Shaming Victims Empowers Abusers

Today was an emotional day for all of the wrong reasons.  I caught wind of some statements made by Stephen A. Smith on his show First Take.  He and his co-host were covering the 2 game suspension of Ray Rice due to his highly publicized domestic violence incident with his wife. Despite very few people knowing the exact details of what occurred in the elevator, Mr. Smith decided to glide into the discussion of domestic violence.  His statements have been transcribed and the two-minute clip is easily accessible.

The words that hit me in my gut were “let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions” and “And I think that just talking about what guys shouldn’t do, we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn’t happen.” followed by  “we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation. “Not that there’s real provocation, but the elements of provocation, you got to make sure that you address them, because we’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way.”

I immediately read the entire transcript of his statements again.  I stopped to think about what I just read and decided that there was no way this man could have said these words on national television, so I read the transcript a third, fourth and fifth time.  I wanted to be clear about what was said, the context in which his words were used and to affirm any disbelief that I had of these words being used against victims of domestic violence.

I am not here to discuss the scenario that these comments stemmed from or to discuss how many women “provoke” men to hit them.  I am here to simply say that these types of statements, made by powerful people with platforms, based on extremely complicated & damaging situations are overly simplified.  They are overly simplified by dismissing the severity of a man hitting, punching, slapping, grabbing, shaking, pushing or verbally abusing a woman.  It not only shames victims, but it empowers the abuser.  Everyone is clear on the old saying, keep your hands to yourself, but no one has the right to dismiss a persons uncontrolled temper as simply actions that were caused by someone provoking them.

I shared a piece of my own story of watching my mother being abused as a 2 year old and it took me to a place of pain, because I know a man who used to say that she provoked him.  That something as simple as not speaking loud enough, looking away from him or not being where he wanted you to be, when he wanted you to be there was what provoked him to leave a boot print in her back.  So when a man says that you should not provoke a man to abuse you, I ask how.  How can a woman not provoke a man who has already resolved to abusing her? To controlling her? To making sure she knows her place in this world and in his house? How can she avoid the abuse when she is not working and has children to feed? How can she avoid the abuse when she does not have any transportation to flee from her abuser? How can she stop the abuse when everyone around her is in denial and refuses to help her?

My own story is not one that I share alone, but one that was echoed by many women over my timeline.  This story was shared by men and the abuse their mothers endured.  Domestic violence has left many women dead.  Domestic violence has left many children motherless.  Domestic violence has damaged many people’s self-esteem, life and livelihood.  Domestic violence is not a casual conversation to be governed by a PSA from a sports newscaster.  Domestic violence is not a topic that can be simplified and a general band-aid placed on for your comfort.  Domestic violence is real.

As we speak women are enduring the abuse of a man.  As we speak someone is being murdered for attempting to leave their abuser.  As we speak the search for an abuser who left a child alone while he killed their mother is happening.  Everyday.  We hear the same story over and over, but somehow we come right back to pointing fingers at the victim.  She created this problem.  She stayed.  She is dumb.  She should have known.  She, the victim is not worthy of our empathy because clearly she provoked him.

I want to go so much deeper into my own story, but to wade in those very dark waters would take me to a place I am not ready to go to.  To all of the men that decided that verbally abusing me on Twitter would convince me that all women provoke men, know that I am unbothered and will not waver in standing up for victims of domestic violence.  If you know me, than you know I do not play.  If you do not know me, come for me when I did not send for you on a topic that is too real to me, and you will find out quickly that you cannot stand toe to toe with me on a topic I have experienced and can back up with numbers.

This is the beginning of a deeper conversation.  One that many of us are afraid to have because although the wounds are not visible, for many, they still remain.  To those who have endured abuse, survived abuse, know someone who may have even died, I pray for you and know that you cannot be silenced.

If you are a victim, you should not be ashamed.  Shame on your abuser. Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

 

 

Advertisements

When I Want to Give Up, I Remember the Why

Over the past 9 1/2 weeks, I have gone through a roller coaster of emotions.  It all started with the excitement of beginning the first steps to completing the final hurdle to complete freedom.  This soon glided into the endless feeling of being overwhelmed with the amount of information that I needed to consume daily, which then lead to mental exhaustion that made me fly back to feeling overwhelmed.  Then a sudden breath-taking drop came with the death of my grandfather, followed by the slow progression back to a level of focus that I needed to be productive and progressing towards being polished.

During many of the unproductive, completely overwhelmed and paralyzed due to exhaustion days, I wanted to throw in the towel, close the books, stop writing essays and stop practicing multiple choice questions, because I clearly was not going to make it to the end of this process better prepared than when I started.  I did not see the progress.  I felt that I was getting the same types of questions wrong and missing the same issues on the essays.  I decided that I would just go back to my old life, my old career, because I was never going to be ready for this daunting exam.  I kept telling myself everyday, “You are behind. You will never catch up.”  When I needed to rest all I could think was, “I am behind. I can sleep when I pass!”  I was angry at myself, at my lack of progress and at the idea of having to tell people that I quit.

Then after going months without seeing my son and days where he wouldn’t talk to me on the phone, we were able to connect with him on the iPad and I saw his precious face.  “Hi mommy. Hi daddy. Mommy. Daddy. Daddy. Mommy.”  In that moment, all of my stress, anxiety and fear melted away.  The only thing that was important was our special gift.  His smile, his laugh, his kisses…all of the things that I missed and the exact thing I needed to see to get my mind back in order.  After speaking with him and seeing his face, I realized that I cannot quit because I have someone watching my every step; basking in my successes and pushing me through my failures.

My son is my WHY.  For some people it is a car, a job or a vacation spot. For others it may be their mother telling them that she is so proud of them or standing next to their father who was sworn in as an attorney at the same place 30 years ago.  What your WHY is does not matter, knowing what your WHY is does.  If you do not have a WHY, you will give up during a breakdown MOMENT, instead of waiting a MOMENT longer and reaching your breakthrough.

After refocusing on my WHY.  I stopped telling myself that I was behind, and instead I told myself that I was where I needed to be.  Suddenly a burden lifted from my shoulders and I had renewed energy to make my WHY proud and complete the mission I set off to accomplish.  When you reach that moment where you cannot go on anymore, stop focusing on the negative, pessimistic or potentially disastrous outcomes and focus your energy on the positive, optimistic, and successful outcomes that you have worked hard to reach.  Focus on your WHY.  Keep pushing for your WHY.  Never give up because your WHY is waiting for you on the other side.

Your WHY won’t ever let you give up, so don’t give up on your WHY.  Why you do this.  Why this matters.  Why failure is not an option.  Why you can.  Why.  Stay the course.  Persevere.  Push through the pain.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Maybe I Am Doing This Thing All Wrong

Today I was mentally exhausted and decided to take a midday rest, despite being exactly 1 week away from my BIG EXAM.  But in these quiet moments I started to think, “Maybe I am doing this thing all wrong.”  I am attempting to fight so many wrongs on so many different fronts, and I am not being as productive as I can be.  I want to change what is already in motion.  I want to change things that are outside of my control.  I want to change people, and we all know that changing people by just your words is impossible.  So, I started to think of how I can work smarter and not harder.  How can I fight the injustices of the world that are being waged against every single woman, man, or child? How can I fight the injustices that are based on race, gender or sexuality? How can I make this world better for those here and those to come?

I don’t have the answer to any of these questions right now, but I decided to stop using my energy to fight those who are stuck in their beliefs and instead use all of my energy to shine a light in this world that may not change them, but will help develop others.  Every chance I get, I am going to be the best me, give 1000% and make sure that I am leaving every place better than it was when I came.  I can’t divide my attention between those who choose to hate and those who need love. I have to solely focus on those who need love, so that they can be edified and grow into beautiful beams of light.

We don’t need fewer people that hate, but more people who love.  We don’t need fewer people that aren’t racist, we need more people who can appreciate people for their differences.  We don’t need fewer people who are more tolerant, we just need more people who will encourage people to be themselves.  If we outnumber those who hate, who are racist or who are intolerant, soon those on the other side will simply conform to the notions of the majority.  We cannot feed into the vicious cycle of trying to recruit the enemy, but instead we have to gather our allies and show them our strength and power.  I have been doing this thing wrong for a long time, but today I have decided to take the steps to do it the only way that makes sense to me.

Legends are known for doing something extremely well.  How do you want to be remembered? What do you do well? Note it.  Know it. Do it.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own stories. On your own terms.

Too Unworthy To Be Used

We are only limited by our imagination.  A statement that has been said in many ways by many different people.  If you can really think about the idea that is being conveyed through these words, then you will understand the power of you.  The only person that is holding you back from greatness and glory is you and the limitations you place on yourself.

Around 5 years ago I really got in tune with God.  I heard the voice of God very clearly but every time I would start to get close to breaking through a threshold where I was tapping into something so deep and so meaningful, I would retreat back to my cave of fear.  I would come back to my man-made created darkness and go through all of the reasons why I was unworthy of greatness.

Me? You want to use me? Why me? I don’t come from a perfect background.  I have struggled through the hell of poverty, been homeless, been shamed and ashamed, been too black, too fat, too stupid or just plain wrong.  Why would you choose someone as broken, as crazy, as loud, as emotional, as weak as me God.  I am not worthy enough to be used.

After years of arguing and playing tug of war with my destiny, I stopped complaining and making so much noise and listened again to God.  And He said, “Because you have been through poverty, homelessness, been shamed and ashamed, too black, too fat, too stupid or just plain wrong.  For all of these reasons I choose you to go forth and be a light to those just like you.  A light to those who want to give up and retreat back to their manmade cave of darkness.  There are many more like you than there are unlike you.”

So many of us have gone through the trials of life and survived and that is a truth that has to be shared.  Especially in a day and age where perfection is just a click away, a commercial away, a reality show away.  In a time where some of our girls are racing to pack on make-up, afford the highest designer fashions by any means necessary, and even willing to risk their lives with illegal or improper surgical enhancements.  Where some our young men glorify violence, rob, steal and kill their own and are dying to wear designers.  Where our intelligent young girls and boys are not getting the proper resources and support they need to succeed.  Where our children are marked in Kindergarten for a path to college or to jail.  The TRUTH has to begin to speak louder than the lies of Hollywood, the stories of reality tv, and the rhetoric of the news.  We have to begin to define and create the identity of beauty, unity, of greatness.

This is for everyone who can’t get past that certain point of greatness.  The one who keeps stopping or retreating back to that place of comfort.  For the broken young girl who is growing through those pains.  For the young boy who is vowing to be greater.  This is for the TRUTH.  This is for everyone who was told or ever thought that they were too unworthy to be used.  You are where you are so that you can help someone else.  You have gone through what you have gone through so you can save someone else.  Our lives are not our own.  Our stories are not our own.  Our truth is not our own.

My blog was never supposed to be spiritual or preaching any type of gospel.  It was an avenue for me to get out many of the things that I am supposed to share.  But my TRUTH is that God has a plan for my life greater than I can even imagine.  I may never hold a title, stand in a pulpit or be on the Word channel, but every opportunity I get, I have to share what He has put in my spirit.

It is my story.  It is my destiny.  It is my truth.  You are worthy to be used.  Let Him use you.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Positive Parenting: The Road to Transforming an Overthinking Control Freak

All parents should know that he who knows patience knows peace. Chinese Proverb

 

My friend’s mother gave my husband and I a book, “The Power of Positive Parenting,” a collection of bible verses, quotes and humorous statements about parenting.  When I first received the book, I read a few of the quotes and I immediately started to chuckle on the inside.  The quotes and statements reminded me that I am not the first parent to be driven crazy by a child who wouldn’t listen or the first to be so sleepy and delirious that my child ended up in the bed with me many more nights than not.  Parenting is a journey that will take you on a roller coaster higher and lower than any you can ever dream of. One of the lessons that I am learning as a fairly new parent is that this journey is not about just raising my son but transforming myself.

I am a very detail oriented, very meticulous, over thinking control freak.  I want things done a certain way, every time and I know that my way is best because I have thought or tried the alternatives and it has failed or looks like it will fail.  So when children come into your life and you are used to being hung up on the details, your entire method of daily living is derailed, in a good way. In the early days I have been dressed and ready to walk out the door and either my son would pee or release a poop that would seep out of his clothes and all the way up his back.  As he got older, I had to get him ready and then put him in a place that he wouldn’t move so that I could get ready.  That was the downside of him crawling, walking and then learning how to run!  And now we are at the point where we are tip toeing down the potty training road, so bathroom visits, extra pull ups and underwear are now our primary focus.  He understands now that when its time to go to get his shoes and backpack which helps but not having everything by the door causes me to run in and out and back in until finally I am exhausted and running too late to care about grabbing anything else.

Living in a city full of traffic, you have to be prepared at all times with snacks and planned places to stop to grab food if you are unable to get home before dinner time.  You have to leave early just in case there is an accident or a detour.  You have to know where to find the cheapest gas and when is the safest times to go.  You go from worrying about your own safety to protecting your child and their innocence at all times. For those without children, it may seem like I am being dramatic or over exaggerating, but in reality you cannot even put into words what it is to be a parent to a child, let alone more than one.  You get to watch this little being grow, learn and transform before your very eyes, but you also start to look in the mirror and see yourself changing into someone you weren’t a year or two ago.  You see yourself leaving baskets of laundry around the house because you don’t have the time to fold them perfectly and unmet edges are not going to cut it.  You see yourself scrapping tv time for outside play time and walks down the street to see your neighbors so your son can wave and make them smile.  You find yourself beating yourself up for raising your voice or getting upset, because now that you have calmed down you realized your child wasn’t being disobedient but just curious, as they should be.

You see yourself transforming from good to better.  I am a better person because I am a parent.  I am learning what is important in life and what is not worth the worry and the stress.  There is no perfect parent.  Successful children come from homes of varying socio-economic statuses, neighborhoods and parental make-ups.  Some parents are more hands on than others, some are great providers, while many others invest all of their time, attention and money into their child while putting their own dreams on hold.  Every parent can look back and think about things that they would have done differently, better or more.  In parenting, there is no beginning and there is no end.  There is a continuum of life and love that moves like the waves in the sea.  High tides and low tides.  Great moments and not so great moments.  But many lessons to be learned and shared with those around you, especially fairly new parents like me.

For me, my biggest challenge is to learn patience.  Over the years, God has tried to teach me in various ways, but I still reverted back to my impatient ways.  So one day he blessed me with a permanent lesson of patience.  I have failed many times at being that patient loving mom that I want to be, but I keep trying.  Every moment is a new test.  Every failure is a new lesson.  Positive parenting is not a task for me to use on my son, but for me to use on myself. Positive parenting is a journey to transform my mindset, myself, and my spirit.  God is working on me and he has already given me the reward for my future transformation.  My son is so sweet, smart and kind.  He is a loving child who is like most boys, busy and rambunctious.

My time away from him has given me time to review my parenting style and to cherish my job as a mother.  It is one of the most important and the one that pays the most. I always appreciate the wisdom of mothers who have been where I am.  Their words are affirming and encouraging.  I am placing my book on top of my dresser as a reminder and an outlet to look at when I am struggling with my patience.  We all have work to do.  Some work takes longer but I know this transformation won’t take a lifetime.  Soon I will be a more patient parent, detail oriented, very meticulous, over thinking control freak.  Because that is who I am.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

No More Obligations

 

NeeNee and Papa

Married for 49 years and 10 months

When you finally feel like you have life under control, something comes and knocks you right off of your feet to remind you of how unpredictable life can be.  My heart had already sensed that a tragedy was going to strike, but I knew that I could not change it so I tried to brace for it.  You cannot brace for death, no matter how many times you tell your self that death can be easier than life because your family member does not have to suffer anymore.

Last Wednesday morning was a complete whirlwind.  I received a call from my aunt that my grandfather had suddenly become ill.  Although they had not pronounced him dead, I knew in my heart that his battle on this side was finally over.  I began to cry and try to figure out how I was going to get home on such short notice and then the second call came, informing me that my grandfather had a massive stroke and that he was not going to recover from this one.

In those last few minutes of his life, my family rushed to get everyone together to say their last goodbyes.  I sat at my desk and tried to be apart of that moment through the phone as my family gathered at his hospital bed.  I got a short glimpse at him and said goodbye and I love you through blinding tears.  Within minutes he released his last breath and his soul was set free to the other side.

Then the tears began to flow even more.  The wails of grief rang through my silent house.  I began to contact my other family to inform them of my grandfather’s sudden departure.  And the stages of grief immediately set in.   DENIAL.

This could not be real.  This could not be happening.  This could not be happening right now.  Not during my bar prep.  Not when I didn’t have a plan to get home.    Not while our family was already dealing with so much else.  Not right now.  Not today.

As the hours passed and I decided that I could wait no more, I jumped in my car, prayed and set forth on my journey home.  I arrived into a whirlwind of emotions.  Everyone was dealing with this sudden lost of our patriarch in their own way.  The next few days was a roller coaster of moments.  Some preparing for my Papa’s farewell, while others were full of tension and distress.

I remained emotionally stable for the most part but all my built up strength crumbled onto the notes of Safe in His Arms in the service that paid homage to his life.  The reality set in that my grandfather was gone forever.  I could no longer call him and ask for advice about my car, talk about current events or update him on Baby Adam’s new achievement. I never got a chance to repay him for his many sacrifices and self-less acts that made me the woman I am today.  He always believed in me and my dreams.  He never wavered in his love for any of us.  He had a heart full of unconditional love spread evenly across each child, grandchild and great-grandchild.  He did everything he wanted to do, which was to simply care for us and give us better opportunities.

As I stroll through the last four stages of grief, staggering back and forth between depression and acceptance, I am comforted by the words No More Obligations.  These words were shared a few months ago at a memorial service for a professor who had passed away.  His friend shared these words of comfort with us and they never left my soul.  So I embrace the fact that my grandfather has No More Obligations.  No more appointments, no more medications, no more leg braces and wheel chairs.  No more dependence, no more restrictions, no more stress or strains.

As I deal with this loss and the minor set back in my study schedule, I am comforted in knowing that God has placed another guardian angel in my corner to guide me along the way.  Grandparents are special people.  Grandparents are even more special when they step into the shoes of your parents.  And for that, I am grateful.

Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Papa Thinking

Never Complained. Just loved and lived.

When Taking Risks Leaves You Broke

I take a lot of risks.  I just live.  I think about something I want to do and I do it.  I always pray about it, do a balancing test but in the end even if the good outweighs the bad 51% to 49%, I am going to go for it.  Going to college was a risk.  Taking a job in Baltimore while all of my friends were still in DC was a huge risk.  Moving back to DC because I couldn’t take Baltimore anymore was an even bigger risk.  Leaving my job to go back to law school…RISK!

Although these sound like calculated decisions, which in many ways they were, in many ways they were not.  I have given all of my furniture away and slept on the floor of a family members house, slept in an empty apartment, went without cable and TV and much more because I am more risky than calculated.

Many times this decision has left me broke.  Prior to law school, I always paid my bills on time and lived off what I had left.  I worked ridiculous amounts of overtime so I could at least enjoy my weekends regardless of bills, but my risky decisions have left me in tears many nights, trying to figure out how I was going to pay for something I needed.

Surprisingly, I have never had to go without.  I am the Queen (ask my Twnnie) of getting random checks in the mail. GOD PROVIDES.  I have amazing friends who always come through in the clutchest of moments and now I have a supportive husband who is self-less and extremely humble.  But I am still hard on myself for not being the perfect saver.

Through this apparent self-pity party I realized that despite all of my many risk, everything has always worked out.  I received a grant for two years to pay for my undergrad loans.  When I moved back to DC, I met amazing friends and expanded my support system.  Law school was one of the best intellectual experiences I have ever experienced thus far.  My options in life are limitless and this is just the beginning.

I really am writing this post to remind myself that everything has always worked out.  That these anxiety attacks are the work of the enemy because there is something greater to come.  One day I will be in a position to help little girls like me and more importantly, I possess more in life than money can buy.

I want to be that person who has the suggested amount of savings, can lend people money without ever needing it back, and can live without ever being broke.  At this point, I know it will take time, patience, and a financial adviser (one is already on speed dial).  But I am happy, I am blessed, I have no regrets and I have done everything in life that I have ever wanted to do and will continue to take risks in the future.

Don’t be so hard on yourself and don’t focus on your imperfections.  If you were perfect you wouldn’t need God, your friends or anyone else.  It takes time to build an empire and your steps are ordered.  See the past 27 years of your life (insert your age for mine).  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your story.  On your own terms.

Cutting Family Ties: Hard but Necessary

I have pushed through some extremely tough moments alone.  I have cut my grieving short to gather my self and present myself to the world as a woman wounded but not defeated.  Many times this hurt has come at the hand of those I couldn’t choose… I have held onto dead familial relationships because I loved them for what they used to be.  I have revived familial relationships because I wanted my life to be like that of my friends.   I have renewed familial relationships with the hope that this time things would be different.  But a few days ago I hit that turning point.  The point you get to where you either remain loaded down and get off course or you release the excess baggage and stay on track.

Some people have willingly removed themselves from my life and I have accepted their egress happily.  I cherish the memories and wish them nothing but the best.  Others have needed to be forcefully removed.  In my maturation I have learned my own personal limits.  I know when to put my hand up to end conversations that I know will end in more than hurt feelings.  But it is not as easy as it sounds.

These relationships have been the ones that should have been forever.  The people who should be standing by my side during the triumphs and the tragedies.  Time has taught me that everyone’s story is not the same.  That my forever family may not hold the official titles but they have earned the right.  They show up when it matters, they give just as much as they take, they grow as I grow.

Although my hands are constantly moving, juggling the good and the bad of life, people see the superwoman in me.  I thrive off of the love and support but when I hurt, I remind myself that superwomen hurt too.  I won’t drown in shoulda coulda wouldas or wish for things to be any way than what they are.

As I travel this journey, I am kindly letting people off at their exit without stopping the car.  I won’t cry anymore over those who chose to leave and those who I had to escort out of the whip.  I only want to prosper with those who want to be present.

Bury the dead. Cut the ties. Embrace your forever family.  Regardless of their official title. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Jogged Memories

Going through old pictures always brings back some of the fondest memories.  Going through some of my old journals always brings back the memories of some of the more difficult parts of my life.  This simple realization helped me realize how I shy away from the camera in tough moments and turn into myself.  I avoid the crowd and seek the strength needed to survive.  I take a step back and find my inner voice and wait to hear from On High because either the path is already tough or I see the struggle ahead.

The ease of having all of your pictures on your phone, tablet or computer causes us to miss out on the tangible feel of going through memories.  Of opening up photo albums and telling the good stories and maybe some of the bad.  After last nights rendezvous with a box of old pictures, I have decided to make an effort to print more pictures, place the ones I have in albums and pull them out when my friends come by.

Sometimes I lament in the pain because within those moments there are so many teachable points but there are just as many teachable moments in the joy of life.  Some of my fondest memories growing up, were on 89 Collins St.  My grandparents took pride in their 3 little granddaughters.  They loved and cared for us as they had done for their own children and other people’s children for many years before.  They gave me the foundation I needed to get through those moments when I would be going through life alone.  I was my grandmother’s mini-me, her pride and joy (I’m sure my cousins will disagree).   I left to live with my father but I always missed being with my grandparents.

When I look back and find the few pictures that I have of her, I know Irma would be so proud of me.  She was an educator and taught with such joy.  She was so sweet and funny and the reason I love candy so much.  I carry her with me in my name and in my heart.  And only the pictures I found jogged these memories.  I can write about it but seeing her smile makes me feel a sense of comfort that words cannot describe.

My grandparents taught me that love was not a romantic novel but the quiet moments together enjoying the evening news, making your side of the bed when you got up in the morning, but most importantly, holding your spouse’s hand through those tough times.  They taught me the meaning of sincerity, through sickness and in health, til death do us part.  Those words are a vow, but also a charge to remain invested in your marriage.

I put their picture on our dresser as a reminder that we are in this for life.  To help jog my memory when times are tough and I need to smile.  Next time you and your friends or family get together, pull out the albums, the pictures, and tell some of those great stories that come to mind when you see a certain image.  Share the memories and take note of happiness within those moments.  That is what we live for.  We learn in pain but we live for joy.  Be you.  Do you. Tell your story.  On your own terms.

My Transformation: Self-Love

When you hear Jill Scott’s song When I Wake Up, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7XyBz1FFQg, it does something to your soul.  This song speaks to apart of my transformation that deals with self-love and believing in me despite others opinion of me and my life.  I dealt with a series of insignificant relationships for a number of years with a false belief that they would eventually go somewhere notwithstanding the obvious signs of staleness that lead to a dead-end time and again.  I thought that my light would eventually shine bright enough and they would see me and appreciate all of me.

After experiencing a few heartbreaking realizations back-to-back I started to Wake Up.  I started to question my own state of mind instead of making excuses for theirs.  I started to appreciate my light and power instead of forcing others to see it.  I started to look in the mirror and say, “GIRL!”  I subconsciously made a decision to be the happiest me that I could possibly be.  I was in the best shape of my life and it was an eventful year full of weddings and celebrations so I was surrounded by love and joy.

When you make decisions, consciously or subconsciously, a test will come to see if you are going to stand on that decision or back down and end up right back in the same cycle of self-doubt.  Something had finally clicked in me and I decided that I was not going back no matter what.  I loved me to much to have to force others to love me.

I remember this day like it was a week ago.  A beautiful sunny fall day filled with endless possibilities and I received two phone calls.  One from a loser and one from a friend.  The first call was my test, the young brother asking me to hang with him despite canceling on me last-minute a few days earlier.  My response, a new transformed me, declined with explanation.  Enough was enough.  I let him know that I knew he would never love or care for me the way I wanted to be loved and cared for and I was merely a convenience.  Our interactions had turned me into someone I did not want for me and I refused to continue to lose me for someone else’s convenience.

Sometimes things take time but sometimes the turn around is quick.  The second call followed immediately after and asked if my friends and I wanted to come hang out with a friend and his wife at their new house.  I immediately said yes and gathered my crew for the trip out to the beltway.  What started off as a quiet get together, immediately transformed into the night that changed my life.  After being there for a few minutes, my friend’s best male friends walk in, including my now husband, and the rest becomes history.

He saw something in me that I wanted everyone else to see for so long.  I did not have to convince him or drag him along, it was just different.  When I loved myself the most is when I found the one who could love me more.  The power of self-love blooms in various ways in our lives, but mine happened to turn into meeting the love of my life.  If there is something holding you back from appreciating all of you, let it go, whether it is internal or external.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your story.  On your own terms.