Category Archives: love

Dad Will Fix It

When I’d have a problem that I couldn’t fix, just before giving up entirely, I’d ask my dad for guidance. When I expected that he’d encourage me to surrender (and call in a professional), he would instead listen to the entire problem and even suppose the various outcomes. And finally, when I expected that he’d offer advice, he would offer to come over and show me precisely how to tackle the problem.

Now it must be said that my dad was no superhero. He wasn’t smarter than everyone else either. In fact, he wasn’t even that dedicated to a solution. Anyone who knew him would tell you that his loyalty wavered (usually in the direction of a green-bottled brew). But what made my dad unique (to me) was his desire to serve.

He knew his own limitations, but didn’t let them prevent him from trying. The mark he left on a problem would always be evidence that an interruption certainly took place. The unresolved problem was a problem that would have been much worse had it gone unaddressed.

My dad enjoyed stillness. But he could never sit idly watching anyone struggle. He was so eager to be helpful that he would help out as a simple courtesy.

In his final months, he spent his remaining fortune at yard sales and flea markets. He would often offer more than the asking price for any trinket that caught his eyes. He defended, “that there is worth twice as much…I’d be taking advantage if I haggled the price.” He was helping without being asked for help. I suppose it was a low-cost way to claim a victory.

It’s been 21 years since my dad died. Even his last day was poetic and not without purpose. He believed that he was resolving a problem that wouldn’t fix itself. For those he left behind, we’ve varied in the ways we processed our grief. Having answers to one question rarely resolved the grief. It merely provided permission to ask other questions. And the unanswered questions become the most important.

I stopped asking questions like “How did he die?” “Why did he leave us?” and “What were the circumstances that led up to his death?” I’ve grown past these questions, mostly because the answers were too uncomfortable. And the only time I could get a little comfort is to write something in his honor on the anniversary of his death.

Over the past 21 years, I’ve encountered a number of problems and wondered how my dad would have approached each one. I’d like to think that his energy in the moments might have impacted the outcome. No doubt, his input would have changed the trajectory. But for 21 years I’d led myself to believe that the outcome would have been better with his hands-on approaches.

Perhaps I should rely on the notion that the lessons that he’d taught me would provide the wisdom needed to approach any situation. After 21 years of wishing he’d been there to consult, to intervene, or to force a solution that may not have been the best outcome, I pause. It is now that I realize that no one, including my dad, has the perfect solution to every problem. It is now that I realize the fact that we often decide for ourselves how committed we are to any given problem. Finally, I must concede that how we’ve approached our problems in the past plays a large role in determining how we will handle current and future problems.

Although I miss my dad a great deal, 21 years is more than enough time to stop asking “what would he have done in this situation?”

Twenty one years is enough time to have bore another human being, watch them grow into an adult, and model for them the tools to manage a world of problems on their own. It’s enough time to ascend and descend a dozen times. Its enough time to be loved and hated. It’s enough time to be at the top and the bottom simultaneously. What would he have done in these situations? What could he have done to assist? Would he have listened, advised, or assisted, or intervened, or ignored situations entirely? It doesn’t even matter because 21 years have passed any way. It’s ALL in the past now.

I can’t be certain of anything. I know I miss him. But I also know that he’s left enough behind for me to contend with. I know that if I handled situations the same way he did, my outcomes may have mimicked his, and that’s not ok either.

Missing someone doesn’t mean that having them beside you still would be better. It just means that you wouldn’t be alone. And I never felt alone. I just felt overwhelmed.

Sliding In the DMs

Who has been sliding into your DMs? Most likely someone (who hasn’t been invited) thought they could be clever. Rather than offering a witty pickup line face to face, they may have decided to sneak a note into your “inbox.”

For decades now, clever communication has existed. At the dawn of the internet, AOL and MSN were offering the messenger and hotmail to rival traditional methods of reaching out and touching someone. Before then, anyone interested in speaking with you would have to ask you for your number. How archaic?

For a clearer picture as to what this means, let’s take a closer look at what “howtogeek.com” has to say about this.

“Sliding into DMs” means sending someone (who you might not know personally) a direct message on social media, often on Instagram or Twitter. It is commonly known as a flirtatious, romantic gesture to initiate a conversation or to ask someone out on a date. Therefore, if you message a person you’re attracted to on social media, you’re very likely “sliding into their DMs.”

Has this happened to you? Or more curiously, have you done this? Plausible deniability prevents you from incriminating yourself. But knowing that it occurs frequently is another story.

A number of my female friends have admitted that this happens often enough that they employ what we like to call the trifecta: ignore, screenshot, and block. And with editing capabilities on most phones, the names can be omitted to protect the culprits when posting the humorous flirtations on social media. It is trifling enough to keep a shy guy at bey.

My guy friends are not so quick to admit. Rejection is painful, but embarrassment is brutal. For those few guys who successfully employed this technique, they’re not going to reveal precisely how…

A “like” on social media is a seemingly innocent way to show interest. But for every ONE person who likes a post, there are dozens who saw it, but were not inclined to react. Everyone else can see when we make a move. No one wants to get caught “out there.” Sending a DM is supposed to be private. It doesn’t always end that way.

It’s the digital form of sending a note in class. But in this case, school is out…permanently.

Gals claim to receive DMs, but don’t admit to sending them. Guys send them, but don’t admit to receiving them. It takes a lot of confidence to send a message to someone you don’t know. But I bet it’s got to be strange to receive a message from someone you don’t know. In the end, I suppose if a connection is made, it’s worth the effort.

But an often overlooked concern in sending a DM is not having enough information. Sending a message to someone who is not interested or is involved with someone else could be disastrous.

Blind confidence can be a winning characteristic. But then again, it could be overwhelming burden. How do you know who you are dealing with if you only know their name (or worse their online handle)? How can you be certain to not cross an imaginary line or offend an otherwise unsuspecting suitor? In short, you can’t. All you know for certain is that a sent message will be received. It might not get a response. It might not have a happy ending.

A DM is a seed. Guys are planting seeds all of the time. So often, we may as well consider them farmers. But a seed alone is not fruitful without nurturing and care. Seeds planted in infertile soil will perish.

This is not a how-to. It’s merely something to ponder. DMs are but one way to get the ball rolling. Just because it’s private doesn’t mean that it has to be weird. Life is short. Act accordingly.

Hearts Don’t Lie

The heart is the organ that gets all of the honor and glory for keeping the body alive. Despite the brain operating in concert with the heart and the lungs, the heart owns our feelings, drives our will, and is held accountable when the brain makes rational decisions. It’s a travesty if you think about it.

Lungs are impacted by both the heart and the brain. Even though the lungs are paired, they are impacted by the conditions that they have no control over. And yet, poor breathing conditions impair the lungs, the heart, AND the brain. Over time, the decision to live in polluted communities or even smoke, vape, or breathe fire will wreak havoc on our quality of life.

Alas, our bodies are no circus attraction! Tattoos, piercings, dyed hair enhance our appearance, but they don’t make our heart beat any better. Skin is an organ too! But it also falls victim to the brain.

Come to think of it, the brain and heart work together AND against each other from time to time—mostly on matters of Love.

“The Heart Wants what the Heart wants…” is a ridiculous excuse to make bad decisions. This may merely be a euphemism for other organs that we won’t discuss here (except to say that they cause the most life-altering circumstances).

Darn it! The heart isn’t even the same shape as what we traditionally market on cards, candy boxes, and plush gifts. Those bulbous hearts actually represent other explicit body parts (that we also will not discuss)!

It’s so easy to get distracted while pondering the importance of the heart…and more specifically that the heart LIES. Yes, yes! It lies, it’s lied to, and it is manipulated by the other organs in what can only be described as a coup d’etas!

Alright, alright! Maybe that’s a little too enthusiastic. Charge it to my heart, and not to my head. (Do you see what just happened there?)

Please consider this matter when emphasizing how important your heart is to making day-to-day decisions. It can be stressful. And THAT is not good for the heart either.

math for the empath

Caring about someone does not give you ownership over their condition. Caring about someone means that their condition impacts your feelings. But try not to get too bent out of shape when the people you care about make decisions that are upsetting to you.

Their decisions are theirs. Your decisions are yours. Caring for someone is YOUR decision. If caring about someone hurts you, it is your decision to continue to have those feelings. Caring is not easy. It may seem inherently instinctual. With it comes a gamut of emotions ranging from happiness to sadness. Hurting is natural. But recovery is a decision too. It’s natural but requires effort.

It hurts to care sometimes. If someone else’s decisions hurt you, you have a decision to make.

Stop caring in order to stop hurting?
Stop hurting to feel better?
Feel better for self?

These hurt feelings will drive other decisions that you need to make. But demanding that they change their behavior to satisfy your feelings is an indication that your heart may not be in the right place. Decide for you, not them.

Caring more for others than yourself has another name too. It’s called love. And it’s the reason that love hurts.

For the visual learners:

🤗 ~ 💗
💗 ~ ❤️
💗~ 😔
💗~ 😠

🤗(❤️~😔~😠)=💗
🤗(💗)=💗

🤗 = 1

Miss Ogyni

She trusted at an early age

consensual surrender,

resulted in tears at a clinic

Three months later

She trusted another

Hoping he’d be more capable

She wasn’t empowered

She had no mentor

Her submissive mother was no lover

And had no experience in these things

Her second lover

Planted his seed

Knowingly and deliberately

Her consent would undo the previous

Mistake

Or so she thought

A doctors visit first

Cohabitation a week later

A proposal and a diamond ring

Before the first week of spring

Wedding bells rang

A mix tape for a DJ and

An alcohol-free reception

Because baby was on the way.

She has no intentions of entrapment

She hadn’t yet learned to manipulate

She was simply managing situations

From day to day.

But she wasn’t happy

Her diploma wouldn’t be enough

Expired, her father’s tuition offer

Because she had her husband’s stuff

For the same man who tried to restore

Her purity

Was now a witness to her insecurity

Another baby’s arrival

before their departure

from each other.

At any time should could have harmed him

But she listened to how she could own him

For the rest of his life

The lawyers would help her

swindle what was never there.

The fortune she thought they had was

No more than

the imaginary kingdom

that they’d begun to build.

The looks were deceiving to her

But to no one else

She had no idea that what she already had

Was more than many other women

Had ever hoped for.

Because love and trust are invisible

They can be felt

But not seen.

And she traded it in

For a life she thought she should have.

She acted on entitlements

That neither of them had earned

She planned to steal away

With something that was never there

And he began to see this

He began to hurt

He began to hate

He worked harder to hide

He began to create…

New relationships

That were better

Safer

Genuine

He had nothing more to give

Broken and paranoid

He sighed relief

When the marriage was dissolved

He would no longer

Watch the disaster unfold

From now on

All he knows is what he’s told

Online dating

Bouncing from home to home

Dragging the children behind her

His heart turned to stone

He became the philanderer

That she once accused him; a swine

With no ties to anyone

With children gone half the time

He watched from afar

His “once-love” shack

With swingers,

drug-users,

Momma’s boys,

And then back to her parents.

Despite minimal family court interference

Family interventions

Co-parenting interactions

Court order infractions

The power she gained was not

From what she took

Instead twenty years of blood

And tears

Resulted in a new job and a home of her own

Where she could raise her children

The way she wanted

Paint the rooms– the way she wanted

Pay someone to mow the lawn

And invite over whomever she wanted

Cook for him

And tend to him

Until he no longer wanted

to leave

And the power she now had

Was not from another man

But the power she now had

She used to rule over another man

But this man she could not tame

For this man would plant a seed of his own

And he would not leave

And he would not propose

And they would not suppose

How their life will be when their baby turns

Twenty

And now she hates him

And the him from before

She fights with the latter

But complains about the first even more

She models independence to her daughter

She warns of submission to the son

She lies about how she does it

She pretends that she the only one

That she’s a single parent…

That deadbeats owe her more…

That no one can tell her what to do!

That their dad is rotten to the core.

But she keeps her married name

For reasons all her own

Her kids look and behave like him

And now her 💜 turns to stone.

Her hate 𝐅or him

Is incomprehensible

To him

But his forgiveness of her

Frustrates and angers her

Even more confusing

Is that he is not telling the story

She is

Miss Ogyny

In The Moment

I was here for it

I wish I hadn’t been.

The decisions I make

Are the moments that I live in

The regrets are the decisions

That I won’t get the chance to

Make again

For the truth is

I will make new decisions

And new mistakes

And learn over and over again

To appreciate the moment

Now

To look back less

And to look forward

To the moment that I’ll

Have new regrets

Happy Change-giving

Thankful for the feelings,

Because the feelings drive us

Thankful for the disappointment

For the idea: “circumstances are better than they were”

For the conception that things could be different.

For evolution

That things don’t stay a way

For too long.

Thankful for voice

And the opportunity to be silent

Thankful to be wrong

About SO many decisions

Because the knowledge of wrong

Spotlights what could be right

Thankful for my own hunger

And my own thirst

For the failures that precipitated pain

And the treatment that prescribed

Healing

Thankful for the lies

The disappointment

And the loss

For the lies cloaked a truth for which I wasn’t prepared

For the disappointment strengthened me for a victory I could not enjoy

For the loss of relationships that I was too weak to endure

Thankful for the perception

To steer clear of those vehicles

Aimed at my demise

Thankful I can’t do everything I want to do

In this moment

Whenever I want

Because I’m still learning

Not to live in excess

Even when I have the opportunity

Because full bellies can’t run as fast

And sleepy eyes don’t make dreams come true

Raising Queens and Kings

As a father of a nineteen year old daughter and a fourteen year old son, I often reflect on the direction on which I’ve sent each of them. The standards differ based on their ability and their expectations. Because I do not expect my son to behave like a woman, nor do expect my daughter to behave like a man, I must model for them what I’ve determined to be appropriate gender roles.

When my son is left to his own devices he exhibits childlike mannerisms: wanting without working, playing until exhaustion, but feigning any responsibility to his home or for his actions…

And so I address it. We discuss it. I model an alternative to what he does and emphasize positive outcomes. It’s not easy. But it’s not supposed to be.

My daughter has always been more mature, but not without childish mannerisms. The women in her life, of course, take every opportunity to bestow upon her how to be a successful woman.

As I watch, I cannot help but observe some of the practices they’ve taught her. I wish we could simply raise our children up to be ADULTS; model citizens, hard workers, self-sufficient. But it is not enough. My daughter must also be a strong woman (especially when her counterparts are weak). She must be caring even when no one else cares. She will undoubtedly become as much of her mother as she becomes a fruit of me.

I worry that I’ve not given her enough. I see around me women who struggle with the world around them. It is men who’ve stopped caring that force the women to compensate. But more often I notice the women in our lives, the matrons of our family, and our lady leaders who must compromise–women who are forced to make tough decisions because their men were unable or impotent.

I wish this world were kinder to our women. I wish my daughter were not being taught how to “handle” men to get what she wants. Although her “compromise game” is weak, her “compensate game” is strong. She needs no one. But she’s offered the support from women who had to resort to manipulation and trickery for their own survival.

She’s accompanied by a grandmother who chased her husbands away and a mother who couldn’t trick her husband into giving her what she wanted. They now press their prodigy to take their advice. She’s told to give to the young man who hasn’t found his way yet, but to spend no time with someone who challenges her ability. They’ve denied their own role in driving their lovers away. But they offer encouragement on how to find happiness without a “good man.”

The narrative changes depending on who tells the story. As a father who hoped he’s modeled what a strong man looks like, what a dedicated man does, and how a passionate man loves, no man can truly deserve my princess (in my opinion). I encourage her to hold on to what I’ve modeled.

But there’s another perspective–the female perspective. The mother perspective counters most of what this father models. This mother says, “forget him!” She says,”you don’t need him…”. She pronounces that, ” he’s nothing because he refused to GIVE me what I want…”

A mother’s distaste of the father equals poison in the development of a child. As a father I see it. And although I have no antidote, I can offer a vaccine.

“Daughters, we love you! Listen to what your mothers tell you, but recognize that there’s another side to that advice,” urges this father.

Don’t take the advice from a bitter person. Know that your father’s revenge is a successful life. We seek Queens to build our kingdom. This is why we’ve raised you to be princesses.

Broken (?)

How many times can we be broken before we are beyond repair?

How many breaks can we withstand before the lost pieces can no longer be replaced or filled?

That missing piece (that missing peace), where has it gone?

Are we stronger after the repair?

How delicate are we now having been broken and repaired?

Where will the next break occur?

When will it happen again?

Are we ever truly restored?

Who are we now? Who were we before?

Were we ever whole? How do we fill the hole?

Where do we go from here?

What are we talking about?

(Insert your hurt here)

Praying for your healing

#restoration

Guiltless

A few years ago I was dating someone who was living what she called an abstinent lifestyle. Her consecration dictated that she’d have no lover before marriage; and further her courtship was to be a spiritual walk during which she’d be able to determine how’d “equally yoked” they’d both be. A relationship like that brings with it all types of challenges.

I may have thought that I was confident and spiritually grounded, but I learned some very interesting things about my tolerance of others’ beliefs during my journey.

40 Nights

One Lenten season, I asked my girlfriend what (if anything) she’d given up for Lent. I’m not catholic but I believe in self-sacrifice in the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday. I smile at the idea of giving up chocolate or soda in hopes that the sacrifice may evolve into a healthier lifestyle. I’ve been successful on a few occasions, but usually become glutinous on the other side of the “fast.” But my faith has not required me to give too much of myself. Moderation. Moderation… A mustard seed of faith is all that is required. No need for extra!

Well, she didn’t see it the same way. Her response sent us down a path of true faith-building that would last years. She said, “I’m giving up intimacy.”

Intimacy…

Our relationship had already been defined by abstinence that was occasionally diluted by kissing and heavy petting. I was in uncharted territory but defended (to myself) that I had already endured a sexless marriage. If distance can make the heart grow fonder, then abstinence can make for short engagements, RiGhT??

So to try something new would be as easy as offering a kid an amalgamation of fresh uncooked vegetables. Carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower…

Not so fast!

And that’s what she said…often! Shaking my head sadly, I accepted the rules of engagement. (Pun intended!)

So she’d given up intimacy. In search of just one more simile, it was like asking a diabetic to give up chocolate. I had to question the lunacy.

“Who told you to do THAT!?!” One of the stupidest questions I could ask, I realize now.

“God!” she affirmed.

“Well, did He tell you that you couldn’t stay here anymore?”

“You mean I can’t spend the night?”

“No!”

I suppose at the time I was more superstitious than religious. My faith wavered more towards punishment than grace. And I was already certain that if I pressed this 40 year old virgin to give in to her hormonal urges, I would be struck by lightening for sure.

I had figured that this would signal the end of the relationship. I was not offering a compromise, nor did I plan on playing games with our emotions. After all, a direction from the Lord did not require my consent.

For me it was a spiritual awakening–an opportunity to assert my own beliefs, develop a sense of responsibility, and most importantly model for my own daughter a balance between religion and self-love.

She asked, “what will you be giving up for lent?”

“Guilt! I’ll be giving up guilt.”

“What do you mean?”

“What I mean IS that I’m tired of feeling guilty.”

Lust, gluttony, sloth, greed, wrath, pride, envy…cardinal vices. Carnal too. Flesh. The world…

I’m being asked to live according to someone else’s standards. I’m expected to live a life of decency despite the temptations that my brothers (and sisters) in Christ lay before me (?) and, AND, and…

This was years ago. I recount the years that have passed since my life changed. The seasons have cycled many times, but one theme has become constant in my life. I now live guiltless.

That doesn’t mean that I live carefree; nor does it mean that I allow myself to discard the beliefs of others. What it means is that I refuse to allow someone else to project their values on to me.

I can not feel bad because someone else has regret. I must not be held accountable for someone else’s hang ups. I must be free from their sin.

“You mean I can’t stay here for 40 nights?”

“You can not stay here at ALL!”

The love I had for her changed that day. It grew less as my heart and brain began to work together for the first time in my life.

Reason

I began to reason with my own conscience. I began to question how my faith drives my actions. I developed the ability to say “no”. And only after years of practice have I become proficient in saying this too:

“I don’t believe that I can offer you what you deserve…”

What do we deserve? We deserve to be happy.

Happiness requires our own actions–our own growth and development–hard work and dedication–and most importantly…faith.

No one can give us that.

And that is what she wanted. She wanted me to have faith in HER. She wanted me to adhere to her belief system and to honor her in the ways that she wanted (that were also subject to change whenever HER god saw fit). The god in her was not the God in me.

And the God in me said, “no more”.

The God in me said, “I release you from your own chains and the invisible chains that have shackled you to your ‘future queen'”.

“You can never stay here again.”

“But I’ve come all this way for you!” she exclaimed.

“Don’t come here. I have children who are watching me closely. I have a daughter to whom I should never have to explain that we sleep next to each other, but we don’t touch each other. I don’t want to lie… down to anyone. I don’t want to feel guilty!”

I stood up. Standing on promises. Standing up for my future generations. Building a new legacy. Starting now…no wait. Starting NOW. No wait! StArTiNg…NoW

Christ died for my sin. He spread his arms wide, and His believers cried…so that I may never have to cry again.

“I don’t have to die. I don’t have to cry. And I don’t have to lie (or lay) next to you again.”

She left. And although she came back, she didn’t stay.

She didn’t stay.

Forty days passed. And 40 more. Till there were no more.

“Don’t let the door…hit you on the way out.” What began as a challenge, became a life lesson and a new diet–a diet filled with moderation and understanding and a relationship with God that was far greater than a relationship with any person.

Someone else can bear that cross. Some other man will make her sacrifice. If it goes well, it won’t be a sacrifice at all.

But isn’t Love a sacrifice. Must it be? I may never know again. But that’s a beautiful thing too. Not knowing…there can be beauty it not knowing. But it can be painful as well. Devine agony.

What agony, to love no more?

And now her beliefs are beheld by another, till death do them part.

I recall a time when that destiny was mine. But with the will to change (my mind) and the desire to live for me, I am guilt free.

And no less…

I am guiltless.