A Word on Names

I was infatuated with falling in love when I was younger. I was more than a bit boy crazy and I could imagine the beginning, middle and happily ever after of every relationship. It was intense. When I decided that a boy would fall in love with me, they had very little chance of outsmarting my plan. I chased them down and became irresistible.

I would see a guy before the bell for first period would ring. Once my target was identified, the infatuation would start with daydreaming. I could lose time thinking about their cuteness. I would barely pay attention in class because I would try to figure out how to catch his eye or slip him a note, unbeknownst to the teacher.

I would open my notebook and pretend to take notes. Instead I would be doodling my name and my crush’s name. The adrenaline that would pump through me as I considered if their last name “matched” my first was electric! It had to sound right to be a good fit.

Mrs. Rozella X

Mrs. X

Mr. and Mrs. X

Dr. and Mrs. X

After making sure our names matched and sounded perfect together, my imagination would take me off into the future. The perfect wedding, with the princess dress. The large wedding party with all of my best girlfriends perfectly in the most AMAZING bridesmaid’s dresses. I would make sure that my friends met his friends and that they looked heavenly together as they glided down the aisle during the ceremony. There may even be a love match or two. I was a benevolent friend in my dreams. After the wedding, we would have a reception that would go into the wee hours of the morning followed by a honeymoon filled with breathtaking sex and adventures. We would return home deeper in love and ready to conquer the world! See Exhibit A: Continue reading

A Word on Falling in Love

Below is a picture of me in Cape Town, South Africa last week. You may not know it, but the smile that’s on my face is for the person behind the camera, for the man that has infiltrated my heart.

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I’m falling in love and it sucks. How can something simultaneously be so beautiful and so brutal? Glennon Doyle Melton coined the perfect phrase for this reality – brutiful.

I’ve been divorced for six years. I’ve engaged a few different men over the course of this time but if I’m honest (which I’m learning is non-negotiable), I haven’t been in love with any of them. I’ve loved some of them but I’ve not been IN love. I’m glad that over the course of my 35 years I’ve learned the difference. I love everyone. I truly do. I love anyone who shares a piece of themselves with me; with anyone who is vulnerable, raw and authentic. It’s the way that I’m wired. I can’t help it. Continue reading

#DearBlackMen: A Word of Love

I love black men. When I heard about the #DearBlackMen effort to share love letters following recent happenings, I knew that I had to participate. As the year closes I wanted to take a moment to send some love to the men in my life, most of whom happen to be black.

To my father and father figures…

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I think about the men that have raised me, from my biological father Walter, to my step father and to my godfather. Each of them came from hard lives, lives that were rife with trauma and despair. Yet, they all seemed to persevere, to rise from ashes and truly become roses that have grown from concrete. They have taught me the importance of hope – of believing in the impossible, in the unseen. They have created lives for themselves and their families that many within our society believe is not possible for the Black man.

To my brother and those who have allowed me to be their sister…

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My brother Cole is my best friend. He is the Yin to my Yang and he has introduced me to a collective of young men whom I have grown to love as brothers. I count my cousin Nathan in this group as we are more like brother and sister than cousins. Even though these men are younger than me, they embody unconditional love and respect. They constantly teach me the importance of loyalty and bring abounding joy to my life.

To my uncles and those who have nurtured me from afar…

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I think about my uncle Karl and my uncles from the “rooms” – the men of AA and NA who became family and watched me grow. Their wisdom has been invaluable and I am often reminded of how they loved me as one of their own. I thank God regularly for the love that they lavished upon me and as some have gone on to eternal rest, I carry each of them in my heart.

To my friends…

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I have a couple of male friends who have spoken hope into my life during the darkest moments. Brady and Ulysses are men of honor. They are men who care for the women in their lives without limits. They are respectful and giving and kind. They show me what it means to be a man today and continue to hold me accountable to becoming the person I have said I want to be and the person they know that God has called me to be.

To my lovers, who shall rename nameless…
I have a deep and abiding appreciation for black men that I have had the honor of being in romantic relationships with. I love their skin and their smell and their pride. I love the way they protect me. I love how they love me – mind, body and spirit. I love them.

To all the black men I have encountered and I have yet to meet:
Remember that you are made in the Imago Dei, in the image of God. That the Creator and the Creator alone defines your worth and identity.

Remember that you come from a line of ancestors who survived the Middle Passage and that this reality makes you stronger and more powerful than you could ever imagine.

Remember that your passion, compassion and creativity have inspired generations upon generations and that you have changed the course of history.

But most importantly, remember us, your dear black sisters, who have held you down, had your back, supported you, nurtured you and will continue to lift you up, regardless of what happens. And you know why? Because we love you. Forever and always and there is nothing you can do about it. Period. End of Story.

Love,

Me

A Word on Lessons

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This post is actually about my most recent break-up, which has taught me some lessons. I’m pretty sure the reflection will continue, but so far, there are a few things that stand out. I am no longer a child. When I was a child, I acted like a child. As I have grown older, I have put away childish ways of being. For me, maturing and becoming an adult means that I understand the ability that I have to make choices. I understand that my choices have consequences; that there is a cause and effect relationship between what I do and what happens. I’m choosing to learn from my choices. That being said, I made a choice to enter into a relationship, even though my gut was telling me something different. And there were consequences. Lesson number 1: Always follow your gut.

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After He Leaves

After he leaves I feel like a part of me is missing. How is it that this man has the ability to make me feel like I am on top of the world and simultaneously make me feel like it’s never enough? I don’t get tired of him. I love listening to him. I love sharing space with him. Truth be told, it’s not even anything he’s doing per say… it’s just how he is. When he’s with me I feel like I’m not alone…

I’ve come a long way. When I was younger, so much of what I thought about myself was wrapped in others’ opinions of me, particularly men. Now I am pretty confident about who I am and what I can do sans their opinions… yet, his smile, his eyes, his touch, make me want more.

More of what? I am coming to terms with being single. It’s not all bad. Quite frankly, because of the type of woman I am, I enjoy the freedom that comes with singledom. What I miss more than anything is knowing that there is someone who has my back. I miss knowing that on those days when the loneliness is too much to bear, there is someone committed to walk the road with me. He makes me long for that connection, for a partnership that is characterized by trust, compassion, honesty, laughter and the pursuit of excellence. And let’s not forget about the passion… I think what’s hardest about this is that I can picture our life together. I can see us supporting one another and loving one another. We are just enough alike and just enough different to be a pretty powerful team. And I think that’s what I long for most of all, to be a part of a team.

So much of my life is lived solo. I know it’s because of what God has called me to. I am someone that will live a public life and that mean there are many places and spaces that I must travel alone. I think I am coming to terms with that but I do long to be in relationship. And he makes me want it all the more.

I keep reminding myself that for everything there is a season. This is my season to develop professionally, to hone my skills, to travel and to nurture friendships. It’s also a time to grow in love and knowledge of myself, which I haven’t spent a lot of time doing. Knowing all of this doesn’t make me feel better but it does keep things in perspective. The sadness that I encounter will not overtake me. The love that I desire will come to pass. And when it does, I’ll be ready.

Music Mondays: I Didn’t Know My Own Strength by Whitney Houston

Whitney-Houston-I-Didnt-Know-My-O-503938Have you ever experienced a moment when you realize that you are so much stronger than you ever thought you could be? It’s not just enough for others to tell you that you are strong. Something has to happen to make you believe it. I’m finding that the past couple of years have placed me face-to-face with the reality that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be….

This is my first Christmas post divorce. My ex-husband and I separated on August 19, 2011. Our divorce was finalized on July 12, 2012. I’ve written about how my separation was one of many things that led to my most recent depressive episode, but I haven’t really written about how it affected my identity and my perception of myself. Making the decision to get a divorce was the hardest decision of my life. I felt like a failure. I was embarrassed. I felt like I didn’t have what it took to be a wife. I felt like a disappointment to my family and friends, especially to those who stood and witnessed my wedding.

I Didn’t Know My Own Strength performed by Whitney Houston has been such an inspiration for me. The words, written by Diane Warren, speak to the strength that exist within and comes to the surface in times of suffering.

Lost touch with my soul
I had nowhere to turn, I had nowhere to go
Lost sight of my dream
Thought it would be the end of me

I thought I’d never make it through
I had no hope to hold on to
I thought I would break

I didn’t know my own strength
And I crashed down and I tumbled, but I did not crumble
I got through all the pain
I didn’t know my own strength

Survived my darkest hour, my faith kept me alive
I picked myself back up, hold my head up high
I was not built to break
I didn’t know my own strength

I always wanted to be one of those women who wasn’t defined by a relationship or lack thereof. I always wanted to be a woman who bounced back from hardships with incredible grace. I wanted my identity to be steeped in something much greater than my current circumstance. As hard as it’s been, my divorce has taught me that I am this type of woman. Most of all, it taught me that I didn’t know my own strength…

My prayer is that you are able to believe that you have incredible strength within.

Love,

Me