Men + Myself + God

Tag: bravery

Me, You, Everyone and No One: Thoughts On Wanderlust and Loneliness

by P. Braithwaite

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On the plane back to ‘The States’ from Brazil, I pressed my nose against the window and watched America become a diorama of herself. That’s my favorite part of airplane travel. Streets too wide to cross are the width of a finger tip. A city that swallows horizons fits on a ping-pong table. And so, fueled by months away, fatigue, and this perspective, I cried for the entire 30 minutes of initial descent. I’m still not sure why (this song helped), but I sobbed quietly in my seat while my Brazilian neighbor pretended not to notice. There was sadness. And there was relief. There was excitement. And there was confusion. The feelings dissolved into each other like cotton candy hit by water.

I’m left with a sweetness that turns bitter in my mouth.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Two Things Can Be True (at the same time)

by P. Braithwaite

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When I decided to come to Brazil, I wanted to fall in love at least six times. Looking back, that was a stupid f*cking idea: falling in and out of love is exhausting. I think maybe it’s been so long, I’d forgotten how annoying love is. Luckily for me, it didn’t happen the way I’d hoped. Instead, I went on lots of dates, and spent time with different guys – all of them wonderful in their own way. Seriously. They were all wonderful. I’ve never met so many perfectly great guys in my entire life. As a result of my good dating streak, I realized something profound: men aren’t inherently terrible people.

I don’t know if it’s the grey hair sprouting enthusiastically from my head, or a general weariness of being bitter, but I’m mellowing out on my judgement of men. Men who can’t give you what you want aren’t assholes. Men who don’t take initiative aren’t weak. Men who can’t handle your <insert amazing noun here> aren’t stupid. Men who aren’t well-endowed aren’t pointless…

They’re just men, and, based on what you want, they maybe aren’t for you.

Of all the men I dated in Brazil, there is one who got under my skin. We had an incredible connection. On our first date we spent hours talking about everything under the sun. He was sarcastic — something hard to pull off in any language. That said he’s uhh…a…stereotypical Brazilian man: he breaks dates, doesn’t say no (when he knows he should just be honest), and he’s prone to get swept up in the moment without any plan of follow-through. One minute he sees our future, but, in the next minute, he can’t manage to see my text messages. (And…there’s a strong chance he might be married…I should probably mention that as well.)

This is a man I could love, I thought, but this is also a man I would kill.

And in that sentence, in that one phrase, is the nugget: two things can be true at the same time. A guy can be wonderful, but erode your self-esteem. A man can be a spiritual soul mate, but a logistical nightmare. A guy can have undeniable chemistry with you, but have a binding legal commitment to a wife and children (yikes). He can have everything you want on your extensive list, but trigger you in ways that would be damaging to your psyche.

Two things can be true at the same time. The bad doesn’t necessarily cancel out the good.

We (or just I) have a tendency to turn our lovers into villains when our needs aren’t met. The guy we thought was sooo dreamy becomes an asshole, and the person we fantasized about marrying is suddenly an undesirable monster. The truth is far more simple, but harder to make peace with: this wonderful person is amazing for someone, but that someone probably isn’t you.

This is the lesson I’m learning today, as I lick my wounds, pack my bags, and swim in foreign seas. I’m trying to remember: there are always always always other fish.

And so it is (at least for now).

(photo cred: Ryan Mcguire)

Bravery, Life, and Another Effing New Year

by P. Braithwaite

My mother always tells me I’m brave. Now, I don’t take this very seriously, she also says I’m careless, impatient, and prone to bad moods (hi mom). But, with regard to bravery, she has remarked that I’m unafraid to try new things, go new places, and take risks. I’ve never really committed to this idea that she has about me — this vision of an explorer in a strange world, unafraid of the challenges that lie ahead.

So many things scare the f*ck out of me. There are so many places I’m afraid to go.

An old boyfriend used to wrestle with me — like full out WWF-style sparring. We’d attack each other when the other least expected it. While one of us was napping, or watching TV, we’d take the opportunity to strike.

“You fight like you can’t be punched in the face.” he once remarked.

He was right.

At the time, he meant it as a criticism. He was trying to warn me to raise my fists, to block more diligently, to expect to be hurt by my opponent. I did not heed his warnings. I threw my entire body into harms way. I tried to scratch, bite, and maim with no finesse or skill. More often than not, this did not work in my favor. I’d end up twisted in some sort of pretzel, being coaxed into saying ‘uncle’ or ‘you win.’ But in those moments, when my neck was being crushed between a forearm, or my head found its way underneath a chiseled thigh, I’d remember: kamikaze-style bravery can end up horribly horribly wrong…

…But that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it.

In the upcoming year, I wish you bravery. I wish you blind, obnoxious bravery that, at first glance, appears foolish. I wish you the ambition to make mistakes and the generosity to forgive yourself. I pray that you fight in this life like you can’t be punched in the face.

Bruises heal.
Time mitigates pain.
We’ll all be fine in the end.

I hope you let go of things that haunt you, as you begin to see yourself. I hope you express yourself loudly as if no one in the room will judge you. I hope carve out the space to heal — even if healing disrupts the status quo. You deserve the right to heal wholly and completely. I wish you the bravery to scream, and courage to be quiet — alone — and selfish.

…I wish you bravery to love yourself.

I hope you have the courage to be still and rely on people who love you the most.

I wish you the bravery required to let other people in.

I pray you have the bravery to own, nourish, and be yourself. But most of all, I wish you the foolish childlike magic — reckless, doe-eyed ambition — to believe in the wildest dreams you have about yourself.

Those dreams are leading you to greatness.

Happy New Year, Friends.