The Girl On Her Knees: An Undefining Moment [By Roconia Price]

July 25, 2017

For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.

The series rounds out today with Roconia Price.

Roconia is the quiet storm. When we first got together for a dinner at Founding Farmers in 2015, she spent a good fraction of the time just listening to me chat about everything and nothing. It wasn’t until the end of dinner when she peeled open a notebook to reveal a host of ideas for her upcoming event, each concept bubbling over with her signature sense of thoughtfulness and brilliance. Roconia’s creative genius often times speaks for itself; it doesn’t require pretense or pomp and circumstance. You don’t always see it coming, but when it does, it whips, roars and downpours. I’m so excited to close out the transformation and Turning Tides series with her piece, “The Girl On Her Knees: An Undefining Moment.” 


I can see you now. Telling the woman beneath you that your nana was Chippewa and that “Roconia” is Ojibwe for “honor.” I can see you tracing her lips with your thumb, telling her that’s why the word was inked on your left pec. Kissing her. For your nana. Kissing her. For honor.

Maybe you wouldn’t think twice about that day, your narrative feeling so natural it could replace the truth. Or maybe you would, diving deep into her neck to chase away that image of me before you on my knees, imploring you not to tattoo my name on your heart.

I might have been 20 then, maybe 21. I had only come back to haunt you. To give you just enough of me that you might thirst for more. To keep you close, clinging to the idea of my forgiveness so I could sting you like a scorpion, over and over again. I sat before you on my knees, giving you elevation over my eyes, but never again over my heart. I blinked calmly, coldly, as your declaration of love passed through me like air.

“Don’t,” I said.

I told you that day that your actions would not be reciprocated. That ink is not the AED for defiled trust, that it can’t undo disappointment, that under no circumstances would your name be permanently endorsed on my skin. You took it like a wounded soldier, valiantly limping to your next resolution. You didn’t care, you said. I could do what I wanted. But you would get that tattoo. And you’d tell anyone who asked that Roconia was your first love, that Roconia would always be the name in, and above, your heart.  

But I can see you now, using that same synthetic sincerity to reel in a new catch, spewing that guff about your Native grandma. And your lady would lap it up, believing that when she traced the writing on your chest, she was coming in contact with your honor.

I’ve tied a piece of my transformation to that moment on my knees. It was an undefining moment for me. One that had no direct correlation to the growth I’ve experienced since then, but one that still flares up when I think of the woman on the brink of a new me. There wasn’t any revelation that day. My heart and mind still tripped over each other like two left feet. After I refused your tattoo I fell back into your arms and we rocked to our own played out rhythm all afternoon.

This is me admitting to myself, to God, to the internet, that in some ways, I have not grown much since then. I can still be Petty Price, laughing at the woman you cheated on me with, and the baby that surprised us both. Letting you access me on social media so you can eat your heart out, tattoo and all. But in other ways I’ve matured like a 1994 Bordeaux. I only give the kindness and forgiveness I want to receive, and never say it’s okay when I truly don’t mean it.  No longer hold anyone close with the hope of getting the knife in a little deeper.

My life seems to be a series of these undefining moments and I’ve named them like art in my autobiographical  gallery.  The Girl on Her Knees; The Girl in the Basement; The Girl at the Book Fair; The Girl in the Principal’s Office; The Cool Girl; The Girl in the Law Office; The Girl in Church; and my latest, The Woman.

I want to believe that as I grow I become all around better. But I’m more like the silt at the bed of a river, being sifted and settled in an array of areas by the undetected tides of time. I am not a better woman today, just a different one. And the tides keep turning.

Roconia Price is a storyteller and creative spirit, running on sunlight and sisterhood. She writes at eversoroco.com. She is very tall.

My Semi-Celibate Life [By Dana Sukontarak]

July 19, 2017

For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.

Next up is Dana Sukontarak.

Dana is the rebel. From tweets to the essays in her book “Men”, Dana pulls no punches. She isn’t someone I always talk about when I mention my blogging folks, but she is someone to whom I’m forever indebted. Years ago, she helped me unearth my voice and vulnerability when I contributed an essay about my sexual assault to her then-website The Apposite. Her writing has always wowed me, challenged me and raised the hair on my arms just a little bit. I think that’s what excellent writing does; it blows us away all while making us think or rethink about the lens through which we view the world.

I hope you enjoy Dana’s contribution to this series, “My Semi-Celibate Life.”


In my early twenties, I have often confused a sexual prowess with what could more accurately be described as sexual irrationality. I once treated sex like a conquest. I lost my virginity 10 years ago. In that time, I’d never stopped to consider the negative implications of my self-proclaimed sexual liberation. Now, I’m 28, in the midst of my languid late twenties. I no longer have the energy for certain things. I have become selective about the assignment of my time, money, and emotions. I recently came to the realization that sex has consistently clouded my judgment since the time I began having it. I’d never considered a self-imposed hiatus until this year. My celibacy was all but absolute, but even short stretches of consciously sex-free days allowed me to see many things in a clearer light.

This year, I came face to face with someone who’d broken my heart two years ago. The summer of our breakup, I had sex with a lot of different people. I guess I thought it would help my healing, or maybe I was content in denying there was healing to do. After much turmoil and many unanswered emails, I saw him on my work plaza at 8:30 one morning, walking a new way to the train and passing me in the opposite direction. We had an awkward but friendly conversation that led to friendly messages that led to a month of us talking and having sex twice within one week. He knew I was trying to be celibate. We did it anyway. We talked about a lot, he cried and apologized. He told me he’d been at home for most of the past two years, cautious not to run into me because our feelings were still too alive. He seemed genuinely remorseful for how he left, which was suddenly and for his emotionally manipulative ex. Still, he didn’t want to pursue a relationship with me. He wanted to be single, but he still started arguments with me for hanging out with another guy I’d dated after him.

I told him that I was glad we reconnected, but didn’t want to continue anything sexual. The almost month I’d spent without sex leading up to our tryst had instilled me with logic in the face of potential orgasms. I did the math and it wasn’t worth it. We had gambled once before, and quickly run short on beginner’s luck. I knew that history would repeat itself. He told me he was unable to even be around me, as a friend, if he knew sex wasn’t on the table.

It was a jarring experience, hearing my worthiness equated to my willingness to fuck, by someone I thought I loved and respected. Since then I have been considering the importance of sex, but mostly, I have been considering the ways I’d been using sex.

I realized I’d been having sex for a number of differently problematic reasons: control, affection, and validation, to name a few. I was doing it casually, but less for pleasure than for intimacy. Sometimes, I was doing it with people I didn’t care for, but forced myself to pretend to want to care. I often made sex into a challenge, focusing on conquering another person’s attention and emotions. It was all ownership and entitlement, under the guise of a deep and meaningful connection. I’d been absentmindedly ruled by oxytocin and directed by a dark, subconscious urge to manipulate and manage another person. Sex was imbued with expectation. It paved the way for disappointment when reality did not align. Sex had become a complication, more of an empty investment than a satisfying experience. Of course, sometimes I’d feel like doing it. But that desire was already being snuffed by my interest in growing and connecting in other ways.

Love is not about sex. Sex is not impossible without, but better with love. Sex is a very fragile thread to tie heartstrings with. Sex should supplement, not supplant an emotional connection. It took me ten years and a lot of sex to come to these conclusions. Sex is special and confusing. It is a powerful thing to share with another person, but used too often in the wrong ways.

A previous version of me may have begged for him to stay, to concede to his notion that our sex was an all-important form of communication between us and should flow freely as such. This version of me knows that sex is as important as we make it. And right now, it’s really not that important at all.

Dana is a 28-year-old writer and editor from Washington, D.C. You can follow her on Twitter at @UnlimitedDana or visit her blog here. Her first book ‘Men’ is a collection of writing about love and relationships released in 2016. It can be purchased here.

When You’re Tired Of Who You’ve Been [By Ashley Coleman]

July 17, 2017

For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.

Next up is Ashley Coleman.

Ashley is the mover and shaker. Whether she’s penning books, hosting workshops or standing at the helm of Permission to Write, her boundless energy never ceases to amaze me. It’s no surprise that she was the first person to send her guest post in for this series! But, aside from her unwavering discipline, Ashley intimately understands the DNA of her dreams. She is unafraid to take risks, innovate, improvise and do what’s necessary to translate her aspirations into action. I’m beyond inspired by her hustle, and I’m grateful for all the ways she roots for me and encourages me to push forward. I hope you enjoy her piece “When You’re Tired Of Who You’ve Been.”


It’s getting harder to remember who I was in my twenties. The things that I did, the jobs that I worked, the people I was around are all vivid. But the mindset evades me.

I think I’ve become so enveloped in who I want to be that the memories of who I was seem to be fading. All things become new right? But I try. I try to pull her up. I try to look back through those eyes. The girl who spewed anti-religious rhetoric before she knew who God was for real. The one who wasn’t sure she would ever love anyone the way she loved him. The budding songwriter. She’s peculiar to me now.

I see my higher self. Almost like she’s trapped and if I keep banging hard enough eventually the glass will shatter. I have laid myself on the altar because trying to do it all on my own has just left me tired and frustrated. I am learning the depth of what it means to be easy. Of what it means to be scarily focused yet extremely flexible all at the same time. I am learning what it means to have peace. Real, from the inside peace that is not easily shaken by outside stimuli.

I don’t want to be who I’ve been.

Ambitious yet doubting in my spirit because it’s just not moving fast enough. Wanting more money to have options but being afraid of who that makes me. Being grateful but wanting more. Wanting to send the card on time and be thoughtful, but constantly missing the mark.

The constant warring is unhealthy and to take a note from Nayyirah Waheed, “all the women in me are tired.”

I read the other day in the Bible that I am light and that a house built on a hill can’t be hidden. But can I be honest and say that sometimes I do feel hidden? Sometimes I feel like there is this huge life on the inside of me that for some reason just can’t get out. Recently, I have felt like I am in the way. Like I am the obstacle and the barrier for that life to escape and if I just could move. If I could just change and it’s both encouraging and maddening all at the same time.

See, because if it’s just me that’s in the way, that’s the one thing that I can control. But there is a pruning that needs to take place. A refinement. I need to be ushered into my best and highest self, which is no easy feat.

So much of this life has been about chasing things. About materialism and achievements and accolades. But in this space, I realize how much of my life needs to be about chasing me. Making the best decisions for myself, believing in myself, letting go of the nagging voices that just try to tell me I’m not good enough. Or that make me take for granted all that I do have, all that I am.

There is no more time to play small. There is no more time to simply react to life instead of setting the tone. This is your life, what will you do with it, Ashley? This is what I have asked myself on multiple occasions.

I can’t afford to wait for the tide to turn, I’m turning it.

I don’t want to exist in a life that feels stuck and unresolved and full of maybe ifs. I don’t want to exist in a life where I am plagued by the memories of good times instead of creating new ones. I will live assured, fulfilled, and with unmatched confidence.

The reality is I am not who I’ve been. Who I was would not even be able to see this clearly. I’m wedged in between who I was and the woman that I want to be, and I see her so clearly. I am the bud on the brink of blooming.

“I’m in charge,” to be read like Taryn Manning in Hustle & Flow. I am in charge of the transformation. I am at the helm of the ship. My thinking, my mind. That’s where it starts. The steering. Our lives will go in the direction of our thoughts. What have you been thinking?

I know for me, it has not been that I am fully capable and worthy of every great thing. But it is changing. It is morphing. It is transforming.

The girl in my twenties, I am okay with letting her go and realizing that the journey I am on may leave me unrecognizable on the other side.

Ashley Coleman is a writer and entrepreneur based in Philadelphia. The cultivator of the online space WriteLaughDream.com, she writes about life, love, and pursuing goals as a writer. She splits her work between helping other writers develop their voice and writing habits through one-on-one sessions, courses, and workshops and her own work in books like “Dear Love” and “Love on Purpose.” Ashley has been a guest lecturer at Temple University and a guest speaker at Blogalicious 8 in Atlanta. Her work has been published in GRAMMY.com, Essence.com, JUMP Magazine and more. 

The Responsibility of Being Loved [By Yetti]

July 12, 2017

For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.

Next up is Yetti. 

Yetti is the thunder. From penning positive affirmations on post its to tackling self-care long before it became a trend, Yetti brings a boom to everything she does. Our relationship as bloggers-turned-friends is one that I’m most proud of. Because where we are today reflects mountains of personal evolution, intentional growth and shared understanding. Yetti is also a web wizard; when my blog crashed over the weekend a few months ago, she stayed on the phone with me, working tirelessly to get some semblance of my site back up. I’m incredibly grateful to know her and to have grown with her over the lifespan of Twenties Unscripted. I hope you enjoy her piece, “The Responsibility of Being Loved.”

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“I feel like you have one foot in and the other out when it comes to us.”

He sat across from me in my office chair, and I sat in our new bed. He was doing that thing he does–requesting a response by searching my face. I, on the other hand, made a point to avoid giving him the eye contact I knew he was looking for. It had been two days since the blow up about our dresser but the blow up wasn’t really about the dresser. Doors were slammed, voices were raised, and after two days of bare minimal conversation, he decided to break the ice.

“Us ending is never a thought of mine. But it’s clearly a viable solution for you. Maybe I’m just naïve, but breaking up isn’t something I see for us.”

Again, I avoided eye-contact. This wasn’t Petty Yetti coming out to play, this was Yetti ashamed that this conversation was even happening.

We sat in an uncomfortable silence. Him staring at me. Me staring at our comforter. He was waiting to be proven wrong. And I was trying to build up the courage to deliver it. He was waiting for me to state that this wasn’t the case. And I tried to, I really did, but my pride couldn’t give him that satisfaction. Not because what he was saying was definitely true, but because letting him know that I have my feet firmly planted within our relationship means dismantling a wall around my heart. Giving him 100% means stripping myself of the protective layer I have struggled to maneuver into place. Standing hand in hand with him in this relationship means standing with him bare, mind and heart wide-open.

It means I must come undone.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” I responded, finally making eye contact. He got up and left the bedroom.

 


 

I’ve come undone for a man once before. Laid out all of my secrets, my insecurities, my fears, and my dreams. I gave him my all. I trustingly stuffed it into his palms where he promised to protect it, and he ruled my heart from my late teen years to my early twenties. I loved that man more than I loved myself and he knew it. And he abused it. And after transitioning from heartbroken to full blown crazy and conniving (which I take absolute full credit for), I created a distance I should’ve created many moons ago and made a promise that I would never put myself in that kind of situation again.

But I landed in Love’s Den once again, wanting to prove to the universe that I can have the magic of love while remaining absolutely whole in the process. To be honest, I had slowly become comfortable with the thought of being single indefinitely. Dating was hard, and managing the anxiety that came along with it was even harder. But then he happened, and he happened swiftly. He came in with the intention of a relationship, bypassing all that extra hard stuff of trying to figure out what we were and if we both were on the same page. In fact, I played coy the first couple of weeks, dodging the exclusivity statements instead of simply going with the flow. I had prepared myself to remain in control no matter how our situation may pan out. I had trained myself to protect my ability to bounce back and be okay if love decided now wasn’t the time again.

But being in control for one’s own selfish reasons and being rooted in a relationship doesn’t mix well. It’s a recipe for delayed failure.

 


 

“Your love language will be understood by those fluent enough to listen and reciprocate. It’s not your duty to teach people how to love you.” – Billy Chapta

After a few more hours of uncomfortable silence within our home, we ended that argument with make-up sex. No secondary conversation was attempted, and he never did receive those words of assurance he sought after. He accepted it as this was how I needed to protect myself. He accepted it as another thing Yetti needed to be skeptical of, even though he knew he didn’t deserve it. And as he made peace with my inability to think of forever, I promised myself to be better for him and to love him the way he ought to be loved. I promised to make peace with my insecurities of happily ever after. I committed to learning to unravel with him while not losing me in the process.

I guess this is a part of the responsibility of being loved: making sure the love that ties both hearts together is pure, selfless, passionate and fearless.

Yetti, creator of yettisays.com, provides the uncensored truth sometimes served with a side of wit, sarcasm, and a few curse words. She is passionate about storytelling, mental health advocacy, and striving to live ones best life always.

 

Reflection [by GG Renee Hill]

July 10, 2017

For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.

First up is GG Renee Hill. 

GG is the lighthouse. Over the past five years, I’ve watched her emit the sort of glow that helps so many others, including myself, find their way back safely to shore. There is a grace about her that I have long admired. I always feel  like I’m getting access to some sacred and rare gift every few months when we get together in a nondescript coffee shop and catch up. There are few people in this world who understand you deeply and without explanation. For me, GG has grown to be one of those people. I’m thrilled to kick off the Transformation and Turning Tides guest post series with GG. Here’s her story Reflection. 

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He figured me out too quickly. He got me laughing and feeling comfortable, making me want him before I really knew him. I knew that he loved my hair messy and my face with no makeup. I knew that he was young and unpredictable and I was drawn to him. His lips, his hands, even his crazy felt like home. He took me to meet his family. He learned the weird language I spoke with my friends and he spoke it fluently. He was attentive then aloof then attentive then aloof. That was how he hypnotized me. I was convinced his attention could heal me and the withdrawal was worth the high. I couldn’t say no to him. I couldn’t explain myself. All I could do was come when he called.

Being loyal to a lying man means ignoring your heartbeat, silencing your voice and diminishing your spirit. Pretending you don’t want all of him so you can be content with what you get. It means that fighting becomes foreplay because the thin line between love and hate keeps moving. You stop seeing clearly and the difference between real and fake gets blurry. You find yourself trapped inside a bleak and repetitive story.

Twisted Love. That’s what I called our story. The good girl and the bad guy. He didn’t want to be with me, but he didn’t want me to be with anyone else. He would go away but wouldn’t stay away. I said we were done but never meant it. We carried on like we had no choice. Break-up sex, make-up sex, i-love-you sex, i-hate-you sex. I was endlessly patient, thinking that if I were worth it, he would change for me. But he didn’t change. So I decided I wasn’t worth it.

We get so used to feeding lack to ourselves that we begin to hunger for it, looking for ways to satisfy the craving and stay full with its emptiness. It’s a heavy, manipulative, clingy thing. It’ll have you believing that you are damaged, unlovable, unfavored and out of options and you don’t have the capacity to change.

Our twisted love story was a reflection of my life. Afraid of not being enough and afraid of being too much, I tried to fit in. My neediness disfigured me and I couldn’t see the shape of who I was made to be. I didn’t dare to dream of more. Living like this makes you weary. The words you don’t say. The pain you smile through. The dreams you suppress. The disconnection I felt kept my mind occupied for long periods of time. But it taught me what I didn’t want to do and who I couldn’t bear to be. I couldn’t go through life playing a role anymore. All the lies I told myself were making my life feel so frail, like it could fall apart any second. I knew from experience that lies pile up and attract more lies, but I learned that truth multiplies too.

Once you open the floodgates and start admitting real things to yourself, the truth starts to overflow from your heart, then it takes over your mind and starts pouring out of your mouth. Truth moves things around and makes things fall down and rise up. When you start telling the truth, your life changes.

My truth made he and I feel like strangers. He seemed incapable of being vulnerable with me. I thought that maybe, just maybe, we could have an enlightened conversation and move on with positive vibes between us. But there were places in his heart he kept closed and I was not willing to pry him open. The twisted love story was finally ending. But something remained. A pulse lingered that I ignored for months. He must have felt it too because one night he asked if he could come over and sleep on the floor next to my bed, something he used to do when I was mad at him. It was as if no time had passed. I was still hungry for his attention so I said yes.

From the floor, with a soft voice I’d never heard before, he said that I cry more than anyone he has ever known and it confuses him. Sad smiles, happy tears and everything in between– he said my up and down feelings make him dizzy. He said when I’m low, I pull him down, and when I’m high, he can’t reach me. To him, it seems that I walk through life looking for reasons to feel wounded. He apologized for running. He held me accountable for staying.

I sensed that he had more to say but he got quiet.

Some words float over your head. Some burn out before they can reach you. Some crash into you and leave a mark. His words created a clean slice that opened me. I didn’t think this man had an emotionally intelligent bone in his body, but his words gave me a peek into what it’s like to be with me. I couldn’t get enough. I couldn’t explain why his words gave me hope and humbled me. All I could do was lay there and listen as he started talking again.

photo by TraciElaine Photography (@TraciElaine)

GG Renee Hill is an author, speaker and advocate for self-discovery through writing. A candid voice for mental health and self-care, GG writes about the joys and challenges of living an authentic life and being a fully expressed woman. This passage is an excerpt from her upcoming book, Underneath.