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…

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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.

Home is where the heart is, or isn’t…

Mother & Child

Mother & Child (Photo credit: michaelpickard)

I woke up this morning thinking about all the addresses on my credit report and I realized that I couldn’t remember the exact addresses of all the places I’ve lived. So I began to recite them in my mind to see how far I could go back. Suddenly I realized that there is a story for every address. From the Taft Homes until this very day there is a story.  And so the journey begins.

As a woman and a mother, I struggle with my own childhood and what I experienced as a child.  It wasn’t all bad, but what was bad has changed my life forever and is the reason why I struggle with relationships.  I am very hard on those I love.  I demand loyalty.  There are no gray areas.  Unfortunately the times my mother wasn’t there for me mentally or emotionally were devastating times for me, and underneath the tough skin hides the scars.It is from the scars that I operate and show my love.  It is from the scars that I understand unnecessary pain and disappointment.  I am showing you the scars.

I struggle with writing these things because like many I worry about what you will think of me. The stories I could tell you… As a child I can remember playing in the mirror pretending I had a different life.  Although I can’t blame everything on my mother.  There were times I deliberately disobeyed rules and guidelines like any child trying to find their way.  I lied about the homework I didn’t do, and liking the boy down the street and maybe kissing him.  I ate the cookies I was told not to eat. At times stayed up too late singing all the songs I learned in school and the limericks I learned from my friends (some with cuss words).  I tried on my mother’s lipstick and wore her perfume.  I even played in her closet and wore her clothes.  But when the boys down the street took me behind the Hickman Center and tried to have sex with me I didn’t tell.  I was seven years old and I was scared.  Ironically a few days later one of the boys who was involved in taking me behind the building and molesting me went and told my mother what happened. I could remember him threatening me that he was going to tell as if I had did something wrong.  I begged him not to but he did.    It’s strange now when I look back and realize that he thought I wanted to go with him and the other boy.  I just didn’t know how to say no or fight them.  I was scared.  I was seven.  So when my mother asked me what happened I clammed up.  I was scared and ashamed because I didn’t know what happened.  They grabbed me, and threatened me, and told me not to tell, and I didn’t because I thought I had did something wrong.  I am not sure why my mother thought it would be a good idea to take me to his house and confront his parents.  I was humiliated.  The boy’s mother must have said she would handle it and that was the end of that saga.  That young boy who is now a man who is currently serving 65 years to life in the Federal Penitentiary for a long history of raping and molesting children.  I often wonder what if  my mother had taken what happened to me serious and demanded attention for those boys.  Would he be in prison today? Would she had protected other children from the horror I experienced?  I would later find out that my mother would never stop anyone from hurting any of us.  Maybe she didn’t know how to protect us.  Maybe she was afraid.  From that day forward she always suspected me of being sexual in a negative way.  It was never portrayed to me as something good.  She stopped believing in my innocence perhaps because sex was never anything but forbidden and wrong to her… (pure speculation).

Soon after about a month or so later it was my birthday and we had family party.  Later that night my mother had a large argument with her boyfriend and her sister.  My aunt who had been drinking wanted to take my brother home with her.  My mom and her boyfriend objected and it turned into an ugly shouting match and soon the police were called so my mother ran away.  She ran out of the house and down the street, and left us kids there alone when the police came.  I was so terrified I hid behind the door in the bathroom.  A police officer looked behind the door and asked me if I was okay.  I just shook my head yes and he left.  I was terrified standing there in my night gown alone.  I couldn’t believe my mother ran off and left us and I wondered if she was dead or hurt.  She came back after the police left and the next morning we left our home and our friends and moved to Chicago.