Anchored

It is nothing but a hopeless illusion that I could ever lose myself.

Sitting here observing the world go by, taking in and filtering out all the madness.

I am, forever, present in it all.

It is only within the moment that I personify and rationalize my musings that I experience pain and detachment. Abandonment and loss, Depression and anxieties, these things becoming fused within my psyche when in reality I am the observer of it all.

I am the pulse and I am the thing that gives life simultaneously. I am outside of the dance of distractions consuming all time so tell me why it is I can’t shake this feeling.

I sit here and I wonder just why it has to be this way. Duality at its finest seeking joy yet remaining estranged.

Why is there this pressure in my chest telling me something is wrong. Leading me away from the moment when I… I am pointing the other way. The way that leads me home, tell me what is this thing that has infiltrated my space.

I do not know, no longer am I filled with care but one thing is for sure and I choose to dwell there.

mermaids

I can no longer push while it pulls nor fight while it eats up all of my will. I can no longer cry more tears for what it seems I need to heal, I can no longer pretend that I am not the thing that is beyond this act and this stage. I will no longer play cat and mouse with the monkey in my brain nor the snake coiled within its husk and a shadow built of shame.

I have realized I can not let it go, so instead I will let it stay…

We will occupy this body. I will no longer disagree nor entertain its beyond warped perception that fear is valid for that is the true danger. In and of itself… and it is danger I should be aware of with no questions arising. Always it is just. It is simply a compass and a knowing I can trust.

When I stop resisting its existence perhaps it’s insistence will quiet. Take heed to my directions and relinquish it’s violence. After all the saying goes “Peace? Be still.” so with that it is known through silence I am filled.

The jury is out, there shall be no more debating. Nothing to eliminate just alignment with my placement. It is right here I can feel that my nature is at ease. Seeing it seeing me and so I know it isn’t me…

 

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Good Enough: To Whom It May Concern

J.M. Barrie’s character Peter Pan said “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it” and lately I’ve been trying to understand how people develop the belief (even if unconsciously) that they aren’t good enough to have a healthy relationship. I’ve been pondering why perfectly “good enough” people doubt whether they can fly high in healthy relationships. Truth be told, I take no pleasure in this endeavor because at one point my life I too was a person who self sabotaged their intimate relationships, I too didn’t believe I was worthy of a healthy relationship.

Still; lately I’ve been noticing a troubling trend among daters and I’m wondering if their belief in their inability to fly has damaged them in the dating world forever. Obviously the metaphor is not about flying at all but instead it’s about the doubt that prevents you from even trying. It’s about the fear of falling before you even launch, before you even understand, and before you even get the opportunity to truly be in love.

So naturally I’ve been trying to examine the unfortunate truth about people who self sabotage relationships due to the fact that they don’t believe they’re good enough and of course the best way for me to do this is to examine my own life and then compare that to other people I know to determine some form of understanding about “not being good enough”. It’s a daunting task and it’s one that can’t be answered in one article but I do want to tackle one section of the many moving parts of the “not good enough personality flaw”.

Question; what responsibility or role do we as daters play in trying to convince the person we’re dating that they’re good enough for us? That’s the question that I’m going to try to find an answer to in this article because quite frankly I think there are many people self sabotaging their relationships because ultimately they don’t believe they’re good enough. Is it up to us, the dater, partner and lover of the one who sabotages to help them through their issues? And if so, how much?

I remember at the end of my last relationship my then girlfriend said to me that she “realized that she’ll never be good enough for me”. I found this to be completely ridiculous, not because I didn’t believe her words but because I never once said anything in a negative way towards her to make her feel that way about our relationship. In fact, I went out of my way to accept her as she was. I went out of my way to speak life into her and her living situation. I never once told her she wasn’t good enough for me and never did any actions (as far as I’m aware) to make her feel like she wasn’t.

Were there things that I saw that she could improve on? Absolutely, and I suggested things that could be done. Were there things that she saw that I could improve on? Absolutely, and I tried to change once she brought it to my attention but like many things in life; changing into something new takes dedication, fortitude and a true desire to want to do better but more importantly it takes the belief that you can do better.

Identifying things in your partner that can benefit them is natural. That’s part of what being in a healthy relationship entails. Your partner should identify areas in your life that one, can be improved and two, that they can help you with. If your partner isn’t identifying things that can be improved in your life then they don’t really care about your overall well-being. If you aren’t identifying and suggesting things in the person you’re dating life then you don’t really care about them. Why be together if it’s all about staying the same?

Constant criticism is not the goal nor is that healthy but partners can’t get defensive when your partner tries to show you a better way to live. If you do, one can’t help but wonder if you care about your very own happiness and believe me when I say that not caring about your happiness will frustrate your partner even more than you not receiving their advice.

Furthermore, there will always be a few things that your partner likes that you’ll change towards because you want to please them. For example, maybe you like your man to have a little hair on his chest or maybe you like your lady to wear a little bit of makeup and you suggest a slight change.

There’s nothing wrong with that and there’s nothing wrong with you adapting and adopting small changes for the person you love. All of that is to be expected in relationships. If my lady tells me she likes a certain cologne over another cologne that I normally wear then I’m going to wear the cologne she likes more often and not get defensive.

Still, with that said I often wonder if I didn’t do enough to help my ex feel like she was good enough. I often wonder if I could have said more, shown more, and done more to make her feel come confident in the relationship. Was there anything I could have done to make her feel good enough? Do we have any responsibility to do so and would it make a difference?

As a person who lived much of his adult life as such a person who thought he wasn’t good enough, I can speak frankly to this experience and I can speak absolute truth to sabotaging my previous relationships in my twenties and I can say without a shadow of doubt that in my personal experience there was nothing that those women could have done to make me feel completely at ease about my worthiness.

Those women could have told me how much they liked me, loved me and adored me every five minutes and it still wouldn’t have given me the lift I needed. I still wouldn’t have believed I could fly and I would have found a reason as to why it can’t be. Like many people; I ran away from perfectly healthy relationships or found illogical excuses and convinced myself that they were valid reason’s as to why they and I couldn’t be.

Maybe you’ve been doing this as well and maybe you’ve been blaming your ex lovers as to why none of your relationships have worked but if there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that we always have to account for the common denominator, which is always ourselves. You have to always account for yourself, your thoughts, your actions and your old bad habits. You have to be aware when the thing that constantly sabotages your relationships tries to reestablish its dominance over you.

The main responsibility that a dater, partner or lover has in the development of someone is to speak life into them. They don’t have to take on your burden, your flaws, your worries or your insecurities unless they want to and if they do; it’s up to you to make quick changes so that it doesn’t bring them down.

It’s not up to the dater to convince you that you’re good enough. It’s up to you to know it to be true because if you’re relying on other people to justify your good enough then you’re giving up the control that only you should have. You’re ultimately placing your worthiness in what other people think and view as good enough.

Why does this happen? The better question is why do you allow it to happen? Why do you believe that you don’t deserve someone who loves you? Why do you continue to allow those who don’t live your life to control your life? Why do you continue to conspicuously go ghost the moment someone shows you your worthiness? If you’re dating someone who does these things it can be utterly frustrating right? It’s maddening when you go out of your way to show your appreciation thinking you’re making progress together and a month later you’re back at square one or even worse. Why does this happen?

There are many reason’s why people do this and I believe that Women Have It harder for various reason’s but comparing yourself to others and what they have is one of the biggest reason’s as to why people don’t feel good enough as stated by @timgoetzinger in his piece Monsters in the Bed: Enough IS Enough but what can a person do to break away from self sabotage? Here are a few tips I call the Divine 9.

The Divine Nine

  1. Stop comparing yourself to other people.
  2. Evaluate your past relationships and identify common problem areas that came up. Tackle them with ferocity.
  3. Pay attention to your insecurities and stop them from gaining momentum when they show up in your new relationships again and then do the opposite of what your insecurities make you feel like doing.
  4. Try to remove your ego from the equation. Ask yourself if you have a valid reason to be bothered or is it just your ego trying to convince you that it isn’t an ego bruise.
  5. Get help! Find someone to talk with about the problems that you’re dealing with mentally and listen to the feedback.
  6. Work on your self-love.
  7. Find closure on the issues from your childhood that are causing issues in your adulthood.
  8. Find closure from your past relationships. Many people are continuing to allow people who are long gone to remain in present moments.
  9. Bask in the compliments, acceptance and love that your partner gives you. Live in those moments but more importantly TRUST in them.

May these words strike a chord inside anyone whose eyes have been glued to this screen. Understand from this moment on that you’re more than good enough, you’re God enough because God is you, in you and created you. So unless you believe that God creates inferior versions of God self then you’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that you’re good enough for anyone and deserve the healthiest and happiest relationships that life can bring.

“We’re going to have to let truth scream louder to our souls than the lies that have infected us.”
Beth Moore, So Long, Insecurity: You’ve been a Bad Friend to Us

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Good Enough

Monsters in the Bed: Enough IS Enough

What keeps us up at night? If you’re like me there are countless hours spent in the dark staring at the ceiling fan or flip-flopping trying to find comfort. Often times when our lives are full of noise it becomes hard to shut it off. Especially, when you’re alone with only your thoughts to keep you company.

My struggle usually involves the over thinking of my mistakes and my anxiety for the future. To help combat my over thinking and anxiety I came up with something I call “Monsters in my bed”. Monsters in my bed is an idea that I came up with to give myself something to focus on when all I have is my thoughts. I enjoy competition or combat, so having an opponent to focus on gives me something to prepare for. Often times, just like any other competition, if I am not prepared to deal with the monsters, or thoughts, that come to me in my down times they can overwhelm me. I’ve learned that I must prepare myself and go through my processes even when I am feeling good and things are going right. That way, when the monsters do come I am prepared. One monster that is probably my most constant monster is one I call enough.

What is enough? A question that plagues me at night. Am I a good enough Dad? Am I doing enough at work? Am I doing enough for my future? The questions are endless and the answers are usually nowhere to be found. When I’m struggling and questioning whether I’m enough, it usually involves a level of enough that is set by other people’s success or expectations. When I start to do that, I put myself in a losing situation and if you do that you will too. The process of putting another person’s example on a pedestal that you cannot reach is a game your mind plays to make you feel inadequate when often times you are looked at very differently in the eyes of others. This is a monster I wrestle with often. Do you?

The problem with this monster is the idea of letting others set the bar for you. Just because you think someone is doing a really good job at whatever they do, does not mean they’re not going through a struggle as well. Its simply just your perception of that person. Everybody has different lives with different responsibilities and different needs. Being the best you can be at whatever you want to achieve should be about you and how you feel about your effort, not how it compares to someone else. Allowing what someone else is doing to determine your worth is a very dangerous game that you’re bound to lose.

I have processes that I do throughout the day that deal with this monster. My favorite process is habits that develop pride. I look at habits as wins. If I say to myself I want to do something every day and complete the task every day it becomes a very prideful event. An example of a habit I do, is I want a stronger core so I do an abdominal routine daily. I do it every day no matter what. Whether I’m tired or busy or sick or whatever. I get on the floor and do some kind of simple core routine. In the end it takes me ten minutes and any more it’s not particularly difficult for me. The pride it gives me is well worth the effort it takes. It’s a win that I get every day.

After a while I can look back and say I have worked on my core every day for two months or three months or even a year. It becomes a habit that I am extremely proud of. So, how can you use this with thoughts of inadequacy? It’s simple really. Try to write down things you admire about people who you feel set the “enough” example. I like to use these lists to create habits. It’s hard to say I want to be as happy as this person or some other unmeasurable trait, but things like parenting or fitness level or other attainable skills you can work on. Say you want to do something like connect with your kids better. Start to set aside ten minutes a day to read to your child or write one question down a day to talk to your child about and do it. Every day. No excuses.

The best way to accomplish this is to start small. I started with ten sit-ups a day. It literally took me thirty seconds. In the beginning the procrastination was the biggest obstacle to overcome. The “I do not want to” or other excuses would always be present and become monsters of their own. However, setting the bar small at first, to build the habit, made it easier to get past. The benefits always outweighed the excuses and I do it every day. Those wins added up and before I knew it I had done a core workout every day for a year. I even increased the workouts throughout the year and developed a very strong core. Now, three years later, it’s something that is built into my daily routine and as easy as brushing teeth or other daily task. Was it enough for someone else? I don’t know, but it was enough for me and gave me a source of pride that I can lean on.

The pride these habits give me, allow me to focus on myself and the things I have done rather than the things I have not done. It gives me a sense of progress. Core workouts is just one example, but imagine if you spent ten minutes a day doing anything. Ten minutes a day for year adds up to over 3,600 minutes. It might seem small but it is about progress towards that elusive enough. When I know I am progressing I might not have a yes or no answer to if I am enough, but not yet is an answer I can use to combat that monster and becomes a tool to create the person I want to be.

So, what habits could you incorporate in your routine that would get you progressing towards your goal? My challenge for you is to develop three habits that progress you towards your various goals. Set an anniversary date and access what you want. Then, develop habits that progress you towards that. Find out what you admire in people and access how you can obtain it for yourself in order to become the person you admire. Once you do that and that monster visits you at night to ask you if you are enough, you have evidence for yourself that yes you are enough or will be shortly. Hopefully, quieting that monster enough to give you peace.

I hope to continue to give insight on creating my processes that allow me to deal with my monsters. I love habits and the hardest part is starting, so start small and progress. Before you know it you just might get what you want.

Apology Not Included: How to Garner forgiveness without an apology

Nervous about the words I was about to speak to my father I hesitated to say them even though they were on the tip of my tongue. I had rehearsed them prior to dialing his phone number but even in that moment I wasn’t sure how it would be received. It took me years to reach the point of forgiveness of my father and the understanding of my father as a human being. It took a lot of self-reflection and my struggles as a man to comprehend that my father was human and severely flawed too.

To tell you the complete truth it took the shedding of my old skin to understand the non-existent father son relationship that my dad and I had. Hell; I remember it like it was yesterday but it was a little over seven years ago that I finally found the strength to speak the words I rehearsed. “I just want you to know that I love you and that I forgive you. I want you to know that I’m not angry with you about not being part of my life. I want you to know that mom never said anything bad about you to me and that I don’t view you in a negative light. I hope that we can build from this moment on ” “I love you too son” were the words that came through the phone but no apology.

I don’t know if my father truly heard the words and I’m positive he didn’t know how much internal pain I had been experiencing just a few years prior to that moment but what I did know was that moment wasn’t for my dad; it was for me. That moment wasn’t about my dad, it was about me. The person you need to speak to? That moment will be for you.

For me, that moment was the pivotal moment on my timeline of life that allowed me to release hurt, anger and disappointment regarding our relationship. Apology or not I was set free from the bondage that I had previously been a prisoner of. To put it quite frankly I was a slave to the anger and it was my master. I had to learn to accept the apology that would likely never come so I did.

The reason this is on my mind is because recently Hip Hop Artist Jay-Z said in his “Adnis Footnotes” video (find it on tidal) “All my songs up until this point have been about anger with my dad. As an adult looking back, now I have a different perspective of it. I started thinking, ‘Man, my dad married my mother at a time when everybody was leaving.’ He tried.

My mom had two kids before him. She had four kids by 20. I was the youngest child. They were young. That don’t check the box of what I thought. That don’t check the box of somebody who wasn’t shit. You married this woman with four kids and they was together for 11 years. Now the story gets different.”

Jay-z’s video and words brought me back to the moment when I realized that my dad’s story was different from what I had created in my mind. My dad married my mom who had one child prior to them getting married and they were married for thirteen years. In those thirteen years is a story of a flawed man who tried but that I didn’t know because I was too young to understand. The video reminded me that peace comes from finding understanding and accepting it. It also reminded me that some stories will never be known unless we tell them or speak to the people who need to tell them.

So why am I writing about this? Two reasons in particular. One; there’s someone out there who’s holding on to anger, hurt, broken bridges and aren’t able to move forward in their lives because they’re waiting for an apology from someone. The second reason is that I’ve never really spoken on this topic openly and maybe a different part of this article will help someone.

Furthermore, over the years of writing I’ve learned that my words are often a breath of fresh air for many and so if parts of my story can generate strength in someone else to finally say the words they’ve been dying to say to someone then who am I to not write?

Look this is a human life fact; people are flawed and many people are severely flawed. So much so that they don’t know how to say I’m sorry, they don’t have the foresight to understand the hindsight of how they screwed up. They don’t know how to explain the reasoning behind their decisions. They don’t know how to fix the broken relationship because they’ve never been the one to do so. Does that make them a bad person? No; it just makes them a flawed individual.

To complete my point, flawless lives don’t exist but your centering in those flawed relationships can exist if you learn to accept them for who they are and where they are in their lives. It’s not up to you to change them or to try to change them. The only responsibility that you have in a broken relationship is to find peace with it. To become centered and to remain centered isn’t easily done and it absolutely requires COMPLETE forgiveness in order to be in that place of balance.

Your happiness and peace in these relationship can exist by accepting the fact that some people don’t know the hurt they caused you and will never apologize. In all honesty; forgiveness is always more for you than it is for them. So if you don’t want to feel angst when either speaking or seeing the person or people involved in the pain caused then you have to come to an understanding with yourself about the situation.

You owe it to yourself to be the best version of you in every situation that you find yourself in; but how can you be that if just the mere thought of potentially crossing paths with someone makes you uneasy or makes you not want to go to the planned event? We can pretend that broken relationships that were once loving relationships don’t bother us and continue to lie to ourselves or we can be truthful about them and find healing.

The beginning of my healing came the moment I sat down and wrote a letter to my dad. I don’t remember my exact age but I do know I wasn’t quite twenty-five yet. I had no intention of mailing the letter but I knew I needed to say everything that I never did. I grabbed two loose leafs sheet of paper and a pen and began writing. After I finished I put the letter in an envelope, found a stamp and stared at it. I remember asking myself, “is this really worth it”?

I got my dad’s address from my uncle,wrote it down on the envelope and two days later I stood in front of the post office box wondering if I would get a response from my dad. Somewhere between “I’m not going to mail this” and finishing the letter I convinced myself it was best to mail it. I stood there as a grown man, scared to let go of this tiny envelope that carried the weight of the world in it but I dropped it into the dark crevices of that mail box and walked away.

I never received a response from my father. I don’t know if he opened it and cried or if it got lost along the way of Route 360 but what I do know is that I felt 50% better after the writing of that letter and 75% better after mailing it. I’m not telling you that you have to mail a letter or email or to even direct message the person who caused the pain but I am telling you to write down or type everything you need to say as if you will and then decide what to do with that letter afterwards. Let that be the beginning of your healing regarding the broken relationship.

After you do that step, read the words you wrote at least five times over the course of a week. Let it sink in and after each read say out loud “I’m releasing this weight and I forgive you but more importantly I forgive myself for allowing you to hurt me.” Do this before you send the email or letter, do this even if you choose not to send. The next step is in speaking with the person or people who has caused the hurt and anger.

The goal however should not be you speaking to them to make them feel guilty or to get an apology. The goal is for you to clear your plate of the negative energy that exist in the relationship. The goal is for you to find the strength to ask them to just listen as you say the things you need to say in order for you to find peace.

Remember, you already forgave them after you finished writing your letter so you speaking to them is not about their apology, it’s about you taking back control over your emotions, feelings and energy regarding the relationship. That moment is not about them, it’s about you and they don’t need to know that. That moment is about you finding your strength again so that you can move forward with love.

Mahatma Gandhi said “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” and Martin Luther King Jr said “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” Keeping that in mind, constantly remind yourself that you’re strong enough to forgive just like I was strong enough to forgive my father. None of this of course guarantees that the relationship will get better but my relationship with my father did improve afterwards so maybe the broken relationship that you have will too.

In closing, my dad wasn’t a bad person or a bad friend to his friends. He just wasn’t a good father and that’s okay because I understand that’s how it had to be. The person who has hurt you likely isn’t a bad person, they just weren’t good to you for whatever self reason. I want you to know that you can completely heal without speaking to the person who has caused the pain,it will just take longer to do so without speaking the words that need to be said to them. Look, I don’t know about you but if I had a choice of the short road or the long road to my happiness I’d choose the shorter path every time. Good Luck!

“We are all mistaken sometimes; sometimes we do wrong things, things that have bad consequences. But it does not mean we are evil, or that we cannot be trusted ever afterward.”
Alison Croggon

*I’m just a guy who blogs. I’m not a English professor so don’t let a few grammatical errors block your blessing. If you’d like to offer your service for free that’s cool too 🙂

Well this is Awkward:Religious Insensitivity

Let us bow our heads and pray in order to give thanks to Jesus for this food that we’re about to receive“. I stand there for a moment looking around the room; waiting for someone to acknowledge that I don’t believe in this practice anymore and haven’t for over eleven years but no acknowledgement comes.  These are the words of a family member who knows me and is standing across from me without a second thought about the request as everyone in the room begins reaching out to hold hands.

I stand there waiting for someone to say “hey Jay, you good? Do you need to step away?” I’m not a Christian anymore but no one pays any mind to this and doesn’t think anything is wrong with the all-inclusive request. In that moment I’m left to either speak up and “make a scene”, walk away until they finish or to just grab their hands, bow my head,smile and say Amen at the end. I grab their hands, they bow their heads but I don’t close my eyes. I just stare at everyone in the room wondering what if I praised Allah?

About two months ago I was hanging with some friends and another similar situation occurred. They wanted all of us to pray to Jesus for blessing us with safe travels but this time one of my friends acknowledge that they knew I didn’t believe in this but continued anyway and rightfully so. I grinned and said don’t worry about it. I grabbed their hands, stood in the circle and listened to them pray because I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable even though I was. I decided to put my practice, my beliefs and my lifestyle second to theirs to avoid making them uncomfortable.

Just the other day someone close to me asked me to go to Church with them again even though they know it’s not my spiritual practice. For eleven years I’ve had to continue to politely say “no thanks” to their invitation and yet they never stop for one second to think that it’s insensitive to keep asking because for them, it’s natural to be the norm in the room.

They don’t think about what it’s like to be the minority in a group setting unless it relates to the color of their skin. Religious people assume that what they do and what they say is what everyone does and that you will either get with the program or not. (sound familiar?) Not one person who ask you to bow your head and pray stops to think for one second that it’s insensitive to your lifestyle and if they do stop to think about it they certainly don’t care if they proceed without checking.

This is the life of any person who no longer follows a religious lifestyle or religious deity and the moment we speak up for ourselves, the people who do live that type of lifestyle become bothered by our actions or by what we’ve said. Somehow someway we become the offender merely by wanting to be included or at the very least, acknowledged,

The next step for the now offended religious people is the questioning of your existence. They want their lifestyle to be superior to your lifestyle so they question you as if you’re the one not living freely. How did you become this way? What is your belief? What is your definition of God? Questions that they really don’t want an answer to because they’ve already decided their rebuttal the moment you stated “I’m no longer”.

They then tell you that you’re hurt and that you must be feeling anger and bitterness about Church and that you’re holding on to old feelings that are unhealed.  This of course in most cases is the furthest from the truth. If anything we’re mad at ourselves for allowing ourselves to have spent so much time following the religion we left. The truth is they don’t want to have a real conversation on the topic because the truth is they don’t really care about your truth, they only care about their truth. They care about being right but the fact is, nobody knows.

We (the non-religious) have to tip toe around the religion topic among our friends and family in order to avoid making the religious uncomfortable. We are expected to stay uncomfortable to keep them comfortable and as a black who already has to tip toe around the topics of racism and equal rights in America I refuse to keep tip toeing on my spiritual lifestyle as well. Listen, there are many spiritual practices that grow people closer to their own happiness and many of them have nothing to do with Jesus Christ and Allah or any other religion.

Most religious people are insensitive to everyone around them who don’t practice the religious lifestyle that they themselves do. Let me drive home a point really quickly here. If you tell these same people you don’t eat meat they don’t offer you burgers anymore; they think about what else they can do to accommodate your no meat-eating at the next event.  If you tell these same people you’re allergic to shellfish they don’t offer you shrimp anymore. If you tell these same people you don’t smoke cigarettes anymore they don’t offer you a cigarette 4 months later. They make the adjustments.

Why? Because they respect your decision to stay alive and to make your own decisions for your life surrounding those issues. However; if you tell them you aren’t a certain religion anymore; particularly the one that they still are; they keep asking you to go to Church with them. Why? Because they don’t respect your decision and don’t understand how one could “turn their back on the Lord” They don’t understand how someone can become happier AFTER leaving that religion. And they don’t know because they never really tried to exist without it. They never tried to find their own way without the belief that they need help to find their soul’s happiness.

Recently; my mom and sister asked me to go to Church because it was sister’s birthday weekend. I politely declined the invitation and maybe I was a little snooty in my response but dammit, it’s been eleven years. Why are you still asking me to go back to a place that didn’t make me a better person? I’m a better person because I left religion and believe it or not, there are millions of people who are BETTER people because they did as well. The truth is the Church invite didn’t bother me as much as my sister’s response to me declining the invite. It bothered me all night; so much in fact that I woke up and made this statement on my FB timeline.

fbpost

To be completely honest the latest invite was just the straw that broke the camel’s back but it wasn’t the sole contributor to my post. Now, you would think that people who have been taught to be empathetic to their fellow brothers and sisters would come onto the post and say something like ” I understand where you’re coming from and yes, we can do a better job at respecting each other’s lifestyles” but 155 comments later and only one person was able to kinda say they agree and even that was like pulling teeth. Instead, those who live a religious lifestyle or follow a deity commented that I was insensitive to their belief because I used the word addicted and disliked my analogy.

Remember when I said the one offended becomes the offender with religious people? The very first comment was “I think it’s interesting that you called it an addiction and place religion or religious zeal on the same level as a physical addiction” Others then said that I talked bad about Jesus in a negative light. Please refer to the above picture and tell me where I painted Jesus in a negative perspective?

The religious people completely  ignored the part about their lifestyle being insensitive towards others. They completely avoided the part of stop working against someone’s spiritual journey and focused in on two words; Jesus and addiction. From that point on they automatically put up their Christian defensiveness and no longer wanted to talk about anything else. They completely ignored the fact that quite possibly that Church is an addiction for many but instead of talking about religious addiction from my perspective and to prove I’m not making this stuff up I’m going to place some links here that you can read for yourself.  Please read and then continue.

Now that I’ve made my point let me ask you a few questions. Have you ever had a friend who you were close to stop talking to you because you weren’t a Christian and all of a sudden they were? Have you ever had someone break up with you because you no longer were “equally yoked”? Have you ever had someone isolate themselves completely from their real family to be part of the church family? Have you ever had anyone completely lose themselves in Church? If you can answer yes to any of those questions then you can’t deny that Church isn’t an addiction.

Atheist, Agnostic,spiritual practitioners and those who no longer follow a religion didn’t just all of a sudden wake up one gloomy day wallowing in our sorrows and decide we no longer want to follow Christ, follow God or any other deity. For most of us, the decision to stop believing in something outside of ourselves was brutal and likely took years to finally be able to say I’m done with it.

Do you think it’s easy to be the only one who isn’t a religious follower in your family and circle of friends? Do you think people want to feel isolated from those relationships? You can try to convince yourself that we do but many of us are still struggling with just saying how we feel on a damn FB timeline because we don’t want to be judge, debated, and dismissed.

And that’s the most frustrating part about religious people being insensitive. The callous dismissal of our beliefs and life decisions. The constant questioning of our decisions because they don’t understand them. The degrading looks that they give when you tell them Church isn’t for me. The non-religious don’t go around asking them when they’re going to stop going to church.

The non deity following don’t accuse the deity following people of being broken and hurt which is why they turn to someone to try to fix them. No, we just accept you as you are and let you go about your life in peace. We try to be mindful of your spiritual path and journey without trying to convince you to come to the brighter side. Why? Because we respect your decision and we’re sensitive to your space in the world.

That’s all I and others like myself are asking from anyone who desires to live any religious lifestyle; respect the space that we too have to live in. Stop asking us to go backwards and start asking us to go forward together in another way. Be mindful that everyone in your circle isn’t bowing to Allah, be respectful that not everyone in your circle prays to Jesus over their food, be mindful that not everyone in your circle want to give credit to a source outside of themselves for their safe travels because I’m certainly mindful that many in my circle do.

The truth is, you don’t have to understand to be respectful of the lifestyle and the scary thing is, us (the non-religious) nine times out of ten understand the religious lifestyle because we came from it and yet we find a way to respect it still. Most of the religious people don’t know what it’s like to even live on the side of the fence of spiritual freedom. They don’t know if it’s horrible, great or heavenly bliss and yet they remain insensitive and dismissive of it.

The last point that I’m going to drive home is that on my post there were many friends who commented that they agreed with me and that they no longer follow a religious lifestyle. This was shocking and surprising to me. I didn’t know I had so many friends who felt the same way and you know why I didn’t know? Because they don’t talk about it openly. They never post about, they never comment about it because they don’t want to deal with the arguments, debates and funny looks. They want to avoid exactly what I experienced on my PERSONAL timeline.

They would rather be silent to the insensitivity that they face because they value their peaceful space but is that really fair to have to silence your peace in order to not rock the boat of a religious friend? Are we the only ones that have to be sensitive to the ego’s of religious folks in order to have peace? Can the religious not try to be just a little more respectful and spiritually conscious of all us? We’re not asking you to stop believing in God, we’re just asking that you to do better at acknowledging different lifestyles because we certainly do. So much so that I stand in circles, grab hands and sometimes bow my head in respect for that space.

In closing maybe you’re being insensitive because you don’t care and maybe you think it’s cool to not care but as a person claiming to be a follower of a religion you should care. So stop trying to make us feel like we’re bad people because we’re on the right spiritual path for ourselves. What’s for you is for you so that clearly means it’s not for everyone else too. Go spread the gospel to the people who have never heard it and need some help finding the light but stop asking people who were already part of it to come back to something that you yourself can’t even follow 100%. I leave you with this quote that my FB friend Oakey McKnight commented on the post and it’s this…..

“ Religion is like penises, you can be proud of yours; just don’t wave it in my face.”

I hope this brings enlightenment to some of my religious friends.

in·sen·si·tive

adjective

  1. showing or feeling no concern for others’ feelings.
*I’m just a guy who blogs. I’m no English professor so don’t let a grammatical error stop your blessing. If you’d like to offer your services for free then let’s talk. 🙂

Whispers from Strangers

Those who don’t know you don’t get you and those who don’t get you are likely strangers living vicariously through you. They’re strangers to actually knowing who you are, what you’re about and how you’re trying to live your life and I can say this with absolute confidence because anyone who’s a true friend of yours or someone who’s opinion you value will know exactly the type of person you are. Strangers who know not who you are should have very little impact (if any at all) on how you feel about yourself but sometimes the words of others that you hear through the grapevine can cut deep if you allow it.

The unfortunate truth about people is that when you keep your business and lifestyle private to everyone except those in your circle/family then those on the outside are forced to create their own story-line about who you are, what you do and how you think. They take the little bit that they do know, the little they did know and combine it with the whispers from strangers to build their own version of you to fit the narrative they have of you.

This is most often created in a way to make themselves feel elevated above you because who you appear to be makes them uncomfortable and the only way to feel comfortable again is to create a version of you that’s opposite of their own beliefs and lifestyle. Nine times out of ten the version of you that exist in their mind is slightly negative in one way or another. It’s not right, it’s not fair but such is life, this is what strangers do.

Truthfully, sometimes people who were once in your circle and are now in new circles but still interact with parts of your circle contribute to the false narrative as well because they assume they still know you and it’s only natural to be bothered by what you’ve heard them say when you catch wind of it. Most often your first few thoughts are; “how could they say that” and “they know that’s not me” or quite simply it makes you feel “some type of way” about it.

I’m here to tell you that their thoughts, opinions and false narrative about who you are don’t matter (insert hand claps >>>>>)..point….blank….period. They don’t matter and they’re on the outside looking in for many reasons and the only way they can get inside of you is by you allowing them in. Do you choose to give them control over you?

I’ve been there before; I’ve been the person trying to convince people who don’t know me to understand me. I’ve been the person trying to keep people on the inside who deserve to be on the outside . I’ve been the person who’s caught wind of the whispers of strangers and let it affect me. I’ve been the person on the receiving end of a text message from someone you once called a friend and being in shock by what you just read wanting to go the fuck off on them.

Listen, it’s not worth your time, it’s not worth your frustration and it’s certainly not worth the high blood pressure that’s associated with the bullshit that comes along with trying to fix it. Socrates once said “Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people” so unless you think Socrates is a idiot why would you want to waste your time with weak-minded people who just want to discuss what they think they know about your character?

“Insecure people only eclipse your sun because they’re jealous of your daylight and tired of their dark, starless nights.”
Shannon L. Alder

Let the whispers that you hear from strangers fall on deaf ears and let the strangers that whisper; sleep on the bed of lies that put crooks in their backs. The misaligned can’t be aligned with authenticity. So just continue to remain true to yourself and keep pushing forward in the life you’re living but never allow false information to ruin your vibe, your frequency and your energy.

More importantly however is that you don’t contribute to the whispers about someone else that you really don’t know. Don’t be what frustrates you; in fact, be better than that and either shut down the false narrative being created or step away from the conversation. If they who are talking ask you why you did that? Just tell them you don’t participate in the tearing down of someone’s character.

grapevine

Understand; I’m not trying to be obtuse to how you might feel about the words that you might hear about your false self from someone speaking inaccurate information but if you know those words hold no merit then you don’t have to grin and bear it. Furthermore, if a person doesn’t have the desire to get to know the true you or re-acquaint themselves with you after a shift in the friendship then you don’t have to pretend to care and you don’t have to be the one to reach out to figure out what’s going on. Move on in love until the alignment occurs.

Now, if the whispers are cutting deep because they hold some truths and not because a stranger said it then instead of getting angry with the people who’ve said it; get aligned with yourself and work on those issues. The worst kind of person to be is the kind of person who doesn’t fix the very flaws they themselves see everyday but are quick to call out others. Look, I’m typically not a bible person but somewhere in the bible there’s a passage that translates to don’t be a hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye. Regardless of the belief that’s some real information.

I write these words for anyone feeling isolated in their friendships and networks. I write these words for anyone trying to find their place in the relationships that they have yet to figure out. I write these words for anyone angry, sad and frustrated by the whispers of strangers. I write these words for anyone wanting to pull back from their goal of doing things differently this year and onward. Don’t you quit, don’t you retreat, don’t you put up your walls just because someone doesn’t get you, doesn’t appreciate you or doesn’t fucks with you.

Everyone isn’t going to like you just like everyone doesn’t like me. People have preconceived notions about who I am and they’ve never had one face to face conversation with me. That’s what people do and if I stopped being authentic just because of those people then the people I really care about will suffer and so will yours. I leave you with this. Bill Cosby will never be looked at the same again due to the rape allegations (whether true or not) but one thing I’ll never forget about him were these words he said. “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” So why care about the whispers of strangers? Let go and elevate.

“They asked what we were most afraid of. Some said they were afraid of dying and I said dying afraid”-Jay Noetic

Love & Vulnerability

Love & Vulnerability goes together like snow and Northern winter’s in the United States of America; which if you’re from anywhere up north in the USA understand that you can’t have one without the other. In fact, if we were to have winter without snow a northerner might think the world was about to end.

Much like cold winters, love comes across excruciatingly cold if vulnerability isn’t attached with it and yet many people are attempting to modern-day date without being vulnerable (myself included). It begs the question, are people looking for love or are they looking for someone to help pass the time with? The truth of the situation is there’s no true love without true vulnerability which I’ll explain in a bit.

In my writing’s, articles and conversations I use to say there’s no wrong way to love because we’re all shaped by the environments we grew up in, the past relationships we loved in and the belief boxes we’ve placed ourselves in when it comes to understanding love but we know through experiencing life we can love incorrectly right? So I don’t say there’s no wrong way to love anymore because it’s inaccurate.

Clearly wrong love is done through physical abuse, mental abuse and cheating to name a few but outside of that, it’s not that someone is loving you the wrong way, it’s that they’re loving you the only way they know how and their type of love doesn’t make you feel loved. They’re loving you the right way for them and vice versa. Getting that person to love the correct way that works for you is up to both people involved to teach, listen and learn.

Past Experiences teach us how to love but that doesn’t mean it taught us how to specifically love you. -Jay Noetic

The correct way to love is through vulnerability but vulnerability is scary as shit, let’s just call a spade a spade and call it what it is. We know what vulnerability isn’t and it isn’t easy to be and still, we expect others to be vulnerable before you and I in the dating world and I think we all know that’s unfair and likely to fail at each attempt of finding love.

Vulnerability has a negative connotation attached to it which may explain why so many avoid it (especially men) and if you look up the definition of the word vulnerable it’s not defined as anything good. It’s defined as “susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm” and one of the main synonyms for the word vulnerable is “defenseless”. Let me ask you two question’s, can you find love being always guarded? Can you give love if you’re guarded in your actions?

Love requires that you let down your guard, love requires that you become emotionally defenseless and love requires that you see the person trying to get to know you enough to love you as your friend and not your enemy. It’s about trusting in your ability to distinguish between an ally and a foe, it’s about remembering that the hurt you remember from being vulnerable in your past relationships don’t define the rest of your potential relationships unless you let it.

For whatever reason vulnerability seems to come easier for most women than it does for most men. Why is that? We can debate for day’s but here’s a semi attempt at explaining based on living as man. Men for most of our lives have been educated by societal norms on being strong, non-emotional and stern and it takes a special woman coming into our lives to show us the softer side of things and the other side of things. Sorry ladies but we don’t know how to take chances on love until we have no other option but to. This isn’t because we don’t want to it’s because love requires being emotionally available and most men are not emotionally available at first.

Most of us (women and men) know nothing about complete openness and most of us don’t know what it feels like to let anyone see our true selves because inside our true selves is a complicated web of messy energy that we’ve never sorted out and we’re scared if someone see’s that, it will scare them away. Truthfully, the one or two times that we’ve actually decided to be vulnerable it backfired and now we hold on to those painful memories and experiences like our lives depend on it.

The sad truth is that by holding on to that painful past experiences and memories it actually sucks the life out of us and that energy can be felt when we’re on a date with someone and that scares more people away than our messy deeper issues. You owe it to yourself to take more chances on finding a life partner and the only way to find that life partner is by first being vulnerable with the person who reciprocates exactly what you’re giving to them.

Once love arrives and is found it requires communication to the highest degree to sustain it and mold it into a loving, defenseless and passionate relationship. Passion dies when communication subsides. Remember that!

I personally will be working on my vulnerability beginning with the very next young lady that comes into my life. I’m going to trust in the process of love and take more chances in love with a focus on being less guarded. That’s scary as hell but growing old by myself scares me more.

Now, I can’t speak for women because obviously I’m a man and I can only give you the man’s perspective from the outside looking in but it appears that more women are taking on characteristics that were once associated with men and not being emotionally available seems to be one of those characteristics.

Maybe this “I don’t want to be vulnerable” trait has always been part of women as well, maybe society taught little girls to shoot for marriage, kids, house and a picket fence but not vulnerability. I don’t know, maybe some of my women readers can speak on this but what I do know is that modern-day dating feels like standing outside in a New York winter with no long johns and Parka jacket, meaning “hey, it’s cold out here” (in New York Italian voice). Maybe women are just getting pay back for all the years of men being unattached.

What I do know is in a recent study published in the Journal of Social Psychology, showed that men were more likely to fall in love within a few weeks, while most women said it took several months. In another survey taken in London (don’t let that dissuade you, after-all, all men are the same right?) one in five men claimed to have fallen in love at first sight. Just over half were smitten after one meeting and nearly three-quarters had lost their hearts within three dates.

In contrast, only one in ten women said they had experienced love at first sight. Most waited until at least the sixth date before deciding whether or not they had found the ‘real thing’. In that same survey most men were likely to say “I love you first” than most women. So really, who’s the least likely to be vulnerable first? Men or Women?

I personally believe that most men have a harder time expressing themselves than women  and I believe finally making a decision to be with someone comes easier for women because they ask more serious questions in the initial dating phases. But if the study and survey holds any weight then once the right woman comes into a man’s life that man has no problem being vulnerable first.

The fact is, no one is innocent in this debacle of the dating world that we’re living in right now but everyone is responsible for setting realistic dating expectations. The question for all of us single people should not be who’s more vulnerable but instead how do we become vulnerable together.

And to that question I have no certifiable answer but I think honest communication with self and the people we’re dating is a great place to start. If we can learn to look at vulnerability as a strength and not a weakness I think we can begin to change the scene. We clearly have bigger issues between men and women but I have no doubt that the people who’ve found love; found love by being open for a potential attack and setback but kept pushing onward regardless………..now, where’s my parka?

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” ― Brené Brown,