Hey! How ya doing? Good to see ya. Glad to be here. Sorry it’s been so long. And let’s not forget, Happy Friday! I know it’s been a long time. And honestly, I really want to get better at being more consistent. It’s been an interesting journey through life thus far. I keep finding myself in these stages of growth and when that happens, I need to take steps back and process. So that’s what I’ve been doing. But I had to share this video because I got a lot of feedback (unexpected feedback at that) about something I said on Wednesday. Wednesday was the 9th anniversary of the day my dad died and I said something about that day and people really seemed to resonate with it so I felt led to share this. I hope it helps whoever needs to hear it. Enjoy your day and your weekend!
So can we talk about last night’s episode of This Is Us? I have long since become a huge fan of the show and I am not ashamed to admit that I cry at every single episode. Every. Single. One. Each episode touches me in a way that makes me think they can’t possibly make me cry any harder than I did on the previous one. Yet, they prove me wrong each time. They did not fail to up the ante yet again with last night’s episode titled, Memphis.
In this episode, we found our beloved Randall taking a cross-country trip (even though he’d told his wife it wasn’t a cross-country trip) to take his ailing biological father William to his old stomping ground of Memphis. It was significant for both of them because William was dying of Stage 4 stomach cancer and this is on the heels of Randall’s nervous breakdown from the previous week. If you follow the show, you know that Randall was adopted by Jack and Rebecca because William and Randall’s mother were drug addicts, so William left baby Randall at a fire station. They reunited in the first episode when adult Randall showed up unannounced on William’s door step. Since then, we’ve watched their relationship evolve from strangers to a more intimate father/son relationship.
Last night’s episode was so moving for many different reasons but for me, it was a beautiful vision of what I wish I could have had to experience with my father. Death is an interesting part of life. We all know it’s going to happen, yet we are ill prepared when it does occur. I loved that Randall was able to spend his father’s dying days with him, learning about him, growing with him, and even usher him into his dying breath. It was so beautiful. And it brought me to tears. I was a blubbering mess in my bed. I cried sad tears for Randall because he was losing another dad, and right when the getting was getting good. I cried for William because he got to end his life on a happy note. At the end, he told Randall that he didn’t have a happy life, yet the two things that were good to him were the person at the beginning and the person at the end.
And through all of my tears, I couldn’t miss that there was a part of me crying for myself. Entertainment can provide us with such a gift, and that is the ability to shine a light on some of the realest, most intimate parts of life. I can think of no more intimate part of life than death and dealing with the death of a loved one–particularly a parent. The writer of This Is Us gave us all (well let me speak for myself) me such a gift because it provided a glimpse into a real moment of a relationship. We got to see a father and a son have honest, yet difficult dialogue about life and death. It can be so difficult to have those conversations, but I truly believe that they are so worthwhile.
While watching, I recalled the moment my father died and I wished I could have had those moments with my dad. For a long time, I felt that I was robbed of that moment. My dad was feeling under the weather one day, went to the doctor and next thing I know I was getting a call that he was on a ventilator after going through sepsis. He remained on that ventilator for three weeks. He was sedated for the duration of those three weeks as well. We never got a chance to talk. I didn’t get to ask him questions or tell him how I felt. The closest we came to that was during week 3 when he awoke for a moment. He was still on the ventilator, so he couldn’t speak, but he mouthed the words to me, “I’m dead.” I didn’t take him seriously because he would speak like that when he was sick. I brushed it off, but he shook his head No and mouthed the words again. He even went limp to show me what it would look like. I laughed because I didn’t want it to be true. While I always say I didn’t realize he was warning me, if I’m honest, I’ll admit that I knew he was telling the truth. But I wasn’t ready then to admit that so I dismissed him and hoped he was wrong. He died two days later. He didn’t get to die surrounded by mom and me. No, instead he died alone in a room with doctors. He didn’t get the peaceful transition that William received. He crashed several times, was revived each time, until that final one where he just would not return. That haunted me for years. I wanted closure. I wanted to have been able to hold his hand, kiss his cheek, and tell him it’s ok. Since I never got the chance, I have envisioned how our final conversation would have gone if we’d been given the chance. I feel like it would have gone something like this . . .
Dad: Well Boops, it’s been real. But I gotta go.
Me: Wait, don’t go yet! There’s still so much more I want to talk to you about.
Dad: Now what did I tell you? Be strong. I’ll always be with you. You’re going to be fine. Take care of my granddaughter. Watch your back and be strong for your mama. I’m counting on you.
Me: Wait, you’re dying and THIS is what you have to say to me? Not I love you. Not I’m proud, but be strong?
Dad: I just can’t do right by you. Can I, Je’Niece? I’m dying and I still just can’t do right by you. I told you before, I’m a hard man and I don’t make no bones about that. Now I said I gotta go.
Me: Well dang, fine! But don’t be a stranger. And since you won’t say it, I will. I love you, Man.
Dad: I love you more.
But I never got that moment. So I’ll have to live vicariously through Randall and William. It was a beautiful moment so I can live with that. Thank you to the writers of This Is Us. I cried some of the ugliest tears I’ve ever cried, but you gave me such a gift with each tear.
This week seems to have developed the unintentional theme of death. Maybe it’s the death of our family friend, coupled with the anniversary of my dad’s death. Maybe it’s just seeing so many people in bereavement. Whatever it is, I feel compelled to continue on this roll I have stumbled upon. One thing I know about myself is that I know what it feels like to lose, to hurt, to be counted out. Don’t we all? It’s always been my desire to aid others in the process. There have been so many times where I have felt alone and broken. And while I am so thankful to be beyond those spaces, I remember when I wasn’t. That’s one of the reasons why I share so much of myself. I truly believe there is healing in sharing. I don’t think silence serves anyone. As Jane Fonda says, “We are not meant to be perfect. We’re meant to be whole.” And as my father used to say, “We all have a ghetto story.” We all have tales of how we were broken, hurt, lost, confused, etc. My story may not be your story, but in hearing yours, it may just help me get to the next chapter of my own; and vice versa. So that’s where I’m coming from.
I said yesterday that death brings a lot of uncomfortable feelings–and not just for the bereaved. It’s not just uncomfortable to be the one left in pain after a loss. It can also be uncomfortable to witness someone in pain. People tend to be action-oriented. We are all about doing. Witnessing someone’s pain motivates us to want to find the solution for them. However, it can be so difficult that sometimes we want to find the solution for them long distance. What do I mean by this? I mean that sometimes, we don’t actually want to help. We just want the person to feel better so that we can cease to be uncomfortable. When death hits (and it doesn’t have to involve a physical death. It can be the death of a relationship, death of a job, etc.), the bereaved is now changed. They are no longer who they once were prior to this death. We are ok with the initial impact. I mean, it’s to be expected that you are different. That’s one of the reasons everyone gathers immediately after a death. Everyone gathers the day of and leading up to the funeral. They’re calling. Sending flowers. Bringing food. Stopping by. They show up without prompting. It just makes sense. But you know what happens? The funeral comes. There may even be a repast. But it inevitably ends and everyone scatters back home to their normal lives while the bereaved are left to deal alone. This is when the change really hits. And let me just say something about change. Change tends to occur successively, meaning that your change affects me. I will have to adjust accordingly to your change; thereby creating a change in me. A lot of us are resistant to change. So we want you to do whatever you can to get through this so you can go back to being who you were before so that I can go back to being the way I was before. But that’s not really how life works. And deep down we know this. So we want to help. We say we will help. But what happens a lot of time is that we don’t actually help. And we actually put the onus on you to get our help. What does this look like? Thanks for asking. Allow me to paint the picture for you. It goes something like this. “I’m so sorry. If you need anything, and I do mean ANYTHING, don’t hesitate to call.” Do you see? That now puts the responsibility of the bereaved for supporters to actually support.
I heard this a few times when my dad passed away. I also heard it a lot at the funeral I attended over the weekend. I have even said it myself. But what I know today is that it’s such a callous thing to say. You’re basically telling the bereaved that you don’t have any real plans to show up for them beyond this moment. How do I know this? Because I’ve experienced it. I have never felt more alone in my life than I did after my dad passed away. All the people who were committed to being around enjoying benefits when my dad was alive were nowhere to be found for me when my father passed. I’ve said this to a few and they actually implied that it’s my fault that they didn’t offer anything because I didn’t say anything. As far as they are concerned, I seemed fine and if I wasn’t fine, then it was up to me to say so. In another instance, I might actually agree. After all, closed mouths don’t get fed, do they? But I have to disagree here because death is a different game. You see, sometimes people are hurting so much that they don’t even know what they need. They don’t even know to speak up to say Hey, I’m hurting. Sometimes they hurt so much that they retreat, act out, or do their best to numb the pain. Sometimes they don’t want to burden anyone. Their inability to speak up regarding their pain is in no way an admission that it doesn’t exist. It simply means they just are unable to speak up. I think it’s actually unfair for those of us who are not in pain to blame the bereaved for being in pain. We all have had our moment with pain. And if you haven’t, just wait. Your moment will come. Some of us may behave in way that others of us cannot understand. It’s easy to say If it were me, I’d just speak up, when you are not in pain. The truth is, you don’t know what you would do. You don’t know how you will feel. And sometimes, neither does the bereaved. Grief can be such a confusing process and we don’t really give those who are bereaved the time they need to go through it. We expect sadness at the funeral. But we also expect them to dry their eyes and return to normal and that’s so unfair. Stop telling people in bereavement to call you if they need anything. Stop leaving them hanging once the funeral ends. Continue to check on them. Continue to be there for them without prompting. You don’t have to fix it for them because the truth is you can’t. But you can show up. You can support.
After my father died, my cousin would randomly send me bible verses via text. I would never know when they were coming, but they came faithfully for over a year. He actually still sends them to this day. I would cry as I read them. Sometimes I still do. After a while, I began to look forward to them. He didn’t know it at the time, (hell neither did I!), but those text messages helped me so much. That gesture said so much to me and I appreciated it in a way that my words didn’t allow me to say, until about a year ago. Don’t interpret the silence of one in bereavement to mean they’re ok. Don’t be in such a rush to be comfortable that you fail to support. We will all need it at some point in our lives.
I don’t like funerals. I actually can’t stand them. My people have been notified that there is to be no funeral in my honor when I leave this realm–lest they suffer through me haunting them all the days of their lives. And I will too. I just never liked the feeling they evoke. I don’t know what your beliefs are, but I just feel like death is not sad for the departed. It’s sad for those of us who remain. Some have gotten the bright idea to call a funeral a home going service. Yet, that hasn’t seemed to change the feeling a funeral elicits for me. I do my best to not attend funerals because I hate them so much. But when it calls I go. A very close friend of my family recently passed away. She was so close to our family that she actually felt more like family than some people I’m actually related to. Her funeral was held over this past weekend and I did attend. I attended to support those who remained and I was left with the same feeling I always have. I just don’t like funerals.
However, I’m not really talking about funerals today. Today I want to talk about how many of us call ourselves comforting those who are bereaved. I’ve been on the receiving end of it and I have to say, people you aren’t very good at consoling. And you know what? It’s ok. There really is nothing that you can possibly say or do to ease the pain that death elicits. So don’t try. Just offer a hug, a pat on the back. Food. Food is good. But there are just some things that we need to stop saying to those who are bereaved. I wrote a list and here it is.
- Be strong. What in the hell does this mean? What do you mean? Do you even know what you mean? Why are you telling me this? How exactly do you “Be strong” after a loved one dies any way?
- This too shall pass. You don’t say? Isn’t that exactly why I’m sad, because my loved one passed away?
- Everything happens for a reason. Is this really supposed to make me feel better? I honestly don’t give two dead flies smashed as to what the reason is my loved one is now dead. All I know is that they are dead and I don’t want them to be. Like Rick James with Charlie Murphy’s couch, Eff your reasons!
- Don’t cry. Now this is one of the most asinine things I’ve ever heard. I’m hurt. I’m in pain. What do you do when you’re hurting and in pain? You cry! Why are you telling me not to cry? What do you suggest I do then?
- I know how you feel. No you don’t. And it’s ok that you don’t. You may be able to empathize with me and that is awesome. While I’m hurting too much to grasp that right now, it is nice to know that. However, you don’t know how I feel. You know how you felt when your loved one passed away. That’s not the same.
- At least they’re not suffering anymore. I get that this is an attempt to console and I actually understand it. But in the immediate moments after experiencing the death of a loved one, I don’t want to hear that. At least they were STILL here to possibly get better. Look here, death is a most rude visitor who doesn’t give two sh*ts about suffering or not. When it’s time to go, death is taking you. I don’t feel better right now hearing this.
- Think of all the good times you shared. Yes, I have. And that’s exactly why I’m so sad right now. There will be no more good times to share.
- Well think of *insert Momma, daughter, best friend, spouse,etc.* They’re suffering more right now. What the hell? This is by far the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. You’re actually comparing the pain between all of us who are in bereavement? For why? There is no prize to be won in maxing out pain or suffering. We are all more than just the one role we fill in another’s life. To quote R.E.M., “Everybody hurts.”
- They’re in a better place. I really do understand why this would be a go-to. But at the moment, I don’t want to hear this. All I know is that my preferred place for them would be right here and they are not here.
- And finally, the dreaded How are you? Why are you asking me this? How in the hell do you think I am? I’m sad, mad, stunned, numb, crazy, and a host of other emotions I can’t even put into words right now.
I don’t say any of this to be judgmental. I do believe that people mean well when they say these things. Death brings with it a lot of uncomfortable feelings. And we don’t like being uncomfortable. The most logical thing to do when we feel discomfort is to find (or try to find) some way to ease the discomfort. I get it. But when it comes to death, there is no way around the discomfort. You can only go through it. Furthermore, as I’ve said earlier, there really is nothing that you can say or do to ease the pain one feels when they’re loved one has passed. They’re not looking for you to anyway. So just offer a hug, “I’m sorry for your loss,” a prayer if they allow. But don’t feel compelled to offer anything if you have nothing. Your presence alone is a gift.
This is just a brief list of things I remember hearing and things I witnessed being said at the funeral the other day. Can you think of anything that should be added to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Today marks eight years since you left this realm. It’s difficult to put my feelings into words. That’s because at any given moment, there seems to be a simultaneous exchange of starkly opposite sensations or experiences. It feels like it was just yesterday I was at the hospital with mom when we received the worst news ever–that you were gone. Yet, it feels as if I’ve been living without you for so long–too long if you want to really know the truth. I marvel at how far I’ve come, as far as grief is concerned. And just as soon as I pat myself on the back, waves of pain will come crashing down upon me. Like I’ve said, it’s difficult to put into words. I guess it’s best for me to start at the beginning and work my way up to today.
That initial moment after your passing stays with me. Hearing mom ask the doctor as she looked sadly upon us, “He’s gone, isn’t he?” and watching her face as the realization that you were indeed gone settled was heart wrenching. I remember screaming “No! No! No!” over and over again, thinking if I said it loud enough that I could reverse it and you wouldn’t be gone. I spent the next days of my life in a haze. One minute I could be seemingly fine, and broken down beyond repair the next. I settled into a grief-riddled depression after that. The pain was too intense. There was just no way I could go on without you. There was no way I could live another day without hearing you shout “What’s gwoings?” or “Hey Daughter!” It hurt too much to know that The Fizzle wouldn’t get to grow up with you. I didn’t want to go on. At least that’s what I thought back then. Today I know I just didn’t want to FEEL. The feelings were too intense. I wanted to die. Yes. That was the answer. That was the only way to stop this disrespectful attack of grief. So I wrestled with the idea of taking my own life. I concocted a few plans, but I could never seem to go through with any of them. Was that you stopping me? I’m not sure, but I’m glad that I didn’t go through with any of my plans.
So that left me with soldiering on. I just had to get up every day and keep living. I didn’t like it. Not one bit. But I did it anyway. I didn’t feel like I had any reason to keep going, save for The Fizzle. She became my reason for living. Gradually, I was able to find another reason to keep going–to be a living demonstration of your legacy. After all, I’m your only child. I’m all that’s left of you. It was up to me to keep your name going. I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to keep your legacy going. I think I put more pressure on me than you did during my childhood. Who would think that’s possible? I stressed myself out. I heard your voice criticizing me every time I felt like I was failing. Then one day you came to me in a dream and told me to “Chillax.” You told me that I didn’t need to put this pressure on myself because you did your work and now it was up to me to do my own work. More than that, you let me know that your legacy isn’t your comedy, or your movies, or anything related to your fame. You told me that I’m your legacy. You told me that The Fizzle is your legacy and out of everything you’ve done, you were most proud to be my dad.
And that allowed me to let go. I had to let go of you. I didn’t want to because I thought letting go of you was me saying that I was forgetting about you. I thought it was disrespectful. But I realized that it wasn’t about letting go in a sense that I’m saying you are not an integral part of me. It was about letting go of the attachment that I had to the past. I couldn’t let go of the desire to hang on to what was. I wouldn’t be able to embrace anything new if I kept holding on to the past. I had to detach. After all, you had. You had transformed. You were no longer saddled with the baggage of the human costume. You were beyond it. I knew you were right. You did your work. And now it was time for me to do my own work. And I could do my work. I could do my work while walking upon the foundation that you so lovingly laid down for me. How blessed am I?
Daddy, I have been through so much since you left. There have been so many tears, so many doubts, so many regrets. But there have also been so much more. So many smiles, so many laughs, and so much love. And you have been a part of it all. It’s because of you I am. It’s because of you The Fizzle is. We talk about you at least once a day–not in an effort to not let go, but more so to make sure that we recognize that your death doesn’t negate your life. Thank you so much for all you did while you were here. And thank you so much for what you do from beyond.
I used to dread August 9th. I used to go through severe insomnia leading up to the day. I would become depressed. In an effort to combat it, I would try to do all kind of things that were in stark contrast to depression. I’ve gone skydiving. I’ve released balloons in your honor. I’ve danced. I don’t feel like I have to do that anymore. Now I feel like all of that was in a way celebrating your death. I had unknowingly created a shrine to the day. Your physical death took up so much space in my mental memory. Today, I acknowledge the day, but I don’t need to celebrate it. And therein lies the beauty of the birth, death, rebirth cycle. While it can seem like you are losing so much in death, you actually gain so much as well. Again, all I can say is thank you. Now I can’t lie. I miss you. I miss you a lot. But I can honestly admit that I love you more. As you used to say, my love for you is non-transferable and I love you from the top and the bottom of my heart.
Happy Friday! It’s been a week since our beloved Prince Rogers Nelson has departed from this physical realm, and I’m still sad. But I’m more happy about his life. Prince was a gift. His music will live on forever. He exemplified audaciousness and spunk. He showed us what it looks like to be authentically yourself–at every stage. Seriously! The man was all of 5’4″, but commanded a room with the presence of a 6’5″ man! Women and men alike wanted him! He wore heels–diamond encrusted ones at that! His hair was ALWAYS laid better than any woman’s hair AND he was prettier than most of us, yet we never laughed AT him over it. We were mesmerized by him. And when he opened his mouth . . . Wow! His voice. His singing. His intellect. He graced us all with his presence. How dare we sit around, staying sad. And that’s not just for Prince. That’s for us all. I’ve always said that death isn’t difficult for the dead. No, it’s difficult for those of us who are left behind. But the thing we need to remember is that while there is definitely a time to mourn, that time is temporary. Mourn. Heal. Then celebrate. Celebrate life! We all know we’re here for a finite time. Let’s not get so caught up on death that we forget to live. Let’s not get so caught up in mourning death that we forget to highlight the life.
I owe you an apology. Yes, you. You who are reading this. Whether you’re new to the blog, or you’ve periodically perused my musings, or you’re a loyal follower; I am woman enough to admit that I owe you an apology. You see, I’ve failed myself, and in doing so, I’ve failed you. I’m all about authenticity and integrity, yet I wasn’t actually practicing that when it came to today’s video. I’m about a month late posting a Friday video. I actually recorded this video last month. But in the spirit of honesty, I will admit to you that last month was a rough month for me. As Sofia told Miss Celie, “I’s feeling mighty bad.” Unfortunately, I fell into one of my terrible habits of retreating. Recording this video, which is all about honoring how we feel, triggered so many things for me and I retreated. I couldn’t bring myself to post this. It was too much for me. It was so much that I broke down crying after the recording. If you know me well, you can probably see it in my eyes as I’m talking. (That’s why there’s so much eye rolling. I’m trying to suppress the tears). Again, this goes totally against what I intended and what I’m about. How much more authentic would this have been if I’d simply shared it a month ago when I recorded it? How much could I have released then had I simply cried and shared? We may never know. But upon watching this video, I realized that I needed this. And if I needed this, someone else needs this. I don’t say this to be self-aggrandizing. I say this to be fully transparent and committed to the mission of sharing myself to help others. My apologies for forgetting that. My apologies for failing to honor myself while I tell you to honor yourself. I won’t let that happen again. Many thanks, and much love.
Aahh . . . Love. Love of family, friends, and people in general. It’s a beautiful thing. It feels good to love on people and have them love on you. And when you love people, you care about what happens to them. You care about the things they do. It’s the benevolent thing to do. And it’s only right. Right? Well . . . yes, and no. It’s great to care about our loved ones. But far too often, we fall into the trap of thinking that overstepping our boundaries and inserting ourselves into the business affairs of our loved ones displays love and concern. And like Dwayne and Walter proclaimed on “A Campfire Story” episode of A Different World, “That’s when the fight broke out!” Inserting ourselves where we don’t belong into the lives of our loved ones is a surefire way to create division in our relationships. But we feel justified to do so. After all, we have valid opinions. We can see what they cannot. So it’s our duty to let them know exactly what we think about what they’re doing, what they need to do, and what they should do in the future. And to add insult to injury, we’re actually insulted when our benevolent advice is not met with gratitude. However well intentioned we may be, we can be quite guilty of crossing lines when we do this. Actually, our opinions are not “good” or “bad.” We may even have some sound advice. Hell, we may actually *gasp* be right. Now, I’m not speaking of when those we love are causing themselves great harm (say for example, in a case of a severely depressed person, or an addiction). But in the case of every day living, sometimes we get so busy living our loved ones lives that we forget to live our own. And it’s not as if we haven’t been warned about doing this. Jesus told us to remove the beam from our own eye before trying to remove the plank from our neighbors. New school tells us to stay in our lane. Old folks simply told us to mind our own business. Let me tell you how I learned to do just that.
I had an excellent teacher in learning this lesson. Who was my teacher, you ask? It was none other than my mother. And she honestly had no idea she even taught me. But she did. Allow me to paint the story for you. It was 2009, about eight months after my dad passed away. My mom had decided that she was ready to date. I, on the other hand, didn’t agree. Now let’s look at what I said. I didn’t agree with her choice. Just who did I think I was? Well, at the time I thought I was a supportive and loving daughter who cared about my mom and only wanted the best for her. I thought it was a bit much to expect that a woman who’d lost her husband of 30 years (the man she’d been with from 16 years of age to 50) was ready to go out and date. I thought it was even more than a bit much when considering that said woman hadn’t been on a first date since 1976. I thought it was a bit much to expect that she’d be wholly healed and done with her grief in a way that would allow her to forge a new relationship. And I thought the loving thing to do was to simply tell her so. And I didn’t think I said it an overbearing way. I thought I said it in a “Mom I love you and I only want the best for you” kind of way. But the reality was that she didn’t ask me. To be frank, no one asked me. I took it upon myself to decide that I needed to intervene on her behalf. And I thought I was right. Man, if you’d seen some of these guys! She had no business dating any of them. That’s what I told myself. And for me, it wasn’t so much that I felt that none of them could hold a candle to my dad. It was that I instinctively felt that none of them were interested in my mother as a woman. I felt that they were all just happy to say they were dating “Bernie Mac’s wife.” I knew that feeling all too well. After all, I knew how to navigate those murky waters. I knew what it felt like to have the task of making friends and date all while being “Bernie Mac’s daughter.” So I was helping my mother avoid some of the pitfalls I’d found myself in. Or so I thought.
Again, I had benevolent intentions. The execution though? Not so much. I wasn’t actually being benevolent. I was actually being quite dismissive of my mother and her right to choose. She had a right to live her life the way she felt. She had every right to grieve in the way she needed. She had a right to go out with anyone she wanted. She was 50 years old for goodness’ sake! She wasn’t a child who needed me to hold her hand. All she needed was support. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that support was enough action. I didn’t realize that support didn’t require me to insert myself in her life. Now, I’d love to tell you that I made these realizations shortly after I said something, but I cannot. No, I rode the short bus on this lesson. It took me quite a while to get to the memo. What pushed me to finally get it, you ask? It took me feeling as if my life had completely fallen apart and dissecting everything about it to realize that everything I was upset over had NOTHING to do with me! It was several months later at this point. I’d deteriorated mentally, physically, and emotionally. My entire body was broken out in a horrid rash. I thought it was simply a bad case of my eczema until I went to the dermatologist and learned that it was another skin condition caused by stress. I couldn’t sleep. I was averaging about 2-3 hours of sleep, and I wasn’t eating. I couldn’t. I couldn’t keep anything down. I went to my counselor and told her what was going on and she asked me a very important question. She simply asked, “What does any of this have to do with you?” *Gasp* How could she dare ask me that? Couldn’t she see that it had everything to do with me? “She’s my mother!” I answered incredulously. She looked at me and said, “Yes, we know that. And she’s your mother whether she’s married to your dad, dating a new guy, or perpetually single. This is her life. So what does her dating have to do with you?” I opened my mouth to answer, but I had nothing. So I closed my mouth and just sat there. She was correct. The truth was that it didn’t have anything to do with me. But I think I made it about me because that was safer and easier than dealing with my own life. The truth was that I wasn’t doing so well with my dad’s passing. I was devastated and I didn’t know I was devastated. I knew I was out of it. But I didn’t have a name for it. I just knew that I felt low and wanted to feel better. To top it off, my divorce was finalized three months after my dad passed. And while I felt I did the right thing by divorcing my ex husband, I still felt a sense of sadness. I still needed to grieve. I needed to grieve not so much what was, but the release of all the unfulfilled hope of what could have been. As if that wasn’t enough, my relationship with my mom had changed. A distance grew between us–one that wasn’t related to my insertion in her business. I honestly think maybe I inserted myself as a means to bridge the gap. Whatever my reasons, it didn’t change the fact that I was so busy minding my mother’s business that I was failing myself miserably.
So then judgment kicked in. I was upset with myself because I should have known better. After all, how many fights had I participated in with my father because he didn’t allow me the freedom to choose–even when I was grown and out of the house. I would often tell him that while I understood his intentions; he still needed to back off. Of course, he wouldn’t. Now years later, he was gone and I was finding myself committing his cardinal sins! But that was judgment. And judgment kept me stuck. I couldn’t get past it. After all, this was different and I was nothing like him because I was right and he wasn’t. But it didn’t matter how I tried to spin it because the more I spun, the more I realized that I was acting and sounding just like my dad. AAaaaaahhhh!
And so, upon realizing that I was acting like my father and that I was running away from my own trouble–also the fact that I was extremely dry and itchy and the steroid cream the dermatologist prescribed was NOT cutting it–prompted me to get out of my mother’s lap in her driver’s seat, in her car, in her lane, on her highway, on her route, in her city, on the way to her destination. Instead, I opened the driver’s side door of my own car, sat behind the wheel, and drove off at a very cautiously slow 5 mph. Whew! I was scared out of my mind, but I kept driving. Slowly but surely, my scenery changed because I was on my own route–one that had nothing to do with my mom’s. And that’s how I learned to mind my own business.
While I will offer my opinion to my loved ones when asked, I won’t insert myself in their lives. I only speak when prompted. Furthermore, I’m done once I’ve said my peace. I don’t entangle myself in their affairs. Yay for healthy boundaries! It took some practice, but now it’s almost effortless, and I think my relationships are the better for it.