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

Why Telling Black and Brown people (especially women) “You Must Work Twice As Hard” is Damaging, No Matter How True

I am a self proclaimed (and proclaimed by others) perfectionist. Not perfect, far from it, but perfectionistic. You know her, the inner bitch that kills you slowly and deliberately by your own doing, fed by shame, fear, and personal & historical trauma? The one that amplifies every failure and mistake to equal your worth, and cripples you with her harshness?

Today I want to focus on the historical and generational trauma impact of perfectionism. For many of us Black and Brown people, this impact is killing us very deliberately. For many years, as people of color, we have had to work harder. We have and are seen often as less than our counterparts, it’s been demanded we work harder to prove our worth and value, and honestly, it sometimes still never feels like enough. Put the identity of “woman” on top of that and it’s a double whammy. It’s a lot to endure.

What has been a peculiar strategy, one born of group preservation and desire for growth, is that we as Black women impose these same standards and pressures onto one another. We regularly tell one another “to work twice as hard, look better, act better, anticipate mistakes. Be better. Be better.” We model this. Long hours with no reprieve, neglecting our own needs, being a martyr at the expense of our own self preservation, taking on every single task under the sun, and being particularly harsh when our humanity kicks in. And we look at our fellow sisters and tell them, be the best too, sometimes putting down the ones that fall into this form of self hatred that was passed down to us, with things like you don’t dress well enough, not enough degrees, not articulate enough, not enough. Never enough – a direct reflection of what we think of ourselves.

One time, I attended a conference. As for most of us in higher ed, I work(ed) in a very white space and was so excited to connect with other Black women and men of color. I attended as many sessions as I could to learn and grow, to feel connected to my culture, to feel renewed. I left instead feeling heavy. That I had so much to do to even be perceived as worthy by most of society. There were ample messages around you have to get more degrees (a master’s degree isn’t good enough), you need to work longer hours (I was regularly working 60 hours already), create, innovate, and find all the Black businesses and support them today. All while nicely dressed, perfect brows (all the women did), and in high heels. I was overwhelmed and spent many days warring with myself, anxious, and exhausted. To be fair, these messages had been passed down to me since I was young. I think it was just I need affirmation I was on the right path. And instead received a very condensed and intense version of “be better” and it confirmed my worst fears – I’m really not doing enough, or at least it will never be enough due to my identity. Later, I broke into tears.

I’m a pretty high achiever (most perfectionists are), but by definition of my perfectionism, imperfection or lackluster achievement (which means a B+ instead of A) are not tolerated. And any messages about that, fuel me to action and often burnout. And then I had these thoughts:

Why are we perpetuating a message handed down to us meant to keep us inferior and assimilate to a culture that wasn’t created for us? Why are we killing ourselves with a perfectionistic ideal that says that we will still never be good enough? Why are we, Black women, denying, and frankly, obliterating, our humanity in the name of being the best? Will respectability politics actually get us respect? Is this all we are?

The outcomes are clear, racism, especially when internalized, are killing us – quite literally. Racism is strongly correlated with higher blood pressure, chronic disease, and the silent and hidden ailments like depression and anxiety in Black people. We have got to change this narrative.

Listen. I’m not saying that we should be lazy and not work hard or reach our dreams. I’m saying that we should not make that work ethic dependent on proving our worth and at the detriment of our health, soul, and spirit. It should not be the first priority. We should be that first priority.

Today, as I cried in a meeting with a superior (and then feeling ashamed for showing weakness, but that’s another post, for another day), and confessed that I have to prove that I’m good enough, successful enough, especially because I’m one of few Black women in the room, metaphorically and physically, I realized perfectionism is getting me more C’s in life and less happiness. Realizing how deeply I’ve come to see failures as the only confirmations of my worth, and hearing how loudly the voices of “be better, twice as better,” and feeling twice as worse, I realized I’m doing what the oppressors always sought to do to me – destroy. It hurts.

I still want to be better and still am dealing with the shame of not being as fearless, wonderful, and perfect as my sisters around the world and my ancestors were. But perhaps, maybe, just perhaps, my ancestors can be proud of me being good enough. Not twice as good, but just as good, and trying my damn hardest. Maybe they will smile when I give myself a break and say, this is what we worked for. Maybe they can still think I’m beyond their wildest dreams, without the self-hatred of a historical perfectionism not meant to make me soar anyway, and taking breaks to refill my cup.

I dont know. Maybe I’ll find out someday when I disengage from perfectionism.

Crossroads

But why not me?

I stand at the crossroad

Of uncertainty and rejection

Far too often

To be asking the road to answer

Such a silly question.

She doesn’t know.

If so, I’m not sure how she could explain away

The aching of feet

Tired of a repetitive journey

That leads nowhere

But back to hours of standing

At this crossroad.

The road thinks I’m hopeless.

But why NOT me?

I wonder aloud to the crow

Always circling this crossroad

Waiting for me

To rip my heart out and leave it

For death and his dinner.

He thinks I’m foolish

To carry it around,

Alive

Beating

Hungry.

But WHY not me?

I ask the couple in the

Old beat up Chevy.

Always passing by to their home –

On the other side of the cross road

Of course.

They flash me looks of endearing pity

They could not know.

They wonder how I got here

Get here

Every time.

They think me broken

And never stop to wonder,

As to not be

Cursed in my presence.

But why not ME?

The sun hears me

And my pain is the only thing

Strong enough

To shy her away.

She will not know,

Disappears and sends

Rain.

But even rain isn’t enough to wash away

The dirty traces of shame.

BUT WHY NOT ME?

Thunder roars

He can keep up.

But he cannot settle down

To answer me.

He thinks I’m weak.

but why not me?

This time barely a whisper.

And she stirs within me.

Because.

You are the universe

That cannot be contained.

It will always be you

And yet, never you.

She thinks I’m strong.

I choose my road.

Afraid.

You wrap me in your arms, stroke my cheek,

I feel weak

Safe

Beautfiul

Afraid.

You kiss me softly with your lips,

But also with your gentle words,

Touch

Patience

Quirks

Wisdom

And a smile that always feels

Exactly right

Safe

And bright.

It frightens me.

You feel like home,

Safe and comforting,

Yet easy and familiar,

But also like an undiscovered adventure.

Is this a mountain, ready to fling me down as soon as I climb up

Or a smooth river, ready to gently carry me to safety?

I can’t take the mountain anymore.

You disarm me,

I put down walls willingly,

Lay down my weapons of mass protection,

Hang up my armor.

I am raw,

Pure clay from the earth,

Soft and malleable

Yet strong and buildable

For you.

I don’t have the energy left in me

To be putty for an evil crafts maker or solider.

Please don’t be from enemy lines.

I am knowingly

Intentionally

Choosing

To

Melt.

It’s been a long time

Since I’ve decided to lose form

And be the soft, flowing, mess

That I am

For another

In attempt to find love.

You make me want to try.

I am afraid.

But also so damn ecstatic.

Capitalize on the ecstasy,

But please don’t exploit my fears.

Make me believe.

 

Tired and Overused Dating Advice None of Us Wants to Hear

You may not have noticed but us bloggers are single and have been for quite some time (some of us more single than others at various times, but for all intent and purposes, we’re all single as of this moment). And not to overstate things or brag on ourselves, but we are pretty good at being single. Like probably the best; we’re killing this shit.

So good in fact, that many people feel the need to share their fantastic dating advice to help us become better and more desirable partners. This would be great and all, but it is often unsolicited, doesn’t fit who we are all as people, assumes we aren’t good partners, is overused, unoriginal and tired AF, assumes we haven’t tried that already, ignores real issues of being single, especially as a gay, Black, single parent, woman, or busy professional person, contradictory the advice we got ten seconds ago, and did I mention UNSOLICITED – a.k.a. we didn’t ask you to solve our perceived dilemma of singlehood. And sometimes, this advice also has an underlying, and maybe even unintentional at times, undercurrent that we are not good enough as we are. And frankly, we’re kind of tired of that crap.

And so after hours of lamenting about this on our group chat (we group chat literally hours a day, like I feel like we go through our entire days together lol), we decided, you know what, we need a collaboration post, and we need one on this topic. So with no further ado, here is our first collaborative post written by all of us as a list of our “favorite (as in never say it again)” dating advice:


Just let him find you, also known as don’t look for him, he will fall in your lap, he will come when you stop looking and least expect it.

I’ve been single a long time. Never have I taken some time off from dating or working so much that a dateable man has fallen into my lap and we have began as a couple. Never have I been home, not leaving my house, engaging with anyone (which would be when I least expect it, and frankly, kind of annoyed if he showed up) and gotten married. Furthermore, I do not like the idea that I don’t get to be an active participant in my life. It’s not my style. I kinda like to be involved and it be more of a “we found each other” kind of thing. I get it, this is deeply rooted in biblical tradition – something about a man who finds a wife, finds a good thing. However, too many women I know have not found a good thing in a husband for me to not be an active participant. Perhaps “finds” is symbolic here too, like if you find a good lunch spot you’ve found a good thing. Those spots still advertise though. Also, the Bible is written in historical context and also patriarchy and also, not really my thing. Additionally, I know women who are happily married that have gone on single cruises, dating sites, speed dates, and were set up on blind dates. They did stuff. They looked for him. They found him. I have also known people who were “found” and are in terrible relationships. And what about same sex couples? Who finds who? It’s not like I’m on a safari of men anyway, looking for my right prey. But that sounds like a good idea. Where is that safari? How do I create one? Now that’s advice I could use. -Lee

I’ve been trying to be found for a year and a half now, and I’m still lost. I’ve always hated this stupid saying because even if you “let him find you” you have to put forth SOME type of effort. Like, sitting at home watching Netflix in your underwear while eating Chunky Monkey Ice Cream is going to help a man “fall into your lap”. Miss me with that. -Malc

“Where he at though?!?!” I’m a living witness that this is a load of crap. Most of the men I have interacted with have shown up “when I least expected it” or I wasn’t looking. Even my mindless swiping on Tinder was typically for kicks and giggles and not because I thought I’d find “the one” or that he would find me. I’m not one to go up and talk to a guy first. I don’t regularly put myself out there and yet men tend to show up and it still doesn’t work. Usually what people say to me is “he’s not going to find you if you stay at home knitting.” And that’s awesome because when I’m at home knitting I’m in full bum mode. I wouldn’t want to find me then either. But then people also say “no one wants a woman whose out all the time.” Which one is it people? Go out and put myself out there so he can “find me” or don’t go out and let him deliver my pizza on a Friday night.-Ashley


You should meet people in real life instead of Dating Apps

Even though I’m highly considering this, I don’t need you to tell me what to do with my life! What if I have social anxiety and hate meeting people in real life initially? What if I want to vet out these guys by texting the hell out of them and make sure they aren’t psychopaths first? What if I just want to waste time and maybe trip over the love of my life that way instead of spending money at the bar every night trying to find bae? If you want to use an app to find love, do it. If you want to find love at the bar, do that. If you want to sit around on your couch watching Netflix in your underwear eating Chunky Monkey Ice Cream, waiting for your bae to magically fall into your lap somehow out of nowhere, do it! -Malc

I second this one. And people always say “well I guess I’m just old school.” Well I guess so, Susan and Tom. I work in a female dominated space and since I date men, that makes it hard to meet people. I’ve also met some really cool people online and I don’t have to worry if they’re hiding their wedding ring in their left pocket. Also, let’s just say, online dating isn’t failing me. 🙂 -Lee

I’m not a huge fan of online dating. Mainly because I’m not a huge fan of dating period. It’s weird. Especially when it’s someone I don’t know. But since I don’t go out a lot for a number of reasons (no one to go with, no where to go, too damn tired, Mom duties, etc.) at times online dating has been used as an attempt to meet people. I actually met my ex online. What I didn’t like was the judgment I felt when I told people how we met. Screw you Susan if you think that the fact that you met Tom your second year of undergrad makes you better than me because I met my imaginary boyfriend on Tinder.-Ashley


You need to love yourself before someone else can love you.

So where did this idea of me not loving myself come from all of a sudden? So every single person in the world hasn’t learned to love their self? I mean, I love myself so much I sit around in my underwear eating Chunky Monkey Ice Cream doing my happy dance while watching Food Network and HGTV. -Malc

I call bullshit. Loving yourself is a lifelong process. Sure. You should have some basis of self worth so you don’t go out with abusive people because you feel that’s what you deserve, but if I wait until I conquer self-love, guess I’ll marry in the afterlife. -Lee

As my co-bloggers have already said…this is bullshit. Self-love is not a destination. It is a process. I will not wake up one day and say “this is it. I have arrived. I love myself the most I ever have and the most I ever will.” The reality is there are days I wake up and I feel like the spirits of Beyoncé and Maya Angelou have entered my body in the middle of the night and I am fearless and can conquer the world. There are other days that I wake up and nothing fits, my hair is a mess, I have zits, I don’t feel good and all my insecurities are standing in front of me the entire day. Am I less deserving of the love of other people on those days? I would venture to say the opposite. It is on those days that it would be nice to have a partner who can stand between me and my insecurities and remind me that I am loved by them and that I deserve the love of myself. And then on the good days they can be my biggest hype man and gas me up so I can take on the world. Hey. But maybe I just don’t love myself enough and I’m all wrong. I’m single. What the hell do I know. –Ashley

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You should work on yourself instead of worrying about dating

I like how people think that us single folk don’t have anything going for ourselves. Like, what would make you say “work on yourself”? Are you saying I’m undateble because I have no positive attributes going on for myself? Are you saying that I’m broken? Because that’s what it sounds like. Yes I know I’m not perfect, but when you tell someone to work on themselves as an alternative to dating, you’re ultimately telling them that they are not fit for the dating pool. Bitches *Eats Chunky Monkey Ice Cream in underwear* -Malc

Ugh. Disgusting. I have been working on myself for awhile now. So now what? -Lee

What the heck do you think I do all day?!?! Okay. Maybe not all day. But a lot of my time, life, existence has been spent on self-reflection. With every failed attempt at Love I try to figure out what I did wrong and make changes accordingly. And this is bullshit because half my Facebook timeline is full of hot mess men and women in hot mess relationships so there’s that.-Ashley


Your expectations are too high.

I’m sorry, Jane, but maybe that is why you’re bored AF in your marriage or unhappy or have so much time to give me advice I never wanted. My list includes kindness, gentleness, open minded, treats me well, intelligent, has a good head on his shoulder, easy on the eyes, you know, being a human I want to spend time with and occasionally rip his clothes off. Maybe my expectations are high. But you know what Jane, so are the ones for myself. And I’d be damned if my expectations for myself are higher than with someone I am too spend some of my life with. -Lee

I don’t understand how people can tell me that MY expectations are too high. Like breh/sis, it’s MY life so yes I want to have some sort of expectations if you’re going to want to “climb this tree” (as Ashley says). And I’m sorry, but if being a decent human being (plus a few other things) is having high expectations, then I guess I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life eating my Chunky Monkey Ice Cream in my underwear. -Malc

What I love about his one is that people usually say it without actually asking me what my expectations are. My bad Jane for thinking that I deserve to be respected, appreciated, not cheated on, and treated as an equal not a possession or piece of meat. Didn’t realize I was asking for so much!-Ashley

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You should Pray on it

Sometimes I have these thoughts that what if I pray for God to send me someone, and then I meet this random person that seems remotely interested in me. So then I think it’s a gift from God and decide to make them mine, but then they end up being crazy and almost kills me or something then I think to myself, “why in the hell would God send me a crazy person?” So then I just decide not to pray on it and go back to eating my Chunky Monkey Ice Cream in my underwear. -Malc

So essentially what Malcolm said above is exactly what happened to me (minus the trying to kill me). The day before I met my ex I literally prayed “God, you know I really want someone, but if it is your will that I be single forever or in this season then I am okay with that.” And then ta-da here came this man, who was interested in me, and took me out, and treated me right (at first) and all those good things. It was like God had been waiting for me to stop fighting my singleness and trust him (and follow all this terrible advice) and only then would I be prepared to receive this man he had for me. It helped that his tinder profile said he was a God fearing man. It was confirmation. And well if this is the first time reading anything I’ve written…long story short…it was a disaster! So yea. I’ve prayed on it. Jesus knows my heart. He knows I’m not perfect. But I’m almost certain he expects some action after the prayer. I don’t think saying the right words in my head is some magic spell to make a man appear. I would have figured that out a long time ago if it was. Also, people who don’t believe in God clearly still have relationships…so…there’s that.-Ashley

My mom and church made me start praying when I was 5 years old. Sister Jane was wrong. That didn’t do anything. Of course then, the reason it has happened is because my faith isn’t deep enough. By the way Sister Jane that is a logical fallacy. If something doesn’t work, you don’t get to just to say, well it does work, but you didn’t believe enough. Also, Sister Jane, isn’t kind of weird that I spend all my time praying for a husband when children are dying in refugee campus and war zones? Other iterations of this are “wait on the Lord” “He knows best.” I don’t know, y’all know I’m agnostic and God is a woman anyway. -Lee

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You should enjoy being single while you can!

Yes, yes. Because I’ve just been miserable eating Chunky Monkey Ice Cream in my underwear this whole time. And that may sound miserable to you, but the way my Introvertedness and Anti-Socialness is set up… -Malc

I know I write about being single a lot. And I’m sure it’s easy to confuse that with me being miserable that I’m single. But I’m not. I was, however, miserable in my last relationship so the next one will definitely be one that does not destroy the peace I have while single. So even though I’m not out partying every night and even though I don’t have a boyfriend, I do enjoy my life (and my late night texting 😉) so yea…there’s that!-Ashley

What does this even mean, Susan??? I am living my best life and I want to live my best life with someone else too. Is this a terrible, terrible thing? Trust me I’ve thought long and hard about sharing my bed with someone (he better like it cold) and having to share my cereal. I’m ok with it. Perhaps, you should have thought more about enjoying your singledom. I, on the other hand, will not subscribe to the fact that my life will be miserable after getting with someone, and so my only alternative is to be unhappy. Perhaps that is why marriages don’t work, because we make it sound like your life is ending. How about some advice like “enjoy your life while you have it, regardless if partnered or not,” because spoiler alert, we all die. -Lee


You need to put yourself out there…but not too much.

So I hinted at this earlier. People really like giving confusing advice. Just let him find you. You can’t stay in all the time. You need to go out more. But don’t go out to much because a man doesn’t want a woman whose in the club all the time. Don’t be such a prude but be modest. Then they suggest some really terrible ideas of where to meet someone. “You like to read go to the bookstore.” Okay I also like to sleep how do you suggest I find a man doing that?!?! And also, there are women who go out every weekend and they have a man. And there are women who never go out and they have a man. So I’m not sure what the secret going out to staying in ratio is. That would actually be helpful advice if you know it!-Ashley

So, I’m not supposed to try, but I am supposed to try? What the hell am I supposed to do? Can someone fucking tell me? I don’t understand. Is online dating putting myself out there or too out there? Where is “there?” Cause I’m with Ashley, the bookstore never works. Only in Hallmark movies. Everything works in Hallmark movies actually. Maybe Susan and Tom, you thought I lived in a Hallmark movie? -Lee

Contradictory statements are null and void… -Malc

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You need to try something different

This one kind of goes along with the your expectations are too high part. But with a slight twist. Usually it’s in reference to whatever my “type” is. You want to know why my type has been up until this point…wrong…that’s it. I just struggle to believe that all people who look a certain way, or like certain things, or believe certain things are all the same. Because people have all sorts of stereotypes about light skinned women and I don’t usually fit them. So I try not to judge people. And then there’s also this assumption that I’m only interested in someone because they look a certain way and that’s just annoying. –Ashley

I’ve tried all the different. That isn’t the solution. Stop telling me to do that. -LeAnna

Try something different? Why? What do you mean? What is “different” exactly? I’m attracted to personality, so I don’t think trying something “different” would work in this scenario. I think that would slightly be considered settling, right? I’ve dated all types of different people physically, so if you mean try something different in that aspect, I already have, and we’re still in Singleville. I refuse to try something different in regards to personality as those are my expectations. Sorry that I have a type and I would like to find someone who falls in line with that. -Malc


But you have your daughter that should be enough

So this one only fits me but I think my fellow bloggers may be able to fill in the daughter with something else (career, friends, family etc.) The frustration here is that 1. you’re assuming I’m not grateful for my child and 2. A parent-child relationship is vastly different from a romantic partner relationship. I shouldn’t have to explain the differences but I’ll make this point. I am my child’s main source of support (emotional, mental, financial, physical health, educational etc.). She 100% relies on me. She, however, is not mine. I can not collapse in to her at the end of a long stressful day. I can’t cry on her shoulder when I feel overwhelmed or like a failure. I can’t go out and have a drink or dance or Netflix and chill or any other date options there may be. These are things that a partner would provide. But I think it makes people uncomfortable when I am honest and say that sometimes I get lonely, even though I have a child and live with my parents.-Ashley

Ashley! You are so right I can fill in this in with something else. Common things people tell me are “but you have a career and degrees.” Anyone who knows me, knows me that my career is basically an extension of myself. And yet, somehow, it doesn’t manage to hold me while I’m crying at night, imagine that. My career is so important to me. I try to be the best version of myself and my identity is definitely wrapped up in it. But I know all too well, that on my deathbed, I won’t be asking for my career or thinking I should have spent more time there. I hope to be reaching or thinking of the one I love. Lee

Nothing will ever replace the tender touch of another human being that you are romantic with and understands you on an emotional level. Sorry, but no career, money, etc will ever be able to replace that, in my opinion. Chunky Monkey Ice Cream comes close, but apparently I’m not supposed to have that type of relationship with food. -Malc


You’re too *fill in the blank.*

Speaking of career, the other advice I often get is maybe you should be less career focused, passionate, intelligent, smart, as this is intimidating and doesn’t allow a man to be a man. I am usually stunned at this point. Sooooo, I spent thousands upon thousands of dollars to get where I am, give my heart and soul to my job, have spent all this time “working on myself” to “love myself more (see above advice)” and now, I’m supposed to play small for a potential mate?? I’m really confused here. Shouldn’t he want to see me as I am, and I him, and we both decide this is who I can spend my life with and choose? I am not dumbing or silencing myself for anyone. -Lee

Ahhhh yes. The dreaded too much….! Leanna and I have discussed this a lot. I think for me I’m usually too quiet, too reserved, to introverted, too obsessed with Harry Potter. I used to get too intimidating a lot. Not sure if that’s changed or people just don’t say it anymore. But whatever it is that people say I am too much of and should become less of to get a man to them I say…men should stop be too chicken shit if me being me is intimidating!! – Ashley

I’ve learned that I will always be too much of something to mostly everyone, and I just hope to find the one person who doesn’t mind my extraness in said something that they can look past it and love me for it. And if I’m too much for you, then you’re not enough for me.  That’s when I can walk around confidently and comfortably in my underwear, eating my Chunky Monkey Ice Cream, alone and “too much”. -Malc

Here’s a peom that sums up this issue perfectly.


BTW, here’s some Chunky Monkey for Malcolm.

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It’s Time to Chill TF Out: Signs that You Need a Break

I suspect that many women feel that they must take on the world and never set it down. That we can’t give up, must take care of everyone, be impeccably groomed, and the rock of literally everyone. As a Black woman, I feel this even more, because there is this extra burden that you’re taught, and is reinforced by others forever, that you must work twice as hard for the same thing. That if you complain without perfection, then your complaints are unworthy (and trust me, people will throw this in your face), that you must put on a brave face everyday, and be the epitome of Black Girl Magic. You work extra hard to be “passionate” without an attitude, (even when anger is warranted), code switching and checking yourself along the way and being “strong” like every matriarchal figure in your life has ever told you. You fight relentlessly. And you’re supposed to do this effortlessly and with grace.

And then when you find yourself like me today, going to the wrong airport because you’re exhausted from all of the above, recovering from flipping through your exes happy ass pictures with a beautiful woman not because you want him back, but because you’re wanting your happy, and feeling defeated wondering if your work really challenges the wrongs of the world and uplifts those who need it, feeling defeated from trying to help others see that, missing the empathy and caring from people that makes you whole and feeling weak for needing it, and you doubt your magic and queendom, and you want to curl in a ball crying.

But you can’t. You gotta push on. Or so you tell yourself. But maybe you don’t? Maybe it’s time to chill TF out. Maybe your magic needs to be replenished. And since no one else is going to say, “hey girl, maybe you should take a break, maybe, that’s what you need to do for you.”

And so with that, here are my top telltale signs that you need to chill the fuck out, written from my own experiences:

1) you’re forgetting things, small things but important things. Like your keys, the correct airport, passwords. Your brain is working on overload. It can’t keep up with your work plans, figures, and facts AND your keys when it is exhausted.

2) You are forgetting to eat or in my case, eating the least amount necessary to exist and not have low blood sugars. Because even though you love to cook, the energy to heat up a stove will lose to a pre cut salad kit (the best invention since sliced bread) or a bowl of granola every time.

3) Speaking of things you loved to do. You haven’t done them, cause yeah sleep. You’re too exhausted. Not to be confused with depression where you don’t want to do them, but simply feel overwhelmed by the amount of energy needed to complete the task of doing that thing you like. Plus, you can’t find the things to do it.

4) And you can’t find the things to do because cleaning your house is non existent because you’re out saving the world. And you come home and sleep so as to not deal with it and feel like a failure.

5) You are lacking empathy in your life, perceived or otherwise. You’re not giving it to yourself and it feels like others can’t give it to you either. You’re likely either spending too much time with people who can’t fill your love tank (strangers on buses and planes, associates – nice people like coworkers or staff at a favorite bar – but not your tribe), not engaging enough with your tribe, or trapped in a cycle of perfectionism that doesn’t exist (lacking self compassion). If you’re anything like me, that will empty your emotional bank account quickly.

6) You’re skipping mascara. Or moisturizer, or your brows done or glitter. Whatever  is that thing for you that makes you feel like yourself and is a musthave to feel ready, you’re not doing it. Because you probably slept an extra 5 min.

7) You’re having stress dreams. You are dreaming about work and trying to do the work, and conflicts at work; you’re dreaming about saving Wakanda (no lie I had this dream), you’re running for your life but you’re running in slow motion or keep falling (one of my favorites), you’re dreaming about missing flights… all signs of time to chill the fuck out.

8) You have no patience to hold others ‘ pain. Time to pump the breaks for sure. You are not the sole provider of hope and care to people you know (I’m looking at you, Self!!). It is insane to think you could be. Time to practice “no.” Here are some suggestions “no, nope, not at the time, hell no, fuck no, *chuckle and walk away*, ignore the call or text, not today, satan, I really wish I could, but I can’t, I really wish I could, but I don’t want to, that’s a naw for me, I’ll pass, good bye/good night.” Maybe I should do a post on saying no?

9) You want to cry in the middle of an airport. Or in the middle of any neutral place. You’re tired and deserve a sick day or 5.

10) You are wearing a too big, white wool coat because your coat that fits lost all its buttons because you kept meaning to replace or fix them or something like that, and now here we are, looking crazy as hell. This metaphor is easily transferable to *insert anything here you need to do but didn’t and now you regret it but you’re gonna live your life either way*

11) You haven’t said “yes” to yourself and what you want to do. Wanting to go on a date with that hot guy from OKC, but can’t fathom giving up your only night to sleep, clean, do laundry, wash your hair, call your mom, you bff, respond to personal emails, enjoy a cup of tea, and pretend you will sew your buttons? You’re doing too much if you have to fit 3 weeks of activities in 12 hours. Also, you’re going to hate your life.

12) You want to curse people out for peopling. You know like walking too slow, stopping in the middle of an aisle or walkway (I’m sorry by this is rude AF even when I’m recharged) and taking  in the sunshine, for talking about stupid things behind you, for having on a dumb hat, for breathing… you know peopling.

13) Cake starts sounding like a viable option for all meals. But then you eat it and you throw it away because all food tastes nasty to you. This is a new stress induced response I got after getting…

14) You get gastritis. Now it flairs up at any sign of trouble. Gastritis is a nice little friend that gives you significant pain if you eat, don’t eat, eat too much, too little, anything spicy or coffee. It’s like the little demon friend you never wanted.

15)You feel unhappy and unfulfilled. Yes, you’re busy, but you’re not happy or fulfilled. Your purpose may feel a little muddled. It’s time to chill the fuck out. Why? Because you need some time to reflect, so you can make the next right move. And then you need time to act on it. Because being tired is lot more tolerable when you’re doing what you love and are called to serve the universe.

So my dear beautiful Black women, I want you to know we deserve to chill the fuck out. And it’s soooo hard. I’m struggling right now. I know it can make us feel like we failed, that everyone is going to see how unworthy or what an imposter we are, that we will let down our families and communities, that we will be the wenches that history has written us as, or the nobodies that our traumas want us to believe. None of that is true. I write this on a train with tears welling up and heaviness in my chest. We gotta believe that being human doesn’t diminish our light, our worth, or our black girl magic. Instead we have to know when to say, enough is enough. And extend that magic to ourselves and chill the fuck out.

Just “Regular” Black

Often, the first things people notice about me are my  face full of freckles (that seem to take over my body the older I get) and my greenish eyes. It’s particularly jarring an noticeable to people because I’m just “regular” Black. 100% Black, nothing else and 100% proud.

Growing up, people constantly asked me “what was I?” Or complimented me on how I looked like a “white woman” or at the very least mixed. As I got older, redbone was the compliment of choice by men, who were always fascinated by my “exoticism” and wanted to know if my mother or father was white. Family members also often told me that I looked mixed, if only my hair was a silkier (My hair is the give away. In its natural state, it is a beautiful kinky, jet black, ball of wool – nothing European about it.). And as I got into weaves and wigs, this was even further solidified. I grew up thinking being Black wasn’t good enough, that it was a good thing to be lighter skinned, asked “what are you?” and to be mistaken as only half negro. Although I didn’t necessarily see it as better to me, I realized that it was compliment in the world I grew up in. And so I allowed it to happen, smiling sheepishly as I responded (gross).

After constantly being asked this question though, I began to get annoyed, quickly. I became confused every time someone’s face fell when they learned I was just “regular” Black. As I learned more about paper bag tests, and doll experiments, and well, colorism in general, I grew angry. When I realized my fellow sister friends with beautiful skin were often disregarded, felt inferior, and men trashed them, I was disgusted. And when my own siblings told me about hatred for their  darker skin and wishing they had mine, I felt incredibly sad and heartbroken. And then I realized that in a very complicated world of color and race, in some ways, I have privilege. And in other ways, I’m very much the victim of racism. And that either way, I had to shift my thinking and what I allowed others to say or do around me.

And so began my bitchy remarks to those who questioned my ethnicity. “I’m Black mixed with Black,” I replied before it was a popular t-shirt. “Redbone isn’t a compliment to me, and I’m actually offended that you would insult my fellow sisters like that,”  I replied every single time a man would send me a message complimenting me on my light skin and how he prefers that.  I try my best to affirm others about their beauty and advocating when I can for others when I can. I intentionally use a rainbow of shades in my presentations. I remind people that being multiracial is wonderful, but simply being Black is wonderful too.  Most importantly for my own self, I will not accept any compliment that is about how exotic or “other” someone finds me.

I’ve also learned that my skin color comes with down sides too. Many people think I’m a “safer” type of Black, and are surprised and annoyed that I’m afrocentric and speak about racism often. Men expect me to be a little less opinionated. I’m “pretty for a Black girl” in some white spaces. I’m sometimes stereotyped as stuck up, not down, or self-centered. I work hard to disprove these things, but I try to not get caught up in that, because I know for every time those annoyances happen, a darker skinned woman is denied a job, a relationship (you don’t need him or her though honey, you too good for that), stereotyped,  “pretty for a dark skinned woman” or humiliated. I’m so sorry you go through that. I’m so sorry if I have ever been part of that problem. Please know that I stand by your side and am an ally today.

I cannot change the color of my skin or eyes. I love my freckles.  However, what I can do is claim my Blackness, never back down or allow slick shit  people say to slide, and be an active participant in dismantling colorism in our community.

So to answer your question,  I’m 100% Black queen goddess mixed with Black strength. That’s it. Just you know, “regular” Black.