Stop Letting People Tell You Why You’re Single

Especially if they are single.

Even if they are married, they can’t definitively say why you’re single. They know their journey, not yours, so to offer a generalized list in which you are supposed to “see the light” and somehow be saved from a life of singleness is asinine. Also, a life of single hood should be one that prepares you for marriage (if marriage is what you desire) and quite frankly I don’t care for holier than thou married folks who somehow want to make a single feel bad for being single, especially when a common message passed on by married folks in regard to marriage is “take your time.” I especially don’t like those married folks who were members of the mile high club while single acting as if marriage has cleared them from every indiscretion they’ve ever made. Seriously, just because your “captain” came along doesn’t qualify you to label others.

I’ve been single and on the scene long enough to know marriage isn’t the happily ever after fairy tale sold to us since we were little tots. I could tell you stories of married men approaching me that would make your eyes pop out of your head in disbelief. No one can say what their mate will do when they are away from them, so no married person is in a position to look down on a single. This normally happens from women. I don’t see married men making single men feel bad about being single. So what is it about women that makes us so judgmental when it comes to getting married? Are they truly so happy they want you to enjoy the benefits of marriage? Or are they bored with the mundane routine of their lives? Is it that they’ve bought into the fairy tale instead of the reality of marriage and now that their lives are hell and they feel as if they’ve been punked, they aim to project their unhappiness under the veil of “this is what’s wrong with you and until you fix it, you will be single?” In keeping it totally real, I can’t think of one happily married woman in my life who has ever made me feel inadequate about being single, so I have no reason to believe that secure women are the forces behind these nonsensical lists.

Contrary to the cliche, marriage doesn’t complete you. Two whole, complete, secure-in-self people composed the healthiest marriages and I don’t have to be married to know this. If a person believes another person completes them, then it’s a slap in the face of the Creator, as it’s only through Him that we are completed and made whole. Our earthly relationships are temporary and it is how we conduct ourselves as individuals that will determine our eternal relationships. I am certain meeting and ultimately marrying your life partner is an unbelievable feeling~perhaps one that makes you feel as if you are completing another part of the circle of life, however let’s not confuse this with two people completing each other. In fact, if you were so complete, there wouldn’t be any negativity from you to a single. A happy person aims to make others happy. Hurt people hurt people. Therefore, these lists outlining what is wrong with a person aren’t stemming from a place of love, so my advice to those reading those lists is to take them with a grain of salt. Actually, I have a list for you:

1. Take that “why you’re single” list.

2. Crumble it up.

3. Get a bottle of Windex.

4. Spray it on a mirror in your house.

5. Use the crumbled list to clean the mirror.

6. Look at yourself in the mirror and take a good, hard, honest look at your reflection.

7. Get a notepad and writing utensil.

8. Write down a list of things you want to achieve in life and things you want to improve about yourself.

9. Write out a plan on how you will accomplish the things on that list.

10. Get to working on your plan.

Before you know it, people will be drawn to you and because you are a happy and healthy you; you will have the strength to determine who you will allow in your life. THIS is why you are single~to work on what you think you need to work on, so that when you meet a potential mate, you will be a suitable partner for them. If you are becoming restless or frustrated during your waiting period, i.e. single-dom, perhaps it’s time to take another look in the mirror and become more honest with yourself.

Don’t ever give a list or another person the power to make you feel like you’re less than.

Happy Reflecting!

 

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You’ve Got Mail

Every email account has a setting allowing the account holder to reroute any mail deemed unworthy of the time in which it will take to read. Most email servers will ultimately delete these messages to save space, therefore you never see these emails unless you take out time to visit the junk mail folder within the allotted time frame. I have gotten into the habit of occasionally visiting my junk mail folder just to see if there were any messages worth saving, perhaps from an email address I had forgotten to save or from someone who had emailed me for the first time. Sifting through hundreds of messages to save maybe two is time consuming to say the least, however I continue in this habit.

Today, as I was sifting through my junk mail, I began to wonder what my life would be like if I were able to automatically reroute life’s junk to a place where I didn’t have to deal with it unless I made the choice to deal. I also wondered how much time I wasted sifting through junk, only to save one or two relationships (I use the term loosely to define relational patterns between people, so this includes romantic relationships and friendships)  that would ultimately fall apart anyway. As we grow, there should be lessons learned that prevents certain circumstances from occurring in the future. For example, I got 3 tickets for speeding in 2011 alone. Common sense dictates that I drive the speed limit to prevent ticketing from happening again, right? Yeah…….right :).

But in relationships and in getting to know people, there are always triggers that let us know if we should continue investing time in this person. Many of us have lived the story of “seeing the signs” only to justify them because we want to believe the best in people. We see potential and think that if we nurture it via being a good friend to this person, they will one day live up to that potential, making everything worthwhile. There is also the notion of giving a person the benefit of the doubt, as there are always things we can learn from others, despite vast differences.

I have witnessed people who will cut off individuals from day 1 if they determined that individual was one who wasn’t on their level~not meaning this person wasn’t good enough for them, but that there weren’t enough spiritual, philosophical, emotional, or mental similarities to build a solid foundation for a healthy relationship. I really respect these people because I wish I could do that, however I have learned over the years to be able to recognize toxic relationships sooner than later and subsequently remove these people from my life. In this next phase of my life, I aim to recognize and keep it moving before any connection is formed because I have wasted too much time waiting for potential to materialize. Therefore, when an unfamiliar spirit enters my presence, I will keep it moving…..hopefully (well, that’s the goal).

Junk can often serve to distract so ask yourself, “Where would I be if I automatically routed the junk in my life to a place where I will never see it?” This task is much easier said than done because it requires a certain level of tunnel vision that is difficult to achieve and maintain. I do wonder, however, if a certain level of junk is necessary for personal growth to occur? If the answer to this question is yes, then the question becomes, “at what point do you dump the junk?

Your thoughts?

 

The Reality of Domestic Violence Part II

My last post was very long, so I decided to divide up the information because I wanted to make sure I shared some statistical information I found on futureswithoutviolence.org:

~>On average more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States.  In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner.

~>In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published data collected in 2005 that finds that women experience two million injuries from intimate partner violence each year.

~>Nearly one in four women in the United States reports experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life.

~>Women are much more likely than men to be victimized by a current or former intimate partner.

~>Women are 84 percent of spouse abuse victims and 86 percent of victims of abuse at the hands of a boyfriend or girlfriend and about three-fourths of the persons who commit family violence are male.

~>There were 248,300 rapes/sexual assaults in the United States in 2007, more than 500 per day, up from 190,600 in 2005. Women were more likely than men to be victims; the rate for rape/sexual assault for persons age 12 or older in 2007 was 1.8 per 1,000 for females and 0.1 per 1,000 for males.

~>The United States Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 3.4 million persons said they were victims of stalking during a 12-month period in 2005 and 2006.  Women experience 20 stalking victimizations per 1,000 females age 18 and older, while men experience approximately seven stalking victimizations per 1,000 males age 18 and older.

~>Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner – a figure that far exceeds victimization rates for other types of violence affecting youth.

~>One in five tweens – age 11 to 14 – say their friends are victims of dating violence and nearly half who are in relationships know friends who are verbally abused. Two in five of the youngest tweens, ages 11 and 12, report that their friends are victims of verbal abuse in relationships.

~>Teen victims of physical dating violence are more likely than their non-abused peers to smoke, use drugs, engage in unhealthy diet behaviors (taking diet pills or laxatives and vomiting to lose weight), engage in risky sexual behaviors, and attempt or consider suicide

~>15.5 million children in the United States live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year, and seven million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred.

~> The majority of nonfatal intimate partner victimizations of women (two-thirds) in the United States occur at home.

~>Children under age 12 are residents of the households experiencing
intimate partner violence in 38 percent of incidents involving female victims.

~> In a single day in 2008, 16,458 children were living in a domestic violence shelter or transitional housing facility. Another 6,430 children sought services at a non-residential program.

~>Women who have experienced domestic violence are 80 percent more likely to have a stroke, 70 percent more likely to have heart disease, 60 percent more likely to have asthma and 70 percent more likely to drink heavily than women who have not experienced intimate partner violence.

~>In the United States in 1995, the cost of intimate partner rape, physical assault and stalking totaled $5.8 billion each year for direct medical and mental health care services and lost productivity from paid work and household chores. When updated to 2003 dollars, the cost is more than $8.3 billion.

~>Sexual and domestic violence are linked to a wide range of reproductive health issues including sexually transmitted disease and HIV transmission, miscarriages, risky sexual health behaviour and more.

 

Again, before we engage in jokes or solely look at this issue through our fascination with celebrities, remember everyday people are victims of violence and this is no laughing matter. Educate yourself and then educate others. You may just save a life.

 

Source: http://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/file/Children_and_Families/DomesticViolence.pdf

The Reality of Domestic Violence

This weekend, professional football player ChadOchocinco” Johnson was arrested on charges of domestic violence against his wife of just over a month, reality television star Evelyn Lozada. For those of you who do not follow any of the countless reality television shows, this couple is one that is very visible and widely known by those who frequent mindless debauchery. What I know about Chad is that he is known as Ochocinco, his football jersey number in Spanish. I also know he is extremely arrogant based on conversations with my friends who told me about some docu-drama he was the star of where he coined what was to become widely popular phrases such as “child please” and “kiss the baby.” His television and on-field personalities are the type that you will either love or hate with little room in between.

I became aware of Evelyn as a random watcher of the heavily criticized “Basketball Wives” reality show where cameras followed the wives, ex-wives, girlfriends, and baby mamas of professional basketball players. Evelyn’s character is a matter-of-fact, no holds barred and sometimes violent female who wastes no time in telling anyone how she feels, whether it’s with words or a champagne bottle. This couple is well known in social media, as their meeting, subsequent dating, and engagement were all captured on camera. They became such a hot, popular item, the two have their own reality television show highlighting their wedding scheduled to air very soon.

Since Saturday, I have seen countless tasteless jokes surrounding this instance of domestic violence and while I understand it all is stemming from the types of people we have deemed Chad and Evelyn to be (although we really don’t know them personally) based on how they have presented themselves on television and a variety of social media sites; it is quite bothersome to me that many comments almost excuse what has happened. Or they down play it by inferring something like this should have been expected, given “how she is” or “how he is.” They make comments like “she should have known.” Let me first say, we don’t know the entire story yet. I’ve already seen contradicting reports on who hit whom. In any event, domestic violence is NEVER okay and we must be careful of the comments we make and the jokes we entertain because you never know who is a victim of abuse. You may think you know your audience, but you really have no idea.

Many of those who have been hit, beaten, strangled, choked, kicked, punched, yelled at, talked down to, and/or demeaned often suffer silently out of fear and shame. It is very difficult for these people to admit to themselves, let alone others that they are indeed victims of abuse and what has happened to them is not their fault. The most strong man or woman never speak up about what has happened because the ego is a fragile thing, so for these people to see these types of comments and jokes spreading virally; it sends them further into a cocoon of shame.

We know there are signs of abuse, however hindsight is always 20/20 and it is difficult to say what a person should have seen coming. It is easy for anyone to get caught up in a relationship and fall so deep, it seems impossible to get out. Instead of riding on your high horse, take some time to educate on these signs and provide information on how these people can get help.

According to WedMD (http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/domestic-violence-signs-of-domestic-violence), some signs to look for in your partner are:

  • Embarrass you with put-downs?
  • Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
  • Control what you do, who you see or talk to, or where you go?
  • Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?
  • Take your money or paycheck, make you ask for money, or refuse to give you money?
  • Make all of the decisions?
  • Tell you that you’re a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?
  • Threaten to commit suicide?
  • Prevent you from working or going to school?
  • Act like the abuse is no big deal or is your fault, or even deny doing it?
  • Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?
  • Intimidate you with guns, knives, or other weapons?
  • Shove you, slap you, choke you, or hit you?
  • Threaten to kill you?

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). This line is available 24 hours a day, not only to victims, but to their friends and family who are seeking ways to help their loved ones. While this is a national line, they are equipped to refer you to resources and safe havens in your local area. They also can help non-English speaking individuals. For those who are hearing impaired, please call 1-800-787-3224. This information was found at http://www.opm.gov/employment_and_benefits/worklife/officialdocuments/handbooksguides/domesticviolence_help/domestic-sec1.asp.

It’s all fun and games until someone you know is killed by their abuser. We often criticize reality television programming and label it as irresponsible and degrading to the community. How uplifting is it for you to make a snide remark or forward an abuse joke? Let’s be better than what we accuse them of being because at the end of the day, WE are responsible for our local communities, not celebrities we don’t even know. 

Cry, Just Because

As the mother of an almost 5 week old, you can imagine the amount of crying I have to endure :).  She cries after I’ve exhausted every possibility of what could be wrong, which can be the most frustrating of all because as a parent; I instinctively want to wipe out all that is wrong and make everything okay for my baby. When she doesn’t stop crying, I wonder what I an doing wrong and in many ways, I feel like a failure as a mother. During one of our quiet moments (i.e. she was asleep-lol), I remembered a DVD that was given to me by the hospital entitled “The Period of Purple Crying” (additional information can be found athttp://www.purplecrying.info/sections/index.php?sct=1&).

Reading the information and watching the DVD helped me to understand crying as a natural part of an infant’s development. It gave me the validation I needed because it explained that babies cry, even when nothing is wrong. What a relief that was for me!!! After digesting that information, I wanted to soothe and comfort her even more because her cry and my responses to it are a natural part of our bonding and her growth in trusting I will be there whenever she needs me. Granted, I wasn’t ever going to stop trying to comfort her, but knowing I wasn’t doing anything wrong was a big weight lifted from my shoulders. I began to welcome her cries as opportunities to make things better, even though everything is already alright. What an amazing feeling~to make things better when nothing is wrong!!!

In analyzing the “crying for no reason” factor, I began to wonder why we as adults need reasons to cry? Why is crying often viewed as a sign of weakness? As refreshing and relieving as a cry can be, why must something happen first? We often wait until all of our frustrations are bottled up before we explode into a burst of crying. Or something incredibly remarkable must happen for us to cry tears of joy. Why cant we cry “just because” as a way to release or rejoice? I wonder if babies have got it right and perhaps we need to take a page out of their book.

Something to ponder.

Transparent

To my former students and anyone who ever looked up to me:

I knew at some point I would have to address this issue, however I wasn’t sure exactly what words to use to convey across the most critical points in a way that accurately explains the points I want to get across. There comes a time in every person’s life when we have to stop making excuses for ourselves and own up to the decisions we have made and now is my time. I am writing this letter to alleviate any confusion or mixed messages sent by the life I live. Of course, I have more life to live, however I am living out a circumstance in which I never thought I would find myself, and I believe in order for me to do justice to my life’s purpose of motivating young people to live their best lives; I need to put words around what I think about where I’ve found myself. I hope renewed strength to continue to make tough choices is the result of this letter. I hope God‘s glory can continue to shine through me as I become as vulnerable as I can at this juncture. I hope someone is set free by my truth. So here it goes.

Countless people were (and still are) surprised by my getting pregnant, given I am not married. Those who know me knows my desire was to get married prior to having children, as it wasn’t something I was secretive about. God is not pleased with sex outside of marriage and while I have not been a virgin for some time, I had taken a vow of celibacy where I promised God I wouldn’t have sex until I was married. Shock waves rattled many opinions of me upon finding out about my unborn child, given I had gone years without having sex. During those years I was fortunate enough to mentor several young ladies who looked up to me and the choices I had made in life. They were able to witness first hand someone who was able graduate high school, college, and build a career despite the hurdle of a less fortunate background. I was able to be a living testimony that it was okay to be beautiful, smart, and abstain from sex. Often times they had the ability to hold steadfast onto their virtue because they had an example that not everyone who is saved is stuffy or living in a holy bubble, detached from the realities of today. I was proud to be that beacon of light for these young ladies.

So how do I reconcile becoming a single mother in the face of my beliefs? I’m certain my excitement over my precious baby girl and the countless public congratulations and words of encouragement and support paints a happy picture that can leave those who have known me for years confused. Make no mistake, I am in love with my daughter and am prepared to create the type of environment in which she can grow to become a better person than I am, however it is equally important for me to publicly acknowledge my disappointment in myself. It is critically vital I say that I know what I’ve done is wrong and I must face the consequences of my decisions, my broken promises to God. Often times we present a one sided picture of life. Either we are making all of the right decisions or we know we are living in sin and we bask in it. We may even gloss over and justify our bad decisions, making them sound “not as bad as they are” in an effort of saving face. Very rarely do we hear the testimony of someone who was living right and fell during their fallen moment. We usually hear the testimony after they’ve gotten back up and are praising God from the hilltops for bringing them out of the valley. In a time where social media is reality to some people, it requires little effort to create an image of ourselves that may not be an accurate depiction. As happy as I am at having a healthy, beautiful baby, I know I am currently in a valley moment of my life. I know, because of the choices I’ve made, there are less than favorable situations ahead in which I will find myself. I am not blind to the fact that my child may even witness these situations.

I think the natural question is, “Are you saying you regret your child?” My resounding answer to that question is NO! While I made a choice that is outside the will of God, God doesn’t make mistakes. Her life has just as much purpose and meaning as the next life and I will always love her unconditionally as she is the innocent party in all of this. What I will say is I regret not living up to my promise. I regret the impending circumstances that could have been avoided had I held on to those promises (obedience is better than sacrifice). I wish I could have brought her into a healthy marriage filled with love, but I don’t regret her and I pray she never feels as if she is to blame~I will work my hardest to ensure she doesn’t. What I’ve learned for myself is God’s ways aren’t like our ways. He doesn’t condemn us to hell for all eternity for falling outside His will. When He says “My grace is sufficient, for my power is made perfect in weakness” it means His grace can withstand all of our dumb decisions. He will forgive us and although bad things may continue to happen, He will keep us through it all IF we go to Him, confess, repent, and ask for forgiveness. Notice I said go to Him, not go to your friends. I think we mess up going to other imperfect people when God desires an individual relationship with us.

Additionally, this blog entry isn’t about me wanting pity. I am not seeking validation of any sort. We have to stop coddling people when they fall short. I am not saying cane them, but I am saying stern correction is in order. Otherwise, how else would we grow? For clarification, I am not saying there should be blanket-statement correction given to every single mother there ever was. I am saying, for those who are directly connected to you, it is your responsibility (for those who are believers) to give them tough love and the intent must be that they become stronger in the Lord~not to make them feel stupid or less than, because honestly; if we were all as willing to highlight our valley moments while they are happening, we wouldn’t have so much confusion as it relates to living a Christian life. We put forth sooo much effort to make things look perfect, we miss many opportunities to bring people to Christ. We quote so many scriptures we forget we too are human and fell short more times than we are willing to admit. It has gotten to the point where we have communicated one must be perfect in order to receive the favor of God. As a result, imperfect people are afraid to come to Christ because they feel as if they are not good enough, when the truth of the matter is there are countless examples in the Bible where the people who were called by God were less than desirable. God can’t use perfect people.

As a woman who preached the abstaining sermon only to get pregnant the first time she had sex after years of celibacy (yes, it really only takes one time), I feel it is my responsibility to tell the other side of the story. The side where I did something wrong, fell short, and still praise God because I know His love for me is unconditional. Even in His disappointment of me, He still loves me. Even when He allows the process of my bad decision making to unfold, He still loves me. At my lowest when I don’t know where to turn, I can still turn to Him. And I will still give Him the glory.

Don’t allow another person make you feel as if you aren’t worthy of forgiveness from God, as it is only through His grace and mercy that any of us are able to sustain and thrive.

There are other things I wanted to discuss in the piece, however I will save them for another time, as this post took a different turn from what I initially intended. As I learn and grow from my mistakes, I submit to additional opportunities to share my experiences in hopes they can help someone else.

Be blessed and be a blessing.

Sincerely,

Shanika