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!

 

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Which One?

She was probably sitting right next to you yesterday at church.

 

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Photo credit: http://www.pexels.com

 

She just might be the lady standing in front of you in the grocery store.

 

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Photo credit: http://www.pexels.com

 

Maybe it’s the guy in the next cubicle.

 

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Photo credit: http://www.pexels.com

 

Perhaps it’s the older man who greets you every day with a gentle nod.

 

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Photo credit: http://www.pexels.com

 

It could be a relative.

It could be the friend of a friend.

It could be you. It was me.

 

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Photo credit: Trease Shine Hinton

 

What Do Victims Look Like?

Abused people look like, well, people. They’re black, white, yellow, brown, and every color in between. They have blond hair, black hair, red hair, and every other color in between. They are short, tall, and some are in between. Look in the mirror — it could be you.

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Photo credit: http://www.pexels.com

 

What Do Abusers Look Like?

See above.

Who Are Domestic Violence/Abuse Victims?

They’re people. They’re male and female. They are not from any one particular ethnic group. They’re not from one specific part of the country. They are not confined to a particular career sector. A victim can come from any sector of life. They come from every geographical area of the world. They are your friends. It could be you.

Who Are Abusers?

See above.

Some Numbers. Some Facts.

  • 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.
  • Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (48.4% and 48.8%, respectively).
  • Most female victims of intimate partner violence were previously victimized by the same offender, including 77% of females ages 18 to 24, 76% of females ages 25 to 34, and 81% of females ages 35 to 49.
  • n a nationwide survey, 9.4% of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months prior to the survey.
  • 43% of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, tech, verbal or controlling abuse.

Read more about the statistics here at The National Domestic Violence website.

Your Sister’s Keeper. Your Brother’s Keeper.

It is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you’ve turned a blind eye to this atrocity until now, vow to get involved and help bring about change. Acknowledging that there is a  problem is such a huge step in bringing about that change.

Someone somewhere needs your help. Don’t turn away.

National Resources:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline — 1.800.799.7233 | 18007873224 (TTY)

Shelter  –  www.domesticshelters.org

Local Resources:

Project Celebration — Shreveport, LA

Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence

 

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.

Rebuilding from the Scraps

It’s hard to rebuild. It can be exciting because there is an element of newness involved in starting things over, but for the most part, rebuilding is hard. It’s been hard for me. I realize everybody’s story is different, but my story of rebuilding is not a particularly pretty one.

Since my divorce, I’ve been on a rollercoaster of an emotional ride. I started out with a plan to be alone for the first five years after I left the social status of being a wife, but that plan was blown to pieces when my ex-boyfriend, who had been an ex-boyfriend twice before we reconnected in 2013, re-captured my heart and we began an extremely intimate relationship. It was exhilarating, but there was enough baggage carried into that thing to fill an entire carousel in an airport. We needed some time apart. Anyway…

I’m finally back in paralegal work and I can’t begin to explain how much I love my job. A long time ago, I vowed that I would never be a family law paralegal, but here I am. It’s the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had. I’m also getting back on track with my book. I’m a stickler for scheduling so the fact that I haven’t had any real structure in my life the past few months has taken its toll on me. I’m on it so things are back under control. There are some other things in the works that I can’t talk about publically, but things are going to be pretty amazing very soon.

For a while there, there was nothing left but scraps. There was nothing left but the shell of a woman who had been everything to everybody except herself. The one thing that the two men who have had hold of my heart the past 30 years will tell you is that I love hard. They both received some of the best treatment a man could possibly want. One had it but threw it all away. Welp, too bad for him. The other one didn’t let me love him with my full heart and I really do feel sorry for him because true love is a treasure, and to have someone willing to give it to you unconditionally is a blessing from God.

If he is not willing to accept all that I am, there is a man out there who will. I believe that. I’m well on the road to becoming an even stronger woman than I was before so for the right man, I’m going to be irreplaceable. I’m nearly 50 so I’m not in this thing for games, indecision, shenanigans, or anything else but commitment. I’m an old-fashioned, country girl so I believe in letting love find me. I’m not going out looking for a man, but I believe, with all my heart, that the man I’m meant to spend the rest of my life with is very, very close and that we’ll cross paths at just the right moment.

I’m rebuilding from the scraps left over from years of damage, but the package is coming together nicely.

Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding is never good. It’s the result of trauma, fracture, pregnancy, or any number of things. Internal bleeding is indeed a physical condition. It can also, however, be experienced in love.

I’ve reached an age where more of my friends than not have been divorced or have suffered some major blow to their relationships. Both my male and female friends have been devastated by love that eventually failed them in one way or another. Perhaps they fell out of love with their significant other; maybe it was the other way around. Maybe it was a toxic relationship to begin with. Maybe it’s one where it never seems to be the right time. Whatever the case may be, the result is internal bleeding of the heart.

This one, I know about from experience. By the time my marriage ended, I was all out of blood. My ex-husband had drained me, not unlike, a vampire who couldn’t have cared less about the condition in which he left me. He took and took and took until there was nothing left but the shell of the woman he’d married 19 years earlier.

The good thing, though, is that, magically, my blood supply was replenished. Y’all know the story. It replenished, but the relationship that brought me so much happiness at one point eventually tore my rebuilt heart out. It’s hard to explain, but the tumbling of my last relationship was far more painful than my divorce. Maybe it’s not so hard to explain. Maybe it’s just that the man I trusted with my heart was so damaged and worn from his own divorce, he wasn’t capable of loving me like he thought he could. I lost my soulmate.

He is a good man. I’ll always believe that. I think he just got caught up with a woman who, like my husband, entered marriage with a mask on, which ultimately fell off, causing chaos and confusion. He was damaged, but I did my best to help him heal. He had my shoulder and my ear. He had all of me, but it just wasn’t enough.

The internal bleeding has stopped. It stopped a few months ago, but as with any great love story, I miss him. I guess I always will. We are at least on speaking terms again, but I don’t know that we will ever reach that fevered pitch that made us JDW and TSH. That thing was rare and coveted. Not many couples have (or ever will have) what we had. They just won’t because love is not just about the physical. A true love relationship involves the heart, mind, body, and soul. We had a connection that could easily be the topic of one of those “how they stayed together” news blurbs.

Who knows what the future holds, but I sincerely wish everyone could experience love on the level that we shared.

She’s Back at it! 

Yesterday, I returned to corporate America. I had been praying so hard for a position that falls in line with my skills and my calling, and here I am. I’m working as a paralegal again and I can already tell it’s where I’m meant to be. 

Y’all know I’m meticulous when it comes to planning so I’m working on a solution that will allow me to do bigger, better things here and to flourish everywhere else. I will find balance between my 9-to-5 and the other things that are dear to my heart. I’m ready to find a church home so I can sing, worship, and fellowship,too. 

I also have a (strong, STRONG) feeling that I’ll meet someone special because I’m most definitely ready to date. It took me a while to reach this point, but it’s time. My inboxes have been filled with messages from guys I’ve known my whole life, but I’m not interested in any of them. I don’t know why I don’t find any of them interesting, I just don’t. They’re all good, honest men, and I love the thought of being with someone who knows my background, family and friends, but we can’t always have what we want, can we? I do believe, though, that the man of my dreams is out there. Our paths will cross and it’ll happen soon.