Wednesday, January 15, 2014

SOMETIMES, IT ISN’T ENOUGH TO HEAR THAT WE ARE ENOUGH

More often than not, we look at love as being some huge prize reserved for those of us who are good enough to deserve it.  We have to be lucky enough, pretty enough, smart enough, sexy enough, patient enough and kind enough.  As a result, we spend an awful lot of time attempting to master those things we assume will get us that prize.  

But eventually something happens.  Some of us begin to notice that we aren’t winning.   We assume that somewhere, somehow, something went wrong.  We go back over our list and check off all the things we’ve done to better prepare ourselves for the competition, and come to the conclusion that we haven’t done enough.  So, we up our game.  We read more books, attend more classes, diet more, exercise more, and find new ways to improve our appearance.  And in the midst of it all, are the firm declarations that we are only doing it for ourselves, not because we believe that if we get “better”, we will finally be good enough to love.  But sometimes, just sometimes, that’s a lie.

It’s a lie we tell ourselves because we have learned to mask our fears.  We have learned that strong women know their own worth and don’t need validation from others.  But there is a deeper truth behind that story; and that is we often do want the validation.  We want to be recognized.  We want to be acknowledged and we want to be chosen.  We want to be good enough to love.  But we can’t say that.  We don’t want to look like we care that much.  We don’t want to appear weak or needy, because being weak is for losers.  We want to win.  And when we do, we want to accept our prize showing the world that we were always confident in our ability to have it.  Now, that is not to say that every good thing we do for ourselves is to get love and approval from men or from anyone else, for that matter.  What I am saying is that if we are honest, we would admit that a lot of what we do actually is.

Although there are many who would proudly proclaim that they don’t need or even want the validation, there is still that quiet whisper of those who are not quite so convinced.  And they are ashamed; ashamed of their desire to be loved or of their fear of not being good enough.  So, let’s start having more real conversations-not just the ones where we tell one another how great and powerful and worthy we are.  While we are all of those things, there are times when we are also afraid and unsure and vulnerable.  And it is during these times that we should be able to simply say, without judgment, “Sometimes, I feel like I’m just not good enough.”  We don’t need to hear how smart or pretty or talented we are and we don’t need to hear what we could do to make ourselves better.  We only need to hear, “I know how that feels.” 

- Angie G.



Monday, September 30, 2013

LOVING FEARLESSLY

The word “fear” has come up a lot recently during conversations I’ve had about relationships. Everybody seems to have a story about it. We fear getting hurt. We fear being trapped. We fear choosing the wrong mate. And many of us fear that we will never find someone. With all the talk about fear, I started to wonder how we got so comfortable using that word to describe our feelings about relationships. Then it occurred to me, we really are fearful.

Gone are the days when believed that we would find our perfect love-that person who would cherish and care deeply for us. We have come to see love as a rare find that can only come to us if we are lucky or good or have learned how to correctly play the game. We have become jaded. We have become grown women who have seen enough to know that often, the pursuit of love does not have the fairytale ending we once dreamed of. So, we temper our expectations with just enough skepticism to show ourselves and the world that we get it. We aren’t looking for a fairytale. We want something real; and because we are so focused on being real, we have forgotten what it looks like to be shameless about our dreams of having that love that is perfect for us. We have forgotten what it looks like to be naive and eternally hopeful in the face of love. We have become fearful of being judged or ridiculed for wanting too much.

As we focus more and more on what’s “real”, we choose to talk about our disappointments, how we have failed, and how others have failed us. We talk about limited opportunities and single girl contingency plans. We talk about finding our satisfaction outside of relationships. We talk about choosing to have a life instead of chasing a relationship. And when we are being particularly generous with ourselves, we allow ourselves to speak about that course we took to better prepare ourselves for that potential relationship, should we be so lucky to ever find it. But love is not something that is out there for us to find or to “get right.” And, it is not something that can be won or lost. Love just is.

So what would it look like if we allowed ourselves to truly believe that we don’t ever have to find love, because we are constantly surrounded and embraced by it? To know that there is nothing we could ever do that could separate us from it, and that we can never lose it or get it wrong? And finally, what would it look like if we chose to change our conversation and began to speak positively about love? We can start today by letting go of the fear that we won’t have it and we can boldly speak the desire of our heart into existence. Today, we can choose to love fearlessly.

-Angie G.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE IN AN “OPEN” RELATIONSHIP?

What do I believe?  How did I come to believe what it is that I believe?  Does what I believe empower me?  At some point, most of us have considered the first question, but have never stopped to ask ourselves the second or the third.  Perhaps we should. 

You see, when it comes down to it, the fact is that most of our beliefs have been established based on what others have taught us. The rest?  Well, the rest is a hodge-podge of conclusions that we’ve arrived at based on life experience; some good, some bad.  There are some beliefs that are so deeply ingrained in us that we are willing to fight, or even die for them.  Others, while they may not be as sacred, are still familiar.  They are what we know to be “true”, but what should we do when our “truth” does not serve us?

Recently, I found myself sitting in casual observation of all the brouhaha surrounding Jada Pinkett Smith and the allegations that she shares an open marriage with her husband, actor Will Smith. Whether open or closed, I had formed no real opinion about their relationship.  It was none of my business and therefore required no debate, argument, or editorial on my part.  At least that was how I felt up until Jada released a statement in response to the uproar.  Then, I sat up and took notice.

"Do we believe loving someone means owning them? Do we believe that ownership is the reason someone should 'behave'? Do we believe that all the expectations, conditions, and underlying threats of 'you better act right or else' keep one honest and true?...”

Jada continues-

"Should we be married to individuals who can not be responsible for themselves and their families within their freedom? Should we be in relationships with individuals who we can not entrust to their own values, integrity, and LOVE...for us???"

When I read Jada’s statement, I felt a strong urge to rise to my feet and give her a standing ovation. It was out there.  She said it-the thing that most of us don’t want to acknowledge.  And I give her credit for being wise enough to recognize and speak the truth: believing that we can somehow control, threaten or guilt someone into honesty or fidelity is a delusion.  In fact, believing that we should have to says even more about us than it does about the person that we are involved with.  Ultimately, we must take responsibility for our own choices and we must allow others the freedom to do the same.   And within that context, it really doesn’t matter how we choose to define our relationship.  What matters is the quality of our experience.  What matters is whether or not we are in a relationship that honors us.

Now, I’m sure that there are many who do not agree with Jada’s views on marriage or how she chooses to define her relationship (hence all the tongue-wagging).  What do I believe?  I believe that marriage is just like everything else in life-meant to show us who we are, not to create a false sense of security for ourselves.  I believe that if we are in a relationship where we cannot trust ourselves and our partner enough to love freely and openly, then we are out of place.  I believe that relationships help to expose all of our little insecurities so that we might be healed, not for us to make our partner responsible for managing our anxieties. 

In the end, what each of us believes about marriage and relationships is a personal choice.  If our beliefs empower us and allow us to grow, then we are in integrity with ourselves.  But if they do not, we should find the courage to change them.  So, what do you believe?

-Angie G.