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Teach You How To Treat ME

Last week the Daddy I had been dating told me he had been thinking about working things out with the mother of his child.

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Oddly enough I was happy to hear it. I could sense something between us had been off for some time. The over-thinker in me was glad my uneasiness wasn’t for naught.

He asked if we could still be friends

In the few months we’ve been seeing each other, I had never heard him speak ill of the mother of his child. So as shocking as it was to hear, I didn’t feel any tension. He never indicated that this was a hostile relationship for him to return to. He asked if we could still be friends. Initially I agreed. He gave me the heaviest hugs I had ever had & with tear-glossed eyes he asked if I were going to cry. I didn’t. I got in my car; drove home & watched Queen Sugar. Then I got a text message.

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I responded. Assuming this was just a sincere moment of checking in after a n intense conversation.

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To my surprise he called the next morning. And text “Goodnight” again that evening. Same thing the day after that. I was confused. The attention I had been receiving in the days following our “friendship” was everything that had been inconsistent about our relationship just days before.

On the third morning of “Phone Calls from Friends” I angrily answered “I’M SLEEP” then hung up. Perturbed at being disturbed after a night of crying. Yup, that’s right. I cried. Two days after the fact, but still it happened.

That Friday after work I drove home and a series of songs came on the radio that reminded me of our times together and I cried. Came home, wrote about it and cried a little bit more. So for him to call me early on a Saturday morning as if everything was fine was hurtful.

He texted me later that day and called again after my lack of response. He accused me of sending mixed messages, by answering graciously one day and snapping the next. I was offended. How dare he accuse ME of doing exactly what HE was doing? So I called him out on it.

How can you say you just want to be friends then resume relationship behavior right away?

It was a looong intense conversation, still trying to salvage some sense of friendship. I told him he wouldn’t be giving himself a fair chance to work things out with his child’s mother if he intended to continue talking to me several times a day. He didn’t seem to see a problem with it, but I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable with it if things were the other way around.

That night I found myself watching Iyanla Fix My Life; the episodes on dismantling the myth of The Angry Black Woman. One of the residents of her “House of Healing” talked about being a Yes Woman and how putting people’s needs before her own made her unhappy.

It was then I remembered a lesson I learned my whole life. “You teach people how to treat you.”

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I’m 25 years old and I spent a Friday night crying into my notebook wanting so desperately to be consoled by a Daddy. NEEDING my grandfather or my uncle to reaffirm how beautiful & special I am. Being angry I couldn’t go to my own father, or step-father or even my sister’s father with those feelings in that moment. Then it hit me. I had never tried to establish that kind of relationship with any of them. I had NEVER consulted Step Dad #1 with my relationship problems. I don’t think I ever even thanked my sister’s father for his very presence when my high school boyfriend couldn’t take a hint and leave.

I’ve spent my life living pretty independently. I never taught my Daddies how to treat me in my times of need. So how could I be so hurt that they weren’t there for me?

On Sunday, I was supposed to have lunch with the Daddy I had been dating. We never made it. He texted me five hours after we agreed to meet and I was livid.

This man thought he could TEXT ME after standing me up & everything would be ok?

I didn’t respond.

He called.

I sent it to voicemail.

Something about me had taught him that it was ok to disrespect my time. His text message didn’t even include an apology. Just a one word greeting I didn’t find worthy of a response.

Two days later the same greeting. I just wanted to be left alone. But part of me so badly wanted to school him on how to treat people. So when he reached out to me requesting to sit down and talk, I obliged. And I was sure to take it as an opportunity to not only teach him how to treat me, but people you piss off in general. Don’t start with a text as if everything is fine. Acknowledge you fucked up and don’t take it for granted that you’ll get a response, or the opportunity to apologize AFTER a person responds to your basic ass text.

[ctt template=”8″ link=”fAf6f” via=”yes” ]”I may not have done a great job of teaching you how to treat me, but you gone learn today.” @MissReid1216[/ctt]

It was an emotionally taxing week full of experience but I’m glad I had it. It made me re-evaluate my role in my relationship with my Daddies & it reminded me to be more intentional in how I teach people how to treat me.

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Telling the Truth in Television: How Survivor’s Remorse is Getting it Right

Season Three of Survivor’s Remorse touched on so many pertinent issues. Colorism. Abortion. Rape. Not having a living Will. A carry over issue had been something near and dear to this blog. DADDY ISSUES.

This season M.Chuck is in court mandated therapy to deal with her anger. In therapy she came to realize many of her issues lead back to her relationship with her mother. And that relationship is strained, because her mother has denied her the identity of her father. M.Chuck, like so many people I know in real life feel that not knowing their father means a piece of them is missing. The writers didn’t just tap dance around the issue. They let her slowly uncover this root throughout the season; be it by therapy, or hard learned lessons following a night of partying. Real people don’t just wake up with Daddy Issues. Real people don’t automatically relate their emotionless sex lives with Daddy Issues. Real people have o look inward and self-reflect. To me, M.Chuck felt like a REAL PERSON coming to terms with her REAL ISSUES.

mchuck-in-therapy

And as much as I look forward to continuing M.Chuck’s journey with her, she isn’t the only character with Daddy Issues. Another way the writers room got it right is that they haven’t been one dimensional. No two Daddy Issues are identical. That was evident in witnessing Reggie’s story unfold.

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Reggie is a relatively young, married, black man with a career in Sports Management. He’s from a rough New England neighborhood in Boston and has no interest in looking back. He doesn’t want his uncle buried in Boston. He doesn’t want old Boston friends at the Funeral. He Doesn’t want his cousin/client visiting Boston, even for a wedding. For Reggie, his past is that for a reason and all that matters is moving on up. It’s almost as if he fears returning to Boston will turn him to a pillar of salt, and one we learn his Daddy Issues, it begins to make sense. Reggie knows his father; grew up in the house with him and his mother’ yet he still has Daddy Issues. He tells his wife that his father is the embodiment of the word “CUNT”. Unlike M.Chuck, Reggie has no desire to face his Dad or resolve anything. He’s even discarded any photos of the two together. Reggie’s Daddy was abusive, and although he is a young, married, successful black man; nothing seems to be able to undo that hurt. Not even leaving Boston behind.

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Reggie was able to leave Boston, because he manages his cousin Star athlete Cam, who is the center of the show. Cam is a well-loved family man, a little bit of a momma’s boy, and being a pro-athlete still doesn’t make him exempt from Daddy Issues. In the beginning of the Season he eulogizes his uncle detailing all that he had done for him, saying “He was everything a father should be” That line resonated with me because that’s how I feel about my own uncle. Cam, similar to myself knows who his father is and describes him as a deadbeat. Not too many examples are given as to what qualifies him as such, but the closing scene of the finale helps it all make sense. (Don’t worry I’m not going to spoil it) In addition to having Deadbeat Daddy Issues, Cam seems to experience some regret around a decision, or lack thereof he made surrounding his own parenting choices. Children aren’t the only ones with Daddy Issues. Sometimes being faced with becoming a Daddy has it’s own set of Issues.

Intertwined with all the comedy, Survivor’s Remorse is unburrying some deep seeded Daddy Issues for its characters & making these characters into Real People.

If you resonate with any of their stories of have your own to tell, feel free to email them to DaaamnDaddy@gmail.com

I look forward to Reading your “Dear Deadbeat, …Love, Star-Athlete” letters.

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Managing the Pain of Living

September is Pain Awareness Month. I discovered this when researching what resources could be the focus of the bulletin board at the Mental Health Clinic I work at.

 

*Pain is a warning sign that indicates a problem that needs attention*

This week I experienced a different kind of pain. After finding myself TWICE engaged in draining discussions with “patriots” “protesting” Colin Kaepernick’s Protest, I along with the rest of the world was reminded why he’s been protesting to begin with. This pain let me know there’s a deeper problem than his right to protest, that needs attention.

 

My body can no longer stand to watch live executions courtesy of Dashcams & Facebook Live. The Audio triggers migraines so I read the subtitles as the images proceed in silence.

“Somebody lost their Daddy today”

My head aches. I drove straight to work from three states away and worked an 11-hour shift so no doubt I’m fatigued. But my sleepiness did not cause today’s head pains. Nor did my dollar menu diet. This, this was STRESS.

“Somebody lost their Daddy today”

Continue reading “Managing the Pain of Living”

This morning was the first time in a long time I thought about Buddha as a real person with real feelings.

Buddha is my biological father. Last week his sister, my aunt, text me to let me know that their grandmother, my great grandmother, Nanna was in the hospital. She had a heart attack & pneumonia in her left lung.

This morning she text me to tell me that the doctor’s said there’s nothing the do. Her body is shutting down.

That’s when I thought of Buddha. My whole life I had heard that he was her favorite. No matter how much he’d done; he could do no wrong in her eyes.

In 2014 I visited her and she asked about him. I responded “I don’t know.” When she pressed further I added “Because I don’t want to know.” At the time I was upset at the thought of having to lie to her on his behalf. I hadn’t realized how upsetting the news could be to her.

Today I wondered how it may have made him feel. Being away from her all the time. Was the idea of hurting her more heavy for him than not witnessing his kids grow up?

This May was the first time in as long as I could remember, seeing the two of them in the same room. I expected more. I don’t even recall anyone announcing his presence. She asked who all was there. Her sight had gone and her hearing was following. She couldn’t see us for herself and she could barely recognize our voices. But I remember even then wondering why he was so quiet. Especially since the last I saw her, he was all she asked about. Now that he was here in the same room with her, why wasn’t she asking?

Anyway, this morning I wondered how he took the news. I wondered if he cried. I wondered if he felt helpless. Or scared. Or angry with himself for disappointing her. I felt him as human. I empathized with him, because I couldn’t imagine losing my grandmother. And as sad as I’ll be to lose Nanna, I know his grief will be ten times worse.

Or at least, I expect it to be.

-Sunday, September 11, 2016

Debt…It’s personal for me!

In my household, college was always promoted to me as something that was an absolute given. My grandmother was the first to graduate college from our family in the 50s. She set the bar very high! She believed for everyone in her family to attend either college or the military. College for me was the only option that was discussed; but we never talked much about how we would finance it.

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I will share that my mother did a great job at preparing me academically by sending me to the best public schools in the City of Philadelphia. However, my father didn’t appear to be as deeply invested as my mother. My father re-emerged back into my life at the age of 13 years old from being absent since I was 5 years old. Even though him and I lived in the same city, I had not seen or talked to him during the 8-year hiatus. This hiatus was believed to be sparked by the judgement for him to pay child support. His absence was something I became accustomed to and him re-emerging among my high school years initially had me to feel resentful of his return.

Upon entering college, I was awarded $8,000 in scholarships from my high school. My freshman year was covered! However, sophomore, junior and senior year were left for question. Junior year my mother became very ill and was diagnosed with Bacterial Meningitis. As a result, she lost her hearing, income and position as a teacher. With my mother’s income down to zero and having to rely on the support of my grandmother who earned around $40,000 in her retirement pension, things became very tight very quick!  Because my financial aid reported my mother’s income from the year prior, it appeared as if I was financially OK, meaning not eligible for grants. I refer to this financial state as being in the “sticky middle”, too poor to pay for college and too rich to receive a grant.

 

The introduction of student loans came into my life during my sophomore year of college. My scholarship funding received from high school was exhausted after my freshman year of college. In my family there was not a discussion about student loans or any education around how to repay them. It is my opinion that one possible reason that student loan debt is so high in our country, is due to lack of preparation.

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My advice to anyone reading this who wants to help their child or family member prepare for college, is to start saving now. A great but underutilized resource is the 529 plan. Each state has a 529 plan that assist with saving for college through the use of conservative saving rates or aggressive investing.  Sharing information such as the 529 plan has empowered me with the ability to empower others. This led me to become an advocate and teacher for others about student loan debt and methods of prevention.

 

You may be reading this and thinking to yourself, “Where was her father during this time”? Great question, he was around in terms of time but not financially. I remember him saying, “I’ll send you something every month to help you out, but it won’t be the amount that your mom was getting for child support”. Child support had been suspended once I turned 18. I remember thinking to myself, if ever I had needed financial support, it was in that first year of college especially. I realized how much financial support I would need and how much I didn’t have.

The financial lack I experienced my first year of college, put me into “grind mode”! All through college I held 3 jobs. One on the weekends, and two during the week. I had to learn to financially count on me. Even to this day, the grind does not stop. One stream of income is not enough to create financial security. The reality is, parental support creates a safety blanket, one that is appreciated and wanted. However, if you ask the question, did the lack thereof create this ambitious, goal driven woman who has created a brand for herself now known as The Student Loan Doctor? I’ll respond by saying, ABSOLUTELY!

 -The Student Loan Doctor

Dr. Sonia Lewis

You may connect with The Student Loan Doctor by visiting her website www.thestudentloandoctorllc.com

Finding My Lane

I’ve come to realize being a child & working with children doesn’t make me an expert in anything other than critiquing other people’s parenting.
I had a slightly awkward experience the other day when a group of children walked in the room and one of them addressed me as “Mommy”. Another, curiously added “That’s your mom?” To which the first replied. “No. I just always call her that.” I said nothing. I like this child, and after seeing someone week in & week out for over a year I guess you grow attached to them.
Two days after that I saw “Rest in Peace Lor Scoota” on Facebook and thought *Hmm I wonder what happened. That’s sad* then kept scrolling. Unfortunately, I find myself increasingly numb to death.

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Shortly after scrolling I got a phone call from the Daddy I’ve been Dating. He said “It’s a sad day in Baltimore.”
When I asked why, he explained to me that the young man “Lor Scoota” is a local rapper from Baltimore who authentically represented the city and received recognition from other rappers like Meek Mill & P. Diddy. He was murdered not too far from my house. As he was telling me all of this I could hear his frustration. I could feel his disappointment through my phone.
He said “It’s so many great people that’s from here and it’s sad that when they try to stay and do right in the city/community; they can’t!” His list included Jada Pinkett-Smith & Carmelo Anthony. He mentioned wishing he could leave &understanding why people don’t stay when they make it.
What he didn’t say was, he’s scared. He didn’t have to. I know he’s not fearful of his city. Neither am I, but lack of fear doesn’t stop things from happening. His fear is something I can not yet fathom. He’s scared for his son. His young black son that he’s raising in Baltimore City where I recently heard a man say “Our murder rate is so high it’s almost like we’re in competition with Chicago.”

Chicago homicides
Although he didn’t say it, I knew that’s what was fueling his frustration. And I knew I couldn’t feel the same. Ain’t enough siblings, students, cousins and kin to generate that feeling and parental instinct when they feel powerless to protect their own child.
This conversation coupled with the child with the incarcerated mother calling me Mommy got me to thinking. I have a terrible habit. Of telling other people what to do with their children (most times I’m right). And dating a Daddy who knows they one day want more children has had parenthood on the forefront of my mind more frequently than usual.
It’s become increasingly clear to me that I’m NOT ready. Not ready to pick a place to live based on the proximity of good schools. Ready to live in neighborhoods where I no longer have to worry about whether or not someone could/would take advantage of me, but if my offspring can play freely with their friends. I’m not ready for the worry that my child could grow to be proud & successful by following their dreams & still be killed by our attempt to resist gentrification.

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I need to Find MY Lane.

Last weekend, my youngest sister called me and said “Happy Father’s Day cause you basically raised me” I DID pretty much raise her. I love her. And I would be CRUSHED if she was killed. Does that make me a parent?

I loved the kids I taught and have done amazing things for them. I would also be crushed if any them were killed. But I’m not a parent. And seeing as how my empathy is broken, I’m not capable of FEELING like a parent feels. So where do I fit? I have to Find My Lane.

Mixed Messages

Last weekend I drove over 8 hours ON MY OWN to attend a 92nd birthday celebration for my great grandmother.

My father was there.

Unlike the weekend before when I saw him at my Uncle’s house; he didn’t speak to me or try to hug me. We looked through each other as if neither of us were actually there.

Although I usually prefer he not speak to me, I was slightly shocked by his lack of effort. None of his siblings nor his mother made mention of it to me. Only his youngest brother’s wife seemed concerned.

She wanted me to “fix it” I insisted that I was fine and told her she was the only one who noticed. She quickly disagreed with me. If my aunt, uncles, or cousins noticed, none of seemed to care too much.

It wasn’t until I got a call from the Daddy I’ve been dating asking how I was and if he was there that I decided to acknowledge his presence.

When I returned home I said to him “I was nice to him for 5 seconds after I talked to you.” with a genuine smile. The kind misbehaving children show their mothers when they come home without getting suspended. Baby steps toward progress, yet still proud of myself.

I told him how I allowed Buddha to put me on his Snap Chat with the Swap Faces filter. He asked me why I didn’t REALLY talk to him. I said to him what I’ve been saying for years. “We don’t have anything to talk about.” Then he pointed out to me that maybe Buddha could sense in our hug the week before that I wasn’t genuine and instead of continuing to force it, he gave up.

In that moment I realized that for years I’ve been sending him mixed messages.

  • Not wanting to be bothered but simultaneously wondering why he isn’t trying.
  • Being dry on the phone when ever someone calls with him on 3-way.
  • Pretending not to hear or see his other daughter telling me he asked about me, yet telling anyone who will listen how much he’s missed out on my life.

I was being inconsistent.I was being the exact type of person I despise the most without ever really noticing it. I’ve done this in other relationships, noticed it and corrected it, but in this I was blind.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Daddy Issues may cause depression. Bipolar can be hereditary, But being inconsistent is a choice!

Now I have to choose whether or not I want a relationship with this man and directly say that. Using my VOICE.

I’ll no longer be sending Mixed Messages.

I work at a mental health clinic. On more than one occasion I’ve been offered a prescription for ADHD medication.

I’ll admit, I lose focus easily, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have ADHD though.

Recent reflections have led me to notice a pattern of lost focus. I noticed this pattern a few years ago and intentionally remained single because of it.

Four years ago today I graduated from the Illustrious HOWARD UNIVERSITY .03 points away from having a GPA worthy of Honors. My family was proud, but I wanted better. So I vowed Grad School would be different.

Three and a half weeks into my first semester my nose was just as open as my legs and that 4.0 foundation had been flushed.

The next semester legs closed, nose still open. I gave all my “free time” to the next man and messed up my math grade. Was this a pattern? A bad habit? Or a learned behavior?

Yesterday my grandparent celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary. Ironically my whole life, my grandmother has been encouraging me to put my romantic life on hold and build some experiences for myself.

Today my new friend called me and asked if I had written today. He asked if I had updated my blog yet. He hasn’t seen it yet, but he’s always asking and encouraging me to write more, to do more. So why do I feel like I’m achieving less?

It would be easy to place blame solely on a man for wanting my time, or me for giving it to him, but it’s deeper than that.

Societal norms have us believe that you’re semi-single like Oprah or an assumed secret society member like Beyoncé, you trade your individual goals for a successful relationship.

Unfortunately, this expectation is commonly placed on women. Men as providers are expected to place success before relationships. Any reversal of these roles stirs up tea for conversation.

I recently read an article about how some men are great Daddies and terrible husbands. I know my grandmother would never say it so bluntly, but I’m sure she’s been lonely. My grandfather ENJOYED working. She forced him into retirement. It was funny at the time, but now it’s sad.

I don’t know Beyoncé, and I don’t want the “We just be coolin’ it. We ain’t goin’ steady” relationship Oprah has with Steadman. I realized I’ve never seen a woman I KNOW and LOVE and RESPECT balance Love & marriage with Dreams & goals.

I’ve had men outright ask me for my time because I’m not so great at making myself available when I have other things to accomplish. I’ve found myself enjoying that shared time so much that I slowly allot less and less time for working on things that I want and need.

I had not written anything this morning before my friend called. I hadn’t updated my blog yet. I spent my morning fantasizing about all the things I wanted to discuss with my new friend the next time we meet. About ways to pour into him the way he pours into me. Then I realized I allowed it to happen again. I allowed myself to get distracted. You can’t pour from an empty cup. And no matter how supportive of me he wants to be. There will be nothing for him to support if I lose sight of myself.

Vowing to no longer be DISTRACTED.

Intimacy

My mother isn’t very affectionate. Don’t get me wrong, she sends me hugs & love on Tuesdays & Thursdays, but during the rest of the week? I better find a puppy.

Oddly enough, her limited affection wasn’t something I felt affected by until my teen years. By then I had learned enough to know that it was cyclical, and the grandma I loved to hug so much; wasn’t the most huggable mom in the world.

Why am I bringing up mothers on a blog about Daddy Issues? Because Parenting is a team sport and I have a point to get to so long as I don’t go off on a tangent.

Last week I shared that I had made a new friend. And this new friend showered me with ALL the lessons in April. One of which was about intimacy. In one of our “getting to know you” sessions, he asked me about my first love. I told him of the infidelity I experienced from my middle school man that I just KNEW I was going to marry & my mother was NOT invited. He asked if I had ever been in an abusive relationship. I told him that, that puppy love experience was mentally and emotionally abusive though I didn’t realize it at the time. When I told him what exactly happened that I consider abuse, he went and unearthed one of those fossils and asked: “Why did you stay so long??”

I won’t allow my desire for affection to keep me in spaces where I’m unloved anymore.

I didn’t have an answer. Young and dumb sounded so cliché. I knew the answer tough. It felt so stereotypical even thinking it, but I knew it was true. I needed the affection. Tuesdays and Thursdays from mom weren’t cutting it. Especially not when she had a threenager, a man, a career and a slew of tenants to take care of.

I enjoyed the intimacy. Falling asleep on his shoulder during band field trips. Listening to him breathe into my mother’s house phone while I baby sat a house full of kids, doing my homework, his and helping them with theirs. Holding his hand on walks to the store when I should have been making my way to class in the morning. And the kissing. The kissing was nice. Sucking fudge pops out each other’s mouth would have been bigger than the ice bucket challenge if anyone had the means to video us back then (Thank GOD I was born in the early 90s). I liked all these things so much I allowed my desire to keep them to get me caught up in passive aggressive “Away Message Wars”. I was cyber-stalking the Chatter-Box on his Xanga page. I even found myself using that timeless phrase “I don’t care what he told YOU. Until he tells ME. We did NOT break up.”

baby-steps

Yeah, my middle school drama was more juicy than the Love & Hip Hop franchise. And the fact that it was middle school for me makes me THAT much more perplexed that grown women accept that shit.

Anyway. Last weekend I found myself fogging up the windows of my new friend’s car like I was one of the Pink Ladies from GREASE or something. I nestled up on his shoulder; face breathing in his neck like a J. Holiday song. And I wanted to stay there. He wanted more, but fortunately, he didn’t pressure me for it, so I again positioned myself, head on shoulder. Face toward neck, as if I was waiting for him to read me a bedtime story.

Then it hit me. All this ME time without craving sex, was because I was craving more. I was missing INTIMACY.

In all this time I’ve spent getting to know my new friend, I noticed we never really touched before. We hadn’t held hands, although we had hugged a few times, this was our first time being in a private and enclosed space.

We almost devoured each other, but in the midst of what could have been a ravenous meal I had a moment where “I wanna take a nap right here.”

beach-nap-1

I felt simultaneously safe and afraid.

Something I noticed about my friend and his Daddy status is that he’s been very nurturing. We’ve been intimate with our words and he’s kind and gentle and encouraging me. He gives me that Daddy-like support without actually “Daddying” me.

My mother wasn’t very affectionate with me and Buddha was withdrawn. So I’ve been in search of intimacy all along.

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