Fighting Alone

On October 21, 2018, a few hours after giving a speech on domestic violence in Dallas, Texas, I calmly sat down and wrote to my academic advisor at Southern New Hampshire University telling him that I would be withdrawing from school that term. I had had all I could take.

Up to that point, I had never gotten anything lower than a B+ in a class or on an assignment. My mind, however, was so scattered, I bombed the first assignment of that term. I just couldn’t concentrate. My instructor gave me the opportunity to re-do the assignment, but I know myself well enough to know that I was spiraling downward and I needed a break. I bowed out.

By that time, the reality of my nephew’s death had truly set in and I was experiencing a level of grief I hadn’t even imagined was possible. The best I could do was make it into work every day. I’m being totally honest when I say I don’t even know how I got there sometimes. I didn’t bother with makeup. My hair was always (always) in a ponytail. Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing wrong with a person not wearing making and there’s certainly nothing wrong with wearing a ponytail, but neither of those things was me. True enough, I often find myself slapping all this hair in a ponytail, but at that time, it was a symbol of my deep, deep depression.

I was in such deep depression that I started counseling and was prescribed antidepressant drugs. I was still trying to plug along and handle my business, but depression manhandled me. Everyone handles things differently. I had no choice but to keep going, but I know in a lot of cases, it’s impossible for a person to keep pressing forward. I was functioning with my depression, but I know many people can’t. It’s hard to keep going with that cloud of gloom follows you everywhere. It’s hard to keep going when you feel there’s no hope. It’s hard to keep going when you don’t feel like anyone understands your pain.

I knew that I had lots of support and I knew there were people out there who understood my pain. I knew that there were people out there would do anything to help ease my pain. I think that’s the case for most people who experience depression. There is always someone who cares for you. There is always someone who cares about your pain. I will never downplay anyone’s pain by saying “it’s not that bad” because I know what it’s like to have your heart obliterated by abuse, death, and neglect.

I also know that there is someone out there to listen. If you’re experiencing depression, talk to a friend or family member. I bet they’ll listen. If you don’t want to share your feelings with anyone in your circle, there is national help. You may not have reached a point where you’re considering suicide and my hope is that you never will, but there is help available. Depression is a monster. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1.800.273.8255. Their website is located at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Call them. They’ll help you.

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Letting Go of His Hand

By the time Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day rolled around last year, the reality of my nephew’s death had just set in. He died on December 9, 2017, of a heart attack. I hold on to the belief that he just never woke up. One of the things that haunt me to this moment is not knowing if he tried to call someone for help. It rattles my soul when I think about the fact that maybe he had awakened in excruciating pain, tried to call his mom or me, but couldn’t. All indications are that he went in his sleep, but I still wonder.

He was only 41 years old and we would learn that the thing that took him from us was the “silent killer”. He had high blood pressure and as it was left untreated, he had an enlarged heart and asthma. I will never believe that he knew he had it. I know that if he did, he would have worked to get and keep it under control.

This is a new year, but…

The year 2018 sucked in some of the most unimaginable ways possible. No one could have told me that I would celebrate a new year without Arthur. My sister had him when I was nine years old. I had held his hand every day, if not always physically, of his life. We were raised as brother and sister. I never imagined life without him. I am still in a fog most days, but one day, as I drove by his home on my way in from work, I had a revelation. It may not be a revelation in some people’s books, but for me it was.

You see, my mourning hasn’t been the typical mourning. Not long after Arthur’s death, a co-worker happened to be in my office and after a brief discussion about my nephew, the guy said, “Trease, I don’t mean any disrespect and I don’t want to make you mad, but I really don’t think you’ve accepted that Arthur is gone. I think you’re in denial.” I just stared at him. I mentioned it to my sister a few days later and she vigorously nodded her head. I just stared at her, too. I know he’s gone, but in my mind, he’s just on the porch of his home.

The calendar says it’s January 1, 2019. To be honest, I don’t know what day it is. I don’t really know what date it is. The calendar says it’s January 1, 2019. Yes, I’ve wished a gazillion people a happy new year. Part of the reason I don’t know is because, well, I’m confused because I’ve been off work for so many days…

Photo credit: Facebook/HurrahForGin

The biggest part of the reason I don’t know what day/date it is, is because even though I’m coming more to terms with his death, I haven’t let go of his hand. Y’all, there has never been a time when I didn’t know where he was. Even now, with the knowledge that his body lies in St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church’s tiny cemetery, I still don’t know where he is. I know some of you are probably scratching your heads wondering what I mean; I know there are more of you who get what I’m saying.

His favorite thing after a long day at (or night) work was sitting on his porch, with a Black & Mild, some [homemade] peach vodka (yeah, he made his own with peach soda and vodka), his chopped and screwed music, and that phone. In my mind, he’s still sitting on that porch. I can’t see him, but that’s where he is in my mind.

I guess in a way, I feel a twinge of guilt pressing on in this new year without him. I know God makes no mistakes; yes, I know we’re all here for a limited number of days, but I feel a little guilty pressing forward and moving on without him. I know I have to move on because there are still things I must do. His purpose here on earth was complete. He touched so many people in such great ways. My purpose still needs work. I still have a book or two to write. I have classes to teach. I have clients to take care in the world of disability. I have to graduate in May. I am to be a part of an epic love affair. I still have a happily ever after to participate in. I just wish he was here to witness it all. I wish he was here to witness it all.

Photo credit: Trease Shine Hinton

I just have to let go of his hand. I’m just not ready to.

Hello?

Things have been crazier than usual. Living in my world has been like riding a tremendous tailwind through the eye of a hurricane after being tossed around by a typhoon.

My life continues to be tilted because of my nephew’s death, but I’ve taken the steps I need to in order to get back on track. Grief is a bully and it’s staunch in its efforts to drag you under. I hate that its taken such a hold of me, but I’m fighting back. I can tell y’all this — the death of a person you’re extremely close to is not one you get over, but at some point, you’ll make it through. I’m getting there. I visited his gravesite for the first time since he’s been gone. I went on Memorial Day and it was surreal. In some ways, I think it was still too early, but I’m okay. Seeing his name on that tombstone was just…

Photo credit: Trease Shine Hinton

I’m getting myself back on schedule, but know that mourning has a way of disrupting not only your calendar, it’ll destroy your very being. I’m doing my best to get back to blogging and writing consistently, and living a good life. It’s so hard. It’s no longer about taking one day at a time for me; sometimes I strive to make it one hour at a time.

Over the past few months, I’ve had to let go of a relationship that was so toxic, it was slowly draining the life out of me. The person that I finally released from my life (for good, forever, for real) should have been a source of peace and relief; instead, he only added to my pain and grief. He was deliberate in his decision to include me in his life knowing full well there was no room for me there. He claimed an addiction to me, one that has been around for nearly 30 years. There may well be one, but what I refused to be was his 50-year old side chick. Nah.

Be careful who you let in. Selfishness is a bitch and I finally accepted the fact that I have no room in my life for anyone who is only around for selfish gain. Was it hard to let go? Yes and no. Yes, because we’ve known each other our whole lives. I once considered him my soulmate. I loved him with everything I had. He didn’t appreciate it. Therein lies the “no”. He wasn’t always an ass, but he allowed himself to be morphed into, well, an ass.

I think the poorest excuse a person can have for being bitter, angry, or any other selfish thing is that someone made them that way. No, that’s not true. You control who you are. You control how you react. After a bad relationship is over, it’s up to you to become a better person in spite of the pain. You don’t have to become the person who hurt you. I refuse to become jaded because of my past relationships. Just because they were stupid doesn’t mean that the next man will be. I will always believe in true love. I will always believe that I deserve it.

I’ve made some final decisions as to where I plan to live. I’ve also made some other decisions that require me to spread my wings and fly. It’s time to make a move.

I’m coming back, y’all. I’m coming back.

That Back Road

CVOC. I don’t know the exact length of that road, but I know that from Mama’s house to his trailer in Cotton Valley, it is exactly 6.7 miles. It’s ½ a mile from Mama’s to CVOC, but in total, it’s 6.7 miles. That’s the shortest route. It takes about 13 minutes to get there on that back road. It never really takes anybody that long on that road because most everyone travels well above the speed limit back there so in reality, it’s about 10 minutes from Cotton Valley to Sarepta. To be honest, I don’t even know if there is a posted speed limit back there. I’ve traveled that road my whole life, but for the world of me, I don’t know if there is a posted speed limit back there.
I used to take that road 3-4 days a week as an alternate route on my way in from work. The other way, straight up 371 North, is a true 10-minute drive. There was never any special reason for choosing one over the other. Most times, I would decide shortly after I passed the trailer which route I’d take. I haven’t been on that road since December 17, 2017. That was the day of the funeral.
I don’t know the exact distance of the entirety of CVOC from tip-to-tip, but I can tell you that if you travel the entire road, just short of the turn-off to go to Dorcheat Bayou, you’ll find St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church’s cemetery. It’s nothing fancy, just the burial place for many in the black community in our little area. My mama, daddy, grandparents, some of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends are resting out there. My love, Arthur James Wade, Jr. is resting out there.
As I typed his name just now, my heart skipped a beat. I stopped breathing. I do that nearly every time he crosses my mind. I still do that. Here lately, I’ve started to get headaches when I think of him. For a while, I giggled a lot when I thought about him, but lately, I’ve gotten headaches. I’ve actually gotten physically sick a few times in the recent past when he’s come to mind, but these headaches…
Back to that back road.
I used to take that road on my way home from work. I made a point of traveling it when I needed to run to Springhill for something, too. When I would go to Springhill using the back road, I’d get to glance over and see Mama and Daddy’s grave marker, and I’d say, “Hey, Mama! Hey, Daddy!” Sometimes, I’d just wave. I haven’t been back there since December 17, 2017. I don’t plan to go back there any time soon because Arthur is back there.
The cemetery is nearly on the other end of CVOC from the point where I would get on it near his trailer, and to get home, I wouldn’t have to pass his resting place, but for some reason, I can’t get on that road. I just can’t. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like if I get on that road, this little scab that’s formed over my heart is going to be ripped off. It’s not even close to being healed. It’s still kind of bloody and raw, and Lord knows it’s tender to the touch, but if I go back there, that scab is going to get ripped off.
I feel like if I go back there, I’m going to lose it. I’m not afraid of encountering his spirit or anything like that; I just can’t accept the fact that there’s nothing back there except his body in a cold, dark grave. I can’t accept the fact that when it’s raining and cold, he’s lying back there in a box. None of us have been to the grave and back so no one can tell me what’s going on with him. I don’t know what happened after he was buried. I know his body is still there, but that’s all I know.
At some point, I’m going to start the grieving process. I haven’t reached those stages yet and I’m okay with that. People grieve differently so I just taking this thing one day at a time, but I’m still at a complete and total loss. He just isn’t gone in my mind. I know he’s not here, but again, he’s not gone in my mind.

Depression and All Its Might

Everybody feels depression at some time or another. We all get a little down in our spirit now and then. A little depression is normal, right? No one is 100% happy, 100% of the time. Some people call it the blues. Some folks just refer to it as being down. True enough, we all feel down in the dumps from time to time; the problem is some people fall into the pit of depression and can’t find a way out. Sometimes, we cannot find our way to the surface of that deep blue. Some people are pulled under by a current that won’t let go.

 

A photo by Clem Onojeghuo. unsplash.com/photos/-YMhg0KYgVc
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That Sinking Feeling

I’m not going by things I’ve heard. I’ve been severely depressed before. I’ve never been suicidal, but let me tell you, there have been days when it really didn’t matter if I woke up or not. I just didn’t care. Did I want to die? Nah. I would never want to leave my friends and family. My son and my granddaughter need me. If there’s one thing I know, I know my folks love me. That man loves me. He needs me.

During the time I was married, though, when the days of hell melded together, I just didn’t care. I knew that on any given day, I would likely be blamed for something. I knew that it was likely I would be belittled or made to feel inadequate in some way or another. I knew that regardless of how clean the house was, he’d find a speck of lint (because he made a point of looking for things like that). I knew that he’d head upstairs to check if the underside of the toilet lid was clean. I knew if there was a single cup in the sink, he’d stand there with his coat on and wash it because he “couldn’t stand mess”. Overall, I knew nothing I ever did would be good enough.

When It Finally Sets In

For me, deep, deep depression set in on three different occasions in my 50 years. As I said before, the first time was while I was married. The depression I experienced back then was the result of being battered mentally and emotionally. Eventually, I got professional help. I had to. To be honest, initially, I sought help for my son because I could see him spiraling out of control. I was kinda blind to what was going on in my own mind, but I knew my child needed help.

Almost from the beginning, the sessions that I had meant for my son turned into joint ones because the counselor recognized the mental and emotional beating I was taking. He actually told me that in the beginning, he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to help me because I was so damaged. He thought he would have to refer me to a more experienced counselor. I was a complete mess. Like I’ve said a million times before, I didn’t realize that I was in shambles because I thought the hell I was in was normal.

Anyway, the next time I found myself down under was after the divorce. Sure enough, I had been freed from that hell, but the dissolution of my marriage also meant that for the first time in nearly 20 years, I was on my own. I found myself floating in the middle of the ocean with nothing but a life raft. Yes, my family and friends were all around me and refused to let me fall or fail, but depression can put a stranglehold on you that can’t be readily pried loose. It had me and it was suffocating me. All I wanted to do was sleep. Honestly, that’s all I did. I slept. I ate. I gained weight. I cried uncontrollably. I repeated those things day after day. The difference with that bout of depression, though, was that I was able to pull myself out. I know I would have benefited from the help of my counselor, but he was 250 miles away in Dallas, but thankfully, I was able to pull myself out.

My latest battle with depression is going on right now. It still pains me to say my nephew died. My entire world shifted on December 9, 2017. Many people who knew us have said that on that day, Margarett’s son died, but that he was my baby. He was. I was nowhere near being okay when one of my closest cousins died on January 14, 2018.

This time around, though, the depression is different. I know I won’t need professional help (although I wouldn’t hesitate to get it if I felt I needed it) this time around because I’m shrouded more in grief than anything. I’m still so stunned, I haven’t reached the point that I’ve entered the grieving stages. I’m not even at the first stage of the process which is denial because the truth is, it’s still not real to me. In my mind, neither of them are dead in the sense that I will never see them again. They’re just gone. I know that makes no sense, but neither of them is dead to me.

I know the reality will set in at some point, but as of this writing, it hasn’t. Nope, there’s nothing wrong with me — folks grieve differently and this is just my reality. I’m okay. I just need to process this stuff in my own way.

Help

 

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Photo credit: Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels

If you’re depressed, get help. If that means reaching out to your folks, CALL THEM! I know what it is to be too embarrassed to tell your story, but trust me when I tell you, your folks are there for you.

 

IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF CRISIS COUNSELING, CALL THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE AT 1.800.273.8255. Call those folks TODAY!

 

 

The Color of My Pain

Bereavement. Grief. Pain. Loss.

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Photo by Kat Smith from Pexels

At 50, I’ve felt all of these things more than once. I have felt them all in varying degrees. I have experienced them all on a variety of levels. I’ve felt them all in a variety of situations.

For the most part, bereavement, grief, and pain are the things you feel after the loss of a loved one. I’ll talk about that level of loss in a few. Let me tell you how those things come into play in the mental and emotional sense.

Blood Red

 

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Photo by it’s me neosiam from Pexels

Nineteen years of mental and emotional domestic abuse taught me to shut down, take cover, and to fight fiercely to survive. My very soul was shrouded in the bloodiest red color. Red is an extremely emotionally intense color. While it signifies passionate love, it also points to danger, anger, and violence. Those last three adjectives sum up the19 years I was married.

While the physical abuse was limited to two incidents of spousal rape, the mental and emotional trauma is what put my life in danger. I almost died of an aneurysm that was brought on by stress.

The level of perpetual anger I felt nearly drove me insane. I was mad all the time and I was mad at everybody. I was extremely angry with myself, too. I waived between being angry with my ex for abusing me and being angry with myself for allowing it to happen and for staying.

What I felt internally took the term “seeing red” to a whole new level. Red covered everything in my life.

I’m happy to say that wherever red shows up in my life today, it’s all about its representation of determination, power, strength, and energy.

Black

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Photo by Mustafa ezz from Pexels

On December 9, 2017, my entire world went black. With the death of my nephew, Arthur, such deep darkness fell over my world that the light is just now starting to seep through. It comes through in spurts. Sometimes it stays around for days; sometimes it’s only a momentary flicker. For now, light is fleeting. Bereavement, grief, pain, and loss have enveloped me.

Most days I just go through the motions. I have to. I have a son who means the world to me. I mean the world to him. He needs me. I have a granddaughter who depends on me for all things in her tiny world. My siblings need me. So do my other nephews, nieces, friends, and family. I know they all need and love me, but things are still covered in black for me.

The murkiness left after Arthur’s death can’t be penetrated with well-wishes. It gnashes my soul. I hurt. I cry. I scream. Then there are the days I laugh, giggle, and chuckle when I think of something he did or said. The emotional roller coaster that I’m riding through the blackness is far from thrilling. I’m not in an amusement park. I feel like I’m in the valley of the shadow of death sometimes because I know that’s where he was. I always knew where he was. He always knew where I was. Now, I feel like he’s wandering around in that blackness that I can’t see through.

Is That Light I See?

I don’t know if what I see occasionally is real light or just a figment of my imagination. I want so badly for things to be normal, but in order for things to be normal, my nephew would have to be here. He can’t come back. He’ll never come back.

It was 68 days ago that he passed away. It’s only been 68 days. Some days, it feels like it’s been 20 years; some days, it feels like it just happened this morning. Some days, I see the light; some days, that darkness refuses to let any light shine through.

I will continue to grieve. I will struggle for some time to come. I will keep pushing forward because I have no choice. It’s what I have to do, but for now, I move in darkness.

Death of a Thing

One of the most important lessons I learned after my divorce was the importance of dying to my old self. I had to kill her. I had to bury her 10-feet under — not six but TEN! There was no way I could have continued life and prospered in any manner had I continued to be the battered shell that had been left to rot.

After Abuse

By the time I made it back to Louisiana permanently in late August 2013, I was living life in a parallel universe. I was watching myself from a distance. Eventually, I was shaken back into reality and couldn’t believe what I was viewing. I was damaged in every imaginable way and I looked it. I mean I was a mess from my hair to my clothes. I just didn’t care.

That version of me didn’t just appear overnight. That woman had been dragged, half-way rebuilt, dragged again, and then just left to mold. She’d been left to die by someone who didn’t care about the destruction that had been left. The only time my appearance was mentioned was when my ex said, “You look pretty good when you comb your hair.” That came after he pleaded with me to have sex with his friend so he could watch. That night, my sense of self-worth tanked and it would take nearly five years for me to pull my head out of the sand.

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The inside of my head and mind had been damaged by a battering ram of mental and emotional abuse. It had been bludgeoned nearly to death.

Once I woke up, though, I knew I had to finish off the old Trease. She would have killed me if I hadn’t.

The Wake-Up

One day, I woke up and remembered that I’m smart. I’m not only speaking of my bachelor’s degree or my paralegal certificate. I’m talking about being wise to life. Some folks even refer to me as a smart-ass and that’s true, but I’m smart nonetheless.

 

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Photo credit: www.quickmeme.com

 

I realized that I have amazing worth. My friends and family love me. I love me!

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Photo credit: Everyday Self Love

I realized that I’m pretty. Nah, I’m beautiful. Don’t take that as conceit because if there’s one thing I despise, it’s deceit, but I know I’m easy on the eyes. Gray hair and all, I’m okay.

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Most importantly, I realized that I have so much to offer the world. The old Trease had to die in order for the new one to surface. The two of them couldn’t co-exist. One had to go and I chose to release the one who was no good to herself or anyone else.

I woke up and got a good whiff of the smell of life.

Today

I still have a way to go in some areas of my life, but for the most part, I’m good. I know I deserve unconditional love from a man. I know that I will give unconditional love to the next man. I won’t let the past dictate my future.

I keep myself up even though I could stand to lose a few pounds. I’m working on that, but my love of cheese and cake are undermining my best efforts.

Do what you have to do to be who you want to be. There is life after abuse. There is indeed life after abuse.