Monday, July 30, 2012

Depression Hurts and Stuff

I hate that "Depression hurts" commercial. I always found it condescending and stupid and unrealistically optimistic about the wonder drugs. The commercial, as "bleh" as it was, had one thing right. Depression? It. Fucking. Hurts.

It's not in the obvious "Oh, look, a bruise," sort of way, but in an all over, all the time, constant waves sort of way. Personally, my waves happen at night and before work. I cry. A lot. And can't figure out why or how to make it stop, but I cry and cry. I pull myself together, and go to work and function as well as I normally do, I excel. And then I come home, and either try to think my way out of it, distract it with tv, or try to sleep. But it always comes back. Always turns back on, and I'm starting to realize that maybe I can't fix myself.

Maybe we can't fix ourselves alone. Maybe the friends we collect, the books we read and the stories we tell ourselves, maybe those are the ways, the "normal" ways, we mend our broken little selves. Some of us, the stronger of us I think, sometimes need more than stories and books. Sometimes we need something just as strong as we are. Sometimes we need something stronger.

I tend to be everywhere. I tend to be everything, to everyone. I'm a sister, a best friend, a confidante, an excellent employee... I'm a girlfriend and a daughter and sometimes I forget to be there for my people, the people who have claimed me as "theirs." More often than that though, I forget to be there for myself. And I'm finding I really, really need to be there for myself, even if that means being there by finding someone better than me to diagnose, find and fix whatever this dreadful, painful thing is.

I don't really talk about it. Not to anyone except W, and even then it's more of a rambling, long dissertation about life and morality and philosophy and all the things I picked up to fix myself. I can't really say "I'm sad," as that doesn't explain it. I can't say "I'm miserable," as that doesn't really say much either. If I had to describe how I feel I would say I feel lost. Confused. Stuck. And stupid, that I can't figure a way out.

So... I'll be trying to seek help soon. Convincing myself it doesn't make me weak or less of an adult is the hardest part, but I have to fix it by calling in a professional.

I don't know if many people read my blog. I don't know if anyone really ever listens to me at all. But if they are reading, and if they do listen, and if they are going through something similar, something that needs a professional, a specialist, I want them to know something.

I'm a superwoman. I do everything I can, for every one I can. I am a great best friend and sister, I'm a pretty cool daughter, and I think I'm a really dope girlfriend. I'm funny and smart, and I have plans. And this one bad thing doesn't define who I am unless I let it. I am all those great, cool, dope things. I am also drowning in this bad thing. It doesn't make me less dope, less cool or less great. It doesn't make me weak. It doesn't change who I am. And it won't change you either, unless you let it break you down, unless you let it drown you.

And I don't know you. But if you're reading my blog, or listening to me, I have to assume you're not only awesome, but smart. And let's face it, we need more awesome, smart people at one-hundred percent in this world, right? Be at one-hundred percent. Be smart. Be awesome. Be who you are without the pain. Find the help, make the first step.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Musing: What Makes A Man?

We all have that one actor, that one singer or dancer who's always been the pinnacle of manhood for us (men, if you're reading, replace all the male pronouns with female pronouns and go from there). As young girls, they start off as princes in far away places and evolve into preteen boy band members with cracking voices. But once we become women and are allowed to form our own ideals of what a man is and not be so put upon by tradition, fairytales and hormones, what defines a man?

Personally, I've always liked Michael Ealy. At first it was a looks thing only; his eyes are phenomenal, legendary even, and he has a beautiful smile with dimples in both cheeks deep enough to make a girl swoon. His voice is velvety and refined in a way but he still has a bit of a Northern accent to my Southern ears. Simply put, he is a gorgeous man.

As I grew older and would see him in interviews I noted a seriousness about him that no one else seemed to have. He always was a bit stand-offish, but straight-forward when asked about his work. He dodged the personal questions with dignity and diplomacy and didn't seem too fazed by all the attention he would receive for his looks, but would seem genuinely humble for the thanks and accolades he got from his work; that seriousness, that quiet intelligence he had about himself always stuck with me.

Recently I saw an interview with him and not much has changed. I suppose what I like is that he reminds me of myself, or rather who I usually am. I always feel a little different from the folks who I'm sometimes forced to hang with; I don't laugh at the jokes, we rarely like the same music and books are like a non-existent subject a lot of the times. I end up getting picked on or called snobby but the fact is, I'm just not on that level, and haven't been for a minute.

The interview above sort of embodies that. That guy who's sort of more conscious of not just himself but his community and society as a whole and, with that knowledge or consciousness, is put a little off to the side by the jokers and pop culture junkies. And I love that. That's different and exciting and I would love to have a conversation with someone like that, and that's where dudes miss me every time; if I don't want to (or can't stand to) have a conversation with you, then I'm already a lost battle for you.

Which is why I hadn't dated someone before now (not that I didn't want to or push myself to). I think I knew that none of the dudes I was dealing with at that time were serious. They didn't believe in anything, didn't want anything for themselves and couldn't hold a decent conversation about anything (other than themselves) to interest me for more than 3 minutes tops. They were checking for me because I was that girl, that serious girl walking and reading and getting her job done and not checking for them, I was the challenge, but once they realized they would have to bring something of themselves to me to prove their worth, they split.

And it's not like it's some exhaustive list of things I need from a man before he's considered; most likely after one good fifteen minute conversation I can tell what a guy is about and if he's not intelligent, if he's not driven, and if he is not kind then it's not going anywhere. I'm not saying he's got to be the smartest, I'm not saying he's got to have a business model attached to a resume and 401K package, I'm saying we have to be on the same level or at least on similar planes of being to benefit each other.

But seriously, what makes a man? To me a man is one who supports and provides what he can for his woman and his family; doesn't have to be money (I can make my own money) but something that benefits his unit. A man is intelligent and confident, kind and genuine and always striving to learn more about himself and life. A man is one who can accept his short-comings and work around them. A man is one who respects not only his life but the lives of others. A man simply is, and you can usually take note of them the moment they step into your vicinity. Some are born, some are made, and some will never be, but the ones who are are in short supply but high demand.

How can you recognize a man? Not by what he says but his actions and the people he hangs around. Everybody knows birds of feathers flock together and if he is hanging with thugs and dealers, even if he isn't one, the company he keeps will eventually bring him down. You recognize a man by who he shows himself to be; all men are honest and just, until they aren't, but a man of consistent character is easy to recognize and appreciate.

A lot of women have the misconception that men want these model types and porn stars (which is partly society's fault and our own, but that's another blog for another time). And they do, but not to build anything with or grow with. What men want, what real men want, is a woman who is his equal in every way she can be. What men want is a woman who commands respect without hollering about how independent and strong she is. A man wants in a woman what a woman wants in a man (except less hairy, more curves and a few other details here and there).

I'm not saying this as a guide of how-to. What I'm saying is you define what a man is for yourself and instead of searching for and hunting him down like a buck in the woods, elevate yourself to be the person who deserves that kind of man. Trust me, at that point, they'll come to you. 

Surprise Yourself*

I surprised myself recently.

You ever have those moments when you're confronted with a decision which, if it were a few years ago (hell, for some of us a few hours ago) before learning a lesson or looking at something with new eyes, we would have chosen differently than we have now? You ever have moments when, placed side by side with what you used to do and what you do now, you find more pleasure in now than then? Most all of us feel that way at some time or another, but I think because I put my emotions on the back burner in much of my walking life I haven't had time to notice it.

I am surprised at my joy. For so long I wasn't a happy person; I was angry, bitter, sad and depressed or working my way up to happy, but now? There's so much more than happy in me. There's joy, and faith and so many things that were missing throughout so much of my life and it just takes my breath away. For instance I hate doing chores; my room (since Tarzan left) was covered in clothes, hair products, papers balled and unballed, shoes and packs of tissues. But one day, I just cleaned it. And the hallway. And the bathrooms. And suddenly, I was singing, and cleaning and didn't think twice about it. Joy is a motivator.

I am surprised at my kindness. I've always been a sort of kind person; when it would suit me to be so, or when I was too distracted to be otherwise it would just kind of happen. But now I'm more knowledgeable of my kindness; I know what I'm doing is a kind thing, but don't harp too much on the act. I do kind things for people, not necessarily for them, but because it makes me feel good to help another person (or group of people) out.

I am surprised by my thirst for knowledge. I'm a smart girl, and I always have been, most likely always will be. But I know things. Things regular people walking down the street might not necessarily know. I know what causes inflammation, which animals are psychologically self-aware and how to eat perfectly with chopsticks. I know things that, deep down, none of us can know for certain, but I know them for myself and don't force anything I know onto anybody else (part of that whole kindness thing I was telling you about earlier).

So I guess I'm learning to surprise myself more often. I surprise myself with how well I seem to do my job everyday. I surprise myself with the determination I have to reach my dreams (the ones I have set in stone anyway). I surprise myself by being myself, not by what other people expect and/or want me to be.

Try surprising yourself. Do something different. Say something different. Think something different. If you don't like who you are, or who you think you're becoming, be someone different. Chose to surprise yourself with the good things and the fun and exciting things you are, rather than disappoint yourself with who you are not and what you perceive to be your short-comings.

*I normally hate surprises, but if they're coming from me (and I can kind of see them coming) I can make an exception.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Storytime: Why Tes Believes In God

I don't have a religion. I'm not sure if I ever will. But I do, without question, believe in God.

I don't have a religion because, in all honesty, religion scares me. Historically speaking, whenever anyone wanted to control another group of people, they used gods and rules and regulations, they used the fear of damnation for eternity. I say "used" as if it still isn't an occurrence now, but the point is, in history and in modern times, religion is used not only to control but to divide.

I don't pray every day. I don't go to church. I have no idea where my bible is. But I do talk to and have faith in God. I talk to God as I would talk to a mentor, I tell him what I think and what I feel, and wait patiently for an answer, realizing that sometimes no answer is an answer in itself. I don't hear God's voice or believe that He illuminates items or situations in my life as "signs" or "tests," rather I feel what it is He's trying to say and go with that.

There are times I'm sure he's laughing at me, not in a mocking way but in an "Oh, Tes," sort of way. There are some times where I know He's disappointed in me, but not more than the times where I know I make Him proud. The care with which I try to treat people, the advice I give them to follow what their heart says, those are all things I learned from Him.

Where did I learn it? Simply with waking and walking, seeing kindness and beauty in people has taught me what and who God is. Seeing hatefulness and mistreatment of others has taught me what God is not. God is about love and love, the true and life changing kind, isn't hateful or segregated. When you love, you love with an open and free heart. When you love, you share it with everyone, and don't seek to change them but rather to be there for them regardless of if they feel that love or not. That, to me, is what God is.

This whole blog post was actually inspired by a song that reminds me of God every time I hear it. There's this Texas band called Flyleaf that I adore and their break out song was called "All Around Me." Everyone in my music class at the time thought it was a love song, but when I heard it, I immediately thought it was a rock/gospel song. Turns out all of us were right; upon inspection the lead singer said that the song was a love song to God, about what it would be like to meet Him. The way she sings of meeting God is full of tummy butterflies and the exhilarating feel of finally falling for someone you know is going to catch you. One line, the line that makes my skin break into goosebumps says "Take my hand, I give it to you/Now you own me, all I am/ You said you would never leave me/I believe you, I believe," is what convinces me that I'm not the only one who thinks of God as love. That abandon, that full trust and faith in someone you love, isn't that what God asks of us? Isn't that what God tries to show us, if we would only see it, at so many points in our lives? 

I can't tell you why I believe, because I truly don't know. With some of the things that have happened to me, some of the things I still rarely talk about, it would be so easy for me not to, to turn my back but I simply can't. There are some people so eaten up inside with anger and hatred for people and things and places they've never known, seen or been to and I don't hate them but rather feel pity for them and fear their ignorance. I suppose I believe because I believe in love, and if there's one thing I learned from all the holy texts it's that God is love. Anything a person does through true, genuine love, sets them one step closer to God, whatever or wherever that may be. 

You don't have to believe. I'm not on this Earth to make you believe. What I'm here to do, is love and learn. I don't know what for. I don't know if there's life after this. But what I do know is that if I live my life in a loving way and let the love govern who I am and will become? A fruitful, full life I'll have lived and beyond any heaven, any promises of "after" knowing that for myself, before I die will be more precious than any other gift a person could receive, in this world or the next. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

All of Us Have to Come Out Sometime

I've been reading a lot lately. Working more than that. Thinking things through, and noticing life patterns not only in myself and those around me, but people I have never met. Everybody's coming out of the closet so to speak recently (by the way, where or why is that the phrase for when people expose their true selves? Can't we come up with something...better?) and I figured it was time I came out with something too.

I am afraid.

I don't know what I'm going to do with my life, and that terrifies me. In such a world as this one where nothing is certain or definite, and me being the type of person who needs a set plan or way to think and do, not having any idea where I'm going is the second scariest thing in the world to me.

It seems everybody wants me to do and be and act and jump and run and I just...can't. Or rather, I won't. Not until I know what I'm doing, who I'm being, what I'm jumping for and where I'm going to end up. And the sad fact that I'm starting to realize is I'll never have all those answers; I'll never feel safe enough in and of myself to just go and be confident in myself and what I can do, never blatant enough to just grab at what I want and not be afraid of any failure that may come from that.

So, I've just got to jump. I've just got to go. I've got to do and not be so worried about the consequences for once that I get locked up in my own little hand-made prison of dreams never chased and opportunities never explored. So I'm terrified. I don't know what the plan is. I'm just doing what I feel and crossing my fingers that it'll all end up in the black. Isn't that how everybody else does it? *shrugs*

I know you're now wondering what the first scariest thing is. Simply put, loving someone. I love W. I love my Soul Brotha and my parents. But Tarzan? It's so different and new and I'm so afraid of messing it up. Not enough that I don't enjoy it, mind you, but afraid nonetheless. He's the first love. He's the first person I'm sharing all my dreams and fears with (other than ya'll of course :) ) and I feel liberated by that but at the same time, coming from my mindset of never trusting more than 2 people at any given time allowing this new person in, giving them the power to destroy me and just praying that they won't, is terrifying.

But it's like Jagged Edge said, it's all in the mornings; those looks and kisses, that peace. I can't give that up without a fight. And so now the real business, the real work starts. I don't want to be away from him any more than I've got to be and so my mile a minute mind is planning and stacking chips and working crazy overtime, unsure of what I'm doing it all for, but the endgame, the big picture? I see that clear as day, and if ya'll have been reading me, ya'll know exactly what that is too.

I understand what my parental figures are saying: I've got to do for myself before I can do for anybody else, I've got to have me together before I invite anybody else in to share it with. But in all honesty, they want me to jump, right? So what if I have a jumping partner, so long as I'm doing what I feel I have to. I feel confident enough in what I've already accomplished, in what I already know I can do that I'm ready to push that envelope, first definitely for myself and then...maybe...

Love makes you fearless. I'm not used to that, as I've been scared for so long. And that fearlessness is what scares me about it; fearless people are usually the ones you hear about on the news dying from unusual things but the people who I feel bad for upon their deaths are the ones who look back at all the things they should have, could have and would have done had they just not had that fear, had they just had the confidence.

So this thing I'm working on, this idea, is it foolish? Probably. I don't know. I just know that it encompasses everything I'm trying to do, not only for myself, but for my unit, my relationship with an amazing person who, if I had been too afraid to speak up to, I may not have had. Ain't that something?

So if I'm "coming out" of anything, it's the fear. It's the trepidation and lack of confidence in what I can do. It may be foolhardy, and I may learn a painful lesson from it all, but it's also brave and may lead to me having the "enough" that I've been seeking out for so long. Don't think me naive enough to think it'll all run smoothly, but I don't want to be that person, facing death, and looking back at this moment, this time in my life with regret. I want to look back at it and smile and feel joy and pride in my heart for staying true to who I am and those dreams that I chased and opportunities I either took advantage of or made for myself.