Should You Be Friends with Your Ex?

The age old question of “should I be friends with my ex?” will never have a surefire answer and it is personal to everyone, but this is my opinion on the matter. Some may agree and some may disagree, but nevertheless it is merely an opinion and this is not a personal attack on anyone. Feel free to feel whatever you may please.

For starters, this question is not a “should I hate my ex,” versus “should I respect my ex?” Because you should not hate anyone and you should (try to) respect everyone. This is more of a…”should I incorporate my ex into my life just as I do my other friends?” Of course it matters what the situation regarding the break-up was. In situations of abuse and obvious mistreatment, that person does not deserve access to you and your life. When children are involved things get difficult…but for this case I’m focusing on break-ups not concerned with children or abuse.

Everyone starts to date for a reason and one of those reasons (most likely) was that you and your ex got along and found pleasure in spending time with each other. So, you are both friends and significant others, because you wouldn’t date someone that you weren’t friends with (in most cases). But then if you found such pleasure in each others time…why would you break-up? The reasons are endless…but it seems that all of the reasons go back to one person being more committed than the other. When you find yourself becoming committed to someone and only having a desire for them, your heart, soul, and body become involved with that other person. There is something about humans and the way that we love that just consumes us. By consuming I don’t mean that you revolve your life around it, but you consider that person in everything you do….because when you have a relationship with someone, especially a romantic one, your actions effect them whether you like it or not.

So, when you experience such deep emotions and then someone cheats on you, or decides that they don’t want to be in a relationship with you because it is just not what they want anymore…and you’re not on the same level of disinterest as them…it hurts…badly. You find yourself questioning everything you did. Asking yourself, “where did I go wrong? what could I have done differently?” You just keep fighting yourself until eventually you realize that you did nothing wrong. And you did not have to do anything differently. I’m guessing that most of us distance ourselves from our exes for a while because we all know that we cannot heal if we are surrounded by the person that left us feeling broken every day. That would be like sending a former alcoholic to the bar after they get their first sobriety chip. You need distance from what hurt you before you can surround yourself with it without feeling the negative feelings you did before. Even if you still love them, and you still will, sometimes we have to keep the things we love the most the furthest away from us.

But when you find yourself feeling better and you find that you no longer have an attachment to that person. You see their name on your phone or see them on social media and your heart no longer skips a beat. Someone mentions their name and you don’t feeling a pang in your chest. Your emotions are no longer easily influenced by their presence. You have healed (mostly) from the tragedy of a broken heart. What do you do then? What you shouldn’t do is go out of your way to have them in your life. If you come across them in public…say hi. If you see something they say on social media and you want to like it, retweet it, share it, or anything in the like…do it. If they say something to you in public or social media, then respond. But if you start to let them into your life more, then the chances of you gaining back the deep emotions and feelings that you have spent SO much time training yourself to not experience and live without will more likely than not come back. You have to remind yourself, as painful as it sounds, that they do not feel for you the way that you’ve felt for them….unless of course they say so. But, then again, the idea that someone only realizes how much they feel for you when you are gone are risky waters to be treading in. To me that just sounds like uncertainty…but that’s a different topic.

What I am getting at, since I have really dragged out the question of, “should I be friends with my ex?” is that…you should be friendly with your ex but you shouldn’t be friends with them. The term friends is used very loosely these days, but if you really think about it…you guys aren’t really friends. I’d say the word phrase old friends would be more suiting. Eventually as you grow into the person you are without them you’ll even seem more like strangers. Pain changes people and the person you were when you were with them will not be the same person you are when you aren’t with them.

If you think you can maintain close contact with your ex and not gain feelings for them again…then go for it. There is nothing stopping you, but remember there is nothing forcing you either. It does not make you a bad person to not maintain a solid friendship with them. As long as you respect their name and send love their way (as you should do for everyone, whether you know them or not) you are doing everything right. If they want to be friends with you and it is too painful for you, be honest with them and if they cannot understand that…they eventually will…I promise.

Also keep in mind that you don’t have to burn the bridge because burning bridges is never good. Just don’t work on the bridge for a few seasons. This is not a grudge you are holding. It is just you living your life the healthiest way for you. There are many people that we have met that we care for, but don’t necessarily go out of our way for them to be in our lives. If years pass and you two have grown into different people…maybe things can work. But also remember to NOT wait on that and to carry on your life without the thought that maybe you two will meet again. Just let life happen and try not to actively wonder about those things.

I pray that you all feel better if you are going through a break-up or any painful experience…it gets better. The new you will be beautiful and thriving and wonderful. I pray you all find love for yourself and find yourself surrounded by everything good.

My Blackness – A Poem

I show up with my mother and everyone is shook, I show up with my father and they don’t give a second look. But she’s white and I’m not, we mustn’t be related. Damn, that’s the type of thing that I have always hated. The looks and the glares, you think I can’t feel your despair? Sometimes hate is silent, but you always know when it is there.

I want to be a doctor and you laugh in my face, then you hand me some track spikes and tell me to go race. I speak on the problems that make my heart crack, but then you have the nerve to tell me, “you aren’t even black.” You scoff when I “bring up slavery and history again,” when you don’t even realize that there was no end.

No end to the brutality from those that protect us. No end to the fear and the severe lack of trust. No end to the comments, “is this your real hair? can i touch it?” Oh, and don’t forget, “how do you even brush ‘it’?” Frizzy. And big. Unruly. And nappy. But when you get a perm, it’s “perfect,” are you happy?

No end to the nerves when you meet someone’s parents. You dress to impress in hopes of earning their clearance. The thoughts racing through your mind, “do they know that I’m black? are they okay with that?” In fear that they might think your presence poses as an attack.

I’m not black enough, but I’m black when you need me. I’m black when I wear a hood and all of a sudden I am creepy. I’m black when you need a black friend to seem not racist. I’m black when the police ask me why I am around certain places. I’m black when you want to seem cultured and pure. But I’m not black enough when you think you can use the n-word. You say, “I forget you’re black,” as if that makes it okay? I don’t care how close we are, that is something that should never say, no matter the time or the day.

Slang from my mouth makes me hood and ghetto, but slang from yours makes you chill, on the down low. You think that I only listen to R&B and rap and when I say I am scared to get pulled over you say, “don’t overreact.” But tell me, do you feel your stomach churn at the news? When you hear the too familiar words,”black thug dies,” because I do. Or worry about your father or brother when they drive. And pray that they don’t get pulled over and make it home alive, rather than end up another lost black life. Do people around you roll your eyes, when you say that #BlackLivesMatter because you don’t want anyone else to die?

Do you find yourself stressed when you explain to your friends, if “All Lives Mattered,” then so many blacks wouldn’t be shot dead. They tell you, “it’s all in your head, there’s no issue,” can you say that to the mother crying over her son’s beaten dead body tissue? They don’t understand that we know that every cop isn’t bad, but some are corrupt and the fact that they can’t see that is sad.

You don’t sound black. Or act black. Or speak it. Or dress it. Can black not be calm? Classy? Or literate? You fear the progression of black all around you. You’re clenching your purse because of what? A tattoo? I raise a concern and that makes me sassy and rude. I dress how I feel confident, but anything I wear is lewd.

She’s light-skin, she’s mixed, she can’t say she’s black. Tell that to the people who’ve called me a nigger and laughed. Tell that to the security guard who put me outside, when my two fairer skinned friends got to stay inside. Tell that to the kids who stare at me in discomfort, when the word slave or racism is mentioned before us. Tell that to the high-school counselor that drove me away, from attending a college that was situated too close to Alabama one day.

The privilege I receive from my lighter toned black, is evident and real, but I will always be under attack. All black is beautiful and all black is assaulted. No matter the shade, society wants us all to be exhausted. My melanin is radiant and my curls are fucking fire. I have never and will never be an affirmative action hire.

I am smart and hard-working and earned my spot, not by fault. I land an achievement and all of a sudden everyone is salt. I will not fall prey to this self-fulfilling prophecy, that has succumbed too many living in this sad ass democracy. I’m black and I’m white and I’m bold and I’m bright. I’m everything you could ever want and I will not go down without a fight.

Reactions

In my last post I made a comment on reactions. I know this is something that is difficult and not even close to being simple…but nevertheless it is important. The life that we are living is going to be filled with people who are put here to build and test our strength. The stupidity and the carelessness of others is out of our control and it is ultimately inevitable. No matter how good of a person we are or how selfless our actions are, we will never have complete control of the world that surrounds us. Whether is is nature or other people, some things are out of our control…and that is just life.One thing that we can control is the way we choose to live our lives and react to the good and bad things that happen.

Starting with the bad, I know at times life seems impossible, but we must fight like hell and carry on. We are powerful, resilient, and flexible beings. We are able to withstand great trauma and pressure…we have the ability to adapt to many different circumstances. Our bodies can utilize different systems and our parasympathetic or sympathetic nervous systems can change the way that our bodies function in order to survive. Survival is written in human DNA and survive is what we all must and will do.

When things go bad, it is okay to recognize that it is bad. Do not ignore the bad because that will lead to nothing good to come. Acknowledge the bad, even look yourself in the mirror and vocalize the bad to yourself. Feel the bad. Experience the bad. But then tell yourself that this bad is not forever. You have to realize that whatever has happened has happened. The past is tricky because although the past can effect the present, the past is ultimately the past and it can never be changed. I am going to say that again. The past can never and will never be changed. No matter what we do, no change will ever occur to the past. What can be changed is the future. We can better our mindset and try everything in our power to make this life a better one. I know it may sound silly, but you really do have to tell yourself that everything will be okay. Talk to yourself and be there for yourself, because if you are not there for yourself…why would the world? Even when the bad seems to be the end…you have to try and ease your reaction in a different direction. Once you start to focus on the way you react to things, you will notice that the anger, sadness, guilt, jealousy, and despair that you feel won’t last as long. If someone does something that would normally make you angry or if someone hurts you and makes you sad…you can feel that emotion, but work on feeling it for a shorter time. Life is too short to be clouded with negative emotions that ultimately only take their toll on the self.

Now for the good, each and every time something happens in your life that makes you smile or makes your eyes light up, thank the universe. Even if it is something as simple as hitting all green lights on your way home or getting eleven chicken nuggets when you ordered ten…smile because as cliche as it may sound, the little things in life are often the profound ones. You have to find joy in all things in life because this life we have only lasts for a set amount of time…and why live it with anything other than joy? Step outside and look around you. The sun is shining, there is that plentiful oxygen in the air, and the sky is blue. Even in the wake of a storm. The smell of oncoming rain fills your nasal cavity, the booming sound of thunder and lightning vibrates your tympanic membrane, and the breeze chills your skin. You are alive and you are feeling and experiencing the beautiful world around you. Once you start to feel joy in all the things that surround you, you will notice that joy will be abundant in comparison to despair.

Do me a favor. Do yourself a favor. Do the world a favor. Choose to be happy. It takes effort. So much effort. It will not come easy. You need to tell yourself that you are worth it and I’m telling you right now that you are worth it. You need to decide to react to things that have happened and that have yet to happen in a positive way. That test you are dreading? Stop dreading it. Thinking that, “I am going to fail,” “Nothing good will come,” “I should have studied more,” that will not change anything. Instead think, “I will do my best and the grade I receive is what I receive and it is not reflective on my ability or who I am as a person.” If you don’t get the best grade…accept it and move on. What is done is done. That relationship didn’t work out? Be sad about it if you may, but then realize that it happened for a reason and it cannot be undone. Heartbreak and sadness are inevitable, but happiness and joy are always possible. Some things may take longer to get over and to grow past…but as long as you tell yourself that you will see brighter days…keep on keeping on. Your reactions lead to actions which leads to changes in your life. Your reactions are very powerful. I want you to understand that as deeply as you can. We are all in this life together and we all experience hurt and trauma. You are never alone, so please never feel that way. You have the power to control the way you react, take charge of your life and commit yourself to yourself because you deserve that. Make your life beautiful despite the unavoidable evil that lurks in the dark depths of the universe. You have the choice, so choose you.