When Friendship Feels like Partnership

I once had a best friend who meant the world to me, yet we navigated our emotions differently. We met in 2010 when I became friends with her then-girlfriend as we served at a restaurant. She sat at the bar in her air of toughness, but was immediately chill once she started talking to me. I never thought I would be spending time with someone who oozed a strong, silent confidence that I did not carry. I was happy-go-lucky, enthusiastic and felt my emotions deeply, whereas she lived with a sense of detachment and deflected her feelings by using humor at my expense. Although we created over eight years of memories together, I could not sustain a friendship where I lacked emotional safety and a strong sense of self.

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naïveté

At 24-years-old, I met Reuven on a sunny afternoon on September 14, 2014. I was attending church regularly by bus and on that particular Sunday I felt anointed and free. After the service, I went shopping and was now wearing a backwards tie-dye hat on top of my reddish-brown dreadlocks when I walked onto his bus. Meeting Reuven changed my life. I felt like God understood what I was seeking: knowledge, intellectualism, happiness, fun and joy. While I did experience bliss with Reuven, I learned lessons I never thought I would need to feel safe and loved in my life. I am thankful to now embody and share the wisdom I’ve gained with our daughter.

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tough love

I cried a lot in elementary school when I was being made fun of in class. Being highly sensitive is one of my most profound memories of myself as a kid. I was also a voracious reader. At my sixth grade graduation, the school librarian presented me with a $100 savings bond for reading the most books in the school library. It was an incredible honor for me. Reading saved me from feeling lonely and unloved as a child in my household because being ambitious was not encouraged. Although I learned strength and perseverance by watching my mom raise us, her inability to be emotionally and academically supportive has affected my ability to love and believe in myself as an adult.

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