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What Happened When I Broke Up With My Phone For The Weekend

Here's how it elevated my mental health.

Inspiration

My phone and I have been in a committed relationship for the past 15 years. She has been there for me through my ups and downs. She has listened to conversations that have brought me great laughter and tears. When I felt lost and needed direction, she guided me. When moments in my life felt unreal, she was there to capture the moment. When I felt down, she uplifted my spirits with a good playlist. She never stopped me from answering a text, picking up a phone call, or blocking an ex-boyfriend.

My phone has been my greatest support system.

Recently, the relationship between my phone and I has felt demanding. The constant work emails, social media apps, and the overwhelming amount of notifications have made me feel drained at times. She is way too available these days! I mean the way she rings, vibrates, and shines her light from the moment I wake up - stresses me out. I love her, but she needs too much attention from me. After much time and consideration, I decided we needed some space. My phone and I broke up for the weekend.

Breakups Are Hard But Sometimes Needed.

When I turned off my phone, I have to admit I didn't feel so liberated; at first. I felt anxious. My mind rushed with the worry of who was texting me. Am I missing important work emails or am I missing out on the latest social media post? I almost felt guilty for turning it off. As time went by, I realized breaking up with my phone was going to be easier said than done.

I found myself not knowing what to do with my newfound time. My phone (sadly) was my main source of entertainment. I would subconsciously look for my phone, to then only remind myself that we had broken up. I realized how much my phone became a part of my life.

I knew if I wanted to have a better relationship with my phone, I would need to have a better relationship with myself.

Breakups Are Beautiful Because They Allow Us To Rediscover Ourselves.

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I figured what could be a better time for a nature walk than now. Walking into the world with no phone made me feel a little unsafe. I began to have those anxious thoughts again of "what if?" I decided it was also a good time to purchase mace.

Being in nature with no phone began to feel empowering. I had finally disconnected from the world. Normally, I have my headphones and a soundtrack blasting in my ears. For the first time, I was able to embrace the sounds of a nature walk in New York City. The welcoming vibrations of trees blowing, birds chirping, children playing, and cars passing by brought me to peace. I felt safe in the surrounding harmonies of Central Park.

My moment in nature allowed me to process a lot of subconscious thoughts I was avoiding. I was able to have a mental check-in with myself: How have I REALLY been feeling? Where in my life do I need to be more intentional? Where are my triggers coming from? These questions allowed me to face realities I normally distract myself from with a quick social media scroll. I left the park with mental clarity and peace.

My Breakup Allowed Me To Get It Together! 

After my nature walk, I arrived home and decided to get my whole life together. I was able to do some much-needed chores. Without any distractions, I was able to deep clean my house, organize my finances, write down my goals, donate clothes, and squeezed in a little nap. I was able to accomplish so much in almost no time at all. I quickly realized how much my phone held me back from achieving even the smallest task. Normally, my "get my life together routine" consisted of several 30-minute phone breaks.

I felt accomplished! I finally found a routine that had worked for me. Turning off my phone had improved the quality of my mental health and overall life. I felt less anxious and stress. I also saw a shift in my self-awareness and productivity. I even went as far as questioning if I even needed a phone at all.

Accountability Is Essential In All Relationships.

After much consideration, I discovered the root of my problems wasn't my phone, but my lack of self-control. Yes, the overload of work emails, texts, calls, and notifications did have me all the way stressed. But! I too played a role in my toxic relationship with my phone. I allowed myself to overindulge at times. Avoiding daily life duties and situations by choosing to binge on several apps and selfies. This began a vicious cycle of responsibilities beginning to pile up, a rise in my anxiety, and a decline in my motivation.

Giving Love A Second Chance.

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Once I was able to have some time for myself and reflect, I felt a lot better. My phone and I have been hand in hand for more than a decade. She watched me grow into a woman and I watched her grow into a Nextel, Side-Kick, Blackberry, iPhone 4, 5, and now 7. Despite our ups and downs, we've always been there for one another. She's always shined her light on me, even when I couldn't afford her that month. She has taught me that boyfriends come and go, but a good cellular plan lasts a lifetime.

The relationship between my phone and I have gotten better since our breakup. I have been better at managing time on social media apps and attending to work emails on my laptop. While she has been better at staying on airplane mode when needed.

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Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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