The Last Straw

Last week I read a post on-line at Clutch Magazine where the author was talking about Chris Brown and his on again/off again girlfriend Karrueche Tran and how they broke up again. This time because Chris has a 9 month old mystery baby that he never told her about.

So, I started thinking about past relationships and relationships my friends are in and wondered…when should you say that this is the last straw?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am an advocate for happy and healthy functioning relationships. I believe that people should find love and nourish it. Cherish each other and support the person that they fit with. But, should you have to put it up with unrealistic demands, consistent arguments, serial cheaters or serial liars? No.

Relationships are not about perfection. Let me be clear on that. So many people think that if you have an ideal situation or partner you want that you are being unrealistic and looking for perfection. That’s not true. You can have a vision of an ideal person without wanting perfection. For example:

If you say…

  • I want a partner who is employed
  • I want a partner who enjoys dogs because I have one
  • I want a partner who loves Christ because I’m a follower
  • I want a partner who enjoys laughing
  • I want a partner who will never call me out my name
  • I want a partner who won’t ever put their hands on me
  • I want a partner who believes in communicating their feelings

I’m no therapist or relationship expert (No, I’m really not) but what about the above statements scream that you are looking for perfection? Absolutely nothing.

I was speaking with a gentleman last week and I said that the best relationships that are working now and both people are content is because they have figured out a way to talk to each other. To communicate their feelings about various things and balance that with being the kind of partner they want. It’s not perfect. The have problems and issues like everyone else but in the midst of it all they have a distinct desire to please each other because they know that there is no one in the world that they would rather fight with than the person standing in front of them.

But, what if you’re in a relationship now and you don’t have that? What if you have an unemployed partner who could care less about staying employed? What if you have someone who is violent towards you or emotionally abusive? What if you have someone is constantly cheating, stealing or lying to you. Do you stay? Do you hope that it gets better? It’s up to you. I can’t tell you to leave. I will tell you this…my sister was married 4 years before I got married. She said that she told her husband that there would be two reasons she left the marriage…infidelity and violence.

I admired that she was honest about her expectations. I understood and accepted the simplicity of those words. The last straw is usually something so minute that your relationship dam breaks. It may not be the final act of betrayal, but it was the last thing you could handle. So, you want out of it. You’ve had your last straw. I hope that never happens to any of you and if it has and you’re out of an unhealthy situation, I pray that you have peace with your choices.

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Why I Won’t Love You

I won’t love you because your definition of love is vastly different from mine.

You see love as control and order. Everything must be in perfect alignment. No coloring outside of the lines.

You see love as a game where you chase, I submit and I live as you wish striving to make you happy.

You see love as a dance where you always lead and I have to follow whether or not I want to go.

You see love as an opportunity to brag and boast about the goodness of me without having to do anything.

You see love as something that you are required to have and not something you desire.

 

I see love as a smorgasbord of opportunities to improve the life of you.

I see love as my chance to color the rainbow on your heart just like a three year old. Why? Because sometimes love is messy.

I see love where you will chase, I will submit and WE will live each day trying to make each other happy.

I see love as a dance between two people wanting to put their best foot forward. Although I’m awkward in my love dance, I want someone who will create a new move with me.

I see love as a chance to wake up each day thanking God for you. Just you.

I see love as an opportunity to improve both of our lives by loving you without limits.

 

Do you see now why I won’t love you?

Our definitions of love differ.

You think of you and I think of US.

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!

Boy Painting On A Blank Canvas

A Time for Everything

Ecclesiastes 3 (NRSV)

Everything Has Its Time

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

I’ve been going through a rough patch over the last few days. It started before my birthday last week and continued through yesterday. My issue is simply not wanting to do what I know I should do. See I know Ecclesiastes 3. I have been taught this for many years. Understanding that there is a time for everything.

But, what if we don’t want to do what we know we should do when that time comes? Are we angering God? Are we being disobedient? Over the last few months I’ve been applying, speaking and meditating on the fact that God brings people into your life for a reason, season or lifetime. What happens when that reason or season is up? How do we deal with it?

I have a confession…I’m not good at letting go of the things and people I love the most. It’s hard for me. I want to hold on and try to repair things to the point that I’m probably doing more harm than good. I guess another way to look at it is what if God is telling me it is time to let go. Why can’t I do it?

A few years ago, I attended one of Tyler Perry’s stage plays and it was good. If you’ve ever seen Tyler Perry live you will know that he tends to go off script a lot. But, it’s a good thing. Because I believe that God is using him to send a message to someone in need. On this particular night sitting in my floor seats at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, Tyler went off script. He said something that has stuck with me until this day…

Sometimes the very things that ya’ll are trying to keep together, God himself is trying to tear apart. – Tyler Perry

Wow! Deep huh? I thought so too. But, I guess it makes sense when you think about Ecclesiastes. There is a time for everything. Shoot, even Chris Brown sang about it, “There is never a right time to say good-bye.” So, why with all these people telling us that there is a time and more importantly the Bible telling us that there is a time for everything, why do I struggle with letting go?

I think it is quite simply that I don’t want relationships to end. If I let you into my circle I never want that bond to end. You are my friend forever. I am fiercely loyal to you.  I will be forever bonded to you and always be there. I will treat you like I want to be treated. With love and respect. I will always have your back.

Until I can’t anymore. Until it gets so painful that I can’t function. Until God reminds me through his Keep it Simple Stupid (KISS) approach that there is a time for everything and I must trust Him when he tells me it is time. It’s harvest time and I must harvest the field of my life.

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