The New Girl

Saturday afternoon, around 3:15 or so, I became a pet mom again.

Photo Credit: Trease Shine Hinton

My son and I had started out running errands in Springhill. I could have easily headed in the opposite way on Highway 371 because the other way was actually the way we had intended to go, but I wanted a specific brand of snack. I knew that I could get those things at the other end of 371, but I went to Springhill. 

My first stop was Brookshires. I really thought my snack was in there. I did. Turns out, it wasn’t. What was in the parking lot of Brookshires was a red pickup truck with a piece of posterboard stuck to its door that read “Free Puppies! Great Christmas gift!”. I had no intention of going that way, but my son insisted. He said, “Mom, let just go look”. I said, “I’m telling you now, we’re not getting a puppy. We can look, but we’re not getting one. I mean it!” 

Well…

Photo Credit: Trease Shine Hinton

She was the last one puppy the previous owners had to get rid of. She was dusty. She was scared and stinky. The owners begged us to take here. The minute I looked at her, I knew I couldn’t leave her. The man explained that she needs her first shots and needs a flea treatment. I also suspected she had worms and she does. This is not my first rodeo — I’ve been a pet parent a time or six before. 

I kept telling my son that I wasn’t for all the pooping and peeing that comes along with being a pet parent. I’m not, but those downsides pale in comparison the joys of a wagging tail greeting you at the door every evening after work. Those things mean nothing when you think of the unconditional love a pet provides. 

I haven’t had a pet of my own since 2015. I lost my beloved Pomeranian, Trinket, in 2013, shortly after the divorce. She died. Brutus, the black and white pit bull, was put down in December 2015 by my ex. I had to give Ace, the black Lab/Shepeard mix to a friend after I had to move, and Onyx, the messy cat, passed away in August 2017. 

The loss of a pet is just as devastating as any other loss. Sometimes, it’s more so. I had the other pets for many years before they passed on or I was forced to re-home, but the losses were nonetheless painful.

Here’s to many, many years of fun-filled memories for Athena and me.

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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.

Listen…

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The fairest thing in the world — the most proper thing in the world — to do when you know the time has come is to let a person go. Get out of her life and stay out.

Sure enough, the person who is constantly being damaged has the option to kick the perpetrator out of her life, but in some cases, the ties are so strong that if both people don’t let go, there is no release.

History, love, and emotional soul-ties are some of the harshest things in this world. It’s hard to let go. Decades of love can’t easily be thrown out the window no matter how hard they try. The heart wants what the heart wants.

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Broken heart

Listen to “Ex-Factor” by Lauryn Hill. When she says:

It could all be so simple
But you’d rather make it hard
Loving you is like a battle
And we both end up with scars
Tell me, who I have to be
To get some reciprocity
No one loves you more than me
And no one ever will

Those scars? They may not be visible to the naked eye, but they’re there. Neither of them can even look at each other without giving away what’s in those hearts. Both parties sustain battle scars, but they both keep walking right back into that thing. He won’t let go. She can’t.

Listen on:

I keep letting you back in
How can I explain myself?
As painful as this thing has been
I just can’t be with no one else
See I know what we’ve got to do
You let go, and I’ll let go too
‘Cause no one’s hurt me more than you
And no one ever will

It was once said that she could move to Jupiter — he’d still find her. That’s true. He loves her. She loves him. True love knows no distance. True love can hurt just as badly as betrayal on it’s the greatest level.

Sigh. Love.

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
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Pexels

 

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!

 

 

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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Photo credit: www.pexels.com

 

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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Photo credit: www.pexels.com

 

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.

 

 

 

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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Photo credit: www.pexels.com

 

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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Photo credit: www.pexels.com

 

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.