Me too.

I want to preface this by saying that some of the content within this post may be triggering.

If at any point during this post you are not able to read more or you can resonate in some way with what I am saying, I am here for you. Last week, I was in Green Dot training, which was lovely because I got to get away from the office and wear whatever I wanted. Yay! for sweats and hoodies. Anywho, I decided to participate in order to become more knowledgeable about Green Dot and power-based personal violence and Green Dot focuses on dating/domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault.

Last week, the facilitators had us share why we were there and in what ways we were connected to the work they are doing. More importantly, how were we connected to the work that we wanted to do and are doing. We remained anonymous through this activity and at different points throughout the training the facilitators read what people wrote out loud. I sat there thinking, “will they read what I wrote? I hope they do not read what I wrote, I hope they do read what I wrote.” I had a mix of thoughts as I was juggling a past situation(s) in my head. When I think about one particular situation it feels as if it was yesterday, but more time has passed than I would like to admit without me truly talking about it and other situations along the same lines.

Was I sexually assaulted? I did not like what was happening, but I was not able to bring myself to say no and I did not say yes either. “It was not the worst situation I have heard of so does that really count?” I am battling with being in this gray area and that is the very reason why I sit here in front of this computer screen telling you today. One too many people have been affected by a harmful choice that was made. Maybe as you are reading, what you wanted to keep locked away is now at the forefront of your mind. Maybe you were in an uncomfortable situation that is within the gray area that you brush any thoughts and emotions around it aside like I have. Whatever the situation I am here to tell you, I believe you. I am here to tell you that I see you and support you. I am also here to tell you there are resources. 1-800-799-7233 (National Domestic Violence Hotline), 1-800-656-4673 (National Sexual Assault Hotline), 1-800-273-8255 (Suicide Hotline).

“Why am I here? because I am still here.”

That is the first part of what I wrote down on a green piece of paper that day for the activity.

They Never Asked

Dear [Insert Name Here],
They took a part of you they did not ask for
Who did they think they were?
No, was foreign to them and if you did not have the ability to say no your body language that said “I am uncomfortable” somehow told them yes
They took a part of you they did not ask for but you are not broken
Your body is nothing less than a temple no matter how much they tried to strip you of your armor
It is not your fault
I repeat
IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT
They took a part of you they did not ask for and it may feel lonely but you are not alone
They took a part of me and I never gave them permission
Did you know you could feel lifeless while being alive?
Did you know you could scream without being heard?
I became an object
Fighting to erase their images it is a connection I could not wash off
As I write this tears start to fall and I stare blankly
A feeling all too familiar, emptiness
They took a part of me they did not ask for but I am still here
They took a part of me they did not ask for and I have yet to face what happened because… well because it is easier to keep walking around putting tape over the missing pieces
They took a part of me they did not ask for and they will never know what it is like to live with this internal battle

They took a part of me they did not ask for

       and

I know

that I am

worthy of

                                                love.

Just Go: A quick “guide” on dating yourself

I enjoy being alone. I enjoy having my own space and the ability to be messy, sometimes. I sleep diagonally on my queen sized bed, fit for a queen, and switch from one pillow to the other at night. I am thinking I need to update to Rihanna status and get a California King bed, in due time. I enjoy the freedom that comes from being alone. I do know that I probably spend an unhealthy amount of time inside. Likewise, I am not sure how much is too much. I like wasting away my days on my couch watching movies and tv shows. By waste I mean with cleaning, showering, eating, using the bathroom, reading, laundry, writing, etc somewhere between being on the couch all day and sleeping. Being alone I am not void of my thoughts. Now, let me repeat, being alone I am not void of my thoughts. I allow myself time to process because I do not always get the time to do so during busy days.

I date myself too.

Right now you may be thinking, “she’s miserable” because I am now at the point of dating myself. I should probably tell you that I buy myself flowers too! Yes, I do think you should learn to be alone, be okay with hanging out with yourself, and be okay with taking yourself out on dates. If you are curious I do not go on dates with men. I do not go on dates with men because I currently have not had the opportunity. I am not lonely by any means but that does not mean that I do not feel lonely at times. Sure, I would love to have someone to talk to besides myself and have someone to share a meal with, but who doesn’t? if you are out there slide in my inbox, what is your secret? Slide in my inbox if you think I am cute too *wink *wink

Rihanna Wink

So where has this gotten me…

I am sure of myself

I am more comfortable in the Kimberlee Ward that you see today. I know until I am no longer here physically and roaming in another realm that I will be discovering myself. I am more confident in being weird and will most likely agree now without getting offended when you point out the obvious.

If my friend doesn’t follow through on that movie I invited them to, their loss!

My friend can miss out on the fun but I do not have to. Your friend can miss out on the fun but you do not have to. If someone sees me sitting alone in the theater, who cares? I am there to have a good time and enjoy doing something I love. I am not worried about what someone assumes about me because I am alone. This same concept applies when eating out too.

Tuning in

I am more aware of when I am not doing okay and can admit it. Remember the processing I was telling you about? well, I have recognized more times in this past year when I needed to let my pride go than ever before. Pride is a killer so let that Sh*t go! You will be better for it, I promise and I do not promise a lot. It is challenging to admit when you are wrong or when you could have done better. Being able to call that out allows you to grow. I am more physically, mentally, and emotionally aware of when I am not doing well too.

Prep for the future

One thing that is important to me and my relationships is that they are interdependent. When I have a partner I want to have the ability to be myself and be “us.” I want to have my own things and then have what we share. I do not want to be attached in a way that can be detrimental to the relationship. I know I have the tendency to get attached in that way and the onus is not solely on me as the issue of attachment in my case is relative. I like and love hard. A good friend of mine, Bria, said it perfectly, she said: “what I notice about you is that you go 0-100 for someone.” I do just that so maybe it was not necessarily an attachment but lack of appreciation for my efforts and thus I look at myself saying, “what did I do wrong.” Really it was a 90-10 relationship aka situationship that I should have gotten out before it started lol. However, my love language is quality time and I am also an introvert that could kick you out in a heartbeat, it’s complicated!

Go to that movie, go to that country, go to that restaurant, go and do whatever it is that you want to do and do it alone. I recognize this is easier said than done in some cases, but it provides a profound understanding and look into your life. If you want to be alone in your place for a couple more months before moving in with your partner to mentally prepare yourself then do so. My best friend said she would move in with me and the first thing I told her was that I was messy but really I do not know how to live with anyone right now. Me being quiet might be mistaken for having an attitude and I do not know if I am ready for that yet. Although, we are alike in that way so I do not think that would be a problem.

P.S. “guide” is in quotation marks in the title because there is no right way to begin being comfortable with being alone and comfortable with going out and doing things alone. I am talking about more than going to the grocery store and running errands.

That one friend who moved far away

Can we talk about how making friends as an adult is hard? Making friends as an adult-introvert seems to be harder, but hard is hard. I have moved full-time into the professional world and majority of my friends have as well if they were not there already. I chose to go to graduate school to stall a little bit. I was still a professional and it is different when you are a full-time graduate student.

Friends! how many of us have them?
Most of you like me may have had undergrad/grad school give you plenty of opportunities to make friends. Depending on what your profession is and the location you may have the opportunity there as well. Unfortunately, not everyone has that luxury. On top of making friends, you have to deal with everything that goes into “transitioning” into your new position, home, and community. This transition looks different for everyone and after a few conversations, I recognize there are also similarities especially being a young black woman in the middle of nowhere.

Check on your friend who moved states
Instead of making a comment about how your friend should come back ask how they are doing. Now I know that a move is challenging for both parties in the relationship and the one who moved is experiencing challenges you may not know about or understand. I am particularly talking about those who moved and have no familiar faces (friends, family, romantic partner) around them and or many people around who look like them. I was always okay with moving until now. I did not know how much I needed a familiar face to be around, but they no longer live “down the street.”

Lonely, I’m so lonely, I have nobody to call my own **Akon Voice
Am I dating myself a bit with that one? If so you might want to re-read the Whodini lyrics, but you can slide because that was before my time.

The whole process gets lonely. You start to wish for that ride or die friend that would go and do anything with you or the friend who had no issue with you just pulling up to their house. Now I know we are all getting older and your friend may be in a place where they feel lonely and need that. I also know we are all busy yada yada blah blah blah. I and others need to stop using it as an excuse to not be good friends because the world is getting uglier and I have no shame in admitting I need my friends.

I have a friend here who I go and talk with frequently while at work but we have not put in the effort to hang out outside of work and one of my closest friends is married with 3 kids, my other close friend is a guy and you know how that can be. Because of what they have going on I cannot just say, “Hey you want to go to KC today?” or “you want to come over and watch a movie?” Transitioning into the professional world especially doing so in a new state is lonely. I am an introvert who is starting to get cabin fever in a small town with not much to do. If you know me you know how much I enjoy being by myself.

How is your love life?
My best friend asked me how my love life was going recently and the conversation went something like this…

BF: How is your love life?

Me: **Searching for my love life. lol it’s non-existent. Like literally. I know I say that sometimes and I flirt with ppl here and there but there truly is nobodyyyyy

searching

BF: Are you still on tinder lol

Me: I have it on my phone but I don’t go into it. I have soul swipe as well. I do not like going into tinder because it’s just a bunch of white guys.

BF: Lmao!!! that’s why I delete it!

Me: My hope is that when I move there will be more than just white guys. Most of them look like they are in the KKK. NOT TODAY SATAN. Soul Swipe is for the chocolate lol but there is a decent one here and there. I hate the fake flexing pics and just swipe to the left.

BF: What’s a fake flexing pic?!

Moral of the story is that there is no potential in sight or around me. Not having that I decided to take more time to reflect, heal, and appreciate my growth and I am still doing those things. I know that I have wanted to date and I truly feel like I am ready for the first time in my life. One year in the middle of nowhere can have some benefits.

“I got new rules, I count em” Dua Lipa

The one friend around the corner
Do not forget your friend who is not that far away because they need a friend too. I try to check on my friend Brenna, but I do not do so as often as I could. I am using Brenna as an example because she knows what I am talking about. We have had conversations around the challenge of making adult friends and being strong women who have pushed ourselves to be where we are now. She is in a profession where the only (well not only but mainly) thing in sight is a white man and I am in an office where I am the only young professional.

Check on your people. I know I could do a better job of this. If they moved away, appreciate their determination to experience something new. Aside from my close friends and a few family members I had no attachment to Colorado, no home. I lived in Colorado most of my life and at times I want to go back but every time something says “no, not right now” and maybe that “not now” means never. Moving has been lonely and particularly challenging when you put in more effort to see people than they do to see you. I still appreciate yall when you do check up on me, but lets be real you know what my place looks like because of snapchat. Before you go getting mad now that I have called you out, I know.

Go ahead and send that, “how you doing text?” and for some who may be thinking to send that, “hey big head” text, do not because us women do not have time for your games. #NEXT

Health Care or Lack Thereof: Listening to your body

Health Care or Lack Thereof: Listening to your body

Do you ever think about the worst case scenario? I think of it more often than I should. If it does not end up being the worst case scenario that does provide some relief. It is the worrier inside of me, which is not necessarily a good thing. For a period of time, I did not have health insurance. I would tell you a secret, but I do not want it to come back and haunt me. Having no insurance means I have formed a bad habit and that is not listening to my body when it is trying to tell me what’s up.

I just came from the dentist and I finally explained everything that I was worried about instead of going for my routine cleaning and bouncing. I let them know I have been dealing with some pain in my jaw for awhile. When it first manifested the pain was so excruciating that I couldn’t do anything let alone want to and would lay there with a heating pad against my neck. Because I felt the pain so intensely in my neck I assumed it was just my neck and started going to physical therapy. By this time I was on Medicaid because I would not even think about going to physical therapy having no insurance. I wouldn’t have been at the doctor’s office, to be frank.

Moving along two bottles of muscle relaxers later and a tube of something I cannot remember or pronounce I am sure and I am here. The pain subsided and it still shows up every day, but not as intense. Eventually, the pain came back full force shortly after I moved to Maryville. I decided to go to the doctors and made sure to think about everything I was going to say and not leave until I got an answer that made sense.

Rewind, before I decided to drop in and go I asked around first. I am in a small town, majority white people, and doctors are known for not treating their underrepresented patients fairly (some I should say). I ended up getting an answer that made more sense than what the previous doctor had told me and now I needed to find a dentist. Afraid to be treated unfairly I prolonged getting treatment (serious problem). Fast forward to today I went and got my answers.

Long story short its stress. It made sense considering when it first manifested I was depressed and trying to crawl towards the Miami University in Oxford, Ohio SAHE finish line. At one point getting out of bed was an accomplishment for me.

The lesson is to listen to your body when you can. The problem is that too many of us are not able to afford the proper health care when stress manifests itself in our bodies so intensely. On top of the money, I have to spend because I am grinding/clenching my teeth way too much I am also seeing a therapist/acupuncturist. Now I know that someone does not have to see an acupuncturist, but I am thankful I am getting sort of a 2 for 1 deal.

Another issue is that the medical industry needs to pay more attention to who they hire as nurses, doctors, etcetera and talk about how they can be more inclusive. I will add that we need to advocate for more underrepresented students that want to go into this field instead of bringing them down. It is not easy and we can do better at providing resources and supporting them. I know the conversation is happening somewhere, but more conversations and action need to take place. We have to pay the most for healthcare in the United States yet we have the shitiest healthcare (excuse my language).

In all of this just listen to your body when it is talking to you. Take the day off if you are able, go to bed earlier, workout, read, write, take yourself out (I do this all the time #IDATEMYSELF).

Love your body and be kind to it too.

P.S. my worst case scenario was that I would have to get braces as an adult and braces are expensive or that they were going to have to do something crazy to my jaw. Nope, just stress and a much less expensive but still expensive dentist bill.

**I do not have any rights to the picture used for this post.

Say Yes: Tinder and Fetishization

Say Yes: Tinder and Fetishization

I decided 2K17 is my “year of yes.”

Recently, I re-downloaded tinder (my swipe left game is strong on this app) and re-downloaded Soul Swipe as well. I downloaded these apps with zero intentions to date. I am in a process of healing and trying to do more for myself.

I am chillin’ in a “if it happens it happens” state.

I was super liked on tinder and decided to find out who it was. It happened to be a white male, which rendered zero surprise because that app is full of white males out here in rural Amerikkka. I was planning to swipe left again until I noticed something.

He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. a traditionally Black fraternity. I found this interesting because the last couple of people I tried to pursue were Alphas **laughing on the inside. I also have friends who are Alphas and I find them to be respectable men. I decided to like him because the curious part of me had questions.

Not necessarily because he is a white male in a traditionally Black fraternity because he is definitely not the first…

Before I continue I do not date white men. If you have read the article by Tanzila Ahmed, “Why I Don’t Date White Men” she states, “it’s like being with the colonizer. or an oppressor. I can’t do that.” Putting the political part of this conversation aside hanging out with someone I just met through a dating app is unheard of for me. Yall have watched catfish right? lol I am not going to be the one. More importantly, as a womxn it is a safety thing for me too. Unfortunate to mention and that is the reality.

Later in the night I told him I was not going to come and thought about my pledge to say “yes to more things. Just trying to live a little more that’s all. I extensively looked this guy up on the internet. When I looked up his job the location came up as St. Louis and I was like wait, he is in KC so how is his job 4 hours away. MY HEART DROPPED
the worst possible situations were running through my head.

blog gif

Fast forward I found him on linkedin *handclap, facebook  *handclap, school he graduated from *handclap, and his bio on his employers website *handclap!!

I DO NOT PLAY THESE GAMES.

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When I was confident enough that the person on the other side of the phone was who he said he was I decided to go, and as soon as I got there I sent a text message to my best friend Fanny that stated “If you do not hear from me I am here *inserts location” she responded and said, “WHY ARE YOU BEING SKETCHY!”

Rewind, I entertained the idea after this conversation

Him: Bruh I’m new to town and I need new people to kick it with. We share political preoccupations so that’s a good start.

**I started laughing because he called me “bruh” and I am thinking, “here we freaking go…”

Why do white people feel the need to address Black people using vernacular specific to Black people. I mean in an in-group type of way…

Me: … What political preoccupations do we share?

Him: Fighting for equality and celebrating the natural beauty of all women. Not beauty in the “appealing to the male gaze” sense of the word-real beauty. The beauty of humanity that should be recognized regardless of provincial standards of what it means to be attractive.

**Some context: My profile said “Feminist AF and Black women are magic”

Moving along, when I got there he explained a Facebook conversation he was having with someone about feminism and mental illness. I enjoy intellectual conversations but the “I am really here right now when I could be in bed sleep” kept replaying in my head but I listened. I stayed for a bit and bounced.

The next day Fanny asked me what I was doing, I told her, and this was her response

Fanny: My mouth is open that you went out with a white guy lol

Here is the thing. I am trying to have more of an open mind. I told him I would not have liked him on Tinder if he was not an Alpha and I let him know that I do not interact with white men what so ever. Let’s not bring my white friends into this.

The last time I hung out with white men I was degraded and made to feel like a piece of meat. I was soooooo uncomfortable and never talk about that experience.

My relationships are more than just a preference. Politics come into play as well as my ability to be able to talk about my experiences without having to teach and explain that they are valid.

Someone once said to me, “I do not date white men because they will always find some way to call you nigger.” #Deep

I cannot remember for the life of me who mentioned that. My intention with this new relationship is to share knowledge. If he is interested in Black womxn it is important that he hears my voice. No I do not have the responsibility to teach nor do I speak for all Black womxn.

At the same time I often see the fetishization and oversexualization of Black womxn, latinx womxn, and Black men. I will also add the fetishization of bi-racial children based on physical features without thinking of the responsibilities and weight that holds.

I do not speak for all of these people and reflect on the multiple factors people of color (POC), Queer people of color (QPOC), non-binary, trans*, trans* people of color, etcetera need to consider when deciding to pursue a relationship. No they are not entitled to you or your “exotic” trophy.