Those Old JET Magazines Can Teach You a Thing or Two…

Those Old JET Magazines Can Teach You a Thing or Two…

 M.D. Wright


When I was little and then coming of age, we always got EBONY and JET magazines. It was always a good read. A structured and predictable 60-page pamphlet-styled weekly offering. You always knew what was going on in certain cities, nationally and a few global insights. Very informative and appealing to people who are purveyors of current events and history (I still remember tons of specific issues even 25 years later), and not just “Page 43″, which was always a treat. But also the latest in music, the charts, and obviously sports.

I’ve been reading a few peoples’ statuses now that Cuffin’ Season is in full swing. It urges me to write about those issues. You know, the same tired “game” that both men AND women play when it comes to dating and relationships. I am not one to tell people how to live their lives, nor offer unsolicited “advice”. However, if you ask me, I’m going to give it to you. Unadulterated. With that said, you can take this how you want to take it. It may be irrelevant to you. You may find it useful. What it is not, is a command or instruction to women OR men.

I remember an edition from 1991. It featured Phyllis Hyman. A friend of mine has been giving a bit of insight (wise insight, I might add) on her page lately, and IMMEDIATELY one of the nuggets this friend dropped reminded me of something Phyllis Hyman said back in 1991 (just a couple of years before she committed suicide, after years of battling manic depression), “I had the man I wanted, and I did everything I could to make him not want me, now I’m all alone.”

Now Phyllis’ situation was a bit extreme because she was a celebrity and had her mental illnesses for years. Mind you, she was in her early 40s, and had famously said that she never once thought about being married, a mother, and “typical mother things”. Now. I will say that not everyone will get married, or should. Not every woman will be a mother. Or should. However, I find it curious that people can go through their entire 20s (understandable to an extent) and entire 30s (very dubious) and never once give a thought to or express the desire to be a parent or marry, even if it is not priority for them. Then to actually have someone in their life who truly cares for and about them, genuinely so, and allow the fear of being hurt (hey, you cannot have it both ways; part of loving and being loved is being vulnerable to an extent) to cause them to sabotage a fateful relationship. Sadly, that last (intentional by her) breakup pushed Phyllis into one last bout of depression and she ended up sequestering herself to her apartment and throwing herself into her final LP, before she committed suicide in the midst of a manic depressive episode.

We all know at least one person like this, whether a relative, an acquaintance, someone we know through a friend, or even a previous relationship ourselves. Fearful of the angst and pain that could (read: not definite, and also virtually inevitable, the longer you are together), to the point where they shun everyone who could be a potential suitor, erect walls to keep everyone out of their hearts, and the one or two times where they were caught off guard by someone who penetrates those walls and “get too close”, ends up getting the same treatment that the guy who was with Phyllis received: intentional sabotage; being made out to be a villain, all as an attempt to make him not want to pursue her any further, and ultimately, a once-promising relationship  was killed by the fear of the unknown, instead of the joy of any positive outcomes.

When I was reading my friend’s posts, this resonated with me once again, and it is really sad that people are crippled by insecurities and fears of what negative things that could POSSIBLY happen, and not more enthused by the positives that could also occur if a chance is taken. Worse yet, when you hear these peoples’ rationale for doing what they do, they always point to the other person — who often has done nothing whatsoever — even going to the point that they make up things that never took place, just to assuage their own guilt for sabotaging a good thing. I was only 12 years old when that issue of JET magazine dropped, and to this day I remember it.

And I wince every time I witness (even first-hand and personal) someone do the same thing for the same reasons. When someone loves you despite your flaws and internal issues, and overall unconditionally, you don’t find that too often. Especially once you are pushing 40, as Phyllis was at the time.

Listen, live your life. If you don’t want to marry, that’s your prerogative. If you want to “have fun” (as it were) throughout your 20s and wake up one day and realize that your looks aren’t going to be the first thing that will attract a man (or a woman; the converse works also for men), and are up against stiffer competition from younger suitors. You just can’t annoy everyone around you when you wake up at age 35 and realize that you sabotaged the relationship that was right for you, when you went out of your way to play prevent defense and keep everyone at arm’s length as relates to your heart and building a healthy relationship.

Cuffin’ Season makes people want to do things that they don’t normally do during the summertime. Erstwhile, some people think they can just “flip the switch” and go from sleeping around, playing games (i.e. playing hard to get, or selling dreams to women and leaving them — again, the former goes more for women, the latter for men), and then wake up one day, post-epiphany and think that it’s just going to happen because they suddenly want. Especially after ignoring the fact that they Emmitt Smith stiff-armed viable suitors as if it was a game in and of itself for years.

I felt for Phyllis, even before I delved into an entire academic career of immersion into sociology and psychology. However, for people who intentional sabotage good relationships and then annoy their family and friends to no end with their unaccountable melancholy, there is much less compassion. Some people are cut out to be single for life. Some people are cut out for marriage and fear the unknown to the point where they cheat themselves out of their ultimate destiny.

Choose wisely.

Phyllis Hyman 1


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