Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Many Layers of Healing

Physical wounds take time to heal. In addition, they need to be nursed and protected against further damage. When the human body is wounded our immune system goes into overdrive. White blood cells are shipped to the location of the injury to capture germs and bacteria. Proteins are diverted to help rebuild cells. Nerve endings are fired causing pain to help deter further devastation; and those are only the steps that our bodies take automatically. In addition to the reparative outline that has been instilled in our biological function by The Almighty, when we are hurt physically we do everything from cleaning the wound with an antiseptic, to getting corrective surgery so that we heal appropriately. So with so many steps taken to heal a physical wound, why when emotional wounds are incurred do we expect or desire one quick fix?
As a survivor of sexual, emotional and psychological abuse, I know first hand that there is no one solution that is the solution.

Over the years I have searched for help in my healing process. After being taken advantage of by one of the people that was supposed to protect me; my love, trust and ability to depend on another person were damaged almost irreparably. Rather than hope for the best, I used to prepare for the worst. Instead of trusting in my fellow man, I ridiculed and feared those that sought to get close to me. The wounds that I suffered at the hands of my father were so deep that it deformed and distorted my hopes at a "normal" life. Until I thought: what is a normal life anyway?
Acknowledging that there really is no such thing as normal, was the first form of therapeutic healing I applied to hurry the reconstruction of my mental and psychological wounds.

Sometimes we as individuals get so caught up in our own lives and issues that it seems like we are the only one going through whatever we are going through. When I found out my sister slept with my husband, it seemed so outlandish that I couldn't imagine it happening to anyone else. Fast forward 7 years when I learned about a friend of mine who's sister not only slept with her husband, but had a baby for him that no one learned about until the child was four years old! My point is, there is nothing on this planet happening to only one person. It's not possible. Somewhere in the world there is someone else experiencing similar events that I have. That being the case, there must me proven therapies to recover from the negative results of any trauma. I just had to find the ones that worked for me.

My father with my first daughter.
In any attempt at healing spiritually, mentally or physically, the first step is to acknowledge the damage. Like a cut on your skin, if you don’t recognize it is there, it could get infected, fester and contaminate healthy surrounding cells. This applies to physical, spiritual and mental wounds alike. The larger the lesion, the more damage it has the potential of causing if it is ignored. I learned from early in my adolescence that blocking out and trying to pretend that it was not my father forcing himself inside of me, only exasperated my suffering and disappointment of how a father was supposed to behave. That disappointment in him would’ve transformed into an expectation that all men would disappoint me.

Which leads to the second step of healing: acceptance. Once you’ve acknowledged the damage, you have to accept it. On a daily basis I make myself aware of the damaging effects my life had on me growing up. This is a scary process because there are times I have to relive some of the things that happened to me in my mind. But I know in doing so, I am better able to pinpoint what still needs treatment. Concurrently this helps me to acknowledge and make use of the strength that is inherent to myself and every other human being. By doing research, talking to people, learning how to cope through meditation and prayer, and exploring other types of therapy I may be able to employ, I actively seek solutions to the problems. And there are many. Like the steps that our immune systems use to fight off infection, there are many tools that could help in the healing process. And accepting that fact helps in constructing a plan of action.

They say time heals all. This is accurate, but time needs some assistance. Once you’ve recognized the wound, accepted that it does exist and begin applying mechanisms to help along the healing process, it takes time for the cure to be effective. Patience and consistency are very important keys to healing. When our immune system identifies a wound, it sends white blood cells to the site of the injury. Over time the white blood cells isolate the infection and begin repairing the damage. In addition other nursing techniques like the use of outside antibiotics and supplements to strengthen the immune system can help the process along. Emotional and spiritual reparation works the same way. Along with time, other means of therapy must be employed to encourage healing. And that therapy must be used for as long as it takes to effect a positive change. 

Time may heal all, but like a cut deep enough to require stitches, if not held closed, the resulting scar will not be pretty. Forgiveness is essential to recovering from any traumatic experience. But most people think that you forgive someone one time and that's it. This is just not true. Forgiveness is like a fire that has to be tended to. You light the fire and it will burn for a while; but eventually it will start to dwindle unless you stoke it, add more fuel or expose it to more oxygen.
Whether it be yourself or someone that caused you harm, forgiveness is a remedy that encourages healing by strengthening your spiritual and mental immune system. By applying empathy, sympathy and taking the attitude that says "I'm not going to be angry at you anymore thereby depriving you of the ability to hurt me through my mind", we build up strength  against that which can harm us.

Healing is not easy. Then again, anything important or worth doing never is. We may scrape our knees and within a few weeks our skin has regenerated itself. But there's a lot going on in the regenerative process. The end result could be comparable to what it used to be, or we can give the body some assistance and the skin will turn out stronger and more resistant. 

It's been a long road for me on my healing journey and I've accepted that it may not end until the day I stop breathing. I'm good with that. In fact, you know what; I'm great with that.  My life is what it is, and better yet, it is what I make it. We are spiritual being having a human experience, and I will do whatever it takes to have the best experience I can, because I can.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Imagine for twenty-three years, having to get permission to eat, get your television programming approved; have all of your phone calls screened; have restrictions on if and when you could bathe, and at the risk of being punched in the face, ask daddy if he could leave you alone for one night so you can get some sleep. 

For my childhood, adolescence and half of my young adulthood, I was dictated to, brainwashed by, raped, bred, sexually exploited and physically abused by the one person that most little girls look to for guidance and protection; my father. But like all things created by the Almighty, there is an antithesis to his abuse. I’ve learned much from my father; that’s a fact I can’t deny. And the four children that I bore under his oppression are my pride, joy and at the heart of my purpose for living. 

This was a picture of my children and I taken at my grandmother's church. My first three were still living with my grandmother as her and my aunt's foster children. 

Because of the damage he has done, it almost seems wrong to acknowledge my father’s (unintentional) cultivation of positivity in me. For instance: my spiritual practicality was a seed that he planted by exposing me to various religious belief systems, indoctrinating a fear and love of God and then testing my faith by making my Creator the only thing I could depend on in an abusive atmosphere. My employment of positive mantras to boost self confidence and maintain a optimistic attitude, was a practice that my father used to program obedience and good behavior in his children. And even down to my entrepreneurial spirit, outside of the box perspective and “I can do anything” way of thinking; it’s difficult to imagine having those personality traits without watching my father swindle business partners, confuse and control women, evade government authorities and achieve anything he set his mind to no matter how ridiculous it appeared. It almost seems illogical for something to be the source of the poison and the cure for its damage at the same time. But history has proven that pain and pressure can indeed make you stronger. And in medicine, it isn’t uncommon to make a cure by using the poison itself.  I’m not ashamed to admit that my current personal power may indeed have been encouraged to grow through my father’s sick and demented treatment of me and my siblings. 

Much like the way that our bodies produce antibodies when we are exposed to a toxin, the resistance that I developed to the effects of my father’s abuse, I now use to help others heal. My conscious mind (now effected by societal standards) tells me that I do not want the person I’m supposed to hate, to be a source of my evolution and survival. But without accepting that I am my father’s daughter assigned by my Creator to be molded by him well into adulthood, I risk constantly fighting against and hating myself. 

As a woman of color my ancestral history is ridden with abuses similar to what I suffered. Women like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth ultimately learned to fight against their oppressors only after being oppressed. Once subjected to the pain and suffering of slavery and discrimination, they and many others like them accessed a power that without that challenge may have never surfaced. Unfortunately not every person feels they have the power to prevail. But I theorize that we all have that power; some just don’t know how to pull from it. With a little assistance, whether from a friend, a colleague, a teacher, a peer, literature or even the media, all the tools necessary to use your personal power is within reach. 

We may not know how to eradicate domestic violence, child abuse and sexual exploitation of women and children completely. These deviances fester in our communities like a cancer. When I was eight years old my father became a tumor in my life that seemed to metastasize throughout my entire being. And since I was separated from the outside world for over seventeen years, my access to treatment was limited. Which is why I’ve dedicated myself to sharing my “antibodies” with others that may be going through similar challenges. And while life’s hurdles come in many forms and effect a vast selection of people, healing essentially requires five factors to be effective. Acknowledgement, acceptance, treatment, time and consistency. Within every last one of us lies the potential to become an antidote for violence against women and children. We can nurture that potential by educating ourselves, supporting victims and survivors and at the very least, keeping ourselves aware.

Q&A segment from a book reading I did in Newark, NJ

It’s been thirteen years since the last time I’ve  had to get permission to eat, get my television programming approved; have my phone calls screened; be instructed on when to take a bath; and at the risk of being punched in the face, ask daddy if he was finished so I could get some sleep. And though like a cancer, the trauma I’ve suffered threatened my health, mental state and will to live; I take solace in knowing that like the development of an antidote or vaccine, I can use the “antibodies” that have been created through me to assist in the healing of others. Despite the many challenges I have faced, I am here living, loving, thriving and using my strength as an example to encourage those that don’t know how, to cultivate their own. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Supply and Demand

I consider myself an attractive, charming, confident woman. I am also self sufficient, motivated, goal orientated, hard working, God loving and honest. Indeed I have a failed marriage…well, discarded marriage, but I know what I want and I'm not afraid to go after it. So why is it so difficult to find a good man?

Before I attempt to answer that question, let me define what I think a good man is. A good man, is attractive, charming, self sufficient, motivated, goal orientated, hard working, God loving and for the most part, honest (at least with himself and his Creator); basically someone with the same values as mine just packaged as a man. So again I ask, why is that so hard to find? I’ll tell you why; and it starts with supply and demand.
Now, I tell myself no lies; I know there are women out there that are probably prettier than I am, with bigger booties and smaller waists, but I know for a fact that most of those women are asking the same question. 
I was sitting in my kitchen talking to my eldest daughter about my ex husband. I noted how much of a headache it is to get my son’s father to provide for our child and continue to be a part of his life. I mean, it’s less stressful to work extra hours, sell a few more cakes and finagle arrangements with my debtors in order to solely provide for my son than it is to chase his father down for his contribution. It’s easier to miss sleep working late hours than it is to miss sleep arguing on the phone with my ex husband about why the money he promised me to buy his son a coat never materialized. At least the former pays for my time! But this is where the problem lies and supply and demand comes into play. 
As women, we can take on just about anything. We survive it all. From being able to withstand the pain from the shifting of our bones and internal organs to allow a whole person to fit through, to our never-ending battle for equal rights; we make shit happen. 

Curtesy of
I mean, we just don't quit. History has shown that if men stop providing for us and our offspring (whether it be by choice or by force), we don’t keel over and die; we do what we have to do to maintain. It takes a lot for a woman to just waste away without even trying. We are living sources of strength and ingenuity and we know how to use it. But unfortunately we have a weakness; our male counterpart. Even though we are conditioned to not need men, we still need men!
Let me be clear, I’m talking in general here. For all you women that have sworn off men, if you wanted to make a baby you need sperm. And if you have no plans of having children then I almost envy you, because my desire for our human counterpart is so intense that I (and many other women like me) have made it way too easy for them to get what they want. 
Michael Breyette
I am a sexual being. I love the feeling of a man. I love his muscles, the size of his hands and how they feel on my body; that feeling of protection that his presence provides and the sense of euphoria that is the result of our energy mixed together. 
It’s so valuable to me that in making it easy for myself to get those things, I’ve made it easy for him to enjoy everything I have to offer. And I am not alone. The new and improved twenty-first century independent woman has tipped the scales of supply and demand in the favor of the male. In the old days, a man had to prove himself worthy of a woman's affection by demonstrating that he could supply a foundation: financial security, emotional support and social standing. In addition, the presence of a young woman's father only made the screening process more difficult for a suitor. But because events in history have put women in the position where we’ve had to fend for ourselves, and consequential to the increased presence of fathers who aren't present, men seem to think that he no longer has to serve his purpose; and can you blame him? I’m going to play the devil’s advocate here. If you were a person that at one point had to pay your way to gain access, then suddenly one day you no longer had to pay but still gained not only access, but VIP treatment, what would you do?

XX chromosomes
It’s gotten to the point that the responsibilities in my life are so extensive that all I want to do is lay in a man’s arms and feel somewhat less than what I am capable of. I am female! I like to be held and cuddled. I like to feel protected and loved, and unfortunately I can feel all of those things just by getting some loving from a man. And don’t get me started on the repercussions of my child and young adulthood. I have this whole other mind game I play with myself concerning growing up with the black equivalent of Hitler reincarnate. Which makes the tender touch of an affectionate man all the more valuable to me. 
It’s as if I and the majority of females, have been installed with some kind of fail safe in favor of the opposite sex. I can never get too big for my britches because what they have is of too much value to me. 

It’s a shame really; the male species has figured out a way to devalue what they hold the most dear. How can the very thing that men have risked their livelihood for, fought wars over and in some cases died because of, cause them to look at it as if it’s nothing? What would men do without the Yoni? (If they don’t keel over and die, they certainly will no longer be born ´\_('~')_/`). We have demand for what they supply and vice versa, but though they have a demand of what we supply, we don’t demand much for them to get it. It’s as if we pay them to give them a discount. Isn’t that crazy?And if we demand our fair value, we are labeled as gold diggers, prostitutes and the worst of all (gasp), old fashioned! Oh no, the modern woman can’t be old fashioned! How could she? The female CEO for a company cannot be expected to run the company and still expect a man to open the door for her or pick her up at her residence before a date. She dare not be in a position of power in the boardroom and put a date stamp on when a man can get her in the bedroom. Her sexuality has to remain under her control, and if she puts guidelines like the three date rule on her sex life and it takes three months to go on three dates, how is she going to release the stress built up from managing men who constantly try to tear her down at work by denying herself sexual gratification? Ugh! Get me off this merry-go-round, please?!
From marriage dowries to transference of inheritance, men have put a dollar value on women for centuries.

I propose that rather than fight the monetization of the V, we embrace the fact that men value things with a high price tag. Don't get it twisted. I'm not talking about prostitution (I'll save that for another conversation) or pussy equity. I'm talking about acknowledging the fact that a good woman is so valuable that she is  in fact invaluable and cannot be price stamped, discounted or sold second hand like a Birkin bag. Yes, I'm talking about demanding that men make more of an effort than paying their monthly subscription to Netflix (and even then, they are more than likely signing into someone else's account). I'm talking about that even if the dude has no funds, he invest sweat equity to get the buns. Fellas, If you don't have enough cash to take your girl to the opera, then mofo, you better put on a performance written, directed and starring you! 
Ladies we have to demand more for ourselves. And we have to demand it together. Every woman that lowers the price of her personal stock decreases the market value for everyone else. 
Let's get in formation please, so that our daughters, grand-daughters and great grand-daughters can live in a world where their value is never in question. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

My Father's Son

Raising a man is probably one of the most challenging endeavors a female will have to face. And if you are a single mother, well…finding a needle in a haystack in the dark is probably easier.

My eldest boy at 3 months old
To me, being a parent is God giving you another opportunity to impact the world positively. Parents are given a human to nurture into an adult who will influence everyone around them. That’s a huge undertaking. And if you are a mother with a child of the opposite sex (or a father with the same circumstances), you are faced with trying to figure out how to raise a human that has different body parts, a different way of thinking and a completely different role in society. 
God bless those women that have a man in their son’s lives that have and take equal responsibility for the person they both created. God bless those women who have a decent father of their own that they can use as an example of what a man is supposed to be. But what if you have neither? Then what?

The golden rule stands at the core of what I teach my children. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I figure this is a sure way to keep them on the straight and narrow. Let’s face it; humans are naturally selfish creatures. So if you base how you treat others on how you would like to be treated, there’s little room for error. For some reason this clicks with my son as effectively as a light switch with a busted light bulb. 

Understanding the male psyche is a challenge for me. People say women are complicated. Well, it seems men are complicated also; just in a different way. 

Case in point. My offspring share the responsibility of cleaning the kitchen. How to allocate that responsibility took its own set of trial and error, but I basically got it down to each person having their own night to clean the kitchen according to a list of chores in the kitchen. 
My two girls are pretty okay with this list, but my son; he makes every excuse he can, not to complete it! I tell him to set water; he doesn’t. I tell him to sweep the floor; with distain, using the broom, he moves what he sees with his naked eye into the dustpan. And now that I’ve included a penalty for not completing the list, he spends more time trying to figure out how to penalize his sister than he does making sure he doesn’t get penalized himself! 

My youngest, who is a momma's boy, listening to music.
This kid has got me pulling my hair out, biting my nails, tossing and turning at night and losing my appetite. You would think he was my significant other he takes up so much time in my day. 
I find myself wondering is it him? Meaning: is it because he is my father’s son, my brother, my son and my father’s grandson that makes him so challenging? 

Because of my family’s circumstances, I lost my first man child to the system when he was only five months old. I didn’t get the opportunity to bond with him like I did with my other children. I wasn’t able to breastfeed him, be there for his first steps, or have the honor of listening to him pronounce his first word. When I got him back I had to consciously put in effort effort to make up for lost time. Though I watched in envy as he ran to my grandmother for consolation if he bumped his knee, I had to keep reminding myself that the sweet rewards of being a mother was little sacrifice for my and my children’s freedom and reunification. Therefore, I made it my business to be involved with my son on another level. 
So why after putting so much effort into spending time with him as he grew up, does he act like I “just don’t get it”? Sometimes I feel like that in this kid’s head I am his mortal enemy. In his eyes I never seem to do enough, am fair enough, give him enough, consider him enough or understand him enough. 
Don’t get me wrong, I know he loves me. But I can’t help but wonder if because he knows that he is my father's son, in his mind I am less his mother. 
I have faced the actuality that I may never know the answer to this inquiry, so I have to interact with my son while ignoring the facts that glare over me like the sun's blinding rays on a winter morning. Which means that every time I have to reprimand, lecture or discipline my son, I must pull out my mental sunglasses and engage him in a way that’s as cool as the way my blue reflective Ray Bans make me look. But when I tell you that this kid pulls out all the stops to make me feel like I’m just a bad parent…(sigh, where are my shades?).
I listen to what he has to say when he accuses me of treating him differently because he’s a boy. I bite my tongue when his logic makes as much sense as burying your head in a garbage can for fresh air. And I regain control (yes regain, because the struggle to keep my voice down is real) of the pitches and volume of my voice when I know his attempts at manipulating and outsmarting me drives me so cray I just want to SCREAM!!
But, I love him. I love my son dearly, and I am thankful for the opportunity that God gave me to raise a beautiful, talented, charismatic man that will contribute great things to the world. And I realize that my predicament is no different form all the other single mothers of young men. Boys challenge us because they are trying to establish themselves as men. From testosterone raging through their systems, to societal pressures and demands made on them dictating that they are the dominant sex, the position of the mother of a developing man is a challenging one. 

Usually after my son blows up because he feels I’ve disputed his manhood by taking away his cell phone or video games, I have to give him his space. I used to try to confine him, punish him further or display my power over him in some sort of fashion, but that just wasn’t working. One summer I had to literally get in my car to chase him down the street. But now, I lay the law (because he has to follow the rules, male or not) and I give him his space. He calms down, and after being mad at me for a little while, he comes around. I don’t take it personally anymore. I used to take it so personal when he’d disobey me in the middle of me disciplining him, but I understand that he is coming into his own and trying to establish his machismo. When I show him I understand his perspective, and I take into consideration when making my decisions on him, he is more receptive. 

We are a work in progress and we have progressed. Now if only I can just get him to stop sleeping in the living room and spreading his man funk around the house.