taking our mental issues seriously enough not to trigger them? Are they being accountable? Are they deflecting? Are they being condescending? The list goes on and is based on individuals but me accepting that there is something different about how I am mentally and emotionally wired, be it once a month or daily, is also me saying to you if you plan to stick around, please try not to toss gasoline on an ever burning flame.

I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone but me.

But it’s definitely something I’ve wondered more than a handful of times. Mental health is hardly addressed enough and especially not in the black community. Those who have mental illnesses or suffer from anxiety or depression or PMDD or [insert illness] need the assistance of our loved ones as much as we need doctors, prescriptions, and the rest . . .

That is greatly important and I can’t begin to stress how much so in one blog. We don’t don’t need to be coddled and treated like babies. It’s not that. But if we acknowledge an illness, please don’t tell us we are lying or tripping or need to ‘take it to the altar.’ Those of us who believe and trust in God have already done that and this is the part of faith where you WORK. We don’t need to be patronized or made fun of but rather that you are cognizant of words and triggers and actions that create funnels for depressive or manic episodes and reactions. If you already do that, then keep up the great work !!! 

In the meantime, if you suspect (or know) that you suffer from of the aforementioned or other mental illnesses, please seek the appropriate help for you. Trust your gut and your instinct. Talk to someone in confidence and if possible, seek counsel. I was recommended to the Christian Theological Center which has a sliding scale for therapists according to your income. Mine is about $30 a session.

Click this link for their information.  

Again, I didn’t write this blog with a bunch of answers and suggestions. Simply my story as I inch my way closer to 38. I hope somewhere in this, someone else becomes free enough to be open with themselves first about their mental illness, deficiencies, and issues.

I’m still the shit regardless of whatever makes me less than perfect. I love the fact that imperfection is something I cannot achieve because I truly feel like (at least on my good days) that I can accomplish nearly anything I set my mind and heart to. Perfection seems to hard to obtain so it’s better that I am flawed in the ways I am. It also allows me to empathize with folks.

I wish more people had that same empathy and understanding. Although this series is called WOMAN’ing and about being a woman, men suffer mental illnesses just as much as women. And our society is too full of people who don’t know how to nurture us appropriately.

May the high horses they ride in on catch a broken leg. Hashtag PutEmDown. 

Blogtrack:

“I had a one-way ticket to a place where all the demons go
Where the wind don’t change
And nothing in the ground can ever grow
No hope, just lies
And you’re taught to cry in your pillow
But I survived

I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing
I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing
I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive
I found solace in the strangest place
Way in the back of my mind
I saw my life in a stranger’s face
And it was mine”
~Sia, Alive 

 

 

WOMAN’ing: Chapter 21, Pt II – The Pussy Police Officers *updated

A casual stroll down my Instagram feed ended with me being stopped dead in my tracks at one of the posts from someone I follow.

I’ve been following the young lady that I once helped raise when she was barely able to read on her own for the last year or so. She’s so beautiful. She’ll be twenty-one on November 21st, which is ironically the birthdate of my partner now. She has an incredible singing voice and does feature spots quite often from what I can tell. She has a Soundcloud page too. On this day what popped up on my feed wasn’t her singing or somewhere with her red hair blowing or smiling. She was ……posed – in what looked to be a professionally taken picture of her in nothing but her panties. She had some type of coat covering her breasts but she wasn’t ‘wearing’ it. Her face was stunning. Makeup was done nice, hair simple and cute and her features are just beautiful. I really hope beyond what the world is telling her in order to be next to her, that she knows she is gorgeous!!!! When I saw that picture, I felt so many different feelings and the first being ‘where the fuck are your clothes?’

But ….the last thought I had, as much as it bothered me to see her like such, was who have I become that  I think I can be on the pussy patrol, stopping and frisking women for their right to do whatever makes them happy, at that age, at that moment on that day. She’s a twenty-year-old young woman who has been to college, is no one’s mother yet and talented AF ! Kendria, stop cyber-side-eye  policing this adult young woman, especially when you were quite similar at her age. #letherlive #GetOffHerAssWithTheSideEyeBeltsAndExtensionCords

Whew! What juxtaposition.

…and on that note, FUCK THE POLICE.

NO, I’m not talking about the boys (and girls) in blue right now (but really, they can get it too). I mean fuck the PPOs. Who and what are the PPO’s?

*foul language ahead*

The Muthafuckin’ Pussy Police Officers. The people who really think it’s their job to dictate who a woman is and what she does and whether or not she’s still ‘qualified’ in PPO’s eyes to be considered a [respectable] woman. Still don’t get it? How many times have you scrolled past a meme like this:

06eb4b22f9a26dffb390d8e692166a8b 6291a7c0da4e21422f19580c57ef166d so-let-me-get-this-straight-women-want-a-real-man_o_461506

Or have you read about how black women who get their hair dyed blonde don’t like being black and secretly want to be white?
Have you ever scrolled past a long thread of heauxteps and friends that are going in on black women for the choices they have made about their lives and how those choices somehow equal a diminished sense of black pride? What about the folks that talk shit about strippers but make no mention of the skeletal remains that are stinking up their walk-in closets? Or the folks that are constantly talking about what a woman can wear and be acceptable? Or how long her nails can be before she is considered ‘too ghetto… or how she wants attention when she wears a short skirt, breastfeeds in public or wears colored contact lens and hair weave … the list of reasons people sign up to become card-carrying PPOs is forever growing and I’m sure there are new instances added daily that speak on what makes a woman and what breaks one.945868_969728873082675_3146413067454980451_n

To them – I say fuck you.

yes

Let’s divide this part into three sections:

  • -Woman 
  • -Thou Art
  • -Assumed to be Loose …..But I’m going to start from the end and go up.

 

“Assumed To Be Loose”

I live for word definitions:

loose

lo͞os/

adjective

  1. not firmly or tightly fixed in place; detached or able to be detached.

synonyms:      not fixed in place, not secure, unsecured, unattached

  1. (of a garment) not fitting tightly or closely.

synonyms:      baggy, generously cut, slack, roomy

verb

  1. set free; release.

            free, set free, unloose, turn loose, set loose, let loose, let go, release

 Boyshorts as outside clothes, twerk videos, ass shots and pumped up breasts aren’t anything ‘new’ so to speak, but with the continued rise of social media, they’ve gained some traction because everyone is wearing it and doing it for all to see. Pole dancing is more acceptable today than it was when I was wrapping around one and girls holding blocks of money and making it rain on each other, themselves or a random brown kitchen table is part of our society’s norm. But these things, while coveted to the sight, are things that get women labeled as a certain type of woman. Because only a THOT would come outside in short shorts and only a stripper hoe would have desires of learning how to work the pole. Right?

  1. LOOSE – the adjective definition #1. – not firmly or tightly fixed in place; detached or able to be detached.  Synonyms – not fixed in place, not secure, unsecured, unattached

– Women are considered loose as much as society can loosen us up. We are’ not fixed in a certain place’ according to the #PPO Academy graduates. We are INsecure (which leads to our off the cuff, loose behavior) and unattached. Perhaps if we had a man, we could fix ourselves? Or if we went to church and prayed our hoe away, we could come back out as saved and great –

-but wait. …

You can’t turn a hoe into a housewife, right? Ok so women who are hoes, thots, loose ones, fast ones, etc. are forever lost causes but that’s already been discussed in a blog by me. You might recall from a previous blog, I discussed ‘hoes’ and how ironic it is that hoes still get fucked when so many men don’t respect them. But if you don’t respect her and you’re fucking her, does that not speak to what you think of yourself? Idk….this blog isn’t really on that again. This is about the fact that any one person, male or female, thinks they even have the right to label a woman anything aside from her name or a name she’s given herself. I can’t believe I’m about to use this woman as an example but she’s a really good one: Kim Kard.

She’s always called a hoe and a thot and a host of colorful other names that don’t sound like Kim, Kardashian, West or Woman. Why is this? Because she did a sex tape with Ray-J and made bank from it? OR is it because we know she had sex with Ray J and women can’t have sex without being whores? Clearly (if you saw the tape), they had some type of relationship that extended well beyond that garbage hotel action and Ray J’s lack of knowledge of what to do in such a situation (you thought it too) so it has to be something else right? Ok well, she got married for 72 hours. She also dated Reggie Bush. She now is married to Kanye West. Let’s toss a random person in there for shits and giggles….we’ll call him Arnold. So let’s do the math of what we know – KK has slept with at least four different men, two that she married, one who is the father of both of her kids, one who she made a sex tape with and then turned it into an empire (no matter what anyone thinks of her) – Yep, she’s a certified loose, thot dressing hoe.#Sarcasm

Can you see the tom foolery or is it just me? But the policing doesn’t stop at our panties. It is a head to toe makeover that the #PPO are constantly (pa)Trolling women to give them. Now apply this to women all over. If you sleep with X-amount of men, you are a hoe. If you wear X-type of clothes, you are a thot. If you’re black and you die your hair blonde, then you want to be white. If you’re a bigger woman at a buffer, you’re obese with an eating problem. If you wear heels all the time, you’re ignorant to the natural needs of your feet. If you still wear bras, you haven’t done your research and need to retrain your mind to think bra-less because that’s what real women do. If you take too many selfies, you are too confident, stuck up, narcissist and need to chill. If you aren’t smiling in public at all times, you’re mean, evil looking or mad at the world when “come on babygirl, it really ain’t that bad.”

The #PPO can strike their badge authority anywhere. They are loose with it. They aren’t attached to any one woman; these rules apply to all women everywhere and especially the ones raising up future women. The Pussy Police Officers will come for your neck the minute they think you have dropped the ball on being a card-carrying woman, ESPECIALLY if you are a BLACK WOMAN. I believe ALL women are subjected to the PPO, but black women just seem to have it worse (of course). People like Trick Daddy, Kanye and various other rappers who’s tracks get twerk’d to by the same women they tear down, are brutally insensitive and downright disrespectful to black women as if it were a sport. It’s nothing to see a black man do an interview and speak some vile shit against black women as if his mother were born lily white as the snow. We’re fine as long we’re their fucking fake ass  video props but when it comes to real life, we are worthy of their PPO disrespect.  So they’ll fuck us, make us into hoes to talk about, use us in their videos for low wages and ass smacking but then call us out because we’re not living up to what they think a real woman is? Geeez, some men really are looking for a daughter to fuck. They want a girl they can tell what to do for 12 hours and a woman they can fuck ‘like a hoe’ for 12 hours. Who lives up to this? #PPO nellyThere’s a guy whose name I can’t remember (why would I) who has a YouTube channel dedicated to stereotyping us and talking against us. He has millions of followers and believers. As much as my fellow sisters and I ignore this shit and try not to let it bother us, it’s hard not to feel something from that type of shit. Simply put: it hurts. But we superwomen and know our strength so we keep pushing regardless…and the #PPOs continue to patrol our city and cyber streets to teach us, not from experience, how to be good, wholesome, society-accepted women. I reject that shit and say fuck that and fuck you! And while there are plenty of women PPOs lurking (I have some on my FB page), the men seem to have this position on lock! I guess considering they started off as girls, they CAN tell us a thing or two…I just don’t know how accurate it would be. I have never understood how the saying ‘a woman can’t raise no man’ can be accurate when speaking of a single woman raising her little, growing boy but somehow a grown man CAN re-raise a grown ass woman?

As my girl Naz would say, MUTHAFUCKAFORWHAT??!?!?!?! Kinda like the hoe concept – it’s as if she’s doing it on her own, but we all know she can’t be a hoe without hoe-ish assistance.

Yes, woman is often assumed to be loose. I use this phrase a lot and even have it in a poem. Of course, it stems from the movie title of Woman, Thou Art Loose, but it’s missing the ASSUMED so I’ve added it where it goes. Our bodies are the topic of discussion daily. We are told what we can and can’t do with them and even had a governor who is now running for VP of  the USA try to force those who have abortions and stillbirths to BURY the remains. We are often punished for having sex – Punished for how we look – And told what we can feel. Welcome to the Academy for PPO. The Muthafuckin Pussy Police Officers. Oh how I wish they would use LOOSE in the verb way and let go of us. Just let go. Set us free. Let us fucking be the types of women we WANT to be. Hoe or otherwise dammit.

We all eventually wake up from our slumbers and it’s hardly ever because this harsh society tried to guilt trip us about our decisions… Women go through so many phases of living before they get to the woman they want to be. No one can dictate what those phases are or when they will happen (although there is a projected set of ages for some stuff) but you can bet your pointy little finger that her experiences will make her the phenomenal woman she is growing into. Do I want to see a girl I knew when she was illiterate on IG in her tshirt & panties? Nah. But do I have the right to tell her to sit down? Nope.  I don’t have that right. I can stop it from showing up in my  feed but I don’t have the right to PPO that young lady like I work for Sagamore.

PT II – THOU ART – Tomorrow.

“THOU ART”

art

/ärt/

noun

  1. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

  2. The various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.

Ahhhh…..When I tell you I adore definitions, I really mean it. I teach using the dictionary and definitions as inspiration when I do workshops because sometimes, seeing the meaning of a word can create an entire poem. Or maybe it’s just me.

Thou Art – I decided to break this blog up by way of the title because all three separations hold their own accuracy and worth. When women are LOOSENED (verb – let go, set free), we are given the reigns and rights to embrace our art. Even when walking through the valleys of the shadows of wasted breath and opinions, we are art. We are living, breathing art and that in itself is intimidating to many. Looking at both of the ART definitions, it’s easy to fit a woman into that which is art. But are we really appreciated for our beauty and/or emotional power? Our beauty, that thing that is always on the chopping block for the local PPO to dissect for accuracy, seems to always fail to be good enough for others. Which is perfectly fine to most of us but quite honestly, as many of us as there are that are confident and who we are and what we look like and don’t care what outsiders have to say, there are just as many who are still fighting the good fight for their self-esteem and self-worth. Everyone wasn’t taught confidence and there are plenty of women still wrestling with their beautiful who just don’t need the extra bullshit voices of folks who get hard dicks and clits from tearing down others. God forbid we were weave (self-hate), fake nails (fake woman), or enjoy watching television/television shows that are primarily white cast. Either we aren’t woke enough, black enough, woman enough, angelic enough, flat stomach-enough, virgin-like enough, Christian enough, lkjd;lajfol;disajropweuifopjadl;fjkasl; j OMG THIS LIST GOES AND GOES AND GOES!!!!

But isn’t that the point of art? Isn’t art supposed to be dressed up or dressed down? Doesn’t art make people look? Doesn’t it capture your attention and curiosity? Art is abstract. It is unconventional. It breaks rules…carves its own lane. Women are art. We are similar to pieces that hang in local museums for people to gawk at and ponder over. No two just alike, we are all these unique pieces of creative works and the fact that there are people who still don’t know how to appreciate all of our differences (and similarities) is proof that there is much work left to do regarding the right to be a free woman. One of my fondest NYC memories is from my first trip there. There was a black girl walking to the corner to wait for the light to turn. She was dressed head to toe in things that didn’t make sense to the average eye. She had tennis shoes, leg warmers, leggings, a couple of shirts, a mini skirt, and a funky hairdo. Initially, I did a double take. Then I smiled because I realized something: She was free. No one was staring at her and no one was questioning her mental ability, her womanhood, her sexuality, her discernment, choices or otherwise disrespecting her. That’s when I instantly secured my ‘I will love you forever’ attitude towards New York City. And while we may always get funky looks, ignorant questions, and pointed fingers, if you can just be ok with YOU, when you see YOU, then fuck this society and it’s flagrant opinions:

  • ” I saw some gray hair in your head old lady grandma” * followed by laugh*
  • “looks like you’ve gained more weight. You need to diet” * followed by laugh*
    “You need to stop eating so much” * followed by laugh*
    “Why you got that shirt/dress on when you know you’re too big for it” * followed by laugh*
  • “Sooo you’re 30+ now…when are the babies coming” * followed by laugh*
  • “That’s a cute guy I saw you with for the first time…yaw getting married?” * followed by laugh*
  • “You know you can’t afford that baby” * followed by laugh*
  • “Ewww put that cleavage up, don’t nobody want to see that” * followed by laugh*
  • “Honey you need to stop losing weight. You look sickly” *followed by laugh*
  • “Cover up” * followed by laugh*
  • “I saw some dents and pricks in your thighs….better leave Long’s alone girl, * followed by laugh* “

Everything isn’t always a damn joke and some jokes are centered around true thoughts. Do people ever tire of making a woman face whatever they think she hasn’t already seen before they did? Whether it’s weight or children or her hair or who she loves – do the #PPO ever stop to wonder that they might be bringing up a very sensitive topic? Do they ever wonder if they are hurting feelings? Or just straight pissing folks off?

No they don’t.
Their sole job on earth is to police the pussy until its all out of 9 lives.

For some people, women as they are, are simply never enough.

But to me, Thou [is] Art.

WOMAN

I’ve written this blog several times. If you look around my site, you will find this type of blog written in several different forms. I had that epiphany as I started to finish this blog up. I’m always talking about this and I  guess it’s because it irritates the FUCK out of me. Like seriously, I never go around trying to teach men how to be men and for that matter, I don’t even try to teach other women how to be them. I discuss the basics that typically stretch across the board for all women and especially black women. I talk about being free, being yourself and embracing who you are in this moment of your life. My standing is pretty solid: I think women should have the freedom from other opinions to live their lives as they see fit and to change/grow as they deem necessary. There is always room to grow and the right loving people will call you out on your bullshit, so any faults undiscovered by self are often aired out when dealing with your relationship to others. It is so complex to be a woman – we have to smile while we walk around bleeding and feeling like crap. We still have to work while our breasts are leaking and lactating all over the place. We are the nurturers, the mothers, the sisters and the lovers. We must remain in touch with our emotions but not so much that others see us as emotional. O.o #MFFW

We have to dress pretty while not dressing slutty while remembering to cover up while breastfeeding but also to show cleavage when we go out but not too much or you’re a thot, but not so little where you are considered a prude. Lol.

I do not subscribe to this bullshit.

You cannot tell me how to be a woman.

You cannot try to be my daddy and my husband.

You cannot out-woman me.

You will not change who I am.

Only the course of my life’s journey can do that.

WOMAN – Thou Art [yet] assumed to be loose, but I see you.

I see us.

Simply put – We’re the shit. Keep doing you love and let’s all raise our middle fingers in solidarity to the PPO!!!!

Woman, thou Art.

The only thing loose is the lips of the passerbys.

Impossible to Love: Sex, Security & Trauma

For those unaware, I was molested when I was young girl. I would guess my age to be around 8 or 9 years old. I don’t remember my age as much as I remember the pleated green skirt I had on the night it happened. My molesters were twins; teenagers that my grandmother agreed to watch while her friend and their mother set about on some journey that she couldn’t take them to. I don’t remember the exact reason why they stayed with us but they were supposed to be there for two weeks. It was four of them: Two twin brothers, one older brother and one sister. They were all older than me but since I was an only child and they were just teenagers, no one really thought much about us ‘playing’ together. The twins took turns molesting me although neither ever actually penetrated me. The words “Don’t that feel good” are still in my head from one of them rubbing his penis on top, up and down my vagina. The other one would sit me on his lap until he got hard and then rub me up and down on it in clothes burning fashion. I wonder if it was because they were twins that they shared the same affinity for taking advantage of a young girl.

I remember so much about the night they both violated my childhood that you’d be hard pressed to get me to say it never happened. I never told anyone and I don’t really know why. The last day they were at our house happened to be the same night as a card party at my mom’s house, where their mother was returning to pick them up. Although I had been molested, I didn’t fear them. I was on the porch when the older brother, a lighter skinned young man with a low ceaser fade, went and jumped off the side of the house and tried to lure me back there with him. The side of the house was dark so no one would see anything that was going on over there. He always knew what the twins had done to me but never participated. That night, their last night, he decided to try to get his kicks in. I wonder was there a conversation or did he have the same electrical connection to the twins that traveled back and forth across all three of the synopsis. I don’t think the sister knew anything but then to again, I could be wrong because the most I remember about her is that she stole my mom’s flip flops during that stay and my mother and I walked up 40th street, past Pennsylvania and a little bit further to find get those back. My mom has always hated a thief. But back to the porch and the older, lighter skinned brother. He was motioning for me to join him on the side while all the adults had their attention occupied and no one else was watching us. I didn’t go. He pulled his penis out right there and showed it to me. I remember looking at a long, skinny, light penis and telling him no before running back in the house. That was it. I never saw them again after that night. I don’t know their names or what they look like. I could be in front of them at the grocery store and not even know it. But I will always remember the innocence they stole from me.

It changed me right then and there. It shaped so much about me sexually that there was no way I could stand a fighting chance unless I told someone of my dirty little secret and received some help as a result. Since I kept this quiet, the only thing I could do was grow up. I was watching porn shortly after that and really couldn’t understand why. By the time I was a teenager, I was into boys and sex and couldn’t understand why. I was talked about, fought, picked on and fucked with and despite the challenges that all that presented on my day to day life, I changed nothing while at the same time not understanding why I was doing the things I was doing when they were almost always not my desires. I wonder if I thought they didn’t need my permission as much as they need for me to assume the position?

My life has been a never-ending battle of permission VS positioning ever since.  In the predecessor to this blog, AMuseD, I spoke a few times on battling my ability to SAY NO and then to stick to it. I would have sex when I didn’t want to because I felt powerless. It took a life changing situation between me and a man I respected greatly to help me learn how important my NO was when I said it…and how even more important it was for ME to stick to it. I was in my late 20s when I learned I didn’t OWE my body to men just because they were men. I’ve written poems and blogs about my struggles because I knew I wasn’t the only person who understands this life but I would be one of the few who would be this transparently vocal about it.

So exactly how should a man handle a woman who’s been molested?  NOTE: Not EVERY man will be privy to this sensitive information. I am speaking this blog from the perspective of a relationship where secrets and past vital information is shared knowledge.

This question has been something I’ve wondered for YEARS and have never spoken aloud or received voluntary information in regards to. So we all know you can’t let the past ruin your future right? We know that we can’t stay stuck in the past and things that have happened to us; you must fight and find your way to healing and understanding (if there is any…sometimes there isn’t). But being molested isn’t something that folks just ‘get over.’ Being molested effects EVERYTHING about you and there is no exception to this rule. While we all might have different ways of reacting, we all greatly and profoundly affected for the rest of our lives by the actions of child (and adult) predators. The younger you are, the more of a determining factor it might have on your life. I didn’t even know why I was watching porn or what I got out of it but I was watching. I even got caught watching it one day and received an ass whooping and punishment but no real questions on what the hell would make an eight or nine-year-old little girl be interested in watching the Beverly Hills Humpers. #TrueTitle Having your innocence taken usually comes at the expense of who or what you change into as a result. Did you hear this line? Let’s think on it for a second:

“…cause men take my no with the proverbial grain of salt

Like I don’t have the right to not to want to have sex

I am but an extension of man

And if he needs to plug into me to become whole again, then there I should be

Legs spread like country crock

Waiting on his city cock….

………….but I don’t want no thing sometimes….and I don’t say nothing sometimes….”

Think on those lines for a second. I had to experience a man making me feel like I consented to him raping me before something actually clicked and said ‘this can’t continue.’Do people really think a woman just jumps out into life with sexual issues this deep? This has to start from somewhere. This type of mentality, this type of belief of one’s sexual freeness (free meaning able to say yes OR no at your will) can result in death of self in many ways including but not limited to physically.  So as the woman who dares not to live a life as a victim, what do you do? What do I do? What have I done so far? Because truthfully speaking if something is NOT done, if this is not confronted in a way seeking to break all chains, it will rear it’s head in any/every relationship the woman finds herself in. She will have to deal with the damages done to her soul eventually – the question is do you deal when you ‘cross that bridge’ and realize there is no choice but to confront your truth OR do you try to take care of this before you dating (ideal way) and if that’s the case, how can you be sure that nothing about your prior abuse will create issues in the future? Do I think too hard or doubt too much? I’ve been told so by many.

On the flip side of that coin, men love sex. They just do. There is no way around this equation and although I’m sure there is a man and his gang of single friends who is not overjoyed with the thought or act of sex, the truth is most men (IMO) love sex and lots of it. When in a relationship, married or otherwise, the man’s subconscious tells him ‘if I’ve made it official, then I officially get unlimited pussy.’ Pussy gets a break when the bleeding comes in. All other times should be open to fuckfest (insert year).  Am I saying men are driven solely by their penis? No. But I am saying that while both men and women enjoy sex, men have more of an urgency for it than women. This isn’t always the case and I know that. Please understand this blog is not generalizing everyone. I’m only able to speak from my perspective and my life experiences, which is why I use myself as examples all the time. I stand to be corrected when I am wrong and I could be wrong here but this is my current perception of the world from my nearly-38 years of wheeling and dealing around here. Now, let’s talk some brief stats real quick.

I’m not a fan of statistics, but every now and again, I believe they are on to something. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime One in Five girls is a victim of sexual child abuse whereas one in twenty boys is a victim. It also goes to say that self-report studies show twenty percent of adult women and five-ten percent of adult men recall a sexual assault/abuse during their childhood. Those are large numbers and that means that when it comes to women, out of every five women you meet, at least one of them has been molested. I believe the odds are higher than that. I’ve sat in a circle of five women on more than one occasion and there was no one with their hand up for the ‘raise your hand if you’ve never been molested’ call and response. This isn’t even including women who have been sexually assaulted as adults and all that comes with that (police reports – to file or not file, rape kits – more trauma, trying to move on, fear lurking, etc)

With all this being said, let’s double back to relationships and dealing with each other.

How does a man handle a woman sexually who has experienced sexual trauma in her life? How do they, as a couple, manage to not let that past trauma affect their current relationship, specifically in the bedroom? You have to know that there will be some issue or another.  Should a man ask himself if he can truly deal with, or if he’s willing to attempt to deal with, a woman who’s been sexually traumatized? Because the thing is, it’s no small feat. It’s not an easy thing to do. There are feelings that victims have that can’t be explained away in a conversation or an argument about sex. There are emotions that victims try to hide and think they are safe and healed from that only during an actual relationship are they called to confront again.

A woman, when she has sex, lets someone inside of her. Penetration  opens that woman up and puts her body in a vulnerable position: she can and will take in more than a penis. She also takes in energy, good or bad. She essentially takes in the DNA makeup of the person she is sleeping with. Penetration, at its nucleus, is demanding. It is masculine (IMO). It is dominant. This physical submission in the form of open legs and relaxed body is supposed to come with the permission of the woman. But when she has experienced someone take from her as a child –

  • her right to give permission
  • Her right to say no thank you.
  • Her right to have closed legs
  • Her right to no desire or even know/want to know what sex is
  • Her right to be left alone

– sometimes that submission can be a challenge. Listen, it’s not about letting the past control your life. Victims of sexual trauma would love nothing more than to not be led by the memories that haunt them. But sexual abuse is and the effects of it can stick around for your entire life and a woman can have ‘flair ups’ or ‘triggered’ reactionary moments because of them. Penetration can sometimes feel so intrusive and unsavory and it will have nothing to do with the person. It’s the woman. She needs….something. But what? Patience from him? Understanding? A counselor? Sex therapy?

What does the woman, who’s in a relationship with a man, need to do in an effort to keep a healthy, vibrant relationship that doesn’t lack sexual appetite when she was once a victim of sexual abuse that at times rears its ugly head? Who does she talk to when the man is fed up with not being pleased sexually? Does she risk him cheating? Does faking it work? Does she need to try harder to forget the things that happened to her if they have any effect on her physically and how does that happen? Exactly what does that look like?

And then to that point, what is the man’s job? Does he continue to push her to have sex? Does he love her right where she is and go get sexually pleased by someone else and use this as the reason? Does he have a point if he does that? Does he suggest counseling and if so, should he go with her? Sometimes or always?  What if he’s tried to be understanding, timid, and respectful of her needs but is now at a point where his needs are being all but forgotten? What should he do? Leave her?

Album Cover for ErynAllenKane
Album Cover for ErynAllenKane

I don’t come with answers to any of this. I’m here with nothing but questions. Sex is such an integral and necessary part of relationships and it can’t be avoided. But sometimes, for some women, there isn’t always that burning desire to have sex and as much as of it as possible. Sometimes, women want to chill. They don’t want their bodies penetrated but they would love to kiss and touch. For many people this is NOT acceptable; or at least not in large doses. Does she owe her man her body? Is it really a woman’s JOB to have sex with her man as much as possible? Should she expect to have sex in between each period because the period is your ‘break time?’  Is that REALLY a fucking thing?

There are so many questions when you are a victim of sexual trauma. Sexual abuse is the type of traumatic event that occurs to people that others who have never experienced can’t always understand why one hasn’t moved further along in the healing process. They don’t [always] understand where all the questions you have come from. People also tend to think if you were abused as a child, it shouldn’t have any effect on your day to day living, and if you were abused as an adult, some folks believe you should be thick-skinned enough at this point to be able to deal with it in a healthy way, which is an interesting way of thinking considering the act was not healthy so how is the response to it expected to ever be? Folks want you to play by the same set of rules as everyone else when your truth is different from the healthy norm. Your moments of remembering aren’t controlled by you and for some of us, we’ve spent a great deal of life on emotional auto-pilot so we definitely aren’t in control of what has some triggering effect on us or when we will close up and need to be left alone until it passes.

I guess that’s where doctors and therapy come in. 

Again, this wasn’t a blog that you would find answers in; nothing here but questions this time around. I never think about the twins that molested me or their brother that tried to join in on the fun. I really don’t. I don’t think about being violated or what happened. It’s not something that sits in my immediate consciousness. I’ve placed in that brain space that is not ever accessed.

But that doesn’t change my physical reactions, which sometimes, I don’t control even when I want to. Idk. I just have nothing but questions. . . What happens to the sexually traumatized woman who wants a healthy relationship with a man but can’t feed his sexual appetite as necessary?
Does she give up on love altogether?

Does her partner hold any accountability for being patient? And let’s say the answer to that is yes, how long does one expect he can just be patient before he becomes a patient in another nurse’s bed?

The juxtaposition of love and life are often a collision course of lessons learned and bridges burned. In order for even the healthiest of relationships to work, both parties must be secure in each other. He must be feel secure that his sexual needs will be tended to and that’s fair. No one likes a cheater. She must feel secure that in the midst of enjoying and taking care of sexual needs, she is not treated like or left to feel like sex is the end all, be all of their relationship. She shouldn’t feel pressure and he should balance his need with understanding. For someone who’s been molested and someone who hasn’t been, how does that work? What exactly does that look like Sway?kanye-west-week-in-quotes-4-1385904923-view-1

But for real tho, who actually makes it out of this life shit alive?

 

WOMAN: Expect(ed)Growth Serum

Jill Scott
WOMAN
Starting 8.23.2015

woman jill scott

I started listening to this album in lyric form (meaning no longer just ‘jamming to the groove of the infectious JS and anything she sings) while cleaning up over the weekend. The irony of this album is how little I played it, but played it nonetheless, on the way to Cincinnati to meet a special someone. The songs and lyrics resonate unexpectedly well. As I took in different lyrics, I found myself wondering about the wonderfilled world of Ms. Jill Scott. She is only a handful of years older than me; is it possible that these feelings she is singing about were recent emotions? I haven’t read the full liner notes, so I am not currently aware of which songs she wrote, but I think I will research this information. Could Jill Scott REALLY have found herself experiencing some of the same shit that spawns from foolish actions while in pursuit of love…just like me? The lyrics stacked on top of each other and began telling her story in my eyes and my life. I started listening more intently.
From the beginning of the album until the end of the second bonus track, I have let this CD repeat and play and strum my pain with the delicate fingers of the soulful JS. I had a thought. Maybe I shouldn’t just let this be a good cd! Light of the Sun (Scott’s last release in 2011) was a good CD. There were several songs I LOVED from that release, but the album didn’t ‘resonate’ with me in nearly the same manner as the predecessor ‘The Real Thing: Words & Sounds’. For me, it was one of those ‘it’s got some good stuff but I love it more because I am a fan’ albums. This new body of work, WOMAN, is not that. WOMAN eats me alive and spits me back out in the mirror to look at my digested self. In listening to and learning the words that I am singing along with, I can’t help but face these lyrics on myself. It’s too close to home. It lessened the sting I’ve been feeling; like along came a bumble bee and stung me in my eyes. I’ve been embarrassed with myself. My most recent blog almost became a ‘draft’ and disappeared. The oldest readers know I will deactivate any blog at any moment that I feel like I’ve gone too far and too vulnerable. But I left it up because it was my truth. It was a PMS-laced emotional rant but it was MY rant and MY truth in that moment. So I left it to be. But I’ve been embarrassed at many aspects of this last scary-go-clown ride.
I mean….i’m too old. I should know better. I DO know better and this blog is proof of what I know…..but i looooooove me some La Douleur Exquise to the fullest extent I guess…….

Actually, embarrassed is a simple word for a multitude of conflicting emotions from ‘dammit kendria’ to ‘fuck that nigga’ to ‘I can’t trust myself’. Of course I’ve thought of a 101 different things to have done differently and even more things to have said. But hindsight is for after thoughts. I’m so much better when I have time to think.

It’s the same with music…..
I take in lyrics differently when I have time to absorb them. As I listened and cleaned and danced around, I felt Jill’s voice take me into orbit with the ghost of love’s past plus the woman of the present. I started reflecting and evaluating myself with some of the songs and noticed my parallels and missteps; not with just the last encounter, but in general.

INCOMING EPIPHANY: I dumb myself down when in an affect mood. I am a confident woman when I am single; when I am being pursued (or when I have foolishly pursued), that confidence goes out the window. Some of the songs on this album brought that to light for me. I”m sure I’ve said this in so many words in previous blogs, but it never presented itself to me as lack of confidence. I don’t know what I’ve ever thought it to be other than lack of confidence. I mean, I always feel confident. I AM confident….until I become involved in ‘like’.

Something happens then. Idk why but suddenly, I don’t feel as confident (but this is a subconscious thought). I don’t trust my questions (I will think they are stupid), I don’t carry the conversations well (I don’t like my voice), I put my passions in the mouse hole and quiet them because why would he need to know anything beyond the facts. Yes, I write. The end. Yes, I model sometimes. The End. Yes, I am a blogger for the oldest running black newspaper in the country. So what. I accept that men aren’t interested in that part of me when in reality, if a man is NOT interested in these amazing accomplishments, then he isn’t interested in ME. This IS me. I AM a writer, an artist, a model, a blogger, an events planner. I literally call my life into existence and so it becomes….I have an amazing amount of power in my hands yet when I start dating around, I subconsciously think and behave as if none of this is my truth. As if I can’t read and am strung out on meth, therefore I should be GLAD to get anyone’s attention. I can honestly say, I’ve met no one interested in my artistic side unless I was kicking it with another artist, who if I recall right, the artist(s) that I have spent time with were still uninterested in ME as an artist or writer; they love talking about themselves. #YeahISaidIt But for what I can recall, no one I have met, dated, fucked, kicked it with, talked to or otherwise communicated with was interested in januarie York. And so, I pretend that this is ok. A great deal of my confidence comes from januarie tho. SHE knows. SHE is the smart one. The QUEEN. The Royal. The empress. I’m still trying to catch up with her or so it seems. Idk how this could be when we are one in the same body and mind. o.O But it’s her that gives me such life and reminders of all the great possibilities of me, my goals and my hopes for the future. But when she fails to generate an interest, I seemingly ask her to step aside and let the insecure me take over. And then, nothing happens except a bomb blowing up in my face like a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

30mrd6u

I can’t believe that I’ve never really paid attention to how my confidence in myself as an interesting woman capable of holding a King’s attention makes a mad dash towards the Get Behind Me Satan line. It virtually disappears. This disappearance creates a rift within me that communicates to my brain that I NEED to do something ‘impressive’. I need to say something impressive or dance a jig. Something about me says “I AM NOT enough” once I get involved with someone.

So I’ve decided to use this album to elevate me. Recently, I’ve been trying to think of ways to help elevate me as a black woman overall. I’ve tried to think of powerful black women with relatable testimonies to research and read. I’ve wondered how could I get closer to God, FOR REAL. Who could I listen to? What am I doing actively that is preventing my elevation? How can I get to the next step? With as few mistakes as possible?

As I was listening to WOMAN, some of these questions were answered. At least as ONE option. One of my instant favorite songs on the album is this track called ‘Say Thank You’. The beat is SICK. Just SICK!!!!! When I started taking in the lyrics, I realized it’s actually a spiritual song. I was sweeping the floors when the thought of ‘secular’ music came to mind and whether or not I can hear, see or find God in places that it is suggested I stay away from. How dare I spiritually jam and connect with God on a song by Jill Scott? But I did. The lyrics opened up some type of awareness in me. Am I on my knees? Are my hands together? Is my head to the clouds? Do I say thank you more than I say help me? So many questions from sweeping the hardwood floors and listening to Jill Scott. But this helped solidify this blog series. This reaction happened every time I listened to it after I started taking in the lyrics.
I want to go listen now.

So I will wrap this introduction up. I would like to welcome you to a series within #AMuseD….WOMAN is an album about being a woman (duh), growth, love, self respect, God and faith. In order to meet this alleged person that is somewhere out there in the world waiting to meet me I need these things in abundance and this last experience proves that point. I still have growing to do. And realizing that I become a complete opposite of myself security-wise when I date is a big fucking deal. It has to stop. Stopping that means opening myself up to exactly what I want vs. accepting what is given. So using this album, I am going to challenge the importance of music. By now you have noticed that most blogs are accompanied by a ‘Blogtrack’ with lyrics that go with it. For the next couple of weeks, I will be blogging using each one of the songs on Jill Scott’s WOMAN album. It will be one part song-interpretation, one part life growth and interpretation. If I happen to meet someone, it should be interesting to see if this album can help to remind me of who I am through the process. Isn’t that what we love about music? It’s ability to create a story or tell our lives and current situations with a head bobbing melody?

Welp….this is where I am with it. I don’t even know if it makes sense, but just tag along. I’m gonna keep a low profile otherwise. I need to hear. I need to listen. I think that was a question Jill Scott even asked on one of the songs. It’s like she was a neo-soul preacher for my artistic in-need-of-God heart. I’ve been talking too much. I’ve been talking over my own voice. I have the expertise and the experience yet I get out here in the wild and become a novice in the belly of the beast. It’s no wonder I get eaten alive. The loneliness subsided. The disappointment about Afropunk will fade. I’ve got a new show coming up and a possibility of something else on October 3rd (tba).

And love. I will always want love. But God. I need more God. And more listening ears. I am committed to no longer making the same mistakes with men again. I will probably never forget TheGuy for the simple fact that …..that I just won’t. He was what I wanted and I ran so fast that I tripped all over both of us. Like vomit. I hurt myself in the process of trying to keep from getting hurt by someone who wasn’t necessarily out for that. I changed us as quickly as I connected us. My lack of confidence changed our direction. I definitely bruised his Scorpio ego by suggesting he was full of shit. He couldn’t handle that and his interest in me wasn’t enough to recover. He tried. But I had already pushed our ball in a new direction and that was the end. I don’t want to do that again. I still feel like it’s his loss…..but it’s mine too. Sometimes you lose to win, right Fantasia?

Or better yet, sometimes you Muse to Win.

And I never want to see myself as my own #muse again.

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Since this blog is long, I will start a song tomorrow. There is no blog track today.
Unless you count the one playing in my head.
“I just want to be prepared”
~Jill Scott, Prepared #WOMAN

#MuseJanuarie