After You’re Destroyed

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

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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Photo credit: Trease Shine Hinton

 

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.

 

 

 

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What Letting Go Looks Like

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.

Lies hurt.

Deception destroys.

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.

 

All the Freshness

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.

It’s Time

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.

 

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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

 

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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.

She Knows

On November 5th, I turned 50 years old. I’m not going into the whole story of how I almost died a few years back because that’s not what this post is about. Let’s just say, though, that the fact that I did almost die is the reason I have refused to take anything lying down.

On November 10th, I celebrated that milestone with some of my closest friends in Dallas. I needed that time with them because the saying that, “iron sharpens iron” is the truth. I got my fill Friday night.

I sat at the head of the table because I wanted to make certain I could see and talk to everyone. While we cackled and acted like teenaged girls that night, what I really saw when I glanced around that table was strength, resilience, and beauty.

My friends insist that I’m the strong one, but I constantly remind them that they were and indeed, ARE, the wind beneath my wings. They refuse to let me like a mediocre life. That would never happen, but it’s good to have a circle of friends who won’t stand by and let life swallow you. You have to know for yourself, though, that you’re more.

A woman has to know that any point, she can change her “now”. We can’t go back and change the past, but we can damn sure change our “now” and our future. Whatever those changes may be, she can take the steps to make them happen NOW.

A woman has to know that a man who refuses to commit to her yet spends all his time with another woman will never commit to her and if he says different, he’s lying. Whether he ultimately commits to the one he’s actually spending time with or finds yet another one to mess around with, he won’t commit to the one who waited. And even if he chooses to do so down the road, how do you trust someone like that? It’s impossible.

A woman has to know when her time is up in a certain place. Maybe it’s her current job. Maybe it’s her current city. Whatever the case may be, there is such a thing as wearing your welcome out. If she’s become stagnant; if she’s no longer productive; if she has no desire to get up in the morning because she knows the day holds no excitement, it’s time to go.

True enough, it’s never too late to make changes, but we’re all living on borrowed time. If you’re not happy, plan your move to reach a point of happiness. No one can do it for you. No one will.

You never have as much time as you think you do, so get on it!

 

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.

Picking Up the Pieces

There’s no doubt about it: DIVORCE SUCKS!

The circumstances leading up to the dissolution of marriage vary from couple to couple, but as I’ve stressed before, not every divorce calls for sympathy. Some are cause for celebration. Either way, though, folks are left to pick up the pieces.

The Ashes

Even though it was surely time for me to be free from the abusive hell I had been caught up in, I was left in such a confused state that I didn’t even know where I was going to live after June 2013. The divorce was final in April of that year, but I quickly discovered that it would be impossible for me to stay in Dallas. I had been a SAHM mom for a lot of years and had lost my place in corporate America. More importantly, I had lost my self-worth, my self-confidence, and my sense of identity.

I didn’t want to leave Dallas. I had wanted to live there since I was a little girl and I was extremely angry because the choice of living there had more or less been taken away from me as the result of the divorce. I will never, ever regret staying at home with Will because I think he’s a better guy for the fact that I was there every evening when he got home, but I regretted the fact that I had trusted my livelihood to someone who shouldn’t have been trusted with the pen he used to sign our marriage license with. Anyway, life as I knew it would never be the same and that, my friends, was the best thing that could have happened to and for me.

My then-boyfriend often reminded me once when I was complaining back in 2014 that I had been brought back to Louisiana for more than regrouping, resetting, and recharging. He reminded me that I had been brought back here to help with my elderly mom whose health was extremely poor. I couldn’t see that for the longest time because I was blinded by the anger brought on by the divorce. Eventually, I realized he was right. I also realized that I had been brought back here to pick up the pieces.

My credit had been left in shambles. I had been without a “job” since 2005. I had let my weight get out of control. I had no real pride in my appearance except when I knew I would see my guy. There were broken pieces of me everywhere.

Today, I’m proud to say my credit has improved by miles and is on its way back to that 800 mark. Even though I didn’t work a corporate job during the years following my divorce, I did a lot of freelance work, but it was not as fulfilling as I wanted it to be. Thank God, on May 1, I started a paralegal job and am working in family law. And guess who’s back? Yep, prissy Trē! I love dabbling in makeup, I think one of the best things about a woman can be a sweet, sweet smell, and I love making my hair BIG! I also make my way to the gym as often as possible, but that committment is going to be just that — a real committment because my health is worth more than gold.

I still have a ways to go to get everything to a place where I’m completely happy, but the most important thing I’ve discovered is a new sense of self-love. I not only like myself, I love myself. That’s a far cry from a time when I hated looking in the mirror. The pieces may still be out of place, but at least they’re all in one place now.

Just a Girl from the Country

I was born and raised in the tiny, northwest Louisiana town of Sarepta. The population is under 1000 and my mother loved that fact.

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We didn’t have running water in our home until I was 12. We got our bath water, our water for cooking, our water for drinking from the well at the end of the road. We shared that well with several families and there was never any discord because even if we weren’t related by blood, we were family. That old well is still standing though it’s not in service.

The road leading to the house that I grew up in — the house that my mom built with her own two hands and only the help of my grandfather — was dirt. That meant that I was an expert mud cake maker and I loved playing in the rain. I spent far more time running around in my bare feet than I ever did in shoes. I almost always caught more light bugs than the rest of the kids as we ran around outside after dark.

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At the end of that dirt road, across from the well, was Thomasville School. It was the only school available for black children for a long, long time so it is where my mother attended. She had to leave school before she finished the 9th grade, but the education she gained from life afforded her far more knowledge than the books she longed to read from.

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Daddy loved fishing so that meant we spent a ridiculous amount of time on the bayou reeling them in. I can pull them in with the best of them. I still can. I know how to cast a reel and I know how to handle a pole. I’m not scared of worms and I have no fear of crickets. I’m just a girl from the country.

I’m simple. I don’t have to have the biggest house. I don’t have to have the grandest car. I do like really nice purses, but hey, everybody has their “thing”. Purses are mine. Anyway, I’m quite happy with a nice, little home. I’m good with a nice car that will get me from point A to point B. I intend to upgrade my wheels next year, but it will be something I can afford because material things don’t mean much in the end.

I fought coming back to Louisiana like a guerilla warrior. I didn’t want to come back here. I thought I needed the sights, sounds, and convenience of the city, but I’ve found that the quiet, the peace, and the solitude of good old Thomasville Road is good enough for me. 

My idea of the picture-perfect setting will be complete when I build my new home next year. I know Will is going to be off enjoying life on his own and living freely, but I’m okay with being in Sarepta. It took me a long time to reach this point because, in my mind, I was forced to return here. Little did I know it was a blessing in disguise. I love being a country girl.