Friday, April 17, 2020

Mixed Signals

One of my favorite TV shows is about a single woman living in the Los Angeles area who, along with her friends, is navigating the winding and sometimes bumpy roads of dating, relationships, love and sex. 

In the last episode, one of the characters who has gone on several dates with a man, is taken aback when she learns that she is not the only one he is spending time with. Thinking they are exclusive, she doesn't handle the situation well and instead of being a big girl and using her words, she gets in her feelings. She should have pulled her big-girl panties up and told him how she felt, but she became distant and cut the night short with him. He opened the window of opportunity  for her to say something when he looked for confirmation that she was also seeing other people. That's when she was supposed to say how she really felt, instead of pretending her calendar was full every night. 

After each show, I always debrief with male friends to get their perspective and each of them said the woman should have spoken up, but I also think it should have been a conversation had by both of them. 

This same character was once involved with a married man who claimed that he and his wife had an open marriage. She and the married man spent a lot of time together and shared romantic moments. Feelings came into play and the female character dramatically ended the relationship. My male friends place the blame on the woman by saying she knew what she was getting herself into by getting in bed with a married man, but doesn't the MAN have some sort of accountability? 

I don't profess to be an expert on relationships, but one thing I stand by is a mutual understanding and open communication when it comes to where things stand. Is it a relationship?A situationship? Are we just friends? Are we friends with benefits? Are you my man? Am I your woman? I have questions and I need answers. 

Unfortunately, what happens often is mixed signals are sent. 
In the past and now in my current life, I make it very clear to any man that I meet that I am not interested in a relationship. That means that I have zero desire to be mutually exclusive... HOWEVER... I am a grown-ass woman with grown-ass needs. Once it is made clear that we are both two consenting adults going into a no-strings-attached physical relationship, then we can move forward. 

Often, what happens during this said "no-strings-attached" situation is that lines become blurred and mixed signals are sent. Picture this; you've met a guy that you have amazing chemistry with. Y'all click on every level and he makes your body do things you never knew it was capable of. You've both agreed that it's just sex, but he sends "good morning, beautiful" texts messages, he takes you to dinner, he spends the night, you're Netflixing and chilling and talk almost every day. Your head starts spinning and it's confusing! 

William asked me today if I could name one person with whom I had a no-strings-attached, zero expectations, physical relationship, where there was no confusion or mixed signals. Immediately, I named Ahmad.
"You said his name like you just had an orgasm," William laughed. 

"I mean... he gave me multiple," I shrugged.
"But he was a professional!" William argued.
That was a true statement. 

Ahmad has global vagina. He literally has been with women all over the world.
Ahmad knows his way around a woman's body and I was well aware that we weren't exclusive, but I was okay with that.
Ahmad and I had a long distance thing. He would let me know when he would be in town and I made time for him. I also gave him advance notice when I would be in his neck of the woods and we shared memorable moments together! When we connected, he treated me as if we were the only two people in the world. He would take me to dinner, drinks, dancing and we shared passionate moments while we were together, then go our separate ways. 

We didn't talk every day, but we kept in touch. He never treated me as if I was a jump-off, and we had an understanding. No woman can ever call Ahmad a whore, player or dog because he keeps it 100 percent real at all times. Ahmad knows how to play the game, but never plays games. 

In order to have that type of understanding, it takes two mature, consenting adults, but you have to be honest with yourself and decide if that is what you truly want.
It is not for the faint of heart. 

If you want a title, speak up! Don't say you're okay with being friends with benefits, when what you truly want is bae. 
Don't give him an out! 
If you tell him what you want and that's not what he is willing to give, then he's just not the one for you. Move on before you go in too deep and feelings are hurt - which more than likely will be yours. 

Longtime readers of this blog may remember Deputy Dan. 
When we met, he told me that he was fresh off of a divorce and not ready for a relationship and I was okay with that, but he started doing boyfriend stuff; spending the night, coming by and shoveling my walkway after a snowfall, and buying groceries for me to cook meals for the two of us. 
Then, one day, without warning, he went ghost. I mean, when you go ghost, there really is no warning. It's not like the guy says, "Hey baby, uhhh.. I'm about to disappear on yo' ass and cease all contact with you."
When I had the opportunity to confront him, he confessed that he felt things were getting too serious and he wasn't ready, but all he had to do was be a big boy and use his words. 

If men and women were more capable of communicating openly and honestly, imagine how wonderful the world would be! I mean, there are a lot of men who would love to hear a woman say hat she is not looking for a commitment and only wants to use his body, but they both have to be mature and enter into this sexual contract with no expectations. Don't be face-timing, texting and calling each other every day. Don't place any demands on one another. Hell, if you really want to get down and dirty, act like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and don't kiss on the lips!

It's all so complicated and it's not black and white, but are relationships really ever that simple? 
I guess my whole point is, EV-AH-REE relationship requires communication - no matter what kind it is. In order to avoid mixed signals, you must be able to maturely, honestly, logically and rationally communicate your needs.
Whether it's a booty-call, dating, committed relationship or marriage, in order to make it work, you must first be honest with yourself and then with the other person. 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Strong Black Woman - The Myth

Where I currently live, the radio stations SUUCKK, so during my 20 minute commute to work and 30 minute drive home, I live-stream stations from two cities where I lived previously. 
Yesterday, on my drive in, I listened as one of the morning show hosts talked about the woman married to the man that should have been my husband; Jada Pinkett Smith. 
He played audio from the most recent episode of her popular podcast, Red Table Talk. 
In the clip, Pinkett Smith shared her struggle with vulnerability, her false belief that she needed to be strong at all times, how unhealthy it was for her and most especially, how it damaged her relationship with her daughter, Willow. 

Pinkett Smith said she came to this revelation when Willow was going through an emotional moment,"Willow had a moment not too long ago, when you had that upset and you were crying on the couch and I just came to you and held you and I said to myself, 'I wish I had done this more for her.' When you can just hold your little girl, have her tears and her pain." 

My mother wasn't a hugger and I don't think there was ever one time where I sobbed in her arms. We just didn't do that.
Do I wish that we had shared those moments? I don't know, but I remember a time when I was in college and the boy I was dating betrayed me.
Broken hearted, I called my mother.
I knew that she would be my source of strength to help me get through what I thought at the time was the end of the world.
I remember being curled up in the fetal position on the floor of my apartment, sobbing, wailing, bawling my eyes out!
From 350 miles away, my mother calmly and gently settled me down and gave me THE best advice I had received in my 20 years on this Earth, but most importantly, I think it was the first time I ever opened up to her or shown outward emotion.  

I wasn't a crier as a little girl and to this day, don't cry very often. I don't know (and don't recall) if an adult in my life forced me to turn off the water works or if it was always in me, but I do remember as a teen seeing tears as a sign of weakness. I've always said that God knew what he was doing by giving me sons because I can't deal with little girls and their emotions. 

Funny thing is, my oldest son is my emotional and sensitive child! Both of my sisters are extremely emotional beings. I can't say that one is more than the other, but they can be a lot to deal with at times. 

Pinkett Smith said that showing vulnerability or lack-thereof, came from her upbringing. 
She said the way she was raised and her mother was raised, she felt like she had to be strong and the first thing she wanted to do was teach her daughter to be strong. 

I saw my mother and grandmother as strong women and heard stories of how my grandmother overcame life's obstacles without batting an eye. I never saw my grandmother cry and I think I saw my mother cry once during a heated argument with my father - something that burned in my memory. 

Somewhere in history, it was instilled in us that we must be strong.
We must be that Strong. Black. Woman.
It's a badge of honor.
A source of pride.
It's that coat of armor.
That super hero cape. 

When I became a mother, I wanted to provide a source of strength and security for my children. My belief was then (and still to some extent today) that in order for children to grow into confident, capable, emotionally stable adults, they needed to have that example set for them at home. My thought was (and kinda still is) that if a parent is constantly flipping out over minor things, making mountains out of molehills, the children will think that's the norm and won't know how to logically and rationally deal with life's challenges. 

I was wrong. 

Sometimes it's okay for your kids to see you have an emotional moment. It shows you're human. I've been called resilient, stoic, determined, indomitable and even my sons have called me a super hero, but all of that comes at a cost.  
Holding that in does no one any good.
I paid the price physically and my health has suffered. 

As I navigated the winding roads to work yesterday, listening to Jada's words, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my younger son earlier this year when I was going through one of the darkest times of my life. 
I was broken. 
I had months, probably years of pain and emotion crammed into a little box inside of me and it finally spilled over. I was tired and I was weak and I shared my pain with my sons.

My youngest called me and we talked for a very long time. He told me that even though he knew I was hurting, it was a relief to see me vulnerable for once. He shared that for the first time, he saw me as human. That for so long, he felt as if he could never live up to the example I had set for him. 
He wanted to know and see how I dealt with adversity, misfortune and heartbreak, but I didn't expose my children to those vulnerable moments. I explained to him that I am still of the opinion that young people don't need to be involved in grown-folks' business, but maybe it's helpful sometimes that they see how their parents navigate their way through life's ups and downs. 

We laughed about a time I was driving with the boys in the car and spun-out on a patch of ice. I regained control of the car and continued on to our destination. My oldest was in the front seat and exclaimed, "Oh my God, you were so calm!"
Little did my boys know, I was screaming on the inside, calling for Jesus to take the wheel and probably needed a change of underwear, but my goal was to get out of the situation in one piece, car intact and most importantly, I needed to stay calm for my children. I could have shared with them that I was was indeed scared and we could have had a good laugh about it and thinking back, I wish I had. 

My grandmother was my rock, my inspiration and my model of strength. The day she died, I shut myself in my room and cried. My children did not see me cry.
I don't believe that it was intentional. I retreated to my bedroom because that was my place of solitude, but during one of the most difficult times of my life, my sons never saw a tear flow from my eyes. 

Maybe it's best that I didn't birth any girls because I probably would have done the same thing Jada did and told my child to take those tears somewhere else.
I probably would have tried to instill in her the Strong Black Woman values that I so strongly believed in.
Maybe I would have told her to put her big girl panties on and move on, but women today are no longer falling for the hype and finally beginning to accept that self-care is vital to our health and well-being.
It's okay for us to express our emotions and expose our vulnerabilities. 

It's okay to show fear in front of your children. 
It's okay to express pain or heartache in front of your children.

Maybe, if we expose our children (in moderation) to our emotions - show them who we are and that we are actually human, we will become even more super human to them.
Maybe us showing our perceived weaknesses will actually empower our children to be STRONGER than we have ever been. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

A Mother's Love

My routine is the same every morning. 
I wake up, check the time, take a shower, get back in bed, turn on the Today Show and check my phone to see what happened in the world of social media while I was sleeping. 

This morning, Facebook delivered another set of memories for this date. 
On this date in 2012, I posted an update on an ongoing saga that began in August of the previous year. That was when my teenage son decided that he was tired of me and my rules and thought that he would be better off living with his father.
He was 18 and I couldn't force him to stay, but I did warn him that if he left, his father would come after me for child support because for ten years, his wages had been garnished and he would take great pleasure in gaining any opportunity to have me pay him.

Some of you are probably wondering how that could be, that the ex-husband was still paying child support, but the age of emancipation in the state we lived at the time is 21 years-old. 

I was served at work. The week of Christmas. 
I went home that night and got drunk. 
Fuming with anger, I called my father, ranting, "Daddy, you know how all creatures on this planet were put here for a reason? Snakes eat mice, spiders eat flies, bees pollenate flowers, but do you know what creature serves absolutely no purpose on this planet? A cockroach! Cockroaches do nothing! They're worthless! He's a cockroach, daddy! A cockroach!" 
My father just laughed, but I was dead serious. 

I was crushed.
I saw my son leaving as a betrayal. 

Private school, summer camps, trips, vacations - all things his father refused to fund.
I was at his school advocating for him. 

I was the one at his football games, track meets, soccer matches, waiting in the parking lot after practices, as all of the other boys piled into their parent's cars and my child was always the last one out. 
I was the one that comforted him when he was sick. 
I gave him the talk and taught him how to respect and honor women. 
How could he? 
All that I had done for him, I cried to friends. Many gave me advice and words of support, but the one thing repeated more than once was, "he's going to need you before you need him." 

And that's exactly what happened. 

Ten months later, my youngest child called me.
He was hurting and in pain over the passing of one of his best friends. His friend had been fighting a serious illness, but hadn't shared with those close to him how bad it really was.
His death was unexpected and came as a serious blow to my son.
He was asked to be a pall bearer at the funeral and he didn't know if it was something he could handle emotionally.
This was the second death within a year for my son. A childhood friend was killed in a tragic car accident the winter before.
Now, he was asked to carry his friend's coffin.  I told him that being a pall bearer was a great way to honor him and it was what he would have wanted.
"Would you go with me?" He asked. His voice full of pain. 

My child needed me and I was there for him to provide him with whatever he needed during his time of grief.
Most importantly, I was there to be the strength that he needed. 

Following the service, I took him to his favorite Thai restaurant.
It was a beautiful summer afternoon and we sat outside, catching up.
He shared with me how bad things were at his father's. I listened and although I wanted SO badly to say, "I told you so," I held my tongue as my son humbled himself and opened up to me. 

I had already been to court twice, both times the case was adjourned for later dates. Once, because the ex-husband failed to appear. It should have been dismissed, but the judge granted him another court date. 
A third hearing was scheduled for the next day and my son knew this.
He asked if he could go with me and talk with the judge.
I told him that I didn't know if the judge would allow him to speak, but he could go. 

That night, my child came home with me and slept in his bed for the first time in almost a year. 

The next morning we headed to court and I warned him that his father may not be too happy seeing him there.
He wasn't. 

The case was dismissed without prejudice and my child paid the price. 

This was my Facebook post seven years ago today: 
When my 18 yr. old son left my home and moved to his dad's last year I was devastated. I saw it as a betrayal, but my door was always open. We went to church, spent holidays together and I was there whenever he needed me... His father ultimately sued me for child support and my son went to court to support me today. Now his "father" is kicking him out... I guess a mother's love is unconditional.

I watched as my son argued with his father, asking if he was just a pawn in his father's plot to get back at his mother.
It broke my heart. 
I had nothing to say to his father. Our son was grown and I was no longer receiving child support from him. There was no reason for us to communicate. 

Mother's Day of this year, I received an inbox message from the ex-husband wishing me a happy Mother's Day and thanking me for being a good mother to our boys.
I have had no correspondence with him since 2012.
The Bible says we owe forgiveness to those who don't deserve it and I have forgiven, but I haven't forgotten.
I think it was Maya Angelou who said, "when someone shows you who they are, believe them." 
I chose not to respond. 
Today's Facebook memory brought back negative feelings, but it also reminded me that God blessed me with two amazing sons.
They may not always honor their mother as I wish they would, but I will love them unconditionally until the day I leave this world. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

You Can't Eat the Elephant in One Bite

          Growing up, I wasn't always the most neat or organized young person.  When I was in school, ADD was not something that was commonly diagnosed; especially in girls. 
In first grade, I wasn't reading, but the grown-ups who were trained to know better, didn't realize that I was simply bored with Dick and Jane books.
It wasn't until I was sitting at the breakfast table while my father was reading the newspaper across from me and I read aloud, "boy, seven drowns in lake." My father lowered his paper and asked, "who said that?"
My mother, with great pleasure and excitement, told him that it was his daughter.

Throughout elementary, middle and high school, my parents were told, "she so smart, she just doesn't apply herself." My life was chaotic and disorganized. My bedroom, school folders, bookbag and locker were reflections of my impossible struggle to maintain order and structure.
Most days, you couldn't see the floor in my bedroom and my school locker became a test of skill. I learned to open and close it quickly without having an avalanche of papers, books and clothing tumble to the floor.
I would complete assignments, but managed to lose them before handing it in or completely forgot that it was due.

Once I reached the point of being overwhelmed, I would throw in the towel and just give up.
My mother, the disciplinarian, was old school and her parenting technique was punishment, instead of helping me to learn ways to manage my life. 

I went to college, but dropped out because I allowed too many distractions to keep me focused on what I was there for. 
When I finally returned to college, I was the mother of an eight-year-old boy, who had been diagnosed with ADD. It was then that I realized why my early years had been such a struggle. 
I learned ways to manage my life and maintain order, while limiting chaos as much as possible. 

I have been accused of being a perfectionist and even labeled a control freak, but just brush the insults off my shoulders.
Sometimes, if I feel like it, I'll explain
why I am the way I am, but it's on a need-to-know basis.
I like to explain to people that I am pretty damn good at juggling!
I can have five or six balls flipping and tossing in the air, but if a seventh ball unexpectedly comes into play, they will all come tumbling down.  Sometimes it's easy to pick them up and start juggling again.  Other times, I may just leave the balls right there until I'm emotionally ready to take that challenge on again. 

Right now, I've got about six balls in the air.
I just moved to a new state, started a new job and learning my way while also searching for a permanent place to live. I'm finalizing a divorce and name change and all that comes with it (new ID, social security card, passport...), digging myself out of a deep financial hole that grew deeper during months of unemployment, and today I had to send a second nastygram to the moving company demanding status on delivery of my belongings that have to go into a storage unit until I move into my new place! 

Some advice that I have given to my sons over the years when they have felt overwhelmed by life is that they can't eat the elephant in one bite.  You have to decide which part of the elephant you want to eat first and then slowly work your way through it, giving yourself time to let what you have already eaten digest.  

I met with my therapist when I went back to my old state to pack for the big move and she reminded me of the elephant. She encouraged me practice what I've been preaching and to not be overwhelmed.
"I know," I said. "But I feel like I'm trying to work my way around the elephant and all I see is its big-ole ass! I try to move to the left and his ass moves left.  I shift to the right and there's that ass again. I've got elephant ass all up in my face!"  

"Well, get a nice steak knife and start with his ass then," she suggested. "It's probably the most tender!" 
We laughed, but she was right. I had gotten so focused on the elephant blocking my view that I started to feel helpless.
"Just keep telling yourself that it won't always be this way," she said in a reassuring tone. 

I paused, and took in her words. 
I was so focused on the elephant's ass, that I couldn't see that it won't always be this way.  
I started a new job, which means steady income, which means I can slowly start paying off my debt. I found a new place to live and can move in next month. The divorce and name change have been finalized and that nastygram to the moving company landed in the right hands and my things should arrive by the end of the week. 

So, when things are coming at you from different directions, just keep telling yourself that you can't eat the elephant in one bite. 
Do you like white meat or dark meat? Grab yourself a jar of barbecue sauce or some Frank's Red Hot (we put that sh*t on everything) and work your way through that elephant.
It's not an eating competition. 
You're not Joey Chestnut and you don't have to consume a whole elephant in sixty seconds.  

Take your time. Relax. 
Don't give yourself indigestion.
Sometimes leftovers taste better the next day.  

Friday, April 26, 2019

Starting Over

On Wednesday, March 27, I woke up with something in my spirit - that it was going to be a good day and I posted just that on Facebook.

I had been substitute teaching in an inner-city school to put a band-aid on my financial hemorrhage. 
The kids in this school were not like my nieces or my babies.
These kids have experienced and witnessed things that a child in elementary school should never-ever see.
Some of them carry themselves as if they are teenagers, or as we call them, "grown." Some are developmentally and academically delayed and with that comes behavioral issues.

I taught in the reading lab; working with students reading behind their grade level. On occasion, I was asked to fill in a classroom where a teacher was absent.
When I did, I would introduce myself and give them two options; the nice Ms. C or the not-so-nice Ms. C.  They could have a good day or a bad day. They also had the option of following my instructions or leaving the room.
This was a long-term subbing assignment and the kids in the school had gotten to know me. They began to respect and like me, often stopping to hug or fist bump me in the halls as they transitioned between classes or on their way to specials.
One of the full-time teachers came to me at recess with surprise in her voice, "they really like you," she said. "They said that you don't play, but you're nice!" That was actually music to my ears, considering some of them worked my nerves so bad, I questioned whether I was going to return the next day.

That Wednesday morning, the students had standardized testing and I was with a fourth grade class. I told an administrator that I was expecting an important call at 11 a.m. and needed someone to cover me while I took the call.
Shortly after eleven, my cell rang and I ducked into the copier room to talk privately.
"Hi Single Mom, as you know we interviewed several people and narrowed it down to two. After much thought and deliberation..."
I sat down on a chair in the copier room lined with shelves of elementary school workbooks and multi-colored papers and waited for, "we appreciate your interest, but we have decided to go in another direction." 
Instead I heard, "we would like to offer you the job, if you are interested." 
I dropped my head,closed my eyes and silently praised God.
"Yes. Yes, I am still interested and I happily accept the offer," I replied. I tried to maintain a certain level of professionalism and decorum, but on the inside, I was shouting and doing the Holy Ghost dance!
We talked about my start date, salary, relocation expenses and some other things.
I thanked him several times and told him that I needed to get back to my classroom.
He remarked at my broad set of skills with teaching elementary school students. I humbly responded that I had to do what needed to be done to pay my bills.

I hung up the phone and walked down the hall to the table where the administrator who was keeping an eye on my students was sitting in the hallway and shared my good news.
She had only known me in passing in the halls and our conversations had been limited, but she was genuinely happy for me.
I have a rule about crying at work and tried hard to maintain my composure, especially since I was working with twenty-one fourth graders who can smell blood and will attack without hesitation at the hint of weakness!
"You don't know my story," I repeated several times, holding back tears.
She and the student teachers had no idea what I have been through. 
How I moved to a new state for a man who promised to love, honor and cherish me, how I took a job paying almost $25,000 less than what I had previously been earning, and that it was also a lower level position, how I found a job that for the first time in a long time that was the perfect fit and gave me a sense of purpose, but someone came along and made the decision to take away what I enjoyed. 
They didn't know that I had been living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet after I left my husband and that when I lost my job I had gone through all of my savings in order to survive.
Now, here I was, standing before them - strangers - the first ones to learn of my blessing, and they were celebrating in my joy.
Since then, I have been busy packing and preparing for my new life.
One of the teachers at the elementary school, a young mother, said with hopeful anticipation, "I can't wait until I can pack up and leave and go wherever I want." 
It hasn't hit me yet. 
I'm not scared. I can't be afraid of the unknown. 
I'm one of those people where it's not real until it's in front of me. I'm moving to a state where I once lived as a child, but hours away from where I grew up.
The closest family is hundreds of miles away and I'll be on my own for the first time in my adult life. 

I'll be subletting an apartment for three months until I can find a permanent place of my own. I have to find a new church, hair stylist, dog groomer, doctor, dentist, and favorite places to eat!
Major metropolitan cities are an affordable train ride away and I'm looking forward to weekend adventures. 

Most importantly, I look forward to getting back on my feet financially!
The past few months have been rough. 

I have only shared with a select few what I have experienced and how I've gotten along.
I've been called strong, resilient, resourceful and other adjectives.
Not sure if those words truly fit me. 

I just know that there were a lot of sleepless nights, weight loss, and a few tears shed on occasion. 

I can't say that I am grateful for my struggles, but I CAN SAY that I have learned and grown from it all. 
I am also grateful for the time that I spent at the elementary school. 
I was there to teach young people, but many of them educated ME! Their little faces will be with me forever. 

Everyone says that things happen for a reason and I am so glad to be able to move away and start over. 
Right now, my sights are set on my first paycheck and praying that I can hold on til then. 
Someway, somehow, I've made it this far. 
There is a target. 
A date. 
When there wasn't one before. 
I've come this far by faith. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

What Happiness Looks Like

I've been a Facebook user since 2009 and enjoy the "memories" feature because it reminds me of so many great experiences and adventures over the past ten years.  
Unfortunately, the memories feature also reminds me of some very dark and painful times in my life. 
A friend was sad for me when I shared with her that I often look at the dates of my Facebook memories as B.D. and A.D. (before, during and after marriage).
I now read some of my posts between 2009 and 2012 and see how happy I was. 

Then I look at the date and year. My younger son was still in high school, I took my dream trip to Paris, my little man was born, and so many other special memories.
I shared my joys, pains, frustrations and successes.  

Sometimes it feels as if I don't even know the woman who wrote those posts.
That woman was working full time at a job that she enjoyed...most days.
She had financial stability and she looked forward to Friday nights with bubble baths, Netflix, wine and ice cream.  She traveled often and dated consistently.
Her love life was pretty much a dramedy, but entertaining nonetheless and provided great content for this blog. 

Ten years later, that woman... me... looks back longingly, wanting to go back to what I now see as simpler and happier times.
If I could go back in time and say anything to the younger me, it would be to not focus so much on "finding," "wanting," or "needing" a man. 

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the company of a man and I certainly enjoy the pleasures of a man, but the "me" now, realizes that I don't need a man to make me happy or to complete my life. 

Every now and then I get a yearning for someone to call and share exciting news or sit outdoors at a trendy wine bar, sampling Malbec flights. I watch Beth and Randall Pearson on my favorite Tuesday night drama and think they are relationship goals, but with a relationship comes work, and it takes the work of two people willing to fight for each other, not WITH each other. 

My Facebook memories showed me a pattern. For a good three years, I wrote posts asking God for strength. I wrote scriptures about hurt, pain, betrayal and disappointment. I shared quotes about marriage, partnership, not giving up and peace. Those Facebook memories showed me that on the same date, one year later, I was still battling the same demons. Nothing had changed, except the calendar.
I had gone into a place of darkness.
A place of sadness.

A place of pain. 
When I look back at posts prior to 2013, the things I thought were big problems, were really small. 
Yeah, I had a teenager driving me crazy, there were bills that needed to be paid, things around the house in need of repair and the other side of my bed was empty, but it wasn't that bad!

A friend recently added me to a Facebook group for single women. I checked it out and the first post I saw was a video instructing women on what to do while waiting for Mr. Right.
"Nah, I'm good," I said to myself and opted out of the group.
I'm not waiting, looking for, hoping or dreaming of Mr. Right.
I can't tell women what they should or shouldn't do. I can't stand on the rooftops and scream, "stop worrying about when you're going to get a man!" 

Who's gonna listen?
I remember years ago a Facebook acquaintance attacked me online. He berated me for being so singularly focused on having a man. I cussed him out and told him he "didn't know me," and unfriended him, but he was on the outside looking in and he was right. 

In 2017, I chose happiness and took steps towards it.
Things haven't been perfect and I have a LOT on my plate, but each morning when I wake up and Facebook has delivered me a new set of memories, I read them and I'm reminded that even though times are tough right now, I'm not hurting anymore. 

An old friend, the Corporate Thug, reached out to me shortly after I moved into my apartment.  I shared with him all that had gone on in my life since we last saw one another and that I had chosen happiness over pain.
"Is this what happiness looks like?" he asked. 

I sat there on the side of the pool, with my feet in the water, sipping on a glass of Cabernet as I spoke with him. I looked around at my surroundings, the freedom, the peace, and said, "Yes."
Yes, this is what happiness looks like. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Proverbs 19:21

So, here I sit once again, nearing the end of another year and wondering WTF happened, while also praying, please God let next year be better!
I entered 2018 full of hope.

I was excited for the future. 
I had PLANS! 
But when we make plans, God laughs at us. 
God has a strange sense of humor though.  I mean, I can see him watching over me saying, "Silly child, don't you know by now?" Or better yet, "You gone learn today!"

I had moved into my new place a few months prior to the new year, work had me on the go and I was finally in a place where I was comfortably navigating my way through the job.
My salary wasn't the greatest and I was struggling to make ends meet, but I had hope that if I continued to work hard and show how committed I was, an increase wouldn't be too far off. 

I truly loved my job and what I was doing.  I felt I finally had a sense of purpose and enjoyed the people I worked with.
Then one day an email was sent out saying we would be getting a new boss and just like that, everything changed.
He was an outsider and came in with his own ideas.
He immediately set his sites on me and my coworker.  By summer, my coworker was the first to go and was transferred to another department, leaving me alone to handle everything by myself.  Things got really bad; to the point that I was so stressed, I was hospitalized.
Suddenly, nothing I did was right.
I went from having a perfect performance evaluation to being criticized for every move I made.
A few months later, I was told they were letting me go.
It hurt. A lot.
What hurt most (and still does) was knowing that I was damn good at what I did and I did nothing that warranted me losing my job. 
My position wasn't protected like my coworker's and I live in an at-will state.  
They didn't have to have a reason to let me go. 

While all of this is going on, I am still working my way towards a divorce while also digging myself out of a deep financial hole.
So, here I sit on December 28, looking at 2018 like, WTF?
Things didn't go as I had hoped, but 2019 is around the corner! 
It's a new year, right? 
I don't believe in that "new year, new me" crap, but I do try to enter the new year with hope and the belief that it's GOT to be better than the previous year.
I consider myself a very spiritual person, but also superstitious, which don't go hand-in-hand, but I kinda feel like the way my life is set up, I need all the good juju I can get! 

My New Year's Eve is spent at Watch Night Service in church, praying for better things in the New Year and letting go of troubles from the past.  
I also cook the traditional collard greens and black eye peas and place coins over the doorframes. 
This year, I'm hosting a burning ceremony and invited friends over.
There's a few things going into the fire this year, but mostly I'm making a list of things that I hope for in 2019.
I try to stay optimistic and not dwell on the negative.  Throwing myself a pity part does me no good.
When things are going bad, I try to praise God and celebrate the good in my life.
When things are good, I praise God and thank Him for all He's done for me. 

I've learned over the years that there's going to be struggles and even though mine come in bulk, I know that I'll get through them. 
I'm grateful for the challenges that I've had in life because it's only made me the strong  woman I am today.
One of the many values I've tried to instill in my sons is humility.  
It's important to remain humble at all times. No matter the level of success you may think you have accomplished, it can all be taken away from you. 
If you don't humble yourself, God will and it won't be good.
Your job, your home, your car, your relationship, your loved ones... whatever it is, can be taken away.
Just like that.

My problems won't magically disappear when the clock strikes midnight, but I have a new year to look forward to with new hopes, new dreams and new goals. 
Like I said, God has a strange sense of humor.
After leaving my husband, I said more the once that the only reason I was sticking around was because of my job. 

God said, okay and took the job away!
For the first time in my adult life, I don't have kids at home and I'm not someone's wife.  I can go anywhere in the country... hell... the WORLD! 

I don't like to make resolutions, but I promise you this; wherever this journey takes me, I will keep writing and bring you along. 
Here's to 365 blank pages. 
Happy New Year!

Mixed Signals

One of my favorite TV shows is about a single woman living in the Los Angeles area who, along with her friends, is navigating the winding ...