Men + Myself + God

Month: August, 2012

Silent Writers, Flower Bombs, and Awkward 1st Dates

by P. Braithwaite

Have you ever felt something so strongly – convinced of it with every ounce of your being – yet you were unable to adequately articulate your truth? I find myself in this predicament over and over again in my dating life. I constantly find myself standing in a truth that I don’t yet feel comfortable enough to convey.I should amend that, I find myself standing in a truth that I don’t feel confident enough to explore with men…

Let me be more specific…

I have this theory, right? I am writing a book around the theory that how men see God can give us insight into how men will react in their romantic relationships. I have pitched this theory to agents, I have discussed it with strangers, I have sat with interesting men I didn’t know in an effort to fully explore this thought.

It would seem that I stand firmly and authentically in this idea, but here’s the confession: I don’t ever really test this theory in my dating life.

Over dinners, during happy hour, or while cuddled in bed, I am unable to push myself to “go there” with men I’m interested in. I may ask my potential suitors how they feel about God, but it’s as if my brain cannot dissect the answers with the same skill that I use when interviewing for the book. I have a BA in print journalism and years of professional experience, but it’s as if the journalistic part of me shuts off when I’m talking about God with someone I want to be with.

Why? I suspect that the dreamer and the journalist cannot live at the same time. If a man I’m dating tells me he is very confused about his ideas around God, it becomes fairly obvious that the conclusions I draw might be detrimental to our budding relationship. How can I dream about this new man coming to Christmas dinner or backpacking with me across Europe when my journalistic side is wondering about the implications of his “God confusion?” One side of me has to shut the hell up, and most often the writer gets shut down.

And so, the truth is, I ignore the topic all together.  While nibbling on a breadstick or sipping a martini, I remark that I’m working on a book about men and God. I expound on the theory and almost always the man across the table from me his interested.  When he says, “You should interview me?” (and he almost always does) I smile and nod, but I never actually do.

There’s a song called “Lotus Flower Bomb,” and at the beginning the rapper Wale states, “I want to enjoy the luxury of not knowing each other for real…”

I want the same thing Wale wants, but somehow, wanting that seems counter-productive…


Money, Forgiveness & Other Things I Deserve

by P. Braithwaite

You may have heard this logic applied to money: if you lose money it will come back – though it may come from an unexpected source. Well, recently I found that the same is true with forgiveness. We all know I’m doing a 30 day prayer for my ex boyfriend – someone with whom I had an extremely difficult relationship. The results of the prayer marathon have been mixed – some days I feel extreme sadness, some days I am happy for the experience of knowing him. Either way, the results of my forgiveness prayers are hard to measure because I don’t speak to this man anymore, and (despite all of the forgiveness work) I probably never will again.

That said, I received a really random text from a guy I briefly dated after my breakup with my ex. One might call him Rebound, if one likes that type of language. In any case, it didn’t really end on the best terms, and I think I’ve been carrying some embarrassment and resentment around the whole ordeal.

Anyway, Rebound essentially took ownership over his bad behavior and texted the words, “you deserve an apology.” I’ll spare you all the details, but he was right – I did deserve one. Though I hadn’t  expected to ever receive one from him, his words were actually quite comforting. More than that, the phrasing — you deserve an apology — felt like he was speaking generally. I felt like he was speaking beyond his own behavior. I felt like he was giving me something that the universe wanted me to have.

Sometimes, we carry the burdens of others. People behave badly – treat us poorly – yet we suspect that we could’ve moved differently, loved harder, or been kinder. Sometimes we have to just accept that people can’t treat us any better than they have. Sometimes people don’t have the capacity to be anything other than who they are – they are battling their own demons, nursing their own scars, dealing with their own baggage.

I think part of my forgiveness prayer work with my ex must also include the knowledge that I couldn’t have done anything differently. Part of my letting go must revolve around knowing that I truly deserve an apology. Let me be clear, I don’t expect one, but I need to walk away with the knowing that I deserved one. I deserve a lot of things he wasn’t able to give me. And that’s okay. My favorite Oprah quote is that “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.”

I think it’s time to sit with the fact that, along with the sun, the moon and all the stars in the sky…I deserve an apology…which really means it’s time to free myself from the hope that I could’ve been anyone other than who I was. I am enough, and I deserve an apology.

Forgiveness Prayers are HARD

by P. Braithwaite

Those Oprah life classes make forgiveness seem easy. Sprinkle some quotes, cue Iyanla and PRESTO! Forgiveness for all…

For me, it sucks. Holding a grudge is like emotional hoarding, and this prayer challenge makes me feel like someone is asking me to throw out my 300 eye glass cases that I know I might actually need!

Yes. I’m hoarding anger and resentment. They box me in. They keep me secure. They’re probably suffocating me, but on most days I don’t notice. Either way, I’m trying to purge the anger — one day at a time.

Here are my reflections thus far:

1. I try to avoid forgiving: My original plan was to forgive every morning, in between meditating and reading. But almost every morning, I forget. Thus, my forgiveness prayers happen on the train. And it’s usually preceded by: shit! I have to f*cking pray. Hey, whatever works, right?

2. Fake it till you make it: I thought I’d utter my forgiveness prayer and angels would come thru my air vents, Jesus would weep, canaries would sing the Star-Spangled Banner, and I’d be healed.

Yeah, not so much.

Most days I’m not sure I’m REALLY forgiving, but I do it anyway. Trust me, when weeping Jesus shows up, you all will be the first to know.

3. Anger is bullshit: I used to think anger was awesome, but as I’ve been forgiving and forgiving and forgiving again, I realize I’m not angry — I’m really really sad. I’m starting to remember the good moments, and I get even more sad. I get these waves of sadness that just push my shoulders down and make me feel heavy. I feel so sorry for what was and what will never be. Anger was awesome because it was contained. Anger was awesome because it felt mobile. Anger was awesome because I felt badass, like having a weapon in my pocket. Sadness feels passive. It also feels expansive — like it can’t be contained. That makes sadness a bit scary. It’s not the most comfortable feeling, but I know (hope??) it’s part of letting go.

4. As long as I’m resentful, I’m connected: Emotions are like invisible strings that connect people. Just like love binds; anger keeps me connected. Thus, the only way to be free is to forgive. I’ve got to cut the chord. Let’s be clear, I didn’t come to this place on purpose. In a fit of forgiveness-frustration I thought: eff this, I should be praying for myself. Then I thought, no no…he needs my prayers. And then I realized, in a way I can’t fully articulate, that they’re one in the same: a prayer for him is a prayer for my highest good. This wasn’t a happy realization — I was actually a little disappointed. I was hoping for a way out. No one wants to identify with someone they’re mad at. Especially the person I’m mad at… (yeah, I’m judging. Sue me)

Anyway…those are the realizations thus far. I will keep fighting the prayer fight! In the meantime, if anyone is doing this with me (Hi Whit! Hi Sophie!), please share your thoughts!!