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Why Anyone Wanting a Serious Relationship Needs to REALLY Listen to Kindred the Family Soul

I had the pleasure of watching “Kindred The Family Soul” do their thing at the Summer Spirit Music Festival this weekend in Maryland. And while they weren’t the headliners like Erykah Badu and Jill Scott who closed the two day festival respectively, Aja Graydon and Fantin Dantzler’s performance really stuck with me long after they took their bows and floated off the stage together.

I was introduced to Kindred in college (early 2000s) and they came out around the same time Jill Scott and India Aire did. These artists were a breath of fresh air as I was growing and learning how to be more mature. Listening to these kinds of artists was a gateway to shaping my evolving taste in music. There was something old school about them, yet fresh and relatable to me. You couldn’t ass shake all the time, and you couldn’t scream out loud aggressive raps either. At that time, me and my friends were falling in and out of love and even wondering if the relationships we were building were among the ones that would lead to marriage. It was college after all.

I was immediately drawn to Kindred’s first album, which I think hands down is their best and untouchable, “Surrender to Love.” The classics on that joint still stand the test of time, as evidenced by the reaction from the crowd when they sang a good amount of those songs in their set some 16 years later.

After to Surrender to Love, I kept my eye out for some other songs, only really connecting with a single or two here and there over the last few years. They announced they are releasing their 6th studio album, and I’m just so stuck on their first. I’m sure they wouldn’t be happy with my steadfast devotion to only Surrender to Love and neglecting their other albums, because as artists they need to and have to grow.

I was standing still and my relationships weren’t really evolving to the level of the things they were talking about.

Which is why I’m revisiting Kindred now as a 30-something who has had a few relationships under her belt, including a broken engagement and six long years of being single and now entering something new and serious and very mature.

My ears are starting to perk up to some of the other songs on their other albums and I’m hearing them with completely new ears, because I’m eager to make this thing work, and I’m finding out that deciding to really open yourself up and join with someone else and not be long distance can reveal somethings about yourself in the process. How guarded you really are, and how it takes a lot of trust to undo those protective actions you’ve been crafting so carefully over the years to protect your feelings.

One of the things I appreciate about Aja and Fantin is the very obvious love, respect and genuine affection they have for one another. They are married with six children and that bond as artists, business partners, husband and wife and parents is strong and battle-tested, but their love is genuine and you can still feel them flirting with each other during songs, and even looking on with pride when the other person hits their solo part of the show.

Through their music they lay out the good, bad, ugly and mundane but always bring it back to not wanting to do the ups and downs of life with anyone else but each other.

There have been several times as a black woman, exasperated I’ve asked my friends over drinks and brunches and dinners and international vacations, “Where is black love? What happened to it?”

Aja and Fantin were holding up the banner last night and every night they perform. And their light attracts other couples who are holding on and holding on to each other, and I saw them last night in the audience dancing, singing along, or leading each other through the crowds and keeping each other cool in the heat.

Their lyrics are loving and honest. From day one in their classic hit “Far Away” they lamented working 9-5s and wanting to hold on to that loving feeling, but having to sneak in sexy time while their baby naps.

In other songs, they discuss doing the work to stay together and grow together and that deciding to stay with someone for decades and for the rest of your life is magical, but like a great magic trick– there’s a whole lot going on that the audience will never see, to create the illusion. They ask each other to hang in and to not give up, they remind each other that it’s worth it.

And boy do we need more music like that.
There is a validity that Aja and Fantin bring to their performances that only comes from having a front row seat to each other’s lives. I’m glad they share vulnerability in their songs and remind people of their own vulnerabilities and that loving another person is indeed a risk, but one worth taking each day. One that is necessary if we are to ever truly enjoy the sweetness of life.

It’s often impolite to ask probing questions of the couples we know in real life. Most couples won’t pull back the curtain on their relationship, because it’s not always what we are seeing when folks post those “couples’ challenge” social media posts. And while most couples would be afraid to be so transparent, at least we have Aja and Fantin giving us the real and sharing their journey with us so we can all grow. They are the type of couple who seem like they’d be at the BBQ giving the younger couples the truth about love, and reminding them that it’s worth fighting for and to above all choose wisely.

The gems in Kindred’s body of work aren’t hidden. They lay it all bare. But like love, it’s all about an individual’s willingness and readiness to accept all that comes with it.

And that BBQ advice session was exactly the vibe I felt with my larger “family” of music lovers all day yesterday. Aja and Fantin held court, while I hung on to every note, listening carefully to every word.

Yup, I’m going to take a closer listen to the subsequent albums after “Surrender to Love.” Because you can’t stay in one place. You have to grow, you have to be open, you have to listen and you have to learn.

And growth certainly looks good on Aja and Fantin, and that’s worth emulating.

 

They Don’t Know About This Here…How We Backseat Judge Relationships

Relationships are fascinating.

That’s probably why as a larger society we can’t get enough of learning about the love lives and pairings of our favorite celebrities and then trying to decide how or why people are together, if we’ve already made up our minds they don’t fit.

And we’re pretty judgey about it. We are very matchy, matchy about it, knowing full darn well, we have probably dated folks who were very different from us ourselves for a variety of reasons. The number one being, we actually liked them. We liked spending time with them, they were good people. They had an ability to give us something we wanted and needed and we liked it.

We simplify this and say good looking people should be with other good looking people. Smart people should be with other smart people. We put folks in various leagues and when our faves end up with folks we didn’t expect, we actually go in on them pretty hard and we judge harshly.

Just google Birdman and Toni Braxton. Look at the hell Jesse Williams’ wife, Aryn went through being called “average” or “regular” while that man openly begs to differ and adores her as the queen she is. She was with him before he became a sex symbol and was just a regular teacher, before hitting it big on television.

We adore the power couple of President Barack Obama and his stunner and intelligent wife Michelle, and we not only love their collective impressive ass smarts, and their super gorgeous offspring, we love how they are both attractive and how their affection for each other seems really genuine and natural.

They look at each other as if the entire world literally isn’t watching. They’ve gotten used to it. It’s their world, we are just watching. They are playful with each other, they compliment and encourage, and they even make jokes about their flaws or small annoying habits.

Those two are easy to love together. And we co-sign enthusiastically.

But other relationships, be it political or even when it comes to music or movie stars, we somehow are the experts on which relationships work and which ones don’t. We somehow become invested in a very personal choice between two people. We got some nerve.

And who knows what the psychology is around that? But we don’t just limit this to folks we don’t know. We do it in our everyday lives. We size up the partners of our friends and family all of the time.

We wonder how an overweight cousin has found love with someone who we think is attractive.

We speculate how a quiet co-worker captures and keeps the attention of a partner who is confident, charismatic and charming.

We wonder how that loud ass chick with the bad sew-in, and broke down flip-flops in the grocery store has a wedding band on her finger.

We just can’t nail it down.

This week’s biggest example of how we scrutinize relationships and don’t really know the depth of people’s relationships from the outside had to be President Bill Clinton. This week we witnessed him send up a heartfelt endorsement of his wife former First Lady, New York Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Philly.

He went into this speech knowing that the whole world knew about him getting sloppy toppy in the Oval Office from Monica Lewinsky, making Hillary the modern poster child for “standing by her man.” Hell, those actions nearly got him thrown out of office. So while it was a huge purple elephant in the room, we all knew the story. It was 20 years ago. There was no need to rehash. This was finally the moment he knew Hillary deserved.

He knew this. He knew of all of the criticisms and wild accusations about her character. He knew that her sticking with him through the years in some eyes made her seem weak, but he spoke of her inner strength, and confidence in herself that began way before they ever met, and how it was those traits along with her intelligence, and her passion for people and her ability to make things happen is what kept attracting him to her in law school.

I’m glad he gave that kind of speech that said, let it be known, she’s the catch. She’s been the catch day one. And for all the unnecessary shit you give her, and the free passes you give to me off of my charm, I have a deep respect for her. Maybe my penis didn’t a time or two, but I admire her, I’m proud of her. You’ve pulled a part her looks, questioned her womanhood, hypermasculinized her, but she is very much a woman.

I’m glad he pulled out all of the receipts to show the world his wife, the woman he chose and he chased (he had to ask her three times) was not only qualified to be president because he sat in the seat, but that her love was worth earning, and he was willing to earn it over and over from the start of their relationship even through today.

Will we see Bill and Hill share an affection that’s as sexy as Barack and Michelle’s? It may be awkward to watch at this point, and most of us wouldn’t be interested.

But their love is a love no less. It may be hard to understand, because like Sade said, “This is no ordinary love.” But unlike John Legend’s song, Bill and Hill aren’t “Ordinary People.”

There are practical lovers in this world, who operate in the mundane and the hard work of loving someone for a long time and living in true partnership and forgiveness and recognition of that special thing the rest of the world may not see. And honestly, it’s not for the rest of the world to consume.

That’s the thing about love and marriage, its between two people, to be hammered out daily, to morph and change and grow. It’s made of rules that are revised and updated and ratified. It is recovery from defeats and failures. It is the transparency that it’s not always perfect. It’s flexible, while being rooted. It can bend, but it won’t break.

R and B singer Jon B. said it best in his hit song, “They Don’t Know.”

“Don’t listen to what people say

They don’t know about, bout you and me

Put it out your mind, cuz it’s jealousy

They don’t know about this here.”

We don’t have a clue about Barack and Michelle and what they go through, we don’t have a clue about Bill and Hillary, but while there are a lot of contrast in those relationships, there are similarities too.

We’ve balked at Bobby and Whitney, Mariah and Nick, Kim and Kanye, Beyonce and Jay. And we tripped about how fine-ass Janet Jackson even considered messing with an impish Jermaine Dupri. We’ve elevated Will and Jada, and Courtney and Angela and Pauletta and Denzel but for every couple that we admire, the ones that made us say WTF, were no less real, no less honest and no less human.

We really don’t know.

10 Ways to Meet Your Mate More Socially Acceptable than Online

I became privy to an interesting conversation recently.
Guy and girl meet online. They chat, the chatting upgrades to phone calls, the phone calls upgrade to meeting in person, several dates and a few months later, these two are an item.
They are getting along famously. Guy asks girl to meet his folks, and girl says yes.
She meets the folks, it all goes great and they discuss the verdict coming in from guy’s family.
She passes with flying colors. Even with Guy’s mom.
But there’s a catch. The Aunties have given their blessing, and in the excitement of it all asked guy where he met girl. He casually responds online, and the aunties’ faces fall. They begin to worry, and exchange tales of woe, failed marriages and stolen organs sold on the black market.
And hence the online meeting versus meeting someone in person age-old debate began. Which led to the even deeper question of regardless of how you met, how well do you really know the people you choose to date, or anyone for that matter?
So, in honor of the aunties who let misconceptions about online dating (some of it rightfully deserved, but still) taint the evidence that was before them and made them question the natural vibe they saw, felt and liked, I would like to introduce to you all, 10 Ways to Meet Your Mate, More Socially Acceptable than Online. Now, some of these are old favorites, and others I’ve thrown in to be a complete smart ass.

1. If your parents hooked you up. It’s really a parent’s dream to actually vet and choose the right person for their child because they want their kids to be happy and not make mistakes. It goes back to you being a baby and them baby proofing your house and making sure you don’t hurt yourself. It still applies in your 30s. While some parents may have a more laid back or hands off approach, there are some parents who are actively involved in the process whether they culturally subscribe to arranged marriages for real, for real, or not. FYI, this would probably be the number one answer for parents, and not really anyone else. But they size up your partner with the most scrutiny.

1A. Your family or friends hooked you up. Now, this could be a blind date situation, this could be a set up via a backyard barbecue, wedding, baby christening, Nay Nay’s graduation party, but there’s nothing like actually clicking with who were co-signed by your loved ones. They’ll never let you live it down, they’ll take all the credit if it’s successful and they’ll fade into the bushes like the Homer Simpson meme, if yall crash and burn. It’s a super-socially acceptable way to meet people that is probably the REAL number one. But, parents, tho…

2. Your place of worship. If you are the religious type, this highly socially acceptable meeting place will resonate with you. It will reinforce that God totally brought you two together, and that you likely share the same values that will help you navigate life and a future family together. It’s a good deal if that’s your lifestyle.

3. The Gym. For some people, this is number 1. If you met the love of your life while working out, it means once again you share an appreciation for fitness, health, breathable clothing and meal prepping. It’s one of the more sexy places to meet people, because folks who may not even have a genuine love for working out will go there to meet someone they find attractive. Actually, it may be a bad place to start something real if everyone’s intentions aren’t honest. Nevertheless, people love those #couplegoals #fitness photos and hashtags with fit people doing impossible stuff that less fit people would just look silly doing, but God bless them for trying.

4. Club or Bar. Once again, you’d think with the loud music and the drinking and lewd dancing, how can you really tell a person’s true character upon first meeting? But, clubs and bars are totally socially acceptable places to meet a future mate, says society and movies and clubs and bars that want your money.

5. Volunteer event. Actually, in my opinion, this should be number one, if you were asking ME. But we’re not. We’re talking about the general public and the stereotypical places, society thinks we should be finding our true loves. But, I think a volunteer event is an awesome place to not only meet your mate, but find your tribe in a new city. When you find out what people are passionate about and willing to give up their personal time for, you can get a good insight into what they are about and their core values. You get to see it in action and you see how they balance those things with their lives.

6. Grocery Stores. Now, I’ve seen sexy guys at the grocery store, I have but I really haven’t ever had one approach me nor have I approached them. Maybe this is because I hate the grocery store, I hate how they are set up and I know despite having only a few items I’m still going to spend no less than 20-30 minutes there. I don’t think many people like grocery shopping either, but it’s a necessary evil. So, I’m really confused as to how people keep saying you’ll meet someone fabulous in the produce aisle. And it’s ALWAYS the produce aisle. Most of the time, after you’ve checked someone out, you’ve checked their cart to judge them or realize compared to them, you eat a lot of crap and you eliminate yourself and grab Talenti 2-for-1.

7. Bookstore or Library. I really don’t know how often this happens anymore because, Kindles. However, I love books and I love bookstores. So, if there is a fine man wandering the aisles and we exchange glances, there’s something romantic about bibliophiles finding love in this digital world. So go head, get you some. But, on the flip side, as a student, I think it is feasible for folks to find love in study groups hammering out projects in a library, so I won’t count it all the way out. The intensity of debate and striving for an A, can get folks all hot and bothered.

8. Work. I kind of put this low on the list, but PLENTY of people have met their significant others at work, or on their way to and from work. I have a strong belief in the don’t crap where you eat, but once again, there are a lot of successful relationships that brewed hotter than the kitchen keurig and they managed to keep folks out of their business. Gold star for them. I’m not a hater.

9. Dog Parks. This is probably an ideal place to meet for dog lovers. I know quite a few people who said if their dog don’t like you, you’re basically dunzo. So, I’m sure society will agree a match made in the dog park will probably bode well especially if the pooches get along.

10. Alumni Mixers. Ok, so this one kind of goes hand-in-hand with volunteering, but if you’re like me and you LOOOOOVE your alma mater, meeting your boo-to-be at one of these events can be pretty dope. Have you attended a sporting event against a rival school? Most schools put the playful drama to the side at a tailgate or after party, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself starring in a West Side Story…

Hmmm, I actually named 10 really legitimate places to meet people other than the internet. I was supposed to add in a few funny ones just to illustrate how ridiculous it is to judge people who meet on the internet, so let me pull a few out that are insane.

1. Competitive Hot Dog eating contest. This just seems gross. But these folks are committed. And men may be turned on by female competitors’ gag reflex…
2. Nudist beach. I’m just going to leave that right there. But at least you know what you’re getting. Rock on.
3. Lamaze class. If you know anyone who met and fell in love at a Lamaze class, please send me a message. That’s just amazing.
4. Prison. It totally happens.
5. Jury Duty. That would actually be a bomb ass story.
6. Target. Actually, meeting the love of your life at Target sounds pretty dope. They DO have everything!
7. Divorce Court. I recently heard about a person posting on facebook that her ex-husband got engaged to her divorce lawyer. Another person jumped on the post to correct her, and that it wasn’t her divorce lawyer, just the paralegal. LOL Burn.
8. Dentist office. That’s right up there with Jury Duty. If you can find love there, I salute you.
9. Department of Motor Vehicles. Since we’re going down the list of places we hate, wouldn’t it be great to at least find the love of your life, even if your Driver’s license photo looks awful?
10. Ikea. If you are a single person in Ikea and you aren’t shopping with your parents for a new bunkbed or dorm furniture, seeing all of the couples miserable or not, kind of reminds you of how alone your ass really is, and that you will be assembling that difficult ass furniture alone. But God is a good God, and would have truly shown up and shown out if he sends you a love to call your own, on your way to get that cheap soft serve ice cream. You won’t just get help putting together that complicated ass bed, you’ll get help breaking it in…

Love Literacy

I’ve spoken in great detail on this blog about my journey to love myself, love other people, deal with the ugly and very real things in my life that have shaped me.

It’s really easy to talk about the past. It’s easy to dissect the past, but when you are confronted with a person trying to find out what you want and offer it up to you, it becomes overwhelming, scary, and your reaction to this is one of fight, flight, conflict and confrontation.

I met someone via Match.com, and he had the nerve to not even have a photograph on his profile. But for some reason, I continued to talk to this person online, and we eventually went out. Before we went out, he did send me a photo.

He wasn’t bad at all.

So let’s fast-forward.

I don’t know if the last couple of years of dating has made me a nutcase…

Ok, it has.

Spending time with this person who is actively trying to get to know me, has made me catch myself being secretive, scared, and sensitive. I feel him approaching my space, but in a way other men half-assed at, but didn’t really push.

His questions about what I do, my family and friends and how I feel about things made me feel as if he was being nosey and intrusive.

Which made me question myself while questioning him and his intentions?

Why did I have this reaction?

Well, he’s trying to get close to me. In fact, he’s said plainly. “I’m trying to get to know you. I have to ask you questions.”

Well, duh.

And while I pride myself on the relationships I’ve had in the past and my relationships with family and friends, as of late, the relationships I have with people are based on some very clear boundaries.

Right now, there’s one friend I’m avoiding because we exchanged words around Christmas and I just blew up.

My family dynamics are strange, I love everyone from a distance. I’m hundreds of miles from my nuclear family and when I go home to visit my parents, I spend a lot of time with my friends or my favorite cousin. My father chooses church, my mother stays trapped in the house because of her mental illness. My home hasn’t felt like home in decades, and I find solace in the spaces of my friends homes and whatever degree of normalcy they bring.

So the idea of someone being in my space, when I’m so used to moving, being on my own, and in most cases, thriving is very scary. More scary than I thought, when I was making up my dream man, courtship and happily ever after. The cold, hard truth is: Thinking of sharing my life with someone on a daily regular basis, may scare me more than being alone.

This is the lesson of my new friend. This is what I’m fighting against.

He wants to know what I’m thinking. And he knows I think too much.

I’m scared to tell him. I’m scared that it won’t make any sense.

I’m scared he’ll call my bluff and prove me wrong. I’m scared he’ll be patient enough to stick around and see just how vulnerable I am and what a disaster that will be.

The last few years, I’ve been very prepared for the men I’ve encountered to do something wrong, to break a deal or two, to offend me, hurt me, not understand me, or have erection problems. Anything to write them off, but say to family and friends who can’t believe I’m not in a relationship, that, “No, I’m trying. It’s just hard out here in these streets.”

I’ve experienced men who thought they could deal with the emotional ups and downs of me. But they confused giving me space with indifference. And that’s when I realized no matter how handsome, or how much money or successful they were, the indifference was something I knew I couldn’t get past.

In the dating world, I think that’s what things have become. Indifferent. And I have gotten used to it. But the rise of indifference has come along with people accusing others of being “thirsty.” The concept of thirst has ruined us.

It’s made us not believe when a man looks you in the eye and says “you’re beautiful.” It replaces the feeling of receiving a compliment, with contempt, because you want to believe he means it, but you don’t want assume the risk of letting the compliment take root and growing.

We’ve become like those bullies in after school specials who are hiding a secret that they can’t read.

We’re romantic bullies hiding that we have a difficulty loving. We have to be privately coaxed out to at least try, and once convinced that we are safe we stumble and stutter. We lash out because of the shame of our deficiency. We are told to keep trying. We stumble and stutter more, until eventually, we triumphantly get through a complete sentence.

And that’s what makes letting someone new into your life so hard.

I’m stuttering and stumbling, trying to recognize and connect symbols to words I know how to speak and hear. I feel ashamed that I had to get this far by pretending or creatively distracting others from my deficiency.

I’m realizing that I don’t like being exposed. I absolutely hate it. But I’m going to walk through it. I’m going to see what happens.

2016 is the year of the unexpected. If I’m going to breakthrough this year, I’ma have to break through.

 

Accidental Pioneers

As of late, I’ve been getting into a lot of conversations about love in modern times. I’m interested in reading funnyman Aziz Ansari’s book “Modern Romance” but, I’m also afraid that his use of real statistics will make me feel even more off balance about the future.

I may have mentioned this earlier, but it seems to me that “traditional” relationships the follow the traditional life cycle works well or seemingly works well in situations where the power structure (vis-a-vis) the key breadwinner is the male.

This is all anecdotal. But especially in the black community, I’m finding that people who are working class and lower middle class who aren’t highly educated pair up faster. The people who live in smaller communities away from major cities are also linking up. (Google DC and Dating… all negative results) They will either marry young, or they have kids from previous relationships and have come together. There’s struggle, but they stick it out.

Throw the military into the game, and you have several young, married couples and that’s across ethnicity. It all boils down to choices. The young people who often enter the military are doing it to advance their life, because they have limited choices (some are actually really patriotic or do it out of family tradition). They may not have higher education, but it’s still the one place where you can rise, regardless of your pedigree, and get training, benefits and support yourself. The military promotes structure, and values marriage.

If you are successful and in a large city, you assume your options are endless and that you will get the best of the best. But you’re competing with everyone else who thinks the same exact thing.

I do think if you’re living in a smaller community away from the noise and distractions of a big city, people are focused on different kinds of activities that lend themselves to the ideal of family and friends and when you meet those kinds of people who share those values, it’s easier to connect.

There was a huge culture shift when I lived in the south. Since there weren’t any really great clubs, or you literally saw the same people all of the time, I found myself enjoying barbecues with my friends and visiting some beautiful parks and recreational facilities to just lay back and enjoy a beautiful view. When your mind and body has time to rest and relax, I think you can be more vulnerable. The pace of life seemed terribly slow. Too slow.

The hustle and bustle of urban living makes us harsh, and it makes us impatient, always on alert and skeptical and looking for the new restaurant or show coming to town, because there always is one. You expect change, you expect variety, you expect to show up someplace and be entertained, you expect instant or near instant gratification.  This isn’t to say I’d find my bliss in a small town, but living in a major city provides a lot of competition.

Even my friends living in smaller cities find themselves with a different view on life than other residents, which makes it a bit harder to connect. So there are all kinds of caveats here.

I used to scratch my head. Here I was with all of these beautiful, intelligent friends, and folks that I went to high school with in my boring ass town, or people who could be labeled as hood, who may have already had not just one, but multiple kids in tow, were getting married.

I knew I didn’t want the type of men they had because I didn’t feel like they’d stimulate me, or they had kids, but I did notice a common thread.

These guys may have not had a lot, but they were hard workers. It seemed like they may have learned some tough lessons and wanted to get it right once they met a good woman. They were accepting and they knew when to stop acting like they had every option in the world and bet on a sure thing.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, my very-well educated friends tried to listen to the don’t settle noise and they chose dudes who they thought were like the men I mentioned, but they were not. They wound up attracting losers who had no problem with living off of them, and having them take care of their kids, bringing absolutely nothing to the table. They almost always had something negative to say about their previous relationships and that it was always the other person’s fault.

So, it is kind of baffling that the first type of man who I mentioned doesn’t end up with the educated woman, but at the same time it’s not.

That first type of man, needs to be the man and doesn’t want to compete or feel like he’s competing. He’s going to be sensitive about his woman making more than him. So I think he avoids dealing with these women on purpose. Strong women will attract scrubs, but it doesn’t mean you should say yes to them.

At this point in the game, I think love, socioeconomics and power (or at least the perception of power) go hand-in-hand and that’s what’s keeping me and my friends single. There’s an invisible caste system, and the stronghold of patriarchal society that’s a barrier to our societal advancement in areas of marital love. Men have to play a role in normalizing women’s equality in business and at home and be more comfortable with the blurring of traditional lines instead of being perfectly fine with a second income, but still not helping enough at home or with the children. That’s today’s man’s new conflict. He’s either going to implicitly protect patriarchy or he’s going to readjust his home and make serious and real room for his wife in not only financial decision-making (which men do seem to be good about), but in home and child care as well (still seen in the eyes of many as the woman’s job).

There’s a little old song that says, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world. Need and the ability to lean on another person and even trust them to do the right thing in your best interest does take your relationship to a deeper level and will get you there faster.

I’ve seen this several times when I’ve dated educated black men, it’s far more difficult to get them to open up, and be vulnerable. Just like us, they do not want to exhibit weakness, but they want to keep you at arms reach.

At this point I feel like dating is more about convincing someone to care about you with the least amount of effort and emotional risk on your part. And that’s where we’re fucking up..

We can drain our bank accounts and give ourselves heart disease over start-ups and professional aspirations that we wholeheartedly believe in, but we can’t break a sweat for love.

It’s too risky.

We can build just about anything.

But loving someone is the ultimate in unpredictability, and we just can’t do it. We see it as this impossible moving target.

How are we a generation of fearless innovators and boat-rockers when it comes to everything else, but absolute punks when it comes to love?

I do think on both sides, if both parties are highly educated and they make good money and have been able to take care of themselves, it’s difficult for two semi- to very successful people to be vulnerable enough to depend on, another person. They know how to fail and succeed on their own and take the praise or take the wrap, and these individuals can accept either. But it seems there’s another standard these people, male and female, have for their partners.

Deep down we want our partners to be exactly how we want them to be with little or no effort on our part. On top of that, we want our partners to accept us fully and be in love with us flaws and all.

There, I said it out loud. That’s what we say when we are adamant about not settling. And while I hate the S- word, people in a difficult economic situation, don’t have many choices, therefore they settle strategically for survival. If you’ve ever had to struggle, you dream about the things you want, but you are realistic about it. With the resources you have, you have to get the things you need first, and then make that stretch.

I honestly think that all of the sisters and brothers who have those “hood love” relationships, at their core they understand and practice that without even thinking about it. People who may have struggled financially, especially in their youth, know all to well about broken promises and the pain of going without. The act of consistency is much different from the promise of it. And I think two people who share that kind of background can far more easily get on the same page and fight for their relationship.

You have to get creative to make things happen for yourself, and you protect your loved ones and your family. You share so everyone has something. It’s communal.

It’s very different if you grew up in another type of situation where you had your own room, barely had hand-me-downs if at all, and could tell your mom she forgot your favorite name brand cereal and she’d pick it up the next day.

I’m not saying well-to-do people can’t love or don’t know how to love. That’s ridiculous. We are all humans.

But I think for me, as an educated, self-sufficient black woman, we may have ascended humble beginnings, but with that ascension we naturally want more. We demand more. We feel betrayed that after all of this hard work and sacrifice to make ourselves better, and make our families proud, and after all of our positive choices, we don’t get the prince charming.

We’re given different messages depending on the weather. Settle, don’t settle. Be more of this, don’t be that. You’re intimidating.

We struggle with having the traditional values instilled in our families about sharing and responsibility to our loved ones, while in our professional lives, we are playing the individual success game, by totally opposite rules. There’s a conflict in the spirit of successful black women. We are suspended in between worlds. No other generations of black women have been where we are, and that’s why they are no fucking help whatsoever and why our conversations around relationships include more questions than answers.

Our mothers and grandmothers want us to find love, and even though they got married young, they knew it wasn’t easy by any means, and they may secretly envy our independence. That’s a whole other post.

And our largest struggle isn’t finding that right man, it’s reconciling that conflict and making peace that we are living in a strange time of duality. Our largest and most awful reality is that we have to wing it. There’s no one before us to tell us how to do this because we are the pioneers in a new terrain, with very different challenges. No one else, no matter how much we respect them are going to have the answer for this. Sorry.

We have to stare down and grapple with:

What is it to be a woman in a relationship?

What is it to have the most power, education and financial freedom of any generation?

What is tradition?

What works for me?

Who is the type of man to help me define and refine our relationship just based on us and our unique history, experiences, strengths and weaknesses?

I think that’s why the conversations between us and our mothers and aunties and grandmothers are so difficult. A lot has changed within just one generation. Our mothers and aunties and grannies may have stayed in marriages that we would have left or avoided altogether, but economics and opportunity or lack thereof made those women work with what they had.

Love will always be about love. But marriage, it’s the day-to-day operations, the sausage-making that keeps us accountable to one another. Marriage is the teeth-cleaning and the oil change, it’s the practical and necessary maintenance of a union. It’s often not glamorous, it can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, but it can heal, make you better and make your execution of love run healthily.

But I’m still not sure how the hell I’m supposed to even get there.

 

With Each New Trip, Comes A New Epiphany

There’s plenty to blog about today as I’ve just returned from Toronto to attend my first ever Caribana. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed hanging with my travel mates, some of whom I’ve never traveled with before. It was a success!
But with every trip, when I come home, I have a renewed sense of purpose and wanting to live out my life in a bigger, better way.
In 2013, the result of this post-vacation feeling pushed me into looking into grad schools, then applying, then taking the GRE and then getting accepted and starting in 2014.
In 2014, after 7 years of working in the same place and going on at least 4 different interviews over that time period and none of them panning out, a job I didn’t think I got had offers waiting for me upon my arrival from the Cayman Islands.
So it’s 2015, I’m half way through my studies in Grad school, I’m working very hard at that new job I took on in 2014, and after Toronto, I’m looking around wondering, “What’s next?”
The thought started to enter my head that maybe after nearly a decade in the Washington, D.C. area, moving someplace else to start fresh might be a good idea. Last year, that idea only seemed to be reserved for after I graduated school, but thanks to online education, it’s really not the deal breaker I made it out to be.
For 9.5 years, I thought to myself I have not had a stable healthy relationship with any male who actually lived in the D.C. area. Two of the relationships I had while living here, were long distance.
I was starting to wonder, if it was me? If it was D.C.? And if together, we weren’t a good match for my love life.
Let’s face it. It’s a competitive city.
We compete for jobs, we compete for great places to live, and women, whether we want to admit it or not, we’re out here competing for the same men.
We know it and they know it and for this reason, the game has lost its fun factor.
Most women in any city will say there are no men there.
What Caribana revealed to me most was there are men everywhere. There are men of all kinds who are interesting, kind, funny and considerate and hard-working. There are men who are selfish, egotistical ass hats who have subpar penis.
So I wondered to myself, where were these men in DC?
Are guys only fun when they go to an event in other parts of the country or the world? Are they more open? Am I more open?
Could I waltz into a club and channel my Caribana vacation self and charm someone silly? Is that my problem?
The DC, everyday version of myself hates the clubs and has no desire to dress up, heel up, make up and play the game. Sure, I’ve been slumming it at local TGI Friday’s and I guess I shouldn’t complain about what I get.
I refuse to go back to online dating because it’s exhausting and annoying.
So, I can admit, half of the problem really is me. I can’t blame D.C. and I can’t blame how wack men are these days, especially when I’ve turned down really nice guys, who I’ve complained I have no chemistry with.
In terms of me taking care of myself and doing things to make myself happy and making choices for me and only me, I’ve been doing a fantastic job.
But my love life has taken a position on the back burner. I told myself that this selfish phase I’m having really doesn’t allow for me to give anything to anyone else, but there’s a small part of me that calls bullshit.
And that voice is getting on my very last nerve and keeps me up at night. That voice makes me wish for the intimacy I’ve shared with exes that is nothing but a memory, that voice makes me wonder about what random flirtations really mean or what they don’t mean.
That voice makes me wonder if I guy I met on vacation who lives in this area will give me a call and want to actually meet up.
I don’t deny any of my feelings. I think they are natural. But something is pulling at me for change and it’s not surprising. I started out my adult life on an adventure tip. Out the gate, I moved to places my friends and family would have never gone or tried to leave a long time ago. I tested my mettle, and there’s a big part of me that feels like I lost that adventure in the name of security. But even when I was running around, moving from place-to-place and job-to-job, I wondered what the secure life would be like.
I told a friend, I’m never satisfied. When I’m hot, I want to be cool, when I’m cold, I want to be warm. When I’m in a situation, I want the opposite of what I’m in at the moment.
I have a problem with patience, I have a problem with process. I can change my mind on a whim, however, I believe I’m a steady person and a reliable friend.
While I do have fantasies about what my next meaningful relationship will be like and how happy I’ll be and how grateful I’ll be for it, I also fantasize about random romps with strangers if I had the courage and the ability to just walk away and never look back. Is it conflicting to want to be fully present in both of those situations, even though they are polar opposites?
Probably, but that’s how I feel.
I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do. But when I don’t feel like making a decision, it would be ok to go with what’s decided for me sometimes.
I like to be alone with my thoughts and work things out in my mind until my thoughts wear me out so much, that I want to be held by someone. Then, you may enter my space.
I shared my recent thoughts of moving with a few friends and they had varied responses, most of which were for me to do what I felt like I needed to do.
One joked that it would be my luck that once I moved, I’d meet someone from this area. That same friend, who is in a relationship then gave me the, “chin up, he’ll find you” phrase. Ugh.
For single people, when people in relationships tell you that, the only feeling comparable is when employed people tell unemployed people exhausted and demoralized by consistent rejection that the next interview will be “the one.”
In both cases, you know people mean well, but you don’t want to hear it.
They’ll tell you how great you are and can’t understand why you don’t have a man or a job because you’re qualified in fact you’re over qualified, and that’s the problem!
While this so-called pep-talk (and I’m guilty of giving these) is going on, you either really think about your shortcomings preventing you from having the job or the boyfriend, or you get mad at the system because given the right chance you know you’d be great.
I’ve learned a long time ago that a lot of things are based on timing. There’s an ebb and flow of life. There are things you have to look and listen for in your heart and in your gut to lead you to the next point. I get impatient with what seems like the slow-moving points because I have no idea what’s ahead, be it good or bad. Sometimes you just feel like you’re stuck in one place. One thing is for certain, even when you’re stuck you either find the strength and motivation to unstick yourself, but if you sit around long enough, something will come along and move you and when that happens, it’s involuntary. It may be due to necessity, or fear or a little of both and I can’t stand operating in fear.
I believe in God. There are all kinds of scriptures about being still or standing still. So maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s a big part of my lesson or journey trying to identify the peace in stillness over the loud ass sounds of my thoughts, fears, insecurities and anxieties.

Relationship Status Not A Reflection of Your Individual Value

If you survived your mid- to late-twenties without going to a lot of weddings, and you are in your 30’s, you better guard your loins and brace yourself like Braveheart and his crew.

I’m starting to get a bunch of save-the-dates, as some of my dear friends (mostly male though…but that’s a whole other post) are finally making their way to the altar.

I’m very happy for my friends. Most of the folks I know getting married over the next two years are folks who have been in very long-term relationships. They’ve seen a lot of ups and downs, they’ve been able to watch each other change and grow, they’ve had serious battles and challenges, and they’ve decided to keep on choosing each other for the rest of their lives. It’s really beautiful. I’ll probably shed a tear because I know the behind-the-scenes stories. These couples haven’t always had the fairy tale, and for that reason, them making the conscious effort to choose each other over and over again, every day for the rest of their lives, is what makes these new unions magical. They put real thought into the huge life decision they are making. And for that, I applaud them and can be confident in their futures and really relish the celebrations.

But I had a thought as I was talking to a friend. It’s nothing new that a lot of women place their value on being proposed to. Simply being asked elevates them.

And I’ve even had the thought that being asked was in direct correlation to my value.

I had even said on a number of occasions, the reason I’ve kept my engagement ring is because it was physical proof that “someone loved me that much, someone wanted me to be his wife.”

Well, I’ll have to tell myself now after about four years of healing that in the illustrious and oh so truthful words of Brandy, almost doesn’t count.

I understand now that simply getting “chose” as my southern friends would call it, isn’t a reflection of your value. There are so many amazing single people who are amazing, period. If they got married tomorrow, they’d be amazing. If they were single forever, they would still be amazing. There are people who are just really great at being a human. They do it well, regardless of being involved romantically. And I do believe in my heart, because they’ve been so excellent at being a human, they will attract an equally amazing human, decide to be together and save the world by creating more awesome humans.

In my biostats class, we talk about independent and dependent factors. If an independent variable changes, the dependent variables are studied to see how much the independent variable effects them.

I think of marriage, relationships etc., as independent variables. They can change the other dependent variables about you, but those dependent variables you always had, your intellect, your ability to care for other people… you get the picture.

So for people thinking getting selected by someone makes you better than all of the other “pitiful” single people (something must be wrong with them) out there, or if single people believe married people or people in a relationship are “better” you’ve got it completely wrong.

Maybe I need to do another post about something that’s taken me a long time to figure out. I kept wondering why some people never got married or why they are still single. I’m learning it’s a bunch of things.

You know yourself too well to settle, even if it means turning down people who seem to be really amazing (on paper, or physically).

You trust how you feel first, even if it makes no sense to other people.

You know that you can be selfish sometimes and you’re just not ready to share anything, your space, your food, your time, your life…

You still have big decisions that you want to make and only want to have yourself to consider. Do you want to move to another country? Do you want to change jobs? Do you want to buy a house or sell it? Do you want to take out $60,000 in student loans to go get a degree? Do you want to take a significant pay cut for a dream job?

Do you just want to opt out sometimes? Being single gives you the space and freedom to say fuck it and it doesn’t affect anyone else but you. Want to take a few days off and go away? Book the ticket, you’re gone. Want to call in sick? You aren’t squirreling away days just in case a kid gets strep, you can take your mental health day and not slave to make it up. Wanna stay in your sweatpants all day and eat pho? No one is going to tell you no in your own house. Compromise isn’t something you have to consider in the single life. Doing you is not only allowed, but encouraged.

Entering into a relationship can make you a better person, because that person can bring out the best in you or challenge you to be your best self, but you’re relationship status alone doesn’t make you better than anyone else, especially those who aren’t attached.

Entering into a relationship is just a mutual decision between two people. Let’s be together! Ok! Whooo hoo! So is getting engaged and getting married. Let’s make this thing legal! Ok! Whoo hoo!! It’s the decision to choose each other for an undetermined amount of time, based on if you want to continue the relationship or if one of the parties expires. (Singing Fantasia’s Free Yourself, or Mahalia Jackson’s Upper Room) That’s it.

So people in love, even though you feel like it, you didn’t cure cancer, or create wrinkle-free clothing or the cronut.

You were simply able to match hearts at the right time and right place, which is quite a feat, but not one to place you on a perch.

Single people wanting to be in a relationship. Take some inventory of the luxuries and freedoms you currently have in your season of single and be that excellent human. Because it will sustain you when it’s time to really dig in, compromise, love and give freely to your future love.

Love and Caution

Some folks say that they fall in love too easily.
I’ve never had that problem.
In fact, I’m usually not the first to say I love you.
I warn anyone in danger of loving me not to be offended if I don’t say it first, but know when I do say it, I mean it.
There was only one time, I was fighting myself not to let it slip from my lips, and that was in my last relationship. I waited to let him say it first, so I can say it back.
Anyone who falls in love with me too quickly, I look at them with a side-eye. I just have to. I have difficulty believing them. I also feel like folks who are quick to fall, are just as quick to hate you. I’ve seen that happen too. A recent guy went from wanting to tell his mother about me, future children and thanking God for me on Facebook, to being hurtful and saying he had to take me in small doses, or calling me indignant because I dared to speak my mind. So there’s another side.
I don’t have self-esteem nor do I think not I’m lovable, however, if you’re too quick to pull the love trigger, you worry me as a potential love. It makes me think you don’t put a lot of thought into things and are too emotionally driven and that scares me.
So I think I’ve decided that I need to be with a person who is cool with the pace in which I fall in love and won’t see my need for caution and time as an insult.
Because once I’m there, there’s no turning back. I’ve made the conscious decision to be all in. Hurrah. You’ve got me.
I have difficulty with people who want me to speed up that process, or believe that the pace in which I fall for someone is in direct correlation with how I feel about them.
Should it take me years to fall in love? No, I don’t think so.
Is it measured in hours or months or a specific number of dates? No. It isn’t.
What makes me fall in love with a person is a series of moments in which both people are vulnerable, honest and where I’ve felt completely safe and like myself.
Moments of truth, moments of unbridled silliness, confiding in each other, that means something to me. Those moments help my feelings grow. In my opinion, cultivating intimacy does take time. And when those moments start adding up, then that’s when I feel like I could be falling and I allow myself to.
The quickest way to scare me off is to go into instant couple mode. This means introducing me to family and friends or any people you consider important without telling me or giving me a warning.
There’s nothing more uncomfortable than people gushing about what a great couple you are, before you’ve even declared yourself a couple. It’s also very uncomfortable when people really start asking about your future together when you don’t know. Sir, ma’am, I don’t know if I’m going to be talking to this person next week… and my date has only himself to blame.
So I don’t like folks jumping the gun and ambushing me like that.
Those are just more disappointed people if it doesn’t work out. I’m clearly the bad guy. Because here was this guy so proud of me and saying how great I am, and here I am like, he’s cool. It’s still early. I’ve found friends and family don’t want to hear that.
I’m also very private. I want us to enjoy our bubble for as long as we can before we let outsiders remotely close. We’re getting us together, our message, our pace and stride together as a couple. Once again everyone understanding pacing helps the message you convey to the public and all those people you want me to meet. You pull the trigger too soon and someone asks me the wrong question, everyone will feel awkward.
Don’t make too many plans including me too far in advance. Take things one at a time. Besides, I may have already made my own plans that I could have prepaid for, now you’re looking crazy. Or we could have some epic fight in which I ether you and we never speak again.
I’m methodical about entering relationships. I will weigh the pros and cons and read all kinds of articles and take quizzes and look at astrological signs and listening to my inner voice.
So should we go aimlessly into the dark for an infinite amount of time? No. I don’t want anyone to feel like they are wasting time, yet, I can’t operate so quickly, that I’m not considering my doubts or instincts about a person.

One friend thinks I truly haven’t let go of the past.

I’m not worried about the past. Am I affected by it? Yes, certainly. The future, however, has me in knots. Making decisions that involve other people and their feelings if I’m not all in? That concerns me. I feel responsible for that.

I’ve also found out a few other things about myself. I’m uncomfortable if a man spends a lot of money on me. And I value my freedom and independence over everything, way more than I ever realized.

I’ve spent the last four years fighting with myself, fighting for myself, loving myself out of darkness making life changes for myself. It’s been about me. Giving myself over to a man or a family freaks me out. It makes me question everything about the natural next step of partnering up. The pressure to choose the right man who understands that… and coming to the realization that there might not be a man who does, that’s when the claustrophobia sets in.

I’ve been asked over and over what I want. By so many people. It’s been easy to say I don’t know. And it’s lazy.

What I ultimately want is a great, healthy, relationship where I know it feels right in my spirit and where I don’t feel trapped, or that I lost myself or I settled out of some awful fear. I want a love that feels like freedom, that embraces my independent spirit and somehow it works.

Next Time

I had a thought today.
I’m looking forward to really falling in love again.
It will feel like my senses will be sharper.
When I feel, I’m going to feel times 100.
Because I get it now.
What it means, what it’s supposed to be.
And I will appreciate it, and the person offering it up, who I’m giving it to in return.
I won’t worry about holding back.
Love requires your best. Love demands generous offerings.
It’s going to be awesome.
Can’t wait.

Be Yourself, Demand Love Unconditionally

Folks have said all the time to “be yourself.”

For a large part of your life, you swear they are lying.

You do what you deem is necessary to fit in at work, or to make friends, or to be in a relationship.

But those words are the truest words you’ll hear.

You just have to be brave enough to actually do it.

Why is it that something that should be as natural as being yourself so damn hard to do?

Well, it’s because we are acutely aware of our faults more than everyone else is, hence we have the power to alter it, mask it and pretend. But that only works but for so long. Folks who truly know you, know when you are genuine and when you are not and thank God.

The lies we tell ourselves are the worst and most potent and hardest to break and reverse.

The reason I’m on this kick today is because this morning I woke up with about 30 epiphanies. I had to text them to myself so I wouldn’t forget.

I went to a beautiful wedding this week of a fantastic college friend who I hadn’t seen in years.

She was absolutely stunning, but what made her glow all the more enchanting was she was truly happy. She loved that man and he clearly loved her. It was in the little things, the way she picked an eyelash off his face, and the way she still made silly faces with exaggerated eyes and smirks even in her formal photos. Every inch of that venue had her mark– from the songs she selected to the party favors. Individual, unique, simple, understated but not buttoned up.

The moment of the wedding that stopped my heart and hit me like a freight train was during her written vows.

She thanked her husband profusely for loving her for who she is. And I believed her. Those weren’t empty words. Even as she said it, she began to cry, and my eyes began to well. Because I know the impact of those words. And yet, I can’t think of a relationship where I completely felt like was loved exactly for who I was. I didn’t feel like I was enough in every last one and it was frustrating because I truly did my best in all. But it wasn’t on me, that was the thing I couldn’t control, even though I tried to. Either someone is going to love you for you completely, or they just won’t.

They will love you when your house is dirty or when it’s clean. They will love you if you gained some weight or if you stayed the same weight. They will love you and your child if that’s what you came to the table with. They will love you when you are sick and take care of you, as they will love you when you are healthy. They will think you are amazing if you are at the top of your career, and encourage you if you got laid off and can’t find work for a year.

I guess I’m afraid of that kind of love.

Because it’s actually real.

Because I can’t make excuses for it or why it didn’t work. To lose that kind of love would seem devastating, worse than the devastation I felt when the person didn’t love me that much, but I loved them that much.

I’ve said before that love is negotiable. And we have to keep coming to the table and reminding our loved ones what the terms are if they are slipping, and they should require that of us too.

I recently accepted a job. Go me!

I did something different this time.

I asked for what I wanted, what I felt I deserved in compensation and I was willing to keep it moving if they didn’t offer me the job or the salary I asked for. I had already made up my mind what I was willing to accept, and my friends asked well what if it’s this number but not that number? And I said, no. Something in my spirit said, no. This time you won’t take less than what you deserve, you’ve been doing it you’re whole professional life. You can get what you deserve even if it’s not this particular opportunity, this time around.

So it made me think, if I can have the courage to say no to a job if they aren’t coming correct with money, why am I so flexible when it comes to my most valuable possession? Me. My heart.

I had to laugh at myself.

I started thinking about all of the relationships where I broke my neck to be the perfect girlfriend, the cool girlfriend, the compassionate and understanding girlfriend who accepted men as they were, as broken and complicated… but I had to be the one that was whole, for the both of us.

I was broken and complicated too, in many ways. I needed just as much nurturing and care and occasional eggshell two stepping for my feelings too. I didn’t stand in my truth, I pretended that I was so strong that I could live without that, but still provide it.

I kept choosing men I felt I could make better and in some cases I helped in their progression. But I didn’t get the benefit. They’d go on to marry other women and blatantly give them the things they said they couldn’t give me. But I didn’t demand more of them, I didn’t threaten to leave if they didn’t. I don’t believe in holding anyone hostage in love, but I’m learning not expressing clearly what you need and what you want in a relationship is the worst thing you can do. Because if that person really wants to love you, you aren’t giving them the tools to do so properly. And if they don’t want to love you, and you don’t tell them, you can’t be mad that they disagree with the way you desire to be loved.

I was too afraid to say what I wanted. I thought that love was sacrifice and if they saw how much I gave, then clearly they’d return my love in a tangible, fulfilling way.

They didn’t.

And those words the bride said tearfully have rattled around my head since I’ve returned home.

By George, that was it, stupid. Be who you are completely and let him love you completely. Let him decide and if he doesn’t choose you, it’s not your fault, it’s not something you necessarily did wrong. Be strong enough and be fearless enough to be you. Say what you don’t like. Say what you want and what makes you happy. Say when you are upset and hurt.

I’ve often turned my nose up at the women who lash out and raise all kinds of hell when they are mad at their men, but the men do react. And of course they do, those women made it very clear that they were upset, and if the man really loved them, they were going to be about the business of correction.

I confused my silence for class, while being complicit in the demise of my own relationships and my own self esteem. I won’t let air out of tires, or burn clothes, but I have a mouth. My fear of rocking the boat should not be placed above my own happiness. There’s a balance. You don’t have to be a jerk, but you don’t have to be a pushover either. And I always had difficulty balancing that. I hated arguments because I had a fear that there would forever be a strike against me that I couldn’t come back from. But that’s not love.

I wrote in Facebook yesterday, that my father loves me unconditionally and has been ridiculously patient with me over the years. I was a curious, head-strong child who preferred learning the hard way. And he let me. But I always knew he was proud of me and that he thinks the world of me. In that post, I said my dad taught me that I deserve a man willing to fight for me, one who won’t take a day off or who will think the task of loving me is so daunting and intimidating and overwhelming, that he’d prefer to not even take a stab at it.

And these are the men I picked. They always went out with a whimper. And that always upset me. Why didn’t they fight for me? Why didn’t they try harder? But maybe I was the one who set the tone, don’t argue, don’t fight, be classy, move on.

But I got that wrong. Life is indeed a fight in itself, messy and tangled. There are tears and ugly cries, there are yells and screams that are not the end of the world, and that don’t mean you aren’t classy. Life leaves you with far more bruises and scars that fade with time, but don’t necessarily disappear, but it doesn’t subtract from the overall beauty of life. Those scars don’t negate our inner beauty, our true selves.

I was classy and crying alone in the dark. I was classy and falling apart on the inside or filling with rage on the inside.

There is catharsis is speaking your mind and your truth be it loudly or quietly. There is a time and place for everything.

I don’t place the blame entirely on me, because that’s what I would tend to do. But I did pick men who I allowed to have red flags and flaws up the wazoo and think it was healthy to love them despite of, but not give myself the same privilege.

And now, I know to do things differently.

He will love all of me, because I’m a rare and wonderful being to love. Even on my worst days.

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