Sometime I Miss You, Sometimes I Don't

One of the things that I do not miss about full-time blogging is the pressure. Everyone says, "Consistency is key" and that you have to always be pushing your content to your audience. This meant that not only was I doing photo shoots multiple times per week, I was also editing daily, and chugging out content on Hootsuite so that my posts would be shared multiple times per day on all of my social media platforms. This took a lot of work. Any full-time blogger will tell you that this ain't easy. When I was unemployed and not in school, I had plenty of time for that work. I could dedicate my days to waking up and making sure everything was "instagram-able" (this is a real word, I assure you.) Here are some of my favorite "instagram-able" examples:

1. The lighting for my breakfast - I'd take so many pictures, edit it perfectly, and take so much time crafting the perfect caption and hashtags that the food would get cold. I wouldn't even be hungry anymore.
2. The perfect pose for an outfit - I about near popped my hip out of place one time trying to ensure that my curves were on point.
3. Spending time with friends - my makeup, outfit, and smile needed to be perfect for any instagram-worthy shot. I'd spend so much time taking and editing pictures that I'd forget why we were there - to actually spend time together.
4. Date night - God forbid that we go on one of our regular dates with me in comfy clothes, no makeup, and messy hair. Nope, only the perfect days made it to instagram - and those days weren't even the most fun because I'd have on so much makeup that we couldn't even kiss without my lipstick smearing!

Everything needed to be perfect. It needed to be so perfect that I started to miss out on reality - which is anything but perfect. It's like Queen Bey says - "Perfection is a disease of a nation." And she's right, pretty does hurt.

When I started working again in 2016, it took me all of about 3 months to realize that full-time blogging wouldn't work for me. I didn't have time for the perfect picture of my breakfast - I was hungry and dammit, I was gonna eat right then and there.

Furthermore, in 2017, I really started to lean into reality rather than the life I was trying to live up to on instagram. I've talked about this a lot on my blog. I hope that you have seen the evolution.

Sometimes I miss blogging, and sometimes I don't. I do miss sharing bits and pieces of my life. And maybe I will begin to share more again.

In truth, my real life is messy. It's filled with cat litter, students crying in my office, root canals, and more. It's also filled with late-night snuggles with my hubby, the Great British Bake-Off, and walking in the cold to spend time with friends. What is real often cannot be captured in a photograph - authentic conversations, belly laughs from watching that Jake Tapper/Ted Crockett interview, tearful heart-to-hearts over coffee as we whispered "Me, too", and more. That cannot be captured for instagram.

I think I would blog more if it meant less perfection. I would blog more if I can be authentic and real. I'd blog more if I can ramble. I'd blog more if I can share a three line poem about sadness. I'd blog more if every post didn't need a perfect picture in order to be "eye-catching" for the masses. And perhaps, that is where the secret lies. If I can be bold enough to show my real, authentic, not-instagram-perfect life, maybe I would have even more of it to share with you.

Cheers to 2018. Let's see where it all goes ♥

Don't Ignore the Signs

A few months ago, I started feeling sick all the time. Nauseous, dizzy. I thought it was my motion sickness kicking in, so I started taking pills every single day to counter the effects.

Prior to that, I had been gaining weight also. But steadily, you know, maybe 5 lbs per year, which was considered “normal." I was still working out consistently, watching what I eat. I would still have healthy foods regularly and then pizza once or twice a month. A cupcake here and there. All in moderation.

Then three months ago, right around the time that I started feeling nauseous, lots more started happening in my body. Although my diet hadn't changed much, my body weight began to change drastically. With this increased weight, there came other symptoms. I was fatigued all the time. Like, WAY more tired than I have ever been in my life. DeMico and I just thought that perhaps I needed time to adjust to all the newness in my life - recently married, moved to a new home, started a new job. We thought perhaps all the change was getting to me, and that I just needed time to get situated. Although I had no energy for anything, my job is high-stress. Daily, I would expend whatever energy I did have during work hours. By the time I was home, I had no energy for anything else - friends, dates, etc. I'd get home around 6 and be in bed by 7.

Then my body just started to ache. Knee pain, shoulder pain, back pain. Just constant pain. I thought it was because of the excess weight I was putting on. So, I scolded myself and created a more rigorous gym routine. Then I'd wake up the following Monday and notice that the new jeans I just bought last month no longer buttoned. I would feel shame and anger. More rigor at the gym. Less food. No pizza.

Two weeks later, I'd feel even more tired, more fatigued. And my pants still didn't fit.

DeMico and I thought - wait, could we be pregnant?! I mean...this wasn't the plan, but all the symptoms make sense! Weight gain, nausea, increased appetite, fatigue, back pain.

We checked...and double checked...and triple checked...multiple times. Definitely not pregnant.

So, it was me. Something was wrong with me. I wasn't eating well enough, wasn't working out hard enough. I tried all the self-help articles and books. Looked at old pictures of myself for motivation. I tried and tried. Nothing worked.

Self-loathing, depression, anxiety hit an all-time peak. I hadn't felt this low in years. But, I tried to hide it. Tried to cover it with laughter, drink it away at happy hour with friends, dance it away at date night with my husband.

As my body continued to bloat, my fatigue continued to manifest, my moodiness increased, and my shame increased tenfold. Here I was, a woman who had lost 100 lbs. A woman who had done it through stress, hard work, discipline, etc. A woman who now had gained 55 of those lbs back. I felt too ashamed to take any photographs. I felt too ashamed to want to see my friends or spend any extended time with anyone outside of my home.

About a month ago, the final phase kicked in - constipation and constant hunger. No matter how much I ate, it was never enough. And I was constipated all the time.

Two weeks ago, I finally admitted it...

I needed help.

Earlier this week, I went to the doctor. I humbly told my PCP (a fellow black woman) all my woes and prepared for her to lay into me - I almost wanted her to beat me up, to say it's my fault for not eating right & exercising enough. To tell me I lacked discipline. To shame me. After all, that's what I have been doing to myself.

Nope. Disease. She drew blood to confirm it. And I was stunned.

I sat in the doctor's office trying to process all the emotions that hit me at once. First, there was relief. I wasn't crazy, it wasn't just my inability to eat well enough and work out enough. It was beyond myself. It was something else attacking my body. Relief. Then there was remorse. Remorse at the fact that I had spent the last several months kicking myself, tearing myself down with hateful words and accusations. Failing to meet my own standards, then eating everything in sight. Remorse.

"What's next?"

That's where I am right now. What's next? What happens now? I haven't even shared this with my friends or family yet. Mom, I am sorry if you're reading this and learning about this for the first time with the rest of the world. For whatever reason, I felt in my heart the timing to share was now. More than anything, I felt it on my heart to share with you all this word:

Don't ignore the signs.

If something is wrong in your body, and you feel it for months, don't ignore it. Don't blame yourself. Always seek a second opinion from someone who may have more wisdom in that area than you do (like a doctor). Don't harm yourself seeking perfection. Instead, do right by your body, mind, and soul by seeking truth. And don't wait too long.

I do not know exactly what's next. I know there will be treatment. I know DeMico will be there with me. I know there will be some changes in my life and in my body. I am praying for God to just be with me as She always has been. God, in all of His infinite wisdom, will whisper words of affirmation and love into the dark clouds of self-loathing. And I will be well.


I haven't had sex in going on four years.

I know what you're thinking. 

First - WHAT? Aren't you dying?
Second - Aren't you in a committed relationship? Haven't y'all been together for 2+ years??
Third - WHAT?

Ha. I get it. But let me explain.

This blog post has been brewing within me for about a year now. I've written countless drafts of this post, but it's never quite felt like the right time. Plus, what happens (or doesn't happen) in my bedroom is my business. However, I have had so many conversations with young Christian women who are battling their sexual choices that I've felt the need to share pieces of my story. So, here we are. Let me share some of myself with you.

My introduction to sex was through sexual assault. I don't mean for that to be shocking or for you to give me pity. I just want to be raw and authentic. That was how sex began for me. It taught me to be afraid of men. It taught me to shut up and take whatever a man wanted to give to me, sexually. There was no love. No passion. No commitment. I learned to disconnect my soul from my body during sex so that whatever abuse was put upon my body, I guess I thought I wouldn't really feel it, because my soul wasn't there. 

When I realized this wasn't working, I decided to try and talk to my elders in the Christian community. I disguised what was really rape as "I chose to have sex" when really, there was no choice in it for me. I thought that if I shared with them my transgressions, they would help me. They would see that I was young. Broken. Ashamed.

Instead, the church elders shunned me. They treated me like a harlot who had chosen her path of sin. I was devastated. 

From that point on, I continued to endure sexual trauma, even after I escaped my abuser, in every relationship. The difference was, I learned to keep it in the dark. To hide my pain from friends and churchfolk. In that darkness, I learned that sex was just something you endured, not enjoyed. You never complained if it hurt, because you're too fearful of a man's wrath. You never complained if you didn't experience any joy or pleasure, because it wasn't about your pleasure, but the pleasure of the man.

In addition to this, I still attended churches where everyone would rant about the "Purity" movement and encourage young women (not really young men, which is a whole other story) to wear purity rings, to be chaste and modest, and to save themselves for marriage. I saw many young women crying at the altar, begging forgiveness from an angry God who looked down upon them for having had sex before "their time" (whatever that means).

But what about me? I didn't actually have a choice to wait for marriage. So, how did God view me? As a helpless victim? As a sinner? Someone who was distanced from grace?

Sex had cost me so much. And when I wanted to talk to other Christians about it, the response was "See, that's why you shouldn't be having it in the first place! Just wait till marriage, then it'll all be perfect."

But...then I did  get married. And it most definitely wasn't perfect. Sex in marriage hurt me more than I ever could have imagined. Isn't marriage when sex is supposed to be right? And holy? And perfect? Where was God in all of this?

After my divorce, I went through years of counseling. Years of unlearning and undoing. Years of seeking God in a real way - 

I didn't want "religious, anti-sex-before-marriage, then in marriage it becomes great" Jesus. 
I needed "Nothing can separate you from My love" Jesus. 

And that's who I found.

I could write a novel on what I discovered in my heart about how God feels about my having sex before marriage. But to make it as simple as possible, I'll say this:

God cares more about your heart than He does your sex life.

Before you Super Christians jump down my throat, just hear me out. When I finally released the guilt and shame associated with my sexual past to God, I began to hear God clearly speak. He said to me, "You didn't have a choice then. You had no hope. No desires. No freedom. But you do now. You are free to choose, in all things. And know that nothing could ever separate you from my love. Nothing."

That blew my mind. I have a choice?! What?? I thought, aww snaps, I'm about to get DOWN at every chance! 

Here's where you get to really laugh: Before I started dating DeMico, I tried my hand at flirting with other guys. "If I'm free to have sex, then dammit, I'm gonna have sex!" is what I thought to myself. So I started chatting with this guy. He would want to talk about sex, he would compliment my body, and tell me all the things he'd want me to do with him. I was thinking, "Oh yeah, this is it!" Then he asked me one, simple question - "So, how do you like your sex?" And I. Was. STUMPED. I realized I had no idea what I like. I had never had enjoyable, safe, free sex. So I had no idea what I wanted or who I was sexually. Plus, honestly, after years of Angry Jesus screaming at me that I should feel guilt and shame for even thinking about sex, I just couldn't go through with it.

This led me back to God. I remember praying and thinking, "So you're saying I am free to choose, right?" God smiled at me. I knew it, I could feel Her smiling down to me as She said, "Yes." 

I knew then, in my heart, that I was going to wait. Not because of some pseudo-religious bullshit. I was over that. I was going to wait until I felt safe, certain, and loved. 

The first time DeMico and I kissed, I felt my heart slam, shake, and roar. I knew he was special. I knew something was different about him. I felt protected. My soul reached for his soul. All in one single kiss. But even then, I knew I still needed to wait. I still needed healing. I still needed to know myself. And you want to know what's beautiful? DeMico looked me right in my eyes after that kiss and said, "You're worth the wait."

So we've chosen to wait. Not because "God wants us to." Nah -

I think God wants me to have great sex, the way that sex is supposed to be. 

I choose to wait because I want to heal. I choose to wait because I want to be free from the sexual trauma of my past. I choose to wait because I want there to be absolutely no guilt and no shame when DeMico and I become one for the first time.

Choosing to wait has equated to absolute freedom for me. 

But again, sex is about choice. You do know that you have one, right? And remember - "Nothing can separate you from His love." So make your choice, follow your conviction, and honor what is true. 

Stay tuned for Part Two, my friends ♥

For those who want to go deeper into the conversation about sex and Christianity, I must share this podcast with you. It has made more sense to me than anything I've ever read or heard about sex in the Christian community. Please listen, examine yourself, and be open to your own convictions.
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