Turn the Page: Children of Blood and Bone

Comment

Turn the Page: Children of Blood and Bone

It’s the third Friday, so you know what time it is. Turn the PAGE!!! This week’s book is Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Yall. When I heard about this book. When I heard the title. When I heard the authors name. When I saw the book cover. I. HAD. ALL. THE. FEELS! As a Nigerian-American, I was super excited to see and hear about this book. I was even more excited (and anxiety filled) when I started reading the book. Now, I got this book when it came out. I was reading it way back then. The question is: why has it taken me so long to write this Turn The Page for it? The answer is really simple: I have not finished reading the book.

Click to Read on!

Comment

Wakanda Forever: A Lesson in Grief

Comment

Wakanda Forever: A Lesson in Grief

Since Black Panther came out, there have been so many articles talking about it, critiquing it, and praising it. But one thing remains almost steadily true, almost none of those articles talk about the main character, T’Challa. T'Challa is seen as not being interesting because some say he doesn’t “do” much. But that is where people are wrong. I see him as a hero for the introvert-- or at least the introvert that lives within me.

READ ON!

Comment

Kelis & Nas. Cosby & You: A Tale of F*ckery

2 Comments

Kelis & Nas. Cosby & You: A Tale of F*ckery

I have been of the mind that Black women are (secretly?) the most feared “minority” population. I say this because when Black women speak, and stand in their truth, everyone is implicated; white people and PoC alike. There seems to be a vested interest in silencing the stories of Black women because in those stories, who is free from blame?

READ MORE!

2 Comments

We're (Definitely) Going To Need More Wine

Comment

We're (Definitely) Going To Need More Wine

Here is a little disclosure about me, I don’t generally like autobiographies. I find that they can be terribly dull and full of pomp. I know I read The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish, but if you’ll remember, I also said that the writing left much to be desired. But Gabrielle Union's book We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and Are True was a delight to read! It was finished before I was.

Within this book, there were so many nuggets can could be the area of focus. We could talk about how we pretend to be something/someone we are not so that we can fit into various groups. We could also talk about what can happen to a relationship when our significant others' family doesn't like us. We can talk about the impacts of sexual assault, being with the wrong person, or finding the right person. But what I want to talk about is the process by which Gabrielle Union, not only created a wholly new unit with her husband, Dwayne Wade, but also what her experience in Blackness confirms and re-teaches us.

READ MORE

Comment

Hating on Women: from Cosby to Fabolous

2 Comments

Hating on Women: from Cosby to Fabolous

 

There has been much going on in the last two weeks. Last weeks blog about what a woman is worth if she has no children and no man, as told from the public shaming of Ashanti, was put up last week. But this week, I want to talk more explicitly, about, but not about Emily B. and Fabolous. Let’s start with what we know. What we know is that Emily B had her teeth knocked out. What we also know is that there is a video of Fabolous, Emily B., and her father, where Fab is threatening Emily B and her dad. What we see is that when Fab approaches Emily, there is a bodyguard(?) holding him back, and she runs away.

 

Why am I starting with what we know and what we see? I am starting there because even when we have eyes to see, to read, to really peer, we may or may not use them. I am only pointing out what some people would call the “facts.” But like I said, this prose is about but not about the Emily/Fab situation. This is more about what has been seen after, by the masses. This is more about the value of a woman and her word. This is more about money, memories, and the perception of a world in black and white. What I saw two weeks ago, leading up to this week, left much to be desired.  I saw that women were working extra hard to defend their personhood and the stats that support them, while men required “all the facts” before rendering judgement.

 

In situations where a woman, especially a woman of color, has accused a man of wrongdoing, be it sexual, physical,  or otherwise, there is a haze of doubt that now comes over her words and the situation. Never you mind that we hardly need ALL the facts when it comes to Black men being shot in the street by police, or men saying they have been hurt or wronged, we believe them. More than that, Black women will rally around them. However, let a woman say someone has hurt her and watch how quickly the men need “all the facts.”

What I have seen is an assassination on the character of women who accuse beloved men of...well….anything. They are now worthy of being called out of their names, and having their character doubted. While wanting to know the facts is not a bad thing, it isn’t done evenly across the board. It is a time of picking and choosing who and what to believe, and women are almost never chosen. I often wonder, if like the saying goes, that white people love Black culture, but hate Black people is also synonymous with how men feel about women. Do men love pussy, but hate women? **Granted this is from a heteronormative perspective** I think the question is valid if only because the same arguments Black people use to say we have value, are being used by women when talking to men. I say this because the response is often the same close minded words used by white people to diminish personhood or the presented issue at hand.

The problem is that we tend to see people and situations in black and white. We cannot fathom that someone we LIKE is also not liked by others. We cannot see that people are multifaceted and varied. We can give ourselves leeway and grace because we know that we are both saints and scoundrels, but we imagine something else for others. We have equated that doing a bad thing makes you a wholly bad person. Meaning that if you know the person to have done some good things, you must now deny the evidence of their depravity because it causes cognitive dissonance within you.

 

 

Case and point:

Bill Cosby. I don’t care what anyone else has to say on the subject, but there were entirely too many women who came forward about his behavior for NONE of them to be believed. Some were saying it was a white women’s issue, and that white women lie. I am saying that even if you choose to ignore those you have already deemed liars, what about the women of color who also are pointing the accusing finger at the man? Seems that their accusations, their hurts, and the pain they endured has been erased as an non-issue. But, I digress. Getting back to the point, to see those accusations broke something in many people. They did not want to believe that their beloved father of The Cosby Show could also be..I don’t know, a sexual being for one. And for two, be a person who exerts power over others. When you see him as a thing from a tv show (where he was acting) but cannot manage to see the rest of him, do you not do him a disservice? Do you not also do yourself a disservice? The fact is we like to sanitize people to be what we think they already are. We will erase the good or the bad in favor of the narrative that best fits with what makes us feel comfortable. We also do this in our very relationships. We can break up with someone and have a longing so intense it keeps us from moving on. We have forgotten why we do not work and have hyper focused on what made the relationship great. Rewriting history in our minds. OR vice versa, we hyper focus on what was bad in the relationship and forget that there was also good there. Some of us do this in an attempt to move on, but really we are collecting baggage that will accompany us into the next relationship.

Now with Fab and Emily, people have already judged her character and found it lacking. People have already decided, that despite what they saw on the video and have read in articles, his character is too laid back to be beating on any woman. Have we ignored the evidence in front of us? Or does the evidence not matter in the face of the hate we bear for women?

Men have been taught that they are to rule over and lead women. Because women refuse to “stay in their place” we are almost automatically reviled. Women have also been taught to hate women. We hate them for the same reason and also because of competition. Only one of us is allowed out at a time. Only one of various types can be representative of the female voice. Imagine how this impacts the mind day in and day out. Imagine what younger generations are taught. Because even though you may notice the shenanigans, there is still lots of work internally that needs to be done for this to not take the deep entrenched hold. Sexism is much like racism in this country, a constant, woven into the very fabric of our lives. To live outside of that is to tear the fabric, shake the foundations. It requires a daily emancipation, knowing that some days you will succumb. It’s a constant everlasting battle. And as I have said before, I grow tired.

Looking for a therapist to help you process it all? Hit THIS LINK to get on my therapy calendar OR THIS LINK to have a discovery call with me. 

2 Comments

The Worth Of A Woman with No Man and No Kids: A Response

2 Comments

The Worth Of A Woman with No Man and No Kids: A Response

Photo by @createdbyjarrod from Nappy.Co

So, last week, on the last week of Women’s History Month, some folks over at Media Takeout decided that they were going to make Ashanti the butt of their jokes. In case you missed it, a screenshot of what they posted to Instagram is below.

 

Ashanti Bashing

Aside from the fact that this is a disgusting display of toxic masculinity rooted in patriarchy that would believe a woman’s whole self should be dedicated to belonging to someone in order to be considered someone of worth, I do want to have a real discussion about this. I especially want to talk to the self identified women who see this, laugh, but in reality take this to heart.

This society, has much to offer, but also lots of ways in which it needs to grow. I once said that I was all for the coming Ragnarok that would shake things up and change this country to be as inclusive/integrative as it pretends to be. This meme, to me is a direct reflection of where the problems are and needs to be fixed: it’s a display of sexism and racism (internalized or not).

Black women have been consistently told since the times of slavery that they hold no worth twice over. First they hold no worth in a place which reveres men. Secondly they have no worth in a world that favors whiteness. When you are both Black and female, you are, in many ways, considered to be at the bottom. Never mind the hierarchy that exists in Black spaces related to colorism and texturism. The context of skin tone and hair texture matter, but I want to speak about Blackness and Womaness in a larger context for right now.

Black women are constantly under attack. We are under attack from the “mainstream;” whiteness who seeks our erasure. We are under attack from non-Black POC, who aspire to whiteness and would do so by stepping on us to be considered further removed. We are also under attack from other Black people, especially Black men, who seek dominance and an equality with White men, to rule over women, not to seek true Black liberation.

I am sure that coming from a self identified Black Woman who is a Sex and Relationship Therapist by education, skill, and trade, this all seems strange and out of the realm of what I should be talking about on this blog. But I am dedicated to speaking about Black womanhood, in all its forms and the impact on the psyche.

This meme came out and some really did think it was funny. Someone obviously thought it was funny enough to post. I am sure others commented. And if I know human nature, someone was offended and was told they were taking it too seriously. That it is a joke. The thing is though, womanhood, Black womanhood specifically, always seem to be the ass of someone’s jokes. Black women, who may have initially been offended, are often asked to re-evaluate their feelings to know that they are taking it too seriously, that it wasn’t intended to be harmful. BUT IT WAS! And I for one am tired of hearing/seeing people say that the way Black women feel about a situation is over done or outright wrong! This can make it so hard for people to express themselves without doubting the very emotions they experience on a day to day basis. 

The problem is that when we are constantly seeing displays that tell us Black women are without worth, or that something must be wrong because we don’t have (or maybe want?) children and/or a man, they are attacks on us as people, on our womanhood, and on our choice to live our lives as we deem fit. These seemingly small instances that tell us to examine our lives and see if we measure up to the expectations others have for us. When men focus on what they want for themselves, they are not told they are being selfish or that they have been devalued. They are not told to hold back because they will not be able to find a mate depending on their level of success. This message is reserved for women. This is why I focus on Black women and their self-esteem and self love. It can be hard to have good self-esteem and to love yourself when you are told that you have no reason to be happy with who you are. This is the reason so many are hurt on a day to day basis; why women stay in relationships that don’t work or are abusive financially, emotionally, or physically. We are scared to be alone. We have been taught to aspire to be chosen by someone. We have been taught that who we get is reflective of what we deserve. We have been taught that being in a bad relationship is better than being alone. The underlying message not often said aloud is “You have no value except that which you receive by having a man” or “You--the person--have no value, only your vulva, vagina, and uterus” All of this to say that proximity to a man who wants to be with you and and give you children is your true worth. IT’S NOT!

You are a human being. You get to decide what you want for your life. I am not saying it’s easy. I am saying it’s necessary. People who are trying so hard to tell you what you SHOULD do with your life, are often threatened by what you can and have already achieved. Black people are often told that they need to work twice as hard to get half as far. And Black women are certainly achieving. We are the frontrunners for acquiring advanced degrees, starting up businesses, and Melanin Magic-ing all over the place! That doesn't mean we don't have desires, but we don't have to be defined by those desires. But in all this negativity, what can you do?

1. Acknowledge. Acknowledge that if you have watched ANY American TV shows, grew up in America, etc. that you have received messages about your worth, value, and potential, as a Black woman. Acknowledge all the microaggressions and misogynoir that you have endured thus far.

For those who aren’t Black women, consider that you have received the same messages--evaluate how you think about, talk to, and talk about Black women and women of color.

2. Educate yourself! Seems silly, but I really do think that knowledge can be a form of power. Be more acquainted with words like “gaslight,” “microaggressions,” misogynoir” etc. This education also asks  you to take stock of what has been said and done to you. To learn how  to identify and recognize when it is happening to you. But more than that, for you to determine the best way for YOU to deal with it when it comes. Holding on to the hurts that come your way can provoke feelings of anxiety and depression. They can spiral out of control and have you doubting your worth and your self-esteem can suffer. So, how will you let go?

For those who aren’t Black women: think about what you may have said that came out like a backhanded compliment. Think about what you may have done that would qualify as a microaggression, misogynoir, etc. How will you check yourself (or people around you) in the future? How will you progress in your journey. Do you even want to?

3. Start or continue your healing process. This part is vital. Synthesizing the information you have, starting the process of self love and appreciation can take you far in life. Maybe you will take the journey alone. Maybe you employ a coach or therapist. The choice is really based on what fits for you. If you are looking for a therapist, Therapy For Black Girls is a great place to start, since they have a national directory. If you want to work with me specifically, you can do that by clicking HERE to get on my schedule or click HERE to schedule a free 15 minute phone consult. Just know, help is available to you.

4. Acceptance. Accept where you are in the process. NOT the B.S. that people will say and do to you on the daily. You don’t need to accept bullsh!t. Accepting who you are will change your outlook on many things BUT, it will require the work of up keep. Just because you are liberated on a Tuesday, doesn’t mean you won’t fall prey to some of the same thoughts and actions on Friday. Each day you must choose your path and battle it out. Some days you will be too tired to fight, and that’s okay, too.

The Doc's Recommendation:

We need to call out every instance that is an attack on Black womanhood. We have already had enough ‘jokes’ that are in poor taste. We have already seen the various and sometimes dire consequences of this way of thinking and this toxic masculinity based patriarchy. It's time for change. Time to start with the person in the mirror.  

 

Let me know how you feel below in the comments section. 

 

 

2 Comments

We Belong Together...? Then Why do I Feel STUCK!

Comment

We Belong Together...? Then Why do I Feel STUCK!

Photo by Kat Love on Unsplash

I got more advice yall. I mean why shouldn’t you get as much as you can from a sex therapist, right? So, here we go again. This is the second post in honor of some of the clients I see. A week or two ago, I did a post on how to get through when you just broke up with someone. You can read that HERE. Today we are moving on to those who aren’t sure if the person they are with, is the person they should be with. In other words, those who feel stuck and aren’t sure how to move forward.

Sort of like Ariel in The Little Mermaid, you could be tryna figure out if the partner you chose (or the one who chose you) is the right fit. But instead of the classic gif:

Yours might be more like, “I love them, I love them not.” OR even more confusing: “I love them, but do we work” Should I stay or should I go.

To the point of frustration: “I don’t know if I am with the right person. I feel stuck!”

 

But let’s talk about why you feel stuck. The answer to that is pretty simple FEAR! It’s a key piece that no one ever wants to talk about. Talking about what you are scared of, for some, makes it that much more real. The thing is though, it doesn’t seem that keeping your fears to yourself is helping. You are still dating in fear, being with unsuitable people in your fear, and basically letting what scares you run your life. Acknowledged or not, fear is winning. Just like you don’t have to be scared to get your butt whooped, you also don’t have to acknowledge what scares you for it to still run your life!

Folk talk a lot about FOMO-- fear of missing out-- but try to make is sound baseless. The thing is that experiencing FOMO probably happens more often than we like to admit. Missing out on a good party or vacation is one thing, it can be easier, in a sense, for some people to get over that. They will make adjustments, plan differently and make sure that they go to the next one. Some people will express that they wish they hadn't missed out, and make sure they are financially prepared the next go round, and actually go. But FOMO can also apply to people.

We are scared that the person we are with, who may be lackluster overall, may actually be our one true soulmate. We are worried that if we leave this person, we will have missed our opportunity to get that “Happily Ever After.” It’s the fear that has most people stuck, not knowing what they “should” do in a relationship. YOU ALREADY KNOW! You know that the relationship you have is not the one you want to be experiencing. You know that the person you are with doesn’t quite fit. You know that you should exit stage left, but you are scared of what is beyond. You are scared of not being in a relationship when society has told you again and again, as a woman--and as a woman of color especially-- that your worth lies in your ability to get and keep a partner. That you must reach for the moon and hopefully land among the stars. When your worth is tied up in having a relationship, the person you are actually with seems to matter a little less. You are willing to compromise a little more. And before you know it, you’re in THE WORST relationship you could have ever dreamed for yourself. Maybe it is not a physically abusive relationship, maybe it’s not “abusive” in any traditional way. Maybe it's that person who cheats or lies, or otherwise is not worthy of your time. Maybe it’s the type of relationship that has you loosing piece after piece of yourself and what you actually want. Maybe it’s the relationship and partner who is not equally yoked, and who you have to pour into but they could never help to replenish you. Isn’t that abusive enough? How much worse can it get when you lose yourself to have a partner?

Some steps you can take:

  1. Acknowledge the fear that underlies your willingness to stay

  2. YOU DON'T HAVE TO LEAVE THE RELATIONSHIP! You do need to acknowledge what you actually want to be getting. When you know what you want, talk to your partner about it. See how you could change up those dynamics either on your own or with a relationship coach or therapist. You might be able to get what you want with the person you are with!

  3. If you have tried, and put forth your best effort but aren’t seeing the fruits that you need, consider that you may need to...LEAVE! I am not sure how you would be serving them or yourself by staying in a relationship you will grow to resent or hate. Weigh the pros and cons. Explore the emotions that come up for you, and act accordingly. Sometimes its can help to talk it out with a friend but is probably better with an unbiased professional. Enlist the help you need. You don’t have to go it alone.

As always, my services on the long or short term are available to you. Hit THIS LINK to get on my therapy calendar OR THIS LINK to have a discovery call with me. What would you discover? You would discover if you would like to work with me in a more long term capacity. LOL. I’ll be back with a new blog post next week!

 

 

Comment

Turn the Page: Harry Potter Series

Turn the Page: Harry Potter Series

If I’m writing about a book, it must be the 3rd Friday of the month. This month, I want to focus on an oldie but a goodie. I allow myself to read 12 books a year. For some, this seems like a lot. For others, is seems a small amount. Allow me to give you context. I have been a person who has had a goal to read 100 books in a year and exceeded my own expectations. I could go through a book in a matter of days. The problem was, it didn’t help my social life at all. I constantly was reading (enjoying every minute of it, if i say so) but suffering socially. In my efforts to have more social time, I reduced my goal and reduced it again. This year I am at 12 books….but I cheat. I cheat by saying I mean 12 NEW books, not 12 books that I may have read before. LOOPHOLE! It is in this way that I am writing this blog on Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (you can read the unhelpful synopsis here). This is a book, like all HP books, that I re-read every year, sometimes more than once in a year. (Before you ask, No, it is not boring to re-read the same book. As we reread, or re-experience something, our life experiences allow us to see something different than we did before. It allows us to read the book as through for the first time, simply based on the change of individual life experiences. But, I digress.

 

 

In my reading of the Half- Blood Prince, I was struck my the mental health implications of it all. If you haven’t read or watched the movies, and wish to remain unspoiled, I suggest you move on. I am not holding back in what I am thinking about what I will say. There will definitely be spoilers ahead.

 

Harry, to this point of his life has truly suffered. Before his memory is clear, he lost both his parents. He was forced to live in a household where is it more than implied that he was physically, mentally, and emotionally abused and often neglected. We get to catch up with him at the turning point in his life. We get to see him grow and triumph and be a dude always in detention. But in my re-reading of the 6th book, I was thinking about how miserable his life has actually been. The loss of so many loved ones year after year with no pause, no respite. He saw death in his first year. He almost died in his second. His third was marked with learning great and terrible news, but still having to deal with the loss of hope of moving on from an abusive home. The fourth book was the loss of a school mate, and a loss of respect from others. The fifth year was a loss of his godfather, though he gained back some respect and awe. And the 6th year is the loss of a mentor, a girlfriend,  and any hope he had in continuing his education. So, in that sense the loss of Hogwarts, a school that had grown to be his true home.

 

The point is that in spite of loss, and hurt, we can still be triumphant. Yes, he is a character from a book, but what Dumbledore imparts on him, is the same advice we can take in for ourselves. It is important to note that no shitty the hand you are dealt you have OPTIONS. You can choose to go the route of Voldemort. You can make yourself into something unrecognizable, shred your soul until those who thought they knew you wouldn’t recognize you. You can become the vilest evil. AND, the social worker in me, would say you are justified. It is unreasonable that you should suffer and not want others to eat their words and/or suffer as you have. OR you can be Harry. You can, despite the circumstances of your life, choose to work and fight and make something of yourself that people would stop to behold. Of course there is middle ground. You can choose to fight, or you can walk away from a fight and deal with the fact that the fight is constantly being brought to you. Moving forward in that way can be scary. It is a dark place that most aren't sure what they should do or how they would move forward, but like Dumbledore said “ when we look into the dark, it is the unknown we fear, nothing more.” Taking that ride into the unknown can make you stronger than you ever imagined. Moving into your full glory, I would say is your obligation.

 

Think back. Think back to life's slights. To life's hurts. How did you handle them? Did you move in the direction that you felt was best for you? This is not to say that you should use the power of positive thinking in spite of the circumstances you lead. NO! I don’t even agree with that. As a matter of fact, there is a great blog post written by Dr. Tanisha Ranger, that denounced just that. What I am saying is that there is a time and a place for all and you have the responsibility of figuring how what the time is and what that place is.

 

To that end, I say, be like Harry.  Understand the circumstances that have lead to them and the true root cause. (Figuring out the root cause takes more time. Often what we think of as the root is only an ancillary side effect). Acknowledge that emotion and truly experience it. DOn’t try to push it away ,or distract yourself with TV, work, drugs, etc. Just learn to be still. Sit in that emotion. Let it have its say. If that means you cry, then so be it. If it means that you want to throw things, then throw pillows. But don’t deny what you are feeling. It is hard to come out of the other side with any clarity if you are muddled in hurts you refuse to acknowledge and experience.

 

So here is the HOW you can without being a total wreck. Take an hour a day, after work or school. When you have time but aren’t going to be interrupted. Take the time to feel those emotions, write them out, cry it out, or gently throw your pillow onto the bed. Then when you have written, cried, or thrown yourself out and you think you are done, go through a meditation, like this one. See what comes from it. See what you know about you now that you have experienced those hurts.