But You Couldn’t Stop Me, Could You?

Fifty-one years ago today, shortly after 2:00 A.M., Mama gave birth to me. There was no pomp and circumstance, she simply gave birth to a 5-pound baby girl and was released to go home by 7:30 A.M. that same morning.

I was welcomed home by my older siblings, the youngest of whom was 11. My oldest brother was away in San Francisco with his own family. I have two nieces who are older than I am. My sister, Margaret, had already told Mama to name me Trease. I have no middle name. I was never babied. I was spoiled, but I was never babied. Most people who know me say that I’ve always been grown. I have an old spirit.

The past 51 years have carried one lesson after another for me in a constant fashion. I know when some of you heard that, you said, “Yeah, we’ve all learned lessons over our lifetimes.” For the most part that’s true. I say for the most part because in some cases, people don’t learn anything from their experiences. They continue to make the same mistakes. They grind their gears and they spin their wheels.

Here is some knowledge I picked up along the way:

  • In almost all cases, you get one chance to make an entrance. You get one chance to make a first impression. If you storm through any door in a destructive manner, reeking chaos, disrupting the good, folks won’t forget. Even though we’re supposed to, most folks won’t forgive either. Be mindful of what you do when you enter another’s space.
  • Your exit is probably more important than your entrance. I really can’t think of a reason to leave a situation in shambles. Why? Because to do so means that another person has gotten under your skin so deeply and has disrupted your psyche so much that you became someone you’re probably not. Don’t get it twisted — I’ve left material damages in some places that were so bad I should have been charged with the highest level of vandalism. It was bad and it was stupid. I let someone who had mistreated me take me to another level. I’m not coming at you in a “holier than thou” manner. Just don’t allow another person to take you out of character. What I think makes a  more profound statement is to simply take your ball and go home. You don’t even have to provide an explanation or say goodbye. Just go and be at peace.
  • Be extra-possessive of your time. Time is a precious commodity. We don’t have as much of it as we think. Don’t waste it on people who don’t love you fiercely, on a job that you hate, or in a situation that you don’t want to be in. Do life big!
  • Let no man or woman take you for granted. This is a lesson I learned the hard way. My presence — my whole being — was taken for granted by someone I thought valued me. Turns out, he is the most selfish individual on the face of this or any other planet. Lesson learned. The wrong people will take your love for granted. Take it back and give it to someone who deserves it. You’re so amazing. You’re such a blessing. If a man or woman can’t see that – GO! Plain and simple, just go!
  • Love your folks without condition. I’m grateful to see this day, I really am, but I would be lying if I said my heart is not filled with grief this morning. It has been nearly 11 months since my nephew passed away suddenly. The void his death has left in our lives is massive. Cherish your people. Loss is inevitable. Cherish your people.

I’m going to end this by saying that all those things that were designed to stop me from living my best life have failed. An abusive marriage, an aneurysm, unemployment, a devastating breakup — all those things wore on me, but here I am. None of those things stopped me. Nothing will. Trust that. The decision to live is yours. The kind of life you live is up to you. Let nothing stop you from having it all and from being it all. It’s up to you.

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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.

In This Time

It’s been just over 28 weeks since my nephew passed away.

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Photo credit: Trease Shine Hinton

 

So many things have happened since that time. My son has been home since school let out in early May. My granddaughter has been here since that time, too. We needed this time together. We needed this time together so desperately.

We needed to love on each other. We needed to lean on each other. We needed to bump heads. We needed to make up. We needed the tears. We needed to laugh.

With my nephew’s death came many lessons, not the least of which is that we have no time to waste on things that don’t matter or on people we don’t matter to. My best advice to you: get out of the way of toxic people. It’s true that hurt people, hurt people, but that is purely by choice. Hurt people don’t have to hurt people, they choose to. You, my friend, must choose to get out of their way.

One of the best things I’ve done recently is starting my own business. I’m not talking about reviving my Mary Kay business; I’m talking about a business of my very own. I’ll be writing and editing full time. I am also working on attaining my notary commission and am very excited about that. Every single thing about my life will be different by December 31, 2018.

My quest to become a speaker on the atrocity of domestic violence is neverending. I have some engagements coming up and will be sharing those things with you guys.

Know that your time and energy is precious. Don’t waste it.

 

Be Back Soon

It’s been rough, y’all!

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.

Bear with me. I’m on my way.

Fridays, Saturdays, and a Month of Sundays

 

Arthur and Mia
Photo credit: Trease Shine Hinton

 

That Friday

“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.

That Saturday

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.

Why Is She Like That?

It’s not that she’s mean.

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.

Death

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!

New Year, Old Me

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.