I am tired…and it hurts

(You asked when I was going to write another blog post. I didn’t think it would be this one. But here we are)

I apologize in advance if this post seems random and all over the place. That’s where my mind and my soul are at today and I can only write what I feel and what I know in this moment.

It’s amazing how everything you know to be true and safe in this world can be turned up side down with a simple phone call.

I’ve had an intense last 10 hours and I’m still trying to figure out where I have landed amongst it all. I can say that the blog I was prepared to write at 9:30 this morning, is drastically different than the one I am writing now. I’m glad in a way, but that still would have probably been an epic blog. Maybe another day just for fun.

But today, in an effort to ground myself, calm myself, and find some peace amongst the chaos, I will instead write what I know to be true.

A list of things I must remind myself are true about myself and this world:

1. I am a good person. I deserve love. I deserve to be loved. I deserve to not be hurt. I deserve honesty. I deserve the truth. I deserve peace. I deserve a title. I deserve someone who wants to be with me and has nothing holding them back from doing so. I deserve this even if I show up in someone’s life randomly and unexpected. I deserve for that not to matter because even if it’s not the best time I deserve for it to be known that I’m an opportunity and a chance that should not be let go of lightly. I deserve to be wanted. To be wanted fiercely.

2. Even if no one in this world ever wants to give that to me, I still deserve it. Even if every man always feels there is something better. If they don’t feel a sense of urgency. If they are tied down or tied up with someone or something else. If they don’t see it. If they don’t feel it. If they don’t want it. If they are all scared. If they are all stupid. If they are all intimidated. Even if it never happens. I still deserve number one and all the amazing things about life and love that I did not list.

3. People are inherently good. Few people are evil. Some people suck. Most people are hurting and the things that they do are because of that pain. A lot of people do not know how to handle pain. The only way they know how to deal with it is to inflict it on others. It’s not an excuse. It just is what it is. Deep down, people are good. They probably want all the things I listed in number one and they deserve them too. When they don’t get them, that is when they become cruel.

4. I am loved by family and friends. They know me, they get me, they hear me, and they remind of who I am when I start to forget. They are the absolute best and I am blessed beyond measure to have them all.

5. Even though I have number four, it does not make number one any less valid. Wanting the love of another human being who is not required to love me due to being family and who is more than a friend, this is not a weakness. This is human. I am human. I am not weak. But…

6. I am tired. I am tired of not having number one. I am tired of having to be strong and pretend like being 30 and single is not hard. I am tired of catching glimpses of it only for it to be yanked away. I am tired of feeling stupid. I am tired of not knowing how these things work. I am tired of crying. I am tired of wondering what is wrong with me. I am tired of hearing “there is nothing wrong with you.” I am tired of not being wanted. I am tired of not being enough. I am tired of being too much. I am tired of being punished for some unknown crime or sin. I am tired of being given this same lesson and apparently not learning it. I am tired of this cruel joke. I am tired and…

7. It hurts. It hurts a lot. A physical, emotional, spiritual pain. It takes its toll. It makes me not want to try anymore. It makes me want to give up and close off my heart for good. It makes me want to scream. It makes me want to be someone who I am not because apparently being me is not working. It makes me want to cry. It hurts. If you’ve never experienced this pain I pray you never do. If you have, then I pray you would not purposefully cause others to feel it. It hurts. And I’m tired of feeling it.

A list of things that I’m not sure if they are true or not but that I hope they aren’t but with every day like this I struggle not to see it as proof that they are:

1. I am flawed, or broken, or inherently incapable of being loved or wanted or even liked in a way that leads to lasting commitment.

2. It’s just not meant for me. I’m not sure how people do it. I’m not sure how they date and get people to want them and want to be with them. I’m not sure how they get people to fall in love with them and want to treat them right. I’m not sure how they get someone, who may not be in a place where they were looking for a relationship, to see them or spend time with them and be like you know what forget that. This is what I want. So maybe it’s not meant for me. Maybe I will never be that for someone. Maybe letting go of that dream will cause these things to be less painful.

A list of things that I have learned:

1. To be a little more selfish. Not in a cruel and evil way but in a way that allows my happiness to be important as well. To say what I want without fear and to speak up when I am not pleased.

2. To say no without fear. That not wanting to do something will not always result in a massive argument. That it’s okay to be too tired or just not want to do something.

3. To be unapologetically myself. That everyone is not going to hate that. That everyone is not going to want to change that. That it’s ok.

4. That it is possible to know peace, and security in a potential relationship. That things don’t need to be rushed. To enjoy time spent with people for what it is and not always worry about why it is not something else. My only fear here is that it felt so good to feel this way and it was taken away so quickly that I will struggle if there is a next time. I hope there is a next time. I pray I won’t struggle.

5. That I am the skip bo queen.

And that’s what’s going on in my head and my heart. I am still tired and it still hurts, but, honestly, I don’t know. I was hoping something would come to me after I typed but, but it didn’t. Clearly.

Pinterest, however, didn’t fail me when my brain did. So I’ll leave you with this because despite it all…this is what I will continue to do…even if for now I need to rest.

A Break Up Letter to NYC

Dear New York City,

The time has come for us to say our good byes. I think we both knew we were never destined to be long term lovers, but we gave it our best shot, and year is nothing to frown upon. You have taught me so much and I wanted to make sure you understood the value you had in my life. So many times we do not get to properly have closure to the most important relationships in our life. Moving gives us that gift. I want to share it with you .

1) You taught me how to be tough. You taught me how to not give into men and their advances, put on a hard shell when necessary, and be strong. You taught me that nothing is too scary for me. That subways at night are absolutely conquerable, streets are meant for crossing at all times, and gave me a bit of NYC sass and arrogance to go along with it. I like that part of me you’ve helped me develop. I feel tough.

2) You taught me the value of a dollar and resilience. You took me back to my roots and reminded how easily you can lose it all, struggle, and be back at the bottom. This was not a fun lesson, but necessary for humility.

3) You taught me Black and Brown comes in 500 different shades and languages and reinforced my sense of pride of belonging to a diverse group of people across the African diaspora. I desperately needed to see that after many years without that validation. When people ask me about my favorite thing about NYC, Harlem, and the Black and Brown people are always my top answer. I can feel the spirits of my ancestors here and see the seeds of their labor.

4) You reminded me that I can ride a bike. I got on my first bike in years when I moved here and it reminded me to always play and that some things are as easy and simple as remembering. Those were some of my favorite moments.

5) You taught me all that glimmers isn’t gold and isn’t for me. NYC glitters and glimmers; NYC is far from gold. It is a hard place to live and be yourself. You showed me that although I may aspire or think something is wonderful, I must really look carefully and consider all parts. I’m so appreciative of this lesson.

6) You allowed me to live a childhood dream of living in the Big Apple. It felt nice to say I’ve done it. My inner child appreciates the adventure.

7) You tested my patience, which I suppose begets patience. From lines, to delayed trains, to spending hours searching for a parking space, to jobs not for me, and a terrible dating scene, you really tried me. I hope I learned patience and not irritation. 🙂

8) Bodegas make the best sandwiches. There is nothing else to say.

9) You rescued me. I have so many mixed feelings as I leave here. This wasn’t a place of warmth, love, or friendship for me, which was foreign. But I cannot forget that you rescued me from despair and a low place. You were a wonderful oasis at a time that I needed it. I’m sorry that I dont always thank you for it, but I’m grateful.

10) You made me remember what is important to me. That I don’t need a fancy city, expensive apartment, or hectic lifestyle. That family, friendship, passion, and a career that lights me on fire are what I value most. We weren’t good matches because of these things, but thank you for showing me what I really need.

11) That in spite of everything, I can do anything. BUT that doesn’t mean I should. Thank you for that valuable lesson.

I think today, as I walked my last walk home from the one place I could feel comfort, I felt you offering peace as our relationship closes tomorrow. You gave me a gift of a breezy evening, a lovely sunset, children laughing, no slow people in front of me, and the ability to help one last lost tourist find their way to Central Park. This was certainly not a lot of our evenings spent together, but I’m sure you wanted to end this on high note. I wanted that as well, and gave a gift of kindness to a stranger in the subway. I hope you take that as an offering of my gratitude.

I want to thank you. Thank you for making me a tough, bodega loving, fast walking, and incredibly humble woman one year later. I’ll be back as a familiar and indebted visitor, but the depth of our relationship ends here. I’m not sorry to say good bye. It’s the right thing to do. Instead, I’m glad we got the time to influence one another. Thank you for letting me call you home for this short time.

With all the love in my heart,

LeAnna

When You Feel Anxious, You are Also Feeling Excited; They are Two Sides of the Same Coin.

Yesterday, I broke down in tears as I considered my newest part of my journey- moving upstate on Wednesday and starting a new position as a director of a cultural center. I thought about my past failures, the past attempts to break my spirit, the heaviness of the weight of being a Black woman in position such as this in the current climate, and how I even ended up in this position to begin with. I cried.

Do not misunderstand me. I am beyond the moon to be starting this role. It is a honor. This position speaks to my calling – to serve my black and brown sisters and brothers, to educate, to be an activist, and give voices to the voiceless. It also represents a major promotion for me. It is much more exciting and challenging than my current job. But I am afraid and anxious.

The past two years have been rough on a sister. I spent a year in a job that was not healthy for me. I spent that year listening to others tell me I wasnt good enough, I shined too brightly, I was too joyful, I didn’t belong, and dismantling all of the good things I once believed in myself. I spent that same year battling racial battle fatigue, fighting invisible, yet omnipresent, systems of oppression which often left me thinking, “am I the crazy one?”

After some intense therapy sessions and 9 months, I began to realize that I could not stay, nor did I need to. My trauma past (personal and racial) had led me to believe, albeit erroneously, that enduring pain and fighting through it is how I prove my worth, and that I must do that. It leads to staying in painful situations way too long as I think to myself, “I must prove to everyone that I dont give up and that I am good enough.” It also reinforces to myself that I am not good enough, because it sends a message that “I will not protect you through pain because you must be better. Your trauma is your fault. You aren’t good enough and/or this is how you earn worth. And everyone’s needs are far more important than yours.” I told myself we could not do this anymore. I job searched and took the first job that I landed.

It was a smart move to leave. I don’t regret it. But the next year, I spent my time trying to fit into a puzzle they wasn’t even my box. And you know what they say – a fish will think it’s stupid if its measure of intelligence is climbing a tree. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why it wasn’t working, even though in my head it seemed easy enough (I’m sure the fish felt this way looking at monkeys climbing a tree). I felt utterly useless and incompetent as I watched others soar. I was already a bit wounded from my past year, not fully healed (nor did I recognize my need for healing as legitimate) and this was salt to injury. And I did what I always do – I overworked to prove my worth. And once again, it did not help. Jamming a puzzle piece into a wrong puzzle does not make a puzzle come together. It creates a very ugly, mismatched picture.

In the meantime, I was suffering in other ways – socially, financially, and health wise. I had no friends within a close, “I am stopping by and having a meal” or “let’s go shopping” kind of way for a year. And building those friendships was near impossible in a place like NYC. I struggled to maintain a decent lifestyle in the city, and my health suffered. I developed illnesses, blood pressure would not lower, and I have developed all kinds of gastrointestinal issues alongside chronic hives (these are the worst). All of these things aren’t from my job alone, but I had a moment where I had to stop and think, “what is really going on, LeAnna?” I realized that I wasn’t fulfilled. And I realized how much I was allowing the past two years, along with a complicated trauma history, dictate my worth.

I remember being told by a friend that I wasn’t being fulfilled professionally, because I was playing it too small and safe. I kept taking positions that were easy and I knew I could do, only to find myself in those roles bored, unchallenged, or not using my greatest skills. I told myself in a stern “talking to” that I knew what my skills were and that I needed to use my strengths to feel like I was giving my talents to the world. And so I started a much more targeted, selective, and intentional job search. And within a matter of two months (and many rejection letters), I landed my newly anticipated role.

And I am so afraid and anxious.

I am afraid I will fail, that they made a mistake, that I am inherently unlikable, that I will bear the burden of representing all people of color, that I will be too loud, that I will have to job search again in a year, that all those things people said about me are true, that I can’t be authentic, that I will again become a shell of who I am.

The anxiety is real y’all.

So yesterday, at a conference, I took all that into a Black Woman healing sister circle. The divine energy in that room was powerful. I cried within 2 min of being in there, and although I planned to remain silent, within 10 minutes was sharing my load with 55 sisters I’ve never met. I was a bit ashamed, but also relieved. I was met with love, celebration, and understanding. And wisdom, so much wisdom.

I think as Black women we understand the heavy weight we pick up and rarely set down. We do not take our lives lightly. We understand what it means when we take on new roles – mother, sister, daughter, lover, friend, wife, even director. I think what we must understand more, is that we can lay that weight down in order to rejuvenate every once in awhile, and we can ask our sisters to help us carry it when they are stronger. I leaned into that yesterday. I felt some shame, not going to lie, but it was necessary.

“When you feel anxious, you also feel excitement. It’s two sides of the same coin. It’s all mixed in there,” the facilitator softly, but affirmatively, said into the mic. This was after my wise older sister pulled out an article about change and showed me that change, no matter how good, isn’t easy or without weight or some not so good feelings. “It’s all normal. Everything you’re feeling is normal,” she said.

This is something I know. But it was a timely and gracious reminder for me. I am anxious because I understand the magnitude of this accomplishment and its ability to transform my life. That I have an opportunity to impact lives, use my strengths, and be fulfilled. And because of very real reasons, I’m afraid and scared. I’m also overwhelmed and so maybe I can’t always feel the excitment, not because I’m not aware, but because I am rightfully so experiencing everything I should be experiencing (and trust me, telling me to think positive or be grateful is not helpful – just please don’t. It is very frustrating and I am aware of the other side of the coin). I am allowed to feel both positive and negative emotions about ultimately, a wonderful thing. It’s the same coin. Those two statements were gifts for me. They were the gift of me being ok and permission to feel what I felt.

My last note is this. My life hasn’t been easy for all kinds of reasons. And the past two years have been tough. And it’s so easy to say, “don’t let you past define you.” But as a therapist, I call bullshit. Of course, it will define you. You are constantly shaped by your past. I think for me, I’d offer to myself, allow your past to teach you, shape you, but never bound you. For myself, this is more doable. I can apply and do well in a director position in spite of that, because I can be afraid and do things anyway. I can love myself in spite of messages saying I shouldn’t, even if it is harder than if that wasn’t my past. I can feel everything and still find joy and peace. Things can define who I am today without being the sole person that I am. I can make lemons out of lemonade. And that makes life a little easier for me, at least today.

I have become that person…but how?

I spent a lot of time with friends yesterday. A group of friends for brunch and then another friend stopped by to chat for a bit. That’s what adults do right? Eat brunch and chat? How did I get here?

Those two conversations were filled with lots of catching up and discussion of future plans as most conversations are. I’ve had similar conversations with all of these people multiple times because while I love them all dearly and am super close to them all I don’t see them frequently because of life and adulting. And that’s fine. We all are doing it and no one gets mad about it. I appreciate that about my friends.

At some point during both conversations though I realized, I have become that person. What person you ask? Well if your just a little patient I’ll tell!

In discussing some of my personal goals, the usual, weight loss, saving money, moving out (yep…I’m 30 years old and still live with my parents. That’s a blog for another day) came up. I’ve recently started to pick up on peoples responses to my saying I’m going to do these things. Let’s just say they aren’t good. Sometimes it’s met with laughter (thanks Dad), sometimes it’s met with harsh reminders (I thought you were on a diet) that only really serve to annoy me and trigger my stubbornness (thanks Mom), most times it’s met with slight side eye, sighs of “that’s great” with the undertone of “we’ve had this conversation plenty of times but yet here you still are” and encouragement with a hint of “there’s really no reason why you haven’t already done this you’re just lazy/content and used to this lifestyle” (thanks friends, family, coworkers, strangers). And I admit, since these are areas I am not happy with in my life, I probably read more into people’s slight shifts in tone, side eyes, eye rolls, and comments than they actually mean. And I put some of the stuff I’ve been already thinking into their comments too.

But, the realization that I have become that person, officially hit me after brunch, when my friend Michael stopped by and I told him my plan to move out and then my thoughts about potential life style changes for health purposes and both comments got a sarcastic slow clap with a “we’ll see.” A lot of people would be pissed at Michael for this response. I, however, have known Michael for going on 20 years (how did we get so old) and while he may be a self proclaimed ass hole, his intentions (towards me at least) are never to hurt or harm. We could all use a level headed, blunt, call it what it is friend…even if it bruises our ego a bit because on the flip side, Michael has always celebrated any of my successes with the fierceness of a loving brother.

So, what have my friends responses for several weeks/months/years and at brunch and Michael’s slow clap helped me to realize…I have become that person. Dear God lady what person?!?! I’ve become the person that no one actually takes serious when they set goals. The person that sets these goals and is super excited about them but somewhere down the line, and usually very quickly, falls off. It would not surprise me if my family secretly takes bets on how long I will keep up any dieting or healthy living practices. And I know for certain they do not believe me or even entertain my talks about moving out anymore. It’s as if everyone is just waiting to see if it happens but no one is holding their breath because they know the possibility of them dying in the process is high.

But how did I get here?

I’m not sure I’ve ever been a highly goal oriented person. I’ve always felt like most people have known since they were 6 what they wanted to do with their life. I literally decided I wanted to be a counselor one day while on campus my senior year of undergrad talking to a friend. I had about 3 months to get my application turned in take the necessary tests to apply. Then in grad school I felt everyone knew what population they wanted to work with. I have stumbled through the last five years finally finding a population that I absolutely love but even then had to step away from in order to be effective and not lose my own mind. Once a month, usually right before I start my period when I feel bloated and disgusting I go to bed and say “ok this is it. I’m going to get my life together.” Then I start my period, refuse to do anything that week because life is hard enough when your vagina is dying so I have all intentions of doing something when it’s over. My period ends, the bloating goes away, and while my body is far from perfect I usually catch a glimpse in the mirror before I shower one day and say “you know what, you good Ashley! If someone can’t love all of this then they don’t deserve you” and the cycle begins again. I can justify a lot of things and I ultimately refuse to shame myself for being human and doing things that humans need to do like eat, and rest, and enjoy life so as not to go crazy…but then I can justify doing these to excess which is where the problem begins.

It’s almost as if that slow clap Michael did made me connect all the dots and realize that while he’s the only person who did it outright, everyone else is probably doing it in their mind. My response to him was something along the lines of “don’t doubt me” to which he responded with something far less enlightening but similar too “I don’t doubt you can do it. I’m just waiting for it to happen.”

I know a few things about myself. One of which is that I can be really stubborn and strong willed and there is a certain level and type of negativity that I use as a driving force. It’s what caused me to give birth without an epidural, because everyone said I wouldn’t. It’s what caused me to go to college and grad school and find a career that I love, because I was afraid of becoming a teen mom statistic or being what I knew people were betting I would be…a failure.

But sometimes that backfires. And there is a moment where those negative comments become my way of fighting the system and my stubbornness becomes “oh I’ll show you that I absolutely do not have to do these things.” That’s usually surrounds any negative responses to my weight gain/loss or my still living at home.

So yes, I have become that person. I’m aware. I apologize to the people who are sick of hearing me talk about these things without seeing any action. I thank you for loving me all the same and not giving up. I’ve decided to make no promises and to also stop talking about it. Thank you Michael for that slow clap and gentle chuckle of supportive pessimism.

We shall see what happens!!

Dangerous Messages I Have Seen on Facebook

Sometime last week I started paying attention to random things people were posting and how subtle but dangerous the messages were. I started collecting them and then all of a sudden people stopped sharing them! Alas, however, I have gathered enough for a sufficient blog post. None of these messages are inherently bad (well one is). Most are just simple comments or posts that at first glance seem positive in some way but if you take a closer look, not so much. So please enjoy my random commentary as to why these messages should stop being shared…immediately.

The post:

The problem:

This post actually sparked the beginning of this blog post. I saw a few ladies that I love share it and quickly got on them about it! I know what it’s getting at. “Don’t let your feelings get the best of you. Don’t let things get you down.” There is, however, this terrible idea floating around that feelings are a bad thing. Feelings are feelings. They are neither good nor bad. They just are. We subscribe meaning and worth to them. And these posts almost always refer to feelings such as Love and connection to others. And no one can survive without connection with others. And there is almost always someone who cares. Even if it’s not someone you want to care. So posting things like this is like a slap in the face to those who do care. By all means be a boss! But don’t deny your feelings. It only leaves you bitter, lonely, sad, and angry which are surprisingly all feelings!

The post:

The problem:

First of all…what is a REAL woman?!?! I hate these posts because it usually implies that only a certain type of woman is “real.” Usually the hard working, hyper-focused, “on her shit” woman. And that’s all well and good. But the woman dealing with depression who hasn’t gotten out of bed in a week is also a real woman. The woman who doesn’t have time to exercise and meal prep and work a full time job and raise five kids under the age of three, is also a real woman. The homeless drug addicted woman having sex for money…is also a real woman. And trying to live up to people’s definition of a “real woman” usually causes way more stress and anxiety than any “real woman” should ever have to deal with. ALSO…all my friends are bad ass and they are my friends so clearly this is a lie. As mentioned earlier, no one can survive without connection, friends, a tribe of some sort. Humans naturally crave it. This message that we don’t need people is 100% false.

The post:

The problem:

This was a share by my fellow blogger (thanks Malcolm!). Here’s the thing…sometimes people just suck. Sometimes people are just terrible. Sometimes they are rude, nasty, conceited, full of them selves, evil, hateful, abusive, and dangerous. And while hate is a strong word, sometimes people hate you for those reasons. This post should have a fourth option…sometimes people hate you because you suck as a human being and have a lot of work to do!

The post:

The problem:

I have literally never done this. If I ask someone what they do it is because I actually want to know what they do. If you are someone who determines the level of respect you provide someone with based on their occupation… then you would fall into the fourth category that I mentioned in the previous section. Don’t be that person.

The post:

The problem:

Again, I get where this one was headed but it is just so dangerous a message for many reasons. What about people searching for a reason to live who are unable to have children but want them? Does God not care about them and their life? What about people who have children but don’t want them? What about people who have children but still feel suicidal? Posting things like this can be very harmful/hurtful for others who read them and may have a different experience. Just be careful.

The post:

The problem:

This is just stupid. Stop.

The post:

The problem:

This is one of those post that unknowingly shows support for terribly toxic relationships. Also, am I a basic bitch if I’m not “on your ass about everything”? At what point are you, as a grown adult human being, supposed to take responsibility for your own actions and goals in life. I am all for support and encouragement. I’m all for sticking through the tough times. What I’m not here for is raising someone who is already considered an adult. You need to be on your own ass about everything. I’m not your momma. I don’t even do that with my own kid!

The post:

The problem:

I really hope that I don’t have to explain why this post is a problem to anyone who reads this, but incase I do….RAPE IS NOT FUNNY. DO NOT PERPETUATE RAPE CULTURE!!! No means no means no. Don’t means don’t means don’t! Stop means stop means stop! The only time those words mean the opposite is when you put them all together and get “no don’t stop” at which point if you do stop you are a terrible human being and again belong in that fourth category I mentioned earlier. I know that all of this can be very confusing. This is why you should be able to openly and honestly communicate with your partner before, during, and after sex. If you aren’t sure…ask. If you still aren’t sure, err on the side of caution and let’s just say that if you aren’t sure if it’s rape or not…then it’s rape.

Well…that’s all I’ve got for now. Let’s hope people on my timeline stop posting dangerous messages. I’m sure what’s going to happen though is I’m going to hit publish and people are going to start posting the craziness again!!

Childish Gambino’s New Video Made Me Cry

If you haven’t seen it. Here it is, in all it’s wonderful beautiful glory

Now, why did I cry? Why did the video make me cry?

Well for one, it’s named “This is America”.  This video is full of truths about our society as a whole, and as I sat there watching it for what felt like the millionth time, I started to shed tears, because the meaning continued to weigh heavy on my heart.

The main point in this video is basically showing how distracted or little we tend to care about what’s going on in society.  As we see Gambino dancing with these school kids, as if nothing is going on.  From the opening scene we hear a chant, basically describing that we just want to have fun and that we just want to have a good life.  Starting off the song with an up-beat, African influenced chant “We just wanna party, Party just for you, We just want the money, Money just for you…” and from there things get grim when Gambino pulls out a gun and shoots a man with his head covered…and utters the words:

“This is America, Don’t catch you slippin up…”

Like…WHAT?!?!?

And the scene afterwards, which was noted by many outlets online, showed Glover handing off the gun to someone else, who had a red scarf of some sort, taking the gun off screen ever so carefully.  And what does he do after all of this commotion? Starts to dance as if nothing happened.  It’s a mirror on how society is taken aback by the sheer horrendous nature of America, but will then turn their eyes to something else as if the event that just happened never occurred.

The dancing in the video is a distraction. The lyrics, while basic in delivery, tells a simple story of our country.  “Police is trippin”, “I got a strap, I gotta carry em”, etc.  but the song alone does not make this the epic experience you should be hearing. The video is what you should pay attention to.

Gambino even goes to murdering a church choir, symbolizing the Charleston shooter from a few years back, and again the gun, which looked like and Assault Rifle, was taken away with care, which Glover, in turn, decides to start dancing again.  Symbolizing the initial shock of a tragic incident, but how we are quick to move along and forget about things again.

And while Gambino is dancing around with his crew, the background is just full of chaos.  The world around us in burning, but we’re focusing on the wrong things. And while all of these things are going on, we’re dancing, rather the Hip Hop community is dancing, and “getting their money”.  That’s what it’s all about.  As a black male in America, the chaos in the background is what we deal with on a normal basis, but society is being blinded. These things continue to happen, and people are out here just “getting their money” but not out here striving to make a change.  Obviously this is just my opinion and how I view it, but as the chaos goes on in the background, we’re just out here doing our dance. Whether that dance be “dancing for the man to ‘get that money'” and not challenge the status quo, or the dancing around people do to avoid the hard conversations.  However, there is a point where  this video screams how much America loves our art, but not our lives.  The outro goes like this:

“You just a Black man in this world
You just a barcode, ayy
You just a Black man in this world
Drivin’ expensive foreigns, ayy
You just a big dawg, yeah
I kenneled him in the backyard
No probably ain’t life to a dog
For a big dog”

If this doesn’t scream “we’re just loved for our entertainment” I don’t know what is.  They don’t love us, they just love our culture.

This is America, where people want to believe it or not.  And this is why I cried.  Because while we are enjoying our lives, there will always be a next time, and a time after that, unless something is done about it.  Being a black man in America only amplifies the hurt, due to injustices that we have to worry about on a daily basis when it comes to police brutality and racism.  And that reality just breaks my heart…

Donald Glover, you are a genius and most of America doesn’t deserve you.

The Number

***

The number those asterisks represent that had me almost in tears. The number of failure for me this morning. The number I avoid purposely (I’ve thrown out all scales in my home). The number that brought to this page, to my pen. The number that made me feel defeated. The number that isn’t that much different than it was 3 months ago, but enough different that it feels like a knife shearing through my heart. The number that represents my relationship with gravity. The largest relationship I’ve ever had with gravity. The number that I’m not even sure I can share with you all.

Today is a bad body love day. Today may even be a bad self-love day.

I consider myself a body positive advocate. I no longer post pictures about my workouts, runs, weight loss, before and after pics, or dieting plans. I think this is damaging. It makes women, young, old, accomplished, and everything in between, doubt who they are, think themselves less, and wonder why not me. It is also is quite boring to me. I’m tired of talking about diets, exercises, thighs, fat blasters and all in between. If that is your thing, go ahead! I don’t care what you do. Just don’t do it with me please. I also suffer from a history of disordered eating patterns, distorted body image, and likely undiagnosed body dysmorphia and an exercise addiction in the past (and I can diagnose myself because I’m a licensed counselor J). So, participating in those conversations are triggers for me and bring about serious self-doubt and pain. Like you have no ideas how many hours I can spend dedicated to speaking about that. According to my past therapists and researchers on ACES (adverse childhood experiences survey), it is also all likely a symptom of PTSD. Isn’t that bitch? Haunted by things that are not my fault and yet I still try to find it ways to make it my fault – enter all of the distorted images of self. Well, fuck. Either way, because of my experiences and experiences of my clients, I’ve realized that for some people, these images and talk are highly damaging, or at the very least demoralizing. It’s made me feel like a personal failure many times (me: why can he/she/they lose so much weight, and I can’t? brain: Must be a person defect.) So, I usually don’t any more.

Today is different. I took this picture below of me because I was disgusted and disgusted I was disgusted and needed evidence for this blog. I needed everyone to see an unflattering picture of me. I needed you to see some of the blooper reels. And then I needed to post it because I needed proof that I’m still human and loveable and all those things. And that fat people work out too, to be perfectly honest.

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And after that picture here is a running reel of things going on in my head as I worked out:

  • Your belly, do you see and feel how full it is? That’s probably why he disappeared after making out with you; he was probably disgusted.
  • Your doctor is going to poke at you on Monday and you’re going to feel awful.
  • Speaking of which, no need to bring in the concerns of your digestive system or any other ailments – it’s all your fault anyway.
  • You look awful in that t-shirt. Remember when it was loose?
  • When you go home, everyone will notice your weight and realize what a failure you are.
  • Two months ago, things were fitting looser. You’ve failed.
  • You are not pretty
  • You will never find love.
  • Some people are larger when they are younger, they are allowed to occupy bodies and look amazing in whatever size; You are not allowed that, because this isn’t your body type.
  • Why can everyone else lose weight so much easily? Did you see all those summer bodies online last night? HA, not you.
  • Why are you reading this book on radical self-love? Do you really think you are allowed that?
  • Your walks around the park aren’t enough twice a week. You know better. You know you need multiple days of intense exercise for 2 hours to lose weight. We have been here before.
  • The wine. It’s the wine. Also, the birthday fun. Nope.
  • You’re not worthy.
  • You’re not sexy.
  • You will be alone forever.
  • You should be embarrassed.
  • You are not enough.

As, I listen to India Arie as the soundtrack to this blog post, and reflect on the words and thoughts I had today, I feel even more ashamed but then it moves to sadness. Timely, she is is currently singing “Just let it go. Set yourself free. Healing is in your hands.” If I reflect on the past few months, this has been the first time in maybe 3-4 months that these voices have been this strong. I suppose that’s progress, although they have transformed into other lies about my incompetence (my work, friendship abilities, partnership abilities, and my intelligence). Even so it demonstrates that I have the capability to heal, I just need to create the capacity.

Speaking of capacity, I haven’t had much of that lately. I have been traveling a lot for work for a few months now, spending the majority of most weeks out of town. In fact, I am writing this from a hotel room in Lansing, MI. I can’t say that it has been fun. It’s been difficult to find food that makes me feel nourished and is nutritious. Workouts are hard to come by. I’m exhausted and not sleeping well. And I’m so very bloated all the time or gastritis is flaring up all over the place. I have had little time for reflection, painting my nails, a social life, or just play. I don’t feel like myself. I’m moody, my patience is low, and I miss my “me time.” On top of this, I’m making some major life changes right now and managing feelings of inadequacy and incompetence isn’t easy. But it’s familiar. It’s my limbic system’s way of dealing with threatening or stressful situations. I’ve started drinking more ginger tea (stomach issues) and my favorite is the Yogi teas. The Yogi teas come with inspirational messages on them, and every single one has been about compassion. Reflecting now, I think that this is the universe’s way of telling me that the person who needs my compassion most right now, is myself.

“I am not the voices in my head. I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside. I am light.” –India Arie, I Am Light