3 Gems from the 25 Men of The Other Half

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Last August I launched 100 Other Halves, a dialogue between women, of all ages, discussing the impact of their father’s love or the lack thereof. In four months, I was able to exchange life stories through heart-to-hearts with 100 women across the nation. During this time, many people asked if I would expand the project to men. Two weeks ago, I launched The Other Half, a platform with the same mission, except my goal is to interview 50 men.

I’ve been moved by each man’s level of self-awareness and ability to articulate how his experiences with his father impacted his manhood. To celebrate my 25th interview, I will share 3 gems that I’ve learned from the men of The Other Half.

Don’t Take Anything Personal

One of my interview questions are: how did your experiences with your father impact your romantic relationships today? Through multiple responses, I've learned that when men feel abandoned by their fathers it can result in an inability to trust that people are genuinely going to remain in their lives. In relationships, they often worry or convince themselves that their partner will eventually leave them as well. They either try to avoid growing too attached to potential partners or try to leave the relationship before their partner does. Another common result of a non-existent father-son bond is that men find themselves using women to fill a void of emptiness and to define their manhood. This is a common theme that I realized when I interviewed the women as well. Due to their father’s absence, many men feel a sense of emptiness, that they sometimes don’t know exists. They date multiple women to feel the void, however, they aren't satisfied or fulfilled. Additionally since they did not have a father in the home to assist them in defining themselves and their manhood, they date multiple women. They believed that having several women, especially sexually, defined and solidified their manhood. As a woman that has dated men since my teenage years, these conversations with the men of The Other Half caused me to reflect on some of my previous relationships. There have been many instances where I’ve been pushed away, disrespected, or hurt by a lover. In each of these cases, I often thought that their actions were a direct reflection of my self-worth. I now know that many of those young men were fighting their own war. Their actions were a result of their own internal battles and not a reflection of my self-worth. Moving forward, I will do my best not to take my romantic partner's actions personal or as a hit to my self-esteem. Thank you Base God for that lesson.

When dating, ask your partner about his/her childhood and their relationship with their parents.

Since I’ve always been passionate about the impact and influence of parent-child relationships, it is not uncommon for me to ask potential partners about their childhood. I knew at a young age that our upbringing and experiences with each of our parents had a psychological affect on who we ultimately became. I’m also an intrusive Scorpio so asking personal questions and initiating uncomfortable conversations are kind of my thang. A few of the male interviewees confessed that women that they date don’t ask about their childhood or their relationship with their parents. This is very understandable because based on a poll that I conducted on Instagram, many people feel that the topic can be too personal to initiate during the early dating stages. However, the men shared that they would be interested in having that conversation with a potential partner with hopes that their partner would understand them better, and vice versa. Although a few of them admitted that they are guilty of not initiating that conversation themselves, they’d appreciate if their future relationships has a level of comfortability that invites that conversation. I’d also like to add that its imperative to know your potential partner’s previous life experiences. I do not use the information to evaluate whether I’ll move forward with an individual or not. I simply need to know how they are actively working to grow, if healing is necessary. Since I am on my own personal journey of self-realization and self-awareness, it is a requirement that my potential partner is investing into himself as well. 

Children remember everything, especially how you made them feel.

I once spoke on a panel and a woman asked, "How early should I start to speak with my daughter about her feelings in relation to the absence of her father?" I responded, "Obviously every child is different and as a parent you are aware of your child's emotional maturity. Based on that knowledge, I'd suggest having that conversation with your child as soon as possible so that the both of you are aware of his/her feelings. But most importantly, so that at an early age you two can learn how to cope and heal any pain or negative emotions that exist. Also, if you aren't confident or sure about initiating the conversation, don't be afraid to involve a child therapist.

When interviewing both the men and women of The Other Half, I asked each individual to share their earliest memory of their father. Of the 125 people that I’ve interviewed, 100 of those individuals said that their earliest memory took place between the age of 1-3 years old. When the men and women shared the details, some would close their eyes and explain exactly what he wore, where they were, and what actions were taking place. Most notably, each of them remembered how their father made them feel in that moment, whether the emotion was positive or negative. That speaks volumes to me, as someone that interacts with children often. It has forced me to be conscious of the conversations and interactions that I have with children; I always want to ensure that I am making them feel loved. We were all kids once, and we can all recount both joyful and traumatizing experiences that we've had. Be sure to check in with youth, especially during chaos, so that they don't have to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

The Other Half is my purpose, my passion, and my greatest love. I am forever grateful and in debt to each of the men and women that allow me to hear their story and invade their truths. Thank you!

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How To Become Your Own Valentine

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Happy Valentine’s Day, my sweet love.


Valentine’s Day has always been my second favorite day of the year. I’ve had a Valentine, every year, since the second grade. I pass out love notes to strangers, have Galentines dates with my best friends, and decorate my home (my Mama's tradition). 

Thanks to the universe, both my sun and Venus are in Scorpio. I am an intense and passionate being. I reek of love. I seek love. I give love. I am love.

There is no coincidence that 9 months after the universal day of love, hundreds of Scorpios are born. Thanks, Universe. 

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In the midst of the universal day of love, I recognize that everyone may not be in the highest spirits due to their own battle with love. Everyday people reiterate that your relationship with self is the most important. Particularly today, people are reminding the world that self love is the best love. And while this is a mantra that I live by, there was a time when I thought to myself:

“Sounds good but how the HELL do I obtain self love?”

From the day that you’re born, you are clothed in newborn t-shirts that read “I love my Mommy.” You’re taught to love your siblings and cousins. Once you enter grade school, you grow to make friends and love your friends. And then you become a young adult, searching for yourself in a world full of imitation, and everyone looks your way to yell “YOU GOTTA LOVE YOURSELF!”

How Sway?

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What I’ve learned thus far:

You cannot obtain self-love without getting to know yourself first. You don’t meet someone for the first time and love them. You learn them. You observe their patterns, likes, dislikes, and the shit that gets on your nerves. I often hear lovers give explanations for their partners’ behavior, “he has trust issues because of experiences from his childhood or previous relationships. Yes, he is controlling or insecure sometimes but we are working through it.” That’s admirable. However, I need you to have that same understanding, compassion, awareness, and patience with yourself. Your relationship with self is long term. You will fall in and out of love with yourself in your darkest moments. It is crucial that you continue to fight for the relationship, whether you are with a partner or single. I am urging you to understand yourself so that you can love yourself.


Ky's Advice:

Learn your triggers

We all have childhood trauma that are the bases of our behaviors and patterns. I’ve worked diligently to walk myself through my childhood and pinpoint experiences or interactions that enticed negative or positive emotions. As an adult, there are certain instances where those emotions are triggered and I am no longer my boisterous 23-year-old self. Have you ever had an encounter or exchange with someone that truly bothered you but you were not able to articulate why to yourself or that individual? When I learned my triggers I became an effective communicator because I knew exactly where those emotions came from. I was able to hold people accountable for their actions and decisions that involved me as well. Additionally, I became more compassionate with myself. I did not create unrealistic expectations for myself because I knew who I was and how I would feel/react in certain situations. For example, due to childhood experiences I tend to feel rejected or unwanted easily by people that I care about. That emotion can either trigger sadness or cause me to completely shut down. There were times where a lover or friend would do something to make me feel unwanted and I didn’t know what to do with that emotion. So I would put that individual on the block list and vow to never talk to them again. Recently, I’ve began journaling about my childhood. I now understand that shutting down and suppressing my feelings are unhealthy coping mechanisms that I adopted to survive. The same coping mechanisms that were used to survive can not be exercised as you are healing. Now, I communicate with people exactly how they’ve made me feel. I found that when I give people the opportunity to discuss how their actions made me feel, we are able to work it out and move forward. Overall, taking the time to understand your triggers will allow you to be an effective communicator to yourself and the people around you.

Learn you in order to love you.


Self-Evaluate

As a visual learner, I need to see my thoughts and ideas in order to bring them to life. My mind, heart, and spirit are cluttered so lists allow me to organize myself. During my journey I made a list of things that makes me happy and a list of activities that I complete on my day-to-day. After comparing the two, you’ll be surprised to find that you aren’t actually living your best life! I learned that out of the 20 things that I loved to do, I was only fulfilling 6! A few of those activities I had on hold because I wanted to experience them with friends or lovers. However, what fulfills you won’t always align with your partners or friends. I challenge you to find what makes you happy and incorporate those activities into your 2018.

Another list included all of my previous partners. I wrote as many details about their childhoods, personalities, and our relationships. What do they all have in common? How did I handle arguments? How did I express my love? I used this as an opportunity to evaluate myself, my actions, and my choices. It opened my eyes to my relationship patterns and the kind of men that I attracted.

The final list consisted of writing what I desired in a partner, friend, and myself. These three categories were important because after investing time with a partner or friend, their energy becomes your energy. I wanted to be sure that moving forward I attracted friends and partners that aligned with the woman that I am working towards becoming. I also use this list to eliminate people from my space. You should have a list of 5 nonnegotiable traits that a potential partner or friend must have. More importantly, you should have a list of 5 traits you must have before allowing someone into your space. These lists are an opportunity for you to get to know yourself, alter them to fit your needs. 

Learn you in order to love you.


Your relationship with yourself is the most important. However, it is not a love that happens over night or a bond that lasts indefinitely. You will have to fight for yourself. And contrary to popular belief, you can work on yourself while being in a relationship. Both men and women often lose themselves in a partnership because they do not invest the same energy into building themselves.  

That is the key to obtaining self-love: Learn you in order to love you.

And that my love, is how you become your own Valentine. 

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The Journey to My One Year Hairversary

Since high school, I've had a love-hate relationship with my hair thanks to ALL of the chaos I'd put it through during my freshman and sophomore year. I've never put perm in my hair. (Thanks for never allowing that Mom!) However, I'd been going to the hair salon every two weeks faithfully since the age of 13. My hair was trained to remain straight through hot, cold, and rainy weather! 

 June 2010| 13 year old Ky| I would catch the bus to the Cheltenham Mall to take pictures every weekend after the hair salon. Judge your mother. LOL   

June 2010| 13 year old Ky| I would catch the bus to the Cheltenham Mall to take pictures every weekend after the hair salon. Judge your mother. LOL

 


In high school, I went through an identity crisis and expressed myself through my hair. I died it different colors every other month. Although, I'd never added perm, my hair was now introduced to other chemicals. This started the cycle of putting excessive heat on damaged hair. Can't you see a huge difference in the fullness of my hair from the previous photo!?

 October 2010| 15 year old Ky| I loved me some honey blonde hair. But Miss Honey Blonde hated me. LOL 

October 2010| 15 year old Ky| I loved me some honey blonde hair. But Miss Honey Blonde hated me. LOL 


Well, it became worse once I found my new best friend: SEW INS! I stopped going to the hair salon and would allow anyone who charged the lowest price to do my hair. 

 Jan 2016| 21 year old Ky| I cut all of the damaged hair and decided to start over. 

Jan 2016| 21 year old Ky| I cut all of the damaged hair and decided to start over. 


In February of 2016, I studied abroad in Costa Rica and was bit by a mosquito that carried a virus called Dengue. It was the most painful 4 months ever. Due to my health, the texture of my hair changed and began to break off. A few weeks after being cured of Dengue, I traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to work as an Olympic Guide during the Rio Olympics (I'm nuts right!?). I wore a hat during the majority of the trip because my hair was extremely damaged and didn't blend in with my weave! Lol

 July 2016| 21 year old Ky| A hat to the beach sis? Thank God it was a part of our uniform.

July 2016| 21 year old Ky| A hat to the beach sis? Thank God it was a part of our uniform.


When I returned from the Olympics, I was FED UP with my hair. I was fed up with weaves. I was fed up with not knowing how to take care of my hair. So I went to my stylist, LA, and told her to just cut it all off! Well... not all of it sis but whatever needed to go... cut it off! 

 August 2016| 21 year old Ky| The bang is back Ladies and Gentlemen! I can't lie, she'd cut so much of my hair that I asked her to add 2 or 3 extra tracks for fullness and length. I didn't think that it was possible for my hair to grow pass my shoulder or become full again like the 13 year old Ky! But it was worth a shot. 

August 2016| 21 year old Ky| The bang is back Ladies and Gentlemen! I can't lie, she'd cut so much of my hair that I asked her to add 2 or 3 extra tracks for fullness and length. I didn't think that it was possible for my hair to grow pass my shoulder or become full again like the 13 year old Ky! But it was worth a shot. 


It has been one year since my BIG CHOP!

About 3 months after the chop, LA went on maternity leave. I used those 2.5 months to stop putting heat on my hair. This was a big step since I had been straightening my hair faithfully since I was 13 years old. My hair grew sooooo much and it became extremely thick. Eventually I told LA to stop adding the extra tracks (a HUGE moment for us). LOL I no longer wear weave (except for a Birthday Slay) and I barely straighten my hair. More importantly, I learned how to manage my natural curl pattern. And for the first time in my life, I am IN LOVE with my hair.

This experience has allowed my hair-confidence to SKY ROCKET! 

 August 2017| 22 year old Ky| In Chicago with my internship at Comcast

August 2017| 22 year old Ky| In Chicago with my internship at Comcast


the routine and products that I use to take care of my natural curl pattern:

I don't own any flat irons or blow dryers. I straighten my hair once a month at the salon. After about two weeks of straight hair, I co-wash, deep condition and oil it up! My go-to-style is a slicked bun or a braid out. As a result of using less heat, my hair has grown super thick. This is a major accomplishment because my hair has a very fine texture. Before my monthly salon appointments, I deep condition my hair with a raw Shea Butter deep treatment masque. Next, I distribute a leave-in conditioner mixed with coconut oil onto my hair to soak up over night. Once LA straightens my hair, its luscious, slick and shiny. 

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 August 2017| 22 year old Ky| Post Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque after having my hair straightened twice in July. It amazes me how my curls are able to bounce back. 

August 2017| 22 year old Ky| Post Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque after having my hair straightened twice in July. It amazes me how my curls are able to bounce back. 


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My BIG CHOP was the greatest decision I've made for my hair. I'm praying for bra strap length hair by next year. Also, I need to get rid of the chemical damage on my natural curl pattern that's left at the crown of my hair where Miss Honey Blonde came to play in 2010! Stay Tuned!

Hair Stylist: La Stevens

She's awesome and the perfect stylist for all of your hair care services.


To my 14 year old self

I want my boyfriend to hit me. Not like that... but like.. I wouldn’t mind if he gripped me up or slapped me sometimes. If that makes sense?
— 14 year old Kyshon

Flashback to my 14 year old Mind

When I was 14 years old, I casually shared with my older cousin that I wanted to be in an abusive relationship. At the time, I'm sure I didn't know what that truly meant. However, I'd witness all of the women in my family self-destruct in abusive, unhealthy relationships. I simply thought it was an act of love. The cycle of loving a broken man, throwing physical and verbal blows at one another, then loving him all over again was appealing to me. I'm sure the physical pain that the relationship caused was not attractive to me. However, the fact that a woman could make a man SO angry to the point where he'd put his hands on her yet STILL love her, was admirable to me. So many women are in unhealthy, abusive relationships because they witnessed this kind of behavior as a child. You can tell a child many things, but she will only believe what you show her. Thank God that I've never been in an abusive relationship. I pray for the women that have.  

My Reality

When I was born, my father was incarcerated. For the next 22 years, he would be released from prison and reenter shortly after. My mother raised three children on her own while obtaining college degrees, maintaining two jobs, and purchasing her own home. Sounds like Superwoman right? Of course! However, this was the life of every young girl and boy in my community that I encountered. Living in a single parent household was very normal. I did not think that my father was a bad guy, although as a child I'd witness him physically hurt my mother. All of my closest friends' mothers were raising three to seven children on their own. In my mind, the result of living in a single parent household: AMBITION! I'd seen my mother sacrifice while juggling her personal and professional life. There was not ANYTHING in the world that I could not do. I ALWAYS wanted more. I was a book worm that spent my time day dreaming about traveling, attending college, and becoming successful.

The Realization Stage

It wasn't until I studied abroad in Andalusia, Spain at the age of 17 that I received that first glimpse of the impact. I lived with a host family: a mother, a daughter, and a father. I'd watch my host father run around the apartment playing hide and go seek with my host sister and I. He'd also bring flowers home and surprise my host mother. The most impactful scene of it all: he cried when I left to head back to America. I'd never in my life seen a man cry, especially not over his love for me. On the plane back to the United States, I wrote a letter to myself wondering if a man would ever truly love me and express it the way that he had. Fast forward to my freshman year of college in psychology class, my professor began discussing the impact that a father's presence and love has on a young child. I left the class in tears. 

The Understanding Stage

I began to research the effect that the absence of a father's love had on young girls. I would always read that fatherless daughters were promiscuous and were attracted to older men. I didn't identify with that. Since the age of 14, I'd been in long-term relationships. I would find a young guy and "fix him up." My ambition would motivate him to become a better person. However after much research, I understood that I constantly stayed in relationships because these young men filled a void in my heart. No matter how unhealthy and destructive these relationships were, I was comforted in believing that there was a man that loved me and wanted me. 

As a single parent, my mother did not allow random men in our space. Frankly, I don't recall my mother dating throughout my childhood. Therefore, aside from the early images of abuse that I'd witness, I'd never experienced a healthy relationship. My idea of love included ideologies from television and books. My foundation of how a man treated a woman was not sturdy, my father hadn't taught me what to accept and what not to accept. Therefore, when a man entered my life romantically, it was very easy for him to shake the foundation of what I thought love was. I had nothing to stand on. I would either remain in relationships longer than I should have or leave a relationship too abruptly because my unrealistic expectations of a man were never satisfied. I was always searching for a distinct feeling or person. I've loved before because I am a passionate person whose heart sees the good in everyone. However, I'd never been in love because my soul was waiting for the love that I'd lay in bed imagining since I was 7 years old. That distinct, special, one of a kind love of a father. 

The Healing Stage

Today, I continue to use research and intimate discussions to heal. I am determined to understand the impact that the lack of my father's love had on my personal growth. More importantly, I am in the process of unlearning the beliefs, ideoligies, and unhealthy behaviors that I adopted growing up. Since I have become more self-aware, I am able to be a better partner and communicator in relationships. For example: 

  • When I was younger, I would constantly overhear my father say that I was not his daughter. This resulted in me cringing at the slightest form of rejection from anyone. His actions made me question my self-worth and identity. Now, when I interact with someone and feel rejected, I can check myself and understand those emotions.
  • I also found that I needed my partner to constantly reassure me of his love. I would often break up with my significant other, simply to see him jump through hoops to prove that he loved me. This is emotionally draining and extremely unhealthy.

I am thankful that I took the time to realize and understand my heart, mind and soul. I love me. I love my journey. I love my story. It has made me powerful and it has helped me blossom.

Now, it's your turn. I would love to meet you! Let's have girl talk! 

It is being honest
about
my pain
that makes me invincible
— Nayyirah Waheed