I Let Life Get In The Way.

I let life get in the way.

It raced through and robbed me of my first love — writing. I wanted to speak my truth but self-doubt talked me out of it. I wanted to put pen to paper but fear of failure blocked me. I wanted to write, damn it.

A damaging assumption took root in my mind that made me believe every time I sat down to write, it needed to be some profound and earth-shattering prose that had to evoke some sort of emotion in every reader.

That shit is crippling. And nine times out of 10, it was the easiest way to turn me off from writing down even one word.

I can’t really pinpoint when or where it happened. Maybe it was the upset and excitement that comes from switching jobs. Or the overwhelming anxiety of moving across state lines and compromising my solitude in the process.

It also could’ve been the hopelessness and despair that resurfaces every time another person of color becomes a hashtag, or that it’s becoming increasingly apparent America is headed in reverse.

I can’t really pinpoint when or where it happened, but it siphoned out what remaining desire I had to create.

I sat on my words for months, sprinkling in half-hearted journal entries when the thoughts crowding my head space were too loud to carry.

But now I’m sick of giving the shitty shades of life so much power. The self-sabotage; the anxiety of not realizing my potential; the comparison to the next writer — which is always followed by a blow to my confidence.

I’m finding my way of wading through the mess and creating in spite of it.

We’re Angry; We’re Tired. We’re Also MAGIC

Another black man has been taken from us. Another victim of gun violence perpetrated by the very “public servants” who — we’ve been told countless times — are put in our communities to keep us safe.

But that’s where our optimism for and understanding of modern American society keeps failing us. Law enforcement officials and the departments they belong to aren’t in our communities to “protect and serve.” They’re placed there to maintain the strongholds of institutional prejudice and racism, to incite fear and to play God, picking us off one by one and not giving a damn who documents it because, their freedom won’t ever be compromised. All of this, while our freedom is confiscated everyday.

“Our mere existence in this country is grounds for our extinction.”

It’s infuriating that a white man can wave a loaded gun around, pointing it at authorities and whomever else he pleases and live to tell the story, while a little black boy can’t play with a toy gun — as little boys do — in a park without losing his future.

It’s maddening that a white man can murder a group of black parishioners in a house of worship that welcomed him with open arms and manage to see his day in court, but a black woman never made it home after attempting to exercise her rights during what should’ve been a routine traffic stop.

Our mere existence in this country is grounds for our extinction. Nothing we do seems to be enough to change that. I’m so tired of these bigots and bullies working overtime to belittle our worth and break our spirit.

I don’t have the answers for how to fix this. I don’t know if this is something that is solvable. But I do know although every ounce of praise and adoration we give ourselves is met with resentment and resistance, we must continue to celebrate and uplift each other through this dark present.

We are magic.

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Heal

You didn’t ask for it to end, but it’s over.

The plans, hopes, daydreams — the lifelines to them have all been cut. The anticipation of one day stepping together into greatness has been gutted. The safe bet, the sure thing you had with him is no more.

Sit in that reality for a while.

Allow the news to blind side you. Let yourself be combative and refuse to accept the loaded yet empty manner in which he chose to walk away. Permit the years of beautiful and bad memories to resurface from the vault.

Cry your eyes out. Drown your sorrows in whiskey and wine. But keep it together just enough to get through each workweek.

Write those petty and pain-filled journal entries when the anger is too much to contain. Recount how much you’ve invested — emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually — into this thing. Let it fuel you to later be extra careful about who and what you give your energy to.

Hope that one day he’ll realize he screwed up and find his way back to you. Pray that you’re tough enough to dismiss him and repay the hurt.

Ask God to heal your aching heart. Beg Him to help you get over this guy.

And then, just as life does, you move the fuck on.

Shed fewer tears as time passes. Dwell on what used to be a little less frequently. Love on every ounce of the melanated beauty that you are. Focus on being authentically and unapologetically you.

Chin up, Baby Girl.

WYAO April 2016This post is part of the Twenties Unscripted 10-day writing challenge, Write Your Ass Off April. Find other posts from the challenge by searching for the hashtag #WYAOApril. 

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Ascend

“You’ve reached your destination.”

I had arrived and set up shop at a plateau for what felt like an eternity. I was stuck.

I lost faith. I stopped believing that another wave of forward movement would find its way to me. Circumstances outside of my control affected my day-to-day more than usual. My creativity suffered personally and professionally. The lack of inspiration lingered much longer than anticipated.

Nothing comes close to the sense of defeat that hovers over you when you’re stagnant.

I eventually uncovered the truth about my relationship with this plateau. I had allowed myself to accept complacency and it in turn overstayed its welcome. My spirit was screaming at me to stop permitting my life to play on a loop.

I ignored the screams for a while but they had become so overwhelming that I was forced to finally listen.

I had two options: Either leap, or lose. I chose the former.

No more settling for what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. No more being afraid of the unknown and compromising my happiness as a consequence of that fear.

It was time to abandon my stint on the plain that had inadvertently become my home. It was time to ascend.

Onward and upward.

WYAO April 2016This post is part of the Twenties Unscripted 10-day writing challenge, Write Your Ass Off April. Find other posts from the challenge by searching for the hashtag #WYAOApril. 

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Surrender

This wasn’t supposed to happen. You weren’t in my plans.

I wasn’t anticipating another dating escapade. I wasn’t preparing to give another guy a chance to come into my world.

I’d dismissed the thought of wasting time on one more silly relationship. I’d written off the fruitless pursuit of love.

My heart was guarded and damn sure comfortable in its armored enclosure. But you managed to disregard the wall and find a way in.

Vulnerability was banned from my vocabulary. But you reintroduced it with your generosity.

Falling for you wasn’t on the agenda. But you penciled it in with your intimacy.

I fought you — I fought this — out of fear every step of the way because one heartbreak was enough to last me a lifetime.

But you showed me that living in fear isn’t living at all.

So my heart is bare and my feelings are raw. Wherever this journey takes us, let it be amazing and intense and unprecedented.

I surrender.

WYAO April 2016This post is part of the Twenties Unscripted 10-day writing challenge, Write Your Ass Off April. Find other posts from the challenge by searching for the hashtag #WYAOApril. 

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On Shying Away From My Blog

I’ve been out of my element for a while.

Letting life get in the way. Feeling uncertain and uncomfortable about a lot of things and unsure of the best way to make sense of it all.Shy

I could have sounded off here on Crissi Untangled, especially since that was one of the main reasons I decided to create this space, but I just found it easier to shy away from it.

I’m now at a point where I need to reclaim my space. I’ve been too hard on myself for too long.

My fear, insecurities and self-doubt are supposed to be checked at the door. Somewhere along the way I forgot that.

This is where I’m supposed to pour it all on the page. This is the vehicle through which I’m navigating my place and purpose on this Earth. This is my refuge, my respite, my retreat from the bullshit that often infiltrates my mind and interrupts my peace.

Well, the bullshit was working overtime and becoming overwhelming. And I needed a breather.

I think I’ve finally caught my breath for the most part.

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Quiet Weekends Mean The World To Me

I’m an extroverted introvert, if there is such a thing.

I have no problem playing the part of the social butterfly in settings that call for it, but once the fun times start to fizzle, I’m secretly looking forward to returning to my cozy, one-bedroom apartment and keeping myself company.

QuietI’m getting to know me all over again these days and one thing I’m beginning to value more than ever is self-care. And part of my self-care regimen requires periods of solitude.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy spending time with my loved ones or shooting the breeze with coworkers or being in other group settings. I just understand that if I don’t take time to retreat to what gives me peace, I start to feel drained and am forced to run on empty.

I don’t like being that person. I’m not happy when I’m her and I’m certainly not at my best.

Which is why I enjoy having quiet weekends. No travel. No visitors. No obligations. Just me … indulging in some time away from the noise of the daily grind, the drama and anything else that demands that I come out of my shell.

It’s my time to be replenished – emotionally, mentally and physically – after letting the extrovert in me work overtime.

Are you an extroverted introvert? If so, how do you recharge? Feel free share in the comments.

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What My Mane is Teaching Me About Life

One of the most frustrating, but often fulfilling, things about being a naturalista is that you basically become a part-time hair stylist – without pay.

LifeUnless you hit the salon every week, you are responsible for making your own tresses look presentable. Which is reason No. 1 why I usually default to protective styles. Sometimes I just. Can’t. DEAL.

But there are other times when I enjoy spending time with my hair. I usually dread wash day, but yesterday was different, maybe because I tried a few new products including Shea Moisture’s African black soap purification masque and Gold N Hot’s conditioning heat cap for deep conditioning, and Camille Rose’s nourishing cream leave-in. My hair is happy now, and so am I.

As I was taking the time to care for my mane, I thought about the ways it’s teaching me some life lessons that I will carry with me always:

It’s best to work in sections.

I have Type 4 natural hair which means it’s much more kinky than it is curly, and the shrinkage is REAL. In order for me to manage my hair (and not just stand in front of the mirror sobbing uncontrollably about how I don’t want to deal with the drama that my wet hair brings), I have to break it up into smaller sections and tackle it one section at a time.

The same method can be applied to life. If you have areas of your life that you want to work on, you will get overwhelmed if you try to handle them all at once. Keep it simple and improve one area before you move on to the next.

You can’t get definition without help.

My hair doesn’t “clump” together in curls like other hair types, so I have to rely on butters, creams and pomades to get the curl definition I desire.

In life, you won’t learn everything on your own. There will be people who come into your space to teach you lessons – both good and bad – and help you make sense of things. Yes, independence is important, but you will often have to rely on your relationships with others to gather meaning.

There is no one-size-fits-all.

Snapchat Stoplight Selfie!

Snapchat Stoplight Selfie!

My hair is not like anyone else’s. Just because a certain combination of products or a hair care regimen may work for you does not mean that it works for me. It will take some trial and error before I get it right for my situation.

This is also true in life. As I’ve said before, my journey is my journey. I can most certainly soak up advice and inspiration along the way, but my route is custom-made and I’m more than fine with staying in my lane.

Has your hair taught you any life lessons? Feel free to share in the comments.

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What 2014 Has Taught Me

The last day of the year is here, but I don’t believe it to be a representation of things coming to a close. The days that follow when the clock strikes midnight won’t be a “fresh start” for me but a continuation of the work I’ve started of reveling in personal growth, positive vibes and self-love.

2014 knocked me down and picked me up more than a few times. It was a year of risks. I took a risk by launching a magazine – something I have always made a goal of mine but would let fear step in and disable me with the usual “what ifs” playlist on repeat. But enough is enough. I grew tired of the self-doubt.

2014I think being fed up with doubting myself and succumbing to fear also led me to step out of the comfort of living with roommates and venture out on my own. I was scared as hell for the first month but I wouldn’t trade the solitude and serenity, which can only be found by having your own place, for anything.

I also think my newfound penchant for taking risks allowed me to muster up the courage to create this blog. I sat on the idea for months and it never evolved past that stage until one day I decided to take action. It wasn’t enough for me to just write in my journal. I needed to create a space for myself to drown out the insecurities and dive headfirst into unearthing who I was, who I am and who I’m becoming.

Taking the time to reflect here on the many lessons I’ve learned – some of them brutal, all of them necessary – over the past 12 months will probably take what would feel like an eternity to outline, but there are a few things worth highlighting.

My four takeaways from 2014

1. Too much planning means too little action.

I’m notorious for over-planning and over-analyzing things to the point of talking myself out of trying something different or taking on a new challenge. But after I read Ryan Babineaux and John Krumboltz’s “Fail Fast, Fail Often” book earlier this year, I am forever changed, especially after reading this sentence:

“If you wait until you are free of anxiety and doubt, then you are going to spend a lot of time doing nothing.”

2. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t prepared, life is happening.

Throughout this year there have been times when I was ready to quit after being handed more than my fair share of bullshit. Being personally and professionally overwhelmed simultaneously is enough to make most want to cower in a corner and wait for the storm to pass. I don’t have the luxury of sitting idle. I’ve learned I have to roll with it because there are so many things I stress about that are simply out of my control and I need to conserve my energy for what truly matters. If I have to keep a bottle of Merlot on deck for the days when I’m hit hardest with emotional, mental and physical exhaustion, then so be it.

3. Heartbreak doesn’t discriminate.

It doesn’t matter how certain or secure you are of your romantic future, you can’t steer a relationship to success on your own. Reciprocity is key. You want someone who will give you the same unapologetic, unconditional and unmistakable love they’re expecting to receive. Until then, fall in love with YOU.

4. Finding your voice is essential to finding happiness.

I chose to stop walking on eggshells so much this year. My feelings, opinions and thoughts are valid and I needed to start living as if they are. Repressing the baggage wasn’t doing me any good and was bringing me to a breaking point. I had to learn to speak up for my sanity.

All of these lessons are coming with me to 2015; I’ll need them as I navigate another 12 months filled with new opportunities to make my mark on this world. Next year isn’t my chance to start over; next year represents my obligation to keep moving in the direction I’m destined to go: forward.

Happy New Year to you and yours!
-Crissi

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The Hardest Pill to Swallow

I decided it’s time for me to stop dismissing my feelings and wearing a straight face because, honestly, it’s exhausting having to keep it together all the time.

I need to start dealing with my heartbreak and sitting right here in my feelings. I’m human and I’m allowing myself to be just that. Walking through my hurt is the only way I can heal.

The hardest pill to swallow is realizing the one you love with every bit of your soul doesn’t really feel the same way about you.

PillI just knew I had love all figured out but everything I dreamed of having with him crumbled into pieces right in front of me and I could not prevent it. Nothing I could have said or done would have changed the outcome and that really fuels the anger and hurt I’ve been feeling. It bothers me when I’m not in control of a situation.

I was so certain that we were working toward the same goal of taking our relationship to the next level, and I was so confident that he wanted the same thing. I could not be any more mistaken. We were on two different chapters. We weren’t even in the same damn book.

That shit hurts like hell.

I have never felt heartbreak like this before. I’m forced to take things day by day, sometimes hour by hour.

I want to stay in bed all day and cry the pain away. I want to burst into tears at work while sitting in my cubicle and glaring at my desktop monitor. I want to drown my sorrows in another glass of chilled Merlot … or maybe some brown.

I am aching right now.

Everyone keeps telling me it will get better and I will look back and this will seem insignificant. That someone else will come along. I can’t even think that far ahead. Like Onika said, “When you in it you be thinking life is over!”

He was my first love, my first everything. He was supposed to be IT for me. We grew up together. We went from kids in full-blown puppy love to young adults trying to figure out our place in this world and fighting to keep our love afloat. Our lives were so entwined. We were family.

I still love him. A huge piece of me still wants to be with him. I want all of this to be some long, drawn-out, sick joke that went too far. For him to call me and say, “I messed up.”

But that’s not happening.

Life will not stop just because I have no clue where to go from here. I know I have to find a way to move forward. I haven’t the slightest idea when I will get through this, but I will.

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