Men + Myself + God

Tag: transformation


by P. Braithwaite




Is it just me, or does the world feel like a pressure cooker? Maybe it always has. Or maybe I’m old enough to feel tension crush my bones. We talk privilege and injustice. We trade binaries — sharp lines. We argue, repost, unfollow and overshare. We intellectualize heartache and scream across our newsfeeds. We love…we grieve…we yell at one another.

And I, disoriented, don’t know where to put my voice.

I still don’t know how to use my voice.

I’m still the 7 year old girl who reads in trees (though she might fall). I’m still so shy I want to hide when I enter rooms alone. I still cry when I think I’ve made a bad impression. I’m still the girl who wants a love so deep she’d suffocate to find it. I haven’t yet escaped my own self-loathing.

No one taught me I’m entitled to love the sound of my own voice…


image credit: Bells Design

The Secret to Change (#31writenow, #nablopomo)

by P. Braithwaite

When I was 15, enamored with the sound of my mediocre poetry, I spent hours concocting my ideal creative life.

“…and when I’m like 50, I’ll become a grey haired professor with like dreads or something. And I’ll teach college kids, cause little kids freak me out. And I’ll basically write poetry all day.”

At 26 I entered an MFA program in creative writing where, you guessed it, I got to write poems all day (though, admittedly, I spent most of my time writing fiction). At 27, I was teaching undergraduates the joys and wonders of composition. On my 28th birthday, a few months after I’d cut off my hair and started rocking my fro, I realized I had literally become the woman of my 15 year old dreams.

That was a good moment.

As soon as that moment wore off, however, I had to deal with the reality that I hated teaching. I loved students, but week after week I sat with my beloved therapist trying to figure out why I hated teaching.

“This was my dream when I was 15,” I cried (literally cried). “I don’t understand.”

“Maybe it’s time for a new dream?”

“That makes me sad,” I said between sobs.

“Part of what we can do here is mourn that 15 year old girl.”

I think my response was more tears.

I’m learning, more and more, in ordered to change we have to die.

Not literally die.
I’m not advocating that.
Chill out.

What I mean is we have to “kill” the person we were in ordered to grow into the person we’re meant to become.

New-age folks talk a lot about “letting go of what doesn’t serve you” and “embracing your highest self.” But lemme be clear because I don’t think ya’ll hear me: You need to “die”…to be reborn. And that shit isn’t all roses and fairy dust.

See, transformation is not a gentle letting go where you blow kisses and walk down the aisle toward your ideal self. Change is a slow uncomfortable death (and simultaneous birth). It is the process of dying during labor. It is a scary and uncomfortable process and, while the payoff can be huge, the anguish can be great. We lose ourselves to find ourselves, and it sucks.

It’s okay to say it hurts when it does.

Even more, it is okay to grieve the loss of your old self. In fact, we must mourn that person because that person was fucking awesome. We must take a moment and pay homage to that person. And we must be gentle with ourselves as we “die” and the new person reveals herself. To change is to lose a loved one (but, remember, she was ailing and she’s in a better place).

This is happening to me. Again.

I keep changing. I keep giving birth and dying. Roles that fit a few months ago feel restricting now. The term, life coach, for instance, kinda makes me cringe. I suspect there’s a different term for the work I’m meant to do.

I’m not quite sure who I am becoming.
But every day I become more and more myself.

So, if you’re like me, a bit unsure of where you’re growing, here’s what I know: we must trust ourselves enough to die a little bit each day, and brave enough to be reborn with every moment — because even though its scary and even though it sucks, the newest version of ourselves has always been a little closer to the truth, and where there is truth…there’s more freedom.

Don’t worry. You can do it (and you’ve done it before). I believe in you.

And so it is.

Which version of you has to “die” so you can become yourself?


Jesus = Homeboy: Surrender, Transformation, and Other Sh*t like that…

by P. Braithwaite

[Happy Easter, ya’ll. Although I don’t identify as Christian anymore, I’m committed to taking my spiritual lessons where I find them. I have lots of reverence for Jesus and the spiritual lessons he imparts.]

So, I’ve REALLY been struggling with the concept of surrender. I know the dictionary definition (verb. yield – give in – submit – give up), but I’m not sure what surrender is supposed to look like.  The whole idea seems opposite of how I like to live (by controlling, managing, spinning, and intellectualizing).

When I imagine surrender, I think of someone just standing there: full of inner-peace, trusting in the universe. I see a naked superhuman hippie playing her guitar in the middle of a war. I think of ignorance and a lack of productivity. I know it’s wrong, but surrender seems like laziness, weakness and an acceptance of failure.That’s just not my style.

(I’m from NY…we like to think we get things done).

Anyway, I’d been struggling with this for weeks when, during Mastin Kipp’s Love Uni-versity seminar (which is awesome, FYI) he said, “No one surrenders completely. Even Jesus, on the cross, yelled out ‘why have you forsaken me.’”

With that tidbit in mind, suddenly surrender makes more sense. To surrender doesn’t require a superhuman sense of peace; it doesn’t mean that you are 150% A-OK w/ everything that’s happening; it doesn’t require a Zen mind, or a heart devoid of anger.  You can be pissed off; you can feel alone. You can be scared, insecure, and ambivalent in a moment of surrender. You can doubt your survival and you can even be angry at God, because surrender isn’t about being anything other than human. Surrender only requires that you admit: “I’m stuck. I have nowhere to go from here. I can’t get out of this on my own.”

Surrender is more about being honest than about “giving up.”

We (or at least I) resist surrendering because no one wants to be a sitting duck. This makes sense: sitting ducks get shot. The truth is, though, that life is one big firing squad. Whether we shake, move, or sit still… we’re all just “passing thru.” Each of us little duckies, one day, bites the dust. So if Easter can remind us of anything, it’s that nothing lasts forever; therefore, nothing can really hurt us in any lasting way. There’s nothing that we really have to “do.” Jesus was nailed to a cross and (according to my religion teachers), he rose again. Why would our path be any different? His story reminds us that pain, anguish, and isolation are passing illusions and transformation/resurrection/change is the only thing that is real. At the risk of repeating myself: Nothing hurts forever…

That much I know for sure.

So now I turn to you, my often-silent friends: What would you do differently if you knew you couldn’t be hurt? How would you surrender?  What is keeping you from transforming?

Happy Transformation Day, folks. (Save me a jelly bean or two.)