Left For Dead

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. Hthe-benefits-of-anger-management-counseling-3.jpger 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.

How Being Mad Can Inspire Your Marriage

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.

older couple

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?

shock.jpgNada? 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 practicimages.jpege 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.

Facts About “Mommie Dearest” No One Dares to Say

Mothers are to be revered. To be respected. To be adored. To be taken care of. To be honored. And if you feel otherwise, you will quickly be shamed, condemned to the darkest corners of earthly motherless guilt and it will not matter if you’ve had a good mother. It will not matter if your mother was unloving. If you don’t know youmom2.jpgr mother no one cares. She birthed you so you must respect her for her super power. You don’t need to know her name or to care if she calls on your birthday. If she’s a bad mother, be sure not to repeat those same qualities with your own kids. You know how it feels so do better. Find a way to recoup whatever decency you’ve create within yourself and get over it. And dammit, you better not say anything bad about your mother.

black mom.jpg

Alcoholics exist and some of them are mothers. Abusers exist and a few have given birth. Addicts have children. Inmates leave their children in the care of God’s grace to satisfy the punishment of poor choices. Some mothers may not go to such visible lengths of poor mothering. Many mothers lack the ability to give hugs as needed. To kiss boo-boos. To show up for school events. To clap when no one else does and to not be staring at the phone during incremental minute seconds of a child’s needs.

There are those mother’s who compete with their daughter’s for attention. What is a daughter to do when she is told there isn’t enough room in Mother’s world for both to exist? Where does the daughter find the space to be her unlimited self? Who gives her consent to be who she is fully without always trying to reserve unwanted room for a mother who does not want her daughter to save her a seat?

When your mother is an overachiever and you’re growing into who you are and on most days you’re quite unsure of whatever that is…but your mother knows with certainty who EACH of you are. How do you fit into the mold she’s created for you?  We promise you can. What does this daughter do to keep up with her mother’s repetitive successes? She sulks internally while her mother’s life becomes her reflection and all this daughter sees is ugliness and self-hate. This does not have to be your entire existence.

For the daughter whose mother’s made her hug another temommporary “uncle” who liked more than hugs when Mother wasn’t around and for the daughter whose Mother took her to her father to be pleasured by the same penis that impregnated Mother and for the daughter who got put out of the house because she fought Daddy when he hit Mother again. The mother’s of these daughter’s get jingles played on Hallmark cards, praised in public places and commended at forced family events. These mother’s smile and assume the prestige given by their wombs and earned by the souls that came from them.

Mother’s and daughter’s have tricky relationships. This is the first same gender relationship many have. Some screw it up and others thrive from the success, love and care within it. There are those who do a lil bit of both, with enough screw up and enough love to keep it balanced and beneficial. For any mother or daughter wanting help, it’s available. Mothers and daughters can get it ristrong.jpgght. There are mother’s who lack super powers, but have an overwhelming ability to be super human as needed.

And allow a daughter to reverence the womb that bore her and to love the life her Mother so superbly introduces her to.

Man Up or Man Down Situation: Men Get Hit Too

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. handbeaten.png

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”.

man stat.jpegThree 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.

Wedding-Rings-and-BibleWhat 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.

3 BUM RUSH WAYS YOU DAMAGE YOURSELF

Nobody loves you better than you…right? Danggone LIE! Many struggle with having a good relationship with self. This arises from many reasons. The struggle with self-compassion may be due to learned behavior, mental health issues that we’ve swept rolled up into the rug and put the rug in the garage or you have this awesomely damaging love-hate relationship with yourself that you can’t seem to balance. There are 3 ways this overwhelming inner battle will show up in your daily life.

  1. You tell yourself, and everyone else, “This is the way I am.” This overly complacent statement means you’ve dug a hole for yourself, climbed into it & have no plans of coming out regardless of the season, snakes or temperature! Making a conscious decision not to seek growth or to reduce deficits means you’ve no intent on changing, adulting with ongoing development and you expect people to repeat the mantra after you, “This is the way you are…” Your hope is others will hear and recite your mantra enough to believe it also and will subsequently not call you out on your stuff.
  2. You spar with obtaining balance in your life. Your moments are either good or bad…black and white…famished or full…lazy or overworked…too early or last minute. The Spartan-like battle of trying to secure an alleged “normal” middle of the road routine and structure feels out of reach for you. 58c05efa1d000037037cd491.jpegYou  see stability in the far off future…and you watch, without alarm, as it loses its equilibrium and crashes into your life! On a regular. Leaving pieces of random sizes for you to pick up, to save for a Goodwill donation or to use for a crafting class you’ve been meaning to start, but never have, but you know you could do it. Yeah…You may even do things you know are not good for you, but for whatever reason, seem to fit into the exact minute you’re considering it. Forget what this choice may do to your life long-term. Who really knows what the future holds anyway? And you go for it with, full force ahead, with a fleet of mental energy, a calvary of Arabian horses and no full thought or clear plan.
  3. Overthinking is not something you do. You live this way. You think, rethink and review those thoughts again and then think about what someone else said about something similar that you’re thinking. You confuse yourself, but you’re not quite sure if you’re confused because you must think this through. The only way to secure full transparency, and to make the best decision, is to consider, to reconsider, to reassess what you reconsidered and then to restart. The worst possible situation could occur, and God forbid, you’re not prepared for any possible scenario, script or playback. pause-button-e1376172552682.jpg rehearse everything that could happen in your mind to prepare for it. Being able to create every possible likely pending event, is impossible, so you’ve been told, but is that really true? Let’s think about that for a moment. Or two. Okay. 5 minutes. Just 5…Hmmm…You need more time for this one. Then, your thoughts begin to feel scary, because the thoughts won’t stop coming.

These three steps lock you in to self-damaging behavior, but you can break FREE. Personal growth doesn’t have to be scary, done overnight or completed alone. Counseling, a coach or an elder can get you through.

Going from one extreme to the other feels paralyzing and will have you doubting yourself. Everything in life doesn’t have to be a baby step or a grand gesture. Being steady in your lifestyle choices gives you the room to recover when life throws a monkey wrench and a whole monkey at you!

Thinking about what you’re thinking about, as well as what you’re going to do about No. 1 and No 2 listed above, will cause you to need sick days at work you do not have! This feels mentally exhausting, but you may not be able to control it. Get professional support to learn to be present…whatever the heck that means! Find ways to calm unrealistic fears and to figure out how to let those thoughts live without taking over your life.

WARNING:High Stress Zone- A Sexless Marriage

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.

warning-no-intercourse.jpg 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.

You Make Me Sick… For Real

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.

lovesick

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

I Don’t Look Like What I’ve Been Through

I don’t look like what I’ve been through, but I pray like I’ve been through it.
I pray while remembering crying so hard my cheeks burned from my salty tears. A homeless shelter was my destination with a 5-month old in tow. I pray like the room I slept in at the homeless shelter became my office years later. Allah brought me back to the same place, a new way, an employee not a resident. I pray like I’ve had to take out a restraining order. He choked me, pushed me into a wall until it caved in & stabbed himself in the leg afterwards. I got the restraining order free cause I “petitioned to sue as a pauper”. Basically, I could prove I had food stamps. I pray like a man I loved pulled my mouth apart until my lips cracked. It felt so barbaric.

I pray like I hid $2000 in my infant son’s diaper pail in the shelter. I figured no one would think his crap was worth anything. I pray like a man I loved took money I saved to get a car & used my money for his benefit.I found out when he told me what he did. I pray like I had a Momma who helped me get a car anyway. I pray like I’d rest in the examination rooms while doing my clinical residency cause my blood pressure would be so high I couldn’t stand. I refused to go to the hospital cause they always admitted me & I couldn’t get the clinical hours needed from a hospital room. I pray like I had elder women who protected me when I didn’t have sense enough to know I was in harm’s way.

I pray like the masjid came through for me when laid off. I pray like I graduated & didn’t have my degree cause I owed the school money. I pray like I have my all of degrees in my possession. I pray like I’ve seen a child I raised make decisions I don’t like & I have to figure out a new way to love him. I pray like I’ve called my aunt while driving, pulled over, and said, “Don’t say anything. Just let me cry.” She did. I pray like I struggle with narcolepsy & try to live like I’m “ON” & alert when my sleep disorder has cut me off from you. I pray like I’ve shown a child, a burn victim, my vitiligo so she wouldn’t hide her talents behind her scars. I pray like I’ve watched a man I love go blind & still see God in his life. I pray for my mother who suffers from dementia & continues to find evidence of God’s grace in her life even when she can’t remember her own children. I pray like this cause I’m in awe of My Lord & unceasingly grateful.
I don’t look like what I’ve been through, but I pray like I’ve been through it.- Naa’ila © 2017I