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. 

Some Things Never Change…and They Shouldn’t

I’m blessed to have a large circle of friends and associates. There are guys and girls all over the country I enjoy talking to on a daily basis, whether it be in the virtual realm or real life. I’m equally blessed in that the people who I’ve shared my story with — those who know the real me, like me. They love me AND they like me. (Loving a person doesn’t always mean you like him or her.) I love the open dialogue I’ve established with my circle because it allows me to see things through different eyes. One thing that has been pressing on me is how people change after their hearts have been broken.

I’m a member of several large women’s groups across the internet and one thing that I hear quite often is that some women refuse to love as hard as they’ve loved in the past because they were hurt, misused, taken advantage of, taken for granted, or they just refuse to give their all because of what they’ve seen others go through. Now I know there are plenty of men out there who’ve been dragged through hell by someone who didn’t deserve their goodness and in a later post, I’ll address that, but let me tell you about Trease.

The Marriage

Everyone knows how much I loved my ex-husband. I loved him enough to marry him in the first place, then I moved some 1036 miles away to live what I thought would be happily ever after. I took my vows seriously. I stayed there through better or worse. I stayed there through thick and thin. I stayed there through sickness and in health. Well, happily ever after ended on April 5, 2013. I had every intention of staying single for the first five years following that divorce. I had not come to that decision out of fear of being hurt, because I was angry, or anything like that. I just didn’t want to be with anybody.

Almost everyone said they were surprised that I would want to be with anyone else at any point following that crap, but I refused to let one man’s ignorance determine how I treated the next one.

*THE* Relationship

Y’all know that my old thing became my new thing again. When we reconnected, it was for the third time. By that time, we had both seen the true sides of the people we’d married. We’d both had our hearts and feelings thrashed by ones who entered those unions with ulterior motives. We had so, so much in common. I mean so much that if you had heard us from a distance, you’d think we were best buddies. If you were to have seen us, though, you’d know that what we had was almost magical. I loved him. I struggled with adding the letter “d” to the word love because he will always have my heart, but here we are.

Anyway, I gave him everything that I knew a man needed. He knew that I loved him because I constantly showed him. He got the random texts, sometimes filled with filth that I knew would make him crack up. He got the emails filled with encouragement because I knew he was being battered through his own divorce. He got the phone calls when, in my spirit, I could sense he needed to talk but was a little too proud to call. He finally learned that I was his shoulder. He finally learned that regardless of what happened, I had his back. He knew if he needed me, all he had to do was call. The fact that we couldn’t keep our hands off each other was just icing on the multi-layered German chocolate cake that was both our favorite. I loved giving him gifts, not because he had not received real ones from the woman he’d been married to, but because I knew he would be happy. I got him things he wanted and needed. I let him vent and I never judged him.

One of the most important things I gave that man was my full heart. I had taken it back from the man I had been married to because he’d trampled it without abandon. I didn’t expect it to be shredded again, but alas, here we are.

Next Time

I plan to love without abandon when love comes my way again. I plan to make the man who stands by my side feel like a king. Why? Because I refuse to allow the fact that my love wasn’t accepted and appreciated by one person (…two in this case) be the reason that I stifle myself and not be true in my efforts to show the next man what he means to me. I go out of my way to show my love and I will do that next time around. It’s not my fault that the ones I gave it to before did not want it. The next one will get the full Trease. Whether or not he holds on to it is up to him.

 

Against the Odds

I received a call from my academic advisor today congratulating me on the fact that I have an overall 4.0 GPA in my graduate studies. That, in and of itself, is great. It is, indeed, cause for celebration. I’m proud of myself. There’s more to the party, though.

Once you’ve removed yourself from an abusive situation, you’re able to look back at the times when you were a moving target (or a sitting duck) and that’s what happened today on a couple of occasions.

The first time was when I heard myself speaking on a podcast that will be broadcasted later. The topic was abusive relationships so I was able to speak from first-hand experience. The host asked me to give an example of the mental abuse I had encountered and for whatever reason, I remembered the time my ex-husband told me that my degree was not as “good” as his. Off-hand, I don’t remember how the subject came up, but his exact words were, “Trē, my degree is better than yours; I make way more money than you do.” Of course, y’all know the fight that ensued was of epic proportion.

It was ironic that my advisor called today to congratulate me because sometime after that man said that to me all those years ago — after he’d burrowed his poison into my head deeply enough, I began to believe him. I forgot the fact that I’ve always had a talent for writing. I’d forgotten the fact that I am truly business-minded and am very good at analysis and formulation.

Abusers are excellent in their pursuit to destroy your psyche and I was married to one of the best. Eventually, he had me exactly where he wanted me — mentally and emotionally dead. Well, look at me today tearing up that GPA!

The second reason that I’m celebrating is because, in medical terms, I probably should be struggling. The residual effects of an aneurysm can range from stroke to decreased memory, from peripheral vision deficit to perceptual problems, from cognitive issues to speech deficits. Any of those things could have prevented me from pursuing this degree. Any of them could have prevented me to writing on a daily basis. Any of them could have caused me to give up on everything. The thing is, though, none of them have because I don’t have any of them. I have no residual damage. For that blessing, I’m grateful.

Abuse can and will destroy you. Abuse can ultimately kill you. If you survive though, it should be your privilege to prove that you’ve survived against the odds. It should be your privilege, an honor to yourself to live your new life on your own terms. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you survive, it’s your duty to share your story. You don’t have to blog, speak, write or anything like that; just the fact that you’re a living, breathing testament to survival will suffice.

 

Last Night

The Oscars…I didn’t watch, but good Lord, my phone went nuts when things went well, haywire.

Contrary to what some people believe, I’m on Facebook and Twitter so much, not for investigative reasons (i.e., nosy), but because I find lots of work on social media. I’m a writer and I freelance. It’s my work. It’s how I eat and feed my kid.

Anyway, I was on Facebook, as usual, last night making a list of publications that I’m going to query and submit to this week and I couldn’t help but see the various posts about the Oscars. Some people had no knowledge of the movies/people that were up for the award; some people were ticked about who was being presented with the coveted award. Some of the posts tickled me; some pissed me off.

There wasn’t a lot of political talk on my Facebook wall, but man, my Twitter feed was on

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Photo credit: Hollywood Reporter

fire just like it always is. When Anousheh Ansari read Asghar Farhadi’s acceptance speech, which was expected to stir a little controversy since the director had already said he wouldn’t attend, Twitter went nuts. People are entitled to their own opinions and Twitter is the place to find all of them.

 

 

I don’t stand for prejudice in ANY sense of the word and it makes me want to puke when I hear of bans, intolerance, discrimination, racial inequality, gender bias — any of it makes me SICK! Here’s the thing: you can’t paint (for lack of a better word) a person according to his or her race, sex, sexual orientation, or anything else. That would be saying all white people are members of the Klan. You would be saying all black people are on welfare. You would be saying that all Muslims are extremist. Stop that crap. It’s not true and most folks know it. I say most because, unfortunately, there are people who are too ignorant to look past a person’s color or sexual orientation to see the inner-person. That’s so stupid, but there are tons of people out there who are like that. Anyway, back to the Oscars.

 

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Photo credit: SheKnows

Viola Davis. Viola Davis. Sweet Jesus, that speech. Like I said, I wasn’t watching when she delivered that thing, but I’ve watched it 1000 times since she did it. See, what she did here was light a fire in the hearts of artists. I don’t mean just actors. I believe she was speaking to artists in general. When you think about it, that means all of us. Whatever it is that calls your name, whatever it is that makes you go and give your all, is your canvas. For me, that is writing. I’ve known my entire life that I want to write. As a child, while everyone else was out playing, I was writing. I was either writing or reading, my second greatest love.

 

Viola said there’s one place where all the people with the greatest potential are gathered, and that’s the graveyard. She wants us to tell the stories of the people who “dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost”.

Y’all…it’s our duty to tell those stories. I’ve said it time and time again, and I’ll say it again — you don’t live through your thing, whatever it is, to remain silent. How dare you live through domestic abuse and not share your story? How dare you live through child abuse and not use your words, your journey, to help other children who need to know they can survive?

Sure enough, your business is not anyone else’s, but in my eyes, if you choose to keep your story to yourself, you travels have been in vain. Yep, you learned a lesson, but aren’t we all teachers on one manner or another? We’re most definitely students of this life from the time we come into this word, so why not pass on the lessons we learn?

Carry on with your day, carry on with your life, but do what you were put her to do — help others. Whatever your calling is, put your artistic ability into play and get on it. You’re the artist. Paint that thing!

 

Living on Borrowed Time

img_673082936717-1Last night at exactly 9:46 PM, my iPhone dinged. It wasn’t my son’s notification tone so I didn’t move immediately, but I also recognized the time and knew that it was a little late for my friends to be writing since we’re all in wind-down mode around that time. I glanced over and noticed that it was a “virtual turned real-life” friend. When I realized who it was, though, I became nervous because the woman writing me lives in New York. I have a lot of friends in New York, 99% of whom started as virtual friends, but have come to occupy places in my heart as real-life friends. She should have been asleep because she takes the train in the early morning hours to get to work.

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I was a little shaky when I picked up the phone to read her message and within seconds, my heart had completely dropped. She had just seen a post on Facebook with the time and details of funeral services for another friend that we’d “met” online. It took me a minute to absorb what I had just read, but before I responded to her, I went over to Facebook to see it myself. I needed to see it for myself. There it was.

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I knew that our friend had breast cancer and I knew that she had been fighting it for years. She last posted on my wall for my birthday back in November and I had seen a post or two from her, here and there over the next month or so. I assumed she was still in remission. She was not. It’s impossible to fully know a person, especially online, but you could just tell she was a sweetheart. Cancer has taken another sweet soul.

As I do quite often, I reminded the people on my own Facebook friend list that our time here is short. I don’t wait until someone passes, but when they do, I take the opportunity to let people know that we never have as much time as we think we do. In the same vein, though, I believe we are left here just long enough to fulfill our purpose. After seeing my post about my friend’s death, another friend that I met online who has become like a brother to me wrote and told me that very thing — people leave when they have done what they need to do.

I urge you to do what you know you need to do. Whether it’s something as far-reaching as joining a mission and traveling abroad to feed the hungry or something as close to home as delivering meals to the elderly, DO IT! If you don’t know what your purpose or calling is, figure out what it is and get to it.

What you need to do may also involve making amends for some foolish shenanigans you were involved in. Maybe you split someone’s heart in two. Maybe you have some business issues that need to be tied up. Maybe you just need to seek someone’s forgiveness. Whatever it is, get to it.

I know exactly what I was left here to do. I will always, always, ALWAYS be a student of life, but I know for a fact that my life experiences make me a great teacher. I have a story to tell. Not very much of it is pretty, but it’s my story to tell. I know what it means to be belittled by your husband. I know first-hand about the confusion that comes after spousal rape. I know what it means to be battered so badly mentally and emotionally that the sound of that doorknob turning causes you to hyperventilate. I know what it means to be the one left after being the one who was abused. I have stuff to say. I have a testimony to share.

I don’t know when my time here will be up so mine is to get to the business of telling my story. I haven’t been as consistent as I need to be in blogging. I haven’t gotten the ball rolling on my speaking career. My vow is correct those things. I believe I survived an aneurysm that was the result of an abusive marriage so that I can provide a visual picture of the fact that there’s life after abuse.

Whatever you do in life, do it on purpose. Do it with purpose. Time is borrowed. One day, you’re going to have to give it back.

Book Review: Waters of the River Red by Susane Lavallais Boykins

As an avid reader, I’m always on the lookout for books that speak to my soul, my spirit, my heart and my mind. I found all those connections in Waters of the River Red by Susane Lavallais Boykins.

February is Black History Month and tucked away nicely on the 14th of the month is Valentine’s Day. Waters of the River Red came to my attention late last week and I couldn’t have asked for a better book to pay tribute to both the subject of Black History and Valentine’s Day, the day of love. This book touches on every emotion from the pain of unrequited love to suppressed anger that threatens to overtake common sense and everything in between. We’re given access to a true love story while we’re also exposed to tragedy, shame, and misdirected hatred. Let me tell you a little about it.

Loss and Heartache

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Photo Credit: EngineerGirl

The story opens in Marksville, Louisiana, during a somber time in the life of the main character, Charlotte Ford. It’s August 1960 and she has just lost her best friend, KeyKey, to cancer. Immediately, we’re able to identify with Charlotte, because unfortunately, I think we’ve all been affected by the evil that is cancer. During this period of mourning, we’re introduced to Charlotte’s staunchest source of support and strength, her mother, Josephine (affectionally known as Feen), who is so reminiscent of the strong Black woman whose primary attention is to her family, especially her children. While Charlotte is an elementary school teacher, her mother, continues to work as a maid. Feen made certain that her girls received an education in order that they lived easier lives than she did.

One thing that Feen is not able to shield Charlotte from, though, is the same thing that any other parent seeks to block from a child’s life and that’s the pain of a broken heart. As hard as her mother tried, she wasn’t able to stop Charlotte from delving into a relationship that spelled trouble from the start. As a grown woman, Charlotte knew better than to take a bite of that forbidden fruit but she did it anyway. She paid the price for falling in love with a married man. Most certainly, things got worse before they got better.

One of the things I liked most about this book is that the author allowed the characters to be real. They made mistakes just like everyday people. None of them went without paying the consequences and that’s what makes this book worth the read.

Secrets and More Secrets

Charlotte finds herself in a position that would have caused her tremendous shame in that day and age for more than one reason. She was blessed, however, to be surrounded by people who genuinely loved her and were willing to go the extra mile for her. This book provides an excellent example of what unconditional love looks like.

If you don’t know what strength looks like in the human form, you will see it in Josephine Ford. Her resilience and refusal to stop living in the face of adversity are what real women are made of. She holds a secret that is excruciatingly heartbreaking. Her’s is a story that must be read.

You’ll see what sacrifice looks like in the character, Adrian Fonteneau. He is a man’s man.

You’ll see what it means to be willing to let go in order to live the life you want to live in Lucien Ford, Charlotte’s father.

You’ll see what it means to hold on to secrets that burn the very soul in order to spare the feelings of the ones you love.

The Pain and Release

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As a very outspoken advocate against domestic violence/abuse, this book touched my core. Laura is Charlotte’s older sister and the author shines the spotlight on the fear that many domestic violence/abuse victims feel. She also shows us the courage it takes to finally get out. Ms. Boykins does an excellent job in the delivery of the fact that the victim is not at fault in cases of violence and shows just how badly things can go.

Peace, At Last

I can’t recommend this book enough. It not only flashes back to give the reader a little history of the lives of Blacks in the 1960s south, we’re also given a clear picture of a woman’s ability to stand strong in the face of controversy.

Head over to Amazon and get your copy today! You won’t regret it.

The Party Is Cancelled

img_3762Every time I find myself subconsciously gathering the goods to through a good old-fashioned pity party, I hear my mama speaking. I can hear her saying, “You better stop acting like a lil girl, quit all that whinin’, and carryin’ on.” I don’t care what I was upset about, I don’t care how frustrated I was, her response was always to stop whining and to get about my grown woman business.

Mama has been gone for over a year now, but I’ll never forget her words and I’ll always, always glean from her strength as a woman. There’s always someone who has or has had a harder life than you, but as stories go, Mama’s life was pretty rough. She had been married and widowed by the time she was 14 and gave birth to my oldest brother by the time she was 15. She never had a childhood because work was all she knew. While other girls her age were in school, she and one of her sisters were out building railroad ties. That’s labor, folks; that’s hard, hard labor.

She worked hard so that we wouldn’t have to suffer the things she did. I don’t know what hard labor is, but I do know how to handle a tractor, change my own oil, cut down a tree to get firewood and plant a full garden. I know how to take care of myself and that thought, along with Mama’s voice, is what snapped me out of the party-planning mode a little earlier today. Part of the problem is that I’m just sick and tired of being sick and tired. Things aren’t going the way I want them to right now, but I’ve lived long enough to know that everything happens at the exact moment it’s supposed to.

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In that light, the party is off. I refuse to feel sorry for myself and I won’t let anyone else feel sorry for me. What I have to remind myself of is the fact that I’m able-bodied and most importantly, I’m able-minded and there’s nothing I can’t do. It’s all about getting up and actually putting into motion all the steps to the plan that will make me great.