Transgender Women Challenge Pennsylvania Law That Doesn’t Allow Name Change

Three trans women have filed a lawsuit that challenges a provision of Pennsylvania’s name change law that doesn’t allow people convicted of some felonies, such as aggravated assault, to change their names.

Alonda Talley, Chauntey Mo’Nique Porter, and Priscylla Renee Von Noaker are working with the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and the law firm Reed Smith, which is working on the case pro bono, to build a constitutional challenge. They filed a lawsuit Wednesday to have the court declare this provision of the law unconstitutional and to enjoin the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from enforcing it.

The amendment to the law on name changes went into effect in 1998 and was designed to prevent fraud, such as to circumvent financial obligations, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The women’s complaint argues that under the Pennsylvania constitution, it is a fundamental right to control your name.

“The Pennsylvania Constitution does not allow for a system under which a person has no opportunity to show that they are seeking a name change for a non-fraudulent purpose (such as to reflect a gender transition), and a court has no opportunity to decide whether the petitioner is seeking a name change for a non-fraudulent purpose,” the complainants argue.

As a result of not being able to change their names, the women say they suffer harassment and are prevented from getting the health care they need.

Porter was convicted of aggravated assault in 2008. As a result of her not being able to change her name, she said she has experienced abuse, harassment, and humiliation from police, employers, coworkers, and service providers such as bank employees, the lawsuit explains. She said in 2017, doctors told her she didn’t qualify for a transition-related surgery because her current legal name is evidence of her not “living as a woman.”

The women also described incidents such as being forced to go into offices in person for finances and other tasks people can usually do over the phone due to the lack of name change.

It’s already fairly difficult for transgender people to change their names and gender markers regardless of whether they been convicted of a crime or face other challenges, such as immigration status. For gender markers, some states require a surgical procedure of some kind but don’t state what that procedure must be. Many transgender people can’t afford surgeries or don’t want surgeries. In this respect, many of the policies around name and gender marker changes assume that all trans people have exactly the same experiences and paths toward transitioning. Filing fees for name changes can also be expensive. In some states, transgender people have to print a notification of a name change in a local newspaper, which also costs money. These challenges also affect transgender people’s voting rights. Alonda Talley, one of the women involved in the Pennsylvania lawsuit, said her identity has been questioned when she went to exercise her voting rights.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS), only 11% of trans people have their name and gender that corresponds with their gender on all identity documents and records. The survey also showed that 32% of trans people who did not have IDs matching their gender presentation said they had experiences being attacked, harassed, or denied services.

Many trans people face financial barriers and some of the most marginalized transgender people are involved in the criminal justice system. The USTS survey shows 29% of respondents said they were living in poverty, which was even higher for respondents of color, and 12% of undocumented respondents had been incarcerated in the past year. Nine percent of black trans women and 7% of homeless trans people were incarcerated in the past year, respectively.

States have considerable variations in their policies on whether people convicted of crimes can change their names, according to a guide by Trans Lifeline Microgrants which was last updated in the fall of 2017. Some states don’t have any limitations at all and others target sex offenders specifically. In some cases, people convicted of crimes have to wait a decade to change their names. In Alabama, people can’t change their names if they’ve been convicted of a felony, sex offense, or a “crime of moral turpitude,” a broad term that can apply to almost any crime. In Texas, when people try to change their name, they fill out a petition and list all convictions above Class C misdemeanors. If someone has a felony, it can be pardoned or they must wait until two years after release from parole or probation, or two years after receiving a certificate of discharge from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

 

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Sun Stories: Sasha – Chapter 3 – Return of the Queen

“Sasha is the most beautiful woman who has entered our gates at the tanning salon.”

I’m fed up with Kita’s neglect. Now granted Kita is 21 and has no idea to navigate the world. She is an adopted daughter from China that has been rescued by a pair of extremely rich parents. When I gave her all of the things I gave her, I did it willingly. I liked her. She needed guidance an I did everything I could do to help her.

Kita was the perfect client. EFT client and non-stop tanning. I bought her tons of gifts and gave her a multitude of extras at the salon. Kita is so ignorant she never realized all of the things I did for her and squandered them all.

She illustrated this clearly to me when she vanished during her Winter break from Temple in Florida. I’ve realized she is a fucking zero and a waste of my time. Some girls can be helped and tutored but this one is just a boring loser. No wonder she has so many problems with boys.

She has no experience and is incredibly boring. Can you imagine being 21 and having no fun factor? That shit was built into all of us back in my day. We all wanted to party whenever we could.

So putting time in on little Kita has been a waste and a misstep on my part. I don’t regret all of the things I did for her. I’m just a little amazed that she was too stupid to realize that what I did for her was the model of what her dating life should have looked like with these boys.

Kita was too dumb to realize that the things I was doing for her were the actual model of what dating looks like. Kita blew it. It matters nothing to me. I have a girlfriend. I know dating and relationships better than everybody I know. I’ve done nothing wrong but try to help a young girl find her way and she completely missed it.

Which makes an important point. You can lead a horse to water. I spelled out the perfect relationship out to Kita. All the while counseling her and she still never saw it. She blew it. Kita… still the fool. That tells me she sucks and needs to go.

I would love to spell it out to her one day, but that would be contrived and silly. Too late for you Kita. I’m sorry.

Then there was her eager successor, Delaney. Sexy, drunk and ready to play. I let Delaney use Kita’s lotion and was angry at Kita for never texting me once while she was gone in Florida. I was forsaken by my number one.

Delaney was a band-aid who wanted to so badly be my number one. She’s so beautiful and I love her but she can’t follow-up on anything.

I know this is a little game I play at the salon to keep things interesting at pretty much a mundane job, but there are stories here.

Delaney has promised much and failed miserably. As pretty as she is and her lust for tanning and her pretty legs, she’s just not #1 material.

After her promise of booze for an exclusive bottle of tingler. Sweet and Sexy lotion that I personally bought her I’m disappointed.

On both occasions to collect said lotion she never showed up.

Huge fail.

“Is my experience wanting to give you expensive, free lotion just an exercise in taking it back and forth to my house?”

It should never be that. That is an amazing lotion. It smells like pastries, and bakes you up delish. I bought that for you because I like you. You make me happy when I see you.

 

Two days later I’m cranking at the salon and we’re doing well.

One of the loveliest girls I know comes in. Her friend preempted her and said she’s be in. I miss this girl, She’s a sweet curvy angel that I need in here. I love her. A sweet, giggly baby that knows and loves my blog.

I send her to her bed of choice and then I see My Queen behind her. Everything becomes clear at our salon in that moment.

Sasha is the most beautiful woman who has entered our gates at the tanning salon. Can you imagine standing before someone and they are number one? (See: Sasha: Chapters 1 & 2)

And then it hits me.

You loved Kita. You’ll figure it out, you idiot.

Delaney’s too busy.

Sasha…. she’s working three jobs at her current gig, Baby is broken. She’s at the same company that Delaney works at but her life is hell.

Sasha needs to get out. Baby’s waiting for the Cadillac and she’s so stressed. She flops her lovely, slender legs over the chair.

I feel like I need to help her. I want to ease her stress. Then I get an idea.

I run to the back of salon and go in the cabinet under the sink. When I return to her I hand her something.

“Sweet and Sexy lotion! For me?”

“Yes, Sasha. It’s yours. A gift from you to me.”

“How come?”

“Because you’re my number one and I should have never let you not be my number one!”

“Thank you! I love it!”

“It’s my pleasure, Sasha.”

 

I can hope one of the following things happen:

  1. Delaney walks in and Sasha comes in behind her and I say: “Hey there number one.” And Delaney goes: “Hey.” And then I say: “I wasn’t talking to you.”
  2. Delaney: “Hey. Didn’t you say you got a new lotion for me? Me: “Yea. I sort of gave that to your co-worker, Sasha.
  3. Sasha addresses the girls at work with the following: “That Charles over at the salon is so nice. I was over there the other night and you know what he did? He gave me a brand new bottle of Sweet and Sexy bronzer! That runs like $45 a bottle!

Hopefully everything goes back to normal after all of this nonsense.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve been such a childish, little bitch about everything.

 

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Sun Stories: Delaney – Chapter 3 – Girl Walks Into A Tanning Salon…

Delaney always wears black. (Just like me!) But tonight she’s wearing a skirt. If you’ve been reading this blog you know I am an avid leg man. She looks amazing. This is truly my new number one.

Her black skirt is just above her knees. Lovely calves. Beautiful slender tan legs. I adore her more in this moment. My new queen of tanning has arrived on a Friday night with her legs exposed. It’s winter and pretty legs are few and far between, but here is Delaney with the well turned calves out.

I tell her I’m a leg man, and she kicks her legs up and says she isn’t tan enough but I’m delighted to see her legs. Delaney is so beautiful and I think I’ve finally found my rock and roll queen of tanning.

The right amount of corporate, experience and sin. I made a misstep with Kita.

Delaney is the perfect Number One.

Delaney hands me $5 to upgrade to the premium bed. I almost don’t want to take her money but I send her to the premium bed. The system is acting up but I make it work. The salon’s computer system which rules this place like a HAL 9000 has never beaten me. I feel like the Dave Bowman of this salon.

After 15 minutes my beauty opens the doors and says she has to go back to work. She has a dinner date with her boyfriend the CFA guy at 9:30.

She mirrors my joke about Kita. If I walked into Sampan where they were having dinner and she said, “Hey Number One.” Her boyfriend would be like, “Hey.” and she would say, “I’m not talking to you.” and then I would roll in.

I love our playful banter.

Delaney gets it.

Kita is dead to me. I’m relieved I don’t have to spend hours giving her things and shitloads of advice that is basically wasted on this foolish little girl.

I prefer a bright girl who’s a little crazy, loves tanning and enjoys getting black out drunk.

As a writer, I can relate to that.

I think CFA average dude/decent catch will bore her and he’ll hate her partying ways as beautiful as she is.

Delaney comes out of the sun bed holding Kita’s bottle of Sweet and Sexy lotion. I’m happy I’ve let her use it for free. It’s given me a bit of vengeance against Kita for ghosting me. It feels good.

I tell her I’m working all weekend and I have a little something for her.

“Oh really?”

“Come in and find out, love.”

I have to do some shitty Women’s March tomorrow with my friend that I totally don’t want to do, but I’ll come in and see you at some point.”

Delaney emerges from Room 2. The Max 10. The king of tanning machines. She looks darker, prettier and a bit rosy from the tingler. She loves to tan and loves the idea of destroying my former number one. I love this innocent drama, and this game I play with my clients. MY Yelp reviews are soaring!

Delaney walks out of room 2 and all I see is her lovely face and her smashing calves and knees. I’ve been saved by this delightful lady. I love to work and adore working here, but Delaney just made it magic, She doesn’t know the rich life I’ve led. I’m just a kind clerk at a tanning salon.

But she’s sweet to me and I make her feel special and that’s enough for me. I love her. (In a classic phicklephilly way!)

Delaney emerges out of the booth, the bottle of Kita’s Sweet and Sexy lotion in hand.

“It’s done. I used the end of it.”

Delaney looks at me and holds the bottle aloft for a moment before dropping it in the trash can.

“Sorry bitch. There’s a new girl in town.”

She releases Kita’s bottle of lotion. The bottle lands with a crash among whatever Achilles didn’t finish for lunch, (usually a bunch of rice that looks like throw up in our trash can) spent lotion packets, winkease, soda cans, and other gross trash.

I think the shift of power has just happened.

I felt a sense of pride in Delaney using the last of Kita’s lotion I got her. This is fun. I love this little drama I’ve created at the salon to keep it interesting. Kita fails me and Delaney appears and hopefully works hard to be the better number one I imagined. How great would be if Delaney actually came through as the girl who loved tanning? A baby obsessed. The perfect client. I would give her gifts and some how she would return my favors?

I have been there two years and now I totally understand the industry. I have the client the services on autopilot. That’s why I’m getting 5 star Yelp reviews on a weekly basis now.

Dalaney says she’s coming in tomorrow. I have a gift for her. I have a fresh brand new bottle of Sweet and Sexy tingle bronzer for sweet, hot Delaney. She deserves it. I want to give it to her so bad. When I bought it I knew I would give it to one of my favorite girls at the salon. I really didn’t know who would get it.

I secretly hoped I’d give it to Kita. But she has failed me so much I’m done with her.

I almost can’t believe a girl could be so callous, self absorbed and lost. But after getting to know Kita, Now I know.

I can’t wait to give Delaney the Sweet and Sexy Lotion. I can’t even accept any payment for it. Baby loves to tan and I’m going to bring that lotion to work Saturday.

I hope she comes in. Because even though she has a boyfriend and they’re meeting at Sampan tonight, I’m still the guy that makes her beautiful.

I know Delaney needs to find her way, but I will find a way to have a drink with her at Square 1682.

I will make that happen.

My Number One needs to evolve.

 

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Sun Stories: Delaney – Chapter 2 – Girl Walks Into A Tanning Salon…

“Sorry bitch. There’s a new girl in town.”

I haven’t seen Delaney since Friday and I’m kind of in a snit about it. But doesn’t she walk in Thursday night looking gorgeous. I send another customer to a room and she steps up to the counter.

“Are you mad at me?”

I just look at her. She’s gorgeous. I’m helpless. I was a little cranky that Delaney knows my pain over Kita. She also wants to be my number one but hasn’t performed all that well.

Seeing her Friday was great. But I acquired a fresh bottle of special lotion for her and she failed to come in on Sunday because she was so banged up. But beauty is forgiving and she looks magic today. She’s wearing a skirt and I’m seeing her sweet bare legs for the very first time and they are delightful.

She has great enthusiasm for tanning and I love that. And unlike Kita she likes to drink. I love drinking. Kita was a shit Number One because she’s an absolute bore. She doesn’t drink, eats at Honeygrow and has no experience in life whatsoever.

Delaney is a hot badass chick that has a good job, is up for a promotion, and likes to drink and uses the whole language when she speaks.

Such a better candidate to be my number one than loser Kita. Delaney’s fun. I love being around her. I’m not mad. She looks amazing today. I could never be mad at the pure luck I’ve had just to get a quality replacement for Kita.

I’ve actually been letting her use the lotion I got for Kita to tan because I haven’t seen or heard from Kita since she went to Florida. Kita has been back for over 10 days and she hasn’t texted me or ever come in on my shifts since then.

I know I have to accept the fact that I was a fool and just gave and gave to Kita and she’s a self-absorbed loser who doesn’t know who she is and just used me for advice and snacks. (And so much more!)

But it’s my fault. I got too involved. I like to help. I’m always willing to help people. It’s what I do.

But to ghost me for a month after everything and then come in half a dozen times when I’m not here. That’s simply unacceptable. Despite her smoking hot little body, no wonder boys in her life have no use for her.

Kita sucks. Even Achilles is like, “I guess we’re not hiring her now.”

But Delaney has appeared, and I am elated. She’s beautiful and has EFT and loves tanning. She got off to a little bit of a rough start with me but I adore her.

We have a nice little chat session and I’m just happy to see this lovely maiden. As always, I hand her the Sweet and Sexy tingler lotion I keep for Kita under the counter. If Kita isn’t going to talk to me or come in and see me, I’m giving her lotion to my new girl to get a great tan. Fuck Kita. Ungrateful welp!

Although Kita and her sister have been adopted from China and rescued by her rich and extremely affluent parents, they have completely blown it as parents. But when you’re rich and powerful you normally do that. You’re too busy with your own shit to properly raise your kids. They’re simply a goal or a need you need to fill in your silly life.

The girls suffer because they never really get the intimate family environment that children need to thrive and develop.

You send your daughters to private school because you’re loaded and you feel that’s where they should go. Those girls never learn any interpersonal skills with boys and you’re actually stunting their emotional growth.

So I’m done with Kita.

But Delaney…

What a welcome relief.

I don’t need Delaney to fill in the huge void left by Kita but it goddamn helps.

She is a welcome relief.

Delaney tells me she only came in one time this week at lunch and I tell her Achilles has been teasing me. She scoffs and tells me he’s an ass.

I tell Delaney that I have stripped Kita of her special ringtone and text tone in my phone.

She’s surprised and delighted.

I tell her that I’ve assigned Kita’s cool text tone to her, (Suspense) and have given her a special ringtone.

“What is it?”

“Call my phone.”

She calls my cell and “Back in Black” by AC/DC plays. She loves it because she always wears black. I tell her that the color black is a color that represents power and is also a slimming color.

I’m still worried as to when I’ll see her again.

She tells me not to worry and that she’ll be in Friday to tan again. She upgrades and tans in a better bed. I hand her Kita’s lotion and off she goes.

I like that I’m letting my new girl use my lost girl’s lotion again. I’ve been giving her Kita’s lotion to use since we became acquainted. The betrayal seems justified. Let Delaney enjoy what Kita has squandered.

Delaney’s a worker. She wants to be promoted. She works till 8pm every night. I guess that’s how it is now. You just have to put in as many crazy hours as your loser over- achieving boss does and it shows that you’re promotable, Sad, In my day, I would just go out and sell millions of dollars from 9 to 5 and kill it my way, but I understand the whole failure of today’s workforce. I feel bad Delaney had to work in a shitty dumb unproductive environment like that.

Friday comes, and baby hasn’t been in for a couple of days. I’m dealing with some computer issues and the girls are being verypatient. I wish I could just take their money and throw a switch and tan these ladies, but if the computer is acting up I’m paralyzed.

I manage to sludge through and get a few clients into their sessions, but the system is fighting me the whole way. I may have to shut down the whole system and bring her up again just so I can get through the night. (It happens. It’s just the nature of the business and the customers are always cool with it)

I hate it but in this moment I get to say things like: “Okay girls, when the system comes back up I’ll be able to do you, Olivia, and then you, Ciara, and then you Lexi. I promise. The system has never beaten me. You will get tanned tonight.”

The last time I ever got to say something like that was in Los Angeles when I was in a band in Hollywood. “I’ll do you Olivia, then you Ciara, and then you Victoria.”

If that were the case now, sweet Delaney would be first on the bus.

But I digress…

I get the system working. We had 30 minutes of failure but we’re back in business.

I have to pause here for a moment.

I’ll write more later!

 

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Girl on Girl: The Lesbian Obsession With Straight Women

Here’s one from one of my female followers.

At this point, it’s as cliche as U-Hauling and flannel shirts. It’s a storyline on “Orange is the New Black,” the plot of a teen show on MTV, and the premise of millions of questions posted to advice forums across the internet. Whether predatory or pining, some lesbians live their love life like Sisyphus, doomed to spend eternity rolling a boulder uphill, only to watch it roll back down, and try again.

Female friendship, independent of sexuality, is intense. It’s a relationship with someone who celebrates you, supports you, and fosters growth without the mess that is dating and sex. In a society where platonic love is undervalued, it’s not a surprise when those lines get blurred and someone ends up falling in love with their straight best friend. We project that mentality on the relationships we see in the media. Karlie Kloss and Taylor Swift, Gayle and Oprah — we, as a whole, have a hard time celebrating deep platonic friendships, so romance becomes the only explanation and the next logical step. And then it gets messy. If you are gay, bisexual, or queer, you have probably ended up falling for a straight girl. It’s a lesbian rite-of-passage. Sometimes, it’s the beginning of long-term partnership, but more often than not, it usually ends in heartbreak on both sides, and even the end of a friendship.

And then there are the girls who go out of their way to chase after straight girls, trading in unrequited love for straight up lust. Somehow, despite being all female, certain elements of lesbian culture can be deeply rooted in traditional gender constructs. Straight women are seen as conquests and the girls that chase after them boast about it over Coors Light at The Cubbyhole. In a time where female empowerment is so important and so celebrated, it’s absurd to me that women can still objectify other women for their own sexual validation. As a lesbian, I’ve been on the receiving end of straight dudes telling me that they could turn me on a weekly basis. Everyone has. It’s creepy and uncomfortable and it’s the reason why, despite being out for over a decade, I’m still not comfortable being affectionate with my girlfriend in straight bars. No one wants to attract that kind of attention, so what does it mean for the queer community when we project that same mentality onto straight women?

It’s easy to understand the appeal. It’s great for the ego when you’re someone’s “exception to the rule” and we, as humans, are attracted to challenges like a moth to a flame. At the same time, is it really that fun to sleep with someone where attraction isn’t fully matched? And hasn’t every ’90s teenage rom-com taught us that there is nothing sexy about someone’s first time? Add in the “first time with a woman” thing and you’ll find your way to third base interrupted by a straight girl gushing about how weird it is that you have boobs. And to be clear, women are NOT blessed with a full-fledged knowledge of how to have sex with other women. You put anyone under that pressure for the first time and it’s like trying to watch someone navigate the New York City subway system with no map until you finally give up and Uber home.

A lot of these scenarios are born out of a vulnerability. If you’ve reached your mid-twenties, you’ve probably slept with someone that you didn’t mean to when you were feeling particularly raw. They’ve always been persistent and you’re a couple drinks in and your self-esteem could use a lift. But, to be that person, you’re treading the lines of consent and taking advantage of someone’s emotional vulnerability. If you were a straight male, that kind of behavior usually comes with a fedora.

I celebrate sexual fluidity. I identify as queer over identifying as a lesbian, even if Ryan Gosling couldn’t even get it. I don’t believe that there are hard and fast rules to sexuality, but people need time to marinate and figure themselves out. Sexuality is complicated and no one should be chased or manipulated based on theirs. More importantly, women aren’t conquests and should definitely not be seen as such in a community based on loving women.

By: Morgan Cohn

 

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10 Steps to Quitting Pornography Addiction

Here’s an interesting perspective from one of my followers in the Middle East.

If you’re reading this, then you either struggle with pornography addiction, or care about someone who does. Please know that you’re not alone, and with the help of Allah, it is possible for you or your loved one(s) to overcome it.

How to quit a pornography addiction
1 – Accept that you have an addiction
Healing always begins with acceptance. Nobody likes labels, but accepting that you have a pornography addiction is the first step of your healing journey. You are not alone, and countless of people around the world have overcome their pornography addiction.

2 – Find a trustworthy support group
I strongly recommend the online resource, Purify Your Gaze. The founder, Brother Zeyad Ramadan has both sincerity and years of expertise in this field. Recovery from addiction is a lifelong journey, and that path doesn’t have to be a lonely one. There is strength in community, and Purify Your Gaze offers both that as well as the safety of anonymity, through clients using online nicknames.

3 – Be gentle and patient with yourself
Recovery is a lifelong journey, so don’t expect instant results! The more pressure you put on yourself, the more likely you might actually fail. Think of recovery as a marathon instead of a sprint. It is normal to feel disappointed when you relapse, so use that as an opportunity to surrender to Allah, repent and start again.

4 – Understand what drives your behavior
What are your triggers? Are you more likely to relapse when you get stressed about exams, feel lonely after attending weddings, or after you argue with difficult friends or family members? Try your best to notice the patterns in your behavior. When you notice the patterns, then you’ll be better able to look after yourself during those stressful moments. There isn’t a foolproof way to completely prevent stress, but it always helps to be aware of what presses your buttons.

5 – Cultivate a rich spiritual life
A closer connection to Allah will help you feel better connected to yourself. Struggling with addiction is often a sign that you find it really hard to stay emotionally present, and don’t have better coping mechanisms. Think of what you can do on a daily basis to help you feel more connected to Allah. Is through regular dua? Regular recitation of Qur’an? Fasting regularly? Everyone has different paths to Allah.

6 – Practice daily self-care
Check into your moods throughout the day until it becomes a habit. Use your five daily prayer times as a way to mindfully slow down and check into yourself. How often are you able to exercise every week? Is your diet healthy and balanced? What kind of books and media are you consuming? Make conscious decisions to choose to consume what is good for you, so that your heart and limbs can also manifest what is good.

7 – Choose your friends wisely
Don’t keep the company of people who indulge in pornography. Instead, spend time with God-fearing people who do good, and invite you to do the same.

8 – Buffer yourself during times of extra stress
When you know that you’re going to go through a rough patch, then do your best to prepare for it. Schedule in rituals into your daily and weekly routine to help you feel more balanced. It could be working out at the gym, going for a walk, or meeting a good friend for coffee.

9 – Forgive yourself when you relapse
Only Prophets are protected from sin. Everyone else is wired to make mistakes. Repentance is how we find our way back to Allah. Instead of beating yourself up and losing yourself in guilt, pick yourself up again, and consider it a learning experience. What can you do better next time?

If you were to commit sin until your sins reach the heaven, then you were to repent, your repentance would be accepted.” -Prophet Mohammed, narrated from Abu Hurairah (Sunan Ibn Majah)

10 – Reflect on how you can give back
One of the biggest gifts of striving to overcome pornography addiction is this – having empathy. And from this empathy comes the ability to support others along their own recovery journeys. This is is a lot better than shaming, blaming and judging fellow Muslims for having pornography addiction

Consider the childhood roots of pornography addiction
Maybe you came across pornography by accident. Maybe you were curious about sex, but looked for information through pornography. Whatever the reason, being involved in a pornography addiction may point to some difficult realities about your family home. In his must-watch video Brother Zeyad Ramadan describes the childhood home of pornography addicts having three unspoken rules.

1 – The Don’t Trust Rule (I don’t trust my parents)

2 – The Don’t Feel Rule (I survive by not feeling, my parents feel threatened by my feelings)

3 – The Don’t Talk Rule (Denial, we don’t speak the truth, we don’t talk about problems)

Grieve for the little wounded child inside you. You were an innocent and trusting child, and you deserved a safer family home. No matter what your parents did to hurt you, you are an adult now, and you are responsible for your own healing journey. Take ownership of your actions, and decide that it’s time to break that cycle. Your own future children will benefit from your courage and commitment to change, inshaAllah.

Benefits of insight
When you become a parent some day, then you will be a strong advocate for your own child’s emotional health. Because of your own lived experience, you’ll also be much more prepared to protect them from the dangers of pornography. There’s no running away from the reality that the tide of pornography is a growing one, so through your own healing journey, you will help your own children navigate their way to safety, in this world and the next.

 

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You Were In A Toxic Relationship If Your Ex Said One Of These 4 Things

They say hindsight is 20/20, and TBH, nothing could be truer in regards to relationships. Once the wounds from a breakup have begun to heal, it’s a lot easier to take an honest look at your relationship. You might realize what you could have done differently, or why you weren’t actually compatible. But what if you start to suspect that your relationship was bad for your well-being? You might know that you were in a toxic relationship if it was constantly on-and-off again, or was particularly tumultuous. But as it turns out, you can also figure out whether you were in a toxic situation simply by recalling how your ex talked to you.

First, let’s define what a toxic relationship is. According to Psychology Today, on a basic level, it’s any relationship that’s having a negative impact on you, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally. A relationship that is lacking in the basic principles (trust, support, etc.) may be toxic. Given that broad definition, it’s safe to say that many of us end up in toxic relationships without even realizing it. That means it can be very challenging to recognize that you and your ex had a toxic bond.

“It can be difficult because you may start to feel responsible and part of the problem,” says licensed clinical social worker Melanie Shapiro. “Plus, a toxic relationship can create anxiety and depression, and symptoms of these mental health issues (such as low mood, low motivation, negative thoughts) make it difficult to recognize toxic relationship patterns.”

One way to tell is to think about things that your ex said to you. If any of the following phrases sound familiar, there’s a good chance your relationship was toxic.

“IT’S YOUR FAULT. YOU ALWAYS…”

Joselito Briones/Stocksy

Relationships are obviously a two-way street. That means that at some point or another, both partners are bound to be wrong. So, if you felt like you were always the bad guy, that’s another red flag. According to Shapiro, if your ex was always blaming you for the problems in the relationship, or forcing you to make changes rather than meeting you halfway, that suggests that you were likely in a toxic relationship.

“When it becomes one-sided and your partner refuses to make adjustments to understand your feelings or meet your needs, that can be toxic,” she explains. “They aren’t willing to take responsibility for their actions.”

It’s worth noting that some people may have an easier time admitting when they’ve been wrong, while others may have a greater tendency to get defensive. That said, if you can’t ever remember your partner admitting to any wrongdoing or apologizing, then that suggests your relationship was toxic. There needs to be a sense of accountability on the part of both partners for a relationship to be truly healthy.

“YOU’RE CRAZY — THAT NEVER HAPPENED”

Sergey Filimonov/Stocksy

Did you often feel like your memories were in conflict with your ex’s? Did they have a habit of saying “I never said/did that?” This is a super common tactic involved in gaslighting, a form of manipulation that is used to undermine your reality by making you doubt your own feelings and thoughts.

Shapiro notes that if your ex often denied saying or doing things that you clearly remembered, that’s a definite red flag that they were gaslighting you. If your ex was gaslighting you, you may recall doubting your own judgment or emotional responses, as well as your memory. And if you were in that relationship for a long time, you may have even gotten to a point where you didn’t trust yourself to remember things correctly. Gaslighting automatically makes a relationship toxic, because one partner is seeking to gain control over the other.

“DON’T LISTEN TO YOUR SISTER”

Jovo Jovanovic/Stocksy

It’s not unusual for someone you’re dating to dislike one of your friends or family members. Hopefully, however, they have a legitimate reason — like they feel that person is mistreating you or somehow negatively impacting your health or well-being. But if your ex was often trying to alienate you from supportive loved ones, that’s a different story. According to Shapiro, this is not only another common sign of gaslighting, but it’s also just a generally toxic behavior.

“Proving other people are untrustworthy allows your partner to narrow the reality,” she explains.

So, did your ex constantly tell you that your sister’s advice was BS, or try to keep you from hanging out with your girlfriends? Putting down the people you love or outright attempting to isolate you from them is a major red flag that they were grasping for more control over you.

“THAT WAS STUPID”

According to Shapiro, undermining is a common sign of a toxic relationship, and it can happen in many ways. Your ex may have subtly put down your appearance, or constantly criticized your choice of career. It’s one thing to offer constructive criticism — if you’re upset about a conversation you had with a coworker, a supportive partner may point out what you might do differently next time. However, it’s another thing to continually erode your self-worth by making you feel inferior or wrong all of the time.

Shapiro notes that in a toxic relationship, a person might not only make them feel bad about themselves but also like they actually deserve negative things that happen to them. She also notes that if your ex exploited your insecurities, that’s not only toxic but emotionally abusive. For example, if your SO knew that you were self-conscious about your job and they occasionally made degrading remarks about your occupation, that’s definitely undermining behavior, and it’s definitely not OK.

So, you’ve realized you were in a toxic relationship with your ex. Now what?

Shapiro recommends trying to learn from this experience. Are there any behaviors or traits you can be more alert to in the future? Most importantly, what are you looking for now that you’ve been through that experience?

“A relationship shouldn’t make you feel badly about yourself,” she explains. “Look for a partner who supports you and makes you feel valued.”

If you feel like your toxic relationship is causing you lingering distress, such as anxiety, depression, or self-esteem issues, you may want to seek counseling from a licensed professional, who can help you to heal from your experiences and rebuild your sense of self.

Coming to terms with the fact that you were in a toxic relationship is likely to trigger a confusing wave of emotions. You may feel frustrated that you stayed with your ex for so long, or wish you had noticed the signs sooner. But whatever you do, don’t give yourself a hard time for being in a toxic relationship. It can happen to anyone, and it’s not your fault — the important thing to focus on is that you managed to break free for the sake of your health and well-being. While you can’t change the past, you do have the power to shape your future. Now that you know what a toxic relationship looks like, you can actively seek out healthier bonds — the kind you deserve.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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