In Which I am Not Enough

Contrary to how that title sounds, this is not a disheartening post. It’s diet disheartening. One of the second biggest adjustments I’ve been making following my step-father’s death is filling in that emptiness for my mom. I think the most common thing I hear when people speak to me, whether it be family members or church members, is, “Take care of your mom.” To which my mind automatically responds, “No pressure, right?”  Being a daughter trying to decrease the gaping hole of a husband is difficult and, quite frankly, damn near impossible.  I can occupy a room in the house, which eliminates a fraction of the silence.  I can govern the bill payments, which eradicates a minimum amount of responsibility. But in the end, I’m not a husband so I’ll never be enough of what my mom has lost.

Now, I know I said that this wouldn’t be an overly disheartening post so let me get to the less “heart-achy” part. Accepting that I’m not going to be able to fill certain roles is liberating.  When I try to do and be everything, I only end up questioning myself and my efforts.  When my mom has her moments of acute grief, in which I can read the loss in the expressions of her face or the busyness of her hands, I start pondering, “Okay, what can I do? What can I say?” And most often the answer is, “nothing that helps.” At times, I can only be there. I have to allow her to heal the way she heals, and only step into that moment when she grants me permission.  I can’t be everything and everyone that she needs. If she needs counseling, I’m not the person for it. I took one Death and Dying class like 6 years ago, and very few psychology classes so there’s only so much I can say or do. If she needs a listening ear, I’m not going to be the person she goes to as a default. She’ll want someone closer in age and who can better relate to the loss, such as our church member whose husband passed last year from cancer. If she wants someone to pray with, she may choose me out of convenience, but chances are she’s going to go to someone who is more spiritually mature than I am. And I hold nothing against her or myself for any of these things. I also know that she does not hold anything against me. She understands that I am not enough. And you know what? That’s okay.

I was having a conversation with my mom just last week about my sister and her spouse. She’ll never see this post so she’ll forgive me for telling her business. Her and her husband only knew each other three months prior to marriage and forewent pre-marital counseling. I would advise you all to do NEITHER of those. Marriages work best when there is pre-marital class attendance (spiritual or other) and if you know someone at least 25 months prior to the hitch. Well, now they are experiencing some turmoil, especially since they just had a baby. Everything came to a head when last week I get a call from my sister saying that her and the children are coming to stay at the house for the weekend. This call signals to me that there has been a marital disagreement. Welp, thirty minutes into them being at the house she knocks on my bedroom door with the newborn in her arms, tears streaming down her face, asking me can I keep the baby while she gets her things out of the driveway. Her husband has gotten so beside himself that he basically decides to kick her out of the house, newborn baby and all, and has dumped every one of her belongings in the driveway. My mom comes home to this new revelation of the crisis, and she’s trying to figure out what to do to remedy the situation. She’s calling the husband, comforting my sister, and cleaning the spare room, almost all at once. After looking at her rip and run for an hour I finally pulled her to the side and said, “Ma. You are not a marriage counselor. You can only do so much as a mother and a wife. And even still, you are transitioning into widowhood. You are NOT a marriage counselor.” I said these things because we all struggle to fill roles that are over and above our pay-grades and our heads. As a result, if things don’t work out, we fault ourselves. Sometimes, we have to let things go and hand them over to people better suited for the job.  While my sister and her family are important to me, my mother is more important so I don’t want to see her feel overwhelmed. Thus, I warned her to know her limitations and work within those lines. If they need counseling, they need a counselor. Debra ain’t one.

On a positive note, my sister and her husband patched things up, packed things up, and moved all her things back out by Sunday night. Oddly enough, following that debacle, I wondered if perhaps my mom needed more than me around to be satisfied, to heal better. And I really began to down myself because I thought, and still think, that she did. And I’ve come to a place where I understand that this is not my problem. I can only stretch myself so wide and spread myself so thin before I’m doing more than I can handle.  We all have to look at things in a manner of, “What can I do before this begins to become unhealthy?” There’s nothing wrong with that. We are not super heroes. We are daughters, sons, mothers, husbands, siblings, teachers, mentors, etc. We are all something and yet, we are all not something, if that makes sense.  At some point we’ll find that we are not enough. And this does not mean that we are crappy people. It means that we are human. Anyone who criticizes you for falling short in an area that isn’t your expertise is just being unfair to you.  Whatever you are enough in, refine and fine-tune until you are the best you can be at it. I’m enough as a daughter. And I’m going to be the best daughter I can possibly be. Soon enough, I’ll be a career woman and a provider so I’ll transition to being a provider for my mom. And I’ll be enough of that as well. And whatever I’m not enough in? I’ll do my best and accept when it is time to hand it off to someone better suited.

 

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Dream on, Kid

Fantasies of being someone else

is not really about the belief

the hope

that it is possible

this truth now fails to evade me

and I have made a sensible amount of peace with it

You see,

it actually boils down to that hour

that minute

those few seconds where I escape the madness of being myself

therein lies the cause of craving

In Which I Shouldn’t Drink Coffee

You know how people are mushy drunks??? I’m a mushy coffee drinker. As soon as caffeine hits my system I’m an emotional wreck. If ever anyone has been fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it) to receive an “I love you!” or “I’m so proud of you!” text from me trust I just finished a mug of coffee…..Welp, could be worse! Or could it….

My friend in Alabama sent me a message last night with the link to her home health website for me to take a gander at.  She’s been working on the idea for a while, but never really started putting it into action because while she was in Mississippi, work ate most of her time and also did not allot her any disposable income to put her plans into motion.  After receiving a better paying job offer in Alabama, she loaded up her truck, tossed her two sons in the back seat, and hit the dusty trail.  But she even with her more comfortable living arrangement and higher rank job, she still had the itch to start her own business.  Well it took a while, but she’s been getting her business license paperwork, designing her business card, and completing the website.  Even though she sent me the message last night, I fell asleep before I could open it (it had been raining all day here and as you know, rain is perfect reading and sleeping weather) so I didn’t open it until I was sitting at the kitchen table reading “Rappaccini’s Daughter” and drinking my morning coffee. And I just had to tell her that I was incredibly proud of her. And I am. I probably would have told her that regardless of my choice of beverage, but still, it intensified the need to tell her. Coffee. It’ll make you do things. It won’t help you be productive, but…it’ll make you do other things…..

I’m a bit of a weirdo when it comes to such things.  My friend Bianca used to tell me all of the time, “Amber, you know why you’re cool? Because you have friends, but you act like you don’t need them. That’s cool.” And in my mind I was thinking, “that probably means your standards of cool are pretty low…..and also that I’m apparently a bit of an asshole….” But as I’ve said before, I’m very defensive of myself. I may act like I don’t need someone for the simple fact that I know that it’ll hurt less if that person ever decides that my companionship is not needed.  At the same time, I habitually ask my friends what their life dreams and goals are. Some don’t have any dreams or goals other than to survive in this crazed world, and others have very specific goals. If they tell me a goal they have in mind I’ll let them know I believe that they can do it or be it, whatever the “it” may be. Because, for one, that’s what friends do. I suck at being a friend, but I’m pretty good in that area if I say so myself.  And also because life has a funny, not funny, way of kicking you in the shin and going, “NOT TODAY!” whenever you start inching closer and closer towards your dreams.  Some times your family may tell you that what you’re hoping for is not realistic. Maybe an article pops up on your timeline that says, “Top Useless Degrees” and right there on the list is your degree. Or maybe you’re still in the progress stage and you feel like you’re going to be stuck there forever. And all you really want and need is for your slightly asshole-ish friend to randomly say, “I believe in you.”

It’s funny how time can bring about a change, because back in the dizzle I would be the last person to express anything of the like.  Well, when I was kid I would because I was born to be a delicate little muffin. I remember when I was about five or six, I told my granny, “Granny. I love you. Even after I die and go to heaven, I’ll still love you in heaven.” That’s just the kind of person I was. All kids are kind of like that: hopeful, gentle, optimistic. Then puberty drop kicks you in the neck and well….it was nice while it lasted. After that, being kind is an uphill battle. Specifically, once I hit high-school I lost my gentle edge for a while.  Mostly because during this period you’re trying to find your place in the world. So I was mostly struggling with just being myself, and it bothered me if I did something that my friends liked so they would do it too. It legitimately bothered me. Because I figured if they did it, especially since they were more popular, they’d get the most attention for it. Yea yea yea, I know. Sad *Donald Trump voice* Even when I dyed my hair freshman year of college, both of my closest friends dyed theirs afterwards and I hated it. HATED IT. *Big Sean voice* Poor self image and envy are a terrible mix. *shakes my head* The thought of someone doing better didn’t sit well with me because it made me realize just how NOT better I was doing. But now I know that’s really a sucky mindset and poor heart condition to have.  If someone is doing well then you should rejoice, unless they’re a criminal….And if someone isn’t doing too great then you should empathize because we’re all human and none of us like to suffer. If you extend kindness to someone they will return it to you in your time of need (hopefully. We all know that doesn’t always work out). If you practice being a hater, then you’ll receive hate in return.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can make it through life alone. And when you act maliciously then you increase your chances of spending your life by yourself, with no one to celebrate your success or lift you from your own despair. That’s a tough life to live.

I’ve also internalized the truth of the matter: If God can and will do it for someone else, he can and will do it for me.  Of course, I struggle with this from time to time. At some point later I’ll have a post about God NOT doing it for me because emotions…they’re fickle things….BUT I also know that if my heart is not in the right place, then he can’t give me anything or do anything for me, at least not to the extent he desires to.  So now when I see someone else being blessed, I thank God for it. Not solely because I know that he can do the same for me, but because I’m grateful that each of us has a great purpose for living.  We may struggle to get there, but it’s still there. “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you, not to harm you…” Yes. Yes I did use profanity and quote a bible verse in the same post. Forgive me, Lawd. I especially think of the people who swam through the swamp, and still ended up on the peak of the mountain. You never know what people went through to get where they are. It amazing to hear individuals’ stories about their backgrounds and compare that to their accomplishments. Truly amazing. Let that be encouraging, not envy inducing.  And believe that God has things in store for you as well. Now, it may not come in the same package as someone else’s and it definitely won’t come when you think it will, but it’s coming.

So in my caffeine chronicles I’m here to say that I’m proud of everyone here. Even if you don’t think you’re where you need to be or should be. I’m still proud and I still believe in you. *cue the national anthem playing in the background, and an Eagle perching on my shoulder….And my head on Barack Obama’s body….but with his smile….* Too much detail…..

In Which the Wave Ends

I knew the wave of mania would end at some point. It stuck around for a good while, which was fortunate. But I’ve been expecting it for days, and the end finally arrived today, riding in with a cloud of rain as opposed to the cloud of fire that accompanied Moses and the Israelites. During these times I tend to have a lot to say and absolutely no words to say them with.  It’s when you’re restless, but you’re struggling with idleness. Your hands search for anything and everything as a means of occupation. You clean the bathroom. You sweep the hall, the kitchen, the laundry-room. You wash the dishes three times. Four times. You wipe the stove top and the counter down. You open the window, close the window, open the window again.  You pick at the strings on your guitar, but your fingers and your mind are too disconnected at the moment. It’s not music. It’s noise. And you finally force yourself to sit down and accept that you don’t really know what to do anymore.  You’re itching for some sign of life. A roll of thunder. A burst of laughter. Something. Anything. But the weight of silence, which first came crashing down, seeps into your skin and you slowly accept that there’s nothing. Nothing but the sound of the fan whirring on medium and your shallow breathing to fill the void. It’s these times that I take a deep breath and tell myself, “all you’ve got to do is survive. Just keep surviving. It doesn’t matter if you don’t do anything productive at all. Eat cookies, drink water, watch television, read, don’t read, daydream, toss, turn, settle down or don’t.  Just don’t give in.”

In Which the Point is not Arrival

I think I can talk about tattoos all day. All day, everyday. Tattoos are awesome to me. Some tell stories, some don’t. Some look like an one-eyed inmate with cataracts did them and other’s look like they cost thousands of dollars for a celebrity artist to complete.  But ultimately, regardless of meaning or appearance, all tattoos go through the stages of itching and swelling.  Which is one reason why you probably want to make sure it looks the way and means what you want it to because you’ve got to do some suffering in the process of it retaining it’s permanency. I’ve currently just got two tattoos, a fact I’ve stated before so I apologize for my insistent redundancy. I want more, but I’m trying to save money right now so ink is currently at the bottom of my list of necessities.  Since mine are visible, as they are on my forearm and wrist, I get a couple of ink admirers who will compliment them. And most often I hear, “I want one! But I don’t want to go through the pain.” I usually try to calm their nerves and assure them that if their pain tolerance is high that they should be okay, but most often I think, “if you can’t endure the process, you can’t get the results.”And that’s true for most things in life.

We are a very destination oriented people. My pastor calls us the microwave generation. We’re in a hurry to get what we want, with less work. So instead of throwing those frozen chicken pot pies in the oven to cook, we’ll put them in the microwave though we acknowledge that they taste better fresh from the oven.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing because our generation is continuously creating systems and inventing technology which does things faster and more efficiently. I remember dial-up internet with AOL. God, that was a dark period in history….Ma used to fuss at us everyday during the summer because she would be calling the house to check on us and couldn’t get through because we were on the internet. Doing what? God only knows. I can’t even think of any useful or entertaining things that we had on the computer back then. But other times, faster and easier isn’t always better. Yet and still, no one likes a journey. NO ONE. You. Yea, you right there. NOT EVEN YOU! I can think of a thousand things I would like to do which require patience and practice, and it’s the patience and practice part that gets me every time. I’m currently trying to learn to play guitar and chord transitioning is eating me alive. My fingers start fumbling, my chords are distorted, I can’t move fast enough. It’s even more frustrating than when I took piano.  But I also realize that if I want to play guitar like Lianne La Havas then I need to continue to practice. God didn’t see fit that I should be a musical prodigy (thanks for nothing 4-C Jesus!) thus I have to hang in there and keep practicing.

Maybe our issue is that we can easily see the success of our peers on social media. We look at their Mercedes or their budding careers and can only see their achievement or their “arrival.” But rarely do they allow us to see their journey.  Some of them struggled in school and failed a class two or three times.  Some worked low-rung jobs to pay for school. Some may have dropped out and then re-enrolled without anyone knowing.  These are things that we often do not witness. And quite honestly, we ensure that no one knows that we might be scraping along in our journey, too.  I’ve never posted a job update or school update on Facebook. I rarely talk about my personal struggles on other outlets because you always have someone who comes along with a shady post saying that people should stop crying on Facebook about their problems. Or worse, once they hear about someone’s struggle they use it to demean or berate them. So we internalize the feeling that not arriving is shameful. While I’m not advising anyone go out there and start stripping to pay for college, I tip my hat off to women who do.  I don’t have the stamina, flexibility, or upper body strength for that so I probably wouldn’t make enough money to buy a 6-piece nugget from McDonalds. But they work a legal job, save their money, and use it for their books, rent, daycare funds, tuition, whatever it is they have to pay for. And I can’t look down on their arrival because their journey did not fit my idea of what I thought a journey should look like. I very much look at common illegal activities such as drug dealing the same way. Yes it’s illegal and no I wouldn’t advise it. But some people are doing what they can to get what they need. They just want to keep their lights on or help their parents with the mortgage, and they don’t have access to a job for whatever reason (because note that the largest portion of drug dealers who are busted come from lower income neighborhoods with poor school districts) But sidenote: if you deal with drugs and you get a certain amount of money, take a portion and invest in stocks or a business. This way you can let your money make money without you being involved in a dangerous illegal activity.  So there’s that. But the issue also stems from our society being so focused on the goal. We see all sorts of wealth and riches flashing before our eyes on television or on the internet. Yet, the same society that exposes us to the “American Dream” doesn’t provide everyone with the proper, legal avenues (journeys) to possibly attain it. So you end up with crime for survival. That’s my sociology tidbit for the day.

All in all, we all have to start somewhere to end somewhere. It would be nice to start at the finish line, but it’s impossible. And yes, some people are fortunate to start closer to the finish line than you, but it doesn’t make them better than you. And if they arrive earlier it doesn’t mean you’re inadequate.  We should accept that much of life is a process. Very little in life doesn’t require waiting. So instead of yelling at the cashier working the register or the CSR who picks up after you’ve been on hold for thirty minutes (mostly because it’s not their faults. And if it is, still be kind. Don’t make people’s life hard just because you’ve got your panties in a knot) understand not everything is immediate. And don’t judge someone else’s story or journey. If they’re still working their way through the muck and mire that is adulthood, then strap on your rubber boots and help dig them out. Or encourage them. Pray for them. Share your journey with them. Let people know they are not alone and that they have nothing to be ashamed of.  And don’t be shady about it either. Don’t get on social media talking about your new car and how you worked harder than everybody and they’re still struggling and “hahaha look at me now!” Don’t be flashy about your arrival. As much as I think Black Youngsta is the funniest person on the planet, I think he needs to watch himself carefully. It’s okay to relish in your success, or even reveal the extent of your achievement so that your peers who had similar struggles will know they can make it too. But don’t use it to down others (especially women. I dislike when they use “bitches and hos” so much. We understand you don’t mean all women. But this misogynistic culture has got to stop). And please…PLEASE….if someone shares their journey with you, intentionally or unintentionally, don’t be the nosy neighbor who has to find out every detail. If you see scars on someone’s arm which probably means they used to self-harm don’t ask them a thousand questions or stare at them. It makes people self conscious. And don’t think you’re entitled to every detail in their lives if they do share a bit with you. It’s weird. Stop it.

So that’s all for today.  I’m off to do literature and algebra before I watch my cartoons.