A love story: not your ordinary love

I remember when I first met you…well, maybe not exact exactly when we met, but I remember what you were doing when you first stood out to me. I remember the group of us walking to the Subway. I was going back and forth with the loud one from New York, and you were there, observing. You told me later that you were going to write me off if I was impressed by the fast talking and the bravado. I remember being impressed by the fact that you laughed enough to be part of the interaction but that largely, you were taking stock of me.  I saw myself in you.

I remember when I started taking you seriously. I remember when I started listening closer when you waxed poetically about how in awe you were of me. How you made something little like holding my hand feel like a big deal. How you didn’t have a problem letting anyone know that if I would have you, you would be had. Happily. Unabashedly so. I remember that you had me looking at myself differently, that you made me realize that I wanted a man who made me feel like I was the only woman in the room no matter where we were or who we were with.  I saw myself in you.

I remember when I really saw you for the first time. The very first time we met, I remember telling a mutual acquaintance that you talked too much. He laughed. The second time we met, you got out of the car after driving for hours on no sleep and walked in my house in the wee hours of the morning and asked to marry me. On bended knee. In front of people that knew and loved me. I didn’t exactly take you seriously, but when I answered “maybe” I realized that I wanted to be asked. You said things to me that told you me you’d already decided I would be yours, if not for ever, then definitely for a time. Somehow, you managed to be chivalrous and mannish at the same time. Your words could build me up or knock me down, depending on your mood.  I saw myself in you.

I remember how you felt like home so QUICKLY.  I issued a flirty challenge and you accepted. We danced until the club closed…and everybody else had been ready to go. You let things move at my pace, though you also let me know that you let me have my way. We watched Netflix or Hulu or DVDs until I fell asleep. I would lay on your chest and you told me that I fit perfectly. You weighed your words; you didn’t talk much but when you did you said plenty. I saw myself in you.

You thought love could be bought. As I watched your pockets get deeper, I realized that. I also realized you weren’t sure of my price. You offered diamonds, vacations,  beautiful dresses, and the house of my dreams. Had I chosen you, I could have had those things, but I wouldn’t have had happiness…because that is all you thought to give. Though I did want those things, I wanted to earn them, I wanted to build with someone, I wanted someone who supported my dreams the way I supported theirs. I chose me.

You thought love was pretty words. You never ran out of them. I never though they weren’t sincere, I just realized that you chose words that supported the truth you believed in, instead of the Truth that was. I couldn’t live in your world, as beautiful as it was, because it had no depth.I wanted your pretty words, but pretty words could not conceal the fact that the world was burning down all around you. Your pretty words turned into silence when I asked about the Truths you could no longer hide. The silence was deafening. I chose me.

You thought love was machismo. You wanted to be the man, the head.You asked me about my God to make sure we were equally yoked. You quoted the Bible to me. At the same time, sex was equated with intimacy. In better times, we were lockstep. In worse times, doubt assailed you. I watched you become someone you had disparaged to me in other times. You brushed me off when I questioned your decisions. As much as I wanted a man to lead, I didn’t know how how to follow when I wasn’t sure of the destination. I chose me.

You thought love was a game. You were a gambler at heart. Your words were strategic. In the beginning, you could call and raise with the best of them. When the stakes got high and we started playing for keeps the game got interesting. I showed my hand, and you could talk strategy out loud, but you couldn’t quite decide to play or fold.   I got up from the table. I chose me.

Each “you” has brought me closer to me. When I looked at my mate- my mirror- and no longer saw a reflection of me I moved on. It wasn’t always clean. There were late night phone calls, texts, and emails asking what had happened to us. I realize now that I asked you a question you couldn’t answer. We grew apart because you had no idea who I had become. I wasn’t the same person I was when we met. I didn’t want the same things and I couldn’t force myself to be held to that same agreement.

I still love “you”.  I am eternally grateful for the knowledge that only you could give me. I now know me better so I love me better. To be continued…

 

 

 

Unconditional Love….

I have been letting these words roll around in my head…and I’m finally ready to let them go.

In recent days, I have had a chance to stare love right in the face, and make a decision.  I am not an over or under lover. I love unconditionally.

For the first time, I understand that. For the first time, I know that everyone else does not have that same understanding.

This is a lesson that I learned over time, one cemented from me in a moment where I could have had all rights to cry, curse, complain, and disavow  a love that I have nurtured. In past times, I have loved despite distance, misunderstandings, lack of communication, and feeling hurt. That love was not a gentle love. I said things I could have said better, or things I shouldn’t have said at all as reaction to being hurt in the moment. I didn’t say things for fear of looking weak, or stupid. I walled up my defenses for fear of being seen as gullible and because lashing out let me strike the last blow or get the last hurt. I mastered appearing nonchalant and being nonplussed in the moment. I know now that those situations had divine purpose.

Recently, I have had conversations with the people I love about love. Conversations that helped me recognize the defenses I had mounted and conversations that made me realize that I no longer saw love as a battle or a prize to be won. I now see love as a way of being . Unconditional love doesn’t threaten to leave when things get tough, it recognizes mounted defenses and breaks past them to get to the root of the matter. Unconditional love recognizes when a fear of vulnerability, a fear of being found wanting, a fear of being seen as imperfect inspires deflection for fear of being seen in the naked light of the truth and being judged. Being able to love unconditionally allows for recognition of conditional love.

Conditional love is learned. When children feel that their parents love them for their accomplishments, they learn to love conditionally. When parents guilt try to make their children fit in a mold of who they want them to be, children who strive to fit the mold and hide and forsake parts of themselves learn to love conditionally. When children feel that one child is valued over the rest of their siblings for academic or athletic prowess, they learn to love conditionally. In a child’s understanding, they are the center of the world. Though children are inherently wise and innocent that child’s action -or inaction- can create new wisdom that makes that innate wisdom a lie. A child whose parents messily  divorce may strive to keep peace by being a model child, at which point being a model child can become viewed as the condition of their parents’ love, especially if doing so helps to maintain the peace. A child whose parents turn a childhood pastime into a means through which a child will repay the parents’ sacrifice, the child’s excellence in that pastime can becomes viewed as a condition of love. That view can become reinforced if the parents shift their attention to a child -and that can be a sibling, a cousin, or a stranger- whose star is on the rise when that child disappoints by losing interest or becoming injured. Parents who do not clarify that these interests and behaviors are a mere bonus to the love that the they have for the child simply because they were born to them set the stage to creating adults who only love conditionally.

Conditional Lovers are shocked to the core when they meet unconditional lovers, especially after a lifetime of feeling they they are loved conditionally. In adulthood, we meet them as men who cannot commit to women without feeling like they can financially provide for them. We meet them as men who would play on the fringes of love and
love women with their bodies instead of with their hearts. We meet them as women who do understand love as physical or emotional abuse. We meet them as women who would take pretty baubles over emotional support. Both fear and misunderstanding prevent them from being vulnerable and allowing a partner to see their true selves, because the first love they had ever known may not have been open to or allowed them to see that the true self is worth knowing, cultivating, and loving.

The beautiful thing is that no man, woman, or child is sentenced to love conditionally for a lifetime. Any one who has the courage to develop, explore, or share their most secret self can be gifted with and gift others with unconditional love.

The journey to unconditional love is not an easy one, but it is certainly one worth taking.

 

How it make you feel…

I used to celebrate the fact that there wasn’t one person I knew who knew all of me. I learned to compartmentalize myself to stop people from being able to use my insecurities or vulnerabilities to hurt me. Rather than sharing, I would focus on the issues, complaints, concerns, or celebration of the other party I was speaking to.

Then I realized there isn’t a person alive who can say one person knows all of them.

As I step into a season wherein I embrace transparency, I am finding achieving balance difficult.  I have found myself looking for a spark of recognition in the faces of all the men I meet . I have been looking for a reflection of who I want myself to be. As yet, I have yet to see a flicker.

I have always said that patience is not a virtue I own, but I have always meant it in the context of myself and my relationships.  I was impatient with my own growth. If I felt like I understood the lesson intellectually, I wanted to be the change. If I had a different perspective of a problem than all the people around me, I wanted them to hop on the solution I had found. If I identified a need for a change in my relationship, I wanted my partner to change TODAY.  When I decided I could have a forever partner, I was looking for him in the daytime with a flashlight, and hoped he was doing the same. While I can’t say that those desires are a thing of my past, I can say I have found a new peace in the meantime.

A friend told me that in the journey from where/who you were to where you are going/who you are becoming, grace lies in the middle. While the words gave me comfort at the time because I knew that grace was the walk/leap of faith you take while you make the transition, I realized that my expectation of what grace would feel like was wrong.  I thought grace would be synchronistic events that gave me hope and comfort. I thought grace would be support in a form I wanted to see it in. I thought grace would be a chain reaction in which I could see things moving forward slowly but surely. I thought grace would be what kept me going.

It turns out that grace is a stern talking to from a friend. Grace is a day or a number of days where I can say I can relate to the world around me in living color instead of in black and white. Grace is being able to choose a direction when no compass exists. Grace is finding a way to tune into the messages that the universe sends me and to act on the flashes of inspiration and insight I get. Grace is accepting the fact that I know what recognition from a partner feels like, and detaching from my expectations of how and when my partner takes shape. Grace is affirming that I can love without fear, that love and peace are my way of life, and that I in myself am enough and walking confidently in that truth. Grace is waking up with the realization that I don’t have to search every face I see for recognition, because real recognizes real and God’s timing is perfect.

Grace is a balancing act on a course that winds, widens, and flattens out in a timing that no man knows.  I am grateful that I am supported.

 

Why is Cam Newton so Polarized?

Sally Jenkins wrote an article that some viewed as tear down of an amazing athlete. I read it and thought it was a love letter.

Cam Newton is brilliant, beautiful, feared and misunderstood because he is walking unapologetically in his purpose.  Since he was a young boy, he knew that he was destined to walk the path he is now walking. He walked that path, with a confidence that some people mistakenly describe as arrogance. According to this prayer, Cam Newton has never tried to be anyone but himself. In a world where fear of what might or might not happen deters some people from pursuing their dreams, Cam Newton has boldly set out to realize his vision.

While I won’t negate the role that race might play in the criticisms against Cam, I daresay the fact that Cam Newton has not faltered in his belief in his dream despite statistics that would have suggested otherwise has been huge. Cam Newton affirmed himself and laid the groundwork for the position he sits in today. The same people who once labeled Cam a Diva can’t help but give credit where credit is due. Cam walked toward his goal relentlessly and fearlessly. Cam Newton told reporters he would be a great, and this year, he has been. In the face of all naysayers, Cam is poised to become to the first quarterback to win a Heisman Trophy, a collegiate football championship, an NFL MVP and a Superbowl.

What I noted highlighted Sally’s article was despite the fact she criticized him for being arrogant, and egotistical, there was an underlying theme of admiration. Cam walking confidently in his Truth scares people, and fear makes people uncomfortable.  This Black quarterback who has been himself unapologetically throughout his career and has become exactly what he told them he would be is scary, particularly when there has been so much pressure for him to “tone it down” and toe the line. That fear is based in the recognition of someone who acknowledges his gift, and understands the road to achieve his goal may be have bumps along the way.  What they don’t understand is that a roadblock is not a failure; it can either deter you from achieving a goal or renew you tenacity. What they don’t grasp is that we all have a choice, and that God don’t make no mistakes.

Some people have decried Cam Newton as an improper role model for dancing in the end zone and playing a enjoying himself while playing a position that traditionally has more stoic players.  I can’t think of a better role model for anyone than a man who smiles through adversity, does a job he loves and who is walking steadfastly and faithfully toward his dream. I hope that I get to watch Cam Newton make history today. If I don’t, since I know that Cam is walking in his purpose, I have no doubt he will one day.

 

Dab on ’em Cam.

The Lost Files…TOTD

Sometimes we miss out blessing because it doesn’t show up exactly the way we think it should. Don’t be married to the idea of how it will show up…and be willing to trust your intuition. If divine order and perfect timing exist-and they do- then no matter how good or bad it looks as it develops, the thing you ask for will show up exactly when and how it is supposed to. Don’t get lost in the details. Our God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent and He wants better for you than you know you can have. You may not understand every step in the journey, but enjoy it. You are divinely loved, provided for, and protected.

What would you release to attain the things you desire?

I got chewed out a couple days ago.

Thoroughly.

While I didn’t agree with everything that was said, the conversation spurred me into action…and reflection.

I have written a lot on this blog about synchronicity, knowing that God doesn’t bring you situations, places, or people by mistake. As well as I know that, I need to be reminded every once in a while. Sometimes I get a text or read a tweet that speaks to me. Sometimes someone speaks a word to my life. The journey that I am on at present has felt like nothing less than a roller coaster I can’t get off of.

I have been fiercely independent my whole life. While that is a trait that I wear as a badge of honor, I now realize that this ferocity is one that should be tamed. I recently decided that I wanted and could have a partner. Though I have dated with the best of intentions, I can look back on the ways I didn’t, or couldn’t open up all the way.  I think of the times I refused a kind offer for no other reason than “I got it” came out of my mouth reflexively. I think of the times I carried a burden I never shared because I didn’t know what sharing it would look like. I think of the times I got pissed of because I wasn’t asked how I was doing when I’m not sure I would have answered honestly.

Matthew 7:7 says “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”. What it doesn’t say is that you need to be willing to do the work to get what you ask for.

Recently, I have been confronting my own definition of femininity. If conventional definitions suggest softness, I’ve never quite found myself in alignment with that. While  I am certainly capable of great softness, the way my tact is set up….my love sometimes feels tough. I want you to know the truth as I see it, and I want you to know it in a way that precludes misunderstanding. Will I tell you if I don’t think we should date? Have I suggested breakup sex when someone’s change didn’t come quickly enough for me? Absolutely. Unapologetically. If women are the illogical, emotional sex, I spit the real rap raw with no emotions involved….and shared my emotionality with the friends I trust. I didn’t show that I was angry when a request was unanswered or when he showed up late. I was unflustered, even if I was hurt.

What I’m learning, though, is that I just because I have done that before doesn’t mean I have to continue to do that. If I consider myself a War Goddess who is ever-ready for battle, I cut first, I cut deeply, and I cut last. What I realize now is that if I cut everyone down, there is no one left to stand up next to me. Cutting everyone down is a way to run from myself and my vulnerability. Rather than trusting someone else with my heart, I would build a fortress around it to save myself the hurt. Rather than trusting the journey, I would get out of the car and look wistfully down the road wondering what could have been. What I understand now is that there is honor and integrity in telling someone “I need you”, and that needing someone else does not diminish my independence. It highlights our interdependence. I can certainly do “bad all by myself”, but I’m at a point where doing it by myself feels lonely.

I want a partner. My journey to becoming the partner I want to be is filled with reminders about being transparent, allowing myself to be emotional. It means sharing my truest feelings. It means being as transparent as I expect my partner to be.   I want to become a general tactician instead of a defensive strategist. I know that this will not be without effort and a commitment to change on my part.

I have no idea what kind of man is a partner to a War Goddess, but I do know he doesn’t have to be a Warrior.

I can’t wait to find out.

 

 

 

Mature Manifestation OR Be the Change You Wish to See

Just before the New Year came in, a friend asked me about my New Year’s Resolutions.  I hadn’t given it any thought, so I told her I didn’t know what they would be yet.  What I didn’t know is that I had been preparing myself for what would be my resolution throughout 2015.

Reflecting on it, 2015 was a hell of a year for me, professionally, personally, romantically, and financially. There were many highs, and there were many lows. It was also the year in which I have attended the most weddings in a single year; I attended 4. At each wedding, I found myself in a different mindset. At the first wedding, I was excited for the couple and found myself excited about what the rest of the year would bring. At the second I was excited because their path to the alter was not a conventional one. Being at that wedding felt like a testament to I Corinthians 13:7 and I wondered how the verse would play out in my life. At the third wedding, I was happy for the couple and a bit pissed off that I didn’t have a date. At the fourth – a beautiful New Years Eve Wedding- I was happy for the couple and wondering how I had watched 2 of my very close male friends get married and  didn’t have a prospect on the horizon.

For me, 2015 was also a year that I learned quite about about myself and my beliefs. I have always believed in the Power of Manifestation, and I can say up until 2015, I was a master at it. With confidence,  I asked something and I got it. I said what I wanted, and so it was…until 2015. I talked to my sister circle about how there had to be levels to this ish, because I had no idea how I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I am grateful for the many conversations that allowed me reach a new understanding.

So….I didn’t think I could have a partner until 2015. I dated, I loved, I lost, and thought that was what life had for me. I realized, not only could I have one, but that there was work required on my part to make him appear.  I’d written about his qualities and found myself dating him….though I also realized the qualities I’d written about didn’t quite hit the mark. I talked to friend-girls who were going through the same things I was. We joked and lamented about the way that things were and weren’t showing up. As we talked, I realized that as I matured in my beliefs about the Power of Manifestation, more was required of me. Manifestation also requires action on my part: understanding the “why” behind the “what”, releasing what doesn’t serve, and becoming what I am asking for.  It certainly hasn’t been a short or painless process.

I like to think of the Power of Manifestation as a continuum. As I said, when I first started acknowledging my ability to make things appear in my life, I didn’t need to do much more than say what I wanted and watch it show up.  As I started paying more attention to how things showed up, I realized that specificity matters.  The things I asked for would show up but so would some aspects that I hadn’t considered.  I certainly can’t say that there isn’t learning involved when things show up that way, but I can say it requires a conscious effort to be present for the lesson.  It can be very frustrating to experience the roadblocks or the lack of immediacy when you are used to things coming in an instant.  Something else that becomes frustrating it feels like the joke is always on you because the thing you ask for can show up and it looks NOTHING like what you thought. It turns out to be a learning experience instead of a direct manifestation.  For example; a job offer that appears to be better than what you could expect on paper. Starting the job, you realize that the job is a diamond in the rough. The hours are more than you expected, the work is starting from the bottom up, requires working long hours, meetings that take time away from the work itself and bridging HUGE communication gaps.  The lumps that I have taken, the conversations I have had, have driven me to understand that the “why” is key.

Looking at the “why” has been life changing.  In the past, I thought about what I wanted; the underlying assumption was always been that getting what I wanted would make me happy. This past year has certainly disproven that assumption.  Looking at the “why” has also changed the “what” for me. The “whats” that I identify are generally descriptive of the things I need. I asked for a communicative partner, but I did not ask for consistency or transparency.  I asked for balance, but didn’t have clarity about what my partner would balance in me.  I asked for a man for all seasons, a man who would spend most of his time in spring and summer with me, but I never talked about what the winter or the fall looked like.  I asked for a silent strength, but didn’t ask that he speak his truth when I asked for it.

I have since revised my list…and revised how I looked at myself.  I am striving to be what I ask for.