Friday, November 17

(Un)Safe in His Arms

Trigger warning: Assault is discussed, though not  in detail....

As a woman, I already keep my head on swivel in public. Even when I appear to be way into my phone or deep into my music, I am aware of who is around me and my music is never too loud that I can't hear people talking to or about me. Why? Because men are dangerous. #Notallmen.... I know! I have been in 2 physical altercations in my adult life. Both of them were with men. Men in the club. One was a man that grabbed my butt and I grabbed his wrist TIGHTLY and would not let go. He tried to deny he touched me despite the fact I grabbed his hand as it was grabbing my butt. He attempted to further get violent with me and a male friend stepped between us.One was a man I denied a dance. He shoved me in the back and I turned around and shoved him in the chest. My lady friends came and got between us and told him he needed to go! 

I was assaulted by a boy in high school because he thought I was giving him mixed signals. This boy was my boyfriend. My boyfriend who knew I was younger than him and a virgin. My boyfriend who had shown no signs of aggression until that afternoon when he pushed me to the ground as I sat on the stairs in the school lobby. I had blocked it out for YEARS until I was triggered about 3 years ago and it all came flooding back to me.

In short, I rarely feel 100% safe around men, even men I know. With all that is coming out in the news about men in high positions doing terrible things to men and women that trusted them, more women are being triggered and realizing how unsafe they really are almost everywhere they go. 

Last week or so, the Black Twittersphere was all the way live with news that someone well known amongst them was a serial assaulter. Some people were shocked and others, not-so-much. The most disappointing thing about the revelation is that he appeared to have cultivated an inner-circle of well-respected men and women to give the appearance of being "safe". This was all by design it seems, based on the accounts of many victims of his.

This reminded me of one day when some of my lady friends were sitting around talking with a guy we knew and telling stories of guys we met that were out of pocket. The guy was AMAZED and asked us where we met "these dudes". My response was: "Standing next to you!" He didn't quite understand the concept. I explained to him women who trust a man will often trust the men with whom he associates. The assumption being this man we trust would not associate with someone who acts in this way. But now, I know that is not the case. Sometimes it is due to the offending party fostering a whole other identity with one group and committing his offenses just outside of that group. This often results in the fostered friendship circle saying: "He's never acted like that around me!" Sometimes it's because the offending party HAS done it around a friend and gone unchecked because your friend didn't "really know him like that" to say anything to him.

So what is a woman to do? TRUST. YOUR. GUT! If something does not feel right when you are around someone, go with that no matter what your friends say. I am always the person on the outside with the "uh-uh" face as everyone else is hugging certain people. Then weeks, months, years later people are like that guy is a mess and I'm just thinking: I KNEW IT! Remember earlier I said some folks were not surprised by the accusations? Those are mostly folks that trusted that discernment. 

You have to own your peace, y'all. This world is not going to give it to you. You have to trust in whomever or whatever you believe to keep you aware and safe. You have to trust yourself to know when something in the milk ain't clean. You have to be ok with being on the outs with folk. But also, you have to be gentle with yourself when you may not get it right and find out that someone you thought was safe or were told was safe is not.




Friday, November 3

Still In Recovery

Sometimes even after the doctor gives us the okay and we go back to our daily lives we think we are better, but something happens to remind us that we are still in recovery.

I went to homecoming this past weekend. Up until that point I was only wearing skirts, dresses or leggings. I wore jeans all weekend. These jeans hit me RIGHT at my incisions. My incisions got irritated and I ended up sore. I thought I had set myself back, but my surgeon assured me this was to be expected. He told me to limit my activity. AGAIN! UUUUUGH!

I had been feeling so much better that I forgot I was recovering. I had gotten to a place in my healing where I thought I was okay. But I was reminded that I was not completely healed. I needed more time. This perceived setback made me feel so WEAK! I was doing so well. I was doing better. Now I am here at square 2. 

Recovery takes time. Recovery has stages. Recovery requires diligence. Recovery sometimes ebbs and flows. There are times when I feel nothing. And there are times when I have a dull aching reminder that I am still healing. These are not setbacks, they are reminders. 

Be more gentle with yourself and give yourself time to heal. When you get those reminders remember to take it slower, be more intentional in your recovery.... give yourself time to heal.

Monday, October 23

Healing When You're Hurting

So look, I've been recovering from an appendectomy. I need y'all to understand this. Something I never thought would impact me was bothering me so much, I had to have it removed immediately and spent a significant amount of time healing from it.  If you have been reading over the last month or so, you will know that this is a micro of the macro that has been my life recently. 

Here's what had happened: Friday, I thought I had gas. Saturday, I went to a football game, had a fish plate, attended an after party, party hopped with my sorors,  and went to dinner with a friend... with gas and a small pain in my side. Sunday, I woke up with a sharper pain and realized my high pain tolerance may have caused me to miss an important message my body was giving me. I posted about it on FB because that's just who I am as a person. Then, I commenced to tidying up my house and deciding my next course of action. The pain got my attention and my BFF came to my rescue. He took me to urgent care and they sent me to the emergency room after finding an issue with my bloodwork. I had only ONE symptom of appendicitis, so I wasn't certain what was causing the white blood count issue. After hours in the emergency waiting room, I finally get sent to the back. The emergency nurse was soooooooo annoying. She told me I should have come to the ER instead of going to urgent care. First of all, I thought it was bad gas, lady! I  just turned my head and closed my eyes because I felt that ringing in my ears that I get when I'm ready to blackout and curse someone out. My BFF came to the rescue (again) and gave her a half-hearted, "Ok, thanks." Then, as she is jamming a needle into my tiny veins for a 3rd time she sees me flinching and tearing up and asks me "What's wrong, you don't like IVs?" Y'ALL! I wanted to say, "Of course I do! Who doesn't!?!?" Instead, I closed my eyes and looked away, again. Who asks something like that? I know I said I have a high tolerance for pain, but something about the smooth insides of my precious forearms and my delicate, little veins meeting a long sharp needle that hurts more than almost anything. Mind you, this was the third try.

So long story short, I go to get the CT scan and it's appendicitis! I have surgery at 11 PM on Sunday and don't see my house again until 11 days later. In spite of bruising, infiltrated IVs causing me Popeye arm, and bad reactions to pain medications, I had an overall good experience in the hospital. My nurses and doc outside of the Emergency department were great. My people showed up for me in the best of ways. I got through it and 2 weeks later, I'm back at work a little sore, but much better.

The healing process was troubling because I do not like to ask for help. But what I learned is that when you are hurting and you let the right people know, they will show up for you in the ways you request. They asked me what I needed, I stated it and my friends provided. Some going above and beyond what I even asked of them. 

The lesson here is this: My body was telling me I was hurting, I ignored it until it was undeniable because I ain't no sucka, I'm tough, I'm resilient, I'm a soldier, I'm stubborn! This led to unexpected extraction of something that was of no use to me, but causing me pain nonetheless. In the process of healing from this, my friends reached out and I told them what I needed. They provided in the form of gifts, food, necessities and sometimes just company. I made my needs known, I got more than I even thought I needed and it made the healing much easier. I was forced to chill out and be outside of my comfort zone. Days later, I'm back to my routine still a little sore but definitely no longer in pain. 

So ask yourself: What is my body telling me? What do I need to have examined and extracted? Who can I call on to help me heal? Am I willing to rest and heal as long as it takes? 

Take care of yourself, stay in tune, call on your people, take your time healing!

Words from my problematic boo, John Mayer.

Friday, October 6

The Ending of a Thing

You learn a lot in endings, especially the end of friendships and relationships. I can admit that I have not acted with grace when things have ended in the past. But I can also admit that others have not either. Neither one of those things hurt me any less than the other. To know that someone you care about could cause you so much pain is just as jarring as causing pain to someone else.

But what people say in those moments of hurt and how they act thereafter speaks volumes. I can think of a time when I was literally crying on the floor begging someone not to go and they coolly walked away. I can also think of a time when I calmly stated my piece and the person chose the nuclear option. Sometimes a sincere and detailed apology can go a long way. Other times a cleansing conversation once you cool off helps put both people at ease. Then there are those times when the earth should definitely be scorched, the bridge burned, the door welded shut! Knowing when to employ those options is a true sign of emotional maturity.

There was an IG meme that I wanted to use here that said something like you learn a lot about a person by the way things end, or something of that nature. I cannot find it though. But I have found this to be true in how many things have ended friendships, relationships, partnerships, etc. When people are honest with themselves and each other, the ending of a thing can be so peaceful. But when one or both people are being dishonest... WHEW! That's when things get ill. Things occur like transferral of energy which is probably one of the most hurtful things you can do to someone (outside of physical harm) and it usually only makes the transferer feel better temporarily.

Hurt people hurt people. We've all been hurt, but hurting others won't help you heal. Healing is internal and it starts with truth. At the end of a thing, are you being true to and with yourself or are you solely seeking to harm someone else? I am all about being honest with self, first. My mother raised me to think what I could have done differently when conflict arises and that is how I approach most anything including endings. I try to do some serious soul-searching and set my boundaries beforehand. I don't always get it exactly right, but I try to do what's best. I am not always successful and it doesn't always go well, but I can sincerely say that the ending of a thing is me trying my best...

I thought that last statement was going to be the last statement, but I sought out a Word and came upon this. take from it what you will. Ecclesiastes 7:8-9 says:
8 the end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. 9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.  

Note: Excuse me if this seems disjointed but I am currently going through the process myself, but I hoped that by sharing this now, I could help others who I know are doing the same.


BE GOOD TO ONE ANOTHER, Y'ALL!

Tuesday, October 3

Breaking Before You're Broken

This place is overwhelming! By this place I mean the whole of everything, every place you live, work, drive by on the way to the grocery store, see on the news, hear about in other conversations. OVERWHELMING! 

What day do you do NOTHING? Do you have to plan it? I work 6 days a week. It used to be 7 until I made a conscious decision to take my Sundays back. I do NO work on Sundays. I don't think about work on Sundays, I don't run errands for work on Sundays. I go to church and I chills... but that's not enough. I am currently counting down the days before I hop a plane and get away from everyone and everything. 

I booked this trip on a whim a month ago not knowing that I would really REALLY neeeeeed it. Now, here I am moments from screaming at the top of my lungs and tearing at my hair and I'm ret to go!(ok, I'm not finna mess up all this wondrous natural hair I've been growing but I have definitely activated my 3 Seconds of Rage and screamed a lil bit)

Anyways, are you feeling at wit's end? Are you at the end of your rope and you really want to use those last few inches to strangle somebody? Go somewhere! Get out of your own head and your own home. When I was in school, I would take a daycation. I'd book a hotel at least 30 minutes away and ask for early check in and late check out... While I was there I would do what I WANTED. Sometimes that was nothing, sometimes that was designing something, writing out a plan, learning a new skill. But I would absolutely not think about responsibilities. 

I've been writing a lot about taking care of self because they drilled self-care into our heads in grad school. I realized I have not been doing a great job at it due to other obligations. Things will slowly break you down, if you let them. But you have got to be in tune enough to know when that time is coming. I thought about driving off TWICE last week and heading to the water, but I remembered I had a vacation coming! This was followed by a strange feeling,  it was the feeling of wanting to punch EVERYTHING in the face... my work computer, every piece of clothing in my closet, strangers in the grocery store, the ragweed in the air.... EVERYTHING!  So, I took the day off yesterday.... a pre-vacay of sorts.


So before you kick a koala or punt a puppy. GO SOMEWHERE! No excuses... drop the kids off, have a talk with your S.O. about the need for some ME time.... and take a day... for the betterment of yourself and society.



Monday, September 25

Reclaiming Your Power

Let me start by saying, I am talking to me and  you.... Consider this a collective pep talk.

Who are you? What defines you? What do you live for and what can you do without? Think about the things to which we give power in our lives: careers, relationships (familial, platonic and intimate), hobbies, volunteer work, frats and sororities. You may even want to make a list.

The things we put our thoughts, time and energy into are the things to which we give our power. 

Now, think about how much brain and soul space those things inhabit. What's on your mind when you wake up? What do you think about in those quiet moments? 

Next, consider how you feel when you think about those things. Which things bring you joy, peace, happiness, satisfaction? Which things lead  you to feel worry, stress, depression, unfulfillment?

Finally, truly think about what is worth fixing, mending, or doing better and what is better left alone. 

Does that change how you previously defined yourself? 

We oftentimes find ourselves stressing over things we cannot control and thereby giving those uncontrollable things our power and in turn allowing those things to control us and sometimes break us all of the way down. The simple things are not always easy and the easy things are not always simple. Simply letting go of the self-definitions that are causing us internal strife is hard work! But it's work that we must do in order to relieve those things of their power. It's much easier to not do the work required, but that often ends up unnecessarily complicating our lives at some point. 

If you were honest with yourself while reading this, you've got some reframing to do. Let's mend these broken places. We are allowing things to define us that are drawing negativity and we are much too fly for that! It's going to take some time, but even a small step is progress! 2 Timothy 1:7 says: For the spirit God has given us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

SO, GO TAKE YOUR POWER BACK!

pic from: https://lisagawlas.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/the-ego-the-master-of-matter/

Monday, September 18

Stop, Take a Step Back....

Who do you see?

This title and first line are from a popular DC go-go song. But it's also part of my most recent self-care activities. I've been stepping back from everything that has been causing me strain. Relationships, activities, groups of people, and even foods. (that's the one that's made me sad... judge yourself!)

I have been taking subtle and not-so-subtle steps back from things over the past few weeks. I realized part of feeling disconnected from some things was my brain telling me to actually disconnect from them. I found that I had been putting way too much energy into things that turned out to be counterproductive. I am no stranger to hard work, but when it's draining you and not doing you much good it's gotta go. I participate in things because they uplift my mind, body, spirit or soul. In essence, they make me feel good. No one wants to continue to do something that makes them feel bad. No one wants to put effort into something that leaves them questioning why they even tried. No one wants to continue to shine a turd, put lipstick on a pig or some other cliche that basically means you're wasting your time.

My time is far too precious to waste it doing things that have yielded less and less over time or other things that have yet to make any progress at all. This is especially true when your time and attention would be much more successful elsewhere.

Taking a step back is not the same as quitting, but sometimes you have to give things a rest. Some things you put down to pick up at a later date. Some things you truly do leave on the shelf. Some things you step back from in hopes that someone else steps forward. Some things you shift lower on the priority list so that the little bit of joy left in them is not forever lost.

Take a look at your life. From what do you need to take a step back? What things are you putting more effort into than others? How is that working for you? Where can you make a shift in priorities? Why have you not yet done so? Who do you see?
from: https://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/stop-take-a-step-back-look-what-s-really-important-focus-on-that/

Friday, September 8

Keep Going! You're Doing Great!

I feel better. I saw my therapist, I talked to my people, I got my fresh air, I prayed to my God, I did my work... for me!

I kept going. I slowed down. But I kept going. I sought help. But I kept going. I set my intention. And I kept going.

I had to take time to check in with myself and be honest about what I needed. I needed to let something go, y'all! I was dragging it around in my heart and my body was telling me to release it. I was so afraid of how it would feel to let it go, but I realized holding on to it was not doing me any good.

I had to remind myself: You've survived everything thus far. Heartbreak, heartache, failure, faltering, surgery, death, grad school, crappy bosses, infidelity, insecurity, rumors and rejection. And look at you! Still glowing up & showing up! But in order to get to the other side of it, I had to go through it. It was hard, it hurt, I cried, I stalled, I scraped by but I  kept going!

We can't always let other people tell us what we need to do for ourselves. People who had no idea what I do regularly or what I was doing currently were telling me what I needed to do. That's not how SELF-care works. SELF-care is about you being aware and honest with yourself. Do you need to take a nap? Do you need to tell someone no? Do you need to unload some things? Do you need to pick some other things up? Sometimes you need to make a list and check it THREE times.

I made my mental list and at the top of it was see your therapist. After that, it all fell into place. That session had me in tears and disbelief, but it was what I needed.

Keep Going! You're doing great!
But also, get you a therapist!

Friday, September 1

Disconnected


There is so much going on internally and externally and so much I want to do. I've disconnected. It's not like a robot unplugged from its power source. I am more like a computer disconnected from the network. I do everything I am supposed to do and I do it well!! But, lately I haven't fully BEEN there. My mama called me today and asked if I was ok. And I said yeah. But I'm not.

I don't know how to explain it though. I have reached out to a handful of people. But, had I not... I am wondering who other than my mom even sensed there was anything going on with me. I hadn't put a name to this feeling until this morning. And now that I have... ain't nothing changed. I still feel like I need a break from you & you & you & you & me. 
El silencio es el templo donde el sabio medita...: Solo hay dos cosas que podemos perder: el tiempo y la vida la segunda es inevitable la primera imperdonable.......

How do you unplug from the network and still move forward, you ask? Much like Sway,
I ain't got the answers. This isn't depression. This isn't anxiety. Those 2 things require connection to something. I am plugged in & powered on but personally I'm just here. It's like Comcast internet during a bad storm. There are moments of connection, but they are spotty. Now I have to call customer service to find out if they can reboot my modem or if I have to wait until they restore service in a few days.

OH WAIT! As I was typing this I was looking for answers & I think I found it...
Mercury has been in retrograde for 3 weeks.... ugh! We'll revisit this next week, I guess.








Monday, August 28

Black Unicorn Tears



I feel like all my posts should come with a trigger warning.... so:
This post contains references to interpartner violence and statutory rape.

Last week I learned that strong, black girls AND women can't be victims. This person even told me that they viewed me as a strong girl in HS. It was at that point I revealed to them that as a "strong girl" I was assaulted by a boy within the walls of that very same HS. Because i believed int he myth of the "strong girl" I did not press charges even though I absolutely should have. Instead, I blamed myself. This boy was my boyfriend. I was in the 10th grade and he was an upperclassmen. I was not prepared to go farther than kissing but I am a naturally flirty and affectionate person. This caused issues for him. One day, in the front lobby of the school he pinned me to the ground and began screaming at me. My memory of the situation is foggy, but I recall him saying that he didn't understand me and he didn't know what I wanted. An administrator pulled him off me but I don't think anything else happened after that. I avoided him at all costs thereafter and I don't recall if he ever apologized. But I remember that I felt that I was to blame. 

I was barely 15 and I was already blaming myself for another person's inability to control themselves. This person was 18 and I, still a minor, blamed myself. I had almost completely forgotten about it (or buried it DEEEEP DOWN inside) until years later when someone was "playing" with me and pinned me down. It all came to the surface and I had to let them know why I reacted the way I did (because I went beserk). 

But I told that convoluted tale to say this. Mental strength does not make you any less of a victim. We put this false definition of strength on people which forces them to never feel as if they can be vulnerable or weak or HUMAN. I jokingly refer to myself as a Black Unicorn because I apparently am a rare breed of woman with no children, no ex-husbands, and no effs to give who spreads glitter and rainbows and sunshine and apple sauce! But in reality, I am a female human who makes mistakes, gets hurt, doubts her greatness and cries regularly. 



Last week there was a conversation about the young lady who is now speaking out about her relationship with R. Kelly. Within that conversation someone stated that the young girl was equally to blame. The person went on to talk about how "fast" young girls are and also how 16 and 18 were not that different. Think about that. If a 16 year old girl is the same as an 18 year old as far as making adult decisions, then where does "childhood" begin and end for young, Black girls? Even when presented with the data that 60% of Black women are sexually abused by the age of 18, this person insisted that this young girl was at fault and not a victim at all but a girl who knew what she liked earlier than others. This person totally missed the point that someone who likely abused her had introduced her to "what she likes". I am getting worked up all over again so let me wrap this up.

We cannot expect our Black girls to be strong and leave them unprotected from adult men who prey upon them and groom them. Young girls have to be taught to make ADULT decisions at 15 and 16 years old because boys are not being taught to treat them better and men are refusing to let them be children. #NotAllMen

Friday, August 18

Fathers be BETTER to Your Daughters

My problematic boo, John Mayer, has a song called Daughters. The song's chorus implores fathers to be "good" to their daughters because daughters will love like them. But there is one particular part of the song that I would like to address today:
Oh, you see that skin?
It's the same she's been standing inSince the day she saw him walking awayNow she's left cleaning up the mess he made
Songwriter: John Clayton Mayer  Daughters lyrics © Reach Music Publishing 
I see many of my male friends and associates on social media say and do terrible things as it relates to women. Defending their right to be creepy, flirty or obnoxious is chief among them. While I get that some irreverent things can be humorous, some things are not funny in today's climate. I laugh a LOT, all day even... But when I see the people that should be more aware of certain issues making light of them, it cheeses me off. (I say "cheesed off" in real life, this is not just blogspeak)

All over the internet I see Black women, specifically being the main reason Black men are in jail, effeminate, f**kbois. There is hardly ever any mention of the father. So when I see Black fathers of Black daughters saying and doing things that are not in-line with who they proclaim themselves to be, I cannot wrap my mind around it. I have called out a few on this incongruity and I have been told basically that they are teaching their daughters how to deal with men like them. Wait, what?!

I have had a dude tell me that some things are in a man's nature and therefore women should get used to it. I call BS! Part of psychotherapy is to treat maladjusted or problem behaviors. If you are looking at women and they are calling you creepy, that's a problem that even if it's in your nature can be treated if you are willing to make the change... if you are willing to make the change.... But if you feel like it is your right to leer at women because they are showing cleavage or their skirt is tight up on datazzdoe, then you clearly do not see the need to change. Yet, you are telling the women that you are making feel uncomfortable to change how they dress so that you don't creep them out. Huh?
via GIPHY

If you feel your daughters deserve to be treated by other men better than you treat other women, perhaps you need to treat other women better. If you wouldn't want a married man whispering untoward things into your single daughter's ear, then maybe you should stop doing it to other people's daughters. If you wouldn't want some old dude in a corner undressing your daughter with his eyes, then maybe you should stop doing it too. I cannot comprehend having to put your daughter in the situations you put other people's daughters in for you to see you could do better by them. Your disrespect toward your wife, your girlfriend, your baby mama and the women in the street by means of both your words and your actions impact the young women you are raising. All I am requesting is that you be better to everyone's daughters.

If you take issue with anything I have said here, may I suggest you contact your daughters and check-in with them. They are what's most important here.

In a world that is constantly making a Black woman feel unprotected, all I want is for these Black daughters to feel safe and protected by Black men (not from them).

 Full disclosure: I celebrate gray sweatpants and basketball shorts season in much the same way men celebrate sundress season because who doesn't like to look at nice things?? However, there has not been a time -to my knowledge- when a man has told me I was making him uncomfortable or felt like me glancing at him (not leering, staring, oogling, or salivating) put him in danger. Yet almost all of my women friends have felt uneasy or threatened by a man leering, staring, oogling or salivating at them. 

Friday, August 11

This is Why Nobody Likes Christians

Just last week I talked about confronting my own hypocrisy. Self-awareness is imperative to self-improvement. Self-improvement is imperative to becoming your higher self. Regardless of what you believe in, you should be aiming to become better in this life.

Now, here's the thing. I go to church, I believe in God, I follow the teachings of Jesus. I cannot stand Christians. Let me say it again: I. Cannot. Stand. Christians. This was not what I was going to blog about so this list is not in ANY order. But let me tell you why nobody likes "us".


1. We're ashamed of our testimony- If the Lord brought you out of it, why not share it? Why hide from your past if that's not who or what you are anymore? Why hide from your past if you are still struggling with it? If Ephesians 1:7 is true and you have redemption through his blood and there is glory after suffering like 1 Peter says, then what are you ashamed of really? No one is saying you have to go into gory detail about your drug dealer days nor glorify your mid-20s sexcapades, but you ain't gotta lie or clutch your pearls anytime your past comes up. Even if people are trying to use it against you, which people have DEFINITELY done to me, why not use it as a "LOOK AT ME NOW" moment. Those same people that tried to use my past against me once I started to be serious about my spiritual journey are now coming to me for prayer. #lookatgawd
via GIPHY


2. We're too judgey- In the same way that we are ashamed of our testimony, we use that shame to shame others. I watched a clip of a particularly infamous female preacher talking about the manner in which some women dress for church. Calling them names and being so adamantly graphic and vulgar about the female anatomy to the point she was almost foaming at the mouth! *Editing out my smart remark*  Why so much judgment for people you profess to love? Over undergarments!?!?
  • Sidenote: Some of us more top-heavy women have issues keeping the puppies still in the kennel and others have issues turning off our high beams. I have pulled my sister aside and let her know her high beams were on as a courtesy. I didn't get on FB and blast it out in disgust. Sometimes folks are not aware or not even THINKING about that sort of thing. So why are you so angry? This judgment has even caused me to feel self-conscious in the middle of a good shout! I have definitely been in the middle of a praise and suddenly become aware of my body and thrown my arm across my chest all because I did not want to be judged for how well my undergarments controlled my situation under extreme circumstances. I have veered WAY off course!
My point is, we judge others for things they a- may not be aware of or sometimes can't help and 2- we have done ourselves. Clutching our pearls at people's drunk-in-the-club stories from last year when we are only a month away from our NEXT or LAST backslide. Then to disown the people whom you have judged.... chiiiiiiile! In John 6:37 the good Lord himself says "All those the Father Gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." Yet, here you are publicly shaming those who have come to you for spiritual guidance. And I've already discussed being judged with the same judgement.... 

3. We lie to ourselves and others- We don't have to tell everyone our business, but we also don't have to just outright lie. Why are you pretending to be this upstanding soldier in the Lord's Army when you know you don't have it all together? If your house ain't in order, your finances ain't right, your walk ain't straight OR narrow, FIX IT! We put an abundance of time and effort into appearing to be model Christians-- whatever that even means-- yet not enough time and effort is put into just being human. We all have sinned and fallen short. Some of us are planning to sin this weekend. We don't have to lie. But the aforementioned shame and judgment that has been ingrained in us prevents us from admitting it to ourselves. No one is completely sinless, no one is unconditionally blameless, no one is perfectly virtuous. Does that mean we shouldn't try to be? NO! But that does mean we don't have to try so hard to pretend to be. "Because you're no angel either, baby."- Bey
4. We act like we ain't got time for nobody else- I saw a post on FB yesterday about millennials leaving church because the person in the pulpit cannot be bothered with the congregation. Where in the bible is that at? Matthew 25:40 talks about what you do for the "least of these" you did for Him. The least of these has some quantifiers earlier on in the chapter, but the point remains many of us act like we cannot be bothered with social justice, community service, outreach... NOTHIN! We don't have to hand out money to every homeless person on the street but we also don't have to walk out of church with our noses turned up and butts on our backs. I'm guilty of this as well because as an introvert, I honestly don't feel like heavy convo or light banter after pouring my soul out. But, I try to give a smile or light hug as I make my hasty exit.  I even apologize if I know I'm coming off wrong because I am aware of this fault. But for the people in the pulpit to do this, is damaging to "the least of these". Church hurt is some of the worst hurt!

5. We're MAAAAD sexist, yo!-
Christianity is problematic as a mugg! The Bible is full of  "Wait, what?" passages. It's been through many translations, and tons of edits, and outright omissions and additions. I get it. But like the Pointer Sisters said in Car Wash "You gotta believe in something". And I believe in the overarching themes of The Bible. I believe that what I have felt and experienced in church and through my practice and worship has been beneficial to my overall improvement and higher understanding of my life's purpose. 

HOWEVER, I know that some of the things that some of y'all's preachers spout is nothing but sexist foolishness. Women not causing men to stumble is chief among them. Many of us Christian women have bought into the internalized misogyny and have used it to keep us from being great.... like.... *sigh* I don't even know how to address this without a whole other 5 paragraph dissertation. Let me wrap this up, b!

Most of y'all probably didn't even get this far... so I will just say, I acknowledge that Christianity is sexist and archaic in many ways, but I don't buy into it, nor do I allow it to deter me. I fight against it in many ways and will continue to do so. 

I made sure that I said WE so y'all know I am not excluding myself.... we ALL got work to do!

Friday, August 4

Confronting My Own Hypocrisy





The above nametag says it all. I am a hypocrite... and I have been forced to face my hypocrisy twice in the last 2 weeks. Some of these things involve people I care about so I won't go into too much detail lest they recognize their truths here and feel betrayed or something.

Girl, look at yourself!
I found out some interesting information about someone I am close to in a way so cavalier, I thought it was a joke. But when it turned out to be true, my stomach DROPPED! I was unsure how to process or handle what can only be described as a real-life plot twist! The revelation was like something out of a movie and, had it not been my own life, it would have made for goooood storytelling. It made me rethink how I felt about the person. I was considering whether to release them into the wild or confront them about how I felt. As I processed it, I really thought about the whole situation and did some introspection. It was then that I realized I had been there and done the same. damn. thing!

Matthew 7:1-2 says:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 
The key here is WITH THE MEASURE YOU USE... I had done something similar and was about to judge them for it. How!?!?
So as I was talking it all out, a voice in my head said: "Girl, look at yourself!" and I did, literally. I did indeed stand in front of the mirror and I laughed cuz I was trippin! My issue was did this person feel remorseful like I did or to the same extent, but that ain't my place. There are other factors that led to the internalized struggle but the people closest to me, helped me look at and consequently get over myself. I loooove to have the moral high ground in most every situation and can be hard on myself when I fail to "do what's right". As you can see, this came into play as I was about to be hard on someone else for doing essentially what I did- with some caveats... it's complicated. And that's just it, LIFE is complicated. Like Gina told Charmaine on the infamous Digit Ho episode of A Different World, "Life is a funny thing, girl."

Transitive Properties of Equality
I still struggle with my feelings on certain things as it relates to transgender people. I'm not at "NC bathroom ban" with it but I'm also not at "pansexual lover of the world" with it, so my advocacy motto is "Leave people alone." Does that make sense?

I don't know enough about it to get out there and claim allyship (which cannot be self-proclaimed and should only be bestowed upon those with whom you are allies). But I know enough to know that some of my thoughts and words are precarious. Some of it is lack of knowledge and some of it is how I was raised- mildly transphobic and innately judgmental.

When I was younger, a man in a wig was usually a spectacle. Oftentimes, he would appear to be disheveled and unkempt. I now realize this may have been in direct relation to the life he lived up to this point. A society that has mocked him, shunned him, abused him and forced her to be referred to as HIM. Never realizing this person is a HUMAN BEING and should be treated as such. How is that NOT ok with folks? Leave people alone, mind your task, brush your teeth, drink water, live YOUR life.

We may all find the "what's your pronoun?"  line of questioning strange or confusing. But what it boils down to is respecting people. I realized through 2 podcasts this week: Inner Hoe Uprising's episode titled "Trans Masculinity" and The Read's episode "Noprah Winfrey" (the link goes straight to the transgender issues portion of the show) that I had a lot to learn and there was more I could do to retrain my brain. BOTH podcasts contain strong language and for that I do NOT apologize!


So yeah, I quoted the Bible AND linked to a sex podcast in the same blog and about this I AM PLEASED! This does not make me a hypocrite. This makes me a human. This week I came face to face with respecting other people's humanity as well as my own. We all have done things that other people may not agree with or like. We all need to recognize our own hypocrisy, it's healthy!


Friday, July 28

Little Women vs. Big Boys

Hey, look.... I enjoy a hearty debate. I enjoy tongue-in-cheek humor. But there is a line where those debates become arguments of fact vs. feelings and that humor is offensive and harmful. And I'm so over folks being obtuse about not knowing where that line is and WHY it exists.

So often we as black people have bought into this white, straight, rich male patriarchy that we forget it's: a- not FOR us and b- set up for us to fail. So when we take on certain debates or jokes from this angle it bothers me fiercely. How can their be two sides to topics like: knowingly transmitting diseases, pedophilia and toxic masculinity and what do you find so funny about them?

Arrah is Problematic
Yes , we knew R. Kelly was a pedophile but does that mean if he got away with it once he should continue to do so? At what point are we not going to have to envision OUR daughters, mothers, sisters in these predicaments to give a damn about strangers who are.

I just saw a meme that said: "B****es wasn't complaining about R. Kelly when them old ass dope boys was picking them up from school!" and men with DAUGHTERS were laughing at this. You are holding a 15-18 year old accountable for the actions of an adult man AND finding humor in the pedophilic experiences of "b****es" you know. So terrible grammar aside, you are also referring to the women standing up against this mess- WOMEN YOU KNOW- as b****es.

We gotta unlearn the foolishness
The day of the dope boy was a completely different era. However, most of us are now realizing that much of what we were taught by society then as it pertains to male-female relationships was inaccurate, inappropriate or just plain WRONG! Where is the man's responsibility in going to a SCHOOL to pick up a CHILD!? "She's fast!" because she is attracted to an older man. So what does that make an older man attracted to a CHILD!? Slow, I guess.... but y'all don't hear me.

People who don't want to address the issue usually try to deflect it, so they bring up Hugh Hefner. THIS AIN'T ABOUT HIM. Why are we comparing the two? You're saying that if we aren't "rescuing" the women at the Playboy Mansion who have not reported abuse then we shouldn't care about the Black women whom R. Kelly has manipulated and emotionally and physically abused?

When are we going to stop debating things that SHOULD be undebatable? When are we going to stop finding humor in the constant persecution of the Black GIRL!? When are we going to hold our MEN accountable for their actions? There is the myth of the blameless black man that basically believes that ANYTHING that happens negatively to a black man is a result of the system, the mama, or the chick who set him up. It does not acknowledge his part in something that is CLEARLY poor decision-making.

SN: Anyone that does not see the issue in Rick Ross' statement about not signing a woman to his label because he would need to have sex with her first....... I don't know if we can be friends. Like FAHRREAL!

Let's be good to and for each other, my people. Based on the direction of this administration... we ALL we got!

Friday, July 21

#DontDoThis- Unsolicited Health Advice

Hey, hi, yes, hello!
(Note: I'm considering changing the title of this blog to #DontDoThis cuz I say it DAILY)

I have been losing & gaining weight for years. And each time I get "advice" from someone that I ain't ask nothing. STOP THIS! I don't need your tips, testimonials, hints, or help. If I didn't ask you, I don't need to know.

I am capable of researching. I am capable of asking for help when I feel I need it. I am capable of losing weight when I am good and gosh darn ready. I don't always STICK to it because of who I am as a person (HA!) but you don't KNOW ME like I do. So please, locate your seat.

This is why I hate going to the gym!

I feel constantly scrutinized as a plus sized woman in the gym. Especially by dudes... As If I shouldn't be there. I have had more men "give me advice" than a lil bit. Sir, mind your task! I talk to ONE person & one person ONLY at the gym and SHE has given me the help I need. You, sir, can go THAT way.

I overheard a convo between two trainers at the gym and when I tell you I was DISGUSTED! They were casually laughing at people saying they want their bodies to look like theirs but weren't doing the work. DUDE, You WORK in the gym! You be on the treadmill when I get on the elliptical and you STILL on the treadmill 30 minutes later when I go to the weights and STILL on there sometimes when I leave. There's a 30 minute time limit... sooo how can anyone spend that much time? You don't know people's lives so you cannot and SHOULD not be laughing at someone that wants to look and feel better.

(let me just add how much I cannot stand male personal trainers. I have only had ONE I liked. He knew how to motivate me without making me not care anymore. Most of them motivational techniques they learn at the  Body Shamers R Us Personal Training School don't work on me & has gotten more than one cussed SLAM out!)

I've made several lifestyle changes!

I used to be able to hit the gym for a  few weeks and the pounds fall off. Not anymore, There are many OTHER things that this near-40 body requires. I don't know them all.... give me a break! I am cutting out things, adding things, doubling up on things. I've tried south beach, atkins, paleo, primal vegetarian and vegan. Good food is part of who I am and I HATE being the girl at the table asking "How is that prepared?" or "Can you substitute this for that?" So I am seeking my balance. Seek yours and BE BLESSED!

I am SO glad that you are able to carry all your meals and snacks around all day. I am SUPER happy that you can eat 3 twigs and a spoonful of dirt & meditate AND levitate. I am GREATLY impressed that you have the will power to go to Dunkin Donuts just to SMELL donuts every morning and be satisfied. GOOD FOR YOOOOOU! *sarcastic smile* But that ain't what works for me.

from: http://docbaird.com/clients/19370/images/Poor_nutrition.jpg



You don't know my life!
If these sounds like excuses, they ARE! and I know this, I don't need nobody pointing that out. So, ha!
I work 3 sedentary jobs. Two of which are mentally exhausting and require me to drive from place to place in the evenings. I was going to say more here, but my point is... Worry about yourself, ok? I got this... eventually.... so hush.

In conclusion to all those unsolicited health advisors out there: Unless someone ASKS you, let them LIVE! If you are not close enough to them to know them WELL, LET THEM LIVE!

Friday, July 14

Can You Hear Me Now?

One of the main things I have discovered in my newly framed womanist adventures is that some men just do NOT listen. Some of them it is willfully ignoring a woman's perspective and others it is just a demand to have THEIR opinion heard. I have witnessed exchanges the last few days on Twitter and on podcasts that have convinced me that dudes just do not LISTEN when a woman is talking about her lived experience with men.


From: http://veryunmarried.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/black-couple-arguing1.jpg

I often have men inbox me on Tha Book and tell me my posts have given them a new perspective on some issues. And of t hat, I am proud.... of myself and them. Growth is a beautiful thing. But then thee are those that must constantly reduce anything said to an argument about women do it too thing. Not realizing this is the same thing that they hate about having a debate about race relations with a person refusing to acknowledge their white privilege.

Why do I have to flip women/men convos into black/white convos for you to realize that you are exercising your male "privilege" to derail and disregard my feelings?

HEARING someone means that you recognize that someone is talking and may have a general idea what they are saying. LISTENING is more active. It's processing what is being said and not simply waiting your turn to talk.

Not believing a woman's lived experience is equivalent to white people not believing black people have it THAT bad with the cops. Remember that...

Shout out to the men in my life who GET it... The men who hear me out... and the ones who laugh on the sidelines at those who don't get it as they are DRAGGED in the post replies by my lady friends. lol

Friday, July 7

Get the FUNK Up Out My Face!

This past weekend I was in a bar because the DJ is MY DJ... ALL HAIL, DJ SOYO!

I met some of my lady-friends out for music but no drinks because I wanted to be sober. At least one of them was a sheet and a half to the wind. She was engaged in some sort of playful tussle with a guy whose face I had seen there before. I stood by and observed and lightly chuckled. At some point, I moved to the corner because I was just there for the music!

The guy walks up to me in the corner minding my business and makes what I can only assume was supposed to be sexy eye contact. He smiled at me, I smiled back and then he comes over and kinda chucked me under the chin. Y'ALL KNOW I WAS HEATED!

I leaned back and looked at him like he had 12 heads. His smile faded. I said, "You don't put your hands on a stranger's face. I don't know you like that!" He had the nerve to be offended that I was offended. Sir, a- I don't know you; 2- I don't know where your hands have been. I don't understand how he thought it was ok to put his hands on my face! No words were exchanged, I didn't know his name, all I did was smile. That was not an invitation to touch.

Of course there are those that will say he didn't mean anything by it. That is the sort of thinking that has led to him thinking it was ok to touch a stranger's FACE. There is a level of familiarity with touching someone that I need men to understand. It's bad enough that you are putting your hands on a stranger but touching my face is way too intimate and doing so without permission with what may have been unwashed hands is downright disrespectful.

He hung around for a while and would make eye contact which I met with a Maxine Waters level "Chile, please!" expression.
from: https://pixel.nymag.com/imgs/fashion/daily/2017/03/28/28-Maxine-Waters.w600.h315.2x.jpg

He asked me, "You don't like me very much, do you?" I said to him, "I don't even know you. But since you want to put your hands all in people's face at least introduce yourself." He told me his name, I ain't care. He realized his je ne sais quois was doing nothing for me and he moved himself to the other end of the bar to another group of women that were less combative or challenging, I guess.

My mother (LAWD she is going to be embarrassed) used to tell my young male relatives, "Get your penis hands out of my face!" Dude is lucky I said it in a nicer way. But, seriously.... don't touch my face, stranger!

Sidenote: I am a church youth leader.... but all my posts not finna be about Jesus... FYI & BTW! Amen! Be blessed!

Monday, July 3

My Name is VICTORY!

It is DONE!

School has been kicking my CAN this year. I had TWO internships, a full time job, and at one point I was taking 4 classes as well. I wrote over 20 papers this year. 17 of which happened in 10 weeks! Through it all I maintained some sort of social life and even managed to entertain me a fella. It got REAL hectic for a while.... so much so that my THERAPIST was like how are you doing all of this? My answer: THE LORDT!

But I am here to say everything is completed and I am now a licensed counselor. Yes, a therapist! ME! Ain't that something!!?!?

I had a great team of supporters. They encouraged me, cracked the whip on me and gave me refuge when I just could NOT anymore. I definitely had a strong village!

In the few weeks after school: I lost a father-figure, traveled to England & Iceland, took a national exam, got bad news about a family member and still CARRIED ON!

After passing the exam, I interviewed for 4 positions and was offered all four! I took 2. One ended up not being a good fit. I went into the office in the humblest way possible and was basically told that in-home therapy life was not for everyone. The administration of the agency was my issue, but I did not say that. I thanked them for the opportunity and pressed on. I have been working as a therapist PT for about 2 months now. It has been INCREDIBLE already.

With that being said, I am back to blogging.... I hope! I have some things I want to get off my chest particularly with the misogynistic misanthropes running this whole shebang of a nation (see what I did there?) Soooo, while I will not be discussing my clients. I WILL be discussing EVERYTHING in between. EVERY Friday..... that is my promise... to me & to you!

Sincerely,
"Bri Cooley", MA, MS, NCC, LGPC