Putting the CL on that ASS!

A Bernie's Daughter Thing



When I Reminisce Over You

Dear 16 year-old Je’Niece,

I look at you today with eyes that have seen so much more than you. That’s not to say that you haven’t seen your fair share of life. But these eyes of mine have seen more than the visions of sugar plums that are currently dancing around in your head. These eyes of mine have seen you achieve your highest highs and your lowest lows. And I have to say to you, based on the road traveled, this 38 year-old woman owes you a sincere apology.

I have blamed you for so much. I blamed you for not speaking up when necessary in this life. I have blamed you for all my failures and disappointments. I have blamed you for not being perfect. I stopped seeing the beauty and wonder that existed within you, and instead only saw how you failed to measure up to this ideal that I thought should have existed. In short, and I’m almost ashamed to admit this now, I hated you. I hated you, 16 year-old Je’Niece. It has taken me all this time to see and admit this.

And just where did this hatred begin? I don’t think there is one exact moment that serves as the definitive one. No. Instead, I think it was a gradual process. An unfortunate seed that was planted, fertilized and watered over the course of one year. The seed germinated until it infected every area of your life. Let’s see, at the age of 16, you lost your virginity. You didn’t really want to. But you didn’t know how to say that. You wanted to be liked, and so you acquiesced. Your religious foundation left you feeling damaged and unworthy after engaging in such a sinful act. You felt guilty beyond repair. It didn’t help that you would vacillate from saying you would never have sex again to dismissing that declaration without much thought. And then it happened. The one thing you never thought would happen to you. You became pregnant. Prior to your pregnancy, you looked your nose down at the young pregnant girls you saw walking around. And then you became one of them. This discovery left you devastated. After all, this wasn’t supposed to happen to you. This was the sort of thing that happened to “fast” girls, but it wasn’t supposed to happen to you because you were supposed to be a “good” girl–a “smart” girl. You should have known better. And there was no way you could have ever told your father. No way! So that left you with only one choice. Abortion. Yep, you had an abortion. This one choice sent you further into the abyss of despair, guilt and shame. This choice followed you and the shame permeated your every choice after that. You didn’t believe you deserved anything good. You told yourself you deserved to be punished. And you unconsciously set out to make sure that you were.

So you accepted ill-treatment from others because you didn’t believe you deserved to be treated better. You lived in fear instead of love because you didn’t think you deserved the fruits of love and joy. You didn’t seek out your dreams because again, you didn’t deserve to have your dreams come true. In short, you resigned yourself to a life of just enough. Just enough to get by. Just enough to wear a half-hearted smile to cover your true shame. Just enough to create the illusion that you were ok. Just enough to continue to buy the bs you were selling to every one else. You walked in fear that you would be found out. I mean, if people only knew the truth, they’d know what a sham you were. Right?

No. Wrong, My Dear.   And I’m sorry I didn’t know any of this back then. I blamed you for so much. I bullied you. I treated you so badly. So these eyes of mine tear a little when they look at you now, because these eyes have seen so much and they see so much more clearly than your young ones. These eyes of mine see so much beauty and strength and grace. My goodness, young woman, you are powerful beyond measure! You carried all of that on your shoulders–alone–and still managed to graduate a year early from high school with honors, go on to college and grad school, get married, raise a baby, and have love in your heart for others! You never allowed the light within to truly dim. You need to know that all of that is a sign of strength.

So yes, I have to say sorry. I used to look at you and hate what I saw. I used to think you were pathetic and weak and could have been so much more. I’m so sorry because I now know I couldn’t have been more wrong. Looking at you now leaves me with so much gratitude. It’s because of you that I stand here today. Your strength brought me this far.  So yes, thank you, 16 year-old Je’Niece! If I could, I’d give you the biggest, warmest, heartiest hug you have ever had. But since I can’t, allow me to say something I wish I’d said a long time ago. I love you.

Daddy’s Little Girl

People love to ask me what it was like growing up with Bernie Mac as my father. I still don’t really know how to answer that question. It’s all that I know. He was Daddy. And while his story seems quite extraordinary to some, life with him seemed quite ordinary to me. I will say that it wasn’t anywhere near as hilarious as others seem to think it was. Don’t get me wrong. We laughed a lot. I mean, he was just a naturally funny guy and he had a great sense of humor. He passed it along. However, he took his responsibility as a father very seriously. And as his daughter, I can tell you that fatherhood, as far as he was concerned, was no laughing matter.

I tell people often that my father and I were soul mates. I know that the popular idea of soul mates lies in the romantic. However, I’ve always believed that a soul mate is that person whose connection with you is unparalleled. Your soul mate is the person (or persons) who are there to reflect you in your truest essence. They challenge you in the most life changing ways. That was my father for me, and I him. We were mirror images of one another. While I wouldn’t admit it when he was alive, I proudly say today that we knew and understood one another better than anyone. There were things we just “got” about one another. The flip side to that is that we also had the super power of being able to drive the other crazy.

People ask, “What do you miss most about your dad?” It makes me laugh now, but the truth is, I miss the way he got on my nerves. And he did get on my nerves. About 90% of the 100 billion estimated ones I have in my human body! Hearing that may sound odd to you, but it’s a comforting truth for me. Oddly enough, it’s not the tender moments I miss most. I miss his idiosynchrasies, his bad habits. I miss the little picadillos that made him Daddy.

I found one of my old journals that I kept as a child. I had to have been about 10 or 11 years old when I wrote in the journal. Almost every entry is about how much he got on my nerves and how I will never, ever, ever be like him. Now, those who know me well can appreciate the humor of this. I am like my father. Always have been. In fact, I think I was the last person in my life to recognize it! I’ve known one of my best friend since we were 4 years old. We’ve never had an argument. We were about 14 the one time we came close to blows, and it was because she told me that I was like my father.

This is yet another thing I wouldn’t admit because a large part of me felt like he was larger than life. My dad was a superhero in my eyes. He was able to do the impossible. Hey, he took us from true rags to riches, so why wouldn’t I believe that? I never believed I had that ability. But, I also wouldn’t let him know that. No, I would say the opposite of whatever he said. If he said “Up,” I went down. If he said, “It’s going to rain,” I said “I see nothing but sunshine.” He was intuitive and very strong with his intuition. So he was right a lot. I mean a lot, a lot. He could tell you what you would do before you even thought about the act. And I’m not ashamed to tell you that I just got tired of him being right all the time. So yep, I was contrary on purpose just to prove him wrong. You probably don’t need me to tell you that it didn’t work out very well for me.

Again, these are things that I laugh about now. But the truth is, as much as I resisted my true self (which is so much like my dad), I’m appreciative of it now. I like that we are so much alike. I think my father was a wonderful human being and I’m proud to say that I know him. So here’s a brief list of some of the traits that we have in common.

We’re both extremely stubborn. I mean for real, for real. We will hold our stance forever. You’ll get tired before we do.

We’re both humanitarians and care takers. We’re the one in our circle who takes care of everyone. The unfortunate thing is that we both do so to the detriment of our own selves because we get so busy taking care of everyone else that we forget to take care of ourselves.

We both have a very, ahem . . . colorful . . . vocabulary. Now this one is really funny to me because I was timid about cursing until he died. Once he did, it was as if a part of him fused into my soul and brought his vocabulary stash with it!

We’re both natural leaders. We’re not interested in following a crowd. In fact, we’re more inclined to intentionally go in the opposite direction of everyone else.

We’re both very sensitive. This may shock some, but it is indeed true that the MacMan was very sensitive. He cared a lot about what others thought of him. He just had a great poker face to throw you off the scent of his sensitivity. I, on the other hand, never developed the poker face. Yet, I am just as sensitive–if not even more. Now, we’ll still go on to do whatever we want and leave you feeling like we don’t care, but we do.

I miss my dad. I miss him every single moment of every day. For so long I expected this almost magic day to arrive where I would be over his passing. I finally realized that there is no such day. You never get over it. You just get through it. I can honestly say that I’m through the grief, but I still miss him. I like thinking of him fondly. And I don’t wish to martyr him. Yes he was a great man. But he was also flawed. But the beautiful thing about maturity is that you learn to appreciate the people in your life for who they are instead of who you wish they were. And I appreciate my dad so much for who he is and was. It is said that children go through three stages when it comes to their view of their parents. They begin by idolizing their parents. I am no exception. I idolized my dad. I was in love with him. I idolized him so much that I pitied any man who wasn’t like him. I actually thought that any man who didn’t physically resemble him had some type of deformity. My grandfather’s and my father’s friends were the only exceptions.

It’s said after idolization, children then judge their parents. I can admit that I did judge my father. I judged him for things he did and things he didn’t do. For a long time I felt that he was too hard on me. I felt that he didn’t give me everything I needed from him. It would take me maturing and learning to see him as a man, apart from being just my dad to understand that he did the best he could. He did his best to instill in me the values he believed would help me succeed in life. He didn’t know how to be soft. He only knew how to be hard–even his soft was hard. But it was well intentioned. It was covered with love. And I appreciate that.

People ask me am I proud of my dad. I understand that for many who ask, their question is rooted in his celebrity. The truth is yes, I am quite proud of my dad. But not necessarily because of his fame. I’m proud that my father, without having his father in his life, chose to honor his actions and marry my pregnant mother at the tender age of 19. I’m proud that he remained in our home, leading us as best as he could. I’m proud that he had the courage to dare to dream (a huge dream). But more than just dream, he took the steps to make his dream come true–in spite of the many naysayers. I’m proud that at the height of his celebrity, he held fast to his values and never allowed anyone or anything to deter him from that path. I’m proud that while he may not have been able to soften up for me, he was able to give me everything he had. So I guess that means I’m in the final stage, which is acceptance. I’m proud to say he didn’t have to die for me to reach that stage. I was there long before.

Gratitude Day #6

I’m late. I’m late. For a very important date!  Well, not really. But I feel as if I shouldn’t have waited so long to post today.  I really meant to do this earlier. However, this California dreaming has got me in a different state of mind.  It’s been so nice to leave my cares behind–albeit temporarily.  So that’s yet another reason why I’m grateful today.  Interestingly enough, I’m no more thankful today because it’s Thanksgiving than I’ve been every day before.  I am just in a state of gratitude.  Life certainly hasn’t been a crystal stair (Oh Langston, you wordsmith you!), but it hasn’t been as bad as I’ve felt it’s been at some of my darkest moments. The great thing about it has been that when I’ve felt it wasn’t worth living, once I just kept living  (kind of like Dory told us to just keep swimming), the feeling passed and there was another feeling.  It’s made me understand that life isn’t about any one particular feeling, experience, or moment.  No!  It’s about the collective.  And just think, I’m not even done.  Yeah, as Tina Turner once sang, I think it’s gonna work out fine.  So here’s today’s gratitude.

Today’s gratitude is interesting for me because it is just so fitting.  I truly didn’t plan this–and yet isn’t that the beauty of life?  Since my dad has passed, the holidays don’t mean the same to me.  I don’t “celebrate” them as I once did.  I’m more about appreciating the moments which add to the collective experience of my life.  My dad was such a wonderful teacher, and the lessons haven’t stopped because of his passing.
On this day I am grateful for my dad. But today I want to say that I’m grateful for not just his life, but also his death. Of course I’m not happy that he’s no longer here. But after 5 years of mourning, I can see the beauty in the midst of the pain. It’s that beauty that I’m grateful for today. I’ve said before that my dad was my soul mate, and I really believe he was. I’m convinced we’ve shared many lifetimes together. I was and still am in awe of him. He was unlike any other person I have ever known–beside myself. When I look back now, it’s amazing to me how much we mirrored one another. From our sharp wit to our sensitivity (Yes believe it or not, The Mac Man was extremely sensitive), we were carbon copies. Now that I get that, I can totally understand why and how my father could work my last nerves better than anyone’s business. In his absence, that’s what I miss most. He was my button puncher, and I his. I’ll admit that I didn’t always understand him. He spoke in ways that seemed so far above my pay grade. He would speak in codes and riddles. He would tell me “You don’t understand what I’m saying to you right now, but one day you will.” I, being like any normal daughter, would mumble under my breath “No I won’t” and I truly thought that I meant it. But he, being the wise sage that he was, was absolutely correct. I didn’t understand much of what he said until he passed away. A veil of fear, uncertainty, and insecurity shrouded my vision of my life. It wasn’t until my dad passed that the veil began to lift. I can’t accurately describe it, but all of a sudden, I could see everything so clearly. And everything he’d ever talked about made sense or came to fruition.

When my dad was alive, I learned to play the supporting cast member. I stayed quietly (and happily) in the background. And I had no complaints. After all, he was the one who always wanted to be famous. It was just his personality. And as much as we were alike, I bought into the notion that we were different in that respect. I didn’t want fame. I didn’t want to be the center of attention. It’s amazing to me how unaware I was of my own self. After my dad’s death, I felt like I was catapulted into the spotlight. Suddenly there were cameras in my face. People were recognizing me. It was so uncomfortable and I resisted. In my resistance, I tried to make everything about him. I started working with his foundation, convinced that it was my duty because his legacy needed to continue and who else but his only child could take it on? What I didn’t realize is that was just my way of carrying out my same pattern of hiding. If I could make everything about my dad, I wouldn’t have to deal with myself. I would talk to my dad everyday. One day I was at home talking to him about how unhappy I was with the foundation. It just wasn’t what I wanted to do. I asked for his guidance. I pleaded for him to help me. That night he came to me in a dream. He told me how proud he was of me. He told me how much he loved me. And he told me that it was time for me to live for me. He said, “Boops, you’ve spent your whole life doing what you think everyone else wants you to do. Now it’s time for you to do what you want to do. This is your life. Don’t’ worry about me. I’m fine. I did what I needed to do. Now what did I tell you about letting folks steal your mojo? ” I realized then that my father’s legacy was/is in tact because of the work he did here on earth. His job is done. And above all else, his legacy will continue because of me. I am his legacy. Jasmine is his legacy. There’s nothing I need to do for him. I need to create my legacy. The next morning, I told my mother I was leaving the foundation. Once I did, doors started opening that I’d never expected. I received a call from some producers of a new TV show, which would be called Windy City Live. They asked me to audition, and I did. I was scared out of my mind, but I did it. After my audition, one of the producers pulled me aside and said, “You know, for someone without any experience, you’re a natural in front of the camera.” And while I didn’t get the job, they still continue to call me for appearances. More than that, they helped me to see how capable I am. A producer by the name of Robert Small wanted to do a documentary about my dad. While working on it, he called because he wanted me to conduct some of the interviews. And I did. While we were working together he told me “Je’Niece you are really talented. You have a real career in this industry if you want it.” I’ve traveled across the country speaking in front of audiences. I’ve been on radio. I started a blog. I’m not sure I would have been able to do any of this if my dad were still alive. It’s this very thing that I’m grateful for. As much as I miss my dad, I recognize that the transformation that I’ve undergone is a direct result of his passing. When my dad died, I was devastated. I felt like I lost so much. But now that I’m on this side of my grief, I can see the picture in a broader view. Sometimes things in our life are torn down in a most ugly and painful way in order to create anew something beautiful. That’s what happened to me when my dad died. Yes I did lose some things when he died, but now I know that I also found some things. I found my voice. I found my truth. I found myself. I’m not at all sure of what lies ahead of me, but I know that it is something(s) I would have never imagined possible. Beyond that, I’m no longer scared of the possibilities. Daddy, you know how much I love you. I am so thankful for the 30 years that we were able to spend together. You were the most amazing person I’ve ever known (besides Jasmine) and it was and still is an honor to say that I’m your daughter. I thank you for everything that you’ve given me–in life, and even in your death. I am because of you and that means more than I could ever say.

*Reading this today actually brought tears to my eyes.  Two years have passed since I wrote this and I must admit I’ve forgotten some of these things at times.  But I find my way back to the truth–or either my dad keeps bringing it my way. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it’s the latter..*

Gratitude Day #5

Well it’s day 5 and today’s gratitude is a bit deep.  It has to do with a secret that I carried around for much of my life.  I actually never even told my father before he passed away.  Yet today, I don’t feel the heaviness of it as I did in years passed. In m opinion, humble as it may be, that is a true mark of my growth.  And yet another reason to be thankful.

On this day I am grateful for my unborn child. I’ve not shared this with many, but almost 20 years ago, when I was 16, I got pregnant. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and disappointed. But most of all, I was just plain old scared. I was scared of what my father was going to do to me when he found out. He would have killed me—or come very close to it. And who could blame him? After all, I deserved to be punished. I was supposed to be a good girl and if I was pregnant, that meant I was having sex, and good girls simply did not do that. It also didn’t help that I’d begun having sex simply because my boyfriend wanted to. I wasn’t even remotely curious about sex. I just really wanted to be loved so when he showed me in a most non-discreet and obvious way where we were headed, I fell silent and complicit. I thought to myself, “Oh wow, I guess I’m going to have sex now.” And I did. I felt ashamed, but that was when and how he showed me attention and I desperately wanted his attention, so I continued to engage. I acted like I liked it. I acted as if I wanted it, but I didn’t and I died a little inside each time I succumbed to his will. I was in agony. Winding up a sobbing hot mess on the bathroom floor after reading the positive result on a pregnancy test only pushed me further into the abyss. I decided that I wouldn’t tell my parents. I’d get an abortion and never think about it again. But for the next 10 years, all I could think about was that baby and the horrible thing I’d done. The abortion only fueled the war I’d unconsciously waged against my already fragile self-esteem. I was in misery every single day.

A few days after the procedure, my mom found my medication. She’s a nurse so she knew exactly what the pills were. Too ashamed and afraid to tell her, I lied. I said they belonged to my best friend. She believed me—or at least she really wanted to. I felt so bad that I confessed to my friend. Being the wonderful friend she was/is, all she said was “Well, your parents already think I’m fast so a little less respect from them won’t hurt me.” Now it would seem that I’d been given a pass so that meant that I should’ve been ok from that point forward. But I wasn’t. I actually felt worse. In my mind, not only was I a fornicator and a murderer, but I was also a liar with no morals and a horrible friend. I deserved a fate worse than death. I deserved to be brutally punished over and over until I wished for death. And because I was so low, I didn’t even deserve to be relieved of my agony through death. For over a decade I rooted myself in this torment. I would be 27 years old, finding myself pregnant for the second time when I recognized that everything I was feeling was nothing but guilt and I had been wallowing in it. Before I gave birth to Jasmine, I thought about my unborn child every day. What would she/he look like? What would I have named him/her? What kind of mother would I have been? I didn’t believe I’d ever get the chance to become a mother. After all, I didn’t deserve it. When I found myself pregnant with Jasmine, I was happy but afraid. I was afraid every day of my pregnancy. I thought something would go wrong. I thought I deserved for something to go wrong. How dare I enjoy the beauty of motherhood after what I’d done to my first child? Once Jasmine was born, a peace wavered over me that said, “Enough. You must take care of this little girl who is here. It’s ok. You’ve punished yourself enough. Now stop this foolishness. It’s time to enjoy.”

I’ve heard it said that the soul of an unborn child simply waits until the next time to be born to their mother. So I don’t know if Jasmine was the soul waiting to be born through my unborn child at that time, or if my unborn child was another soul who has gone on to glory. But I do know, that I love that unborn child with all my might and I appreciate my unborn child. Through that brief encounter, that beautiful little soul has touched my life in a most amazing way. That soul taught me that guilt is a monster that serves no one. Guilt is a beast that robs of all joy. I wasn’t even able to get the lesson intended for me because I was stuck in my shame spiral. Through my unborn child I learned that guilt and sorrow are not the same. Sorrow says, “I messed up. I won’t do that again.” But guilt doesn’t. Guilt isn’t necessarily sorry for the act.  It simply feels bad about it because it knows the act goes against your moral compass.  Sorrow seeks to make amends.  Guilt just wants to feel better.  Guilt will continue to repeat the same thing and cry afterward having the nerve to say “Oh I feel so bad.” Yes I was sorry for my mis-steps, and I never did repeat the same mistake. However, the guilt is what allowed, even compelled me, to remain in the horrible cycle of punishing myself time and again. The guilt prohibited me from receiving and enjoying good. That unborn child also taught me compassion. Before I found myself pregnant, I judged young, unwed mothers. I looked down upon them. They were something to point at while I puffed up my chest and told myself how much better than they I was. The sweet irony of ending up just like them forced me to bake and eat my very own humble pie. While it wasn’t as sweet as I would have liked, it was very necessary and it was sustenance for my soul. I learned that we are all on our own journey and no one person is better than any other. We may cling to petty and superficial ties to make ourselves feel superior, but underneath all that bravado lays insecurity. But our insecurity is no excuse for having the audacity to think we can judge another. I’m still not convinced that I didn’t make the best decision for me at the time, but what I am convinced of is that it was all par for my course and I’m thankful for it. If my unborn child can hear me, I simply want to say that even though I didn’t birth you, I love you with all my heart and know that Mommy finally got the lesson. Thank you.


Gratitude Day #4

While I didn’t get to post my gratitudes for the past 2 days, I must say I’m still feeling quite grateful.  My daughter and I have gone to visit my best friend who moved away in August.  I’ve known her since we were 4 years old.  She’s been an integral part of my life throughout its duration.  I was quite happy when she received the amazing job opportunity in August–which is what prompted her move.  I was so excited for her and her son (who is also my amazing god son).  But, I can’t lie.  I was sad for me.  I was sad that my best friend was gone and I would no longer have the opportunity to just run by and sit on her couch while we talk about everything and nothing.  I was so excited to see them when they pulled up at the airport that I burst into tears.  It’s been great spending time with them.  And my Fizzle is so happy to see her “brother.” We’re reunited and it feels oh so good.  So this feel good feeling that we’re all feeling is only inspiring me to continue on with the gratitudes. So here we go.

On this day I am grateful to my mother. When I was growing up, my security relied on my parents. In my mind, we were a Love Triangle–our own Holy Trinity if you will–with my dad at the top, and me and my mom at the bottom. I didn’t want much if we weren’t all together. As the years went on, my mom and I developed an incredibly close relationship. I would tell people she was my best friend. I would nurture her and look out for her. I never told her, but I’d even get scared in the middle of the night that something might happen, so I’d get up and check her breathing. Mother-Daughter relationships are extremely complicated and can be incredibly volatile. Yet somehow, my mother and I were able to navigate through the explosive Mother/Daughter realm with ease. We were the amazing dynamic duo. We were the envy of mothers and daughters everywhere. I had several friends chastise their moms with cries of “Why can’t we be more like Je’Niece and her mom!” Of course our relationship would irritate the hell out of my dad and he’d say things like “Your mother is going to hurt your feelings one day.” I thought that was incredibly odd and quite rude to say, and I couldn’t understand why he’d say that—until he passed away

An incredible shift took place in our relationship. A distance I’d never known grew between us. It felt quite hostile. All that mushy gooey-ness we shared seemed to dissipate before my very eyes. It was incredibly hard for me. As an only child, I’d built my identity on my parental units. Now my father was dead and it seemed that my mother was (in a way) dying to me as well. I would ask if I’d done anything, did I remind her too much of my dad, and of course she would say no. But she wouldn’t offer me any thing else. We went from talking for hours every day to not talking—sometimes for weeks at a time. She had her story she was into about me and I had my story that I was into about her. It was so bad that when she got engaged, I may have been the last person to find out. She told people at the spa we both went to before she told me! I was crushed. I don’t do well when my feelings are hurt. I retreat. To others, it appears that I’m angry, but I am not. I am simply hurt and unable to move forward. It’s a simple defense mechanism, but this time I made an exception. I chased my mother. I mean I ran after her until there were holes in my proverbial emotional shoes. I couldn’t sleep or eat and it seemed like the harder I chased, the faster and the farther she ran away. Until this day we have never come to a true conclusion as to what prompted the shift. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. All I know is that I am so thankful that it occurred, because it forced me to recognize some heavy truths. While I love my mother with one of the purest loves I’ve ever felt, we had an extremely co-dependent, slightly dysfunctional relationship. My father was the center of our universe and much of our bond centered on an Us vs. Him set up. We weren’t very honest with one another either. I think we both believed my father to be a brutally honest person who would not dare hesitate to hurt your feelings in the name of “Truth” so we wouldn’t give that honesty to one another. We’d give the sweet, syrup, sugar coated version of what we thought the other “needed” to hear. I think we both also bought into the notion that the only “important” person in the family was my dad. Even before he became famous, he had this electric energy that just commanded attention. We both knew we were important, but just not as important as he. So we settled into this coddling type of relationship with one another. Neither one of us living to our true potential, but telling each other that we were. When my dad passed away, we didn’t need that anymore. We needed to move into something that would better serve us. But I didn’t get that. Hell, I didn’t want that! I felt like: Dammit there has been enough change in my life (with my dad’s death and my divorce) and if I couldn’t have at least this one relationship the way it’s always been what the hell was left for me?! But I realize now that was one of the best things that ever happened to me. And it had to happen as it did because I wouldn’t have gotten the memo any other way. Had she not stepped away from me, I probably would have moved in with her and become a spinster. I would have played safe, put all my focus on her. I would have asked permission to make any type of move in my life and only done so if she wanted me to. I remember her coming to me after my dad died. She said, ‘I had a dream that you moved to California with Jasmine and I was so hurt. I just couldn’t believe that you would do that to me.” I really did want to move to California, but I took what she said as a warning and decided, “OK well I won’t do that.” That shift in our relationship showed me that having boundaries in our relationships is one of the healthiest, loving things we can do for the ones we love. That shift in our relationship healed the mother/daughter bond and allowed me to be a better mother to my daughter. Otherwise, I probably would have repeated the very same pattern with Jasmine. Regardless of my initial reaction, that shift was the best thing that ever happened to us. We both have gone on to the paths we were meant. I now know that better days are ahead of me and that I am the only person required to give permission in my life. And while our present relationship is not what it was, I don’t love or appreciate my mother any less than I did then. I may actually appreciate her more because she helped me find my strength. So in some ways, once again, my dad was right because my mom did in fact hurt my feelings. But whether she meant to or not, she made me a better person, Woman and Mother. So thanks Mom. You were and still are a great teacher.

Gratitude Day #3

It’s been quite refreshing to reflect upon my life with gratitude instead of regret. I’ve long since been of the belief that regret is a waste of time, energy, and emotion.  However, I’m not feeling as judgmental of it as I once did.  Instead, I’m just in a peaceful space.  I don’t feel the need to replay the events of my life thinking “If I had only . . . ” I’m ok with it all as it is.  After all, it’s jut life.  So onward to the gratitude of today.

On this day, I am grateful to the loneliness I experienced while growing up Mac. Many people (some names known, others not so much) have discarded me and hated me simply because I am “Bernie Mac’s daughter.” Many people assume that the fact that my father was famous means that I had an easy life with no problems and that simply is not true. Many people assume that I grew up  as this pampered princess and that also is simply untrue. My father’s road to fame was not on the express ramp. There were many years of hard work, disappointments, and ultimately successes. But those successes were his, not mine. I remember when things started taking off, he sat me down and told me “You are about to be hated. You’re going to be hated by people you know who claim to love you and you’re going to be hated by people who won’t even take the time to get to know you. And they’ll hate you simply because you’re mine. Now if I don’t take care of you they’ll say, That’s a damn shame Bernie Mac don’t take care of his daughter. But because I take good care of you, they’re going to hate you. They’re going to hate you because they’ll wish they had what you do.” Now I’ll admit that I heard him, but I didn’t really grasp what he was saying. I was (and still am) the type of person who has nothing but good vibes for others. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced jealousy over what someone has. So it was impossible for me to conceive that people would react this way. Oh my, was I wrong! He was right. I was ridiculed, bullied, betrayed (even by members of my own “family”) simply because my father was becoming famous. I was (and still am) reduced to nothing but Bernie Mac’s daughter. So that meant that I had no skills or talents of my own. I have never achieved anything in my own right. Everything I have, everything I have done has been handed to me simply because my father is Bernie Mac. Now to some, this may not sound so bad. But for a sensitive soul like me, it hurt like nobody’s business. I was already insecure and needy so when people became hostile toward me I internalized their issues and made them my own. I was desperate for people to just see Me: Je’Niece. Not Je’Niece who happens to be Bernie Mac’s daughter. I didn’t meet too many people who were willing to do that and so I was very lonely. Iyanla Vanzant has said that to be lonely is to be shut down from the thing you want. I wanted to be seen, but I wasn’t seeing myself. I wanted to be loved, but I wasn’t loving myself. Yes my father was famous and had all of these accolades, but what did I have? It would be well into my adulthood when I figured out that all the people who were reducing me to just Bernie Mac’s daughter were mirrors of the very thing I was doing to myself. And guess what happened once I became comfortable in my own skin? Yep, you guessed it! I began to attract people into my life who saw me and valued me. Now don’t get me wrong, I still encountered (and still do) those who hate me for being my father’s daughter, but the difference is today they don’t matter. So today, I’m no longer lonely because today I know that I am always in the company of at least one great person, and her name is Je’Niece. So, I am thankful for that time and those people and well, not to sound cliché, but here’s to all the haters.


Gratitude Day #2

I’m still in the Gratitude spirit.  What I realized yesterday after I posted is that I’m not in this space because Thanksgiving is almost upon us.  I actually keep forgetting that Thanksgiving is next week.  When my dad passed, I really lost my connection to the pagan holidays that once meant so much to me.  I decided that I didn’t want to give any one day so much more meaning than my other days.  Now don’t get me wrong. I look forward to the “excuse” to gather with loved ones, eat good food, and just chillax.  But I don’t need a holiday to do that.  I’m actually in the spirit of Gratitude because it just feels good.  It feels good to change my perspective from one of complaining and longing for what I don’t have into one of appreciation and excitement over what I do.  Lending that gratitude spirit to the seemingly “bad” things that have happened in my life only magnifies the gooey goodness I feel.  So onward to my gratitude for this second day.
On this day, I am grateful to my ex husband and our really not so great marriage. 5 years ago, I made a very difficult decision to end my marriage. I was married for 6 years (we were together for 9 years) and while that seems like a lifetime ago, I still remember many, many things about that relationship. I refer to that time in my life as the Dark Ages. Most people hear me say that and think I am saying it as an affront to my ex husband. But I am not. They were the Dark Ages because I was in the dark. I was so unaware of my identity. I had no idea who I was, what I wanted, or where I was going. During that time, I needed others to validate me and tell me like L’Oreal, that “I’m worth it”. When you operate from such a low vibration, you tend to attract people who do the opposite of what you wish. And so, my ex husband was no exception. I don’t think he truly appreciated or respected me. Yet that was not solely his fault. I was the one who told him that he didn’t have to. Oh of course my mouth said otherwise. However, everything else about me said that it was ok to disrespect, disregard, and undervalue me. My time with my ex husband was some of the most miserable time in my life. And I say that not because of him, but because of me. I settled because I didn’t think I deserved to be loved and appreciated. I became the master at smiling on the outside while slowly dying on the inside. I was so full of guilt, shame, and self-loathing that I unconsciously decided that I needed to be punished. I only wanted men who would treat me as poorly as I so erroneously believed I deserved. It may sound crazy to some, but today, I am so thankful for my ex husband and our dysfunctional marriage because my time with him showed me what an injustice I was creating against myself. I remember in my vows, I said to him that he was an excellent teacher because with him I had learned what it truly meant to love. I still stand by that for he really did teach me how to truly love myself. Through my marriage, I learned that it was ok to say no. I learned that there is nothing honorable in martyring myself. The true honor is in recognizing and standing lovingly in my own power. And so, because of my ex husband, I am a better woman for myself, for our daughter, and for the man who is truly meant for me. I’m also thankful to my ex husband because I know what it feels like to have my father walk me down the aisle and give me away. Had I not married when I did, I may not have ever had that experience. Because of my ex husband, I have the most precious child I could ever know. He helped me create the most beautiful person I’ve ever known and I will forever be thankful for that. Also, in part to my ex husband, my father was able to experience the pure joy of being a grandfather. He enjoyed 18 months of sheer bliss with his grand baby, and he may not have ever had that without my ex husband. Regardless of any of my personal feelings about him and how he treated me, he served as a wonderful mirror and teacher to me. My time may not have been the best with him, but my life is certainly better because of him. I count it all joy because of the woman I have become. There was a time when all I could think of was the “wasted time” I spent with him. But today, I know better. Today, I am thankful for all the preparation that I experienced during my time with my ex husband. Instead of looking back at it thinking Why did I? What was I thinking? Why did it take me so long? I look back and say Thank you for all the lessons, all the ups and downs because now I know better. And because I know bettter, I do better and am better. So thanks be to him.

*As I mentioned yesterday, I wrote this 2 years ago.  So now it’s been 7 years since my divorce and I still feel this way.*

Gratitude Day #1

I had the pleasure of sitting in on a podcast the other day.  The show is produced and stars a really wonderful young lady by the name of Kellye Howard.  Kellye is a hilarious stand up comedian, writer, and talented woman. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her perform many times and I’m always left with laugh and smile lines, and a bit of a nugget that makes me think.  Her podcast is called Living With Regrets With Kellye Howard.  The premise is to take one thing in your life that you originally saw as a regret, but over time you’ve been able to see was probably something that helped you out in some way.  That’s pretty much how I tend to look at my life so it wasn’t difficult to do that at all.

It was actually quite fitting that I’d done the show this week because I was musing over some of my old writings when I saw some Gratitude posts I’d written on Facebook a couple of years ago.  I was feeling really down and I wanted to stop moping around.  I decided to take an objective look at my life and see how there have always been sunshine and calm amidst my so-called storms.  So I wrote a week’s worth of gratitudes for those stormy moments in my life.  Since Thanksgiving is upon us–and it’s the holiday that’s dedicated to gratitude–I thought it fitting to go back and remember those moments.

So here’s Day #1 of my Gratitudes.

On this day, I am grateful for the love of my life, my Fizzle. At 27 years of age, a yearning awakened in me unlike anything I’d ever felt before. After years of professing that I never wanted children, my soul began to ache. The cause of the ache was simply due to the fact that I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to birth my own child so badly that it was all I could think about. I could see, hear, and feel my child. I knew she was on her way to me. And then the glorious day arrived: the day I learned I was pregnant. I was so overcome with joy that I fell to my knees and wept like a baby.The moment I found out I was carrying this life within me, I was overcome with a love I had never known– and one that continues to stupefy me.  I couldn’t wait to meet the child I so badly wanted.

The day I met her was one of my scariest. She arrived 3 weeks early after the placenta threatened to abrupt. Even though we didn’t find out the gender, I knew in my heart that I was carrying my Jasmine. I was so fearful for her, but she arrived healthy and full of willful, feminine energy. Yet, upon her arrival, I learned very quickly how ill prepared I was to be a mother. I had no clue what I was doing and unbeknownst to me at the time, I slipped into a most horrible bout of post-partum depression. But even in the midst of my darkness, the love I had for this precious little girl was ever present, ever growing, and unwavering. This love pulled me through the hardest moments of my life and forced me to grow the hell up and get the hell on with the business of truly living. The love I had for this little girl catapulted me into true Womanhood. It forced me to take a good look at my life and get real with myself. The life I was living wasn’t good enough for her. And then I recognized the ugly truth: the life I was living wasn’t good enough for me! And so, with that love in tow, I made the decision to leave a bad marriage and start living for me. That same love pulled me through yet another bout of depression when my father died. It stopped me from putting a bullet through my head and leaving her motherless, and the world without the beauty that is Me. That very love sustains me even now. Jasmine, your very essence gives me LIFE! I know without a doubt that I was born to be your mother and though the journey hasn’t always been an easy one. I would not, could not EVER trade it in for anything. I am so thankful that the Almighty saw fit to gift you to me. You have been such a wonderful teacher and a pure joy to guide and grow along side. I know there are many more days ahead of us. But I just wanted to take a moment to give thanks for the days that have already been.


*Be sure to check out Kellye’s podcast.  It’s a great show. *


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