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.

Relationships or lack there of: It is you, not me.

Relationships or lack there of: It is you, not me.

It is you, not me. I thought I was the reason why things were not working out with the guys I was trying to pursue. After awhile I would get to a place where I recognized it was not, but the continuous heartache did/does not change.

I still hold myself accountable to some degree. I do hold on hoping for something and I realized this is mostly not my fault. 

There was a guy I met at a wedding and as much as I was attracted to him I was interested in where he was going. Not to figure out if I would be able to be on that journey with him but learn from him as some part of me was questioning myself. As much as I pitched being a friend he was not having it. To me he is a creative which pulled me in. Fast forward (this did not last long) he said, “it is not like the feeling is not mutual. I recently got out of a relationship and you do not deserve to be the butt of someone’s baggage, you deserve more” I may have sent one more text to him after that and that was it. Mind you this was a year ago. 

Have you ever met someone you immediately decide to admire from afar? That was him.

Moving on to now I did not realize how much that message would help me. I kept trying to figure out why it seems like I keep stretching myself and getting left in the dust as I mentioned. I know, I KNOW I have something to offer. It was not about me holding on, it was about being dragged along with false hope. I could not step outside and see the situations for what they were. My point is if we can be adults and be honest then I have no issue turning the other way. 

Recently aka yesterday another guy I was talking to mentioned he is getting involved with someone, and I was thankful he decided to basically say “hey I am going this way.” Great!

At this point, I have sent a few messages to the past trying to get over pain that was still there. One of those conversations went better than I could have imagined but I was not surprised. This person and I were always able to stop whatever we were doing and have a conversation. Whenever I wanted to have a conversation it was when and where? Not that things stop for me all the time and I do not like lingering on issues and being ignored. However, I know everyone does not operate the same. 

That night I was writing in my journal debating whether to ignore the call when I saw his name. Just sending the message and being done would not have been enough for me and I know that deep down. He knew that deep down. I NEED ANSWERS lol. More than ever I recognize how important it is to lean into pain and not ignore it. None of that “I could care less, onto the next one” type of talk because that’s not me. In my opinion I need to give myself time to heal. 

Last week I started walking down that path and coming face to face with anything I need to deal with. It is not like I do not engage in healing and I recognize I always need to dig deeper. 

Everyday and always I need not forget that I am magic *hair flip

Know that you are a QUEEN and nothing else.

Does your effort match your dreams?

Does your effort match your dreams?

Does your effort match your dreams? Take a moment to sit with this question…

I was asked this question over the weekend, more like yesterday. The reality is that my effort does not currently match my dreams. I do not want to say I am comfortable because I have not been out of graduate school for a year yet.
I may have spoke about this in my first post, but majority of my life I have been in survival mode. I am not saying this is an excuse I am saying I now have the time to figure out who I am. Over the past couple years I have engaged in a lot of self-reflection stemming from my experiences growing up and how I show up in the world. The difference now is that I am looking at things that I have always loved to do and researching how I can make those things a reality for myself. 

Totally related and or unrelated depending on your perspective but I was in RESPOND Mental health training last week and a couple people came up to me inquiring about the same thing. They both asked if I had a counseling background. One of them was a counselor and mentioned (in so many words) that I have this way about me that says “counselor.”

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a counselor. Throughout the majority of my undergrad I was planning to get my masters in counseling and go from there. I have heard similar comments before so I at least know it was sincere. I no longer have plans to be a counselor and I asked myself, “does skill=purpose?” 

Naturally we have some skill, something we are good at that we can develop, and in other areas we need to work twice as hard to develop a skill. I am assuming Steph Curry had some game when he started ballin’ and then continued to develop that. He or someone else recognized his abilities and chose to beleive in him and he chose to beleive in himself. Thus, did he see that skill as his purpose? I guess I should ask if he sees basketball as his purpose in the first place. Likewise, I have a skill and or skills that a say “counselor” and I do not necessarily know if that is my purpose.

Back to my point about survival mode. I have been in survival mode majority of my life which did not allow me the opportunity to sit with myself, be with myself, and figure out what I would like to do with my life. Yes I had a goal and I had a passion for where I am at right now and something else is trying to send a message. 

I hope to use the next few months to dig deep and listen to what I am trying to tell myself. Listen to yourself and ask if your dreams match your effort. Don’t have “champagne dreams with beer effort.” 

More importantly do not let your need to stay afloat prevent you from getting to know who you are.