Get you some #BlackGirlMagic

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I am absolutely in love with the term Black Girl Magic right now. I love going to Instagram and searching the hashtag to see my women of color loving the melanin they are in. It is so refreshing. So positive. So inspiring.

Julee Wilson, senior fashion editor of the Huffington Post defined Black Girl Magic as the universal aweseomenss of black women. It’s about celebrating anything we deem particularly dope, inspiring or mind-blowing about ourselves

Sure we can attach the Black Girl Magic hashtag to Gabby Douglas or Simone Biles winning medals in Rio at the Olympics. We can say that Beyoncé, Jazmine Sullivan or Chrisette Michelle slays us with their Black Girl Magic. Awesomely Luvvie, my absolute favorite blogger, sprinkles Black Girl Magic with wit and humor. Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday nights with her amazing Black Girl Magic.

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But what about the women around you?

The Randae Dodsons who cast fear aside to move to another state? What about the Derricca Holmes’, Jamisha Wrights or Melanie Cross-Kings that share their gift of creativity and art?

What about the Shell Solomons or Amy Hills that want to share something they love with the world? What about the Tiffany Davis’, Nealia Coleys or Tamika Morgans that go back to school?

What about the Laura Edwards that want to see their communities be better? What about the Sharon Tarvers and Linda Harris’ that survive breast cancer?

What about the Nina Barkers, Alitha Hawkins, Denishia Tatums and Tomika Davis’ that want to share their words? What about the Valerie Trices, Yolanda Coleys, Tomeika Lukes, Elizabeth Holloways, Monisha Volleys, Nina Perrys and other women educators that push our kids to greatness?

What about the Britney James’ that are the world’s biggest cheerleaders? What about the LaManda Jones’, Felicia Hintons, Kechi Davis’ and Denetra Hamiltons that have a passion for nursing?

What about the Ayada Ingrams, Tomeisha Holts, Crystal McClusters and Stacy Cromers that take their health and fitness serious? What about the Chelsey Watts’ that graduate from law school?

What about the Shannon Kings, Emily Powells, Lucee Lou Jankins, Monica Lusanes, Dorthea McKenzies, Patricia Harris’, and Tasha Mables that slay hair? What about the Jessica Pitres or Le’Andra Jones’ that own the gift of make up artistry?

What about the single mothers, students, wives, working two jobs, getting little sleep, pressing, praying, surviving, hustling women?

These are women that surround me, that I know, that I have interacted with, all have thier own brand of Black Girl Magic.

But there are more of us out there. We are everywhere, doing great and magical things. This is not a competition; there is enough room out here for everyone to shine. Support the women around you, encourage the women around you, uplift the women around you. Spread this Black Girl Magic all over the world.

Somewhere along the way, we were told we aren’t enough when we are truly EVERYTHING. You are literally LIFE everlasting. You are God’s vessel. Science can’t explain us. We are magic.-Luvvie Ajayi

Worth the sacrifice

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We live in a microwave era where we want everything quick, fast and in a hurry. But I am a firm believer that anything worth having is worth working for. If you make the right connections, you can possibly lessen some of the work you have to do, but even then, making the right connections can take some work.

Working towards your goals won’t always be easy. There will be obstacles, setbacks, and of course, sacrifices. The reason some people (myself included) won’t reach their goals is because we fear sacrifices.  And that isn’t necessarily a flaw; if you are accustomed to doing something, giving it up will not be easy. BUT, it’s hard to convince anyone, especially yourself, that your goals are important if you are not putting in the work and making necessary sacrifices.

There are a lot of people that are making things happen but I want to highlight two people I see working hard on their goals:

First, my cousin Chelsey Watts who has aspirations to become a lawyer. After graduating from Georgia State, Chelsey began the next phase of her life and enrolled at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston Texas. She graduated with her Juris Doctor degree this past May and I couldn’t be more proud of her! Now, for the past few months, Chelsey has been studying for the BAR exam and she’s been pretty low key while doing so.

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Chelsey has sacrificed hanging out, social media, enjoying the simple pleasure of watching TV and doing whatever else a 27 year old could be doing right now. Not only did Chelsey leave her friends and family to move to Texas for Law School, she has also given up life as she knew it to study for the BAR. What she is sacrificing will definitely be worth her reward of passing the BAR. I can’t even imagine the stress and anxiety she must be feeling right now but she’s definitely an inspiration to me…she is proof that Law degrees and passing the BAR won’t come easy. Once this test is passed (claiming it!) she will know every sacrifice was well worth it.

My inspiration is Ayada Ingram. I know Ayada through working with my sister and my son and her niece are friends (they went on a date!). With her health becoming an issue, Ayada began her weight loss journey.  At her biggest, she was 270 pounds and she was pretty unhappy with herself. Her weight caused major health and self-esteem issues for her.

Ayada said the hardest part was the will power to diet and eat right. When she was heavier, exercising was harder but now, Ayada works out religiously 5-6 times a week. She sacrifices her time, working out when she’s tired, and eating right when she had didn’t want to. But her sacrifices have produced phenomenal results: over the course of a few years, Ayada went from a size 26 to a size 10/12! Can you say AMAZING!

The pride of taking charge of her life, health and weight shows in her smile. Ayada told me that she is much happier now that she was before….and the results are absolutely priceless!

Ayada

 

So my question to you is what are you willing to give up to get to where you want to be? What goals do you have? Maybe it isn’t passing the BAR or losing weight but what are you doing to take your goals from vision to action?

Talking alone isn’t enough. You can’t just say you want to lose weight and continue eating whatever you want. You can’t just say you want to be a lawyer without putting in hours of studying. If I say I want to publish a book, that means I have to dedicate time to write. If you say you want to go back to school, that means you have to carve out time to study. Talking about it without doing anything  won’t get you anywhere.

My last post highlighted my love for writing and my plans for it. And I haven’t been sacrificing enough for it. I can admit I wanted it microwaved and I made excuses as to why I couldn’t focus on it like I needed to. I have kids. I’m in school. I work. I try to have a social life. But at the end of the day, saying I want to be an author will remain a dream until I start to work for it.

Chelsey and Ayada have shown me the rewards sacrifice can bring…so now it’s up to me to push myself further.  If I have to give up watching Food network on Friday night to write, then so be it. If I have to wake up an hour earlier to write, then so be it. If I have to turn down hanging out to write, then so be it.

I have published a book of poetry but for the most part, that didn’t take a lot of sacrifice; most of my poems for that book were done by the time I decided to publish. I’ve been asked about book two and I always have the same excuse: I haven’t had the time. And the truth of the matter is I haven’t made the time. Excuses are out the window, procrastination is being evicted and now, I’m ready to hit the ground running!

Don’t quit your daydream

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One of my life’s mantra’s is Habakkuk 2: 2: Write the vision and make it plain. It’s no secret that writing is what I love to do. For years I’ve written in journals, poetry, papers, and this blog. Most recently, I’ve started writing short stories and I’ve have a lot of story ideas. I’ve published a book of poetry “But…there’s love” a few years ago and my second one is pretty much finished. If I couldn’t write I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.

For the most part, writing for me is a hobby. It’s a catharsis. It’s often how I sort out my thoughts. It’s how I’ve connected to people (hey Randae, Keshauna and Le’Andra!). It’s the way I make sense of the world.  Could I do more with my writing? Absolutely. I’ve been told that for years by a lot of people…friends, family, even my pastor. So why haven’t I? That is the better question.

It’s not a confidence thing; I know I’m good at what I do. I’m not worried about people disliking anything I write because I’m not for everyone and that’s ok. I actually don’t have a reason why other than I just haven’t.  But today a spark was lit under me by my sister. She pretty much asked me why am I not doing more. The short answer is…I am not making time. Between work, school and my kids, my free time is few and far between.

But what good is having this passion for writing, this gift if I’m not going to perfect it, work on it or share it?  I have to make time for this blog, my poetry and the books (come through plural!!). I have to take this more serious.  I can’t let other people push me more than I push myself. I may have to give up some things, sacrifice some things and struggle through some things if this is my dream.

Not that I had to share this with the world but by putting it in writing, I am holding myself accountable. At work we say “if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen”. So this is my documentation: I am dedicating more time to my craft. I am going to push myself. I am going to share my words with the world.

A father’s love: Commentary on surviving child molestation

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Last week, a Facebook friend of mine, along with his daughter, posted a very emotional Go Live video.  I’ve known this guy for years, went to school with him and we even have some relatives in common.  I cannot say that I know him extremely well since I’ve been out of high school for 18 years, but one thing I do know is that he loves his daughter, without question.

So imagine a father’s reaction upon learning that his daughter was molested at a young age. Imagine how this father felt knowing his daughter has endured such a atrocious situation. Imagine how this father felt knowing the person who violated his daughter was his own cousin.

child molestation

Watching the video had tears streaming down my face. The daughter is now 15, disclosed when she was about 12 but the abuse happened when she was younger (I think 6-7). I was floored. I have been working in the human services field for a number of years and I have heard the most heartbreaking stories of abuse but this one? This one hit home because I know these people, this family.

Parents…please do not think these types of things only happen in certain families. That you have to be a certain race, live in a certain part of town or make x amount of money. Because it can happen to anyone.  The father didn’t suspect anything because the guy is his cousin. I’m not talking a distant relative that you saw at family reunion once a year. No, this was someone he hung out with. Chilled with. Took up for. Loved.

…all the while I was feeding my daughter to a predator

I cannot imagine having to endure anything like this with my children, niece or nephews. A few months ago there was a huge controversy about transgendered people using the bathroom of the gender they identify with. But this father didn’t have to worry about a transgendered person in a bathroom; this happened in his own family.

On the video, the father said that his daughter was good now. He actually said that multiple times.  What made me believe this to be true was that you could tell he has an open and honest relationship with her.  He has set the ground work for her being able to talk to him about any and everything.

Parents…please do not be afraid to be your child’s friend. There is a huge difference in friend and peer.  I truly believe she is good because he (along with her mother and his wife) have been there every step of the way. From pressing charges, talking about it, working through it, going to therapy…they didn’t let her handle this situation by herself. Her abuser is serving time in jail but that doesn’t mean she’s magically ok. But she had so much love and support from her parents, step-mother, and other family members that I am sure she felt protected and able to process any feelings she has openly.

We, as parents, have to realize our kids are growing up different than we did. Just as we grew up different than our parents.  If you are not constantly checking, calling, texting, talking and most importantly listening to your children, you will miss something. Parents, put your uncomfortableness aside and dive into those tough conversations. Sex, molestation, drugs, guns, alcohol…use the media to start discussions. I talked to my son about consensual sex after the Brock Turner incident. If you’re doing all the talking, it’s a lecture and you’re not learning anything. Find out how your kids feel about certain situations. Find out if they have been around someone that makes them uncomfortable. Find out how much they know about sex. If you aren’t the one giving them information, you leave it up to others (i.e. their equally misinformed friends) to shape their thoughts.

Fathers, if you are not involved in your child’s life (beyond paying child support) you run the risk of your sons or daughters having to face some really tough situations without their father to go to bat for them. Mothers, if you do not allow you child’s father to be a part of their life (beyond child support), your child is being deprived of having that protector. Child support cannot comfort a child that has been molested. Now I know everything is situational but when it comes to raising kids, your personal feelings have to go out the window and you have to do what’s best for your kids.

Let’s not be dismissive of molestation in our communities. It happens more often than you think. This situation has divided a family…the cousin’s mother does not believe her son did anything and to my understanding, this girl wasn’t the first person he’s done something to. The father said that so he does not disrespect his aunt, he does not interact with his family anymore. It’s not an easy situation to go through; it’s difficult for everyone involved. But I am extremely grateful that this father takes his role as a parent serious and they are working through this to make sure she grows up happy and healthy.

I commend them for sharing their story because I know it had to be a very tough and trying situation. I inboxed him on Facebook to asked if I could blog about it and he told me I could; he believes we need to give more attention to these types of situations. He also posted how so many people have messaged him and told him they were abused as children and he  is encouraging people to talk about it.

The bravery this child possessed is amazing and I will continue to keep them in my thoughts and prayers.

Their biggest fan

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If there is one thing parenting has taught me, it’s to be my kids number one fan. It is my job to cheer for them, support them, show up for them, yell at the ref for bad call, be proud when Tra makes a good tackle, be excited when Tyler scores a goal, be enthusiastic when Jade shows me the 1,000th picture she made in art. Aside from their necessities, as a parent, I have to make deposits into their mental and emotional accounts.

Tyler

Yesterday I attended Tyler’s honors day program where he received honor roll for the 4th 9 weeks.  There were so many kids that made the honor roll I couldn’t fit them all in the picture. Sure I wanted Tyler to make the principal’s honor roll or have honor roll for the entire year.  But please believe I am so proud of this kid for what he did receive yesterday.

Honors day

When Tyler was in the 1st grade, he was diagnosed with ADHD, although he has more ADD traits than ADHD.  In the first grade, he struggled bad. Simple work was a chore, homework was a struggle, classwork was taxing.  At the time, I really didn’t know what it was but I know my son was having a really hard time.  I worked with him, his teacher worked with him, I prayed, we talked…everything I could do.  It wasn’t an issue of comprehension, he was just having a really tough time doing his work and we couldn’t figure out why.

His teacher was the first to suggest it was ADHD.  He wasn’t really having behavior issues, but his attention span was pretty much non-existent.  So for a few weeks, we observed him and sure enough, he seemed to mentally wonder off. I finally bit the bullet and took him to the doctor. They gave me a questionnaire and had me give one to his teacher. I was shocked by the number of items on the list described my child. He was diagnosed and prescribed medication to help him in school.  That was a hard decision to make because I really didn’t want him on medicine but at this point, what choice did I have?

I know a lot of people feel that ADHD isn’t a real condition and it’s often used to subdue “bad” children. This wasn’t the case for Tyler. He wasn’t getting into trouble at school but his grades were horrible. I’m talking C’s, D’s and some F’s. I was prepared to hold him back in the first grade because I was afraid he was going to fall behind in the 2nd grade. When he started taking the medicine, his teacher noticed a huge improvement in his grades. Tyler went from failing to A’s and B’s.  He’s been taking ADHD medication since first grade and is now preparing to go to the 8th and continues to be an honor roll student.

I said all of that to say this: when you see parents celebrating their kids accomplishments, it’s not always for bragging purposes. Some parents are celebrating their kids accomplishments despite obstacles.  ADHD isn’t as serious as some other diagnosis and can be easily managed through medication. But it is still a struggle.  I had to learn that some of his faults are beyond his control and I had to be more lenient with him in some areas. I have to push him a little harder. He has to work a little harder. His teachers have to be observant and let me know when his grades may be slipping. I have to constantly remind him that he has ADHD but it’s not something we are going to let control him. He will not be defined by it. Tyler is a great student and will continue to be…he just needs a little help to keep him on track.

So parents, continue to celebrate those accomplishments, big or small because if you aren’t your kids biggest fan, who will be?

The cost of love

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In the past four months, three people have lost their lives and three other people are in jail for murder. According to reports, there was suspected domestic violence involved in these murders. This post is not about blaming the victim, blaming the assailant or trying to figure out what happened. Instead, I want this to be an eye opener. If domestic violence was a factor in the deaths of these three people, two of which were men, we have a lot of work to do in Americus.

I have been trying to figure out how to word this post because it is a touchy subject. I don’t want to offend anyone and since I was not present when these situations took place, I cannot say what really happened. What I do know is that while some lost their lives and others are in jail, no one wins in this situation. Kids have lost parents, mothers have to bury their sons, fathers have to see their daughter in jail, friends, classmates, cousins, brothers and sisters are trying to come to grips with their new reality. Everyone has lost, so many people are hurting and this pain can run deep.

broken heart

Again, I wanted to say something but was unsure of what or how-until this morning. A friend of mine was bold enough to share her story. When I read it, I was floored. This was someone that I spent a great deal of time with years ago. We worked together, laughed together, partied together. As life would have it, we drifted apart, not because of anything bad but just because we went in different directions. Today on Facebook my friend shared her story of being in an abusive relationship. At this time, we weren’t as close as we used to be so I was unaware she was going through this. I do recall a time she came to my house and she told me her boyfriend was crazy. I took it to mean crazy in the sense of something we just say, not really thinking there was much to it.

In her post, my friend discussed her ordeal. Bruises, black eyes, tears, fear…these are some of the words she used in her post. Love was also another one. As I read her post, I felt the tears well up in my eyes because I just couldn’t believe she went through this. My breaking down point was when she described her decision to leave him. His reaction was to pour lighter fluid all over her with the intent of burning her alive. She begged and pleaded with him, told him everything he needed to hear in order to save her life. It took her awhile but she was finally able to get away from him. After work one day, she just left and saved herself.

On the outside, it’s easy to cast judgment and say what you would or wouldn’t do. It’s easy to say “Girl just leave” or “I bet no man will ever put his hands on me” when you’re not the one in it. I remember watching What’s love got to do with it and being floored that Tina Turner lived through such a tumultuous life. It wasn’t until I got older that I “understood” why she stayed: she said she knows what it’s like to have someone walk out on you, referencing her mother leaving her with her grandmother. My friend stated she stayed because of love. Some people stay for the kids. Some people stay because they don’t have anywhere else to go. Whatever the reason people chose to stay is not for us to judge because the reasons can run pretty deep.

The million dollar question is so how can we help? My friend stated she that while she loved him, she loved herself more. So how can we teach our sons and daughters what love is? How can we teach them that love shouldn’t cause physical, mental, or emotional hurt? How can we talk to our friends about getting out? Men, are you talking about this with your homeboys? Ladies, are we discussing this in between recapping Housewives? I completely get that you cannot help anyone that does not want to be helped. But are we at least trying? I’m glad that my friend shared her story today because I am confident someone needed to hear it. She and many others have stories of survival. Unfortunately, as we have seen recently, this isn’t the case for everyone. Also keep in mind that all abuse isn’t physical; mental, verbal and emotional abuse are also common. Seeing these types of abuse are much harder to see because there aren’t visible scars.

I am not sure of all the resources (safe houses, counselors, churches, etc.) available but if you know of any, please share them. Talk to your family and friends. Everyone may not listen but maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to reach at least one person.

A candid moment: My struggle with my self-esteem

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While on Facebook yesterday, a blogger that I follow posted this picture of Lil’ Kim. I had to look at the picture twice because I did not recognize her. At all. This was not the Lil’ Kim I remember from the “Crush” video. I thought this was some photo shop foolishness so I went to her Instagram account and surely, this was Lil Kim.

Lil Kim 1

More than just shocked, I was kind of…well really just shocked. What happened to her? I jumped on Google to find old pictures of her and again…I was just shocked. Well this morning, a friend of mine shared this picture on Facebook with a supposed quote from the rapper

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Now I cannot say with certainty that this is a true quote but if it is…this has connected the dots for me. And while I have not done anything this extreme, I know what it’s like to think less of yourself.

For most of my life, I’ve struggled with my self-esteem. I cannot pinpoint one exact thing that triggered it but there are times when I think I’m not pretty enough, smart enough…just enough. I don’t like my height, my eyes, my breasts, my hairy arms, my long second toe. Even though these are physical things that I can’t change, I still struggle with accepting my flaws. Deeper than that, I am too emotional, I am shy, I am anti-social, I am an introvert. Being around people is a constant game of comparisons and I tend to walk away feeling inept, unpretty and judged. For some people I know that suffer with this like I do, this is not a constant feeling. There are days I am happy with me. There are days I can look in the mirror and smile at the reflection. There are days when I am confident. It’s just that when the lows come, they are pretty rough.

No matter what anybody says

What matters most is what you think of yourself

~India.Arie

But what do you do when you think little of yourself? What do you do when “they” tell you you’re pretty but you don’t see it? Lil Kim said “I don’t see it, no matter what anyone says”. I know it may be hard to understand why someone would think so low of themselves, especially when it seems you have so many good qualities. For as difficult as it is for you to understand, try to live through it. Lil’ Kim eluded to the fact that her father and other men constantly put her down. That’s enough to make you question how you see yourself.

For me, it goes back to thinking I’m not good enough. I really couldn’t even tell you who I’m not good enough for. I know I have some really good qualities but I also have a hard time accepting compliments. They make me uncomfortable. When someone tells me they liked something I wrote or that I’m pretty or that they like my hair or even that I’m doing a great job raising my kids, I deflect. I downplay it. I have a hard time accepting it. I scrutinize myself. It’s easier to just say thank you but for whatever reason, I cannot take the compliment and go on.

Seeing the pictures of Lil’ Kim yesterday I was full of judgment. Why would she do this to herself? She wasn’t ugly before. Why does she look like an entirely different person?

But when I saw the quote today, my judgment disappeared and all I had left was empathy. Because I completely understood. Even though I haven’t done anything this extreme (the most I’ve done was cut off all my hair, later dye it red and then loc it) I get what she’s trying to do: She wants to be happy with who she sees in the mirror. And believe you me, that is often a hard, long journey.

I almost didn’t publish this because it’s baring my soul and the words took a turn somewhere I wasn’t expecting. And I don’t have solutions.I don’t have a nice bulleted list of things to do to change your vision.  I want to be able to help someone with this but there isn’t a magic button that can reset my mind. This will be a journey but I’m not sure where to start. So feel free to share some advice. I know there are people who need to hear something good.

 

More than a game

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On March 3, 2016, the Americus-Sumter Lady Panthers won the AAAA state championship title. The Lady Panthers finished their amazing season with a record of 30-1, winning their last 20 games and remaining undefeated in the state of Georgia (their only loss came at a tournament to a team in Florida). Coached by Sherri Harris, the Americus-Sumter Lady Panthers declared that this season, they came to handle unfinished business: last season, despite an amazing run, the Lady Panthers lost in the elite 8.  My niece was on the team then as the only senior and it was hard for her to lose after coming so close. Scared by the loss, the Lady Panthers were determined to win a state championship. And with seven seniors on the team, the Lady Panthers fought their way to the school’s first basketball state title. The last basketball state championship was in 1966 which was before Americus High was desegregated and before Americus High and Sumter County became one school system.

One thing I found more impressive than the Lady Panthers 2015-2016 basketball season was what it did for our community: the support the team received was exciting to see. I know it’s easy to support a winning team, but the last few years in Americus has been difficult. It seems like there are far less positive things going on with our kids. A series of murders, senseless deaths and other acts of violence have plagued our city recently. It was a far cry from the Shining City on the Hill from years ago. Yes, violence and crime can be found anywhere in the world, but this…this is personal.  This is home. Small town living means that when someone is a victim of crime or death, if you don’t know the victim, you know someone that knew them.  Race relations were becoming difficult. Kids were getting into so much trouble. People were dying senselessly. Our community was suffering.

I’m not going to pretend that sports, basketball in particular, has ended our community problems. Some real changes are going to have to take place.  But…to see the way our entire community rallied behind these girls was nothing short of amazing.  On March 3, my facebook timeline was jubilant and full of pride.  Even my fellow Rams supported these ladies on their journey! I was proud the Lady Panthers won but I was also proud of my community.  I was overjoyed to see the support the team received.  If we can come together to support this team, imagine what we can do to make changes in our community!

Americus: the same support we gave the Lady Panthers, we need to give to all of our kids! We showed up for the Lady Panthers. We showed up to see who Tyler Clark would sign with (Go Dawgs!). We show up for our recreation team sports. We show up to see the Prancing Pearls. Let’s go further. Let’s rally behind ALL of our kids. Academically. On the court. On the field. In the classroom. I’m a firm believer that the Lady Panthers worked very hard in practice to secure their title as State Champs. But the community support was also definitely a factor (think the 12th man in Seattle).

This win for me was about more than a game. Yes, I am very proud of the accomplishment of these young ladies, especially the seven seniors on the team. For me, this was about the way we came together as a community. This was about the way we can put aside differences, where we live, where we went to school, where we go to church and focus on what’s important. As adults, we have the responsibility to show our kids the way, to support them, to fuss at them, to push them.  We are raising the next community leaders and it would be a great disservice to them if we don’t get behind them 100%

Once again…congratulations to the Lady Panthers Basketball team, coaches and staff. And Americus…thank you for your support!

I gave it all away

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Once upon a time I fell in love and quickly, I became enamored with his definition of love. He found my insecurities and played them to a T. He told me everything I needed to hear. But I never saw anything he ever said. I was left to wonder if he truly loved me because what he told me and what he did wasn’t in balance.

But he said he loved me. So that had to account for something, right?

I finally grew tired of making excuses, for waiting for him to see me as the one he needed in his life. I grew frustrated with putting my all into us when he couldn’t acknowledge there was even a we. I was pouring myself into him but he was like a bucket with a hole in it; nothing I did for him was staying in his heart or mind.

Love or not, this wasn’t right.

I let it go. Finally. I heard that sometimes holding on causes more damage than letting go. I knew this was a fact. But I had some fears about letting him go…what if he got with the next chick and she became everything I wanted to be? What if he loved her right, gave her the love I begged for? I invested so much time into him and I couldn’t imagine all of this time being in vain.

But more importantly, why didn’t he want me? What was wrong with me? I know I’m not the most beautiful, sexy, smart, thick woman in the world, but doesn’t my genuine heart account for something? Doesn’t the passion in my soul make me a little more attractive? Don’t men want someone they can build with? Someone they can exist with outside of the bedroom? Someone they can be proud of? Someone they can trust with their life, heart, children, bank account and laundry? If I’m not good enough for him, will anyone else want me?

I wandered around in my self-pity. Vowed never to be this chick ever again. I would take pride in me, demand my worth and never settle. Determined never to hurt again, the wall I built around my heart was wide, tall and almost impenetrable. It would take real work to get to me.  Anytime anyone got too close to me, I could touch the scar on my heart and remember the times I felt worthless.

Now here you are. Someone that saw the beauty in my soul. Someone that wanted to talk, to learn my mind. Someone that saw the scar on my heart, the tears in my eyes and the hurt that I’ve carried around like a blanket…and you still want to love me.

But I can’t. I don’t know what it means to love. Before, with him, he told me that was love and I ended up questioning myself. He told me he loved me and it meant absolutely nothing. I gave him all the love I had to give and it meant nothing. So what makes you different?

 “First things first girl recognize who is with you now. Second thing, can’t blame me for how you were treated before I came”

I know that to be true. I know I shouldn’t take my hurt out on you. I know I shouldn’t punish you for what I allowed to happen to me before you. But…I gave away all of my love and now, I don’t have anything left to give.

My bitterness is holding me hostage. My fear is paralyzing me. Take a chance? Maybe you’ll hurt me too. But what if you don’t?

How I learned the necessity of reciprocity

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I came across this picture on Facebook and was immediately drawn to the creativity and depth of it. I’d seen the picture before but the caption is also what captured my attention. The transfer of energy, something I’d recently become familiar with, was indeed real. I perused the comments and someone said this picture signified trying to give life to a dead situation.

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As if this picture wasn’t already deep enough, that comment just brought it home for me.  I’m not ashamed to admit that more than a few times in my life, I was this chick. Holding on to something dead. Trying to resurrect something dead.  Thinking that if I just loved him harder, if I was his freak, if I submitted, he would dramatically raise up from the dead and love me back. The truth of the matter was simple: I was wasting my time trying to make him love me.

One thing I learned from this dead relationship was he could not give me what he did not possess. In this picture, the woman is flesh. She has a heart, mind, soul but the man is simply a shell. There is no intentions to decipher; he was empty. But why couldn’t she see that?

I replaced the reality of us with the fantasy I so desperately created. Despite years of showing me he did not possess the type of love I needed, I thought one day, he would finally wake up and see that I could make him happy. That’s what love does, right? It sticks around in the good and the bad? It looks over faults? No matter how I tried to spin it, no matter how many excuses I made, no matter how many times we had sex, THIS WAS NEVER LOVE. The sex, the time and the energy I was putting into him was getting me nothing in return. As a matter of fact, I was being drained of my optimism of love. The hopeful romantic in me was becoming bitter, callous and nonchalant.

I could never take back the time I wasted but I had to make it worthwhile and learn something from it: I am too valuable to be hooked up with anything dead. I am full of life. I am loving. I am beautiful. I am smart. I am sexy. I am more than this. I deserve more than this. And I will command more than this.