Friday, June 28

A message to the #notallmen brigade

I am going to keep this brief because I am tired of having to say this.

We know it's #notallmen. 
But your refusal to recognize and address the fact that there are so many men doing these things that MOST women have had similar experiences isn't really helping your "cause". Addressing the women who experience the issue and not the issue itself only proves that woman likely feel unsafe with you. If you feel the need to debate that, think about why.

Despite being presented with screenshot after screenshot of men being trash to women who were otherwise minding their business, men still find the need to address the women in the situation. We aren't the ones that need to be addressed. If you think it's not necessary to address these issues with your friends because they don't do things like that, I assure you there is a woman with a screenshot to prove otherwise. Your homeboys aren't just lying to women, they're lying to you too just like you lie by omission or exaggeration to them.

Be real or be still was the motto and response of my college roommate and I. We asked direct questions and wanted direct answers. The same applies today. When accountability feels like an attack, you're not being real. That's just that. I have addressed my own hypocrisy many times. I am flawed and sometimes (but not often) incorrect. I am honest with myself and others because I live a life that is authentic as I can make it without offending my mama and my ancestors. All I ask is that the men in my sphere do the same and demand the same of their friends. But apparently that is asking too much. Instead I have to choose my words carefully and attempt to be respectful to men who constantly say anything to me and care not about empathy or respect when they wave their NOT ALL MEN banner.

Do better by the women you say you love, the women you claim to like, the "mouthy" women you tolerate because you're attracted to them, the women you are currently disrespectful to in public but inboxing in private because you'd still kinda like to hit that but you don't want to be clowned. I say again: We know it's #notallmen. But we need you to know that it is far too many men. And those men make the women around you feel unsafe because your protest makes you complicit. Instead of addressing the women experiencing these things, talk to the men. Because as tired as you are of saying not all men, women are even more tired of hearing and reading it.

Friday, April 26

Mourning My Body

This is deeply personal and may be difficult for those dealing with reproductive issues to read, but here goes. My Eulogy for my Uterus.

I have had a menstrual cycle since I was 11 years old. I have been suffering from debilitating cramps and bleeding through my clothes since I was 15. In my 20s I woke up after passing out on the floor of my bathroom on day 1 of my period. I've been on every form of birth control excluding the implant. With these different forms of birth control came different side effects including: hair shedding, weight gain, depression and loss of sex drive. And through it all I still found minimal relief from my periods on most of them.

At 34, I had to have a myomectomy to remove fibroids and endometriosis. During that time, the doctor asked me if I had ever been pregnant. Something about that question being asked in my mid-30s stung. I realized that I had not always been safe, I had not always made wise decisions, but I also had never been pregnant. At this point I had heard of and been through my friends' pregnancies that were successful, unsuccessful and terminated. It was then that I realized that all of these years of distress and pain and embarrassment may have served no purpose because I may not have ever even had the capacity for "viable pregnancy". As much as I try to shake the patriarchal-based upbringing I had, the thought of not being able to have children truly caused me to question myself and my purpose. Unfortunately, my doctor basically reinforced that when I went in for my 6-week appointment. He basically encouraged me to try for a baby VERY SOON even if I had to "hold on to the side of the bed" if it got uncomfortable. At the time, I had a live-in boyfriend of about 3 years. In theory, expanding our family was not so far-fetched but the reality was we were not ready.

At 35, I got my IUD. What a difference a year makes! It had become clear to me that my relationship was coming to an end. The year before he was there with me at the appointments. But then a year later, there I was on the same exam table, alone, getting an IUD. It was supposed to regulate my periods, prevent endometriosis, and reduce the risk of the fibroids returning. 2 years later, the fibroids returned. They were small and not super painful and I was not ready to have a child, so I did not address it.

At 39, I went to the doctor because of pain in my uterus. The doctor doing the exam stated  my uterus was the same size as a 5 month pregnant woman, it was apparent my fibroids had grown more. The ultrasound confirmed and I felt a sense of both dread and relief. Dread because I knew that at 40, it was likely time to consider a hysterectomy. Relief because I had confirmation that my inability to lose this stomach was not all my fault *eyeroll at myself* but also that my 25 year struggle with my reproductive system would be over soon. Which has also caused me grief because after 25 years of struggle with my reproductive system, it would be over without having a baby or knowing if I could.

At 40, just days away from my hysterectomy, I am making peace with the woman I thought I'd  be and the woman I am now. I am realizing that my worth as a woman does not rest solely on my ability to procreate. Which I had already been trying to convince myself of for years. But in the back of my mind there was always that thought, that idea of pregnancy as a possibility. I am perhaps the most practical dreamer I know. While the dream of having a child seemed great, it was not practical based on my current lifestyle. Emotions ain't practical, y'all! I went on a snotty vent a few weekends ago that finally allowed me to say all of the things I wanted to say on both ends of the spectrum.

After 25 years, she and I are parting ways. I do not know who I will be without her, my prayer is that I will be more fabulous, more amazing, more joyous, more adventurous, more confident, more comfortable and with less pain, less monthly anxiety, less ruined clothes!

Friday, March 29

Something's Different- CARDI!

The outrage about Cardi is based in misogyny. 

INGLEWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Cardi B performs onstage during 102.7 KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2018 Presented by Capital One at The Forum on November 30, 2018 in Inglewood, California.

 I'm not burying the lede here. I really want to end there. But I'll go on.

Men have done Olympic gold medal level mental gymnastics attempting to equate her revelation to male celebrities accused of rape and I just cannot comprehend how and why they hate women THIS much. I was told that rap lyrics are fictional. Y'all, they told me that as if rappers weren't out here with real criminal records. I do not suffer under the delusion that all rappers are rapping fact. But knowing what I know about the earliest stages of hip-hop legends, not everybody is lying. I have yet to say anything about Cardi specifically. I have only refuted people's comparisons to male rappers. Because it's dumb. Saying rape is greater than robbery is not saying that robbery is right. But that seems to be the only focus. And I am wondering why and how? Why is it redemption is only for men? How is it that rappers go to jail for crimes like domestic violence, rape, attempted murder and never get muted? They come out on top of the charts and sometimes go back to jail for the same crimes and come back again. But when a female rapper admits to doing the same thing that men rap about in a profession that these rappers both revere and disrespect, men who are otherwise silent find their voice? 

Something's different. It's the inherent and internalized misogyny that drives them to suddenly have their eyes opened to people's criminal pasts while still listening to people with a criminal present. Some of these same men AND women don't like Cardi in the first place because she's too free and too sexual and too honest and too loud. All things women have been taught not to be because men won't like them and eventually marry them. Cardi is the opposite of what we were taught a lady should be and yet she's popular somehow and some cannot handle it. Because everything we are taught about women is based in how they should be seen by others as opposed to how they truly want to act and feel. 

Redemption, it seems, is only for men. Ice-T, who was never an actual gang member, was a pimp and a bank robber that rapped about murdering cops. He has now played a fictional cop for longer than he was a non-fictional criminal. No one has tried to mute him. But in what I can only see as retaliation for women wanting men who do bodily harm to women through crimes of power (sexual assault, rape, kidnapping) to suffer consequences, men are demanding Cardi be brought to justice. And I have to ask what's the difference?

Often times I wonder if this nation is more racist than sexist. But incidents like this remind me no, it's still HELLA sexist.

Y'all be BETTER to one another!

Friday, February 1

Guess Who Loves You More?

I love myself more today than I have in years. Not that I didn't love myself before, but I didn't show myself enough grace for my mistakes while also committing myself to not making them in the same way again. So here, today, on this 1st day of February, I am in LOVE with me.
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This has been my affirmation for months now! It came to me from divine intervention (no longer calling anything a whim or a coincidence).

I used to be terrified of new people. New people bring new energy. New energy brings the empath in me into the spotlight and drains her dry, even when the energy is positive. My personality is such that I like new things almost obsessively for short to extended periods of time and then it wears off, suddenly and without warning. This also happens with people... SURPRISE! I will want to spend every minute of my free time in their presence, talking to them, yammering on the phone, telling everyone I know how funnty he or she is. Then one day, they text and I literally don't have the brainspace to respond. they invite me out and I opt for the couch. I have learned to identify the source of that feeling and address it without getting folks feelings involved. I have learned to temper my reactions to new energy that I enjoy and space out my interactions to save myself the drain.

I used to just let these things happen with no brakes (not breaks), but the withdrawals that follow those dopamine loops were just not worth it. Them lows got low low low and made me question my entire existence. Yes, that means what you think it means. I would get so low after I would just not want to be here anymore. Instead of taking myself out, which I knew the thoughts were tricks of the loop, I took myself in. I started doing the internal work to figure out what the hell I was doing wrong and working overtime to get it right.

As I stated in my previous blog, I was a Mean Girl. I was fighting those lows with projection, anger and transferal of energy. Until one day, my spirit had had enough. I stood up to these urges, feelings, people and myself. I confronted me with no illusions that it had anything to do with anyone but me why I was in the space I was in at the time. And I had full understanding that it was going to take help from others, but I was the one responsible for doing the bulk of the work. And for real for real I still have a lot of work to do.

In my past blogs, I have discussed moving forward and doing the work. But now I am ascending, spiritually. The shift I have felt in my spirit over the last months has been visible to others. It has made what used to break me easier to bear. It has given me a freedom to express my true self without concern of judgement because I know that those who are meant to join you on your next level will understand your shift and not fear or fight your shifted mindset if you have done the work to stop fearing and fighting it yourself. WHEW! As I have opened myself up to the spiritual practices and focuses to which I am being led, I have opened myself up to learning and loving me more for and in the fullness of who I truly am. There is less shame in what I do, who I love, how I express myself and where I intend to go.

I am being led away from some of my current places in pursuit of a higher calling. It takes hard work, perseverance, preparation, focus, and sheer desire to ascend. But higher heights are calling, cleansing is occurring, and more peace is forthcoming. I am turned on, tuned in and ready. I am ready with an assurance I have never felt before. I am not going to be deterred like I have every time before. I am going to love my way through to this next level.

I hope to see you at the top!

Friday, January 4

#Dondothis- Confessions of a Mean Girl

I was a mean girl. I expressed relational aggression in undue directions. I had an us vs. them mentality until I realized I didn't want to be an us... or a them...
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When I say I was a mean girl I mean like as recently as last year I was displaying tendencies of a mean girl: being nasty, manipulative, and exclusionary. Then one day, I realized I was being wack. I didn't even have any explanation as to why I was doing what I was doing to the people I was doing it to at the time. People were the targets of my petty, wit, sarcasm and sometimes downright rudeness after having done the least little thing. I realized that I had to extract myself from a mentality that was making others miserable and bringing my vibrations low.

I'm not really a cliqueish person. I have about 6-10 close friends who I hang out with separately or sometimes in a small group. But I never really got down with huge friend groups where everyone was with everyone all the time. My introverted empath could not take all of that. Because of that, from my elementary school days until now, people tend to see me as a lone wolf in need of a pack. People have  often tried to absorb me into their's and I'd go because I was curious. Well, we all know how rude curiosity can be... I was starting to feel suffocated.  I needed out of the cycle of misplaced anger and unnecessary clapback before. One thing about mean girls is they start to turn on each other eventually... WHEW!

So, I placed my anger where it should have been and I clapped back at the necessary people... much like Cady in the movie Mean Girls. And let me tell you, I feel so light! I have opened myself up to opportunities to connect with more like-minded people. I have received unimaginable love and support.

You may notice that the title hashtag usually means a story about someone's son is coming. But I have not been on a date bad enough to blog since I changed my energy. I have had amazing experiences, met incredible men and discovered more about harnessing my power. The bad ones are fewer and farther between. I am not beholden to anyone's ideals or ideas of what my love life should look like. And it has since flourished in all areas. WHEW!

Let me be crystal clear, I can and will still bless you out or meet your ignorance with sarcastic wit, if I deem it necessary. But I am deeming it less necessary these days. I am more intentional about my energy and now choose to focus it on more positive and joyous endeavors. I'm still going to post about people's sons doing dirt, but I encounter it less so you will see it less. I am still an advocate for people especially women of color unduly penalized by the white cishet patriarchy. I am still going to crack jokes and troll people on my social media pages with well-worded posts occasionally. But, what I will not be is a mean girl waiting to strike, who then gathers other mean girls to join in. I'm off that. I can only hope people who were adversely impacted by my actions and my actions by proxy can extend me grace and accept my apology. Self-reflection is a hell of a thing! I am grateful to have the opportunity to reevaluate, recalibrate and refocus!

My vibe changed, my tribe changed, my life changed.

Friday, December 28

2018 Tho...

2018 has taught me so very much! Mainly, it taught me to let stuff go! Things, people, places, ideas, concepts, people, norms, inhibitions, people...
Image result for 2018

I have learned the art of letting things float away that don't mean me well. That includes people that call themselves my friends. I have started to advocate for myself in various spaces including speaking my mind to people and not really caring about whether or not they like me after I've said what I said. This has led to some people taking the coward's route of not addressing what I have said and others doubling down on their disdain. Either way, I'm not concerned. Does it sting at first? Of course, but I have a whole life to live and a purpose to carry out that clearly doesn't include them. I am learning to make peace with that.

In contrast to that, I have made connections with people who I am convinced are essential to my next steps! Men who are communicative, expressive and not afraid of feelings and emotions. Women who are supportive, caring, generous and not intimidated by other women's shine. I am grateful for what I have made space for after the garbage took itself out. I am concerned about the amount of garbage that keeps trying to sneak back in, but that's not my focus here today.

My family recently suffered a tremendous loss when my mother's best friend passed away suddenly last week. It's been tough because she was like family to us and watching my mother grieve has been difficult for me because I want to support her in the best way possible while I am also dealing with the loss. But even in this sudden tragedy, God has shown up and shone light on so much these past few days. It makes this process easier to deal with and the stages easier to get through.

Overall, I have grown in 2018 by leaps and bounds. I have been shown who my people are and I have been provided love and support from unexpected places. I have let go of who I thought I should be and started loving who I am even more. I don't think there are enough words or time to explain all that I have learned about who I am and what I am truly capable of but understand that I have a testimony!

As the new year begins and I get back on this road to my PhD, I cannot help but smile because there have truly been people, thoughts, situations and issues sent my way that were clearly intended to break me. Things that others have not survived, but this year, I gained a greater understanding of  my purpose, my personality and my principles. I pray 2019 is as educational, inspirational, propelling and compelling as 2018 was!

Also, related but unrelated.... someone buy me this shirt:
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Thursday, November 29

"I Am NOT Okay." and That is Okay!

Did you know that you don't have to be okay everyday? Did you know that pretending you are okay is not helpful or healthy? Did you know that when you are not okay you are not alone and that that that feeling of being alone is a whole entire lie?

These are Bri facts based on my lived experience, observation and what God has downloaded into my spirit. But, look, if you are NOT okay, tell someone.

Who is your person? Scratch that, who are your people? I have a few. I have a coach, a cheerleader,  a hugger, a prayer warrior, a real-talker, a light-shiner, a laugh-bringer and then some! I spread it out because, like many of us, I don't want to feel like a burden to any one person. The thing is, I recognized the gifts in these people to lift me up or call me in (not out) in a way that is helpful and healthy. I know that the things these people do for me are from a place of love, care and concern for me and that helps me remain in a good place to receive what they have to give. Take some time to recognize your human assets. In a time when people treat one another as expendable, it is imperative to find, acknowledge, and magnify value in one another.

I see so many people saying they don't get what they give from anyone and I just find that hard to believe. And maybe, just maybe, it is because they are trying to get things from the wrong source. Tryna get light from dark dwellers. Tryna get real talk from yes men.
That's not how this works

Getting what you need starts with you. You have to be honest with yourself first. Think back to the last time you were not okay. Consult with your spirit and consider what you truly needed in those times. Now, you gotta put your pride aside. You gotta go to the people that will give you those things. If they cannot provide, then you have to go back to the drawing board because you have not gone to the right people. There's nothing wrong with that, do not be discouraged. You are on a journey to get the most out of this here life and along the way you may have to backtrack, check your map, reroute or even change your destination. But you won't know until you're on the road. The most important thing is to get on the road!

We often allow catchphrases like "living my best life" make us feel like we have to be at the top of our game all the time and when we aren't we beat ourselves down, try to bring others down with us, fake it 'til we make it, or sometimes just stop trying altogether. It's okay to NOT be okay sometimes. It's okay to seek your people in those times. It's okay to seek help (THERAPY) when you are not okay for long periods of time. It's okay to ask for directions along the road to wellness. It's okay to not always feel like you haaaave to "be best". It's okay to strive to just be okay sometimes.

Call on your people. Check on your people. Love on yourselves. Holla at your girl.

Related but unrelated- someone buy me this shirt...
Okay, bye!