I Filled My Xanax

*The pharmacy called to let me know my medicine was ready.

I didn’t recognized the number so, I let it go to voicemail.

I knew what medicine, and I knew that it was indeed my medicine. Mine.

I picked it up Tuesday morning, this little ugly orange pill bottle with this medicine in it with the power to help me not think the world will end if I don’t keep kick-starting it. I was grateful. I remembered the words of my physician, a black woman old enough to be my older sister. I told her my trepidation about taking anything.

She had already fussed at me about not going to my cardiology appointment (I went, did the stress test, and all is well), and told me that I could half the dose of it I needed it. The medicine was only when I needed it. I looked at her, and smiled.

She, a woman of my experience, told me it was okay for me not to be okay. I was okay to have asked for help, and help be expected to come. She gave me license to begin the arduous task most black women don’t do well or often: take care of ourselves.

I told her my plan for self-care, stress management, and she listened and took notes. I got to tell her that I was trying to be okay, I really was, but I knew that I wasn’t. I was doing everything, because everything had to be done. I am a wife, mother, writer, preacher, friend, daughter, godmother, sister and entrepreneur. With everything in the air, something was liable to break…like me.

The medicine is in my cabinet, much like a lighthouse among rocks. It’s there to provide light and assistance to keep from crashing among the rocks. And I’m grateful it is there.

*Too often, those of us whom service everyone else forget to refill ourselves. We let the cares of this life overtake us, and we reach for light and help too late. It is not that my faith in God is at a point where I don’t believe He can’t do all that He says. Quite the contrary! I consider myself part of the lepers whom Christ healed whom where told to go and show themselves to the priests…they were healed as they went. The healing is in the going. I understand there are some that will read this and think whatever they will. That’s fine. It is my belief that medicine and therapy are tools of healing. There are some whose healing/duration of dealing with mental health issues are instantaneous. But there are some that are healed as they go. The key is, we keep going. The first step? Knowing you cannot do it all alone.

 

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The 4:44

I never considered myself a Jay-Z fan.

Fight me.

I’ve been a fan of Nasir olu dara Jones since I was in middle school. There are a few songs by Jay I like, but it wasn’t enough for me to be called a fan. It just wasn’t. My ear was never circumcised to like him.
Again, fight me. #Ether

However, I like hip-hop enough to give Jay another shot. Like a ex-boyfriend that says let him “show you” how he’s changed. I downloaded Tidal on a whim, and on advice of a friend of mine that loves music.

Fine.

Free trial.

Aight.

Of course, Tidal is the brainchild of  Jay-Z.

Cool. I can get with this.

Mogul. Black owned. Okay.

His  new album was about to drop within days of me downloading it, so, I listened. I was not prepared for all the growth he had. I simply wasn’t ready, and I don’t think I coulda gotten ready.

This is the same dude that did Money, Cash, Hoes, man. I mean, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from him. As much as I love hip-hop and rap, I’m tired of my sex being referred to as garden tools or women beyond redemption. I can’t, bruh, I can’t.

I let the album just play during a lull at work. I damn near cried. All I could do was listen, and think, “He grew up. By God, he grew up.” He admitted there are bigger things in the world than how many women you can see naked, how much money you can spend, and how fresh the whip is. One of his lines off the track, The Story of OJ, is this:

“You know what’s better than making it rain at a strip club?”

“CREDIT.”

I don’t even need to put a Jennifer stamp of approval on that, B.

I sat there and listened to his wife, our beloved, embattled, Beyonce, as she sang back up on Family Feud, and was amazed. They showed that this phantom-like being, the black family, does exist. That unity among a people can and will happen. Music is a motivator of that.

I heard him pour from places, I wished more black men would tap. I heard pain, regret and motivation to just be a better person, so he could be a better EVERYTHING to everyone else.

I talk to my husband a lot in what goes on the in world and pop culture. Him, being the solid dude that he is, indulges the writer that his wife is, and from those conversations, I get glimpses into what makes him tick. This conversation was no different.

I told him that the only difference between us and famous people is how many people see us when we mess up. I started to pull the pieces together, as writers often do.
I remembered the elevator with Solange. I remembered the standoffishness of him in pictures, even with Bee present.

I thought, and mulled over, and wondered exactly how long he had done whatever this was, with whomever this was, for however long it was.
And was it just this one dame or was it a team of them? But, that’s not mine to know.

The fact that he would be that transparent, and honest in Legacy and Marcy Me, let me exhale. This vulnerability and foresight that the world at large doesn’t believe most black men have at points, proved to be yet another propped up falsehood.

My favorite track is Smile. I legit kept listening to it, impressed and fascinated. Fascinated at that depth. Impressed at the openness he allowed.

I was blessed to have listened to it. Sometimes art is a the doorway to redemption.

Am I a fan of the man? Nah. That didn’t change.

But can I now really respect him as an artist? More than ever.

(I’m still a Nas girl through.)

I Didn’t Fill My Xanax

I was having heart palpitations.

I couldn’t sleep.

I felt like I was hungover…and I didn’t drink any more. 

I had felt that way for months.

Months.

There’s a history of heart disease in my family and my father died at 50 because he didn’t take care of himself. I remember the night the paramedics came and took him because he’d had a heart attack on the floor in their bedroom. 

I remembered the way I felt when I my aunt told me my father was  dead. I didn’t want to rob my children of their mother…their mother needed to care for herself. 

But how?

There were bills with my name on them, not enough money on two incomes, and I’m mama, dude. 

I’m MAMA.
Mama is GOD to black children, she can do anything, create everything from nothing…she can’t need rest, or care, or…medicine. Or doctors appointment. Indeed, physician heal thyself.
I saw my doctor in January last year. Told her about my symptoms. The sweats. 

Sleeplessness.

 Heart palpitations. 

The stress. She sent me for a stress test I didn’t go to and gave me vitamins, and…gave me a prescription for Xanax.

An anti-depressant.

I held the blue paper in my hand and thanked her. I stared at. It might as well have been a voided or bounced pay roll check. 

I put it in my purse. Everything important went there. Every woman  has a pocket in their bags of things you’re never going to do or plan to do…

Supergirl got handed Kryptonite, and was told she’d live…

To fill that, to drop that off at Walgreens, and tell my name and pick it up and be in a database for something other than an antibiotic? 

Nah.
That would be admitting that this adulting thing was more than I could handle and I wasn’t able to do what my mother and her mother and my mother’s mother’s mothers had done and I couldn’t seem to do..

Do it all, to the extent of self.

Spend and not enough time to replenish. 

Lie and say all is perfect when everything done even look fine.

I would have to admit my Black Girl Magic was not sufficient.
*I was going to make it okay. So help me. 

That script was unfilled.

I’m a mother of black children…I didn’t need Xanax. I needed a good night sleep and a bill paid. I didn’t have time for this. 

I took off work for that appointment…and I was mad.

*I’m not knocking anybody who takes medicine for anxiety or depression. Medicine is a wonderful and needed thing. 
I believe also that the oxygen needs to be put over your own face first.

For My Godsons and My Son

I had his name picked out. More than once:  Quintin. Joshua. Micah. And for reasons known only to God, I was given daughters.

But, I have a best friend that made me a godparent. From her, I am The godmother of four…three are sons.

Spending time with them is joy unthinkable. I want to put it all in my pocket or on a string. I want to give them all I hold and beyond to prepare them for the world…designed to hate and devour them.

My oldest godson will be nine in December. I tell him he’s brilliant, and handsome and can do anything. I remember praying for him as my best friend still carried him. I look forward to the man he will become. He looks at life like he’s going to kick a field goal.

His brother, will be four in January. I remember streaking to the hospital to see him.

His mother and I way past the best friend point, she’s my sister, and I remember holding him. I had everyone extend their hands and pray for him.

I remember feeling the weight of being a godparent then, thought of my own godmother. I thought of how wonderful she is, and if I could give a fourth of that between the two of them, that would be amazing.

He always tells me, “I love you ever.” I tell him, “I love you ever!”. His eyes  steadily widening along with his smile. I can never tell him no.

My youngest godson? He shares the name of the son yet unborn. He brightens my world, and I prayed for and over him too, sitting on his mother’s couch. Already, he’s curious about the world and everyone in it. He will be a year old in October.

Seeing my best friend, my sister, with her sons? It reminds me of just how diligent parenting makes you. Her fears are my fears.

As a godmother, my job if anything should happen wherein their mother cannot care for them, I’m to help in whatever capacity. She’s godmother to my daughters as well.

To my guys, the three that are here and the one yet to come, I offer this:

I love you. More than I can ever say or that you may ever see. I love you and will do all that lay in me to make this life as best I can for you.

The world at present is a dirty, mean place and sometimes I hate to see you out in it. But, I cannot hold you to me as the wide world outside needs you, and all you contain. My job is to make sure you remember that your destiny is there, and you must reach it.

Don’t be dismayed by people that don’t understand you, don’t like you because you’re different. Your job is to be you. 

Know that your godmother/mother is human. I will mess up, overreact, and trip. I will because you matter to me, dearest one. I want all that God showed me concerning you. Since He showed me, I will remind you.

In this current time, you may not remember all my words towards you. You may not remember my tears, my prayers or why I tell you God is so important to me, and should be to you.

You may not understand why I cry at the news and wipe my face when I see you. You may not remember how I fussed at you to do better, and when I was disappointed when you did things that I knew you knew better than.

But I want you to always know is there is nothing you could ever do, to make me not love you.

From that love, you can do anything.

Work Crushes, Work Husbands, & The Guys Who Make Your Day

Let’s give God some credit.

Men are awesome. I’m a fan of His handiwork. And from that, some if my favorite people in the world are male. Keeping with this June love theme, let me share and serve a little more love, and a little less bash. 

If you’re honest, there’s a guy at your work right now that you think is pretty nice looking and whom always says nice things to you in passing. You like how he does his job, and interacts with people. He’s funny. He’s smart and he often makes the coffee in then break room. Work crushes are awesome! Why? They remind you that you’re still alive and remain. I have a couple at my work. As a married woman, would I act on them? No! But it’s nice to be admired and to enjoy the scenery.😇

When I was a teenager, I had more male friends than female friends. I don’t know how that happened, but it did. Probably because I really had nothing in common with the girls at my high school:  they were rapt in the world it created and I was rapt in the idea of leaving. 

There were Anthony, Brian and DJ and Zachary that made school bareable. We talked sports, leaving the city and college. I got to be more of myself and I’m forever grateful for that. Even *Alejandro was one of these people in my twenties.
There was even a teacher during my senior year I would talk to about “this whole writing thing” and he told me to go for it, that he knew I could do it. I even started calling him my  “Big Brother Matt” during these times we could be common. Thank you Mr. Stephen Batchelor.

Now, work husbands are a new thing to me as far as the title, but not a new thing. I’ve had jobs where there was a guy whom I vibed with that would do extra things for me, and me for him and we’d each lunch together. I could and did talk to him about life and get his advice. 

This was dope because it’s good to have people that support you and care for you without ulterior motive (mind you, I have a legal husband and I don’t have a work husband. He’s ENOUGH, trust me). It’s good to be cared for and looked out for. 

Of course there are the men that vacillate out of your life as well. The bus drivers that let you off and on when you’re short, and make sure no one bothers you. 

The maintenance guys that come by and fix things on top of what you ask of them. The mechanic that doesn’t fleece you AND answers your questions. 

The guy that respects your mind in fields of academia, politics, as well as advocacy and activism. The men that grant you space as clergy, without the 2 Timothy sexism.

The men whom defend you when you are not in the room. 

The men that indeed tell their sons that women are to be valued, protected and respected.

Indeed, these people of God’s creation are amazing. Perfect? Not by a long shot. 

But some are just perfect enough for you.

Love on your guys today.

Dear First Husband

Dear Thomas*-

There was a quiet about you that I don’t think many people know or knew. Few people knew that you really wanted a house, some land and somewhere to fish. Few people really know that you never really wanted anything bad to ever happen to me, and to us, did you?

In this the summer of the 6th year of being divorced, I can honestly say I no longer hate you. Whatever man you decide to become, you will remain it at this point. The only thing that I have asked is that you decide what type of father you want your daughters to remember you as. However, in that forging of raising them, I have dared ask myself the following:

“How did it all go so left?”

In asking that, I have to take ownership of what I allowed my part to become. We were young, we were 22 and 25. Here, I should have let you grow up. I should have seen where your head was at, and how you could maintain in times of crisis. I should have listened to the hitches in my spirit and not the words or actions you exhibited. I wanted someone that would protect and love me always. I don’t think you were prepared to that at 22. I should not have expected you to do that.

I should have been honest with you about the things that bothered me, the Shadow Work I had yet to do. I didn’t know how to be a wife to anyone, and was just learning at 25.

When our first was born when I was 26, the anchor I needed dropped, and I needed more from you. I needed security, and structure and permission to build with you without you thinking that I was trying to take over everything. I did it, everything that I did, because it had to be done. I could not trust you.

I should have allowed you to be the man you needed to be and not make you into the man I wanted.

I’ll say it again:

I should have allowed you to be the man you needed to be and not make you into the man I wanted. And for that, I am sorry.

There are incidents that will remain cloaked in history because of the children we must care for, however, I should have acknowledged that you weren’t ready for anything I offered, tried to offer or gave. You just weren’t ready, and I tried to make you be the husband I needed you to be–and I didn’t even know what that was or would look like.

 

*For the sake of the children we share, I have chosen not to reveal his real name. I met him when I was 24. I thought he was sweet because he was quiet. I was used to all these loud people trying to vie for my attention. I gravitated to him because he offered quiet. For those that have really weathered a storm alone, you value quiet. Just be mindful of whom you get shelter from.

Dear Phillip, the Last and First

Phillip…I love you.

I cannot express what you have brought to my world.  I thank you for being able to an anchor amidst everything else swirling round about. 

I want to thank you for all that you have done  in the life of our children and our family. I thank you for being able to take the whelps of a Mother Bear, and raise them as your own blood. I thank you for all you have done.

I have watched you grow into fatherhood. I watched you go from timid to tender. I have watched you be able to discern what is an imaginary monsters in closets or bad days at school. I thank you for being the thunder in the room that puts to bed all that is unruly or flight what would cause nightmares.

I have watched you embrace this journey of being a married man with children. I have watched you grow up that much more. I have watched you put hands and thought to what it is you desire to build; fortify what it is you want no one to take. I have watched you realize that strength sometimes means apologizing, listening and allowing space for life to not be perfect. I have watched you become more intent on doing the right thing for the right time for the best outcome. I have watched you walk in whom you’re going to be.

I have been witness to you being a better husband. I have watched you wonder after me, wanting to know why I do what I do for you. I only respond, “…because I love you, and want you to be okay.” I have seen you pour pieces of yourself into me, and into our US…and even when it has not turned out how you wanted.

We decided that we wanted to ‘do life’ together, and there have been storms we have encountered that would have killed average people. Those storms have rocked the boat we were in to the point that it splintered, and all that was left to hang on to…was one another.

All that is still left to hold onto…is one another.

In all that we have, and all that we will maintain…you told me that I could hang on to you…and you to me.

On Father’s Day, I want to thank you for all you have done for us. When it was easier to leave, leave broken and resign to apathy.

Thank you for the fight, babe. Thank you for not succumbing to the fears passed down and on that would keep you planted in malice, suspicion and doubt. Thank you for being what is needed when the right thing isn’t easy…or always comfortable.

Thank you for letting me know how not to be strong all the time.

Thank you for showing our children that Daddies are human, and they need love and support too.

Thank you for showing the girls that the man that says they love them, must SHOW them.

Thank you for being able to see past the pretty, and love the woman beneath all of it.

Thank you for being able to take my hand, and hold it, when all the world gets dark and scary.

I love you.