25~ Smiling Through The Lessons

Looking back on your life…who taught you the most about what love is/isn’t?

Wow…again, where did I get these effin questions? I was truly on a roll with my curiosity. ~sigh~

I’ve learned what love IS from some of the same people I’ve learned what love isn’t! Growing up around my maternal family vs. my paternal family was an extreme in concepts of how you raise, discipline and love. My moms family believed in spankings, lectures and punishments. My dad’s family believed in love and support, soft reprimanding and lots of hugs. Interesting thing is…my mom’s siblings are mostly married with children who’ve either gone onto college or maintain jobs and take care of their children. My father and his sibling were both subsequently exposed to addictions to alcohol and drugs. There were at times domestic violence where they (siblings) fought and at times became belligerent toward my grandmother (RIP).  I suppose the conclusive argument would be that my mom’s family and their stern hand approach, produced more fruit than the other side’s lenient lifestyle garnered.

My maternal grandmother wasn’t and isn’t particularly emotional…and wasn’t big on “I love you’s”. She was quick to call you “no good” the moment you messed up and at times could be unduly harsh. I still love her though, because I realized as an adult that you do what you know. My paternal grandmother was more praiseful and encouraging. She told me she loved me every time we parted or ended a call. She preferred “see you later” over “goodbye” because she hoped to see you or hear from you again. While learning two different types of love…tough love and appeasing love…I would like to think I’ve become a happy medium of the two.

I also learned a lot from my ex, Ali. He taught me that love isn’t always romantic affection. He taught me that love is responsibility, provision and protection. He knew he’d taken on the responsibility of caring for me and that my parents were looking to him to prove that he wasn’t the older man taking advantage of their young tender and inexperienced daughter. He worked almost every day of our relationship, give or take a moment or two between jobs. In 8.5 years…we only reached our hand out twice for help. In the beginning…and in the end. Ultimately, God had other plans for us both and no matter how much  he wanted to maintain us…our situation gave way to us being parted. Through the emotional and sometimes physical abuse…I can say that he tried his hardest to make a home with me. He just couldn’t shake his own demons of addiction. I did learn how one loves another enough to take care of them…I’ll never take that away from him.

I learned from my other ex, Jamie…that love isn’t lies and subterfuge. Vulnerability is a key component to being free enough with someone to be yourself in a relationship. A love relationship is supposed to make you feel like you can do anything because of the person by your side. You should never feel the need to mask yourself or put on airs about who you are. He would probably say he didn’t lie. He’d protest that I was wrong and that he was honest and forthcoming about everything…and he’d be lying. I pray that one day his lesson is learned and that it isn’t learned in the worst way possible. Some people don’t take kindly to being fucked over and made a fool of. Some folks ain’t wrapped tightly and will react in a deliberate and sometimes final way. Not saying I’d ever do that, but everyone ain’t me. He also taught me to love people through their shit. He was at times a little snobbish when it came to situations I discussed with him. I looked up one day and realized that my then “baby” could be a complete asshole…and I loved him anyway. lol

I’ve learned love is and isn’t what you’re willing to do and not do. Tolerate and not tolerate. Your foundation has to be Rock of Gibraltar strong…something like a force to be reckoned with. You can’t waver and ask for consistency. You can’t be unsure and ask for certainty. You can’t ask for qualities you don’t possess.  Whatever it is you desire or look for in love…you should be an infinite pool of love reflecting it back to the world. Also, you shouldn’t just reflect the surface. Don’t be muddied and thick. I pray that the love I’ve learned will cause me to be a still pool mirroring back love…yet being clear enough to see your way to my depths. No one likes jumping in and miscalculating the depth, the temperature, or what’s underneath.

I’ve learned a lot…but, I’m sure I’m learning more.

What I’ve Learned About Love

As I was getting dressed this morning, my mind was invaded with thoughts about love and what I’ve learned. I slipped on panties and thought about the sex that I wasn’t having (lol) and realized that there were several things about myself that I appreciate. I’ve learned physical discipline and the understanding with it that love isn’t located between my legs…well it is, but it ain’t. 😉

As I oiled my skin, I wondered on the tenderness of affection and how, though I miss it…I love loving on me. I get pretty-fly for me. Luxuriating in me makes someone else want to do so.

I wondered how many women might really get themselves out of loveless or stagnant relationships if they stopped using their “love muscle” as an indicator for love. “You don’t love me…you just love my doggystyle!” came to mind. I wondered that if we just got hold of our physical attachments, would we be one step closer to defining what it is that keeps us with people who no longer make us happy. I realized that I’ve learned to love myself even more and though I miss the physical tangibility of a lover…I realize that I am free. Free of the fear of what someone else may not give me.

I mean, we hold onto people for the wrong reasons…most grounded in fear.

~fear of loneliness
~fear of abandonment
~fear of what I like to call “oneupmanship”…where you’re afraid that the next chick is going to be better than you. She’s gonna be the ONE, she’s gonna be “better”, etc. (queue, “Ring the Alarm”)
~fear that no one will “love you like they do”…well, I hope damn NOT.

You can experience feelings of loneliness sitting in a room with someone. You’re already alone if you’re feeling rejected, uncared for and left with a sense of longing. Abandonment can begin within a relationship. Just like you can be lonely in a room with someone…a person can emotionally exit the relationship and leave your love void of what it needs to survive healthily. As far as worrying about the “next”? You can’t control that. Get this straight. Every “next” one is the better one…until she reminds him of an ex and then she’s all of a sudden a reminder of what he misses or what he hates. If by chance, the next one becomes THE one…believe that it is because she is made for him and not that you’re less than her. Feelings of worthiness come from within and worthlessness is exacerbated in a love relationship. If you don’t have your self-esteem and self-love in check BEFORE entering a relationship…nothing he does will make you feel loved. You’ll always need more and that is not what a relationship is about. It is a rhythmic exchange of energies.

I also learned this much…if you’re not happy, satisfied, fulfilled and valued with someone…why would you want anyone else to “love you like they did?”. See my blog called “Friends nor Lovers”. It’s basically a summation to what standards we place on lovers and friends and how those two should be held to the same. No one who loves you even on a base level will hurt you purposely…and if they do it unintentionally, they should be honest about it. Period. If you wouldn’t trust them to be your lover/friend…how could they transition into the other?

Basically, what I’ve learned is that some of the most important things in a relationship are the simplest…

~I want someone who will represent me.  When we’re  apart, I want to know that he is representing me, wearing my love on his sleeve so to speak. I don’t need to be the only woman he sees (that’s lame) but, I want to be the one he chooses in SPITE of seeing everyone else. I shouldn’t have to worry that he’s more committed to flirting than to me.  A man who won’t tell the world about you is a man who doesn’t think the world of you…

~Love should have an urgency. Love waits, TRUE love doesn’t want to. True love will track you down (not in stalker fashion) and plead their case. True love will SHOW you love and not just tell you. Anything else is a waste of time. I don’t want to hear it.

~Commitment is a decision. We choose it. You can’t help those loving feelings, but you can choose whether to go forward or move past the object of your affections (if things aren’t viable for a relationship). Relationships/Marriages are work. It’s not, “Oh, I found the one…I can relax”. It’s I found the one…now, what do we do to keep it? It’s an everyday thing. Sometimes it’ll be easy and sometimes your soul mate may make you wanna choke the hope out of them…but you persevere and do it all over again the next day. If you’re making excuses for why you can’t be together, why you can’t step up…I’m not sure you’re in love. I said IN love…not “I love them, though…”. BIG difference.

In closing, I’ve learned that love cannot be forced or even “loved into submission”. People do what they want. The most damaged person CAN come back from trauma and hurt…but they have to WANT to. To think yourself so powerful that you can change the core of someone is cocky and futile. Love can conquer all…but, with the help of man. (I think I just added something to a long-time cliche) LOL

This is what I’ve learned 🙂

Tiny & Toya: Judging the Book

Yea, I judged them. I swear, the first time I attempted to watch this show on BET, the kuntree (not country…not southern) but KUNTREE drawl was getting to me, so…that I couldn’t watch more than 10 minutes. *slapping my own hand* SHAME on me! No for real. As a woman whose family comes from the south and whose best friend has THE best southern accent around (hey Dionne! lol) I should’ve been a little less “snobbish” when watching this show. I don’t usually judge…I normally DO indeed give people a chance to be themselves and pride myself on being a people person…but, perhaps I failed this time.

Sitting here with moms on a HOT Saturday afternoon, she turned to Tiny & Toya…and of course…I said, “Oh boy…THIS show?” My mother proceeded to watch as I kept my head stuck in the laptop…but eventually, my interest was piqued. This show is actually POSITIVE! *gasp* No seriously…these ladies are using their situations to learn life’s lessons and in doing this reality show…they’re most likely going to shed some light on issues that a lot of young black women don’t confront…or just don’t know how to.

Toya, being the ex-wife of Lil Wayne is NOT her only feat. This young lady is learning so much about the concept of family, love and forgiveness. Her mom is a drug addict, who often times gets lost in her life in New Orleans. Toya wants so badly for her mom to get off the drugs, but she’s learning she can’t forcefeed her mother the concept of change. She’s also dealing with the backlash of being the ex-wife of a renowned rapper, whose name is as commonplace as the word rap. Going out and trying to procure something for herself and her daughter, is her goal and she’s doing it fearlessly in spite of her own fears. I’ve seen this young lady fight her fear of heights in a Outward Bound experience with Tiny. I’ve seen her learn to swim even though she’s got a phobia of water. She’s taking on the business world as she looks for a book deal. She’s trying to clean up her image to become more professional and mainstream as opposed to sticking out like an opposable digit. She’s also learning about family and it’s importance, especially because she sees up front and personal through Tiny, what it is she’s been missing. Her father abandoned her and her siblings, especially after their mother took to drugs…to marry another, leaving his “other” family behind. Yet, she’s doing everything in her power to reunite her family…including her dad. She’s sweetly innocent in some ways…which is endearing. I think she won me when she said that Wayne was her first boyfriend, the first one she married, her first lover and the father of her child. That is almost a rarity nowadays…and even thought it’s an unfortunate statistic…it was beautiful to hear her express such anomalies in today’s world.

Then there’s our girl, Tiny. Former member of Xscape and mother of three children. She’s had to say good bye to T.I. for his year and a day stint in prison…which is the longest they’ve ever spent apart. She’s trying to hold it together for her family, and does so with the help of friends like Toya and Keicha (who replaced Kandi in Xscape). She’s got these cool parents. Her mom and dad…the 2nd interracial couple in Georgia to marry legally…are her backbone and stronghold. Her dad, a singer in a group from the 60’s…has Alzheimer’s and goes in and out of knowing…yet, when he performs…he remembers every word of his songs. Tiny is also in the middle of fighting her own fears and moments of procrastination. She’s putting together a young girl group which includes her daughter, Zonnique and Toya’s daughter as well as a few others. What I’ve seen is that she’s so sweet. Her disposition is genuinely docile, yet strong and unwavering. She’s clearly made of strong stuff. I’ve heard so many people call her ugly…and admittedly I, too thought…dang…she’s not all that cute. However, the more I hear her story and see her demeanor as a sweet, genuine and family-oriented woman…she becomes more and more beautiful. Is that not what TRUE beauty is ANYWAY?

You’ll find that together, the ladies do shared monologues between scenes giving their shared and newly learned philosophies…which is touching to me. There’s nothing like, learning life’s lessons…coming in to your own….being self-realizing and introspective…with your best friend. Together these ladies are holding down their families…maintaining love for the men in their lives and breaking down walls of obstacles along the way. Like Toya’s mentor/friend told her, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover…but at the same time, if you don’t like the cover…you wont open the book.” I’m glad I opened the book…I really DO like Tiny & Toya’s stories.

Good luck on your journeys, ladies!

Just Thinking…

I’ve been looking at my life in overview. This year especially. 2008…8 being the number of possibilities…makes me sit in wonder of all that this year has presented me with. I fell in love this year. I wasn’t looking for it…it just happened. Truth is…I didn’t WANT it. Not after the disappointments I’d experienced…I just wanted to coast. Yet, I fell. A lot of people have not felt like it was a smart fall (what fall is smart besides a fake prat fall for comedic purposes?). A few say it was based in fantasy…and I tend to agree that in part it was. In my heart though, I’ve fallen for him based on a spiritual and mental connection. No one needs to understand that but him and I. If it works…God bless and if it doesn’t, God bless.

I’ve also come into my own in a lot of ways that I didn’t see for myself this year. I made a trip from NY to AL all on my own for the 1st time. Having severe Narcolepsy makes that a wonderful feat. I then did it again, with a shorter trip from NY to PA. Philly to be exact. Because of these trips I’ve met some cool people and made them family. That in and of itself is a beautiful thing…but, I’ve also met my inner me. I’ve become more in tuned with the person I am. Voicing my feelings on a consistent basis to who needs to hear it has been hard. I’d been a people pleaser for so long in the name of peace…that I created my own inner chaos…but, I’m learning every day to be more self-preserving.

I’ve also been more creative poetically and literally than I had in the past. I penned my 1st short erotica series and am almost finished with my first novel…a thriller. I pray that God continues to inspire me and allow me to manifest some dreams.

Throughout this year, I have found more confidence and self love than I’d ever beheld. I began loving ME…the woman at the core. Learning from past mistakes…while making more along the way for future’s reference. I came out of my shell and am not as shy as I once was. I owe a lot of that to my love. I am grateful. I don’t take much for granted. I try to be gracious and grateful for all I am blessed with. I try to be accountable for my mistakes and I try to share my lessons and jewels of knowledge with anyone willing to listen/read. I love with all I have and am. All I ever wanted was for ONE person in my life to love me and cherish me fully. Not to convenience, condition or circumstance…but embracing the full me from core to crust.

That’s another thing I’ve learned…that my philosophy on unconditional love remains the same…and I must remind myself of it. No matter WHAT I accomplish, WHERE I go, WHOM I love…to put expectations to bed. Expectations are the death of anything. Disappointments will drain you of your faith, patience and hope. If I’ve learned anything in this year…I’ve learned THAT mantra remains true.