Depression can really keep you away from the things you love. I’ve been “away” from this blog for exactly one year. Its crazy. To me it had just felt like a mere few months, but that’s how it works. It robs you of your time and if you don’t get a hold of it will take away your joy. Continue reading If It Doesn’t Bring You Joy
Category Archives: friendship
After losing nearly 100 lbs ive developed the opposite of what people may think would happen. Insecurity and body dismorphic issues. Which is at times overwhelming and drowns out rational thinking. I was looking through photos last night and found a face picture that for the first time really let me see how far ive come. Because, you see, I dont see the current day me. I see the old me. Continue reading The Aftermath
Get Rid of 100 Things: Chapter 1
Happy New Year everyone!! Its been a while since I’ve written and it’s simply or rather not simply been because the latter half of 2017 was whirlwind. It happens. I helped plan our high schools 20th reunion this past September, Kiddo was struggling with turning in his work on time and grades were suffering because 13 year olds…amirite? And then the holidays of course. I ended up having emergency surgery in December Continue reading Get Rid of 100 Things: Chapter 1
Fat Girl PSA
Heroes wear Jerseys : Our amazing adventure with the Harlem Globetrotters
By now everyone knows that my son Michael is my most favorite person in the world. We have fun times together, go on adventures and are pretty open and candid about everything with each other. He’s 12 so I consider the fact that he likes to hang with me a major win. Michael started the 6th grade this year and honestly the transition to middle school has been tough. We have dealt with bullying and racism and he has had to sort through all of this while at the same time trying to figure out his identity. I often go to bed worried. Worried that his spirit will be broken, that he will lose his spark.
A couple of weeks ago I decided very last-minute to cheer him up and bought us tickets to go see The Harlem Globetrotters. They had been a favorite of mine growing up and with Michael being very interested in basketball I decided to show him the greatest team on earth. Up until then he had heard of them but had never seen them in person. So off we went, me hoping this would take his mind off of the issues at school and give him a little magic to look back on for those days that are particularly rough.
We arrive at the arena and Michael is excited, turns out my discount seats are better than we thought and we are 7 rows from the court with access to the tunnel that the players run through. The announcer comes on and Michael is on the edge of his seat. During the entire game hes yelling and clapping and cheering. I’ve never seen him light up so much! He turns to me and says “Mommy, I would like a headband or a jersey” My bank account is really low to be honest so i tell him, probably not today. I excuse myself later and sneak by and see that the headbands are just $10 so I buy him one. He immediately smiles big and puts it on his head. At the end of the show they do this cool thing where the kids can go down for autographs but we didn’t have anything to sign so we start to leave. As we are passing by the merchandise table he asks for a jersey. $60 Yikes! amazing quality but Yikes! I explain to him that I can’t afford it today and he remembers that he has been saving up his money in his bank account and he has enough for this jersey. I look at the account and he has exactly $70. He buys himself the jersey and carefully selects #33 BULL. He likes him the most right now because he jumps on the hoops. He puts it on and for the next two days does not take it off. Monday arrives and he’s so excited to wear it to school but when he comes home he tells me that the kids are making fun of him for it. That the jersey is too loud and annoying. He shrugs it off and says to me “‘ it’s ok, I made half court shot today in basketball” BAM. Day 2. Tuesday, he puts the jersey on again and wears it to school, when he comes home that day he tells me that even more kids are making fun of him and being mean. My heart breaks. He paid for this jersey himself. He loves it and these kids are being so mean! But then he amazes me.
“Mommy? can I wear the jersey again tomorrow? he asks
“Buddy, do you want to give it a breather? I can wash it and have it ready for Friday” I reply
“No. Mommy, I need to wear this again tomorrow. I have a point to prove. They need to know that they can’t break me. That they have other things to worry about besides my jersey. that what they say about Me won’t change who I am. I’m wearing the jersey”
Well dammit, I guess he’s wearing the jersey guys, because he’s got something to prove! So I wash it and have it ready for him. I ask him how long he’s going to wear the jersey and he says “As long as it takes”
So off he goes to bed. The mom heart in me panics and worries but im also proud. So I naturally turn to my friends and mom group on FB and ask everyone what they would do. Would they let their kid wear this jersey for days? maybe even weeks? The response is an overwhelming YES! People feel inspired by his courage to stand up for what he believes in. I decide then to write the Harlem Globetrotters a thank you letter. A thank you for inspiring a strength in my son that i didn’t realize he had. I wanted them to know that if they ever grew weary in the work that they did, that they had managed to change one boys life. So i wrote the following to them:
AND THEY ANSWER BACK THE NEXT MORNING!!! ❤
So of course im all excited and I get on FB and freak out! And friends are happy and cheering and whatnot because that’s what you do, you cheer each others children on! And then one friend from High school sends me a message that her and her husband are friends with Sweet Lou Dunbar
the coach for the Harlem Globtrotters and told him all about Michael. She then sent me a message asking if it was ok for Legend Curley Boo Johnson of the Harlem Globetrotters to call Michael and encourage him as well. Guys, this is a no brainer! So naturally, I make my son stay near me all night until the call comes through so I can record it for his memories! Because how often does this happen! Check out the call below! And then it just keeps getting better!!
After this call, my sweet boy is on cloud 9! I’m talking, flying!! He is amazed that someone who doesn’t even know him would call to talk to him about being true to himself. He is full of love and says to me “Mommy, I feel like the Harlem Globetrotters have my back” AND THEY DO!
Fast forward a couple of days and Michael is still wearing the jersey still catching slack. I get a message from the HG asking for my contact info and Michael’s school info. A few hours later we have a voicemail from a very surprised Principal saying that they received a call from the Globetrotters about Michael (we were at a doctor’s appointment) and we rushed back to the school. In utter disbelief we explain what has happened the past few days and then we are told that they have asked to come to the school to do an anti bullying assembly! I need you to picture Michael sliding out of his seat at this point. He looks at me wide-eyed and says “Whaaaaat did you do?” with the biggest smile on his face, I look him square in the eye and jokingly say “I came to win!” and then we high-five, because were dorky like that!
And then that brings us to the magic of today. Day 12 of wearing the jersey. Day 12 of holding firm in his beliefs, day 12 of being strong and staying true to himself. I was told that they were going to do an assembly at the school at 10 am. This morning before school we ran around making sure teeth were extra brushed, jersey was extra fresh and his afro was extra picked out. I went to work and promptly left at 9 to sit in the office and wait, I didn’t want to miss one second of it! Today was the day they showed up to the school. As I waited for them in the office i was able to meet
Howard Smith the president of the Harlem Globetrotters AND my buddy who had been emailing me the whole time. Please forgive me for forgetting your name, my heart says its Brian but i may be wrong, once I knew it was him i jumped up and gave him a bear hug while he was saying his name. I was busy memorizing his face and awesomeness and thanking him that now i cant remember and i feel like a schmuck! But you sir, if you see this, are the real MVP! ❤ and thanks to Ruby too! Mr. Smith listened to my story about Michael, he let me gush, he listened to how my dad always wanted to see the Globetrotters but never had and offered him tickets! Hey Dad….. time to tell the other kids that im your new favorite forever 😉
AND THEN Zeus walks in. He is going to give the assembly for the kids. He gives us a run down of what to expect and after this it is pure pandemonium! I have attached the link to the assembly, because he is on FIRE! And of course I have tears running down my face when he called Michael to the front! Enjoy it for yourself 🙂
( *apologies the video isnt the best, my phone rotated a couple of times, and i had to splice together clips but you get the jist. Writing i can do, video….not so much)
He also spoke to Michael afterwards and was so kind and sweet to him he gave him his headband! If you havent looked into his bio, please do, the fact that he is out here giving back to the community is so amazing and speak volumes about his character and the values of the Harlem Globetrotters
Today was the day my sweet boy got to see magic in the flesh. Today was the day he was rewarded for his action, bravery and compassion. Today was the day we learned that not all heroes wear capes, but in fact wear jerseys! Thank you so much to everyone involved, the Harlem Globetrotters have a lifelong fan in us and our future generations. We are forever in gratitude and love and if you are reading this, today, you showed us that in your Action you rewarded Bravery and showed not only love but Compassion to us. (The ABC’s of bullying by the way! You can learn more about the program here: ABCs of Bullying Harlem Globetrotters )
And yes, im going to shamelessly plug their website because guys if you havent been you should go. Kids from all ages 0-99 would love this and we can all use a little more magic in our lives. http://www.harlemglobetrotters.com/
Thanks for going on this most amazing journey with us!
❤ Go out and be awesome,
Denise & Michael
3/31/17: Bully update for those that asked: Day 13 😉 Michael said the 8th graders and basketball players were high fiving him and that he scored 15 points in basketball today, one of the shots being a half court shot. I picked him and his tuba up from school today so he didn’t ride the bus. As he was outside walking the dog, my windows are open, i hear 4 different “Michael!” And “Hey Michael” so i get up to look out the window. 2 boys come up and the one i know says “Michael will you please accept my apology” and then i can’t hear anything else. Michael comes back in to bring the dog back and i ask him if he accepted the boys apology. He says yes and now all 3 are outside playing basketball outside of the house. Kids are rarely outside and he doesn’t play with many neighborhood kids, so the fact that they walked from the neighborhood over to our house to apologize speaks volumes. It’s tough being 12 years old and I’m sure their parents would be proud that they apologized. Awesomeness all around. #heroesWearJerseys #MichaelStrong #HarlemGlobetrotters #BeTheGood
Single Mom, Child Support and other dirty words
I am not exactly sure when the negative stigma of being a single mother started. It seems to me that the only honorable way to go through this unscathed is to be a widow. I look at examples in the bible, women were married off, stories in history where women were bashed, I read comments from keyboard warriors and articles about how we are the demise of society. If you become a single mother from some type of tragic accident, you become strong and people feel compassion for you. Otherwise you are a careless, Jezebel, harlot with no morals or values and we get painted as husband stealing, half assing, horrible people. Someone literally has to die for me to be OK as a single mother. Let that sink in. I remember being young and watching something on the news about Dan Quayle slamming a character on TV named Murphy Brown because she had chosen to become a single mother and I couldn’t understand why people were so upset. I was about 8 or 9 so, there wasn’t much to understand honestly. My own mother had become pregnant with me at 17 and her and my father were hastily married a month later. Granted they just celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary yesterday, but in 1979 had she chosen to go it alone, i imagine that she would have been branded with a Scarlet letter across her chest. In 2004, when i became pregnant, i also received side-eye glances and was shunned by people i thought where my friends. Some people at church wouldn’t speak to me and it baffled me then. I was still the same person they liked yesterday. I was still kind and smart and loving. I wasn’t damaged. But religiously it showed that i was weak, that I gave into the flesh. I thought that was the most absurd thing to hear. I could have easily gotten an abortion and they would have never known. They could have continued to love me being none the wiser. But it was when i decided to carry this amazing life into this world that i received the most backlash from strangers and people. Meanwhile, there were revered people in the church beating their wives, having affairs, snorting cocaine before a sermon, but no one was talking about that, because that “sin” was in secret, mine was on the outside, growing stronger and healthier by the minute. I refused to be shamed or hang my head low. I made my choice and i moved on, leaving behind toxic people who i realized at that moment were never my friends to begin with.
Fast forward to 12 years later and as you know my kid is my world, my everything. I work, sleep, eat and breath to make anything possible for him. Our life is full of love and wonder and magic at times. People still look at me crazy, wondering what I’m up to and why I haven’t gotten married yet. As women we are summed up by the value of a man in our lives. It’s no wonder we suffer from self-esteem issues and feel worthless at times. We get reminded daily that we have “baggage” that we are “baggage”. There aren’t many men who want to step up and help raise another mans child. Those that do are saints. They should be elevated to sainthood, because you looked past the stigma and you saw love and a family and you wanted that so badly for yourself. Kudos to you.
It’s no secret that my ex and I have had our shares of major downs with a few ups sprinkled in between. For those that aren’t familiar ill summarize: Gas-lighting, emotional verbally abusive person who would try to break me down daily until i finally left.
Its been almost 4 years now, in that time I managed to buy my son and I a house, i paid off my car, i moved him to an excellent school district. He plays sports, plays in the band at school, he has sleepovers, we have a dog and a cat, friends and family who love us and life for the most part is good. The area that is lacking to be perfectly honest is that his father, although living just 5 miles away is mainly absent by choice. Only showing up when its convenient, often going “missing” for weeks at a time. It has taken a toll on our son emotionally and is one of the causes of his depression. It is something i cannot fix. All these years i have been solely responsible for him financially and physically. His father at times has helped, but only if i begged and pleaded. So sometimes we went without because i didn’t have it in me to humiliate myself again. My parents and friends have stepped in to help with groceries or bills or lunch money when i was in dire straits. I have applied for scholarships for him to play sports and gotten creative with couponing and grocery shopping etc. I have made payment plans with doctors and schools just so he doesn’t have to feel like “the kid of a single mom” I don’t qualify for financial assistance because apparently the government thinks I’m rich, and that’s OK. He has no idea, my son that financial sacrifices that are made and i don’t want him to feel bad about it. The home i bought us sits in a multi million dollar neighborhood, i bought it at a foreclosure for $150,000. So he plays with wealthy children and gets that great education and he doesn’t know that if not for that wonderful fortune of events, we could never afford a house so nice in a nice neighborhood.
A couple of years ago after struggling to pay for after care at school and stressed about having to send my son to my parents for the summer because I couldn’t afford summer babysitting, I finally applied for child support. I was nervous and drove almost an hour to the office with all the information i might possibly need in a neat little binder. My stomach was in knots and a friend came along with me. I hated that i had to do this because i knew the repercussions i was about to face when he realized i put in an order. After a couple of weeks, i was given a court date and i waited and waited for that dreaded call from him. It never came of course because they couldn’t serve him, so court dates were pushed back and rescheduled at least 5 times. It has been two years and i still have not been to court to even begin the process. In the interim, i have begged his father for help only to have $26 dollars thrown my way or to beg for new shoes and clothing. Sometimes he would help, but more often than not I was ignored. My mother would be the one who bought his shoes, clothes and Christmas presents this past year. And I paid her back in installments and in gift cards that people had given to me as gifts, i went to several taste tests where they paid you and promptly turned that over to her. It was like handing someone a bag of pennies you collected and hoped that they understood you were trying. And she does and she did and words can’t express how grateful i am for that support. She even came to stay with me over winter break for a month to help take care of him while he was out of school so he wouldn’t have to be alone while i worked since i couldn’t afford for him to be in a camp or anything.
This Saturday, I finally got the call. I had fallen asleep on the couch and my phone buzzed me awake. I sleepily answered and his father was on the other line.
“I got the papers” he said, in a low voice
“What papers?” I sleepily asked
“I got the papers. The child support papers”
“Oh…..” I sat in silence for what seemed and eternity but was probably just a few seconds, bracing myself for impact. Trying to remind myself to be strong, that I knew he was about o be awful to me but any of the words that came out of his mouth were not true. That I wasn’t awful for asking for help, that it was his job as a parent to want his son to succeed.
“You need to withdraw this” he said
“Um..No” I said quietly, then asserted myself “No”
“You really want to put him through this? You want him to go through a paternity test? You need to withdraw”
“Uh, he’s not going to go through anything, he’s not going to court this is child support. I filed this 2 years ago, when you refused to help me with day care and I had to send him off. This is because he needs shoes and underwear and clothes and I shouldn’t have to beg you and plead to help him”
“You need to withdraw this”….. and then there were other exchanges that are not really important to this narrative. But the jist of it is he tried to get me to cancel the order. He gave me reasons why this wasn’t a good idea and tried to play on my insecurities and I held firm. I hung up the phone and sat in silence for a few minutes. Not really knowing what fresh hell I was about to open with this. My stomach ached, I was nauseous. Because what you don’t realize is even getting away from your abuser, your never really free and sometimes the sound of their voice or a disagreement gives you flashbacks of the worst of times.
About a half an hour later, he calls back. I answer the phone with a “hello…” followed by silence.
“Are you going to put him through this?” he says more forcefully this time. “Have you looked at Michael?, have you looked at him?”
Knowing where this was going I responded with “Uh yes, I know what my son looks like, i only gave birth to him and i see him everyday”
“Oh YOUR son” he said. I thought to myself, oh boy here we go. “Because he doesn’t look anything like me. Do you think he looks like me?” he said angrily. “He looks nothing like me”
Cheese and Rice on a fucking stick. Are you serious?! Was all I could think. I didn’t even get to respond before he said “Because they are going to put him through a paternity test and you need to withdraw, because he doesn’t look like me and you’re going to put him through this”
So this is where he is mentally now. He’s upset that he has been ordered to pay child support and now after 12 years he’s trying to attack my integrity by implying that there is a possibility that our son is not his. He is. There is no doubt.
I answer back with “Look I know you’re sitting there with hopes and dreams of a Maury Povich situation where you get off the hook on a technicality, but he’s your son. Don’t you ever question me again about that. You raised him, you were there when he was born, he has your mannerisms, you and your fathers eyes among other things. Besides, he’s a bi-racial child, guess what genius? he’s not gonna look like anyone, (Even though the kid is my doppelgänger honestly, which is OK because UM I’M HIS MOM)
Then he responded with what he does best, the big bow on the gift of insulting “Oh you think I don’t want him to be my son? why would you say that?” And ladies and gents that is called gas-lighting. Bringing up something, creating a fuss and then turning it around on the other party as if they created the issue and thus they begin to replay and question their sanity. Realizing this i ended the conversation immediately and decided that i needed to have a talk with our son . He’s twelve. if there is a court order that involves a paternity test (which is normal in cases where you file for child support and were never married, this isn’t because my morality is in question or because its assumed i passed my vagina around like an hor de oeuvres plate, its standard procedure in my state. )
I decided to go upstairs and see my sweet boy who was playing video games and none the wiser. “Hey Buddy” I said “Do you have a second? I have to talk to you about something that’s kinda hard”
“Sure” he replied
“Buddy…” and I took a deep breath, a minute or so passed before I could muster up the words to start this awful conversation, but my son and I have that type of relationship. Were very open and honest, you have to be when your running a house like ours. It has to run like a well oiled machine. “Buddy, um, do you know what child support is?”
“Not really, No” he said
“um, well child support is when one parent asks for help financially from the other parent. To help them buy clothes and food and things that the kid needs. Sometimes, child support has to be done in the courts because of the way its set up”
My son, who is half wise but also half sarcastic, a trait he definitely got from me says “So you’re suing daddy?”
“No dude, I’m not suing Daddy. I filed for help a few years ago and they finally sent him the paperwork and we have to go figure some things out. But I’m telling you this because of the way it works, you have to go to a lab and they have to swab your cheek. Its to establish paternity. They do that to protect the dad because there are some not so nice people out there who lie and say that the father is one person when it really isn’t so they make everyone do this”
He laughs and goes into a Maury Povich “you are not the father!” dialogue. I give him side eye and say “Sorry bud, that’s not the case here. Your mother remembers well when you were conceived and there is no doubt in my mind, that’s your daddy”
My son in a moment of clarity and knowing his father says “Let me guess, Daddy’s mad and acting like I might not be his”
“Well, he’s a little surprised by the order and asked me to cancel it, but I said that i wouldn’t because it’s not fair. You have things that you need and i try my best to provide them, but i need a little help. I hate that i even have to ask, but i had to, and I’m so sorry buddy, that you have to be part of this. You wont have to go to court, we wont fight,He sill loves you, he’s your Daddy. i just had to tell you because of the swab thingy” and then i hung my head in shame and started to tear up.
My son, the best thing to ever come out of our genes, said “Mommy, don’t feel bad. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. You have already shown that you can do it and if you need help that OK. Adults always tell kids to ask for help but forget to do it when you become and adult and if you have tried all you could and exhausted all your options, then this is what you have to do”
I look up at this amazing soul and say “how did you get so wise?” and he gives me a sly grin and a mischievous look and then yells out again “You are NOT the father!” because Maury Povich to him is funny and he’s 12 and a stinker. I laugh and give him a hug, call him a bum and ask him if he has any questions. We talk about the stigma of unwed mothers, the baby mama title, the feeling that people think we are out here getting our nails done and at the club spending child support money while our kids sit at home hungry and in filth. I tell him its unfair and that most of the time the money people get is only a little so it’s not even what the main provider spends in a month. That this wasn’t a “Mommy is mad at dad” thing and that anything i received we would put into his bank account and use for his needs. He seemed to handle it well. however, after i walked downstairs about an hour later, he said “I’ve tried calling Daddy twice and now he’s not answering”
Hold your head high little one, we will get through this. This isnt the life i wanted for us, but ill figure out a way to make it a life your proud of.
Five Little Things
Everyone has a list. Big or small, private or taped to the fridge, most of us have a list of some sort that we go back and forth to. Some of them are for groceries, some are honey-do lists some even take form in a dream board. It gives us a sense of order to have these and to tic off the items as we complete them and gives us a feeling of accomplishment. At some point, some of us mave have even created a list that we wouldn’t dare share with others because its so personal. Something like what we want in a mate or in a relationship. We can try to fake like we don’t, because admitting it would mean we think about it too much and that would make us seem vulnerable and gasp…human. So I thought I would share one of mine, id love if you all would share some back so I feel a little more human and less “out there”
Five Little Things to Win My Heart
Kindness. At the top of all my list be it romantic or friendship, one thing that I value above all is kindness. Kindness to strangers, to animals, to children, to yourself and yes kindness to me. Ive been on the receiveing end of some pretty unkind happenings so this hands down is non-negotiable.
Humor. I laugh at myself on a daily basis. I laugh at my own jokes, corny as they may be. I laugh at my mistakes and my goofs. I make the cheesy equivalent to dad jokes for my son to perfect the art of rolling eyes and getting that facepalm just right. I love to hear the sound of belly laughs. I love when someone is relaxed enough to just let go and find the humor in life. Laughter is everything.
Intelligence. Now I’m not talking degree intelligence. Hell I only have a high school diploma with a smidgen of Art college under my belt. I’m attracted to brains. The type who never stop learning, who always look for a way to improve. Who aren’t afraind of asking the questions and then tinkering away to get the answer. I love people who read, who have a thirst for knowledge. Those on a neverending quest for growth.
Family. Oh this is a tricky one, because we all have different dynamics when it comes to family. We have traditions and breaking points and stories upon stories to tell. But you know what I love? Family. I love when people love their parents and their cousins and siblings, like I love mine. I love that closeness that keeps you grounded. I speak to my mother and sister every day, my brother and father a few times a month because, um their boys and don’t want to be on the phone everyday. I spend weekends going home to Florida to see my family, my family comes to see us for a week or so at a time. I send my son down there for summer break etc. We are so very close and if you are in my life, you have probably been adopted by my family. You are an honorary kid. So I like to see that in my friends and relationships. Closeness. Showing me you love your family shows me you can love mine.
Contentment. Joy. Happiness. Peace. Whatever you call it, I’m describing that feeling that you have when you feel that inspite of all the obstacles, you have a sense of gratitude for your journey. One where you are content with your growth or your projection. Does that mean having a fancy car or big house or being recognized? Nah. Sure those things are great, but my question is. When you look in the mirror are you proud of the person staring back? ugly scars, war stories and all? Are you doing things in your life today so that when you come back tomorrow and look in that mirror, youll think, yeah….im alright with this and smile that big beautiful toothy grin? I love that type of mindset. That happiness that radiates from your soul and infects the lives of others. This is a character trait. Not a situational thing, we all have moments of sadness and depression and anger, but this is like sunlight beaming from your soul. This is love.
And that’s pretty much it. As simple and as complicated as it can be. That is my secret list. The one I think about when people ask me what I’m looking for and this is how I try to answer. It may seem widly broad or oddly specific depending on how you look at it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find a partner with these qualities but i will say that so far ive found them in my friends who are kinda my soulmates already so, in that, I’m winning.
P.s go out and be awesome.
I’ve been laying here in bed for the past few hours staring at the walls. The house is completely silent, except for the sound of snoring coming from under my bed where the old beagle sleeps. I’ve counted the little dips in the popcorn ceiling, I’ve scrolled endlessly through Facebook. I’ve clicked on my Instagram and wondered about other peoples lives. I cant watch TV. Tonight, like many nights I just need the silence. However, lately the silence is more like the screaming, deafening shouting coming from my head.
I have tried to explain this feeling to a couple of my friends, I’ve talked about it into thin air, hoping by some miracle I would get an answer back in the wind. I have wished at 11:11, 1:11. I have thrown pennies into wishing wells, I have blown out candles, I have prayed. I have been patient and hopeful and now all of that feels fruitless. I am incredibly lonely.
I am missing that experience, that joy that people have when they find love. I celebrate with genuine happiness when another of my friends gets plucked from the field. I help plan weddings, help pick out gifts, wish and hope and send good vibes as if it were for me. Yet this one thing in life alludes me. Love. It may as well be the loch ness monster in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever known it, at least it was never presented to me in that way.
I spoke to my very best friend today about this. She single like me, a mother like me and we tried to dissect where it all went wrong. We went as far back as 7th grade and carefully combed through memories like private investigators. We would bounce back ideas and realized that we were just clueless. Why? Why not us? Why not me? Why never me? We looked at Facebook friends ( and yes I know most FB isn’t real) but we had friends who always seemed to have a good person in their lives or were always being lavished with nice gifts or just in general being supported. We couldn’t find a common denominator because there isn’t one. We saw tall, thin and beautiful, we saw different shapes and sizes, different levels of education, we saw plump, we saw many children, we saw some who didn’t have any. We saw men leave wives for “downgrades” or “upgrades” the whole messy gambit and that never answers the question. Why am I so utterly alone at 37 years old. Why do I continuously find myself alone? What is it about me that makes me so unforgettable?
You turn on the TV and see the RomComs, the magazines have beautiful people in them and we are bombarded with images that say, if you do xyz or look like xyz you will find love. Move over to real life and you see that, that is not true. Men love who they love, be it tiny, big, smart, dumb. There heart is attracted to whomever it is. I have tried coloring my hair, wearing lipstick, never leaving the house unkempt, I have lost weight, I have gained weight, I have left the house natural. I have been the opposite of me and I have been the truest form of me and yet no bites.
The earlier exercise brings me back to high school. I wasn’t exactly the first pick for girlfriend. I had many guys say they were interested, but when it came time for chivalry or grand romantic gestures, it was the other girls that got it. I was the one nominated for homecoming court but had no date. Who only went to the dances with friends boyfriends because I was safe and they didn’t want to go, so it was “Ask Denise” I loved a couple of boys back then and they just didn’t feel the same about me. When I went to college, it was the same, people flirted but nothing went further than that. When I moved to Atlanta, I even joined a church and they would double dates with no strings attached and I spent many nights alone waiting for my roommates to come home and tell me about the great times they had. After a few years of being emotionally starved I met my sons father and it moved so fast that I suddenly found myself pregnant. He didn’t love me either, in fact he would remind me of that everyday for almost 9 years. I stayed for so many reasons, but mainly because it was better to deal with that then to be utterly alone. Until it wasn’t and the tables flipped and I decided that id rather be alone than subject myself to that abuse. And so here I am 4 years later. As single as I was 17 years ago when I moved to Atlanta. A string of unrequited loves behind me and me sitting here baring my soul to the internet to keep from going insane. And I ask myself, if looks don’t matter, then its a personality thing that people are attracted to, and if that’s the case I must be broken. I must be an unlovable, a nobody.
I mean sure before you freak out, I know I’m smart and kind and loving. I do like myself. My self esteem is pretty hearty. But its just not the type that draws people in. That makes people want to stay. I carefully study out people on a daily basis. I’m fascinated with people. I watch, I listen, I see gestures, I hear tones, I listen genuinely. Or maybe because I’m trying to figure out what I am missing.
I have friends throw the same lame excuses out: Your not trying hard enough, get out more, He’s coming just wait, You’re too good for what’s out there, Your not wanting it bad enough, try online dating, try going out without your son, go places with your son you may meet a single dad, did you try the other dating website? You’re not picky…I don’t get it. I just don’t get why your single. Maybe you want it too badly, when you stop looking it will happen. You don’t care enough, maybe you need to try xyz. I’ve heard it all and yes in some scenarios I could see where that would work, but do you understand I’ve been waiting my entire life? And guys I think there is just something wrong with me.
I feel like that one random item in the store that nobody buys, so they move it around hoping it will garner interest, then it goes on sale, then it goes on deeper sale, then its in the BOGO section, until it just gets lost in the shuffle and ends up in a dusty cabinet. And soon everyone forgets about it. Even the people who carefully rooted for it and tried to mark it down so it would be a perceived value. Even those friends eventually stop calling. It becomes the nothing. The nobody. My biggest fear. Well, I take that back. My biggest fear is that my son who is very much like me in personality will suffer the same fate. I pray more for him than I do for myself and I see him having a hard time making friends and I die inside. I pray that he finds someone who loves him so deeply and they go on to have a family and he is surrounded by so much love he can’t imagine it being any other way. And I hope he grows up to be nothing like me in this sense. I pray he’s not 37 typing on a computer, hoping to connect with someone out there on some level, any level to keep him from going insane. In 37 years I do not know what it is to be loved, to be cared for. I couldn’t tell you a wonderful gesture aside from a stranger opening the door for me. The bar is so low it’s practically burying itself in the ground lol
This isn’t a cry for help. I still lead a full and active life. I still enjoy the sun rises and the wind blowing in my face. My favorite part of the day is looking up to the clear sky, not a cloud in sight and thinking it was made just for me. I love watching love. I love hearing laughter, it brings me joy to help others and I feel most myself when I am in servitude. I still dress up, but only because it makes me feel nice. I still believe i still hope. But id be lying if I said it didn’t sting a little and wasn’t maddening at times.
So this, here is for you. The nobodies out there. I get it. You in all your badassery are as stumped as I. But I’m hoping you know you’re not alone, not damaged. There is no algorithm to figuring out why some are loved more than others. Or maybe there is. Either way, tonight I wish you peace and quietness as you try to go to sleep and I hope, if there are any nobodies out there that you wish me the same. Goodnight ❤
P.S I plan on slapping on some red lipstick on in the morning and pretending I never wrote this 😉 so if you made it this far, thank you, from the bottom of my warped heart.
Why I March
For those of you who have been hiding under a rock or simply turned off the news this past Saturday there was a movement in this country. A call to action, a unification of people from all walks of life to come together for Equality, for human rights for social justice and for change. It was amazing. It was empowering and eye opening. I turn on the news and hear people say that we were dumb, that marching didn’t solve anything, that we were a bunch of whiny people upset over the election. That women who were born here in the US had nothing to complain about compared to third world countries. And so, to the people not understanding why “privileged women born in the USA would protest” I offer my story.
I was 25 years old when I gave birth to my son. It was a Monday in September and I six days past my due date went to the hospital to be induced. I had a pretty easy pregnancy, only complaint was I couldn’t fit my shoes and my legs were literally trunkles. No lie. I ended up laboring for 24 hours, pushing for two and a half and when my son and I were in distress, labor was not progressing and we were prepared for an emergency Cesarean Section. He was born on the most beautiful Tuesday in the history of the world, weighing in at 9 lbs 10 oz and 22 inches long. Yes, apparently I make demi-gods.
Up until his birth I worked hard at my hotel and tried to save every penny. I had saved up my vacation to supplement the lost wages during my recovery and hoped for the best. I planned on pumping my breast milk to save on money. Of course as all mothers will tell you, sometimes our birth-plan doesn’t go the way we imagined.
Having an emergency c-section meant that it would take up to 12 weeks for my body to heal from having my abdomen sliced open and a human body pulled from it. I soon learned that my vacation that I had saved up was swallowed up to pay for my insurance premiums and that I did not have the little cushion that I thought I had saved for. At around 5 1/2 weeks I had to convince my OBGYN to allow me to return to work and beg my managers to put me on the schedule because we just couldn’t afford it. At 5 1/2 weeks I resumed my hotel desk job-a half a week before a vaginal birth is allowed and several weeks before a Cesarean is cleared. But I had to put food on the table and bills to pay and doctors visits and co-pays to pay for, I had applied for WIC to help and also for government assistance and I made 10 cents more than I was allowed to make at the time to qualify for any additional temporary welfare assistance. So off to work I went with an open wound. And Guess what happened? My stomach opened up. Literally opened up. Blood, liquids, stuff that should have never come out did (and I had a desk job so it’s not like I was doing strenuous work) being that it opened up I also had an infection that could have killed me. My sons father had to learn in the doctor’s office how to pack the gaping 2 inch hole and change my dressings so it would not get worse, but even through that I would wake up get dressed , partially take my pain medications (If it wasn’t higher than an 8 on a 10 point scale I would go without because I found out that it made me loopy and thus unsafe to drive) and I went to work, occasionally going home on my lunch break so I could change the dressing and re-pack the wounds.
It would have been nice to have paid maternity leave. It would have been a great help, it would have allowed me time to not only heal but bond with my newborn son. As a first time mother it would have allowed me time to learn the things I needed to learn, to just keep a child alive. I sadly had to stop breast-feeding/pumping because of the infection and medication and it was all so overwhelming. Looking back I know now that I wasn’t educated or confident or coherent enough to ask for help and support for myself a breastfeeding mom, so I had to put him on formula Which you guessed it cost a lot of money and additional stress. However I was lucky to have a job, I am well aware of that.
I do remember something that will stay with me forever, I was asked to help train a gentleman (who to this day is a near and dear friend). He was an older man who had no hotel experience and I was the one who was lucky enough to get to show him the ropes. One day, I had to go talk to our accounting department and happened to see the pay sheets pulled up on the computer and noticed it listed everyone’s wages. To add insult to injury, literally, I realized was training a co-worker, a man, and guess who was getting paid $1 more an hour with no experience? Yep the man. My guts were falling out, I was a great employee (I am now a Director with the same company, so no, I’m not just saying that) and I was training him with 5 years of experience and I was still getting paid a dollar less. So this friends is why I marched. And even though my baby factory is most likely to be closed forever, I did it for my sisters out there who may or may not have it worse than I did. I do it in solidarity for women’s rights, for equality, for human rights. For dignity. I marched for my Black brothers and sisters, for my LGTBQ friends, for the disabled for the voiceless. I wanted the world to know that until my dying breath, in me you will always have an ally. And I won’t stop here, you will see me in letter writing campaigns signing petitions, calling my local representatives and standing in line in November and every election my body will allow me to attend after that. Because you matter to me and together we are stronger than alone.
For a fun video of the Atlanta March please click here :
EDITED TO ADD: *For the record I believe in paid parental leave for the birth of a child. I feel that a father’s place in the home is just as important and that it is not fair for men in the USA to be punished for wanting to be fathers. I believe both roles are important in the upbringing of a child.
Go out and be awesome, not matter where your walk in life leads you! ❤
The not so powerful Oz
It’s 3:37 a.m and I’m wide awake because I crashed on the couch last night after a long physically and emotionally draining week . I was president of everything yesterday and then I had to come home and cook dinner. Like many times I contemplated ordering out or picking up pre made food at the grocery store. As I sat at the traffic light i checked my bank account, knowing it would be slim as payday is tomorrow. When i logged in i saw that i was negative again. Fuck. not an unfamiliar site, but i was hoping a few bills would clear tomorrow, not last night merely hours before my direct deposit hit. i had to buy Michael some last-minute stuff for school and he lost his glasses. …..again.
As I walk through the door im greeted by “Hi mommy. I’m starving” a normal thing these days with a growing 12-year-old boy. “Hi baby, I know. I had to work late today so I’m sorry I’ll fix something in a few. let me take off my shoes and change” i drag myself up the stairs and sit on the toilet to just breath.
He has no idea that today was particularly hard. I had a VIP meeting at the hotel where our owners attended and had to make sure it went well. Then the same owners had a cocktail reception an hour and a half after their meeting . Which meant at work , it was an all hands on deck situation. Not only was I the sales person in charge, but I spent the better half of my day in the kitchen preparing trays of food. Our hotel is small and not prepared to handle a tight turn around so we were all wearing different hats. I was running around so much and trying to figure out how we were going to turn a meeting into a reception with food with limited help in less than an hour and a half and still make it look good. It was such a chaotic day, I hadn’t eaten breakfast and had to be reminded to eat a sandwich at lunch. When it was time for me to eat i made myself a grilled cheese and sat down with my friends at work resting my aching feet for the first time all morning. Then the phone rang. It was Michael’s vice principal, she was responding to an email I had hastily sent that morning requesting a meeting with her. Michael had been complaining about a teacher at school who had been telling him and certain children that “They would never amount to anything” or that “They wouldn’t go far in life” and the same teacher had kicked him off the robotics team but didn’t tell him. When I spoke to the teacher the day prior he actually said he “hated teaching this class”. Michael had tried to handle it himself by talking to administrators but it had gotten out of hand so mom had to step in. After missing about half my lunch and talking to her, she explained what was going to be done and would follow-up next week. I walked back to the lunch table to finish up my now cold grilled cheese and my engineer, with his thick Jamaican accent says”Denise, you need to stop stressin’ it’s no good .” I had caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror on my way back to the table and saw that face was red and chest was blotchy. “I wish i could bud” was all I could say.
After lunch it was a go-go go again up until it was time to flip the room for the banquet. I have amazing co workers so it went off without a hitch and finally after a 10 hour day I could go home. My dress was dirty from food prep, my hair in a messy ponytail and my feet throbbing . I couldn’t wait to get home and just sit-except i had to make dinner.
So as I’m sitting in my bathroom peeling off my sweaty clothes I let out a deep sigh . I’m so tired of working so hard to just barely live paycheck to paycheck. I had just gotten to a decent place when i had to take out the loan for surgery and now here i am struggling . As I’m sitting there trying to figure out what i could feed my sweet boy, it dawned on me that I had completely forgotten to refill Michael’s cafeteria account last paycheck and I made a mental note to fill it the next morning when i got paid. I pulled up the app to see if he had money left or if i would need to find change for him to eat. and to my motherly horror i realize that his account was at zero and there werent any lunch purchases for the entire week! i jump up and run downstairs and yell out to my son “buddy did you eat today?!” He replies “no.” My heart sinks. “Oh My God Michael! I’m so sorry i didn’t realize your account was empty ” he says “that’s ok, one of my friends gave me a few chips ”
I die a little inside. I ask him if he ate yesterday and he replies that he hasn’t really eaten all week but that one day the lunch lady leant him a dollar so he could eat and that he had to pay her back.
I exclaim “a week! I had no idea, i didn’t get the notification. why didn’t you tell me that you haven’t been eating?!”
He responded with ” I’ve just been reading books, I know that you didn’t have any money and i didn’t want to worry you”
and guys if you ever want to know what it feels like to utterly fail your kid and him be completely aware, this is that moment. He sweetly says “its ok mommy, I just didn’t want to worry you” I died a thousand deaths.
I walk out of the room and pop out his dinner. Making sure he gets a double helping. I’ll just eat popcorn and I tell him that tonight he can eat in his bedroom watching TV. He happily runs upstairs. I then stare at the negative account and think to myself “shit. maybe my mom can let me borrow $10 for his lunch account and how i need to write a thank you note to the lunch lady for using her own money to feed him that day” I know it’s a long shot but i decide to call his father first. I’m not bashing him today, but in the past it has been like pulling teeth to get financial help from him and I brace myself for the worse. he picks up the phone and I immediately start with “Michael hasn’t been eating this week, i have no money, can you please put money in his lunch account?” let me tell you that this is also a horrible conversation to have, because it is admitting to the other parent that you are not doing as well as you would like them to believe . He asks for my log in information and puts $25 in his lunch account. I do the math in my head and realize that is 62 lunches or 31 breakfast and 31 lunches. that’s a sweet relief for the moment. i tell him thank you, hang up and tell Michael that his daddy put money in his account. Then i scramble in search of a dollar to pay back the lunch lady .
To say I feel like complete and utter shit is an understatement. I call my mom to explain my shit parenting and she says to tell Michael to let her know if that happens again, that if he doesn’t want to worry me that she will put money into his account. I have amazing parents but i still feel like utter shit. I should be able to do this at 37. I had just asked her to buy him some sneakers a couple of weeks back with a hopeful promise that i could pay her in instalments. In my heart of all hearts I will but in small increments. She never reminds me or asks for the money and sometimes it’s months before i can even begin to pay. But I’m grateful to have them. i feel like a failure though as you can imagine.
And so after an emotional and physical day I passed out on the couch. Food still in my hair and now I’m up with insomnia . I’m thinking about how to creatively pay bills. How I’m going to pay my mom back for Christmas because she’s letting me use her as lay away for Michaels gift. How I’m barely above water. How i have a broken tooth that needs to be pulled but i can’t do it now. How i thought the whole time i was fooling Michael into thinking i had it together. He doesn’t know that for weeks I’ve been working with the YMCA for a basketball scholarship or how the amazing Mom’s at OBM helped me out so he could play. he doesn’t know what it takes to run the house and family and this week he peaked behind the curtain and saw that the all-powerful Oz was just a tiny human behind the curtain .
Humility is a hard pill to swallow y’all. and now I have to force myself to sleep because we have to be up for school and work in an hour and a half. please excuse my typos it’s now 4:28 a.m