This Post Ain’t For Everybody…

Warning: This post ain’t for everybody. This post is for somebody. I pray you find time to read it.

When I was married my husband was a great provider. However, he was also addicted to crack cocain. On the surface we had a good life. We had three beautiful children and even offered our home to a teenage girl for several years as her mother fought her own addiction to drugs. We owned our home. We had nice cars. We went to a prominent church in our community and had many influential friends and business associates. But at home there was chaos and extreme unsurety. I was always faced with the choice of giving up the facade of stability and losing everything material and conditional… and one day I walked away and the real chaos began to unfold.

A couple of nights ago I was watching the television series Being Mary Jane. Mary Jane had just confronted the stepfather and mother of her best friend who had been molested by the stepfather when she was younger, and who was now dead after successfully committing suicide. In this particular scene the stepfather was upset with Mary Jane and the mother about the way he was being treated and perceived and demanded that he be respected. He then told the mother that her daughter was a liar and mentally ill and that the mother should have been ashamed for protecting and supporting her. The mother agreed and shut down.

Suddenly at that moment I was connected in such a way I felt he was talking to me and I was agreeing. I felt helpless and alone, and I felt powerless. And as I was sinking into that feeling I began asking myself when did this happen to me? Who said this to me? Who made me feel this way? All the people in my life who had influence started flashing through my head. Was it my mother? Was it my stepfather? My dad? My brothers? My husband? A boyfriend? Was it any of the women in my life that I respected but rejected me? Who did this to me and why did it resignate so deeply as if it were happening to me… again???

Somewhere along the lines of becoming a woman I was taught to hold on to the things that appeared to be unconditional but weren’t. Somewhere along the lines I was taught that when you said no to the things that hurt you the facade of stability would be taken away and no one would be there for you… However, a small voice which grew smaller over time said, “no one is there but you anyway”… The problem was everytime I accepted the facade my power to be there for myself grew weaker. Eventually I became convinced that “I” was not enough to walk alone. Why did I believe that having certain people in my life validated growth and when did I stop realizing that at the end of the day there is only you and Spirit… alone.

The Journey:

Today I am learning that the more I say no to the things that hurt me, or when I say yes to the voice that says stand up for me, I simply feel better. As simple as “I feel better sounds”… it is more powerful than I have ever felt because I am sure that not only was my voice shut down, it was shut down before it ever got the chance to grow and lead me out of that dark place.

Today at 51 years old I have this extremely awkward and premature voice that is going off like a bull in a crystal store so to speak. I am exercising this voice every time she speaks. The more I do it, the more she grows, and the more I feel protected somehow. And that alone feeling is starting to feel more like an expansion of space for my personal development that was stunted all these years. As if all the perceived support from others was actually taking away my space to grow. The space I had given to others actually stunted my own ability to grow. In actuality on the things I took the courage to face alone measured my true growth.

No longer do I accept the dark existence that is simply the cover placed over me to keep my controlled and blind to my destiny. Although I haven’t quite figured it all out yet… although I don’t exactly know what my true destiny holds… the freedom to walk towards it finally feels right. Saying no is actually helping me feel bold enough and have the courage to take the walk alone and not be afraid of what lies ahead. I actually am excited and I actually enjoy the embrace of the possibilities that lay ahead of me.

This journey is about kicking off the imaginary hold that is constantly being placed in my path by scared people who are afraid of their own destiny. No I have not mastered it yet but I can tell you that every time I say NO to someone or something that hurts me… every time I say yes to even the smallest of things that makes me feel happy… every time I don’t care what anyone thinks of “my” decisions to do what I feel is best for me…

It sho feels good!

And that my friends is the feeling that I have been conditioned to deny. And today, I am working even harder to grab the opportunity to feel good whenever it presents itself to me.

And maybe just maybe feeling good about being me is the destiny…

Feeling good may just be the one thing that truly makes me happy and at peace. It also seems to be the number one thing that people work relentlessly and unknowingly to take away from me. Funny thing is the only work for me is being courageous enough to say NO to the things that make me feel bad and even more so saying yes to the things that make me feel good.

Now there is someone out there nodding and agreeing as though the got it all together and they knew it all along… stop it. I know longer care that you see my immaturity, my awkwardness, my innocence…

I know for a fact that what I say is more for you than it is for me so if you took the time out to read this and you really let it resignate inside don’t give any advice to this post… just find that part that speaks to you and do what makes you feel happy…

I got this. Get yours…


Yes it hurts…

holding handsPersonal feedback:
Several people have told me that they are waiting until their parents die to write the book. I have thought in my mind but not aloud, what if you die first?

I am writing this for me and all the other women who have lived through similar circumstances and were told not to tell. I am not ashamed of the what I have experienced because it has made me who I am today.

Not all of my stories are sad or tragic. For all of the things my mother couldn’t control there were the things that she did well. My mother is a strong black woman who exposed me to a lot of things that were not always offered to black children like a strong education, culture, literature, family, spirituality, and simply a home to lay my head at night. I know many adults who’s mother just succumbed to alcohol or drugs. My mother always kept it moving and she told me to always do the same. That was the strength in her weakness… to keep moving.

This is my story of how circumstances and choices could have destroyed my life and even killed me. It’s not about who my parents are, what cards I was dealt or even the mistakes I made. It’s about having the heart to trust and obey God when I came to the crossroads that changed my life. It’s about having the courage to correct wrongs and then turning around to help someone else who needed the experience of victory along the way.

It hurts when I do this… but I have already won. So I will keep it moving.

Doll Play…

housingIt was the early 1970’s, and my friend Vicky and I sat on her back porch playing with our dolls. It was a beautiful summer afternoon, both hot and breezy. Vicky lived in front of me in what was referred to back then as the project homes. Our homes were actually townhouses nestled together in groups of buildings made specifically for low income housing. Most of my friends at school lived there and Vicky was one of my best friends, and she happened to be a white girl, which is rare because the media doesn’t often show white people in the ghetto’s during the seventies.  But there were plenty of white people living around us when I was younger.  Our neighborhood was definitely classified as the ghetto, but loving called the West End by those who lived there. Despite what the media portrays about “the projects” in the seventies, White people actually lived in housing back then too, and in my world Vicky and her family were no different than any other family that lived there. What was different was Vicky’s father also lived there, and this was not the case in most of the black families that lived in the development. Very few fathers lived in our homes. Most of the homes were headed by women.  There were a lot of families that had other family members who lived very close by.  Our neighborhood was filled with families and it was meant to be a starting block to moving on to something better.  However a lot of families never made it out of the ghetto.

What I loved about going to  Vicky’s house was seeing all of the ceramic nic-nacs on ever book shelf.  This seems to be most of what I could actually remember about visiting inside her home.  All of the ceramic characters and the soap opera’s playing on the television.  The same soap operas that played on the television in our home.  Later in life Vicky’s mother would open a ceramic shop downtown. They had moved away and so did we, so I lost touch with Vicky and her family.  One day when I was much old (about 12 years old), I wondered into her mothers shop.  I usually walked downtown or took the city bus by myself and I would go on adventures walking into ever shop that was open on a Saturday afternoon.  I walked into this shop nestled in the furthest area, at the end of town and there sat Vicky’s mother as I remembered her making crafts.  She remembered me and asked how everyone was doing at home.  I told her we were all fine and we chatted for a while. I soon left on my way to continue my journey.

Vicky had a brother who played with my brothers and an older sister named Judy. On Saturdays Vicky and I would play together on her porch. Her mother would spoil us with popsicles and cookies as we played out scenes with our dolls and watched the activities of our neighbors and friends hanging clothes on the clotheslines, or sitting on their porches watching us and other children play. On this particular day as Vicky and I were playing I noticed a woman run around her building and a man chasing her.  As I turned to continue playing suddenly Vicky’s mother came quickly out of the house and snatched us inside. The only thing I remembered from that point was the police and ambulance surrounding the area and the building where the woman had been shot down by the man chasing her. Later that day my mom, my brothers and I sat around our porch talking about what happened. My mother asked me what did I see, and I told her what I remembered. She said, “ask God to help you forget”. I did but  at 40+ years later I still remember…

I remember the lady’s body laying on the ground under a sheet and all the neighbors standing around watching and telling the news to the neighbors with too much respect to move in close and gawk like the others.  I remember the next day hearing about the blood still fresh on the grass from friends who had the courage to go and look up close.  I remember it took years before I could walk past that area and when I did I looked for the blood.   I always felt the spirit of that woman  calling out from that spot and it kept me away like a wall that had a heart beat.  I remember being frightened to my core as a little girl to even ride my bike near there.  I was somewhere between the age of 5 or 6 years old.  I remember.

Ugly Boots in Jr. High…

It was winter in Illinois, and there was the predictable snow that seemed to blanket our town every time we wanted to believe we would get a break from it. We would wake up some mornings to face 8-12″ of frozen snow on the ground to walk to school in and freeze our toes, as we waited for a bus which was almost always late.

One Saturday morning my mom announced to me that we were going to Sears which was across the Mississippi River in Iowa and I was getting a new pair of boots. I was so excited imaging my new boots and wearing them to school with my jeans tucked in, and I imagined how cool I would be with something new to wear on Monday. Even today I feel cool in new clothes or shoes. “Shopping is still my therapy”, :).

ugly bootsFinally we arrived at the store and after watching my brothers try on Tough Jeans, hats and gloves, it was my turn to get my boots. Of course as a junior high school girl I had no concept of having 3 brothers and what that would mean to the budget for my new boots. I had my eye on the boots I wanted and probably looked right past what my mother had decided what her pocket book could afford.  Today I understand it more, but then I just wanted to fit in with my friends.

Being a teenager I believed my mother had the worst taste in fashion and has always been about spending the least amount of money for my clothes.  Most of my life we shopped at the Salvation Army or the Nearly New Shop for my clothes. Surely today I was getting something I would love because we were actually shopping at a “store” to buy my clothes. I excitedly showed my mother all the boots that I considered fashionable and acceptable to my liking.  However, my mother picked up these boots that were the most horrible plastic imitation of leather I had ever seen.  They were so old fashioned and something I could only imagine my grandmother (or my mother) would wear.  They were rubber and were lined up the zipper with fur, and around the top with fur. I was horrified. All I could picture was the laughing and pointing that would happen at school when my friends got a look at those boots.  I was already embarrassed.  I was picturing fitted boots and my mother without compromise insisted on buying me the boxed special of fashion disaster. I am not sure how the conversation went 30+ years ago, but I know we argued and I began to cry. My mother became so angry with me as I blatantly explained that I would never wear those boots.  She said I had to take those boots or get nothing at all.  I was fine with nothing at all and that must have really pissed her off.   I refused the boots, so in her anger she left me at the mall alone.

So I am 12, and I am at least 20 miles from home in another state with no money, and no way home. I really remember telling only one bus driver that I had no money. I had some how made it downtown and all I could think about was the bridge that I needed to cross.  As I rounded the corner and the bridge was in sight my plans crashed.  I could freely walk across the bridge and not have to pay.  I had no money.  However, being 12 and afraid of heights I was dying with fear looking at the mass structure cascading towards the sky.  I knew my brothers and male cousins had all walked across the bridge many times.  But I had never done it and had no desire to ever do it. This bridge was over 30 feet high and the currents of the muddy Mississippi river ran rapidly beneath it. Not to mention the trucks and buses zooming past, rocking and trembling the pavement that would be beneath my 50 pound frame. I imagined the horror of being swept away by the wind into the freezing water to my death. Only a few years earlier a friend had been pushed off the bridge by his father.  I was haunted and traumatized.   It was cold and getting late.

It would be dark soon, so I ran back to the bus stop and waited.

When the bus pulled up I got on the bus and looked at the driver in the eye.  With tears in my eyes I told him my mother had left me and I had no money to get to the other side of the bridge, and I was afraid to walk over it.  He just looked at me and said sit down.  Today, right here I want to insert this… “thank you Jesus”.

For a very long time after this I was afraid of heights.  I would wake up in the middle of the night and dream of falling.  In my dreams I would climb up a ladder and realize that I couldn’t go any higher and I couldn’t get down.  Finally in the dream I would give up and allow myself to fall to my death.  My body would shake and I always sprung awake before I died.  This was a recurring dream for me for many years.

Today I have conquered my fear of heights.  One day I just got tired of being scared of heights.  So every time I found myself in a situation that challenged me I accepted it.  Soon I began looking over ledges and I began climbing higher, and higher on ladders.  Eventually, I was able to work on the 32nd floor of a high rise in San Francisco many years later.  It was my first real job and I loved the view.  My desk was next to the window and the sky was my morning cup.

This could be a story of abuse and neglect, but it is a story of survival and faith.  It is also proof of God being with you even when you are too young to see it.  With childlike faith I did my part and God did the rest.

Oh yes, that winter I walked to school in the snow, wearing shoes. My determination is 50 times stronger today.  My mother didn’t give in and neither did I.  We are still at odds today for the same reasons.

A little birdie told me…

You may be wondering based on the title, and if I will be writing depressing tragedies that happened in my life as a child? Well, that is not the “full” intention of this blog.  This blog is actually about being victorious in spite of things that hurt. It’s about how hurtful things can make or break you.  It’s about how obstacles and mountains get in our way, but with faith in God, courage and perseverance you can overcome those obstacles and climb those mountains.

Usually when you say, “it hurts when I do this”, the response is normally, “don’t do that”. This blog is about how I stopped doing that… *smiles*.  It is also about how that pain can serve as a reminder of how I managed to see another day after a day or two of wishing that God would take me away.  It is about admitting that they were days when I wondered why he leaves me here to face the darkness.  It is about how refreshing the light can be when you focus on Jesus, and yet finding the courage to walk towards His light no matter how far it is. It is the greatest personal victory one can ever feel.

This blog is about wanting to be rescued and finding out that rescuing yourself builds the muscles of the mind, heart and spirit.  These are the muscles that only you and God can see and understand.  It reminds me of the story of the little boy who found the bird eggs of a mother bird who lay dead under the tree.  The little boy decided that he would care for those eggs and see to it that baby birds would see life.  With his father’s help he built an incubator and watched daily as the eggs began to hatch.  One day the boy noticed that one egg was not making any progress.  As the days progressed the other eggs showed signs of cracking but not the one egg.  Soon the little boy became worried that the bird was not strong enough to hatch his egg so the little boy decided to make a small crack in the egg to help the baby bird out.  By the next day the other eggs were slowly opening, but the one egg still remained the same.  So the little boy decided to add more cracks in the egg to even the progress of the other eggs. The baby bird inside the egg showed signs of life and began to show attempts of cracking his egg, but he could not make even a portion of the progress of the other baby birds. So the little boy continued to help the baby bird open his shell.

Eventually the eggs all hatched and the baby birds all showed signs of life, hunger and eagerness to fly away.  But the one little bird just laid in the nest barely moving.  Soon it was time to put the birds back in the tree so they would eventually fly away.  The little boy worried that the one bird would not be strong enough to fly away, but it was time to let go.  Every day he checked on the birds and one by one they were each gone from the nest.  At last the boy came to the nest one day to find the baby bird dead and alone in the nest. What happened?  Baby birds need their shell to develop the muscles necessary to fly away. God made the shell to develop them strong enough to carry them through the life he planned for them.

The moral of the story is that the first sign of our problems are the shell that holds us back.  We must deal with problems in the beginning.  Solving them from the start builds our muscles of character and teaches us how to solve bigger problems along our journey.  Bigger problems meaning problems never end, and we will always have them.  Big problems are a matter of prospective.  If you never solve a problem and you are either avoiding them, or you are having someone else solve them, which eventually every problem you face will seem big and unbearable.  As we live daily we can expect more problems.  One thing I know for sure is that when I didn’t want to face my problems I wanted to die.  Like the little baby bird, I actually was dying.  Ask yourself this: “what are some of things that I avoid that can actually kill me”?

Courage to face our problems builds character muscles.

When you recite the scripture, “I can do all things through Christ  who gives me strength” (Ph 4:13) and believe that you can face them and conquer them, then you will have the victory”.

So in conclusion, this is the story of the little girl that could.  A little girl who faced some horrible things in life that were meant to destroy her and kill her,  but she met a man named Jesus and learned to listen to His voice and face her problems.  And with a heart for justice and a love for what is right, she eventually walked through the fires.  And since that first fire, she has been walking through bigger fires every since with little fear, and great courage reciting every step of the way God’s word.  If God be for me…, I can do all things…, The Lord is my rock and my fortress…, No weapon formed against me..

I can hear you saying it with me…

eggs hatching