Valentine’s Day

I’m not a Valentine’s Day type of girl. Well, I use to be, but then I realized all of the holidays were corporate holidays and decided that I wasn’t down with that. Like, I don’t want anyone telling me when I should celebrate my love because they want to make a profit. I appreciate the economy being stimulated, but don’t like the guilt that comes along with it.

Now that I have established that I am anti-Valentine, I love that my husband remembered. I’m such a hypocrite. He returned home yesterday after being away for about a week, which explains why I haven’t been writing. He came home with gifts for the kids and a special one for me too. The kids and I were happy to simply have him home. The gifts were like a bonus to an already special occasion and it was kind of nice that everything happened so close to Valentine’s Day.

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Going to pick-up daddy from the airport

All of this led me to think about what love really means. Of course I adore my husband. He’s the best partner I’ve ever had. I love the way he parents. I love the way he looks at me. I love that he has been attracted to me in my different sizes and moods. I love that he’s loved me when I was sick and healthy. I especially love that he’s put up with all my different dietary changes and the fact that I wear a fanny pack when I run. Even though I love him and love how he loves me, today I could not stop thinking of the moments in time where I truly felt loved.

There is a person in my life that has loved me like no other. She has held my hand and been a shoulder for me. She knows my secrets and she knows my heart. She loves my children as they are her own and she gently tells me when I’m wrong. I was born seven years before her and most of our time on Earth has been spent as me being the teacher, but recently, I have become the student. A willing student because I know she would never steer me in the wrong direction. I know she loves me no matter what and I hope she knows that I love her no matter what. My cousin, I know you never read these blogs, but if by chance you do one day, just know that I love you with everything I have inside of me. You are the best thing that has ever happened to my life. I appreciate you. I am honored to know you.

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Me and my cousin (side note, my hair is growing)

I only have a few real friends. The people I consider as friends are not the ones I talk to every single day (although one of them I do talk to almost everyday) and all of them have come into my life at very important times. If it wasn’t for the love and friendship I have been shown, I doubt I would be here living the life I live. I know what it feels like to be loved by strangers, who then welcome you into their hearts as family.

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Sitting here in my pajamas on a night where most people expect champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, I can only cry tears of real joy for the love I have been shown. From my mother and even my father, my husband, my children, my family, and my friends, I have been blessed with love.

 

Take a moment to acknowledge those who have been good to you and in return, try to put that out into the universe to others. I learned a few years ago that I only recognized the love that I put out into the world and everything else felt odd or extra. Not until I was able to love without fear was I able to receive what was always there. Love yourself and love will come to you in so many ways. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Love and light y’all.

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Throwback Thursday

The following post is something that I wrote when the clouds of depression were lifting. My depression was at its worse when I was dealing with thyroid disease and the the after effects of my total thyroidectomy. Here is a peak into my brain at that time along with what I work to overcome constantly…

The clouds have come in…

An old friend has been lurking outside of my house for a few days now. I saw him peaking through the windows on Monday and I ran to close the blinds. I made a point of leaving my house with the hope that I could somehow trick him into leaving, but when I pulled out of my driveway, I saw him sitting at my front door step, as if saying that he would be there when I got back. Tuesday, I saw him again. He was knocking on my front door, a slow knock, not demanding, but a knock all the same. I rushed to play with my children. I ignored him. Wednesday, he had somehow made it inside of my house and he simply just sat on my couch as if he were waiting for me to join him. I sat with him for a moment and eased in how familiar it was to hold hands with an old friend and enemy. I got up when I noticed he was holding my hand too tight and ran to the bookstore. Surely there was something I could find at the bookstore that would help me get this dude out of my life for good. I bought a book, watched my children play, went to the store and hoped that he would be gone by the time I made it home. When I got home, he met me at the door and I ran to the phone to ignore this fool, hoping a friend would distract his impending presence in my life. I kept him at a distance and when night came, he sat across me, but refused to leave. When I got up on Thursday, he was in bed with me and I had given up chase. I allowed him to hold my hand and even get on my back briefly. My old friend was back in full force…

Me: Mr. Depression, why have you come back?

Depression: You asked for me, didn’t you?

Me: I have never asked for you. I have never wanted you as a friend. You aren’t even a friend I can depend on because you aren’t a constant. You keep showing up and then leaving.

He was silent after that exchange, but still there. By Friday, I had enough and alone in my shower I finally had a conversation that was long over due with my friend.

Me: Why are you here? I was doing so well.

Depression: You asked for me, didn’t you?

Me: NO! Leave. PLEASE.

Depression: Oh, but you want me here. You need to go numb for a while. You aren’t doing too well with all these emotions. I’ve always come to help you when reality gets too rough. You should really stop this whole healing thing. It’s not good for you.

Me: But, I need to heal. I’ve had a few rough things in my life that I need to overcome.

Depression: Oh yes, your childhood, the thyroid, and now you’re sick again. You need me here. Oh, and you must stop this yoga thing as soon as possible. Please stop reading that book too. I’m here now. You no longer have to feel.

Me: I want to feel.

Depression: Oh, really? Why haven’t you had a good cry in years? Wouldn’t that change what everyone LOVES about you? You’re so stoic and so strong. You’re reserved and funny. You tell jokes. You give good advice. How on Earth are you going to do that if you are feeling all the emotions you continue to stuff down inside of you? Oh my…how would you wear your smile?

Me: I understand that I have used you in the past to hide. We get along because when you are here I feel numb and can function, but I want to live in every moment now. I want to feel.

Depression: You still haven’t cried. You still hold back. You need me. You really don’t want me to leave. Now, clean yourself up. Put on your happy face and go to this play date with your children. All the moms will love you. You’re so charismatic. You’re so funny. Wait, maybe you shouldn’t go. Let’s get reacquainted for a few days and then you can go knock their socks off.

Me: I can cry. I can feel.

Depression: Oh, but you can’t. You poor thing. You need me.

Me: (Sobbing) LEAVE! You are no longer needed! I will heal without you. I am allowing myself not to be perfect. LEAVE NOW!

Depression: That Zen Master shit has really got you going. You think a little breathing and listening is going to help you. You haven’t got a clue how hard it is to find your center, especially for someone like you, but, I will leave…for now.

As I pull out of my driveway to go to a play date with my children, I don’t see my old friend. I feel as if I have won, but cry the whole way to the play date. As I get out of the car, I see him and I walk right pass him. I know I am not the same person while talking to these women. I am more interested in seeing my children play. I am less comfortable with conversation and more comfortable in watching my son make a friend. My heart smiles. I am the quiet weirdo, but for once I live in the moment. Every step is intentional. Every laugh and smile felt genuinely. Driving home, I remember every light and turn. I can feel that I am coming back to being conscious. I don’t want to live on auto-pilot any more. He, my old friend (Depression) is waiting for me at the door.

Me: Goodbye

Depression: I’ll be here when you need me, but I’m not leaving just yet. I won’t come in, but I will be close. Good luck my dear because you’re going to need it.

Reflecting…

Earlier this week, I posted a conversation between me and my grandmother. I have revisited her words in my mind over and over again. I believe we stayed on the phone well into the next day. What always stands out to me in our talks are her opinions on men. The title or the right to be called a “man” by her was saved for very few individuals in my life. The respect that she encourages me to have for my husband comes with the knowledge of who he is. Needless to say, she has never believed that every male should be afforded the same respect one gives a man.

I started to think about how many times that lesson is lost by women. I remember I was dating a guy once who was a chest beating, self proclaimed “man”. He made a point to let me know that he was the leader and he deserved respect. These exclamations came when he was acting in a way that was unbecoming of what I had learned a man to be. That relationship didn’t last very long, but I would be lying if I didn’t write that his chest beating was the reason. I thought his words were correct. At one time, I believed his gender alone garnered my respect on all manners, even though he was a faulty individual.

I believe women are taught quite early that their position is less than a man. Some of us are taught that men are natural leaders, providers, and protectors. (A few weeks in a co-ed military bootcamp will show you that all men aren’t able to lead) We are taught this sometimes without a concrete example of what a “man” looks like. We are sold this idea to be martyrs for our relationships and our children, without realizing that that behavior will continue the cycle of accepting less than what one is worth.

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I remember when I first moved in with my husband. I had this perception that I needed to cook for him, do his laundry, and figure out any and everything that made him happy. After about two weeks of that, my husband told me that he was a grown ass man and to relax. He didn’t want a maid. He wanted a partner. Unfortunately, the concept of not being everything this man needed left me lost for a bit. I had this thought that if I didn’t do everything he needed, then what was I there for. The reality was that I had met someone who did not need to beat their chest or put me in a place that was lesser than him to believe or feel like a man. I have yet to hear him say that he is the leader of our household, but he very much is. He leads not in words, but in his actions.

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Some of the best leaders I have met in the military and in the public sector were individuals who didn’t need to remind you that they were above you. Likewise, the worst leaders were the ones who constantly had to prove that they were in charge. I believe we need to start teaching our daughters to throw away these archaic ideas about men. We need to teach our daughters to be mindful of a persons actions and how they make them feel. We need to teach them that every man does not deserve your honor, respect, and unconditional love. We need to teach both our daughters and sons to be their own leaders and when looking for love, they should choose a partner, not someone to follow or lead.

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This week, I chose to concentrate on being thankful for all things in my life. As I’ve gone throughout this week, I have made a point to take a moment to acknowledge all that I have and the people around me. It dawned on me today that I have yet to be thankful for myself. I have come a long way, physically and mentally. I should always be thankful for myself. When I wasn’t thankful for myself, I allowed people to mistreat me, like in the case of the “chest beating man”. The moment I stopped to concentrate on my inner healing, I found a man who wanted me to love myself more than he loved me. Let’s teach our children to always appreciate themselves first.

So…I honor you. All you men who go throughout your days tirelessly putting your family’s wants and needs before your own. The men who consider their spouses/partners as equals. The men who let their egos go for the happiness and cohesiveness of their family’s. The men who had no examples, but are breaking the cycles of abuse and fatherless homes. The men who’s children run to the door to greet him. The men who play barbies or sit in school parking lots to help with homework. The men who never have to say how much of  a “man” they are because they left their insecurities at the door. I honor you. I thank you.

Love and light y’all.

 

Cultural Insensitivity?

There are so many things that come along with being the only black stay at-home mother in the suburbs. One has to deal with the occasional Trump bumper sticker sighting, the comments about your daughters “crazy”hair, or the weird looks you may get when people see your family actually has a father attached to it. I’m joking…kind of, but there are little things that happen and sometimes you have to make the decision to either react or be quiet. Fortunately, I have a few friends that are in the same boat as me and we bounce things off of each other to see if we should react or just let it go. Most of the time, we just need a sounding board or a place where we can be comfortable to ask the hard questions that deal with race.

Insert my good friend who lives in a very small town in Massachusetts. I’m living in urban luxury compared to her. While my little city is about 4% Black, her city is 1 percent Black. Basically, she is the Black population. For the most part, she has been able to maneuver quite well. The town is friendly. She is involved in the PTO, local church, and community. She has made friends and race had not been an issue until a few days ago. Her daughter was assigned a heritage project for school and was instructed to pick a country of origin to research. I should point out that my good friend is married to a very nice White man and decided that this would be a great assignment to highlight both parts of her daughter’s background. Here comes the problem.

My friend’s family, like mine, is from New Orleans, LA. Everyone knows that New Orleans and the whole damn state of Louisiana is bursting at the seams with culture. When my friend pointed out that they would be doing their assignment on France (her husband’s family) and Louisiana Creoles (her family), the teacher suggested that they only do her husband’s side of the family since there was an actual foreign country to pick. The teacher then proceeded to tell her that “Louisiana Creole” was not a particular heritage, but instead a language or dialect.

First, let me point out how insensitive it is to discount what one may think is their heritage. Next, African Americans (Black people) typically don’t have a country of origin. Africa is a very large continent and we cannot pick one particular country because we do not know where our families were stolen from. What we do know, is that we come from very strong blood lines because we are still here and that alone is something to be proud of.  For one second, imagine all that those Africans who first came here went thru, then those who survived slavery, then those who survived the Civil War and Reconstruction, then those who survived Jim Crow or the Great Migration, then the Civil Rights Movement and up until now. There is so much to be proud of. We also know that we had a hand in building this country, so we have a right to use this country as our origin and whatever subculture our ancestors may be a part of. It is incredibly insensitive to demand that one pick a foreign country, when there is no country to pick.

While listening to my very good friend tell me this story, I heard the hurt in her voice. She was less angry about the whole country insistence and more angry about her children having to choose between their two backgrounds. Because I am not in an interracial marriage, she pointed out a few things that I didn’t realize. I did not realize how often people try to put her and her family in a box according to their comfort. I also did not realize how people often lessen her value in their marriage. She is perceived as this poor black women without culture who lucked up and found this white man. Perception dictates that she has somehow been saved from the depths of the ghetto and she should welcome leaving that all behind. I almost questioned the validity of that last statement until she pointed out to me that my family would not have been asked to simply leave out one members background. I firmly believe the teacher would have handled a family like mine much differently and that makes me sad and more aware.

After letting her vent, I took the time to be a friend and tell her that in this country people simply don’t know. Ignorance is one of the many cancers of society and instead of getting angry, she should educate the teacher about her background. I doubt a number of people outside of Louisiana know about Louisiana Creoles. There are so many good lessons to be learned from this situation. The assignment teaches her daughter about her culture as it relates to her father and mother. The children and teacher  will learn about something that is never taught in textbooks. The whole situation teaches my friend to always stand up for what she believes in and that is the most important lesson for her and her children.

Overall, the lesson is to be open. People are going to be ignorant. Most of the time it isn’t because they are mean, it is simply because they don’t know. When we close ourselves off from people because they don’t understand us, there will be no progress. Likewise, when we are insensitive, dismissive, or unwilling to learn about our differences, there will be no progress. As a people and simply as human beings we should always strive to move forward.

Be open to dialogue. Don’t shy away from conversations about race. Be kind.

Love and light y’all.

 

 

 

 

My reality

I initially wanted to use Thursday’s to blog about the terrible reality shows I watch, but I’m not.  I may do it in the future, but today I want to write about my reality.

In previous posts, I have discussed my relationship with my father.  A quick recap is that he was a very active in my life, but he was also abusive to me and my mother.  I left his house the day after my junior high school graduation because he threatened to beat me with the buckle of his belt because I refused to wear a hijab (Muslim head covering). After I left, the relationship was strained, but we still communicated and saw each other quite often.  I kind of compare myself to someone with Stockholm syndrome in that I never realized how bad it was until I ended up in Iraq.  I recognized as a child how bad he was to my mother, but I always thought what he did to me was something I deserved.  I knew my mother didn’t deserve to have a bloody nose or mouth and surely I didn’t deserve to live in a house where I had to fall asleep to her cries, but at that point in my life it was all that I knew.

When I moved to Florida to be with my husband, he mentioned to me that he thought the relationship with my father was unhealthy.  I agreed, but had been raised that it was a sin to cut off ties with family.  One year, my father came to visit our family.  My husband didn’t want it to happen, but we both agreed that he was family and it would be nice for my daughter to meet him.  The visit was not the best and after leaving our home, he told people that we were struggling.  We were rationing water and air.  He told people that I wouldn’t be married long because I didn’t cook and that it was obvious that our home had no love.  It hurt to hear those things, especially since it wasn’t true, but I was not surprised.  The last straw for my husband came when he gave my cousin my husband’s personal information in which she used as a personal reference in a criminal case.  As I have stated before, my husband is in the military and we live off of his income alone, so to threaten his character or even his security clearance angered the both of us to the point of no return.

I continued to talk to my father, although it was more like listening.  I didn’t stop talking to him until I went to see a therapist and showed him my call log along with some of the messages that my father left me and he made a very strong suggestion that I no longer speak to my father.  The most amazing thing that happened when I took that route was that I felt really happy.  I felt like a weight had been lifted.  I was no longer irritated and in the long run, my communication and perception of my husband changed.  I often used my father as a point of reference in my marriage when my husband had never shown any sign of being like my father.  It’s amazing what can happen when you get rid of toxic people in your life.  Unfortunately, the toxicity came from a man that played a part in me being here.

So…why am I typing all of this tonight.  Well, I blocked my father off of my cell phone, but I can still listen to the voicemail messages that he leaves.  I decided to just delete them without listening, but tonight I listened to them and it confirmed to me that what I am doing is right.  There were about 10 message in a 6 day period.  One in particular stood out to me. He left a message saying that he saw me in traffic and that I seemed to look bigger.  The was the first lie because the last time he saw me I was about 40 pounds heavier and I live 90 miles away from.  It gets better.  Not only did he see me in traffic, but he also saw me in a car with another man and my children were not in the car.  He then proceeded to say that it was obvious that I was in a loveless marriage and I was cheating on my husband.  Wow!  Now, I’m a cheater and I’m in a loveless marriage.  He left a message right after that one saying that he understood why I cheated because I couldn’t be with a weak person and my husband was weak.  The last message was him saying that he thru up blood and needed help getting to the hospital.

It’s funny, because sometimes I feel guilty for not speaking to him.  It is unnatural to no longer have contact with a living parent.  During my last therapy session, I told the therapist that I felt cheated.  I had an awesome relationship with my grandfather and my children will never have that.  I use to romanticize the very small normal moments I had with my father.  I wanted a daddy daughter relationship and I still have this hope that he will change, but I kind of know he won’t.

It sucks.  It really sucks, but the moral of the story is to let the negativity go, even if it is a parent.  I think that toxic relationships need to be destroyed especially if it is a parent because the hurt is so much more deep. I can’t help loving him because he is my father, but his presence only destroys my spirit. Loving him from a distance is the only way that I don’t allow him to control my life and how I act or react to things.  I had a habit of relaying my past to present situations and making decisions based on my past.  Leaving my father alone has allowed me to live in the present. Because my father is such a negative fixture of my past and has not changed, speaking to him and having a relationship with him kept me living in the past. I know that he will now go to family members and members of his community and tell them that I am now cheating on my husband.  I don’t doubt it.  I know that if I continued a relationship with him my health, my sanity, and my marriage would suffer.  I also know that I need to change my number.  That is my reality. I have learned through all of this that I have control to create a positive life and positive surroundings. Unfortunately, a life without the drama does not include my father, but I owe it to myself and my children to live the best life ever.  I also owe it to this man who loved me through it all.

Good night, Love and Light

Barriers of the Mind

I have an 85 year-old grandmother who is laugh out loud funny.  She has always been funny, but now I’m old enough to laugh at her jokes without getting the side eye.  She is a gun packing, smack talking lover of pearls and all things elegant.  She is all kinds of awesome, but sometimes she says some things that make me think…is this the same lady who had a hand in how I see the world?

I was talking to my cousin on the phone the other day and she told me she was showing a few of our pictures to our grandmother.  My grandmother of course commented on my weight and hair and then proceeded to ask what beach were we at.  My cousin told her and she made a comment I would not expect from my grandmother.  She said, “those white people sure do keep their beaches nice.  I guess they keep all the Black (she didn’t say Black) people out and don’t let us come over there”.  The beach was nice.  It wasn’t the nicest I’ve been to, but I never once saw a sign saying, NO BLACKS ALLOWED.  She then proceeded to ask my cousin if we stayed the whole day and what were we doing.  This whole dialogue between my 85 year old grandmother and my cousin got me to thinking about the barriers we all create in our minds.

My grandmother grew up in a time when segregation was quite real.  She grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and has outright told me that the racism or prejudice she had to deal with came from her own people and never from a different race.  Yes, she had to ride on the back of the bus, but in her time and where she grew up, ‘if you didn’t bother them, then they didn’t bother you’ and that’s just the way it was.  The whole concept of not bothering “them” was a conscious decision to stay alive in those times.  Although times have changed, do some of us hold on to those same concepts today?

As an adult, I have been blessed to have traveled a bit and at an early enough age that I rarely feel uncomfortable around any group of people regardless of race or class.  I am a shy person, but I hardly ever let it show.  I am confident, but I would be lying if I said I never thought about being the only one in a particular setting or the instant familiarity I feel when someone who looks like me is around.  Fortunately, I push through it and let the thought pass, but I know that many people have not had my experiences and can’t simply push through it.  The idea that a group of people are keeping you out of something may sometimes mean that you are in fact keeping yourself out of it.

I am from the hood.  It isn’t something that I wear on my sleeve, but if you talk to me long enough you will realize that I’m from California, but I have only had the pleasure of seeing this beautiful State from a positive standpoint as an adult.  When I was a young adult I never traveled outside of my “hood”.  I had been all the way to Korea, but never to Malibu or Long Beach for that matter.  It is a hood mentality mixed with my elders fear from their past…”don’t bother them, and they won’t bother you”.

I don’t believe this is just a Black thing.  I believe we all have barriers in our brains that we don’t realize.  The signs excluding one race to this and another to that are no longer posted on poles, but are very real in the minds of people.  It is not just going somewhere, but it is also dreams and aspirations. If one cannot go to an opposite side of town because they don’t think it is for him or her, then how on Earth is that same person going to develop the concept that they can become a Doctor, Astronaut, Physicist, or Novelist. These barriers of the mind are self inflicted destroyers of life and sometimes we indirectly set the foundation of these barriers for our children and grandchildren.

I doubt my children think that any place is off limits to them, but as a mother I am frightened by that.  I keep that fear held inside because I will absolutely not play a part in building a foundation in their minds based on fear.  My husband, who was not born in this country, does not share my fears, which is why I know this barrier is learned.  I refuse to pass it on, so yes grandma, we were at the beach all day long and those White folk didn’t bother us one bit, they even let us get in the water and take pictures on the rocks.  They never told us we couldn’t come in the first place.  It was us who told us we couldn’t go.

For fun, or if anyone really reads this blog…What barriers do you have?  What do you subconsciously or consciously think is not for you?  Is it exercise? Dance classes? Writing a book?  Falling in love?  Leave me a comment….pleeeeeeeeease.

Memorial Day

Tomorrow, I plan to visit my grandfather’s grave.  He fought in World War II and his remains are in a national cemetery not very far from my house.  I think of him quite often.  I miss him everyday.

I doubt I would be where I am today without my grandfather.  He was the first man to tell me I was beautiful.  Not pretty, not cute, but beautiful.  All but one of my memories of him are pleasant and even the unpleasant one makes me smile.  One afternoon I was playing in my grandparents front yard and he was sitting in his chair watching me.  My father pulled up in the driveway and my grandfather calmly told me to get inside of the house.  I did as I was told, but I could see from the front porch that my grandfather had pulled his handgun out on my father and told him to leave his property.  My father quickly got out of there and my grandfather walked inside of the house as if he did not have a gun and smiled at me.  He gave me a warm smile.  A smile that I just saw pop up in my head that has made tears fall down from my eyes.  He was the protector, the comforter, and the healer in my life.  He knew what life was like with my father and he tried his best to shield me from it all.

When I left my father’s home about 6 years after that incident, I had the opportunity to really get to know my grandfather.  He introduced me to Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, and other jazz artist on vinyl.  I can remember how the record rolled around the turntable like a boat sailing on water.  He told me stories of New Orleans, what he called real donuts, and art.  He also told me about his time in the Army.

My grandfather repeatedly made a point of telling me that the Army was not a place for a Black man. (I guess I took that quite literally considering I am a Black woman and went anyway) He spoke of the discrimination and outright racism that he had endured. You could feel the anger coming from within him.  He also spoke of having to prove that he knew his job and having to take orders from someone with no intelligence.  He would show me his pictures and I remember his eyes and it was clear that something had changed within him.  I didn’t understand what war could do to a person then, but I do now.  My grandfather left the United States for war a Christian and came back an Atheist.  He told me that there could be no God after seeing what he had saw. I cannot even begin to imagine what he must have seen and went through, but I am honored to have carried on his legacy, even if he is rolling his eyes at me.

When I joined the Army, I didn’t even have my grandfather in my thoughts.  When I got to Iraq, I thought of him constantly.  I wondered what his living conditions must have been like.  Did anyone ever threaten his life? How was his training? How did he feel when he came home? I had so many questions and so much pride that he made it. He made it! Not only did he make it, but he was one awesome man. The thing is, he wasn’t my real grandfather, but you or I would have never known.  He loved and treated my mother like his own when her father never even looked her way.  He moved my grandmother from New Orleans with hardly anything and they managed to own 2 grocery stores and a home.  He was a respected man of the community.  He was the most generous, loving and caring man I had ever met.  Because of him, I believed that good men existed. It wasn’t just Dr. Huxtable on the Cosby show because I had an example right before my eyes. His heart was so genuine.  You knew when he looked at you that he loved you.

My grandfather died a year after I moved into my grandparents house.  His death was an incredible loss to me and my family. He loved us and we loved him.  I’m just so thankful for him and all that he sacrificed in his lifetime.  I carry him with me always. I will remember him tomorrow as I remember him always.

Love you forever Grandpa Batiste

 

 

The New Counselor

A common viewpoint in the African American community is that we absolutely do not go to therapy.  We go to church or to the mosque and read our holy books to get us through tough times, but we do not go talk to some stranger to help us with our personal problems.  Culturally, it is frowned upon and looked at as a way “other people” get through their problems.  I am proud to say that I break this stereotype.

My first time seeing a counselor was when I returned home from Iraq and it was a pleasant experience, but I only went once.  I was still under the idea that this just wasn’t what strong Black women did. That idea changed when my husband suggested I see someone before we moved to California.  I had major anxiety about moving back to my home state, considering that I had been gone over 10 years and had visited maybe 3 times.

The experience that I had with the therapist in N. Carolina was a positive one.  He got me to see that my anxiety was from the relationship I had with my father and that the relationship needed to end.  At that moment in time, my father was calling about 16 times a day and when I would not answer he would call back to back and leave messages.  He was still trying to control my life.  Before we left N. Carolina, I struggled with having to live so close to my father because I knew in my heart that I didn’t want my children to be around him, so this therapist helped me reach what was really bothering me and told me that I needed to heal from all the abuse from my father before I even began to try to have a healthy relationship with him.  I left N. Carolina feeling awesome and knowing this was the right thing to do, but after I got here, the guilt set in.

It is unnatural to cut communication with a parent, even a parent who has a personality disorder.  The guilt was eating me up, so I decided to see a counselor here in California and she was awesome.  She was a veteran.  Her husband was deployed to Afghanistan and we had similar backgrounds in regards to abuse and religion.  She helped me let go of the guilt, but just when we were making some great strides, her husband got orders moving them to the Carolinas and I was left to have to meet and open up to a new therapist.

I met the new therapist today and I don’t like her.  I didn’t realize that I didn’t like her until I left her office.  I don’t think she is doing anything wrong, but she is from a different time.  Apparently, I have some emotional disconnect, which I would have to agree with, but that’s kind of what happens when you’ve been through some traumatic things and would explain why I’m sitting on her couch to begin with.  [Full disclosure:  I don’t share this blog with my husband.  I don’t share my Instagram, workouts or yoga with him.  I have in some ways cut him out of my life by not sharing these things.  It is a defense mechanism and it is also just being a stay at-home mom and wanting to have something to myself that doesn’t include the kids or him.] The therapist told me that I should look at things from my husband’s point of view and the fact that I am preparing myself to live a life without him is not fair.  I agree with her, but I could have done without the judgement.  I don’t ever want to live a life without my husband, but the Army makes it very clear sometimes that I don’t have a choice. I am not consciously preparing to live life without him, but what I am doing is getting a life that does not include me being sad all of the time because he is gone.  I do not live in fairytale land.  I know that my husband will come home different and I need to be able to carry on until he mentally returns.  Am I shutting him out because I don’t want to miss him. Yes.  Am I keeping a slice of my life separate from him because a whole chunk of his life does not include me right now, absolutely.  Is it right?  I don’t think so, but this is my 3rd deployment and I learned the last time that if I don’t have something that I hold dear to myself when he returns that does not include him then my world seems like its crashing down.  The scariest part about all of this deployment crap is that when they return, you don’t get them back completely, which means you have to adapt to a whole new person and you don’t even know why.  It’s hard, but because I have experienced it, I completely understand.

The therapist asked me, if my husband came back with severe PTSD or angry and downright nasty, would I stick by his side?  I told her that I probably would not and the reason being my children.  She then gave me examples of women who she works with who have been married to war veterans for over 40 years and they have just had to learn to deal with these men the way they are.  I reminded her that my husband and I are a dual military couple.  I served just as he did and I have taken the steps to get myself together.  If he cannot make an effort to keep our home peaceful, then as my children’s mother, it is my responsibility to remove them and myself from a toxic environment and that is when she told me that I had some emotional detachment and we needed to work on it.  I don’t agree with her, but I will go back and see what she has to say.

I know that I am not always right and that’s why I go to see a counselor.  I sometimes relate my past experiences to my present and that is not good, but I genuinely love my husband.  He is a good man.  He is an awesome father.  The way he is with our children has healed me in ways that I can’t begin to articulate.  He really is my dream come true. I couldn’t imagine being with someone else.  I don’t think about us not making it.  In my heart, I feel that we will be together forever, but my life goal is to provide a home for these souls we created that is safe, free of chaos and loving.  Am I wrong for that?  Are military wives supposed to be martyrs?  Did I miss that lesson or am I really just emotionally detached?  Hmm…

This Blog is not turning out how I expected

When I set out to write this blog, I meant to use it in 2 very distinct ways. My primary goal was to dispel stereotypes.  I don’t think women who look like me have much of a voice anywhere.  My secondary goal was to use the blog as therapy while my husband is away. It appears that my secondary goal has become my primary and I think I’m fine with that.

There is something about sitting in front of your computer screen after the day is done and simply letting your thoughts out.  It helps me get through my days and it also continues my journey of healing.  One of the major things that I wanted to keep out of this blog was negativity about myself and my family.  I felt that opening up that side of myself would be further perpetuating what society views as the “Black” story. The problem with “keeping things out” is that you become inauthentic.  You can’t write freely because you’re thinking too much about the perception and not the message, so instead of coming to the computer and writing freely, one begins to edit and pick and choose topics, when in reality I really should be writing or typing for myself.

I recently submitted an article to ForHarriet.com on domestic violence.  It is my story.  It is a story that is all too common in the African American community.  It took a great deal of courage for me to write my story and then share it, but I specifically wrote it for a friend in hopes that she would leave a situation that is causing great pain to her spirit. I went back and forth on if I should share it here because my whole purpose on this blog was to prove that we are all not what is portrayed on social media, television, or even music. I wanted to show that I am a mother, wife, friend, and all around good person. I am not a baby’s mama and I don’t subscribe to that mentality.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot that the makings of me are directly tied into why I act and make the decisions I have made in my life.  More than anything, my life and the struggles I have overcome show that being raised in South Central Los Angeles, being Black and female do not dictate what life you will lead.  More than that, being raised in an abusive household does not dictate that you will live a life that is not whole.  It takes work and some days it literally feels like a fight for happiness, but the alternative is repeating what generations before me could not stop.  I love my children and husband too much not to give them the best of me, so all the negativity ends with me.

I guess that is what the term “Not Your Baby’s Mama” is about to me.  I am supposed to be a statistic.  I wasn’t supposed to find love.  I wasn’t supposed to come from a place of love in how I deal with my children.  My beginnings set the stage for me to be someone’s baby’s mama, struggling and frustrated.  I was supposed to be unfulfilled and bitter.  I was supposed to wake up everyday frowning instead of smiling. I was supposed to blame my children for my crappy life instead of seeing them as adding to my joy and being the ultimate gift the universe has given me.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not speaking about single mothers as being some tormented life.  It is not single mothers because I wholeheartedly admire all the women who do it on their own.  It is the “baby mama” stigma that I am writing about. It was supposed to be me and I am so thankful that it is not.

So from now on, I will write from my heart…along with the crazy crap I go through.