Why can’t we be friends?

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4, 2018 by Veronica Graham

When I was 17 I was introduced to group therapy and have been a part of it or some form it ever since. It taught me how to listen but also caused me to be slightly apathetic to the idea that sharing secrets truly brings people closer together. Group therapy is a bunch of strangers sitting in a room with other people for the sole purpose of sharing information. A guidance counselor or some sort of mediator with more time straight edge from the darker side of self guides the flow of the topic at hand. Or someone educated in how to counsel based on personal recovery and a knowledge in the subject. Basically, everyone is encouraged dump their feelings without judgment and it really allowed me to open up at a young age and be comfortable with being vulnerable.

I’ve had people confide in me that felt all alone and shameful until I say “me too”, regardless of the topic. Divulging information back and forth is a shared bond that has its perks, at times.  Instead of using group therapy as a crutch I basically morphed my brain into believing that the only way to have a real or true friend is to be completely transparent, no holding back at all.

Now that I’m 37 I realize that I have to set boundaries and keep some stuff to myself. Over sharing my experiences and secrets with others is second nature to me but I’ve had to learn to be silent in certain areas for my well being and at times safety. I’ve got a big ass mouth and people are crazier than ever these days. I can’t be hard all the time, I’ve had to learn to smooth out some personality defects and be assertive in other areas. My self esteem is so much higher now that I find comfort in solitude. Learning to love yourself is a big fucking deal, so do it.

Romanticizing the past used to be a huge part of my thought process. I would spend 2 to 3 days second guessing my inner voice’s decision to let go of a person, place or thing and get stuck in my mind over “What if I had?”. I’m getting better at looking back and letting go of the thoughts that used to hold my mind hostage for days. Also, I’m slowly learning how to get back to wanting to be social and not having to have deep conversations all the time. There is great joy in just smiling at a stranger or literally just talking about the weather.

Luckily, all the time I’ve spent to myself has really brought me to the real me. If you can believe it, I literally have not spent time alone with a guy since Southern Gentleman and I mean NO time with a guy. I let it go. All of it. I must be getting closer to God and becoming one of “those” types of Christian women. Believe me, when I do get to meet the one that was meant to meet me at my best, if he holds my hand for more than 2 minutes, that’s a fucking proposal.

Recently, I literally felt my insides panic and I had to abruptly stop two separate conversations on the same day because I was afraid. It was an emotional flashback versus just a flashback. I literally freaked out and had to get off the phone with these two people. Thankfully, the feeling passed and I was able to text both people and ask them to forgive me for being rude. I literally had to exit the conversation with two separate calls because I felt trapped and needed to escape. Was it too much friendship for me in each conversation? Did I really just implode emotionally and ditch the conversation? How crazy, right? Love in friendship can be beautiful but with me, it has to move in slow motion. Like, ultra slow motion or I’ll have a meltdown.

Even now if I’m on the phone too long with someone I’ll check the minutes, just to track the convo and be sure that I’m not going overboard. Luckily, I was able to overt sabotaging my relationships after I ended the calls in my example above. I’ve finally found a safe place in me and I’m very impressed with how much I’m still changing. I like this me. I have a little safe home away from all family (for now) where I can be a mom and have and give unconditional love. Had I never become a mom, I don’t think I would have ever known what it felt like to feel love free from expectation, just plain ol’ love. I’m actually ok waiting for God’s timing in my life.

 

It took me a long time to get my brain out of ‘I. O. U. mode’ I’d offer up an explanation to every little thing and I always felt like I owed people and family an explanation for everything I did. I don’t and YOU don’t. WE really don’t owe anyone except the IRS.

KEEP READING MY BLOG, unless you hate it.

You Are Not Alone

Posted in Uncategorized on June 23, 2018 by Veronica Graham

It’s easy to think of all the things I don’t have yet. The negative self-hate talks in my mind get louder the older I get. SO, I’ve had to learn to shut it down quick. It’s like, who am I?! How the fuck did this narrator in my mind get hired. Where does this self-loathing and hate really come from? Why have I given the little self-hating bastard so much ammo? Where did I even get the ammo? Some mornings I wake up and the thoughts start pouring in, “You’re not going to wear that are you?” “You should really cover up, you’re pretty large in the back”, “You’re not cute and you’re not funny”, “You’re just a part of a generation that lived at home until almost 30”,”You’ll always struggle” “You’ll never be able to make it on your own” “Wow, you must have been hungry, look how much you ate!” “You’re an ungrateful bitch”, “Who do you think you are? ”Get real, you think you’re the only one who’s been cheated on?” “What makes you so special?”

Having an internal dialogue is normal and mine is under permanent renovation. Even before the blog I couldn’t stand my thoughts and my mind was feeding grounds for self-loathing and negativity. I became friends with another girl in Pleasantville when I first moved in with my dad and stepmom. She would pick me up in her Ford Taurus and was always sweet; she was a cheerleader and was a good friend to me for as long as she could be. I would literally start cussing and freaking out at 7 am. She never said a negative word to me about it, just laughed and tried to be there for me. Can you imagine, having to be a friend to someone who hates everything, including him or herself. Home is not a place to relax for them its just a place to sleep and eat and be watched under a microscope…

I get that I’ve been a victim. I get that I know the truth, I get that I was a lost cause and completely drained all the people around me, but I’m better now. I own my story and I’ll carry on. Reflecting is just a part of my process. I accept my story and turn over my doubts to God. I still have a few loose ends to tie up and have a few people in my life that I can depend on. Most importantly I now know that the most toxic people to my existence are not in it.

I watched a documentary about a gentleman that was in a cult. He revealed that the greatest tactic a person could use on another person, to get that person to behave how they want them too, is to have the victim create their own prison in their head. It becomes the choice of the victim to stay and not because the abuser had anything to do with it. Manipulating a person’s mind is the easiest way to control them and least likely to be noticed. By dropping subtle hints to the victim that they are unattractive, rightfully have low self-esteem; don’t know how life really operates, etc. The abuser can take on a God-like persona to the victim, which feeds into the insanity of the abuser. To internalize the projections of an abuser is a form of mind control. I was living in a mental prison created by control freaks until I was almost 30. My family tried to break me with subtleties, and to the rest of the world I was living a privileged life. Go figure.

I found that I naturally turn to running when the self-hating narrator starts up. I’m not a fancy runner like these marathon people or 5k racers. I’m like fucking Forest Gump. I run at a pace that works for me and won’t stop until my legs go numb or my lungs give out. The fastest I’ve run is a 13-minute mile, but I was wound pretty tight that day. I turn over the rest of the bullshit in my head to my higher power and I seem to be able to navigate through my emotions more clearly after a good run or spending time outdoors.

I took my little guy on a hike the other day. Standing on a trail and away from all the noise of other humans I was able to admire the ant. It never tires and moves with purpose… Never questioning whether it should because it knows its destination. The playful chipmunks reminded me not to take myself to seriously. When I looked up all I could see were the canopy of trees and I felt protected, like they were hugging me. It was my little ones first time on a trail and he definitely held his own and enjoyed seeing all the bugs and a waterfall. Towards the end of the trail he ended up on my shoulders. I immediately felt a sense of pride. I needed to be in the forest and to push myself to carry him uphill. The sweat was pouring down my face and he’s close to 40lbs now, I felt like a super woman. I wish someone could have recorded it for us. We were quite the pair.

The weight of my struggle is heavy but I will persevere because that’s who I am. My new motto is ‘Sustain the hunger to hustle harder’.

The Wages of Sin

Posted in Uncategorized on May 10, 2018 by Veronica Graham

I am sober, I have a healthy and smart little boy, I have a sound mind -according to my therapist and newly acquired lawyer. I am calm in the midst of my personal storm. I am confident in the wake of the pressures of parenting. I am hopeful, some days more than others. It’s been 8 months since I’ve seen my dad and stepmom and I am finally feeling and seeing the benefits of not being under their control. They are toxic people who don’t deserve to be a part of my life or my sons. Learning to be on my own is hard, paying for school is hard, and bills are so annoyingly constant.

However, walking back into the snare of my family is no longer and option for me. I will survive in spite of them; my son will continue to flourish and stay in a good school and church because of me. Not them, me. No amount of money is worth the amount of risk that comes from those helping hands. I had to walk away, trembling and scared, I walked away.

What if I told you that they were the ones who made me crazy, enabled and lacking self-esteem? What if I told you that Mother Graham is still chasing after men versus wanting to be a part of my life? What if I told you that trio is more so responsible for my pain than I had originally thought. What if I told you that I am better than I have ever been, all things considered because none of them are around me?

My writing started off with me asking why? Why couldn’t I go to a 4 year college and my siblings could. Why was I sleeping around to feel better about myself? Why were my friendships difficult? Why did I drink and drug for almost 15 years? Why was I a privileged mess?

In therapy, I have unlocked some painful memories of childhood sexual abuse and its negative effects on me developmentally and more. I have dissected my life and it’s beyond uncomfortable. I can now recall trying to get off as a child and other snippets of my past still come to me in flashes of memories that I can’t bear to write about.

Everyone in my family knew the person accused of fondling me and no matter how alarming my actions were, no one stopped this person, they acted like it never happened. I’ve blogged about it before but I was still in denial and not able to fully accept what the letters from my social worker in 1983 said. My case against this person was unfounded, but was it really?  Or did my mom drop the charges because it was easier to deny the truth about me than confront the pedophile. How the fuck was my family able to deflect any personal responsibility? I gladly took the blame from my toddler years to very late 20’s for being a nuisance, but my family protected the pedophile and somehow that’s worthy of being forgiven?

I couldn’t stimulate myself enough growing up. As a friend put it mildly; it’s an itch that must be scratched. Naturally, as soon as I reached the age where kids start to experiment I was more than ready. I blocked out my early childhood and settled into the comforting arms of alcohol and drugs when I was a teenager, easily. Still no one spoke the truth, no one wanted to risk their comfortable little lives on account that I may very well have been molested.

My adopted grandmother knew, my mother new, aunts, uncles, grandparents that are now six feet under knew. No one gave a rat’s ass but all the signs were there and certain conversations with certain folk have made it very clear that they new. My family chose to take a blind eye, even after I was reported to the Virginia Child Welfare hotline. They looked away when I made my dolls have sex with one other and had my case buried before I was potty trained. My actions told a different story. They were the actions of an abused little girl that was neglected and shamed into silence.

As a mother to a 3 year old who is turning 4, I’ll tell you this, they don’t lie, they tell you how they feel, they show you how they feel. Little developing minds are incapable of keeping secrets. Hell, my son tells me everything, what he ate at school, which friends he likes best, if he went to time out and what he does with his sitters. He will confess after stuffing candy in his pockets that he in fact, took the candy when I asked him not too.

My son will not carry the weight of my past and my past will not cloud his future. I’m fighting to be on my own these days and working as much as I can. Fighting to be independent. Fighting to protect my son and keep him in a good school and with trustworthy sitters. I’m 36 and still struggling to survive but better late than never, right? I will never trust the people who were responsible for raising me with him and yet they still wonder why? Isn’t it ironic?

Zero Gravity

Posted in Uncategorized on February 6, 2018 by Veronica Graham

My childhood is tougher to get through than I thought but fate got me connected with a chick in film who got me connected with an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing aka EMDR doctor so that we can “Men in Black” the fuck out of my mind and rid me of bad memories so that my next 20 years are not spent crying over the past 30.

I may have champagne taste on a beer budget because of the mistakes I made with money but no one taught me anything, not how to love, live independently or without the help of medications. It’s so weird to me, to have been around so much opportunity and see the benefits of it for other relatives and not me. I was written off as a lost cause long before I was able to add and subtract. Early on abuse forces a child to live in fight or flight mode. Thank God I no longer live in fear, that switch is off. Fight or Flight mode is a terrible place to be stuck in. It’s exhausting to the person and the people around them. My early on experiences in various therapeutic scenes weren’t all gung-ho about the mind, body, and soul being interdependent of one another like how it is today. Some serious shit got brushed under the rug with me and by the time puberty hit my mind was a wasteland and feeding grounds for all kinds of bad shit.

I was like the crazy white girl you see in those psycho thriller films, pumped up on drugs living in a ‘privileged’ position. No one really asks questions or even cares about a  ‘privileged’ crazy girl until the girl burns the neighbor’s cats ass with turpentine and a match. Although I never did that, I did pull off some pretty fucked up pranks on people in my former days. Roughly 15 years of partying to cover up the hurt inside of me being ignored by people with authority over me and in the name of self-preservation on their end- made me who I was. You can believe it or not but my life ain’t an episode on Ripleys. I am a 36-year-old woman who after becoming a mother, which lead me to live a life free from mind-altering substances, brought me to the beautifully difficult place I am in today.

Like my family, I too wanted to forget the past, keep the elephant under the rug. I would have never walked into a doctors office with an open heart again had I not started having flashbacks and real-life problems that left me frozen and unable to cope. I felt that I had already had enough out of pocket help. I recently had to set some pretty heavy boundaries with my family to be able to finally take care of me. I needed help from a fresh set of eyes with a degree and experience in the field of EMDR recovery and new age type healing to guide me.

I even did some investigative work on my own,  old-school style and in a library, no google just books. I grabbed some scientific journals and stumbled upon a study that compared the left and right brain and shit like that. I read that my traumas were likely to be trapped energies inside my brain that never left. As I continued to grow up and develop the part of my brain that recalled the traumas had trapped and hidden certain incidents from me. It just stayed there waiting for the day I was able to cope, I guess.

I was on my way to a makeup gig in DC and opted to Metro in a few weeks back. I sat across from a little girl that must have been headed on an adventure with her grandparents. She noticed me and I noticed her immediately. She resembled me as a child- curly hair, potato-like nose and a smile that could brighten a blackout. I put in my earbuds, checked the time and pushed play to let some meditative tunes set in. I noticed that the little girl continued to look at me with her big doe eyes until she reached her stop. I think she saw something in me, just wasn’t sure what it was but she was certain that whatever it was it was worth looking into. To me, she was like some threshold guardian that magically appeared to give me a message telling my inner child that I’ll be okay… I got choked up and held back the unwanted tears that were starting to form in my freshly made up eyes and continued to listen to tunes.

I am so close to my breakthrough, I can taste it. However, I feel so limited. I’m practically screaming out loud on mute- I have a doctor that believes in me and is worth the out of pocket expense. Her theories on a recovery of the mind have proved to be more desirable than buying multiple bags of double stuffed Oreos with my hard earned cash. When I lived with my family…It felt like I was living in outer space. No matter how hard I tried to fit in and reach goals I couldn’t. I believe in light and dark energies and I believe in generational curses. I was never going to get better living in Pleasantville. Once Mother Graham gave me the boot it was their turn to add fuel to the fire in me. I was always a little less than whatever they had conspired in their mind that I could or ever would be.

Conversations about me and how difficult I made the life for everyone under either roof almost had me committed or killed. You got to understand one thing, I lived in Pleasantville longer than I did with my mom. Not that either was a cake walk I just can’t shake the fact that I was an adult child for so long. I initially moved in at 14, had a few failure to launch episodes and remained with them until Kimmie gave me the strength to leave at 29ish. That’s some fucked up type of negative hold on a person if you ask me. I couldn’t leave, I couldn’t grow, I was trapped with no life skills and no way out… This is starting to sound like the preface to a Stephen King novel.

Am I struggling today to be an adult, I’m not sure. No one gets out of this life unscathed. No one. I am doing better than I ever have on my own thanks to my anchor, my angel, aka my son.

 

Hate in your Heart.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 16, 2017 by Veronica Graham

Hate in your heart can lead to self-loathing, if you need help, seek counsel. I am back in therapy and just at the right time…

Part I- The Baker Batch

I placed an order for a birthday cake and left to finish a massive list of errands last May. After picking up my “made to order cake” and in a slow motion “Oh-no-she didn’t” I started to realize that I had the wrong cake but only after I was placing candles on it. Even the knife I was using had gotten stuck in this hardened cake and it strongly resembled a display cake that this baker batch had made reference to a few days prior.

At first, I thought I was overreacting but I wasn’t. A special moment for me with my kid had been sabotaged by a batter batch and I wasn’t going to let the cake-fucker-upper get away with it.

Upon arriving back at the store and being greeted by an apologetic manager; I had a fresh chocolate cake with blue and green decorations. Luckily, the baker batch was nowhere in sight because she had declared a Cake War. Many thoughts crossed my mind as to what I would say to the batter batch upon seeing her again at the grocery store…

  1. I would criticize her makeup and say she should permanently ditch the idea that she can apply false lashes herself, ever again.
  2. I would shame her publicly in the store and use the single mom sob story as my angle.
  3. Approach her and whisper in a low sketchy voice, “I know what you did” and then walk away.

I did run into her again but it was a week or two later. While walking into the grocery store I heard a snarky Fran Dresher voice from behind me shout, “Hi, how are youuuuuu?” My blood started to curdle before I could turn around to this see the face that matched the voice. It was her, the batter batch; a vile villain in my eyes that must be destroyed by my words. In an automatic response, I yelped, “Good, have a great day!” and skirted back out the door. If I stopped, even for a moment to participate in phatic communication I would’ve boiled over and created an epic scene.

Part II- Four Eyed Charlie (or whatever previous name I deemed worthy in another entry)

Recently, I was walking to my part-time job and in a fairly good mood. I popped into my local coffee spot and low an behold there HE was… Not as I remembered but it was him. He was someone that encouraged me to enroll in a forum that changed my life, for at least a couple months. He still had dated glasses and allure. We struck up a conversation and greeted each other with an awkward hug.

He was happy to tell me that he was married to a new boo. Luckily, the 7-year gap before seeing him again subdued all the anger I had towards him for sucking at life. He was also proud to announce to me that he had finally finished college and got a degree in Geology. At his age, I was more than underwhelmed but congratulated him, and we both managed to be positive about our encounter before walking away into the crowd of life.

Part III- Irish I was the one for you…

I was standing in my black uniform at another restaurant that is now another notch on the belt. I was writing down the specials when tall, dark and Irish walked in the door. With a smile from ear to ear that I could hardly contain I embraced this blast from the past with a familiarity that was reciprocated. I was one of his first friends in America and he was happy to remind me. He had started on about the company he was running distributing wine… I have this thing about the Irish, fight as they may… they really are romantics. Needless to say, the hot hunk of Irish butter wasn’t the one for me. Secretly, I had hoped that when I asked if he was still married he would say, “No, how could I be? I’m still in love with you!” and then New Edition would have walked in with a camera crew.

Shout out to the posers trying to be my story… “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?”

 

 

Watch out for the clean-cut HO!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 20, 2017 by Veronica Graham

Pay close attention to the women in your life who inquire about the men in yours or just flat out try really hard to get any kind of sensitive information out of you. Be careful what you reveal to that single, fresh-faced—I mean two-faced tart. Have you ever wondered why one of your “friends” asks an awful lot about your love life? Claiming they want whats best for you just to pry. Saying things like “I will always be here for you” or “You can trust in me, I’m not like all your other friends” or ” I would never hurt you, you’re my bestie for life”. I think these types of women exploit the chicks who wear their heart on their sleeves and definitely capitalize on being there for you when heart breaks occur or any other dilemma. All the while, secretly, looking to interfere, to tear you down, to one-up you or just feel better about themselves at your expense? Remember Selena????

The scariest clean-cut ho I was friends with wore leggings, a beret and had a Masters Degree. Guess who that was? She was the type that’s datable with mannerisms similar to Taylor Swift. The kind of chick that somehow is able to hop from guy to guy without the scrutiny that, let’s say Brittany Spears would get. By the way- How many guys has Taylor Swift been with? I think she beat me. Oh, but wait, It’s ok for a girl like her to suck face with Jake Gyllenhaal and then go for a ride on Calvin Harris. It’s totally cool for her to produce a song that sounds like a blog entry and screw anybody she wants because she’s the good kind of ho?!

I was invited to be a makeup artist on a film set in Pennsylvania shortly after the collapse of the Kimme and Veronica empire. I had befriended a local producer who was totally cool and extended the olive branch to me and my damaged self-image. Once the producer got me acclimated with the crew she ended up having to leave set for another job.

The actress aka “sobriety champion of the universe” that I had to shack up with after my producer friend left got very comfortable talking with me. She was super pretty and from New York. She seemed like the kind of friend I needed in my life and I was happy to have met her—I probably should have been more professional but ya know. I just love to fucking talk. The sweet disposition in her voice quickly shifted once the conversation got heavy and I confessed that I too was an addict but not in the rooms of AA and NA. With all due respect to the program, it does work, I just feel different then some do about it. I kinda latched onto my higher power and went on to explain that I’d prefer to find my way and I was doing OK. Side Note– If you crave beer drink watermelon flavored Perrier.

What I was sharing with this actress aka “sobriety champion of the universe” seemed to be upsetting her a little too much. To each their own, you know…If you’re familiar with the rooms of AA then you know the kind of tough love that those with years of sobriety tend to express on those who find their own path. At first, she seemed like someone who might care but she wasn’t. I wasn’t privy to the fact that she might have known about me before we even met face to face. Kinda felt like a trap looking back. Yeesh! People are creepy. I only creep on hotties, so maybe she thought, you know…

Since she was from New York I asked if she was cool with one my exes. Whom, by the way, got married shortly after we split and started a family of his own. Am I “Good Luck Chuck” now? In my limited experience, well known Indie Artist’s all seem to know one another so it was likely she had run into him. When she didn’t seem to know who I was talking about I toned it back and we chatted about other indie peeps we knew. Harmless, right? Seems like a pretty normal chick moment?

After we wrapped she went on to produce a film about addiction—-The same crew that she referred to as a “circle jerk” was the very same crew that gave her props and contributed to her indie film about addiction. She even brought my ex in on her film! I thought she didn’t know him? I sure as hell never got a call to be a part of her short film. I thought we were cool?

Business as usual or die, hard friend? It’s hard to tell, they seem to be one in the same and I am having a hard time with women in general. I am an open person but becoming a mom changed me and I am still learning about how to be in any kind of relationship with women. It’s not easy for me to trust and women switch up so quickly. I am literally dealing with an issue with someone who was super cool with me and is acting very strange now.

I keep all people at an arms distance from me, because I have too. I am open but that shouldn’t automatically brand me as a target. When someone can just switch up on me because they aren’t cool with how I live or I am not acting in whatever way they have created in their mind that I should, that is a major red flag.

In this particular hiccup, I have used the opportunity to be polite and acknowledge this person’s feelings and affirm that we are still friends, but at the same time, I am letting this red flag fly. I am not bending over backward for anyone that has ill feelings towards me. People are allowed to feel how they want, and when someone is coming at me directly or indirectly, I have learned to speak up and step aside. They either come back or they don’t. I used to try to control peoples feelings about me or really overly apologize for not understanding where someone else was coming from. I literally, do not have the time to jump on the “I must be at fault train”. Y’all ladies can go on with that shit.

I sure as hell don’t put anything past anyone anymore, fewer surprises when a chick flips. I keep my distance and am very proud of it. I am also very aware that I leaned a little too hard on friends and men to build me up and hold me down when life got too tough because I lacked a solid family foundation. I put a lot of pressure on friends and boyfriends to be, I guess you could say, my foundation. A foundation stems from a parent. Part of being a parent, as I am learning is to help to shape your child’s identity, self-worth and so on. If you get one parent to fight for you and show up as a parent consider yourself fortunate.

I’m almost 36 and am slowly learning to cut out emotion and anger from certain situations as they arise. Just to clarify, crying about my past needed to happen but I have to eventually separate the emotion from the problem or else the change in me will never occur. The same follows with anger or sadness. I roll solo with my kid and am a better person for becoming a hermit during my transition phase.

P.S. I tried to not like Taylor Swift, I really did, but I kinda like her songs. Go, girl. You do that clean cut ho thing so well!

Be Still

Posted in Uncategorized on April 9, 2017 by Veronica Graham

I woke up from a deep sleep, in the middle of the night, last night with thoughts of my experience in Georgia. I got up, got some juice and started crying some type of relief cry? It felt like letting air out of an over-inflated balloon– I said a little prayer mid tear, sat on my son’s stool in my itty bitty kitchen and let the moment flow. A little weird and the timing was random but I needed that cry in that exact moment. It has been a struggle but it’s mine-We all have struggle. Some are experiencing much worse than me at this very moment. All I can say to those who are in the thick of it is to be still, look up and try to turn it over to the God of your understanding. That’s kind of a loaded statement yet I’m not sure how else to say it…. No one has it easy in this life. We all have little nuances that try to keep us down or tear the light away from our darkest days. It’s refreshing for me to know that I believe in the spiritual realm and in Hey-Zeus aka Jesus.

When I was working at Aladdin’s Eatery in 2011 there was this waiter that would walk in every morning, look me square in the eye and say ‘Fuck this life!’ He was incredibly funny and was Muslim. We would have long conversations during the slow periods at the restaurant about the differences of how people are governed in Morocco versus the States. He would insist that we’re all the same- looking for the same stabilities in life. The catch was that life would never be stable. So in regard to the physical, money-driven world, we live in he would shout ‘Fuck this life!’ when he arrived in the mornings. It was his way of staying positive and knowing that his end goal wasn’t just in graduating the school he was attending but in finding peace with his life and knowing that the afterlife was what really counted for him.

Once I realized that I wasn’t going to flourish financially in the South I switched gears into serious mom mode. I needed to establish a routine because I hardly had work and becoming more dependent on others for financial help was driving me crazy. Moving to Georgia was like stopping a freight train at full speed. I had a lot of work and connections in the DMV. I literally crossed my fingers, held my breath and jumped into an unstable environment with someone I knew was not healthy for me…Personal reasons topped with bad advice and empty promises pushed me against what had taken me years to establish in the DMV. I left and tried to start over without a solid plan. WHO DOES THAT?!!!

My mornings would start with pumpkin squawking away in his crib to be picked up for breakfast. Every morning was the same and it worked for us. I would pile snacks, toys and extra clothing into a duffle bag to prepare for whatever each days adventure would bring. We were out the door by 9:30am daily. I would find places that were free and outdoors, stopped at visitor centers along the way for maps and the inside scoop. Once a month we would drive to Atlanta to visit Piedmont Park and Trader Joes. On special occasions, we would meet my god mom in Dunwoody. The Southside of Atlanta, we were practically living in a bubble. There was so much wide-open space and places weren’t really within walking distance.

The Phantom of the Operas original soundtrack was a hit in the mornings for us. Little one, barely able to speak would chime in from the back seat to sing. For close to three months it was the number one pick on our playlist of baby approved music. We visited “our” pond almost daily, sometimes even twice a day. It had a few benches, a long row of pine trees with plenty of cones for collecting, a paved track that circled the pond, two playgrounds and a huge open field for little legs to explore. It had a couple baseball fields and a soccer field for the locals who participated in those sports or just needed to practice. This place was funded by a church for the public with a sign that read, ‘If you like our pond you’ll love our church.’ Now, I did not like the church after my one and only time Sunday morning spent with them but I LOVED their pond. It was a habitat-friendly pond with ducks, geese and fish for fishing. There were plenty of little patches of grass missing that had been replaced with buttercups and violets too. It’s where pumpkin learned to say the word purple one day after a light misting of the rain. He was in his rain gear and waddled out into the field- plucked a violet and said in his sweet little voice ‘poi-pull’. My heart melted.

Some kids have grown up with a dog but my little one got to see and almost become one with the family of geese and ducks that lived at this pond. He saw two generations being born here. He would waddle-run towards the banks of the pond with a bag of cheerios and entice his friends to eat. The ducks and geese would flock around him and soon accepted him as one of their own. They allowed him to get very close and on the rare occasion, he could pet them. He would squawk at them, laugh and leave a trail of fallen cheerios behind for them to chase him. Pumpkins feathered friends chased him quite often and he loved it. Our favorite mama duck lived under a tree and we both watched how overnight some eggs would disappear from the nest. On a perfect day without the blistering heat, the wind would cause a ripple effect on the water that was picture perfect. A family of turtles on days like that would come out to soak up the sun on a little island in the center of our pond.

I would walk laps to stay active and keep my mind clear. I always had pumpkins stroller ready to roll- I put miles on that damn stroller. I was juggling daily outbursts from SG whether through text or after a rare weekend visit and needed a healthy release. You see, I was in the Deep South- ALONE. I chose to refrain from drinking and socializing with certain folks out of loneliness because I had too. I did become friends with one person, my neighbor Ms. Brina. She and I are still close today. I had to face shit in the South, sometimes I would allow myself to sit in my own mental shit a little longer than required to actually purge myself of my wanting to escape reality. I ended up facing my demons and I hated it. I had been in repeat mode like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day since high school. I had given way too much power to others over my emotions and life choices and moving to a slow southern town caused me to kind of burst into flames. Looking back, it was necessary for me to step back from people and vices, show up for my son and learn to find and trust my instinct entirely when dealing with others. I also realized that short encounters with a toxic person could be just as damaging as a 7-15 year tango with one.

Georgia is was where I found the best version of me– the dorky and totally relatable me who doesn’t bend to what others say but follows her internal guide and not just in a blog entry. The old version of me that certain people enjoy holding a mirror up too fell by the wayside and that bitch ain’t coming back. All that’s left of her is the knowledge of how to survive in a den of thieves and have the faith of Daniel in the wake of a beast.

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind booking a flight back to Georgia just to sit in the stillness of that churches pond. Life has its daily challenges. Work has been picking up and I’m pretty excited about the opportunities in makeup artistry I’ve had lately. I have gotten to meet some pretty influential people. Also, I was finally able to find another profession to earn added income to support my family duo. I have an amazing almost 3 year old and am finally able to see my short-term goals come together. My mind is better today and I will worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. Just for today, I am OK.

—-Life has a way of humbling every creature in it to allow room to appreciate the rare beauties it possesses.