Hello, Joy

Pushing 40 in a dry spell. Supposed to be in my prime. I’m a mom of perfectly imperfect loving souls. I’m the good cop and the bad guy. I’m the grey gal sneaking out at night. Put your hand on mine and hold me. ‘Cause I feel so alone some of the time. Heaviness. Makes it so hard to breathe.

Where has my Joy gone? She left me years ago. I wonder what she’s doing now. I heard from a mutual friend that she’s still in town, but she doesn’t come around… too often anymore. Maybe it’s because… around me… she can’t breathe.

Who am I? The me that is… pre- or post- orgasm? Are they the same woman? If I don’t cum can I show you who I am? I knew it was over when you didn’t kiss me. But I couldn’t kiss you either. I had to win. So our lips only slid across the surface. As if calling, “Who’s gonna go the last 10%?” Neither of us could do it. My heart stopped and I could barely breathe.

They can’t hold me back. They’ve not got the right. My faith is greater than their degradation. I’m being seasoned… put on fire. Seek those who lift us up. Step out of comfort and into the light. Surround ourselves with love. Clear up the present from a murky past. Take a breath of fresh air. Smile. As you open the door, “Hello, Joy.”

My Treatment Plan

I’ll never stop fighting to find my joy, but I have learned the value of feeling for healing. Here’s the process that has worked for me:

When your heart wants to break, let it! Let go. Feel all of it. The heavy and simultaneous empty. Feel it ripping apart your insides. Cry. Wale. Carry on like a child (but preferably in your war room closet so the kids don’t worry: But if they do, they learn compassion). Tear apart the invisible cord extending from your chest straight down through your solar plexus. Rage. Love. Hate. Reminisce. Overthink, overanalyze, change your mind, change it again because it needs to be done. Go down into the dark well- for you know your rope it tethered to God. And when you have sufficiently exhausted your soul, thank the Lord for holding that space for you. Take a nap. Wake up and when the pain creeps back on like a wave crashing on your heart, let it! Let your eyes well up. Exhale bursts of sadness. Breathe in divine love. Look around. Thank God for the multitude of blessings in your life. Allow yourself to be overcome by the loneliness of not sharing your blessings with a lover. Walk around in a daze. Lost in empty thoughts. Then be distracted by someone else’s drama. Hulu and Netflix are great helpers for this step. Hold your children. Kiss their forehead and know how much love you get and have to give! Think of the times you were joyful. How do you get back there? Breathe. Deeply. Into the belly, filling it like a balloon. Exhale the doubt that says you don’t have a purpose. Be your joy. Make a conscious choice to get back up. This is the crucial point… do you take back your joy or do you let misery win? Let it all go. All of it. You are made new! You have a purpose and someone out there will receive you! When we trust in the Father, we have hope. Hold that hope. Love always fucking wins!

Get some rest. Tomorrow will be a brand new morning.

We Can’t Be “Just Friends”

It’s always the same… You love other women and my love must be tame. I thought that if I were a better friend and promised to be there ’til the end, that you’d see me in a new light. But I’m tired of feeling “not good enough,” I’m tired of this fight. You never got to know that part of me, you never let me in. You saw the hurt and restrained me ’cause you pushed me away and could never begin past “friend.”

My love was deep because I saw the real you, I just wish you could have openly loved me too. It’s not my regret but it is my fault that you locked me out of your erotic vault. I went from lover to friend to therapist but I know you felt our connection when we kissed. It cut like a knife when you said “she’s worth the effort” and that her free-spirit reminds you of me… I cannot bear how those words filled my soul with jealousy. I want to hold your hand and meet your tribe! Being around you makes the world seem so alive! I want to love and freely show my affection but without those mighty walls of protection. We’d become so close and gotten through a lot of crappy stuff but being “just friends” with you is not enough. I don’t want you to choose… her or me. I can see that together you two are happy! I’m delighted that you have found someone who makes you recognize that you are whole. You deserve love without my presence taking a toll. I also want to protect my heart, so out of respect, we must part.

I’m a sensual woman who deserves love in return, where two stoke the fire for the flame to burn. I don’t want to wait for you anymore, I don’t want to cry. So without a word I say “goodbye.”

Love is my mental illness

When I can’t stop the fight to reach the light of your soul. When I disappear so you don’t hear my heart fall asunder. When I trek on and on in this role despite the ache rolling through my chest like thunder.

A little crazy never hurt no one.

How I let you go every other day: I cannot stay it seems. How I cling to the fling that was a red hot flame. How I see you in my dreams and hope for the long-lasting steady burn of your love game.

A dash of insanity could be fun.

Why I obsess and overthink over my fear of rejections: Your affections are my reprieve. Why I request of Amor, a bequest from above. Why I get so worked up and try to leave until your spirit mingles with mine to command, “Be still my love.”

A pinch of madness is better than none.

Darlin’ I’m nuts about you. But when you’re gone… This love is my mental illness.

False Perceptions Made Right

Conditioned to “know” that love is given through victimization.

Perfection mitigates shame.

Good enough will stop the pain.

Unlearning that kind of false love- with no compensation.

No return of innocence.

No decline in hyper-vigilance.

Redefining my experiences to formulate a healthy interpretation.

Love is…. given to other people despite…

Love is…. hard work, attunement, a delight.

Conditioned to “know” that love is reflected through a relation.

Model your desire in the lives of others.

Create space for love to flow to all our brothers.

To My Dearest Me. Love, Me.

Just because they don’t love you back

Doesn’t mean you are any less beautiful…

Or any less interesting…

intelligent…

or fun.

It simply means they don’t connect with your awesomeness.

And that’s okay.

No really. That’s okay!

Someone out there will be magnetized to your uniqueness.

The “unknown he” loves you.

So uncover that joy you’ve hidden under fear. Smile again.

Don’t hide your laughter thinking your seriousness makes up for their absence. It justifies nothing.

Letting go doesn’t mean you loved them any less. Letting go doesn’t mean your pain was meaningless. So let. them. go. All of them.

You have picked yourself up each time. You have proved to be stronger in courage and character, more vibrant in knowing yourself, having a greater capacity for simplicity and love! THAT is what matters. Girl, you’ve got this!

Exhale the pain. You don’t need it anymore.

Remember when your mind was clear to allow your body to dance?

Remember why your freedom to “go” invigorated your soul?

Remember how love filled your heart and radiated out your helping hands.

Let’s get back to that.

Let’s get back to Overflowing with joy, love, connection, Spirit.

Let THAT flame burn for all to see and the unknown he will find thee.

The Meaning of Wholeness

The following Pre-Interview Thoughts were not shared with participants prior to our discussions:

Wholeness is not a static place of being; rather, it is “alive” as an energetic movement of the soul, mind, and body.  Wholeness is embracing the negative and positive parts of yourself and allowing them to flow and transform your inner and external worlds.  Wholeness does not deny that which is dark: Darkness heightens the parts of you that are light.  The light gives depth to the dark (Taoist principles).

Erik Erikson believed that wholeness could be experienced when the stages of psychosocial development were balanced, yet because the scales were not fixed, one could easily revert back to an imbalance or conversely, gain balance through rectification of past traumas in a specific stage.  He didn’t believe that individuals must be on the positive side of each at all times; rather, “balance” could manifest differently for diverse people. Erikson believed that culture and society (i.e., the relational quality) play a crucial role in identity and wholeness.

Interview 1:

Background: The interviewee is an artist, a teacher of sorts, a business man… He wears many hats. He was raised in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.  His family have been prominent in the Youth Ministry; as well as, missionaries abroad.  However, he has rejected God due to the “empty promises” of the Word. 

He defined wholeness via the comparison to society and its social norms.  He determined his wholeness on his ability to “keep up” with his same-age peers.  He also questioned his wholeness with “Am I capable of life alone?”  He reasoned that his place in life is a result of “him” alone (i.e., without the help of parents or friends).  However, his train of thought prompted the idea that he still felt like “Something should be missing” (e.g., kids, pets, relationships).  I questioned this because I know the history on how his family have pressured him to take certain steps in his life: Go to school, get a degree, get married, start a family, etc.  He struggled with that pressure versus his dream to travel (i.e., which he ended up choosing!).  Now that he has returned and is back to the ol’ grind of what could be called “His normal life.”  I questioned whether he felt there was something missing or was it that he was pressured to feel that way.  He retorted that our desires to create a family are primal.  Yet, the influx of social media has forced us further into isolation.  People tend to falsely believe that “everyone else” has a perfect life or are okay because of their posts on social media.  Most people don’t complain and therefore, no one reaches out to make sure.  We present as “a-okay” yet don’t allow others in to see our pain.  Nor can we see the pain of others when they present themselves as “fine.”  Social media traps us in this “comparative model,” and no matter how well we are doing, we can always find someone else who presents as “better.”  Thus, our own psyche manipulates that information to create insecurity and a lack of self-esteem and confidence.

I asked if the urge was stronger to start a family now that he accomplished his dream of traveling.  He said that he fills the void or empty spot with the connection to his family.  He is quite close to his brother and calls his mother daily.  Being from a SDA family, I know he must have grown up with reminders of “Christ fills that void.”  When I inquired on his thoughts about that saying, he informed me on his disbelief in God and that Christ is not a part of his life.  He related religion to an open book club where some are very open and others’ more questionable.  We discussed his upbringing in the Youth Group and concluded that his mother must have felt that wholeness came from being a part of a fellowship in the church.  In conclusion, he believed that wholeness is based on self-reflection against others’ and one’s subsequent self-perception in comparison with the social norms.  He gave the example of a stable gay couple with kids.  Despite them feeling secure and happy on their own, when they compare themselves against the social norm and unfortunate stigma of diverse SOGIE, they may feel less “whole.” 

Interview 2:

Background:  This interviewee does not cling to religious beliefs either.  She finds the spiritual in living up to one’s passions.  She works in higher education as an Academic Advisor for Graduate Studies at a university.

She began her response with the correlation that wholeness has to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  When our basic needs are met, we have the capacity to feel contentment.  When we feel emotionally heard and can reciprocate by listening to others, we increase our likelihood of feeling whole.  Although she does not equate “spiritual” as religious, she believes strongly in needing to feel invested in our beliefs.  “We must find opportunities within our circumstances (i.e., whether it be poverty, higher education, church group) to share our time and energy with others concerning those strong beliefs.”  At first, she considered friendships and romantic love to be secondary, but in discussion, realized that they are the needed “opportunity” to share.  Others are not separate from wholeness, but a catalyst for wholeness. 

When asked how she perceived individuals who are whole, she stated that she assumed they are content and happy more often than sad or disappointed: Their needs must be getting met.  They must be able to be speak their emotions and be heard by others. They must feel loved because “rarely can someone feel whole on their own.”

Further into our discussion, she shared a description of Michelle Obama’s autobiography.  She recounted how Obama was a “box checker:” Meeting goals, advancing herself in the rat race, and marking off more and more personal accomplishments.  Until she met Barack.  He laid awake at night figuring out solutions to social injustices and ways he could help others.  We proposed that she may have felt whole in herself before meeting him, but then, she grew and expanded outside herself, which made her revert to a feeling of “un-wholeness.”  Wholeness must exist on a spectrum!  I surmised that society would consider “un-wholeness” as a negative; however, this is the point where- instead of being filled from the outside- she opened herself to the ability to “create space.” 

Side-Note: “Squirrel!!”

I imagine how and where “box-checking” came into play… Yes we could say “throughout history,” yet it seems that need to organize our successes really took hold in the early 20th century.  In the 19th century and the expansion into the West, people may not have needed it because they were pioneers… To whom would they be comparing themselves? Many who stayed in the East were “surviving” as immigrants or “came from money” or in rural areas feeling contentment.  It seems that restlessness, a need to compare, organization to cope with chaos, or whatever you want to call it, may have began as resources and freedoms increased and the masses gained the insight of “me too!” or “You mean I can have gold, money, a career, a voice, equality, etc.”  Then with the Depression, many “things” and opportunities were taken away.  People had to scramble to be the one’s to “make it.” Hence a need for box-checking. I remember my grandmother hording things because “There may be another Depression.” Many people horde their things, wealth, emotions, time, etc. because they fear if they give it freely, it may never return. Yet if we are all givers, and know how to harness from the universe, then we need not fear.

In conclusion:

The interviewees provided diverse views on the meaning of wholeness, yet both had a relational quality.  Both hypothesized that wholeness cannot exist in a social vacuum.  We depend on others to be mirrors or comparisons for our self-reflection and opportunities for our expansion.  I am further convinced of Charles Cooley’s idea (i.e., one of my favorite quotes) that “I am not who I think I am.  I am not who you think I am.  I am who I think you think I am.” 

The Post Interview Thoughts:

Typically, we relate wholeness to being filled by some thing or someone.  However, as discussed further in one of my interviews, wholeness is the act of making space not filling up.  It is “making space so that the Spirit may freely flow through the Lord’s temple.”

God’s love is the binding agent of our imperfect earthly love.  Rather than comparing ourselves to everyone else, we can be a model of wholeness to show others that there is an opportunity for wholeness (i.e., something more) or even “that which is greater than whole.” Contrary to the ideal of making space, this would be envisioned as a “pouring over” or “overflowing.” Although opposite ideas, they are quite similar in this context. They are attempting to make room and are a flowing of energy.

Personal Account:

It’s amazing how the areas of health, finances, relationships, etc. in life are so intertwined and affected by our relationship with God.  I can always tell based on “how I am doing” in those areas as to how my relationship with God is at the time.  It is almost like a cue for me now… “oh boy… Things are not flowing freely and with ease… Have I been communing as much as I should?”  The imbalance pulls me back to reading my Bible, praying and meditating on scripture, praising Him through gratitude or song, etc.  I always feel whole when I get back to God.  He never leaves, but sometimes I get distracted by parenting, occupation, health, relationships, finances, failed attempts at love, drama, ego, etc.  It’s as if there is a necessary consciousness to the process.  Awareness of routines, belief systems, and relationships with the world makes all the difference in whether we have stagnation or growth, struggle or ease, complacency or true connection. 

Further Thoughts:

One questioned, “How can I be concerned with self-actualizing thoughts like ‘the meaning of wholeness’ when I barely make ends meet?” I questioned, is Wholeness a privilege or a right?  Is it White Privilege to have wholeness because that population may have a greater chance of having basic needs met?  I believe that diverse people, including low socioeconomic status, can indeed experience wholeness.  For many with low SES, family and friends become a priority.  Relationships are a huge part of wholeness.  I think the important word was “self-actualizing.”  Does wholeness exist if it isn’t brought into consciousness?  The healed man in Luke 17: 11-19 had the realization or mindfulness to return to Christ.  Yet the others still felt whole, didn’t they?  It was just a different level of wholeness.  He modeled an opportunity for more but it wasn’t to take away from the wholeness they felt in their capacity.  So the same goes for the one who questioned: He may not “worry about” those higher needs but it doesn’t take away from his individualized capacity to experience wholeness. 

Final, Final Thoughts: “I Swear!!”

Yet whether we are box-checkers or struggling to have our basic needs met, we cannot forget that Christ and God’s love is essential in the process of wholeness.  It reminds me of how in the Old Testament, the Israelite people were given the Law.  They strove for perfection within themselves as they performed to the Letter of the Law.  Yet Christ came and proved that without Him, their attempts are in vain.  We cannot do it by ourselves.  The Law was given to show them that they fail without Him.  Christ fulfills the law and lives through us… In the same manner, we can try and try to be perfectly whole, yet we will fail until we accept our Wholeness in the Lord. 

What We See

When I look in the mirror, I see beauty, strength, sexiness…

Things you won’t see until you get to know me.

When I look in the mirror, I see a woman who I feel dang proud to have in my life.

A thing you won’t feel until you’ve spent time with me.

When you look in my mirror, you’ll see love, dedication, and honor.

Things we will have put the work in to earn.

Love wins.

Article Response to “20 Lessons on Dating”

If A Woman Is Willing To Do It All… Don’t Let Her

I read a two-part article titled “The 20 Lessons to Learn About Women and Dating or Be Single Forever” by Andrew Ferebee on KnowledgeForMen.com.  Ferebee promoted his book The Dating Playbook For Men: A Proven 7 Step System To Go From Single To The Woman Of Your Dreams in the article.  Overall, the article was well thought out and seemingly accurate despite undertones of personal pain and rejection.  Although I loved it- especially Part 2- I felt some clarity must be presented for those open to hear it. 🙂

I especially appreciated the emphasis on masculine and feminine differences and how each can promote the other (i.e., despite slight disagreements with it):

“Because when you’re soft (expressing feminine character), you put the woman above you on a pedestal (forcing her to take on the masculine role). Typically, a woman can only feel attraction for a man when she is in her feminine, therefore as a man you need to step into the masculine dominant role.”

Men are not the only culprits of this role-reversal.  Women- perhaps after years of being “forced” into the masculine position or fighting for the rights to have that position- assert themselves as the caretakers of men (i.e., to fix or “mother” them) or to “get the job done” because the men in their lives choose not to take the lead.  Men too have become accustomed to taking the softer role, but it doesn’t have to remain this way.  My first article on TheSaltStone.com, “Men and Women Being Men and Women” briefly touched on these principles and the belief that men and women create Tao as complimentary opposites.

Ferebee used the phrase “put the woman above you on a pedestal” in two diverse contexts in the article.  The first implies that a woman in a masculine role is in a superior role, yet the second described the “golden throne” men place women on when they adore them.  Unlike Ferebee, I don’t believe the second is a bad thing, simply worded wrong and often prematurely executed.  A woman should be her man’s queen on that golden throne: “Under every great man is a strong and dedicated woman that makes him a better man.”  Now I word this with “under” instead of “behind” to maintain the idea of a pedestal.  I do believe the man should be superior to the woman, but I also believe he must know his place as a spiritual man with a strong relationship with his God.  His direction in leading the woman will be based on wisdom rather than whims.

She also has an important role as the feminine part of their unified relationship (i.e., premised by the note that I only describe the parts of her role in context to this article): She nurtures and promotes him.  She holds the world, the worries, the values.  She loves  him in spite of his flaws, but emphasizes the amazing qualities that he has, so those flaws disappear.  She follows his lead in decisions- even when “she knows better”- because she knows that learning from mistakes will build his confidence.  Here is where most women fail…. they scold him for making a wrong decision.  Most women are no longer in the habit of loving their man in his weakest, most embarrassing moments; hence, the stereotype that women nag and men refuse to make decisions.

A woman who is his queen will allow herself to be vulnerable so that he can be the protector: Feminists would disagree, but should digest my reasoning before making a rash decision based on that statement.  A woman’s curse since the beginning of whatever time you believe in has been that she carries the world on her shoulders: Rearing children, solving problems, multi-tasking to no end.  More recently in history, she has been made to feel as though perfection is par.  Ferebee says, “Women are regular people who eat, shit, bitch, sleep and occasionally go through the McDonalds drive through at midnight just like you do,” yet we feel like we have to be those 9s and 10s we see in the media or in his article!  Simply put, when the world demands so much from a woman, wouldn’t she want to come home and be vulnerable in her man’s arms?  To “take a load off,” to have a listening ear and a warm embrace?  I don’t want to “work” when I am with my man: I want the world to melt away.  A strong and masculine man can create that environment because frankly, I don’t want that “one-more-thing-to-do.”

Another “issue” I had with Ferebee’s insightful take on how men should behave in dating became clear with the portion expressing that men should make women chase them.  Yikes!  A woman doesn’t want to chase a man, but she feels like she has to out of frustration to try to get him to open up.  The article stated that a man shouldn’t be “feminine” by opening up to a woman because she will see him as being weak; yet, women expect this of a man in the initial phases of dating.  The author didn’t state that once you have found a woman with whom the energy, passion, compassion, love, commitment, and stability can flow, it is appropriate for a man to disclose his inner thoughts and feelings to that woman.  This intimacy sanctifies the relationship: It sets it apart from all others with friends and maybe even family.  Intimacy is that energetic glue that binds two people together.  A woman searches and grasps at this- yes prematurely- because she wants that “hard” tough guy exterior who can be “soft” around her only.  It makes her feel special to be the only one he opens up to.  It can be related to the generalization that men want a librarian on the outside, but a dirty and adventurous vixen on the inside.  It makes him feel special when she reserves that secret for him.

I understand that men feel undervalued due to the role reversals and other social norms that have come to play in modern times.  Yet, this thinking creates conflict, not love.  One of the biggest complaints from women is that they are always having to guess at how a man feels about them.  I describe it as flailing in a stormy ocean where the life preserver is drifting just out of reach.  The article stated that men must use nonverbal communication to instill a sense of desire in their mate, which will make her “begin to seek validation from you vs what most men do is seek validation from her.”  Yes!  Women want validation!  I wish the article took it further to express to men that the women will seek validation from him, but then “the man will give her that validation…”  Most men stop at “women want me” and refuse to validate that “yeah, I’m diggin’ on you too! So don’t worry that I didn’t respond to that text right away, babe.”  Perhaps this description can help men sympathize with those “crazy women” who bug them about their feelings and harass them with constant texts or who rudely attempt to pry into their emotions (did you detect the sarcasm?).  Even the most sane of women have been driven to this feeling of insecurity and have been lumped in the category of “crazy” because a man has a fortress around his heart or too seriously “plays the game.”  A bit overly dramatic, I know, but I want to bring to light what is going on in the woman’s head after having to overanalyze a man’s lack or abrupt reduction of communication.  My response to women when this occurs is that the connection isn’t there if he is not willing to tear down the wall after an appropriate amount of time (i.e., look for someone who is willing to be intimate with you).  Sometimes this “moving on” sparks action in a man, sometimes it just allows both to be open to a more suitable connection.  (**His other bits of advice in Lesson 11: Communication are solid!)

I agree with the author when he states, “women hate being put on pedestals.”  Although some women feel entitled to it, others believe they are not worthy of such adoration.  Both are sad thoughts because women deserve to be treated like queens (*not the same views expressed by the author).  Granted, they should be humble and not demanding of such treatment, but often feel that men don’t treat them as such so they will take it!  This attitude does not enable him to make the choice to treat her like royalty.  If a man is not able to treat you that way, then he doesn’t see you that way (or the woman doesn’t see herself that way and heavily resists being treated that way)!  If he doesn’t see you that way, he is not the one for you!  (If you cannot receive that positive treatment as a woman, then please consider seeking assistance from family, friends, counselors, massage therapists, artistic expression classes, etc.).  There should not be any chasing or grasping at what is not there.  The desire to give and receive love should flow freely without the drama that fear and insecurities bring about.

Ferebee brought up an excellent point, “Don’t change her mind, change her mood.”  He stated that men often try to provoke change through logic instead of creating a sensory experience that enables the woman to feel differently or the needed change.  As stated above, the role reversal leads to men being the ones who make self-serving decisions based on feelings rather than logical steps to create an environment conducive to feeling: “How does this girl make me feel?”  “I will say I want to hang out with her because it makes me feel good to not disappoint her… but I have not real intentions of taking her out.”  “This relationship doesn’t feel easy anymore, I’m out” (Yes, I too have undertones of pain and rejection).  The logical man would question “Why does she react in this way and how can I reassure her?” “I will let her know flat out that I don’t feel a connection and would like to continue to explore my options even though she will probably be disappointed.”  “This relationship is at the end of the “honeymoon period,” but I am willing to figure out a solution to maintain that passion we felt before.”

Whereas, women now overanalyze each text and lack thereof.  We “read into” each instance of touch, location of the date, whether a response led to further conversation with questions or was just a quick phrased answer.  Women must practice receiving and trusting again and letting go of the burdens of minor details or what-if worries in the dating process.

Women have become the thinkers/ “logical” and men are the feelers/ “emotional.”  Honestly, it doesn’t work because it is so unnatural to play the roles we weren’t designed for.  Men should be changing our moods with sensory experiences and reassuring words.  Women should be okay in receiving these things from a man.  Men must communicate with logic so that women are not left to wonder.  Women should trust a man’s reasoning and decisions.

Overall, the article wanted a man to realize that he may want the woman of his dreams, but he should act as though he doesn’t need her.  This is true to an extent.  First we are dependent on our parents or caregivers. Then we find independence within ourselves, trying really hard to avoid co-dependent relationships shaped by our youth.  Finally, we meet someone who is also healthy and independent and become interdependent with them.  In ourselves, we don’t need the other.  But having knowing them, it is hard to think about life without them.  (My mom used to say this all the time, but I am not too sure where she learned it- so I apologize for the lack of proper credit).

I am grateful to Andrew Ferebee for bringing to light the importance of maintaining the natural balance of masculine and feminine energies within a relationship.  However, there is a need for exposure of playing “the game” versus seeking a lasting love affair.  Many of his insights lead to “more women,” yet some ideas ultimately lead to a lonely and unsatisfying end.  I believe that men and women will find each other when they have that hope and openness to love.

Thank you.

Here is another link to the author’s book on Amazon: