The Savannah Syndrome:”He’s A Good Man, Savannah”

Savannah Syndrome Definition & Symptoms:

When a man proclaims to be a “good man” and is seemingly captivated by the idea that not only is he a “good man“, but that all women should see him as the Messiah of men, he may suffer from Savannah’s Syndrome. The man in his mirror tells him that he is THE man. The ultimate good guy. Any woman who doesn’t fall for his goodies is deemed not smart enough to see what is standing in front of her. His usual reaction to any type of rejection involves curse words, spiritual shaming, predictions of future regret, forever single and unapproachable. All while conveniently forgetting that he might be talking to a “good woman.” His language will read as if somehow the woman is now beneath him and his immeasurable awesomeness. These men are also known to accuse black women of being angry, often in unwarranted situations. Clinical trials have shown that men with Savannah’s Syndrome believe they are a savior for women (not to be confused with saving women). This condition is not rare as it’s known to affect 3 out of 5 “good men. The only cure is to death to the ego. 

 Note***This gif is meant to imply death to EGO. Don’t let a living ego tell you otherwise.

What is it about good guys who know they are good guys?

Do they smell their shit and think it’s the stuff roses are made of? Do their farts resemble toll house cookies being baked on a cold winter morning just before Santa Clauses slides down the chimney of their home? Is there a governmental kickback, tax-writeoff or a lifetime supply to Jordans and Jordan’s Chicken if they show the public how enchanted they are with their good guy status?

It seems there is a growing phenomenon of men, specifically “good men“, who know they are good men or at least deem themselves full of great qualities, that think because of this EVERY woman should not only want to entertain them but is somehow doing themselves a great disservice if they are NOT interested. They will guilt trip you using spirituality and your future, talk shit to you but use terms like “we” to make it seem less solely directed and/or get mad at you and shoot a white castle sack of ten texts to your phone just to let you know it’s fuck you because they know they are the good guy and oh one day you shall see. All this because you lack or lose interest.

Ummm….ok. But, my nigga you need to seek some help.

 

Seriously, get a therapist and get rid of that baggage boo. It’s not becoming of you. Let’s unpack this by starting with my most recent interaction with a male species….specifically the “good” kind.

We’ll make this short and refer to him as “Chocolate (C.) Winona.” He was handsome, not really the height I’m seeking but he was taller than me and I felt like I could wear heels around him. When I’m detailing a man for the first time, these are things I think about along with checking the lips, arms, Adam’s Apple and honestly, a rough estimate of his dick size. Hey, if men can gawk at my ass and make a big deal about it loud and in public, then I certainly can have an internal thought of big or small.

But about C.Winona…

We met on Saturday. By Monday afternoon, I had been informed not only that he didn’t “need me”, but also that  “The Devil Won.”

***I wrote that just as he did via text w/every first letter capital. No worries. Keep reading and you shall see for yourself. Now, hold fast to the phrase “The Devil Won” because I will be using that more in the future just to be an asshole. So about Saturday. A day trip out with mom to a local bar led to her wingmom’ing me into meeting Chocolate Winona. I was standoffish at first even though he initially caught my attention by giving me a $20 bill to put in the wall Jukebox. I’m a sucker for music so I obliged and chose songs that ranged from Rick James’ Mary Jane to The Carter’s Ape Shit. If he was looking for me to play love music by Tank and Keith Sweat, he chose wrong. But as the time passed and wine flowed, so did the conversation. He was a truck driver from Mississippi not too far from where my known roots began. At some point, we exchanged numbers although Peaches the Wingmom had already given him my business card.

I hoped to hear from him. He had informed me that even though he lived in MS, he stopped through Indy almost weekly. He was a good candidate for friendship. I’m not looking to be ‘boo’d up’ with none of these dudes. I am currently in a celebratory stage with my singleness. I enjoy not semi-owing another human being an explanation of where I am, what I am thinking or why I’m not fucking tonight.

But (t)HugzMansion gets lonely too. Just because I don’t want to be in a relationship doesn’t mean I don’t want to date and have a good time. Go out and have drinks. Eat food. Dance. Sweat. Laugh. You know, the things men and women do well together…or so I’ve heard. C. Winona seemed well for this because he doesn’t live here but he’s here often enough for us to engage in some of those things. Sex wouldn’t be something that could rule the connection because obviously IF we were having it, it wouldn’t be that much. And then there’s always the why am I trying to date men here (who obviously don’t dig me anyway) when I don’t want to live here ANYMORE. I want to graduate and move. It’s not Indy, it really is me. So there should be no more ties to no more tied-at-the-NAP niggas with kids, problems, and maternal nipples they still have their wallets attached to.

He seemed like a good start. He’s never lived with a woman, owns an acre or two down south and just really had an I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T aura. It was refreshing.

One thing I love about hanging out with my mom is that the wine will be flowing. The bad part is that more than likely, it will be wine flowing past my cutoff, straight to my glass.

There’s no point to me saying that other than shouting out another good time in the books. I didn’t leave my mom at the bar and go sleep with the truck driver. This isn’t a blog from the back of his truck cab that doubles as a help me message. We were at the bar for a long time and my mom ended up staying all night with me that night. She’s a great wingmom. They talked for quite a bit and I’m sure she has his life history recorded in her secret Book of NiggaNotes. It was an eventful Saturday out with my mom at The Living Room Lounge. It was really more of a scene out of a black episode of Cheers, just with a wine-drunk poet instead of the mailman.

Staging the Scene:

Sunday we talked briefly and decided to grab breakfast before he headed out to Texas. I drove to the truck stop where he graciously filled my tank up (after I had just put $16 in it…I wanted a refund). We stood outside chatting while he waited for his laundry to end and he asked me why I was so standoffish at first. This led to me saying I have trust issues. I’m thinking I’m not looking for you to marry me so I can say that openly, adult-like and honestly. He obliged my trust issues with some of his own and spoke on past occurrences that left him, side-eyeing folks. Again, we’re just going for food, not a marriage certificate, so I’m cool with this conversation as it was open and straightforward. I also had open and straightforward convos with the ex and so, alleged honesty or good convo isn’t impressive. But again, I’m a heterosexual woman who’s been single over a year and left dateless and dickless and saying “damn” three times randomly throughout the day.

I’ve been proud of myself lately. The guys I’ve come into contact with have all been met by me standing my ground. One guy asked for a hug after we walked and talked for an hour. I decided against it. Simple little thing it was but it felt good to say no. There have been several of these small gestures of me claiming my time properly that I’m hoping will bring a better litter of pedigree my way. It’s a new me that I’m quickly used to and in love with. This time, I stood my grounds on who I am willing to let cook for me:

Him: “Where you want to go get something to eat?”

Me: “Its two really good spots downtown. Wild Eggs and Yolk.”

Him: “Or we can go on the highway and get off on the next exit. There’s a Denny’s up there.”

Me (mentally scoffing AF): “No thanks, I don’t like Denny’s.”

Him: What do you want then?”

Me, without hesitation:”One of the two places I named.”

The conversation and food at Yolk were good. We laughed, talked travel, kids, food, life. We hit it off even more, sober nonetheless, and planned to meet up when he stopped back through Indy. I even gave him a hug which reminded me of how great a good embrace can be.

Monday Mourning:

Now I’m about to post screenshots for two reasons: to avoid typing and trying to summarize these messages without leaving out anything pertinent and two, so we can get back to the original question of this blog and end it. But first, let me start this at where things truly ended. Sunday night, I went fell asleep around 10:00 pm reading my book for class and watching Law & Order: SVU. When I woke up to turn the lights out around 1 AM, I saw he had called shortly after 10:30. I returned the call via text Monday morning wishing him a good day and noting that I was asleep the night before. Well, no need for paraphrasing. Peep this curveball:

The Capitalization of Every Letter Bled My Eyes Dry
**Jodeci sir.

Do you want my response to this madness or should I just dive back into the Savannah Syndrome? Fuck it:

I don’t have the battery life for this shit.

I immediately blocked him after I sent that last message because I mean it when I say I will cut your black ass off these days. No more sticking around and proving my instincts wrong. No more giving second chances. I’m all out. Sorry guise. I wasted them on trifelife niggas and now, either come right or miss me. Now, the term correct is not synonymous with perfect. But this shit right here…NAW! So as long as planes, trains, and automobiles cover the land and skies and ships cover the seas, I swear I will be God blessed and fine. My mom might be disappointed. I think she liked him. Mom, I think we need to make peace with me living this life to the fullest, solo. Or, as I am coming to wonder, maybe I have many true loves in faraway countries that are waiting for my arrival. I know this ain’t it. Oh and before I could get that block to stick, one final message came back to me from Chocolate Winona that I didn’t bother to screenshot (I only did shots to share w/my sister…but hey, why not the blog).

It said “Ok Ms. Smith. Take care. P.S. The Devil Won.”

N I G G A W H A T? ????

What exactly did the devil win? My soul? Cause that would be the only thing that matters and I’m certain that ceasing communications with someone other than God does not equate to the devil winning my soul….or virtually anything else! This makes me think about Too Black and Amiri Baraka. Too Black often performs Amiri Baraka’s poem “Must Be The Devil” as a tribute, and that repetitive line of “must be the devil!!”, popped in my head when I read that. So, it must be the devil winning, not you fucking up?

Seriously, please offer commentary to help me see the error of my ways. My comment sections are open for the public to leave real thoughts in. I welcome them. I gave you the whole screenshots because I want to get an outside take on how I handled this and if I jumped off the deep end. My conclusion was that based on this pre-convo about trust issues and me not answering my phone, that is how my morning text was greeted with “we gotta do better than this” and a reiteration of trust issues rather than something more friendly and fashionable (as in we just met each other) like “have a blessed day too.” Is that fucking hard???? Should I have really been told that we gotta do better? Nigga. I just met you!!! I don’t have to “do better.” Either you like what is being presented or you keep it trucking, Buck. And one more thing….did he hit me with the angry black woman technique? He suggested I shot him down in my aggressive texts but I never could locate either: not the aggressive texts or the shooting him down.

But that’s not the point of this blog.

This is really about The Savannah Syndrome. One thing that I noticed while we were headed to eat was Chocolate Winona’s repeated interrogation of whether or not I am the type that appreciates a good man. It got to a point that I felt I needed to throw it out there that I too am a good woman and make no mistake of that. It started to feel like he picked up a straggler from the corner who needed to be coached on being in a relationship so long as she was appreciative. I ended up saying yeah I’m appreciative but I also REQUIRE the same. I’m a good fucking woman, flaws.and.all. In order to take a seat at your table, I would have to sell one of my own.

I’m not a bum. But – I’m also still healing and reeling from the whatevers of my life so I took it with a grain of perception. But when I received these texts, I knew I wasn’t tripping. My ex used to do this shit. He would play this “good guy” role in attempts to guilt trip me (also known as manipulation) out of giving up on the relationship. He would say things like “you’ll never get someone who loves you like I love and support you”, “you know no one else will love you like me”, and other similar phrases often reserved for women to say to men but I digress. It worked but not because I didn’t think I would get a better love; but because I thought he was a good man and I wasn’t being ‘fair’ to him. Reality has shown that if someone isn’t loving you the way you want or need to be loved, regardless of their level of good, dropping them will allow you the opportunity for someone else to love you BETTER!!!! Even if that someone is yourself. 

Now, I know I’m one to overthink but I also know old relationships are supposed to teach us what to avoid and what to look for in new experiences. When that flurry of messages came through and I kept seeing about the devil winning and showing up Saturday “after the good man came”,  I was instantly yuckfaced about it. The final message of  “P.S. The Devil Won” really made me laugh. Because I couldn’t help but think what if the devil had nothing to do with this my G. What if God was saving me from something that wouldn’t ultimately be good FOR ME? What if for once in my life, I actually allowed that to happen without asking to be broken down first?

Just as there are still good guys left on Earth, there are good women. Most times, it is good women that raised them. I think it’s worth noting that “good” is a subjective term, which means its definition is subject to one’s own individual perceptions and experiences. What are you good at? Building? Cooking? Fucking? Manipulating? Staying out late? Just because you are “good”, doesn’t mean you are FOR everyone…or anyone. Being a good person or a good man or a good woman doesn’t make you perfect and it doesn’t automatically grant you access to whoever you want. Your version of your good self might be the worst choice for my version of my best self. This is how my last self-proclaimed “good man” left me looking:

Wow my boobs are flat.

It doesn’t mean either of us is bad people. And two good people not being compatible don’t mean the devil won shit!!!

It means yaw don’t mesh. The. End. Manipulation is running rampant in relationships and I’m no longer willing to sink in the murky waters of an unknown nigga ocean of confusion. Even if you’re a good guy. That “The Devil Won” shit rubbed me so ill man. Don’t try to use God to fuck with me. My ex did that shit too and thought he was the moral authority in the house while living a devildick lie of a life. Remember how Savannah’s mom from Waiting to Exhale told her that homeboy was “a good man”??? She said it with conviction in her face and voice. She wholeheartedly believed him to be such.

And good he may have been. He was also an adulterer. A liar. And a manipulator. All these things made him selfish as well. Quite similar to my ex, who again, suffered heavily from Savannah’s Syndrome. I’m not questioning whether he was good or not; I’m just saying there came a point for Savannah where his good wasn’t her cup of excellence.

When good dick is no longer the blinding force, you increase the odds of ending up with a confident good man who lacks Savannah Syndrome,

…and also has good dick attached to his beautiful, compatible soul.

So for now,

I’M GOOD, nigga, enjoy.

Today’s soundtrack is a new release from Chance the Rapper:

PS: God Won Again!!!! #AlwaysDoes

Stay Away from Girls Like Me: Abusive Women

“I’m just abusive by nature

Not cause I hate you”

~Nicki Minaj, the Crying Game

 

Stay away from girls like me . .  .

Girls who are abusive.

Most of us aren’t this way because we want to be.  We have no ill intent but, as spoken in those lyrics, it’s in our nature somehow. Our lack of control embarrasses us. The aftermath is shameful. We don’t boast about it in attempts to emasculate you. We would much rather have you hold us and help us through our journey to stop but you won’t be able to, after, it’s not your job. Anger is the most important emotion to control due to how violent it can make someone. Our control needs help. We can feel the rage as it starts to grow, but most times the argument in question has already gone too far. We don’t hit for sport or to exercise control; we hit for defense. I know it doesn’t make that much sense. But that tone of disgust that appears in your voice, and the sounds you make when you’re tired of us in the moment seem to push our meters up. The louder you yell and the more your language leaves a common disagreement and begins treading the thin line of emotional abuse, the less we can hold it down.

Don’t date women like me. For us, words have the same hit and force as fists and so we respond accordingly. At our boiling point lies the ‘violent bitch.’ We won’t be able to stop ourselves from risking it all as fits fly, rage thrashes and our eyes close to the incoming response.

Stay away from for we are dangerous.

We need help. We are pre-packaged so neatly and imperfectly flawless that it’s hard to remember sometimes that underneath the underwire in our bra lies a violent heart.

“Violent bitch”

Two words that made up the title of a poem I heard back in 2003. Eventually, I wrote a response to it even though I wasn’t directly connecting myself to its subject matter. There have been several relationships where it never crossed my mind to throw a punch. For a while, I guess I thought I was ….ok.

We have ups and downs.

There are times, years even, where it seems like we’re different. We feel confident that we are healed although we never directly focused on such. It’s not until your kind comes along to dance a jig on our tightrope that we remember there is still something inside of us that needs fixing. We shake from the inside out. Use softer voices as a way of backtracking where the argument is heading because we know the feeling. We try without saying we are trying to keep from allowing the beast inside of us to be awakened.

Stay away from girls like me . . .

Because we fail at it often.

Your words will feel like mini knives, really sharp and piercing. Each one cuts a half-inch beneath the last and we can’t handle this. We weren’t taught how to properly deal with hurtful voices. Cruel and intentional word slinging can bring such mental devastation. Many people can handle that shit. They know how to pray their way through every disagreement or at least intercept it before it gets out of hand. We want to be this way and hopefully, one day we will. But for now, we know us and we beg you to watch your words. . . .

…But you don’t. You can’t because you are hurting too, from stuff we have nothing to do with. We both have been raised by with disappointment in our fathers. Your buttons get pushed too. It’s a masculine viewpoint of a mirrored reflection and we won’t be good for each other because of this. At best, we’ll be a hard erection to a sweet spot and the more we age, the more we know that life is way bigger than sex.

So stay away from us . 

Girls like me are hurt inside our core where magma is pumping lava blood through our system. We have anger that knows how to get our attention. We’re not ready for what we wish we had and we won’t make good decisions while angry. To choose your kind would be to choose that same anger repeatedly. You may think it’s a knock against you but it’s not.

You’re not a bad person. You’re just a bad choice, for us.

Your beautiful is as bright as ours and I’m sure the shine will greatly impact a different life, but girls like me are too damaged to coddle your ego, tend to the needs you will have or pacify you with accommodating silence. Girls like me are loud.

Boisterous. There are times when we can be accommodating to our anger. Our hearts turn into leisure lounges for our temper to kick its feet upon. Anger feels welcomed with us; we open ourselves up and accept it…then we act on it. We don’t like being taken advantage of for the moment or the long-run or talked down to. We are not beneath you; we just have a different type of healing to do.

Girls like me can’t control it sometimes.

But we don’t give up. We are water bearers. Former mermaids that were drug out of the sea. Mercedes on feet, driving at full speed, poetry within a paragraph, perhaps we’re prose, girls like me don’t look like we would hoard the pain we do in our Micheal Kors bags but there’s much to be said about what we’ve internalized. It’s precisely why we don’t own compact mirrors. No one wants to see that when they are just trying to check for lipstick on their teeth. We feel secretly embarrassed when people speak of domestic violence. Because no matter how much of a discount we got on our Aldo heels, we know we still fit under that umbrella.

Stay away from girls like me….

Abusive girls. Abusive women.

Many would see us as lesser if they knew our secret, so we hide under cute dresses, crochet hairstyles, and Fenty foundation. We’re still ladies though. We want to do and be better but that begins with the choices we make on who we want to be and who we are willing to deal with.

Stay away from girls like me because we won’t deal appropriately with you. And you will call us crazy. You’ll tell a few friends that we are volatile. You’ll tell us we scare you and it will confuse us. We’ll respond with a chuckle at the idea that we instill fear in a grown man. But, I suppose it’s a fair statement.  You will begin to do more than restrain us. You too will become violent and it will start with self-defense. It will grow into our standard relationship practices.

Girls like me… won’t give you what you need. We’ll be the opposite. Dangerously in love will understate how we act. So stay away from us. We are still mad at our fathers. A few of us still have yet to figure that out. They (our fathers) should have shown up. They should have taught us better and treated our mothers with more respect. We’re pissed that we (us and our mothers) were treated like everyday weeds instead of marvelous one of a kind flowers. There are pieces of our puzzle that require attention and repair and for us to stop looking out of our childhood-colored glasses.

There is no choice but to see those who failed to teach us proper love as human beings that just so happened to be in control of someone else’s upbringing. We can’t hold them higher than human nature. We’re special but not that special. Some of us are in charge of someone else. It’s a learning process to figure out no parent is above being a human being and one day, if we don’t fix our broken pieces, our children will feel the same way we do. We will inevitably show them a poor path of loving if we don’t allow growth to take place within ourselves.

So….

Just stay away from us.

Not for now but for good. You are no good for us. Or to us.

We have to heal. We have to figure it out. We have to become greater than we are right now.

We have to choose better – for our internal and external selves.

And when this process has completed itself and we are open to freely fly in the name of love, we have one final request one of you:

Stay away from us.

Stay away from girls like me.

Abusive women.

We are fragile.

And no matter how much gold lines the cracks in our Kintsugi, you will break us open and re-expose our blackouts.

We don’t want that.

Neither do you.

“All this love you speak of,

All I want is to love and be loved”

Nicki Minaj, the Crying Game

So stay away from girls like me.

Girls who are abusive started as girls who were abused – could be literally, figuratively or both. And if you ever wondered, abandoning your child is a form of emotional abuse (and torture). We want a love that won’t make us look back and that won’t pull violent tendencies out of our luggage when our intention is to unpack.

You’re not so special that you should be able to bring us the bags we’ve sat down for the last time.

This is the year of breaking cycles: Cycles of how we act and,

…cycles in who we choose.

So stay away from girls like me.

~J

September 27th – Pt II Puerta Va-Hopelessplace

In August 2016, XXXXX and I took a trip to Los Angeles; a first for both of us. We had an incredible trip and spent five days touring the streets, walking the parks and laying on the beaches of L.A. It was a no-brainer that we would go back. The airstream we stayed in was an experience unlike any other. It sat up in the hills with picturesque views of LA, the Hollywood sign and Griffin Park. The sunset was marvelous.  They were a popular destination with only one opening in September: two weekdays.

The calendar was booked for the rest of year just the same. I was a bit taken aback when XXXXX suggested we book the two days in the airstream and then catch a cruise, if plausible, that would take up the rest of the trip. We were basically building a California trip around the openings in the airstream. I was surprised by this because he doesn’t like cruises but for whatever reason, he was up for it. I’m always down to float on the ocean, so we began our next search. He usually lets me handle this part of our vacationing because …well, I’m good at it! I will search relentlessly for the best deal and I ALWAYS find what I’m looking for (or better). I had no idea I was a part of his illustrious plot on me. He knew me well enough to know what my exact reaction would be to each suggestion.

Airstream – Hell Yeah Babe!

Cruise somewhere – YASSSS Zaddy !!!

We settled on an 8 day trip to Califonia, that would include a five-day cruise to Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. We’d arrive on Wednesday and spend it and Thursday in the airstream. Our cruise left at 8 AM Friday morning and returned around the same time later that week. We figured we’d splurge on a dope ass hotel for the final night in Cali.

Sounded exciting enough to me! The days leading up to our trip felt like they moved slow but soon enough we were touching down in California about to hit the 405. The day of our ocean departure, I could tell he was nervous. His excitement to indulge in my ocean-energy carried him beyond his personal fears. We had a balcony room and suggested to him that we spend at least one night sleeping outside. We reclined our chairs all the way back and held hands under the stars while listening to the soft tapping of the Pacific against our ship. There were stars everywhere and we fell asleep naming them per our ‘skwahd‘, and checking for constellations.

The cruise was romantic. We immersed ourselves in each other’s company and enjoyed every day on and off the ship. He barely remembered he was on a cruise after the first day. Cabo was more than I could have asked for. We ate well, drank better and did every water activity time would allow. He had taught me basic swimming before we left so thanks to XXXXX, I was able to swim in the ocean!! And to not be scared to venture into it. Our final port was in Puerto Vallarta. As time drew close to our final boarding, XXXXX and I found a quiet, secluded area on a beach that was popular with our shipmates. The ship was just around the corner. It was a safe last stop where we could maximize our time. I sat quietly on the edge of the soft, white sand with my feet in the water. It felt good on my legs.

as i sat there, I drifted off into my own world. my thoughts were touring the rest of the ocean as the sun tiptoes over its waves. the sound of god speaking brought me so much calm. I hear God speak when i hear the ocean. and it’s always so fascinating.

I was so far into the depths of thought with my eyes closed that I didn’t realize XXXXX wasn’t standing next to me anymore until he called my name.

“Kendria!”

I shook my head out of my beautiful trance and turned behind me. We had exactly one hour left before we had to board the ship. This hour was the dawn of a new morning glory in my world.

When I turned and looked for him behind me, there he stood barefoot, in white linen pants that were rolled up above his ankles, a brown hat to protect his St Tropez-tan (as he called it), and a sky blue shirt that collected his sweat with ease. His arms were stretched.

I stood to walk towards him while wondering why he would want to leave the beach so soon. The closer I got, the more I saw.

Flowers. Big, colorful flowers that aligned the back of the beach where different vendors were set up. I had been so inundated with the Pacific Ocean that I didn’t realize he was gone long enough to pick these huge flowers.

Tears. In his eyes. As I began to walk toward him, I could tell he had tears welling in his eyes. His smile stood proudly and his eyes were fixated on me. I closed in on him and he stepped to the side, revealing a small, sand-drawn heart with a black box in the middle.

There was no hoopla. No dancers, fire acts or mosh pits.

Just him. Just me. And the distant laughter of the people on the further side of us and the crashing of the ocean.

This black box had everything we had been building inside of it.

The date was September 27th. I couldn’t withhold my emotions and tears sprinted down my cheeks in a disorderly fashion. Before I could speak, he walked around, behind the flowers that decorated the heart. He grabbed the box, opened it and bent down right in front of me. I’m so glad I wore a dress off the ship. It made for beautiful memories when I thought back at how it blew in the wind at the same time as my hair. #MissAmerica #pettyThoughts 

 

He stood at the peaks of the heart, where the two aortas combine and said:

“You make me understand life. Before you, there were none. There is no after you. There is only right now. My life feels refreshed and alive with you in it. You don’t allow me to settle or wallow. You push me toward greatness. Your love is overflowing and sufficient, and I feel it on me when you’re not here. My soul can feel yours before it begins to speak. Baby, we are not temporary. We have to be forever. There is nothing I will not do for you. I want to begin every day, from here on, talking to God about you, with you and close to you. I want to worship with you. Grow spiritually with you and lead us both to greatness. I support you like you support me. You have taught me how to see myself and I want to spend the rest of my life making you joyful. I know it is God’s will that we meet in eternity. I’m Yours Right Now. ..and forever.

Will you marry me?”

He opened the box and the yellow canary that jumped out and sang around my head like a halo gave me a gasping pause. It was just what I wanted. It wasn’t too flashy but it was enough to say “XXXXX Lives Here” in neon diamonds.

I’ll never forget the way my heart beat. Or the breeze. And the sounds. Or how it felt floating on air back to the ship. It felt like as we walked through the metal detectors to reboard the ship, I was entering a new world of my own. My newest level.

A higher strain of trust.

I really tried hard not to ugly cry. 

But, I think I did.

And then I said yes so loud that I think other people down the way heard us. We hugged and danced and kissed. It was minimally extravagant. In front of the ocean and alongside God. We made our first vow right then and there: to never take for granted the fact that we found each other. This world is full of billions of people and sure cities are small, but we found each other. We navigated life and held firm in our faith that our person was out here.

And now, in the evening of a Puerto Vallarta late-summer cruise, we found forever . . .

“Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive

It’s the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I’ve gotta let it go
We found love . . .

….”In a hopeless place.”

~Rihanna, We Found Love

 

“Not All Black Men”: #PinningTheTailOnTheDonkeyOfTheDay

“Most men fuck women to destroy them . .  .”

~TK Kirkland

 

For nearly 39 years, I have watched black men drop the ball on me in every way imaginable. Starting with my natural father and blood brother to the man I planned to marry to the guys on the street and complete strangers and the play brothers and the guys I grew up with – -*the men I love so dearly have often left me hanging or worked overtime at disrespecting the very nature of my heart. Or at least, this is how it FEELS. I am currently searching my reserve tank for something to keep believing in them, loving them and fighting with and for them but it has thinned to the thickness of a single hair follicle. Recently, I watched a black man tear down a well-known black business woman in Indy. He trashed her restaurant, her food quality, and her prices. After legions of supporters chimed in, in her favor, he went to battle with each one (mostly women), myself included. He trolled our pages and insulted us based on what he was able to see. He referred to the sole black man (that I saw at that time) as a bitch ass nigga because he defended her. He even disrespected her mother by calling her a bitch (after she stated she was her mother). While other people get angry and go back and forth with this type of stuff, I get sad and seemingly ill. I can’t participate because I start shaking internally. My eyes cross, my heart breaks and tears sometimes form.

This has been a relatively hard blog to write.I’ve feared that my current relationship standing and my past baggage would sponsor a blog post that was too full of ‘black girl attitude’ instead of magic, and come off as whiny, full of complaints and inexperienced with more than one type of black man. What I am about to say is not without merit nor do I lack taking ownership for what I have entertained and allowed to permeate my life (in the cases where I could help it). I’m not another blogger using her platform to tear down the black man. I’m not that. I am a whole woman with validity to her claims, experience under her belt and just enough wisdom to know that some shit just ain’t right. I’m fine with being labeled as angry because….well, fuck it, I AM!

And I have EVERY right to be; to authentically feel WTF I am already feeling! I don’t hate black men and I am absolutely still full of love for them.  It’s just time for me to take the sugar spoon away and be real: our trust has been broken and our bond needs critical repairing, but no one is fine-tuning this shit except me and I’m damn near done completely.

I LOVE black men and I always have. I’ve loved them hard, relentlessly, and wildly on purpose; with intention and out loud. I could never claim to be perfect and I’ve always been on the learning curve of love, but I’ve given it as best as I had to put out.  I’m here for them. Once upon a time, I wrote for and performed to them. I loved them on stage as much as off. I got my first standing ovation from a room full of hood rich dudes who were there to stand their hip-hop grounds on a night that poetry had tried to ease in and take over. The poem, “Convicted Felon”, was written about struggles of re-entry and they ate it up. I wanted them to know that I was present for them and their struggles. In Louisville one night, I won audience favorite after doing a poem about black men being kings. That came w/a $100 and a standing ovation in a room crowded with black men. The hugs and high fives left me feeling like I had done my job: I let them know that SOMEONE (me) is rooting for them and can see them! I’ve never masked or hidden my love, support, and desire for their presence in my life, yet I find this has made me nothing more than a target with a fat ass.

“…and even if I end up spending my life without one of you/I will forever long to hold onto you like the sun longs to hold onto blue skies that are decorated by white clouds./ I will forever try to build you up/not tear you down.”

I’m not in denial about my rocky relationship with black men. I must specify “black men” because that’s who I have dealt with. I know other men of other races do the same shit; but my allegiance is to black men and gotdammit, I want my fucking reciprocity! More than that, I want this breach repaired. I don’t want to have to rely on men of other races – I WANT to love black men; but I don’t want to love for two anymore. It’s time that I just do my part; not both of ours. I have so much material where I have written them into the parts of my life that I needed or wanted them. I didn’t call them kings in a poem and treat them like peasants in real life. I’ve created fairytales with my words and I admit that was a mistake. In hindsight, I wonder did I think that I could write myself into a healthy space with black men in general? Had I been thinking that whole time that I could show them my authentic self via poetry and that might attract like-minds and good fruits of the harvest? Because if I did, I can say that it didn’t work.

It attracted more enemy-like predators. They saw my vulnerabilities and used them to their advantage while assisting in destroying my overall feelings regarding black men in general. Time and time again, I’ve been nothing more than an experimental situationship for them, and I’ve watched them ride off on white horses with other women. Literally.

PICTURE IT:

During my sophomore or junior year of high school, I was called a nigger by a white man entering a nearby Walgreen’s that I was leaving out of. We almost bumped into each other and that was his response. It was so unexpected that I don’t think I responded. I was shocked quite frankly and I was also skipping school sooooo, I didn’t tell anyone. That was the first and only time that I’ve been called that to my face, although I’m sure many have mumbled it about me under their cowardly breath. I was called a ho when I was in the seventh grade. The guyS that started spreading rumors about me at age 13, some true and plenty others embellished at that time, were all black. They lived in the same neighborhood as me and went to the same school. These guys had me thinking I was a slut before I ever lost my virginity. I was bullied, laughed and pointed at, made fun of me and alienated…all because of black boy joy, circa 1992. I took the long way home from the store, I had to transfer schools and I literally peeped around corners to see if I saw any trace of them when I was outside.  They made my life HELL. I lost my ‘friends‘. My shaky self-esteem plummeted and my reputation in my new neighborhood was trashed by the first two people I met: black boys. This continued until I left the neighborhood for good in 1998 @19 years old.

My point of that is not to rehash old memories but to show a juxtaposition of the hurt inflicted upon me by white men vs. black ones. It’s TROUBLING !!! Do I trust white men more than black men (or at all for that matter)??

I’m not stupid. I know they really don’t GAF about me. But I am an observer and what I have seen and experienced has shown me that most of the black men I come across don’t appreciate, want or love me either. It feels worse than that one time Walgreens occurrence or the subconscious thoughts other races may have because black men are who I associate and fight with and love greatly. I don’t want to feel this way about them. I WANT to feel like they look at me and see light and love, but I don’t really think so anymore. My own father and brother never saw worth in me. My brother has a bunch of children. I’m no one’s aunt. It makes me wonder what I did to deserve this shit? I’ve been stolen from, used, abused, left out of town, molested, nearly raped, killed and of course, cheated on and lied to while looking me in my eyes all by black men. Some of this I played a role in but not all of it and I’m not willing to take EVERYONE’s blame on my shoulders anymore. I’ve beat myself up for years over the choices and things I’ve done in the name of love or men. THIS BLOG IS NOT WRITTEN WITHOUT PRE-ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF MYSELF! I am responsible for what I allow. It’s just right now, I’m allowing myself to be honest.

I’m often perplexed as I listen, read and watch the seemingly effortless disrespect and mistreatment of black women by black men and boys. It bothers me to no end and maybe that is because my own personal relationships have always been met with an ICU-ending. It doesn’t matter what the context of our relationship was; just about every black man that I’ve ever had a relationship of any significant sort with has left me feeling unprotected and disposable. #NotAllBlackMen

I recently realized that I’ve been giving out labels that come with expectations to men who don’t want to or simply won’t meet those expectations. Matter a fact, I don’t know that they even wanted the labels. That’s not fair of me. These men aren’t required to protect me in any capacity (and they don’t).

What have I done to deserve their protection or respect aside from being born awesome? These the types of questions I ask myself before writing blogs like this.

Photo by ANKH Productions

But I’m not tripping: There IS a lack of protection by the black man of the black woman. I’m not the only person who feels this way. Other blogs have been written before this. VSB wrote one and received quite the backlash (from black men) because how dare they call them out on their shit? I got into a back and forth on FB with a guy about that exact blog because he wanted me to give him proof that it was valid. Instead of saying ‘fuck you and your proof’, I stopped the conversation. #IAmTheProof

I know if a man is reading this blog, his thoughts whilSt reading this might sound like “well, it’s #NotAllBlackMen.” While my personal relationships play a great deal into my perceptions, it’s not solely based on me. I sit and observe, listen and read things that further push me over the edge all the time. I envy the women who proudly profess their support and love for black men. I see stuff like this all the time:

It’s not that I don’t agree because I do. But I don’t feel it reciprocated in action towards me and never have. And so I also have mad respect for those who stand firmly in their disgruntled truth: that they are disappointed and untrusting of these beautifully created, melanted humans. When one of the young ladies from my neighborhood lab told me about two young guys, no older than 14, cat-called and heckled her and another 10-year-old little girl, I was sick. Their behavior was problematic AF and also learned. It may have even been taught to them. The young ladies asked to be left alone and were met with more advances. The ten year was a bit scared and the 14-year-old told me that she knew better than to show her fear because it would only increase their behavior more. TEN. FOURTEEN. They shouldn’t have to experience that and young boys shouldn’t be taught that girls (women) are owed to them. The inability to accept no for an answer or resorting to increased haggling/violence (resulting in fear for the girls/women) comes from a sense of entitlement.  #WhoTaughtYouToHateMe

The Common Denominator

Maybe the problem IS me. Seeing as though I am the common denominator, maybe I’m the issue. Do I hold them too high to their mistakes? Group them all together unfairly? Because it’s #NotAllBlackMen and I know that. I’ve seen ‘good’ black men; they are just a rare sighting in my personal life. Do I take how black men act towards me and other black women too damned personal? Does my disappointment stem from my inadvertent daddy/brother-search in niggas who are only good for slinging dick left to right or loving me tight for a few months or a couple of years? Do you know how many seasonal ‘brothers‘ I’ve put in my heart since poetry came into my life? #TewDahmnMany. You know how many of those brothers called/inboxed/dropped by to see if I was surviving my newest emotional apocalypse? Not even half. And honestly, I guess I haven’t done that for them either. It’s not their job to come check on me; ‘brother/bro’ is just a title – not a lifestyle they have to live. I take the blame for unnecessarily putting dudes in exalted titles and hoping no unspoken expectations are broken. I am no longer that growing teenager that needs her big bro or dad to fight these dudes for her; I fight my own battles. Kendria stands up for herdamnself against the atrocities of how she’s been treated. I’ve learned to stop giving away permanent titles to people who may be temporary. If my biological brother thought of me as trash, what chance did I stand with anyone else in that department? For these reasons, identifying the role I play in the demise of my own heart and respect for my black brothers is crucial.

Overall, I feel extremely failed by the black men I’ve loved. According to social media, it’s ALL me. It’s me suffering from low self-esteem or not loving myself enough. I attract these types of men due to my energy, says the media of socialites. My energy brings the shit to the plants huh? These damn memes and posts get on my EMM EFFIN nerves!!! It’s not that they don’t have truth (for SOME), but they do rush to put all the blame on the person who was mistreated. We love to preach to women and tell them to step to the mirror and love themselves more. There is some weird societal enjoyment in suggesting that the deficit resides solely in us as opposed to telling men to love themselves enough to realize without us, there is nothing. Where are the memes and posts and status’ that suggest to men that they stop using and abusing women? The memes that challenge their self-love based on their mistreatment of us?

In Summation . . .

I have a memory during my teen years of sneaking off into the alley with my neighborhood obsession. His name was Devon. I loved Devon for some reason although, even at such an early age, he didn’t respect me. Maybe he didn’t know how….nah, he knew how. He did it well with others but he saw the cracks in me and used them to his advantage. He was one of the first two guys I met when I moved on Cornelius. One day, while still a virgin, I met him in the alley and let jack off on a pair of checkerboard shorts I wore. The garage we stood behind belonged to a house I’d later move into at age 27. When he was done, I can’t remember what it was I wanted from him – a kiss or hug? For him to walk me back to the front? I don’t know, but it was something that he wasn’t willing to give. He zipped his pants up and started walking down the alley while I stood against the garage in tears. I will never forget him looking me dead in the eyes, walking backward and laughing. Then he took off running.

There it is folks.

That is the summation of my experience with black men. #NotAllOfEmTho

You know I gotta say that before one of them gets their boxer briefs in a bunch and hunts for me with the ‘you hate black men’ inscribed pitchforks. LOL.

Black men don’t like being talked about and called out on their shit. They don’t like being the center of attention if it ain’t what they deem good attention. They want women to stand by them, fighting, fucking & loving no matter what. My ex complained that our sex life wasn’t satisfying – but he carelessly had been telling lies the whole time. How do you have the expectations of getting your dick sucked on a regular when you have all these secrets, plus a white woman on the side? That goes back to that entitlement. It has been my experience that the men I have loved have all felt entitled to my body. They treat me like I OWE them sex. I once told a man I was not in the mood for sex and he didn’t respect it at all. When I later told him that it hurt me how he treated me that night, he called me crazy and said I was tripping. Some of them think we are deserving of their inability to take ‘no’ for an answer. That same man wrote hundreds of poems to women – calling us Queens and talking about what we deserved. But wait – I should blame myself for that. Right? You’ve read it before in my blogs. Or maybe not because when I wrote in great detail what happened, I privatized it days later. I have been protective of black men to a fault. Even my ex, who I blasted across social media. I’ve tried to rewrite how the public saw him many times because I love him. I know his good side; he loved me, although quite incorrectly. I got mad at myself for calling him out. But the reality was, once our ship sank, my body erupted like a volcano that had been FULL to the max of niggashyt that had been collected over 38 years. There was no time to make any other choice except scream at the top of my lungs. 8 months later, I am still smoldering.

Devon walking away from me in that alley was quite the significant foreshadow to my future. The black men I’ve known (#notallblackmen) would much rather piss on me and laugh in my face as they walk away and watch me cry about it. It’s as if they get a hard-on because of it. Becoming Devon’s girlfriend later in life symbolizes how I accept the bullshit and hope for greater anyway. I almost included an example of the few good men that I know to help balance the blog with black Light. But this isn’t about them. Today, I hope by purging this from my system that I will set forth a chain reaction of personal healing. Not just healing for my most recent ex, but a true repairing of my relationship with black men. I don’t want to sink into the abyss of fuck them.

But I got both heels and a spare in the quicksand.

I will pull myself out without a doubt. I always do and it’s always me and God. But who I will be when I emerge is only God’s best guess. If most men fuck women to destroy them, then consider me in repair from being fucked and fucked over and now standing on an emtpy train of my pieces, trying to reconfigure who TF I am. This is what devastation looks like on me:

Photo by ANKH Productions

 

SN: I do want to shout out a man I’ve referred to as my brother for years now. I won’t name him here, but he sent me over 70 text messages in an effort to help me stitch these breaches back together. He also reaffirmed that I don’t need to suffer in silence. That even though my feelings might not be shared by anyone but me, I have the right not to sit in silence and pretend. I’ve done enough loving out loud to be able to sit down and say “I’m tired boss.”

Thank you. I appreciate THAT push from a black man who knows my story.

~j

 

The Money Shot: Show Me The Tank

“SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!”

~Cuba Gooding Jr., Jerry Mcguire

This phrase captured America’s precious heart (presumably because it was rooted in the foundation of America’s first principle: money over everything). I have never seen the movie Jerry Mcguire but I’ve long heard this catchphrase repeated, re-enacted and pressed out on shirts, solidifying it as a pop culture sensational slogan of a lifetime. Afterall, no one wants the money tomorrow. We all want it right now and would prefer it first! Although in many instances the work is done and the financial reward comes last, we still need some type of assurance that “the money” is coming with certainty.  Paperwork such as contracts and promissory notes exist in order to hold the other party financially responsible, and in the event of a fallout, capable of facing a lawsuit. It is my belief that this is due in part due to lack of trust as well as the unforeseeable trait that some people inherently have where they get personal enjoyment from taking advantage of others (in this case that would be not paying).

For this reason, the phrase show me the money” became another one of America’s beloved expressions and whether you saw Jerry Mcguire or not, you could still relate to the statement. Everyone wants to either receive their money up front or know without a doubt that it is coming because it is owed.

Which brings me to Tank .  .  .

Photo Cred: by way of TheShadeRoom & FashionBombDaily

. . . and his money shot.

The other morning, I awoke slightly before my alarm and rather than go back to sleep, I trolled Instagram. One short scroll through the shaderoom and I came across the R&B singer Tank, gazing out of a picture window while wearing nothing but his underwear.  I believe these are called boxer briefs?

I stared, swiped to the next picture, came back and pondered as I looked with concern. I went to the comments to see what the public thought. Many women commented about the lack of eggplant protrusion and the absence of a big dick print. But there were some supporters, one in particular who said another one of pop culture’s favorite phrases: “Maybe he’s a grower, not a shower.” This got me thinking. First thought, unless he was fresh off an orgasm, that thang ain’t growing into too much more.

This got me thinking even further. 

How much longer are we going to promote the idea of hoping people grow into what we want to see verses either accepting what they have shown us (see Maya Angelou’s statement about this) and not expecting more (also known as settling) OR, not accepting what they have laid out for us when it doesn’t fit our needs and moving along until we what we are looking for?

Show me the money dammit!!!!

Think about some of the conversations you’ve had with people who took jobs at a pay less than the average (or what they were looking for). How many of those conversations included people complaining about the long road towards their desirable pay? Or how they feel boxed in or like they will always be behind because they started behind the average gun line? And how raises come in the smallest tenth of an increment so they never quite feel like anything changed when they get it?

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor and closeup
Photo by The Sweet Aura

That’s why show me the money is such a popular saying. That’s why we teach our kids at an early age to follow their dreams and go to college so they can get that headstart into the avenue of their choosing and don’t spend too much adult time waiting on the big rewarding moment they should have started with. Our relationships work similar to this.  We can’t ask to be shown the money and then refuse to pay attention to the small change that stands in front of us. Far too often, we women give men the ‘grower not a shower’ safety clause and expose ourselves to unnecessary stagnation and disappointment.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and indoor
Photo by Jus Fam Photography

The growing/showing theory may be acceptable and at times plausible from the waist down, but from the neck up, it’s an insufficient and ill-fated way of forming new relationships. Creating bonds with potential is grounds to get you heartbroken and when the ship sails, you know who you will be angry at? Yourself! I’ve spoken on this back when the blog was still A.M(use.D).  You will be pissed at yourself for not listening to and trusting your instincts, and you will have to endure the process of self-forgiveness, but only after realizing you are disappointed in yourself. So many layers.

Every reasonable human being striving for the best in life at some point learns that personal growth is infinite; there is no end to it. This isn’t about finding the perfectly put together man. This is about knowing what you want, deserve and expect (also known as your own individual standards) and learning how to require certain things be present at the onset (show me the money).  For example, if I want a man with his own home, his own transportation, legal employment and no more than one child, I can’t meet a guy who’s freshly evicted or lives with his mother (because she is sick of course) and continue in pursuit due to his ability to grow at a later date. There is nothing wrong with being hopeful that a man will get his shit together but the law of self-protection has shown me that, that type of hope is reserved for friends and family; not someone you are trying to build with.

Show me the money dammit!

Show me that your PRIORITIES are together. < That line is the basis of this blog.

You can entertain poor priorities if you want to but you should know it may come at the expense of your heart aching. and gaining a future Ex. If you want a partner and want to truly create an abundant future with that partner, then the alignment isn’t something you should be growing into together (or one by one). The equal yolk is supposed to be the attraction! It’s the money shot!!! In one relationship, I was told “to love me and be with me means to accept me where I am and hope I get it together.” That was a crushing blow to my heart. You know why? Because it was yet another money shot, but this time it was showing me that loving on potential is wasted talent. I should never ‘hope’ one day you will get it right; you should want it right. You should be intent on getting it right. You should come to the door with it right or stay out the game until it is.

One of the common denominators (besides myself) in my past relationships has been giving men the space to grow into the person I saw them as having the ‘ability’ to be. They presented themselves as a Tank picture and I smiled and told myself “maybe he’s a grower, not a shower.‘ No money was shown (or was it???). No pudding proof found my silver plated spoon dipping in it. They showed me who they were and I saw who they could be. I have even told myself that their growth was contingent upon my presence. Meanwhile, time and time again, I held myself back and shrank myself in order to be on an even level with them. Growing instead of showing only works (whenever it does) in the boxer brief section of the world. But think of how small the men’s underwear section is in any department store vs. all the other items inside. Life is bigger than dick-in-the-pants.And truth-be-told, everyone is showing their own version of the money; it’s up to you to count the bills and decide if that’s ENOUGH.

The problem with some woman, myself included, is we see beyond the wolf eyes and connect to the God in them that they don’t see in themselves. Loving someone’s higher self isn’t going to translate into them behaving from their higher self. The result is going to be you, dimming your light and shrinking yourself in order to fit your love, expectations and authentic human experience into a box it never fit in.  Look at you: Getting caught in a box. Busting out of the seams. Stressed for easy breathing because it’s somewhat claustrophobic when you start to reduce yourself and put you last. This is a breeding ground for insecurities for BOTH people involved. Potential is beautiful. We all have it in some form. But some things can’t be compromised into showing me later; they need to be shown NOW! Your authentic makeup should be presented upfront and that includes what you want and need from another person. If you don’t see what you know you need, then the fair thing for both parties is to move on. Truth-be-told, everyone is showing their own version of the money shot;

…it’s up to you to count the bills and decide if that’s ENOUGH.

Let’s say you fall in love with a grower (potential) and they don’t fall in love with showing (living up to). Congratulations! You’ve just ended up with the Tank picture, which you can’t be too mad at because it’s exactly who he SHOWED you he was.  It was the money shot all along. Turns out, there was nothing to grow into.

Not everyone is going to live up to their potential.

Not every small, flaccid penis is going to turn into a giant, hard dick.

Make me and Maya proud:  Don’t settle for growers.  And,

“When people show you who they are, believe them” (Maya Angelou) !!

TheMoneyShot: Taken by The Sweet Aura

Life comes at you fast! Make sure you’re paying attention!

 

~J

 

***Note: this blog in no way is meant to reflect any opinion on the size or growth abilities of Tank’s penis….although I do have my own thoughts. O.O

U.O.E.N.O How to Respect Black Women: A Letter to William by Januarie

 “I want to make sure this is clear, that woman is the most precious gift known to man….

…I just wanted to reach out to all the queens that are on my timeline and all the sexy ladies, the beautiful ladies that had been reaching out to me with the misunderstanding. I don’t condone rape. Apologies on the #Lyric interpreted as rape. #BOSS

~Rick Ross

Dear William Leonard Roberts II, known to most as Rick Ross:

I begin typing with a heavy sigh dragging across my fingers as there was a part of me that wanted to still be a fan of your work although your rape lyrics two years ago troubled me quite a bit and never settled in my spirit as ok or condonable. Still, I admittedly failed to remove the songs of yours that I had added to my various Spotify playlists. “The Devil is a Lie”, featuring my favorite Jay Z. Ashton Martin Music, featuring Chrisette Michele and Drake. I liked the first song because of Hov’s lyrics and the second because of the hook and the beat. I don’t know if it’s safe to say I was ever a ‘fan’ of your work and never bought into your laws of moving all these kilos of cocaine around the world while moonlighting as a corrections officer. Nonetheless, here we are today.

Today is the day I removed your music from my list. Somehow, we as women (or it could legitimately just be me), always find ways to excuse the actions and words of men despite how it has made us or our sisters feel. In our relationships, we try and try until we have exhausted all possibilities or too often, excusing the disruptive and disrespectful behaviors that land us in troubled waters. In music, we accept your reasoning and flawed logic as to why it’s ok to call us bitches and hoes (***NOTE: even if you don’t think the misogynistic lyrics are OK, if you still listen to the music, it’s condoning) and talk about us as sexual objects and conquests to be had and little more. We continue to turn up our radios, nodding our heads with your music blasting through our subconscious and out into the world. We twerk in short shorts to your voices hovering over the 808s like the ghost of music’s present, pretending we’re ok with everything we hear.

Allow me to quote Andre 3000’s Elevators line,

“This shit here must stop, like FREEZE!”

Because seriously, fuck this shit.

Fuck me trying to write some prolific blog to satisfy the masses and draw new audiences. Fuck being politically correct and fuck holding back what I feel. This blog will be full of cuss words and anger because …the nice girl act ain’t what it is right now! Fuck you (Rick Ross) if you’re reading (and thank you) and triple fuck you if you’re not. You know it’s out here. You know somebody is reading your ass right now, for one reason or another.

“Put molly all in her champagne/ She ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that/ She ain’t even know it.”

Rick Ross, U.O.E.N.O.

It took you three attempts at an apology to muster up words that weren’t condescending and full of blame-avoidance. Perhaps you shouldn’t start off your statement, or even end it, calling your raping ass lyrics a “misunderstanding” or “misinterpretation.” There is no way to misinterpret those particular rape lyrics and the fact that you walked away from this song, these lyrics and this moment in your life still not fully grasping that you can’t drug a woman, have sex with her and think you’ve done anything besides raping her, is equally as maddening as it is disappointing, sad and embarrassing. Could this have contributed to that rape case that was brought against you? I know you weren’t the person being charged with rape, but you were accused of “negligent supervision” and since you don’t know what it means to rape and that scenario reads a lot like your rap(e) lyrics, one can’t help but wonder would you even know WHEN to help a woman, much less how? YOU SHOULD BE EMBARRASSED! As a man with a daughter of his own, you should desire to educate yourself, but that’s ‘old’ news and not the reason I am writing you.

I’m not even writing you to ask about all the women that claim to have been made to have abortions by you, something I found out by adding ‘black women’ next to your name in  Google. #InterestingFact #Boss #QuestionMark Now of course, as you all say in hip-hop, “men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.” I like to add “numbers can be manipulated” when I say it but that’s just my interpretation of life. Nonetheless, I understand these are just ‘rumors’ and nothing has been substantiated. Still, I couldn’t help but take notice of the article and the hush silence that followed. Allhiphop.com reported this back in January 2017 and I really didn’t see much of anything to combat these accusations. I would hope that you are not out here raw fucking and using abortion as your pay-them-off, silencing tactics but I digress.

Ladies, you should all just love me.”

~Rick Ross

Yeah ok my G.

Let’s talk about love. Let’s talk about why I am writing you and the reason I mentioned the above information. You’re a full of shit ass black man and that’s rather unfortunate. You portray yourself as this “boss” with endless amounts of money, cars, cocaine, and women. I’m pretty sure I listed that in the order of importance. You’ve been publically engaged at least once but I don’t follow your life in any capacity so I can’t say I know what was up with that or whatever happened to it. What I can say is your overall respect for women in general, but especially black women seems to be in disarray and a huge problem. It’s a fucking problem for me today. Real bosses know that usually, there is (or was) a good woman right there with them on the road up. She could be a companion or a mother, an aunt, grandmother, sister, best friend, friend-with-benefits, friend-without-them, etc….

The point is a woman is almost ALWAYS right there pushing a future-BOSS to reach his greatest potential. A woman gave birth to him. A woman is his motivation. She moves his mind, his pockets and his dick. WOMEN ARE NECESSARY and should be respected as such. WITHOUT US, LET ME WATCH YOU WORK. Please!!! #IWannaSee

Today you chose to make one of my dear sisterfriends the target of your misguided conversation skills and your MISINTERPRETATION of how to address black women. I can’t say I’m surprised. It’s the exact same you that’s in your songs, except for those rare occasions where in an effort to keep your female fanbase at bay and feeling like you do make songs for them (therefore keeping them from coming at your neck w/all your misogyny), you call them “Queens.”  I must stand and give you a slow clap for the continued representation of one Rick Ross. God forbid we find out any more of your hidden color correctional officer jackets. But I question, do you even know what a Queen is? Because you seem to refer to them as bitches quite often.

Rozay a born stunna
I can blow money (uh)
50 when I’m shoppin
That ain’t no money (uh)
I got ma jeans saggin
Money stuffed in em
I got 40 whips
Way too much in em
I need me a queen
I need me a dime
Livin this fast life
Just show me a sign
I’m a g
I’m, I’m I’m, I’m a g
Took her from that lame
Put her on that condo on that beach
All she needs
A, a, a, all she needs
Is a boss on my level
Who provides her every need (need)
All I fiend is a queen in my presence
I can hold her till I die
Couple g’s in a bezzle

~You The Boss

Found on the same album is a song, Diced Pineapples, where you gloat about your ‘baby’ and her sweet pussy and all the great things you buy her just before daydreaming about how “Bitch so bad got me wishing I could sing her.” 

Wait- 

are baby and bitch the same woman?

Basically, calling a woman a bitch is nothing to you. It’s a good and a bad thing, I guess it just depends on the type of cigar you’re puffing on. It’s a compliment when you want it to be and it’s an insult at your leisure. Women are bitches and you will look upon them as you please and address them as you wish…right? In hip hop, and also because us women are guilty of inadvertently (and sometimes purposefully) supporting the open misogynistic and abusive lyrics, terms like bitch, ho and ha ha go hand-in-hand. I wonder is that how you talked to your ex-fiance? Is it how you address your daughter? Or mother? Or any woman you have the least bit of respect for, IF that’s a thing. When my sisterfriend inboxed me the screenshot of your comment on a post she made regarding not loaning friends money, I had read her comment to you before I realized she was talking to ‘Rick Ross.’ At first glance, your profile, name, and language read like a 10th grade wanna-be cool-but-stay-fronting lil dude with a point to prove to anyone who will listen. When I doubled back and saw it was you, again I say I was pissed and disappointed more than anything.

Why? Because you’re Rick Ross. Why aren’t you somewhere pushing black bottles (?) and raw fucking with hush money on the table? Why are you in the comment section with us common folks? Where is Larry Hoover and Big Meech and the quarter ki’s with the naked bitches watching guard? Ok, that’s me being petty. Let you tell it, I’m probably being a petty bitch, broke ho, haa… right?

“Bitch u broke and mad at another broke ho haa”

~Rick Ross to my sisterfriend

My sister didn’t come for you. She didn’t call out your name and I don’t recall a time she ever has. You all asshole hurt over her post and felt the need to leave traces of your lipstick in the comment section but I hope you doubled back for her response. I’m concerned that your upside down version of happy has you looking at the world in rozay-colored glasses and I’m here to tell you, it’s time to take them off. I’m sure with your legion of die-hard fans and women who are throwing themselves at your melanin-hiding tattoos and banks accounts, you are heavily unbothered by the loss of my sister, myself and all of our legions of networks of people who have already written you off the island for good. And that too is ok. But I’d be remised if I didn’t at least try to inform you that you aren’t dealing with bitches here. You aren’t dealing with women seeking a come up or an interview or the spotlight. We ARE the fucking red carpets around here. We are the stars, everywhere. And the women and beautiful black women that love and support us are here with us. We are the center of healings and communication. We are the women cleaning up the neighborhoods you left or have been kicked out of. We are the women cleaning up the curbs, showing up to parent teacher and community meetings, battling our own bodies for dominance, and battling society for dominance over own bodies. We are surviving cancers, heartbreaks, and single parenting and you have the nerve to fix your black-mother-born African lips to call us bitches. We are the same village you have rapped about so many times in your songs yet have no respect for the heartbeats that keep it going.

MUTHAFUCKA WE ARE THE VILLAGE!!! And you will respect us as so or continue to lose more of us. I know, we’re replaceable, right? Until the day comes that you realize we never were.

Love is something you lack for us.  #StopClaimingIt

You may need a Queen but it appears you don’t want one, nor are you prepared for one. You want a subservient that won’t clap back at you right? She won’t know if you’re pissed or excited because you call her bitch so much. Or is this just your persona? Is William Leonard Roberts II different from the rap God Rick Rozay?

I’m pissed but I appreciate you inspiring my pen to move. I fear no one but God. When I read this, I refused to just leave a comment. I absolutely refused silence on this matter. Partly because this is my sisterfriend and partly because, well, I”M SICK OF THIS SHIT! Did you know a pregnant black woman was just gunned down by the police, again!? Do these things ever cross your mind or is that too far left for you? You may NEVER read this and IDGAF! I will stand with my QUEENS. My sister was called by a power higher than Maybach Music to sew back into the very women you talk shit about, 16 bars at a time. She ministers to the souls that you push to the edge with your lyrics that are filtered into the subconsciousness of the men we date and the children we are raising. I’m not blaming you for that. I’m blaming you only for not giving a fuck about your language and not respecting the very Queens you quote your need and love for when it comes to chart climbing.
Women are not here for your convenience William. I’m not sure if anyone has ever said that to you or not. I know, should you still be reading this, you’re thinking well shit, all I said was ‘she’s a broke bitch.’ But it’s bigger than that. I’m pretty damn tired of people feeling like they can say whatever the hell they want to in the comment sections. It’s even worse when a celebrity feels like he has the right to make an assumption and be disrespectful like a child, to the people who have the power to take him OFF the charts!! Are you delusional? Are you so full of yourself that you think you can just hop around, comment trolling and randomly calling women out of their names and walk away unscathed?

Oh, what tangled fucking webs to be weaving and sipping high-end Cognac over. My blog isn’t here to take you down. I know that eventually, all fall from their pedestals because man was never designed to be up there in the first place.

And for what it’s worth, what you said was fucking ENOUGH.

My sister is not a bitch, nor is she broke. Not everyone has to or even wants to reach your financial status and I don’t know if you have a God you believe in or not, but you should be more focused on that camel beating you through the needle instead of comment checking the pockets of those who have less than you.  #ButThatsJustMyTake #MatthewNineteenTwentyFour

Also, Will (can I call you that?), less does not mean lessER.  More money does not equate to a happier life OR a happier SOUL. Or a healthier mind. Or body.

I’m proud of you. You got your weight down and under control. But you’re mentally sick when it comes to women. I wonder if your daughter will approach you with a conversation regarding something a young guy said to her at school; something that you know sounds a lot like how you speak. I know, you’re thinking you’ve raised her and versed her well, but you’re not a woman or a girl and when put in those situations, knowing what to say doesn’t negate how it makes you FEEL as women. I don’t know what it will take to make you reevaluate how you speak to women, and maybe you’re content as you are.

But I’m here to tell it: we are not bitches. And please, miss me and fuck off with the ‘yaw call each other that speech’; it would sound mighty WHITE of you.

#LetThatMarinate

My sisterfriend, a dear woman who’s life has been risked in the name of love, her kids, men, and friendship, did not deserve that. She’s a woman who has bared her soul and her demons to bring healing and LIGHT in the lives of others. I watch her blow up my feed with inspirational videos that are watched by the 1000s. She IS a healer. A watcher. A gift. An open third. Her name is CHOSEN, not picked out.

Many things she is, but a broke bitch she is not. You never know who you are talking to out here in the cyberworld and I think as a black man, you bear the responsibility of giving a fuck how you talk to the black women in this world.

The same black women that march and protest /and push and fight back when one of you, ANY of you is killed, despite being a target on our own by police  AND black men.

We are the mothers. The ones bearing the scars, internal and external. We are black women, similar and not much different than those who wore lashes on their backs to protect their family. The ones that snuck slaves to freedom, who demanded to be woman, who wrote poetry, gave life to music, gave birth with no anesthesia and was up cooking, cleaning and caring for the rest of the world before herself, by dawn – we are those women. My sister is that woman. NOT A BITCH.

FUCK YOU FOR THINKING YOU CAN TALK TO ALL OF US HOWEVER YOU CHOOSE!!!! Pick a side: either you want a Queen in your life or you want to call women bitches and broke hos but trust me, the latter will eventually come with a price, even if you don’t let the public know what it is.

Learn how the fuck to address women.

Learn how the fuck to mind your damn business. If you feel you need to unnecessarily call a woman a bitch and/or address her as a lesser, FUCKING DON’T!

It’s that simple. I wish you were as passionate about respecting women and respecting our space as well as our minds and our rights to use our voices as much as you do drugs, guns, murder, and money. But eh, can’t win em’ all right? 

That’s really all I have to say. I would hope, as you stated in your final apology regarding those rap(e) lyrics, that this blog would make you want to dialogue. But, it will probably piss you off that I dare to challenge your use of the word bitch.

Have a good life, William….also, known to the world as Rick Ross.

~j

Before I am an artist, I am a father, a son, and a brother to some of the most cherished women in the world. So for me to suggest in any way that harm and violation be brought to a woman is one of my biggest mistakes and regrets. As an artist, one of the most liberating things is being able to paint pictures with my words. But with that comes a great responsibility. And most recently, my choice of words was not only offensive, it does not reflect my true heart. And for this, I apologize. To every woman that has felt the sting of abuse, I apologize. I recognize that as an artist I have a voice and with that, the power of influence. To the young men who listen to my music, please know that using a substance to rob a woman of her right to make a choice is not only a crime, it’s wrong and I do not encourage it. To my fans, I also apologize if I have disappointed you. I can only hope that this sparks a healthy dialogue and that I can contribute to it.”

~Rick Ross (issuing a formal apology for U.O.E.N.O. Lyrics)

Started From Winona, With No Fear: My Golden Girls #NPM

 

Big Momma is a staple matriarchal figure in the black community. We know her as the older woman with the world in the palm of one hand and all of iitsresolutions in the fist of the other. She is larger than life. There is no question she doesn’t know the answer to or at least how to find out. There is no meal she cannot cook from scratch and her biscuits, greens and macaroni are all dishes that people fight over the last plate. She holds recipes in her head like brand new Jay-Z song lyrics. Big Momma doesn’t get sick. She nurtures her immune system with natural ingredients and special homemade remedies. She seems invincible in her existence and families know her as the glue that holds them all together. Her image has been portrayed in many movies, often which show the downfall of family relations in her absence.  Just as every daughter longs for her father and every son needs the affection of his mother, all grandchildren want that relationship that they many other enjoy with a woman often called Big Momma.

This isn’t a story of Big Momma. That would be more of her oldest sister, Anna Lee, who never left Winona.

Matter a fact, if my description of Big Momma is accurate, then the title that an old friend gave to my grandmother after being in her company a few times, is more than befitting: G-Momma. It’s perfect. My grandmother was a fucking G ! 

This is a story of my grandmother. I can’t tell everything about her, but there are some great highlights and straight dopeness that are worth sharing in a blog short. Netria Parker Marlin. I wonder why she didn’t have a middle name. Parker was her maiden. I’ve written poems about her in the recent years. I’ve had memories of happenstances with situations that seemed to foreshadow all that has come to pass. I decided, after staring at my grandmother who seemed to be worlds away in her eyes, that I would tell a story she can no longer tell. I would tell who she was to me. I would tell why it hurts to see her forget us all, but mostly her own life. I will speak of a life, lived to the fullest extent she knew how that I remember in bigger pieces each day. My grandmother has Alzheimers…or something that has altered her brain. It seems permanent. God always has the final say…but who am I to say God is not speaking now? So, what I know, I want to share. I want to immortalize a woman who was anything but Big Momma…

…but every bit my grandmother.

I never called her grandmother. Or granny.  In fact, I called her Netria. I remember it being a big deal to some and non-big deal to others. She didn’t seem to mind and when people questioned her, I don’t really remember her response but it didn’t result in much change. I vaguely remember her having a conversation with me about it and I wonder now if it ever hurt her feelings, as that was never my childish intent. I was just a spoiled child I guess, I don’t know. Eventually, I stopped calling her anything. I don’t remember if someone told me to or if it was a natural progression, but I stopped calling her by her first name and I never referred to her as anything else. I just spoke to her. I talked to her and she talked back to me and never a word was spoken about me not calling her grandmother. I knew her as my grandmother, I just didn’t reference that in speaking to her. And truthfully, it didn’t even fit her. She wasn’t Big Momma, she wasn’t grandmother, or granny…she was G-Momma. And I wish I had been introduced to that term long before my adulthood. I think she may have loved it.

While Big Momma was up in her kitchen snapping green beans, my grandmother was in the basement gambling. I don’t quite remember exactly why she chose to move to Indianapolis, but it was told to me that she always a strong-willed child who didn’t cry when got whoopings and was the second oldest of five. She was a soaring 5’9 with silky hair, smart, played basketball and was the Prophesies of her graduating class. When she came here, she worked first at the Finance Center out in Ft. Harrison and then moved on to being a postal carrier, as well as her first and only husband, Kenneth Marlin (my mother’s father). She was a talker, a mover, and a shaker. My grandmother knew or came to know everydamnbody. She would make friends at the Goodwill because we would go so often that the cashiers would recognize her and she was always good for striking conversation. We’d go to the  Goodwill, or the “GW” as she called it, and come out with bags of stuff for a few twenties that went partly in the register and partly in the cashier’s pocket. She never knew a stranger and I didn’t fully grasp that term until I realized my grandmother knew the entire city. My grandfather was long gone when I was born. I split my time between the women in my family – my mom, my grandmother and my two aunts. There were no babysitters or cousins, sisters or younger aunts. I was never around kids unless they were friends I made and brought with me. I wasn’t a grown child in my attitude, but I kicked it hard with the adults.

The day she buried my grandfather

And the adults were enjoying the primes of their lives. My grandmother was the gambler. She had a basement outfitted for sleepovers and poker playing. Her kitchens smelled of large trays of food cooked in other kitchens and brought over for dinner and snacks throughout the night. I never dreaded going over there. It was live. There was music sometimes, but mostly it was a house filled with poker plays, arguments, laughter, and television. There were people everywhere but no danger was ever present. Folks would await their turn at the table upstairs, and that’s where my grandmother would tell ghost stories and let me play in her hair. I’d brush her hair until she got tired of me brushing it and then I’d put it in a ponytail. The first one never worked right so I’d have to take it down, brush it and try again. I smile as I type this, remembering those moments my grandmother allowed me to be her stylist and her my babydoll with the pretty hair.  Her house was always popping, for lack of better word. There were cars everywhere, parked on each side of the street and in her driveway. Out of seven days a week, she had card games probably roughly five. I remember B.R. had every Thursday no matter what. I don’t know how the exchange of money went but I know my grandmother was pulling in what the young folks call ‘racks’ or whatever. She had to be!!! She was good at being a hustler and she would take me to the P Shake house with her. I was her partner in many ways and it’s baffling how long it took me to realize that. She let me work her card games – I would bring the poker players their coffee and Pepsi in exchange for them giving me tips. It was exciting to me because I could glimpse into the basement at all the money on the table, witness the cussing and the cigarette smoke and take sips out of their pop on the way down.

These beautifully sometimes haunting memories are ones that I could only get from experiencing life alongside her. She may not recall it anymore, but I do.

She was no Big Momma, but she every bit my grandmother.

She loved pictures. My grandmother had a photo of everything and everyone. She had tons of collages, frames and photo books, all full and stuffed with multiple photos in each sleeve. She kept long wallets that had lots of plastic pockets, and for every credit card and ID card, there were photos of random people she knew…and me. She always had pictures of me – they were in her books, her wallet, and her house.  For everything I think is so uniquely drawn about me, I come to realize it originated in my roots somewhere along the lines. I get my love of photos from my grandmother. She kept a camera and was always ready to pull it out and get a new picture. If I were to go to her house today, pictures would be everywhere. Her in Vegas or back in Mississippi.  My school pictures. Pictures of the man I called my grandfather, someone I think she loved more than she could bear to stand. Pictures of Candy, one of her best friends and also a transgender. I’ll put it in my book about how me and my friend Shakira discovered she was formerly a man when we were just 8 and 9 years old. That was a big deal back then and we thought we’d discovered something no one else knew, and had no idea how to sit on our ‘secret.’ It made for a laughter filled story G-Momma would later share with folks.

Her house had red and gold velvet wallpaper. I used to enjoy running my fingers up the velvet part because of how it tickled me. Her living room had red velvet like couches with a gold and red glass table that had mini chairs that fit around it. It was elegant. Beautiful. I’m sure my mom has it locked in a human size safety deposit box now. There is no way something like that is available now. It was full of gold pillars that held the glass up and I used to use them for my Barbies.

G-Momma told ghost stories that honestly used to scare the shit out of me. I still remember the story about the man with the wooden leg who she could hear walking down a hallway and how my grandfather still turned the doorknob every day at 4:30 pm, when he was coming home from work. She used to say that some spirits don’t know they are dead yet. She and her friends would trade tales of hauntings and occurrences and I would sit and listen without showing signs of fear. She always had a story for something. I never thought those stories would end. She had a stellar memory and spoke the last four digits of a phone number in blocks: “forty-seven, thirty-six.” Singling out numbers was foreign to her.

She was a night owl who slept hard in the day time and was wide awake gambling or reading the latest national enquirer and counting change in her bedroom. She varied on how she liked to keep her attention. McDonald’s breakfast was our thing. She’d wake me up at 5 in the morning after the last poker player went home and ask if I wanted to go get something to eat. There was also this spot called Fast Eddies, that used to be at 38th and Meridian where the old Subway sat. It was a diner style joint and of course, my grandmother was friends with everyone, including Fast Eddie. My love of waffles came from that spot. My love of peach cobbler came from us eating at Marbles all the time, where again there were no strangers. Either we got the peach cobbler…

…or we’d b-lined around the block to Long’s Bakery, where we would joke about needing to put the box in the trunk so we didn’t eat them all.  She loved Cadillacs and she loved her friends. My fearless G-Momma kept a personal arsenal of guns. When her friend was robbed at gunpoint at 500 Liquor store, she started going up there, me in tow and keeping watch with her gun in the armrest. I really was her buddy. The more I type, the more time I realize that we spent together and all the things we did. She taught me to play 5 & 7 Card Stud, Fifty-Three, and several other card games. We’d gamble on the floor for pennies.

My mom told me she wrote me a letter when I was born because she wasn’t going to be in the hospital to see me into the world. She was at the Mayo Clinic prepping for brain surgery that would cause her to lose her teeth, but little to nothing else. Her dentures had a gold on the side and I used to love it when she wore them. She kept long fingernails on one hand and a gold rings on her finger, or hanging from a necklace. The nursing home recently cut her nails because she’s a bit combative and they don’t want to get scratched. I get it but….yeah. I’ve never seen that one hand with those short nails before. It was like slicing off one of the lasting pieces of her. G-Momma was that woman that had a gold nugget and diamond ring on her pinky. It was a money sign to be exact and both she and my grandfather had one. When he passed, she wore them both. She didn’t have a hood mentality or talk with broken English. She just …was who she was. A lady who loved the blues and Al Green, and who may or may not have been on the run late in age.

She had throat surgery when I was a young kid. I can’t remember what her original voice sounds like as the operation did something to her vocal chords and caused her to speak in a raspy but loud whisper still to this day. It’s a distinct voice that can’t get as loud as she sometimes pushed it to be but when she was making a point, or if she were upset, best believe you knew. She didn’t cook. She wasn’t Big Momma. She had can goods in her oven and her favorite things were beans, bacon, an egg scrambled in the pan, steak and her famous hot-watered cornbread that used to look like pancakes and taste like a buttery offering from Heaven. She had a washer and dryer in her basement, but she mostly bagged her clothes up in Hefties and dropped them off at the laundromat. She didn’t mind paying for what she didn’t want to do. She was responsible. She loving. She was beautiful.

She wasn’t Big Momma, but she was my damn G-Momma and that was enough.

My grandmother never showed emotions. I watched her outlive so many of the poker players that I had come to know as family. I saw her lose love several times and not bat a tear. When my grandfather passed, I wondered how she could sit in front of the pew with such grace and class. She was dressed up the way he would have wanted to see her: in a mink coat that drug the floor. I can’t remember much else about her outfit but Crown Hill was so full of people that they were out in the hallway in bunches. She floated around to everyone, stopping for conversations and laughs. When the service started, I watched her. There was no emotion the public could see. When I spoke, which was my first time ever doing a poem or speaking in public, I could tell she was proud. I made her laugh and smile with my words and I could feel it. Thinking back, I can still feel how we connected. She had to be devastated…but didn’t wear the types of sleeves that would show it. She also never said I love you, until right before she stopped remembering me. It was jolting when she said it because I had never heard it from her. “I love you too”, I awkwardly said back to her on the phone one day back in about 2013 or 2014. I realize now, as she began to fade into a new Netria, God allowed the old Netria to give out a phrase that would come to be cherished like gold.

She was a resilient woman. I could give many stories on how she bounced back repeatedly from what would otherwise put others down for the count. But I have to stop the blog right?

My grandmother. Netria Parker Marlin. She used to smile a lot. Laugh. Talk on the phone for hours. She loved boosters (hot people as she called them) and a good deal. She loved dogs and a good spontaneous trip back to Winona. She could cuss and dress well but she preferred to be barefoot, outside on her patio drinking a Pepsi. There was once a time I thought she didn’t love me or that I wasn’t good enough for her. She used to have this saying that hurt me to hear but she let it be known every chance she got that “I could have made something of Kendria.” I didn’t understand it. Well, when I was dancing I did, but after my life began to change and I started to show myself with great purpose, I couldn’t figure out why she always said that. I get it now. She was old school, from the backwoods of Mississippi. She saw something in me and she saw me quitting everything I started. Everything I tried, I was good at. Piano, Karate (which we took together for a couple of classes), dance, cosmetology; I was good at everything I put my mind to but I quit it all. I chose a different path, consciously. I became the girl that cried “I’m Great” but had yet to stick with anything long enough to prove it.

Until poetry. My grandmother used to come watch my performances. She was one of my first fans. Once she saw I was relentless with it, she started to pay attention and when she heard me, she wanted everyone to hear me. She wanted to contact Oprah and get me on her show. She wanted the poker players to hear the “God Are You Listening” poem that I wrote early on which included some lines about her. She was one of the people at one of my first features, held at The House in Glendale before there was a Target. She rocked with me. That saying, although hurtful for me, wasn’t meant to hurt me. She just wanted me to see my greatness and follow it upward. I miss going to the Goodwill with her. And hearing her blow outside instead of parking, getting out and knocking...like normal folks would. I miss walking into her house and the door never being locked. I miss the sounds of the poker players and all the drama they brought with them.

I miss my grandmother.

She didn’t need to be Big Momma. And she never intended to be. She was simply Netria Marlin. She never remarried after my mom’s dad but she loved again and again. She had a smile that I miss seeing and she didn’t like to sit still. Neither do I. In fact, sitting still is something I still work on doing. I’m a night owl like she was and while I never fell in love with Cadillacs, I am able to drive across the country without batting an eye because of our frequent 9-hour trips back to Winona, MS. She loved her sisters. I miss our patio sessions where I would look up in the sky and watch the planes flying over while listening to conversations between her and my aunt that often times included belly aching laughter.

I miss her.

But …..

I can’t ever say I didn’t experience her.

And what an experience she was.

Her love was not traditional. It may have even been hard to detect at first. But looking back, I know she loved me. She loved us all.

She loved us like the G she was.

She was no Big Momma,

That one time we accidentally dressed alike.

But she was every bit my Netria.

 

The Great Black (h)Ope: After the Ball Ends.

Back in the day, I had a strong dislike for Oprah. In fact, I wished she would go away. I wished my aunt and grandmother’s televisions would stop tuning into her 4 o’clock judgmental shenanigans. My grandmother knew Oprah’s father personally and he had visited her a few times over my youth. When I first started doing poetry, my grandmother used to talk about how to get me on Oprah’s show using her (my gmom’s) connects. I used to think to myself “well that won’t work because I don’t like Oprah and she doesn’t like her father” so…eh. To the contrary, I wanted to like her. After all, she was a rich, black woman on my television with the top-rated daytime talk show. I could identify with her in so many ways so the fact that I didn’t like her was a bit troubling to my spirit but I went with it because I was passionate about what I felt.

My reasoning:

Hip Hop.

She didn’t like it.
Therefore, I didn’t like her.
She, along with many others at the time, was totally against the very music that was providing the soundtrack to my youth. Those same songs she owned so much disdain for, were the songs I was turning up in my bedroom, dancing around and pretending there was an audience watching. How dare she disrespect music of all things??!!!! Sure the language was misogynistic and the stories were often sordid drug tales gone badly, but but but –

-but why couldn’t she still love it?

I mean, I did.

Admittedly, I was young and full of dumb. I loved what I heard on and off the radio. NWA were Niggaz with Attitudes, not disrespectful men. They were simply a group of friends who were infuriated by the climate of our society, and they just so happened to know several ‘hoes’ that were worth remembering on wax. If I, as a young girl/woman, could still like what I heard, why couldn’t Oprah? Ironically enough, I cringed often at the lyrics I was singing and dancing along to like:

“….next time I’m feeling kinda horny/you can come on over, and I’ll break you off/And if you can’t **** that day baby/Just lay back, and open your mouth”
~Nate Dogg, It Ain’t No Fun

Funny how I could mentally tense up at some of the lyrics I heard, but still not understand what bothered Oprah so much about the same music. How dare she ask our men to respect us in and outside of music? Her passion behind not wanting to turn on the radio and be called a bitch and not allowing young girls, like myself, to be manipulated via music into believing that bitch and hoe and niggas were terms of endearment and sex should be shared among friends, upset me because I felt she was against “us” rather than for us. I sided with the rappers and would often hear myself say ‘if you not a bitch, he ain’t talking about you.’ :/ How dare she go against hip-hop instead of head nodding and body gyrating?

Who was she to tell these people how to tell their stories? Again, that is a young way of thinking and had I continued with my strong disdain for her, she would have never been able to inspire me.  You see, around these same years, my creative side was finding a growing desire to do something with and for women. I just didn’t know how to start it. I wanted to pull us all together and celebrate each other. I wanted an organization that celebrated women. I wanted to champion for black women. This passion started inside of me back when Yo-Yo was talking about the IBWC. I think I’ve mentioned that in a blog before, but it’s important to include that here so you can see when the first seed started and how the growth came about. In addition, I want to highlight the importance of inspirational, black women figures everywhere – including HIP HOP. While I credit Oprah with arousing my appetite to throw a ball, Yolanda Whitaker sparked my first memorable flame that told me I could make a difference. It is so important for young black girls to see women who look just like them and can relate to them making major key moves. It’s a high volume in a turned up society of white privilege and black stereotypes. When we see and hear each other, we are able to see and hear ourselves and Yo-Yo, blonde braids, colored eyes and all, was that woman whose voice was an implant of empowerment in my brain. I saw her and saw myself without a doubt. Perhaps that’s why Oprah’s disdain for hip-hop polluted me so much.  I never listened in full to her explanations and gave little credence to what it was I did hear. In hindsight, I totally get it and might even agree to some extent, but back then, I was pissed as if I was a rapper! I didn’t know if she knew of Yo-Yo or Queen Latifah or not, but I knew she was talking mad shit about an area of art/music that was not only my personal soundtrack but also a place that was stirring me mentally. I knew there was a space for me to create something for women and I knew it because Yo-Yo spoke so heavily about it in her music. In addition to that, what I  knew most about Oprah was that rap wasn’t something playing out of her Maybach speakers.

“It only takes one punch to drop ya

And then the IBWC will come mop ya”

~Yo-Yo, You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo


So needless to say that I had some colorful opinions about Oprah and tuning into her show was something you’d be hard pressed to see me doing. I don’t know when the shift of perspectives happened, but I am thankful that it did. Aging will definitely help your hindsight even if your foresight gets a bit blurry.
I am living proof that grudges and anger are only as good as the fleeting moment. You never know when you might need someone and you never know whom your blessings will come through. Oprah Winfrey, the same woman that threw my beloved hip-hop under the bus, would go on to show me that if I wanted to throw a ball, I absolutely could. In a sense, she showed me that I could do anything that I wanted to do.

Often times, I have asked myself why I was still in Indianapolis when my goal was to be the hell up out of here by the time I turned 35. I just knew New York would host my lifestyle. I saw myself living there and loving every minute and every turn of it. Until I didn’t.

It took time to find out what state I really wanted to live in (AZ…what winter?) but even after figuring that part out, I still didn’t leave. I’m still here in Indy right now, typing this from the north side of Indy. It wasn’t until two days ago that the answer showed me what it looks like. I haven’t left Indy because, whether I knew it or not, there was work for me here that I could not get done anywhere else. This work would be two-fold: It would be me working for/in my community and it would be me working for myself and showing myself what I can really do. In short, I’d be breaking chains and limits– two things that would surely happen in a new city where starting over would be a priority and being lost would be my lifestyle for a bit. There is no way I could have moved to NYC and thrown the Legends Ball. I wouldn’t have known enough people nor had enough connections just yet. I wouldn’t have my friends and supporters hands and hearts so close by to help me and I wouldn’t have been able to borrow their stuff. And then there are the honorees…..it was supposed to be every single woman that was in attendance, whether she came to be honored or to support. Every person in every chair was meant and destine to be in that room. I could not have done that from anywhere other than right off of 30th & MLK.

People like Earl Townsend, my brother, and dear friend – I wouldn’t have been able to watch him pull the incredible, life-changing Claim the Throne event together as he did. I won’t say it wouldn’t have happened without me here (What God has for you is yours to have), but what if I never did the Queen B. Ball? What if I couldn’t get a plane ticket in time to make it to his event?  Then there’s Ro Townsend, Earl’s wife, and my sister/homie/matriarch friend. Would she had been able to send me the books she donated to the ball? Alternatively, is that answer an automatic no because there would be no ball by way of Januarie York? Would she have received this honor from me or anyone else? Would Mali have received hers with the same impact? Would Remitha have loaned out table covers? How about NaShara Mitchell – a woman I went to North Central with and never knew personally but knew in passing – and owner of Studio B. Creative Solutions – the same place I looked at for the inaugural ball but didn’t have the $$ for became the PERFECT home of Tea & Testimony this year. Would that have happened? Would I have held this at a venue owned by a black woman? Would Carla have brought me all 11 of those trees with DJ Deez in the background, coming through on the music AND sound equipment?

I could absolutely go on and on with a list of people, places and things that set this ball off and made it what it became, but you get it don’t you? If I lived in that brownstone somewhere in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn that I have dreamed of, it’s highly likely I would have missed this portion of my life. I would have missed honoring my sisterfriends and giving them an extra push in this thing we call life. The LIT Ball answered the burning question for me of “why haven’t you left Indy?”

The answer: “Because I couldn’t.”

When I first started writing this blog, I was about to dive head first into my typical step by step process of how everything went, which leads to longer blogs. It hit me that, that’s not what I wanted to express. No one wants to read all of that or needs to know everything that I know. I would rather convey how I sought and saw God during this entire ordeal, and how He made Himself awake, alert and involved (insider phrase) for me at all times. When I first dropped the LiT Magazine, I knew I had to make sure this ball stood up to that. The results were surprising and the love and support it received meant I couldn’t half-ass the ball in any way. Throughout this ball, I had to set myself aside for the greater good of all things. I was able to raise five hundred dollars in fundraising from this should-be simple move and while that money went a long way for the ball, the growing theme for this journey was me learning how to get out of my own way. I stayed in it in many ways – I didn’t ask for the help I needed. I paid nearly $100 in chair covers because I didn’t inquire from my network. I missed the liquor license and getting the food catered and a few other small things, but in the end, I learned the necessary lessons. After all, Oprah has a whole team so why shouldn’t I ? #NextTimeGadget

I prayed over what I was doing and for guidance when I was weary. By the day of the ball, I had mastered letting go and letting God in. Even my host calling in sick couldn’t bring me down. I laughed. I genuinely laughed from my beautician’s chair. I couldn’t be bothered with stress and I offered to bring him some meds. It was like a new me. Most times, I would have gotten off the phone in tears and stress but not this time, not this ball! I was too LiT to quit, lmao!

My heart spoke, “I trust you, God!”

And so He delivered. My brother Earl and I played the hosts and it was perfect. When I first hit the stage to address the audience and begin the show that I saw it: Work.

I saw my work. I give all the credit to God because I know without God, I could not have done this the first time, much less the second. I wish I could write absolutely everything that happened and just how many things came together spiritually; like the fact that the venue we were in was the second venue I looked at for the first ball but our wires kept getting crossed and it didn’t end up working out. In 2014, I looked at Studio B. Creative Exchange and The Royal Palace, which was under a different name and owner, and now in 2017, I had BOTH venues for one ball weekend.

But I digress.

So yes, God has the glory from me on this. I also know that being a conduit doesn’t mean just sliding around and fitting in. It means WORK! It means sweat, sometimes tears and a strong desire to quit or abandon. It means wondering if your heart’s intent will be shown. It means not caring if you get the shine or not. It means being nervous that something major will go wrong and you won’t be able to recover from it. It means putting all those worries and stresses in a pot, turning it on simmer so the bottom doesn’t burn and walking away….trusting that God will tend to its contents. I did that. I walked away from the simmering pot many times. But it was WORK putting those contents in that dangon pot!!!!!!

It wore me out, it took away from my time at home with my person; I was suspended in “ball-mode” until it was over. At work, at home and in between (including sleep), it was all things ball and I couldn’t stop it. But when I looked out at that audience in that room, knowing it was over 100 plus people in a space that I pulled together with the help of a small team of dope folks (Remitha Lynn, Carla & Caylie Wimmersberger), made me almost pass out. Seriously, my heart ran a beat so fast with all those eyes looking at me to guide them through the night but I knew what I was there for and I didn’t acknowledge the nerves. I knew it was bigger than ‘fear’. I knew and know God. I coasted through the night, bypassing my tears to preserve my makeup and being in HQIC-Mode – running from one end of the venue to the other in a formal dress and long beautiful hair to make sure it’s all running smooth.

It was amazing. From my end, it was the most humbling thing ever. There is no way I could take credit for it, there is no way I could think that my shit don’t stink or that I am promised this type of love or response or support from people. This isn’t promised; this is earned! These are my people and they respect what God lead me to do. But more than ME – they were affected in a way that I hope lasts a lifetime.

They were celebrated and changed. They cried and stood as those “standing monuments” that Oprah spoke of at her ball. I spoke to the crowd about how I forgot Pearl  Cleage’s “We Speak Your Name” poem, which I intended to have read at this ball just like the first. Earl was about to exit the stage when he whispered, “That’s because it’s your ball now.” It hit me again. But not until it was all over, my long weave was on my nerves, and my makeup was long gone, did I really hear him. “It’s YOUR ball now.” 

One concern I’ve had and have expressed was getting in any trouble because I’m doing too much of what Oprah did. I didn’t want to seem like I was stealing from her, as this was a literal exercise in reactionary inspiration…if that’s a thing. In a sense, I am hoping to pay homage to Oprah for what she sparked in me and for what she did for her people. When I look back on the ball footage (YouTube), I see those beautiful faces smiling and laughing amongst each other and it’s priceless. Coretta and Maya, Ruby Dee and Natalie Cole – all sitting in the same room with  Mary J. Blige and Alicia Keys, Angela Bassett and Halle Berry.  They were all rubbing elbows and toasting champagne to the good life. Some of them are gone now – some of those giant, legendary women have crossed the rainbow bridge of eternity forever. But that weekend will live forever and those women we mourn will have forever own a part of history in the lives of the ‘youngins’, as Oprah deemed them. I wanted nothing but the same for us. I wanted Tea & Testimony to impact women forever –not just for a moment – similar to the gospel day that Oprah had. I wanted the young women to meet the older women and for the strangers to learn they had new sisters. And it worked!!! For the first ball, I watched every legends ball video, studying and writing down pages of notes. I learned the process and I adapted it to myself. I taught myself how to do what Oprah inspired me to attempt. The first time it worked great. The second time, I had more fear than I realized as I became responsible for a 70% increase of company. But it worked because I believed I could and because I kept my faith on stealth-mode. And when time allowed me to come down from the dopamine of it all, I heard my brother Earl’s voice as he walked away and said matter-a-factly as only he can, “it’s because it’s YOUR ball now.”

Well damn.

It is MY ball. Not the Legend’s ball. The Legend’s Ball is Oprah. But the LiT Ball – that’s my shit right there. I made it into my own and in place of Pearl Cleage’s beautiful poem, I used my own…after all, I DO write poetry too. I spoke the women’s names and they stood as the Monumental Legends that they are. The room was decorated beautifully and echoes of Queen B. and stroke awareness were everywhere. I spoke on the importance of taking care of ourselves and in the days afterward, I wished I had said more but I think I said enough. The love from Mark Moore, someone I’ve never even personally spoken to, was nothing short of God’s plan. Why I felt led to post this event on the stroke.org website made sense after the contribution and conversation with one of his reps. Please remember that these books will be in within the next couple of weeks or so, so I will be in touch to get all attendees their “Stroke of Faith” books. If you are interested in one of these books – a book detailing Mark’s personal journey as a two-time stroke survivor as well as his faith- please leave a comment or reach out to me directly. I will also have them at Open Bite (May 13th). The passion for stroke awareness does not end with the ball!!!! In May (National Stroke Awareness Month), I will amp it up all over my feeds. Next year, I will say more and perhaps have a speaker. But for 2017, I had everything I needed. The fears that I created to worry about never came to fruition. My guy looked like fresh, I felt beautiful and the audience was incredible. Folks showed up and showed out and I loved it. It was a black-OWNED event and I use the word ‘owned’ in every way imaginable. From the venues to the DJ and photographers – it was Epic Black Excellence in so many ways. What else could I ask for?  This was 12-year-old me in 1991, dancing to “The IBWC National Anthem” in my bedroom and wondering how I could ‘stomp into the 90’s’ like Yo-Yo and make a difference. She made it popular, at least in my bedroom, to be a proud, intelligent black woman, and to influence others.

Then as life would have it, another intelligent black woman, whose objection of vulgar and violent rap lyrics led to my youthful hostility towards her, would eventually show me exactly how to pull what Yo-Yo sparked in me together.

The Great Black (h)Ope!

It was a cold day in February of this year when I was watching a YouTube video of a party I threw to celebrate my sister Nikki’s MBA graduation. I called it “The Master Class Dinner.” It was a fancy dinner party I pulled together and named after Oprah’s television show. Several more dinner and themed parties would happen after that one in 2011. More ideas would surface and go nowhere fast. In 2013, I came up with the title The Black Orchid Affair. Nothing popped from it. Then in 2014, my life changed forever but you know that story by now. And here we are. The 2017 LIT Ball changed me again, similar but leveled up to the way the Legendary Ladies Ball changed me. This one tho….this ball showed me my own power, abilities and my upgrade. This was me watching an upgrade happen and having the magic wand in my hand the whole time. This was me owning it, making it mine, breaking away from Oprah’s Legend’s Ball, and enjoying the fruits of my own creation. We already have a possible speaker for next year and a live orchestra!!!!

So I say thank you to Oprah. I hope a day comes when a girl or woman who saw me doing the stuff I do will want to say thank you to me, even if I never hear it personally. I want to be one of those ‘inspiring, black women figures’ that speaks to the whispers of young black girls and women. I sometimes see the work that so many other amazing and talented women are doing and I wonder if I really fit in with my antics. I wonder if the stuff I do, write and speak really is impacting for longer than a night. That’s somewhat why performing poetry wasn’t something I could persue as passionately as I once did. I needed to make an impact that goes beyond the mic and the night of my feature. As good as people say I am, I didn’t feel that nearly enough. I felt good ‘in the moment.’ But not like I left people with something tangible. March 19, 2017 will go down in history as the night I showed to myself that I FIT, I CAN and I AM…ENOUGH. I make a difference out here and I want to pass that along. I want to remind us that, in the words of Michelle & Barack Obama, YES YOU CAN!! I want them to see me and see themselves. I want them to know that there is no such thing as you can’t or you won’t. There is always room for you! This is a society that won’t celebrate us when we need it the most because they don’t see all we are doing just to stay alive daily. They won’t pull us up or give us a push but they will kick us and call us names. They will denounce us and stereotype us. They won’t believe us. They will misuse and abuse us for sport. They will, “kill you and say you enjoyed it” (Zora Neale Hurston). They will “show you who they are” so “believe them.” (Maya Angelou).

But none of this has to stop the fire in YOU! Or the drive. Or the passion. DO IT! GO ! FLY! BE FUCKING FREE !!!!! Throw balls, parties and take selfies at your photoshoots. Don’t have a reason or an explanation for everyone for everything you do. OWN YOU! Just like Oprah. I remember so many of us, possibly still fueled from her choice opinions on hip hop, were still against her when she broke free from NBC (?) and came back out with her “OWN Network” (double entendre). But why tho?! She’s charged. She has the damn Master Key !!! Oprah is doing Oprah and she apologizes for nothing about it. In the midst of it all, she is inspiring, building, being an activist for the causes she deems close to her heart and she is constantly pouring into others. Like her or not, she’s the Great Black Ope! She’s a powerful, black woman. A figure worth mentioning. A name that is recognized with grace and power. Class and hood. Dope and love. I CAN and I WILL. Plus a little bit of  I ALREADY DID.

Be like Oprah. Be like Yo-Yo, who has her own hip-hop school in Detroit & LA btw. Be like the women you are inspired by, even if neither of these. Be great. Be the woman YOU are destined to be! BE A BLACK, INSPIRING, WOMAN!!!!! Be the someone the youth will see themselves in, no matter how many years it takes to get the fog off the mirror.

This is my huge thank you. I end this blog with an old poem that was the last track from my album (feels funny to say that), entitled Merci. It’s a simple thank you track. Please add your name to it as well.

Thank you to EVERYONE that contributed to the ball in any way, be it financial donations or time and effort. Thank you Yo-Yo. Thank you Oprah. Thank you God!

Thank you, all for (h)OPE!

Oh and…thank you Kendria….for believing so hard in yourself, that you did. #AjYSituation

 

Blog Photo Credit: Illuminate Hue Photography/Lance Parker (LiT Ball), Eyes Wide Shut Photography/Rana Carter (LiT Ball), Wildstyle Pashall (Claim the Throne) & Jus Fam Photography/Abdul Shaheed Aaron (Personal Pics)

***Special thanks to: NaShara Mitchell/Studio B Creative Solutions, The Royal Palace Events Center, Mark Moore & Adrienne Moore, DJ Deez, Anitra Malone, ALL THE FUNDRAISING DONORS (including but not limited to Tressie Spears, Naz Khalid, Amber Dawn and more), Alaina Renae, Lyndell “Izzy A’more” Campbell, Vei from Kenyatta Dance Company, Remitha Lynn & Co., Carla (Caylie) Wimmbersberger, Damon Dulin, Tamara Hibbler, Nicole Dianndrea, Ronald Craig Jr, Earl & Ro Townsend, Rae Karim, Rheagan Gilmore, Wildstyle Pashall, The Learning Tree, Eric Saunders, Unequa Ganodu, Dominic Dorsey, everyone that helped clean up and anyone I may have left off…PLEASE don’t charge that to my heart. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT. YOUR LOVE. AND YOUR LIT ASSES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

M U A H !!! Catch us in 2018, how bout’dat!

 

 

WOMAN’ing: Ch 69 – The (re)Tired Red Cape, Part V of V.

You know why this is Chapter 69? Nothing to do with sex. Everything to do with no matter how you slice it or what way you turn it, the results are the same.

I NEVER intended on being Superwoman.

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Never.

But once I decided to adult, I was immediately outfitted for my red flowing cape that would hang off my back no matter what outfit I put on. When I wear a dress, there is a long, flowing cape behind me. When I wear a suit, the cape is blowing in the wind and sometimes wrapping around my pants legs near the thighs. In sweats, my cape looks like it doesn’t belong but it’s still there riding my back like a cliché phrase about monkeys. And when I am naked, there she is: my cape. My big ass red cape, hanging from neck as if it were sewn into my skin.

Am I to never depart from this role of superwoman?

What’s funny about this title, is there are countless songs dedicated to the independence of women, particularly black women. For some reason, black women have to make their independence known to the world but the dosage must be in small teaspoons at a time. We wouldn’t want to emasculate the men or intimidate other women. We also wouldn’t want Jill with the Stringy Hair to feel like we were coming for her space right? So when we go to the club dancing to I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T, and songs that fit that culture of music, we must make sure we only spell it out once so as not to offend others. Lol. Superwoman – the title that nearly every black woman has but no one really wants.

Folks think we want to be superwoman and that is simply not the truth. We were not built to maintain life and all of its ups, downs and mediums, all the stress and trauma, the good and the great, alone. I don’t believe that. I believe it’s possible to never spend your life with someone else. I believe it’s possible to try love and decide for yourself that you are better without it and that’s ok. But I also believe that we were made to have a partner. The fact that pickings are slim and partners, true PARTNERS, are few and far in between has made more women Superwoman than ever intended to be. We have to be responsible for EVERYTHING. EVERY DAMN THING. We are not just head of household, we are the head nigga in charge and for those that don’t like that term, sorry. That’s the way the saying goes . .  .

“**yelling at maximum lung capacity*

I’M TIRED OF BEING SUPERWOMAN DAMMIT!!!!!!!!!!!

We are the preacher, the teacher, the mother, the daughter and sister, the wife or girlfriend and for some, the side chick (you may not like a woman’s choices but  that doesn’t mean she isn’t out her making other Super fucking decisions). We are the  bread winners, the cooks, the maids, the stress relief, the emotional beings, the love leaders and the dream catchers. In addition to all of this, we must be responsible for goals, dreams, spirituality, teachings, education, orgasms, and manage any mental health issues or problems we may face, all while spending up to a week per month bleeding and trying not to be pissed off about it.
WoooMFinSah.”

Nothing stops when we have kids. It doesn’t stop when our cycles have us bent over the toilet trying to vomit up our mistakes of the last 3 weeks. Nothing ends because we have a bad day or are struggling through another bout of depression. Nothing stops for us – we must keep going.

I know, I know, all of this is true for men and women, white and black.

Welp, I’M TALMBOUT BLACK WOMEN TODAY!!!

While I do believe that women of all races are tasked with holding the world up on their shoulders, it’s no secret that black women are expected to hold the world while flying through the air without dropping a single thing, all while looking good for our flip floppy ass men. If you are a white woman reading this and find yourself offended by the idea that your privilege prevents you from being spoken for in this particular blog, then I advise you not to return here because there is more where this comes from and I can’t tell you when I will vent my black life opinions and experiences and won’t hold them back for sugary words and friendly comments. Besides, if we were being absolute 100 about it, what it means to be a white superwoman is a completely different definition than the black woman’s experience as such, AND someone is always looking to cape for a white woman whether it be white men, BLACK MEN, society, the community, etc….. A white woman’s superwoman cape is always at the dry cleaners and she never takes it there herself. A black woman’s cape is always attached to her MFing back.

We are the ones that seem to be continuously pushed to the bottom of the totem pole no matter how hard or fast we climb. Our men turn their backs on us at the drop of a white tear, jobs act like they don’t see our qualifications despite our continuing advancement up the education meters and journalists try to refute any good information released about us at every opportunity to click-clack their typing fingers.

I had another blog that I started writing on this topic but decided to start over from scratch after a viral FB thread that I scrolled upon. By now, you may have seen it and might even know some of the women commenting. I don’t at the present time know the origin of the thread or what brought about the tearfully white comment but a precious and privileged white woman left this in a black women’s comment section: “I wish I could have been born a black woman because you all are so strong”, or some derivative of bullshit like such. The post has gone viral because of the eternal dragging that she received, but the comment and the subsequent responses got me thinking about the title of superwoman and our addictive disdain of such.

Superwoman Can’t Die…

…Because if she does, the rest of everything that has been dependent on us for survival will fold and not many of us will chance that. Either we have to be taking care of the kids or going to work or working on our schoolwork or cooking and cleaning or tending to our men or finding out they are cheating and caring for our own feelings or caring for ailing family or marching on the frontlines or pushing our not-for-profit or having contractions while signing paperwork for keys to new buildings after burying close family members and remembering to feel beautiful inside and out. Much like a run-on sentence, there are no breaks and or breaths. We push through and plow unbroken grounds in search of ourselves all while trying to maintain our professional and personal lives. Sure, as I said earlier, this is nothing no one else hasn’t experienced. No, you don’t need to be a black woman to go through this. But as a black woman, I guarantee the Superwoman title is exacerbated by a thousand knots. Let’s use that FB comment I saw for example, which you can find here. One of the commenters shared some screenshots from a black man that inboxed her separately asking if “all white women were considered ugly” and how “in his opinion, most of them look better than black woman, who look like dogs” or some other type of animal he referred to us as.

Wait –

Bish what????

We can’t even stop to take our fucking worn down heels off before we have to stand back up, cape blazing as usual, ready to defend ourselves and our sisters because some flagrant ass nigga thought it necessary to socially degrade us as a whole while casually forgetting that his blanket statement would also include his mother and any other black woman in his life. But I don’t know, some black dudes act like they were pushed out of Jill With the Stringy Hair’s snatch. FoH.

And for that, we must be on at all times. We must always be in charge of who we are. If we don’t command and demand our respect and for that of our sisters, we will be disrespected at all costs. You don’t get the title of Superwoman because you get up and go to work every day. You get it because YOU are work…every day. It takes work to go beyond every barrier set in place to be the ending factor. Superwoman has to be dedicated to herself in an unforgiving way that opens up the valley for her ascent. But she’s hardly ever traveling alone. There is always family, friends and lovers in tow. . .

We are grinding for everyone at once to a point that we don’t know if we are putting ourselves first or last anymore. At the same time of our Super Grind, we are watching our sisters be killed by the police at a rapid rate. We are holding names like Sandra Bland and Korryn Gaines close enough to our hearts that we can feel their final breaths. We stand in the front of the protest lines with signs and grief and strength unfounded because we refuse to sit quietly while our men are hunted, our children are unprotected and our women and girls become easy targets for police assaults and murders. It’s a weight that sits on our hearts relentlessly and even when our emotional hope is drained, we still stand in resilience and solidarity with each other. This is why I say this isn’t about white inclusion. Sorry, not sorry. White women will never know what it’s like to hold the house up, keep self together and watch our families be ripped apart or worse, to be on the burying side of a racist system that supports the hunting and killing of black people. This is a daily occurrence. There are instances that happened last week that we may never hear about and those women, those black superwomen, will experience their losses and grief alone. They won’t have the nation marching and begging for rights that should be a no-brainer for every human. Even when our home lives are in an uproar, we still find time in our stress to care about someone else and see to their needs. 

Superwoman can’t die. She can’t pass away quietly in her sleep or take a vacation indefinitely and leave her calendar book at home. Superwoman must always be on. If not, who will? If we don’t get it done, who will? Who’s going to take the overflowing trash out the door without us having to be a reminder or do it ourselves? Who gets the furniture moved and the rooms changed for a fresh feeling in the house? Who will fearlessly climb up a southern flag pole, snatching down the offensive confederate flag all while knowing the repercussions of doing so will be grand? Black women, in particular, have this Superwoman thing down to a science. When we do ask for help, we have about five to ten minutes maximum as a grace period to allow for it to start to get done. After that time is up, we toss our cape in the wind and fly to solve the shit ourselves.  Recently I saw this meme:

Recently I saw this meme: black-womenIf this isn’t a perfect description of superwoman, I don’t know what is. I almost want it tattooed on my arm but I never wanted the title of superwoman to begin with.

The Title We Never Signed

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Photo Credit: Roberto Nencini

Superwoman is a misleading title that none of us signed up for. I didn’t grow up with my head in comics and I was never a fan of Superman or any of the other Marvel heroes. The closest I got to that type of stuff was enjoying the Thundercats theme song but even still, I never watched the show. On the flip side, I never expected to get married, birth two kids and live in a suburban household with the perfect Ken-doll looking husband. I didn’t grow up with adult expectations and no one ever really tried to implant anything on my psyche. I just grew to know that one day, I would be able to do whatever  I wanted to do with my life and I was looking forward to it (adulting per a teenage mind, smh). I did a mad dash out of the house at 19 and never looked back. But in hindsight, I’m certain I wasn’t looking forward either or else I may have noticed the big ass red cape standing in the way of the door that I would have to put on in order to exit.

I came flying through these Indianapolis streets, cape blazing, weave blowing with crooked smile on my face in attempts to save the world from itself. I offered up every saving grace I could muster from a couch for flagrants to sleep on to my credit for niggas to fuck up. At one point, I had two apartments in my name, neither of which was home to me anymore. Saving people is what I grew accustomed to doing until I counted more losses as a result than wins. But my never-ending flight through the sky was far from over.

My sister has been a single mom for 20 years. She worked her way up working customer service for a pizza company to earning her MBA and becoming a senior analyst at her company. In addition to that, she’s a professional accountant, an Uber driver, computer savvy to the highest degrees and has done all of this while raising a daughter alone. My mother is an only child, much like the daughter she birthed. She has been a caretaker since I was a junior in high school. One after another, a sick family member would make their way into our lives and deem my mom responsible for their well-being until their death. She has been fixing meals, running errands, going to doctors appointments, talking to hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, washing, cleaning, bathing and caring for as many as six people consecutively over the past 21 years. Let that marinate: TWENTY ONE YEARS. She did all this while going through her own health crisis including but not limited to breast cancer that, at times, left her hospitalized on several occasions. All of this took place while she was raising a daughter. As I wrote about in a previous blog, my aunt has struggled with depression for as long as I could remember. Her depression was intense and she would spend days in the bed sleeping or melancholy in spirit. Although she was a married post office retiree, she was expected to hold the house down. She paid the mortgage, the bills and since my uncle couldn’t read, she took care of anything that came in the mail and all things in between. My uncle, although a very great uncle to me, was not a great man to my aunt and definitely not the head of household. Still, he treated the home as if it were his and like she was a squatter. It’s not a lifestyle I could condone for myself but my aunt handled her business, through her depression and a relationship that was detrimental on herself. She may have seemed weak to other folks but as an adult woman, I can see how thick her cape actually was. #CapeStrong. My grandmother was the second oldest of five living children. I’m not sure where her amazing strength of life originated from, as she seems to be the only one of her siblings with the tenacity and the resilience that she possessed. She was blessed to love and be loved several times in her life. I know of three men, one she was married to and two who were long-term mates, who had her heart but not her mind. Each of these men passed away and while I was not around to meet my grandfather and see my G-Mom’s strong will, I can only imagine it based on what I have seen: she never grieves. Not the way most of us do. When the last love of her life, the man I refer to as my grandfather, passed away somewhat suddenly (no disease…he fell and hit his head), my grandmother never let anyone see her cry. No tears were shed at the funeral and just like all the other friends and family I bid farewell to alongside her, she was stoic in her demeanor and always found a reason to flawlessly smile. I’ve written in blogs about the day I was leaving my house a few years back and saw her outside crying. Her tears were so huge I could have stepped inside of them. I will never forget it because I had never seen it. I saw her try to wipe them in enough time for me not to notice, but I did. I often find myself thinking of that day and wondering what caused her tears. Was that day a culmination of life??? …a climactic moment of weakened shoulders hoisting a tired red cape?? She has Alzheimers now and truth be told, I don’t know how she could not have it. How could one store as many emotions away as she did and be the matriarch to her family AND her friends and it eventually not wear her thin in some way? I think being superwoman stole my grandmother from us. 14054582_1059928167431556_446721301327248467_o

No one signs up for this invisible role of impossibilities. We aren’t numb, non-humans who fly across the sky without catching a breath. We aren’t superhumans and we aren’t God, although each of us has the presence (IMO) of God within. To be super is to be excellent. Glorius. Splendid. Marvelous. These are all synonyms associated with the word itself and I don’t deny that they fit every black woman I’ve ever met. But it’s hardly a round-the-clock situation. I belong to a group called The Healing Circle, where women post their prayer needs, vent, uplift, cheer up each other and more. It’s a safe, sacred space on FB (can you believe it) where women have gotten to know each other simply through trying to empower each other throughout the day. I see first hand through this group that every day isn’t a great day. Some days are mental game changers and others seem like finales. There are moments where we have nothing but questions and feel undesirable to even ourselves. Our gears get tired, our immune systems get weakened and we struggle sometimes through bouts of depression, anxiety, and panic. Superwoman, by comic definition, would never experience these things and therefore she would always be able to fly with ease. There is no trouble that scares her backward and there is no past that she just can’t get over.

But in the real world, our past effects our current decisions, our hearts are bruised and at times broken for extended periods of time and we are in and out of confidence depending on who we are and where we are in life. Times get hard and we aren’t detached from how it makes us feel. Things need to be done and we aren’t in the position NOT to do them. #FuckItIWillDoIt. We are in the process of forgiving, understanding and moving on, on a daily basis. Four out of four women are trying to forgive someone right now for some type of transgression. I made up that statistic and I highly doubt I’m wrong.

We don’t want this fucking cape yo!!!!!

We don’t. We have earned our crowns but these capes are overrated…yet so necessary. If not us, then who? After so long of caping for thyself, it becomes hard to let go of the ropes. Trusting another person to take of things the way you know you would can be such a stressor that it’s just more simple to BE superwoman at all times.

We don’t want to do everything ourselves. I have proven it to myself, my family and the world that I can handle life. I can make a way out of no way. I can sleep without electricity until I get paid, I can humble myself and talk to Citizens Action Program to help me with winter assistance. I can swipe my food stamp card at the grocery proudly. I can weather the stressful storm of unemployment and I rock THE FUCK out of interviews. I can work for Goodwill and Target for minimum wage during my maximum 30s. I can swindle, scam, scheme and finagle my way wherever I NEED to be. I can and I will maintain my household at all costs. There is no question about that. Now I want some help. At nearly 38 years old, after having been on my own for nearly 20 years, I officially want to retire this ugly ass red fabric that is weighing my back down and I want someone to help. I want some contribution to these bills. I want to be able to buy myself something without taking from something else. I thank God that I no longer need to ask and give my uterus up in order for the government to give me assistance, but even if that weren’t the case, I don’t want to do all the talking. I need someone else to call the plumber and the mechanic. I want some help washing dishes because sometimes I let them pile up too much.

I have two dogs and when it’s vet time, I need help dammit ! I want to not have to pay for my own entry, drinks, and parking; I want to be treated like a Queen by my man. I want my friends to give friendship that is truly unconditional and in return I seek to provide the same. I want them to reach out to me when I’m struggling and can’t do so for myself. I want to let them know that I am thinking of them when they think they are all alone. And everything that I want for myself, I want for every woman who is battling this superwoman role. It feels good to accomplish stuff that people think you can’t, but after so many accomplishments, sometimes, you want to kick back and relax.  There is an ever growing list of expectations associated with bearing this title of super. You become EXPECTED to take care of things and to have it all together. Sometimes tho, you fucking don’t want to ! You want to stop being the caretaker for the day and stop feeling like you can’t grieve your losses. You want the bills out of your name. You want help raising your child. You want a loving ride home from the hospital and you want get well soon flowers hand delivered. This isn’t about having a man. This is about not doing every damn thing ourselves, all the fucking time. That help can come in many forms…companionship is merely one.

Even superwoman needs a day off.

But if history has taught me anything, it is that our role as Superwoman is immortal.

Eternal.

It is forever.

Superwoman can’t die.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t often want to retire our tired, red capes and just be women. 

 

~j

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WOMAN’ing: Ch. 25, F*#@ It, I’m On One – Pt IV of V

It was the night of the Michael Jackson and Prince ICON party at the Vogue…I had bought tickets weeks prior and was stoked to attend the party that would include live performances, lots of music from both artists and their musical friends, as well as a huge dance floor to party the night away. I got cute. I wore a tutu blue jean dress with some cute hand gloves and put my hair up in some funk-driven style. It was my guy and I’s first time going out to this type of setting and we had plans to set the dancefloor on fire. We arrived and were able to make our way to the front of the stage just in time for one of the many dope performances planned for that night. I saw a few people I knew and gave out hugs in between getting myself ready for a long night of sweaty foreheads and  tired feet. My guy stood behind me as the artists began to take to the stage and prepare to sing. I stood in front of him looking at the stage when I started feeling dizzy. I’m a smoker and thought maybe it was from that and would subside in a minute but it didn’t. It progressed forward with the dizziness moving from my head to my eyes and then I started to sweat profusely. It hit me so suddenly and so hard that it was almost hard to deny. I stood there trying to see if I could tough it out but at the point that I could feel the sweat running down my head (mind you, we had just arrived about 10 mins prior and had not done anything but walk from the door to the stage), I knew what time it was. I hesitantly turned to him and said ‘I need to go outside, I’m having a panic attack.’ He didn’t miss a beat or ask any questions; he just turned and came out w/me. I walked as fast as I humanly could from the stage to the front door. More people had arrived so the crowd was thicker and I was moving so fast, I didn’t really know if he was still behind me or not. The band began as soon as I got to the front door but I felt like if I stopped, I would drop dead. Literally those exact thoughts.

We got outside of the venue and I walk-ran to a picnic table in front of a sushi restaurant that sits next to the Vogue. I sat down and could barely see anything. I was so dizzy and scared and sweaty  and all I could think was ‘I need to be out of these clothes.’ My guy was there and I could tell he was scared but at this point, my breaths had shortened and I was dry heaving for air. I unzipped the front of my dress to let some air get to my body, no longer concerned with anyone who might see me. Logic time had passed; this was me trying to find my safety net. I felt like I was dying. I am not sure what dying feels like but that is my best guess. As I struggled to get a whole, relaxed breath, my entire body became drenched in sweat. I’m sure I was shiny because I was so sweaty from head to toe and I was shaking from the inside out. Nothing about me was put together and I could not find my footing. I was terrified and so was he. He sat with me, holding my hand while I continued to try to just catch a whole breath. About ten minutes passed before he asked if I wanted to leave; I said yes. Party was over before it began. He had to walk to get the truck and I could tell he didn’t want to leave me but I told him I was ok. When he disappeared into the dark, I cried as best as I could. I think I cried so I could see if I had ANY control over anything in my body. I cried because I was scared and worried that I would be dead when he got back to me. When he got back with the truck, I got in and we went home. I had the window rolled all the way down, face towards the wind and the seat leaned back. The panic attack was starting to subside but it felt like if I moved or blinked too fast or hard, it would resurface. It was the first panic attack I had since 2010 but since it wasn’t my first panic attack, I recognized the symptoms and was able to remove myself to a ‘safer space’ (loose term) until I could get home.

As we come to the last two blogs of the WOMAN’ing series, I had to take a minute out to discuss mental health issues. I am not here to be a doctor in literary form and not only do I not have all (and in some cases any) of the answers, I also am not sure of all the different types of mental disorders that people suffer from. I do realize this is not solely a woman’s problem and that men suffer from many of the same things I have discussed throughout this series, however, women are expected to be emotional yet in emotionally in control of ourselves. We are expected to be the nurturers and the ones that bring the ‘love’ aspect into things but are also expected to be ok. We are expected to not need help, professional or personal. We are expected to have this side of us together, when in fact, all of the stimuli we receive in trying to be everyone’s everything often has negative mental effects on us, therefore exacerbating any mental deficiencies we may have or worse, creating new ones.

I have had a pill bottle full of depression meds for two years now. When I moved, I considered throwing them away, but they now sit in my office as a ‘break open in case of emergency stash’. I have never taken meds before. I got them in the middle of 2014 when I thought I was going to lose my shit. I have never so much as twisted the bottle. The weird thing is when the doctor handed me the pills, I felt some sense of relief having told someone that I was going through a severe depressive storm that I was not yet able to pull myself from even with the tools in hand. Having him hand me those pills that I knew I would never take made me feel good because for the first time, I had told someone that could help me that I was depressed. I don’t particularly want my personality to become dependent upon depression meds to be able to make from hour to hour so I’ve never taken them but I did find myself on a lightning end to my depression. I am going to speak very candidly from this point forward on three different things regarding mental illness:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety/Panic disorder
  3. Mild/Severe Personality Changes

Shall we?

Depression is not an Adjective:

Growing up, depression was not something that I was not privy to. My aunt suffered from depression from the onset of her mother’s death when I was like 5 or 6 years old through current. I suspect her home life with an emotionally abusive husband did nothing to help her through it. I would hear her talk of her racing and scattered emotions and since I spent a lot of time with her, I would see her go through them sometimes. She would sleep through whole days and wake up not knowing if she was at the beginning or end of the week. I assume she was doing a lot more crying than I ever knew of, but her face always told a story of weariness and tire. She looked emotionally spent when she wasn’t in a good mood and I know now that was part of the depression but as I was growing up, as much as I understood, I still didn’t. It wasn’t until I realized I was battling the same type of mental demons that I fully got the impact of depression and how debilitating it is. While on the outside, it looks like ‘why doesn’t she just get out of the bed’ or ‘why do you stay’ or ‘why won’t you ‘ yada yada yada. Everyone outside of the window has all the answers for someone else’s life but few for their own.  My first conscious dealing with depression was in the early 2000s when I was, much like my aunt, in an emotionally abusive relationship. I do not blame him or the relationship for my depression; it was just part of the saddening motivation. People use the word ‘depressed’ so flagrantly. It’s been as whored out as ‘woke’ or ‘overstand’ or some of the other words that lose their meaning over time because we have removed the true definition for them in our conversations. Depression is not a fleeting sad moment. It’s not someone passed away and you’re grieving. That’s called grieving. It’s not you lost your job and now you’re stressed. That’s called stressed and there might be some sadness associated with it, but tears and sad faces don’t equate to depression. Depression is in your brain. It’s the overwhelming sense of sadness and even fear when you get a promotion and everyone is cheering you on. It’s the death of a loved one that renders you unable to continue; you can’t get out of bed, you can’t go back to work, you can’t be bothered to talk to other people. It’s you existing solely in your emotions, whatever they are (they aren’t always sad). It is physical. It is being down on yourself about everything from a simple catalyst. Depression can be triggered but it need not be. It is a silent creeper that is relentless in its pull on your coattail. Depression simply put is a beast that can’t be resolved by someone coming over and making you laugh. It isn’t helped or cured by someone telling you that you don’t feel what you feel or you are kidding and lying to yourself.

While society still struggles to know how to deal with depressed people and learn constructive, healthy ways to address and assist them, depression gives no  fucks and the flippancy or unbotheredisms of us as a people tend to further an individual’s depression higher up the charts. It’s dangerous to say you are depressed when you are just sad.  Sadness is a part of life and for some people, so is depression, but the two are not inclusive of each other. The danger of using those two words interchangeably lies in confusing people into believing that depression is as easy to suffer from as apple pie in a white family’s oven. It’s not. Depression has it’s chosen ones and I do believe that it can be developed as well (not just the way your brain was wired at birth), but it’s not what occurs when you stub your toe and can’t get over the pain so you lay down and don’t move while watching tv. Depression wants solitude, silence, loudness, movement, tears, anger, fights, help, hugs, phone calls, shouting matches, more tears – depression wants EVERYTHING and yet nothing helps until it does. It doesn’t always have a ‘sad’ face and sometimes, you know you are going through another bout simply by your physical reaction to things. I have no ‘answer’ or solution for depression and curing the mind and heart of such a dangerous place. But I do know we need to stop just tossing it out there as an adjective. It’s not a way to describe how unhappy you are at the moment. It’s a mental imbalance. An emotional meat-grinder. A growth stunter. Depression is not an adjective. We have to be responsible for our language because it creates cultures and beliefs that sometimes aren’t true.

Stop saying you are depressed when you are sad.
Stop telling people they are just sad or ok when they say they are depressed.
Stop being dismissive. It just creates a wider funnel for depression to drown the sufferer in.
Stop using it like it’s candy. If you aren’t depressed, that’s great. If you’ve never suffered from depression, that’s great. Don’t pull yourself into a storm you don’t understand because it’s a disservice to those who do get it.
Depression is not an adjective. It’s a legit illness.

Anxious for the Panic Room

I still remember my first panic attack. It was at my mother’s house. We were standing outside on a warm summer day and both me and my mom were standing at the back of my stepfather’s truck when this  rush of sweat came over me just like at the Vogue most recently. I stood as long as I could until I had to go sit on the porch steps to catch my breath. I tried to act like nothing was wrong although I was completely terrified because not only was I profusely sweating, but now I was dizzy and my heartbeat was racing. I went into the house, laid on her living room floor and prepared to die as I cried and begged God not to let me pass this randomly on my mom’s living room floor. Clearly, I made it. But it would take talking to my friend at the time to help me make sense of what happened and even then, I still didn’t believe it. Not until I had another one and began to read about panic attacks.

On the soul food series, Terri suffered from panic attacks. They attempted to address that silent stressor but when I was watching, I couldn’t understand it. I never understood it what was going on with her or why. After I became in tune with my own, I went back and rewatched the season w/Terri’s attacks and what a difference a panic attack makes. Shit! I completely got it and truthfully, that is EXACTLY how I felt. Watch this ten-minute clip to see the randomness and the accuracy of panic attacks, at least from my experience:

That is a legit interpretation of panic attacks, even down to the way Bird reacted. My guy was similar in reaction….while he didn’t sing old church hymns to me, he was scared and tried his best to offer comfort and bring me down. He told me in the days afterward how frightening the situation actually was. I am not sure why my panic attacks started. They aren’t frequent and sometimes  there are years in between them, but when they happen, THEY HAPPEN!!!!! Listen, all over the web you can find articles and pages dedicated to panic attacks, what to do, why they happen, etc, etc.

This one is pretty well detailed in the symptoms.

That fear of dying is so real. You literally feel like this is the end and OMG why is it ending like this of all ways?

Of course, stress, whether internally (your own personal stress) or external (adopted stress of loved ones), can bring on an attack but when they will happen is anyone’s guess. The unpredictability coupled with the fear associated with panic attacks keeps me on edge when I find myself sweating or feeling nauseated or dizzy. Most times it’s nothing, but the fear persists just the same. The last attack, I tried the methods that are often suggested including trying to stay mentally calm, taking deep slow breaths (which is hard when your breath is stunted), getting air but I can’t say how much they helped.  There are anti-depressant meds you can get to help with easing the frequency of attacks but they don’t stop them completely and to be perfectly honest, I’m a bit over the idea that everything can be solved by a little pill somebody created out of who knows what. Finding the route cause of your panic attacks would be the greatest hope one would have for fighting back and I’m sure there is some type of natural supplement that could assist. I don’t have them frequently enough to have invested much energy in combating them, but if you are reading and aware of some natural cures or something aside from popping pills, drop it in the comments !!! Talk back <3

Fuck It, I’m On One

 

I have only tickled the fancy of the surface with this blog. Mental illness issues are abundant yet they are shunned and whispered about. To me, this portion of my journey through my womanhood includes being honest with myself about who I am and how that affects me in positive and/or negative ways. Being honest with yourself means owning up to your mental strengths….and weaknesses. It doesn’t matter if you have an IQ of a genius or daily struggles with bipolar disorder, owning your mental space is what will allow you to continue to grow. It’s what allows the necessary help get to you even if that’s a depression prescription that you never take. But somewhere tiptoeing on the axis of womanhood, there is a silent creeper that affects millions of women but we hardly see it as news or hear it about it in conversations.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) came into my life about five years ago when a dear friend found out she was suffering from it. During the beginning days of her period, she would get irritable and jumpy. What would usually be a simple argument would be like WWIII and anyone could get it !!! She was given some meds to take and I can’t remember if they were birth control pills are anti-depressants, but with her emotions being an absolute mess on a monthly basis, she tried them. I think the results fell in the middle of the spectrum. In the blog prior to this, I talked about the effects of aging and how I feel about it. I wrote about how my period has changed over the years and become an untrustworthy (although reliable) reminder of my womanhood every month. One thing I failed to address was PMDD and how it suddenly appeared as part of my PMS symptoms. I am self-diagnosed so there is room for me to be in error on this but I’m about 100% I’m correct. Real quick, cause you know I love definitions:

Dysphoria – A profound state of unease or dissatifaction. Dysphoria may accompany depression, anxiety or agitation.

Out of nowhere, over the last 3-4 years, I noticed a change in my personality that occurred at the exact same time every month: during my period. Let me back up first. When I a teenager and even throughout the majority of my 20s, I didn’t suffer from any PMS or sickness or mood alterations when I had my cycle. It was business as usual on all other fronts. The closer I got to 30 and then afterward, I started to develop PMS symptoms and cramping which I have charged to the game as aging. But these last few years, I noticed something else. Something new. Something a bit more dangerous. My attitude: tolerance, patience, conflict resolution – all greatly affected and down in numbers. In other words, I have none of those things. My tolerance and patience levels are zero and my conflict resolution is sarcastic at best. Now whatever you have imagined it, quadruple it and that’s me barely “able to can” as Awesomely Luvvie would say. I have screamed so loud that I’ve become hoarse. You want to talk about uneasiness?? Lord Jesus, I can feel myself shaking internally and I know it’s time for everyone to hit the deck, she’s about to blow !!!  Then the next day, I’m looking and thinking back with embarrassment like ‘who the fuck was I?’

My friend and I aren’t the only sufferers of this. I mean, there are enough of us for them to concoct another lab pill with a commercial attached (but be careful on taking meds because the symptoms could be as small as a rash to as final as death..lol). One day we were talking about it and how people who don’t and have never experienced it don’t really understand how heavy and detrimental the symptoms can be. Men of course totally don’t get it and with both of us, it showed up so late in life that people are looking at us like ‘well you weren’t this way just last year.’  Yeah well, DUH MF !!!!!

If you add PMDD on top of a nervous and mental system that is known for panic attacks and a depressive nature, there is no telling what you might get. I once had an ex tell me I had personality issues. I had another tell me that I go from zero to a hundred really quick and then my currency seems to think something along the same lines. Everybody can’t be wrong, but that doesn’t make them right. I wonder how much of what we experience in life effects us in our menstrual cycles? I recently obtained a therapist and will have my first appointment with her soon. Something that I have wondered about in regards to personality & bipolar disorder, as well as PMDD, is do the people on the other side of us take our mental issues seriously enough to attempt to NOT trigger them?

Here’s an example: Accountability is something that is big to me. I am not always in the right and while criticism of myself may be hard to digest at times, I still understand that I have to be responsible for the things I say and do and how they make other people feel. Even if there is something mentally different about me, I still have enough ‘norm’ about me to know that I have to respect how I’ve made folks feel even when it’s bad. For me, a person holding themselves accountable is HUGE so when you avoid accountability or deflect (which another pet/personality peeves), it has the ability to instantly take me to 100 depending on what time of the month it is (and sometimes NOT depending on that at all). I’m an only child and so was my mom so I didn’t even grow up with cousins my age. There was no one else to put the blame on when something was messed up. I’ve always had to be called to bat for what I pitched out so it’s a hard pill for me to swallow when I see someone can’t be accountable for the things they’ve said and done. So again, I go back to the question of triggers.

Are the people on the other side of us taking our mental issues seriously enough not to trigger them? Are they being accountable? Are they deflecting? Are they being condescending? The list goes on and is based on individuals but me accepting that there is something different about how I am mentally and emotionally wired, be it once a month or daily, is also me saying to you if you plan to stick around, please try not to toss gasoline on an ever burning flame.

I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone but me.

But it’s definitely something I’ve wondered more than a handful of times. Mental health is hardly addressed enough and especially not in the black community. Those who have mental illnesses or suffer from anxiety or depression or PMDD or [insert illness] need the assistance of our loved ones as much as we need doctors, prescriptions, and the rest . . .

That is greatly important and I can’t begin to stress how much so in one blog. We don’t don’t need to be coddled and treated like babies. It’s not that. But if we acknowledge an illness, please don’t tell us we are lying or tripping or need to ‘take it to the altar.’ Those of us who believe and trust in God have already done that and this is the part of faith where you WORK. We don’t need to be patronized or made fun of but rather that you are cognizant of words and triggers and actions that create funnels for depressive or manic episodes and reactions. If you already do that, then keep up the great work !!! 

In the meantime, if you suspect (or know) that you suffer from of the aforementioned or other mental illnesses, please seek the appropriate help for you. Trust your gut and your instinct. Talk to someone in confidence and if possible, seek counsel. I was recommended to the Christian Theological Center which has a sliding scale for therapists according to your income. Mine is about $30 a session.

Click this link for their information.  

Again, I didn’t write this blog with a bunch of answers and suggestions. Simply my story as I inch my way closer to 38. I hope somewhere in this, someone else becomes free enough to be open with themselves first about their mental illness, deficiencies, and issues.

I’m still the shit regardless of whatever makes me less than perfect. I love the fact that imperfection is something I cannot achieve because I truly feel like (at least on my good days) that I can accomplish nearly anything I set my mind and heart to. Perfection seems to hard to obtain so it’s better that I am flawed in the ways I am. It also allows me to empathize with folks.

I wish more people had that same empathy and understanding. Although this series is called WOMAN’ing and about being a woman, men suffer mental illnesses just as much as women. And our society is too full of people who don’t know how to nurture us appropriately.

May the high horses they ride in on catch a broken leg. Hashtag PutEmDown. 

Blogtrack:

“I had a one-way ticket to a place where all the demons go
Where the wind don’t change
And nothing in the ground can ever grow
No hope, just lies
And you’re taught to cry in your pillow
But I survived

I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing
I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing
I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive
I found solace in the strangest place
Way in the back of my mind
I saw my life in a stranger’s face
And it was mine”
~Sia, Alive