No One Gets to Make Me Be Someone I’m Not

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I have to resist the urge to stop people midsentence every time I hear them say that something “made” them react a certain way.

Example: “You made me mad when you…” “He made me yell at him cuz he yelled at me first.”

Ya’ll with me? The reality is this, no one can MAKE you do anything.

I have heard this sentiment expressed by my therapist and professors innumerable times since I’ve been on this counseling journey.

As a result, I find myself taking more responsibility for my decisions. No one makes me do or feel anything. Everything I say, do and/or feel is a direct result of a choice I have made.

And I’ll be honest and say that I’m a better person because of this new awareness. When I could blame my reactions on others, it was easier to excuse it. Now that I’ve decided to take ownership of my choices, I tend to make better ones.

It has been hard because not going with my first mind leaves me feeling like I lost, but then I realize what I actually won. I won my life. I am in total control of me. It feels good to not be anybody’s puppet.

Hope Is Painful

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…But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 

That scripture convicts me to think bigger and increase my willingness to believe in what I haven’t seen. But can we just take a second and be real about how painful it can be to have hope?

Have you ever wanted a job really badly? You feel like it’s yours so you share it with a friend? Then you don’t get it. So then you find another one and the excitement comes back, but you don’t get that one either. So next time you keep it to yourself so that your hopes aren’t up and you can take your loss quietly.

Have you ever wanted to see someone be healed from a life destroying disease? You pray for them. You pray for healing. You continue to watch them suffer. You pray harder because you have hope. Then, it gets to the point where you see that it’s not getting better. Against all logic, you press beyond the cognitive dissonance and you continue to have hope. You see them hurting and realize that they need and want rest, but you continue to believe. The hope helps your mind rest, but makes your heart ache because your heart acknowledges the reality.

Have you ever decided to open your heart to someone new only to find that they’re gonna break it too? Part of you wants to try again, but the other part just wants to admit that having hope sets you up for disappointment.

After so much hurt and disappointment, life teaches us to be pessimistic or unmoved so that the bad doesn’t damage and the good comes as a total surprise. But I just want to say that no matter how much it hurts, have hope. Believe only the best things are coming for you and your people. Somebody has to see the glass half full. If you can recall the hurt that all the above situations caused, you can also recall life going on and eventually getting better after them.

Hurt happens. So does healing. Keep hoping for the best.

OhCAE?

Be A Man

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Something that truly irritates me is when I hear people talking to little boys telling them to “be a man” or “man up” or something of the sort. He’s not a man. He’s a child.

I totally disagree with the belief that men are naturally insensitive unfeeling people. They just get taught early on in life that it’s not okay to cry then they’re rarely encouraged to still express their emotions. They get told to suck it up and be a man.

And we wonder why men and women have such a hard time relating. (But that’s a whole ‘nother post)

I read a Child Watch Column by Marian Wright Edelman and its title sums up what I’ve been thinking about. “Treat Children as Children.”

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And we can see instances of this forced adulthood in so many places. For example, I finally watched a recent episode of Black•ish. (Have you watched that show? Do it! NOW!) Brilliant.

It brought out a topic we often ignore. Men who are raised by single mothers who end up hating their sons’ significant others.

After watching this scenario play out over and over, I deduce that it’s because the sons take on a dual role as their mother’s man.

I posted that as my Facebook status after watching and one commenter said this “Yep. Calling them little man, man of the house, king… Etc. Childhood is symbolically lost. You’ve nailed it.”

I don’t think we really understand how much our words really mean.

We have to stop forcing our boys into manhood with our words and actions.

OhCAE?!

Maya Taught Me

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Aside from the famous works, I really didn’t know a lot about Maya Angelou until she passed away last week. A bunch of her quotes and videos went viral right after she died. The one that made the biggest impression on me was the video of the conversation between her and Dave Chappelle. In the video, she said a couple things that were more than timely for me.

Chappelle questioned her about how she was able to live during the height of the Civil Rights Movement and continue to work towards progress without being angry. Angelou responded by saying that she WAS angry, everybody was angry, but they had to learn how to channel their anger. She explained that some marched their anger, some sang that anger and others wrote their anger. Everybody had their part in changing the social climate and they realized they could only be effective by doing what they’re good at. 

That explanation was exactly what I needed to hear and I’ll explain why. Since 2010, I haven’t done anything language arts related, but all of a sudden I can’t think of very many things I would rather do than write. And I could not figure out where the insatiable desire came from or the random inspiration. When I heard that, I realized that it was because I got mad. Like, really mad. But instead of flying off the handle and doing all the things I could imagine to express that anger, I started writing.

I have journal entries. I have blogs. I have tweets. I have Facebook posts. I write when I’m happy. I write when I’m sad. I write when I’m angry. I write when I’m confused.

I had to learn how to make sense of my seemingly spiraling world and with that I determined that I would make a positive influence. My real thoughts aren’t as deep, loving and inspiring as they present themselves here, but Maya taught me how to filter my feelings for the sake of myself and those around me.

Doesn’t Quite Fit. Don’t force it.

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I hate when I take stuff out of its box and can never successfully get it back in there perfectly. It’s almost like it didn’t come in that box cuz I just cannot figure out where everything is supposed to go so that it’ll be smooth and compact like it was when I first got it.
Or like, why is it SO difficult to repack a suitcase when a trip ends? It’s all the same stuff, but it never quite fits right like it did before.

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That’s how I feel. Now that I’ve taken my emotions out of the box I’ve had them in, now that I’ve unpacked my emotional baggage, I am STRUGGLING to get my feelings back together the way they were before.

Emotions are part of human life. They are meant to be felt, healthily expressed and dealt with.

So maybe I should just accept it. They’re never gonna fit back in the neatly arranged box they were in before and that’s OhCAE.

“Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16, 17 NLT)

God is increasing your capacity. He can’t fit the new you in your old house.

I’ve come to realize that my new life can’t fit in my old life’s container and essentially it’s silly for me to try to force it.

Embrace the new.

Photocred: telepicturestv.com