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The dislike many of you feel for Lawrence stems for the real duality of his character.

This idea that many men ruin women who want to believe in their potential by pure laziness.

These character types usually go on and do better in the same fundamentals of a relationship that you begged for in a new relationship or life chapter. Leaving many women feeling disheartened. Plainly, Lawrence’s character is a mirror to many realities that women have been facing for decades.

Cause let’s face it, Lawrence went from Bum to Yum in the matter of one season.

So, why is his character so divisive amongst the sexes?

On one hand you have the #LawrenceHive which is all about praising and uplifting this character until the very end.

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Men see Lawrence as a mirror to their own downfalls and triumphs. They connect to the fact that Lawrence was lost and uninspired. A feeling many of us as millennials have dealt with.

As black men with a passion, they understood Lawrence’s need to pour his all into the project “Whoot Whoot”…they even understood him getting so lost in his own mess that he forgot to be the man Issa needed. Lawrence’s storyline holds true to what many men experience,  from his lack of initiative in his own life to finally realizing he needed to step up.

Being meant by Issa’s betrayal in the midst of getting his shit together or “trying” set fires in the egos of male viewers…and the hive was born.

Fast forward to later seasons when he decided that fuckin hoes and taking numbers (and STD tests) was the way to go instead of dealing with the raw emotions left for Issa (and her cheating); this was the perfect reflection of how men often deal with painful breakups.

The internet exploded over whether or not Lawrence was actually a f*ckboy or not due to his situationship with Tasha; the answer is yes fellas. He was knee deep in f*ckboy season as a “good guy” in response to broken trust with his ex.

He went on emotional lockdown while still trying to figure out how to have sex without the attachment. From Tasha, to ole girl he dated at the office, to his various sexapades. Our boy had what seemed to be his first “hoe phase;” accept that and move on.

This character is you, you is this character.

Because If Issa is a mirror for millennial females then Lawrence is that for our male counterparts.

Then there’s the majority of the female population who feel that this character is a waste of  a perfectly good black and white button up…

Insecure Season 4

 

But come on girls…he looked GOODT!

This fictional character is showcasing the hard pill that many-a-woman has had to swallow.

 

Issa: “I don’t know. I got the nigga with potential. You know, I got the work-in-progress. And it took a lot of support and patience. I just feel like she is reaping all the benefits of his time with me.”


Shit! Been there girl and it is not a pleasant feeling.

Lawrence is so convincing that it leaves many women feeling that they know him a little too well. He is their reminder of the guy who sat in his potential on their couches, forgot their birthdays, drained them emotionally/mentally/spiritually.

Then left to only improve on the shit they needed for years. Lawrence is their Tyrone, Brandon, Shawn, Tim, Sam, Anthony.

He is too clear a mirror.

The very character traits that helps male viewers connect with him is the very reason women can’t stand him.
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While men think that women should take the good with the bad in this character (and them); women are pushing back tired of the expectation that they should hold down a man barely trying. The fight over who was wrong and who is right is never- ending. Women are tired of “growing men for someone else.” Men want understanding in their struggle phases while women scream that they don’t get the same in return.

Personally, I love to see it. The dynamics that this character brings forces us to confront our old ghosts in a new light; and if we let it, ourselves.

This recent season brings things full circle. With only 4 episodes left in season 4; Lawrence has finally realized that he is possibly still emotionally connected to Issa and the only reason he left is because she cheated at a time when he wasn’t his best self. 
It is painfully clear to most of us that men tend to process breakups well after women have made peace with it. The beginning stages offer many distractions like Tasha was for Lawrence. But the road to moving on must first bypass the person he has yet to let go of…Issa. It’s a familiar, sometimes tough story because it is often an experience we’ve had in some way.

 

The beauty of his character isn’t surrounded by the question of if he will get back with Issa but whether or not he can become the man he’s wanted to be since season 1 and the man someone like Issa deserved.

We see his insecurities surface on how he views himself through his interactions with Condola as he tries to distance himself from who he use to be with romantic trips, lunch dates, and moonlighting as a sauve party guest. Lawrence is every man, just trying to convince hisself that he can be everything his potential will allow.

The missing piece is the understanding that breakups can spark growth.

This is clear in Lawrence’s character as he got fit, got a job, started shaving, and began to care for himself better. Sometimes breakups change a person. This too is a hard pill to swallow for those grown hoarse due to emotionally screaming for that same change.

Maybe his character will grow out of the show; I honestly think that he has much to offer to male and female viewers alike and would love to see continued character development.

The truth of his character is that the reflection feels too real. It’s raw. It’s honest. And that is why it is needed.

Let LBF hear your thoughts on the topic! Comment below and let’s build a conversation.

 

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For a while I found myself locked in a daydreamy memory of how the kisses felt when I was 16. How intoxicating lovemaking was when I was 19; and how intense being inlove had been with the past love of my life. Some strange affliction had befallen me and caused me to magically forget all the days I spent chasing, the nights I spent crying, and the crippling pain of betrayal. 

“The one that got away” means so many things for each of us but a fantasy of past love is how best I describe this idea of missing a person you once had. What is it that keeps us going back to late adolescent memories that seem to brighten in the distance?

We replay exactly the moments that fill current voids in our lives and relationships making us believe that it’s all still possible. Sweet nostalgia.

NOSTALGIA : a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition

Fixation on the idea of someone you once romantically connected with will have you questioning the reality of the connections you’re currently in. Plainly, “the one that got away” is the tape you measure every romantic love by; ensuring that you’re never truly satisfied with what’s in front of you.

BUCKO you’re so stuck in the past. We’ve all done it. Romanticized this idea of someone and what we think could’ve been had the stars aligned or the character flaws within us behaved.

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RESPONSE FROM A MALE BUILDER

The problem with holding someone in your past on a pedestal is that people change including them and you. Who you were is now fashioned from different life experiences including the shared one you had. It’s interesting to me that so many men seem to hold on to the idea of a woman who they wronged in their youth.

Does it not occur to them that she has forever been changed by the pain she endured? The girl you once knew is not the woman you think you know. This truth goes both ways; stop romanticizing strangers.

As people, we change and with it our interests, attractions and needs; what would satisfy 16 year old me is a far cry from what 29 year old me demands. It’s safe to say that the men in my past no longer know this version of me because I’ve grown.

The “shape” of me has been altered. In talks about this topic I listened intently as glossed over eyes spoke nostalgically of 1st loves and “good girls” or “almost mine-men”…they remembered the best but also recounted the worse. All circled around to the knowledge that “the one that got away” is just a memory, the people in it are no longer who they were and it’s not guarantee another go at a relationship would taste as sweet.

Still it’s a nice thought; to have known love intimately even when blinded by our childish haze.

“The ONE that got away” is a two-edged sword; depending on the nature of the person the connection can act as a reminder of what you deserve or what you don’t. We can appreciate what we shared in a lovely way without letting ourselves long for something that may be nonexistent.

Usually sayings have some truths; “If it’s meant to be it’ll come back around.”

but don’t base your life around that possibility and ruin the realities of love and connections that are current.

-LBF

 

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Lack of closure feels like you’re standing at a door waiting for the other person to open it. This leds us to think that real closure is a myth; I’ve come to believe that’s not entirely true.

Real closure is a little messy…it’s not always going to feel complete.

Closure isn’t always a conversation sometimes it’s an action.

Closure can be sudden or gradual

and it actually doesn’t require two people…

Closure is personal.

I’ve learned this over the past year. “He” gave me closure but my heart couldn’t recognize it. In short, I didn’t accept it as closure because it wasn’t what I wanted to hear or thought him capable of doing.

His closure was painful for me but necessary to him

There is no “myth” of closure, sometimes we get it; it just takes a while to process. In my case it has taken exactly a year for me to understand that no matter how unreasonable the words felt, they’re his truths. I spent the last year starving for closure in the way I understood it; an hours long conversation followed by a declaration of love and regret.

I mean isn’t that how it was supposed to go?

That’s what I was so used to; men returning into my life with the realization that they made a mistake losing me. But this time I eventually had to stand face-to-face with the possibility that maybe he didn’t feel he made a mistake. The shear thought of this mentally equated to a glass figurine being knocked off a high shelf. The question followed; could I really be special if someone chose to walk away? After months of preaching to others of not putting me on a pedestal I finally saw that I had done so to myself. Once I tumbled, I could replay the painful last scenes of my haunting relationship; remembering the words that sounded like a foreign language…

“I think I made the right choice.”

Who was I if I wasn’t “the one that got away?” My whole broken romantic identity was wrapped and twisted around this idea of being something so precious it’s easily mishandled and so rare it’s instantly missed. Was I still special and worthy? I suspect the answer is a hard yes but I’m currently doing the work to remind myself daily.

Closure is not always a collective thing.

Often it is the peace and strength a person finds in closing a life chapter. This personal journey has little to do with the other person and though they deserve an explanation they may not always understand…I didn’t. Still, closure happened.

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His closure was painful for me but necessary to him; as I let go of that pain I’m finding my closure is a gradual process. Uncovering more of myself moves me further away from the idea of who I was on that shelf. I move closer to ending a season of my life where romantic love influenced my self worth and toward the understanding that closure isn’t always going to feel complete.

Who was I if I wasn’t “the one that got away?”

You can stand at the door waiting for someone to open it and give you the conversation you feel you need or you can be strong enough to realize that there’s no one there on the other side. Give closure to yourself and find the peace you need to move on.

Part 1.

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Follow LBF on Instagram: @lets_build_futures or @kantoinette_theblogger

 

 

LBF Dominant Definition: Taking charge of yo shit; being able to perform without excessive guidance, teaching, or hand holding in love, finance, and life. In general, being a developed adult who can share “control” “power” within a romantic setting I.e dating/relationships.

 

What comes next is not a generalization but an observation.

“Either be dominant and happy or submissive and miserable…”

My guy friend told me that after our discussion of sharing power in a relationship delved into me venting about how I’m tired of always being the “adult”, teacher, breadwinner, and “dominant” in relationships.

He stated those two options like they were my only choices in the dating/marriage realm. Be dominant or don’t. Where’s the balance in that? Is that what we’ve come to in our dating as women? Either we accept taking on dual roles unequally or allow ourselves to be yoked to a man who doesn’t know how to lead in our life. WELP. I choose the third option of excessive flirting and whimsical dating while remaining single. I’ve grown tired of raising adults. I have my hands full raising myself.

My mind chewed on his dating ultimatum and I began to question whether my natural leadership was also my natural dating downfall?… I wondered what are the stories other women have when dating while dominant, how do men feel about it, and if we only have those two choices then who in this day-n-age is the damsel and who was the dominant?

Is dominance the curse of the modern woman’s dating world?

let me make my case:

EXHIBIT A: Strong Women Vs. Damsels aka alotta men

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I’m fully back into the dating world. When I say I’m back I mean I finally, at age 29, learned how to connect with multiple people and actually find it enjoyable. Coupled with this enjoyment, however, comes a spotlight placed on my independence (also labeled “strong” “dominant”) presence.

A light also illuminated the fact that I am more dominant than most men who approach me; how does this happen.

My strength is a quiet one but still real strength nonetheless. I found myself once again taking on roles to cover down for their lack of self-awareness, financial instability, communication, one-dimensional thought processes aka limited worldviews, and general immaturity in countless areas with various men.


Let’s stop here to discuss the obvious…

Could I just be attracting the types of men that are “lazy” or not self-aware; possibly but this phenomenon is not just one that keeps happening to me; friends, associates, women who don’t even consider themselves dominant all share these similar experiences of dating men who don’t know how to take charge or step up in their own lives or connections with others.

There is truly a surplus of men acting as damsels; waiting to be rescued by a woman with the ability to take charge, teach, communicate, and understand them all in the name of “men weren’t taught those things.”

The romance of dating has shifted from beauty finding her beast to women becoming the beast while still expected to behave beautifully. The responsibilities of mature, adult dating now rest upon the backs of those once considered damsels.

 

Let’s pause again to quiet all the men yelling “WOMEN BE THE MAIN ONES LOOKING TO BE SAVED!”

Most just want you to have your shit together and so they hold you accountable when you don’t which gets them labeled…EXHIBIT 1A

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I am fully aware that there are many women who still use the “damsel” trope to be saved by a man financially, emotionally, and all-around…I’m not speaking to that at the moment, if that’s how they choose to connect then I have no issues with it. However, we speak to that point often at this age. What doesn’t get talked about enough is men being overly dependent in the world of dating in a way that is not only toxic but tiring.

Back to my Point.

 

Exhibit B: Even women who don’t consider themselves dominant feel like they have to be dominant because so many men don’t know how to step up.

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And let’s read another…

 

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We love the first feelings of things when we’re dating. Like a new car smell surrounding the person of interest. When it wears I begin to notice how many men seem to lack the most basic functions for dating and long term relationships. A reoccurring theme has revealed itself and made me question how women are required to be dominant in being not only the nurturer but the teacher, healer, communicator, and even sometimes sex therapist. We’re not the damsels…we’re the dominant and we’re exhausted.

 

Now would be a good time to address the “Y’ALL WOMEN DON’T KNOW HOW TO LET A MAN LEAD”

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Calm down Tyrone…I hear you in the back.

It’s true there can never be two alphas at the same time but a sharing of power makes it possible for two people to perform as such in different areas, at different moments. If a strong female doesn’t sense you can match her strength then why should she yield to you? She got shit to do so move.

Ladies and gentlemen; when you’re a leader, about your shit, dominant or whatever you want to call it; no one has to LET you do it. YOU JUST DO IT. This idea that strong women get in their own way is tired. It’s grounded in just enough truth to help you miss the entire point. When a strong woman connects with a strong man she doesn’t ask him to stop being strong and immediately trusts that she “got him.” She remains herself while working alongside him to show how she contributes to his life experience; she earns his trust and with it his vulnerability. She requires that in return. She knows it takes time (not forDAMNever) but time. Stop thinking women owe you submission just because you speak and perform as a strong male; which brings me to my next point…

 

Exhibit C: Performance doesn’t equal dominance

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Men. Performing in exactly the way you’ve been socialized to doesn’t make you the dominant; simply because society actually didn’t teach you how to communicate or share your hard emotions and thoughts; it didn’t teach you that beyond being the “provider” of your household is a responsibility to be emotionally, spiritually, and mentally there as well.

Simply because you’re performing as a man doesn’t make you a dominant one; it doesn’t even mean you’re a good one. Women today find themselves filling in the gaps even when pride dictates there are none. From knowing how to have hard conversations to planning in real ways like saving for the future; women are leading their relationships. Instead of a helpmate, we get men who only expect help, love, adoration, support, and experience without having those things to offer in return.

We want balance.

Balance is something we talk about often but something I rarely see in the connections we have romantically…when you do see couples with true balance, it’s beautiful.

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I Rest My Case

The goal isn’t to control but to share…the exchange of power in a relationship is just as important as the love because it too requires trust. Can I trust that when my schedule is crazy you will still find time to fit me in yours even when it’s a role I usually fulfill? Can I fall apart even when you’re used to me having it all together and find that in your wholeness my emotions are safe?

Can I trust that my opinions are just as important and valued as your own? Can I trust you see me as your equal, your partner…not your bank, not your mother, not you’re hoe. Can I trust you to lead me and be led by me in our journey? We don’t want to dominate you; we want to trust you, love you, grow WITH you, and rule the world like Beyonce and JAY Z. It’s that simple but modern dating makes it so hard.

But there is hope…

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The first maybe I allowed in my life was at 15. I let an ex use a maybe like a semi-colon. Pausing our relationship but not our love. He was convinced that in that moment in time he couldn’t give me what I needed, wanted, or deserved. Maybe we could be friends. Maybe when the dust settled we could find our way back to each other. Maybe once he was sure he had what he needed in life we could continue our relationship. Maybe this wasn’t the end, it was a semicolon. I held onto maybe for nights after that. Held it close like a security blanket. I needed to not feel completely discarded and alone. It was hope. The last maybe I accepted in my life was exactly the same in every way. He was convinced he couldn’t give what I needed at the time. I couldn’t let go. So we pressed pause. Maybe was like a promise. A future but not a present. I clung to it as the last shread of my emotional heartache gave way. I needed something to anchor me.

Then something CLICKED.
Late one night as I held myself and felt the tightness of grief, heartbreak, and anxiety swell. I finally realized maybe did absolutely nothing for me. It didn’t dig me out of my dark places to tell me about the light.

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What their maybes didn’t do was wipe my tears when my heart flooded inside. It didn’t calm me down during 2 am panic attacks. Maybe didn’t speak life into me or make sure I got to talk about my day. Maybe didn’t even choose me. It just put me on pause. Frozen and keep me tucked away for a rainy day. Maybe didn’t see me. Understand me. Fulfill me.
So, I took that semi colon and turned 
it into a period. I made an unsure thing sure. I gave a finish to an unresolved. I declared “I’m nobody’s fuckin maybe!” 
This is a rallying call, a declaration, a battle cry, a period. For men and women who choose not be paused.

You don’t have to accept half love from half people. You don’t have to be a future option for someone’s lineup. You deserve a full person with a full desire to have you and love you FULLY. Someone who shows you extensively and one who chooses you as if you were the only choice. Forget that maybe in the background the keeps you on a dusty shelf. We no longer believe in “what Ifs” anymore. You have a choice. You can choose whether to accept maybes into your life.

I’ve gotten to a place where I’m full. I have room for no more maybes. I only want certainty in my love and confirmation in my relationships. I’ve taken myself off that dusty shelf and closed the  glass door. I’ve even set the bridge on fire. I let too many maybes convince me that that’s all there was to love.

What did maybes do for me?

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Maybes keep me in a situationships where I tried to convince the guy I was enough.

Maybes were there when another I was dating kept dropping me for his ex.

I let maybes ring in my ear like sweet nothings because I was sure I couldn’t do better. This isn’t bitterness. I’m nobody’s fuckin maybe is freedom. Freedom from the idea that you have to wait for one person to love you right. Freedom from allowing yourself to believe you have to wait. Freedom in seeing who you are and trusting what you deserve. Freedom in knowing that love doesn’t pause but neither do people. I’ve opened up the door of glass case of the shelf that so many maybes have placed me on. I move now. I live and dance. I am not a collectible. I am a living breathing thing who does not wait for love but one who gives it to herself every.single.day. I am a definite. I am no ones one day. Possibly. Collectible. Good girl. And I’m damn sure nobody’s fuckin maybe.

I am EVERYTHING.

To someone. To the right one. To myself.

I choose me. In this moment and every moment. Period.

Builders! DECLARE YOUR WORTH! Tell me what you’re not by using “NOBODY’S F*CKIN —————-!” Comment below and Share!

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100 percent.

Everyone wants 100 percent of you.

Your job demands 100 percent, your bae, your kids, your friend that keeps calling and crying about the same guy she said she was gonna leave three calls ago.

They want your undivided attention, your time, your unconditional love. And you oblige. You slice yourself up like a pie and divide yourself into equal portions until there’s nothing left.

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Now you’re hungry. 

Now you’re drained and burnt out left wondering whose gonna help replenish you.

You take days off in the name of self-care but still end the day restless, anxious and unfulfilled. But here’s a secret I’ll let you in on…

Self-care is more than bubble baths and mimosas. Self-care is an attitude. It’s knowing that giving 100 percent to everyone and thing else, 24/7, 365 is not only impossible but a destructive goal. It’s having the courage to tell your boss no to coming in for overtime because you know your personal time is more important. It’s setting boundaries even with the people you love. Self-care is what you tell yourself when no one’s listening; the words that you use to mentally talk to yourself. It’s the ultimate relationship you have with who should be the most important person in your life…YOU.

 

True Love

It’s what you value and celebrate about yourself even when no one around you does. Self-care is self-love. How you care for yourself is a direct reflection of what you think you deserve. It is a parallel between how you allow others to treat you. At this point in my life, I treat myself well enough to accept nothing less than adoration from others hoping to engage with me on a personal level.

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Self Awareness

Self-care is self-review in caring enough about who you are to fix the flaws that promote your self-hate. Doing what you need in the emotional and mental areas to feel your best. To BE your best.

Self-care is about surrounding yourself with people who share your values, celebrate your wins and encourage you in your losses. It’s allowing only those in your space whose intentions align with yours and knowing when to let go when they don’t.

 

The Little Moments

Self-care is the pep talk you give yourself before entering work. It’s the time you give yourself to cry when you’re feeling overwhelmed as a single mother. It’s the moments that you decide not to delay your gratification this time to buy the purse you’ve been eyeing. 

It’s choosing yourself every day, 24/7, 365.

Giving 100 percent of your love, time and attention to yourself too.

As we embark on this self-care week let us understand that it’s more than an Instagram post; Self-care is a way of life, a constant goal to strive for.

Hey Builders! Tell me how you self care, like, share and Let’s Build up Ourselves.

 

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It happens, there you are with a mouth full of saucy meatballs at a mutual friend’s holiday party and your ex (or expired situationship) walks in. You haven’t really spoken besides the occasional like on Instagram and the terms of your break up were less than desirable. AWKWARD, but what do you do? How should you act? Here’s a completely self-servicing list of how to handle those EXciting run-ins you may have this Holiday season.

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Why Does it Happen?

Let’s face it, breakups are messy. Sometimes you both will not only share mutual friends, favorite coffee locations but also family. Yes…family, but not in the weird you both were distant cousins way. More like, someone from his side married/dates someone from your side and now even though you’re not together and happy; you’re still a part of a big, happy family. True story btw. Sometimes running into each other is inevitable but it also can be an opportunity to gain closure or even rekindle.

 

White Flag Waves

So, boom your back is turned as you’re talking to so so about the recipe for those meatballs and they walk in. You know this because so so’s eyes expand like puss n boots as they give you the tell-tale look of “OMGGIRLYOUREXISHERE.” You decide to play it cool but how?

The Head Wave

Making slight eye contact with the ex across the room, then lifting your chin up in a sort of head-bob-nod to acknowledge their presence says “Hey, I see you over there and I’m not mad about you wasting my time.” It’s not as welcoming as a wave but still an effective way to call a truce.

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The Hand up

Again, make eye contact with the ex across the room, lift the hand not holding the wine glass you undoubtedly ran for when you heard his name. You don’t actually have to move the hand side-to-side but do a lift and drop. This says “Hey, what’s up,” and is more welcoming than the head nod but still not an open invitation back into your good graces. It’s simple, friendly but not particularly warm.

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The Linger Wave

Ahhhh, the linger wave is the one you pull out when you’re not completely over your ex and you want to get a feel for if it’s mutual. Across the room you lock in on their gaze, slowly lift your hand while adding a slight smile and you don’t back down until interrupted. This wave is serious business as it says, “I miss you.” NEVER pull this one out unless you’re completely sure you want back in.

 

 

Look Who’s Talking

Strategy does change whenever a conversation is sure to happen. Depending on your breakup or breakout circumstances your response to “So, how have you been?” may vary but you never want to ruin a perfectly good Holiday party even if Rochelle’s karaoke singing voice is making it not so great. Here are three ways you can handle your conversation with an ex.

 

Beauty and the brief

EX: “How have you been?”

You: “Good, You?”

EX: “Can’t complain”

You: “Cool”

EX: “I miss..”

You: Exiting stage wherever.

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The “I’m Actually Over You”

When they ask you about your life, engage in conversation with them. Highlight all the wonderful things that you’ve been able to accomplish now that you are mentally and emotionally free of the relationship. Petty? No. It’s simple showcasing of the fact that you or they made the right decision to part ways and that decision will continue to be upheld.

“You’re Like, Really Pretty”

AKA the “please give us another shot” is included with intense eye contact, insatiable giggling and love taps. Asking about specific things you remember from your time together and showing that you still have a vested interest in this person’s interests is one way you can show you’re all in.

 

DISCLAIMER: These tips are in no way exclusive and may yield various reactions. Let’s Build is not responsible for accidental reignited relationships. Symptoms of these tips may include accusations of the cold shoulder, rejection, or loss of holiday cheer.  

 

Got any great tips for EXciting run-ins? Comment below and Let’s continue to Build a great list!

Someone recently said that you shouldn’t grieve until the person is actually gone. Part of me agrees. Yet, part of me is familiar with that technique among others that I get advised to take. Grief is defined as a loss of something. If you perceive you’ve lost something or are losing something, is that not grief as well?

Couples divorcing grieve over the life they envisioned for themselves, growing old with a wife/husband, that will never happen. After a serious injury athletes grieve over the dream career they will never be able to achieve. Grief to me, is loss, whether realized or pending. Grief for me set in when hospice sat us down with calm voices and soft smiles to tell us about the end of life care they can provide for my dad. He’s 59. Grief set in.

Maybe he will live long enough to walk me down the aisle or to hear my child affectionately call him PaPa. Maybe. There’s hope in maybe. There’s heartbreak in maybe. I’ve lived through both. What is definite is that we will forgive, shower love and try to convince time to slow down in the coming months or years. What is Certain is that we will watch him grow weaker and the heart beat that echoed in my ears as a child will fail him. We will watch him leave.

A niece.

A brother.

Two grandmothers.

Two grandfathers.

A close brother-in-law.

An Ex.

We watched sudden and slowly as they left.

Around times such as these there will be a band of people confident that their sage advice about “death happens to all of us” and “enjoy the time you have/had” will be of comfort when it’s just infuriating for the person on the receiving end of it. Personally, I don’t want pity; I would settle for the closest thing to understanding.

To help both sides through difficult grieving, here are some ways to support your loved one and also some tips for those who are in the grieving process.

 

Tip #1

You don’t have to be happy, peaceful or “together”

Recently, years of grieving has taken its toll on me emotionally and mentally. There use to be a time when I dished out and took the beautifully simplistic advice that others throw out in times like these. That was about three deaths ago. For those of us born into a family where hospitals and funerals are the norm like reunions and yearly cruises are for other families, it’s easy to hide or downplay your grief. Don’t. It’s the process necessary for you to get back to living your life. At times during this process you may be angry and want to scream or want to be alone to cry. It’s okay. Feel what you need to feel in those moments. The world won’t give you permission to be a mess right now but I will.

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Sage Advice #1  SAY LESS

So you’re along for the ride on your loved one’s grief and let’s be honest; it’s a complete downer. When you’re not in their front row seat some advice seems logical. But this is the time when you should SAY LESS. Between all the different stages of grief including anger, which I’m currently in, the last thing your loved one needs are words. If you MUST say something it should be confined to something like this:

I love you. I know this has to be hard for you but I am here every step of the way. Period.

 

Tip #2  It is not Your job to make others comfortable with your grief

Like the first advice of feeling what you need to regardless of others, this goes hand-in-hand. Negative emotions generally make people uncomfortable. They say too much or not enough. They smother you or avoid you. It’s because negative emotions, especially grief, are things we are convinced should be hidden and dealt with alone in the late hours of night. Work only gives you 3 days to process it because society dictates it’s not important. Get Over It. So essentially most of us are terrible at dealing with it. Expressing your grief, trying to gain control of it or make sense of your situation will make other people uncomfortable.

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Their world could be just fine and you are like a rain cloud sitting next to them. Understand their awkwardness or discomfort but don’t apologize for it.

 

Sage Advice #2 Create Peace

Your loved one’s world just got turned upside down and the grief of their world has created chaos in your otherwise peaceful relationship. It’s then important for you to create peace, for your sake and theirs. They likely don’t expect you to know what to say. And just as you are confused on what to do or how to handle things, so are they. So, depending on their personality something like taking in nature, to make sense of life or playing Call of Duty, to distract from it, could be the thing you both need to find peace in a chaotic situation.

 

Personally, I don’t want pity; I would settle for the closest thing to understanding.

 

Tip #3 & Sage Advice #3  Give Yourself Space when needed

The reality of the situation makes it hard to be honest with ourselves. Someone who’s constantly dealing with negative emotions can strain/stress someone who isn’t use to them or the frequency of them. Getting the space needed to ground yourself but not so much that you’re absent from the scene can create harmony in a less than ideal situation. It is, however, important to communicate this because seeking space in a critical moment can cause a rift in an already emotionally charged environment. Love each other enough to see the other’s perspective while loving yourself enough to get the space needed to be true to your emotions, good and bad.

The tips and advice discussed are there to get you both thinking of ways you can improve this experience so that all parties are getting what they need. Grief is not a science nor is it controllable but our actions are. Make sure you’re caring for each other during this time.

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So Builders, what are some other tips or advice that can help during the grieving process. Comment below and Let’s Talk!

 

I hate conflict.

It makes me itch and sweat in the most private places; that’s why I attempt to avoid it at all costs. Actually, only one part of me wants to avoid it while the other part has taken off her earrings, shoes and started lathering globs of Vaseline all over her face.

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While ANOTHER part of me is sitting, crying in a corner talking to this OTHER part that’s telling all the other parts that it’s not that big a deal and to forgive and move on.

As you can see I’m effectively crazy but one thing I’ve learned is to actually listen to each of these parts of myself to uncover the best solution; otherwise, I’d just find myself screaming “SHUT UP!” at the top of my lungs in the middle of Wal*Mart while the lady that was headed towards me down the aisle busts a U-turn and speed walks away.

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See the problem is I avoid difficult situations because I have so many intense, conflicting emotions about them; it just makes sense to run for the hills instead of deal with them. I knew this was an issue once my therapist pointed it out halfway through our session. Now I’m attempting to make sense of the different parts of myself and why they behave the way they do. Let’s take a trip into Crazyland to uncover some shit about dealing with intense emotions and listening to yourself.

All of yourselves.

 

Do you Like, LIKE Me?

I’m a people pleaser. Ew. (It stung to admit that) I absolutely hate this aspect of myself most days but in truth it has opened a lot of doors for me. Still, having that little girl inside me that wants to be loved and adored can be annoying as hell. All she ever wants is puppies, sunshine and ice cream nostalgic feelings in every aspect of life.

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Me and my Inner child on any given day.

She is the main reason why I break out in hives every time I have a disagreement with a loved one or a friend. Don’t get it twisted I am a Superwoman when it comes to handling my business and protecting my people but conflict is like my kryptonite. So there’s always this voice left wondering…

“Will they still like me if I blow up the way I really want to?”

“Will that person look at me different for cursing them out?”

“Can we make it past things if I were to truly speak my mind?”

“Are my hurt feelings worth a friendship/relationship?”

It’s ridiculous and these questions always happen after someone has hurt or disappointed me. I’m constantly aware and cautious of other people’s perspective and feelings for this reason. Crazy right? yea…I know. Focusing so much on everyone else’s feelings only crowds the already crowded room of my mind. The shit is exhausting so I’m attempting to identify these different “parts” of myself that make life confusing.

 

Meet the “Parts”

I read an article, as I often do, about a female who had the same issues I seem to have. She wrote, “I simultaneously wanted to run away from my friend, totally forgive him, and mercilessly destroy him in a savage counterattack.” She had learned of these different aspects of oneself from Richard Schwartz, PhD who believes that there is not just one internal self but multiple. Sounds nuts right?!

But just think about it, how many times do you hear annoying voices in your head that challenge your decisions? Yeah…you’re nuts and it’s perfectly normal. From my interpretation we all have one main “true” self and the other parts of ourselves develop as defense mechanisms to protect us from things we have difficulty dealing with. Take a look at the articles linked below:

https://selfleadership.org/the-larger-self.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/elizabeth-gilbert-toxic-friendship_us_5845e3dde4b028b32338e4c4?utm_hp_ref=friendships

These articles could help give you more insight into the workings of your inner self as they have done for me.

Now let’s attempt to unveil my mental ladies, shall we?

 

Mosaic AF

From my count I have about 4 or 5 very distinct “parts” of myself. The People Pleaser, the Smoking Gun, the Home Girl, and the Delicate Flower. Don’t worry I will break each part down for you as you might find one part of yourself in some of these descriptions. Right now I invite you to take a moment to call out to your different parts and to formally meet their crazy asses for the first time…

….

….

 

The People Pleaser

She is an annoying ball of joy. She gives love and trust freely no matter how many times she’s been hurt and always sees the good in people. Her optimism stems from a need to see the bright side in life and people, rather than deal with ugly truths that would make her feel mistreated, alone, and unloved. She counters every negative experience with a “Maybe she/he didn’t really mean to.” or a “Forgiveness is a virtue.” Most of the time I just mentally kick this heffa in her teeth and tell her to go play with Barbies.

 

The Smoking Gun

The smoking gun is a true bad-ass. She strings her curse words and witty rebuttals out way better than the real me could ever do and her temper is the stuff of legend. Through her I am able to express all of my suppressed rage.

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She is truly merciless but I’ve come to realize that she does this because she’s afraid of being hurt again. She’s the one that usually kicks the People Pleaser in the teeth because she refuses to be anybody’s doormat. Pain from the past is always fresh on her mind and she feels it is her duty, NO!…Her Right to be let out every now and again. But because she is ruthless I just tell her to hush and go play with matches. Letting her out would ensure that I alienate myself from everyone and everything and she would be just fine with that.

 

The Home Girl

The home girl is like the equivalent of the stoner. She is soooooooooo chillllllllllllllllllll. Her emotions are always level so she looks at the other “selves” as dramatic and unnecessary. The home girl is the ultimate friend when it comes to chilling and having laid back conversations.

She’s cool and she knows it which is why she won’t let complicated emotions jeopardize her chill reputation. Her responses usually include “So they f****d you over, it’s not that bad” or “Dude, you’re totally overreacting; just forgive the damn person and move on because all this mental chaos is annoying and blowing my high.”  The real, MAIN me usually asks what high? She then promptly lights up a blunt and I have no idea where she got it from.

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I allow her to stick around longer than the others because her nonchalant demeanor is a welcomed “Switzerland” to all the extreme highs and lows of the other selves. Still, she’s one of the most dangerous because she simply doesn’t deal with emotion at all. Just good vibes and high vibrations.

 

The Delicate Flower

She is best friends with the People Pleaser for one reason; she wants to keep the peace because if not she erupts into water works like the world is ending. Her petals are fragile and welt every time someone does anything that intentionally or unintentionally hurts.

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She is annoying but honest because while the People Pleaser is only concerned about the other person’s feelings, and the Smoking Gun is plotting her revenge and the Homegirl is emotionless; the delicate flower is the only one who expresses her hurt feelings in a way that doesn’t attempt to cover them up or dismiss them. She bawls her eyes out and yells “HOW COULD THEY DO THIS?!” The People Pleaser consoles her while everyone else closes the mental door to drown her out.

 

And then there’s ME. The real, main self among the multitude of selves. Attempting to listen to the advice that each one offers while they over talk each other.

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I made these emotional selves literal  so that I can better understand how to listen to what I feel and think. By asking the Smoking gun why she’s so angry I can then get to the root of what it is I truly feel and how to handle it in the best way.

When asking the Delicate Flower why she’s been crying all damn day I’m giving myself the opportunity to express the why without internal judgement. Asking my selves to explain their reasoning behind their thinking offers me a well-rounded understanding of why they ugh…why I feel a certain way and how to handle difficult situations instead of avoid them altogether.

At this point you’re either thinking “This B***** is crazy and needs help!”

(To you Sir I say too late I’m already in therapy so HA!)

OR

“Damn, I feel understood because I have the same issue.”

Either way it pays to note that everyone on some level has this mental battle within themselves over things that are important or intense in nature. Admitting that you have voices in your head is the first step to conquering them all. I allowed my many emotional selves to discourage me from handling a situation that upset me recently and in turn wasn’t true to any of myselves.

So next time when I’m feeling conflicted inside I won’t be so quick to run from myselves or the situation; instead I intend to square my shoulders and unleash what I think and feel onto the situation. Because only then can anything be resolved with honesty, respect and love for myselves and the other person(s).

DO YOUR THING SYBIL!

 

Do you have emotional selves that keep you from dealing with difficult situations? Comment below and Let’s Talk about them.

#LETSBUILD

 

 

Our deal breakers have become like a vast ocean in which we end up drowning ourselves, trying to stay afloat from something we’re convinced is going under at the first sign of distress.

“He did what??!! Oh girl leave his a**!” can be heard in any given living room on a Saturday night while two good friends are filling their glasses to the brim and comforting each other.

When did forgiveness become the other bad “F” word?

 

THE HEN’S DEN

The reputation of forgiveness has been battered from the time women decided they were fed up being passive, docile and submissive to male counterparts who historically didn’t appreciate or reciprocate it. From being financially unstable to full-blown adultery; forgiveness is the last option your friends will advise you of. And to be honest it’s usually the last blimp on your radar in your own mind. For us INDEPENDENT LADIES (and even Man’s Man) forgiveness = settling and that’s a big NO NO.

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Whether it’s relationships, friendships or partnerships we are out before the first “I’m Sorry” settles in the wake of our dust track.
Now, I’m not talking about forgiving someone because you are convinced that there isn’t better out there but true forgiveness when you know you deserve better but will allow the one who hurt to fix it and be better.

 

The Lie

In the beginning there was love…

And then the lie that real love is somehow perfect. Reinforce this logic with television and young adult novels and this is what happens…

I don’t know the exact moment when I became a hopeless romantic; I do know that around age 11 I thought of love as a combination of Disney movies, Nicholas Sparks plots, and enough passion to melt all the candles in any given Catholic Church.

So, it was no surprise that I fell head over heels, love at almost first sight when I was only 15. I stayed that way for another 7 years until I had to make a decision that many young women are faced with.

He cheated.

Do I stay or do I leave?

I left.

One of the hardest and most exhilarating things I had done up until that point in my life. I had made a choice to draw a line in the dirt so to speak and decided that after seeing other women in my life mistreated by men who always expected to be forgiven; I would be different. That I would be stronger.

Stronger I said to myself.

 

Who Hurt You Girl?

For the next few years I told myself that it was a deal breaker to ever take a man back after he cheats just because you love him. To ever settle with someone who wasn’t financially or emotionally my equal was out of the question. I was a militant force in the idea that once a cheater always a cheater; once trust is broken it cannot be rebuilt.

“I gave the last one three chances so that means you get zero because he used it all up.”

Walking away was not the same as forgiving and so I carried that grudge, pain, insecurity and mistrust around with me like a sloppy drunk friend needing a hand up eight flights of stairs.

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Then something changed. I matured. And looked at my own life and the world around me with new eyes.

I saw women I revered forgive “ain’t shit men” for the unthinkable not because they didn’t know who they were without their men but because they had a true understanding of themselves. They knew they could forgive.

And what is forgiveness but the highest expression of love?

In truth, as hard as walking away was, it was still easier than staying and dealing with the broken trust, plethora of lies and embarrassment. I was battling a stigma that staying meant compliance, that forgiveness meant weakness.

But the more I discover the truth behind every fairy tale we tell ourselves about love; the more I realize that in essence every choice comes from a place of love. Whether it’s love for yourself or the other person.

 

Judgmental AF

Then why is it that we look down on others for forgiving the one they love after an affair? Or after he quits his high paying job to pursue a risky investment?

We can be downright ruthless in this day and age when we discover that a woman has stayed after being stepped out on. Sometimes I get it. Hell I use to be in the streets with my white picket sign right alongside the crowd chanting “Girl Quit! He ain’t Shit! Girl Quit! He Ain’t Shit!”

 

Especially when we have women who think like this…

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Yet, this is quick judgement on our part. Do we ever stop to think about what has happened to develop such a mind-set? Or if the couple has been married for years why do we assume that the woman doesn’t love herself enough just because she’s stayed for her love of him? Goodness forbid a man forgive a woman; we then question how he’s able to stand up without a backbone.

 

Forgiveness is actually for you too Sis

We joke our way through the pain we still feel with memes like…

 

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I had a very real wake up call when my ex passed away. My sisters had married into his family so no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t escape him completely. And he was just fine with that, forcing me to be his friend throughout the years with semi-annual updates and contact.  But he left this earth and I don’t ever think I let him know that he was forgiven because he wasn’t, not really.

So everything I thought I packed away with the walking papers I’d given him years earlier came rushing to the surface. The love, the anger but eventually the forgiveness that took a lost of life to process. My grief was made that much more complicated. We hear the line, forgiveness is not just for the other person but also for you, all the time. We just don’t take it seriously.

Trust me, forgiveness is hard enough without having to process suppressed anger and grief along with it.

 

And what is forgiveness but the highest expression of love?

“Forgive but don’t Forget”

Forgiveness is more like a process than a one-hitter-quitter. Simply because you don’t forget. Unless you bump your head and those memories go bye-bye then what that person did is forever stuck up there replaying itself at the most inconvenient times.

Today, I forgave my dad about various things from my childhood and it was easy. Tomorrow it could be harder. I look at it as a day by day process. That way you can still honor your own complicated emotions without an expectation that they’re supposed to disappear with “I forgive you.”

Hurt is similar to a stone being thrown into a calm river. You don’t know where those ripples will lead. He quit his job. Now you’re behind on the mortgage and just found out your third child is on the way.

It can be scary to forgive because you’re essentially allowing something that hurt/disappointed you back into your space. I understand. I’m there with you. My space is sacred AF and anything that challenges that balance is likely to be discarded. Just remember that even when walking away, at some point you still need to forgive. Otherwise it will follow you through every friendship, relationship, or partnership in the form of mistrust, suspicion, and invulnerability.

 

Self Reflection

With individuals, especially strong women, it seems that being vulnerable is hard enough but having that vulnerability tested in any way from our partner through infidelity, financial instability, or miscommunication; it’s almost always a deal breaker. We celebrate being bold enough to walk away from “his trifling ass” and condemn those who stay just for love. But an interesting twist seems to be that what makes us strong actually makes us weak.

Our own narrative about being individuals who won’t settle for less often throws out the good along with the bad for the sake of not seeming weak; in our minds and the minds of others. Personally, as of right now, I still have my laundry list of deal breakers but I see the power it has taken to forgive and cultivate a new love out of the bad actions or choices of a loved one. I’m still learning how to do this thing called forgiveness but maybe I should start by being less judgmental of the ones who are already good at it.

I am not an advocate for being a doormat; forgiving the perpetual inconsiderate person or serial cheater but there is some space for consideration to be had. The newfound emotional protective walls that my generation has built leaves little room for moving forward. Forgiving, in itself, can be liberating (or so I’ve heard) Why not try it out?

 

Do you feel forgiveness is not as celebrated as it should be? Or do women still overdo it? What about men? LET’S TALK ABOUT IT! Comment below.

 

#LETSBUILD