Home is Where the Hurt Is

Going to my hometown Indianapolis is usually freeing and peaceful. I know where everything is located. I don’t get lost. The traffic is not ridiculous like it is in Dallas where I’ve resided since 2015. I can get the foods I’ve loved since I was young; White Castle, Long’s Donuts, and Mr. Dans. I enjoy worshipping at my childhood church and the church I transitioned to as an adult. I get to hang with my cousins, best friend  and family members. But some things are not as they use to be.

My Nana is getting older and starting to feel like she’s actually 88. She has always been healthy. While others were losing their grandmothers, mine was eating healthy; no diabetes or high blood pressure. Nana’s mind is 100% there and she can debate with the best of them. But her body is not lining up with her mind. Now she is having aches and pains and two doctor appointments a week.  She is sick of visiting different doctors and telling them over and over what is going on. After visiting  with her I asked her if she wants to come to Dallas so I can take care of her. 

My Aunts are also getting older. Aunts are such a blessing. They are like your mom only cooler and they let you get away with everything. My Aunt Beth is my favorite and she so much fun. She always had a nice car and she drove really fast. If anyone cut her off she would quickly yell at them. Aunt Beth loved roller coasters and Dairy Queen dates. She beats the crap outta the kids in board games and is very competitive. I was raised as a only child so when I could spend the night at Auntie’s  with my cousins it was fun times. Whenever my cousins wanted to do something they would say, ” You ask. She can’t say no to you.”   She would always keep me in suspense and then say, “yep.” 

My Aunt is not feeling the way she once did. She is often ill and struggles a lot. When I come home I try to cheer up her with songs and jokes. I always have a story about my grown ass kids. In the past Rhasha the cheerleader could change her mood and make her forget her pain; not as much now. She has been on dialysis for seventeen years and still has strong faith that one day she will be healed. The day after I celebrated her 63rd birthday with her I dreamed she was in Dallas on my back porch eating tacos on Tuesdays. 

So often times coming home hurts. I know that as long as we live we are getting older.  Even at 40 my knees crack and my grays are feisty. I look at Nana and think; her  body is 88 years old. Auntie has lived for 63 years when doctors said she wouldn’t or couldn’t.  Each of these ladies have made an impact on my life and that continues. I see them for who they were then and who they are now. 

I guess the best thing I can do is come home often. Tell them and show them that I love them. Realize that life doesn’t stay the same. Life is about transitions; memories and moments. There are still memories to be made and moments to share with Nana, Auntie and all of my family members. I look forward to coming back home for Thanksgiving to enjoy another precious moment. 

  

Image St. Joseph’s Cockeysville 

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Divorce Made Me Stronger

  There are few things more disappointing then going through a divorce. It’s almost like a death.  It is a death; of a relationship, a partnership, a bond. When children are involved it’s that much harder. Where will I live? Who will move out? Who will have custody of the children.  Who gets the sleeper sofa?

I was married young; at 21. As my mom drove me to the church my stomach was in knots and I asked her if she would just take me to Cincinnati. Not sure if I wanted to go to Kings Island instead of the $10,000 wedding ceremony that my whole family helped pay for. Yeah…bad sign I know. That day in June I was to marry my high school sweetheart. The man I had three children with and who had my heart for six years.

The marriage started out wrong. On our wedding night we rushed through sex and if it was a chore and fell asleep soon after. Wait let me back up. The ring I got for him was too small and during the cake ceremony his finger swelled. The fire department had to come and cut the ring off of his finger and he sat there sweating bullets. Lots of early drama. 

We had the best intentions for our life.  We bought a house, sent our babies to school, went to church every Wednesday night and Sunday, worked, and went on date nights on Fridays. My Dad would keep the kids on weekends and my Mom watched them often. But soon loud voices in my head were telling me how doomed we were. The truth is we NEVER should have been married.

Our divorce was a culmination of my past issues, his frustration, our age and the pressure we put on ourselves to stay in a bad marriage. I was devastated and went through a 6 month depression. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and lonely. This man had been my buddy for so long. Everything I did involved him. But soon I would pick up the pieces and realize just how strong I was. Here are some tips for getting through and over a divorce and moving on in a healthy way.

1. Don’t beat yourself up. You have the right to feel however you feel, no matter what that is.

2. Practice self- care by seeking counseling, journaling and talking to a spiritual advisor.

3. Don’t jump into another relationship. Have a relationship with yourself. Take yourself to dinner, on dates, and pamper you.

4. Seek help for your children if needed. Seek counseling, a spiritual advisor, and allow them to get their feelings out with no judgment.

5. Spend time with those you love. Friends, family and pets are the best to be around.

6. Stay busy. Find a cool hobby, attend festivals, take a class, work out.

7. Gain clarity about what you did right and wrong in the marriage so it won’t happen again. This will help in future relationships when you are ready.

8. LOVE YOURSELF. Take long baths, give yourself actual hugs, and treat yourself with patience and kindness. Watch the things you tell yourself. Lowered feelings and thought can lead to depression.

For me divorce started as a negative and hurtful situation but ended in me learning so much about myself. I learned what I did and didn’t want in future relationships. Five years later I married the man of my dreams. He became a father to my children and a true testament that there is truly someone out there for me who will love me for the crazy, quirky woman that I am.

When I think about divorce the song Stronger by Tank stands out in my head. The song is about the ending of a relationship. The hook or chorus is “Now, look at me  I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. Where I am is no longer where I’ve been. I’m stronger and it’s all because of you.” The bridge begins, ” I’m still missing pieces after everything. But I’m stronger! Can’t believe it’s cause she said she’d never leave. But I’m stronger! But if she never left, I would have never seen that I’m stronger.” 

What divorce taught me was, I can stand on my own. I can be a great mother. My children went to therapy  and so did I. I also learned that what you want at 21 is not what you want at 30, or even 40.  Divorce helped me find my identity. I use my voice to encourage other women;  on my blog, on radio I even used it at the Texas legislature this year. I went back to school after my divorce, I reconnected with caring friends. And of course I found love after divorce. 

What could have completely broken me made me stronger.  

My Sister’s Keeper 

I have always been a woman’s woman. Wait well not always, I’ve had my share of girl fights, drama and mess. What I mean is since I’ve matured I have always been dedicated to helping women. It could be working with teen mothers, helping them gain financial freedom, or talking to battered women and telling my story. In my day to day experience I encourage women from small compliments to bold statements of YOU CAN DO IT! YOU MATTER! With all of this love and commitment I have to and for the sistas. I lacked a relationship with my own sister.

Our childhoods were not the best but certainly not the worst. My sister and I share the same dad and different mothers. I am the second child and first girl. I had an older brother name David who passed in 2012. My sister, Janelle was the third child and came right after me. Then we have 3 brothers under us. The relationship with Dad and Janelle’s mother was not all that great. I remember being able to see her on the weekends when Dad would pick us all up but then at some point she stopped coming over.

When I asked about her, Dad would say her mother was trippin’.As a kid I had no idea what that meant. I just knew it wasn’t good. I remember thinking if she’s tripping are her legs broken? When she fell did Janelle fall too? Why can’t you just go and get Janelle since her mother tripped and fell. All through my teens I never saw or heard from my sister. I would see my buddies with their sisters. My friend Keisha and her sister Crystal were so close. DeAnna and Donielle were close even thought they got on each other last nerve. I wanted a sister living with me to get on my nerves. But in my home it was just me and mom. I loved Momma but I wanted a sister I could go to and talk with about “ sister stuff.”

Mom knew where Janelle’s mom worked because it was her doctors office, but mom was not the confronting type. She said, “Rhasha your dad and her mom need to handle that. My concern is you and taking care of you.” I never told her I felt taking care of me was me being raised along with my sister. Years went by. I graduated high school, had three children and was getting married at 21. I looked up and saw the most exquisite cheekbones, full lips, and slanted eyes. She smiled really wide when she saw me. I wished I could run over to her but I was walking down the aisle with my asshole first husband. The wedding ended, the reception was over, and just that quickly she was out of my life again.

Facebook was all the rage in 2009 but it took me a while to want to join. I didn’t want to see any friends from back in the day. I didn’t want to be asked all the bullshit questions. But reluctantly I joined the site and started adding friends. By now I was divorced, remarried, moved to Ohio and had just written a book with two of my closest friends. A friend request popped up; Janelle Halliburton. My heart skipped a beat and I dropped my laptop on the floor.

We quickly started sending message back and forth. We exchanged numbers and the next time I went to Indianapolis for the Holidays we met up at Starbucks for coffee. We texted often and kept up with each other. As time went on she became a first time mother, then a second time mother. I moved to Dallas and all of my children went off to college. We stayed in touch through social media and the phone.

Whenever I come home to visit she comes out even at the last minute. We meet up for dinner and live music. She came to see me with the new babies at the bowling alley during my father-in -laws memorial bowling tournament. This year I celebrated by 40 birthday and who was first to arrive to dinner, my sister. When I planned a birthday event here in Dallas she was there.

This past weekend she came down and we hung out. As I watched her with that same beautiful face; exquisite cheekbones, full lips that people pay for and naturally curly hair I kept thinking man I never had a chance to kiss those cheeks when she was sad. I never burnt her with a curling iron while flat ironing her hair, I never protected her in a fight. Even though she is taller than me and stronger. I was never my sister’s keeper in the real sense.

I have watched my daughters all have each others backs but I was robbed of that chance. But as we talked I realized we are not children anymore;or teens. We are grown women who have been through divorces. We are mothers who are parenting small and adult children. We have been through relationships ups and downs. There are things I can help her with regarding her children. She can provide me with information as I navigate the social work field where she holds a Masters Degree. As adults we can be there for each other and provide support.

Although we didn’t fully have each other then, now we are fully committed to sustaining our relationship no matter the distance. We are sisters. We have a bond, we are each other’s keeper.

Next up Sister Vegas trip 2018.