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Putting the CL on that ASS!

A Bernie's Daughter Thing

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Love

Who Told You Love is in Limited Supply? And Other Such Fallacies

Happy Friday!  I’ve had quite an interesting relationship with Love throughout my life. I’m convinced that when I signed up for this life I did so deciding that Love would be my focus, as Run DMC once belted, “it’s tricky.”  I’m happy to say that I’ve had a come-to-Jesus moment with Love and I’m happy to say that I’ve released quite a few fallacies I once held regarding Love.  It’s interesting to see how much more simple things have become for me.  What about you?  What fallacies about Love have you been holding onto?  Are you finally ready to let them go.

 

It’s Just the Fullness of You

Happy Friday!  We are now in the midst of the holiday season.  Contrary to the myth, depression and suicide are not on the rise during this time. However, that doesn’t mean that loneliness, sadness, and strife don’t exist during this time.  Sometimes I think it gets highlighted more because this is a time that is supposed to be all about gathering with loved ones.

And therein lies something about the way we connect with one another.  We tend to let a day hold more significance for our relationships than we do the cumulative moments.  We tend to get irritated with our loved one–and people in general–just for being human. We expect them to think and act the way we would. But we forget that they are not us and they do not have the same life experiences and world view as we.  I think it’s time for us to have fuller, deeper, more rich connections with ourselves and one another. But in order to do that, we have to get real with ourselves and with one another about what really happens when we don’t like something.  That means we can’t just react or lash out. We have to be mature–even when we don’t want to.  I think we should give it a try. What have we really got to lose?  Glad you asked! Truthfully, not a doggone thing.

Moving on to Peace

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!

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.

How I Learned to Mind My Own Business

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.

 

I Always Fall For . . . Your Potential

I’ve heard it said before that a mistake that many people make when they fall in love is that they fall in love with the potential of who the person could be rather than fall in love with who the person actually is. Well, to an extent, I agree. I agree that people look to another’s potential as a marker for pursuing and remaining in a relationship. However, I don’t believe that people fall in love with, or, are in love with potential. I say this because potential doesn’t exist. Potential isn’t real. Potential is some made up entity you have created with your imagination to create the perfect person for you. So in essence, when one has fallen in love with potential, one has failed to actually fall in love with the person. You’ve simply decided that your created image is better than the reality.

I have been guilty of this on occasion. I married my ex husband totally ignoring the reality of who he was. I knew who he was and what he was about. I knew that he wasn’t who I wanted. However, I believed in this version of him that I created in my head. And I hoped like hell that one day soon he would grow to meet that image. I found myself pissed 9 years later, when he was no more that man than he had been on the day we met. I felt betrayed. Now, on the one hand, I can say that he did try for a time to pretend to be that man. But as we all know, pretending only goes so far. And even with his efforts, I still saw through the veneer. Yet I chose to look beyond what I saw and hold tight to my image. Once I divorced him, I grieved. Funny thing is that I never grieved the end of our marriage. I celebrated that. I considered that among one of the best things I could have ever done for myself. No, I grieved for the man I never met. The man he never was, but whom I always hoped he would become.  And none of that was his fault.  He was who he was.  He was clear on that even through his consistently inconsistent behavior. It was I who failed to accept him at face value.  And while I may not like the sound of it, I failed to accept it simply because I liked my version of him better.

Several years after my divorce, I partnered briefly with a man who I’d known back in high school. Ours was a most unexpected coupling. I’d never expected to fall in love—and definitely not with him. He was the last man I would have ever considered as a romantic partner. The thing is, he was probably one of the last men I should have ever partnered with. He was a recent widower. I knew he wasn’t ready for a new relationship. To add even more fuel to this already lit fire, he was incredibly insecure. He was the kind of guy who pretended to be a “nice” guy, but deep down he wasn’t. So he would say things that I intuitively felt were meant to break my self-esteem. I saw that, but I wouldn’t accept it. Why? Because I was so focused on the potential of what could be. I told myself that once he healed, things would be great. He was just hurting and needed some compassion and love. Well, I could have given compassion and love. I just could have (and probably should have) given it from a distance. But I was so busy ignoring who he was because I preferred the image of who he could be.

For a time, I fell into the woe is me trap. Why can’t I find a good man? What’s wrong with me? But I had to do what my father would have told me to do; which is to take a good, long look at myself in the mirror. And so I did. I recognized that I failed to accept each man as he was.  I have a good heart. I don’t say that in a bragging manner. I just do. And my good heart sees beneath the surface in everyone. I see the good in everyone. I can’t fathom another person being a terrible. After all, no one person is completely good, nor completely bad. Even when I intuitively sense something is off with a person—and believe me, I do, as my intuition is very strong—I ignore it. I choose to create a better version in my head and go with my creation. It’s nicer. Neater. Better. I’m the type of person who you can stab directly in the heart (literally), and with my dying breath I’ll tell you how it’s ok because deep down I know you didn’t mean to do it because you really are a good person. Extreme examples aside, the only thing I have ever done when I’ve chosen to do that is cause myself issues. Now, I am able to say that I appreciate both men for the soul lessons they provided me. But I recognize that I could have saved myself so much heartache had I given up the false hope of potential. I also recognize that my choice to love their potential says much more about me than it does either man.

When one chooses to remain with another simply because of potential, one is failing to see, accept, and subsequently choose the person as they are and where they are in the present. The man has no job? That’s ok. He can get one. We’ll send him to ICDC College and get him a job. My baby gon’ get it together. Well that’s love from a parenting aspect, and not from a partner aspect. Let me put it to you like this. I have the potential to be a killer or a billionaire. At the moment, I am neither. To choose to either avoid or get in a relationship with me based on either sounds, well kind of dumb, right? Well, I’m sorry to have to tell you that it’s the same thing for potential. I know. I had to break it down for myself too.

It can seem tricky because on the one hand, everyone has the potential for growth, and a person’s status in life today is not necessarily indicative of where their path may lead. However, I think there is a bit of a marker, and it’s pretty simple. It’s about vision. Ask yourself, does the person have a vision for him or herself?  Once you ask and answer that, go a little deeper. If he or she has a vision, what is the vision? Now don’t stop there. You’ve got to go even deeper.  Now you need to ask if they have created goals AND taken steps to actualize those goals to create their vision? Now notice that I didn’t say ask what your vision is for that person. I didn’t say ask that because your vision for someone else does not matter. You can’t love, hang on to, or encourage another enough to maximize their potential. That person has to want it and do the work for him or herself. If they don’t, then there is nothing you can do for them. We’ve heard that you can lead a horse to pasture, but you can’t make him drink. Well the same is true for human beings. We can influence, encourage, and desire things for others. But we can’t do the heavy lifting for them. You can absolutely serve as another’s muse–their catalyst that sparks the desire for change.  It’s happened before, and it will happen again.  Marie-Thérèse Walter served as Pablo Picasso’s muse during his surrealist period.  However inspired he was by his favorite model at that time, he still needed to choose to pick up the paint brush, paint, and canvas and start painting.  He couldn’t have stood in front of an audience and simply said, “Here lies my muse. She makes me want to paint.” If he had, he’d probably be known as the crazy artist everyone laughed at instead of being known for his famous works of art.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

If you find yourself in love with potential. Stop. Do not, I repeat, do not pass go. Do not collect $200. In the words of Ghost’s very own Oda mae Brown, as played by Whoopi Goldberg, “You in danger, girl.” Of course I say this fully understanding that there are no guarantees and there are some things that one can truly feel. But I caution you to remember that you can’t take a person to their potential. Trust that person enough to do it for themselves. Trust yourself enough to know that there is room for the person you want–even if it doesn’t come from the potential one.

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. *

 

I Always Fall . . . For Your Potential

I’ve heard it said before that a mistake that many people make when they fall in love is that they fall in love with the potential of who the person could be rather than fall in love with who the person actually is. Well, to an extent, I agree. I agree that people look to another’s potential as a marker for pursuing and remaining in a relationship. However, I don’t believe that people fall in love with, or, are in love with potential. I say this because potential doesn’t exist. Potential isn’t real. Potential is some made up entity you have created with your imagination to create the perfect person for you. So in essence, when one has fallen in love with potential, one has failed to actually fall in love with the person. You’ve simply decided that your created image is better than the reality.

I have been guilty of this on occasion. I married my ex husband totally ignoring the reality of who he is. I knew who he was and what he was about. I knew that he wasn’t who I wanted. However, I believed in this version of him that I created in my head. And I hoped like hell that one day soon he would grow to meet that image. I found myself pissed  9 years later, when he was no more that man than he had been on the day we met. I felt betrayed. Now, on the one hand, I can say that he did try for a time to pretend to be that man. But as we all know, pretending only goes so far. And even with his efforts, I still saw through the veneer. Yet I chose to look beyond what I saw and hold tight to my image. Once I divorced him, I grieved. Funny thing is that I never grieved the end of our marriage. I celebrated that. I considered that among one of the best things I could have ever done for myself. No, I grieved for the man I never met. The man he never was, but whom I always hoped he would become.  And none of that was his fault.  He was who he was.  He was clear on that even through his consistently inconsistent behavior. It was I who failed to accept him at face value.  And while I may not like the sound of it, I failed to accept it simply because I liked my version of him better.

Several years after my divorce, I partnered briefly with a man who I’d known back in high school. Ours was a most unexpected coupling. I’d never expected to fall in love—and definitely not with him. He was the last man I would have ever considered as a romantic partner. The thing is, he was probably one of the last men I should have ever partnered with. He was a recent widower. I knew he wasn’t ready for a new relationship. To add even more fuel to this already lit fire, he was incredibly insecure. He was the kind of guy who pretended to be a “nice” guy, but deep down he wasn’t. So he would say things that I intuitively felt were meant to break my self-esteem. I saw that, but I wouldn’t accept it. Why? Because I was so focused on the potential of what could be. I told myself that once he healed, things would be great. He was just hurting and needed some compassion and love. Well, I could have given compassion and love. I just could have (and probably should have) given it from a distance. But I was so busy ignoring who he was because I preferred the image of who he could be.

For a time, I fell into the woe is me trap. Why can’t I find a good man? What’s wrong with me? But I had to do what my father would have told me to do; which is to take a good, long look at myself in the mirror. And so I did. I recognized that I failed to accept teach man as he was.  I have a good heart. I don’t say that in a bragging manner. I just do. And my good heart sees beneath the surface in everyone. I see the good in everyone. I can’t fathom another person being a terrible. After all, no one person is completely good, nor completely bad. Even when I intuitively sense something is off with a person—and believe me, I do, as my intuition is very strong—I ignore it. I choose to create a better version in my head and go with my creation. It’s nicer. Neater. Better. I’m the type of person who you can stab directly in the heart (literally), and with my dying breath I’ll tell you how it’s ok because deep down I know you didn’t mean to do it because you really are a good person. Extreme examples aside, the only thing I have ever done when I’ve chosen to do that is cause myself issues. Now, I am able to say that I appreciate both men for the soul lessons they provided me. But I recognize that I could have saved myself so much heartache had I given up the false hope of potential. I also recognize that my choice to love their potential says much more about me than it does either man.

When one chooses to remain with another simply because of potential, one is failing to see, accept, and subsequently choose the person as they are and where they are in the present. The man has no job? That’s ok. He can get one. We’ll send him to ICDC College and get him a job. My baby gon’ get it together. Well that’s love from a parenting aspect, and not from a partner aspect. Let me put it to you like this. I have the potential to be a killer or a billionaire. At the moment, I am neither. To choose to either avoid or get in a relationship with me based on either sounds, well kind of dumb, right? Well, I’m sorry to have to tell you that it’s the same thing for potential. I know. I had to break it down for myself too.

It can seem tricky because on the one hand, everyone has the potential for growth, and a person’s status in life today is not necessarily indicative of where their path may lead. However, I think there is a bit of a marker, and it’s pretty simple. It’s about vision. Ask yourself, does the person have a vision for him or herself?  Once you ask and answer that, go a little deeper. If he or she has a vision, what is the vision? Now don’t stop there. You’ve got to go even deeper.  Now you need to ask if they have created goals AND taken steps to actualize those goals to create their vision? Now notice that I didn’t say ask what your vision is for that person. I didn’t say ask that because your vision for someone else does not matter. You can’t love, hang on to, or encourage another enough to maximize their potential. That person has to want it and do the work for him or herself. If they don’t, then there is nothing you can do for them. We’ve heard that you can lead a horse to pasture, but you can’t make him drink. Well the same is true for human beings. We can influence, encourage, and desire things for others. But we can’t do the heavy lifting for them. You can absolutely serve as another’s muse–their catalyst that sparks the desire for change.  It’s happened before, and it will happen again.  Marie-Thérèse Walter served as Pablo Picasso’s muse during his surrealist period.  However inspired he was by his favorite model at that time, he still needed to choose to pick up the paint brush, paint, and canvas and start painting.  He couldn’t have stood in front of an audience and simply said, “Here lies my muse. She makes me want to paint.” If he had, he’d probably be known as the crazy artist everyone laughed at instead of being known for his famous works of art.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

If you find yourself in love with potential. Stop. Do not, I repeat, do not pass go. Do not collect $200. In the words of Ghost’s very own Oda mae Brown, as played by Whoopi Goldberg, “You in danger, girl.” Of course I say this fully understanding that there are no guarantees and there are some things that one can truly feel. But I caution you to remember that you can’t take a person to their potential. Trust that person enough to do it for themselves. Trust yourself enough to know that there is room for the person you want–even if it doesn’t come from the potential one.

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