My reciprocated partner

Happy Valentine Day!

On a day like today, i.e. the romantic-commercial holiday of exchanging and expressing love gestures to signify the appreciation we have for our partners and loved ones, don’t forget to keep the flame burning in your relationship. Whether you’ve found it already, still looking for that desirable match or are choosing to love on self because you need more ‘me’ time, be mindful of the gesture instead of its monetary gain or the public notoriety of receiving. Last year I wrote an article, titled Flowers and Chocolate where the giver of my gift was acknowledged for the Gesture of giving. I was grateful because the sender lifted my spirits insomuch the deliverance of joy was received at a time in my life when there were more downs than ups. Hence, his gesture of buying and ordering the deliverance of flowers and chocolate dispelled all self negativity.

Hence, today is unlike that day and now is a different situation because I am no longer in a committed relationship. I have thereby graduated to a stage in my life where the gesture of receiving is less valued than the act of giving. I will continue to usher more importance to the reciprocated practices of my very own Valentine who quickly forgives me when I make parental mistakes, compliments me when I feel low, lifts me when I am exhausted, reads to me when I need to hear an inspiring story and values our conversations during the slow-dance lessons on days when I will grab her hand to share the significance of ‘loving on self’ and why so. This person is my ultimate gift, my protege, my forever love, my darling, my Sweetheart, my shoulder when I am tired, my napkin when I weep and my partner who will sit across from me to work on her assignments when I also have work to do. She is my daughter and today is my day to make sure she continues to understand the essence of love, the act of giving and the significance of ‘marry to date’ so that flames in her future relationships are fueled with passion and substance.

Mommy and daughter

Enjoy your V-Day!

 

 

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.

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.

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).