The Disney Effect: How much has it shaped our view on relationships?

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Courtesy of collegemagazine.com

Anyone who truly knows me knows that I love a good Disney movie. The classics to be exact. Anything from Lion King, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast and so on bring me utter joy. People my age grew up watching these amazing stories that we still know and love today. As great as the lessons are in these classics, I wonder if there is a negative side effect that emerged from them. Has growing up watching happily ever after happen over and over again prompted this generation to believe that relationships and marriage happen the same way? That people magically meet, fall in love and get married and nothing goes wrong with minimal effort involved.

Some have called this the Disney Effect. I believe Disney created a culture of love sick people who believe love is supposed to happen in a certain way. For instance, the Disney Effect impacts how we view our love story. What’s funny to me is that most Disney movies have some type of hardship that is faced in order for the couple to get together. Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Pocahontas all had some difficulty in getting together. Yet when our story doesn’t match what we think is a Disney story, we are disappointed. We don’t want to tell people how we met because it’s not a storybook romance. Truth of the matter is it doesn’t happen for most people. On average most of us will have some type of hiccup that occurred. Maybe you broke up once for a few years and reconnected. Maybe when you all first met one of you wasn’t even attracted to the other one. Maybe when you first crossed paths the timing was off and it took a while to get together. Whatever your situation, it is OK to embrace it. Don’t let a rare situation have you thinking that is the standard for how love happens.

Another symptom of the Disney Effect is thinking relationships are as simple as love at first sight. Oh if it were as simple as a pang in the heart on the first encounter and everything else falling into place. Truth is relationships aren’t that simple. People come from different walks of life and it can and most times will interfere with how your relationship will play out. The likelihood that you will meet someone, fall in love in a few weeks, get married a little after that and not have any issues the rest of your life is slim to none. It sounds great but it is not what typically happens. Has it happened to some? Yes. Will it happen for everyone? No. We have to accept the fact that relationships take a lot more work than that. We also have to stop fearing the work that goes into them.

Then there is the happily ever after that myself and too many others have fallen for. I’ll be the first to admit that the Disney Effect had indeed got to me. For years I believed love was as simple as falling in love at first sight which would lead to a fairytale ending. I thought that a man would come and sweep me off my feet and we would live, dare I say it again, happily ever after. I thought that as long as you got down the isle everything else was storybook romance. I unfortunately really believed that once two people got married, they would live in marital bliss. I remember when I learned that I had fallen for the tricks of Hollywood and cinema. It wasn’t until I went through a marriage class at my mom’s old church (yes single and all) that I realized how distorted my thinking really was. Those couples politely woke me up from the dream I had been living in. “Every day you have to wake up and decide you’re going to make it work,” they told me. I was shocked!!! Here it was I thought that my marriage would be just as sweet as every other Disney Princess once the credits rolled and the movie was over. I hadn’t realized that no credits would roll after my nuptials. I had to learn that a happy and healthy marriage is created by two people who decide to make it work every day, not a phase of relationship you graduate to.

Maybe I’m the only one who bought the dream Disney was selling. Maybe I’m the only one who thought that fairytale love stories were the norm. If so I can live with that. If not I hope I’ve helped you to see that a fairytale love story is whatever you create it to be. Truth be told no matter how beautiful your story is, it means nothing if you don’t have a marriage that matches. The best love story is created through hard work and the day to day decision to love in spite of flaws, disputes and everyday trials. Some of the greatest love stories have some painful parts, but the ending is one not even Disney himself could create. So stop looking for and expecting something that doesn’t exist, and begin writing your love story today.

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Emotional Baggage

Many of us have read it in numerous blogs, books, have seen it in YouTube videos, ect, that we have to deal with ourselves emotionally before we can appreciate a relationship. It seems cliché but to be honest you have to commit first to yourself before you can commit to anyone else. Truly handling your emotional past is a commitment in itself. You have to fully commit to the process in order to fully get the most out of it. You can’t half step with emotional healing. But if you can learn to commit to being better, you can be better equipped to commit to someone else.

The thing with emotional baggage is it can get in the way of enjoying a great relationship. Think of actual luggage. Think about if you had to carry it around with you everywhere you went. To the gym, movies, church, dates, ect. It would get hard to enjoy all of those things knowing that you have all this luggage you are carrying around with you. It is the same way in a relationship. It is hard to enjoy the relationship when you or the person you are with has all this stuff they carry with them all the time.  Now the luggage is inevitable but if you knew you had to take something with you everywhere, wouldn’t you like it to be light as possible? We have full control of how heavy and how much baggage we carry with us. We all carry something. This is natural as we all have been through things in our lives that have left some remnants to carry along with us. The key though is to at some point open up the luggage and deal with the stuff in it.

So many of us have been destroying relationships before they even start because we have let our baggage get in the way. Maybe you never got over that ex that hurt you, or that parent that abandoned you. Maybe your self-esteem never recovered from years of bullying or you still fear marriage because of what your parents went through. Whatever your baggage may be, it doesn’t have to dictate the rest of your life. Too many of have instead gained the strength to keep carrying the baggage instead of getting up the strength to clear it out. Stop letting your emotional baggage keep you in bondage and keep you from experiencing the true joy your relationships.

I really want to take some time to talk to my kings. I know society has taught you to bottle up your emotions. I know society has taught you that you are less of a man if you talk about your feelings. Let me reassure you that is a good way to carry emotional baggage with you for the rest of your life. Do not let society keep you enslaved to your own feelings. It takes true strength to deal with yourself emotionally for the sake of yourself and your relationship. Society has taught you that the only way to prepare for a woman is financially. Making sure you can provide for your family. This is true but what good is it to provide financially if you are tearing them down emotionally because you haven’t dealt with your own issues. I can’t stress enough how important it is for you all to deal with those things. It is difficult for a king to reign at his best when he is not emotionally stable.

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Queens, I have to come your way as well. Please do not keep holding on to things. See as women we tend to have an emotional attachment to our baggage. We sometimes hold on to things because we like to start affairs with the hurt from the past. We let our relationships suffer because we are still in love with the pain from years ago. With us being more in tune with our emotions it gives us the advantage of being more comfortable in vulnerability which is needed in emotional healing. The down side to this is we let our emotions hinder the exact healing we are trying to seek. Ladies we have to truly let go if we are going to be able to fully enjoy what we have or what’s to come.

I have to be honest, it can be a painful yet liberating process. Unpacking your emotional baggage can be one of the hardest things to do. Having to face some of the most hurtful parts of you is no easy matter. It can be quite painful depending on the baggage you carry. This process, as painful as it can be, is also a freeing process. There is such a sense of freedom and clarity that comes when dealing with handling your baggage. You start to see things in a whole new light. You begin to experience things in a new way. You start to gain a sense of peace that you never knew existed or forgot about because you’ve been carrying your baggage for so long. Do not fear this process. It is just like working out after a long time. You may be sore at first and your body will ache initially, but eventually you become stronger and become able to push yourself further. The reward though is that you feel and look better than before.

Another thing to note is that some baggage you won’t realize you have until you’re in a relationship. So many times we are told to make sure you get yourself all the way together before entering into a relationship. I used to agree with this whole heartedly until I grew up and realized that’s easier said than done. Sometimes it takes a relationship to even see some of the baggage you have. There is something about connecting to another person that can unearth some of your inner baggage that you either didn’t know existed or forgot you buried. All it takes is a small trigger and next thing you know, bam, you’re facing something you didn’t know was an issue. Unfortunately most of us will find some residual baggage once in a relationship and that is ok. As long as you face it and deal with it, it won’t control you.

We have to stop being afraid of dealing with things we have been carrying for so long. It is time to put down our baggage and start taking things out of it bit by bit. We have to stop ruining the lives of those we connect to because we would rather carry around our baggage than address it. When you refuse to deal with baggage you deny yourself the right to have peace. You deny yourself the right to have control. You can choose to keep adding to your baggage but eventually it will become too much to carry. Trust, there is nothing worse than being forced to face your baggage because you can’t handle carrying it anymore. So while you’re still strong enough to carry it, take a look inside, and start to finally unpack the things you don’t need anymore. The peace you will receive from dealing with it will far exceed the pain you may feel addressing it. The choice and power is yours…..

Trying to fill voids with the next person…

Most of us, if not all have experienced a break up or something that feels like one. It is a feeling I would not wish on anyone. The pain of separating yourself from someone who used to occupy so much of your time. The agony of trying to tell your heart not to care anymore. Then a moment happens when you are tired of hurting. At that moment you say you’re going to take matters into your own hands. You decide, whether consciously or unconsciously, you’re going to find someone else to help you move on.

I never understood how people, including myself, could believe that another person is what is going to make the situation better. It’s just as bad as thinking alcohol and drugs will make your problems go away. When the high and buzz is gone, the problems are still there. So when the high of a new person has worn off, your heart will still feel empty if you haven’t dealt with it. What is it about the gut wrenching feeling of a break up that pushes us into the unfortunate arms of someone new? The agonizing pain of what feels like your heart actually breaking. In the moment of pain it seems as though the only thing that can make us feel better, is to have someone else make us feel better. Instead of facing and dealing with the situation at hand, we rather carry our unneeded baggage into (lets be honest) a new relationship that we don’t really want. What we essentially end up doing is filling a void with the next void that will need to be filled. We then create this never ending cycle of always having to find someone to plug up our leaking hearts because we are doing patch up work on things that need fixing.

See first we start with our old voids. How many times after heartbreak have we gone through the list of old flames and tried to figure out which ones don’t get on our nerves or aren’t in a relationship. Then we hit them with the “Hey you…” text. If they take five minutes too long texting back you begin to regret your moment of weakness. That’s until they respond back with a text like they’re glad to hear from you. What they don’t know is they are just helping you perpetuate your problem of not dealing with your issues.

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Coutesy of photopin

I have come to realize that most of us really hate to start over. You start thinking about how hard it is to find people of substance that you vibe with. You start thinking about how long you were single before so you figure an old flame would be the best option. “At least I don’t have to start over. They already know me and I know them” is the line we use to convince ourselves to rush back to people after heart break. So you run back to that person who is always ready and willing to entertain you after another person has hurt you. You know you really don’t want to be with them but they are always conveniently willing to take you back so you play along. That is until the next person comes in the picture and you forget who they are again. They then get tucked back into the recesses of your mind until the next situation doesn’t work out and you remember they exist once more.

The only thing we hate more than starting over, is being alone. I know people love human interaction. There are very few people on this earth who genuinely like to be alone all the time. I also know that most of us seek companionship. Unfortunately some of us have gotten to the point we can’t stand to be without companionship that we jump from person to person in a matter of seconds. Some of your relationships haven’t been over a week and you’re already cuddled up or out on a date with the next person. Now I’m not saying you have to go into mourning after breaking up because not every break up is one that requires a long healing process. My issue though is if you never take some time for just you, will you ever get a chance to reflect and learn some of the things you are doing right and wrong from your previous relationships and situations.

What I’m saying is, give your heart and emotions a break. Some of y’all have your hearts working overtime because you jump in and out of stuff every week. Then you wonder why you keep running into the same problems in all your relationships. You don’t realize that you have a tendency to nag and belittle the men you date because before you get a chance to reflect, you’re with the next guy doing the same thing. You can’t see that you don’t support the women you get with because you’re entertaining three more of them two weeks after your last chick, none of which you will support because you haven’t given yourself time to learn that. This all comes from trying to fill this void of loneliness. All it does though is stunt your potential for growth and create more unsuccessful relationships.

I would encourage you to take time for yourself. Even if you have met an amazing person, be honest and tell them you just need a little time to process what you just got out of. If they are really that great, they will respect your decision and maybe even wait for you to do so. You have to go through that hurt and pain though. Rushing to someone else is just like trying to force a wound to heal. Sometimes you can do more damage to the wound if you don’t let healing take its course. If you were an athlete, would you rush to play with an injury that has not really healed just to appease your love for the sport, but risk injuring yourself more? Or would you rather wait a few more weeks or even months to let your injury heal so you can play your best? If you stop trying to move on so fast and just deal with things, you can actually become a better person for your next relationship to actually work how you want it to. Just know that healing requires patience and patience leads to fulfillment and that is how you fill the void……

When Someone Isn’t Ready

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Some months ago I put this quote on Instagram. I was in a place in life at the time that made the post hit home for me. Unfortunately I had brainwashed myself into believing that if a man wasn’t ready for a relationship before meeting me, he should want to get ready once he had met me. I believed that because I am such an amazing woman, a man should want to snatch me up. Finding this statement though opened my eyes to my naïve thinking. All this time I had been looking at this thing backwards. I was thinking a good person comes and then the other person gets ready for them. I see now that a person has to be ready for when a good person comes into their life. This post prompted me into doing a video on periscope, which no one watched. (Yes I’m still salty)  I figured since no one really saw that video, I should write a post on the matter. Here are the things I addressed in the video that I believe pertain to not being ready.

Don’t mistake fear for not being ready…..

I have to make this disclaimer. Too many people are stating they are not ready for a relationship when really they are just afraid to commit to one. Some people may argue that fear is a marker of not being ready. I disagree. Beyonce’ has stated numerous times that she still finds herself getting nervous and afraid before her shows. Now we all know Beyonce’ puts on one impressive show. Her performance shows she is more than ready, but naturally there’s a fear that comes before the performance. It’s the same with relationships. Naturally when you are deciding to open your heart to someone who could potentially shatter your emotion, you get scared. It doesn’t mean you aren’t ready though. You may very well be ready and have convinced yourself you aren’t because you fear getting hurt. Who doesn’t worry about getting hurt? Just know your hesitation has nothing to do with your performance once in the relationship.

Don’t try to force someone to be ready…..

There is nothing worse than trying to force someone into something they are not ready for. You ever forced someone to do something and felt horrible when it completely backfired? It’s not a good feeling. Forcing people into commitments when they are not ready is a good way to have a dissatisfying relationship. You may not necessarily break up, but you definitely won’t be able to enjoy it in the same way you could have if you hadn’t rushed it. For example, you are making pot roast for dinner. You get your potatoes and carrots in there and season it up real good. You are super hungry though and don’t feel like waiting the full three hours for this roast to cook. You decide to crank the oven up to 475 degrees in hopes your roast will cook faster. An hour and a half later you take your roast out the oven and it looks great. It smells good and you are ready to dig in. You go to cut into your roast and low and behold the entire inside is still raw. You can sit there and try to eat raw pot roast but most likely you will have to turn down the oven and put the roast back so the inside can match the outside. How many times have we done this in relationships? How many times have we turned up the heat on someone because we don’t have time to wait, and end up getting into rushed, raw relationships? They look great on the outside but you two know that your relationship is a raw bloody mess. Then you have to turn down the heat and have to start over just so your relationship can match what it looks to be. Stop rushing things and people and let it take the time it needs.

If you’re rushing someone you may not be ready…..

I have to admit this point is for me. Too many times I have found myself trying to force people into things when I knew they weren’t ready. It took me a while to realize though this was a clear indication that I wasn’t ready either. You aren’t ready if you are in a rush for something that is built on patience. If you were as ready as you thought you were for commitment, you would know that you don’t have to force anything that is ready. You would also know that there are going to be other times you will have to be patient with that person. If you forced the relationship out of impatience, what else will you be impatient with? Going back to food (I really love food) have you ever eaten a piece of meat that was rushed to be cooked so then it was tough to chew and harder to swallow? Then there’s a piece of meat that has taken it’s time to cook. That meat you don’t have to force because it’s falling off the bone. But only a person who is ready to be a good cook can grasp that concept. Maybe if you are still rushing things to cook, you aren’t ready to be in the kitchen.

It’s ok to not be ready…..

I really want to stress this point because I think we don’t talk about it enough. I have seen so many people be looked down upon because they aren’t ready to commit. It is ok if you are not ready for a relationship. There is no rule to say when you are supposed to be ready for one either. People have different walks of life with different experiences and we can’t tell someone else what they should or should not be ready for. The key to that though is to be honest and upfront about not being ready. If you are not ready, cool, but don’t string people along and have them thinking you are when you aren’t. Always be upfront with the people you encounter so they can make an informed decision about if they will continue to get to know you or not. Is this an easy conversation to have? Not all the time. Sometimes it is difficult especially if you have met someone who might have been a good catch if you were ready. We have to though stop keeping people in our back pockets hoping they don’t catch on to the fact we aren’t ready just yet. Hoping by the time they start to wonder, you have gotten yourself in order. Give them that option. They may very well be willing to wait. They may tell you no I’m straight and have a nice life. You don’t know until you be honest and tell them where your head is.

I want to stress the importance of both people being ready when moving into a committed relationship. When you rush things knowingly it truly takes away from maximizing the full potential of a relationship. I’m not saying things are going to be perfect and you will never have any problems just because you were both ready. I am saying though that you risk going through more trouble when you force it. Stop pressuring yourself and others to be ready. Also stop saying you are ready but when someone comes all of a sudden you aren’t. Do not let fear paralyze you from moving on with the very thing you were preparing for. It all boils down to being honest with yourself, and being honest with the people you encounter. Honesty will save a lot of people’s hearts from hurt, including yours.