Relationships of any kind come with communication. For my class, my students watched a TedTalk by Pamela Meyer called “How to spot a Liar.” It discussed how a lie takes at least two people to happen. Someone must tell it, and someone must believe it. Although the believer is often an unwilling participant, they are still keeping the lie alive. So, what happens when you choose to not cooperate in deceit? What if someone told the lie, you called them out, they tried to apologize and you said no thank you? To go deeper, what if someone told the truth, chickened out of it, and then tried to cover their tracks with a lie in the form of an apology, and you said no thank you? What if you accept the truth being covered, and all of the implications associated around it? That means accepting this person and their unfavorable view of something they know bothers you. By rejecting their apology, you agree to be ok with their truth. You have to decide whether or not that severly compromises your relationship dynamics. In this moment, this acceptance becomes a joint venture. You have to be fully ok with the truth of their statement, but so do they. That is often the hardest part of truth; being ok with it. People are often more comfortable belieiving the lie of the apology than the truth within their own statement. Whether the truth sounded too harsh, or they didn’t want anyone to know that’s how they truly felt, or what they actually did…because once said aloud, they can now hear how it sounds… I’m not going to say which one is better. I am going to say to decide which one you choose to be a co-conspirator in.
Pain can be split up into two categories: Elastic and Inelastic. Elastic pain is the stuff you can recover from. It may take time, or be immediate, but you bounce back slightly changed. This is the type of pain we hope to endure, if we must go through any pain at all. Inelastic pain changes you to the point of no recognition. It destroys everything you hoped you’d be, in all the worse ways. The trick to all things in life is to transform all pain that feels inelastic to bite size pieces of elastic pain. Slowly chip away at that boulder until it no longer crsushes you. For each pebble in the bag of your shoulders, take a step and add another. Overtime, you’ll carry the full weight of the boulder without realizing you can walk almost as well as before the first pebble was placed. Who knows, the small limp may become a part of your swag.
As I step back from the dating scene, it’s clear that you have to reasses your life before inviting the proper energy into it. Being married conditions you to have a spirit of resistance and tolerance you don’t need, and should not have, during dating. You don’t have to settle for any problematic or questionable behavior, because this person is not your “Forever” person. ( Please see my poem on “Forever is a Fleeting Moment”) So, while I’m on my journey to be my authentic self, and attract people whose energy amplifies mine, here’s what I’ve learned:
- In a marriage, you take some punches and learn how to roll with them. You understand that person isn’t going to change, and you agree to accept their shortcomings. This is the worse thing to do in dating. If they are showing you their best, and it is riddled with shortcomings, Baby, it’s only going to go downhill from there. Abort mission, and start another lineup. Next.
- If you find that you are attracting the same person; just from all over the world – and they are oddly similar to your ex – it’s you. Your energy is tied up into the attraction with that energy/frequency. If you’re coming from an unhealthy dynamic, and keep attracting the same unhealthy dynamic, take a step back to figure out why. Do the work on you instead of wasting your time. You will learn so much about yourself in the process.
- Get comfortable spending time with yourself, but don’t forget to hang out with people. I’m a true ambivert. I can be the life of the party, but I love to hang out in my room with a good book, this notebook, papers to grade and a Roku stick. Armed with this knowledge, I have made it a point to go on an adventure every weekend. Yes, sometimes that means going by myself – which I love. Whenever I go solo, I force myself to remove my haedphones, put down the cell and focus my eyes on those blury beings around me. People still out here walking around and what not. In the past month, I’ve experienced so many new things.
- Understand the strengths and limits of your support group, and don’t be afraid to tap into them. Just don’t tap them out. My tribe has given me insight about myself I wasn’t even aware of. And, they are kinda spot on. Seeing me through their lens has given me a lot of perspective and inspiration. Knowing I have an immovable team, who has me no matter what, continues to fuel my fearlessness. Yes, I want to make them proud, but they’ll love me for just existing. They’ll also call me out whenever I’m selling myself short. Coming out of a long relationship can sometimes challenge your self-esteem. Allow your tribe to keep you balanced when you need it most. Just know they are not there to stand on your feet for you; no matter how much they offer.
- Nurture yourself the way you nurtured your former partner. During the process, I’ve put all that energy into my talents, goals and dreams. Ya girl out here surprising the ish outta herself. I don’t know why that’s my hype vernacular, but here we are. Push yourself to grow. Invest in yourself. Be as understanding when you fall short as you were when they did. This is the beginning of your “boss” status.
- Once you are in complete agreement with who you are, where you are and what you’re looking for in a partner, start back at one, because Baby, it’s working. The glow up is in full shine.
Finding what life looks like without someone you spent so many years with can be like learning to adult all over again. I startled myself with how quickly I adapted to it, but my tribe was less than shocked. These six items have been the Zen to my elderly millenial. I don’t subscribe to “the way to get over someone is to get under someone else.” Don’t worry about getting over anyone. Feel the emotion, deal with it, then deal with your reaction to it. If not, you aren’t going to go into any relationship healthily. Know, your way of dealing and healing will be unique to you. Let it happen, and don’t feel guilty about it if it’s quicker or longer than expected. Just be authentic.
In every great story, there are a multitude of rejection points. How is it that rejection still makes us so uncomfortable? To have someone tell us we are less than the value we have assigned ourself is very relative. Relative to their perspective, your presentation of self, their current need/want, what you’re asking in return, what they can give…etc. There is so much involved in rejection outside of the “No,” rippling through your soul, so become comfortable with it.
After you’re rejected, how long are you down for? A few minutes? A day? Week? Months? How long does it take for your pride to recover? Bruised egos waste a lot of time. Use that recovery time to find more doors and windows. Or, create your own highway of opportunity. I know, everyone says that. I have a valid case though. Rejection is the best learning tool if you can move your pride and ego aside. I’m just learning how to use this tool to my advantage. I don’t get an opportunity, I ask why and what could I have done differently. Sometimes, to the person/company and sometimes to myself. You must find that line between being direct vs confrontational when speaking to others and critiquing vs criticising when introspectively speaking to yourself. The things you discover will assess whether or not you’re suited for the position, place and pay you are currently searching for. If you aren’t, be happy for the rejection. This can lead you to journey on to something more compatible with your goals and personality. If that space doesn’t currently exist, understand, you will be caught in a loop of rejection and being unfulfilled while always feeling out of place. There’s no way to thrive in that environment. In cases like that, create a highway for you, and those like you that would be a great fit for what you’re trying to build. You can’t get to this mindset without rejection.
While having my birthday gathering with my childhood triplets, oine of them said aan advisor told them to not mourn not having closure from a past relationship, because it was a job she was overqualified for. This sent my triplet on a journey of introspection, where she was able to dissect her behavior patterns which have led her to attract the same sort of guy. Of course, the other two of us went through the same self diagnostic. We decided that this year, we would not only learn lessons, but optimize their real life applications. As a professor, I’m always trying to teach my students how my lessons work in the real world. Rejection, of any kind, is no different.
The fear of rejection keeps us in containers of someone else’s labeling work. That is perfectly fine for some people. I will not knock them if they are happy with that. But for the ones who are allowing that fear to hinder their success, this message is for you. Rejection is not a bad thing. Like all things deemed uncomfortable, it forces us to face truths we are blind to. Practice absorbing rejection gracefully and insightfully as often as you can. I do. I put my work online to be hated by the masses, my unflattering photos to be judged, my syllabi/curriculum to be criticised by faculty and students, my applications to be accepted or rejected and my dating profiles to be swiped left or right. I try to expose myself to rejection as often as possible on a daily basis without seeming crazy. So when it does happen, I can learn from it later, but face it with dignity in the moment. I understand that nerve it takes to say “no,” so I want to make sure I have the tools necessary to grow from it.
In the age of an ever evolving DSM, mental health has been thrust to the forefront of many conversations and discussions it never would have been just 10 years ago. Slowly, the stigma of mental illness in minority households, and in men, is being lifted. However, there are still ofther aspects of mental well-being many people feel ill-equipped to deal with. As someone who has a hard time understanding the proper way to handle things that may seem irrational to me, my first inclination is always to advise the person to see a therapist. In a perfect world, that would be the solution, and the person does just that. In no time, they would be back to themselves. Needless to say, this is not a perfect world, and more often than not, things don’t turn out that flawlessly. There is no one size fits all. Mental illness is not always a logical state of mind – concerning the disease or the fact that there is anything wrong at all.
I’ve witnessed a few people who have come to me and said ” I have this mental disorder…” Some of them wanted help, while others were embarrassed that they have this problem. Even with the ones that wanted help, most of them worried about resources and perception. On campus, we have a free counseling center that does take care of mental health. I’ve sent many students there with great results. Mainstreaming this sort of service is more beneficial than many realize. Thank you, Valencia College, and other institutions ( professional, educational and recreational), for offering this service for free. Then, there’s the stigma of being “other” in a way that could be seen as less than or unstable. When in fact, the purpose is to help the individual find stability in the form of coping mechanisms, exercises and techniques and/or medication. The fear of people knowing a mental illness is lurking beneath the icy depths can be terrifying. Neurotypical is a thin line of neurotransmitters and other hormones walking a tightrope into a small, selective door. Sometimes, all of the appropriate ones will make it in to the perfect capacity, but sometimes, that’s not the case. How do we remove the shame that can accompany mental illness?
The other problem with making sure a loved one gets the proper help they need is them believing they have a problem. I’m newly familiar with this concept. Watching someone go off of their meds, turn into someone completely different, yet deny there is anything wrong is terrifying. Instead, there’s a constant persistence that they are the best they’ve ever been, thinking clearer than ever, and in fact, everyone else is the problem. By suggesting they get help, it is an effort to control them. To go a step further, every interaction they’ve ever experienced has been a step towards controlling them, and it is only now, off of medications, they can be the real person they were always meant to be. Meanwhile, this drastic change is creating long-term negative consequences they are currently blind to. How does one rationalize with irrational behavior? In the process of trying, you do become exactly what they are claiming you to be. It was explained to me by a psychologist that when someone has a physical sickness, they want to get help. They understand that the lack of wellness will destroy the body. However, with a mental illness, they don’t think they are sick, so they don’t think the lack of wellness will have any impact. You can see and feel a cold, in a way that makes it obvious something is wrong, but if your disease makes you believe it doesn’t exist…
As a result of the difficulties that accompany mental illness and the ones we love with it, so many other challenges are faced. Do we continue to interact with someone suffering with a mental disorder if it compromises our own health; whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually? By removing ourselves from a possible toxic situation, does that make us villains? Are we enablers if we stay? Do we have a right to make mental health a requirement of our company even though physical health is not? While dating, should that be a question we should feel comfortable asking and being asked? Does that make people seem prejudice or like they are discriminating? Do we have a right to govern the people we surround ourselves with on that level? Where are the lines between privacy and protection drawn? Is it wrong to ask about family history of mental health prior to procreating with someone? By having all of these questions, isn’t that the reason the stigma is being felt? Aren’t these questions, and many like them, the root of the shame? It’s a vicious cycle. At some point, we have to get to a place where inquiring isn’t accusatory or derogatory; it’s just a way of letting each person involved understand what they are getting into. Just like I would disclose the fact that I have no reproductive capabilities to any new person I’d consider dating seriously, so should be the conversation around mental health. It should be honest, yet delicate; open yet clear. It would be a disservice to everyone involved, if someone knowingly misled their partner into a union of uncertainty, in order to stave off shame.
Originally, this post was supposed to be written days ago, and it was set to begin with: I am Pandora’s box. No, I feel like Pandora’s box. As much as I wish it was hyperbolic language more than the actal way I was feeling, that would have been one of the most accurate descriptions of my state of mind then. Despite my resolve and positivity, I detest being the one delivering bad news as often as my life demands. The fact that I may not be as sensitive to my own grim news as I am to others’ reactions to my news, makes this task even more daunting. Nevertheless, someone has to do it.
I was the one to tell my family about my original endocrine disorder making me infertile. I broke the news of my cancer, followed by my hysterectomy; guarranteeing my infertility as a reality, and now I’m bringing news of my latest transition. I have to tell the ones closest to me of my upcoming divorce. Unfortunately, it is as we are entering the holiday season. When you consider it, when is the best time to break this news. Despite the ex and I being in solidarity on the situation, the reactions of those I’m tasked with telling is affecting me more than the divorce itself. Hearing the scratching of the vocals, the pausing of the words, the raspiness of missing words in between confusion and questions. The utter shock and dismay – as if I’m destroying all fairytales in one swoop… I hate this. As an empath, I feel everything they are feeling. I feel the questions regarding their own relationship status if ours was the gold standard. I even feel the pity you have for me as you think, “this poor girl. Hasn’t she been through enough?!”
I am not broken over this or anything else I’ve endured thus far in this lifetime. I am not pitiful or destined to a life of misery. I am planning the life I dreamed of prior to putting it on hold for marriage and other traditional things. I am looking forward to nurturing myself and all that I learned while being married. I’m looking forward to being a part of a functional poly relationship after I take my time off to focus on myself without a partner. This transition is another opportunity for growth. I can’t show anyone the beauty being mapped out in my head at this new path. If I tell them that, they think I’m deflecting or this is a defense mechanism. No, this is a journey in the making. Instead, I’m stuck here, feeding off of the emotions of others. I open my box of evils, and then I absorb the negative energy. But I’m not Pandora’s box. I’m the one turning the tide by releasing all things negative in order to purify the environment within and around me.
Recently, one theme has been appearing in my life more prevalent than ever before. Maybe it’s always been there, and I’ve ignored it long enough to now it seems to be the elephant in every conversation I have concerning my future and people’s perception of me. I had one person ask me why I never use my looks to my advantage, and another commented that I act like someone who has never looked in a mirror before. Yes, I chuckled about it, but it really got me thinking… Why am I so opposed to using my looks? No, I’m not talking about being someone who only uses her perceived beauty in realms where it is acknowledged to gain undeserved things. I’m talking about someone who understands her beauty, pairs it with her intellect and uses it as a double dose of confidence. My visual appearance as a desirable aesthetic is not something I put much consideration in beyond feeling like I am the same in the mirror as I am in a selfie. As far as using this as another tool in my presentation of self, career and any other goals, it has never really crossed my mind.
In fact, unless someone openly says I’m attractive, I never think much of it. And when they don’t, I just assume we are friends or whatever because of my personality, zest for life or wit. With this new awareness, I’ve began to disect every interaction I’ve had. I wonder how much my perceived beauty, or lack thereof, has played a role in the jobs I’ve had or hadn’t, the relationships I’ve been a part of or hadn’t, the respect I’ve garnered or haven’t, the remarks I’ve endured or haven’t… just so many questions. I’m fully aware that I should not obsess over such frivolous details, but I want to become more self aware. I’m interested in seeing the way I’m absorbed by others. How can I use these things to battle stereotypes, or play on them in order to get the rest of me the opportunity to show that I’m so much more?
As with all privileges, I have to first accept the fact that in certain rooms, I have this one. There are details like my body size and shape in accordance with someon’e preferrence, skin tone, and personal style which will make my beauty objective. However, more often than not, I think paired with my bubbly personality, I can win over more people than I can’t. How do I use this to help others? What sort of impact will this have on the people I reach in the mediums I desire to? Do I use it on an everyday basis? So many questions over something I’ve never considered. All of this to say, I love that I operate as someone who has never looked into a mirror, but I understand that I can exercise this privilege in order to grow my platform to help others. This entire spillage, just to not include a photo.