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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.

Why Do I Care?

 

*my dad as Uncle Vester in the movie House Party 3 giving his nephew, Kid advice about not caring about what people think of  you*

 

Growing up, I have heard some variation of this from my father on several different occasions.  Being a sensitive child, this lesson would bear repeating.  It would infuriate my father when I would come home crying about how someone hurt my feelings because they either said or did something to me that, well, hurt. Dad: Why are you crying? Me: Because so-n-so said _________.  Dad: So what? Who are they? They ain’t nobody! Stop caring what people think about you!  I tried to do as he said. I truly did. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to master the art of not caring.  And here I am today, still unable to stop caring.  Truth be told, my father never actually mastered that art himself.  He was another sensitive soul and contrary to what he did his best to portray, he cared a lot about what others’ thought of him.

Thing is though, this isn’t “bad.”  It’s a very human thing. We care. We want to be accepted and liked and told we’re ok. It’s uncomfortable when that doesn’t happen. Depending upon the source of the rejection, or how the rejection is dished, it can hurt. A lot. I’ve spent a lot of time contributing to my hurt by trying to act as if I didn’t care. I recognize today that it’s much easier to simply acknowledge that I do care.  Now don’t get me wrong. Mere strangers don’t necessarily have the ability to break me down with their critique or rejection. However, depending upon the method in which they choose to deliver it, I can be hurt. And if I truly care about you? Fuh-get about it! I am hurt. And you know what? That’s ok.  There is actually nothing inherently wrong with caring about what people think and say about you. It’s a natural, human condition.

I understand my dad’s intentions for trying to teach me to not care.  It was rooted in the desire to protect me. But denial doesn’t actually beget avoidance.  There’s no actual way to avoid having your feelings hurt in life. Sure, I could hide behind a well crafted wall to keep people out, thereby insuring no one gets close enough to hurt me. I actually think we’ve gotten to a place in life where most of us are walking around crafting these walls to avoid pain.  Our ultimate goal is to avoid pain, so we deny, deny, deny. We act nonchalant about everyone and everything, all the while secretly feeling everything.  So yeah, I could do that. However, I’d not only be keeping out hurt. I’d also be keeping out love and all the other good stuff that people have to offer.  I think the key is to allow myself the space to experience my hurt feelings without giving so much weight to what others have to say.  I’m the final judge and jury of my life so I get final say. Someone thinks I’m ugly? Ouch, but that’s their opinion and not a fact. Further, it doesn’t have to cloud my opinion of my looks.  Someone thinks I’m a terrible writer? Well I’ve never! Actually I have and it hurt my feelings, but I didn’t allow that person’s opinion to stop me from writing because I love to write.  And not to sound cocky, but I think I’m pretty damn good at it.  So there.

This comes up a lot now because my daughter is at a pivotal stage in her development.  She reminds me a lot of myself when I was her age and she seems to encounter someone here and there who tells her something unflattering about herself.  And because she takes after her mama in the area of sensitivity, she admits that her feelings become hurt when it happens.  The Mama Bear in me wants her to point them out so I can accidentally trip them on purpose, but I know this is her lesson and I have to mind my business.  Although let me just say that I’ll fight a kid.  Yep, sure will!  Anyway, unlike the lessons my dad gave me, I allow her the space to be hurt.  Inevitably after the hurt passes she tells me that while she was hurt, she knows who she is and she doesn’t believe the person. Well, would you look at that?  Who knew?

I’m not knocking my father at all.  I know he did the best he could with what he had. And I appreciate him immensely for all he gave me.  I think parenting is incredibly difficult and it’s impossible to know with certainty how what you give will impact your children.  But one of the beautiful things in life is that we can learn both directly and indirectly from our parents. This was an indirect lesson I learned from my dad, but it was a lesson nonetheless. And as I feel with all my lessons from him, I’m so grateful for it.

 

*I do not own the rights to the above video*

Suffering and Silence

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.

Seems Like A Mighty Long Time

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.

Always,

Your Boops

Heal That Masculine, Man!

Happy Friday!  What a wonderful time it is.  It’s Father’s Day weekend and I feel like that’s a wonderful time to celebrate men.  I love men.  I can admit that I haven’t always been able to say that. However, I’m so grateful that I can say that now.  I think Father’s Day is a wonderful time for us to examine and begin to take the steps to heal our relationship with the masculine because for many of us, the wounds we have in our relationship with the masculine are rooted with our relationship with our fathers.  That’s why I’m not speaking today of the absent dads–the ones who couldn’t (for whatever reason) be the men we needed.  The story is told so much.  I think it’s time for a new narrative. Although, I will sidebar right now and wish love and joy to all of those whose dad was absent.  I’m sorry he wasn’t there.  I’m sorry he wasn’t what you needed.  I hope you are at peace now, and if not, I hope you are on your way to finding peace.

So , as I was saying, dad’s (and men in general) have gotten a bad rep over the years, and it’s time to release those old ideas that no longer serve.  Men are great.  Men are vital.  After all, women may make the world go round, but men are the axis upon which it spins.  Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!

My Bad Date

I went on a date two weeks ago.  That might not seem news worthy to you, but those who know me are aware of what a big deal this was.  I haven’t been on a date in . . . let’s just say awhile.  Not because I’m not interested in dating, but the opportunity just hasn’t presented itself.  You see, I don’t get approached very often by men.  When I am approached, I’m usually approached by older gentlemen.  And by older, I mean they’ve been proud card carrying members of AARP for at least 15 years–and that’s not usually the median.  Hey, I’m not knocking that.  My daddy was an AARP member before he passed. But that’s just the thing.  I don’t have the Daddy issues that would allow me to feel comfortable going out with one of these Sugar Daddies. Well I hope they would intend to be a Sugar Daddy coming at me with that. But anyway! I’m getting off topic. Back to the date.   So I was minding my own business at the gas station when a nice looking gentlemen drove up and complimented my leggings.  I didn’t think anything of it.  I smiled and said, “Thank you.” He continued to compliment me and then asked for my number.  I was caught completely off guard, but I acquiesced and gave my number.  He called just a few hours later and asked me out that night.  I didn’t know whether to be flattered or concerned.  (I told you it’s been a while).  But I agreed.  Again, those that know me are aware of what a huge deal this is.  As a matter of fact, my god sis and a couple of my friends were quite amazed at my revelation.  Now I wasn’t quite like Prince Akeem proclaiming to the young girls on the stoop that I have a date with Lisa, but I was excited by the idea of a man being nice to me, taking me out, and showing me a good time.

I’m not one of those who get swept up in the rapture of imagination.  One date did not a love match make for me.  So I’m saying my expectations were in check. Let’s just go out and see how it goes.  Talking with him on the phone held promise, so I figured odds were good that I would have a good time. After all, positive thoughts usually yield positive results, right?  Well, let me just say, positively thinking for the best did not  a successful date make. It was a disaster! I felt like a piece of meat on the chop block for the most carnivorous of  carnivores.  He kept referring to how sexy I am.  Now, don’t get me wrong. A compliment can be very nice. And I’ll admit that as a woman, yes I want to be seen as attractive by the opposite sex. But there is a point where one can go too far and the compliment doesn’t seem that . . . well, complimenting.  The guy went past that point.  It went downhill when after dinner he proclaimed, “Well since we didn’t order dessert, that means you’ll have to be dessert.”  Bruh! No. Just no.  We went to a movie after dinner and he basically assaulted my mouth the entire time. Think Charlotte from the “No Ifs, Ands or Butts” episode of Sex and the City when she dated the bad kisser and proclaimed, “He raped my chin!”  While he didn’t rape my chin, he did ram his tongue down my throat, and kept ramming said tongue down my throat.  I think he thought it was sexy.  It wasn’t though.  I kept pulling away, but that only seemed to make him think it was meant for him to go harder.  Again, it was horrible.  Other horrible mentions for the night included him proclaiming to me that he was keeping me for the night.  For the record, he wasn’t nor did he.  He also asked me what he was going to do when he introduced me to his mama’nem.  Yeah again, No. Just no.  He also looked down at my feet and called telling me “Looks like I”m going to be sucking on some toes tonight” a compliment.  Again, I just have to say that it was bad.  Now, I’m not knocking anyone who thinks any of this was good. But for me, this was not good.  None of it was good.  I couldn’t wait to get in my car and drive away.

Of course, my girlfriends all got a wonderful hearty laugh at my expense.  My god sis actually just stopped bringing it up.  Aside from that, this little story here isn’t really about the guy or the bad date.  I’m someone who approaches everything in life from a “What’s in this for me?” stand point.  I believe there’s always a lesson that can be learned if we pay enough attention.  While I wholeheartedly believe the date was horrible,  I have to say I did get a lesson.  I learned that it’s time for me to stop playing small when it comes to the opposite sex.  I’ve been so focused on being Mommy and getting my ducks in a row for myself that I have been closed off from men. My god sis is always telling me that men look at me but I never seem to notice.  I’ve been unintentionally sending off invisible smoke signals that indicate to men to keep on walking.

The other thing I learned is that I’m uncomfortable with being seen by men.  Before it became pervy, I was taken aback by the compliments guy was giving me because it just doesn’t occur to me that I’m seen as attractive.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have low self esteem where I’m looking like Little Quacker from Tom & Jerry, with a bag over my head proclaiming, “I’m so ugly.” But I do struggle with the idea that people see me as attractive–especially men.  It’s a bit unnerving when people compliment me on my looks.  I don’t know why, but it is.  When I see an attractive man, I don’t even bother to show interest because my first thought is, “He’s probably not interested in me anyway.”  So this experience taught me that it’s time for me to get comfortable receiving.  I need to get comfortable receiving time, attention, compliments, and genuine interest.  I’m so accustomed to giving. I will give beyond what I am able because giving just feels natural to me.  I will give until it doesn’t feel good to give anymore. And what do I do then?  I give some more. My scales of balance are off.  It’s time to get them back in balance.  So I guess I can’t say the date was all bad.  Well, yeah I can, but at least I can also say something good came out of it for me.

 

 

In The Game of Life, Someone Must Win and Someone Must Lose . . . Or Really?

Happy Friday! It’s a beautiful day to be alive! I didn’t always feel that way, and truth be told, sometimes I still have to give myself that reminder. But it’s the truth. If you’re here, you have to know and trust that you’re here for a reason–and not just cause your Momma and Daddy got busy. They were all part of the design to get you here. Do you realize how special and amazing that is? It’s ok if you don’t right now. Just promise me that you will get around to recognizing that sooner rather than later, ok?

Today’s video is inspired by My Fizzle. She loves to play the board game, Life. Problem is, I don’t love playing with her. She is ultra competitive and she cheats! She really does! She’s also a hater. She hates on you the entire time we’re playing. She doesn’t want anyone to make more money than she does, get married before her, have babies before her. None of it! But watching her play reminded me so much of how a lot of us walk around playing this actual game of life. We fell into the trap of thinking there are limited resources that only a select few of us can have access to. We hate on others for having and being more than we perceive ourselves to have and be. But what if just like Morpheus told Neo, I told you that the reality you’re choosing to believe is false? What if none of that were true and there was enough for everyone? How, then, would you view yourself and others? Hmm . . . something to really ponder, isn’t it? You keep pondering that and let me know what you come up with. Love ya!

That Mother Wound is A Mutha!

Happy Friday and Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms! For many of us, it’s a wonderful day because it gives us a chance to celebrate our favorite women: Our moms! For others of us, it’s not as wonderful because mom is or was absent–physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or e) all of the above. Mother’s Day can be a reminder that mom was the first person to betray us, disappoint us, hurt us. And what do you do when that happens? What do you do when mom is not the safe place we think mother’s ought to be?

As Mother’s Day approaches, I am hearing more frequently the phrase, “Love your Mother because you only get one.” Actually, I hear the phrase a lot in every day conversation. While I understand the sentiment, sometimes I think this phrase is used to give mothers a pass. Yes, there are some good and great mothers who love, protect, nurture and guide their children to the best of their abilities. But there are also some mothers who are not; and we fail to acknowledge that. Some mothers are cold, heartless, cruel, and unloving toward their children. In the case of the latter, it is not enough to tell the children, “Love your Mother because you only get one.” While I believe in offering Love to all, I also believe you have to accept people for who they are. Not every woman who carries and births a child is capable of being a true Mother. So to those who await Mother’s Day with dread because their Mother is not, or was not a loving Mother, I offer my love and encouragement. I hope that you are able to find the Love that you feel you missed from your Mother–because after all, it really isn’t missing. Like Dorothy in the wondrous land of Oz, it’s been in you the whole time.

I love you and wish you well today and always!

The Art of Detachment

Happy Friday to you! I am sending good vibes out with today’s post. I really feel like 2016 is stirring up some things for us. There seems to be a collective consciousness that is awakening. I think that’s one of the reasons we’re seeing these themes of unrest and disruption in our world events. Whenever a change is imminent, we mere mortals tend to hold on for dear life to what we have known. There is some fluidity, also known as detachment, that Life needs from us in order for us to get to that “more,” “better,” “different” that we all imagine and yearn for. We can do it. We just have to be willing to detach (there goes that word again!), or let go of the reigns in order to get it. Hope you have a magical weekend!

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