Mommy and Daddies: 7 Questions for the Dating Single Mom

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Thought for the Day:

“The most difficult part of dating as a single mother, is deciding how much risk your child’s heart is worth.”

Dan Pearce

Question for the Day:

As a single mom, do you date responsibly?


 

 

Well, once again I feel the need to apologize for my delayed posting.  Life has been hella real for me over the last couple of months between clients at work being on ten, my husband working mad overtime, and chauffeuring my kids around from band practice to baseball games. Things get hectic for me for sure, but the physical and mental exhaustion I’m feeling now as I begin this post, are in some ways the inspiration for it.  I’ve been wanting to write on single motherhood for awhile, but in all honesty, I questioned whether my perspective was valid enough to explore.  I secretly feared that single moms might take offense to a married woman attempting to speak on their behalf.  Although the struggle is real for married mothers as well, it is admittedly a different type of struggle.  Yet for the record, my husband works two night jobs.  So after 7:00 pm, I feel pretty much like a single mother.  I’m the only one here five nights out of the week to break up the arguments, facilitate chore duty, help with homework, kill the spiders, or unclog the toilets.  It is very difficult to work a full day on a demanding job, and then come home to my second full-time job of parenting.  There are plenty of nights that I just want to come home, crawl in my bed, order some take out and binge watch Nurse Jackie  instead of giving myself a migraine trying to decode the art portfolio better known as Common Core Math.  Most days, I’m just flat out too tired to do anything, including write, but the call of motherhood is relentless no matter what the heck I feel like.  This is why, although I can’t fully understand, I truly empathize with the challenges of single parenting.

For the single mother, life’s demands must feel even more overwhelming because there are generally less opportunities for relief.  At least in my case, I can count on my husband to make dinner before he goes to work and get the kids started on their homework although he leaves all the hard questions for me to explain (side eye).  I know he’ll go to the grocery store, pick up prescriptions or pay the light bill while I’m at work.  He can be available to pick the kids up from school if they’re sick and can throw a load of clothes in the washing machine if I remember that my son’s baseball uniform is still marinating in yesterday’s funk.  I also know that at least two days a week he’ll be off and I can squeeze in a few hours of guilt-free vegetation on the couch while he makes up for lost time with the kids.  Though my life as a married woman is harder than most, it is still not as difficult as a single mom’s.  In my opinion, good single mothers deserve double honor because they are doing the work of two people at home, and are usually holding down a job (or two) to boot. If it is up to you to solve all of the problems, remember everything, make all the plans, administer all the discipline, make all the money, pay every bill, and basically be the brains and brawn behind your family’s entire operation, it would be totally understandable for you to get tired of playing all positions and want some help!  If you are a single mother who is wearing your knees out praying for God to draft a new player to your team, trust me, you get no shade from me.  You’re probably praying that a good man finds you the same way I’m praying that a good day job finds my husband.

Now, even though it is completely understandable for a single mother to desire a partner, it is not understandable or acceptable for her to open her life and family up to any and all takers.  The “any man is better than no man” mantra might work if it’s just you and you’re up for another spin on the emotional roller coaster, but most children are not tall enough to ride that ride.  As a therapist, I cannot stand to see women make horrible decisions in their love relationships especially when their kids will often pay the price for their bad choices.  Furthermore, it’s terrible to have an adult in therapy who is suffering with emotional issues or addiction because they are still not over the fact that their mom allowed some boyfriend, “play daddy” or pretend “uncle” to molest or abuse them.  Not only do many women overlook how bad their boyfriends may treat their kids, some will even blame their children for whatever abuse occurs.  That’s not just a plot line in Precious but probably the most common story I’ve heard from troubled clients in therapy.   A quick search of the internet will soon prove that abuse of children at the hands of mommy’s boyfriend is ridiculously common. I think it was just recently that I read a story about a 9 year old little boy who died at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend because he ate the last slice of birthday cake.  Someone in the home got worried that that the boy was being beaten too badly and called an ambulance only to have the boy’s mother wave them away when they arrived.  The boy was beaten within an inch of his life before they finally got him to the hospital where he later died.  Does the death penalty with a huge slice of birthday cake as a last meal sound good to anyone else?

Now, not all the men that single mothers bring around their children are bad.  Single women get blessed with good husbands all the time.  However, if you are immature and not yet the best partner in the world yourself, you may not be ready for or even open to a good man when he comes along.  In fact, many single mothers are not single because they were left high and dry by deadbeats.  Some are single mothers because they were still running the streets and game playing when they conceived their children.  Some were just partying too hard or trying to keep a man that probably didn’t need to be kept.  These single mothers may not be letting the responsibility of motherhood mature them and wouldn’t know what to do with a good man if he showed up anyway.  Stand-up men may enter their lives with full intentions of stepping up to the plate, only to be labeled “corny” or too straight-laced for the single mother still looking to drop it like its hot.  I don’t know why it always seems that the women least in the market for a quality man, tend to find them, but I know that it sets innocent children up for multiple losses and a lifetime struggle with abandonment issues. Irresponsible mothers tend to introduce various men into their kids’ lives just to turn around and end relationships that their children may have come to rely on.  It’s not fair to drag a child through your relationship drama and force him/her to cut off their emotional attachments to the man in mom’s life on a moment’s notice whenever she’s bored and ready to move on.  All mothers know that once you have children, it isn’t about you anymore so you don’t get to “do you” without considering the consequences for your children.  So, if you’re a single mother who’s in the market for a mate, here are some questions to ask yourself before you bring a new man into your children’s lives.

Are your children your top priority?  There should be absolutely nothing and no one that comes between you and your responsibility to love, nurture and protect your children.  I don’t care if he makes your toes curl, can get your furniture out of layaway or is the only man to take you to a “fancy” restaurant with no prices on the menu.  Being a good man to you does not necessarily make him a good man for your children.  If all the special treatment comes at the expense of your kids, then it shouldn’t be worth it.  Are you leaving them home alone more or with any and everybody just so that you can be “booed up” on the weekends?  Are you running the streets with “bae” instead of being home checking homework or cooking meals?  Are you forfeiting basketball money or school picture funds in the name of getting your hair and nails done because that’s what your “baby” likes?  If so, then you are neglecting your responsibilities and allowing a man who may or may not be in it for the long haul to cause you to lose focus on the family that certainly will be.  If he is a good man, he would never ask you to neglect your family.   He would understand why your time may be limited or that you may not be available if appropriate childcare is not in place.  If he doesn’t get why your children are your first priority, then he will never be a man that should be entrusted with their care long-term.

Do you want a good man or will anyone do?  Are you willing to wait on the quality man God has for you or will you take anyone who”accepts” you and your kids?  Remember, having children does not make you defective or handicapped.  Motherhood is not an STD that you have to feel guilty about exposing your partner to.  Bae isn’t doing you any favors because he’s willing to share his PlayStation  with your son.  If he’s a good man and you’re a good woman, then your children would be an additional blessing to his life.  Don’t settle for less than you deserve because you’ve bought into the lie that you’d better consider all the mouths you have to feed and take what you can get.  If you do this, then you’re also teaching your children that they are partly responsible for your bad choice in a mate and therefore must put up with whatever backlash results.

Does the man you’re dating already have children and if so, what’s his relationship with them?    I mean seriously, you want to bring a man with four kids and three baby mamas in on you and your kids?  If he is not taking responsibility for his own flesh and blood, what on earth makes you think he’s looking to be a stand up guy for your children?  He either doesn’t like fatherhood or can’t afford it.  If he’s not paying child support as it is, what part of his check do you think he’s prepared to allot for you and yours? My guess is, he’s already in the rears and has his other baby mamas hounding him for payment.  He might just be “in love” with you in an effort to cut expenses and keep a permanent address off the record.

Do you have unresolved childhood issues of abuse or neglect yourself?   Part of our fragility as human beings is our tendency to heal pretty slowly from deep childhood wounds.  It’s also a common defense mechanism for us to stay in denial about the traumatic events we may have experienced.  Yet, without insight and awareness, many of us will unconsciously repeat our parents’ mistakes.  If your mother only dated men who laid around and drank forties, beat her or who were inappropriate with you and your siblings, it would be very easy to choose this same type of man for yourself.  Be sure that you are not playing a subconscious game in which you choose the same horrible “step daddy” for yourself so that you can rectify all of the wrongs in your past.

What are your deal  breakers when it comes to your children?  What will you allow in your household?  What will you not tolerate?  How is a man, WHO IS NOT YOUR HUSBAND allowed to treat your children?  In my opinion, the only role a boyfriend to a single mom should play is to support his woman in whatever decision she makes in terms of disciplining her kids.  He can help, support, encourage, and teach, but discipline is the job of a parent.  And only putting a ring on it and committing to a lifetime of responsibility for a woman and her children would qualify a man as a parent.  So I’m not understanding why so many women allow their boyfriends  to beat, disrespect, berate, manipulate, and intimidate the children God entrusted to their care.  You may try to blame your man for the sin like Adam did Eve in the garden, but at the end of the day, God is going to come looking for you.

Is the man you’re dating marriage material?  If your boo is nowhere close to being ready or equipped to carry the spiritual, financial or emotional load of a family then why are you confusing your children by playing house?  Why are you carting your kids and your boyfriend off to Olan Mills for fake family photos and threatening your misbehaving children with a sorry “wait ’til Ray Ray gets home?”  That is not their daddy!  I know you like to pretend but don’t make your children play the role because you’re not willing to face the fact that he’s not interested in making you his wife.

Are you honestly even ready to settle down and commit?  Are you in the market for a husband and a father for your children or do you just need help with your Comcast bill?  Are you just looking for a babysitter so you can kick it on Ladies Night with your girls or do you honestly want a partnership?  Stringing men along just to get your personal needs met may work for you, but it won’t work for a vulnerable child who is already struggling with the absence of his/her biological father. They will likely be eager to attach to any good man that might promise to fill that empty seat.  Live-in relationships are always serious to a child with a daddy void, even if it’s not serious to you. If you’re bent on playing the field, then cool.  Just make sure you bench the kids and run your own plays.

Remember ladies, you can audition as many daddies for your children as you want.  There is no sin in dating as a single mother or praying, planning, and preparing for the right man to enter your life. Just make sure you don’t burden your kids with the selection process.  Single mothers who hold it down in spirit and in truth on the daily are Queens indeed.  Many men are willing to “play daddy,” but only a King can be a father.

” Children are a gift from the Lord.  They are a reward from Him.”

Psalm 127:3

 

Side Piece, Be Still

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Thought For The Day:

“Never make someone your priority when all you are to them is an option.”

Maya Angelou

Question For The Day:

Are you settling for less than you deserve?

Well, we survived another Valentines Day, and I pray it proved enjoyable and love affirming for everyone reading.  If nothing else, it should always be an opportunity to show yourself some much deserved affection.  Yet as is traditional, I suspect that Valentines Day once again demonstrated its power to drive the dissatisfied single to the brink of desperation.  In fact, my Facebook timeline proved as much.  I know being “booed up” on V Day is a good look, but if you’d sell your soul for a little companionship and a 2 for $20 dinner date at Applebee’s, you might have this love thing twisted.  Valentines Day, like most holidays that have strong connotations of intimacy and family ties, tend to illuminate our desire for meaningful human relationships.  However, they also have a way of exposing the relationship smoke screens that thrive over text message or appear authentic in the privacy of an hourly-rated motel room, but are ultimately just facades.  If you claim to be involved with a man, but find yourself alone and in distress on major holidays, chances are the smoke has cleared and a broken-hearted “side piece” is all that remains.

What I find truly unfortunate, is that many women spend their entire lives living in an alternate reality.  They willingly engage in toxic love affairs that hold them hostage in a never-ending cycle of bait and switch that promises rewards that never materialize.  These women remain on the outskirts of genuine connection and may waste their best years admiring the greener pastures of committed love from the other side of the proverbial picket fence.  These “outside women” believe their man will eventually let them in, not realizing they’re the ones who have locked themselves out.  These are the other women that wayward husbands seek out when they feel like exploring the wilder borders beyond the monotony of home.  These men (and I use that term loosely) are more than happy to jump the fence every once in a while.  Cheaters are down to explore because they hold the key and can return to the safety of holy matrimony whenever unchartered territory becomes too treacherous to navigate.  While I’ll address how to deal with a cheating man in a later post,  today my aim is to speak to the heart of the “side piece” who waits patiently from a safe distance until her man can come out and play.

Side pieces are the coleslaw to a man’s fried chicken or the baked beans to his ribs.  They’re the tasty side item that can supplement a greedy man’s diet, but they’ll never be ordered as the main dish.  So if you or someone you know is a certified “side piece” who is wasting valuable seconds on the clock trying to call the game from the sidelines, this post is for you.  So what sorts of cognitive distortions are to blame for the miseducation of the side piece?  What is at the core of this brand of dysfunction?  Well, I personally wouldn’t know, but I’ve been a counseling professional long enough to offer some suggestions.  I give you Side Piece Memeology 101.  Feel free to take notes.

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Side Pieces Have Bought Into The Fantasy

I might be one of very few Black women who never got into Scandal.  No shade to Kerry Washington or Shonda Rhimes who I think are both beautiful and incredibly talented, but my multiple attempts to binge-watch on Netflix continue to fail.  To keep it real, I frankly just don’t buy that a character as commanding and gorgeous as Olivia Pope with all her intelligence and propensity for problem solving would be compromising enough to be the side chick, even if it is to the President. Yet because she does it with so much flair, I think side pieces everywhere have convinced themselves that like Olivia, they too can make adultery look fly!  There’s nothing sexier than sleeping with your man right under his wife’s nose and knowing that he’s willing to sacrifice it all for your love.  But the inconvenient truth is, Scandal is a television show, you ain’t Olivia Pope and your man is likely nowhere close to being President.  That kind of reckless abandon works for dramatic television but is often not pragmatic for the average Joe that’s stepping out on his wife.  Most real life two-timers wouldn’t risk losing a job at Target.  They can’t afford a divorce or the subsequent child support payments for the sake of anyone’s “love.”  Real talk, he probably just wants to hit it. All the extra backstory and sentimental context you try to attach, is probably all in your head.  IJS

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Side Pieces Believe “The Wife” Will Relent

Well, you might get lucky and get with a married man whose marriage has truly hit the skids.  His wife might have already checked out and is grateful to the side piece for taking him and his disobedient penis off her hands.  But by and large, most wives aren’t going down without a fight.  If she has invested a significant amount time in her marriage and/or has minor children with your man, she is not going to just step aside and let you take her position.  If and when she ever decides to leave him, it won’t be because you’re tired of waiting your turn.  She is entitled to half of everything he has, is raising his children, and knows everything about him including all the stuff he doesn’t want you or anyone else to know.  If this was a game of spades, his wife would be holding ALL the books and you’d be set before the game even began.  The wife will always play her hand because she knows she’ll win in the end, one way or another.

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Side Pieces Live in Denial About the State of Their Man’s Marriage

I know he gave you the sob story about how his wife just doesn’t understand him and how they’ve simply grown apart.  He’s staying for the kids and doesn’t want to disrupt their routine.  He would leave tomorrow if it wasn’t so “complicated” and of course, sex with his wife is nothing like it is with you.  Poor baby, right?  The side piece then becomes this sad soul’s rescuer, his refuge.  She convinces herself that she’s his savior and the only one that can hold him down during this most difficult season of his life.  This is all plausible until he announces he can’t be in contact for two weeks because he’s going on a Disney cruise with his family (but just for the kids of course).  You notice his upgraded wedding band and the new minivan he’s driving, but still you believe he’s suffering through all his wife’s birthday parties, family reunions and school recitals. He’s really trying hard not to obsess over your good lovin’ and is counting the seconds until he can once again bask in the sanctuary that is your studio apartment. (sips tea)  Moving on.

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Side Pieces Believe Their Day Is Coming

Married men who cheat are master manipulators.  They appear to be quite adept at holding the carrot of commitment just out their side woman’s reach. She then might dedicate many years to trying to grab it.  False promises and well-timed gifts have a way of confusing a woman with limited self worth.  One might become so preoccupied with waiting for her man’s divorce announcement, that she forgets to pay attention to the realities of her own life.  If she’s not careful, she might wait through her child-bearing years or wait her way out of greater job prospects.  She may end up waiting forever all because she’s afraid of leaving too soon and missing the big pay day.  If this is you, here’s the news flash.  The check is going to bounce and so should you.

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Side Pieces Believe Their Man Is Trustworthy

I know it’s been said before but it’s worth repeating.  If he would cheat on his wife with you, surely he would cheat on you with the next chick.  My guess is you’re likely already being cheated on. You might think you’re auditioning for the role of Wife but might actually be an under study for the role of Side Piece #2.  We women have a terrible habit of trying to mold and shape men into who we want them to be.  Like K. Michelle sings, you can’t raise a man.  If he is an adulterer, he has proven to have major character defects including dishonesty, disloyalty, and minimal integrity to name a few.  I think a man like that needs Jesus, but you believe a sample of your goodies is all he needs to be saved.  Please note: good sex does not equal good man.  Just because you can trust him to satisfy you in bed doesn’t mean he can be trusted to satisfy you in life.

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Side Pieces Believe Their Man Deserves Loyalty

Many side pieces wouldn’t dare dream of cheating on their cheater.  Perhaps it’s all the expensive suites at the Red Roof Inn or the plethora of hand me down bling he’s thrown her way that makes her feel strangely indebted.  How in the world do you owe a relationship born of unfaithfulness your fidelity?  You may owe his wife an apology for sure, but you would owe him nothing but deuces if you finally decided to walk away and pursue a legitimate relationship.  How crazy is it that an adulterous man would expect his faithful side piece to “keep it home” while he makes his home elsewhere?  If you fall for this type of hype, then like Malcolm X said, you’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok!  Get your life girl!  He’s certainly gotten his and you wouldn’t be playing the margins if you were truly a part of it.

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Side Pieces Deny Their Lack of Self-Esteem

I know you look fierce in the Louboutins he bought you.  You probably feel like the baddest bish https://getliftedgirl.org/2015/03/20/the-baddest-bish/when you’re able to stunt on all your girlfriends who wish they had a man to “take care of them” like yours.  Say whatever you must to save face, but you and all your girlfriends already know the truth.  Knowing that the man you love does not value you enough to offer you commitment, sacrifice, dedication, or partnership is most certainly hurtful.  Subjecting yourself to this type of pain is the mark of a woman with low self-esteem.  We women will demand what we deserve in almost every other aspect of our lives.  If we’re skilled in our professions, we won’t let someone pay us minimum wage.  So why do we keep accepting pieces of a man instead of holding out for the entire package?  I recently watched Tyrese and Rev Run’s Show It’s Not You, It’s Men and Rev Run said something that also bears repeating.  “If you truly love yourself, you’ll take crap from no one.”  Only women who question their value will sell themselves cheap.  A man who would step out on his wife, is looking for a rock bottom discount that will cost him as little as possible.  I don’t know about you, but I’m a “behind the locked glass” kind of woman where the side piece has relegated herself to the bargain bin.  Still cute or nah?

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Side Pieces Are Chronically Jealous

Hate is a preventable disease.  Why make yourself sick counting the next woman’s blessings instead of discovering your own? If you’re salty about all the time and luxuries the wife enjoys then take it up with your man.  If he hasn’t done as much for you then clearly, there is no competition.  You can’t beat someone at their own game so if you’re tired of coming in last, don’t hate the player, hate the game.

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Side Pieces Deserve More

The bottom line is this.  All women are worthy of authentic, committed love.  Being married is not an indication of better looks, character, or personality.  As a married woman, I can assure you that we often carry the same emotional baggage as any single lady, which is why side pieces with poor self-esteem shouldn’t get a pass.  We women can’t continue to use our issues as an excuse to sin. Sleeping with a married man is wrong, period.  It hurts other women, breaks up families, scars innocent children, contributes to the delinquency of an undisciplined husband, and often leads to the spiritual death of the side piece herself.  If you’ve already wasted too much time chasing an illusion of love, please stop.  Side piece, be still and know that the one you’ve been waiting for, is God.

“Flee from sexual immorality.  Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”

1 Corinthians 6:18

Waiting for Captain Save ‘Em: 5 Ways Gold Diggers Play Themselves

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Thought for the Day:

“A man is not a financial plan.”

Question for the Day:

Are you looking for a man to save you?

Alright, so how many of you are looking forward to Valentine’s Day because it represents an opportunity to cash in on an expensive dinner or a gift that can hopefully be featured in your next well-crafted social media post?  I can see my timeline now.  Endless pics of open jewelry boxes and dew-kissed bouquets of flowers complete with sticky sweet hashtags like #someonelovesme or #frombae. I can hardly wait. (deadpan)  Don’t get me wrong y’all, I enjoy nice things too and would love to have a little something extra to add to my jewelry box this year.  Yet, with me and my husband’s current budgetary constraints, I’ll be satisfied with some form of extravagant dessert and a foot massage.  I’ve never been a materialistic person, but when you’re raising three kids and have experienced real financial hardship, stuff that is often purchased to represent love becomes far less valuable than the respect, trust, and loyalty that actually IS true love.  What matters most to me now after almost fifteen years of marriage is that my husband continues to go to work, be a good father, stay faithful, and support me.  As long as he does these things, I don’t really need an expensive token of affection because a man’s “act right” is worth infinitely more.  However, many women still believe that “love” is all about the dollars and cents and have lost sight of what makes a healthy relationship truly precious.  Strangely enough, a West Coast hip hop icon was one of the first to teach me this lesson.

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If you were anywhere near Cali around 1993-1994 you couldn’t go far without hearing E-40’s “Captain Save a ‘Em” bumping out someone’s subwoofers.  I was about twenty at the time and remember going home on summer break from Howard University and being introduced to it by my boyfriend at the time.  This underground classic is still to this day, one of my jams.  If you’ve never heard it, it basically suggests that women who have expensive tastes or children in need of support should be on the look out for “Captain Save ‘Em,” a man who might be eager to offer financial support in exchange for sexual favors.  I’m being really politically correct here because I realize that my super spiritual sisters may take offense to me admitting that this is my song, but it is what it is.  E-40 has a unique cadence and way of dismantling vocabulary that is not only profoundly original but often, flat out funny!  Not only is this song’s beat off the chain, but I laughed out loud the first time I heard it.  I actually still own the single on tape and found myself playing it while taking a trip down memory lane, courtesy of the most awesome cassette tape collection this side of heaven.  Yes, I still bump cassettes.  You can take the girl out of the 90’s but you can’t take the 90’s out of the girl!  I think my favorite line is:

“Make that man take care of your kids, make that man call your kids his, make is butt get out there and work, make him buy you a Dooney and Bourke.  It’s all part of that brother take care of me, sex-whipped man come save me!  Girls out there be on the lookout for Captain Save ‘Em  yo, cause he’s saving those.” 

Classic!  Of course, I had to do the church lady edit here because there were quite a few curse words in that excerpt but I respect y’all enough to keep it clean.  (Google it on You Tube though if you want to hear the original, but consider yourself warned)  Anyway, though not for children, the song is appropriately provocative in its ability to paint a clear picture of the quintessential “gold digger.”  We all know women like the ones described in the song.  There are indeed women who see men as their own personal ATM machines and infinite lines of credit.  Like American Express, they’re accepted everywhere and typically have no limits.  You’ll find them trolling the VIP section at the club or sniffing around music video sets, hopeful that one day a brother with sufficient ends will come along and save them from themselves.  As a counselor, I’ve talked to women who are quick to give me the screwface when I suggest a second job or returning to school in response to their financial hardships.  Yet more often than not, they are perfectly content to keep using men and compromising themselves if it means regular access to someone’s paycheck.

An inconvenient truth is that many women will spend more money, time and energy on looking attractive enough to hook the big fish rather than on becoming the big fish.  Some ladies could easily put themselves through college for all the money they spend on lace fronts, red bottoms, gel manicures, boob jobs, and butt enhancements.  If you’re willing to pay layaway accounts all over town for over-priced clothing or pay for your Brazilian hair in convenient monthly installments, then you can certainly make a student loan payment.  (ijs)  Ironically, many women are much more willing to invest in the external, though internal beauty is the only thing that will keep a man of substance engaged long-term.  Materialism in and of itself is issue enough, but using a man to feed this unhealthy need to self-validate takes this dysfuntion to a whole new level.  I believe men shouldn’t be automatically expected to do for a woman what she refuses to do for herself. Yes, it is a man’s responsibility to provide for and protect his woman, but women are also called to be help meets for their men.  I don’t think the entire burden of a woman’s financial security should fall solely on a man’s shoulders.  In fact, I suspect that a man would take greater pride in taking care of a woman because he wants to rather than because he has to.  If you can’t eat unless your man gets paid, then you’re a child, not a partner.  I personally don’t believe this is ultimately what men look for in a mate.

In this age of “The Real Housewives,” the sacrifice of female dignity in exchange for the latest handbag is par for the course.  Nothing seems to matter so long as you have a man that can afford to satisfy your need to keep up with the Joneses.  We women have gotten way too comfortable with letting our own personal growth and development go so long as there’s a man with deep pockets prepared to pick up the slack.  If you are a woman who is refusing to invest in your own financial future because you are banking on being “saved,” here are 5 reasons why you’re ultimately playing yourself.

  1. If the relationship fails, you fail. – I am a big believer in fighting for relationships and making marriage work, but the reality is, many just don’t.  Add to that the fact that a gold digger and her financier’s relationship was likely rooted in a money for sex exchange as opposed to true love, and it’s fair to assume the relationship won’t have legs.  If you had no education, no career, and no savings when you entered the relationship, you are essentially one “deuces” away from skid row!
  2. It’s too much pressure – If the only cards you’re holding are your looks and bedroom skills, then maintaining those advantages becomes your full-time job.  Age will become an ever-looming enemy that threatens to take you out at any moment.  There’s always going to be someone younger, tighter, and freakier willing to step in the minute you’re caught slipping.  One too many nights in your bonnet or  ill-timed “headaches” and you may find yourself replaced.
  3. You are no longer your priority – When you’re indebted to a man for everything you have, he has to be your priority.  Your plans and desires will have to take a back seat, because keeping your man happy will always be the first order of business.  You don’t have time to “do you” because “you” ain’t paying no bills!  Isn’t that what we tell are kids when they start insisting on their own way?
  4. You’re self-esteem will eventually suffer – Gold digging may be cute in your twenties and might make you the envy of all your hard-working girlfriends who must fight their way up the corporate ladder. Yet if you’re a forty plus woman who can’t even go to Wal-Mart without asking your man for gas money, it’s no longer a good look. Self-sufficiency is one of the best ways to develop a sense of competency.  It’s easy to boast about how strong you are as a woman, but genuinely high self-esteem requires that you prove it.
  5. It sends the wrong message – As the mother of a daughter, I would never want my little girl to believe she is limited in the level of success she can achieve independently.  It will always be important for women to model for their daughters that the right man will be an asset to your life but not its entire value.  I want her to know that she can be as rich as she decides because she was born with God-given treasures that pay immeasurable dividends.  A gold-digging mentality sends the message that we women are not enough on our own and need to be upgraded to any relevant level of worth.  If you’re not willing to tell your daughter as much, don’t live it before her either.

Real talk ladies.  It’s time to close our legs, open our minds, and cut the gold digging out.  Trying to build upon a foundation of men, money, and designer heels might give you a temporary sense of accomplishment, but it’ll eventually lead you into spiritual bankruptcy.  If you find yourself broke, busted, and disgusted at the end of every relationship, then it may be time to pursue a relationship with Jesus, the only one who truly saves.

Hall Pass Revoked


hallpasslog

Thought for the Day:

“A relationship is built for two.  But apparently, some people don’t know how to count.”

Question for the Day:

Are you accepting infidelity?

Well, we’re approaching Valentine’s Day so the season of balloons, teddy bears, five extra pounds in Walgreen’s chocolate, heartache, piles of snot rags and forlornly chick flicks is upon us.  Whether you’re in a committed relationship or not, this is the time of year when we all give greater consideration to our relationships (or the lack thereof) and the happiness of those relationships (or the lack thereof).  We’ve all read enough self-help books by now to know that relationships, in general, are complicated. Yet if many of us would just stop betraying the God in us by acting a donkey in the name of love, our relationships wouldn’t be nearly as complicated as we make them.  I thought I’d focus the next few weeks on trying to address a few of the more controversial relationship issues and how they impact our sense of self-worth as women.

I’ve written previously on singlehood and marraige and am convinced that tomfoolery in relationships has no regard for marital status.  Single women tend to get a bum rap and are made out to be desperate and irrational in their relationship pursuits.  This is not only stereotypical and biased but it lets all the crazed and delusional married women off the hook. Jumping the broom has never been the cure for relationship insanity.  If you were boo obsessed as a single, your poor husband won’t stand a chance.   If your self esteem is on life support, your nuptials won’t revive it.  If anything, you’ll flatline in marriage if you’re not healthy going in.  Far too many women are willing to compromise their values in exchange for a relationship status upgrade on their social media pages.  Don’t be confused, dealing with all manner of foolishness is a game married women play (with skill) everyday.  Tolerating abuse, disrespect, and infidelity is often heralded as “standing by your man” but if you ask me, it’s more like you’re standing under him while he wipes his feet on the doormat formally known as your soul. Being a “ride or die chick” doesn’t make you special if you’re mate is doing all the riding and you’re doing all the dying, but recognizing this is often difficult.

Exhibit A: Monique

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Several weeks ago, I came across an article about actress and comedienne Monique and I almost strained my optic nerve giving her the side eye.  In the article, Monique asserts that she allows her husband to cheat with her permission.  She then went on to proudly proclaim that it was her idea as if she was going to earn some extra cool points for this illegitimate brain child.   According to Monique, she and her husband are “open to the world” and “open to being honest with each other all the way through.”   I agree so long as you are honest about opening the flood gates to all manner of bacterial crud and outside babies.  She’s not alone either.  I also heard about Toya Wright, ex-wife of Lil Wayne and soon to be ex-wife of producer Mickey “Memphis” Wright. Apparently, Mrs. Wright allowed her husband something like eight “hall passes” per year.  Shockingly, that approach to keeping your man satisfied still wasn’t enough for Mr. Wrong, I mean Mr. Wright, and the two are headed for divorce court.  Just about every ratchet reality show would have you believe that man sharing and threesomes are the new normal or that one can borrow someone’s spouse as easily as taking a neighbor’s new lawnmower for a spin.  Well, if you’re going to try to pass open marriage off as the thing “cool” couples do then fine, but let’s  not act like making this kind of choice has no deeper implications.  And sorry Monique, but saying it was “your idea” does not erase those implications.  Allowing your mate to fertilize the grass in everyone else’s yard will mean it’s ALWAYS going to be greener on the other side of the fence.  Most millenials love bragging about how evolved they are.  Traditional marriage is archaic and limiting.  Monogomy isn’t “natural” and the result of conforming to European standards. Everyone’s on that “new new” and proud of it until a stranger approaches you and wants to spill the tea over your man’s special move when you didn’t even know he was that flexible!  Knowing that the most intimate experiences shared in a marriage are not sacred has got to hurt on some level.  And if it doesn’t, I’d question what kind of love you really have.

Now, I don’t mean to throw Monique any shade like most of her critics who say that her weight issues have damaged her self-esteem and are likely contributing to this decision.  As a woman who is also BMI challenged, I know that being heavier doesn’t necessarily mean you have poor self-esteem.  However, I’m not sure why a woman who is rich, famous, talented, and holding basically ALL the cards in her relationship is even putting open marriage on the table as an option.  In my opinion, all women deserve monogamy, but when you’re rich and accomplished to boot, how hard should it really be for your man to keep it zipped?   If you love your wife, should it be difficult to commit to her when she not only loves you back, but can also make life easy for you?  From what I can see, he must feel like the luckiest man on Earth.  He has access to all the privileges of his wife’s success without any of the hard work it took to earn it.  She runs around pampering him and proclaiming in every interview that she is happy to leave her success at the door and serve him as her king when she gets home.  All this and a hall pass to sweeten the deal?  What man wouldn’t commit to this situation whether he truly loved his wife or not?  If you ask me, Monique has made it very easy for this man to stay with her which makes the therapist in me wonder if she is afraid that if she expects more, she might not get it.  A woman with low self-esteem might try to preemptively eliminate all of her man’s struggles to make remaining committed to her as easy as possible.  If I just let EVERYTHING be okay, he will never do anything that will force me to have to consider leaving him.  Or better yet, he’ll never feel uncomfortable enough to leave on his own accord.  A woman as gifted as Monique has the right to expect fidelity from her husband.  Did she offer the “hall pass” because she wanted the freedom for herself (as she claimed) or because she was trying to circumvent the pain she might suffer if he cheated on her unknowingly.  Maybe it isn’t about her self-esteem and she really thinks it will make for a stronger marriage.  Well, let me think. If my husband allowed me a hall pass, I would wonder what that says about his feelings for me.  If he’s willing to share me with “the world” then perhaps he’s just not feeling me anymore.  In general, folks never lend out what’s valuable.  It’s the raggedy stuff you no longer care about that’s easiest to let others borrow.  Knowing that my man doesn’t value me any more than a cup of sugar, wouldn’t exactly scream STRONG MARRIAGE OVER HERE!

 I don’t know a married woman alive who wants a marriage that is “open to the world.”  The world is full of viruses, scorned lovers, keyed up cars, baby mamas in need of child support, and other women who might gladly snatch up your husband and value him enough to officially take him off the market.  If you truly love your man, there is no way in the world that the thought of him spooning with another woman after a roll in the sack doesn’t bother you!  If you claim to be okay with that then you either don’t love him anymore and are shopping him around to the highest bidder or you’re a glutton for pain and punishment.  But trying to pawn the “hall pass” off as the key to contentment in a marriage is anything but honest.  You tried it Monique, but apparently you still have some learning to do.  It’s time to get back to class ma’am, you’re hall pass has been revoked.

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“Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and the sexually immoral.”

Hebrews 13:4

A New Life’s Resolution

 

 

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Thought For The Day:

“Character is being able to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.”

Cavett Robert

Question For The Day:

Will you keep this year’s resolutions?

Well, it’s the start of 2016!!!  Hallelujah and thank you Jesus because there were times in 2015, even just last week (lol), that I didn’t think I would make it!   Yet, just like God, He saw me through anyhow and I’m grateful. The awesome thing about New Year’s Day is that it presents an opportunity to hit the refresh button on our lives and be conscious about the fact that change is upon us.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day grind and forget that the days of our lives are ticking by.  We blame hectic schedules for continued procrastination on our goals.  We delay making changes that we know are in our best interest because, after all, who has the time?  We’ll do it later, when things calm down, when the kids are out of school, or when we pay off that debt.  Life has a way of making us forget that every second we wait is a second we’ll never get back.  Sure the occasional rogue gray hair and the increased need for regular dosages of Tylenol would suggest that we are aging.  Yet, there’s nothing like throwing away an entire calendar’s worth of appointments to remind you that the Earth has completed 365 whole rotations and time is indeed marching on.  When it finally hits us that another year is in the can, it’s natural to reflect upon it and try to identify areas in which we have progressed as well as the ways we’ve remained stagnant.  If after this assessment, we recognize more flounder than flourish, a valid question to ask is, what happened?  Realizing that you’ve been stuck for twelve months has a way of making poor excuses a bit more obvious.  Some harsh realities have hit me over the last few days as I reflect on 2015 because so much went undone.  Was I really THAT busy?  Surely, I could have found more time to relax and take care of myself.  Heck, if I had spent as much time working on my writing as I did piddling around on social media, I might have been submitting a manuscript to publishers by now.  The truth is, most of us can attest to the fact that we could have done more. Enter, the handy, dandy….New Year’s Resolution!

A solid New Year’s resolution can serve as a life raft over the seas of guilt and regret as we come to terms with last year’s shortcomings.  They are our declarations to the world that we have recommitted ourselves to greatness (again).  We’re ready to heed Oprah’s call to live our best life.  We can almost feel Iyanla’s breath on our neck as she beckons us to “do the work, Beloved.” With the new year, we can finally get it right.  There will be no more late night cookie dough binges or cigarette breaks at work. We’ll treat people better, renew our gym memberships, start reading the Bible again, and call those relatives we have all but written off.  According to our elaborate Facebook posts, this is the time and this is the year!    We want everybody to anticipate changes in us while giving ourselves a 365 day window to follow through.  Sounds like a plan, right?  However my question is this.  Do we make all these lofty resolutions because we want people to think we’re changing or do we really, really, want to?  I’ll wait……

I wonder sometimes myself as I look at the graveyard of New Year’s  resolutions that I have personally left in the dust.  Y’all can give me the side eye if you want to, but I know I’m not alone.  What if all our “go get ’em” proclamations are just false promises we tell ourselves to feel less crappy about all that went unaccomplished last year?  It’s easy to come up with fancy words this time of year, but the lack of follow through is kind of why my 2016 resolutions look pretty similar to 2012’s.  Keeping it real, my New Year’s fire tends to fizzle sometime around the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.  I’ve been trying to lose 50 pounds for ten years and finishing my novel for fifteen.  Life always seems to get in my way or at least that’s what I tell myself.  I really have been pondering why derailed resolutions continue to be an issue for me and this is what I have discovered.

I propose that part of the issue is in trying to cram an entire new perspective, outlook, lifestyle, and pinnacle life achievements into a 365 day package.  By putting so much emphasis on the “new year,” a deadline is implied which means if I make the mistake of not completing everything on my checklist, I’ll have another reason to feel as if I’ve missed the mark and failed.   A sense of failure can’t be good for my self-esteem so I doubt it’ll ever help me keep resolutions that require a pretty hefty dose of it.  The more I fall short, the worse I feel about my competency, and the less likely I’ll be to ever make this “my year.”  Anybody feel me?  So, what if this year, I focus on my vision for the future rather than what I need to accomplish this year.  Instead of emphasizing time-sensitive goals, I’ll try my best to live everyday in a manner that is in line with this vision I have for myself.  By focusing on becoming more and more of who I ultimately want to be and weighing my daily choices accordingly, I move from making New Year’s resolutions to implementing a New Life’s resolution.  The changes I need to make are ongoing and will need to remain in effect long after the close of 2016.  I may no longer be in pursuit of change because change is inevitable whether I force it or not.  As I start this new year, transformation is more what I desire.  True transformation can never be limited to a year and will require consistent action steps, daily renewal of the mind, conscious decision making, and repetitive healthy behaviors from here on out.  If you are like me and recognize that another New Year’s resolution may not be enough, here are some tips that might help us all move beyond the point of temporary change to the reality of permanent transformation.

Do away with deadlines – Some people work well under pressure, others can’t handle it and end up on medication.  So instead of saying things like, I’ll lose 30 pounds by Valentine’s Day or I’ll pay off my bills by summer, make the decision to take positive steps in that direction daily without pinning yourself down to an ending. This means you’ll always have something to feel good about as long as you make a little progress each day.  Daily progress will eventually get you to your destination.  Even if you don’t get there today, you can rest assured that there’s always tomorrow.

Break down larger goals into bite-sized chunks– It can be quite overwhelming to list everything you hope to accomplish in a year’s time.  You may want to get a promotion, buy a house, have a baby, travel, and start a business but the reality is, you may only have a couple of free hours each day to dedicate to anything apart from work and family responsibilities.  There’s only so much time in a day and that’s okay!  Today is all we have anyway so stressing over a whole year’s worth of obligations is pointless.  Yes, there are bigger fish to fry, but if we try to focus on what can reasonably be accomplished today and commit to doing that, before long, we will have accomplished something great.

Stop saying what you’ll NEVER do again – First of all, you know you’re lying, so stop it.  (lmbo)  It’s never wise to run around boasting about what you’re not going to do anymore.  If you have struggled with an issue you’re whole life, you know full well that you’re going to struggle with it in 2016 too.  So renouncing all you bad habits as if you’ve discovered the magic potion is a set up for secrecy, shame, and fakeness that’s going to get you caught up eventually.  Personally, I am not about to tell people I will never hit another donut shop on the way home or that I will NEVER make another excuse to not exercise.  I probably will, but bad days don’t have to mean I’ve blown it.  It just means that today I chose to indulge the wrong things and tomorrow I can make another choice.  I’m therefore not a failure, but simply a work in progress.  It’s a lot less pressure to strive for improvement as opposed to perfection.

I pray that 2016 be a pivotal year for myself and everyone reading.  May we all have the courage to embrace the better life that is waiting for us right now.  Let us utilize the measure of power and grace we are granted each day to its fullest potential, knowing that our new life’s resolution can begin today.  Thank you to all of you for visiting Get Lifted Girl in 2015, its inaugural year.  I appreciate you for reading and for the support.  It’s only going to get better, so get ready.  Happy New Year!

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Romans 12:2

Feeling the Holiday Spirit… Depression

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Thought For The Day:

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”

Robin Williams

Question For The Day:

Are the holidays getting you down?

If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I generally like to cut up and make people laugh while serving up food for thought.  However, depression isn’t an easy issue to make light of so I hope you’ll allow me to treat this topic with the respect it deserves.  It’s much easier to joke through a serious problem than to deal with it straight up. This irony is evident in how many people choose to deal with depression.  Folks will frequently use humor, fun, and festivities to cope with severe emotional pain even though the potential consequences of depression are deadly and far from a laughing matter.  I was touched to come across today’s quote from Robin Williams, famed comedian who indeed spent an entire career making people laugh with his silly, over-the-top antics.  To look at how he would throw himself so completely into his comedy, often sweating profusely while flinging himself from one side of the stage to the other just to make those in the audience smile would seem to indicate an organically jovial and child-like spirit.  One would assume that the joy we often saw on stage and in movies translated into his personal life.  Yet instead, the world was shocked to learn that Robin Williams had been suffering with clinical depression for years and decided to end his life in the home he shared with his wife and children in a moment of pure desperation.  How could a man who seemed so happy be living in that much pain?  Well, he’s not alone.  Most of us can relate on some level to Robin Williams. We all try hard, even to our own detriment at times, to put on a brave face so that the world is not turned off by the less celebratory aspects of our reality. In Paul Laurence Dunbar’s famous poem We Wear the Mask  he eloquently captures what many of us go through:

We wear the mask that grins and lies

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes

This debt we pay to human guile

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile

And mouth with myriad subtleties

Why should the world be over-wise

in counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us while

We wear the mask

I personally relate to this as well.  I have struggled with periodic bouts of depression and discouragement for most of my life.  Even in the face of outward success and tremendous blessing, I often feel forgotten, discounted, and not good enough.  I’ve always put too much pressure on myself to do my best in every endeavor.  Yet this pursuit of excellence makes it difficult for me to accept my mistakes and not judge myself for missing the mark.  I’m sure this is part of the reason I felt called to become a social worker.  As a therapist, I can help other people recognize their redeeming qualities and learn to appreciate themselves for who they are, which, in turn, helps me do the same.  I am like Robin Williams in this way.  Giving other people what I often need the most, is therapy.  Thankfully, I believe in God and have learned that there is healing in  trusting in His power, plan and purpose for my life.  My faith is what keeps me alive and reminds me that I must keep trying and never give up hope.  I’m not sure what type of spiritual practice, if any, Robin Williams had, but I imagine he had lost sight of any sense of hope and protection in his final hours.

Why am I talking about all this now?  Well, it’s the holiday season and it has become clear to me that despite the expectation that we all be merry, many people are struggling more than ever.  This is apparent in the mental health professions, but it’s much more subtle in other aspects of society.  Your typical Wal-Mart television advertisement, the bustling energy of the malls, all the lights and colorful decorations, and warm greetings at church all send the message that this is the time to be with your family, give your best, and revel in the spirit of love and connection.  But where does that leave the people who’ve recently lost loved ones?  What about the mother who’s lost a child or the father who’s been laid off and can’t afford presents for his children?  What about the person who’s sick or has a child in trouble?  What about the person serving life in prison who will never spend another holiday with family?  What about the person who’s lost their home or who is struggling with a mental health disorder?  What about the person who’s battled a substance addiction and is finally on the right track but has lost their family support?  What about the single mother who has to work through Christmas or the person who is wrestling with their sexual identity  and doesn’t feel welcomed at church?  There are many people whose lives defy the expectations of the season, yet they don’t feel free to express their pain or ask for help for fear it will damper everyone else’s mood.  No one wants to feel like they’re the kill joy.  Depressed individuals often feel as if they are the only ones not feeling the holiday spirit and it becomes more of a burden to reach out for help because they assume the guilt of ruining everyone else’s good time.  The result is a person who hides and pretends.  They may attend the Christmas party and laugh all night, only to go home and cry themselves to sleep.  They may gut it out all day at work, spreading cheer to all their co-workers, and then go home and drink themselves into a stupor.  If they’re anything like Robin Williams, they may decide to stop wearing the mask all together and choose to go to their grave, the only place they believe they can finally stop pretending.

I’ll tell you a story.  When I was about 23 or 24, before I was married and had my kids, I was a single young woman living in Inglewood, CA.  I had my own apartment and was working in the entertainment industry.  I think I was a Writers’ Assistant for the Jamie Foxx Show at that time.  It wasn’t really a glamorous job, but because it was within a glamorous industry, I was seen as being highly successful.  People would sweat me because I worked in Hollywood. This was probably around the time I was also trying my hand at stand-up comedy and was being heralded for making all of these impressive moves.   I was still a young tenderoni then also, so I had a small selection of men vying for my affection.  By the world’s standards,  I had it going on but what no one knew was that I was also deeply depressed.  I felt unsatisfied and unfulfilled and felt that most of the relationships I was making were superficial and that very few people truly cared about me as a person.  I remember a Christmas that I had around that time.  I had gotten sick with the flu.  I couldn’t afford to fly to Mississippi to visit my parents who had moved back to the South, and I was alone.  All of my friends had families of their own to be with and I didn’t feel close enough to anyone to ask for refuge. It was Christmas Eve and  I remember being sick as a dog and having to drag myself to the pharmacy to pick up some medicine.  I then went back to my apartment and turned off all the lights because on top of being sick and depressed, I was embarrassed and didn’t want anyone to know that I was by myself on Christmas Eve.  It was a long and painful night in more ways that one.  I was in total misery but didn’t feel able to reach out to anyone for fear of losing their admiration once they knew my life was actually lonely, isolated, and anything but glamorous.  I felt an obligation to hide so that no one would have to be bothered with my pain.

This is the same thing I believe many people do around this time of year.  We often compound feelings of depression with guilt and judgment of ourselves for how we feel.  We succumb to the pressure of needing to feel and show the “holiday spirit” while denying ourselves the support we need most.  Wearing the mask will never be a healthy way to manage depression and it denies loved ones the opportunity to assist us in our darkest moments.  I’m sure Robin Williams’ family wishes he would’ve told them what he needed most the night he died.  Despite all his success and comedic talent,  I know they would rather he had tried harder to make himself smile as opposed to amusing everyone else.  We can all learn from his life and death.   Robin Williams taught us the importance of ‘reaching out’ rather than ‘hiding out’ behind a fake smile and false sense of holiday cheer. Here are some strategies for coping with the holiday blues in a way that honors your genuine emotional experience without breaking anyone else’s Christmas spirit.

Spend time with the Lord

Submitting to your Higher Power and giving all your cares and concerns to Him is the most appropriate release for any negative emotions you’re dealing with this holiday season.  It also doesn’t make other people responsible for shouldering pain they are not able to relieve.   Spending time in prayer, meditation, or in your place of worship is liberating and healing.  Our houses of worship should be safe places where we are free to show our vulnerabilities and seek support from people who care.  Attending holiday services or participating in special meals and events can boost your sense of connectedness and remind you  of all the reasons you have to be grateful. Personally, I follow Jesus Christ, and His unconditional love and support has made all the difference in my life.

Confide in a loved one you trust

If you are lucky enough to have a close friend who knows you and understands your struggles, don’t be afraid to talk through some of your most difficult emotions with him or her.  A long, heart-felt conversation with a true friend is highly therapeutic.  Friends can remind you of who you are and all you have accomplished.  It’s good to hear that you matter and a trusted friend, even if they’re far away, is always good for that reassurance.  I am thankful for the confidants I have in my life who I know I can always reach out to when things get rough.

Go against tradition

Maybe getting away from it all and establishing a new tradition in a new setting is what you need to shake the holiday blues.  If you don’t have a large family or live in a studio apartment with no chimney in sight, perhaps an impromptu road trip to the beach or a day at the spa is in order.  Maybe treating yourself to a nice meal in a restaurant or a Christmas Day movie binge would be enjoyable.  If you can afford it, I imagine that Christmas Day alone in Jamaica is a lot less depressing than here in the states.  A little research and planning ahead and you may be able to discover an entirely new and exciting way to spend your holidays.  It’s okay to buck the system every once in awhile and do what makes you happy rather than what’s expected.

Volunteer

I’ve found that it’s very difficult to obsess over your own negative feelings when serving those who are less fortunate than you.  We all tend to think our problems trump everyone else’s, but the reality is, there are plenty of people who are praying for what you have right now.  Spending time feeding the homeless or making holiday gift baskets for the poor not only gives you something positive to do with your time, but can put your current situation into proper perspective.  Personally, when I see people who have far less than me overcome with joy over the smallest gift someone offers them, it’s a swift reminder that every single thing is a gift and perhaps I should spend more time appreciating  what I have instead of lamenting over what I don’t.

Talk to a professional

If the holiday season always presents a significant challenge for you emotionally, then consider working with a professional who can help you process your feelings and strategize for how you will cope in a positive manner.  Christmas is difficult for many people and there is never shame in reaching out to someone who is trained to offer you the support and guidance you may not be comfortable requesting of anyone else.

I am praying for anyone who may read this article and relate to its content.  Please know that you are not alone and that it’s time to come out of the shadows and deal with your emotions honestly and productively this holiday season.  Life is not about pretending to be okay, but being okay enough to stop pretending.  Until we chat again, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good life!

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9.

 

A Debi Downer

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Thought for the Day:

“Failing is not a disgrace, unless you make it the last chapter of your book.”

Jack Hyles

Question for the Day:

Have you let a “fall from grace” define you?

I was working on another piece this week and didn’t plan on starting something new.  But, I happened to tune into the most recent episode of Iyanla, Fix My Life last weekend and I’m still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor after her interview with former world-class ice skater and Stanford educated Orthopedic Surgeon, Debi Thomas.  Despite rising to heights most only dream of, particularly as an African American woman, Debi has given new meaning to the term “fall from grace.” In fact, going  from an Olympic stage to being hold up in a bug infested mobile home in Virginia with an alcoholic hillbilly who beats her on the regular, is more like an avalanche-style freefall that slammed her face down onto rock bottom.  Ms. Debi has managed to lose her medical career, her practice, every job she’s held, and custody of her only child.  Things at the trailer park have gotten so  bad, that the local sheriff is frequently called to their home because she and her fiancé Jamie can’t seem to settle on who threw the winning punch and deserves the championship belt.  Debi Thomas should be somewhere enjoying a prestigious career and a beautiful home.  I imagine she could be coaching young, aspiring ice skaters or teaching a course on molecular biology at an HBCU or an Ivy League school.  Yet instead, life for her looks more like a scene from 8 Mile….. Where they do that at?

As I watched the episode, a couple of critical issues struck me.  First,  Ms. Thomas is almost certainly suffering from some type of mental illness and/or personality disorder.  Throughout the interview with Iyanla she came off as emotionally detached, confused, and displayed significant cognitive distortions that seemed to bar her from gaining insight.  People who suffer from mental illness are not always able to draw reasonable conclusions about how their choices impact current outcomes.  People with Bipolar Disorder, which it seems Debi has been diagnosed with, struggle to reign in emotional extremes and can be quite impulsive and irrational when manic and/or completely devoid of hope and self esteem when depressed.  Either side of the spectrum can lead an otherwise competent person to make rash and unhealthy choices rooted primarily in emotion.  This is why taking care of one’s mental health is imperative.  If you are bipolar, clinically depressed or have a psychotic disorder, it will be difficult for you to make healthy decisions without mood stability.  I’ve written about this before and believe as a mental health professional myself that many women are living far below their potential because they refuse to get treatment for mental disorders.   (See: Sick in the Head)  https://getliftedgirl.org/2015/03/12/sick-in-the-head/

I’m sure everyone who watched Debi Thomas’ interview initially felt like shaking the scrunchie out her head and slapping that flat look off her face while yelling “Wake up girl! Your life is in the toilet, it stinks, and your boyfriend is getting ready to flush!”  Yet it’s important to remember that if she is mentally ill, she may not be able to draw those obvious conclusions so we must have empathy.  People don’t usually intend to throw their lives away to the degree that Debi did.  Most folks’ luck is generally not that bad without significant deficits in perception, emotion, and self awareness, all signs of mental illness.

The next thing that made me want to hire the Drop Squad to kidnap Debi was this irrational, blind loyalty she has for her low life fiance’, Jamie.  Almost every time Iyanla tried to get her to accept personal responsibility for her choices, Debi was quick to bring up Jamie’s name and discuss his personal struggles instead.  Iyanla had to literally tell her, “Don’t talk to me about Jamie” and told her flat out that she used the relationship to distract herself from the hot mess that is her life.

madea meme

Lol!  But seriously, Debi and Jamie may turn into the new poster children for codependent relationships, where Bobby and Whitney used to hold the title.  I’ve discussed codependency before also.  (See: The Thirst is Real) https://getliftedgirl.org/2015/04/09/the-thirst-is-real/

It is critical for us women to stop defining ourselves by our relationships to other people.  In codependency, both parties enter the relationship from a position of lack so they expect that attaching themselves to someone else will fill internal voids.  However, what you typically end up with is a catastrophic clash of resentment, manipulation, anger, abuse and addiction.  Those involved in codependent relationships are perpetually empty and pissed off because their loved ones don’t seem capable of making their poor self-image any better.  It’s not someone else’s job to make our lives better!   Happiness and personal satisfaction will always be an inside job, but the codependent has yet to realize this.  Iyanla was spot on when she told Debi that Jamie was addicted to alcohol, and that she was addicted to Jamie.  Women who latch on to unhealthy situations can become addicted to the constant push and pull of being rejected and hurt so they can repeatedly experience the “high” of being validated once again by the person they ultimately fear will abandon them.  It all stems from a core sense of unworthiness which only God-inspired self-love and acceptance can heal.

As much as we’re all tempted to judge Debi for her downfall, we have to be honest enough to admit that most of us have experienced some sort of personal fall from grace.  You may have woken up next to the gold-tooth thug you met at the club, or been fired from your dream job.  Maybe you had the fairy tale wedding only to divorce a couple of years later or tested positive during a random drug screening at work.  Maybe your business failed, you’ve gone bankrupt (is it hot in here?) or you have a mugshot out there that you curse Google for making so easily accessible.  None of us are immune from embarrassment and disgrace.  Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about our lowest moments being broadcasted in the media so internet trolls can drag us  in the Huffington Post comment section.  Personally, I don’t believe it’s our failures that are ultimately problematic.  Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes.  However, if you let those failures define you and become your reason for staying stuck then you miss what the mistakes came to teach you.  Failures can always make us better if we recognize the cause, heal the wounds, and learn the valuable lessons they offer.  If you learn you are in an unhealthy relationship, get out.  If you discover you have a mental illness, seek treatment.  If there is a problem, be brave enough to accept personal responsibility for your errors in judgment and make amends to yourself and others.  Unfortunately for Debi Thomas, I’m not sure she will learn from all of this.  Iyanla offered her a free apartment away from Jamie and a life coach to help her regain proper perspective and strategize for her future.  She did not commit to the help and returned to the trailer park after a couple of months.  Jamie was also offered alcohol rehab, but quit his program and returned to their dysfunctional situation as well.  It would be great to see one of my childhood role models back on top again, yet it seems she is letting this most recent chapter change her entire story.  Watching someone neglect their propensity for excellence and make a conscious decision to live a life of squalor is a travesty and makes this new Debi Thomas a “Debi Downer” for sure.

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Romans 3:23-24