Something that I'm being very intentional about until my next birthday (June) is healing from my childhood PTSD. Very long story short, I've endured just about any kind of abuse you can imagine growing up. Add to that, parents — and grandparents and some aunts, uncles and cousins too — who were in the spotlight but also used religion as a way to not take full ownership for their actions and/or neglect; meaning, no matter what they did, they wanted me to focus more on forgiving and moving on than their need to take responsibility and make amends. What I realized is the trauma made me pretty codependent. It also caused me to continue to re-victimize myself by choosing friendships/relationships/situationships that reflected my childhood.
See, when you're a child, you love from such a pure and innocent place. You just want others to feel loved, so no matter what they do — good, bad or super ugly — you keep on loving them; even to the point of overcompensating in hopes that it will make them 1) feel loved, 2) love you and/or 3) stop hurting you.
Next, you tend to keep repeating this pattern over and over again until you say to yourself, "OK, something isn't right." Then, rather than choosing more people who will harm you, you slow down, take a deep breath, and focus on healing so that you can learn what love really is and start selecting individuals to be in your life from that head and heart space.
As far as the healing process itself? As much as a lot of us may not want to accept this blaring reality, it does include forgiving those who caused us so much pain. Only, what I'm learning is just like a lot of people presented a jacked-up representation of love, they did the same thing when it comes to forgiveness.
As I've been working on forgiving from a healthier space, this is how I've learned how to forgive others — whether they take ownership for their actions or not:
Remember That We All Need It.
Being a marriage life coach has taught me A LOT about forgiveness. One of the main reasons why is because oftentimes when there are issues in a marriage, BOTH people have to accept some of the responsibility. That means both people have to be willing to humble themselves and forgive each other so that they can move forward.
I've had a lot of crap happen to me and I've done a lot of crap too. I accept that it's definitely arrogant and borderline dangerous to think that I deserve forgiveness while someone else doesn't. Or, someone should forgive me while I shouldn't forgive them.
Knowing that I'm gonna need to ask someone for forgiveness at some point makes it easier to be willing to give it to someone who asks.
After all, forgiving someone is simply not holding what someone did — or didn't do — against them. I certainly don't want a ton of folks holding things against me, so why not put good karma energy into the atmosphere? A bonus is I can put the emotional energy that it takes to stay mad at someone towards something far more beneficial and productive. Plus, it's proven that forgiveness is really good for my physical health and that's always a good thing.
Feel the Pain. Then Choose to Heal from It.
We're not designed to embrace pain. We're designed to embrace love. So when someone hurts us, it can be almost devastating to our being. Not allowing yourself to "feel that out" is not only unrealistic; it's unhealthy too. But again, you are made from love and designed to embrace love. While you didn't choose to have someone hurt you, you do have the power to choose to not let the pain consume you.
How do you get past the pain and on the road to healing? I'll tell you what I do. I spend a season (sometimes it's days, other times it's weeks) saying "I can't believe they did that!". Then I move into the season of "I didn't deserve that because I'm better than that". Then it's "What can I do to prevent that in the future?"
Once I get to that third question, healing starts to happen because no longer is my time, effort, and energy going into what someone else did. It's now focused on the lesson I can learn and how to set better boundaries.
When you stop looking at the wound and start looking for the lesson in the wound, you're well on the road to being able to forgive someone. Whether they are sorry for what they did — or not.
Accept That the Past Can’t Change.
Although I think author Gary Zukav is the originator of the quote, I remember hearing Oprah once define forgiveness as "Accepting that the past cannot change." Listen, if forgiveness has a foundation (other than God himself), this would be it.
No matter what someone did or how much they hurt you, no one can go back in time and change it. Yet, if a lot of us are honest with ourselves, that's what we can't get past — wishing that the "offender" did things differently from the beginning.
Once you get to a place of accepting that only the future has the ability to be different, that opens your heart up a bit more to at least considering giving someone who hurt you another chance — that is if they apologize, put forth concerted effort to right their wrongs, and ask for one.
Value Your Sanity More Than Their Offenses.
There's a conclusion I've come to as it relates to relationships where I'm doing more work than the other person is. If I'm keeping record of who's doing what, something is imbalanced.
What I mean by that is, when you're in a relationship (this includes a friendship) where both people are showing up, being emotionally available and giving, not only do you not need to keep tabs; it's almost impossible to. Oh, but when what they do is so far and few between that you can count 'em on one hand (give or take a few fingers), that's when you know the scales are off.
That said, there's a woman in my life who has been a taker since the beginning. If she needs something, she has no problem asking (and expecting). But if I need something, it's an inconvenience.
It used to piss me off to no end because 1) it's been years of this and 2) she never thinks she does anything wrong, including her feelings of entitlement. But one day, I said to myself, "While she's going on about her day without a care in the world, I'm over here mad as hell." Who do you think was winning?
Just recently, she did something that was SEL-FISH (like the deal-breaking kind). But for the first time since knowing her, I decided that my sanity was worth more than staying frustrated with her.
She's probably not gonna apologize but I forgive her anyway. My sanity needs me to.
Know That Forgiveness Is a Process.
A man by the name of Cedric Dent presented forgiveness in a very wise way. He said that if he tells someone a secret, they tell others but then come and ask him for forgiveness, and while he's going to forgive them, he's also not going to tell them anything (that he doesn't mind getting out) for a while.
His motive isn't spiteful or to "punish" the individual. What he said is, "Obviously confidentiality is a weakness for you, so I'm not gonna tempt you to hurt me and our relationship again by giving you more information." What this taught me is forgiveness is a process. Just because I "pardon an offense", that doesn't mean things are supposed to immediately go back to the way things were.
A wound needs time to heal. A scab is only the beginning. Relationships need time to heal. Forgiveness is only the beginning.
Here's the thing, though. If someone is truly remorseful, they will be patient, loving, and careful to not do the same offense during the healing process. If they're not sorry, then it's easier to see the weakness for what it is. And weak people who are too weak to choose to be humble enough to apologize? They are who we should truly feel sorry for.
I promise you, the stronger you get, the more you'll realize that if anyone needs forgiveness, it's them. I forgive you for being so unhealthy that you can't help but be toxic and do toxic things.
Oh, the irony of what forgiving someone who isn't sorry can do for your heart, your life, and your overall perspective on things. Try it. It's worth it.
Featured image by Shutterstock
Originally published on December 16, 2018
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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