Believe Me, Too

Last week, at the pinnacle of the viral #metoo movement, I shared an Ebony article on Facebook. It was a passionately-worded piece wagging its finger at all of the #metoo hype, as if to say, “Hey! We’ve been saying this for a decade and the movement was started by a Black woman!” While the article did feel a bit ragey, with its give-credit-where-credit’s-due feel, it highlighted several things:

  • Black women are overlooked
  • Black people’s problems tend to *stay* Black people’s problems
  • Celebrities with high-profile scandals have a vast reach
  • White celebrities can get ish done

I even wrote a disclaimer on my article-share, warning my friends and followers to not be turned off by the title and tone. I urged my friends to read it. Read it becausmetoo snipe hey, this isn’t new. This is all races, all sexes, all genders. And it’s a whole lot easier to ignore abused people – especially when we’re shouting from the margins.

Well, I had a friend. That one (sometimes three) friend(s), that did have to say something about – by my own words – “playing the Race Card.”

He expressed his thought that justice is great, why bring race into it? Just be grateful this is getting attention! 

I saw red. I saw flames. If I had laser eyes to shoot at his fingers on the keyboard via the inter webs, I would have aimed and fired. We went back and forth a little, but then he did something amazing that I never expected. He took it to the DM.

And it went down. But it went down beautifully.

He asked me to explain how we missed each other, why his challenge to my article-share insulted me, and how he can be a better ally.

Yeah. He asked how he could serve me

And by the time we exchanged stories, we were both in tears.

We saw each other. We heard each other.

He asked …how he could be a better ally.

This is my DM response to him, (some parts edited for this blog and names removed), and it’s   something that all well-intentioned white people should read before they roll their eyes at yet another angry Black woman that makes everything about race and gender:

[TLDR Version: Privilege is real. We live in a constant state of gender and race humiliation. It happened to me, too. Believe us. Whether its racism or sexism, believe us.]

 

PRIVILEGE

The first time I ever saw white privileged was when I was going through my divorce. Yeah. I know it sounds weird. My first time. But when you’re Black in America you only see the negative attitudes towards your own race and not the actual privilege of being white. That’s not our side of the story. When he and I decided to split, I was the one that was depressed and miserable in the far burbs so I was happy to move.

But I had spent the majority of our marriage as a full-time mom/student with part time gigs. I didn’t have a resume, savings or a sustaining job. Every day while I was still home with the kids, he would come home and say: did you get a job yet? How many applications? Any interviews? How about an apartment? When are you leaving? The pressure was maddening. I wanted to punch him and throw up and run away crying all at once. Every. Day. I felt unwanted and lazy and rejected.

But then I realized he wasn’t deliberately bullying me. He just had no idea. He didn’t have a resume. He’s never had to sell himself on a piece of paper to strangers. He’s never asked strangers for a job and he’s never not gotten an offer for a job he asked for. He lives in a bubble of privilege where he’s never had to go without or rely solely on his own talents. He’s never had to worry that he wouldn’t get an interview because his name sounds “exotic” or “weird.”

He’s never had to worry that someone would look at him and think “a man can’t do this” or “a dad can’t do this.” That is privilege. But people always think a woman can’t do this or a mom isn’t as committed as a childless person. These are things I choke on daily.

He had no idea how difficult it can be to get a job especially when you’re not a white man.

HUMILIATION

You aren’t humiliated by others for the color of your skin.
I just got a lotus tattoo for my birthday. Beauty and blessings springing forth from the mud. X— made some mud comments about me in sixth grade. Again, not your reality. Not even on your radar. But it was stinging and humiliating. It made me feel ugly and less than and unlike and unaccepted and rejected and reminded me that I will never be one of you.

My new ink is my peace with that. I know now that I am beautiful and talented and radiantly intimidating. In first grade I had to change for gym class alone because my changing buddy’s mom found out she was undressing with a black girl and didn’t want me around her daughter. And that, too. All the time: Black girl. I hate it when people say, “so this Black person — no offense — was talking…” Why is “Black person” offensive? I’m not sorry I’m Black. Does my Blackness offend you? Why are you apologizing? I am Black! Say it! Black isn’t a bad word. N** is. Black isn’t. Neither is white. Say it. We are our colors and we all deserve to be seen.

BELIEVE ME

With all of that said, it is SO crushing then, when I say to someone, for example, a white significant other, “Babe I had a weird experience today and I really feel like it was racially motived,” and he says, “nahhh I don’t think so. Maybe you did something wrong.” That’s the most devastating thing. When people in the majority point fingers at me and accuse me of playing the race card.

When I experience something and feel sad and violated and discriminated and someone that couldn’t possibly be able to relate blows me off and says they don’t believe me — it’s a terribly crippling feeling. It’s gaslighting. It’s crazymaking.

If I say “this feels racist,” BELIEVE ME. Please. This is my world, not yours. Please believe me that something hurts and it’s not fair. What if we went to the doctor complaining of illness and he doc says, “Mmmnah I don’t think so. Stop whining!”

#METOO

The last place I worked my coworker rubbed my knee under my dress when the two of us were alone in a conference room. Later he “brushed” past me rubbing his body on my butt. Twice. And then when we were leaving that hospital site, we were alone in an elevator and he stroked my face. Twice. Because I looked tired. I wanted to slit his throat and set myself on fire.

When I reported him to HR, the woman said,” nahhh I don’t think so. That doesn’t sound like X—. Maybe he meant…”

By this time I was numb and tuned her out. Here’s a woman WHOSE JOB IT IS TO TAKE MY REPORT and she didn’t believe my story. #metoo

This happened to me! And she didn’t care. Now, sidebar, there is another dynamic between women where unsolicited sexual advances by an attractive man are not crimes but compliments. Part of me wonders if she was jealous that X— was flirting with me and not her?? Who knows. I don’t care. The point is that she didn’t believe my experience. But she’s not me. Don’t tell me my truth is not true. Now this part is for you and your brilliant girls: when they come to you, and they will, and they say, “Papa someone made me feel weird today,” BELIEVE THEM.

Don’t ask what or if they did anything to deserve it. Don’t tell them “nnnnnno I don’t think it’s like that. Why are you forcing some issue into this?“
Don’t assume they’re just girls making things up or being dramatic or being emotional or too sensitive or being [insert negative idea about women here].

Listen. Believe them.
They will need you to just believe them. And hold them. And validate them. And tell them it’ll be ok. And tell them you’ll do something.

And then… do something.

~OR

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Sweet Relief: Three Ways to Cleanse Your Spirit

Do you ever have epiphanies on the toilet? I do. Here’s one…stay with me…

The Toilet Diaries: December 2, 2016

This morning as I changed my feminine product, emptied my bladder and bowels, I got chills. The chills of relief when all the waste I’d been holding inside for 8-plus hours finds its exit and I can relax. I felt my body melt into itself exhaling, “Ahhhh this feels better.”

If our physical body so desperately needs to release, surely the law must be consistent for the whole soul.

I remembered being a child and laughing hysterically with my best friend at the phrase, “What a relief!” in response to having a nice long steamy piss.

But all this relieving eviction of body product got me to thinking…if our physical body so desperately needs to release, surely the law must be consistent for the whole soul: emotions, spirit and psyche.

Have you ever tried to hold your pee when a convenient toilet escapes you? Perhaps you’ve experienced the horrifying “prairie-dog” effect when your body just can’t make the dog stay in the hole. For the love of all things holy, why can’t the careful walk to the toilet also be the swiftest? The gush of blood when you just weren’t prepared. Eating that one wrong meal and you can’t keep the food down. And don’t your eyes pop out of your head if you try *not* to sneeze or do it with your eyes open? Or worse yet, martyring yourself trying to hold your gas for mutually the fear of embarrassment and the olfactory safety of your neighbors, but you finally reason with yourself to free the trapped air and your heart sinks into your pants when you feel that it’s actually a shart? Please, dear God no!

It is nothing short of torturous misery to try and hold in vomit, poo, pee, gas, or a sneeze – and it is equally all things glorious to release them.

Heaven bless the perky rebound after throwing up too much alcohol or a disagreeable dish. Freedom. The cosmically orgasmic sneeze when our bodies reject a sinus intruder. Yes! More! Finally taking that Austin Powers-long pee after a good night’s sleep. Hallelujah! Making it to a toilet when your intestines have had enough. Pure ecstasy! Feeling your body deflate five inches once you release a massive gas pocket. Slow, wordless smile.

It is nothing short of torturous misery to try and hold in vomit, poo, pee, gas, or a sneeze – and it is equally all things glorious to release them.

For our physical bodies to function properly, the ugly must come out, up, down, AWAY. And into the air or down the drain. Are we properly cleansing our minds, spirits and hearts of its waste too? How do you practice the letting go of old memories and heartache that is certainly rotting and creating toxic fumes that prevent us from healthy function? I came up with three categories that sum it all up for me:

1. Burn

    Fire is a timeless symbol of not only power and passion but also equally life and death. The phoenix sets itself ablaze only to rise from the ashes again. Burning incense is a universally sacred practice. Two ways to burn yourself clean: first, sage. Smudging is another ancient practice of purifying space, energy and literally the air around you by smoldering leaves or sticks. The second is by naming your filth – write a letter to someone you need to forgive, write down the missteps that are anvils to your soul. Maybe it will be paragraphs; maybe it will be pages. Write it all down, weep over it, and then light it up and let it go…safely of course.

    2. Birth

      Nothing says out with the old like in with the new. The order doesn’t matter. Sometimes the arrival of something new can push the old aside. Other times, you’ve successfully eradicated your spirit gunk and although its exit is healthy, you’re left with a void of what was. Cleansing yourself through newness can be anything – something powerful that you create, design, develop; a therapeutic shopping spree to signify change; the first ceremony of a new tradition; moving or relocating to start anew in a new place; find a new way to give back to the community. Dumping your spirit’s waste in this way can be your renaissance.

      3. Be

        This is my personal self-care favorite. Being. As an extrovert, I tend to find my energy among people, but I also have introvert tendencies and need to indulge in delicious hermit-like moments to find my balance. Part of my soul-cleansing process includes quality alone time. This isn’t the avoidant type of me-time that includes eating comforting lime chicken or steak tacos (La Pasadita is the best – corn tortilla, onions & cilantro) on my couch in droopy sweatpants I’ve had since high school and watching made-for-TV movies from the 90s (you know the ones with Tori Spelling and Joanna Kerns…). Although these moments feel GREAT, I mean the actual art of being. Unplugging, looking inward, opening your soul to let go of the old and bad and ugly, and welcome in love and compassion and light. Meditate, pray, go to a sensory deprivation chamber, go off the grid for a few hours – heck, try a whole week! Delete the site history of the internet browser that is your soul and refresh your deepest core.

        Spiritual cleansing sweet relief soul waste
        If you have more tips – or have particular success with any of these, please write to me and let me know. Let’s continue the upward trend of healthy release. What. A.  Relief. 

        ~OR

        Patient

        pa·tient
        ˈpāSHənt/
        adjective
        1. 1.
          able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.
          “be patient, your time will come”
        noun
        1. 1.
          a person receiving or registered to receive medical treatment.
          synonyms: sick person, case; More

        2. 2.
          LINGUISTICS
          the semantic role of a noun phrase denoting something that is affected or acted upon by the action of a verb.

         

        I misspelled this word in my 5th grade spelling bee. I’ll never forget it again.

        I wanted to share this word earlier this week but I felt so overwhelmingly LOVED, I shared that word first. I patiently awaited the best time to share PATIENT. And so, in my best Rafiki voice from The Lion King,

        It is time.

        I saw this picture on facebook yesterday, which was breathtakingly relevant.

        I used to pray for patience. I wanted to learn how to quietly and calmly wait. It is not an easy skill to learn. But I learned from the best. One of my godmothers taught me one of my first lessons in patience.

        She showed me the beauty of shutting up – how simple it is to keep your mouth closed, when you so desperately want to put someone in their place.

        She led by example in this too. “Aunt Marcy, why aren’t you talking?” I’d ask with a mischievous grin.

        She would simply smile and shake her head.

        As and adult I now know what this meant:

        It’s better to say nothing at all than to rush into spewing words you cannot take back.

        I also learned patience with others. This was an acquired lesson over time that I patiently pieced together from my own experiences:

        Relationships cannot be rushed. Careers cannot be forced. We cannot change others, only our expectations of them…

        And patience with myself: Instruments cannot be mastered in one sitting. Concertos cannot be perfected with cram-practicing. Watercolor masterpieces are muddied with haste. Binge studying is worthless in the end. Grieving the loss of a parent or the death of a relationship takes …t  i  m  e

        Friends, Rome was not built in a day. And nothing in nature blooms all year. Breathe deep. Calm your mind. Soit patient… whatever it is you desire most and wherever it is you want to be – these things will come to you when the time is right.

        ~OR

        don’t regret not doing things…

        I saw this on LinkedIn today and had to share. Most of the things I regret — and I hate that feeling of “I shoulda just gone for it…” — are not the bad decisions I’ve made, but the chances I didn’t take out of fear or worrying about what others think of me. That just turns into resentment and bitterness, especially when you surround yourself with people that are confident, outgoing, fulfilled, and happy.

        Be bold. Be brave. Do it. You deserve it.

        Ten Choices You Will Always Regret Making

        Hindsight is a funny thing. Look forward and the path seems uncertain, the future unpredictable. Look back and all the dots seem to connect… except the dots that mark the choices you didn’t make, and the risks you didn’t take.

        Here are choices you will someday regret having made:

        1. Choosing not to be brave.

        Being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid — in fact, the opposite is true. Courage without thought or meaning is simply recklessness. Brave people aren’t fearless;they’ve simply found something that matters more to them than fear.

        Say you’re scared to start a business. Find a reason that means more: creating a better future for your family, wanting to make a real difference, or hoping for a more rewarding and fulfilling life.

        Once you find a greater meaning, you also find courage. See fear not as something to shrink from but as something to overcome — because that’s all it is.

        2. Choosing the pain of regret over the pain of discipline.

        The worst words you can say are, “If I had only…”

        Think of all the things you’ve wanted to do but never have. What did you do instead? If you’re like me, you can’t recall. All you know is that time is gone and whatever you did instead wasn’t even worth remembering.

        Think about one thing you dreamed of doing five or 10 years ago but didn’t work to do… and think about how good you’d be today at that one thing if you had. Think about all the time you wasted and can never get back.

        Then, starting today, push yourself to do what you hope to do… so five or 10 years from now you won’t look back with regret. Sure it will be hard. Sure it will be painful.

        But it will be a lot less painful than how it will someday feel when you look back on what could have been… but isn’t.

        3. Choosing not to say, “I will.”

        A boss once gave me what I thought was an impossible task. I said, “OK. I’ll try.”

        He told me trying didn’t matter–as long as I didn’t quit, I’d finish it. Trying didn’t enter into it. Persistence was all that mattered.

        Often we say, “I’ll try,” because that gives us an out. Our egos aren’t on the line. Our identities aren’t on the line. After all, we’re just “trying.”

        Once you say, “I will,” your perspective changes. What previously seemed insurmountable is no longer a matter of luck or chance but of time and effort and persistence.

        When what you want to do really matters, don’t say, “I’ll try.” Say, “I will,” and then do everything possible to keep that promise to yourself.

        4. Choosing not to take plenty of shots.

        You may never create the perfect business plan, may never find the perfect partners or the perfect market or the perfect location, but you can find the perfect time to start — because that time is now.

        Talent, experience, and connections are important, but put your all into enough new things, and some will work.

        Plus, after you take enough shots, over time you’ll grow more skilled, more experienced, and more connected. And that will mean an even greater percentage of your efforts will succeed. Take enough shots, and learn from each experience, and in time you’ll have all the skills, knowledge, and connections you need.

        Ultimately, success is a numbers game; it’s all about taking a shot, over and over and over again. The more shots you take, the more times you will succeed. So get the power of numbers on your side and take as many shots as you can.

        There is no guarantee of success, but when you don’t take any shots at all, you’re guaranteed to always fail.

        5. Choosing not to move.

        Familiarity creates comfort. But comfort is often the enemy of improvement.

        If you have a great opportunity and the only thing holding you back is the thought of moving, move. If you want to be closer to family or friends and the only thing holding you back is the thought of moving, move. If you want to be closer to people who think and feel and act like you, move. (When I asked singer/songwriter Lee Brice for the one piece of advice he would give any aspiring country artist, he said, “Move to Nashville.”)

        When the fear of moving is the only thing holding you back, move.

        Don’t worry. You’ll soon find cool new places to hang out. You’ll soon develop new routines. You’ll soon make new friends. And you’ll gain a great new perspective on your life.

        Besides, Thomas Wolfe was wrong. If it doesn’t work out, you can go home again.

        6. Choosing not to let go.

        Bitterness, resentment, and jealousy are like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. You are the only one who loses.

        Life is too short to resent all the people who may have hurt you. Let hard feelings go.

        Then spend the energy you save cherishing the people you love and who love you.

        7. Choosing not to say you’re sorry.

        We all make mistakes, so we all have things we need to apologize for: words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, step in, to be there when we’re needed…

        Swallow your fear — or pride — and say you’re sorry. Then you’ll help the other person let go of their resentment or bitterness.

        And then you both get to make the freshest of fresh starts, sooner instead of later — or instead of never.

        8. Choosing not to throw out your backup plans.

        Backup plans can help you sleep easier at night. But backup plans can also create an easy out when times get tough.

        You will work a lot harder and a longer if your primary plan has to work because there is no other option. Total commitment — without a safety net — will spur you to work harder than you ever imagined possible.

        Then, if somehow the worst does happen (although the “worst” is never as bad as you think), trust that you will find a way to rebound.

        As long as you keep working hard and keep learning from your mistakes, you always will.

        9. Choosing to be too proud.

        Don’t be too proud to admit you made a mistake. Don’t be too proud to have big dreams, or to poke fun at yourself, or to ask other people for help.

        Don’t be afraid to take a chance and fall on your face… and then to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go again.

        Instead, take pride in the fact that no matter what might happen, you will always get up and go again.

        That way, you never truly lose — and your dreams can never, ever die.

        10. Choosing not to care.

        Rejection hurts. Sadness hurts. Failure hurts; sometimes a lot. So what do you do?

        You avoid getting hurt by deciding you no longer care. But then you never get to experience the joy of connection, the joy of happiness, and the joy of success.

        Choose to still be in the game. Choose to care.

        Choose to live.

        Now it’s your turn. What things do you hope to never to regret?

        ~ OR

        Winter Storm Octavia (pt II)

        *flashback*

        So there’s this guy.

        We’ll call him Nameless. Nameless because I literally stopped writing just before that last sentence and spent 15 minutes trying to think of an appropriate pseudonym, but nothing worked. He just is. He’s a confusingly attractive person; an author, a sort of introvert, an artist, a tech geek, a well-read intellectual snob, a phenomenal car-singer, a time-stopper…and just…cozy. But he’s wonderful and one of my favorite people on the planet. Anyway, last year, Nameless told me, “you’re like… a fat girl…”

        I wanted to punch him. Once for me, and about 80 more times for all the big beautiful ladies out there.

        But I let him continue, “No, you’re not fat but you’re like one of those insecure women that just want to be touched, or loved, or noticed. When I hug you, you react like you haven’t been hugged in years.”

        That stung. It was kinda true.

        It took me this long – yes, a full Earth’s rotation of the sun – to see it. I’ve been starving for unconditional companionship. The kind where I am accepted for all my goof, SNL-host wannabe-ness, full-sleeve tattoo dreams, dredlocks, quirks, wild ambitions and nerdish tendencies.

        enlightened

        I looked (and still do) for it from my mother. Fail. My father. Extra fail. My husband. Super fail. And now I had been trying to make up for lost time by this sort of speed dating, desperately seeking connection to another human. Epic fail. Ok, not-so epic fail; oddly enough it has been incredibly healing in many ways.

        As a mother, my most passionate task is to always exhibit to my boys the no-strings-attached agape-love I never received.

        It is also my job to love myself unconditionally and treat myself like a great prize to be won. My job. Mine. Just learned that. That right there. That’s the moral.

        I’ve said comically before, screw this, I’ll date myself. But really. Truly. I need to date myself. I need to love myself first. I need to be my own hero.

        Fine. Whatever.

        So, here’s my storm: I’m going to tell my own story. Not just glamorize ridiculous past dates like I have been. But really tell my story. All of it. From the beginning. From my mother teaching me to pinch my nose when I was four years old so it wouldn’t get too wide, to never feeling thin enough to be on national television in a bikini; from my father never being around to having my husband tell me I look ridiculous and need to be more like Michelle Obama. I have a voice that needs to be heard. It is not meant to shame or embarrass; it is meant to inspire, empower and heal — not just myself, but others. There are many sides to every story, and I’m not ashamed of mine anymore.

        It is called Eighty-Five Cents, and I hope to complete it in 2015.

        It took my life getting wrecked, me ignoring my calling, my life getting second-wrecked, and me being willing to be an open book for me to really be ready to love me, let go of the hurt, and realize that I’m not the only normal person out there struggling to acknowledge their own value in this world.

        I know it’s a little cheesy to end on the Frozen note, but really…have you actually listened to these words?

        The fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all.

        It’s time to see what I can do

        Test the limits and break through.

        No right. No wrong.

        No rules for me. I’m free.

        I’m one with the earth and sky.

        You’ll never see me cry.

        Here I stand.

        And here I’ll stay.

        I’ll rise like the break of dawn.

        That perfect girl is gone.

        Let the storm rage on.

        ~ OR