New Year’s Intentions Revisited

The saying always goes, “be careful what you ask for”. I wrote down my intentions for the New Year with every intention on accomplishing those tasks, but I really wanted to spread them out over the year. I did not want to realize all of them by February. I actually haven’t realized all of them, but the biggest item on that list was reconnecting with my father. Well, I thought I could get around to doing that in July, but of course that is not what is happening.

I got a call not too long ago from a strange number. Typically, I wouldn’t answer, but something told me to see who it was. I think I knew who was on the other line because I wasn’t totally shocked to hear my father’s voice. He seemed shocked that he heard my voice. I can only assume that it must have been quite odd to hear someone pick up the line after being blocked for almost 2 years. Yes, I blocked my father’s calls. No, I don’t feel bad for it, not even a little. My father and I have the strangest relationship where I love him deeply, but neither understand nor agree with his actions in the past or present. If you go back a few blog posts, you will see an article I wrote on domestic violence. He was not the nicest of men when I was growing up and I had to make a decision of either distancing myself from him or living in the hurt. I chose distance and I am better for it. So…he was shocked to hear my voice and I was a bit amused. I don’t know why I was amused, but I was. He changed his number or rather, my little brother bought him a new phone and this was a way for him to get in contact with me at least one time before I blocked the new number. We spoke for maybe 5 minutes and it was pleasant. I don’t intend on blocking his number from this point forward, but I do intend on stopping his rants before they get out of hand.

My father raised me. I did not have an absent father. I do not remember a time when he was not involved in my life. For a period of time, he was my only parent. My mother had to leave to get better. My father tormented her and if she would have stayed, I doubt I would have had either one of them. He eventually would have been arrested and she would have eventually lost her battle with life or her sanity. It is hard to come to terms with that as a child and surprisingly as an adult. It is even harder after having children. I do not even want to argue in front of my children much less raise them in a chaotic environment. There were times I did not know what house I woke up in because of the constant back and forth. I was overjoyed when their relationship was over, a fact that still baffles the both of them. They swear it was because I wanted more gifts for my birthday, but the truth is that I was happier when they were apart. I was filled with anxiety when they were together. It made me physically ill when they hugged or kissed. Words cannot begin to describe how at war you are with yourself when you love the abused and the abuser.

It becomes worse when you realize that the abuser is someone who loves you and isn’t all monster. My mother wasn’t the only one my father hit. I had a number of step-mothers who came and went and suffered at the hands of my dad. I just became numb to it all, but when I got married, I could no longer push it down. I had to face what I had been through or I wasn’t going to make it. Up until my marriage, my father and I had a cordial relationship. My husband met me when my father was completely out of my life. Because my father did not agree with the Iraq war, he never wrote me and did not accept my calls. I was without him for 14 months. My husband says that Iraq recovered me from my Stockholm Syndrome. I think he may be right about that.

When I came home from Iraq, I no longer felt obligated to be at my father’s beck and call. Our communication became less frequent and my father became more intent on having his time uninterrupted. If I did not answer one phone call, he would continuously call. I showed my therapist my call log once and he was shocked. In a 24 hour period, my father would call maybe 30 times along with leaving 3 to 4 minute messages. It was obsessive and the more we communicated, the more my marriage suffered. I was always irritated after talking to my father. I always wanted to pick a fight. My normal was not being good or happy. I reached a point where all of it was exhausting and with the help of my therapist at the time, I made the decision to let him go.

When I made the decision to stop communicating with my father, it was never with the intent for it to be permanent. I just needed to heal and not be affected or infected by him. I had to do the work to get past my past and learn to accept who he was and not what I would like him to be. I needed to stop viewing my husband as my father. I needed to learn what love really was and what it wasn’t. I needed to breathe. I did it and I thought this would be the year. I wrote it down. I put it in my heart and then my father called. Isn’t it funny how the universe words?

It’s been about a 2 weeks and he’s only called one other time. He has left some interesting messages, but he is an interesting human being. We did have a heated conversation in which he apologized. I am thankful for that, but I know it won’t stay this way. I know he’s going to go crazy when he doesn’t get his way. He requested to see my children and I remained silent. I did not have these children alone and the one time my father was around my children, he said some horrible things about my husband. He basically called my husband a murderer for being in the Army. It took a very long time to explain what he was said to my daughter. In order for him to see my children, he will have to agree to some rules and he will have to speak to my husband. That may be too much to ask for, but it’s what I’m comfortable with.

All of this has led me to evaluate some things. First, even with all the bad that happened, it warmed my heart to hear my father’s voice. I know that he loved me the only way he knew how. I know he could have left and been absent and I am grateful that he tried his best. Next, relationships are what you make them. A relationship can be toxic if you let it be. If it is toxic, let it go, even if it is a parent. Toxic relationships will only screw up other relationships. You, me, he or she don’t owe anyone our happiness. Lastly, my parenting has nothing to do with the outcome of my children. That’s weird, right? I know others feel different, but reevaluating the relationship I have with my parents made me see something that I think I did not see before. Who they were as parents has everything to do with them, not me. Yes, their actions affected me greatly, but their mistakes affect them even more. The way I parent is my choice. It is what I want out of it, not what I expect to raise out it. When it is all said and done, will I feel good about how I treated them, loved them, listened to them, or nurtured them? I make those choices as I make all of the other choices in my life.

I am very curious to see how this all turns out between my father and I. Hopefully, things will go well.

Love and light y’all.

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Perception is Reality

Do you ever pay attention to how people perceive you? I usually don’t care, but talking to my brother in-law made me do a bit of inventory on myself. My brother in-law came to visit for about a week, which is always awesome. He lives in England. He travels quite often and is just a super down to earth person. In fact, I’ve stolen him from my husband. He’s actually more of a brother than a brother in law. I enjoy talking to him because his perception of this place we call America is very different, even from what I think is progressive. You can just imagine what he has to say about Donald Trump and all the support he’s getting, but for the most part, he views America as a nice place to live. Our racism is quite different than racism in England, which includes roadblocks to excel. At least in America, you can find or make a way.

Although I believe that opportunity in America is different for different people; I would have to agree that this place can be what you make it. Our conversations on race, politics, relationships, and many other things were enlightening, but what stood out to me was his perception of me. It was an ever so slight comment. He, my husband and myself were looking for movies to watch and he commented that I would like a certain movie because it was an African American movie about Selma, AL. Of course, jokingly I asked him why would I like THAT movie and without missing a beat, he told me because I was pro-black.

Pro-Black? I’ve heard that before in many different ways. I was told once that I had an immense amount of pride for my race because I knew so much history. I was told once that it was unbelievable that I had dated outside my race because I seem to have so much pride in my own. (As if Black people in interracial marriages don’t have pride) I know my brother in-law did not make the comment in a negative way, but it made me think about what am I putting out into the universe that leads people to come to this conclusion about me.

I’ve faced some pretty ignorant people and maintained my smile, but the fact still remains that I come off as the Black girl with an Afro, wearing a daishiki while pumping my black fist in the air. Would it be better to ignore who I am or be ignorant of African American history for people to see me simply as Andrea?

I’m just Andrea. I’m a bunch of contradictions rolled into one human being. I’m a self-loving yogini who just had a tummy tuck. If that’s not a contradictions, I don’t know what is…

Anyway, if this would have happened with anybody besides my brother in-law, I doubt I would be writing about it. I think my brother in-law may be right about me and the real issue is that I am afraid that people will view my pride or pro-blackness as hate for another group. I don’t want people to perceive me that way, so the real issue is me. I need to find comfort in how I think and even how I may be judged. I have to learn to be comfortable with who I am. I grew up in a community that made a point of celebrating our culture and it had a lasting effect on me. My children do not and will not have that. There is no black history month in this city. My children learn about presidents who owned slaves during the month February. The only Black figure they will ever learn about in their school will be Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Personally, I don’t think that’s right for black, white, Asian, Native, or Hispanic children. So, as a parent, it is my responsibility to instill in them the same things I had. I guess I just have to accept that I’m that girl with the fro, wearing the daishiki and keep it moving.

Love and light y’all

Fear

Fear is probably one of the most debilitating emotions one can face. Fear has the ability to stop one from living and it has some very strong allies in anxiety and negativity. I am not afraid of most things, but I am afraid of myself.

Fear is the belief that something is so dangerous that it will harm you. It is the acceptance that it is better to remain safe than to venture out into the unknown. Fear, has been the number one thing that has prevented me from trying my wildest dreams. Once fear sets in, then its friend anxiety comes along with its luggage and tugs at your heart and brain. Have you ever had an anxiety attack? Anxiety feels like everything is closing in, your heart races and your breath shortens. You feel like you’re going to die. When anxiety subsides, then negativity shuts you all the way down. You begin to develop reasons why your ideas are invalid, stupid, or even some form of pretentiousness. The result is never realizing your dreams or even your small wants.

My cousin encouraged me to make a Facebook page for this blog and then share it with my friends. I was frightened by the process. After creating and sharing the page, I felt instant anxiety. I was literally shaking and removed myself from my computer and phone because it was too much for my little heart to handle. When I was able to calm down, I began to question why I thought my words and thoughts were worthy. Why did I feel so important? What did I realistically have to offer? Could I possibly hold myself to this resolution to write? The negative thinking against oneself is the worst part of the process and because I knew those thoughts would come, I keep a mantra/statement in my journal and read it to myself when I want to give up:

“There is something inside of you the world needs. Let it go. Stop running from who you are”.

So, with a humble heart I thank each and every person who liked this page and reads this blog. If you struggle with fear as well, I would encourage you to find your own mantra or take mine. Read it, write it, and begin to realize it. We are all here for a purpose. Life is about finding that purpose and taking the steps necessary to live in that purpose.

 

Love and light y’all.

 

Tell it Tuesday

I realize that it is not Tuesday. I had every intention of writing last night, but I was exhausted.  We had a full day yesterday and my thyroid medication has been readjusted, so I feel like my body is taking some time to get use to the new dosage, but I have so much to write about Tell it Tuesday that I woke up before the children this morning to get it all out.

Every three weeks  I see my therapist on Tuesday.  There is a playroom at the office where my children can go play and I generally feel comfortable with them coming with me most of the time.  Of course, yesterday was the day that the playroom was closed and I honestly saw it as a blessing in disguise because I really didn’t want to see this therapist again.  I even asked the receptionist if there was another counselor there that fit more into my schedule.  The receptionist was not having it and told me to wait to talk to this lady who I really didn’t take a liking to after our first session.  I was a bit irritated and welcomed my son’s calls to go home. I was thinking of my exit plan and just when I was about to get up to walk out of the office, the therapist appeared.

She, the therapist, suggested we go to a nearby park and let the kids play while we talked.  I thought that was nice, but I felt trapped.  I just did not like her and wanted to go home, but we all went to the park anyway and believe it or not, I had an awesome session.  We talked about the homework she gave me, which was to open up to my husband about my activities and my life in general.  I told her that I did, but the response was not what I was expecting from him.  He seems so busy that he does not care about my life right now and he checks in with us more out of obligation and less to genuinely see how we are doing. I told her about a slideshow of pictures I made for him with that John Legend song “All of Me” playing in the background and his not even mentioning that he got it.  I told her that I tried my best to open up, but our relationship during deployments is complicated and I don’t like having my feelings hurt.  I should not open myself up during this time and I should keep things that I enjoy separate from him. I need to have my own activities just for me.  The therapist smiled and asked, “did you share those things with your husband for a reaction or did you share them for you?” I was a bit perplexed.  I was under the impression that this was all for him because I told her I did not want to do it in the first place, but apparently I was wrong.  She said, “I asked you to share the things you do or feel with him, so you don’t continuously cut him off emotionally”.  The activity was not for him, but for me and the health of our marriage.  The idea is that if I completely cut my husband out of my life while he is away, then we will have that much more to rebuild when he returns, at least from my end.  I get it, but it is hard to put myself out there because he has a whole life separate from me.  I don’t know what’s going on with him.  I get bits and pieces and I don’t like that, but marriage is not a tit for tat game and I have learned that if I open up, he usually follows right behind me.  In fact, after trying to talk to him about my activities and sending him that slideshow and not getting the response I wanted, I told him that it hurt me. I expected an argument, but what I got was a dialogue of what he’s going through and a word of understanding.  I did not get a promise of trying better, which sucks; however, the communication between us has gone from just checking in to really listening to one another.  I guess the therapist may know something after all.  My homework for the next 3 weeks is to call one person in my family once a week and let them know that I care.  That is a very hard task.  I am not that open, especially with people in my life before Iraq.  I guess it is the PTSD and I do want to build those relationships again, but the numbness that I feel during those types of conversations make me sad. I guess I’m afraid of the work, but I am smart enough to know that I’ll never rebuild if I don’t work at it.

Another thing we do here on Tuesdays is go to Yogurtland.  As I keep writing on Tell it Tuesday, I plan to post pics of what we eat.  Yogurtland Tuesday is something I started after my husband left.  Every Tuesday, I put my phone down and listen to what the kids have to say.  I have learned a great deal on these special Tuesdays.  I learned last week that my daughter keeps the bad things that happen to her at school from me because she is afraid I will beat the other kid up or their parents.  I don’t know where she got that from.  I have never shown her a violent side to me.  I asked the therapist about it and she told me that my daughter has probably observed how angry I get when someone hurts her and came up with that conclusion.  I would never hit a kid…I’ll leave it at that. My son always mentions that he wishes his daddy was home on these Tuesdays and gives me a list of what games they will play when his daddy returns home.  The most interesting thing we talked about yesterday was how caramel makes everything taste better.  Sometimes it isn’t that deep, but the children need Yogurtland Tuesday to feel listened too and I’m happy to do it.

I feel so accomplished.  I finished this blog post before anyone woke up!