Category: Emotions

Oh. How I wonder.

Written as a Facebook Note, March 8, 2012.

Each time I see her, the picture is the same.

I am told all the time to look in a different direction, but nothing changes.

Sometimes I see grey, black, brown, and clear, but never anything worth staring at.

cropped-upclose_sisterlocs.jpgOccasionally the surface is rocky, leveled, paved, and sometimes shallow.

The echo in my head keeps telling me that the glass will always be half empty.

However, I remember what my mother tells me repeatedly – your posture tells the story.

Yet, each time I change my posture, I revert back to my ole ways.

I begin to reflect on how time is clicking away, and I cannot seem to reflect on what I just accomplished.

My lack of concentration is due to overwhelming distractions and the hastily interference that is abrupt.

Anything to steer my focus away from what I could have accomplished some time ago.

But something keeps bringing me back to full circle.

Uh oh, I hear the echo in my head again.

But it is not until I trip that I begin to realize that things are clearer if I ONLY hold my head up.

Signed – the Inner Self,

The Apology that Mattered. A House is not a Home.

A House is not a Home.

A house is a structure that includes different participants with dissimilar objectives. Each entity has a different focus and goal that is notarized and projected. The members in the house will behave in an agreed upon manner insofar of guidelines but each person has a different direction or objective to accomplish that, when given an opportunity, may lead to enticed conduct, e.g. stealing from one another, inflicting harm upon another, cheating or moving on to the next available offer. Further, the house members will enter and exit as they please because whatever laws that produce civilized conduct will be breached and persons will ultimately succumb to individual propensities, such as biases and judgments. Later, the ambiance in a house will fluctuate and grow uncomfortable, sometimes so unsuitable that it greets excessive admittances, produces high attrition, and invites intolerable demeanor and ultimate distrust.

In contrast, the home is a feeling (ambiance) that provides, produces and breeds tranquility. The cohesion and union cannot suitably occur without accordance. Certain things must be in place for a home to mature because it requires clarity, time, patience, tolerance, management, calm, a certain temperament, active collaboration and proactive teaching. Metaphorically, each member is a fiber that adds to the value of a finished product. The difference can be witnessed with the role of a project manager (PM) who is assigned to lead a group of 5, which was our household size before my parents divorced. The PM will wear many hats because he is the appointed overseer who will allocate funds, deliver assigned tasks, disseminate materials and issue project deadlines to name a few. Thus, I equate the PM to the head of the home; the father who is further designated to answer questions and provide clarity with the goal of delivering a finished-quality product.

The Apology that Mattered

love-daughter-dad-quoteClarifying these two distinctions lends itself to a question about the modern marriages compared to what I will call contemporary unions today. Shortly after sharing my most intimate post yet, titled “Sharing my Personal Scar” I received a phone call from my dear father. I will preface this to say that my dad has become my best male friend. He was overly apologetic and emotionally moved to learn that I had not reached out to him at a time of need. The content of my recent blog lends itself to a lot of speculations about the quality of parenting I and my brothers received when we were young; hence, I point the blame at no one because I attribute my parent’s parenting styles to that of which was passed on to them, i.e. adopted practices that were observed and illustrated in what I describe as the house where the parental figure was absent.

Conversely, I wonder if my grandparent’s decision to withhold facts about what they knew of their predecessors deprived my parents of an opportunity to predict and monitor certain tendencies that were imparted? Today I know the spoiled- rotten-little girl, who was left to self-parent because her older siblings were creating lives of their own, did the best she could to take care of house while her mother worked odd hours as a private-duty nurse, is the mother who parented us to the best of her ability. I also know the young man who pursued her because he wanted to be the paternal example that was absent in his life was improperly coached on chivalry and dating etiquette. Hence, both teenagers made conscious decisions to marry and create a nuclear family.

 “The future of every generation lies in its progeny.  Prepared or, unready they are the unwitting guarantors of familial memory, living time capsules filled with stories that define and sculpt family identity, culture and history.  All of us are both mirrors and windows reflecting what has been and apertures allowing a brief and narrow look into the limitless potentialities of what can be.”

Dr. Joy DeGruy

Systemic Practices

Dr. DeGruy alludes to the practice of inheritance. Whether it is knowledge bestowed upon us, experiences lived in the footprints of those we follow or the psychological incapacity of discernment, we essentially become what we may want to disown. Having said that, I see the authoritative, stoic, guarded, independent and covert habitudes that were instilled in me from my maternal upbringing that contradicts my paternal traits of balance, candor, transparency and objectivity to name a few. However, I also know that a lot of my characteristics were acquired along the way through my exposure to others and their experiences.

“In families where the father’s interaction with the children is limited because of marital statuses, he still has an effect on the children—but to a lesser extent. The roles of the father figure are assumed by male relatives, partners of the mother who live in the home, and by extended family helping networks (McAdoo, 1996).”

Excerpt from the Michigan Family Review. Section, titled The Child Socialization Role

For instance, writing and sharing my Personal Nuggets are necessary not inasmuch for personal healing but for others who are also reserved about why the black family is prone to systemic practices that seem challenging to overcome. For instance, if we were to poll children of divorce parents in the black community and ask them questions about their experience each person may have a different outcome; however, the common theme and take away may convey a degree of self-blame in their parent’s decision to live separately. Thus, my childhood history resembles other children that are now caught in the crossfires of a ‘tug of war’ between parents who have become fierce opponents. Accordingly, has the home structure that many black fathers desire been unreported?  Is the black man stigmatized by the mainstream media as deadbeats and uncaring?

There is supportive research that highlights the positive image of black males, who are willingly and actively involved in their kids’ lives, as was our father. Yet, for reasons I will write about later, both parents were subjected to unhealthy conditions that compelled him to leave when I was 10. Subsequently, his efforts to constructively co-parent and the attempts to remain in contact grew challenging as years passed. What I didn’t understand then I absolutely understand and agree to today. So, although the intentions of creating a home instead of that ‘house’ environment may be short-lived, our relationships with the comprised members don’t have to be. It is possible to maintain contact with our loved ones, albeit a grandmother or the village that reared us. And it is further possible to open our hearts to misunderstandings and disagreements. Today I thank my dad for the apology that matters because I am now receptive to hearing and receiving without reservation because he was the ‘Head of our Home’ and has accepted fault.

Note: This is dedicated to my Father.

I love you, despite …

I love you, despite is what we should first think of when we are faced with challenging circumstances that may physically, mentally or emotionally distance us from a person we once loved and shared a life with. I think of this phrase in a different context today, as it relates to my current situation, i.e. an interruption in my personal relationship. However, I would to speak about the idiom in the ‘past’ tense as it relates to severed relationships: separation and divorce. Wise_strong_flawed_beautiful

When you become a victim of parental alienation (PA) everything stops. Your heart begins to beat a different way, your thoughts become irrational, your foundation is interrupted, your stability is no longer, your health is jeopardized and your future is gloomy. Now just imagine how all of these emotions are housed in the mind of a child, who has no cognitive ability to recognize what is occurring nor does she have foresight about what the ‘fuss’ is about because in her mind she loves both parents and cannot understand why what is rational to her – apologize for wrongdoing and kiss and makeup – is beyond her parent’s comprehension.

Considering all things that distorts our mature thoughts about the partner we once favored and dearly cared for, our emotions often get in the way of our mental capacity to think beyond our hurt. When the British Politician, Andrew Bennett, was quoted as saying “the longest journey you will ever take is the 18 inches from your head to your heart,” he could not have been more truer with this statement. To add to his brilliant quote, I pray we, as parents are more mindful of the permanent effect our actions will have on our offspring. Although I don’t fault or blame anyone for my hurt and scars as a PA victim – because I believe my parents parented the way they witnessed their parents parented – yet, I believe that words spoken and voices heard is a beginning point to healing because when a person speaks and hears their own voice, they are claiming onus and accountability.

So let us begin with … I love you, despite:

  • my (your) hurt.
  • my (your) pain.
  • my (your) flaws.
  • the hurt I’ve (you’ve) caused.
  • my (our) inability to see eye to eye.
  • our falling out of love with each other.
  • my decision to move on without you.
  • our inability to reach common ground.
  • etc…

Now if you are reading this from the perspective of solving PA, asking will it solve what is becoming prevalent in our society? The answer is a resounding no because PA is a disorder that requires professional intervention and recurring treatment (in my opinion). However, I do believe that taking precautions will help us to think + feel instead of just feel and thus affect every other person in the process.

 

Masquerading Around

A lot happens behind the scenes and we can grow dangerously comfortable in these areas where masquerades are consistently worn.

My surprising week began on Saturday, 9/23/2017, instead of Sunday this time because it was the morning we picked her up from the train station when she finally visited for the first time in nearly two years. I remember saying to my daughter “I’d be surprise if grandma comes but I don’t believe she will,” when soon after she called and told us about her train reservation. I remember hanging up from the conversation, thinking about how the text I sent her on 9/15/2017 at 06:24 that read “Good morning. You should visit us this weekend” must have touched her the same way I felt when I sent it – sorry, wishing we could make forward steps to heal our hurt. 

It was awkward, I was nervous and my daughter sensed every emotion. I remember Butterfly saying something that insinuated my acting like a little girl who was happy to see her mom. Bingo! That was the exact feeling I had: happy like a little girl who would finally have a chance to ask questions about us and get clarity but also apologize for anything I did or have caused. When we finally had a chance to talk we were like foreigners in unguarded territory, hoping that certain questions weren’t asked because we did not want to hear the answers because dealing with what we heard would require us to do things we don’t normally do, such as show emotions. The feelings we conjured up were so unusual – at least for me – because a part of me wanted to let my guard down, but my cautious side knew that relaxing too much and exercising true candor was too risky too soon in our process of making amends after years of breached trust.

Moreover, most of our conversations resembled interactions you may see between strangers who would use their eyes to communicate because it was the only common, understood language, e.g. body language. However, unlike strangers, we had a common language but were afraid to speak it because it was the voice of pain, hurt, humiliation, turmoil, ugliness, immaturity, suffering, and deep wounds that, if exposed, would not survive the environment without professional intervention, which we did not have. So instead of daring to dive in, sort of speak, we talked using cues and at the surface of our pain insomuch that we each spoke our apologies, but only long enough to not feel the sincere result because we both wanted to keep a cordial atmosphere for my daughter’s sake, who was in listening distance and could sense if things were going sour. Yet, there were a few occasions when I would look a certain way and feel differently when responses were shared because the lag of time between each past incident left us both unsure of certain facts that needed proper addressing.

So, the remaining time spent together included bouncing around my small, intimate apartment, tip-toeing from room to room with hopes of not getting too uptight and in our feelings because we each knew that should things get out of hand, my daughter would be left to witness the very ugliness I have been trying to avoid, i.e. disruptive relations between females in the family. And although my attempts to make a positive difference was slightly successful, the result was expected: elevated voices, speaking over one another and wearing the mask that kept us safe for all these years – the facade that tricks one into believing that the image and scenery given to the public is just the opposite. Nonetheless, not all was lost because efforts were made and attempts were illustrated and the result left us both feeling a little better about what we dared to resolve on our own, which is our differences, misunderstandings and hurt. But at least we scratched the surface of what has changed the way we see, speak and perceive each other and I remain optimistic that our next visit will be sooner rather than later to gradually peel away our masks.

Flowers and chocolate

THE GESTURE

Many years ago, in my spousal years, I once liked the smell of flowers until the liking was suppressed because none were ever bought or delivered. The constant response of ‘it is just a waste of money‘ grew convincing and was immediately replaced with thoughts associated with high-maintenance purchases that lasted a few days to only be discarded and later reflected upon. But today was a different day! My former partner did something he wanted to do that would usually be refused by me yet I did not have a say so about ‘why’ and ‘how much’ – I received flowers and chocolate at my office today and I feel great about myself. I feel loved, thought of and worthy of receiving.

I thought – why is my text chiming, one message after another? I couldn’t wrap my mind around the urgency to get a message to me, especially after what had happened last night. I was tickled, surprised and felt loved all over again. Hence, it is moments like these, i.e. unexpected surprises that changes my perspective on life and makes me feel better about my self and the challenges I have to overcome, day in and day out. So tomorrow I will pick up my flowers and chocolate from my office and enjoy the smell and taste, respectively, of each item where both were bought and sent with love, without thought of money wasted.

Feeling better,

Feeling like an old pair of shoes, tired

Rustic boots

It happened yesterday when I arrived from work and felt so overwhelmed. I thought “where is my support system?” God knows that I am attempting to do the best I know how with what I have – with everything in me – but I still feel like every day I arrive home I am exhausted. When will the day, the moment come when I feel the weight lifted off my shoulders? Single parenting is so hard! Working full time, arriving home in time to prep dinner or warm leftovers, washing dishes so the home remains tidy and finally flopping down in the chair or on the bed is all I seem to have energy for, literally.

And then I see ‘her’ face – who tells me that she loves me (for all the reasons I have explained, unaware of what I am experiencing) – yet, she cares because of it. So, I finally gain the strength to smile and say “yes, you may talk on the phone for a little while, but be sure to not stay up too long.” She ends her conversation because her friend must get off the phone, and although she understands bed time is bed time, she wants the peer companion as well. I think ‘she and I are both deprived’ not from one another, but from the social environment we yearn to connect with, e.g. friends, chats, physical touch from our peers, yet our support system does not allow. Today I wake up to realize the way things are is a direct result of unpreparedness.

Parenting is not a chore, but a blessing. My parents parented the same way I do today – without little to no help from loved ones, aside from persons they friended along the way in our places of travel. I too am parenting similarly, depending and relying on others that are unrelated to me to provide assistance when needed. God knows I am grateful, but I constantly ponder about why my support system is so far away – not so much in distance and proximity – but in mental and emotional space. Nearly 12 hours forward I feel a little better about the way my evening ended yesterday, although I believe I have lost a chance at love with my former partner who wanted to simply talk on the phone (but I could not move beyond the texting option) hence, my inability to sacrifice getting ample rest at the end of an exhausting day.

However, what keeps me moving and pushing forward through all the tiring moments is my gifted role as m-o-m, who must fulfill given responsibilities of being that parent whose personal agenda is always secondary to my daughter’s. Therefore, I thank God Almighty for being my ultimate support system!  To self and others in a similar situation, I say – remember to inhale and exhale because you are not alone.

Author’s Note

It was titled, an ‘Author’s note’ about self, and it reads:

The relentless blame a daughter carries is the closeness she has with her father, while her mother’s heart sears because of the supposed open wounds she still has from a bitter divorce that led to misunderstandings . He is aware there is no favorite ‘parent’ although she believes otherwise. The daughter will forever pay a hefty price because she is caught in the middle.

This is my story and I am finally shutting the door of fear to put a voice to why I consistently experience bouts of sadness. Truth is – what you see at the surface is not my reality. The ‘real’ me is a gullible, naive and inexperienced adult who still cries for her mother’s attention. So although I pretend to be strong in front of the people who know of me, those who know me on an intimate level remain hopeful that I will find my happy place (one day, somehow someway).

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