Things Not to Do When Online Dating

*** Disclaimer: There is so much wrong going on in the world and my heart aches. I debated not writing a lighter post, because with children being torn from their parents’ arms, political disaster and silliness on all sides, and people dying, it seemed trivial. However, in times like this, it is sometimes good to remember that isn’t all of life. I also think there are plenty of folks who comment on these things better than I can. What I’ve learned is that as these things happen, we still eat, laugh, have heartbreak, go to work, and continue to live. And so today, I’m writing about dating. I just want you to know, we here at “A Tale…” are not oblivious and our hearts go out to the world.***

Dating is hard. Dating is hard when you live in a rural area. Online dating is also hard. Dating is extra hard when apparently no one has given you dos and don’ts of your dating profile and responding to people (in this case hetereosexual men responding to women). But never fear – I’m here to help you. So now you can’t say you were never warned.

1. Please stop taking pictures with your money fanned out on your bed or held literally as a fan. Also, taking the picture with your daughter or son having money fanned out is equally a “no.” I thought we left that on Black Planet in 2001? I can’t believe I have to say this.

2. Stop writing a long list of things you hate. This makes you seem like a terrible person.

3. Proofread. It doesn’t have to be perfect but if I’m scratching my head trying to piece a sentence into something vaguely resembling a complete thought, it’s not slang. It’s just mumble jumble.

4. Dick imprint profile pics are a “no.” Also, yes, it was me. I reported your picture.

5. When you respond, do not talk about lips or any other part of the other’s body touching yours in the first 5 messages. Actually, not in the first few days unless we mutually agreed upon that is happening/happened. But definitely not in the first 5 messages. No, I do not want to envision myself kissing you.

6. Don’t go from “hey” directly to “when am I going to meet you?” The answer is likely never at that point.

7. You should probably not have all 50 pictures in the same pose in different shirts. It’s just weird.

8. Don’t ask someone to immediately send you more pics. You legit have a whole damn catalog of pics. You’ve only said hello, I dont owe you shit.

9. If you spend the first 5 messages describing all of a person’s physical features, they begin to wonder what are your intentions. I’m just saying. Also, creepy.

10. If it is stated someone is looking for something long term, stop pretending you didn’t know that. And if you didn’t, read the profile.

11. If someone doesn’t answer you immediately, it is not ok to go off on them and how they’re ignoring you for a pretty boy, and that they’re missing out because you have a job, car, house, and you go on vacations. You obviously also have high levels of. insecurity, a temper, and crazy. *unmatch*

12. While asking questions is a great way to get to know someone, asking someone back to back to back questions, unrelated to the previous answer, and not following up, commenting, and finding common ground with answers (aka having a conversation) is jarring and feels like I’m under interrogation until you feel you’ve done enough to ask for my number.

13. Which brings me to if you ask for my number or to continue the conversation off the site and I say I’m not yet ready, you dont have the right to angrily rant at me and that doesn’t mean to do #12 in an attempt to appease me.

14. Say “hi” and then ask me “truth or dare.” I hate this with all of my soul and it causes me anxiety. Just ask me how I’m doing, what I do for work, etc.

15. Respond to all of my questions with something about meeting me today. It gets annoying. For example, Me: what was the most exciting thing today?

You: Matching with you.

Me: So sweet of you. What are you doing this holiday?

You: hopefully you are coming to see me

Me: Lol. Hmmm… idk I’d like to get to know you better first, plus I have plans.

You: You wouldn’t drop your plans for me?

Me: No. Hell no. Fuck no. I don’t know you!!!!

Ok, ok, I never say that. I usually unmatch, but you get my drift.

16. Similarly please don’t respond to my statements with completely unrelated statements.

Me: So, that about sums up what I do at work. I told you it was a little complicated.

You: I’m just thinking about how it would be to see those lips in person.

WTF?

17. Send me emojis over and over as responses. Especially looking eyes. 👀 THOSE. I love a good emoji but it is annoying when you use it in this way.

18. “Good morning/evening beautiful” has become synonymous with fuck boy when you barely know me. I didn’t write the rule. It just happened. Usually to follow is violation of several of the above.

To end on a positive note, I thought I’d end with a list of “do’s.”

1. Do put up a wide range of pics and look like you enjoy life. I love smiling pics. You’re still a man if you smile, I promise. And you’re sexier immediately to me.

2. Do fill in a bio area. I read every single one. Make it about you and what you like and not what you hate (see above).

3. I am definitely ok with a “hey, how are you?” I don’t need creative pick up lines. I don’t know when it became a crime to just say that.

4. Ask questions about things I wrote in my bio, follow up on common threads, and share info about you.

5. Write more than one word messages.

6. Compliment other parts of me that aren’t physical, i.e. “I can tell you’re really bright or caring.”

7. Talk about a passion of yours. Passion is the key to opening my heart.

8. Make appropriately placed references about Wakanda. I’ll love that.

9. If we have been going back and forth for awhile, we are both sharing info and it doesn’t seem antagonistic, whether for 20 min or 2 days, ask for my number then.

10. Ask me if it’s too late and should we continue in the morning.

11. Continue in the morning if I say yes.

12. Tell me you’re smiling as we’re talking about something non sexual, but interesting. That will make me think you really are into what I’m saying.

13. Use humor, not sarcasm.

What about you all? Have you encountered these things? Agree or disagree? Love to hear from you!

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.

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.

20180425_063057

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.

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.