Wednesday, April 9, 2014

And I cry....

I've never been much of a crier.  My sad moments have been normally just me locked away with music, a note book, and my thoughts.  I'm a quiet person. I'm introspective. I feel deeply but to cry, no.  At some point in my life, I decided that it wasn't for me. I don't know when.  I don't know where but I decided to suck it up and deal.

My mother and my daughter are people of emotion.  They value their emotions. They demand the right to express their feelings at any given moment.  They feel it and you know it. To be a person like me around all of that energy all the time is draining.  I felt I had to manage the results of the whirlwind of emotions that just swept through.  I was the clean up lady. What was damaged by my mom's anger?  How could I help my daughter through this new episode of an anxiety outbreak gone bad.  How did I come to feel I had to manage other people's emotions?  When did I become responsible? I don't know.

I have learned that I'm the queen of detachment. Maybe sexual abuse taught me that skill but I've learned to use it here and there.  Even in being the clean up woman, I learned not to take in what was happening. At least, I thought that's what I was doing.  Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we got this situation under control. With more recent events, I've learned, I never truly had anything under control and even more importantly, I've cried.  I've cried a lot.  My tears have been hidden from others for the most part until I had a conversation with a friend a few days ago.  As we talked about how I'm handling some of the issues in my life, the tears fell.  I didn't want them too. I heard myself whimper.  The tears kept falling as my feelings finally met the depths of my soul and the pain that has been there for years. I cried hard.

Throughout my life, I survive. I look for solutions to move on and move through and ignoring any attachment to a feeling or emotion.  Who has time for that? Let's get over this situation or moment.  We're not made that way.  Those feelings have to go somewhere and for me, they were being stored.  As I've gone through much stress related to my daughter's healing, its only compounded what was already there.  This isn't all about my daughter.  Its the lack of self care over the years.  Its ignoring the pain of lost loves, deaths, and disappoints and always feeling that I shouldn't and can't cry.  I remember going to a therapist about five years after my mom's death and him telling me that I haven't started grieving her death.  I disagreed with him. I felt I did all that I was supposed to do.  I did cry after her death but I also took care of everything.  I made sure everyone was ok. I took care of the estate. I was also unemployed and I had just ended a 7 year relationship.  There was so much loss but I kept on moving forward because life didn't give me a break and I didn't take one. You have to keeping on keeping on, right?  As my friend told me, "Rhonda, you survive but you never recover". 

Through my tears I've begun a journey of healing past wounds I thought had healed and assuring new wounds get their proper care.  There are benefits to crying and I finally see why my mother and daughter fought for their moments to feel whatever they were feeling.  To release all of that emotion into the Universe is rewarding.  Going forward, in my walk through mental wellness, I will celebrate my tears and my deep cries and know that this is just a stepping stone to a healed soul.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Journal Entry: A Mother's Love

I haven't felt much like writing lately.  2014 has ushered in so much change and so many challenges and I know its all for my good and well being.  I've struggled with what to say at this moment in my life when I'm taking on so much. Its as if all the things I've talked to women about for their lives is being tested in mine. I've always been very transparent about the battles I've had with bulimia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I don't mind sharing my story because I felt it will help someone else but what if its your child.  Its somehow different.  Its rips my heart out. It forces me to rethink my parenting. I hurts my soul.

My daughter suffered from severe postpartum depression after having my grandson. It triggered her anxiety which also became severe.  She didn't realize anything was wrong with her.  She never had an issue bonding with her son but her anger was deep, her lows were very low, and our household was volatile. My home was no longer my sanctuary. It was hell. I didn't know what was happening to my daughter and our relationship.  I would watch her cry at nothing, cussing me out about everything, and bawl from confusion.  She had no idea either.  The challenge for me was with her being an adult, she refused to see a doctor.  We make assumptions about how we would handle these types of situations but you never know. 

I tried to focus on my own peace. I continued my own therapy. I traveled to visit friends but my daughter was sick and I was confused to how to help her.  Twice she attempted to harm herself in front of me and six weeks ago she did.  In the middle of an anxiety attack, as I tried to help her calm down, she look a large cutting knife and cut her wrists very deep, multiple times in front of me.  She felt nothing.  I watched the blood stain her blouse as she continued to scream about her loneliness and fears. I rushed to her aid and as the attack subsided, she realized what she had done.  Her heart was broken.  She was scared and so was I.

I'm witnessing my daughter's fight for her mental health.  Everyday we are working towards healing and its not easy.  We are battling stigma, lack of services, and  lack of compassion.  In my professional life, I tell women that their mental health is just as important as their physical health.  There is a deep rooted connection to both.  I've told my daughter the same. I'm not trying to be her counselor or social worker but her mother. My daughter is healing.  She is in treatment.  I had to also check my own state of being after witnessing her detachment in harming herself.  I believe that God allows these road blocks to build us up.  Restoration is ours. Healing is ours.  Love is ours.  

Mental health services are lacking in so many of our communities.  The stigma is so great that way too many want to ignore their own hurts and pains. We must encourage all people to seek out healing when there's hurt and be a support.  My daughter has just begun her journey to healing and she has a team of aunties and friends to get her to where God will have her to be. I can't dwell on the fact that I witnessed my daughter's attempted suicide. I have to celebrate that she is still here.  Let's work on our healing. 

At this time, I have to give attention to myself and my family.  The community work can wait. Its all for the love of my daughter. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Black girls: Who will hear us?

When the Village Voice published an interview with Jim DeRogatis, a journalist who covered the R. Kelly child pornography case,  I didn't want to read it.  I assumed that the article would highlight Kelly as the victim.  You know, the victim of these children or even better these fast girls.  To my surprise, it was the opposite.  DeRogatis gave us a peek into how deep the psychosis goes for Robert.  I'll just say it.  He's a sick person. 

Prior to reading the article. I did look at his video called Cookie because this was the return of KelsIts not different than most R&B videos.  Women walking around in maid uniforms with garters. They are all there for Kels.  He begins to sing.  

Cookie, cookie, cookie, I'm a cookie monster
Break your back, crack it open like a lobster
Ayyy, I kill the p_y, dig a (grave)
She grab the wood like grippin (grain)
I told her put it in my face
Let it rain, let it rain (rain)

There's a reference or two to Oreos and more about having lots of sex with Kels.  As someone who has grown up on Prince, explicit lyrics don't phase me.  Its really about context. Knowing that this man enjoys the company of girls, the lyrics change for me.  They disgust me. Its hard for me to detach the man and his music but I've learned through reading many comments via social media, its very easy for many.  This is the man who called himself the Pied Piper of R&B.  Oh the irony.  The Pied Piper promised a town he would rid them of their problems with rats.  The Pied Piper led rats to the water to drown.  The towns people decided not to pay for the Piper's services.  Angered, the Pied Piper returns, dressed as a hunter, and lures the children of the town to follow him into the mountain never to been seen again.  After reading the article by the Village Voice, we know that Kelly has very typical traits of a pedophile.  He lured girls into his web.  He abused them. He is the Pied Piper. Maybe he knows himself better than we think he does.

What comes with trying to sort through what to do with R Kelly and his celebrity is trying to understand when will we get serious about violence against women and girls and specifically black women and girls.  I recall Dream Hampton tweeting a couple of years ago about more black girls being accosted by black men than black men by the police.  The response was amazing with women sharing stories about being approached by adult men when they were girls.  Recently, #fasttailedgirls tweets have demonstrated once again, black girls have been shamed and abused with limited protection.  What will it take? Who will hear us?  I feel like I'm a broken whistle.  My soul is tired.

I am an abused black girl. I buried the sexual abuse in my soul. Many black women have done the same because our cries have no place to be heard. Our cries come in the form of bitterness, issues with our sexuality, emotional eating, substance use/abuse, and depression. We mask ourselves with mantras. We constantly demand respect. We scream it.

 R.Kelly and other abusers need help. They need mental health treatment. They need to acknowledge the pain they've caused others to our children. We need to stop protecting predators in our communities, in our homes.  We become a part of the monster. We become a part of the abuse when we do nothing. I truly want to know, who will hear us when we cry?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Devil Inside: My Battle with Eating Disorders

The devil inside of me tries to survive.  Its passionate about its survival. I am a host.

Fears. Abuse. Delusion. Sadness.

The devil inside of me has no fear of me. I allow it to live. Its a familiar monster. I know its face. I know how it moves. I know what it wants. I want it dead.

My devil as a name. Bulimia was its name first. It has become emotional eating or Binge Eating Disorder. I can't lie about it. Its a battle as any addiction. I wake up and ask myself how will I battle this devil today and it runs thought through my mind functioning like a bullet in a barrel.

I've lived with this disorder for 20 years. I'm still not "cured".  This is work for me. This work has many battles to win before the war is over. Addressing past abuse, fears, and hurt is in progress.  Feelings and emotions swarm around me as if to temped each new coping skill.  That's that devil, Tricky Tricky devil. I fail at times. Sometimes I do win but this battle is tiresome. It relies on inner strength and hope.  It uses my dreams of healing as a weapon against that dragon of deception.  Its been a long battle.

Being a Black woman with a eating disorder comes with its own baggage. Its hard for me just to be alone in my own issue. Black women have believed wholeheartedly that Eating Disorders are for white women. We believe that we have a better sense of our bodies and a love for our curves. This keeps many of us with a disorder afraid to admit we have a problem.  What is wrong with us? Why can't we have the same love and pride in our bodies as other Black women?  That devil speaks all sorts of lies and those lies are loud.

My disorder isn't simply about body image. I wish it was only that simple.  Being an introverted person, already very self reflective, having any trauma is going to live in my head space too long. I'm going to try to figure out why did that happen. So imagine, a little girl being sexually abused by not one but multiple people.  Shhhhhhhhh....that secret is safe.  That little girl kept it quiet and decided though to keep moving on.  That seed of abuse was planted deep inside me.  As much as I thought I was 'over it', that pain has to manifest.  It has to find a way to be seen and heard.  Trauma can never been silenced.

I fell in line with authority.  My parents, aunts and uncles, school, or any authority figure were in control. They said it and I did it.  I couldn't rock the boat.  Don't make any noise.  Follow the rules.  The only way I found any freedom was in music and fashion.  At the same time, there was a great level of love that came from those two things.  My parents LOVED music.  I could talk with my dad about it. We didn't talk much about anything else but I could talk with him about his love of it.  My mom was a seamstress.  We designed outfits. We would watch fashion themes shows on tv.  They weren't being judgmental.  I was free in those spaces.  Free.

Understand that if I did anything "wrong" and my parents were just being parents and correcting me, it felt like a knife in my stomach.  I needed the approval. I'd fall back in line. I couldn't be a bad girl. Nope. At the same time, there was an internal battle to just be myself.  I'm still battling this question today.  Who is Rhonda? My battle had me being sexually active, making poor choices in men, and had me needing some control.  I felt controlled by everything and everyone outside of my mind.  What can I have some contorl over?  As this is going through my mind, I lost about 15lbs my freshman year of college and this little amout of weight really garnered praise from my family that I didn't expect.  Beautiful, model-like, gorgeous were words resting on my ears.  So, this gets love and attention?  Understand, that's just the devil talking.  My family loved me before and loved me always. I'm not a mentally healthy 19 years old.  I've never told anyone about the abuse as a child.  Its all spinning in my head and needing to show its face.  This love I would accept.  My body was the key to get this love.  Without this body, no love.

Meet Bulimia.  Hi girl.  She was my sick little friend.  I never used Bulimia as a means to stay thin. I worked out.  Builimia helped with coping.  She gave me my control back.  Whenever I needed her, she was there to freely hand the control over to me.  I felt I needed her.  I felt that she understood me.

The game is this.  You know you're sick but your sickness doesn't really want to be healed. Its not like a pain in our side.  It provides some level of comfort.  And, the drug of choice is food. Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder are both connected with food and unlike being addicted to cocaine or alcohol, I need food to live. I have to eat.  Abstaining isn't going to work.  So telling someone with a Binge Eating Disorder reduce their intake of food doesn't work. An addict can't take the drug to cure the addition right?  So what do we do?  Therapy, Therapy, and more Therapy.  I have to heal the little girl in me.  She has to know that she's safe.  Its ok for her to be loved on for just being.  Mental wellness is my goal daily.  My body isn't my enemy but I have to tell myself this almost daily. I'm not healed but I'm on the path to being whole for the first time in my life.  That's amazing to me.

Black women suffer from eating disorders as we do with other addictions. No more shame.  Its real.  Find a therapist.  Get treatment.  There's both inpatient and outpatient treatment.  I'm on my path to be healed.  I can't expect to be better overnight because its been a long journey of mental self-destruction. I do know that the second half of my life will be greater than the former.  I took the first steps to gaining my freedom from that devil inside.  God knows I shall win.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fresh to Death

My beauty isn't up for debate or suggestion
I'm fly
I'm fly because I was made in the image of
My momma - fly
Daddy too
Can you question the flyness of the Creator?
My lips, eyes, hips
perfectly made
all you can do is admire
My beauty isn't up for debate or criticism
I'm dope
I'm dope because I was made in the image of
My speak, my flow, my way
is undeniably

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Single Black Female.

I have been single for about 8 years.  That doesn't mean haven't gone out on a date or a few or that I haven't had sex. It means that I haven't committed myself to a relationship in a long time. Most of this time my focus was working and raising my daughter.  Some would say that I'm one of those single Black women who finds herself single and in her 40's. They would say that I've been too focused on my career and too picky. We know the conversation.  We know the long cry of the single, Black, and female.  I've had my conversations with men who ask, "What is wrong with you?" 

What is wrong with me? hmmm......

I'm oddly traditional or old fashioned.  I don't approach men. I don't flirt very well at all. I acknowledge that I can't read the "signals" if someone is interested.  Maybe, this is why I'm single. (Kanye shrug)   In all of my dating angst, I do know that I'm ready, now, to experience the magical dance of courtship, dating, romance, etc.  Yes, I said I'm old fashioned. Courtship.  I like it. Its sweet and gentle. It allows for friendship to develop and it is necessary for me. Who courts? I don't think many know the meaning.  Relationships are complex and dynamic and as free-spirited I believe they should  be, they should be a layered in simplicity if the two people involved allow it to flow.

In 2003, a 7 year relationship ended for me. It was 7 years of infidelity, some physical and emotional abuse, and womanizing.  I came out of that relationship unaware of who I was anymore. I didn't feel attractive.  I was lost in myself, my standards, and I was afraid to love someone again.  I was a hurt person but never bitter.  I haven't allowed it to fester in my soul to that degree but I was sadden by the experience.  Until I dealt with this sadness, I couldn't begin another relationship, fully.  I did try.  I dated someone but only for a few months.  I just wasn't in it.  I refused to bring anyone into my world until I was ready.

This is where I think many women (and men) mess up.  They move too fast back into a relationship.  They don't seek the healing needed before moving to a new relationship.  They become "bad ladies".  Yes, Ms. Badu was so right.  We have to stop dragging the bags around.  We have to be okay with dealing with our own issues with relationships and love.  I poured my life into work and parenting. I stopped being as attentive to my body. I thought I was dealing and healing but I was still hurting.  I had to revisit all of my issues with myself in and out of a relationship.  THERAPY.   Yes, again.  THERAPY.  Talking it through.  Forgiving my ex boyfriend wholeheartedly and loving myself just as I am, have been the best healers for the hurt. Without forgiveness, it is truly difficult to move forward. Without forgiveness, bitterness will truly find its place in your soul. Let it go.  It wasn't the love you needed. Let it go.

The next step is to be comfortable being single. Live that single life for awhile. Enjoy it. Too many people are too fearful of being single or alone. Society puts unwarranted pressures on us to be with someone.  Just even going to dinner or to a movie alone causes stress for some.  I recall someone asking me why I was dining alone. He told me I was "too pretty to eat alone".  I said, thanks but I have to eat, right?

I don't wait for a date to see a movie. Being alone isn't an issue.  It shouldn't be for anyone. If we find that loneliness is the spark of our depression, then we lets face it.  Seek treatment.  Get some help.

Take responsibility for your healing.  Be fair to the future by enduring the process of healing. Don't be a bag lady or man.

Now, love isn't scary.  Love is a door to beauty. I believe love is for me.  I will be in love again.  I will give love again.  When I became honest about my approach to love, my heart started to yearn again for a loving relationship.  My openness speaks to the Universe and it will respond. I feel like Love does call my name, now.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”


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