Today…I’m gonna leave my kids the f*ck alone.

I’ve got a 5 and 14 year old. I can’t imagine what it’s like growing up in this touch screen world. They think everything should happen right now and they disregard things in real life like its a friggin’ browser tab and its annoying. On the flip side of that coin, they seem to have the most bizarre and extreme reactions to the most benign things.

There are some benefits to their generational shifts I won’t deny, but they sure get the raw end on the childhood joy and lightness deal. This is the generation of anxiety and low grade, constant stress.

So tonight, I’m gonna let them do their thing.

No correcting. No checking. Minimal monitoring. No nagging mom bullshit.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh…..nice.

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Stepping away from religion.

It’s with a still mind and jittery hands that I even type these words out.

The observer in me appreciates the symbolism.

I suppose I have a greater appreciation for any gay person who has come out to their people. Certainly not the same situation, but I can see where they can both pull from several of the same emotions.

It’s been over a year since I made the conscious decision to discontinue grafting Islam into my identity. I’m African American. The end product of two people who fell in love in Brooklyn and had a kid in the 70’s. I’m not exactly the terrified girl bucking against the Sword of Jihad. I’m grateful for that. But I am not thrilled about telling my Papa. And I’m secretly relieved I never got the chance to tell my mother.

I no longer identify as a Muslim. Islam is what saved my mother’s life. It pushed her through the sludge of generational abuse and addiction and taught her that she was the offspring of God’s favorite creation. Islam is why she stepped away from my miserable dad and found the love of her life until the day she died. Islam is the poetry that beats through my Papa’s beautiful Sufi heart.Their faith is what brought them through the hardest times. Brought us through the hardest times.  I’m grateful for all of that.

Grateful, for sure. But completely at peace with my decision.

So why the breakup? I’ve just always experienced a knowing about a few things:

  1. An indefinitely fixed position of how we’re supposed to conduct our lives is at the core, the source of conflict and violence across space and time. That goes for everybody. Religious and otherwise. An atheist that proudly touts their inability or even refusal to understand the perspective of a hallelujah’n, Bible thumping, pro-life, holy ghosting, tongue speaking, Gospel blasting, Sunday-Skirts-Only wearing Jesus Freak only reveals their inability to step away from what their beliefs are long enough to examine the unknown and uncomfortable without holding onto their position like a rickety raft in the Bermuda Triangle . It’s just another fixed position. I’m just done with fixed positions in my life right now. I’ve got so much to explore now that I’ve taken off this costume I’ve been wearing since I was a kid.
  2. LGBTQ people are cool with me. I’ve happily chosen not to make a big fucking deal about them. I choose my life. I choose peace and growth. Anybody down with that, is down with me. Anyone who isn’t will have a hell of a time adjusting to the tsunami of change heading this way. Make no mistake: Our LGBTQ community is going nowhere. What’s more–they’re coming out of the wood-works. Making their way, and their voices heard in this world. Tie up the SCOTUS all you want. They cannot be denied nor stopped. And I expect they’ll become the ambassadors of acceptance, inclusiveness and joy that African Americans never fully took the chance to be.
  3. I will not deny my value and whittle myself down in any way because I’m female. That means I can wear what I decide to wear. I don’t even know what asking my husband for permission even means, and neither does he for that matter. With all variables the same, my eyes and awareness make me no less a witness to an event than a man who is also witnessing it. That also means my mother’s passing will result in me receiving equal part of what she left behind for her male and female children alike if no specific instructions are left behind. And when I die, what is left for my children will reflect that. To my babies, take what I’ve left behind. Half for each of you. Do with it what you will. I’m off to finally find and marry Bruce Lee…….
  4. I don’t endorse slavery of any kind. The concept that He created us to live beholden to His guidance and we are to love Him or have our flesh seared, regrown and seared again as punishment implies much more than I’m interested in.  Only under the fear of Damnation would I comfortably agree to that belief. I look at the characteristics most religious followers (unknowingly) attach to God:
    1. Jealousy (There Is No One But Me That Can…..)
    2. Love and reward in exchange for acquiescence.
    3. Ultimatums of fire, torture and suffering for those who protest, refuse or question.
    4. Dependence (Prove to me you believe 1 by doing X, Y and Z so I can sort out who deserves or 3.)
    5. Creating obstacles (disaster,cruelty, “urges”) to make it harder than it already is.
    6. Creating subjects with Free Will while simultaneously requiring they suppress it.

I don’t know one soul who would accept that kind of relationship with someone they considered mortal, flawed, and limited in capacity (aka human). They wouldn’t even accept that kind of relationship with people they know who may be afflicted with some psychological trauma and can’t help themselves. Compassionate towards them? Yes. Subscribing to those terms? Hell no. So why in the hell would I put myself under this kind of duress over an entity I’m told is all powerful and capable of infinitely more than that? So He is completely capable of being infinitely compassionate and facilitate endless joy but…He didn’t. Because. Well okay then.

I’m making a different decision. I don’t ask who God is because either He exists or He doesn’t. If He doesn’t, it doesn’t matter. If He does, He’s either cool with me or I’m going to Hell. What I won’t do anymore is pretend I believe in any of that. The pretenders go to Hell anyway. I’ll just stick to believing in love, compassion, perspective and choice.

That’s more than enough for me right now. (To be continued? Of course. I’m flexible.)

-Q

Respect your pain. But never pickle in it.

Being on the receiving end of cruelty is hardly a preferred experience. Some event or person comes into your space and ruptures a piece of you. The worst part of cruelty is how indiscriminate it can be. Sometimes it comes down to being born in the wrong century, or standing at the wrong place at the wrong time. You really don’t seem to have to ask for it and before you know it, you’re caught up in some crazy shit, chewed up and spit out in a heap of WTF.

But I realized something: It’s bad enough that the terrible thing that happens actually happens. Whats worse is when you walk around with it after its over. Emotional Spam. A pop up banner of some crap experience you didn’t want to have in the first place. The woman drinking her coffee at the bus stop looks just like your manipulative sister-in-law. The cologne your ex used wear, pulls up the memory of him and it puts a hole in your heart all over again. What about the traumatic moments involving people you still love and want in your life? Maybe you don’t want to cut them off life because they’re worth keeping around? What about the people you can’t keep out of your life?

You ever ask yourself how much of your will power goes into carrying those memories? Then how much of it goes to holding resentment about it? Then on top of that, how much energy goes into avoiding the stimuli when they do pop up in random places you have no environmental control over? How much of your personal bandwidth does that take up anyway?

Way more than I’m willing to allocate to it.

Denial of the past is a waste of time. Everybody knows that, right?

But where most people fall in a loop is re-imagining what they experienced under in the interest of Learning From The Past.

It is helpful to respect  painful events for the lessons they teach. They help you explore what to aim for moving forward. Not how awful the pain was. You probably don’t even process pain the same way as you did at the time you experienced it. The you that experienced that trauma didn’t even have the experience of what that kind of trauma even felt like. That version of you hadn’t even survived anything like that before. But you, right now? You right now has already gotten past it. There really is no productive use in regurgitating your painful history, grabbing a spoon and choking it back down again. Because we know what comes next right? Belly ache.

I’ve decided to do myself a favor. I’m going to give much due respect for the pain in my past, take a lesson from it in my heart and leave the rest behind me like a haircut. I know there are people out there who feel me on this.

Reach out to me for a free course on how to give yourself the gift of emancipation from emotional pain.

makedifferentdecisions@gmail.com