As most of you know, we’ve had a number of deaths in my family in recent months with the latest being on March 23rd. I’m just now getting my bearings back. I can’t wait to get back to blogging and sharing my story.
“Hello? Whatchu want, Big Sexy?” I answered my phone at exactly 2:16 P.M. with that playfulness we’d shared all our lives.
“Trease, tell my mama I need some antifreeze for my car” my nephew, Arthur, said.
He said a few more things before we ended a very short conversation that day, including the fact that he was running late for work and needed to get off the phone. It was the last one I had with him. The last thing I said to him during that 2-minute call was that I was leaving for Dallas as soon I got off work that day; he simply said, “Okay.”
It has been 122 days since that little chat. It has been 122 days since I last heard his voice. The date was Friday, December 8, 2017.
Just as I told him I would, I left for Dallas right after work that day. My spirit was restless. Even though I had had a lot of coffee and soda that day, what I was feeling wasn’t caffeine jitters. My soul was vexed. Friday evening exit traffic didn’t make matters any better. I just could not settle down. At one point, I turned my radio off and prayed to God to still me. That prayer lasted two hours. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I just knew that something was off.
My nephew died the next morning.
He went to bed somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00 AM the morning of December 9, 2017. That would be the last Saturday morning he would sit outside on the porch of his home in Cotton Valley.
As usual, he had sat on his porch smoking those Black & Mild cigarillos and drinking his homemade peach vodka (he was cheap – he’d mix peach soda and vodka). The last thing he told the guy who was staying with him was to leave the sliding door unlocked because a friend was coming by to make sure he was up for work later that morning. She would find him shortly before noon, still warm.
They tried to call me four times before I finally answered. I did not recognize the number so I didn’t answer. It was an Arkansas number and since I had received three calls from it, I figured I should answer.
Before the young woman said anything, I could hear my sister wailing in the background, saying, “I’m never going to see my son again! Arthur’s dead! Trease, Arthur’s dead!” I had slowed to a crawl and finally pulled over to the side of I-20 East. I kept screaming, “What are you talking about?? Who is this?? Who’s dead?? Who are you talking about??” That’s when the young lady said, “Ms. Trease, Arthur is dead!”
It has been 121 days since he died. It has been 121 days since he drew his last breath. The date was Saturday, December 9, 2017.
That Next Sunday
We knew there would be many people there. We had no idea the church would be packed for both the wake and the funeral. As is pretty much standard in the black community, funerals are held on Saturdays. I don’t know why, that’s just the way it is. Arthur’s was held on Sunday, December 17, 2017, at 2 P.M. We did that for two reasons: my cousin, who delivers the eulogy at the funerals of all family members couldn’t be there until that Sunday; and the employees at International Paper wanted to be there. The entire plant wanted to be there but wouldn’t have been able to had the service not been held that Sunday.
I remember the service. I remember the fact that my son, who was immediately in front of me with my granddaughter, stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Arthur lying in state. There was a kind of domino effect because I had my head down and bumped into him. My son started screaming, “No!!” Although I had taken a prescription Valium, I remember every single thing that happened during the service.
I remember my sister’s dedication to him. I remember all the people who got up and paid tribute to him. I remember that I didn’t cry a lot. I don’t think I did. Maybe I did.
It’s been 113 days since we said goodbye to Arthur James Wade, Jr. The date was Sunday, December 17, 2017.
A Melding of Days
For the longest time following his death, the days all blended into each other. There were no weekdays; there were no weekends. Holidays were just…days. Easter was not hard this year, it was just another day. In years past, just like Christmas and New Year, Easter was a huge deal for the family. There would be a lot of food and pictures. This time around, it was just another day.
I’m better now. I’m still so deep in the trenches of grief that I’m breathless, but I’m better.
He wouldn’t want us suffering. He wouldn’t. I’m trying so hard to push forward, but there are so many days when I just spin my wheels.
I miss him. There are no words in anyone’s dictionary to describe the void in my life his death left. I miss him.
The days are finally separating themselves. I’m glad they are because as of yet, I haven’t been able to. They’re all one big jumble in my mind.
It’s not that she thinks she any better than anybody else.
It’s not that she doesn’t care.
It’s none of those things.
It’s just that she doesn’t feel anything anymore. Well, she feels a little bit, but she’s well on her way to stopping that “feeling” train from rolling at all. She’s back at that point again. It’s imperative that she stop that thing. All those feelings are going to kill her.
To let it roll on will allow the things she does feel to kill her. She’s smart enough to recognize things for what they are and to let this train continue to roll is suicide. For real, all the bullshit just might kill her. She would be allowing it to kill her if she doesn’t stop those feeling from clouding her judgment.
The sad thing is that locomotive is gaining traction. It’s plowing full steam ahead at a dangerous speed. She doesn’t like “feeling” stuff, especially when those feelings are reciprocated. Damn all that.
The good thing, though, is that she can stop it. She knows how and she’s going to.
The physical deaths are unavoidable. The mental and emotional ones are. There are two ways to handle that thing. The first: trust no one. The second: be smart enough to walk away and STAY away when someone shows you their true colors when those colors are dark. Let’s get back to the girl’s story.
Oh, she had slipped for a while and let the wall crumble a bit, but the foundation for that thing is still there and she’s rebuilding with a furor that’s unheard of. It’s safer that way.
She had spent nearly 20 years behind a wall that prevented anyone from seeing the pain she was in. The wall was just a cover. She felt stuff, but to the naked eye, it was not visible. She had mastered the art of preventing tears from falling. No one knew that she cried. She refused to allow her feelings to surface. It safer that way.
So many things have died. Death by any other name is still death. People have died. Things have died. Death by any other name is still death.
The physical deaths have almost taken her out. Since July 31, 2017, she has seen three deaths in her family. Here recently, she has seen the death of one of the women who was her sister-in-law was nearly 20 years.
On July 31, 2017, she lost an uncle. He was 82 so he was considered elderly, but did that fact lessen the pain? Nah, because he was one of her favorite uncles. He was one of the last real examples she had of a man. She had watched him treat her aunt like a queen.
On December 9, 2017, she lost what could only be considered one of her limbs. She lost her nephew. He was the closest person to her. They had a brother/sister relationship. She won’t ever be same. She has no closure because she just doesn’t want to close that door. She never will.
On January 14, 2018, she lost one of her first cousins and it was that one that caused her to start construction on that wall. As bad as it may sound, she’s better at not feeling that she is the opposite. Back in 2014 when another of her favorite uncles died, she shed a single tear. One. She shed one tear. Her heart was broken into a million pieces when he passed, but that wall had prevented her from letting that broken heart break her.
On March 23, 2018, she lost one of the women who had been her sister-in-law for close to 20 years.
Death of the Mind and Heart
The mental and emotional shit that comes from caring is just not worth it to her. She has felt enough. She’s just not interested in caring anymore. Let’s clarify — she’ll always, always, ALWAYS care about what her son and granddaughter feel, but those two are the only ones she can allow to get to close to her, just like it was before. She’ll always be there for her family, she just can’t allow them or their stuff to drag her under. She’ll never leave her friends sides, but she’s had to re-learn a very painful lesson. Not everyone has your best interest at heart. Some people are only after what they can get.
When people show you who they are, believe them. I don’t’ care how long you’ve known them, BELIEVE THEM! Dueces, y’all!
Every year in January, folks set out to enact resolutions for the new year and that’s cool. I used to do that. I stopped, though, many years ago. Here’s why.
In my mind, starting anew can happen any old day of the week. It doesn’t have to be the first of the year, the first of the month, or the first of the week. Wednesday is just as good a day as any. Thursday or Friday can be your new start date, too. It’s all about starting the thing — the day you start is irrelevant.
I have so many things in the works. My entrepreneurial ventures are going to explode this year. There’s a portion of Proverbs 31 that screams at me to get off my duff and use my skills, talents, and desires to flourish in order to prosper. I have all I need to succeed, so put simply, that’s what I’m going to do.
Don’t wait. Get hustlin’! I promise the day of week is not relevant — it’s all about the hustle.
By the grace of God, some of us survive domestic violence. That fact, in and of itself, is wonderful and something to be eternally grateful for. In some cases, though, the residual damage sustained is just as devastating as the abuse was itself. I’ve been there. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve either experienced the following things or I’ve watched (or am currently watching) friends experience them:
Out of the Skillet Into the Frying Pan
Divorce oftentimes leaves a person reeling, unsure of his or her self-worth, wondering if true love will ever find its way to them again, or even if it ever really existed in the first place. Some of the strongest people are left mentally and emotionally displaced and ultimately begin the search for someone to fill the void that’s been left in their lives and in their heart. Sometimes they start that search a little too soon.
I know a woman, who at 42, has been married six times. She has recently started divorce proceedings for this latest marriage. I don’t of a time when she’s overlapped relationships, but it’s never long after one is over that she heads full-on into the next one. I’ve never known a time when she didn’t buy her own engagement/wedding rings in these relationships.
Once, during our weekly lunch meet-up, she said, “Trease, it seems like I keep running into narcissistic guys who just use me. I don’t know why I keep picking these guys that need to be fixed. I don’t know what a good man looks like. I try so hard to love them, but they never love me back.” I’m no relationship expert, but I readily advised her that she needs to love herself first and love herself hard. I reminded her that self-love is imperative in order to live and that it is not an act of selfishness.
I fully believe that once you truly begin to love yourself, you will refuse to allow anyone in your circle who won’t do the same. I believe that once you cherish your own heart, you won’t allow another person who refuses to do the same any access to it. You won’t be willing to jump from one empty relationship to the next in an effort to find true love.
There’s just no sense in jumping from one guy or girl to the next on a wing and a prayer, hoping that he or she will be the one. In my opinion, that’s one of the easiest ways for things to go from bad to worse. You’re in essence, jumping out of the skillet into the frying pan.
Don’t be the Pawn
One thing I’ve seen far too often is an unsuspecting person becoming paired up with a person who has just gotten out a long-term relationship. Every situation is different, but you can almost always win the bet that a person coming off a 20-year or so marriage is just not ready to start a new relationship immediately, let along get married.
I know three men, personally, who jumped into marriage or a Facebook relationship after their long-term marriages ended in divorce and I can vouch for the fact that in all three cases, the women that ended up with them found out they were being used. They were either rebounds, sex toys, or being used to show the ex-partner that the guy had moved on.
Two of the guys I know ended up marrying younger women. One of them would later find out that the woman he chose was only there for his money; the other found out that he was the one who had been tricked. The woman he chose had a laundry-list of issues and problems that she chose not to share with him until well after they were married. The other guy ended up in a “Facebook” relationship and in the end, the younger woman got far too caught up her feelings and found herself left alone with memories of a too-good-to-be-true fling that was never real to begin with.
It’s All About the Sex
Listen, we’re all grown, but one of the easiest ways to get caught up in your feelings is to start out having rebound sex with a person and end up falling in love. You’re going to get hurt.
Just don’t do it.
Guard that Thing
Love is never, ever, ever supposed to hurt. Sometimes it does, but it’s not supposed to.
Be careful that you don’t become someone’s “look, I’m over you and I’ve moved on”, when the truth is, you were only being used.
Broken people will break you.
Hurt people will hurt you.
Keep your guard up. Love and live, but keep your eyes and ears open.
The heart is such a delicate organ, but it can become hardened beyond anything you can imagine if it’s mishandled by someone you love.
One of the worst feelings in the world comes from finding out that the person you would most like to spend the rest of your life with doesn’t care enough about you to be honest.
What it boils down to is that if a person chooses to lie to you, he or she doesn’t respect you enough to come straight. We’ll talk about their arrogant asses a little later.
“Lying is done with words and also with silence.”~ Adrienne Rich
That has to be one of the most profound quotes of all time. Then there’s this one:
“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
For me, there is never any going back. Once I’ve been lied to, I will never, ever, ever trust that person again. Why would I? He didn’t trust me with the truth; I can’t trust him not to lie.
“People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.” ~ Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
I will never understand why a person chooses to lie. So many years of unconditional trust can be destroyed instantly with one stupid lie. I know people who lie even though their social media statuses tell the undeniable truth. A picture is worth a thousand words. A whole album of them is worth a million.
The decision to lie comes so easily to an arrogant person. Arrogance always carries with it an air of superiority. That person will always assume himself or herself to be a little (or a lot) smarter than just about everybody else and that arrogance boils over when they’re caught fabricating. They’ll come up with all kinds of junk to cover their lies, but I’ve yet to meet one who just pulls the grown-up card, admits to the lies, and attempts to make amends.
Nah, deceit is a game of chess in a liar’s mind and that arrogant SOB will do his or her best to outwit you till the very end. I guess they’re of the belief that since they didn’t care enough to tell the truth in the first place, there’s no reason to stop now. They really believe that the other person is just not smart enough to catch on, or that they can continue to stack those lies and reign king (or queen).
What Letting Go Looks Like
I detest liars. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no room in my life for that mess. I just refuse to deal with folks who don’t or just won’t be honest. I don’t have the time or the energy to waste trying to figure out if you’re telling the truth. Once I’ve been lied to, I wouldn’t trust that person to tell me that the ocean is blue. The truth is a real man (or woman) will be honest no matter how painful the truth is. A coward will hide behind lies and deceit.
I have to let that person go.
For me, that means
• no phone calls
• no text messages
• no inbox messages
• no connection on social media
• no pleasantries when we see each other in person
Why would I strike up conversation with a person who has spilled a plethora of lies and insulted my intelligence? Why? Once I’ve been lied to, I don’t care how you’re doing, how your kids are, what your folks are up to, or anything else you may have going on. Go on and find someone else to stretch the truth with or better yet, keep hanging out with the other person you’ve been lying to. Bless her (or his) heart.
I’m no better than any other person on this planet, but I’m a little too good for you. I have to let you go.
Here we are at the start of a brand new year. We’re on the first page of the first chapter of a brand new book. For the most part, this day represents a new beginning. The slate is clean. It’s January 1st. We’re far into the 2000s, but we’re on the first day of 2018. Not that we needed to wait until today to start anew, but it just feels more empowering starting out with a host of ones: day one, chapter one, page one, month one, etc. This is for the ones of you who have forgotten that you are the one.
I spent a ridiculous number of years sucked under by self-doubt, no self-esteem, no self-confidence, the fear of stepping out on my own terms, and a deep belief that I was just worthless. That’s what can happen after years of mental and emotional abuse. That’s what happened to me.
All the things that make me the woman I am today — my ability to write, my ability to lead, my ability to empower, my sense of self — were all there, they are just buried. Every time one of those traits would try to surface, my ex was there to smack it right back down to where he wanted it to be. Mental and emotional abuse is real, folks. I didn’t start out as some little shrinking violet. It took a long time for me to fall flat on my back, but once I was there, I laid there for years. I was able to look up, but I wasn’t able to get up.
One day, though, I decided that I would no longer be defined by the words in his dictionary. I decided I would use the ones in my dictionary and if they weren’t there, I’d create them. I decided that I would use all the things inside me to pull up and out. I decided that I would not only survive, I would thrive. I decided to sail through this life on my own steam. Have I accomplished everything I set out to do? Nope, but you better believe a large part of my goals will be satisfied before the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2018. It’s my time. It’s your’s, too. Let’s get on it! Strike the match that’ll ignite the inferno of your greatness.
What Not to Do
Stop letting folks decide who you are. Stop letting folks shape your opinion of you. Stop letting those who can’t tell you that you can’t! Stop holding on to people who couldn’t possibly care less if you’re in their lives or not. Ladies, stop holding on to men who are holding on to someone else. Men, stop stopping in your tracks for women who are only out to use you. Stop trusting folks with your heart when they’ve proven over and over again that they have no intention of ever doing right by you, your feelings, or anything else about you. You’re better than that. You deserve better. Get after it.