It’s not looking like Christmas…

I drove home in a fog tonight – literally. I left church and drove home through a fog so thick that I missed a turn and ended up on the other side of my neighborhood. It probably didn’t help that I was crying as well as driving through this fog. Today sucked and I hate that it did because I feel like I’ve been doing so well. That’s probably my problem – thinking that a few weeks of positive thinking somehow cures me of the reality that is my depression. I know better but it hit me hard tonight.

I spent the day by myself, trying to tell myself that all was ok. I was aware of my feelings – missing my family and wishing I was home. But being alone during the holidays triggered other thoughts. I sat with the fact that I am now divorced. No more extended family and friends Christmas parties. No more trading off the holidays, deciding which family we would be with for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.

I spent the day watching movies and hanging out online, trying valiantly to get in the Christmas spirit. Seriously, thank God for social media. It helped me not feel so alone. I don’t know what I’d do without the virtual connection to my friends and family. I was determined to go to church tonight instead of burrowing under my covers and I am glad that I went. But as everyone bundled up to head home the feelings of loneliness and isolation overwhelmed me. I was going home to nothing, to no one. And I hate that it bothers me so much.

Christmas used to be my favorite time of year. Family, faith, fun and all sorts of traditions were a part of my reality. The past few years, Christmas has been the loneliest time of the year for me and I feel so bad that I seem to be overly focused on the negative. My brother tried to talk me out of my head tonight, but it didn’t work. Just for tonight, I feel sorry for myself. I mourn the loss of a life that I thought I had.

The thought that’s been recurring in my mind has been that I want to go home. All of my life, I’ve been running from home, wanting to put as much space between me and my family as humanly possible. But I can’t do this thing called life without them. When I try, it’s a much more difficult journey, one that is littered with periods of darkness and loneliness and sadness. I think it may be time for me to go home…

I know that this day is really about Jesus and I thank God that he saw fit to come be with us. Lord knows if I ever needed Emmanuel, it is right now…. I’m sorry to be so depressing on this Christmas Eve, but alas, I am depressed. To anyone out there struggling tonight, tomorrow, over the next few weeks, everyday, etc…, please know that you are not alone. Even as the tears fall from my eyes on this evening, I know that I am not the only one who is struggling.

It may not be a merry Christmas, but I pray for peace, comfort, healing and hope for us all…

Love,

Me

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Taking Time

I’m doing something I rarely do this week – I’m taking time to enjoy my family, to enjoy the ordinary moments, and to just be. I’ll be back soon Shadow Lovers. I pray that you too find time to be with those who love you and that you get to enjoy the amazingly gifted person you are.

Love,
Me

A message from my Daddy…

On November 29, 2012 I published a blog post entitled “The Skin I’m In“. I couldn’t imagine the conversation it sparked and the positive feedback that it generated. The most significant thing that happened was that I received a message from my daddy that brought me to tears. You see, we have a very interesting history, one that I will share at another time. Since embarking on this journey of embracing my depression and coming clean with my family, my daddy and I have gotten much closer. We had very different upbringings and he has lived a very hard life. I continue to be in awe of him and his many accomplishments, not even realizing that we had some things in common. I asked if I could share his message with you and he agreed. I am so thankful that my post opened another pathway of communication and understanding between me and my daddy.

My dearest daughter,
I don’t know if I ever told you, but if I did not, I’m telling you now. As a 10 year old kid growing up in Harlem, I was often called little WHITE boy. Even now I am often referred to as WHITE man. However I understood at an early age that people who called and call me names were those who either were intimidated, jealous or unsure of themselves because I spoke better and I was more intelligent than they were. It all started in Harlem because I used to spend time in Queens where I actually spent nights in a house. So you see my darling daughter we have more in common than you might know. I am just happy that I understood this early in life. I am now happy that you have figured it out and that you are happy with the skin that you’re in. Just for the record, I’ve always teased you because I was able to identify. If you want me to stop, forget about it. 🙂

Love,
DaddyDaddy and Roze

The Skin I’m In

I was called an oreo when I was growing up. In the African American community this was not a term of endearment. It didn’t refer to how sweet I was. Rather it was social nomenclature that described my perceived character. In layman’s terms this word described me as one who, though I was black on the outside, was really white on the inside. As you might imagine this was not just about color. This term and those who used it were referring to my physical appearance and my norms, behaviors and mannerisms. For some reason I was viewed as an outsider within my own community and to this day, I am teased by family and friends alike in regards to my seemingly “non-black” behavior. Truth be told, this had a devastating effect on my identity…

This way of thinking brought so many other things to mind. For one, I wondered what it meant to be black and how someone like me who comes from a black family and was raised in black neighborhoods and went to predominately black schools (even graduating from a Historically Black College & University) was seen as not “black enough”. Black history and knowing my roots was very important in my home. My mother was an educator who took seriously her role in passing down traditions, knowledge, and untold stories of our culture.

I often thought that maybe peoples’ interpretations of me were connected to my faith tradition. I was raised in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is a predominately white denomination; however the churches of my childhood were black Lutheran churches. Many friends in Texas asked if Lutherans were Christians (to this day the irony of this question makes me chuckle) and when I invited them to church they were taken aback by our worship style when compared to their Baptist/Nondenominational/traditional black denominational way of worship. But once again, even in my church community, black traditions and culture were important and uplifted.

Education was very important to my parents and I was a voracious reader. We traveled extensively during my childhood, taking a family trip every year. My parents made a point to include historic sites and cultural information on every trip. I was well spoken and well rounded, being involved in everything from academic enrichment opportunities in the summer to the requisite tap/ballet/dance trifecta. I finished high school with honors, graduating number eleven in my class of 454, was a Varsity Cheerleader, National Honor Society member, and belonged to host of other clubs and organizations.

Going to an HBCU was important to me. I wanted to be a part of an institution of higher learning that infused African American history, culture and traditions into the DNA of their curriculum. When I arrived at Spelman College in the fall of 1999, I finally felt like I found a place where I belonged. I was surrounded by intelligent, articulate, and vivacious BLACK women. But I soon realized that the world outside of our gates still viewed us as the other.

This “otherness” has been with me as long as I can remember. In my darkest hours, I’ve begun to realize the damage that was caused by those who ridiculed me for who I was, making me question my identity, my worth and my purpose. I’m now at a point in life where I fully embrace the skin I’m in. I fully embrace who I am as one who has been crafted in God’s very own image, gifted for a purpose.

My hope is people judge less and love more.

My hope is that we can broaden our perspectives on what a particular race/ethnicity/culture is like.

My hope is that we realize how damaging it is to ostracize and criticize anyone because of their individuality.

My hope is that we all can grow in love, grace and acceptance of our selves in order to fully love and accept each other.

Love,

Me

Giving Thanks for the Angels Among Us

October 1, 2012 would have been my grandmother’s 82 birthday. She died 14 days later last year on October 15, 2011. It’s crazy the difference a year can make. This time last year I was literally incapacitated with grief. My separation, grandma’s death, issues at work and my dad’s diagnosis took the life right out of me. My depression had taken over. I couldn’t get out of bed. I felt so lost and incapable of getting myself together. I lost 3 months of my life. I literally can’t remember some days. But I remember the people and how they cared for me and loved me back to life. For that and for each of you, I am eternally grateful.

Each of you has played a special part in my life and I am convinced that your presence is divinely inspired. Thank you for showing me what it means to be a friend. Thank you for walking alongside me. Thank you for not holding my inability to always do the same against me. My prayer is that I can be the same friend to you and I thank God daily for each of you.

Whenever I hear “Never Would Have Made It” by Marvin Sapp tears come to my eyes. You embody that song for me. I know what it means to experience the real and loving presence of God in the valley of the shadow of death. Thank you for walking with me. You are my angels…

Love,

Me

Music Mondays: Never Would Have Made It by Marvin Sapp

I am unapologetically Christian. Even as I type this truth, I cringe because I know the perceived implications that may be assigned to this statement. I should follow up and say, that I’m not your average Christian. (To get a sampling of my particular bent of Christianity, visit my congregation’s website – House of the Rock). I practice this religion because of one simple thing – the notion of God becoming human and walking among us literally overwhelms me. And I mean this in a good way. Everything else that is associated with modern day Christianity, I could take or leave. I’ll write more about that in another post…

What I love most about this song is that it speaks about relationality and being present, which for me, is a central tenet of Christianity. I read that the artist Marvin Sapp wrote this song as a tribute after the death of his father. The song is very repetitive but I think that it’s divinely inspired. Hearing the words over and over again reminds me of the importance of those who have supported, loved, nurtured and challenged me throughout my experience with depression. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I would not be here today without my community of friends and family.

My favorite part of the song is when he sings,

Never could have made it without you
I would have lost my mind a long time ago, if it had not been for you.
I am stronger
I am wiser
Now I am better
So much better
I made it thru my storm and my test because you were there to carry me thru my mess

I could say more about the theological implications of this song but I’m going to leave my comments at this – I never would have made it to where I am today without someone helping me.

I pray that you have someone or many ones who do this for you. Give them a chance. They may surprise you and literally save your life…

Love,

Me

Click here to see the video for Never Would Have Made It.

On a Day Like This

One of my favorite camp songs is “On a Day Like This”. I love this song because it has fun motions and removes lines from each verse as the community sings it together. By the end, you only see actions that have replaced the verses but the beginning and ending of the song remain…”On a day like this, I need the Lord to help me.”

This song has been playing on repeat in my mind. Recently I had a very difficult day. A couple of things happened at work that brought many emotions to the surface. I went home and lay on my couch with a glass of wine and caught up on my television shows. I went to bed early thinking that after a good night’s sleep I would be up and ready to roll the following morning. But I wasn’t. I was dragging and could feel the tears just beneath the surface that were threatening to spill over. What is that about?

I am a student of awareness. I believe wholeheartedly that paying particular attention to one’s thoughts, feelings and actions provides invaluable insight. That being said, I spent some time sitting with my thoughts to figure out what’s going on…

Work was stressful, but not in a bad way. I commented to one of my colleagues that I appreciate times of crisis because there’s no time to think. There is only time to do and to be. In times like that, I realize not only how gifted I am but more importantly, that God is ever-present and the Spirit goes before me. There were a few situations that tested these theories and I felt confident that the care I provided was not only appropriate but appreciated.

I know that I haven’t fully been present as I continue to reflect upon a recently ended relationship. I keep playing things over in my mind trying to figure out a couple of things: do I really even want this man? What is the attraction? Am I settling? Should I fight for it? Why do I feel this connection to someone who is so different from me? All of these questions provide some insight into how I’m trying to process how relationships begin and end and the patterns that are present in my own behavior.

I also thought about a conversation I had with my father after he read a couple of my blog posts that were able to communicate things that I have never been able to share with him face-to-face. For some reason, my fear was that he would be upset with me, which he wasn’t. He was very compassionate and expressed feelings of sadness and disappointment as he tried to wrap his mind around new knowledge about my childhood and my personal struggles. There were some things he wanted more information about but I couldn’t go there last night. I am a bit relieved though. I feel like I’ve been hiding things from my father my whole life and I was finally able to share pieces of myself that allow him to have a better understanding of who I am.

I think I am also overwhelmed by things that I have been putting off and by doing so, I continue to procrastinate and feel like I am held hostage by my own inertia. The reality of my changing finances, the daunting task of preparing for future opportunities, the risk associated with starting my own business and the ever present fear of failing and not being enough are rearing their ugly heads. But I am aware of these things and valiantly putting one foot in front of the other.

I feel sad. I feel lonely. I feel tired. I feel overwhelmed. I feel nervous. I feel confused.

I don’t feel hopeless though. I know that it’s just for today. And for that, I am grateful.

Love,

Me