Category Archives: MY ADVICE

Every once in a while I take a moment to self-reflect and see my growth; here, I share my findings with you.

WHAT IF…

A few years ago, I found my first herpes support group on Facebook, and on the façade, it seemed very supportive. Messages of “Keep your head up!” Be strong, you’ll find someone!” and “It wasn’t meant to be.” seemed to flood the daily feed. Even though I knew I wasn’t the only person living with herpes, it was great to finally see and hear other people’s stories. The overall morale of the chats was positive and uplifting, which for a newly diagnosed individual can be essential. However, every so often, I would come across a post asking for advice and support.   

I feel terrible, and I need your advice. Last week, I was drinking, partying, smoking (whatever) with my friend. Things got out of control, we had sex, and I forgot to tell them about my herpes status. I feel terrible, and I want to tell them, I just don’t know how to.  

It didn’t take long for me to realize that once the comments have been disabled, it was safe to assume that the poster was virtually attacked. Similar posts often bring out, what I like to call, The Bully-Brigade. The Bully-Brigade is the barrage of people that come together to virtually bully anyone whose actions and views don’t align with theirs. With comments like, “You’re a terrible person.” “How could you forget…” and “People like you should be locked up!” — The Bully-Brigade has struck again.  

The comments and attacks vary, but the one that sticks out the most is the one of blame. It’s the person that says, “You know, many of us wouldn’t be here if our partner had told us. If my partner had told me that they had herpes, I never have had sex with them. You should’ve given them a choice.”   

This one always bugs me, because they so conveniently forget that they, in fact, did have a choice. To have consensual sex, without knowing your partner’s sexual health status, was a choice. The power to control the sanctity of my body is my responsibility, and the same for your body. Do you not eat when you’re hungry, drink when you’re thirsty, or sleep when you’re tired? So, why when it comes to sex, is it only the other person’s responsibility to protect you? I don’t say this to point blame, I say this to take accountability.  

Think of your body as a new car you just bought. You wouldn’t give the keys for your new car to a person whose driving record you didn’t know and whose license you haven’t seen, would you? No! You wouldn’t! But if you did, and they crashed it, was it not your choice to hand your keys over to them, in the first place? We don’t take that risk with material things, but we assume that risk with our bodies every day. From the moment I laid eyes on my partner, once I know I want to have sex with him, the responsibility to ensure my sexual health is mine, and mine alone. It was my responsibility to make sure that he posed no threat to me, and the choice I made to not verify his status was, in fact, A CHOICE.   

Over the years, I learned to stop arguing with The Bully-Brigade; because they had already made up their mind that their positive diagnosis was someone else’s fault. What I try to do now is pose the question, what if…  

You say — “If they had told me they had herpes…” I pose the question — “What if you had asked…?”  

What if they told you they were clean, because the test they took didn’t include herpes? Therefore, they had no way of knowing they had the virus.   

What if they had the test that included herpes, but because they recently acquired the virus, the antibody test came back negative? (It took 9 months for my antibodies test to detect herpes).  

What if you had used condoms? (I used condoms when herpes was transmitted to me).  

What if they told you they had a history of cold sores? Marketing doesn’t make it clear that cold sores and herpes are the same virus. Many people don’t think that their cold sores are herpes or that they can impact their partner’s genital region. What if this information was made clear to the masses?  

What if doctors did a better job of educating patients before, during, and after their diagnosis? What if they pointed patients to support groups after their diagnosis, instead of giving them a prescription and sending them on their way?  

What if sex education was clear and transparent, and inclusive of all sexual behaviors, sexualities, and sexual health? What if consent and boundaries were mandated? What if the stigma was never able to exist because people were educated on the truth of all sexually transmissible and non-sexually transmissible viruses?  

What if testing were made easier for all to access? What if when I asked to be tested for everything, I was tested for EVERYTHING?  

What if we stopped shaming sex, sexuality, and people with STD/STIs?  

What if you’re herpes positive, you disclose to your partner, but you don’t ask to see their results in return? (Is that not, once again, handing someone the keys to your car without checking their license, all-over again?)  

What if asking about a person’s sexual health was as easy as saying hi? What if asking to see a person’s test results (and getting them), was as easy and pleasurable as having sex?  

What if they never assaulted me?  

What if the dad, the aunt, the uncle didn’t kiss the toddler, and pass them the herpes virus?  

What if the mother didn’t kiss her child and pass them the herpes virus?  

What if you had waited another 3-9 months to get re-tested before having sex?   

What if you had waited to go and get tested together?  

What if you had asked your partner their sexual health status?  

While the what-ifs are endless, none of them can guarantee that you still wouldn’t have ended up with herpes virus. With all the precautions that you could’ve taken in your adolescent or adult life, you still could’ve acquired the virus before ever taking your first steps. At the end of the day, we’re all here. So, instead of focusing on what if, focus on the future. A lot of why we feel what we feel is stigma. So, instead of trying to change others, maybe we can change our perception. And with that, we can change the stigma. 

LOVE LANGUAGE #5 – WORDS OF AFFIRMATION

MY 5TH LOVE LANGUAGE, WORDS OF AFFIRMATION

I’ve reached the final love language—Thank Heaven! 

I’m not surprised that Words of Affirmation is at the bottom of my list, now. But, when I was growing up, I used to crave Words of Affirmation. At a young age, they often mirrored the actions that were being delivered my way. Parents, family, and friends were all walking examples of actions and words that actually matched. But as I got older, things began to change. Naturally, discipline from a parent or an older family member, to a rebellious teenager, did not feel like love; so, when I was told I couldn’t do something, followed by an I love you, I called Bull Shit! And it only got worse as I got older.  

I was picked-on, as a kid. I was picked-on because of my hair, my glasses, and lack of designer clothing. At first, it used to bother me, but with time, the things that separated me from the crowd began to shine. I had a great voice, I was a good artist, and I was decent in sports. As time passed, I started being accepted for qualities and skills that were undeniable, and the teasing stopped. People stopped looking for reasons to not like me, and learned to accept me for who I was. 

When I started dating, the phrase “I love you” was tossed around, like a salad ingredient. The phrase was everywhere; but, like a salad, it lacked sustenance. It was a great side or starter, but it could never fill me up. So, when actions never corresponded with the words, through trial and error, I had to learn that words had no real weight if actions didn’t corroborate them. By the time I graduated high school, I had adapted the concept of ‘love me or hate me’ with the confidence to match. People, more often than not, liked and/or loved me; and once I started to feel the energy that I was sending reciprocated, I no longer needed and/or required words of affirmation. 

Don’t get me wrong– it’s always nice to receive a compliment. I couldn’t see myself being, truly happy, with a person that never said one nice thing to me or about me. And, I totally understand that my partner is doing so because they feel it, and they want to profess it. But, the fact remains, it does not impact me the same way; because I’d rather feel than hear. 

Another reason why Words of Affirmation doesn’t have such a high rank for me, is because, a part of me struggles with accepting compliments. For example: I’ve finished 5 marathons, 10 half-marathons, and countless other races; I know that it’s no easy feat. However, there are people that run faster, longer, and more frequently than I do; so, with that in the back of my mind, I choose to remain humble in the face of all compliments. 

Today, words of affirmation sound nice, but they hold no weight in the grand scheme of my life. Over the years, I’ve become head-strong, resilient, and confident.  When I set my mind to do something, nothing can stand in my way. So, as much as it feels good to hear someone say, “good job,” subconsciously, I already know that. I didn’t need to hear it; but, since saying the words made the say-er feel better, I happily accept their support and encouragement.  

Writing on the 5 Love Languages has been quite a journey. Writing this series has allowed me to dive deeper into my past to understand my present. I never set out to be a Pulitzer Prize winning writer. I just wanted to vent a little, talk about sex, break some stigmas, and maybe gain a fan or two that could relate to my problems. There were many times, during the love languages posts, that I wanted to just stop and change course; but, by sticking with it, I learned so much more about myself. I opened up memories I was certain didn’t exist, and I was able to process why I felt the way I did about things. I encourage you all to read or audio-book the 5 Love Languages, and to take the quiz. Once you have your results, take the time to process what they mean for you and why they rank as they do.  

LOVE LANGUAGE #4 – PHYSICAL TOUCH

People often assume that sexual touch and physical touch are the same thing. Another common assumption is that, a sexual person must also enjoy being touched. For much of my life, I made these assumptions as well. I loved having sex so much, that I was sure Physical Touch would be my top love language. I was certain that, with all the kissing, caressing, and humping; it would be my number one -How could it not be? While doing the test, I was surprised to see that so many of my answers proved otherwise. With Physical Touch coming in at number 4, I reflected back to some instances where I was being touched, but I didn’t feel loved. 

I remember a time, years ago, when I was lying beside my boyfriend. We were both naked, as we just finished having sex; his arm was draped over my body, and my head was nestled underneath his chin on his chest. All was right with the world, until he started rubbing my arm, up and down. The feeling of his hand against my skin had changed. The caressing of his hand that had just ignited our 30-minute love making session, suddenly felt like a catheter, stopping my blood flow. I remember wanting him to stop, but because I didn’t want to sound mean – I said nothing. Recently, I was on the sofa with my guy, as we watched Netflix. He was sitting up and I was resting my head on his lap. In that position I felt safe, secured, and precious; I could’ve stayed in that position forever. When his hands moved from around my waist and started to rub on my breasts; those feelings began to fade. I tried ignoring it at first, because I knew that he was happy touching me in that way; eventually it was all I could focus on. It went from being something I could ignore to annoying. Again, I didn’t want to come across as unaffectionate; so, I placed my hands over his to stop the motion.  

On both occasions, a person that I loved was delivering love to me, but it was in the form that best suited them. It wasn’t the first time those actions had taken place, but it was the first time I had processed them that way. I needed to find some reason or logic as to why, in those moments, I shut down and, in a way felt slightly offended.  

For centuries, a woman’s body was the property of her father, and after marriage it became the property of her husband. It’s still common to hear women relinquish their bodies to their husbands on demand (I was exhausted, but when my man wants it, I give it!). It’s been instilled in women that a wife’s duty is to see to it that her husband was satisfied. For a time, if he wanted to have sex and she did not, he was within the full rights of the law, to use his male-domination to either convince his wife and/or dominate her into submission. Even though there are laws that exist against these acts today (depending on where you are in the world and if violence is involved), many women still believe that their bodies are not their own. Sure, if a stranger touched me, I could handle the situation quite abruptly and without hesitation. But when love is involved the once clear line begins to blur. 

From birth, it’s easy to overlook all the times when a person’s body is not their own. We’ve all seen the child writhing and screeching, as their being passed around like a dessert plate for people to “ooh” and “ahh” at them – We’ve all been this child at least once. Try counting how many times your parents or family told you to give a hug or a kiss to someone that you didn’t want to – If you could even remember, you would lose count. When we’re in school, if a classmate hit us, or invaded our personal space, we were told to be nice, shake hands, and hug. Once out of the womb, we were repeatedly forced to lower our bodily-boundaries for people that we knew and loved. The roads run parallel for both sexes until approximately puberty. After puberty, boys were taught to take power and control of their bodies, while girls are taught to protect bodies, but only for the later use of a man (Don’t you want to be perfect for your husband on your wedding night?). With this rhetoric it’s no wonder why I had issues declaring my body as my own. 

I first had to learn that my body was my own; entering into a relationship did not give my partner rights to my body. The second thing I had to learn was, not wanting to be touched did not mean a lack of love. There are certain touches the register certain emotions, and those emotions control how I feel in my relationships. I’m a sexual being that likes sex, writes about sex, and I get a lot of sexual attention from strangers; it’s imperative that, in my relationship, I feel loved. I prefer hand holding to random ass-slaps while walking down the street, innocent kisses over childish grabs and/or pokes at my breasts, and standing big-spoon cuddles over fingers poking at my holes. One touch says I love and cherish you, the other says I want to fuck you, I want to possess you, to own you, and that your body is not yours, it’s mine. 

When I allow my partner(s) to explore my body as their momentary playground, it’s with much love, excitement, and sensuality. But when the sun sets, and the park closes, so does the playground inside of it. When my partner(s) continue playing after the park closes, it’s a direct disrespect of the rules and boundaries that were set in place. 

Maintaining control is of the utmost importance for me, and understanding that Physical Touch is not the same for everyone.  

LOVE LANGUAGE #3 – ACTS OF SERVICE

It’s makes sense that this love language lays, smack dab, in the middle; because the first thing I have to do is be open to receiving the act as something genuine. I can fully acknowledge that I battle with seeing a partner’s act of service as fully genuine. Don’t get me wrong, a good deed is a good deed, I simply wonder if there is an ulterior motive behind the act.  

I grew up hearing “men only want one thing” or “he did this because he wants that”. So, it only made sense that whenever I dated a guy, if he did something (without me asking for it, first) I would quietly question, why did he do it? I used to believe that if people did something nice for me it was because they genuinely wanted to do it, I was 8 years old; today, life and dating has since delivered me some very rude awakenings.  

The most important one being that; no one does anything without receiving something in return. Sir Isaac Newton’s third law states that; “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. However, that reaction isn’t always visible. For example: A business man on the train gives a dollar to a homeless man. It may appear that the businessman is receiving nothing in return; but if you allow yourself to consider not every exchange has to be tangible; you’ll see that the reaction is emotional. It felt good for the businessman to give that dollar, and that’s why he did it (in addition to it being a good deed). 

With the above being understood; sadly, there is always an internal tug-of-war between my mind and my heart. On one side, my heart wants to receive the act with no questions asked; while my mind is scanning for an ulterior motive.  

In the average relationship, when people perform acts of service, it’s because they’re working to maintain their relationship and to get to that ‘Happily Ever After’. All the deeds one did to show love and care appear to be totally self-less, until the relationship is over. When the relationship ends, all those ‘self-less acts’ turn into sacrifices made. The once, “this is for you my love” turns into “I sacrificed this for you”. A self-less act rapidly transitions and becomes something that was actually a bargaining chip in disguise. I hate to admit it, but I did the above to an ex and I’ve had it done to me. 

In a past relationship, I financially supported my partner. I paid his phone bill, his metro card, and when we went out- I often paid. We met online, while he was in Trinidad. He was a runner, but was in recovery from an injury. He had an opportunity to come to the U.S. to train with a special coach, and to be with me; but he first had to buy himself out of his contract, which left him with very little money when he finally arrived. I felt that he had made a sacrifice for me; so, for a while I did what I could to support him. The only problem was, every time we got into an argument, he would threaten to leave and I would weaponize what I did for him. He would say “I should’ve gone to Jamaica to train instead…” and I would say “Really? with all that I’m doing for you!” I was by no means rich, so helping my partner out while I was only making $30K (before taxes) at the time was a real financial burden. But I had convinced myself that it would only be temporary; he would land an athletic contract, we would move out and live together, and everything would have been worth it. As time passed and that fantasy drifted farther and farther away, I grew to resent him and all that I had done for him. I blamed him for my financial struggles, and when I finally ended the relationship, I declared that I would never make the same mistake again. In my mind, I was supporting my man because I wanted what was best for him; but my subconscious knew that if and when the tide finally turned, I wanted to be there to ride the wave of success with him. I wanted him to see me and all that I had sacrificed for him and declare that I was worthy to go on the journey with him. I later learned that was not a truly genuine act of service. 

Those feelings and lessons learned in that relationship still fuel my perspective today. As much I love it when a partner does something nice for me; being who I am, and knowing my history, I worry that one day their acts of service will be thrown in my face, if things don’t go the way they intended. In previous posts I stress the importance of being selfish and, with my feet firmly rooted in the dirt, I stand by that. I like to think that I am fair in how I choose to date. I never ask a partner’s income, but I take note of what they say to get a general idea. A while back, I had a partner offer to help me out financially, although the situation wasn’t yet a reality, I declined the offer. I knew that their desire to help me would only further hurt them; the same way me financially helping my ex hurt my abilities to save and get financially stable for myself. I firmly feel that if helping someone today has the risk of turning into something sacrificed later, don’t do it! That’s like doing someone doing a favor and then holding it over their head in arguments; you either want to do it or you don’t. There will always be a looming question of an ulterior motive. Why are you here? Why are you doing it?  

 
As I’m learning and growing with love, I’m learning to work on aligning my brain and heart, and to trust the actions of those that I love; it’s not easy, but I’m working on it.  

LOVE LANGUAGE #2 – QUALITY TIME

The first time I took the 5 Love Languages quiz, I was dead single; and, with no hope for a relationship in sight. I felt that learning my love languages would allow me to process why certain relationships didn’t go as planned. When I took the quiz my love languages were as follows: 

1. Receiving Gifts 

2. Acts of Service 

3. Physical Touch 

4. Quality Time 

5. Words of Affirmation 

Over the last week, as I knew I planned to dive deeper into exploring my love languages, I felt it only made sense to read the damn book; but, since I was on a time crunch and I am not a fast reader, I listened to the audiobook. Absorbing the messaging from the book, further broke down my understanding of my love languages. Outside of the occasional religious reference (which I easily glossed over), the average person could learn to apply the tools of the book to their specific relationships.  

I re-took the test before writing this post, just to see if there were some changes, and these were my results.  

1. Receiving Gifts 

2. Quality Time 

3. Acts of Service 

4. Physical Touch 

5. Words of Affirmation 

It was no surprise that my primary love language remained Receiving Gifts; I’ve known and suspected this for quite some time. I was, however, surprised to see that Quality Time had moved up in the ranks to number two; and the inquiring mind that I am, I wanted to understand why. That desire to know took me back to all the times in my past relationship, where I was technically in my partner’s presence, but I felt totally alone.  

When Bruno Mars sang “Lucky for you, that’s what I like” – it made so much sense. How easy would a relationship be if you and your partner had things in common? How easy would it be if your love languages aligned? How easy would it be if your partner was willing and able to love you in the way that you received love? Dag NabitIf only I knew this sooner, I would’ve saved myself a lot of tears, emotions, and wasted breath. If I was able to lay on the table my love languages (considering the receiving person even knew what love languages really were), we could determine right then and there if we wanted to proceed or not.  

In my past relationships, where having any of my needs met was like pulling teeth without Novocain, to cope with the disappointment, I subconsciously minimized their importance. If after many requests and failed attempts I was still without, I pushed the need to the bottom and made others more important. Years later, I recognized this behavior and labeled it the ugly C-word; ‘compromise’. The idea that if you meet If you meet a seemingly perfect person that you loved deeply; but, if they are unwilling do to the things that make you happy, in your core; you should just dismiss that key detail and be happy with what you get; I think is total bull-shit. I may not be able to get all that I want but, my primary love languages should be met.  

When I finally had an idea of what my love languages were, I was more than happy to apply them when I started dating again.  

For example: If Guy doesn’t believe in buying gifts (for whatever reason). On my side, because receiving gifts is my primary language; even if I’m able to live without gifts for a few weeks during the euphoria of new romance; there will come a time when I will want a gift. As he’s already stated it’s a no-go for him, we’ll eventually arrive at a roadblock in the relationship.  

If I’m able to know from the very beginning, that he will never be willing to give me what I want in the end, I’ll know not to go down that road; because, it will never work. 

In my last relationship, without knowing it was my love language; towards the end, I would stress to my partner that I just wanted some time together with him. As he never got me anything for the entirety of our relationship, I had convinced myself that if he could come through on this, all would we right within our world. So, when our quality time looked like sitting on the couch as he watched basketball; I kept my mouth shut. I couldn’t complain, because I was technically getting what I had requested, just not in the form that I desired. Had I known better I never would’ve allowed for the relationship to go on as long as it did. He wasn’t spending quality time with me; he was just being in my presence.  

Over the years I’ve learned that, quality time is something you do for your partner the way they can receive it. Him having me over to watch a game that he would’ve watched regardless; did not count. Just because we were in each other’s company, that doesn’t by default mean, the time was quality; as he was focused on the game and I wished that I was in my room watching Love & Hip Hop. 

With Receiving Gifts and Quality Time at the forefront of my love languages, in a society where everything costs a million dollars and people can barely find a moment to shit in peace; I knew my work was cut out for me; but, like Bruno Mars said; “Lucky for you, that’s what I like”. When I re-entered the dating world (with all my additional titles), I made it a point to seek partner’s whose love language matched my own; and to avoid the unnecessary headache, I only entertained those that I felt were willing and able to love me the way I knew I needed to be loved. 

Armed with new armor and weapons to win the battle that is love; I found dating and love, this time around to be more satisfactory and love filled than ever before. 

VALENTINE’S DAY & LOVE LANGUAGES

So, Friday is Valentine’s Day, and for the first time, in years, I’m actually in a relationship. So, what does that mean for me? If you remember my post from last year, The Significance of Valentine’s Day; I wrote about this miraculous day of gift giving, and relationship confirming, as one that shouldn’t bear so much when compared to the entirety of your relationship. A part of me still agrees with that, while the other part of me, the part that still holds onto traditional values, cares for none of that evolved way of thinking.

It’s important to remember that, when I wrote my post last year; not only was I single, I was still dealing with the emotional ramifications from being scammed, and I was on my own self-discovery-celibacy journey. After some amazing realizations and changes, an entire year later, I have a primary love interest, and two quasi-romantic-sexual partners. 

I still don’t seek for my relationship to be validated on a single day; because I know what I have with my Love. But I do know that, if I don’t get flowers and chocolates while I’m at work; IT’S GONNA BE A PROBLEM! And with that I bring into the conversation, The 5 Love Languages. 

  1. Receiving Gifts 
  1. Acts of Service 
  1. Physical Touch 
  1. Quality Time 
  1. Words of Affirmation 

I, like many people, took the online quiz; and the above are my love languages in order of importance to me. As you can see, receiving gifts is of high importance to me, but not for the reasons one would think. 

When I was younger, colored roses had just started popping up, and the prettiest to me, were blue roses. Many shops spray painted white roses, which looked horrible. However, there were some that did it the proper way; either by stem-dyeing the roses, or dipping the roses in blue dye. One could imagine the process and money it required, for a business to keep blue roses on hand for purchase; so, it only made sense that they were difficult to come by. Everywhere you looked you could find red, pink, white or yellow roses, but to walk the extra few streets to find the place that sold those beautiful blue roses, it made all the difference in the world.  

My priority love language is not receiving gifts, just because I like gifts; that would be too simple. It’s my primary love language because my, often very complicated, mind breaks down the steps behind giving said gift. From remembering the conversation where I mentioned my love for blue roses, to the effort required to recall that tiny detail in the ocean of all that I tend to say during any given tangent, and lastly to actually get off your ass and get the seemingly unimportant roses, all just to put a smile on my face. The thought process and effort put behind the gift, is a thousand times more important than the gift alone. 

I used to believe that – it was the thought that counts. But as I got older, I believed that less and less. The best gift is not only one that comes from the heart; it is also one that is totally void of the gift-giver. When giving a gift, it should be tailored to the person you’re giving it to. It should be something that they want and/or need. Giving a gift that is more for your personal excitement or enjoyment, is not a genuine gift.  

On the other hand, avoiding giving a gift because ‘gift giving’ is not your personal love language, is just as bad; if not worse.  

My infamous Ex, (X-Files: 1-5) was the definition of worse. If I’m being honest, the average man doesn’t pay attention to romantic holidays. Which is why marketing and retail commercials are constantly reminding them that it’s approaching. You ever wonder why Christmas music starts to play immediately following Halloween; that’s why. And the same goes for women with Valentine’s Day. Marketing is well aware that all men really care about, between January and February, is watching other men toss around a football. The last thing on most men’s minds is, what to get the lady in their life for Valentine’s Day. This is why those Jared and Kiss commercials start playing on heavy repeat.  

They make it virtually impossible for the average thinking man to forget. Every store you enter is littered with hearts, pink and red junk, and flowers, so many flowers. So, it would only make sense that a man, working at one of these stores, would take full advantage of his employee discount and purchase at least one VDay gift for his lady. But that was not the nature of my ex. The simple effort to purchase something he saw every day, on sale- no less, deemed to be too much every single time. 

For years, I truly believed that he didn’t care, which may have very well been true. However, years later, I learned that my ex’s love languages were just different from mine. In fact, they were damn near upside down and opposite. Had either one of us read the book, before we met; we still may not have stood a chance; but in the very least, I would’ve been armed with the tools to better express why something that seemed so futile to him, meant so much to me.  

In dating, love, and life, it’s important to learn what and why your love languages are what they are. We are all unique individuals, so we process things differently. If we truly care for our partner, it’s important to at least try to love them the way they can best receive it.  

Next Week: Acts of Service 

POSITIVELY DETACHING

There is much joy to be found when I detach from the world. Of course, I never fully detach, but going a few hours without looking at a device does have its benefits.  

It was a summer day, a few years ago, and I wanted to get out of the house. I got on the train, walked around a bit downtown, went to see a movie; then my phone died. To my surprise, I didn’t care. I ended up getting dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and walking some more, before I took the bus home. Even with the mediocre actions of the day, I still remember it as one of the best days I had. When my phone died, there was no anxiety to get to the nearest charger, and with no need to check in; I just went about my day.  

Today, I won’t leave my house unless my phone is above 95% and before walking out of the door, I make sure my phone is on low power mode, just in case. My life, like many others in this day and age, revolves around devices. From using my computer at work, to listening to a podcast or playing a game during my commute on my phone. I don’t know what it’s like to not have a phone on me. There have been a few times when I left my house, and made it to the train, only to go all the way back home when I realized my phone was not with me. I refused to listen to the conversations of other commuters, or eat my lunch without visual stimulation. And let’s not forget my daily Instagram upload, because my followers would be lost without me.  

In the fall of 2019, my life almost ended. I went to sleep with my phone plugged in and I woke up to my phone only being at 25% I figured the wire came undone in my sleep, so I plugged it back in and prepared to get ready for work. When I got out of the shower it was at 20%, I got so frustrated I started to cry. I went to work and experimented with various chargers, cords, wireless pads, and none of them worked. I watched as my phone went from 5 to 1, and when my phone died, I felt like my life was over. That day I missed lunch because I was at the apple store trying to get it fixed. That night I went to a Broadway show; but I couldn’t fully enjoy it because all I could think about was my phone. The next morning, I went to the AT&T and send for a replacement that had to be ordered. When the doorbell rang Saturday morning, I ran downstairs. I didn’t even grab my precautionary knife from the drawer, in case it was an intruder. (Yes! I watch way too many cop shows). None the less, I opened that box with the same excitement that a kid opens a present on Christmas morning. I charged it up, swapped over my information, and all was right with the world again.  

As I scrolled through my Instagram, Facebook, and emails, I couldn’t help but think back to a simpler time. I thought back to that day in the summer; and there was a peace of mind in knowing that the inability to connect to the digital world is only temporary. It would’ve been easy to get a charger and fuel up, but I chose to enjoy the peace of the silence. However, when that silence was forced upon me, I found no peace.  

I realized then that my connection with devices was unhealthy, to say the least. So, I started limiting my interactions with them, in the best way I knew how. Instead of listening to podcasts during my commute, I would read a book (Yes… an actual printed – book). I read hundreds of books on my phone over the years, but eventually, it took a toll on my vision; and considering I stare at a computer at work all day, anytime away from bright light proved to be highly beneficial.  

The next thing I did was limit the amount of time I spent on social media (Twitter & Instagram). I would allow myself a few minutes every few hours to scroll and like, and once time was up, I had to stop. When it came to Facebook it was a tad more difficult. As an activist, I felt the need to comment on the posts that resonated with me. But I learned to pick and choose my battles, thus limiting my screen time and overall drained energy from random hater.  

The final thing I did was limit the amount of texting and messaging I did; I applied the same logic as I did with Facebook. Not every text required an immediate response, and some things could wait for later. The world would not implode if I didn’t respond yes that instant, and my alone time was very important to me. I had to release the self-induced anxiety from my being, because no one was causing it but me. I can now go hours without looking at my phone and it’s been a huge relief, especially considering that I don’t always want to talk or communicate. I get deep into my moods of self-preservation and my need to personally re-power up on positivity is of the utmost importance. 

I challenge everyone to take some time, every day to detach and see how you feel.