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.

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.

6ad4a216eb90c31b087c917eae50e813

I Am My Sister’s Keeper

Help one another, is part of the religion of sisterhood. ~Louisa May Alcott

I am my sister’s keeper. Not just my actual sisters (I have two), but my girlfriend’s too. I care about women and love my girlfriends immensely. They are the most powerful, inspiring, straightforward and loving women I have ever known. They listen, support, encourage and push me to keep my head up in spite of adversities. They are my support network. Better yet, they are my sistergirls!

My sistergirls have picked up my son from daycare or school when I was stuck in traffic and his dad was stuck in a meeting. They have kept my son overnight when I’ve been too tired to play mommy. They have kept my son when I have traveled out of town to their city for a date night. They have kept my son when I was an emotional wreck and had no family in sight. They have drank with me, shopped with me and gave me some of the funniest and best advice ever.

The bond between two women can be an incredible experience. You love the person and they become a beat in your heart. They don’t change your relationship with your significant other, they encourage it and remind you that no matter what…nothing will ever come between you two. They understand that you’re too busy to get together because you’re playing wifey or supermom. They cook meals when you’re sick so you can focus on getting better. They are just awesome!

Sistergirls are a requirement for any woman. You need that support. God has provided me an awesome network of women that do that for me and more. When I go to them with my “issues” they just listen and give me a non-judgmental and practical approach on how to handle things. “Whatever you want to do girl, you know I got your back” is what they say.

How encouraging is that?

Recently, I had a man tell me that he worries about me being everything to everyone. He said, “If you give of yourself tirelessly who will take care of you? What will you have left in the end?” I smiled and said, “Enough”. He looked at me puzzled. I said, “God gives me enough. Enough heart to love and strength to be the support that my sistergirls are too me. Yes it may seem like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, but the load I carry is not heavy. It is enough. I am enough and I can handle it.”

I need my sistergirls more than they need me. I’m always the one calling them with the latest and greatest thought, idea or piece that I wrote and I want their advice. They give it to me. Without hesitation. When I have a break-down and cry about a situation, they love me and support me and remind me that “God never gives you more than you can bear.” They are the ones that have encouraged my writing and they are the wind beneath my wings.

But lately, my sistergirls have been going through things that I can’t fix. Do you know how that annoys me? They make things better for me and I want to do the same for them. I know I can’t carry their burdens, but I share in their heartbreaks, disappointments and pain. I willingly love and try to inspire them with subliminal tweets, posts, texts and Instagram love. I want to be their rock because they are that to me. So, you know what? I will.

I don’t want a man telling me to not concern myself with their problems because that is not what sisterhood is about. We live, we love, we laugh and we cry. Shared joys and disappointments. If you are my man and you’re going through something, don’t you want my support? Yep! Absolutely! So, understand this…there is no greater love than sisterhood. I am my sister’s keepers.

abstract-woman-face-vector-illustration_zkfm_M_d

In Search of More

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

Mother Teresa

Okay so I’m working on my first book which will be fiction (very loosely) based off my life and experiences. It’s weird because I’ve never intended to write fiction, just tell my story. My truth. My way. With no filter. The response to my two short stories have created a surge to write the story of a woman named Faith and her experiences with a man named Teddy.

I’m so excited because the respect and appreciation for my short stories have increased my Twitter followers, Facebook friends and followers to this blog. This means that people get me. You don’t know how wonderful that makes me feel. It is an amazing feeling and I thank you for your continued support.

That being said, I have no plans to quit my job and write full-time (primarily because I love and need my health benefits) but I just want to share this woman’s story. What makes it interesting is that I can see parts of me, my friends, family and women I’ve met on this journey into everything I write now. We all want more. Whether it be a poem or short story I feel like I’m weaving a tapestry that tells one story for everyone…the search for more. More. We don’t want to settle. We know we deserve it but oftentimes we find ourselves trapped in situations where we accept what we can get instead of pulling ourselves away from things that don’t give us more.

My search for more has opened my eyes to things that I never thought I would experience and anthems about taking back your power that I am in awe of how I’m subconsciously moving and gravitating towards my destiny without even knowing it. In other words, I’m not settling. I’m asking, no rather DEMANDING more. More for me.

I hope you do the same love.

Open Letter to a Friend

There are many titles that describe me:

Woman, Mother, Feminist, Womanist, Career Oriented, Ambitious, God fearing, Black.

Too many more to name, but I wear many hats daily. Life is not simple. History teaches us that if we don’t know our history we are doomed to repeat it. That is a fundamental fact. God is in everything we do and breathe, but that doesn’t mean that because I love God I can’t love my race and want us to be better. Race separates us and Gender separates us. That is the point that I’ve always tried to make. You can’t speak about being a woman just because you love God and treat everyone the same. You are a man. You will never know what it is like to give birth, have breasts or a cycle every month. Doesn’t mean you can’t empathize with me about these things, but you can’t speak on them from experience because you haven’t experienced them for yourself. And I can’t speak on being a man. I can’t speak on being Jewish. I can’t speak on being gay. I am none of those things. But, I can empathize with injustices that are done to each and every group. Because I am human. However, I can speak on being black and being a woman because I am both.

I’ve spent most of my life knowing that I had two strikes against me: the color of my skin (black) and my gender (a woman). I have always told you that the difference between me and the next person is that I wanted it bad enough. Doesn’t make me better than someone else. It just shows that I am ambitious with a fighting spirit. I get discouraged at disappointments. I get heartbroken, but I keep pushing forward. I love and respect everyone, but I will always want my people, black people, to do better. I don’t blame the “man” for anything, nor do I believe that every person who is not black is against me. That is not true.

Belief. What do I believe? I believe that we are still fighting in some areas to be heard and to be treated equally and fairly as black people and as women. I believe that there are many myths that black women are trying to change, avoid and defunct on a regular basis. These include being ghetto, angry, a chicken head and promiscuous. I don’t believe that everything is equal and that racism doesn’t exist. We are better than yesterday and I pray that we continue to get better. But, alas we are human. I know you may say that I seem to have a great career and make decent money, but I had to fight and prove my worth in everything. Nothing was ever given to me. I earned it, but I believe that Affirmative Action is part of the reason and wonder where I would be had there been no Affirmative Action?

I wish the success of everyone, but as a black woman raising a black man, I will never let him believe that racism doesn’t exist. But, I want him to know that his attitude towards it and his people will play a part in his future. He can’t sit idle and watch his brothers take the wrong path without speaking up. He can’t be discriminated against in school without speaking up. He can’t go to medical school or travel the world without knowing that he is somebody divinely created by God, but that the color of his skin will always matter to some people. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best in his “I Have a Dream Speech.” He said, that “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

That day has still not come as long as there is racism in this nation. We have made significant strides as African Americans but there is still work to do. I will always fight for equal pay, equal education and benefits for those that don’t have them. We may not agree on what is important in this world, but I as a human being, a black woman can’t sit by and do nothing. I don’t ever want you to treat people differently as a supervisor. Hire and fire based on your company’s policy and not bias.

I want you to know that I support your ministry and you deserve to reach the masses from the pulpit. I will try to continue the footwork and knowing that in order for our churches to be successful, we as a people have to be successful. Not a black thing or white thing, a human thing. I just need you to understand and accept me as I am. A black woman fighting for her people and for God.

OLYMPICS BLACK POWER SALUTE

8 Years Later

Today is my 8 year wedding anniversary. I sit back to reflect how things have changed in the 8 year’s that we have been married. A lot has changed, but many things remain the same. We are learning that each day that passes, you learn not to sweat the small stuff. We learn to recreate the special moments and languish in all that we have accomplished. God is supposed to be the head of the household and many times we didn’t put him there. We have learned that with God, all things are possible. Love doesn’t answer all, but it is the determination, mutual respect and your belief in marriage that sustains when there appears to be no hope. Loving God first and each other next helps your marriage stay on track.

When Lee and I decided to have children, it wasn’t easy. Our marriage was no where near perfect, but God has a sense of humor. He allowed Lee and I to get pregnant when we were least expecting it. He molded us into where we needed be his patience and love for us. We were able to rebuild and find strength to continue on this journey. The result has been nothing short of a miracle. We were able to receive one of our best blessings ever…Brennan. Trust that marriage is a journey where both people need to take turns driving down the winding road. It’s full of thorns, deer and road blocks, but the car ride is nothing short of spectacular. Happy Anniversary Lee!