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.
The lies you tell yourself are becoming a hardship for us all cause we can’t benefit from your good cause you don’t see.
Ya see, cause of the random naysaying throwing-shade-at-yourself-talk you say to self, you get stuck. Don’t progress. And the world loses out on your gifts
It ain’t fair!
When you lie to yourself about how about badly you need your job because you don’t want to be broke, tell the truth about how broke you already are.
Can you get broker than broke? Once your coins get on the down low, your come up will come at a cost only God can pay. Quit letting that job overwhelm you and you still can’t overcome the light bill.
When a co-worker made a comment about your consignment clothing, you lied and told yourself you never did like those pants.
When you quit telling yourself you ain’t crazy & your friend really is jealous of you…Thank God for knowing exactly what to pray about for him or her.
You knew she had been lightweight hating on you, but you convinced yourself there was no way anyone would envy your broke and used clothes wearing self. She wasn’t jealous of your closet. She desired the unseen gifts you tried to hide, but God revealed anyway.
When you didn’t know what to do about your family… Thank God for freeing you from it cause you didn’t know what to do.
When you stopped seeing how you were a blessing to others…Thank God for giving you humility even at the expense of your ego.
You can be glad your ego ain’t bigger than your consignment britches.
When you felt uncomfortable about what they did at work after they tossed your lil input aside… Thank God for the discomfort cause this is how you know comfort when you see it again.
When you didn’t shut your mouth & you wish you had…Thank God for your big mouth & ask Him to put it to good use before you get locked up behind it.
Your Momma always said your mouth would be your downfall and it will, after you breakthrough.
When your child embarrassed the mess out of you… Thank God for letting you know to be empathetic with another parent trying to raise a strong-willed child.
When you let your body be dishonored & devalued… Thank God for leading you to Him so you can know better.
The lies people tell you that you repeat to yourself, don’t come true because the words become your mental mantra. Those deadly words feel true cause you gave them life, but they are killin’ you.
Tell the truth about how these thoughts and feelings drag you. Tell the truth about how many times you think about it, over and over and over, again, at work, after work and a week later.
Telling the truth lets you free yourself from the lie so you can find relief in your own thoughts.
At the start of a new calendar year folks make many promises to themselves and to others. Thus far, THE HIM, Hasan, made the New Years Resolution to be more of the debonair and 30 lbs lighter man he assured me I would have all the days of my life if I married him. He lied! And if he loses 30 lbs, his legs may get to skinny.
Who wants that? So, let’s keep the weight so we can keep the legs.
See the trade off? It’s worth it…right?
Your life and well-being is so much more relevant than weight, skinny legs or to be delegated to 365 days in a New Years Resolution.
With that being said, here are 2 things NOT to do for 2018.
- You will not make any New Years Resolutions. We said it! Close your mouf! None. Not one.
Your resolve comes over time. Some issues, you can create resolution in a month. In another matter, it may take the remainder of your life. Another heart thumper or head blocker may keep you stumped for a year or two. 2018 is not the beginning of your life. You jumpstart your life, not a new calendar year. You are the central focus of all of this. You make this merry round Go!
Sure, we encourage you to have self-awareness, to be a more directed learner, to put away your coins, to earn more coins, to start the business you want or to get the nerve to dye your hair purple in your 40’s. Do that! Help is here if you want it. Don’t relegate your desires, needs, dreams to a timeline created by man. We can work this out with you.
- You accept that your best moments may not develop in years or a specific year, but it will be moments in your life that give you the most joy.
Have you ever asked an elder what they enjoyed most in their life? You’ll be hard-pressed to find one to tell you it was the year 1967 or Y2k.
Most you say something like, “When my first child was born…Driving my first car… The moment I met your father…Graduating from college…Buying a house…Seeing my grandchild for the first time…” Or even sharing an endearing childhood memory. Who the heck says it was their New Year’s Resolution? No one. And you don’t have to start the pattern. Seek to create the best moments of your life and get in as many as you can. Now, that is something you can start in 2018.
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.
This is Bae! You know it. You can’t imagine disagreeing with this person. You feel like you’ve known this person your entire life. Your souls mesh. You laugh. In sync. Finally, you know what folks mean when they say, ‘My heart skipped a beat” and it isn’t due to heart disease! When Bae’s “oh-so-sweet-Bae-Like” Name shows on your Iphone, you giggle for so long, you forget to answer. Oh…you’ve got it bad. Your friends can’t stand you! The feeling you get with Bae is like no other. Bae gets you & let’s you be you. The friendship takes no effort.
You have met THE ONE.
And one day, when your Bomb-Bae love story requires you to make joint decisions, requires transparency, requires you to talk about things you don’t want to talk about, requires both of you to pull back on your bad habits, requires you to admit you didn’t show the full you, including your halitosis, requires you to apologize and to forgive when you’re right… Bae can go Buh-bye! You never intended for Bae to have so many questions. How can this person be committed to you & doubt you?
When did Bae get to be so stubborn? This person acts like an apology is blasphemy. What happened to the person who would always talk to you at night? Now, Bae scratches & falls asleep in front of the television. This cannot be what forever looks like!
The problem is you put so much emphasis on Bae, but what do you want in a relationship? What do you require for love? How do you want someone to talk to you when you’re angry or how do you want to be supported? Did Bae act out and offer those commitments to you or did Bae deliver feel-good fun for now?
Good people don’t make good relationships. You may meet a really good person, but it doesn’t mean you’ll have a wondermous relationship with them. Good people aren’t always the best person for you.
Good relationships make people better. Look for a person willing to give you the meaning of a good working relationship. Now, that’s Bae.
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.
- 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.
- 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. You 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.
- 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. 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.
GLI Counseling LLC
Stone Mountain, Georgia 30086
Hours of operation
Sunday-Thursday: 10 am -8 pm