The Power of Vulnerability

The Power of Vulnerability

Pull up a chair, sis. (And fellas too) This is exactly what it sounds like.  Let’s get right into it.

Vulnerability. Man, look.

The simple mention of that word is enough to make me shift my weight and squirm in discomfort.  
Allow me to explain:  I consider myself to be, pretty much, an open book. Folks know that I share my experiences online—that I can be super transparent and often use my daily situations, accomplishments and failures to both express my humanity, and to encourage myself and others on this journey called life. Even with all the perceived negatives of social media, I’ve come to find that shared experiences make one feel less alone. To know that you’re not the only one going through life’s challenges in the way that you are, can be a huge relief. At any rate, even with all of my so called “openness”, I still have the tendency to distance myself from certain situations that call for just that.  What are they? You guessed it; matters of the heart.

First, let’s look at the definition of the V word. I can barely say it without flaring up my acid reflux.
Vulnerable: adjective
susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.
 

 

Bruh. Who the HELL wants to be that?

It is simply basic human instinct to strive, at all times, to protect ourselves. Even the homie Sigmund Freud said, that “the deepest essence of human nature consists of self-preservation.”


What a mind f**k.

How in the hell am I supposed to self-preserve and seek love at the same damn time?  And that, my friends, is the question I ask myself every day.

I have literally ruined great potential partnerships by my unwillingness to open up completely, in that regard. As caring of a person as I can be, when it comes to dealing with relationships with men, I have only allowed them to get but so far, until I feel myself falling. Then, I take a lap and trap myself behind this extensional, proverbial wall.

Now, this wall? It’s not like Cheeto Satan’s alleged wall, but it might be just as absurd. In my mind, it’s made of glass, so technically, I’m able to see bae on the other side, and he can see me. (hey boo!) We talk to each other, we send cute gifts and exchange texts and calls. Every now and again, I come out from behind it when it’s time to be intimate, but I always return to my side, and he’s simply not allowed to cross the line.
Not only can that make one look emotionally unstable and partially insane, it can also be truly exhausting for the other person to think for example, that he’s getting ready to play basketball, and then I show up with a hockey stick, some cleats and a relay baton, smiling.  Girl, get your life.

The truth of the matter is, in order for me to truly love and be loved, that wall must come down. This is also not just a woman thing. I recognize that male vulnerability is a unique nuanced experience, that can be beautiful and just as difficult.

So, what does it ultimately boil down to, friends?

Fear.

Jazmine Sullivan said it best:  *sings* ‘’I’m not scared, of lions and tigers, and bears, but I’m scared of loving you.”

I feel you, sis. It be’s like that. We all know that when you lend your heart to another person, you’re essentially giving them the ability to break it into a million bite sized pieces. One day, I’ll tell y’all the full story. but basically– many moons ago– a bright eyed and bushy tailed Grace entrusted her heart to someone. Needless to say, brotha man violated in the most horrific of ways, and I haven’t quite been the same since.

Therapy? Yes. I go. But a decade later, I realize that I am still subconsciously fearful of the possibility of being hurt to that degree ever again. That said, a more recent romantic situation has taught me how much I can lose if I don’t overcome this obstacle.

I’ve come to understand that you have to harness the power of the V. (no, not that V. Nasty… Although, that post may soon come) and let it work for you. Understand that:

1. Great things are on the other side.

You might get hurt, granted. That’s life. But you also might flourish and find the great love that you’ve been yearning for. Discernment is key to deciding who and what to expose yourself to, but completely guarded emotions, cannot and will not work.

2. Self-Sabotage ain’t cute.

It doesn’t look good on you. Why push yourself further away from the things and people who are beneficial for you?  As ambitious women especially, I have no doubt that we will go for the jobs, apply for the promotion– but with love, we hesitate. Emotionally blocking yourself for the sake of safety is natural, albeit. But it can also be unproductive.

3.  You’re worth it: Say it with me. Vul-ner-ability. You will literally get nowhere from behind a glass wall. In order to move forward in love and in life, you have to open yourself up. It might not always get you the answers you want, but you will have the ones you need.

Trust yourself.

If for the first time, or like me, again.  

After all, Freud also said, “out of your vulnerabilities, will come your strength.”

It’s about time for me to take his– and my own–advice.

 

By: GraceOnTheMic
Twitter & IG: @GraceOnTheMic
Previously posted on: http://www.thegraceperiod.com/
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On Grace, Transparency, and the Fear of Keeping it Too Real

On Grace, Transparency, and the Fear of Keeping it Too Real

For some time now,  the Lord has really been convicting me about the need to be more transparent and honest with my story. I’ve been feeling the tug, and I’ve been shrugging it off, but one of my first steps to finally responding to God’s request was creating this blog. As much as I love to write, and as much as I enjoy “keeping it real”, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a lot more private (those who follow me on Facebook are probably like “girl, bye!” lol) . But in all seriousness, I reveal what I’m comfortable with revealing. My romantic life, and other very personal stuff, you will not find on social media, because……Nah. That’s mine. All mine.

When I felt God compelling me to be more open and honest about my Christian walk, I wasn’t really feeling it. To be quite frank, I know there are certain people who are itching to find out my business to use it against me, and my patience for the gossip and news carrying is at an all. time. low. I kept telling God, “This transparency stuff sounds good in theory, but chill, you’re setting me up for drama, and I just don’t have time for it.” And you know God gathered me up real good. He made it abundantly clear that He did not give me the ability and passion to write just because He thought it’d be cute. This ability, this gift, if you will,  isn’t just for my own catharsis; it serves a purpose bigger than me. God basically said, “Ashlee, get over yourself.”

Starting this blog revealed to me just how fearful I am of transparency. It’s something I’m constantly saying the church needs more of, but here I am, in true hypocrite style, perpetuating the very thing I critique most about the church.

The other day my friend shared this post on Facebook. And it made me question and challenge my fear of transparency.

Questioning and being honest about the root of my fear of transparency  has been extremely telling, and has also proven to be the first step to overcoming it. What am I so afraid of? Is it really the judgment of others? Is it really the fear of people gossiping and carrying news about me? Or… am I really just fearful of letting people see and know just how imperfect I am? Am I fearful that once my “stuff” is out there, that will instantly put me in a position to not be in any position to judge? Why do I want to be in the “position” to judge? Am I fearful that once I confirm that yes, I am spiritually fallible, I’ll forever be forced to reckon with the real me, in private and in public ? Answering those questions honestly made me realize that I am also part of the problem I so badly want to see resolved in the church.

If I want my brothers and sisters in Christ to be transparent, I need to be transparent myself. And that means I need to work out whatever it is that’s not freeing me to be as transparent as I want other Christians to be. God has been humbling me, and showing me that It’s easy to offer critique (even when it feels hard because you feel the burden of holding folks accountable)…but it takes courage to be the one to say, “I needed this” or “I am in need of this, what can I do to address this lack?” “This is wrong, what can I do to help resolve this problem?” When I critique the church, when I am attempting to hold it accountable, I cannot forget that I am very much a part of it, so I must challenge, question and critique myself.

I am grateful that God has provided safe spaces for me to be transparent, honest and candid with other young Christians. But it is unfortunate that those spaces are few and far between, and it’s even more unfortunate that I’m afraid to share those spaces with other Christians who may benefit from them, out of fear of the space no longer feeling safe with them there.

I am praying for the day when I, and other Christians can stop trying to out-Christian one another, so we can gain strength and grow from one another’s experiences, mistakes, and victories. I am praying for the day when we stop criticizing and judging someone’s struggle to make ourselves feel less guilty about our own. I am praying for the day that we realize we are not our mistakes, and once God delivers us from something, we don’t have to carry the weight of it anymore. We all have struggled. We all have fallen short in some way, and we’re all still struggling or working on something. All that really matters is that we are trying to overcome, and the truth is, we’d be more successful trying to overcome together than we’d be trying to overcome “safely”. If sharing my story costs me my “good girl” image, but encourages another sister or brother, and helps them realize they’re not alone in their struggles, then so be it. I’m not a girl anymore anyways (lol) so who cares about that label? I’m grown. I’m a woman. A grown woman who’s still growing in her faith, and who’s very imperfect, but loves the Lord with all her heart, with all her soul and with all her mind. I’ve counted the cost, and souls are much more valuable to me than maintaining an image of a person I already know I’m not.

 

By: A. Wisdom
Twitter: @ashleewisdom
Previously posted on: http://www.GrowingIntoWisdom.squarespace.com
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5…

 

On July 31, 2011, I embarked on a journey with a woman that I was in love with…madly in love with.  When I woke up that morning, the sun was shining bright and I had time to reflect as all of my groomsmen were recovering from the night before. I decided to take a walk through downtown Hartford to clear my head, reflect on my past, and focus on my future. I understood the gravity of the step that I was about to take and I accepted that with an open mind and open heart. I received a text from Orsella Cooper-Hughes, the Officiant of our wedding, who is a trusted family member and spiritual advisor. Her message to me was simple, “keep God first little cuz, today will be a great day”, and that it was! The fine details of the wedding went as planned. It was one of the hottest days of the summer, but it was an epic event and truly one of the greatest days of my life. When the party was over, the last vendor paid, the last rounds of toasts made, and the last of the guests departed. There remained my beautiful bride and me, left to start our journey with each other and God. That day was the beginning of us as husband and wife; the start of a marriage that has faced many ups and downs, heartache and happiness, challenges and triumphs. The past five years have been full of experiences and a wide range of emotions. It has tested our faith in God, our belief in ourselves and our belief in one another.

Sacrifice is one of the first thoughts that come to mind when I consider the first five years. Sacrifice is defined by Webster Dictionary as “the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.” Our first year of marriage was defined by sacrificing comfort, money and time in order to solidify a better future for ourselves and our family. Throughout that period of sacrifice, there were experiences and stressors that we faced that have done a lot of other relationships in. Fortunately, we were blessed to have a good foundation established by our pre-marital counseling, a strong faith in our relationship, a real friendship that was formulated prior to intimacy and God as our guide. Oh and one other big thing, we did not allow others to “peek into our blinds” by taking to social media with our issues. We were and continue to be selective in what we choose to share with the rest of the world, some things simply aren’t for everyone to see. When the times have gotten rough, we put down the electronic devices, draw closer to one another and our trusted few.

Acceptance and support have been huge in our union. When Melissa walked down that aisle, she walked into the arms of a very flawed man who was and remains a work in progress. She knew what she was getting herself into, as did I. We have accepted one another for who we are, what we bring to the table and what we lack. Though there has been a ton of acceptance, there has been very little settling. Though we have accepted the fact that the other person has flaws, we do not settle for anything but the best from one another. That means that there are difficult conversations that need to be had and many “GET IN THE CAR” moments (that’s an insider that a few of you will understand). Another aspect of acceptance is accepting the dreams of the person that you devote yourself to and supporting them in every endeavor. Anybody that knows me knows that I am an extremely active person with big dreams and lots of goals. My dreams and goals come with a price and that price is usually time. I thank God that I have someone by my side that supports my endeavors, listens to my dreams and helps me to make sense out of the best way to achieve them. As our lives have grown, so has the list of dreams, projects, and endeavors that my wife has taken on. I have tried my hardest to be intentional about reciprocating the support and encouragement that she has given to me. The balance of being each other’s biggest fan is important and necessary.

Fun is extremely important to have with your partner. Make time for one another to do the things that make you happy. Whether it’s a date night once a month, spending time with a group of friends that you both enjoy or simply finding a babysitter and having dinner without interruptions from the little ones in your life, enjoying one another’s company is helpful. It reminds you of the “magic” that led you to commit to forever with one another, it helps you to remember that in the midst of all of the curve balls that life throws, you have one another. It also provides a very necessary balance to the grind of building and securing the future of your family.

Lastly, love one another and love unconditionally. There will be good days and there will be bad. There will be disagreements, rolled eyes, raised voices and moments of “I can’t stand you right now”. During those moments, remember to love. In the midst of financial turmoil, choose love. When the doctor gives a bad report, choose love. When there’s a loss of loved ones and other forms of heartache, choose love. When your pride tells you to try to get the last word, choose love. No matter what the situation or circumstance….choose love. In order to choose love, you must remember to focus on love and what it is about the person across from you that made you fall in love. Be intentional about telling them what they do that makes you fall in love all over again and focus on making those things happen for your partner.

Remember that there will be times in which choosing love does not seem like the answer, during those times….choose to PRAY for the person that you love. I am a man that is far from perfect and what works for my relationship may not work for you. This is MY view on what has sustained the first five years of my marriage. I am blessed to have an amazing wife who has taught me what love, acceptance, support, and encouragement is. I truly cannot imagine what my life would be like without my wife. She is an amazing wife, mother, step-mother, and friend. She is goal oriented, driven and did I mention –she is drop dead gorgeous! I look forward to many more milestones with her and the growth of my family. I believe in love because of her and I believe that love always wins when you want it to.

Happy Anniversary to the most amazing woman in the world and cheers to forever!

 

Tai D. Richardson
#AreYouVSOP #TheVSOPLife
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Having Trouble At Work?

 

Having trouble at work? So was I.

I started at this company 2.5 years ago, when I was on the heels of a divorce and I moved 30 min. away from my core group of people. I took this job in transportation, an industry I had no experience in. Needless to say, my 1st year was miserable. People questioned me, my skills, and even my writing abilities – as a journalist, I was insulted. I had a horrible review. I had never felt so unfavored in any position.

Every day I imagined myself getting a new job and boastfully slamming a resignation letter on my boss’s desk, but that never happened. Every opportunity that was offered to me fell through for some reason – budget, resources, timing etc. So I ended up staying in this position because I needed the money.

I changed my prayers from finding a new job to changing my circumstances at my current job. I asked the people in my Bible study group to pray for me and with me. Slowly, but surely, things started to turn around.

My biggest critics were taken off my projects, and my attitude about my job started to change. I found reasons to be grateful for my job, and I started working on the things people criticized me for. My next review was amazing. It was a complete turnaround from the first one. As things got better, I continued praying. I didn’t want to go backwards.

In October, I had the unique opportunity to take a position in NYC doing exactly what I wanted to do – public relations, and I really had an opportunity to shine. To my disappointment, the assignment ended abruptly, and I feared going back to my regular assignments and having to work with the naysayers again.

I just knew my “winning” streak had ended a couple weeks ago, when I was working on a report that took me twice as long as I anticipated. When the project manager called me, I just knew he was going to let me have it, but instead he told me I did a “phenomenal” job.

I called my boss to let her know that someone actually used the word “phenomenal” on a report I worked on. To my surprise, again, she told me that she had good news too – my promotion!

I’m still growing, but prayer works and God’s grace is real. I hope this helps someone.

Stacy.

*Previously Posted on Proccessingpain.com *
Twitter:
@StacyGrahamHunt Ig:@stacyreports
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Give Her That D.I.C.K

Give Her that D.I.C.K

The sweetest woman in the world could be the meanest woman in the world. If you make her that way.  You keep hurting her, she’ll keep being quiet. She might be holding something inside, that’ll really really hurt you one day.

On your first DATE you wore your best clothing. You went to the barber shop that day just so you can look and feel like a million bucks. We all know how we feel once we leave that barbershop chair, with that fresh razor straight edge up. You sprayed your body with your finest cologne. Your car was clean from head to toe, with a hint of that new car smell, that you sprayed as you were leaving the car wash.  You actively searched Google for places that were somewhat outside the box of your normal thinking; somewhere you can dine for the evening. You both were equally excited as you stared into each other’s eyes, talking, listening, flirting, charming, laughing, smiling, eating with hopes to end your night staring at your phone waiting for that “I had a good time text.” Ten years later, you look back and wonder what happened to that feeling as you lay in bed on a Friday or Saturday night next to your significant other, watching them fall asleep after a long exhausting work week. Fellas, are you forgetting to DATE your woman? She needs a night out with you where she can get all dressed up. She wants to laugh with you. She wants to you to take her places since you always have a big issue with her going out on the weekends with her friends.

WWE superstar Kurt Angle used to have an expression that went something like this: Intensity, INTEGRITY Intelligence, the 3 I’s as he often referred to it. When it comes to the mind, body and soul of a woman, she tends to focus on one thing as it relates to a man. INTEGRITY. What are you doing, who are you doing it with, why are you doing it, when are you doing it and how are you doing it? Matter of fact, think about that good morning text or afternoon call. Does this sound familiar? Hey wassup? What you doing? How you doing? What you doing later? What time will you be home? I’m actually laughing hysterically thinking about my own circumstances and how frequent these questions come. At the end of the day a lot of women struggle with trusting the integrity of man. If you are spending half of your conversations addressing your social media behavior, the mysterious text messages that you frequently get with no saved names, or your late night disappearing acts with delayed dry text messaging responses, you are raising red flags that will derail any easing on down the yellow brick road when you are seeking satisfaction. In the words of Ice Cube and R. Kelly, check yourself before you wreck yourself, cause when a  woman’s fed up, there ain’t nothing you can do about it. It’s like running out of luck. And it’s too late to talk about it. INTEGRITY.

It’s 5:30pm in the afternoon. You just got off work and your body is screaming for the following: sleep, food or the gym. You have to pick up the kids, go home, and figure out how to do all of the above before your body simultaneously agrees to shut it down. You walk into the house to observe your wife, girlfriend, significant other or whatever you call her stretched out on the couch getting caught up on her favorite reality show. As your nostrils intensely search for  just a hint of something jerked, curried, fried, baked, broiled, barbequed, microwaved, shaked or baked, your brain has come to realization that it was just your imagination. As an amateur you blatantly cry out, “Baby you ain’t cook nothing?”  Ignorantly failing to realize that one question alone dried up the river of life ceasing any possible advancement to wade in the water later in the evening. Fellas let me help you out with something for a second. Big momma and ’em are gone and don’t appear to be returning anytime soon. Women are educated, career empowered, mothers and community leaders, equally if not more busy than their male counterparts. NO way am I saying that women don’t know how to cook nowadays, but the expectation and frequency of this skill set is what I am addressing.  When speaking in a certain love language ask yourself this question:  When was the last time you baked a bean, mashed a potato,  filleted a fish, oodled a noodle? Nothing is more sensual to a woman than watching her man cater to her for a change by setting the dinner table and engaging in a CONVERSATION (that you actually LISTEN to) over something that you have prepared for her, making your quest for Camelot more rewarding. If dinner wasn’t such a powerful tool, then why did you take her out to eat on your first 5 dates when courting her??? Cook her some dinner…

Cleaning is the new form of communication. When a man cleans up after himself, his children and after dinner it expresses a few different things. Watch me work and don’t miss this point. I learned that simply cleaning bottles without being asked or told can really make a woman smile. It expresses to her that you are willing to make the same sacrifices she makes daily. Simple task right? But easily forsaken when the Knicks or Eagles are playing. Waking up and changing diapers in the middle of night is also a shared, silent form of communication. This next example is a big one. After she cooks, you get up and say don’t worry about the dishes you’ll take care of it. Cleaning is a shared responsibility. It eliminates the gender role complex that most modern women in this generation want to HULK SMASH, and it can express a form of appreciation. It took me a while to grasp this concept. All I have to do now is master the art of laundry and I’m golden. You can’t make love on top of a bed full of dirty clothing. CATER to your woman.

When was the last time you really KISSED your woman? She is dying for you touch her soul with your lips in ways that you used to. The touch from your partner is extremely important. It’s not always about sexual intercourse. A kiss good morning, a kiss good night, and kissing while engaging in sexual intercourse can go a long way. I believe that most women enjoy the passion that comes with kissing. Think back to when you both first started dating…

Moral of the story, gentlemen, is simple. You are complaining that your woman has decreased in her wild sexual nature, but you stopped speaking to her needs. The hot, lusty, passionate chemistry that you all shared when you were steaming up the back seat of cars is gone. You need to stimulate her in ways that don’t require sexual advancement. Watch how she responds. While you are looking for SEX from her, she really wants, needs and responds to the D….

Don’t debate me and give her the D.I.C.K… (DATE, INTEGRITY, CATER, KISS)

 

By Mr. NiceGuy
Twitter: MrNiceGuyVSOP
IG: Trev.s.op
AreYouVSOP #TheVSOPLife
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It Only Took A Pen & A Phone

Write or not to write….that is the question???

Are you questioning if you should journal for fear of having record of this tumultuous time in your life? Are you struggling with getting your thoughts together? Or is “writing” something you just don’t do?

Whatever may be holding you back, I think journal-ing is a great option for a person facing transition in their lives.

 

One thing I must say, journal-ing and writing down what I was going through while dealing with my separation, divorce and even now, post-divorce it still helps! It wasn’t the easiest of decisions to make honestly, because as much as I like to write, I like to read too. So I knew that documenting the hurt, the struggles, the triumphs and even the drama all in a journal (or several journals to be exact), I would at some point go back and read some of these entries. Do you have that same problem, or fear you will do the same thing?

Well, listen, the truth is I did. I did go back and read and in the beginning, it was painful to read. But we are not exempt from pain or disappointment; what we do have power over is how we deal with the trials we will face in life. You can either live in fear and worry about what you “will do” or you can live now and focus on getting through this moment in your life. I decided to continue to journal and vent via writing, drawing, painting, being creative in anyway I felt comfortable. It turned out to be a great decision and an emotional one all at the same time. I really really struggled with some entries versus others. However; when reflecting on what I wrote, I got a sense of peace, knowing though I faced such turmoil and such heartache…I MADE IT.

No one can take that from you. No man, woman, or child. So why not you? START TODAY! Start writing, venting, scribbling, writing poems, collaging, taking selfies. Whatever you have to do to manage all the emotion; do it that. If you have a hard time figuring that out. Start with things that you enjoy doing and do it often. Use that energy to heal: release that stress, anxiousness, pain, and anger.It will be tough some days, but push through!  

Taking ‪#‎Selfies‬ helped me to witness change through my transition seeing my mood, expression and even my hair color/weight change. But seeing the entries from the beginning of my journey until now gives me another reason to smile and rejoice. Once I was able to jot down all the anger and disappointment of what was “happening to me”, I was able to move from the victim-hood mentality and move closer to forgiveness and gratefulness.

So, naturally, my entries turned from angry rants to soothing words of gratitude and delight. Writing what I was grateful for changed my view tremendously. It helped to remind me that I was not where I started and I definitely was growing and evolving! Praise the Lord! Because he knows, none of this is easy. But hard doesn’t mean impossible! With him it is possible. His grace is enough. Follow me on this journey of gratitude and forgiveness.

Order your “Action Speaks” journal today @ http://www.chelamora.com! Start journal-ing and taking your selfies. Remember to follow me @chelamora and @lamoracheheart on Instagram and when you start your selfies use the hashtags #selfie and #selfiechronicles. This is your journey, take hold and be of great courage, you are not alone. Much love.

-Che’

The Medium

According to dictionary.com, the definition of “medium” is as follows: 1. A middle state or condition; mean. 2.Something intermediate in nature or degree. There are about sixteen definitions for this word, but let’s focus on the first two as it applies to African American males in these United States of America. By now you’re probably wondering where could this possibly go, or what points are being brought up. Often times we as society tend to overlook or subconsciously not acknowledge the multiple identities of a person or a group of people. Society subconsciously or consciously, depending on who you’re talking to, depicts the African American experience in this country with only struggle/despair or living the lavish life of an entertainer/athlete, leaving no room for a “medium”. To go even further, society/media portrays the African American male experience as presented in two different lights; the successful athlete/entertainer or the drug dealer/gang-banger. Let’s categorize those “light” descriptions as “highs” and “lows”. The “high” would of course be the athlete/entertainer that promotes the lifestyle of money, sex, and drugs. Then it’s the “low” drug dealer/gang-banger  that lives the life of violence on their quest to money, sex, and drugs. But there has to be more to a black man’s life in America, right? Constantly, society feeds this dichotomous image of all black men that is absolutely inaccurate. If you are asking what are the inaccuracies, one would possible say the easier question is which one should we highlight first? (Yes, there are many.)

For the sake of an argument let’s start with examining the black man and the “medium” that is rarely highlighted for us. The images created by the media leaves those who are not familiar, or have limited interactions with black males in America as a “black” or “white,” good and bad perspective of these men. What about the gray area? There has to be some in between, right? As we examine the “medium,” a few questions come to mind. Mainly, where is the “medium”  for this African American man? What does that medium look like, and why doesn’t he have a voice?The “medium” black man is often forgotten in America. Rarely is there any recognition for his accomplishments or empathy for his struggles. However, there is constant attention given to his counterparts. Whether it’s the black male athlete/entertainer who is idolized for their glitz and glamour, or the drug dealer/gang banger that’s constantly in the newspaper or community doing something wrong.

When these are the two images that are constantly recognized by society rightly or wrongfully so, the idea of the “medium” tends to fade. Who is this “medium” black man you ask? The answer is quite simple. The medium black man is the man who wakes up every day and goes to work to provide for his family. The medium black man is the man who not only goes to college, but graduates. He is our pastor, lawyer, doctor, corrections officer, policeman, fireman, banker, social worker, teacher, principal and the successful business man all in our midst to be acknowledged. However, we rarely acknowledge him! Instead we constantly micro-aggressively compare him to his “high” and “low” counterparts. If he has an athletic stature we ask him why he isn’t playing a professional sport, or if he has a nice car, we automatically assume that he’s selling drugs or participating in illegal activities. Society loves to silence the medium black man and when he reacts we label him as angry. But why shouldn’t he be angry? He’s human too. He thinks, feels, and reacts the same way you do. Although the voice of the “medium” black man tends to be silenced at times, one could also say that he also allows his voice to be silenced. He chooses not to speak up due to the fear of being labeled. Instead he bottles it up inside and continues fighting the labels like the warrior he is. With everything that’s going on in society today, the voice of the “medium” black man is needed more than ever before.

Think about it, society fears you simply because they only know both extremes. Better yet, society knows the “highs” and are very familiar with them because of their fame. Society also knows that the “high”s have too much to lose. Which leaves society with what the media feeds them about the description of the “lows” and that’s who society fears. Because of your silence society  does not look at you for your degrees, they immediately lump you in with the “lows”. You have to speak up, make your presence felt. Let the world know that you exist and that this image they paint of you is false. Speak out on what you feel is wrong; don’t be defined by the transgressions of your counterparts. You are not a mythical creature that only exists in theory. You are real and you are in abundance. For the sake of the future, speak up because lives depend on it.

Love Triangles : The Truth Behind Cheating Part I

Okay, picture this:

A popular couple named Mary and John are in a long-term, committed relationship. To onlookers, it seems that Mary and John are happy. Friends and associates often witness public displays of affection from each partner, banter, and innocent flirting. Occasionally, Mary and John will even declare their love for one another on social media for the world to bear witness. So needless to say, it is obvious that these two individuals are in a monogamous relationship. In fact, those friends within the social circle idealize their union. That said, the fact remains that what is shown publicly is not always a true representation of what happens behind closed doors. What if I told you that despite the illusion of this great relationship, that a number of problems occur in Mary and John’s relationship? What if the reality was that John has been cheating with a woman we will call Jessica–a sexual relationship that predates Mary and John as a couple?And not surprisingly, Mary is unaware of Jessica’s identity….but oddly enough, she knows that her boo is unfaithful and may have had several affairs outside the relationship. To make matters more interesting, Jessica is very much aware that John is in a relationship, but continues on as his secret lover. Well John, Mary, and Jessica are members in love triangle.

Now, if you had a reaction of disgust towards Jessica in her role within this affair, you more than likely share the reaction of mainstream society. After all, the mistress, for one reason or another, is typically the one deemed most accountable in situations like the one described above. And more often than not, we relate with Mary, label John a “2 timing jerk,” and refer to Jessica as a “home wrecker,” or a “hoe.” And let’s face it, John is usually forgiven and given a clean slate, even after repeated offenses. Meanwhile, the”other girl’s” image is tarnished and she is devalued by both men and women alike. Being that this is a controversial topic, the voice of the “side chick” often goes unheard, in fear that she will be shamed and judged for her lack of self control. An experience far too taboo to address, leaving the mistress silenced from expressing her viewpoints and conveniently protecting the cheater’s reputation.

Love triangles are known as interactions between three individuals within a relationship system, by which each member carries out a pattern of behaviors that create an unhealthy relationship cycle. Love triangles can serve a few functions. In most systems, it is used to alleviate stress within a primary love relationship. The 3rd person in this case is used as a distraction to provide temporary relief from relationship conflicts. In other cases, the unfaithful partner may pull in a 3rd person when feeling insecure in the primary relationship (i.e.: suspicions that their partner may be cheating and therefore he or she must beat partner to the punch). The security provided by the 3rd person may also compensate for some voids within the primary love relationship. In this dynamic, the unfaithful partner may place the 3rd person on reserve as an alternate love interest (just in case the main partner breaks up with him/her). Some cheaters tend to also gain a sense of power and control through cheating. Cheating, for these people, provides a feeling of empowerment– it allows the cheater to make up for relationship failures by feeling successful in other areas of his/her life. However, simply put, cheating can be viewed as a red flag for low self esteem; a need to be desired by others as a means of gaining approval. Those individuals who cheat, even in secure relationships, utilize cheating as a way to build self-confidence. The acceptance provided by the 3rd person tells the cheater that he/she is wanted. In all, for the cheater, admiration seeking becomes addictive; a hunger that is never fully satisfied.

Now given the details of this “love” pattern, we can now ask the obvious question. Why, would a “side piece”, continue “creeping?” Here are some answers. Jessica similarly to Mary, has a co-dependent personality. A co-dependent in any unhealthy relationship, will place lower priority on his/her personal needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of the dependent. In fact, co-dependents indirectly encourage cheaters to continue cheating! Prioritizing the needs of others and neglecting the self is not at all uncommon in co-dependent individuals. But what the co-dependent may not be aware of is how his/her “selfless” acts empower a person who may likely crave control, and who has become masterful at the art of manipulation. Other factors to consider are what makes the co-dependent more prone to this personality trait. Arguably, one may consider nature vs nurture; the idea that personality is formed by environmental or biological causes. In short, one develops co-dependency via their social environment (home, school, media, etc). Those individuals who have been exposed to domestic abuse, not exclusive to physical abuse, but also including mental and emotional abuse, are most vulnerable. Although, some may say that co-dependence is just natural in some personalities. Co-dependency also plays a major role in self-esteem and self-worth, as the overly selfless often learn from their environments that they are undeserving, and therefore unworthy of healthy love relationships. This trait is found at the root of all obsessive lovers and explains why co-dependents stay in love triangles. So basically, co-dependents remain as a side piece because their main objective is to keep their ‘lover’ happy by any means, perhaps in hopes that they will at some point become the main lover. This thinking is sometimes driven by manipulations of the cheater, who may give the co-dependent false hope for a future. In terms of morality however, the co-dependent becomes  ‘numb’ after having been involved in cheating cycles for so long.

To conclude, love triangles are clearly very unhealthy. They hinder growth in love relationships and cause considerable emotional damage. And cheating problems seen in love triangles are far more complicated than uncontrollable lust–they are driven by complex emotional, behavioral, and social issues.

 In the follow-up blogs, we will take a further look at the profiles of the cheater and the main partner.

Disclaimer: The statements outlined in this blog do not define all situations seen in cheating dynamics, but rather discusses a basic overview on the principles of infidelity, and factors that may contribute to such relationship systems. Furthermore, the character names used in this blog are fictional. Any connection to real life events or actual persons is purely coincidental.

By: Saylor C Brook

Disclaimer: The statements outlined in this blog do not define all situations seen in cheating dynamics, but rather discusses a basic overview on the principles of infidelity, and factors that may contribute to such relationship systems. Furthermore, the character names used in this blog are fictional. Any connection to real life events or actual persons is purely coincidental. 

You Fit The Description

 

It was a sunny day during Memorial Day weekend on the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Now anyone that can relate to that time of year will instantly connect to the annual Black Bike Weekend that takes place down there. Thousands of people in one tourist area gather to show off their wheels, motorcycles and for other things to make your head turn.” I was with a group of my friends  taking a moment to unwind from our professional careers, congregated on a corner enjoying the view of beautiful women and perfect weather. It was all perfect, did not have to worry about writing reports or code switching, just a carefree atmosphere to allow my imagination to run. All was well until, I was approached by two police officers. Dressed in a long t-shirt, fitted hat, basketball shorts, Jordan sneakers and a gaudy chain I know I did not look like I was a college educated man (but what does that matter).

“Let me see your hands, and line up against the wall,” the officer shouted. In my militant but educated tone of voice, I responded to the officer asking him what the problem was. The officer began to explain that a call came in reporting that a group of black males that fit our description were soliciting narcotics in front of their store and demanded that we be removed. Now my first inclination was that there was no way I could allow this officer to search me, I did nothing and I had nothing on me that would compromise my future. However; I  still complied due to the possibilities of what could happen if I resisted. Visibly taken aback  by the accusations, the officer stated stoically “this is routine don’t make a fuss”. I immediately felt violated, infuriated and powerless all in the same moment. How can these two officers identify us accurately when everyone out there dressed very similar and fit that stereotypical description? I thought I said this in my head but somehow I blurted it out to the officers. The group of friends I was with began to argue with the police officers in my defense from a distance and refused  to keep quiet about the situation. By the grace of God, we were not shot, killed or arrested.

Let’s examine this issue more in depth. Social media has created more of a public outcry to address how police officers are conducting themselves when countless acts of injustice continue to arise. How many more black males will be gunned down in these streets by officers of the law before these issues receive the national justice that it deserves? Interesting question, however, I am not here to shed light on that question.

 

Stop Being Naïve

It’s no secret that there are still racist white males walking around with badges. Ignorance, hatred, and prejudice are everywhere and will forever be an issue in this world. There are wolves out there hunting in packs and they are looking for the perfect target. Who is the perfect target?

 

Who Fits the Description

We tend to flirt with the line of freedom of choice. How a person dresses, whether that individual wants to admit it or not, influences a person’s perception. Some people will even say “who am I to judge?” but subconsciously we all judge. Our common sense tells us when going to an interview to wear interview attire (one would hope most of us do). People at church always say, “come as you are,” but the majority of its attendees wear their Sunday’s best. When playing sports you put on certain clothing, equipment, and accessories to go along with your uniform. The same holds true when we are out in public. Police officers are targeting individuals that fit a certain description. Now whether or not media and other outlets provide that description for them is a post that will come at a later date. The way one dresses does not give a police officer the right to racially profile anyone, HOWEVER a shirt and tie rarely results in a police officer accusing a person of a crime. Again, to suggest that black males “dressed appropriately” are not profiled would be naive along of irresponsible of us to say. However; there is a quote that suggests that if you argue with a fool because from a distance you cannot identify who’s who. So do not perpetuate the stereotype.  Be intentional in your identity leave no room for mistaken identity or perceived intentions; don’t appear to be a threat.

 

Create Value for our Own Life

How do we expect authorities to value the human life when African American males are killing each other in record setting numbers? People will argue that the police should be held to a different accountability, because they are sworn to protect and serve. Well I don’t fully agree with that because as human beings it’s never okay to murder anyone whether you are a police officer or a civilian. As a black man in America it’s difficult to wage war against the police when there is war in my own community and most victims are not written in the obituary section of the newspaper because of the actions of police officers. There is value in the belief that police officers should be taught more preventative measures  instead of reactionary.

 

Comply With the Officer

We need to educate our children and adolescents how to interact with the police. We need to understand their boundaries as police officers by understanding the law. In addition, the way we communicate, whether verbally or physically can dictate the actions of the officer.  It is never ok to sass, resist, assault or threaten a police officer because you will lose that battle 100% of the time. Yes, you need to know your rights and what can/cannot be done; however all of that goes out the “window” if your are resisting.

 

Social Media

Learn the facts of a case, instead of believing  everything you see on social media. We all see a lot of videos of occurrences, shootings and other negative perceptions of what we think happened. Before we draw a conclusion of said occurrences, ask yourself if you were a police officer how do you think you would handle situations and circumstances that arise in your community. Would you trust every person that you pull over? Would you be comfortable observing someone reaching for something in a dark alley when you are only trying to question them?
Now I know there is someone that is reading this that is saying that “this sounds compromising” and that’s fine. However, I am simply a man that has a family and I believe love conquers all. I will never advocate for hate of any kind and profiling. In the same thought, all cops cannot be made out to be the bad person; it is just as wrong as being profiled for simply being a black male. Being a police officer is a job that many of us do not understand. People put their lives on the line daily. Just like everything that is meant for good in this world, the devil has infiltrated many police organizations.

Trending Topics: #Marriage

In an age when time and space are conquered by technology, we have become so digitally intimate and involved with the lives of those both near and far. The dissemination of personal information no longer requires the archaic phone-call. Word of mouth is mastered under the140 character format. No more dialing to update the family on the good news. Instead, those fingers will type your happiness and send it out for the world to see in less than a minute! How could you possibly deny it? Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) has taken our private lives and made them 24/7 accessible and assessable. No longer are the days when our lives and experiences were shared one to one. Rather, we “post” our lives for all of our friends’ review, in hopes that we’ll win the unspoken, but extremely intense, “like” war. It’s actually rather ironic, when you consider how close we’ve become as a people while driving the actual intimacy out of our real lives.

Anyway. To the point! While discussing life and love, a friend and I stumbled upon the not-so new phenomenon of young marriage. Why are “everybody and their mammas” getting married and having kids, while we, more career driven and goal-oriented folk, instead chase personal growth and success? What makes marriage and children so appealing in their 20’s? I know that I barely know myself well enough to bring another person into my life for the rest my life, let alone to bring another human into the world that will depend on me while I’m still searching for me. We went on to talk (actually text, ironically) about how social media plays a part in all of it.  Are our friends following a trend? Maybe they’re being subconsciously triggered by images of Bey and Jay on the run with little Blue. Surely the glamour of Kim and Kris Hum– I mean Kanye’s marriage, combined with the arrival of beautiful baby North West has some influence. Yes of course that’s part of it, but the bigger picture is not so farfetched as it may seem. They may actually be following (pun intended) their biggest influences…each other!

There’s a science to it, I swear. See, our digital selves are vastly different from our real selves. With social media, one has the ability to create a façade around a coal of a life with every selective post, eventually making diamonds for others to admire.  Quite literally, DIAMONDS! (Assuming you’re in your 20’s) How do you feel when your friend posts that engagement rock selfie that says her boyfriend of 3 years “liked it so he put a ring on it”? Genuinely happy of course, but I’m sure that some self-searching is soon to ensue. Some, if not most, will wonder why they haven’t attained that level of happiness. In fact, I’ve seen the jealousy with my own eyes! It looks and sounds like “I’m so sick of seeing ______’s post about her wedding! Like, do we all need to know that you’re getting married every minute of every day? Some of us just want to live our boring unromantic lives and eat pizza.” (not an actual quote but #ijs) I imagine this person is either out there somewhere filling that gaping hole with a slice or making efforts toward finding “something real”. I personally am a sucker for children and always find myself thinking, “I would do that right now if I just had the money.” …Who the hell am I kidding?! I’m 25 and don’t have a pot to piss in!

What I’m saying is social media has downgraded and uploaded the social experience. We are no longer following tradition, but rather images… on instagram. Back in the day (don’t know when) people married young for economic reasons or out of arrangement, sometimes even for love. Today it almost seems as though we’re getting married young because everyone will “like” it. Now, I’m not knocking anyone’s happiness. Whatever’s real is beautiful, and if yours is a real love then I salute you. I just worry that it all makes a sacred ritual and “the miracle” extremely trivial. Couldn’t those wedding funds be used to build financial stability? One honeymoon vs one hundred vacations? Are we evolving or dissolving? Any thoughts?… Tweet em.

 

by: Jared Dixon
@itsjdixon
http://www.jaredixon.net