We’re Here: A Plug for Therapy

I haven’t written lately but this one has been with me a while.

I truly believe that by 30, nearly everyone has experienced something tragic that could have taken them under or completely out. Because that’s how life can be. Unpredictable despite the best of plans, and with disappointments that feel like the end of all things good. Last month when chef, world traveler, and documentarian Anthony Bourdain took his life, I wrote an IG post in tribute and tried to urge folks to get help when they are not OK. Bear in mind that designer Kate Spade took her own life days before. Plus there’s been a lot of talk about mental health in the past few years in response to young White, American men carrying out mass killings—even in cases where they have little to no connection with their victims.

We’re in a time when more celebrities are coming forward and owning their diagnosed metal illnesses, such as bipolar disorder. A brave few have stepped out after weighing the potential fallout (no doubt) to speak about what ails them. Or circumstances and scrutiny pushed them to do so. The world will probably breathe a sigh of relief when functional mental illness is no longer stigmatized, taboo, or a source of shame and alienation. But in the meantime, and for the majority of us, therapy.

  • Therapy before you get to the point of seriously contemplating suicide or harming yourself period.
  • Therapy when you feel completely off-balance and can’t figure out how to get right.
  • Therapy when you’re doing and saying things that alienate the people you care about, but you really want them in your corner.
  • Therapy when you’ve tried self-medicating with wine, vodka, tequila shots, partying, weed, sex, or brown liquor and you still wake up empty.
  • Therapy when you’ve tried prayer, yoga, working out, fasting, or meditation and you still have questions.
  • Therapy when you’re flat out overwhelmed and don’t know which way is up.
  • Therapy when you just haven’t felt like yourself for way too long.

For the longest time, we’ve heard that Black folks don’t go to therapy, especially Black men. For those who think it makes you seem weak, it doesn’t. It shows that you’re proactive and intentional about your health and wellness and confident enough to show up and say “I need to talk through some things.” For those who believe that seeking therapy means you’re discounting your faith, not at all. First of all, you are a complete being with a body, soul, and mind, and all of it requires attention. Take your faith to therapy with you and consider therapy part of your wellness toolbox along with prayer and meditation.

But there’s no fronting in therapy. Just don’t do it. Tell the truth and be exactly who you are. Remind yourself that the person you’re talking to wasn’t part of your life when you walked in. They haven’t been impacted by what you’ve done or said that you may feel bad about. They don’t have a bone to pick with you. Don’t change stories to make yourself look better. If you do that, you’re forcing them to respond to that person instead of the real you. They won’t have the facts, they won’t know who you are (what your true struggles are), and you won’t get the help you need.

At work, I mentor younger women and two of them have, at various points in our conversation, mentioned therapy. My heart smiled because my first thought wasn’t that something was “wrong” with them. My first thought was “they get it, they’re already ahead”.

I’ve been to therapy so I speak from experience. I’ve gone on my own and I’ve gone as part of a couple. And yes, I initiated it for my husband and me. Before and after we were married, and we weren’t on the verge of splitting up. But if you’ve been, you know that if nothing else, it gives you a different perspective on things that may be set in your mind when you’re dealing with a whole other person. You’re encouraged to consider and give language to thoughts that you probably wouldn’t in your one-on-one conversations. If you’ve been skeptical and you still read this entire post, thank you. If you’re in distress and now feel that therapy could help, go for it. If the first therapist doesn’t click with you, that doesn’t mean therapy is not for you. Do some research and try another one. Because frankly, I think it’s for all of us. Do your best to be well. For you and for all those who want you to be.

B

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Last year around this time, I wrote this as a message to the brothers. Seen and unseen. Known and unknown. Woke and apathetic. Motivated and unmotivated. I felt that it was needed because current events were overwhelmingly suggesting that Black men were unsafe in their own skin–doing wrong and minding their own business. While things remain the way they are, brothers still need to know that they are valued.

. . . . . .

Black men, we love you.

We love you so much that some of our sisters have acted the fool, disrespected themselves, and fought other sisters for you when it seemed there was a shortage of you.

We love you so much that some of us have waited around for you to “get right” because we felt that you were worth our time. That’s how much we were into you. We gave you time that we could never recoup.

We love you so much that we value you sometimes more than you seem to value yourself.

We know that most of you are not in prison.
We know that “Black on Black crime” speaks to so much more than a violent spirit, and that those who do harm anywhere tend to do it among their own. Not just you.

We know that you struggle with staying authentic and being connected and getting ahead and feeling protected—when it’s only you.

We know that you struggle with feeling valued when you feel like the lowest on the totem pole, counted out, marginalized, and categorized in ways that aren’t good.

We hope we’re not asking too much right now if we ask you to be strong. Stronger than you’ve been before.

Not in might, but in resolve and purpose. Work your purpose like your life depends on it.
Take stock in your community so that you’re not always the one being looked at sideways.
Vote like you count. You do.

Band together with your brothers and keep each other lifted, race each other to your dreams.
Don’t be afraid to be real with us sisters. We see you anyway. We see you.

We can only smile when we see others trying to imitate you. And right now, we’re just asking that you be your best you.
Black men, we love you. It’s true.

Women’s Fashion Men Hate: Rompers

How now?

A few years ago, I blogged about men apparently not liking women in onesies, and now there’s a garment called the RompHim. Yes, you’ve seen it…and them. I read that a group of innovators (friends, I think) came up with the idea for a new and forward-thinking garment for men, and sought crowd funding . Apparently, they’re doing well. Many memes later, I decided to dig this up as I contemplate if the trend will really take off with a cross section of men. Time will tell.

Honestly BJ

I’ve read in more than one article on fashion men hate that guys can’t stand rompers (like a short jumpsuit). One poster said:

“Tell me something, why has your romper still failed to be complimented on by someone of the male gender?  If you want to defend it as being comfortable, we can slightly agree, just don’t try to tell me you actually think it looks good…. The name itself could be used as a good name for a bunny, and that is the only value the romper contributes to humanity. It had its popularity back in the 1950’s and SOMEHOW has come back as “fashionable.”  Ladies… a romper is not sexy. It reminds me of weird overalls, which are the last thing I’d ever want to see my lady in. Since it is essentially a one piece of clothing, any curves you may have are turned into a lifeless blob…

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Confidence

In my daily walk and work, I come across so many different types of people and after one or more interactions, it’s usually pretty simple to pick up on how people view themselves. It comes across in their interactions with others whether they realize it or not. I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist but here are my thoughts.

ARROGANCE | Arrogant does not equal confident. I personally have a hard time being around arrogance for too long because it grates on me. Condescending tone, talking over others (increasingly louder), making it clear in a myriad of ways that you think you have all the answers, always at the ready with your input when it’s not requested, and an inability to admit mistakes and self-improve.

INSECURITY | Being able to laugh at yourself is healthy. A little self-deprecating humor usually doesn’t offend anyone. But intense insecurity where it’s clear that you’re uncomfortable with your whole being, second and third guessing every move you make even when you’re capable, needing to align yourself with others to feel valid, is unhealthy. Worst case scenario, you never come out of it and it’s alienating. Not only do you avoid others because you feel less than; they begin avoiding you because it’s too much work and no fun to keep trying to build up and believe in you.

CONFIDENCE | I think this is the goal because it doesn’t involve anyone but you. You’re humbled in knowing that you’re NOT EVERYTHING but you’re ENOUGH. It’s you believing in you + you working on you. You believe that you’re worth spending time with. You believe that you bring something to the table (friendship, relationship, project, the world). You believe that you’re worth investing in. You’re motivated by knowing that there’s so much more to give, get, and experience. My mom gave me my confidence because she believed in me first. What about you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

B

 

What Do You Wish You Could Do?

Ever wonder why certain talents or traits skipped you? For me, it’s almost always the ability to sing. In case you read an earlier post, Sometimes I Wish I Could Sing, you already know of this longstanding wish (sigh). From time to time, other women have said that if they had my petite build, they would wear hardly any clothes and only cover the essential parts. We usually end up cracking up because these are respectable and professional women. Anyway, I was vibing in the car yesterday to some Christian music tunes and thought for the umpteenth time (1) I would love to hear someone perform this at church soon and (2) I wish I could sing this because I would love to share the message in a personal way with others, but I would need to get my skills together. Because otherwise, my singing would just be distracting and the message wouldn’t get through. This led to a conversation with my husband last night:

Me: Babe, I know singing isn’t a natural talent of mine but what if I trained on a specific song for a while and then sang it at church?

Him: I would be terrified.

Me: You wouldn’t feel proud?

Him: Babe, you have many talents.

I say this to say–I will probably always wish I could sing. One, I LOVE music. LOVE. Two, both of my parents are gifted singers. BOTH of them. Three, I’m a creative person so part of the longing comes from that too. I really feel like folks who sing get to experience something on the inside that the rest of us don’t. But is it possible that I wouldn’t be a good steward of this talent? While that makes me a little sad, I wonder. I think about the ladies who say they would wear hardly any clothes if they had the body they wanted and wonder if there’s a message in that. After all, no one is perfect. We all have flaws and shortcomings. Just part of living in an imperfect world as imperfect beings. Food for thought…

Happy New Year! I hope 2017 is a year full of blessings, new awakenings, restoration, miracles, and no regrets! For me and you. 🙂

women friendships

About a month ago, I wrote a post on Instagram about women friendships. It (I) was inspired by a HuffPost essay titled “Why Women Need Their Girlfriends”. I say in my post that the piece resonated with me and women friendships will always make sense to me.

I never understood when I heard other women say that they didn’t have female friends. That their friends were all male because women were too catty, too jealous, and couldn’t be trusted. I’m over 40 and I still scratch my head and wonder what type of other women these women were surrounded by as children and as young adults. Who were the women in their circle when they came into their own? I feel a little sympathy for them because they’ve missed out on a whole other aspect of life. Of relatability and understanding and support. Then a part of me thinks about the fact that you have to be a (real) friend to have  friends. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’m convinced that the cutest/most attractive, smartest, coolest, most accomplished, most privileged girl or woman can still attract real friendship. Because despite having or not having these attributes, attitude has so much to do with how you relate to others. And how you relate to others has everything to do with how you feel about yourself.

So it has to go back further, perhaps to the first woman we relied on for care, companionship, understanding, and a sense of self. And depending on our childhood, it may be the mother/grandmother/aunt/stepmother-daughter experience. I think the majority of moms of my generation are pretty clued in and want to be very intentional and hands-on with their parenting. We’re so much more informed now but that’s not a guarantee that we’ll always get it right. It just strikes me that some things that are important to creating an early sense of self, self-esteem, safe boundaries, and a trust of other women, can fall between the cracks, for whatever reason.

But as a woman, having a group of women in your corner is a gift.

As I wrote in the last part of my post, I have friends who’ve done life with me at every stage and remain firmly in place despite time, distance, and less frequent contact. Of course, there are some who’ve fallen away over time for whatever reason. My friends-from-the-heart remain. There’s a difference and you learn that difference. When we spend time together, it’s always quality time…reminiscing, belly laughs, pouring out hearts, and running life scenarios by one another. We’re not meant to walk this earth and live this life solo. And when I think about the women who make up my tribe today–the real ones–I feel comforted by the hope we lend each other and look forward to more good times. Because there are always good times.

Womanist,

B

 

 

Not Quite a Football Widow But…

You know how they call women whose husbands are really into football “football widows” during football season because they’re virtually ignored? Well, I get it. My hubby is so knowledgeable about the game, he could coach it. He’s that good. And I don’t say this because I understand the game or share his enthusiasm. I don’t. But every time I watch a game with him, he calls plays or fouls (Is that what they’re called in football?) right before I hear the professionals do the same exact thing on screen. Plus, he loves the game. His brother played professional football for a short time and they both played multiple sports from elementary school through college. Me? The truth is, I can’t muster up enough excitement because I don’t understand it well enough. (1) I went to an all girls high school. (2) My undergraduate school didn’t have a football team. (3) My graduate school did, but by then, it was too late. And I’ve never been to a college or NFL football game.

But despite his love for the game, my hubby isn’t over the top. He doesn’t drag me to tailgate parties or stash war paint, crazy wigs and the like to go hard in the paint for his favorite teams. He’s cool–and thoughtful–with it. So I do what I can to be supportive. I indulge his shouting and most of the time, I watch the playbacks and highlights he randomly shares with me on his tablet (those game reels of really good players set to hype music). And I’ve watched quite a few episodes of ESPN’s “30 by 30” series on players’ lives behind the game. I love the show actually. But except for the Super Bowl, which is exciting just because it is what it is, I’ve never watched a full game. I just realized that college and NFL games share the fall season. Who knew?

Shortly before or right after we got married, he drew up a football field on paper and tried to talk me through the rules/strategy. Every now and then, for kicks, he’ll test me on the basics when “we’re” watching a game. With a nervous smile and big eyes, I take my best guess. He appreciates my effort but he gets it. I don’t really know the game. Not enough to make it fun to watch together. But taking me to my first professional football game is on his to-do list. He’s looking forward to it! Me too.😊

B