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Grief

Personal Grief while the World is Mourning… Pt. 1

My mom is dead.

I had no warning. No preparation. No signs of acute sickness.

She just died.

As if it was her right to do so.
As if it was within God’s right to take her from me so suddenly.
As if they both thought I could live without her.
While I’m pregnant. With the grandbaby, she’ll never get to meet. The grandbaby she was waiting on. The grandbaby she had dreamt about. The grandbaby we’d just driven to Baltimore to tell her we were having. The grandbaby she had already purchased yarn for; for a baby blanket we’ll never see.

Imagine walking into the bedroom of your transitioned mother & seeing her glasses sat atop a baby blanket pattern magazine, bookmarked & a yarn purchase made days before she died.

I talked to her on a Monday. And by Thursday, my whole world turned inside out.

I’m so sad that I can hardly stand it some days. The pain feels unbearable. 

And I’m PISSED. 

Because 2020 wasn’t supposed to be like this.

2 weeks before my mom died, my husband & I laid in the bed together at 4 AM. Each woken up by my mid-REM-sleep bathroom calls that have now since been normalized. We talked about the many blessings we were enjoying. Even while COVID-19 concerns were starting to loom, we laid amongst tousled bed sheets, pregnancy pillows & my ever-expanding tummy, thanking God for the many blessings that had been bestowed upon us.

My first book dropping the year before, accompanied by an NAACP Image Award nomination in January (didn’t win but it was such an honor to be nominated).

That we had a new life forming inside of me at that very moment.

That’d we been happily married for 5 years.

That it hadn’t been a struggle to get pregnant (because we know that is a very real issue for so many families).

The fact that I’d be able to stay home when the baby came, not having to rush back to a job immediately.

That we were in a pretty good financial position to handle this new responsibility.

That Hubby could also work from home because of the COVID crisis (And Praise God he still had a job!)

That so far we’d been safe.

That we enjoyed each other’s company & were having a good time being ‘stuck’ in the house together.

That my mom was still here to see it all.

I am so damn angry.

How dare she die?! Why her? Surely there are others that could have gone before her (and in a particularly rough part of grief I called them by name).

And then, the world didn’t stop.

It had the nerve, the audacity, the unmitigated GALL to keep moving.

COVID-19 started taking people out. Up & down my timeline, people were lamenting the loss of family members & friends.

Wypipo kept right on bothering (and sometimes killing) black people for no good reason.

White cops are STILL killing unarmed black men & WOMEN like it was their full-time job & occupation to do so. (I wonder).

COVID is still out there, doing what Global Pandemics do.

Group chats kept on chatting. IG kept on posting. Facebook kept on booking. Emails kept coming in. Decisions kept needing to be made. The holidays kept coming. Mother’s Day rolled right on in per usual like everything was…normal.

And this baby…keeps growing inside of me. Kicking me. Shifting me.

If I’m real honest…keeping me. 

An ever-present reminder that life is moving me on whether I want it to or not. Reminding I am never alone; even when I am. Reminding me that I can’t tuck tail & hide from life. Reminding me that hard liquor to numb pain is not even an option.

Damn.

It’s a weird sensation to be personally grieving while the whole earth seems to be moaning/mourning. On one hand, I feel deeply what’s happening in this country along racial lines as a black woman. As a human being, I lament the loss of 120,000 lives in America & 474,000 worldwide (and counting) to this coronavirus crisis. I feel for those I personally know who have lost loved ones in this first half of the year. I even feel for those who had the great privilege of knowing/loving my mother & the loss they must feel. And on the other hand…

My mama died y’all.

And most days I can’t care about much more than that.

I don’t have a parent in this world. This baby will grow up not knowing any of her/his grandparents. A travesty of unspeakable proportions. 

I’ve spent a lot of my life working to make sure that everyone else is okay. Even when I first started to grieve, my husband & close friends cautioned me that the only person I needed to worry about taking care of was myself.

I didn’t know how difficult that charge would be.

I come from stock that often puts other’s needs ahead of their own.
Worrying about how other people feel before I worry about how I feel.

Trying not to be a burden.

I am my mother’s child.

But my well is tapped out y’all. I don’t have a cell IN my body left to devote to anyone currently living OUTSIDE of this body.

Not your grief.

Not your needs.

Not your guilt.

Not your need to be needed.

Not your questions.

I have enough of my own of all of the above.

Some days it’s all I can do to get out of the bed.

To eat.

To answer those ever-present emails. 

To not let tears slide out my eyes at every moment of every day.

To take care of my mom’s estate.

To laugh without guilt.

To remember to have joy.

To remember that my mom would want me to have joy.

To know that she lost my dad when I was just a baby & she went on…

To know she was a survivor.

And so am I.

Some days I lay down for bed, shocked that I made it through another day without completely falling apart.

And then I feel this baby kick. And I remember that my mom wanted me to call her when that part of my pregnancy started. 

I remember telling her that it’d be some time before that would happen.

Her response?

“You don’t know! You ain’t never had no baby before! You call me when that baby starts kicking!”

*sigh* “Okay mom.”

And I can’t.

I can’t call her. I can’t hear her voice or the tone in it that reminds me that I don’t know everything about everything.

It sucks that right now my every happiness is wrapped in the sadness of loss.

I had no idea that so much of my personality, what I love, how I respond, what I crave, my very essence is intrinsically & irrevocably tangled with who my mother was. 

I can’t even have a craving for Mcdonald’s french fries without conjuring up images of our Thursday night dates when she’d pick me up from daycare & we’d go get a happy meal if I’d had a good week (I usually did).

Going through her kitchen, my love of gadgets comes from her.

Saving jars apparently is a hereditary trait.

Her library (and love of books) is a reminder of how that love was passed down & permeates every facet of my life.

My penchant for sentimentality is all her as I’ve found handkerchiefs from when her mom passed, my every baby EVERYTHING (teeth, shoes, silver spoon & fork, pictures etc), every card that anybody ever gave her & we haven’t even touched the Christmas boxes yet.

Hell, even my sweet tooth is hers as there were boxes/bags/jars of candy all over her room.

You see me. You see her.

This is why it’s so painful to keep getting up every morning because there’s nowhere I can go to escape her memory.

She’s all around me.

She’s in my kitchen cabinets (Her recipes, the cast irons that were my grandmother’s, her big yellow mixing bowls that every cake/pie/pudding/cookie batch has been made in since the 80s & even the way I peer at people when they’re eating food I’ve cooked begging them to affirm that I did indeed ‘put my foot in it’).

She’s in my living room (Her pictures – that smile – MY smile – looking back at me, the way I can’t have guests over unless it’s spotless & I’m still apologizing for my house ‘being a mess’).

She’s in my bedroom (I eat in bed, just like her, keeping snacks & candy close just in case and how I don’t GO to sleep, I FALL asleep with the lights on & the TV blaring).

She’s at my desk where I save paper the way she does, I organize the way she does & the origin of my love of sticky notes was confirmed as we found them all over her house.

She’s in my closet most of all (Every shoe I own reminds of me of where that love came from, how she built my closet from the ground up every Christmas/Birthday, “Boo, you buy CLASSIC & GOOD QUALITY pieces and you’ll have them forever!”, how she foretold that my heel height would lower as my age rose).

She’s in every choice I’ve made in my 38 years. From the man I married, the holidays I love, the traditions I stick to, the ways I show affection, the friendships I’ve forged, the way I dance, the music I love, the woman I’ve grown into…

…And now the mother I am & will be.

Her imprint is all over me. And some days that brings comfort. And some days it shatters me into a million little pieces. 

Today, I’m shattered. And I pray that tomorrow will bring comfort.

Finishing

A Tale of Two Baes…

Let me tell you a story about two people in my life. They are #FamiliarBae & #BeneficialBae. Familiar Bae and I were together for a really long time. They knew me inside and out. Being with them was so comfortable for me. But, I started getting restless with Familiar Bae. I was trying to move forward, and Familiar Bae was chillin’ with no intentions of trying to go to the next level.

So, even though it was hard, I broke up with them. Not too long after, I started seeing Beneficial Bae.

Beneficial Bae is EVERYTHING! They encourage me in my endeavors, push me when I need to be pushed, like to take me out on the town, and is always so affectionate and affirming. Beneficial Bae loves to stunt for the ‘gram! We posted last week about how happy we were together, and wouldn’t you know a few days later, Familiar Bae slid into my DMs talk about “Hey Big Head. WYD?”

There will be moments on this journey when past associations, past safety-nets, old go to behaviors, and even old romantic flings will find their way to you. Familiarity will work hard to get your attention back. Make no mistake, the closer you get to finishing, your past will make all the plays to pull you backwards. Tell your past that you’re out here living your best life! Don’t allow who you used to be and what you used to do to entice you to hustle backwards!

This is especially hard when you and your current dream are having some struggles; when the inspiration has worn off and the perspiration hasn’t shown up yet. When you’re struggling to make time. When you’re sitting on the couch watching Red Table Talk, watching other people get their healing while you avoid your own. Old patterns and behaviors will start looking good.

“Oh Candace, the book you’re writing doesn’t matter. It’s already been said & done.”
“You’re not different. Just settle for a ‘regular’ life like other people.”
“You don’t need to write/post today. Take a break. Take ALL the breaks.”
“What you’re trying to offer to the world doesn’t matter. It won’t help anyone. It won’t make a difference. You’re just blowing smoke.”
“Don’t you miss having direct deposit? Every two weeks.”
“Remember how easy life used to be?”

Oooooh. Familiar Bae is so raggedy.

The past often lies, painting an incomplete picture of what it actually looked like. My past tried to remind me of all the good times, the steady paychecks, the ease, the comfort. I almost went back. I tried to get another job. I almost stopped writing listening to Familiar Bae.

And then, Holy Spirit reminded me of the truth, the complete picture. Oh yeah! My past used to use & abuse me and left me with bad credit!

#BOYBYE

Don’t let your past paint revisionist history for you. Familiar Bae has no intentions on seeing you finish. They aren’t sending you good vibes or love and light. All they want to do is draw you back into old foolishness. They want you to stay in that stuck place with them.

Don’t fall for it.

If you are a believer, think about the children of Israel (see book of Exodus). They were six weeks into their relationship with Beneficial Bae after groaning to God for 400 years about their terrible relationship with Familiar Bae. The journey towards freedom started getting rocky, and all of a sudden they were ready to go back! Don’t start longing for the enslavement of Egypt because what you’re encountering in FREEDOM isn’t what you’d thought it’d be. Don’t let #FamiliarBae keep you from #BeneficialBae

Who or what is the #FamiliarBae & #BeneficialBae of your life? Make a list of the pros and cons of staying with each. What did you uncover?

Blog post taken from Letter 22 ‘A Tale of 2 Baes’ from my new book “Letters to the Finishers (who struggle to finish).”

To purchase https://canwil.square.site/
For bulk purchasing information email me at canwilcommunity@gmail.com

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Uncategorized

Hey SPRING Hey!

Usually I’m a Fall/Winter girl (even though I was born in June).
I’m not for the hot weather. Ya girl sweats. #NotCute

But this year, I’ve really been looking forward to the season change.

I’m ready for warmer weather. I’m ready for the blooms on the trees (The cherry blossoms in the picture were my dad’s FAVE! #DCStandUp)
(as a native Baltimorean, that will be the ONLY DC Love you get on THIS blog)

As I was saying…

I’m ready to be free of coats & scarves. I’m ready for the daylight to last longer.

I’m ready for SPRING! #HeyGirlHey

#HowYOUDoin

Last year, while I was having my #JesusTime, I said out loud “My season is about to change!”
God said back to me: “Your season HAS changed. The weather may not have changed, but the season has.”

*slow blink* Say what now?!

You ever have one of the moments when you hear God’s voice and you think your head is about to explode?

Yeah. That was me.

The season has changed even though the weather hasn’t caught up. Today is the first day of spring even if the weather outside doesn’t indicate that truth.

The date of the season change doesn’t alter just because the weather isn’t cooperating.
Don’t let the circumstances outside make you disbelieve what’s been scheduled on the calendar of your life.

The weather just has to catch up.

I felt (and feel) that I’m about to enter into a new season. It’s my personal #HarvestTime. It’s a personal time of reaping. Birth. Renewal. Growth. Expansion. Double portions. Scratch that…I’m not about to enter in…I’m in.

But that weather tho.

As my seasoned aunties would say “I don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of!” (Not literally y’all. Relax!) I live in the same house. I do the same things. My social circle hasn’t really changed. TECHNICALLY, I’m in the SAME spot I’ve been in for the last year or so.

But really…I’m not.

Because, my season has changed though the weather around me tries to convince me otherwise.

SPRING IS HERE.

I don’t care if it’s cold. I don’t care if not one bloom has well…bloomed. I don’t care if the tulips haven’t pushed through the dirt in my front yard. I don’t care if a snow storm hits. None of these things happening disrupt what’s on the schedule.

The season has changed. Spring is here.

And I’m fittin’ to rejoice & be glad in it.

Come on in the room SPRING!


“But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun. Do you not see it?” – Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT

Soundtrack for this blog is brought to you William Murphy – It’s Working.

uBu4Him

Claim your subscriptions

Today was the last day of my discounted Kindle Unlimited subscription. I’ve had it since December of 2018. It allowed me to read different books in the Kindle app almost for FREE. I had a 90-day subscription for .99 cents.

I was so excited to read ALL the books! I downloaded one book in particular that I was so looking forward to reading.

Never got around to it.

Then, yesterday, I realized my subscription was ending and I tried to rush to use up 90 days worth of subscription in 48 hrs.

I had 90 days to read that book and so many more.
Why did I not take advantage?

Why do I do that?
Why do you?

Do we think the subscription will always be there? I mean technically, Kindle Unlimited would still be there tomorrow, but it wouldn’t be .99 cents.

Try 9.99. Per month.

That’s a 2,927% increase.

It’ll cost you when you take your time with those subscriptions.

I’m not going to pay that increase and while I’m a pretty quick reader, I’m not going to be able to get through that book before the subscription period ends.

So, I forfeited what could have been a PRIME (excuse the pun) window of enjoyment. I didn’t claim the subscription that was mine for the taking.

Not because it was a hardship to claim it. Not because it put up a fight. Not because I forgot it was there.
I didn’t utilize that subscription simply because I allowed EVERYTHING else to get in the way.

I had time. I had space. I had opportunity.

There are no excuses. I just didn’t. I just didn’t use the ALMOST FREE subscription that was available to me.

Ugh.

And, now I’m upset. I’m upset that I didn’t read ALL the books and do ALL the things available to me through that subscription. I started that book and I’ll have to figure out another way to finish it that’s either going to cost me time or money.

It didn’t have to be this way. ALL.I.HAD.TO.DO.WAS.ACCEPT.AND.USE.THE.SUBSCRIPTION.

Why do I not take advantage of subscriptions at the most opportune time?
Why do I wait until the end of a subscription to realize the benefits of a subscription that has been there since the beginning?

Me & subscriptions have GOT to get it together.

I seem to do this with every subscription I get. I don’t seem to know a good thing until it’s almost gone.

I wonder what’s worse; a subscription I opened but didn’t fully claim or a subscription I never opened at all?

Don’t be like me.

Claim your subscriptions. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

Oh. Substitute subscriptions for blessings and re-read.

Finishing

I’ve got a testimony!

First giving honor to God, who is the head of my life.
To the deacons, the preachers, the teachers, and the reachers… I stand before you today to say…

GOD IS GOOD! He’s brought me a MIGHTY LONG WAY!

This week has been one for the books.

Literally.

This week, 3 projects that I’ve been working on in one way or the other in the last year, were released.

A featured essay in the new book #SexAndTheChurchGirl that releases 05.14.19
https://nsbooksandmedia.com/our-books/pre-order-sex-and-the-church-girl/
Co-creator of this new t-shirt design that’s available NOW
https://nsbooksandmedia.com/our-books/saved-sanctified-and-wine-on-wknds-tee/
My FIRST BOOK! “Letters to the Finishers (who struggle to finish)” that releases 06.04.19
https://nsbooksandmedia.com/our-books/pre-order-letters-to-the-finishers/

I am in awe of this moment. And, I’m working hard to stay present in it. God has reminded me that the very place I now sit is a place I prayed FOR YEARS to occupy.

I don’t want to hop, jump and skip over what’s happening right now.
I have THREE whole offerings that the world is & will experience that came from my brain, heart & spirit. I finally, FINALLY #Finished my first book.

I am breathing the tears & prayers of yester-year. I am harvesting seeds that were planted decades ago. I am LIVING in the future I prayed for.

God delivered.
And He’s not done.
He’s not done showing off.

But the real gotcha gotcha is me showing up for myself. Finally.

I’ve spent the last few years clapping AT myself-

“Candace 👏🏽 deal👏🏽with👏🏽your👏🏽self!”

and also clapping FOR myself-

“Aye! Candace!!! Look👏🏽at👏🏽you👏🏽dealing👏🏽with👏🏽yo👏🏽self!”

I stopped waiting for other people to take me seriously before I took myself seriously. I stopped waiting for someone to hand me the life I wanted. I stopped believing I was undeserving or incapable. I courageously told my story and it healed me. It IS healing me.

So I’m leaning ALL the way in. I’m taking it all in. I’m smiling randomly & not trying to cover my mouth when I do so. I’m clapping for myself. I’m proud of myself! *throws confetti in the air* And I absolutely REFUSE to worry about what may or may not come. I will not rush to the next steps. I’m enjoying these steps WAY too much.

2 years ago on this day, on FB, I celebrated the victory of 600-words of written fiction. It was a seemingly small victory but here’s a quotable from that post:

“I can’t expect to reach my destination if I only look for planes to take me there.”

Candace W. 02.21.17

Sometimes, I BE SAYING STUFF! *whew*

I stopped looking only for planes. I picked up my feet & started walking.


‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu

I have no idea which mile I’m on but I know it’s no longer step one.
😜

#MeToo

Surviving…

Stop joking about it. Stop making excuses for it. Stop blaming the MANY victims for it. Stop saying “Well white men get away with it.” (Really y’all?) Stop trying to figure out ANY WAY to NOT blame Robert Sylvester Kelly for these HEINOUS, DISGUSTING ACTS against teenage girls.
Cause truth be told… That “fast-ass” girl you keep referring to…

She learned to be ‘fast’ from somewhere.
Probably from that uncle/aunt/father/mother/brother/step-father/step-mother/cousin/neighbor y’all don’t talk about.

It takes US (victims of sexual abuse/child molestation) years to heal from trauma and to stop blaming ourselves. Shoot, I’m not sure we ever completely give up blaming ourselves.
So every time one of you “It couldn’t have been me”, “These girls were stupid”, “Why do they stay?” “They were fast anyway”, “I still like the music (THAT’S TALKING ABOUT MOLESTING YOUNG GIRLS), “They were paid off” people start posting and DEFENDING his trifling sick ass, what you’re really saying is…
“Candace, you’re dumb.” “Candace, you wanted it.” “Candace, why did you stay?” “Candace, why did you let it happen?” “Candace, you must have been fast.”
And if I ever publicly outed my molesters, I’d hear “Well why now? Why did you wait so long? You’re probably lying.”

And I’m trying not to take it (your comments) personally…but it IS personal. Because there is no difference between ME and any of those girls up on that screen. I have been young and dumb. Naive. Gullible. Attention-seeking. Star-struck. Needy. Over-powered by an adult decision-maker in my life.

I am she. She is me.

You’ll make excuses FOR R. Kelly since he was sexually molested, but then blame the girls who were molested? The HYPOCRISY!
We (the community) age black girls so fast. We make them adults before they’re adults. I don’t care if her breasts (or in my case hips/butt) announce her to be “grown”. SHE’S NOT. Her mind isn’t.
Just tell the truth, you don’t care about her mind cause that ain’t the part you’re trying to deal with.
And some of you can’t come against R. Kelly cause your appetite leans in the same direction (or it has before).
And some of you blame the victims because you still haven’t dealt with your own sexual trauma. You’re still blaming yourself.
Truth be told, some of you blame those girls because you think you’re better than those girls. You were taught that your worth and value is directly connected to how many sexual partners you’ve had and how early you engaged in sex.

Beyond the men who don’t value those girls…
Sis, you don’t either. They deserved what they got huh?

It’s the same school of thought telling me to cover up in the presence of my male family members instead of questioning why my male FAMILY members would be looking at my teenage body.

We completely bypass the power dynamics involved in molestation/abuse. It’s not just about sex, it’s about control. It’s as mentally damaging as it is physically; probably more so. R. Kelly KNOWS (cause this ish is STILL going on) EXACTLY what he is doing and who he is targeting. The mental abuse and ‘TRAINING’ as he calls it is calculated and thorough.

One young lady on the video said, “It was consensual, but it was consensual by intimidation. I felt like I couldn’t say no.”

Adolescents are mentally unstable. I’m not saying that as a joke. I’m saying that as a scientific fact. The actual brain of a teenager is STILL DEVELOPING. The part that affects reasoning & decision making isn’t fully developed until well into adulthood.

But because she’s got hips, a big butt, a smile and makes poor decisions; she’s grown?! She’s FAST?! She’s READY?! (as your boy Robert put it).

You can’t rightly deal with R. Kelly because you haven’t rightly dealt with yourself.
And some of you just don’t want to stop listening to a pedophile’s music.
And if that’s you. Cool. But just shut up & stop trying to twist and jump through all these hoops to make this man “okay”. He’s not. He’s sick. Deal with it.
And while you’re at it…deal with you too.

uBu4Him

#Thriveat35

Happy Birthday to ME!
No, I’m not 35. I’m 36 today. What just passed was my 35th year.

#Thriveat35 was my mantra for the year. I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I didn’t post it everywhere. I told only a few friends, half-heartedly because frankly…. I didn’t know what it really meant & what it would look like.

Could I really #Thriveat35?

Now that my 35th year is drawing to a close, I would say that I did indeed #Thriveat35

What did that look like? What does it look like to #Thriveat35? TBH, it looked like a big ole crazy, scary, season-ending, mind-boggling, jumping off cliffs, sloppy, broke-*** mess!

Here’s what I learned in this 35th year (in no particular order).

  1. I wanted the New Beginning but avoided the Ending. The two are connected.
  2. PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING.
  3. Say yes to things that scare the CRAP out of me.
  4. Sisterhood group chats are essentially the “hype man” that every good rapper needs; they repeat all the good parts for emphasis. Don’t begrudge your role as “hype man” for you will need one soon.
  5. Success lies in habits.
  6. There is no formula. They’re lying if they say there is.
  7. Early rising is life-giving & life-saving.
  8. The Bible be right. For real.
  9. Making the bed helps me focus throughout the day.
  10. Healthy partnership is essential for…so many things.
  11. I could be wrong. That is completely okay.
  12. Marrying my husband? #OneoftheBestDecisionsIveEverMade
  13. Addendum to the above: Only marry #ThriveEnablers
  14. Rooting for (or clapping) at someone else’s trouble shows what’s really in my heart.
  15. The sound my feet make walking away from things not meant for me is music.
  16. There is a peace in not having it all figured out.
  17. Sometimes self-care is getting my ish done.
  18. I cannot serve both God & Money.
  19. I cannot serve both God & my Ego.
  20. I cannot serve both God & my insecurities (which is essentially my Ego)
  21. I cannot serve both God and YOU as Ruler in my life.
  22. God is speaking. I’m the one with the hearing problem.
  23. Kindness matters. So much.
  24. Being kind to myself matters even more.
  25. Love TRULY COVERS a multitude of sins.
  26. Learn other people’s lessons too.
  27. God IS and always has been waiting for me.
  28. I’m my own competition, I’m competing with myself.
  29. I’m not late. I’m not behind.
  30. My voice matters & has POWER.
  31. Decisions have consequences. Sometimes God graced me that I didn’t feel the full effects. Sometimes He graced me to feel it in as much fullness as I could take. Both are GRACE.
  32. Discovery of my “whys” has been the best part of the year.
  33. My brain is expensive.
  34. TRY.

35 has been a most enlightening year. I’ve learned so much about myself, what makes me tick & what I’m capable of. The best thing I’ve learned is…

35. Candace, accept your magic.

It’s so much easier to pick out every flaw. Those, I’m already intimately acquainted with. I wanted to meet my magic. And, I did.

I’m interested to see what 36 has for me. I have so many projects in the works. Projects that make me excited. Stories that need to be told. Creativity, that is a direct result of me discovering my “whys”.

I don’t have a cute hashtag for 36. Yet. Leave your suggestions in the comments below along with anything you’ve learned this past year.

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. – Proverbs 16:9 KJV

Soundtrack for this blog is brought to you by B. Reith ft. PJ Morton – For Once in my Life.

#MeToo, uBu4Him

Me Too.

He was in his late 20’s, early 30’s. To be honest, he might have been older. I was 16 or 17. He and I worked at a summer camp together. I was a junior counselor. He used to come see me all the time, bring me presents, tell me how beautiful I was. I remember loving the attention at the time. He was a gentleman. He asked me for my number & we used to talk on the phone. I remember we use to talk about our age gap & him saying that it didn’t matter. I also remember him saying that he told his mom about me, but we never felt comfortable telling my mom about him.

I wonder why.

I remember by summer’s end, I had a box FULL of presents (some hand-made) from him. I don’t remember how or why it ended. I can’t even remember his name. TBH, I haven’t thought about him in years. But when I saw a friend’s post on FB with the #MeToo hashtag (those who’ve been through sexual abuse & harassment) those memories just started flooding back. My friend talked about being younger & being pursued by an older man in her apartment complex. She too felt flattered-at the time.

I don’t think up until reading her story did I realize that wait…MAYBE this “pursuit” was problematic. Even in those memories flooding back, I tried to talk myself out it being a problem. I mean, I WAS 16 after all. I wasn’t 13.

And see, this is the problem.

We are always making an excuse & blaming OURSELVES. He wasn’t 16. He was a FULL GROWN adult, pursuing a teenager; asking her to keep it from her parents. THIS IS NOT OKAY!

I remember thinking (at the time) that I’d always been mature for my age; I was used to hanging with older women and that I could handle being in a relationship with this older man (although I truly had no idea what that actually meant).

Growing up, I’ve always had a “body”. Big hips, big butt, small waist, cute face. I started filling out probably around 10 & I’ve spent most of my life with others (family, church folks, etc) policing my body while a lot of men I came in contact with thought it was their personal playground.
1) Getting on the school bus in elementary school & some young boy grabbed my butt. I told a teacher. Don’t remember anything happening to the boy.
2) At church, during the welcome one of the security guards hugged me & palmed my assets & squeezed. I was so shocked, I just hurried back to my seat. My face was so aghast, I was asked by leaders what happened. I told them. The gentleman was never reprimanded and continued to serve on the “security ministry.”
3) At church, again, I was reprimanded by a fellow minister (loudly, in the parking lot in front of others) about how I needed to cover up my butt and wear a bigger size because “you know how you look.”
4. I use to get “tushy rubs” from a family member when I was kid.
5. After being molested (by a different person than the one above) as a young person, years later I came to find out that I was thought to be in a relationship with my abuser. Part of that conversation included the following statement “Remember, I use to get you to try and cover up.”

I could go on, but I don’t need to.

To some reading these stories, they are probably all too familiar. Up and down my FB timeline, I see my friends, mentors, acquaintances saying, “Me too.” For some of us, this is the first time we’ve said it out loud to anyone. Even now, it still shocks me how many of us have gone through these experiences; and how many of us are still blamed for these experiences.

We don’t need you to blame us.
We’ve blamed ourselves enough.

Do you know how many times I believed that being molested was my fault because I didn’t stop it sooner? That it was my fault because I had a physical response? That I must have wanted it? That I encouraged him?

Do you know when that man grabbed my butt in church, I thought I must have imagined it?

That when the boy grabbed my butt on the school bus, that it must be me because “boys will be boys?”

And when I’ve been reprimanded by other women about how I dress, it makes me feel like again, it must be ME that’s ASKING for all this unwanted attention.

And before some of you start on the “biblical modesty” train, please know that A. I’m not even talking about modesty B. Modesty does & should cover more things than your ARSE.

And, TBH some of you use modesty as an excuse to keep blaming the victim instead of dealing with the REAL issue of these abusers out here. THAT is another blog for another time.

I use to think I was okay; that the molestation was behind me & that it must not have affected me much. I also use to think that because I wasn’t physically penetrated, that maybe my soul wasn’t pierced.

Tuh.

The older I get, I realize how much the abuse and these experiences have taken their toll. How jumpy I am in relationships, how weird I get when I’m touched in a particular way, even by my husband. How secretive I can be about my own feelings & emotions; as though they don’t matter or aren’t valid-because for a long time, they didn’t & weren’t. How dear & burdensome escapism is in my life because it used to be all I had to get me through. How greatly its impacted me having a healthy sex life. How scared I am to have children; not only because I worry about it happening to them but because I’m worried that my own pain & fear will rob them of opportunities to have fun, meet new people & be in spaces when I’m not there. I’m worried about what it will mean for my husband and I; will I wake up every time he leaves our bed, wondering where he’s going?

So when you tell me to cover up, please know that you aren’t just talking about how a suit-jacket needs to fall on my body, you’re telling me to paper over my pain. You’re telling me that if I hadn’t done something, then something wouldn’t have been done to me.

If only Bathsheba hadn’t been bathing on the roof, then David wouldn’t have seen her. We always leave out the part that David wasn’t even supposed to be home in the first place. That she was another man’s wife. THAT DAVID SHOULDN’T HAVE PURSUED HER! David had issues. Major ones. Stop blaming Bathsheba and HOLD DAVID ACCOUNTABLE. And no matter how GIFTED David was, it doesn’t excuse his behavior; not to me and not to God. Some of ya’ll need to read your bible…ALL OF IT.

When your first inclination is to blame the victim, ask yourself, WHY? WHY do we teach our daughters to cover up & be safe and not teach our sons that girls’ & women’s bodies aren’t play-equipment? Why do we only worry about molestation & rape re: our daughters as though young boys & men don’t also need our protection? Why do we make excuses for young people when we see them exhibiting inappropriate behavior? Why do we call young girls’ fast? When we see a 6-yr old touching another child in an inappropriate way, why do we automatically call them “nasty” and not ask where they might have learned that? Why does a developed body signal an open invitation to touch? Why are excuses made for pedophilia until it’s YOUR son/daughter? WHY ARE WE STILL STEPPING IN THE NAME OF LOVE while R. Kelly SHAMELESSLY picks off our young queens one by one? Yeah, I said it. Fight me.

Listen, I have more questions than answers. I’m just here to say “Bruh, you’re not alone.” “Sis, you’re not alone.” Keeping quiet about your pain isn’t serving anyone; especially you. Trust me. There are stories I haven’t told, people who don’t know. I’m working on shedding light, bit by bit. AND, I’m going to see someone because #PRAYERWORKS & #SODOESTHERAPY. I want to be whole for my husband, whole for my future kids but MOST OF ALL, I want to be WHOLE FOR ME!

Here’s what I’ve learned this year, #ubu4Him won’t work until I can get real about the ME on the inside that needs to be healed. I can’t be who I need to be for HIM until I go back & get His original design.

One day, I hope to see those same people on my timeline say “This terrible thing happened to me, but today I am more healed than I was yesterday & the day before…” And I can prayerfully respond…

#MeToo

P.S. This blog is dedicated to 6 specific girlfriends I’ve had in my lifetime. The first 3 were in high school and were there for my breakdown, helped me pack clothes, get out of my circumstance, huddled around me, let me stay in their home & protected my secret at school & since. The latter 3 I met in college & pretty recently got on a conference call on their lunch breaks, talked me out of blaming myself, continue to pray me through (even today) & have created safe space for me to land when I needed to. You know who you are & I love you. 😘

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3

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uBu4Him

Scared Motionless

Time is filled with SWIFT transitions.

*whew*

I told ya’ll that 2017 was fittin’ to be LIT, but I certainly didn’t expect some of this ish.
I’m currently writing to you all from my couch. I am not off. I am currently jobless. I was at my company for 14 years, and in 6 months, it all came to an end. It wasn’t all bitter, but it was still an end. I haven’t gotten another job yet (at least not a steady one). While all of this was going on, I was eerily calm. I wasn’t nervous about not having a job.

I also knew that this year, God was really going to be opening doors for ubu4him. Not because this year is special, but because I had planned to be different this year. I had planned to not squander opportunities and to hustle a little harder. Because I’d planned to invest in MYSELF; in my own God-breathed vision instead of working hard for another’s.

WELL, the beginning of the year started off great (as it often does for me). I was writing, I was hustling, I was networking. Things were moving right along.
THEN, it hit.
That feeling. That tired, worn out, I don’t feel like doing anything feeling. I didn’t want to write. I didn’t want to network. I didn’t want to revamp any more of my website. I didn’t want to create any more databases. I didn’t want to listen to any more business podcasts. I didn’t want to set up my LLC. I just got OVERWHELMED with the sheer enormity of it all.

I envy people who have this 2nd, 3rd or 4th drive that kicks in when life gets this way. Some people (at least from my view) are able to burrow through how they’re feeling and just PUSH to get things done. I tend to retreat & escape. Whatever I’m doing comes to a full stop and then I find something to take my mind away from all that I’m doing.

I said to myself “I’m taking the month off.”
Then one month turned into two into three…and here we are…August 2017 and I feel like I’m hitting the restart button…AGAIN.

Some days I am just sick of myself. WHY AM I THIS WAY?! WHY CAN’T I JUST KEEP IT TOGETHER?!

And let’s not mince words. I’ve been unemployed since June. THIS would be the time to go FULL hustle into my dreams. Why not? I have the time! Can’t use that as an excuse anymore.

But I didn’t & I haven’t. So in only the way that the Lord Jesus can… He sent folks into my life to get me together.

I have a group of girlfriends that I’ve had since college. The Holy Spirit loves nothing more (it seems) than to tell on us to each other. We’ve been dreaming/rebuking/praying/speaking to each other since we were in our early 20’s.

So maybe 2 months ago, my friend hit me up RANDOMLY with the following text

“Are you considering giving up on something? I had a dream last night. You were telling me you were getting an abortion.” (The fact that she knew not to take that dream literally should tell you the level of discernment).
ME: COME ON MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (The fact that I knew EXACTLY what the deal was should tell you how the Holy Ghost was already in my ear!) Yeah, I guess that’s an accurate description. Anytime the Lord has spoken to me specifically about my purpose it’s been in the form of “birthing.” So yeah, not currently on ubu4him like I should be…the writing, the prophetic…I just stalled.”

She goes on to tell me that I wanted to have this abortion at the “Y”. She said to me that I wasn’t thinking this all the way through and that I just didn’t want to be pregnant and she asked me why.

I told her that I felt like maybe my pregnancy just wasn’t that serious. That maybe I had been indoctrinated with all this super hype Christian stuff, but maybe, ultimately, it just wasn’t that deep. She told me that it was indeed very serious and I really needed to think it through. She told me it was my decision, but that it would follow me the rest of my life. It would never go away. It would affect everyone I had a relationship with. You will always have it in the back of your mind, you’ll always grieve it and you will always think about what if you hadn’t.

My final text to her on the subject was “The Holy Spirit does too much.”

Isn’t the Holy Spirit ignorant to me? You see how he doesn’t care about my feelings?!

I just didn’t want to be pregnant anymore.
Truer words were never spoken.

God has ALWAYS connected my purpose with me being pregnant. And here I am about to abort this baby. Maybe a decade ago, another friend of mine (same group) had a dream about my baby being stillborn.  BUT THIS? This time it’s on me. This was me making a conscious choice to kill what was growing on the inside of me.

Pregnancy is inconvenient. It can be painful. Your body is expanding and if this is your first baby, you have no idea what to expect. It’s so scary. And it’s not that you don’t want the baby. You want the joy of the baby but can you endure the uncertainty of pregnancy?

*sigh*

I am an expert at getting in my own way. And why? I am SO SCARED that I’m going to found out to be fraudulent; that what I’m carrying isn’t that great. That I’m not that great.

It doesn’t matter how many people tell me how awesome I am, how awesome my ministry is and will be, how many dreams, visions & prophetic words come down the pike, I HAVE TO BELIEVE IT FOR MYSELF in order to bring this baby to full-term.

In the Holy Spirit’s final effort to get me writing (and doing all the other stuff I need to be doing) another friend hit me up to ask me if I was writing. I told her no. I was honest with her about how scared I was about not being able to hack it in this Entrepreneurial life. How I was being told from various sources that I wasn’t going back into a 9-5 life and the thought terrified me. I was worried about my lack of discipline & stick-to-itiveness. You know you need those when you run your own business.

She mentioned something called Imposter Syndrome. It’s where you have all the talent, all the ability, all the knowledge, all the skill, but you don’t THINK you do, so you don’t think you deserve the promotion, the opportunity, the chance that you’ve worked for, or are aiming for.

My Life.

At the core, I don’t believe I deserve success. I don’t believe I could keep up with being successful on my own. I don’t believe I have the skills necessary for success; I don’t have the knowledge. I just took a freelance position as a social media marketing manager. I almost didn’t take it because I didn’t BELIEVE I could do it. MIND YOU, I did it for my last job and trained someone else in it too! WHY do I always talk myself out of opportunity?

Everyone sees my gifts, all I see are my flaws. Does anyone else out there feel like that? Am I alone?

I don’t have any answers at this time. My current remedy is a 4 step process. . .
1) Do things that scare me
2) Redeem my time
3) Believe more of what GOD says about me (He’s the more credible source on me)
4) Take on more opportunities that scare me.

I have no idea on how to attack this issue any other way than to #DoItAfraid

So do not fear, for I am with you: do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10 NIV

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