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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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.

What’s Really Going On

Everyone knows I’m an ex-wife. I’m also that man’s first wife. One is not necessarily inclusive of the other. I am also the ex of someone who had a couple of wives before me. I snicker when I think about those titles because they each hold their own status and their own disadvantages.

The Ex-wife

I became an ex-wife on April 5, 2013. Without pomp or circumstance, I became the former Mrs. William H. Hinton, Jr. That meant I had to take the hyphen out of Trease Shine-Hinton. Deleting that hyphen not only severed our ties as man and wife, it also meant my separation from part of the union I had been in for nearly 20 years.

After the dust had settled, though, I realized that I had not asked to use my maiden name again. Legally, I am still Trease Shine Hinton. Just a heads up: if you’re getting divorced and you want to go back to your maiden name, be certain to ask if you need to formally ask to do so. The state of Texas charges $295.00 to change it after the fact so ASK! Anyway, back to the subject at hand.

Being an ex-wife carries its own little stigma. On its face, the title “ex-wife” means that the failure of a marriage has taken place. It means that for whatever reason, a marriage is over. It doesn’t matter why it failed, the title “ex-wife” means that a woman who was once someone’s life partner is no longer in that partnership. In my case, my ex even changed my name in his phone to “ex-wife”. Childish? Yeah, but hey, if that’s what floats your boat, float on.

For all the negative connotations, though, in cases like mine, the title of “ex-wife” means an incredible freedom from abuse. It’s a good, good thing. No one gets married with the forethought of getting divorced, but it happens. The 19 years of hell that I spent at Mrs. Hinton was worth every second of the pain because, from the bottom of my heart, I love the fact that I have a story to tell. I love the fact that I can speak to women from experience — not because of what I’ve heard or read — I know all of this stuff from experience. I can assure a woman that she will be okay. It won’t happen overnight, but in time, she will be okay.

The First Wife

Shortly after we got divorced, my ex and I were talking and he ended the conversation with, “Trease, you’ll always be the first Mrs. Hinton.” I will always be his first wife. He’s remarried and not one person who knows his situation believes that the woman he married is out for anything except money. She believed that he was worth so much more than he really is. I chuckle when I think about that whole scene because he tricked her the same way he tricked me yet she was determined to claim the prize. She had an issue with him talking to me about ANYTHING so I fixed that whole little problem for them — I cut the lines of communication with him. It hurt him, but the days of me showing any concern for his feelings were over many years ago. The only way he will ever hear from me again is if (God forbid) something happens to Will. He’s lied on me to his new wife so trust and believe that I’m not playing into their stupidity.

Just remember, though, that I will always be his first wife. That statement is not an “I win” kind of declaration; it’s just something to keep in mind when it comes to the property and benefits we accrued over those 19 years.

In the End

I didn’t get married to get divorced. I never expected that one day I wouldn’t be that man’s wife. Just like many other women who are trapped in abusive marriages and can’t see a way out, I was frozen in fear from so many angels. I come from a family where divorce is rare. We hang in there. God saw fit for me to live (in more ways than one) and so He set me free.

Being an ex-wife is not a bad thing in many cases. Being the first wife sometimes means a woman makes a man a better husband for the new(est) wife. It’s where you land sometimes.

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!

 

The Fear of Flying

Taking flight!Many people out there are so afraid of success. Sometimes they know it, sometimes they don’t. That sounds like foolishness. That sounds so contrary to popular belief but it is the truth. Fear of success is just as commonplace as the fear of failure. You come to be stuck in the one place you want most to get out of. You’re not progressing forward or backward. You’re just stuck. I’ve been there. I stayed there for many, many years.

I can honestly say that my biggest barrier was that I didn’t feel that I deserved to enjoy any success in my life. This was a huge part of the mental/emotional abuse I suffered in the 19 years I was married. I self-sabotaged my dreams of being successful in my home-based business by NOT doing the smallest things and yes, by failing to do the big, BIG things. I took forever to order business cards. I didn’t dress in line with the title I carried. I became painfully “shy” when it came to approaching people about my product but would talk their ear off about everything else. I discounted the little accomplishments because I was under the impression that all the accomplishments had to be big ones in order to matter.Success!

Thankfully, I have passed that stage. I’m not flying at the altitude I necessarily should be, but trust that I’m on my way there. I can taste success and I believe in myself for the first time in a very, very long time. I look forward to doing my best in my chosen job because what I’m doing will undoubtedly help other women. Blessing them will bless me.