I Don’t Want to Survive; I Want to Thrive

img_2103“Grab her by the pussy.” No matter how many times I hear it in my head I can’t help but to laugh. Not one of those gut busting, tears coming out of my eyes laughs, but one of those this is crazy laughs. I’m not laughing this morning and neither are most of the men and women I know.

I keep hearing how African Americans survived slavery and survived Jim Crow and survived the harshness of the Civil Rights Movement and the Reagan era. Stop telling me how we survived mass incarceration. “We survived all that, we’ll survive Donald Trump as President.” It’s not Trump I’m afraid of, it’s Trump’s America that scares me. A world of racial profiling and 4 dollar a gallon gas. I am not my ancestors and I love them for surviving and living but I choose not to survive. I choose to thrive. I choose to not sit at home behind my computer and sulk and be afraid and not cause trouble at work. I choose to hold my head up high, walk into my office and remind anyone that’s jubilant about last night’s victory that we have HR for a reason and I won’t threaten you are curse you out. I will simply write an email getting you fired for discussing politics at work.

Last night was my youngest sister’s 15th birthday. When we were having dinner she told us she got a letter from Stanford University to come visit the school and be a part of a program. She is incredibly smart and mature, she writes short stories and loves photography. Her future is as bright as she wants it to be, that doesn’t stop because of Trump or his supporters. Today’s weather mirrors how my heart feels. Dark, cold, unsettling but with a new day comes a new sky and with a new sky comes the ability to rise above this America we are now living in.

I don’t want to survive. I don’t want to get disrespected and marginalized and not get the same opportunities and be okay with it. Surviving is what our ancestors did because they had no choice because it was survive or die. We have a choice, not just to survive but to thrive. We have a choice on whether or not we want to build something and make something of ourselves or survive. On whether or not we want to accept racism, sexism, elitism and survive or look racism, sexism and elitism in the face and say, “Move or get ran over.”

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You’re Not Where You Want To Be In Life; Don’t Worry, Few Of Us Are

lies You’re Not Where You Want To Be In Life; Don’t Worry, Few Of Us Are

We’ve had beautiful weather almost this entire month. Gas is cheap enough where with a hundred dollars in your pocket you can be in Kemah or Austin for a Saturday of drinks and laughs and crawfish or BBQ. I haven’t had to cut my AC or Heater on in my home in like two weeks which means my bills won’t be harassing me. It’s been a good month so why are there so many miserable people? So many unhappy/ I’m looking for a fight sort of people. It’s because people have a hard time accepting that their version of happy and their story isn’t going to match someone else’s.

You know something I’ve never fully understood? It’s adults that work and live in the real world that make fun of other adults that spend income tax money. I want to scream, “YOU DO REALIZE INCOME TAXES COME FROM TAXES TAKEN OUT OF YOUR INCOME!” And furthermore it doesn’t mean you make too much money when you get no taxes back. Do you own a home, have children, donate to charity, have student loans, the list goes on. So this idea that “I don’t need my income tax money because I’m good” is crazy! I go to work everyday and every month they take taxes out of my check. Do they hesitate to take that money? Can I say, “Chill for a couple months Uncle Sam, I will pay you all my taxes in a couple months.” Yeah, I can’t.

In the mid to late 2000’s I would see people I went to high school with graduating from college and all I could think was, “I graduated higher than them. That person could barely read. They asked me for help with that exam.” I’d see men that cheated or weren’t responsible traveling with pretty women and getting married. Maybe back then I wouldn’t have admitted this but that made me so depressed. There were weeks where I didn’t even log onto Facebook because I couldn’t see that. Ten years later I see the error in my logic. Their happiness wasn’t a condemnation on my value or self-worth. Instead of being happy for them, I was a hater. It’s impossible for a hater to be happy. My journey is my journey, good or bad, win or lose.

I remember being at 300 before it was this new bowling alley and a woman that worked at a law firm invited me to her companies bowling outing. I was working picking up dead dogs, cleaning the sides of the roads, flagging cars at intersections. I didn’t meet them in my work clothes, I didn’t even throw on some jeans and a sweater. I put on a suit and walked in there like I’d just left a board meeting. Gas tank on E, maybe 5 dollars in my pocket. When someone asked me why I was drinking water all night, I told them, “It’s an early morning and I live far.” What I remember most about that night is taking a picture and posting it online and having all these people say things like, “I see you.” “Looking good.” “I want an invite.” I was putting on for some likes knowing I was hungry as hell and wanted to take them up on their offers of drinks and food. Pride and insecurity are horrible combinations. You never know what people that look like they have it all together are going through. Love your journey and your struggle.

I Was A Better Man Than Boyfriend; That Had to Change For My Relationship To Survive

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Once you grow up being a man is relatively easy. You keep your word as best as you can, you take care of the people you love, you go to work and try to live honorably. There will be times you don’t do everything perfectly but understanding that you messed up and trying not to make the same mistakes twice is what makes us better.
There may be times when you lose your job or your car is in the shop and you need help from your woman, that’s cool, we all go through things but you can’t make it a habit.

As far as I know, I’m a good man. My reputation professionally is solid, I keep my word, I love my family and I try to be the man that people expect me to be. The man I expect myself to be. It wasn’t until the first several months into my relationship that I realized being a good man didn’t mean I was being a good boyfriend. As a matter of fact, being a good man blinded me to the fact that I was on the fast track to becoming a horrible boyfriend or single again.

Being a good man is about having a certain level of pride and confidence that won’t allow you to lose. It’s about taking control and leading when you see there’s a void. It’s about doing what’s necessary. Relationships are about compromise. Pride and confidence are great traits but if you’re not yielding, you’re not willing to see her side. For so many years it was easy for me to walk away from situations knowing that even if I was wrong, I was right. How can you have that mindset in a relationship? You can’t.

Most men don’t know how to lead because we’ve never mastered the art of being led. We go into these relationships feeling like we should be the head of the house or the leader but leadership is earned, not given. Saying “I don’t know” or “can you help me” makes you just as effective of a partner or leader than saying, “I can do this on my own and she’s just going to have to get in line.” Being able to ask for help, being able to talk about past struggles or disappointments, being able to open up is what helped me be a better boyfriend.

So often we compare other people’s inadequacies in their relationships to our own. She tells me, “You don’t call and check on me enough, you don’t ever ask me how my day is going.” My response shouldn’t be, “It’s not like I’m cheating on you or I’m talking to other women. I’m at work, I’m busy. I know women that would love a guy that worked as much as me.” Being a man means you’re responsible to your obligations but what happens when you ignore being responsible for her heart? Being responsible for her feelings. A woman that’s willing to tell you what you’re not doing is a woman that’s still fighting for you.

Anyway, those are some early 2016 thoughts. I hope you all have a great year!