Not Bound By My Background

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. – Maya Angelou

 

I entitled my post today based off a sermon my pastor preached a few weeks ago entitled “But By the Grace of God I am what I am”. One of the points that he was making in his sermon was about not being bound by my background. He spoke about this in relation to Paul and how Paul is not the only one with a shady background. But, he said that the favor of God is significant in the life of the believer. The message had been resonating in my spirit for the last few weeks and I can’t seem to get it out. I guess that means I need to focus on it right?

So, I did. I started thinking about my past and how I’m not bound my background no matter who tries to hold me hostage to my past. Like Paul and I suppose many of you reading this now, I had to remember that I have God’s favor and he is not holding my past hostage and using it to destroy me in my future. That’s what I had to remember because I’ve been having a heck of a time “co-parenting” with my son’s father lately and I realized that one of the things he was doing was trying to bound me to my background.

Have you ever had someone try to use your past as a weapon against you in your future? By using your fears, insecurities, experiences and/or bad decisions in your face as fact of the person you are and who’ve you become? I have and you know what? I ain’t worried. I know that’s not grammatically correct, but in this instance I need you to understand where I’m coming from because it is about to get real.

No one is perfect. No one. Only one man was perfect and none of us have ever come close so we need to stop worrying about being perfect and just live our best lives. Seeking to do His will. The bible is full of situations in which Jesus used the undesirable to spread the word. He showed favor and these people realized it. I realize it.

You know when I realized it? When I had suffered abuse at the hands of man and all my walls were built up to protect my heart, God protected my spirit. The enemy didn’t win. Was my life rough? Yes. Am I better having lived and survived the experiences. Yes. Is God through with me? No.

I have often spoke of how we need to encourage ourselves in order to get through difficult situations where people are trying to persecute you. Sometimes that is all you can do is to pray, submit and give it to God. I won’t let those who don’t believe in God’s favor persecute me for my past. Because those persecutors are not perfect. They have a past like me and many times it is worse. The great thing I want you to remember is that your past is just that…your past.

You can’t erase it. You can’t forget it. You may have had no control over the events that happened in your past. But, you can choose not to relive it. Don’t be bound by your background. Know that you are blessed and highly favored.

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A Brutally Honest Lesson

As someone who has had their fair share of heartbreaks and love gone wrong I wanted to share this piece that I read on The Huffington Post  by author, Michelle Horton, “8 Brutally Honest Lessons I Learned About Love From My Therapist”. I read this list and breathed a sigh of relief. There are so many lessons that I could relate too and some that were new. I wanted to scream “Preach girl!” I love this list and I think number 7 is my favorite.

So, here are Ms. Horton’s 8 Lessons that she learned from her therapist:

1. Love is about reciprocity.

On the surface, one might scoff at such a statement. Love isn’t contingent on what we get back, right? Love doesn’t keep score, doesn’t need anything in return, isn’t needy. Yet the very basic definition of love — caring about the health, happiness, and well-being of someone over ourselves — should be reciprocal. If you’re in a relationship where you’re always giving, giving, giving to the point of depletion, and if you aren’t feeling important, cared for, even considered, then there’s something else going on besides love. Even though the scales won’t always be balanced, the love in a marriage should be reciprocal. It’s such a basic concept but really helped to put things into perspective as to what I’m giving vs. what I’m receiving.

2. “This is an abusive relationship.”

A blunt statement that changed my life. I spent over 5 years in a marriage that was abusive and I had absolutely no idea. He never hit me, never yelled, never called me hurtful names — and yet the abuse was there, hidden beneath my excuses and justifications for his behavior. Sometimes it takes an objective, outside perspective to shine a light on a truth you didn’t want to see.

3. You can’t be the supporter and the enforcer at the same time.

This was in the context of my husband’s addiction and my enabler tendencies, but it applies to my marriage and parenting, too. Enforcing boundaries and rules isn’t easy (especially for someone like me, who wants to perpetually support and love everyone in my life), but it’s important. And, no, it’s impossible to be the enforcer and the support system at the same time.

4. Not all relationships are meant to last.

Here’s a hard truth that transcends every “’til death do us part” vow. My therapist has a rolodex of examples, some personal, some professional, of relationships that needed to end. Some relationships are toxic and damaging and sometimes a relationship reaches a point where there’s nothing left to learn from, no way left to grow together, and has to be let go. That doesn’t make the relationship a failure — we learned something from it — it simply makes the relationship over.

5. Sexual attraction isn’t everything.

Just because I’ve historically been most attracted to damaged, baggage-carrying men doesn’t mean I’m meant to be with them; it just means I might not be as healthy as I assumed. When my therapist told me that his healthiest relationship is the one that started with little to no “spark,” I initially felt sad. How could you be in a relationship where there’s no heat, no fireworks? But from a wiser perspective, a “spark” isn’t always a green light. In fact, in many cases, it can be a red flag. In future relationships, I’ll ask myself why I’m attracted to a certain man before trusting my sex organs.

6. You can never love anyone until you love yourself.

This was phrased more like, “Have you reached the realization that you really can’t love anyone until you love yourself first?” As if loving myself was a marker on the way to true healthy thinking, a marker I’d eventually pass. Of course I nodded, given the very familiar cliché that everyone thinks they understand. I’ll be honest, it took a good six months of consciously practicing self-love before I realized the depths of that statement. After finding a more tender, compassionate attitude toward myself, I was able to understand how other people need to be loved. Beyond romantic love, contractual love, tough love, I-love-you-but-I-don’t-like-you love, there’s the true essence of pure LOVE — in all its warmth and softness, a love that can only be understood through experiencing it from ourselves to ourselves.

7. “He might not be capable of loving you.”

“Is he capable of loving you?” my therapist asked one day. It was a question I’d wondered many times, as I mulled over his damaged past, his abusive tendencies, his disease that makes him self-centered and manipulative. Maybe he’s loving me the best way he can, but is it enough? After asking myself this question in the quiet stillness, the answer was something I always knew, deep down. Maybe we should stop asking our partners, “Do you love me?” and start questioning if they can love us the way that we define love. Just because he understands love differently, and just because he has certain walls in place that prevent real love from seeping through, doesn’t make him a bad person. It’s not personal, but it’s also not my problem to fix.

8. The best thing you can do for your family is to be healthy.

My therapist doesn’t define “healthy” with a BMI number or a specific diet. Healthiness, rather, is having a clear mind, strong boundaries, and a pulled-back perspective on life. And being healthy, from that definition, gives us the ability to offer our best selves to our partner and children.

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Imani Cezanne “Flowers”

Wow is all I can say!

I am so moved by this poet’s words that I had to share this. It touched my soul. As someone who is plus sized, grew up without her father, dealt with sexual abuse and all the manifestations of that trauma and life…food became my solace. It comforted me. It didn’t hurt me.

Some people may never understand the true pain of an emotional eater. We judge. We laugh. We act like they don’t exist. We was me when I used to hide behind big clothes to not be noticed. I tried to stop eating. To do fad diets. No results. I had to change me. I had to get to the root of the problem.

I did. I was camouflaging the pain. It is only then that I was able to understand what I was running from and how I could change. I have lost weight (45 pounds to be exact). It is a journey. It is something that I will never stop living. Each day is a gift and I understand it. I don’t use food as a crutch anymore. But, I will never forget.

The Fish Tales

I’m not a murderer, but I’m not good at taking care of fish. Particularly gold fish. I have a dog, that I love, nurture and care for like he is my own child. In essence, I guess he is. Bailey is my first-born. He is munch’s older “brother”. But, munch is a child that knows his own mind and decided that he would like another pet. Not Bailey. A new one.

So, he decided that he wanted a bird. We said no. “Why not?” he questioned. “We don’t think you’re ready for that responsibility” we answered. “Okay, I want a gold fish for Christmas” was his reply. We agreed that gold fish would be okay and off to the pet store I went to purchase three different gold fish on Christmas Eve.

He loved them instantly. He named them, “Max, Figureo and Bella”. Not sure of the gender, but it doesn’t matter to munch. He believes in gender equality. LOL. So, they were the new additions to our lives. Beautiful fins, color and they liked their environment. They were welcomed into our family and all was well.

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Munch seemed to forget about his pet gold fish. They were just swimming along in their bowl not making any noise. All was peaceful. A couple of days later, munch went to spend a couple of weeks at his dad’s house. He soon forgot about his fish. Why? Probably that old saying, “out of sight out of mind”.

His dad asked him, “Do you miss your fish?” His reply, “No, mommy’s taking care of them.” There it was…the fish became my responsibility. So, I made sure to feed them and say hello and good night every night because that is what munch would want. And all was well…

Until, less than two weeks later when two of the three fish died. I thought it best to share the “circle of life” story with munch and to let him know that all things die. That his fish went to that big fish bowl in the sky. He cried. He was hurt. I told him, “I will buy you another fish baby.” He sniffled, “Okay, mommy. Are my fish with God?” “Yes” I replied.

I took the dead bodies of the two fish back to the pet store for a refund or more precisely to exchange the dead fish for the exact same species of fish that he had. Unfortunately, they didn’t have them in stock. So, I made a parental decision and got him a beautiful big black gold fish. I followed the instructions from the fish technician and put the new fish in the bowl with the other one remaining one.

Munch came home the next day and was excited. He told me that Max and Bella had died and Figuero was the one in the bowl. He loved the new fish. He said, “I shall call her Blackie. Blackie the gold fish.” I laughed. All was well in our house…

Until one week later when Blackie decided to die while we slept. Before we could even clean the bowl (because we were rushing off to school), Figuero died between the morning rush out the door and when we got back home that evening.

Munch was devastated again. We talked and I told him that I was returning Blackie’s body back to the pet store for a refund but that her spirit will live on. He asked, “Did Blackie and Figuero go to heaven with Bella and Max and God?” “Yep.” He smiled, “Mommy, I want more gold fish.” “Really munch? Let’s try some other fish. We’re not doing good with gold fish thing. How about a beta fish?” “No, I just want another gold fish.” “Okay” I responded.

As I cleaned out the bowl and tried to disinfect the smell of death in my house, munch asked “Where did you put Figuero and Blackie?” I looked at him ashamed, “Umm, Figuero is in a ziploc bag and going out with the trash and Blackie is in a ziploc bag going back to the pet store.”

He just stared at me. I turned my back and caught him rummaging through the trash looking for the body. I said, “Munch, get out of the trash. He’s gone.” He then looked at me defiantly and said, “I want more gold fish mommy”.

And so the fish tales continues.

It’s My Fault

Last week I read the below Facebook post and experienced my own Aha moment! Not that there was a great idea associated with the author’s post that I didn’t know, but it was more that I was listening to my inner spirit. My conscience was reminding me that I’m going through a transformation period and like I said in an earlier post, God is telling me to harvest my field. Reading this post reminded me of one fundamental fact…It’s my fault.

It’s my fault if I allow people to disrespect me and the relationships we have. It’s my fault if I don’t acknowledge the brokenness and continue in a perpetual cycle of insanity. Then why can’t I be honest with myself? Why can’t I stop trying to find the good in people and understand that the only thing I can control is…me.

My girlfriend reminded me the other day about this. When we were talking and I was expressing my frustrations about things that were happening and she said it, “Sweetie, you can’t blame them. You need to blame yourself because you are allowing the disrespect, dysfunction or insanity to continue.” She reminded me what the late Dr. Maya Angelou said…

“When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”

Yep, I was trying to fix and give people all kinds of chances because I knew I could see good in their character. It isn’t that they aren’t good people. They just aren’t good for me. So, when I read the Facebook post it was confirmation of what my inner spirit was saying. Stop trying to make a square peg fit in a round circle.

I’m my own worst enemy and over the years, I’ve had some amazing and some not so amazing people enter my life. The good ones give me advice that speaks to my spirit years later and reminds me when I’m at a crossroads that I need to evaluate and change things. For example, a young man that I met at my second job outside of college said to me

“Relationships are supposed to be symbiotic which means we both get something from them. If you are the only one giving and you’re not getting anything from it then it is parasitic and you must end it.”

I was 24 when he said this to me. So, how come almost 20 years later I’m just truly understanding the value in what he said? How many of us are staying in parasitic relationships because we believe that we can change the other person? How many of us feel depleted emotionally, spiritually, financially or physically because we can’t let go? Me.

I had arrived at my Aha moment and realized that it is my fault. If I am honest with myself from the start then I will see people for who they truly are the first time. I will embrace the truth – the first time.

Be blessed my loves!

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I’m a Conqueror

I woke up this morning excited. I have been sick for the last week and a half and it felt good to be out and about and even back at work. I was pumped. Yes, I have some things that are going on. Some worries I’m working through. Some concerns that are on my mind, but I was thankful for another day. I woke up feeling like superwoman. I told myself, “Girl, today is a new day. Yesterday was the past and today is a gift. Be present in the moment and know that no matter what happens today you are incredibly blessed and highly favored.”

Even when it doesn’t seem like it, I need to remember that I am a conqueror and this too shall pass. So, my #motivationalmonday message is based off one of my favorite chapters in the bible: Romans. Romans 8:34-39 which reads:

“Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.[a] 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So, I want to tell you the same thing. You’re a conqueror. Nothing we can do will separate us from the love of Christ. Trust me (I’ve done some things I thought would separate me and He still loves me).

Listen to Estelle’s song “Conqueror” and tell me that you are not inspired. No matter who is counting you out. Estelle sings “I’d rather stand tall than live on my knees because I’m a conqueror and I won’t accept defeat.”

Neither should you. God has already determined that you will win, so love, know that it will happen.

Beywagon

Okay, so let me start off by saying that I truly love and respect Beyonce as an artist. She’s talented, beautiful and just an incredible representation of a woman with class. Now, I don’t think I’m part of the #beyhive or anything, but I am a fan. Not a diehard, I would spend my baby’s after care money to go see her in concert fan, but a fan who can watch and observe from the sidelines.

That being said…during my time of transition, I’ve gone through a metamorphisis and I realized that Beyonce has songs that really speak to where I’ve been, where I’m going and where I’m at. This is real here folks, I’m baring my soul so please don’t judge me.

Here are the four songs that speak to my life:

Crazy in Love

Believe it or not, I was crazy in love. I was his ride or die. I was the chick that always had his back until we had a child. I couldn’t seem to balance being his everything and being a mother. I went from being crazy in love to just being crazy in the end. But, in the beginning it was fire! Fire that burned out of control and caused an inferno.

 

I’m Scared of Lonely

Right after it ended and I was laying on the floor wanting to find peace in chaos it was this song that spoke to me. Beyonce sang “And I’m scared of being the only shadow along the wall and I’m scared hearing the only heartbeat I hear beating is my own and I’m scared being alone.” Yep, I was in it. Wallowing, self-pity, heartbreak and pain. Trying to breathe. Realizing that I am alone.

 

Love a Woman – (Okay Not All Bey, but fabulous nonetheless) Mary J Blige featuring Beyonce

But, after I got up off that floor realizing that it is going to be okay, I needed something to keep me motivated. It was this song that spoke life into me.  Mary sang “If you think you know how to love a woman, I feel there are some things you still need to know…”

Yep, I was there like “Sang it ladies”! (As she lifts her wine glass with tears in her eyes) Dang, I was going through it.

 

I Was Here

Now, isn’t that what it’s all about? Getting to the point of accepting your new reality? Realizing that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger? Understanding that pain is a part of life and that you must go through some things to gain clarity on who you are as a person. Beyonce sang, “I was here. I lived, I loved. I was here.” No, there was no happy ending for me, but I loved. Truly. Completely. I’m a better person for my experiences. I’m stronger than I knew I could be.

 

So, there you have it folks. Sometimes you will go through situations where you see no way out and they are seemingly hopeless, volatile and unmanageable, but I tell you from experience…breathe and know that it will get better. The hardest and darkest days are seemingly while you are going through your storm, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Get to the end of it because I promise it will get better.