Friday, June 15, 2007

I recently wrote a blog where I spoke about giving up on love. I expressed my feelings about not believing in the beauty of love and all of its possibilities. I was coming from a place of raw emotion, like exposed flesh to toxic chemicals. I was feeling like that extra napkin you grab at McDonald's. You pick it up knowing damn well you don't need 10 napkins to eat some fries. But you do anyway, and as soon as you've had your fill, and your belly is full, you toss those extra napkins away. Never giving any consideration that by balling them up and trashing them, the napkin is no longer useful to anyone else. So when I made that declaration about being through with love, I was balled up, laying in the trash, feeling used and useless, unloved and unlovable. But apparently, there were lessons to be learned, even in the trash can.

After I posted that blog, I've had friends try to console me and persuade me to change my mind on the topic. During numerous conversations, I heard it all: "You can't give up on love." "He's an ass. Don't let him take love too!" "You're hurt now; but you will laugh about this later." My response?? "Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttt!" (gotta say it like Clay Davis from The Wire for full effect!! LOL) I would concede that yes I believe love exists, out there somewhere - just not for me. Life with the absence of love is apparently my destiny and I have to get okay with that. The conversations would continue, until they would give up, and say "Okay Janelle. Fine. No love for you. I'ma pray for you." I would just shrug and say, "Whatever, man." As I settled into this new existence, navigating the ins and outs of not caring anymore, and coming to terms with my loveless fate, a stranger said one of the most profound things to me. Someone who reads my blog that, as far as I know, I've never met, left a comment saying "to give up on love is to give up on God". Wait a minute. Give up on God? What the........? That goes against all of the thousands of dollars my mother spent on 12 years of Catholic school education. Giving up on God is a hell of an existence (both figuratively and literally, according to Sister Mary and all the other nuns who taught me). I've read this stranger's entire comment so many times, I hear those words whispered in my mind. She even took it a step further and challenged me (yes, challenged ME) to "believe in the impossible". I've carried these words around with me over the past week. Took them with me to Memphis for my sister's wedding (Beautiful by the way; another blog entry to follow). Heard these words whispering on the wind in my ear as I sat in the church during the ceremony. I knew I looked good in my dress, just didn't feel good in it. I sat there in the pew, happy for my sister and her happiness but all the time thinking about my current state of unhappiness. My tears were a mixture of joy for her and sorrow for myself because I truly believe I will never know this happiness. During the sermon,the Reverend instructed my sister and her husband to simply let go; to let go of the pain and hurt from all past endeavors. He told them in order to truly love and honor each other they must love and honor who THEY are TODAY standing before each other, ready to make this life long commitment, not whomever they THOUGHT they loved before, and the pain, anger, frustrations and disappointments those people brought to their lives. He told them if they were going to argue, go 'head and argue - just don't say and do things you wish you could have said and done to the persons who hurt you. "The person standing before you today is not the one who hurt you in your past. Remember that." He told them that a part of their commitment today was a commitment to let go and forgive the past. According to this Reverend, if they couldn't let go and forgive then they might as well give up on love now. I felt as if he were saying this more to me than to my sister and her husband. After all, I was the one who had signed my own Declaration of Lovelessness with the remnants of my broken heart. Here I was, just waiting for the ceremony to be over so I could party like a rock star at the reception, and instead I was given instructions on how to deal with my unhappiness: simply let it go and forgive. Could it really be that simple?? I wanted to yell out, "Rev, you're asking for too much! It ain't that easy, mannn!" But fear of a down home beat down for ruining my sister's day took over, and I sat there and just let his words soothe my soul and tend to my broken spirit.

Okay, now I've received the challenge from a stranger, and the instructions from a reverend (sounds like a scavenger hunt, right?? LOL), so what now??? I'm still not quite sure of who I am and what I feel. How can I believe in myself again, trust my judgement, and be confident in the decisions I make?? Honestly?? I have no freaking clue. Helllooooo, if I had all the answers I'd be making Oprah money right now, ummkaaay???LOL But seriously, I realize now that this, in and of itself, is a journey, a process. So it's okay for me to give love the "yeah right" side eye for now. It's okay for me to see a couple holding hands and feel a little sad. It's okay for me to want to scream out "Why???" at the top of my lungs. Its okay for me to rip a tshirt he gave me to shreds (damn that felt good!!! LOL) I now know I won't feel this way always and forever (the song is playing in your head now too, right??? LOL) I'm letting go little by little everyday. The burden of it all doesn't feel so heavy and cumbersome. The load is getting lighter and somewhat easier to carry. Eventually, I will forgive manchild (I'll never forget this shit though. I ain't stupid now..LOL) for the layers upons layers of lies and deceit. One day, his words and actions will no longer affect me in such a negative manner. That will be the day I have finally, simply let go. I know that day is coming: just can't tell you the exact date. What I have realized about myself is that TODAY I am okay with existing in the journey. The journey is where I need to be for a moment. And I know this journey ahead is not easy; after all is said and done, I am fighting for the life I deserve, and I fight to win . So if I backslide, please remind me of this blog posting. I promise to pick myself up and keep it moving.

While today I still don't quite believe in the existence of the beauty of love for me , tomorrow is another story. I'm okay with not knowing what it holds for me, because what I do know is that tomorrow will be vastly different from today. I have a stranger, a reverend, and, most of all, God to thank for that.

My friends, your prayers have been answered. I no longer dwell in the trash can. I accept the challenge and believe that the impossible could possibly be possible. There is a glimmer of hope for me after all.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"Hey there, kiddo!" in a slightly raspy but smooth as quality bourbon voice was the greeting I received from my Uncle Harold for most of my life. His easy going smile and tall presence always reminded me of my grandfather who passed away when I was five. Now I'm left with family photos and stories for my relatives to share because Uncle Harold passed away yesterday. When I received the news from my tearful cousin, I was dazed. I didn't cry. Still haven't. I stood for a moment on the busy rush hour street and let the sun hit my face. I deeply inhaled and prayed his buddy, my grandfather, was there to meet him at the heavenly gates. I know that sounds very "Highway to Heaven" (who remembers that show...LOL) but it brought me great comfort to think of these two strong, hardworking, fun loving family men greeting each other with a big hug , smacking each other on the back. "Long time no see" Uncle Harold probably joked as my grandfather handed him a glass of Dewer's White Label. That vision made me smile and I was able to continue on my journey for the rest of the evening.

Uncle Harold was such a central part of my family but in a quiet unimposing kind of way. Marrying into a family of strong and stubborn women and men, couldn't have been easy for him. But his way with Mama Gloria (yeah that's what we call her. What can I say? My family has Southern "ruuts". LOL) had an incomparable finesse and grace . But don't let that grace fool you. He was a quiet storm - a force to be reckoned with. I remember a family trip by VAN from New York to Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, in particular. We used to go every year; but this particular time I had to be about 9 . While Down South (as we used to call it - for the longest time I thought "Down South" was the name of the place we were....LOL), my cousin of the same age said something extremely inappropriate to me. I didn't understand what the hell he was talking about, so I walked over and repeated it to my mother for clarification. My mother asked me where did I hear that. I told her "Jamel said it." My mother grabbed that boy by the arm and dragged him over to his grandmother, Mama Gloria, for him to repeat what he said to me. I remember giggling that Jamel was gonna get in troubbbbbbbble and wouldn't be able to go behind the counter at my family's sweet shop and take whatever candy he wanted. "The candy is all miiiine, " I laughed to myself. Before Mama Gloria could react, Uncle Harold swooped in and started wailing on that ass. Seriously, I started crying from the steps of the house for my cousin. I never saw Uncle Harold that angry before, and I never wanted to see it again, at least not directed at me. I felt so bad for Jamel, who after the ass beating in the yard, was confined to the hot ass house for the remainder of that summer day. I even snuck him a piece of candy. Took the wrapper off and everything, so there would be no evidence of him eating candy while on punishment. Didn't want to witness that ass beating again. I recall during the beating, Uncle Harold told his grandson "you don't talk to girls like that EVER." And I remember being so terrified and impressed all at the same time. Terrified because I never wanted to say or do anything in his presence that would warrant that kind of beating. Impressed because like a superhero, he was defending my 9 year old honor.

There are so many more stories I could tell. It's funny how once someone dies, the levees for your memories break, and every moment spent with that person floods your mind. It's been a while since I last saw Uncle Harold. He was battling Alzheimer's disease, and had to go to a nursing home. To see a man so strong and with such a quick wit deteriorate and struggle to remember where he is and who you are is heartbreaking. One of the last times I saw him he asked me "where's the baby? with Georgie? Confused at first, I then realized he thought I was my mother (hey ma, told you we look alike!!! LOL) and that me - "the baby"- was with my now deceased grandfather. At the time I didn't dwell too long on how sad I was. But looking back, I realize that all I wanted to hear was "Hey there, kiddo".

I'll miss you Uncle Harold. Rest in Peace.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Disclaimer: To my friends: Please read the disclaimer from the previous post. Little by little this writing really does help. I felt ten times better after the last post, and I'm pretty sure I will feel better after this one as well. I anticipate this to be my last post on the situation. However, I can't make any promises. I'll see where my heart and words take me. Love you all! Smooches ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As kids, we learn: "Sticks and stones may break my bones; but words will never hurt me." Who came up with this crock of shit?? No, I'm serious. Yes I understand that maybe it's an attempt to keep kids from fighting on the playground. When I was a teacher, I was guilty of using the same cliche time and time again. But its a crock of shit, a lame ass string of words. Words do hurt. They rip you apart, tear you down, sear through the toughest exterior. Sticks and stones may cut, scratch and/or bruise our skin. But our skin is tough, strong, able to stand up to the outside world. That's what it was made for. But words and actions cut deeper than any stick or stone could ever reach. A place that is very rarely subjected to the elements. But once that place is touched, it is forever changed.

"Yeah we had sex last night and this morning. So what? I'm telling you tonight that I'm dating someone."

This from the man who whispered " I love you" in my ear just hours earlier. These words were a .38 caliber shot to my core, shattering everything I believe in - love, respect, kindness, decency, friendship, and most of all, love. The delivery was so cavalier and nonchalant he might as well have asked me to pick up some Pepperidge Farms Chocolate Chip Cookies from the supermarket. These words cut deeper than any stick and bruised harder than any stone. There was no regard for my feelings in that statement or in subsequent conversations. There wasn't a hint of love and respect for me behind his words or his actions.

Please be clear this isn't about him moving on. That is not the issue. Honestly. While it does sting (mostly because I was caught so off guard), it's insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Yes it was the catalyst that lead to his declaration but the manner in which he handled the situation is the serrated, rusty knife in my back and in my heart. His words. His actions. I felt used for giving him whatever he needed, manipulated for continuing to believe in him and in us, and stupid for not seeing the obvious handwriting on the wall. Everything about the love we shared feels cheap and tawdry, like some illicit affair instead of a true friendship, a real relationship.

Yes I understand breakups are never easy. I understand that there is no perfect time to tell someone that you want to move on with your life. But timing, my friend, is everything. Timing is the difference between parting amicably and the nasty war that has ensued. Timing stands between total love and respect for someone and total disgust and contempt for same person. Timing is the fork in the road. On one side the road is paved, smooth sailing over difficult discussions filled with mutual love and respect. The other road is filled with potholes and cracks over heated exchanges of hurt and betrayal. Why did we have to go down the latter? Why couldn't this be handled on the high road instead of down in the gutter? The only answer I have is because of timing. Had this manchild told me about his new situation before he entered my promise land repeatedly, knowing what he was building on the side behind my back, the situation would not be what it is. Instead he waited until the last possible moment (mostly likely forced to), which just so happened to be after he sampled a taste of my sugar walls. This, my friend, is the source of my hurt, the epicenter of my pain; not the fact that I am not the "chosen one" like this was sort of reality game show. I feel used. Rationally, I know my worth. I know that I am an intelligent, kind-hearted, loving, funny, beautiful person. The people who truly love me remind of this everyday, helping to ease the pain. But emotionally, I am drained, depleted, destitute. I know longer believe in the power of love and the beauty it can bring to your life. I'm happy for those who have found it, who have navigated through the land mines of bullshit. But after the ugly episode that has unfolded, I'm just left to pick up the shattered pieces of my core. Maybe I can find some beauty in that. Or maybe not.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Disclaimer: To my friends: I know you don't want me to write this. You will say that this will only drag out the drama. Or you will say through revealing my emotions, I allow him access and further control over me/situation. Or you tell me "don't put your business in the street, girl". But, my beautiful gems, this is my way of releasing the pain and the hurt. I've cried; it doesn't work. Writing is my therapy, my release. By putting these thoughts into words, I am no longer holding on to anything associated with him. I am now in control of me/situation. His reaction or anyone else's reaction to this is their concern, not mine. I love you all for being so protective of me, and helping me through this, but this is just something I gotta do. I hope you understand. If you feel you can't read this I will understand. I still love you. Smooches!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Breakups. Rarely pleasant. Seldom mutual. Very often messy. The tabloids are chock full of celebrities and their former lovers battling to the bitter end. Unfortunately, I don't have to flip through the pages of US Weekly or the Enquirer for a slice of the break up drama pie.

There has to be some mathematical theorem which stipulates that the degree of intensity of the relationship must directly correlate to the degree and intensity of the breakup. So I guess it goes without saying that the manchild I loved the most has turned into the ugliest, nastiest, meanest breakups I have ever experienced. Who needs All My Children or The Young & the Restless? I have all the elements of an award winning soap opera, right here in my life.

Lies? Check.
Deceit? Betrayal? Check. Check.
Sex? Check.
Physical altercation? Check.
Back from the dead with amnesia?? Ummmm, that would be a no.

I no longer recognize the caring fun loving man I fell in love with. In his place I see a disrespectful, mean-spirited, selfish, self-centered, vindictive manchild, hell bent on controlling me and breaking my spirit. Throughout this ordeal, I've asked myself has this manchild always been here, lurking in the periphery of our relationship, waiting for his time to get acquainted with me? I must admit I saw glimpses of him - in stories he would tell, the way he dealt with ex-girlfriends, the manner in which he spoke of his friends and family at times - I would see a flash of this manchild but would cloud my vision by putting on the love glasses, and would rationalize what I saw.

The woman I see in the mirror is a stranger to me as well. The confident, self assured, rational loving woman has been recast as a tearful, emotional ( I've always been a tad, angry, hurtful, hurtfilled reactive child. I've never seen her before and her impulsivity is not what my former self is accustomed to. I've watched myself slip deeper and deeper into the manipulated hole - totally succumbing to emotions triggered solely by this manchild. When he wanted me to be happy and secure, he told me he loved me daily, caressed the small of my back as his own public display of affection, shared his dreams with me, was my loudest cheerleader and supporter. When he wanted to see the insecure me, He came out with the " you're situation is hurting our relationship. I'm not sure if we can be together. But I'll always love you." And when our situation slipped into shades of gray, instead of the clearly defined black and white it was before, I got the "you never know what our future holds, babe. You'll see." to keep me going in this charade - the hopeful me. Finally. when he wanted to see angry me, he pulled the rug and the floor out from under me, sending me into a tailspin of emotions, while he sat back and smirked, fully entertained by the gamut of my emotions, the lashing out, the crying, the sarcasm, all of it.

I don't blame him for his power over my emotions. After all, I gave it to him. Walked over and handed the remote control to him lovingly. I even showed him how to program his favorite shows through the sharing of past experiences and divulging my innermost thoughts. So with just a flick of his thumb, he could call upon any emotional show or display he felt like being entertained by at any given moment. And I gave in every.....single......time. What rational intelligent woman confident woman would do that? I've always been the type who shook her head disapprovingly at women who got caught up in the stupidity, all in the name of love. Instead I should have reached down and pulled them up because now I know exactly how it feels to exist in the gutter of your emotions. But I can't front though. Even reading what I wrote thus far, I feel stupid and weak for participating in this madness. This is so not me. How could I relinquish so much control of my life to this person? Is this what love is really about?? If it is then I'm through with it. Take it away, remove this kind of love from the menu of my life. I can't handle this level of hurt, betrayal, and pain again. But what if it's a case of me choosing the wrong person for me to love? How will I know who the right person is to love? Maybe next time, I pull the curtain back sooner, and look for the manchild lurking in the corner.