I No Longer Refer to Myself" as a Strong Black Woman

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The term "Strong Black Woman" is an affront to me, and I wish to never be called it again. I just finished a semester long research project on the topic "Liberality, Spirituality and Love: The Evolution, Fallacy and Redefinition of the Strong Black Woman". It's a fitting conclusion to my doctoral coursework on the "Psyche of the Soul".

This research topic has challenged me to no end. Throughout the course of this project, I realized how this term has been used to harm and challenge black women in ways that are unhealthy. We pass this idea down from generation to generation and raise the bar repeatedly without dealing with the root causes for the struggle that makes black women have to be so strong.

Generally speaking, the causes for the negative repercussions affiliated with the myth of the "Strong Black Woman" stem from: (1) the systematic patriarchal structure of organized religion (specifically Christianity and Islam), which informs the "virtue" or perceived value of black women, (2) a societal pressure to perform so that she (individually) and black women (collectively) transcend(s) the stigma of "weak" or "dependant", and (3) the failure of black men to both protect and provide for black women in a way that supports the patriarchal structure most of them subscribe to. Generally speaking, if black men were doing their jobs and supporting women in a way that speaks to the male-dominated patriarchal structure/belief system they benefit from, black women could focus their attention in other areas of personal growth and healing. She would not have to do her job and his. (There's a whole lot to say here. The research was shocking.)

The saddest part of my research suggested that black women are the number one perpetrators of the "Strong Black Woman" image as they unknowingly pass down this idea of strength. Generally speaking, many black women resist psychological help or spiritual retooling to help change her mind about what it means to be strong, and we hurt our daughters and communities as a result. We struggle as we lean to our own traditional/historical understanding of womanhood. Just because something has always been doesn't mean it should always be.

I have ended my research and have concluded that this image and stigma needs to end. It is literally killing us. If you want more details regarding how, just ask.


There's a Right and a Wrong Way to Love Somebody

I am not sure if I believe in relationships and love the way I used to. I have run into an assortment of characters in my life (mainly "good" church men), and frankly the conundrum of tomfoolery I have encountered has left me baffled. "Good" men are not supposed to be "shady", right? 

There are good men! Let me repeat... There are good men!

I am the daughter of a good man (who goes to church EVERY Sunday and leads in his church). Further,  I am raising my son to be a good man. I can't be the only one. It's just that there are some men who seem good who act as if they want something real when they are dating a woman, but they have ulterior motives. For them, love is a game and women are pawns. 

Why am I writing this?

I spoke to a group of younger women recently, and they seemed shocked to learn that "good" men had thrown me a few curve balls over the years. Perhaps they thought lovebombing was a new age dating issue. I am not sure, but I wanted to provide them with answers, so I did what I always do. I researched it so I could explain it. So here goes...

I started with an essay I wrote last year on "The Science of Love." After getting the psychological facts about "lovebombing" as a way to initiate interest and mystique in the initial stages of a relationship, I cross-referenced the same concept in my most current research in A Course in Miracles. In ACIM, the concept falls under the premise of a special relationship. The findings from my research offered the cause and cure for one of the ways love catches you off guard and then leaves you dazed and confused.

So exactly why are seemingly "good" men so shady?

The women I spoke to wanted answers to this question. They wanted to know when to remain in a relationship with a "good" person, or when to leave the relationship because the "good" person had major flaws. When I say major flaws, I mean issues that lead to heartache and not minor issues that cause irritation and result in headaches.

There is a difference. Perfectly good men have minor issues that simply get on your nerves. For instance, they may chew with their mouth open, slurp their drinks, or lick their fingers. These guys may be keepers, and you may need to get over your attachment to your pet peeves. That's another blog post for another day. I am not talking about those guys.

Instead, I would like to address a common relationship issue women (and men) face that result in relational confusion and heartache. I'm talking about what I like to call "The Love Bomb Disappearing Act".

The Love Bomb Disappearing Act.

This pattern is stems from narcissistic tendencies. It is the result of what A Course in Miracles calls a special relationship. In the special relationship, the ego is fed candy coated words meant to woo their love interest by making them feel special, or better than all other women. Consciously or unconsciously, the lovebomber wants this in return. Essentially, the lover and beloved are together because they make each other feel special. It sounds good, but it it isn't.

The lovebomber strokes his love interest's ego.

The lovebomber's candy coated words taste great because they address some sort of insecurity that she has either expressed to him or something he has discerned on his own. Once he knows enough information (that he usually gets by telling her she's beautiful over and over again), she opens her heart to him because he tells her what she wants to hear.

She becomes addicted to his compliments and attention, so she shares more. The more she shares, the more he becomes what she says she wants - either through what she says directly or what he can discern based upon his questions. Through this process, he convinces her that he is one of the good guys and that she can trust him. With the information she has shared, he paints himself as the perfect answer to her prayers and masquerades as the opposite of other men who have hurt her. He is consistent and persistent in maintaining this persona. His persistent consistency makes him more believable. Keep in mind, his words are mostly bait - even if the comments are true.

How do you know a lovebomber?

This type of guy is usually well respected, educated and he has a lot of experience with women when it comes to romance and lovemaking. According to him, his exes are deeply flawed, and he will compare you to them. Initially, you will always come out on top while he his attempting to woo you. However, after a while, the same thing he said he loved about you in the beginning, when he was comparing you to his exes, is the exact same thing he will use against you later. You will become just like his exes to him, and you may find yourself defending normal behavior in a relationship. 

He will reject ideas about the relationship that he initially suggested and strongly petitioned for, and then he will paint himself as a victim in the relationship if you remind him of it and expect him to follow through with what he said he wanted. All the while, he will still connect his life experiences to yours so that you think you are still connected, although he is slowly backing away from you. The further he backs away, the more perfect he will seem. This retreat triggers a chemical in the brain that is intoxicating. It's crazy, and this is the aspect of his psyche that is linked to narcissism. Its a game to him and if you are not careful, it will become a game of cat and mouse to you as well. You will find yourself competing with him and others for his love.

The lovebomber likes an emotional tug of war.

Initially, in relationships women tend to be cautious or closed off because they have experienced heartbreak. The lovebomber likes this type of woman because she is a challenge. The strategy is to get a woman caught in an emotional tug of war. He knows that over time, she will eventually let her guard down if he tells her she is beautiful, smart or special over and over again. His goal is to convince her that she is the most special woman in the world. Lovebombers will spend an enormous amount of time, money and energy investing in her if he really wants her. 

Most of the time, he is getting something in exchange for his investment.

It could be sex, money, her beauty, talent, status or even just her attention. For him, it is about owning her power. It is about boosting his ego. Although it seems like he is investing in her, he is really investing in himself. It is his own ego fulfillment. She's just a pawn.

Once the lovebomber woos her into thinking they are perfect for each other, he retreats and leaves her very confused.

She doesn't know what hit her. She's been on a high and now she's addicted. She doesn't know what she did to make him leave nor how to change their relationship back to the way it was. She didn't do anything. He just got bored and needed someone new to play with. The game is over, and his competitive itch has been scratched. He keeps her around for entertainment to fuel his ego until he finds the next person to enact the same pattern. Good guys do this all of the time. I am not judging them. I'm just saying...

In the end, the woman is left analyzing everything she did or said to figure out what happened. She tries to understand the lovebomber so that she can resolve the situation in her mind. Take comfort in knowing that you didn't do anything except open your heart to someone who wasn't interested in your heart. They were focused on fulfilling their ego driven narcissistic needs.

Don't get upset with the lovebomber or react. Simply remove yourself from his grip and return to a peaceful spiritual place by turning your attention inward. Focus on the loving relationships you have around you and engage in a meditation practice that takes you back to the center. If you have been involved with a lovebomber, you are likely off balance. Hold your head up. There's a cure.

The Cure

The cure is exchanging a special relationship for a holy relationship. In the special relationship, its easy to get love bombed because both parties are so into each other and both are feeding each other's egos. In the special relationship, God will only be a part of their individual spiritual lives, but usually not a part of their relationship beyond spiritual platitudes. (And no, praying over food does not constitute a holy relationship. Most of the time, people do this as a religious ritual, not as a real invocation to invite God into their dwelling place. Lol.)  

Avoiding special relationships and investing in a holy relationships, where both parties are involved with each other in an authentic way, helps the other person grow through good and bad moments in a constructive way. This is the way relationships are supposed to work. This is the only antidote to the special relationship issue. In other words, don't fall for the okie doke. Ok?

Have you had a lovebomber before? Let me hear from you.

Hugs and love,

After the Pain: The Truth About New Beginnings

It has been a while since I published anything on my blog. It's because I have been stifled.  I've been going through a divorce.

Let me say this from the beginning. I believe God called me from this marriage and set me on a different path. The first time I married in my early twenties, I knew deep down it was too soon for me to marry, yet I did it anyway. So when I married again in my thirties, it was different. I consulted God for years about it and even had "signs and wonders".  So I thought I was doing what God called me to do. So I felt as if I was following God, even though I had a few reservations. So yes, I believe God ordained the relationship, and yes, I know what the Bible says about divorce (Malachi 2:16).  I am also clear about the love God has for all of his children and how His thoughts and methods are above human comprehension (Isaiah 55:8). So God can do what He wants, when He wants, how He wants. I also understand what Jesus says about love (Mark 12:30-31). I believe that all things exist in love, and beyond love nothing exists. It is the only law that matters (Romans 13:8-10).  Everything else is based in fear.  So, I love my ex with the love of God and wish nothing but the best for him on his journey... I am now called to love him differently. (That goes for my first husband too). ;-)

With that said...

Going through a divorce is not easy. Over the past several months, I have learned that although our marriage is over, we are still in relationship.  We have a son together, which requires us to communicate. That's not easy.  

Like many people, we don't communicate well. When we first separated, I discovered that I had kept the same poor habits that I had developed in the marriage. I had a habit of communicating from my ego-driven hurt. My ego-driven pride told me that it was okay not to forgive my ex immediately when I felt offended.  It had also convinced me that I deserved to be talked to with a certain level of respect because I had earned it. This went on for a few months after our separation until I had enough of having my days consumed with words he said or I said - or with words that I wished I would have said after he said what he said... - Don't judge me :-)

My ego was leading the way in this area of my life as it had time and time again within our marriage. I couldn't see it at work as clearly when we were living together because I was focused on his "faults" and my "rightness", or my "faults" and his "rightness". What's the point of being "right" if there is no peace? By the same token, what's the point of humbling oneself to apologize for "faults" if true forgiveness is withheld due to pride?  

Both "rightness" (self-righteousness) and "pride" are defensive tactics used to destroy relationships. Through "rightness" and "pride" we believe we are protecting ourselves, but really we are killing the other person by denying them love. These ego-driven twins drive wedges between relationships time and again, which cause fractures in marriages, partnerships, and parent-child relationships. Ego-driven actions open the door to sin because both parties miss the mark of love and slowly kill the purpose for their relationship.

There's hope.  God uses all relationships to teach us how to love more purely, regardless of the status of the relationship. Now I can see more clearly the purpose of our post-divorce relationship. It took a while. Now when I talk to my ex, I am more aware of what I am saying. Although I don't communicate with him perfectly all of the time, I try harder. I try think of him as innocent and blameless (you know, like the day we met).  After purifying my thoughts about him, I call, email, or text. I have found that if I don't go through this purification process first, I tend to make mistakes in my communication.  However, when I quiet my mind (and the ego within me that seeks to accuse him), I feel the warm glow of love well up inside of me, and I feel the calm serenity of peace. It is confirmation that I have chosen love over fear. I hope he feels it too.

After the pain, a truthful new beginning involves the authentic process of healing. To heal we have to rid ourselves of the ego-driven sin nature that so easily besets us. What keeps you from giving and receiving the love you want? For me, it was self-righteousness and pride. Healing is within your grasp.  Let go of what's keeping you from the love you want. It's time to shift.

Hugs and love,

- Candace

 

Career Fatigue?

What are you doing right now? When you close your eyes, do you see yourself happy and fulfilled - doing something other than what you are doing right now?  If so, grab a pen.  Let’s stop procrastinating and get to the bottom of what’s holding you back.

Try the following steps:

  1. Write a list of ideal jobs you would want to have before you retire.  Here's a hint... What would you do for free?
  2. Determine a common thread.  If the jobs on your list have commonalities, don't ignore the patterns.  If it does not reflect what you are currently doing in some capacity, it could be time for a career change. Here's a word to the wise... Don't try to make your current job fit in the pattern because you are afraid to switch career paths.
  3. Determine if you will need additional education.  Formal education is not always necessary to make a midlife shift.  Sometimes getting a mentor or coach can be equally as helpful as returning to school for college degree.
  4. Create an action plan.  Set a timeframe for action.  It will create anticipation and passion.  This will provide you with an emotional boost in other areas of your life as well because you will be one step closer to living on purpose.  Don't be surprised if your special someone wants to spend more time with you too.  There is something very attractive about a person who is happy and positive. Waking up to a job you love everyday will provide you with a glow that attracts other people.  Staying in a job you are no longer called to will result in depression or complacency which is not attractive. Setting in stone an action plan, may help you in more ways than one.
  5. Pray and meditate.  Focus on what you find within yourself as you seek spiritual direction regarding your career path. The spiritual disciplines of prayer and mediation reveal and seal the truth inside of you.  For instance, I meditate on Psalm 37:4-6 for support.  It helps me to remember that my life is not my own, and although I am responsible for the decisions I make, God will help me if I commit my plans to Him. This practice led me to the peace and purpose I have today.  I have created and executed the action plan He gave me for my life, and I am happier and more fulfilled than I have been in years. #truth

Success and love to each of you!  

-Candace

 

Living the Midlife

Your childhood is over, but your youth is still the primary subject of conversation when you think about the good old days.  Secretly, you long to be that child again who plays all day until the streetlight comes on - especially when a deadline at work is looming.

Many of us have chosen professions and careers based upon the circumstances of our youth and young adult years.  Some of us were forced into jobs we didn't want because it was the only thing we could do to "get our foot in the door". Maybe you married or had children young. Perhaps you landed a well paying job right out of high school instead of going to college as you'd dreamed.  You rented an apartment, bought a car, and invested in expensive clothes and jewelry so that you could look like you had "arrived".  Now you are in debt and stuck at a job that has a ceiling where only college degrees are welcomed.  What's more, you are worried you won't be able to go back to school because you can't afford it, and its been 20 years since you graduated from high school, so you are scared you won't remember anything.

Dear friends, you are not "stuck" in the life you have created for yourself and you are not alone. Going back to school and shifting from an established career to one that is more fulfilling is common to the human psyche at midlife. This is a natural progression of evolution in the human soul. Our humanness requires us to seek additional knowledge at midlife - whether its in a school or in a church.  Something within us desires more.  Stop beating yourself up and resisting the urge to transform your world. 

When you choose a career in your 20's, it is usually based upon circumstances, not based upon desire.  No one wants to start at the bottom.  It is highly likely we were playing out what our parents and society told us to do. Most of us did not have enough life experience to make a confident decision about our future. We just did what we saw our parents and community do or what they told us to do. When they commended us, it made us feel like adults.

The truth is that we needed to truly get to know ourselves first and do a full assessment of our gifts and talents. You can find your natural strengths by taking a strengths assessment. Knowing who you are and how you are wired will help you find a career path that is fulfilling to you.  Once you have discovered your strengths, I can offer you an analysis of your results to help you find career paths that may be fulfilling for you.

Finally, you only get one life.  Just because you did what you THOUGHT you should do as a young adult does not mean that you have to live the life you have created.  You can and should change it if you are not living on purpose. The fact that you no longer want to do your job because it is not fulfilling is a symptom of a greater internal conflict.  Don't ignore the signs because it can lead to a midlife crisis, depression, and strained relationships.

This, my friends is called midlife. Let’s navigate it together to discover your plan for success.

Success and love to each of you for the 2016 New Year!  

-Candace

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