Results of Heartbreak

Well…

I didn’t think I would make it through this week. I know it’s only Wednesday, but I feel like I’ve lived 7 days in three. I’ve dealt with so many varying emotions that everyday since Saturday I found myself crying. My baby girl was hurt was all that kept reoccurring in my mind. I couldn’t get over it. It made me anxious. It took my breath away and I literally wanted to pull her out of school and teach her from home. My husband and I discussed it. He pointed out that pulling her for the actions of another child would teach her that she was wrong. I pointed out that she spent more time at school than at home, so it was unfair to have her somewhere she did not feel comfortable. We agreed that teachers were not at fault. We agreed that no one knows how to handle these situations and we agreed that this was much more than bullying. We agreed on most things, but disagreed in how to resolve it as parents.

I realized something in the past few days that I learned in marriage, but not in parenting. We, my husband and I, are two completely different people with different backgrounds who view things absolutely different. I feel like tools and self-esteem needs to be established to handle such things as someone telling you they don’t like you because you’re black. I also believe these tools aren’t learned at the early age of 8. My husband feels that these things will happen in America and our daughter basically needs to learn early how to deal and react. We are not on the same page at all. I see his point of view and I believe he sees mine, but our backgrounds shape our ideas. He isn’t from this country. He is from a country where class is the major divider, not race. He is from a diverse family. He has never felt the sting of someone putting him down solely because of his race. I am an American. I was raised by a family who did not agree with integration. I cannot sugar coat that. My parents, grandparents, and anyone else I remember being around in the early years of my life believed that African Americans should love, support, and educate their own.  I was raised in a bubble, where I could not watch “Leave it to Beaver” or “In Living Color”. One show promoted the good white people too much, while the other presented negative depictions of black people, which was a no no in my household. I never felt the sting of racism as a child either, but I was taught that it would be inevitable if I chose to be around white people. So, you see, our backgrounds dictate how we feel we should deal with this situation and what I’ve come to realize is that in order for us to come out of this, we need to find balance. Marriage and parenting do not work without balance. If we can take positive from both of our experiences and formulate a plan that will benefit our daughter, then we are moving in the right direction.

I’ve also learned another important lesson in this and it involves people either not thinking before they speak or not recognizing that they have some prejudice. I won’t list the various things I’ve heard, but I summarize it to victim blaming, dismissing, and the belief that children just say hurtful things that may seem racists, but they are really just being naughty. Let me be frank, I know racism when I see or hear it. I know it because I was the kid who heard people speaking negatively about a certain race. I know these things don’t come from the sky. I remember quite clearly the venom that I would hear and then told not to repeat in the presence of “others”. Children do not get these ideas from nowhere and the sooner people begin to accept that the better.

Another thing, cut the bullshit with the whole “I teach my kids to be colorblind” or “I’m colorblind”. When I hear those statements, it makes me think that the person does not value my culture, my race, or the struggle that may come with who I am. I am not colorblind (actually, I am, it’s quite rare for a girl). I love hearing and knowing about other peoples backgrounds, race, and culture. To deny our differences does not make racism go away. It’s the most insane statement and it makes me question the person behind it.

So, now we work towards balance. My husband wants to impress upon my daughter that she needs to find her voice along with her realizing that there are good and bad in every race. I, on the other hand, am focusing on her learning that she is of value and that the things people say about others that look like her are not accurate. It has also become increasingly important that my children are not fed this idea that they represent the black race. Black people are not cattle. We are human just like everyone else. Black Lives Matter, Ben Carson, Oprah Winfrey, Ice Cube, or Eva from 54th and Crenshaw do not speak for me or one another. If one more person tells me that black people can’t expect equal rights until the black community addresses black on black crime, I’m going to scream. My daughter, myself, and anyone else of the diaspora have different experiences and upbringings, we share skin color, not blame. In other words, it is my duty and my mission to teach my children that they are black, to be proud from which they came, but they are also human first and no one can take that away from them.

Love and light y’all

 

 

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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.

Sunday Intentions (1/25)

As you can clearly see, it is not Sunday. Yesterday was one of those days where I found myself so tired by the end of the night that I could not even will myself to stay awake. I sat in my bed to watch a movie with my husband and next thing I knew, it was morning.

To be quite honest, I set my intentions for the week under the first full moon of the year. My cousin reminded me by showing her little set up in a text (pic below).

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As you can see from the picture, I forgot about the whole full moon intention thingamajig. My cousin is so much more into the concept of sending out into the universe what you want and then believing that the universe will conspire to make those things happen. I’m not quite there yet, but everything she has told me to do seems to be working and the proof is in how my Sunday went.

My intentions/goals were:

  1. To reconnect with my husband romantically.
  2. Continue to explore my writing by submitting articles to online magazines or blogs.
  3. To focus on my fitness and wellness.
  4. To find better ways to communicate with my children when angry.
  5. To be the friend I want others to be to me.

That’s it!

Maybe if I hadn’t forgotten, my list would be longer or deeper, but at that moment in time when I sat down to write out a list, this is what I came up with. I had spoken to my cousin and a friend about the first item on the list and I received some very good advice. My friend told me we needed some time separate from the kids, even if it was for a few hours. My cousin in all her unmarried wisdom told me to start being more romantic to my husband without the expectation of anything in return. To be honest, it took me a while to receive that one, but I got what she was saying. A few years back, me and a friend orchestrated this whole husband appreciation week where we surprised our husbands on different days with different things. We were new stay at-home moms and still in the stage of recognizing all that our husbands dealt with on a daily basis. Fast forward about 5 years later and I think that appreciation is still here, but not expressed. In a way, maybe I have begun to take him for granted. Not to say that we are arguing or not in a good place, but lately things have been feeling very “parenty”(that’s not a word, but you catch my drift) and that’s cool, but I would like to have moments where we remember why we like and love each other, separate from the kids.

So, I wrote it down on a piece of paper and you’re not going to believe what happened. Saturday night (the full moon night) I get a text from one of my favorite moms reminding me about a playdate we had sort of set-up for the next day. She has all girls, so we weren’t sure how my son was going to go for that, right? Sunday morning comes and he’s game for the playdate. We drop them off and just like that we find ourselves alone without children on a impromptu date. We just went to the mall and sat at Starbucks and talked, but boy was it nice. I got to hear him and it wasn’t about work, money, or the kids. Like, I really got to hear him and take him in. I also felt like he heard me. I didn’t have to compete with his phone and I could tell he was happy. We laughed and held hands. We did a little shopping for ourselves without anyone telling us that they were hungry. We sampled all the teas at Teavana without looking to see if anyone was breaking anything. Romance is different for different people, but that morning was a romantic time for me and it was just what we needed. You see how this universe stuff works? Crazy!

High five to the universe, but now I’m behind in my Motherhood Monday post, so I’ll get that out in a bit.

Love and light y’all.

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.

 

Motherhood Mondays (A Conversation with Grandma)

In an effort to write more, I am going to attempt to start a series on my blog called “Motherhood Mondays”. It is my wish to have open and honest conversations with different types of mothers and write about that dialogue on this forum.

My first guest for “Motherhood Mondays” is my grandmother. My grandmother’s name is Rose. She was born in 1927 in New Orleans, LA. A number of the views that will be discussed in this blog reflect the times in which she was born and raised. If you follow this blog, then you know how dear my grandmother is to me. When I was about 13 years old, I went to go live with her. She saved me by letting me live in her home and keeping the person I was getting away from out of my life. Too many families turn a blind eye to abuse, but she did not and for that, I am a better person. I thought who better to start off this whole Motherhood Mondays with than my very own grandmother…here are her words:

What is the best part about being a mother?

The best part about being a mother is watching your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren achieve the things they want. I like to see children going to school and learning new things. I like to see them go after their goals. There has always been this strain of giftedness in our family, but we have a problem with execution. Learning has never been a problem for the majority of our family, so I get happy when I see that giftedness manifest from generation to generation.

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What was your mother like?

My mother was the kind of person who did not think anyone was bad. Because she was so nice, people took advantage of her. She was friendly. She would do anything she could for you and she was mugged numerous times because of her personality. She didn’t have a good relationship with my daddy. He was a minister and had a mean streak. I had to watch out for her. She was protective of us, so we, my sisters and I, were protective of her. She was a strong women. She beat cancer, but she was too nice.

Growing up, did you want to be like your mother?

I am my mother in my later years. I realize, now, that people are not who they think they are. I am her.

What was your proudest moment?

I dropped out of high school in the 10th grade because I was the oldest and had to work to help my family. I went to work in a cafeteria and thought that was the end of that. When your grandfather and I moved to California, we opened up the little store and then the grocery store, which should have been my proudest moment, but it wasn’t. I went back to school at 55 and finished high school and then got my degree in nursing. School was always easy. I just needed the chance to finish and I did. I also appreciate my longevity of life and that I am of sound mind and body. I’m still independent.

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Did you have to deal with racism growing up or as an adult?

Of course! (laughs) It wasn’t like the stories you hear about being attacked. I was never chased or beat up. In those times, you knew what you could do or should do and that is what you did. I use to hear my father saying, ‘yes sir’ to those men while they called him by his first name, or nothing at all, and I would be so mad that my father was like that. I didn’t realize until he was dead and gone that he was playing them while they thought he was being subservient to them. He was protecting us. He had to do that in order to work or for our family to have things.

The thing about racism in the south is that you got to know these people and you got to doing what they thought you should do. When you act that way, you leave a legacy for your children. We went thru a lot. My parents and my grandparents took a lot, but they left the perception of respect and then the white people would leave you the hell alone. In a sense racism is whatever you make it. We always had a house. Racism instilled in you the things you wanted to achieve.

Wait, what grandma?

Yes, racism made you want to do better, at least in the south. When I moved to California, I could not believe what black people put up with compared to us in New Orleans. I grew up seeing black professionals, educators, and business owners. In the south, you knew that those people worked hard because it was twice as hard to get anything; however the black people in California had this false perception of freedom. When I would go to the hospital, all the service workers were black and the professionals were white. The neighborhoods that black people lived in were horrible. The schools were not much better either. Black people did not have to sit on the back of the bus, but they were being held back in ways that they we were not held back in the south. Racism made us work harder and look out for one another. I never much cared for going around people who did not want me around. These people fought to have everything integrated, even schools. Why would people fight for integration in schools? Our schools had teachers who cared, genuinely. Just because you send your children to school with white children does not mean their education will be better. In fact, their education may be worse because they are dealing with teachers who dislike them and want to see them fail. Back then, you knew who did not like you and now you do not have a clue.

What do you think the biggest misconception about Black women is?

The biggest misconception about Black women is that they do not take time with their children because they do not care. The truth is that they are too tired. I watched a young lady one morning on the bus stop with her child and the sun was not even up. This girl has to get up and take her children to the daycare on the bus, get back on the bus and go to work, get back on the bus to pick up her child, and then go home and do it all over again. By the time, she gets home she is too tired, worse if she is uneducated because she has been working on her feet. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they do not have any help. These women can only do the basic.

So, is that just a single mom issue?

Oh no…your generation is one that is starting to have active fathers, but all of the house and children duties typically fall on the women, even if she is married. I worked close to home and took less pay to make sure I could be a mother. I wanted to be there to drop off my children and pick them up. I wanted to teach them. I could not have done that if I had made different choices. Everyone cannot take less pay. I was married, but I was still tired and took on most of the responsibility when it came to the home and children. Your grandfather helped me, but most of it rested on my shoulders.

That’s the thing about dealing with black men, especially during my time. You have to deal with this black man being a man…anything untraditional to a male role, he feels slighted. Things go from one extreme to another. He gets it so hard from the outside world that you have to let him or give him the perception that he is in the lead. You have to learn how to balance. I had to learn to swallow my pain in order for him to be the man. I did not hear until 30 minutes before he took his last breath that he appreciated me. I had done everything I could for my family.

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Last question. If you could offer one piece of relationship advice, what would it be?

You have to be a team. Each person has to have a defined role. You have to be able to have a certain amount of respect for your husband as a man. You have to feel like a woman and not like a babysitter. Men need to be comfortable being the leader and know exactly what that entails for his family. Women need to let men learn and not try to take care of everything. Even when things get bad, don’t jump in and try to figure it out for the family or him. He will figure it out and be a better man for it. If men aren’t allowed to figure it out, then there will always be resentment and when that creeps in, everything goes wrong. Every family is different, so traditional roles may not work, but roles need to be defined. Everyone needs to play a part.

I always tell you that you’re blessed because you’re the first woman in our family who has had the chance to be a mother. You have been able to raise your children without outside influence. You know your children. It is a sacrifice, but your husband is better for it and so is your family. He does things your grandfather would have never done and you have to honor that.

Any last words?

My life was no bed of roses. Life is what you make it. If you don’t like the way it is going, change it.

Love and light y’all.

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Happy New Year…Again

Wow, it is hard to believe that the last time I entered this blog was a full year ago. I kind of took a very serious break from many forms of social media. I wanted to refocus the time that I spent in these areas on my family, but mostly on my husband. After he came home from his deployment, I think it was important to me to make an effort on my part to consciously add him back into our lives. One of the major issues that plague military families is the balance between life while your spouse is a away and life when they return. The last deployment was my husband’s third. I was with him on the first deployment and the second deployment almost ruined our marriage. We both did not know how to balance his coming home. He did not know where to fit in and I continued living as if he had never came home. I am thankful we got over that rough patch, but I am even more thankful that this last deployment was living proof that we learned from our mistakes.

So…he’s been home for over a year now and it’s time for me to return. I kind of laugh typing that last sentence. I am known for starting and stopping a many of projects; however, I’ve written this one down. If you write it down on a piece of paper, then it will more than likely happen, right?

Right! It will happen and with the New Year comes new hopes, dreams, and possibilities that can and will be achieved. My most important goal for the New Year is to write. I want to write like my life depended on it. While I have a few fears, writing is the one that keeps me up at night. Writing haunts me. It is always watching. It is always standing around a corner peeking in with eyes of judgement. It is the one thing that opens my heart and flows through me. It is when I am most honest and it is when I am most vulnerable. It is me.

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I believe in New Year’s resolutions or maybe New Year intentions. My intention is to be me and all that entails. My intensions are:

1. Attend yoga at least 3 times a week

2. Learn how to design in Adobe or find somebody who can (sign-up for a class)

3. Launch my crazy ideas/designs (look at that, I’m too afraid to write them in detail)

4. Let my daughter be her own damn self (why do I struggle with that?)

5. Nourish my son’s passion of art (sign him up for art camp in the spring)

6. Call my mother more (at least three times a week)

7. Love my brothers without judgement (a loved ones addiction and distance are difficult to get over, but I am trying)

8. Listen to my cousin in all her hippie wisdom (be open to things I do not know)

9. Make an effort to communicate with my father once a week (figure out if I have healed)

10. Make a mala

11. Read at least seven books (one cannot write if they do not read)

12. Save more money (beasted this goal last year, but then I got a tummy tuck, lol)

13. Love my husband without fear (stop comparing him to my past hurt)

14. Nourish friendships lost and gained in 2015 (deal with my PTSD)

15. Listen

16. Write, write, and write

That’s it! Not a very long list and not a list that cannot be done.  What are some of your’s?  My hope is that everyone achieves growth and joy in the New Year. Until next time…

Love and light y’all.

 

Sunday Intentions

Okay, so I’m really not doing too well with this 30 days of blogging every single day.  I missed Friday and Saturday, but technically it wasn’t my fault.  I wanted to post a poem on Friday, but I wanted to do a slide show.  I still haven’t figured out how to put my voice with the slide show and I’m such a weird person that I didn’t feel right blogging Saturday because I didn’t do Friday.  I’m a bit weird; however, I’m going to get that together. Anyway, on to my Sunday Intentions for the week.

Today is Father’s Day!  I always call it the holiday that ends at about 3 p.m. or even sooner if the Dad is on the grill.  It always seems labor intensive for fathers, but I guess they enjoy it.  Here, we are without our fearless leader and father’s day was not celebrated in the typical fashion.  We heard from my husband early in the day.  The children got to talk to him twice because he kept calling back and I actually had the opportunity to have a long (about 10 minutes) conversation with him.  He unloaded on me and it was magnificent.   He was not telling me very nice things about his job, but HE OPENED UP TO ME!!!!!  I won’t discuss in this blog what he is going through, but I want to start a support operation for him with family and friends.  He needs to know that there are people back home that have his back and support him.

That brings me to the 2 things that I intend to focus on this week.  First, I need to start taking in the advice of my therapist.  Although I write this blog and can open up to my close friends, I am a guarded person.  I am even more guarded when I think you can hurt me.  My husband leaving felt like an abandonment.  Consciously, I know he did not just up and leave to get away from us.  It is the nature of his job, but one is still left with certain feelings.  When he left, I went into my shell and I just kind of wanted him to be gone without having any emotional attachment while he was away.  The funny thing is that, what I put out into the universe, I got back.  I was going out of my mind losing that connection of knowing what is going on with him and didn’t realize that I too had taken away my connection.  Last week and 2 weeks prior, I took my therapist’s advice and started opening up and I thought it wasn’t being heard or appreciated, but today showed me something different.  I need to be more vulnerable with this man I married.  I need to make an effort to share more and I need to make a point of letting him know that I have his back even if I don’t get the response I want.

The next intention I have this week is to love myself.  This may be an ongoing intention.  I have a friend here in California that says things to me that make me really think about what I say about my body, how I treat it, and what my insecurities are teaching my children.  Of course she can say all of these things because she’s gorgeous, but the message is still valid.  How we see ourselves sometimes transfers into how our children see themselves.  I know this to be true because I saw my daughter step on the scale too many times and I realized that she was only copying me.  I’m happy to say I haven’t been on the scale in a very long time because it is not necessary.  That number on that scale does not dictate anything that has to do with my life being fulfilled.  I refuse to pass this obsession with weight and looking a certain way to my daughter and son.  Truthfully, I have a bit of body dysmorphia. I am working on it.  It’s not an easy thing for people to understand when you are thin.  People don’t get it, but I get it and slowly I’m learning to let go of the negative image I have in my head and replace it with who I really am. I also consciously know that if I tear myself down and I am never happy with the way I am now, both body and soul, then indirectly I am teaching my children that they are never good enough.  It’s kind of the same approach that I took with no longer relaxing my hair. (NO JUDGEMENT ON THE HAIR THING) I knew I was not going to straighten my daughter’s hair very early on.  I didn’t have my first relaxer until I was 21 years old, so I wasn’t raised with the idea that straight hair was beautiful.  I wanted to give this gift to my daughter because I had met women who were literally afraid to go without their hair straightened.  I thought the best way to give her the gift of accepting her hair naturally was to give her an example of her mother being natural.  It was the same gift my mother had given to me and my grandmother had given to my mother.  Strangely, no one stopped to think that hair was such a small part of who we are and that an example of self love would take one so much more further in life.  I think back on how many bad dates I wouldn’t have gone on or how I might be able to look in the mirror at my body and see how awesome it is.  Self love teaches one that societies concept of beauty has absolutely nothing to do with how beautiful one is.  How one feels about themselves has everything to do with how he or she views themselves internally.  The external is just a small portion really.  People hide behind the external because if I woke every morning and realized that I gave birth to 2 children like a boss, that I am intelligent, that I am worthy of everything good in my life, then my perspective of who I am externally would change.  Instead of being disgusted by my stretch marks, loose skin around my belly and my surgery scars, I would feel honored.  Every single one of my so-called imperfections tells a story of how awesome I am.  I earned it all and I am a better person for it all.  I should be smiling when I stand before myself in the mirror, realizing that this body that I am in is just a vessel used in this life.  I should look at it in admiration because I am more than beautiful.  I am divine.

Love and Light

 

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

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!

 

Motherhood Monday

Throwback lesson from my momma:  The value of teaching the children to say thank you for every damn thing.

I had an interesting discussion in my brain today about this thing called motherhood.  I was pondering on what is this season in my life is all about.  I never envisioned that I would be a stay at-home mother and the thought came to me that this has got to be the most thankless job I have ever had.  Please allow me a moment to keep it real.  When I wake up in the morning, I am allowed exactly an hour (no matter how early I rise) to myself.  First, my son wakes up and demands at least 5 full minutes of cuddle time.  The cuddle time is quickly followed by his declaration of hunger and my need to get him something to drink.  In the midst of my son’s demands, my daughter wakes up in a funk (she is not a morning person) needing her cuddle time and to do her obligatory shoving of her brother.  A fight typically breaks out while I remove myself to brush my teeth, fill my water bottle and take my thyroid medication. That is how my day starts probably 5 days out of the week.  I cook breakfast.  I clean up.  I entertain. I find cool science projects.  I teach manners and the value of not eating boogers.  I do it all and I never once hear a damn thank you!  I was thinking about this as I took my quiet moment in my toilet room this afternoon and it dawned on me after I saw fingers under the door, that these children don’t appreciate me.

As quickly as those thoughts came to my brain a question came to the forefront of my thoughts…Did you become a mother to be thanked?  I did not become a mother to be thanked. I did not become a mother to be told that I do an amazing job.  I, unlike a lot of mothers I meet, became a mother because I love my husband.  I did not have an idea of some sort of parenting technique I wanted to use to shape perfect adults.  I was in a romantic haze and the standout reason that I wanted to have children was to see what our (my husband and I) love could create.  I know that’s totally sappy and probably irresponsible, but it is my truth.  I also kind of wanted to have  a child because doctors told me I couldn’t. I absolutely know what I did not want when I had children and that was to feel like they were work.  Right now, they are starting to feel like work and I know it is partly because my husband is gone, but it is also because I am not taking the time to really enjoy them.  I am focusing on my lack of personal space and time, not realizing that I have really good children who didn’t asked to be here. I will not be able to get these years back, so why not laugh at the fingers under the door in the bathroom or enjoy the cuddle time in the morning.  Very soon, my children will no longer want to cuddle with me and it would really suck if all I could remember is my frustration and not my appreciation for their presence.

Current lesson:  The value of appreciating my children being here and teaching them thankfulness by example.