The Ex-Factor

I love a good podcast. One of the perks of living alone is getting to blast one in my apartment, and laugh, ponder, and engage with the content without having to speak to anyone else. I particularly enjoy listening while cooking because for some reason the combination of the two activities relaxes the fuck out of me. So tonight, while listening to The Friend Zone and whipping up some creamy lemon garlic chicken with sun-dried tomatoes (which was poppin’ by the way), I was shocked to find myself suddenly under attack.

This week, Francheska, the female co-host wrapped her hands around my medium length tresses, and dragged the fuck out of me.

The episode is called “Ex-Factor”, and a little before half way through she starts going in about how when it comes to personal relationships at some point you have to take some responsibility for the way people treat you. She talks about how she realized that she tended to stay too long in relationships, which was something I could relate to. There is a well known saying about how the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. For some reason, when it comes to dealing with other human beings whether romantically or otherwise, a lot of us seem to fall prey to insanity. It doesn’t feel crazy when you are trying to maintain a relationship. It is only when you are looking through the lens of hindsight that we say, “how did this take me so long to figure out?”.

She also talks about the walls people build, and limitations we put on our relationships as a response to recognizing our own blindnesses. When it comes to dealing with other people, if you are afraid of being caught in the dark again, you shut down what could possibly be meaningful interactions (*raises hand* guilty). The flourescent lights are always on. That reaction makes sense. Who wants to be caught with their ass out? Nobody. So, you find ways to protect yourself. But it’s important at the very least, to notice whether your behaviors are stemming from, as Fran has said on the show before, the spirit or the wound.  I am now trying to be more aware of this about myself. When I make a choice, is it based in fear and anger, or love? I think our best choices as human beings are always made in love. Love for others, and love for ourselves.

Part of the key to this new awareness, is this whole taking some responsibility for the way people have treated you thing. What allowances have you made that signaled to others that certain things were OK, when in all honesty they weren’t? Why did you allow these things to transgress? These are fun questions to ask yourself when you want to dive down the deep, dark, rabbit hole of your psyche late at night. The beauty that comes with accepting some of the responsibility for the things that happened to you though, is that it allows you to let go of some of the anger that comes with the looking back.

There is a word in the Ghanaian Twi language: sankofa. It means “go back and get it”. There is a symbol that accompanies it as well. It’s a bird looking back at it’s own tail. I am drawn to this idea, of the using the past to inform the future. When I go back and actively lay claim to my personal history and the part I played in crafting it, my scars become tools in my toolbox for living. It can no longer be weaponized against me, by myself or anyone else. These moments of clarity are touch and go at the moment (being alive is an imperfect process), but when they arrive they are perfect.

I am free.


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