#triggered

I love that Jhené Aiko posted this on her Instagram story. (Courtesy of The Shade Room.)

I love that she was raw, open, and honest about the depth of her feelings.

I love that she sat with her feelings instead of running away from them and resorting to old, toxic habits.

I love that she spoke purely of the fear she felt in that moment.

I love the hashtag. Because it means that things can be going well, life may improve, darkness may give way to light, pain may dissipate–but a trigger is a trigger. And triggers can happen at any time. And they can push you to back to a place that’s all too familiar.

Which is when it’s time to speak on it, as Jhené did. Release it, find the words, and try very hard to say what you need to. Even if those words are covered in tears. Even if you’re sitting in an empty room. The walls can take it.

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you mean well.

You really do. When you know that a friend, family member, or someone in your life is going through a pretty difficult time, you want to help them however you can. Believe me, your concern and love is highly welcomed and appreciated. However, because of lack of understanding, empathy, or just not knowing what to say, there are certain statements that don’t really help. It happens to all of us. Speaking as someone who has shared concern and needed concern, here are some statements that, honestly, can remain unsaid.

Is it really that bad?
This question minimizes what the person is going through. It’s almost as if you’re weighing acceptable levels of pain and misery. Pain is pain. Misery is misery. It’s not up to any of us to define what constitutes as either.

Have you prayed about it?
If you know your friend or family member well and you know them as a person of faith, this isn’t a question that needs to be asked. Nine times out of ten, they’ve turned to their Creator for help, solace, and endurance. And even if they haven’t, prayer is personal. Instead of asking this particular question, assure your friend that you’re praying for them.

Try to be happy.
They’re trying. Most folks don’t want to be down, blue, or depressed. But this is what the person is going through. Or their chemical wiring. Just support them.

Don’t think about it so much. (Or, if you stop thinking about said thing, it will happen.)
This is an interesting one. Definitely well-meaning. And I’m all for re-focusing energies. I’m all for looking for ways to direct your attention to things that will keep you fulfilled and busy enough that you don’t have the time to think about your current situation. Here’s the reality about me: I can have 100 things to do, but my brain is still going. This is me. Maybe it’s you. So rather than investing in the plethora of ways I can fool my mind into not focusing on my current situation, just be there for me during the times when it’s quiet, my mind is racing, and I can’t focus at all.

How long is this going to last?
Is there a defined length of time that a person is supposed to feel what they’re feeling? This question implies that you feel that there is, and it stings. Redirect: I’ll be here, however long you need me to be.

No one is perfect, certainly, and no one provides support or empathy perfectly. I know I’ve inserted my foot in my mouth several times in my attempts to offer support for the people in my life. But everything is a lesson. With all the amazing ways I’m presently being cared for by my friends and family, I can pay it forward when someone needs me. And at the end of the day, shouldn’t we want to be the persons we needed at a certain time?

 

Torn.

“My sadness doesn’t take away from anyone else’s happiness and my sadness isn’t minimized because someone else has a sadder situation.”

I saw this quote a few minutes ago from Today show anchor Dylan Dreyer as she discussed her ongoing issues with infertility and sadly, a recent miscarriage. Contextually, it was just announced this morning that Dylan’s colleague, Jenna Bush Hager, is pregnant with her third child and that her other colleague, Hoda Kotb, adopted a new baby last week. Looking at the environment she’s in, then, you can imagine how her words struck me. I felt for her. Because those words are the absolute truth. Because those words are my truth.

~My sadness doesn’t take away from anyone else’s happiness~

Having longed for a partner and a love for many years now, I have shared in the utter joy of being present for friends, family, and others who have found their persons and their loves in life. I have smiled, cried tears of joy, cheered, whooped, encouraged, and have experienced every iota of their rejoicing. I have also experienced mind-boggling levels of sadness, loneliness, fear, and discouragement. I have cried tears of pain in my very private moments, supplicated my Heavenly Father for faith, love, and the power to simply go on, and have struggled to not drown in questions of why not me, why my person remained unseen and elusive. And I know I’m not the only one. I’m sure, whatever you’re going through in life, you’ve been there, as well.

~my sadness isn’t minimized because someone else has a sadder situation~

But I have another personal truth, something else that Dylan’s words spoke to, something I need to change: I tend to minimize my emotions when they escalate, believing that my sadness is nothing compared to what some other folks are going through. It’s my way of not drowning; whatevering it all and trying to think of others who have it worse. I even go as far as trivializing how I feel: how can wanting a love compare to the sheer suffering I know some people are going through? (We engage in a variety of things for self-preservation, don’t we?)

Anyway, let’s try to help each other, because my struggles continue, and I’m sure yours do, too.

  1. As Dylan pointed out so well, you can be happy for someone and sad at the same time. It’s the duality of life. To me, we were wired to juggle, not just work and tasks, but our emotions. You can be genuinely thrilled for someone and still feel the pangs of your own personal distress. It’s life.
  2. Don’t dismiss or whatever those difficult emotions. (I’m also speaking to myself here.) The world is large enough for plenty of people to feel what they feel. If someone is having it worse in life, pray for them and pray for yourself, too. You both need the same thing–relief–despite the differences in what you’re individually enduring.
  3. I said it before and I say it to all of us and I say it to myself: please continue to hang on.

2019…so far…

black calendar close up composition
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s been rough, mi gente. (One thing that characterizes the year so far is my newfound interest in watching Spanish videos on YouTube. Go figure.) Anyway, I’d love to say that my year has been going well, but…it hasn’t been easy for your Square Peg. I won’t go into too much detail. Just know that loneliness and sadness and painful self-reflection and unfulfilled expectations have been so real. So vividly real. Are you going through it? Life and all of that? I’d love to say that I’m handling it and healing but…it’s a slow-going process. Even writing has been hard. Even writing this brief post is difficult. Because I don’t have a desire to do much except lay on the couch these days.

But despite the slowness of the healing, there is some of it going on. What’s been working for me?

  1. Prayer. I deeply believe in the significant presence of a Creator and a Heavenly Father in my life, and I see and recognize that He’s watching over me.
  2. People. Because He’s been ensuring that my closest friends and family and confidantes continually reach out to me and check up on me. And I’m a private person when it comes to personal pain. The fact that I’m confiding in a few folks about what I’m going through is hardly random to me.
  3. Pause. My desire to permanently be on my couch notwithstanding (I realize that I’m dealing with depression and the loss of interest in doing anything that comes with it), moments of deep rest have been helpful.

Whatever happens, if you’re having a hard go of it: speak up. Say something. And try very hard to hold on. Even if it hurts.

(One more thing. When you pick up on empathy in your life, really being understood, the presence of true compassion: these are the people that should remain confidantes and listening ears. Not everyone has this capability. Not their fault; to me, empathy isn’t a common thing that we all own and can share with others. I’m working on it myself. Anyway, when you see empathy and feel empathy, move in that direction. And own the right to not share your heart and confidences with everyone, and certainly with those that will never truly understand or don’t know how.)

The Watched Pot.

Never boils.

Specifically: A watched pot never boils. Time moves slowly when you’re waiting or potboiling watching for something to happen. I’ve been thinking about those words this week, specifically because my mother said them to me on the phone. During our conversation a few days ago, I hinted at one of the major Worries for a Singleton, which is #1,089,556 on the list: hesitating about making a major life decision because you wonder if something or, rather someone, waits for you around the corner. (And a part of you wants to wait to make that major life decision until you’re 1 of 2.) Her response: “Oh, Adjoa, don’t worry about those things. A watched pot never boils. I don’t want those thoughts to consume you. It’s easier said than done, I know, but don’t overthink it.” I let her words marinate before replying that I wasn’t necessarily obsessing, but merely thinking aloud.

My initial, knee-jerk reaction? 1. Pure irritation. Couldn’t I just express myself without the assumption that I was engaging in overthinking? Couldn’t I just say I was thinking about the future and what will be without being reminded of a slowly boiling pot? My next reaction: 2I’m never not going to think about my future and whether I’ll share it with someone. It’s always going to be a thought. It pays rent, that thought. It shares a room in my brain and it ain’t going away. Next reaction: 3. Grateful for the acknowledgement that it’s all easier said than done. As I get older and those desires to have my own family grow, it’s certainly harder to just be carefree and let it go and don’t think about it and la la la. It just is. Final reaction: 4She’s right, don’t overthink it. And as much as I have a Master’s Degree in Overthinking, my mother was absolutely correct in knowing that I do overthink, I do over-worry, I do over-consume in endless ruminations about life and the future and love and all that. And she, my biggest fan and cheerleader, didn’t want me to drive myself crazy.

Y’all. It’s hard wrapping your brain around needing something and going through life not seeing that thing manifest itself. It’s just hard. No amount of well-meaning advice…

  • Don’t think about it!
  • Are you even ready? It’s really hard!
  • Are you putting it out there?
  • Just move on!

…will remove the fact that in life, when we need something and we’re not seeing it, it’s just difficult to la la la and keep calm and carry on. Overthinking will happen. Mental over-consumption will happen. Emotional merry-go-rounds will occur. But it’s important to extract what you need–the acknowledgement of things being easier said than done, for example, or the reminder that people who love you don’t want you to stress yourself out–and try, very hard, to keep it moving. It doesn’t mean you stop thinking or praying or wondering, but it means you fight (fight hard) to not be consumed.

So the pot is there and I take comfort in knowing that it will boil. Until then, I’ll be peeking in the kitchen every now and again.

Blogtober #23: On Letting Things Go.

letting things go

Sometimes I wonder if I love fall so much because it’s the visual embodiment of all the things that, psychologically, I should be doing a better job of maintaining. Every year, nature takes stock and detoxes, shedding its skin in the loveliest, most wondrous of ways. It’s a lesson to be learned, and certainly one to echo.

Because, dear reader, I know how to do the following things:

drive long distances

remember every vestige of wrongs done to me

 Let’s discuss that last one. Is it really letting go and shedding if I hold on to the memory, almost lovingly, to my chest? Is my intent to remember not to be hurt again really a thinly veiled attempt to just remember the hurt(s)?

And yet, one thing I actively try to do is be a good forgiver. In the past, I held grudges like a boss. As I grew up and looked inward, it was important that growth and maturing involved a decided effort to strip away some of the vendettas grudges I was holding on to. I’ve come a long way. But there’s still road to traverse.

Sometimes I think wanting to protect our hearts, as women, involves a large dose of remembering. The heart needs protection. It needs a shield. We have to remember the past so we don’t repeat letting people inside who shouldn’t be there. But balance. So much balance is necessary. To wrap the heart in a shield doesn’t also mean to let it grow cold with memory.

Look at all the trees around you, just stripping things away and readying themselves for the cyclical new beginning.

Copy and paste.

photo of dried leaves lying on the ground
Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels.com

Blogtober #16: Veruca Salt.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is on the telly. One of my absolute favorites of all time. And you know what? Charlie was great and good and all that, but there’s only one person I identify with. When I was younger, it was definitely a secret admiration. But now? We’re soul sisters.

Miss Veruca Salt. Selfish. Demanding. Bratty.

But she knew what she wanted, didn’t she?

Brattiness aside, I’m learning to just claim what I want in life and what I deserve, Veruca style. Even if it seems completely unfathomable or unlikely to happen. Being a general pessimist/cynic/skeptic/side eyer of all of life, as I’m wont to be, sometimes I turn that side eye toward myself. Which keeps me largely realistic, yes, but also occasionally limits me. Because sometimes keeping things real strips away that other thing I truly value: pure imagination. So I’m learning balance. Feet on the ground, yes, but not diminishing my possibilities, either.

So, yeah, I want *it* now. Whatever I want it to be.

Happy Fall TV Watching.

it had to happen.

December 2012: after eight months of waiting and impatiently wearing two different hair textures on my head (the relaxed ends and the growing, textured, natural roots), I walked into a salon and big chopped my hair. The smile on my face below should tell you how I felt about my decision.

bigchop2

I felt free. At the end of the day, a sense of freedom captured me and sweetly refused to let me go. As the months and years passed, I experimented with my natural hair, as you well know. ‘Fros, tapered cuts, a variety of protective styles–my hair officially became my canvas. And whenever I sensed one iota of boredom, it was time to change the painting.

Take a walk down memory lane with me…

Deep down, though? Real talk? That inner Square Peg longed for that feeling. The feeling that took over me when I got back into my car on that winter’s day in 2012. When I gazed in the mirror and felt that indescribable sense of freedom and beauty and satisfaction. As that revolving door of style changes continued to open and close, I really think that I was trying to re-capture that moment in the car, when it was just me and my ‘lil fro.

Fast forward to last Saturday. It had to happen. I had to go back.

Back to square one, dear reader. Back to the beginning. (And even shorter than the previous big chop, ha!) I sat in my stylist’s chair and I told her what I was thinking and despite her “we’re cutting it again?” response, I showed her the picture of what I was thinking and she took out that razor and got to work.

Look: after years of twist-outs and Bantu knots and braid-outs and all those lovely looks under the sun, here’s the truth: this is my look. This is the style for me. I think, with my previous cuts just a few months ago (here and here), that I was subconsciously moving in increments, slowly heading back to the start. And here we are. Finally.

A few fundamental truths:

  1. Short hair almost automatically influences your style. I found myself wanting to ensure that my earring flow was on point; that my red lippie was on point (and a bit of purple, too, as you can see); etc. It’s almost organic the way it happens.
  2. This is a big one for me. (No pun intended as you read on.) I had head issues. For various reasons, I thought my head was just way too large. Even when I big chopped in 2012, there was always a voice of doubt in the back of my mind concerning this head of mine. And as my stylist was razoring and cutting last Saturday, I almost panicked a bit, wondering if I had made a completely ridiculous decision. But look at that round head! It’s delicious!
  3. Barring a wig or weave if I feel like it, the short hair life is the life for me. When winter comes, I plan on wearing tons of hats and head wraps to keep the cool air from freezing me out, and could allow the ‘fro to grow just a bit, but the short hair look is mine to keep.

I am not my hair, as India says. My hair is an accessory that can be shaped and created into whatever strikes my fancy. For me, the inside needs to be shiny and lovely first, followed by the accentuating of the inside. In all honesty, that’s what happened in 2012: the outside finally matched the inside. Openly, visibly, plainly: me.

 

Le 40 is Le Terrifying and I Can’t Understand Why.

Y’all. Why am I so scurred about turning 40????

A bit of background: growing up, no age ever really scared me off. I ached to be 12. I fortycouldn’t wait to be 16. 21 was super cool. 25? Give me 5. And if you’ve read any of my past posts, you know about the wonder, amazement, and sheer beauty that 30 brought me. (There are too many posts to link about 30; just hit that search button, playa.) As the ages continued, I embraced each new year, grateful for the increase in wisdom and self-discovery, among other awesome things that came with getting older.

But why is 40 giving me all the terrors known to man? What is it about that number?

Oh, and the whole “you’re only as old as you feel” adage means nothing to me. I was born old and stressed out.  If anything, getting older has given me ample opportunities to age backwards. Meet your Melanin Benjamin Button, everyone. So why do I envision this new decade hiding behind a dark corner, flexing its long claws, ready to strike?

Here are some irrational, pre-40 fears:

  1. All my bones will fall apart.
  2. Someone will refer to me as middle-aged.
  3. My hormones will get further out of whack and someone will find me on the side of the road muttering unintelligibly to myself.

I said irrational, didn’t I?

In the past, like most kids, I always felt too young and dreamed of being older. And now…give me trips to the library during school-sanctioned summertime and rolling in the grass in the backyard without fear of ticks, please. Perhaps it’s that, the strange sense of losing youth, that’s bothering me. Even though I craved getting older, I also knew that the process would take time. Fast forward to now, where time is a giant clock that has “40” emblazoned on its surface, staring back at me with its arms folded and an impatient tapping of its foot. We have arrived.

In the grand scheme of things, rationally, I recognize that the age is really only a number. It’s relevant for tax, census, and records purposes. It doesn’t define me or create some sort of blueprint of what my life will become. I know, I know…

Here are some of my favorites who are turning 40 this year right along with me (or already have):

Anyway, I will continue to heave giant sighs and wonder what 40 will bring me. Meanwhile, you will tell me in the comments how you dealt with new ages and/or decades, won’t you? Because you love This Square Peg and want to comfort her somehow, right? Right? Riiiight?