As young twenty-something, single mothers she and I were the only ones in our low-income apartment community to be college students. Our children were close in age. She was a mother of twins and I had a one-year old on my hip. Her family was disgruntled with her for being an unwed mother, but still peeped in with occasional support. My own family gave help, unwanted advice and the side-eye as I too struggled to raise my son alone.
We made sure each of us had gas money. We put our coins together to buy groceries. Weekends were spent going back and forth from our respective apartments. We would run go back and forth from the back door, from one house to the other. She had this silent way of speaking to you with her unyielding light brown eyes. When I first met her, I felt she was weird. Her stare. I didn’t know how to read it or what it meant. I came to learn it meant nothing other than, “I’m here with you.” Later, our friendship grew as another Beloved Soul embraced our circle. For years, our struggle was real, but softened by the three of us.
Few could relate to being so broke, bougie at heart and down for long haul to get up out of that Section 8 housing! We stuck together like thieves cause the three of us understood the plan even when we didn’t really have one.
Over a span of 25 years, self-acceptance, grandchildren, 10-40 extra pounds, graduate degrees, weddings, more children, entrepreneurship, buying our first homes, our first divorces and loving our last fool passed over our lives. It was never planned or discussed, but two of us ended up as mental health therapists. She opened her own mental health agency with a partner. There were bumps in there, but she made it work for her. And we all lived our lives.
Like many, social media became the place to catch up, but we did. Her giggle! It comes in spurts and then closes with a smile! The spurts are like a water faucet struggling to let water flow, but nah…said the water spout!
Yesterday, she became locally famous, but I’m not proud of her.
I’m pissed actually. Yes, there will be lights, and crowds and hand holding and speeches to commemorate her, but I’m pissed. I don’t want her death to be her greatest achievement.
To see crowds of people who don’t know her water-spout laughter to stand in a public park stained with her blood and acknowledge her as a victim of domestic violence pisses me off. Her life is so much more than the location of her last moment of knowing breath.
I’m pissed because an Ex not to have known to have ever struck her before allegedly stabbed her to death after threatening her for weeks. I’m pissed because he allegedly planned to enforce his death wish on her without any concern for those who loved her to life.
His anger for Alicia having left him couldn’t be killed so he chose to kill her.
Alicia was found leaning against her car in a public park. Alone. She bled to death. No one should die alone. What was she thinking? Were her thoughts comforting to your own soul? How does a dying mother tell her children goodbye when they don’t know your leaving them? My other friend, the Beloved Soul is helping Alicia’s young adult children navigate this tragedy, bury their mother and holding the hurt in her own heart simultaneously.
When the alleged attacker was arrested, it was reported his hands were bloody and cut up. I smiled. She fought back. That’s my girl.
Husbands and wives require many things for a marriage to work. We can name a few such as mutual respect, transparency, not sharing nude pics with another person, supporting the goals of the other person, good regular sex, displaying mercy to one another and the sliding in like a superhero with lil’ random acts of kindness. Ahh, everyday isn’t perfect. We hit or miss one or three of those every now or then. However, intentional folks will come back to the good acts of marriage they overlooked within time, preferably a really short period of time.
And then there are the other folks. The folks who treat their husband or wives worse than a stranger on the street. Failing to give a greeting in the morning, offering a nice compliment or assisting someone with a task is something one would do for a co-worker. For what reason does your colleague get the lil goodies of behavior from you that your spouse doesn’t?
Have you been smiling at random people in the grocery story lately? Your husband or wife deserves to see all of your teeth behind stretched lips even more than this stranger. Did you pick up something for someone or offer to do something for someone cause, “It’s really no problem at all.” Your spouse deserves something even greater.
Now, the problem is your husband or wife has likely done something to piss you off, to cause your heart to harden or to care less at this point whether or not they can find the orange juice in the fridge. How do you get through these moments and change the relationship narrative? Nothing changes the incidents that got you where they are. It is what it is. Did you choose to marry someone who has no good in them?
Nada? Not a drop?
We’re gonna tell ya our true thought, that says a lot about you. We’re gonna give you the side eye about your selection process cause it’s defective. We’ve got a remedy for that also. Tell ya single friends. You’s “muh-reid nah. So, we gotta go into recovery and repair mode for you.
For now, we’ll think good of you too and trust you didn’t marry a complete butthole and your partner has a twinkling and two teaspoons of good in him or her.
What you can do is make the decision to see the good in the person and not function from a position of fear. Look for good in the other person and really give some thought to what keeps you holding on to this negativity. What good does it do you? Negativity does nothing for your edges, your pocket book or your faith. So, what’s the point?
Before being a husband and wife, your spouse deserves the same humane kindness you would give stranger or a person at your place of worship. Familiarity breeds contempt. The longer you live with a person, you’ll have many, ” What You Not Gon’ Do…” moments or “Really? Is that where you are now?” You’ll learn the other person faults. When you find out your spouse can’t pick out produce as good as the cutie pie at the Farmer’s Market, it can be a bummer. Or, your husband or wife doesn’t always tell you the truth. Or, they continue to be dismissive of you as you talk to them. You may need to call on the big dawgs for relationship help.
Yeah, the kindness and mercy weans off. And giving the best of you to folks who have hurt you less seems easier.
This is your beautiful challenge. You get to be the better person even when it doesn’t feel the best. Your marriage is a platform to practice mercy and kindness on a higher level. If you feel confused about where to start, it’s ok. Wouldn’t it feel good to get unstuck? However, if you know if you make the bed in the morning and heat the water for hot coffee, your spouse will be happy, shocked as all get out, but happy, then, do it.
Whatever they did in the past won’t change, but you can.
The month of October sucks. Big ones.
And then, we turn to Allah in gratefulness for what He has done for us.
This sounds like we may be all over the place. This month right here…October 2017, flipped up, turned us over, put us in reverse, choked and spit us out. Prayerfully. We’ve been all over the place emotionally, spiritually and mentally.
Our youngest son was hit by a car this month. En route to the hospital, we had no information. Suddenly, everyone at the police department and the hospital staff knew nothing. How did everyone get stupid as soon as my child is hurt?
The silence hurt my heart and caused every Mother’s unimagined fear to come to life as I drove. The closer I got to Atlanta Medical Center, the more intense my fear. We rode in the car in silence. I ran out of prayers to say. Each prayer said the same thing. For my son to be alive and to not have any long-term illnesses or to be a paraplegic. Then, I swapped that prayer for another one, because I wanted to love him even if he were wheelchair bound. Next, I found myself praying for Mother’s who had already lost a child, and to be humble enough to know my son was no greater than theirs.
By the time we walked through the doors of the ER, Hasan had to hold me up. I wanted to know if my youngest child was alive, but the fear of a potential dead body consumed me. Hasan held me. He told me we had to go in. And I wondered what do you ask the ER Front Desk under these circumstances? What is the best question to get the best answer that does not lead to death?
I concluded I needed to remain silent. If my fear, my pain or my worry spoke the motherly words I wanted to say, I knew I’d be hospitalized too. My words was gon’ show out, sound crazy and not make sense!
Hasan said something. Who knows what it was. I recall the attendant saying, “He’s in Room 118.”
This meant life. I fell limp. Again. I praised Allah in Arabic and in English in that ER! I needed to move to go see my son, but right then, a praise pause was needed. The neck brace still held onto his rigid, swollen, bruised and bloody body when I entered the room. Miraculously, his face did not have a scratch on it.
I wept. I stood next to his hospital bed and I cried. I cried for the life he had been given. For the life that he had to come. For the life that had not been taken from him. For the life I had taken for granted.
When my son told me how he called out, “Mom…Momma” when the pain was so intense and I had yet to arrive at the hospital, I felt like shit. Guilt took over and called me all kinds of names. I made sure during his entire hospital stay, this moment never occurred again. I rarely left his side. Had I not required a bath, I wold not have left when I did.
His hospital room already smelled like…well…a hospital.
The bleeding wound on his back earned a sour smell from his sweat and lying on his back for hours. Atlanta Medical Center did not need me to add to the smells in that hospital room!
While dealing and living with our son’s recovery, 5 days later, a beloved family member committed suicide. Devastation appeared all over again. I will not rehearse the questions, feelings and thoughts that ran through my mind. These questions, feelings and thoughts continue to run a marathon in my head. One day, they will stop. Just not today. I’m ok with that. I cleaned my family member’s blood from her home. Initially, I felt angry that there was any blood to clean up at all. I scrubbed, cried and turned to Hasan as needed while I cleaned. I’ve decided that despite the hurt within all of this, this act…this cleaning up…is a gift I was able to give to her and to her children.
During this time, Hasan and I have gotten upset with one another. This month, for the first time in our marriage, we were so exhausted, we slept in the same room, but separately. We’ve never been together and slept apart. NEVER. We’ve trusted each other to show up, to be quiet and to love when we didn’t know how to ask each other to do it.
During this time, Hasan and I have appreciated one another more. During this time, we’ve gone back and tried to recover from a wrong or to repair a snipe expressed verbally. We didn’t want to leave it in hanging on the ears of the other person.
Hasan has contacted a loved one struggling with their own mental health symptoms and laid down some ground rules of love to ensure this person lives. And lives a life knowing love despite every mental health symptom they struggle with or never share with us.
As a husband and wife, we took moments to be more vulnerable. To ask more questions. To make sure that when the pain occurs, we make sure, we make a difference. To make sure we leave this marriage and this life better than we came. And October 2017 did that for us.
This has been a gift.
The clergyman/pastor/imam often gets blamed for telling the woman to, “Be patient” with her husband’s behavior. The abused wife is told to ,”Go home. Pray. Use this as a lesson to get closer to God…Be a better wife to him. Your husband is going through so much.” The wife ices her black eye. She calls in sick for work and is at risk of losing her job because she’s patiently used all of her sick days for the prior painful & scarring acts of abuse. To be a good woman of faith, she obeys the clergyman/pastor/imam because she needs to listen and to succumb to the men around her. After all, these men know best. These men are led by God. These men know something her black eye, her broken bones and her bloody nose do not know.
The good wife is encouraged not to listen to her allies, to not build allies, to not leave her husband’s home and surely not to listen to those who crazily insist she’s a pure fool for staying. These naysayers know nothing about the Godly institution of marriage. These often unmarried or previously divorced folks don’t know her full situation. Matter of fact, these people may just be jealous daymmit cause the good wife got a man! And how in the sandhill can they give 2 teaspoons of advice when they’ve never heard the husband’s side. Ok…true enough. A few folks tried to talk to him, but he’s a man and he doesn’t want anyone in his business. He can handle his own marriage. You? Stay out of that man’s business…including his wife’s bruises, blood loss from wounds or tear-filled phone calls. Quit answering the phone when she calls. You know she’s whining anyway. Her husband is going to apologize and she’ll be fine.
She’s following the spiritual guidance of patience. Don’t interrupt the work of God.
This Monday, the husband was already on the couch due to a weeklong argument. The wife hit him in the head several times. He has lost hearing in one ear due to a prior attack from his wife. When he went to the clergyman/pastor/imam, the husband was told to “Be patient” with his wife’s behavior. The abused husband was told to, “Go home. Pray. Use this as a lesson to get closer to God… Be a better husband to her. Your wife is going through so much.”
Because he’s a man, the husband does not seek allies. He does not call anyone to whine. He doesn’t ask anyone to address his wife. When he did, he was told to tell her himself. He did. He and wife never finished the dialogue. He stopped trying to speak after she grabbed his throat, threatened to leave that night with the children and ripped his shirt from his back as he tried to walk away.
His wife apologized and calmed down for awhile. When she’s good….Awww Mahn! You want to nominate her for President of the Welcome Wagon. When she’s not, you’re sure she wrote books with titles such as, “How To Kill Bambi & Other Acts of Selfish Rage”.
Three months later, she bleached his clothing because he didn’t speak to her when she wanted him to after an argument. She also flattened his tires. Smashed his phone. Got rid of one of each of his shoes. And when he confronted her, she slapped him until his nose bled. When he tried to restrain her, she threatened to call the police if he didn’t leave the daym house she helped pay bills in immediately.
The husband left the house. The clergyman/pastor/imam advised him not to strike her and to, “Be patient.” After all, these men know best. These men are led by God.
What is an abused person patiently waiting to happen when the other party does not seek to correct their behavior? Telling an oppressed, hurt, and bleeding and bruised person, to “be patient” is akin to telling them to return to the scene of the crime to patiently await the next attack. People are to be patient with a goal. People are to be patient with the things they strive for.
People are to be patient with God’s intervention…but we know God doesn’t change a condition of a people until they change themselves.
God expects us to do sumpin’ too.
You got a nickel in that dime!
We’ve learned the, “Be patient” rhetoric doesn’t change per gender. This is the catch-all phrase. It is the control-alt-delete function to use when all else fails. It is One-Size-Fits-All. Globally Accepted. All-Inclusive.
And it is insensitive.
It encourages abuse. It gives no recourse or resolve for the victim and offers a community of patient and unearned justice for the perpetrator.
We gotta do better. And sometimes, we don’t know how. S’ok to admit you don’t know. It is purely wrong to not try to do better. We’ve heard the suggestion, “Get Help!” And you can choose to do so.
You may say, “Those helping folks don’t know me.” You’re right. They don’t. But their first introduction to you won’t have to be on the evening news or through court-ordered anger management that you have to pay for. It can be from knowing, “I gotta do better and I need help to make it happen. What I’m doin’ ain’t workin’ for me.”
Don’t get caught in the “Be patient” rhetoric and patiently wait for nothing to change because you won’t.
You didn’t get promoted this month, but you work hard & show up to work daily. You do your job. And that in itself is a good job.
Your prayers aren’t made for posts on social media, but you’ve got a relationship with God that you know that you know that know…works for you. Your prayers don’t need frills, an organ or a rhythm. Just what you and God got going on.
Nah…you don’t have a lot of money, but you’re rich in humility & being sweet. You don’t play the lottery anyway. Being rich through wealth isn’t your ideal.
Your kids didn’t make honor roll, but they honor you & your family life is intact. For you, this is enough.
You’re not known to many folks, but the few who know you, love you & you love them back. All you need is good love. The quantity isn’t a big deal.
No one looks at you & says, “Keep it real with me” because you always show up authentic.
You may not have money like Kanye West, but you love yourself with the same tenacity that Kanye has for Kanye!
Ok…you may be kind of loud at times, but your generosity is silently given to many.
You may never pave the way for anyone other than yourself, but you welcome others to walk with you to create a path together.
Your little corner in the world is small, but you’ve carved out a place of peace & invite other good folks in.
Sure, you can create your list of epic-like wondermous activity that you imagined during the day and never occurred. But for what? You’ve been a legendary all day long!
Ya see…everyone won’t be remarkable, but everyone is able to leave their mark. You have epic ISH going on all day long solely by being you! The folks who do the most genuine ordinary mundane acts with sincerity have the greatest impact. You’re way cool!
Looking for life to get better than it is now…to earn more money than you have now…to move up in rank in whatever status you can think of.. means nothing in the absence of good character & love.
Do small things with great love & you’ll lead a great life. God loves the small deeds done consistently. This is where you will find your greatness. – #ThatClayCouple
Married and no sex. For months or years.
There are folks you know who smile, stay coupled up publicly & display the standard “usie” on social media, but hardly speak, sleep in separate beds & have a sexless marriage. Marriage without benefits begins well before entering the bedroom.
believe it’s because of infidelity. Not always. Your spouse can become so disappointed in who you’ve presented yourself to be that they lose sexual interest in you. Don’t be so quick to blame the lack of sexual interest on another person. It really may be because you have a stank attitude that your partner is tired of smelling!
Hasan & I have heard many say, “Had I known he/she was like this, I wouldn’t have married him/her.” The reality of what the relationship requires can feel overwhelming. You don’t have to feel stuck by not knowing the small steps to begin recovery. Professional help or advice from an elder can bring your sexy back!
Another reason for no red hot lights in the bedroom is due to resentment from a buildup of issues. When no one knows how to fix or to recover from problems, the love bulb goes very dim. When you feed the same problems for years & years, people become mad, hold grudges & lose sight of what to do with the emotions. Sex is one form of stress relief. Remove sex & stress increases as well as the frustration from your marital issues.
Lastly, many have never seen balanced healthy affection & have no idea how give intimacy or to respond it. You may have a spouse who has never witnessed adults give a quick kiss, give gifts or hold hands just because. While these seem like easy skills to learn, remember easy isn’t easy for everyone. The display of love has to be taught.
Don’t let the facade of a good love life be your reality. Do the work to create real sexy love.
Many folks need counseling and even more folks who need it refuse to go. Within this pool of folks, there are couples who need major “Oh-Ma-Gawd” help for their marriages and relationships. Even less will plunge into the deep end of marriage or couples counseling. A few couples may be brave enough to get their feet wet. These will be the ones who will attend counseling with “Games of Thrones-like” valor.
As we tell you what marriage counseling is not intended for, this first one is unique to us, Hasan and Naa’ila. Someone else may tell you the same thing, especially after we do, but for us, we insist upon operating with what we have laid out here.
- Marriage Counseling isn’t to be a place to mediate your problems each week. This is special and time-sensitive meetings with your counselors. Yes. COUNSELORS. with an “s”. With us, we tag team our couples counselings. You work with each of us. Counseling sessions aren’t a place to rehash or to retell the events, incidents, demographics, names and screenshots of history that got you in counseling. We do not want you to come to us to waste your time being storytellers and griots. After hearing about 2-3 incidents, we’ve got it. Indeed, we will never grasp the true depths of the pain and hurt the relationship or person has caused you. We don’t try to do so. We want to get a good glimpse of how you got there. Telling fifty-eleven stories that happened during the course of your 2, 12 or 22 year relationship will not ensure a deeper understanding of your overwhelming hurt. What it will do is cause us to consume the valuable time we have in our counseling sessions to help the two of you improve.If we didn’t care how long you remained in counseling, and sought to get your coins as long as we can, this would be ideal. This is not what we do this for. Our goal is to use old school wit and clinical interventions to get you and Bae where you want to be.
- Marriage Counseling isn’t to be a place to mediate problems weekly. Sure, there’ll be times when a couple comes to a counseling session with a bone to pick and meat stuck in between their teeth from the fight that began 2 days ago. We’re sympathetic to this and will gladly assist. Often, folks are in counseling due to their inability to resolve problems, old, new, past or current. These can be teachable moments. For us, each week, we plan for you to build onto the skill set we agree upon. Each session will increase your ability to practice this skill with Bae outside of sessions. We can’t do this if we’re putting out fires each week.
Thus, you won’t find us beginning our sessions with the question, “So, what do you want to talk about this week?” We will have a plan for you.
- Marriage Counseling isn’t to be a whipping stick. There will be times one person will tell the other, “I don’t want to talk about this until we get to the counseling session!” Refer to Number 2. There will be arguments requiring you to table the issue until you get to us. However, using counseling sessions as a place to snitch or tattle tale on each other is not productive.
When you give your partner the silent treatment until you get to counseling…or you won’t pay any bills until you get to counseling…or you have your nose stuck up in the air until you get to counseling…counseling begins to feel like a spanking over the knee.
You don’t have to fear coming to counseling and we don’t bite. Counseling will have scary moments and times of discomfort, but smooth waters don’t make good sailors.
This is how you grow and love better. Wouldn’t it feel good to be able to able to go to counseling and not be afraid of your name being tarnished? You can. How long will you wait for your problems to disappear by themselves? Cough…Cough…Not gonna happen! We know great things have happened for you in your life and God is a miracle worker, but even He looks for levels of effort.
Click here and ask an anonymous question to get rid of the anxiety you have about, “How much is all of this gonna cost me?”
Show your willing to put your money where your mouth is.
Hmmm…So folks believe going to a member of the clergy before marriage, 1-3 times, is premarital counseling. Ohh…ok. ? We’re surprised cause few actually get premarital counseling.
Truth be told…& we know you want the truth…most folks get premarital advice-not counseling. If we had a brick for every couple in marriage counseling with us who had been to “premarital counseling” with their pastor or imam, we could rebuild the yellow brick road!
Hasan & I created & teach our own 6-week, State of Georgia-approved, premarital course covering eight “I-Didn’t-Even-Think-About-That” areas. ?? Don’t worry. Get happy! No need to doubt if your Bae is like #HurtBae or Romeo. Get our Details and tell your friends before another breakup or divorce is born! ?? But for right now, we’re gonna give you some premarital info to help you navigate these heart highways:
1. Don’t go to premarital counseling because you PLAN to marry. Use premarital counseling to decide if ya’ll SHOULD marry each other.
2. Don’t wait until you have a wedding date, cake & the giggles to set up premarital counseling. If you do, you want premarital advice, not premarital counseling. There’s a difference! You can get good advice from a member of the clergy, married mentor or an elder. With good premarital counseling, ya’ll may change or cancel that date!
3. Do not lie or embellish the truth to prevent heartache or out of fear someone won’t marry you if they know learn a previously unknown truth about you. Divorce causes more pain. ?
4. Accept recommendations given by the premarital counselor. If you know you ain’t trying to hear it ? & your mind is made up about getting married. Cool! Think through the what you want to get from premarital counseling. Real talk…counseling is not meant to tell you what to do. You’re grown! However…a counselor isn’t there to lie to you because you paid them either. At least Hasan & I don’t…
5. Know you may learn surprising ??? information about the other person in the premarital process. Use a counselor who provides individual sessions, for each of you, so you can recover from the shock attacks you may get on the heart highway!
6. Be open! Don’t limit your thinking. Limited thinking limits your options! You deserve a solid plan to begin your start for wedded bliss and not a wedded bummer!
Hasan & Naa’ila
“Ossie & Ruby Dee of Marriage Counseling”
Remember the last time you looked at the person you loved and thought, “I can’t stand you.” You meant it, but not really. You did in that precise moment, but not forever more.
Love is such a funny emotion because the people we love give us an array of experiences. And each experience has its own gut-wrenching, love-filled, God-fearing, nail-biting and heart-felt thoughts with it.
Do you remember the song, “What’s Love Got To do With It?” It has everything to do with it. Love keeps us in these relationships and marriages. Love is the glue. Love is the Mr.Clean-power for our heartbroken moments. Love is what keeps us together. However, we don’t mean that love disappears in the moments when you can’t stand the person you love. The love of the commitment. The love of loyalty. Love of family. The love of God sustains us through those moments when a person we love doesn’t show up in the most loving way.
And when I can’t stand you, I can stand on the things that I love that we have created together. THE HIM and Naa’ila
GLI Counseling LLC
Stone Mountain, Georgia 30086
Hours of operation
Sunday-Thursday: 10 am -8 pm