Searching For Blame

Resentment: the unsettling, gut wrenching, choke hold that kept me captive for so much of my young life. I remember sitting in the passenger seat of my 2002 Toyota Camry smoking away my sorrows. Why did life have to be so unfair? Why did I have to live in a world that saw me as less than? A young black man with a chip on his shoulder.

I spent a majority of my latter teen years verbalizing my frustrations with the so called “system” I blamed for my woes. I soaked in the paranoia filled doctrine of conspiracies like a helpless junkie searching for a quick fix, yet nothing could give me the high I was in search of. I was a victim in the truest sense.

beautiful-beauty-blond-289225.jpg

For hours a day, I would saturate my mind with the “mad world” beliefs that were plentiful on the web. I resonated with every new piece of information I found online as they were confirmations for my already skeptical mind. I surrounded myself with those whose beliefs aligned with mine and what we all had in common, more than our love for conspiracies, was the need to point blame outwardly.

Looking back, I could have blamed my insatiable need for conspiracy theories as a drug induced inclination, but, in reality I would have fallen into the same trappings without the drugs. I realized I was always an individual who sought to point blame in the most subtle ways. I wouldn’t tell you something was your fault but would convict the system that created you as the problem.

Not once did it dawn on me that my position in life was my own choosing. I truly felt that I had to take a backseat in life because the greater system was against those of my hue. Nothing held me back as much as that belief.

background-calm-clouds-747964.jpg

It amazes me how we have the ability to create a false reality and live our entire lives on those falsehoods, for the simple reason of not accepting that our lives are in our control. Sure, we may not be capable of predicting or controlling circumstances outside of ourselves, but we do have control of our own actions and reactions to any given situation.

If I had known this in my earlier years, I would have spent much more time changing my circumstances instead of living in a constant state of anger and resentment, which was only a cover for my inherent fear of taking responsibility for my own life.

Tinashe Hwande

Edited by. Tayla Hasselbach

Why I Cut Myself Off

The idea of cutting people off has become something of a cultural mantra. Everybody and their grandmother now speaks on who they cut off for being a fake, toxic and negative influence within their lives. I, too, was one of these individuals always looking outward for the toxicity in my life, heck sometimes I even catch myself in that same place now.

The mecca of all realizations came to me not too long ago; my decision to step away from certain relationships that no longer served the highest version of myself had nothing to do with cutting anybody off. At least not anybody external. The person I was truly cutting all ties with was the version of myself I was no longer happy with.

Life is a process of continual development and when we choose to be on life’s side, we are guided in the direction of growth which often comes in the form of testing times and tough sacrifices.

We usually look at the purging process of our own toxicity as this romanticized scene right out of a Ryan Gosling ROCO in which we find our true selves within a minute and a half long montage. 

The true “cutting off” process is painful, daunting and often comes in the form of pretty much losing our sh**. From those long nights crying over old memories, to the sacrifices of pizza and soda for a kale smoothie and a spinach salad, cutting off the old version of ourselves is truly a mourning process.

In most cases, our old friends and sometimes family where never truly the problem since we were the ones who let them continuously treat us the way they did. The old version of ourselves had some sort of attachment to the negativity that came from abusive and manipulative situations. I have a saying that goes “the first time it happens, you are a victim, the second time it happens, you are a participant.”

Most of the time we are participants within our own torment, but the moment we finally say enough is enough is usually when the greater version of ourselves kicks in and begins to engage in a full on purge of our past selves. The self that is to be cut off.

((Tayla’s Chapter ))

When we actually start to acknowledge and honor our deepest self, we find that we are naturally guided to exit certain relationships and stop participating in activities that never really made us feel good. We realize that all the anxiety and worry we used to have was due to the fact that we were not living authentically.

We feel like the whole world is on our shoulders, everyone is depending on our presence and participation at the party. Let me be completely frank… the world does not revolve around you. People don’t care as much as you think, if at all, whether you are in attendance. They are far too worried about their own appearance and compliance with the social pressures. Sure, they might hear that you didn’t make it and say “awh I miss Tina or what happened to Bobby?” but the thought is fleeting and they move onto “enjoy” (hopefully) the party. Even better, people may hear that you didn’t make it and think “damn, look at Stacy go, do you boo!”

Even when it comes to family members. I used to feel so horrible for missing a family function, trying to formulate the best, most reasonable excuse for why I flat out just wanted to do something else or spend time with someone else that day. Once I realized that the party didn’t stop, people didn’t mourn my absence, the world didn’t revolve around me… a huge weight was lifted. I could breathe again.

By forcing ourselves into situations because we feel obligated, we think we will hurt someone or let them down, or any other excuse we are so good at formulating, we not only hurt ourselves by way of distancing ourselves from our goals and aspirations, we unknowingly hurt others through our lack of authenticity and presence during our interactions. If you go to an event, party, gathering, etc. out of obligation, put on a facade, act like you’re having a good time, yet really wish you were somewhere else doing anything else, you are lying to yourself as well as those you love.

Fake, inauthentic interactions truly serve no one involved, especially yourself. Hate to break it to you, but at the end of the day, you are stuck by yourself, with yourself. I am a firm practitioner of loving others. However, loving yourself is the most important practice of your life. Period. In fact, you will never be able to truly love others without first loving and honoring yourself. So, LISTEN. Follow that little voice telling you that you don’t really want to go out tonight or have people over, something inside you needs some alone time… HONOR this. You are being guided every moment by your intuition. Tuning into this takes practice and discernment. Being able to tell the difference between choosing to allocate your time to things you actually care about and plain old laziness takes practice as well…. (to be continued…?)

Tayla M. Hasselbach & Tinashe Hwande

(edited by Tayla M. Hasselbach)