How [Our] Men Learn: 4:44, Colored Girls and Other Reflections

“Girls are trained to behave. Boys are praised for rebellion. And thus, the Great Dilemma begins, for neither is the foundation of relationship; rather, it’s a set up for power struggles.”

~Asha Tane

Relationships are everything.

I’ll never be convinced otherwise. And so, much of my growth and development is rooted in my relationship with others. Women are more relational. I believe men would do well to follow suit.

This week has been one of deep feeling and contemplation. I’ve watched more sunsets this week than I have in any one year of my life. And this has been restorative. From moment to moment, I feel a myriad of emotions and sensations ranging from hope to jarring loneliness, rage to release. Feeling what I feel is nothing new; speaking, writing and acting HONESTLY and FULLY on how I feel … is.

This week I’ve

  • cried more tears than I can count
  • released without giving up
  • started forgiving my father
  • been told that I may be infertile
  • stood at the gates of forgiveness, deciding whether I’m really going in…
  • and finally surrendered to what is

There is nothing that soothes me now more than a good hard rain, and thunder. Oh! And being in my own company watching a sunset.

Upon hearing the murmurs and kudos on the release of Jay-Z’s new album, “4:44,” I still cringe, viscerally. Instinctively. He is being praised profusely, not only for his skill (which I don’t deny), but also his vulnerability. Specifically, there is a huge focus on his taking responsibility for mistreating his wife, after all the years of being (I’m assuming) unaccountable for his actions.

And while I want to feel the celebration with the masses, I’m disgusted by what it took for him to learn (the same it took for my father and certain exes to learn). And I knew my theory was true:

Men learn through ACTUAL loss of something or someone valuable. They often times don’t recognize what something is worth until it’s no longer there.

And that saddens me.

Especially in the case of Black men.

Because truth be told: Black men and women don’t have the luxury of being on opposing sides. We just DON’T. And the longer we play these power struggle games, and indulge in the egoic fuckery, the more time we waste in healing the wounds our parents never could.

I feel for Jay, and his recognition that loss is loss. Sometimes, there’s no way to go back to how it used to be. It’s done. That’s why it’s called LOSS. We seldom regain the fullness of what is gone. And when one loses, ALL do.

He admits it:

“I seen the innocence leave your eyes/I still mourn this death/ and I apologize for all the stillborns cause I wasn’t present/your body wouldn’t accept it…”

I just shook my head as I listened, and wondered how Beyonce feels.

“Lemonade” was more than a cultural reverie: it was the skeleton of black women made flesh. It was unapologetically for colored girls — the girls that live in the women who’ve been made to swallow their hurt, and ignored because our screams are so loud and constant. And we tend to devalue what’s always there.

But then again, we’re ignored in our silence too.

Simply put: we’re ignored. Uncelebrated. Largely unloved. And desperately wanting…and deserving of what doesn’t fill the void. Beyonce made beautiful, and painfully evident, all the ugliness put upon us in so many ways…

“So what will you say at my funeral now that you’ve killed me…”

Was no one listening? Or maybe that truly was for us … the women … the colored girls.

Now, men proclaim, as though with new eyes and minds, as if they never imagined their actions could devastate. As if they just now realized that they aren’t an island unto themselves, and maybe they should practice honesty and vulnerability. Jay-Z’s admission has (seemingly) baptized them in a knowing that has been too obvious for so long.

And I’m … speechless.

I can’t help but to wonder what kind of apology admits:

“I’m never gonna treat you like I should…”

It really runs this deep, huh?  So, now what?

But, I’ve heard it’s a story, so I guess I’ll just give an honest listen to the whole thing, to the best of my ability. Perhaps, it’ll baptize me too.

Lover’s Anonymous: Epic Fail

Epic (adj.): grand in scale or character

Fail (n.): a grade not high enough to pass (an examination or test) OR (v.): to be unsuccessful in achieving (one’s goal)*

It doesn’t have to last forever to be beautiful. ~my mama

In fact, nothing does – last forever, that is. And so, if we are to gauge success by permanency and constancy, well then, life becomes the grandest of all “epic fails.”

And still, I sometimes find myself wondering if the ended (or altered) friendships, departed lovers and incomplete connections were due to some kind of inherent fault on my end.

But I know better, even if I don’t always feel what I know. And you do too, somewhere underneath layers of thoughts that run amok.

So here is a gift from me to you…with no explanation or proof…they are my offerings to you: 5 things I’ve determined from my own relational epic failures.

  1. Success is based on authenticity and responsibility, not lasting forever. It is not my job to “make it last,” but rather to be myself truly and fully, accepting the responsibility for whatever comes next, and shifting with integrity. This is my relational success.
  2. Let go quickly. Sometimes it feels impossible, but I’ve purposed within to QUICKLY release those with whom I am no longer relating. Neither of us is missing anything; we don’t owe it to anyone to grieve a parting. As Zora Neale writes, “…the mourning shouldn’t last a day longer than the grief.” And as Paulo Coelho says, “I give myself 3 days to grieve; after which, I politely ask sadness to go away.”
  3. Everything happens in cycles. Life keeps moving with or without me dragging my past along, and wearing it like a scarlet letter. More than likely, if there is something to be resolved or clarified, it will be without my pining, excessive deliberations or efforts – one way or another. Now, I trust Life.
  4. It’s not what I think. Literally. It just is. What’s going through my head is probably the FURTHEST away from the whole truth of the situation, even if I have concrete facts. The WHOLE truth is that the observable facts aren’t the only facts of the situation, AND facts in themselves don’t comprise any entire experience.
  5. Feel my feelings. I’ve experienced more internal reward from feeling my feelings without needing to place blame or shame than I ever have by “being right” or understood. Proving points yields no peace. All that ever matters is what my feelings are showing me about me right now.
  6. One day, it all makes sense. And this isn’t always an intellectual “sense.” But there has come a time, in EVERY ending, where I can feel the divineness of it all – no matter how difficult it was initially. And that makes me trust endings, and their associated feelings, from the beginning.
  7. Regretting endings is a waste of time. See number 6. 
  8. Connection does not mean contact. Just because I’m no longer in contact with someone does not mean we are no longer connected. Those who have cycled back into my intimacy have proven this time and again – there are synchronicities that are undeniably a result of something we don’t fully understand, although we’ve experienced it.
  9. What now? This is the only question that ever truly matters.

It’s not about never feeling an unpleasant sensation or being together forever, it’s about everything we’re experiencing: being, feeling, thinking, releasing, connecting, integrating…it’s about the WHOLE of it, not just what we can hold of it. We don’t own people or experiences: we are gifted them for a time.

And this is as it ought be.

Sometimes the greatest success is to “fail” epicly.

(You gotta do some living to give me an “Amen” on that one!)

An Ode to Endings (in the Circle of Life)

Had I known it was over, I would have cried too.

Allowed my shadows to pour til clear – for it to be known that I am flawed. Like you. Had I known that the delicacy of humanity was unwelcome in the sanctum between, I’dve dipped myself in alabaster – become one of those imperfect goddesses you worship (because their imperfection is contained in myth alone). Had I seen the sword poised so precisely over the fullness of my Truth, I would have never bowed my head to pray for forgiveness, but would have lain supine, and looked my judge in the eye.

Perhaps, my lip would have quivered as the metal gleamed in flight. Is Death truly a baptism to warriors of light?

©2016 Asha T’nae. All Rights Reserved.

To Touch a Butterfly

IMAGE: Michael Wallace “Black Butterfly”

You can’t chase them, or they will flee. It’s a law of nature; there’s no way around it. Enjoy them from afar. Celebrate them. Celebrate life – a life that is beautiful enough to have butterflies. Be completely okay with not holding one in your hand; instead, lay down in the grass and look at the sky. If you relax deeply, you will likely drift into slumber. And, perhaps, it will be the brush of a butterfly’s wing that wakes you.