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Yes, Check On Your “Strong Friend,” But First, Have You Checked In With Yourself?

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With the passing of celebrity fashion designer, Kate Spade, the dialogue around mental health and suicide prevention has re-surfaced. Also, it’s been a popular posting among social media groups and an overall cultural push in asking, “Have you checked on your strong friend? “I too believe it is important to reach out to those who would not traditionally appear to have struggled with mental health; Yet, I have a more pressing question to ask, have you checked on yourself? Too often, we become busy and caught up in everything around us and forget to take care of our own needs until we feel stressed and overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the world we live in.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2010), suicide was the 16th leading cause of death for blacks of all ages and the third leading cause of death for black males ages 15–24. Additionally, although research indicates that suicidal behaviors occur at a lower rate than their high school counterparts, attempts at suicide among black high school students is increasing at an alarming rate.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2010), suicide was the 16th leading cause of death for blacks of all ages and the third leading cause of death for black males ages 15–24. Click To Tweet

For many, especially within the black community, misunderstand the importance of mental health. Thus, many members of the black community are reluctant to discuss mental health out of cultural conditioning, shame, and stigma regarding the signs and symptoms as less critical than they really are.

Checking on friends and on those who are close to us is all fine and dandy, however, before you can be there for someone else you need to take care of yourself. And remember, it’s not selfish or crime to ask what you need, you just have to be aware of what your own needs are.

Now, don’t get me wrong, as humans we long for the connection and empathy from others, but before we can make sure we truly support others with their struggles, we need to make sure we are there for ourselves. So, I ask you, when is the last time you took time out for yourself? When was the last time that you honestly took care of your needs, not just physical, but emotional as well? When was the last time you intentionally engaged in self-care?

              

 

Let’s end the stigma and continue to have these courageous conversations. No one is exempt, anyone could struggle with mental health.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, there are options available to help you cope 1-800-273-8255. You can call the Lifeline at any time to speak to someone and get support. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

As always, bring your ideas and thoughts, let’s have a civil conversation. I would love to hear your thoughts. Emphasis on “civil,” because the block game is S T R O N G. Find me Instagram and Twitter @TheCarterReport, as well as [email protected] I am always interested in hearing about what you all what to hear about.

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Advice

John Gray, We Are not Raising Men

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While looking through Twitter today, I came across an excerpt of Pastor John Gray on Sister Circle. What I saw disappointed me. A choir of sisters sat beside him advocating for women sidelining themselves to raise adult males. I was tight. Speaking about his wife, Aventer, Pastor John Gray said:

She’s a covering not a lid because if a man marries a lid she’ll stop your dream. But if you marry a covering, she’ll push you to your destiny.

To that, I say men who believe this are lids.

Not Your Mama, #NotYourMule

Women are burdened with confining gender roles that minimize the freedom women have in an oppressive patriarchal world. We are seen as lovers, maidens, mothers, queens, huntresses, sages, and mystics. Women are expected to be therapists, expert chefs, maids, and submissive to their significant others, at least in heteronormative relationships. We are expected to stay youthful, speak little, spend nothing, and be grateful for the opportunity. Not only are women subjugated to lives of servitude at their own expense, its due to the emotional immaturity of their spouses.

Men are particularly guilty of exploiting the maternal strengths many women possess. This notion that “a woman will inspire me to be my best self” is pure narcissism. Stringing women along with “I know I’m not perfect” or “I’ll make it one day” is manipulation. Judith Orloff, author of ‘The Empath’s Survival Guide’, says:

What narcissists see in empaths is a giving, loving person who is going to try and be devoted to you and love you and listen to you. But unfortunately empaths are attracted to narcissists, because at first this is about a false self. Narcissists present a false self, where they can seem charming and intelligent, and even giving, until you don’t do things their way, and then they get cold, withholding, and punishing.”

“I had to grow into her”

Empathetic people are patient to a fault and believe they can fix people with compassion. As John continued, he mentioned the pain he caused his wife because of his failure to heal himself.

My wife has endured more pain birthing me than both of our children. She has sacrificed these past 8 years, uncovering the painful areas of my manhood and covering the areas that could have exposed me.

That’s not her job! Toxic masculinity and the rejection of feminine energy has convinced men that they can wait until they’re in a relationship to deal with their baggage. While we frequently refer to this as a woman raising a man, its actually trauma bonding. Trauma bonding is when a victim and an abuser form a connection that makes it impossible to leave the relationship, no matter how much damage it’s doing. Much like the relationship between Michelle and Chad, these bonds are formed by the tactics narcissists use.

In situations like these, you just have to be prepared to say those people aren’t healthy for you. Let them go.

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Y’all Weren’t Going to Tell Me My Baby Was Ugly?

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After 28 hours of labor and an extra week of pregnancy, I was exhausted. That extra week messed up all of my plans! Having a natural birth didn’t happen. My husband had to leave in less than 24 hours after I gave birth for work. My sisters that came to help, had to go home. Not to mention the lack of breastmilk for the first 48 hours. The only help I had was from my 60-year-old father-in-law who hasn’t dealt with babies in over 25 years. Moments like this made me wish my mother was still alive. The stress of the situation didn’t really give me a chance to embrace my baby and motherhood. I looked at my son, but I didn’t really look at my son.

When I finally got a moment to soak in motherhood and embrace my baby, I thought something was wrong. Why does he look so old? I read overdue babies sometimes look a little wrinkly, but this was looking a little extreme. I could have sworn I saw a 5 o’clock shadow. I started to wonder if the Curious Case of Benjamin Button was happening to my child… Read the full blog at SimplyLizLove.com

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Black Gay Men and Their Need to Lie

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This morning I saw a post that said “What are y’all lying about today?” and it made me angry. I sat for a minute and then it dawned on as me as to why a simple post was so activating to my spirit. I am guilty of telling a quick one, to either get out of a situation or to fit into one. Now, come on sis, let’s talk about it, Black gay men and their need to lie

Have you ever told a lie and felt guilty or shameful about it after. Well, I have and the feeling is disturbing to my spirit. Ugh, this topic is so sensitive and its truly getting out of hand. Again, let me be the first to say “yes, I have told a lie or two in my day,” but some of the stories that fall out of the mouths of you girls is beyond the beyond.

Now, that it’s out there no one can use it against me. This is about being vulnerable. I don’t want to be the girl throwing stones at glass houses and hiding my hands. Let’s take a minute to examine and understand how gays become habitual liars. Thus, I blame the backward ass-ness Black Culture, the religion forced on us to accept White Jesus and heterosexual mainstream societal norms have influenced us to create a façade to impress the impressionable, people will like us more than we actually like ourselves.

Reflect back on your life and consider a time where you felt or knew that it was not safe to be your most authentic self. For me, here is where I learned that lying was purposeful, it was before I was comfortable with my sexuality. Hence, when people would ask I if I was gay, I would say no. I even went to the extent of getting a whole girlfriend and a fake relationship. More so, family systems and cultural conditioned me to believe that my sexuality was wrong. That there is no greater taboo than being a Black gay man in Black American. I lied about it because it was the complete opposite of how I wanted people to see me. When I tell you culture and the idea of “what is Black enough,” really fucked me over. Big mistake! People around me already knew I was gay. I wasn’t lying to them, I was lying to myself. Now take this same concept and apply it other areas of your life. See what I am talking about?

So, again, lying keep me safe and bullies off my back, or so I thought. As I grew older, I repeated this behavior. Not telling my own truths somehow seemed to get me the results that I was hoping for. This pattern of behavior was showing up in all my relationships and interactions. I would call into work, lying about being sick. I would turn assignments in late lying about dealing with personal or family issues. Lying about why I can’t make it out for a night with friends or why I have to get off the phone.

Now, I know some of y’all are saying, “I don’t lie about big shit, only when it is a lil white lie.” Girl, you lie when it’s convenient, it’s still a lie, now have a seat. Whether it was lying by omission, not sharing the entire truth or just flat out flipping the script so that you still presented to others in the way you wish to be perceived, it’s still a lie. Just like me, in the past, lying served a real purpose. I was vying for the acceptance and validation from my peers and family members. But today, I’m like fuck it. This is who I am and its either you grow closer to me or we respect each other from a distance. This isn’t about me living my life to keep other people happy, this is about me resting peacefully at night. I will not have disturbed sleep, worrying about if such and such is going to figure out if I lied or not. Newsflash girl, they already know!!!!

And to bring this back full circle,  for the gays, let me put it to you this way. I don’t care how many pairs of Balenciaga’s you don’t really own, if your Goyard luggage is really a Faux-yard, or that you were seen purchasing knock-off Giuseppe Zanotti sneakers from downtown Brooklyn. No one cares. This is all an illusion. An illusion that you have constructed to impress folks with a false image, rather than an unmasked version of who you really are. As we exclaim how we are rooting for everybody Black, I am rooting for everybody Black and Gay to live their best life as their most authentic self. We owe nothing to one. We have to allow our selves to walk in our truth by not allowing the foolishness of others to hold us back.

As always, bring your ideas and thoughts, let’s have a civil conversation. I would love to hear your thoughts. Emphasis on “civil,” because the block game is S T R O N G. Now, I’m not telling y’all to call out folks when you see things aren’t adding up. Allow them to struggle in their own journey, give them the support they need without shaming them. With that note, I’m off. Find me on Instagram @TheCarterReport and Tumblr and Twitter @TheCarterReport, I am always interested in hearing about what you all what to hear about.

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