Picture This…

Yesterday for the first time, I indulged in that #tbt-business… because I just couldn’t resist.

I was visiting my father last week and in helping him re-organize his home, he stumbled upon a photo album; in it? Long-forgotten photos of my siblings and me as ‘little bits’. I cannot begin to express what it meant to have proof that indeed yes, I was little once and that there had been a life before this one I am now experiencing J Seriously, what was/is the important part for me, is the impact on my heart that, well, my presence on this earth was important enough (at least to the one who took (and saved) the photo) to document. Someone understood the value in preserving a moment in time.20151026_200917-1

I hate taking pictures. No seriously… I do! The concept/act of standing to “strike a pose” is one of the corniest to me! Take a look – flip through all the photos I have posted and determine how many are staring back at you – I guarantee, that number can be ticked off on a tiny baby’s hand. IF a picture must be taken, I prefer to be caught doing something. Aside from eliminating the awkwardness for me, I also find those editorial shots to be infinitely more interesting. But, this is not the point of this post. So, let’s address this

This “selfie” business boggles my mind! I concede to the premise of the thing; but what eludes me is that those who indulge incessantly and narcissistically are not (understandably) preserving periods of time, but for many, their fascination in themselves is minute-by-fucking-minute! And what I also don’t get? If you’re spending soooooooooooo much time in front of a camera supposedly documenting the fabulous time you’re having or the amazing life you’re living, how the hell are you enjoying or experiencing either?! Think about that. When you’re stopping to “selfie” you’re inarguably freezing the moment, but dumb-ass, you’re also missing the moment – assuming both life and fun will wait patiently for you  to release ‘pause’ and hit ‘play’. Sigh.

Listen, I appreciate the snippet of my past I was privy to see; my younger self is making me smile. I look at my face then and I can certainly attribute the expression in the child-like eyes to thoughts I have now… with the grown-up version of just that expression J I look at the picture and I cock my head wondering what I thought of (my) life back then. I am grateful I have been granted a gift – especially as I approach yet another spectacular milestone. Finding this picture now seems quite serendipitous. So yes, I appreciate the value in pictures.

I have heard of an amazing story where someone taking a look on FB of a friend’s picture of her son was able to bring attention to a disease… because of a color she detected in his eyes. Amen. Pictures have been used to reunite family and loves, find lost pets and shit, to catch criminals. Pictures tell stories. No question. But what I do question… shit! Let me state it as it is – what I do denigrate is the absorption some have adopted in themselves and the belief that others share their mindless and misguided fascination! More importantly however is their seeming ignorance of the reality that every moment taken in the attempt to manipulate the image just so are precious moments wasted! Every fake pout, pucker, smile, defiant stance, failed come-hither look, etc. etc. add up to precious time you could have been enjoying and attending to your authentic life; not the counterfeit bullshit you post.

Memories are precious; they are the stuff of comfort and education. Physically looking back on an image can bring exceptional joy, peace, laughter and comfort. But, it’s the stuff in your heart, the snippets that live on your soul that will sustain you – do not miss out on experiencing those because you’re so busy searching for and applying just the right filters. Love.

 

 

Almost.

October 26th, 2012 was the due date I was given for my son. He was not born on that date. In fact, he was not born at all. I miscarried him earlier that year.

It is three years later and as I admit the pain is not as debilitating, not as acute, I cannot yet say there is no pain. I wonder if that day will ever come. There is still so very much I mourn about the loss of my little miracle – so much died with him on that day. Hope. Faith. Excitement. Belief. Optimism. Love.

When they performed the procedure that removed him from my womb, they’d be shocked to know what else they washed away…

Today, or yesterday, or tomorrow, two yesterdays or the day after three tomorrows, we should have been celebrating. This post should have been an entirely different one – one with a smiling face – or three – and one that spoke of and celebrated life. Not memorialized death. Instead, there are tears and there is still confusion and anger.

Listen – do better than me. Do better at healing and hoping. Do better at believing. Do infinitely better at protecting what is left if God forbid, the worst happens to a life you treasure. I have been no good at this part. While I was grieving and imploding, I lost my baby boy… and more.

You can tell I’m crying, right? I would apologize, but that would be to deny the truth of a reality and, I have promised you the truth. My truth. This morning I woke up and I am falling apart. My calendar was unnecessary to remind me of the significance of this date; I know it in my soul. My arms still curve around nothing and my eyes still search for a face I have never seen. My life tastes, smells and feels differently than it did the minute before he could no longer stay with me. I used to hold onto the premise of, “a new normal” but the truth is, when you lose someone you love, nothing is ever “normal” again. Everything is just simply new.

Happy Almost 3rd Birthday Baby Boy Wiltshire-Alabi. Know I continue to love you.

 

 

Life: Assist. Foul. Penalty. Rebound.

Sometimes I struggle to pinpoint the exact spot to lay the blame, the cause for some of the realities that befall some of us. I struggle to identify the reason for the tragedies that are the “Lamar Odoms” of this world. I mean, is it as simple as stating, “He’s an idiot and he deserves what has happened to him for being such a damned fool!”? Or are we called upon to look past the very obvious – drugs, alcohol, seeming-promiscuity – to the underlying reasons. Scrutinize the cause not the effect.

So often we can (rightfully) look at what is presented to us about a life like his (Odom’s) – the celebrity, the money, the talent, the access – and wonder, “What the fuck more could they want or wish for?!” I admit to doing just that. I admit to shaking my head at times at the path of destruction those who seem to have “everything” embark on and pass judgment. I even sometimes go so far as to think, “Let me be blessed with one quarter of what they (seem to) have and watch how much better I treat my good fortune. Just watch!” But, with the accumulation of more and more revelations of the downward spiral of those in our society whom we have credited with so much good fortune, it forces the rethinking of just whom between the two is truly the one blessed.

The story that is “Lamar Odom” is one that has made me sad; surprisingly. Usually (if it even enters my space), I shake my head at their foolish shenanigans and continue on without even a stumble. However every once in a while a reality makes me pause; this one did. And, the reason for that is simple – the story may be headline news because of its celebrity-sensationalism, but the ailment is commonplace. Depression, hopelessness, self-destruction, self-hatred and loathing are realities that affect the lower-class, the middle-class, the upper-class… those we perceive with no-class.

I remember when the Solange-Jay-Beyonce elevator fiasco broke and like most, speculating on the reality that the reason was/is because he was cheating on her… “Why, if your woman is Beyonce would you want anyone else?!” I still wonder at that. But there are also those moments in my past when I have wondered the same about myself; truly. When injustices, disrespect or uncalled-for behavior occurs, I wonder, “Why would you treat me this way?” My point is simply this – heartache, regardless of its form, is no respecter of persons. It may even seem as if “bad things happen to good people” more than the already astronomical rate with which good things happen to bad people.

I checked myself with regard to my reaction to this latest celebrity-reality. I forced myself to look past the names involved – especially the Kardashian name – and apply empathy for the implosion of another human being. I found myself rooting for him and imploring the Universe to be merciful – in whatever way that “mercy” manifests itself. I realized all I wanted for him was for the pain and self-loathing to cease; for him to have a chance at a life… the kind that is filled with what we all (should) wish for – peace – in all its manifestations.

This life and our choices sometimes seemingly conspire to destroy us; but, I promise this is not the case… despite what it looks like. We have been placed here to achieve all that we can dream of and nothing, absofuckinglutely nothing is outside our reach. Certainly not happiness. That is our birthright. But, we none of us will escape the consequences of our decisions and actions, so, we need to always be Depressing Quotes (Quotes About Depression) 0076-0078 (11)cognizant of that and act wisely. Make mistakes, yes; that is proof we are trying and living. But, in all things use wisdom… even the flawed kind; it is only flawed the first time.

I am dedicated to living in hope, to living with hope; not because life has always been kind or fair, but in spite of the fact that it has kicked my ass but good time and again (and, I have the scars to prove it!). I choose to wake every day I am granted, put one foot in front of the other and keep on going. And, those days that seem to want to stunt my progress (and, there are many), I do my best to fake it into being. I act as if. Depression and hopelessness are real; and, they maim and kill. Shit, it can even look manic, “the life of the party.” It often takes on the appearance of the “Lamar Odoms” of this world – having it all, playing the part and doing its best to convert a perception into a reality… without success.

I hope he gets another chance to actualize what is truly his in this life. And if not, I hope his story wakes us all up to the realities that lie behind and underneath the outward trappings, the smiles. I’m learning not to dismiss the man because of the behavior. Sending him some strength…

 

 

 

Ladies Of Nigeria… Welcum!

Finally. Female genital mutilation has been banned in Nigeria. Finally.

I remember the first time the reality of this atrocity resonated with me – it was during an episode of Law & Order. Don’t laugh – they did an extremely well-written, thus immensely disturbing revelation of the reality of this culture… I was outraged! It was by no means the first I had heard of it; but for some reason, it was the first time the full import of how it happens and the lasting physical and psychological effects touched me.

Okay, yall know about this, right? I mean, do I need to go into the details? Honestly, for as much as I do not shy away from much, touching the reality of the depiction of exactly what happens to these young ladies physically feels like that much more abusive. And quite frankly, the mere thought of it finally brings me to the full understanding of why men instinctively cover and hold their penises when anyone speaks of either the un or intentional damage, injury or harm to another’s.

So today, as I celebrate Nigeria’s decision and hesitantly remove some fingers from protecting my own private part, I would like to address some of what I have learned are the long-lasting effects caused by this mutilation. First let me say this – there is a school of thought that insists that, “one cannot miss what they never had”… bullshit! The rationale behind that is that if one grows up indoctrinated to a culture, a religion, a set of familial/societal/governmental protocols, those become ingrained into them – absolving them of either the knowledge of or envy for another way of life. A different or better way of life. In this day and age – in this age of not-just-social-media-but-life-media it is fool-hardy to believe that anyone within shouting distance of an electronic device is still unaware of their options. To believe that you can continue to subjugate with impunity.

I sit and think of the tip of my clitoris being cut off (okay, they prefer to say, “surgically removed) because they would like to control my sexual desires… and I mentally and physically shudder. My outrage boils over! My sense of (self) righteousness rebuffs any concept that attempts to trample on and dominate my right to ownership of and governing over my body. And that includes the right to my sensuality, sexuality and god dam orgasms!

Listen, all of us sitting and reading this with all our parts intact, imagine the psychological effect(s) it would leave us with if we were sitting reading this or anything else knowing we were different. Knowing that what is in our pants or under our skirts no longer reflects our complete sense of masculinity or femininity and that literally and figuratively we were short-changed. Imagine that. Imagine not being able to understand or relate to the expressions and feelings your counterparts convey when speaking of desire. Imagine never having an orgasm. Imagine being abandoned by partners who do not understand or refuse to accept a life with a partner whose toes never curl, for whom desire is something they have read about, heard of, long for, but never quite achieve.

So, they justify their actions by saying it’s an attempt at keeping their women chaste; saving us from behaviors that, well, are only allowed the males in their population. See, sexual desire is quite okay and even encouraged for those with the parts that (supposedly) hang low to experience; desires that oftentimes take them outside of their marital beds. That enjoyment is solely their right and it seems their reward just by virtue of being born male. Young ladies, women, us? Well, heaven forbid we experience the same emotions! Let the world burn to the ground if we are allowed to understand not only the power housed under the hood of our clits, but bold enough to then demand (and judge) the skill of those who clamor to come near it.

Think back to having a scar, anywhere… visible. Remember what it did to your sense of security and how self-conscious it made you, imagining that was all everyone looked at. How traumatized you may have been that all else faded to the background of your beauty – you were now being judged for public appropriateness by this one blemish or flaw. Imagine understanding that you have been permanently scarred, mutilated and there is no Vitamin E oil that will make this either fade or grow back. Imagine that. Remember implementing all the tricks possible to cover your scar – hats, scarves, turtle-necks, long sleeves, band-aids, make-up, whatever? What do you suggest we tell these young ladies, these women to use to cover the scar not only to their clitorises, but to their esteem? How do you cover the scars to your femininity?

It is now banned. Great. We are getting somewhere. Of course, this decision comes way too late for the millions that have already been affected; but, at least, unlike the orgasm they may never experience, it has cum. For that, I am grateful. I hope you have been equally as outraged at this practice and thus join in the celebration at its cessation. You see, it is only when we stop distancing ourselves from the actions that are visited on the thems in the world, will the injustices of any kind stop. As long as we continue to turn a blind eye on some in humanity we tacitly lend our support for the continuation of the inhumane.

Another step in the right direction…

 

 

*Singing* “Clean Up. Clean Up. Everybody Clean Up…”

Tuesday – a great day for some housekeeping.

First, wishing yall a fantastic day! Make it yours – own your triumphs and your mistakes. Tomorrow? Tomorrow, God willing we’ll get a “do-over” for those oops’es and, yet another stab at actualizing those dreams.

Now listen, I have certainly proven I could talk and talk, but I would absolutely like to know if I’m addressing the things you’re appreciating, or heaven forbid – not addressing the things you’d like. So, how about you let me know? I can take it 😉 Tell me right here, or if you’re feeling a tad shy shoot me an email: emailme@letsaddressthis.com

Okay, kick some ass today! Keep on doing your thing; don’t you dare give up! (And trust me, I am practicing what I preach). Talk soon?

When nothing goes right… go left

 

 

Spare Me!

We are great to look at. Some have even called us, “beautiful.” At any occasion when we gather, we are a “force” – occupying so much space, leaving an indelible mark. Try to imagine what happens when that song comes on – our song, that one, “We Are Family” – you know it, the next line goes, “… I got all my sisters with me…” You should see us! But listen to this – there is no mistaking it, as a unit, magic. In life, if one were to simply judge what we have accomplished thus far, the opportunities and experiences we have both had and created, well, we did good. Our offspring? Yeah, we rocked that to. The partners? Well, not always so much. As far as I know, we are all relatively healthy, with nothing that will kill us… except life itself. So yes, we look the (successful, well-adjusted, accomplished, happy, loving) part. But today I will state, in many ways what you see is a farce; a fallacy.

This is not going to be too too long, because quite frankly, (1) even as I am committed to, “making my mess my message” the revelation of this, because it involves others aside from myself (see, I am the only one who signed the proverbial waiver with myself to reveal to yall all MY shit; no one else did), necessitates I censure myself. (2) Quite frankly, even as the actions, behaviors and realities of this situation are not new (in fact, have been the reality all my life), it still embarrasses and hurts. (3) I have come to the realization that many instances/people/behaviors are only allowed to perpetuate because we give “life” to them; we breathe oxygen to them by shining a spotlight or by giving too much energy.

So, I will address this for one reason only (aside from being committed to the truth) – I have been very quiet lately. I have had the need to process an extremely unpleasant and life-altering set of occurrences. I will share the gist of it in the hope it will resonate with someone and in doing so, strengthen the tiny bond of humanity that allows for solidarity in fucked-up situations; the ones that bring comfort from knowing, “shit! I am soooooooooooo glad this is not just my reality!”

I do not get along with my mother (I have spoken about this a bit before). I never have and at our ages, it may be safe to say, I never will. What I have not said is that we have not spoken in a bit over two years now. I officially ended the farce that was our pseudo mother-daughter relationship then; and, I can honestly say there has not been one moment of regret or missing – because here’s the thing – one cannot miss something they have never had… So, I walked away from that relationship I have chalked up to have been a failure, because even as a young lady as I romanticized and depended on the security that, at least my mother will love me, I have subsequently grown up enough to realize that parental/sibling/familial relationships are just that, “relationships” and as a result, sometimes, they just don’t work. Shit! Sometimes, “they’re just not that into you…”

But see, parental tentacles have an extremely far and impactful reach; and, my family is no exception to that. I have sisters. Three. Many times I joke that having three means that any of us can safely disagree with and periodically stop speaking to at least two if we like… there’s a spare. Ha. But, this is no laughing matter. Who I consider my family is about to shrink yet again; getting rid of the spare. It has taken me a very very long time, literally years, to get to the place in life, in my life, to understand what is deserved and owed to each of us, simply by virtue of being a human being. Truly, I am not even speaking of the extras here – the extras that should be doled out to those that treat us better than we may deserve, the ones that do take the extra steps to help, honor, protect or support us. The ones with their hearts not only in the right place in their chests, but with that organ that is bigger and works overtime to pump more blood with our names on it. No, just speaking of being treated well because, well, that’s what differentiates us from the assholes.

I have finally had enough. I have spoken about abuse before. I have lived (and survived) it, so I recognize it. I have educated myself enough to know that it (abuse) comes disguised in many forms – its face can look like the devil… and it can attempt to look like an angel. ‘Abuse’ can be bold and ride in on a fist, a punch, a kick, saliva, knives, guns, pieces of wood, restraints. Or, it can creep in hiding behind manipulation, ridicule, coercion, narcissism, self-entitlement, duplicity, bullying, greed, insecurity, etc etc. Truly. Because see, ‘abuse’ is the intent by one person (or persons) to dominate, subjugate, harm, destroy another person. It is the need to impose will over another’s.

God gave me the opportunity at life after one abuser; I promised Him I would honor that by living… well. And, there will not be a parent, sibling, relative, (so-called)-friend, partner, employer, person alive that I will ever again allow to steal from me what He has given and promised and what I know I owe Him… a great life!

… And then there were two.

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