Love, Sex & Relationships

Unedited Logo

If ‘Insecure’ Season 2 Episode Two Was a Poem

Since 2005 I’ve narrated my life in journals.  On occasion I like to carefully flip through the well-worn pages, some dog-eared, and gauge how much I’ve grown and how much I am quite the same.  

On a recent flight I flipped through the pages of one of my first journals whose cover affirmed that “I’m too blessed to be stressed.”  I sat in between two men and giggled aloud as though I was engaging in “Remember when…?” conversation with one of my best girlfriends. Because, well, I was.  My journal has been one of my most non-judgmental friends never interrupting my thoughts but apt at confronting me with hard truths reminding me of the times I promised to humble myself and not hide behind foolish pride.  

In a row with extra leg space mourning the end of a vacation gone by too quickly, my journal let me be a young lady of over a decade younger sitting on a twin bed on a spring morning in May reckoning with the idea that even before HBO’s Insecure I was channeling Season 2 Issa with a Tasha lean. 

11:19 am                               May 30, 2005

He doesn’t know that I think of him

or care beyond belief

He doesn’t know I want him even when he doesn’t want me

He has no idea how I would engulf him and wrap him up inside of me

He doesn’t know the songs in which I sing 

or the notes that I can hit

He doesn’t know the arch of my back

or the sway of my hips

the feminine rounds of my body

the softness of my lips

He doesn’t know I am his biggest fan

He doesn’t care that I am in awe

You see, his nonchalance is part of the appeal

not motivation for my withdraw

How could he know?

He’s practiced erasing us from his memory and burning the prologue of our unfinished chapter

He doesn’t know that I am afraid of him having no reaction, no love for me after

He doesn’t know the depths of it all

Nah.

He doesn’t know me at all

not a poem

Please follow and like us:
tank and the bangas

Tank and The Bangas Introduced Me to the Taste of Love

If I were to be asked what love looks like I might possibly attest to seeing it in an embrace, an exchange of banter and laughter, the joy of a couple learning they’re pregnant after living for years with infertility, or a strong but gentle hand placed on the small of a woman’s back.  I have witnessed love.  But before listening to New Orleans’ artists Tank and The Bangas I had never tasted love.  To taste love I  had to first hear it.  Listen to it carefully. Repeat.

It was the whispers of small nothings in my ear, the percussions and the melodies that travel to my prefrontal cortex to retire, indefinitely, to my long-term memory each time I hear a song that bookmarks the milestones in my life.  It’s the melodies and the memories that guide me to the exact place I stood in the gymnasium at a high school dance when I heard Tyrese’s “Sweet Lady,” or the smile on my face as I laid beneath a dozen glow-in-the-dark stars when  Selena’s “Dreaming of You” was dedicated to me on the radio.  Or the tears I cried listening to Lauryn Hill’s “I Gotta Find Peace of Mind” while silently talking myself into moving on in the face of defeat.  That’s been my experience with love.

lauryn

Love tastes bitter. It tastes juicy and lush.  Sometimes so spicy that it makes my eyes water uncontrollably. And so sweet that it dissolves on my tongue like cotton candy; but famine isn’t relieved by cotton candy. Love is as unpredictable as the sampling of strangers’ macaroni and cheese or potato salad at a friend’s fish fry. Love’s aftertaste is a reminder to be more thoughtful in your selections or to never try it again, lest the chef adds just the right seasoning, the perfect wine pairing, and the declaration of “satisfaction guaranteed.”

define

But I am charmed by what I hear—the sweet nothings, the melodies turned memories, turned nostalgia, turned escapism, turned false reality. What I hear is what I eternalize and house in the safeguards of my memory, beside foregone days and nights when Love ate with me over breakfast in bed and dinner and drinks when the going was easy and the food suited my palate. Even when I’m alone I set a table for two so that love can pull up a chair should hunger strike at any time between the blessing of the meal and the last dish is set out to dry.  I dine on oysters and sip lemon drops in honor of Love. But love isn’t sustained on a memory, in the same way that cotton candy doesn’t cure a grumbling stomach or an insatiable appetite. Damn if cotton candy and memories don’t taste good though.

Love can taste like edibles you devour when you’re so hungry that even your least favorite food tastes delicious. Desperately longing to give and receive love is like grocery shopping on an empty stomach: every aisle offers one seemingly delectable treat after another.  Even the eggplant you’ve never quite learned to prepare appears to be a good purchase.  You think a new eggplant dish has the potential to be the star of Sunday’s dinner. You scan your Pinterest recipe mentally confirming that you have all of the necessary ingredients to make a wonderful  eggplant parmesan only to realize on Sunday morning that you forgot to add to your grocery cart the virgin olive oil. You substitute the olive oil for margarine. It doesn’t taste the same. One missing ingredient can make all the difference between  disgusting, tolerable, and great. 

Love tastes like that.  

And it sounds to me like: …the butterflies and the fireflies fighting in my stomach. I’m scared to fly. I might come down. I think I’m ready now. I’m getting back in line.”

Thank you to Tank and The Bangas for their amazing artistry.  It was their art that served as the inspiration for this post and as a reminder that sound and sight are gateways to taste. ~Andrea

Please follow and like us:

What To Expect When You Start Therapy

”What purpose does a therapist serve?”

This was just one of the many real-life responses from someone who doubted my decision to seek professional help to address my ongoing battle with depression a few years ago. Seriously.

The palpable reactions of concern and distrust from loved ones honestly didn’t surprise me, but it would’ve been nice to have a heads-up on some of the unexpected changes that occurred immediately after I began what I like to refer to as my “couch confession sessions.”

Instead of an instant life-fixing prescription, I received homework assignments that for the first time, I couldn’t haphazardly complete with an all-nighter, faced loved ones who openly doubted my therapist’s advice, and dealt with the stress of relationship changes induced by my desire to heal with a stranger’s help. Basically, therapy came with a ton of fine print and I wasn’t prepared to read.

If you’re considering therapy, here are 7 things you can expect to happen after you take that first step to psychological betterment:

Progress won’t happen overnight.

via GIPHY

Now that you’ve started therapy, your inner badass will instantly emerge from its cocoon to whip your life into shape with Iyanla-like precision, right? Sorry to disappoint you beloved, but that’s not exactly how this works.

Maybe it was a combination of desperation and extreme anxiety, but I was convinced that my first few sessions would yield instant results, much like an hour-long TV series co-signed by Oprah. In reality, there isn’t a quick fix for deep-seated issues that have already had a literal lifetime head start on your attempts to resolve them. Embrace therapy as an ongoing process and realize that that in itself is progress.

The first therapist you see may not be a good fit and you might be tempted to give up.

via GIPHY

If your therapist is habitually late, monopolizes the session with personal stories or makes snap judgments before you’re halfway through your back story, don’t be so quick to forfeit your peace of mind to settle into a lifetime of dysfunction.  We’ve heard horror stories about ineffective therapists, which can be a major turnoff to those who are already resistant to the process.

Instead of allowing a bad experience to completely derail your efforts, commit to going the extra mile for the sake of your well-being. Put the same energy into finding a therapist who fits your needs as you would into perfecting your bantu knot outor hustling your way to boss status.

Friends and family will challenge the process.

via GIPHY

While the guiding light of therapy slowly illuminates the pathway to a promise land free of generational curses and self-destructive mindsetssome loved ones will struggle to support your self-care journey. For instance, your parents could view therapy sessions as a direct insult to their child-rearing skills (they raised you right, didn’t they?), or your spouse might take the slow-paced progress as a sign that you’re simply wasting time and money on an overpaid professional coddler. Meanwhile, your bestie is perpetually side-eyeing your counselor (because she’s pretty sure she knows you better than anyone else).

Even if the sentiments of those closest to you seem to come from a place of genuine love and concern, it’s been my experience that the less you share about your sessions with trusted relatives and friends, the better. I found that listening to too many opinions confused me and interrupted my progress. As someone who loves to share experiences and life lessons, this was a challenge for me, but it inevitably reinforced the benefits of having access to an unbiased individual who keeps ego and personal ideologies out of the equation.

Read more of this post at xoNecole.com.

Please follow and like us:

6 Things You Can Expect to Happen When You Stop Being a People Pleaser

So, you finally decided to stop being a doormat.

First off, accept sincere congratulations from this former people pleaser who now wields her boundary-setting prowess with ninja-like precision. Thanks to the encouragement of a therapist and countless self-sacrificial fails, I routinely partake in putting the most epic of smackdowns on human leeches, unreasonable requests and the urge to say yes when I really mean hell to the no, and I must say — it feels damn good.

Due to the horrible things that happen when you fail to assert yourself, I’d advise anyone involved in this self-destructive game of putting everyone else’s needs before your own to start playing a “me first” version of hardball ASAP. That said, reversing the habit isn’t quite that simple – just ask Oprah, who admitted to being a pushover in the past.

While giving up the doormat life doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll become the next Grand Goddess of Goodness with a complementary Stedman Graham lookalike, these six life changes that take place post-doormat status are reason enough for you to start putting yourself first – with no apologies.

Some users might pull a vanishing act, while others will resist the new you.

When you do away with a doormat mentality, you’re bound to off-load some dysfunctional relationships by default (and good riddance to them). Don’t be surprised to see far less of those whose viability is normally rooted in your reliability. However, in the case of anyone who doesn’t immediately perform a silent two-step out the nearest side door along with the rest of the people you’ve stopped enabling, standing your ground with them is key even if it feels unnatural in the beginning.

More time and energy for self-care.

Aside from flourishing edges, here’s something else reformed doormats can expect to have more of: time and energy. Disengaging from the draining act of people pleasing automatically frees up more opportunity for invaluable “me” time and the ability to mentally recharge. When you commit to being every woman to everyone but yourself, losing your sense of self is inevitable. Over time, your choices, thoughts, feelings and priorities become a blur beneath a growing pile of collective to-do lists that you didn’t create. Ridding yourself of the need to please clears the path to rediscovering and redefining who you are.

Saying “no” becomes less scary.

For those who lack the skills to pull off assertiveness, the imagined backlash or rejection associated with uttering such a potent one-syllable word might prompt cold sweats, nightmares and near-anxiety attacks. When I first moved beyond my fear of turning folks down, it felt like someone flipped on a light switch inside of me, illuminating the fact that people who truly cared about me didn’t simply stop because I denied their requests. Besides, a lifetime of fulfilling everyone else’s needs to the point that it becomes a detriment to your well-being is infinitely more frightening than saying no.

Read the rest of this post at xoNecole.

Please follow and like us:

A Woman Is A Man’s Best Accessory?

Can men survive, or thrive, without women? Methinks not.

Years ago I decided to boycott music videos not only because I was hard pressed to see a lead woman of my complexion, but also because I was desperate to avoid video images assaulting senses other than my vision. Watching horrible, degrading music videos totally impacted how I heard the song.

It is no secret that the heavily male dominated rap culture cannot survive without women. The culture of this new era rap genre is dependent on the female body to create music videos and alleged tales of sexual exploits and conquests in their lyrics. Women are the consumers of rap music, the muse, and the abused of the misogynistic customs adopted by rap culture, even if only for public display and consumption.

What has now become evident to me is that men in general can’t seem to survive without women. I reached this conclusion a few times in my life, but most notably on a recent trip to Miami when my girlfriends and I were offered seats in the club’s VIP section paid for by a group of men who seemed to be “collecting” a female entourage to sit pretty on the sectional while tapping our pointy toe stilettos and sipping on whatever was being offered.

Had I not been so bored that I began creating a mental list of the many reasons why I am no longer about that “club life,” I would not have noticed how the ladies drafted to the VIP section served as ornaments on a Christmas tree. The particular brand of men who use women as accessories serve as the metaphorical Christmas trees:  dry, overbearing, with a definite shelf life, and ever welcomed in the home past a certain time.

Sitting in the club I began to feel a little disgusted at the thought that we, not just my friends and I, but women everywhere are so commonly used as accessories. Without us many men are incomplete, and not a fairytale love kind of way.  They are fully dressed but without shoes, a watch and tie. Needing women to make oneself look and feel better is seemingly an issue of low self-esteem and envisages the lame and destructive “pimps up, hoes down” concept. 

Should we be flattered? I’ll admit that being arm candy and being “shown off” isn’t so bad when that man who is showing off the beautiful woman in his life recognizes and treats her as if she is more than just a cardboard cutout offering of an image fulfilled. But being used as a shiny ornament or for the benefit of a nice ass shot in the latest tip drill-esque music video negates whatever sense of flattery that may have been intended and felt. 

That night in the Miami club VIP I realized that 1) the drinks are pretty watered down when being shared among an entire harem in a Miami nightclub, and 2) men truly cannot survive or thrive without women.

via GIPHY

“This is a man’s world. But it would be nothing without a woman or a girl.” ~James Brown

 

Please follow and like us:
BMJ Season 3 Episode 3 (Photo: BET)

How Lamar Odom and ‘Being Mary Jane’ Should Have You Considering an Advance Directive

It has been over two weeks since former Los Angeles Laker Lamar Odom was hospitalized following a reported overdose at a Nevada brothel.

But you knew that already. How could you not? Mainstream media has brought Lamar Odom—man, son, father, two-time NBA champion and 2010-2011 NBA Sixth Man of the Year—and his woes closer to us than most second cousins. Talk of his health and what many people have rationalized as the “curse” that befell Odom the moment he said “I do” to one of the members of “America’s First Family,” has made it to our dinner tables, our water cooler conversations and social media space.

Since reports of Odom’s alleged overdose and the grim prognosis that followed, it has been clear that the real focus is not Odom’s health and well-being and his rise, fall, rise, and fall again story that mirrors so many men and women we encounter daily.  Instead, the epicenter has been the affairs of those on the peripheral of his near death experience. Media has focused on Odom’s wife and the rest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Odom’s father and his mottled past, and even former teammate Kobe Bryant. The headlines of Odom’s ordeal have been a regular game of “Where’s Waldo,” Kardashian-style.

But this post is not to lament over mainstream media’s lack of compassion. This post is the silver lining of a medical and mental health situation that resulted in the hospitalization of a man who had been separated from his wife when he was declared comatose and unable to make decisions for himself. Recognize Odom’s health crisis as a learning opportunity and the silver lining of a tragedy that could have been worse.

  In my profession there have been countless times where I have witnessed a comatose, brain dead or otherwise medically incompetent patient’s fate be decided by strangers, unwilling medical agents or family members whose judgment was clouded by guilt, selfishness and pain.   Despite Lamar Odom being nearly divorced from Khloe Kardashian, she is still legally his next of kin and medical decision-maker. This situation is not unique to Lamar and Khloe.  In many regards it was almost repeated on the most recent episode of Being Mary Jane when one of the characters committed suicide…because the black community also falls victim to suicide and mental illness. Had that character’s farewell been botched, or had she avoided death only to fall into a coma, her mother—the mother she hadn’t spoken to for years—would have been the person to decide her fortune. This is often the scenario when individuals do not take the time to educate themselves, evaluate and define “quality of life,” and establish medical advance directives.

If you’re at least 18 years of age and capable of reading this post, then you’re of sound mind and able to decide–in advance–the person or persons you wish to enforce your medical wishes in the event you’re ever incapable of doing so on your own volition.

April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), but today I encourage you to define what quality of life looks and feels like to you. Advanced care planning is the best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones.

1

For state specific resources and information on how to complete an advance directive please visit NHDD.org.

Follow Un-Edited on Twitter @Un_Edited for more #TruthNoBackspace

Please follow and like us:
little black girl sits on dad's shoulders

Always His Daughter, Never a Daddy’s Girl

Perhaps it was willful ignorance, or the deep-seated residue from surviving a traumatic childhood, but the concept of being a daddy’s girl was completely unbelievable to me up until my early 20s. Sure, I’d heard the phrase uttered on sugary sweet commercials and encountered it in a book or two, but the idea that a girl could actually be viewed as something treasured, respected and valuable in the eyes of her father was about as realistic to me as a winged horse. No matter how you tried to package it, I just couldn’t fathom a man who actually took pride in his baby girl to the extent that my father avoided acknowledging me.

Naturally, upon hearing someone proclaim to be a “daddy’s girl,” my first instinct was to dismiss it as bullshit because my father’s neglect had subconsciously caused me to characterize all men that way. Eventually, though, I met with the painful truth: Other girls had fathers who cared about them, and my dad only cared about himself.

Given the overwhelming number of single mothers running households, a father’s absence obviously isn’t a novelty. In fact, the lack of concern my father displays towards my two sisters and I would be much easier to swallow if it could be explained away by his absence. But since he was actually in the home with us, I have no idea as to why he chose not to invest in improving the odds that we’d all grow into strong, self-assured women.

My guess is because he didn’t think that was possible. What is clear is that seeds were planted in his childhood that produced the profile of a father who would eventually become his little girls’ nightmare in the flesh: a chauvinistic, narcissistic adult male. Basically, we were damned from the womb. Being female automatically relegated us to the bottom of his priority list and away from his undivided attention, which was strictly reserved for self-serving purposes, including his desire to father a son – by any means necessary.

But here’s the rawest part of it all – instead of simply replacing that absentee father-induced emptiness with pain and masking it in a thick layer of resentment, distance and divorce, I’ve remained the ever-faithful daughter, hanging in there and providing him with a listening ear, emotional availability and an openness that he never once afforded me growing up.

Until this day, we play what I like to call Hide ‘N Seek: Parental Edition where I attempt to locate and capture my father’s acceptance, which holds the key to my validity.

I chase him around trees and through fields on my last breath hoping to find him crouched in a corner smiling, exhausted from the pursuit yet relieved to finally give me what I came looking for.

Years and many therapy sessions later, I finally understood why I’m dedicated to the chase, and let me tell you, as a grown, married woman, the truth ain’t pretty. Despite receiving love (and later, support) from my mother, I still crave my father’s acceptance. I’ve convinced myself that I need it to validate my worth. It’s the reason why I’m addicted to struggle and have to fight to embrace my happy moments, even when they come as a result of good, old-fashioned, hard fucking work.

No matter how many times I’ve heard it from my mother, my husband and anyone else who supports me, I’m just now coming to terms with the fact that you can’t fully rely on ANYONE to help you accept who you are. Ultimately, that ability comes from within. No matter how broken, scarred, or raw your insides are, they comprise THE ONLY tools you have to work with to piece together and nurture your self-love.

Fortunately, the tides are turning. I recently had a breakthrough when my husband comforted me after my father’s latest self-absorbed episode by saying the words, “You mean something. You are valuable.”

So, how I still expect a man who is and continues to be so violently patriarchal to encourage me to love and accept myself is pure desperation from a woman who still needs her daddy, but has yet to come to grips with the fact that she never had him and likely, never will.

But still, a part of me wants to be a doted on daddy’s girl, and I feel guilty as hell about it.

Please follow and like us:

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)