Recently, I decided to give the relatively new ABC series A Million Little Things a shot. While I'm the fence about tuning in regularly, I believe it was totally meant to be that I watched this particular episode. The part that's relevant to what I'm about to discuss is, there was a woman who had just shared with her husband that her uncle had molested her when she was a preteen (then basically tried to buy her silence by funding her restaurant as an adult).
When she went to the hospital to finally confront him about it, she discovered that he had literally died a few hours earlier. Meanwhile, she and her mom always had a very strained relationship. Come to find out, a part of it was because her mom had been molested by the same uncle, her mother's brother, and never said anything about it either.
Whoever came up with that "keep it in the family" mentality is mentally unstable, to say the least.
Listen, if you're a Christian reading this, the Bible clearly instructs us to "confess and be healed" (James 5:16). Confessing—bringing things out into the open—brings forth healing. Shoot, even if you're not a bible believer, there is NOTHING healthy, logical, or beneficial about enduring abuse from a family member in silence. All it does is give the victimizer the power to keep harming you (and probably others) over and over again. (It also ups the chances of you hurting others too because sometimes "hurt people hurt people").
I say this with complete and total conviction because I have quite a few toxic family members on both sides of my bloodline. If you're not sure how to tell what that looks like, the video "6 Signs You're Dealing with a Toxic Person" will provide all sorts of light bulb moments. The cliff notes are—people who constantly play the victim, are emotionally abusive, are pathological liars, are control freaks, who don't respect boundaries, and are negative? If they exhibit one, some, or all of these traits, they are considered to be toxic individuals. Do you know a relative like this? Probably so.
Toxic is poisonous and poison kills. That's why I don't think anyone should be made to feel bad for setting clear and firm boundaries with family members who are toxic. Here's a deeper explanation into why I say that.
1.If ANYONE Should Be Synonymous with “Safe”, It’s Family
Although I hate to say it, some of the individuals who've caused the most damage in my life are blood relatives. Sexual abuse. Physical abuse. Verbal abuse. I had an entire side of my family who didn't want me to know they were related to me while they worked with another side of my family who co-signed on keeping it on the hush. What in the world?! And my molester? When I finally said something about it, all I remember is a meeting to decide what would be best for him, not me, when it came to how to handle the matter. TOX-IC.
I recently had a conversation with someone who is like family but not family about them thinking that I should be willing to "let things go" for no other reason than those people are my family. Meanwhile, I'm over here like, if there's anyone I should keep a safe distance from, it's them because they are family.
I say that because, if there is any place on the planet where we should feel safe, it should be in the presence of our relatives. If that's not happening for you, that's worse than a friend or a complete stranger violating you. An abusive family member should be the ultimate oxymoron. Therefore, if your family is not a safe place, don't feel the least bit guilty about doing what you need to do to create a safe space for yourself. It's not being "mean." Self-preservation is very wise.
2.Continually Subjecting Yourself to Abuse Is NOT “Honorable”
Have you ever met a family that is CRA-ZY but because they are church-going folks (maybe even in church leadership), people automatically give them a pass? The adults can act like complete maniacs, but the moment a child of theirs reflects their behavior, the adults refuse to take any responsibility or accountability? Instead, they decide to bring Scripture up into it. You know, something along the lines of "I don't care how poorly I treat you or have treated you in the past, the Bible says to 'Honor your parents'" like that's some sort of automatic trump card? Uh-huh, the same Bible that contains the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12) is the same Bible that also says, "do not provoke your children to wrath" (Ephesians 6:4).
It's kind of a long story, but the origin of honoring your parents, at least biblically, ties into honoring how they raised you to be (Proverbs 22:6). If they had even a little bit of sense, that included loving yourself, respecting yourself and standing up for what was right. ABUSE IS NEVER RIGHT.
Only a toxic individual would tell you that it is honorable to tolerate abuse.
Should you set out to humiliate your crazy family members? No. But are you dishonoring them by removing yourself from their poisonous ways? Also no.
3.You’re Here to Break Generational Curses, Not Perpetuate Them
People are human. Humans are flawed. This means that all of us have stuff in our family line that is, unhealthy, to say the least. But if a parent is serious about their position in their children's lives, they want them to do better than they did, not worse.
I remember when I was dating this one individual and a spiritual mentor of mine asked me to tell him more about the guy. I said, "He's smart. He's sweet. His family is really unstable but…", to which my mentor immediately said, "Ohh…so, he's the least crazy of the crew." I'm gonna use a metaphor to explain his point another way. If you're constantly around people with the flu, it's going to be really hard not to catch it.
There are some things on both sides of my family—controlling/manipulative women, sexual abuse, chemical dependency, multiple divorces, off-the-charts pride, suicide, constantly playing the victim—that I've seen literally passed down from generation to generation. I don't want it passed it down to someone else via myself and so I've taken measures to make sure that it doesn't.
I've witnessed, firsthand, that when you're around mental/emotional/spiritual sickness a lot, it can start to look healthy—or at least, not as sick as it actually is. Sometimes, you've got to set boundaries so that you can tell the difference between what/who is good for you and what/who isn't. For your sake and the sake of the ones who will follow you.
Break the curse. Don't be the curse. That's a motto that I unapologetically live by.
4.Blood May Be Thicker Than Water BUT Poison Is Thicker Than Blood
There's someone I know who has so many amazing traits. He's also one of the biggest commitment-phobes on the planet. The main reason why? His family. I've never seen a group of people so needy as it relates to one person. They truly take dysfunctional to another level!
One time I told him that I didn't think that he would ever get married until his mom passed away. Why? Because he's basically her boyfriend (emotionally and financially, that is). I also told him that his family wears him out so much that he can't even process having a family of his own because when he thinks of marriage and kids, all he sees is the drama he's had to endure.
He doesn't deny any of this. At the same time, he doesn't get counseling to learn how to say "no" more often and not be so readily available to grown folks who need to figure out how to solve their own problems, pay their own bills, and live their own lives.
I say that he needs counseling because his defense for remaining so close to the dysfunction is "blood is thicker than water." My response? Poison is thicker than blood. Never mistake toxicity with loyalty. If you're putting up with things in your family that are hindering you from living a healthy, productive, and independent life, something is off. VERY OFF.
Don't look for your toxic family members to tell you this either. That wrecks how they are able to benefit from your ignorance. Like I said, poison.
5.You Need to Teach Even Your Family Members How to Treat You
I have a particular family member who used to come to the place where I pay my own rent and rearrange furniture, invite people to my place without asking me first, try and literally tell me when I needed to come home, interrogate me about my relationships—it was insane. Because they are "an elder," I used to let other people (people who, in hindsight, I believe were probably just as unhealthy as the elder was) tell me that I should let it all slide simply because the individual was older than me.
NOPE. When it comes to the saying, "You teach people how to treat you," there is no relational status on that; it applies to parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles—just as much as everyone else.
As someone who is continually healing from childhood PTSD, something that I've realized is when you grew up without a lot of healthy boundaries being modeled and given to you, you have to start from scratch and learn them later in life. As you do, you start to realize that it's pretty much only abusers (neglect is a form of abuse, by the way) who think that "boundary" is a dirty word. Healthy relatives celebrate other relatives having boundaries because that's what helps us to truly thrive.
All a boundary is, is a limit. If you've got relatives who think you shouldn't have any or that your limits should not apply to them—one, that's a sign that you've got some pretty toxic people in your life, and two, it's a clear indication that it's totally OK to set even more limits with them. No apologies needed.
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All a boundary is, is a limit. If you've got relatives who think you shouldn't have any or that your limits should not apply to them—one, that's a sign that you've got some pretty toxic people in your life and two, it's a clear indication that it's totally OK to set even more limits with them. No apologies needed.
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Originally published on February 28, 2019
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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 email@example.com. 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.
The Libra woman and Aries man are the divine feminine and divine masculine, coming together as one. The love compatibility between these two is one for the books. These two are opposite signs, however, their differences tend to complement each other well. This is a dynamic relationship where they know how to have a lot of fun together, but also aren’t afraid to deal with the more serious stuff that comes with a relationship.
The Libra woman is looking for her equal in love, someone who is willing to put in the same effort she is, and the Aries man sees Libra as someone he is willing to do that with.
The Love Compatibility Of A Libra Woman And An Aries Man
What attracts a Libra woman and an Aries man to each other?
There is a magnet of attraction pulling these two together, and things tend to move pretty fast in this relationship. The Libra woman is always open to love and her charming nature rarely has any challenges here. The Aries man fights for his independence and doesn’t sacrifice that unless he is completely enamored with someone.
Once the Aries man catches the eye of the Libra woman, he is typically the one to make the first move and this instantly wins the approval of Libra.
These two feel like they have known each other forever when they meet, and this spark between them doesn’t die down easily.
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What is the relationship like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The relationship between the Libra woman and the Aries man is one of balance and excitement. The Aries man tends to take on the more dominant role in this relationship and the Libra woman tends to be the more receptive one. Aries is ruled by masculine Mars, and Libra is ruled by feminine Venus. They understand they are coming from two completely different worlds, yet they also instinctively feel this underlying connection to each other and like they could be something each other needs in their lives.
The Libra woman can rely on the Aries man, and the Aries man never has to ask for the love that Libra already knows he needs.
This is a couple that is often reading each other’s minds and wanting to do a lot of the same things. However, not everything is rainbow in this relationship as well, and there are some major differences they have to overcome to make things work. One argument can lead to an explosion between these two, and addressing things when they come up rather than sweeping them under the rug, will be needed to make this relationship long-term.
What is the sex like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The sex between a Libra woman and an Aries man is adventurous. These are two cardinal signs with plenty of energy and stamina to keep things exciting in the bedroom. There tends to be a good give and take in this relationship, and their yin and yang energy benefits them when it comes to their sex life.
There is electricity felt between the two of them in this area of their life, and their power of attraction to each other is strong. These are two people who will want to do a lot of things together, including exploring sexually together.
The Aries man will have to be careful with being overly aggressive, however, as the soft Libra woman may not like this energy- it will completely depend on the two individuals at hand. The Libra woman wants to ease into things, the Aries man wants to get going right away. Learning about each other's bodies, and energy, and reading each other’s cues will help with this.
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What makes a relationship between a Libra woman and an Aries man work?
These two genuinely like each other, and that basis is a key factor for success in any relationship. The Aries man is straight to the point, direct, and inspired. The Libra woman admires these characteristics in others, as she is often herself finding her balance in this type of energy as well. Neither sign is overly emotional in a way that turns them off, and they both require a lot of the same things in a committed relationship. They want honesty, fun, good communication, passion, and to be moving towards a common goal together.
The Libra woman and Aries man don’t have a problem being real with each other and this is something they really value within the relationship. They are both very charming, and there is plenty of flirtation and attraction to keep this relationship going. Aries being the protector they are, Libra finds a sense of safety and ease in this energy, and like they have found their match. Overall, this is a well-balanced relationship and one where they don’t have a problem when it comes to compatibility or chemistry in the relationship.
What may cause a Libra woman and an Aries man to break up?
Libra is the lover, Aries is the fighter, and this energy may be tiring for the both of them after time. The Libra woman can be passive to a fault, and the Aries man who is not evolved, may take advantage of that. She will need to be careful with putting Aries’ needs above her own, creating resentment later down the road. The Aries man loves a challenge, and the Libra woman would be up for that game for a little bit, but if she is not being met in the middle, she will begin to look for other places. These two can have a difficult time keeping the peace in the relationship, and there could be a lot of arguments and disagreements here if they both aren’t willing to put their egos or self-pleasing attitudes to the side.
The Libra woman and Aries man are both more sensitive than they appear or come off as. They are also not necessarily the type to dive deep into their emotions and express them to others, even in their relationships. However, this energy can keep the relationship to a surface level than what is needed to progress and grow the relationship, and a sense of openness is required for this couple to work. Libra needs romance, she wants to be wowed. Aries needs to remember this and to always consider her love language.
Overall, this is a successful pairing. They will have their fair share of challenges in the relationship, but nothing they can’t overcome if they are willing to. The trouble will come in when it comes to the longevity of the relationship, keeping Aries excited and Libra in love. However, all in all, there is more power, attraction, and love to keep this relationship together rather than apart. No relationship is perfect, but this one is a little more blessed than most.
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