Resentment: Stages: Sips from My Lemonade

I’m on this stage. Image may contain: one or more people and people on stage

Usually, there is an artistic accompaniment. Maybe a band. A host. Lots of mics to choose from or colorful lights that can be changed depending on the mood of my speaking. There is usually poetry here.

Today, there is none of this. The stage is dark with burnt edges that have a stale smell of smoke. It’s empty. There is simply a stool and white spotlights that all aim in my direction. You can’t see anything other than …..

-me.

This is the stage that I am on.No automatic alt text available.

I cannot leave or abandon it until the showing is over and I will only know it’s over by the dimming of the overhead lights. Welcome to my newest one-woman show.  Please, kindly take your seats and enjoy the ride.

Unlimited tea and lemonade are included in your ticket.

Stage Left: Resentment

This is a bitter tea. As it goes down my throat it leaves a strong hint of habanero on my taste buds. My tongue may feel singed but I understand this to simply be part of the process. Water has yet to help with the inferno slowly building from the back of my mouth to the traces of my lipstick.

Sadness has subsided or at least put on a new outfit. Blessings can be hard to hold onto once you step foot into this world of emotion. I can feel the stage floor turning red and becoming too hot for my feet to stand on.

I walk through this place sometimes, listening for the sound of cologne hitting his wrists. Waiting for the dogs to hear his truck turn onto the block and run to the window. I sit and binge watch television while doing homework and working on the ball – wondering how it is that on television when men fuck up, they somehow make it back to their ex’s front door, lacking their ego and humbly dedicated to resolution instead of dissolution.

But maybe that’s just for Hollywood and Love and Hip Hop.

Or Geist.

Carmel perhaps? Fishers? California? Morocco??

Where exactly is this space in the world where people (men or women) who fuck up their relationships actually take a moment to realize the damage they have caused and try to EARN their spot back? Do those type of people actually exist? Or, better yet, am I even that type of person?

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor and closeup

It’s like swallowing a horsepill full of urine; you kinda feel pissed on but you kinda feel like THE urine.

Oh love,

How I have waited for you to show back up at the doorstep

like a stork delivery

minus a return receipt

and I undo the locks and open the door

eyes staring into soul windows with curtains drawn

we pull each other in by the scent of our connection

and figure it out. You tell me,

you came to figure it out.

And we do. Like they do on tv.

Oh love,

how I have waited for you to show back up,

at the doorstep.

Ready.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tzp2vUp3kyo

But alas I don’t live that poetry life anymore. I thought I was in my forever space and it was another temporary person with a lifelong lesson. I get angry because I wonder when will I gather up enough lessons in my binder to be able to meet someone that isn’t just a summer school teacher? When will the moment come when I inspire another person to be his greatest self and vice versa? To reach WITH me? I want to BUILD with someone; not sit around, playing house like God ain’t watching and life ain’t short. It’s maddening.

I’m angry at myself. I don’t know if I should be, but I am. I look through my hindsight lenses at stuff I overlooked, things that could have saved me but I want to see and believe in the great in people and in return, it usually gets me toodamnopen and vulnerable. I begin to lose my power. I get mad at myself for not doing a better job of self-protection. I get upset at how I love – how intent and full it is. I can’t stop the train once it pulls off. When I love, I go into the veins of my soul and suck the blood through a coffee straw just to put life into this new relationship. I was recently told that I lose myself in my relationships.

And that was a dose of ouch and wow to be honest, although not surprising. I’ve always known that, but I thought I had it under greater control more recently. I exhaust my and that other person’s love when the end draws near because letting go has never been my strong suit. My last texts to XXXXX were fresh off the live wire. I was angry, in my feelings and resenting the idea that I should be chasing him. In the weeks after, once the tears began to clear, I continued to allow resentment a space to dwell in, inside of me.

There were days that felt like an inferno replaced my heartbeat (and still are). Every breath was a cross between mourning what we had while trying to accept it is over. I felt like I changed my course to follow love again only to end up at the same fork I’m always at; this definitely sparked a seed of anger that was growing into an Oak Tree.

But the thing is, if I pretended to not be outraged and displeased, the resentment would stay and become baggage: baggage that I would never unpack. So I opened the door and welcomed it into the living room only.

There were no bathroom breaks and I only offered one complimentary mug of lukewarm water to quench its thirst. I acknowledged it silently. Then publicly. Then it began to release itself.

As I sit on and through these different stages and take slow sips of my lukewarm lemonade, I must face my own mirror at every interval. I am nothing if I do not confront my inner demons while acknowledging the ones in others that I do not wish to encounter in others again. I could write a blog about all the things that my ex did that made me unhappy and hurt my feelings, but then I would just be a victim. That is also a planting field for resentful feelings.  I could also write about how my therapist is helping me see ME in a whole new light and damn it feels good to have that, but shit, the ‘aha moments’ are like:

This stage of sour lemons is natural. I don’t feel embarrassed or like I’m not where I should be in life. I went all the way this time. I put it all on the line and I fell off and still held that tightrope with my bare hands until the yarns cut my skin open and the blood loosened my grip. I’m not sure if I’m sitting on this stage, or if I fell onto it, bloody and out of breath.

Maybe we were both exhausted. And then, I paused and thought about my role. The things I’ve done and said at times weren’t the greatest or most poetic. At times, they were flat out wrong. It made me wonder if we are both relieved in some way. . .

The exhaustion is over. The show has ended and the people have all left the venue. The fight is done and the stage lights are beginning to dim. Maybe I didn’t fall on this stage of resentment. What if my instincts were already here, waiting on my physical to arrive while watching real life play out. And now that I have officially stepped foot into the building, I can go. I can gather my toys and go. Ever since I spoke it aloud, the universe has beckoned me to free myself from the pitfalls and dangers of resentment. I also had to come to realize maybe XXXXX has resentment towards me too and what if that’s fair? Well, now we are both free again to be who we are and where we are. I would be a crooked ass liar if I said that it doesn’t hurt that we can’t be our authentic selves with each other.

And sometimes, that hurt feels like anger….resentment.

But I free it. I free the anger. I free the pain. I free myself – from this stage and the inside of this particular arena. And if you are reading this, let this be a reminder or a form of inspire that it is natural to feel outraged or enraged by situations that occur and things people do. It doesn’t reduce you in size, character, strength or power – it simply makes you human. It is my belief that it’s actually more healthy to give yourself the space to be the human that you are and to authentically FEEL instead of running and fronting in front of the mirror. Once you sit with yourself – study it and understand it’s origin as well as the role you played in its existence, then you are giving yourself the path to let it go. And that’s all resentment is good for…letting go of.

But in order to do it, you have to first allow yourself the room to feel it.

I am proudly learning yet a new journey from the comfort of the warmth in my chrysalis. A rising will soon come.  I

 

~j

 

Intensive Care Unit: The Surgical Yes

I started binge watching Grey’s Anatomy a few weeks back and ever since the onslaught of Owen and Christina Yang’s relationship, I have found myself entranced by the storyline. Yang and Owen had an indisputable love for each other, but their conflicting overall desires for their lives as individuals and as a couple wouldn’t allow them to prosper. Over the course of several seasons, the audience is pulled from north to south in their love story. They have passion, desire, and unfiltered love; it’s undeniably present. But Christina doesn’t want to be who Owen wants her to be (a mother). And Owen can’t shrink his needs to fit Christina’s plans for her future (winning the Harper-Avery surgeon award). On one of the final episodes of her Grey’s Anatomy career, Yang finds herself asking a newly-paralyzed but conscious husband if he would like to end any life-saving techniques, as his distraught but supportive wife stands on side listening. At the exact moment of his response, Yang envisions two different scenarios, neither of which resulted in dual happiness for both her and Owen.

In the first scenario, Owen’s desires to be a father were fulfilled by Yang’s willingness to carry and care for not one, but TWO children (keep in mind she NEVER wanted kids). She lost or gave away the opportunities at winning the research award she once passionately sought after and secretly confessed to her best friend Meredith that she knew messed up. She aged with a disturbed happiness that glowed across her face as she introduced the award recipient who was one of her former interns. This is what self-disappointment looks like.Related image

In the second flash, the shoe was on the other foot. Christina was on her 4th award win and dedicated her time to continued research efforts. Owen, on the other hand, still wanted to be a father and had turned to drinking to cope with the dreams he gave up on for love. This eventually led to him being considered for termination due him working under the influence and creating a hostile environment for the attendings. Christina no longer wanted a relationship with him and while talking to Meredith, she asked her “don’t let me go back to him.“During her award acceptance speech, she asked a series of three questions that encapsulated her daydreaming and aroused my inquisitiveness.

“Do you know who you are? Do you know what has happened to you? Do you want to live this way?

I watched their relationship and particularly this episode during a time in my life where I was mourning the loss of my own failed-future alongside someone. I found myself relating my failures (and wins) to what Yang was going through. Who would have guessed that I would find myself connecting to a fictional, non-black Cardiothoracic surgeon who was once in love with a black man and ultimately married a white one? I found so many parts of my personality showing through her passion for …..herself! When she asked herself these three questions, she inadvertently asked me. And now, after the revelations and epiphanies I had from watching these old reruns, I am asking myself AND you!

“Do you know who you are? Do you know what has happened to you? Do you want to live this way?

I tend to use my age as a scale to measure my life’s progress. It’s not because I really subscribe to the idea that by a certain age certain things should have happened (although I do believe there is a hint of truth to it depending on the circumstances). It’s more because I tend to look at things from the standpoint of how many years I’ve been on earth and allotted the time to get shit done! So when I say at age 38, I should be able to answer these questions without blinking, it’s not because that’s my worldview on humans, age and progression but rather because, after three decades of living, I should fucking know these answers….even if they change in a week!!

In the circumstances where Christina gave birth to two children, she was miserable! It was on her face, with her plastic smile and her aloof conversations. She looked like she regretted her choices, and she did; she had long stated that she never wanted to be a mother and now here she was the mother of two! It wasn’t her dream she was living – it was Owens.

No one wants to or even should live that way. It’s mentally and emotionally dangerous. Owen was in complete bliss as he played with the boys while Yang confessed to Meredith that she knew she had made a mistake. When one of her kids got sick in the middle of her research, she passed her award-winning project off to someone else, who ultimately ended up being the recipient of the award she had spent a lifetime hoping to earn. She had given up her dreams to live for someone else’s, and in the process, the things she wanted most were never achieved. It was a life she was born for that never finished getting actualized. The minute she chose Owen’s dreams over hers, she died and was reborn as a version of herself that he was creating.

So what is the point of this blog? I am asking both myself and you the reader if you are able to answer these questions and what you will do if the answer to the last question is NO? At some point in my last relationship, I began to feel like Christina. I had not been rewatching old Grey’s episodes at the time and maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have felt so wrong. I started to question whether I was eager to marry the wrong person. I never told him these things because I never wanted him to feel like he wasn’t enough. It wasn’t that – everything that he was at face value was enough for me. But I was concerned that in my love for him and excitement for our future, I would end up compromising parts of dreams that my long-term joy needed me to experience.Image may contain: one or more people and closeup

I wanted to leave the city and much like Christina, I expressed that from the start. I never wanted to spend an indefinite amount of time in Indianapolis, but I had fallen in love with an active father of two children. Who was I to move him away? He used to tell me not to worry; that it would all work itself out and I trusted in that. But in the back of mind, I worried that I would hit a point of no return with Indianapolis and he wouldn’t even have teenagers yet (his kids were under 13). I was willing to be the puppeteered Yang over the authentic Christina. I was trying to prove to myself that the things I had come to find I needed weren’t that big of a deal in comparison to love. That love was, dare I say it: ENOUGH.

When you get fed up with your own fronting, as posted by Tamar Braxton

Sometimes, our authenticity will come at a price.  Listen, if you know anything about me, you know I love me some love! It’s beautiful and in many ways, it will carry and sustain you and be enough. But love isn’t the end all be all and it’s certainly low on the priority scale when it comes to goal-setting and achieving unless that’s what all you really want. 

If we are seeking a true unimpeachable human experience, then sometimes, that means choosing ourselves OVER the things that come into our lives and compromise who we are and/or what we want.  Selfishness is a form of self-care. When Christina was envisioning these scenarios, she didn’t lack love and respect for Owen nor did she think he was out to hurt her. To the contrary, she adored HIM. But she didn’t adore motherhood or want it. . . EVER. She wanted to pursue her passions and dreams and to her, they held the same weight of importance and value as motherhood. When she attempted to see herself living without her dream while creating a world for Owen to be happy, she saw sadness and disappointment. Regret. On the flip side, when it was Owen who she imagined doing the sacrificing, it led to his misery and ultimate downfall. His lack of personal fulfillment lead to him becoming an alcoholic. You are going to cope with the decisions you’ve made and it’s not guaranteed to be in a healthy way, so you might as well create and live the life you envision, alongside people whose ultimate goals aren’t out of alignment with yours. At no point did both of their goals find a common ground and therefore, there was no possibility of true happiness, or better yet longstanding JOY between the two of them.

The Bottom Line:

It doesn’t matter what your gender is or how you identify sexually or beyond; choosing to exist in the stories of other people rather than the passionate future you desire to create for yourself will undoubtedly cause you great unhappiness. There has to be a way to co-exist and climb the ladders of life successes together OR understanding and ACCEPTING that you can’t be together due to the vast differences; anything else is just wasting love. It will more than likely HURT to choose yourself sometimes; it’s like a surgery with no anesthesia. But when you emerge from recovery, you are a better, more healthy YOU. It’s worth it to choose yourself when you otherwise being left out of the equation.

Do you know who you are –

What do you like? What is your perception of the world and of life? What brings you joy and what causes you grief or pain? What upsets you? How do you love? Are you awake, alert and involved or are you just existing? What do you want for yourself? What would make you feel successful? What are you dreams and where do they lie? 

Do you know what has happened to you –

What caused you to think and feel this way? Are you ok with that? Who hurt you? Who made you laugh? Where were you when the ball dropped? What did it look like when you got back up? How long were you down? How hard do you fly? What shapes you? What caused you to fear? What has helped you believe? Who did or do you run to? Did you know that you own the rights to everything that has happened to you? Now, what are you going to do with that? 

Do you want to live this way –

If you died today, on a scale of one – five with five being the highest possible feeling, how would you rate your overall satisfaction with how you lived your life?  What surgery needs to be done to achieve a 5…today? How can this answer be YES?!

Welcome to the Intensive Care Unit. Extreme care will be taken of yourself by yourself from this point on. Take a second and ask yourself Christina Yang’s questions. Allow your imagination to create potential layouts of what your future may look like depending on the door you choose. And when you are searching for the answers, be sure to open discernment’s door for the people, places and/or things that you need to let go of. You will find this to be a necessary surgery in order to get a Yes answer at the end of the third question.  

Death by Strong Arm of self.

Self of arm,

strong by death.

That’s the blog title backward. Sounds like some type of weird spell to cast. When I say it in my head, I have a loud, old English accent. Or maybe a British accent. Definitely an accent.

“Strength is weight you learn to balance”

~Queen Sheba, It Will Pass

During a recent session with my therapist, we started talking about the myth of strength. It’s a word heavily used in our communities and often served on a pedestal when spoken of. Strength is something all black women possess, maybe by default, and when my therapist and I were talking about it, she mentioned how it dates back to slavery days. ‘

Back then, black women had no choice but to be strong. It wasn’t a positive, in fact, it was to our own detriment to expose our genuine emotions. We held in absolutely everything: our cries from rape, our pain from whippings and beatings, our hurt from watching our husbands and children be sold and/or lynched. Every time something happened, we were supposed to stand upright, shut up and not drop a tear. Weakness, otherwise known as feelings, could get us killed or beaten. It could lead to our families being hurt or destroyed and this carried well beyond the slavery days. What must it have felt like to those women who had little white babies suckling from their nipples after their own children were sold, killed or kept from them? 

Still, they better not show emotion. They took the weight of all their despair and sorrows and balanced it by detaching themselves emotionally from their reality. At this point, strength is inherent in our DNA, with every generation of black women bearing their own oppressed torches. Through the 60s (and in many ways still today), black women were still expected to be docile and quiet and to take their bruises with a welcoming smile. Or least a blank expression. For this reason and others, it’s maddening to hear the phrase “angry, black woman”, as if we haven’t earned the right to embrace anger at our fucking leisure. As if anger (which is a derivative of hurt) is something that should be foreign to us when truthfully speaking, we have every damn right to be angry after all these years, and it shouldn’t become how we are categorized or stereotyped!

The phrase “angry black women” gives off the impression that black women should still be strong and silent, happy lil slave women. We shouldn’t hurt and even if we do, we damn sure shouldn’t show it.

Nah, Jody. Not true. You can’t police my feelings. You can’t tell any woman, and especially a black woman, that she can’t be hurt/angry about the shit that has happened either to her or those she loves. But I digress.

The earlier quote I referenced by Queen Sheba is a great interpretation of strength and perfect for this blog. After that conversation with my therapist, I started pondering about the detriments of being ‘too strong’ and whether there’s even such a thing. Our culture promotes strength as something to be proud of. And I admit, I am proud of my own strength. Much like Whitney Houston’s song, there have been many times that I didn’t know how much was there. But is it possible that we are idolizing strength and not recognizing that ‘healthy’ strength (weight) is balanced by weakness?

“Too strong” is something we should all pay attention to see if we are becoming. I assure you, too much strength can be unhealthy for your emotional diet. The meme (via IG) says a ‘strong’ woman can go through the worst of her life and you won’t know it unless she tells you. It reminds me of that cliche,  ‘thank God I don’t look like what I’ve been through.” But how much of this mentality works against us? I’m not suggesting we should be walking around looking like life has dragged us through the mud or yelling from the rooftop what our current life issues are, but I am starting to think that sometimes people close to you need to know you are going through hell. Not for their personal pleasures but so that you can have that safe space. A sounding board if need be. Or a quiet place to sit. Whatever the case, many people don’t tell folks what is going on with them; I know because I am one of them.

We are so strong, so super, that we got it all handled. It’s under control. We are Olivia Pope to our problems. WE ARE STRONG BLACK WOMEN!!!!

Image result for if people wanted you to talk good about them they

“I’m fine” should be tattooed across my forehead in a glow in the dark ink with daytime visibility. I say it so much that sometimes, I don’t know if I’m telling the truth or a lie. Have you ever felt that nagging feeling that pulls at you internally whenever you answer ‘how are you doing‘ with “I”m fine” or ‘I’m ok’ when inside you know you are less than your best and maybe unraveling? We either don’t trust that people truly are concerned with how we are doing or we don’t trust them with our information. Oh, and then there’s that other thing where we don’t want to be a burden to others so we withhold our true feelings. And let’s not forget the mentality of “I should be over it’ and ‘it ain’t that deep’ and my favorite, ‘I keep it moving.’ All the while, we are holding in different emotions about different shit, on top of life happening plus work and/or school and the kids and animals and the goals, dreams, passions . . .

…is there just no time to stop and feel?

It’s not a secret that I come from a family of women that didn’t show emotions or couldn’t be bothered with feelings. Matter a fact, the women that did involve themselves in authentic feeling (my aunt Millie and somewhat my aunt Jessie) were looked at as weaklings. My Grandmother spoke of crying with disgust. She elt the same about mourning the dead. But I will never forget seeing her face full of tears shortly before we lost her mentally, and if you’ve been around this blog long enough, you know I question if everything she held in contributed to her Alzheimers? At some point, we don’t have any more room for stuffing, repressing and hiding memories. It will eventually come out in another form. Look at the former slave women and all their backbreaking strength. They were worn, tired and bent over from carrying all that emotionaLESS weight.

Listen to that statement again:

“strength is weight you learn to balance”

~Queen Sheba

Regardless of whether you are balancing or near the tipping point, you are carrying weight like a fetus that never stops growing even when you begin to run out of skin. If you’re running out of skin, you’re holding in too much weight and if you’re holding too much weight, you’re being too damn strong! Do you realize that STRENGTH can also turn into STRESS??? And we all are aware that stress can lead to heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and death. Strength is great on a meme and in Popeye cartoons, but did you know that too much of it can end your life?

Don’t kill yourself with strength.

Weakness has a bad rap.

It’s associated with being lesser or not up to par when in reality, being weak is healthy and does not denote a deficiency. In fact, allowing yourself space and self-respect to be weak or have weak moments is a true testament to your strength.  At my last appointment with my therapist, I was talking about missing the feeling of having my ‘person’ and the process of building the life I saw for us. As I spoke, my words began to tremble. Instinctively, I fought it and then I quit. I let the tears fall. I let the emotion exist. I took the breathe I needed. I continued my conversation. I survived. As tiny and as brief of a moment as it was, it was better that I didn’t hold it in and stuff it on top of all the other abandoned emotions left in my field of repressed memories. I watched a documentary of about adults pursuing their high school diplomas. There was a lady who was frustrated with school and was in the office with the principal and her counselor. As she talked about being stressed out, she began to cry. As she apologized for her tears, she said: “sometimes I have to just let it out.”

We were not created to carry the weight of life on our shoulders and proudly beat our chests because we don’t allow ourselves the proper moments to feel. We are supposed to feel. We NEED to feel. It’s detrimental to our health and to our coveted strength. To feel means to mourn. It means to cry. It means to be hurt. To be angry. Sad. Distraught. Melancholy. Confused even. It means to stop fighting it. Let go of the ego that is embarrassed and BE. FEEL. Experience your personal human journey authentically.

THAT is what true strength is – the balance between what you feel and the ability to discern what to do about it.

That’s how you maintain and grow your strength. Write. Sing. Dance. Scream. Kick. Cry. Your tears are dropping on fertile soil. Grow thru your feelings. You will look like you’ve grown. People will notice and that’s ok. It’s actually ok to look like everything isn’t perfect. One more time:

“Strength is weight you learn to balance”

~Queen Sheba

Strength is a balancing act of equal weights but another definition of strength is: ” a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions”. For this blog, the elements would be strength and ‘weakness’ (also known as authentically feeling your emotions). If you combine the two, you will get authentic strength rather than just the kind that reads well on a meme.

Don’t let the spell fall on you and trick you into an early grave: Self of arm, Strong by Death.

~J