That Tangled Something That You Feel

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Buried somewhere in my email inbox is an eight-message thread from February 18, 2013. A few thousand words. A mothership of emotions. Line after line exposing my bluff.

I liked him. A lot. More than I should’ve. More than I said. And it’s easy and almost irrelevant to state the obvious now, but somehow it wasn’t so simple then. Back then, I wanted so deeply in my gut to be unbothered. Untethered. Unaffected. Unattached. I wanted every part of my identity steered by a prefix that meant “not.” I yearned not to be so many things that I never took stock of everything, every bit, and every broken piece that I was.

I’ve been thinking about that girl I used to be a lot these days. I’ve been thinking about how the distance between what she feigned and what she actually felt spanned for acres. I’ve been thinking about that email thread. Ive revisited it on occasion. Sometimes for inspiration. Sometimes for a jolt to the joints. Sometimes for a reminder of how far I’ve come.

I don’t know where in the web of dating women begin to suppress themselves and shape shift into people they are not. I’m not sure who teaches us to tone it down or play it cool or pretend to be something we simply aren’t. I’m not sure when we begin to contort and curve so as not to seem too much of this or too little of that. But, I know that we do these things. And maybe we do them for so long that then we have to fight to undo them. We have to untwist our limbs. Unleash ourselves. Lay waste to all of walls we fought so hard to build.

That is where I am now. Untwisting. Unleashing. Laying waste. Making peace with the deluge of emotions I bring to any relationship. Appreciating that I am not a woman who is easily contained.

And while the hard truth is that I am still somewhere in between frozen and thawed out, I’m done shape shifting. I’m done accepting fragments of affection. I can no longer just get along with a love that’s only good enough. There comes a point where you grasp that grown women learn to stop playing pretend. There comes a point where you connect with another human being on this planet and begin to honor that tangled something that you feel.


Masterpieces From Broken Places


The world does not need any more of our pretty pictures. It does not need the masks we wear or the facades we’ve built from scratch out of sandpaper. The world does not need our lies or grand impressions, our partial truths and twisted versions of life’s events. The world does not need half of our hearts. It does not need our fresh flowers on Sundays or our quaint living room photos. The last thing this world needs is another social media fairy tale.

So, instead, tell me about your broken places. Your ripped threads. Your shattered glass. Tell me about your black holes, your deep craters, your unhappy endings. Tell me about your roaring winds, your pouring rain, your heavy clouds.

Show me all of the ships that have sunk in your heart. Scrub the foundation off of your scars. I want to see you. Beautiful catastrophe. Delicate calamity. Woman who refuses to float on air.  I want to know that underneath all of the rock solid monuments you’ve built, you are still skin and bones, flesh and wreckage, the ink of 100 wayward lovers past.

You’ll have to dig deeply, you’ll have to pull up the roots. You’ll have to look at yourself through life’s smudged and smashed mirrors. You’ll have to cry until the whites of your eyes turn fire engine red.

Then do it again.


Once more.

Peel back the layers until your fingers grow callous. You won’t know your art unless you look behind your rough edges. You won’t know the full extent of your story until you cut it open and let bleed.

But, know that you are most beautiful in raw form. Knock over your glasses, let them shatter and spill. Allow your spirit to pour out deep red wine stains that Resolve won’t fix. Remember that the world has a surplus of insincerity and a scarcity of truth. So, make homes out of your holes and mansions out of your messes. Turn your most broken places into your masterpieces.


WYAO April general promoThis post is part of Write Your Ass Off April, a 10-day writing challenge to create your most naked, brave, and no holds barred writing. Learn about the challenge here and share your work on social media using the hashtag #WYAOApril. 

Dimensions of Black Womanhood: The Free Spirit and The Artist

We write because we believe the human spirit cannot be tamed and should not be trained.–Nikki Giovanni

GG: The Free Spirit

Photo credit: @jazzthenoise
Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

I’ve tried to hide my heart for most of my life. It always seemed to beat too loud and break too easily. I remember being a child in church, trying to stay calm while the choir sang. The music created electricity in my veins that made me want to dance up and down the aisles one minute and fall out bawling on the pew the next. I was a quiet ball of intensity, infatuated by the contrasts of joy and pain, trying to be happy, but always questioning.

I imagined myself an old soul, a captivated free spirit, having been here many times before. I knew how to change the mood in a room, to uplift and relieve tension. How to contain storms that were constantly rising and falling inside of me without breaking a sweat. I don’t remember what it felt like to be a light-hearted, uninhibited child. I always had to be careful. My home life was strange and we had secrets. So I learned how to pay attention to make sure we appeared normal. I worried about what would happen to us, to me, if anyone found out.

Read more of GG’s story here.


Kesia: The Artist

Photo credit: @jazzthenoise
Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

I’ve always been a storyteller. In middle school I came in every Monday with a story to tell my friends as we sat on the windowsill in our homeroom. At the time, my mother was in prison. I was sharing a small room with my younger brother and living with a family that had three daughters, girls who had been my friends for years. I remember once my half-sister came to visit from Florida. She was an only child who lived with my father and her mother. She marveled at the fact that all us kids lived in that small house. If it appeared fun to her, that’s because, most of the time, it was. This is the thing about being one of the “unfortunates”: If you survive, it’s because you learn how to spin gold from the thread life has given you to hang yourself with. That’s what storytelling is.

Read more of Kesia’s story here.

Cry Your Ugly Cry.

No one ever told you that serving as a light

You should find your new favorite corner. Stare at it for a few minutes. Contemplate if you even want to go sit in that corner because you know that once you slide to the floor, a pent up brigade of tears will march.

You should go sit in that corner. Legs curled up to your chest. Face in your knees.

You should cry your ugly cry. Eyeliner smudged. Cheeks puffy. Eyes red. Mascara demolished.

You deserve to cry that cry.

See, no one ever told you about this part. No one ever told you about a Thursday night, drinking wine on an empty stomach, wondering once more if this success is even worth it. No one ever told you that serving as a light to many would require your own pitch black moments. No one ever told you that success does not, and never will, equal happiness. No one ever told you that you would attain the very things you once hoped for, and you would still be left with cracks and craters in your spirit.

No one ever told you that you can’t keep snorting lines of success without eventually overdosing. You can’t keep conjuring up ideas hoping to drown out the demons in your own head. You can’t keep going on like this.

No one told you that you shouldn’t have quit therapy; you shouldn’t have so quickly assumed that you were whole. What someone should have told you is that when you experience a seismic shift in this life, you never go back to the old life. You can’t pray yourself back to the old life. You can’t work your way back to the old life. You can’t reminisce back to the old life. This is the new life with all of its blinding bullshit, bedlam and blessings.

So, you’re going to have to deal with you and all of your mess. And you’re not going to be able to hide behind your writing or your brand-building or your pretty poems and paragraphs. Everyone else does that shit; you do not have the luxury of doing that shit. Have you not seen how many times and in how many directions this life will whip you? You do not have the luxury of only scratching the surface. So you can’t just sit on Dr. Jones’ couch a few times and assume you’re good. And you can’t just meditate a few times and believe you’re whole. And you can’t just drop down at an altar once or twice and tell yourself everything is fine. Oh, no. This is slug-your-feet-through-the-mud kind of healing. This is every-day-all-the-time kind of revival. This is bid-the-old-life-farewell-once-and-for-all kind of living. If you want to crawl out of the abyss, you’ve got to let your fingers bleed.

But, see, when your fingers bleed, they tell stories. Someone else needs those stories. When you want to give up, as you so often do, that is your savior: someone else needs your stories. If you do not tell those stories, they will die at your beautifully bloody fingertips.

But, for now, cry your ugly cry. Cry for everything you still crave and every crater in your spirit you still have yet to fill. Cry for all of the blessings and all of the bullshit. Cry because wine stopped working and good sex stopped doing the trick. Cry because it’s never, ever going to be the same. Cry because you know the road ahead is long, and it is just as beautiful as it is calamitous. Cry because you always prayed for the light, but never realized there would still be downpours of darkness. Cry because you are fortunate beyond what you deserve. Cry because you survived. Cry because you are here. Cry because “here” is still 1,000 precious miles from where you ever believed you should be. Cry because of forgiveness and amazing grace. Cry because there is a tribe that has stuck by you even when you were an outright jackass. Cry because you want more out of this life than accolades and retweets. Cry because some days you don’t quite believe you’re worth more than accolades and retweets. Cry because every now and again, your soul and spirit just need to cry their ugliest cries.


Part 1: The Male Think Tank Tackles Cheating

Part 1 cheating post

Editor’s Note: This post took me awhile to approach the Male Think Tank about. Last year a reader asked the guys to tackle cheating, and it wasn’t a subject I was comfortable opening up to either them or the blog. But, I guess some things change. We approached this post less from a place of inciting judgment about their own personal experiences with the topic and with broader questions. In other words, I did not ask any of them to openly admit to cheating nor being cheated on.

There were times when assembling this post that I cringed, times when I laughed, times when I completely agreed and others when I completely disagreed. So take what you like, toss what you don’t. I appreciate each of these guys for being honest and open.

Mimosas and Men eventAnd don’t forget! The Male Think Tank will have its first event, Mimosas and Men, this Sunday in NYC. The event is sold out, but if you have any questions you would like us to ask at the event, you can submit them anonymously here!

Why do you think men cheat?

Guy 1: I think men cheat for a caveat of reasons. I would say that there’s an excitement in cheating even though it’s wrong. It’s like exploring the unknown and hoping you don’t get caught while doing it. Stressful, but it seems exciting too. Men also cheat because some (a lot) of dudes like the thrill of the chase. Lastly, men cheat cause new sex is ALWAYS appealing just cause it’s new.

Guy 2: I’m going to combine questions 1 & 2, because at its core, I don’t see a difference in cheating between men and women. I’ll assume we mean cheating when there’s a serious relationship involved. I think people cheat because they’re unhappy and weak. I don’t think either part is surprising, although the “weak” part is a word that may not often be used here.

The unhappy part could be from many many reasons: the passion is gone, their partner is no longer attentive, everything is on auto pilot, there’s a lack of communication, etc.

The weak part is the act of cheating itself. It takes a very immature and weak person to perform the act of cheating. You’re knowingly hurting the other person in the relationship.

Guy 3: Cheating in general is a lot like crime. Some crimes are premeditated with malice aforethought, others are of passion or opportunity. I think men and women cheat for different reasons, but it all boils down to a lack of respect for the other person. If you truly love somebody, the last thing you want to do is cause that person harm.

Guy 4: Men cheat because its fun. Don’t get me twisted though. It is wrong to violate someones trust. It is wrong to lie to somebody about your actions. It is wrong go back on your promises. As with many things that are wrong to do and possess these characteristics, cheating still remains fun. And when I say “fun”, I do not mean “Carnival/Theme Park” Fun, I mean it’s a “Rush/Drug” type feeling that I think Men can get out of it. We know its wrong, but still do it any way. Life.

Guy 5: Put simply, men think with their smaller brains. It seems impossible to many women that someone could have sex based solely on physical attraction, and no emotional attachment, but men do it every day. Sometimes while in relationships…

Guy 6: I believe men, at least when I cheated, do it for convenience. It was not that I didn’t want the love that I had. It’s just that she was lacking a component that I needed at that time which was support. I met another woman who had those components, in which I didn’t pursue. It started with a convo, and just went from there. However, I was too emotionally attached (in love) to leave my original woman. So for some I believe that’s the case, however I do know for others it’s pure greed.

Guy 8: I don’t think there’s a specific reason. It could be any number of reasons.

Guy 9: Men tend to really be drawn to physical qualities. It is very easy to look past all the other qualities that contribute overall to who and what a person is. Put a man in the “right” environment and add the “right” woman to the mix, there is a good chance he may cheat if everything isn’t right at home (She nags too much, highly insecure, argumentative/fighting excessively , etc..). From the majority of stories I’ve heard, it starts with physical attraction. All the other factors at home make it easier for a man to commit to cheating.


Why do you think women cheat?

Guy 1: Women’s reasons for cheating seem more tied to “emotions” than men, but as I’ve learned over the past few years, women have just as much “aint-shit-ness” as guys. I also think women cheat if they’re not getting the attention/affection that they want but they’re too scared or something to end a relationship themselves. I’m just speculating though.

Guy 4: If you let us men tell it, women cheat to send a message or as a form of retaliation. A woman cheating is a lot more calculated and premeditated than a man cheating. But again, that’s if you let us tell the story.

Guy 5: I honestly think this answer isn’t nearly as cut and dry, but that may be my male perspective getting the best of me. I think women usually cheat as a reaction of some sort, not “just because” like a man might. “He hasn’t been treating me as well as this new friend has been.” “He did, so I’m paying him back.” Just a few reasons that come to mind.

Guy 6: Same reason, I used to believe that due to my upbringing women were just greedy, and were out to hurt men. Like they got a thrill out of it. However, I believe the reasons can vary. I do believe women are less remorseful though.

Guy 9: Some women do operate like men, so they may cheat based on physical attraction. However, the majority of women operate differently than we do. It seems to me women cheat from lack of emotional/love from their partner. There is some disconnect that draws them to another individual who is providing them with that emotional stimulation. Nine out of ten times it boils down to the small things like listening, comfort, attention, etc… that may lead a woman to cheat. It definitely isn’t as trivial as physical attraction.


What in your mind constitutes cheating? Is there such a thing as emotional cheating?

Guy 1: Cheating is dating, Kissing, fucking/intending to do any of those while you’re with someone else. Yeah there’s such a thing as emotional cheating…if we’re in a relationship, don’t go confiding in another dude about things you won’t talk to me about/spend time more with a guy because you’re more drawn to him than me….that’s cheating too.

Guy 2: Cheating is giving yourself intimately to someone. Yes, I definitely think there’s emotional cheating. In fact, I believe emotional cheating is the majority of cheating at first. It’s rare for someone to cheat initially on physicality alone. That essentially means you’re either just doing a one night stand or getting a prostitute. The foundation of most cheating starts with emotional cheating. You don’t feel like you’re getting the support you need in a relationship, and you seek it elsewhere. Having someone else that listens to you, and cares for you is very comforting, and that’s how many cheating episodes occur.

Guy 3: Emotional cheating is very real. Cheating is acting in a manner towards another individual that your partner would disapprove of. A little flirting to get your way or a compliment to get out of a ticket, sure. You giving up the digits or visiting somebody at their home creates an opportunity for physical cheating.

Guy 4: I really only believe in cheating in the physical realm, as in I actually have to be in physical contact with another woman outside of my relationship. Other than that, I wouldn’t define it as cheating. I think I understand what is implied by emotional cheating, but that may mean someone is in a relationship wanting out, but not really pulling the trigger on leaving for whatever reason.

Guy 5: Anything that would upset you if your partner did it.

Guy 6: Basically anything that you know that your partner would not be cool with in regards to intimacy with another partner. I do believe that emotional cheating is the worst kind.

Guy 8: I only count cheating as getting physically involved with someone else (kissing, sex acts, etc.). I’ve never heard of emotional cheating. If that’s supposed to be like, flirting with someone or fantasizing about someone else, then no, that’s not cheating.

Guy 9: If you know your actions are questionable, it probably is cheating. If you take a second to think about if your significant other were doing the same thing, and it hurts or pisses you off, then you’re probably cheating. I do believe emotional cheating exists. When you start relying on someone else other than your partner for emotional support or attention/listening, you’ve exposed yourself to that individual. Emotional cheating is a slippery road that can very easily manifest into physical cheating.

In Part 2 of this series, the guys will discuss whether or not they believe a relationship can recover from cheating, if a woman who has previously cheated is a “deal breaker” and they’ll answer the age old debate…do all men cheat? Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow! But, for now, let us know what you think in the comments. Who do you agree with? Who do you disagree with? Do you believe men and women cheat for different reasons? Let us know!

Tyece & The Male Think Tank