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When God Gives Your Daddy Back in Service

BMarcell Williams, the Youth Cheerleader, Brunch & Bible visionary & founder of Jewels Inc. Enrichment Program shares her story about, grief, guidance, & how God gave her Daddy back in ways she never expected. I met Marcell in Fall of 2008 when I applied to be a mentor with Jewels Incorporated. She was floating through the room like a fairy snapping photos, capturing moments, and we didn’t even know who she was. In serving as a member of Jewels Inc. I grew to learn more about Marcell, she was a mother, a former Campus Pal & Bison Cheerleader, and her Dad had died. Losing her Dad crushed her, he was her biggest cheerleader, her example of love & an avid community servant himself. She had to take a semester off to go home to St. Louis and grieve and upon her return, God gave her the vision of Jewels. Eleven years later, Jewels has served it’s purpose to outlive her time at Howard University & has grown to serve other communities as well. She shares her father’s love of serving children & the moment God took over her pen & released this vision in The Discussion Room, play for details.

 

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Step Parenting Ain’t Easy…but Sherelle has a Secret to Share

Whether you’ve dated a Daddy like I did, became a bonus mom like Jada when she married Will, or find yourself caught up in Baby Mama drama like some of the ladies on your favorite reality tv series, Sherelle Avery has a tip for you. A proud stepmother, learning through LOVE everyday Sherelle decided to be a resource to other blended families by sharing her story. She started The Secret Behind the Step a year ago, to share the lessons she learned as a mother in a blended family, not just about parenting but about all the complexities that come along with it. She’s organized a brunch with panelists from all fields of life to support the needs of blended families still figuring it out. To learn more about the Blended, Beautiful & Blessed Brunch, WHY she started The Secret Behind the Step, WHERE she’s taking it next, WHAT her Secret to being a Dope Step Mom, is watch our discussion “Step Up & Blend” below. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments!

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Would YOU Kill For Love?

Last month TVOne premiered a film about a real woman, a woman who supposedly killed in the name of love. However, when I watched the movie, that’s not what I saw. I saw, young woman who grew up in an unstable home taken advantage of who killed as a means of fear and survival. The movie I’m referencing is When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story starring Lil Mama and Lance Gross. The film left me with questions so I did some research on the real Falicia Blakely post viewing and it’s a sad story. Falicia Blakely, who looks nothing like Lil Mama by the way, was only 18 at the time of these murders and Dino, played by Lance Gross is 13 years her senior. I was unable to gage the characters ages, let alone such a large age gap from viewing the movie.

What I was able to gather however, was that Falicia grew up in a home without a father or reliable father figure. Her mother was more concerned with having her moist loins tended to than the whereabouts of her teenaged daughter. Falicia started stripping because the money was good. Sh kept stripping because the money was good. Where she  started slipping was when she started looking for love in the club.

She didn’t have a father’s love or guidance in the home and her mother seemed to have revolving door of unsuitable suitors, so really, she didn’t know what to look for. She fell for a man who was down for the ride until the responsibilities got real. Then she met Dino.

He’s a smooth talker and a big tipper and he shows her affection. He convinces her she’s “Too good to be stripping” and she falls for a fantasy where he’ll take care of her, only to learn he’s only sold her half the dream. Once she buys in and quits the club, she reminds him that he told her that she’s “Too good to be stripping” and he conveniently adds, “at THAT club.”

Falicia is thrown off, but complies any way. She leaves the new club satisfied with how much money she’s made, Dino isn’t. He headbutt’s her and tells her if she worked longer she could have earned more. She’s left fearful and confused, he apologizes, but this is only the beginning.

The movie aims to tell the story of a young woman who kills for love, however I saw it as an example of the type of intimate partner violence young women are vulnerable to when they don’t have a representation of a healthy relationship in the home.

I read an article about how intimate partner violence that says something called “trauma-bonding” is what makes people stay in abusive relationships. Despite being tricked into leaving one club only to end up stripping in another, she stayed because she was waiting for the charming Dino she first met to reappear. When he headbutt her, he may have apologized, but he also showed her exactly the type of physical pain he was capable of inflicting on her at any unsuspecting moment. He even went so far as to keep her daughter away from her. If that weren’t  enough, he convinced her that he wanted to provide her and her daughter with a whole new life, but they needed a certain amount of money to make it happen. So she was stripping with a dollar amount in mind.

In a short time with Dino, Falicia experienced physical, emotional and financial abuse. She earned all the money he said they needed to leave and start a new life only to see Dino use it for other purposes. He convinced her that robbery was a faster way to make the money back than stripping. He gave her a gun and a deadline. Falicia didn’t kill those men for love. She killed them as a means of survival. She wanted a life where she Dino, and her daughter could live together happily, a life where she didn’t have to dance for dollars to make it happen. And they were only obstacles in her way.

If Falicia had parents she could turn to, would those men still be alive?

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Survivor’s Remorse

Imagine not knowing who your father is. At All. Not even a name, not even a theory. For 27 years. TWENT-TY SEV-EN YEARS!

Think about what questions you’d ask your mother. Do I look like him? Did he like the same stuff that I like? WHAT IS HIS NAME?

WHAT IS HIS NAME?

Now imagine being the mother of that child. Not only unwilling, but UNABLE to answer those questions. Spending 27 years trying to block out your child’s conception. Being reminded of the worst night of your life with every question.

That’s the story of Mary-Charles and her mother Cassie. Cassie was a girl from Boston in her early teens when she and some friends rode down to a party on Long Island. It was there she was sexually taken advantage of by not one, not two, but THREE fellow party-goers. It was on that night Mary-Charles was conceived. And for TWENTY SEVEN years she managed to bury that incident deep inside. Scolding and chastising Mary-Charles for every expressed desire to know who else’s DNA made her who she was.

Cassie telling Cam her truth

It took for Cassie’s son, whose father had been incarcerated since he was six weeks old, to guilt her into giving Mary-Charles a lead. I couldn’t imagine having to explain to my son at any age that I had been violated by three men and that his sister was a living, breathing, TALKING reminder of possibly the worst night of my life.

This may be the fictional tale of a scripted drama family, but for so many this is real life.

I watched in awe as Mary-Charles addressed the three tombstones as “Rape Father #1”, “Rape Daddy #2” and “Rape Dad #3”

Having the moment to get out all the “In spite of you, I Am” statements that so many of us need to say, some to fathers still living and breathing.

Every 98 seconds an American is Sexually Assaulted. September 21st is Rape, Assault, Incest National Network Day.

I’ve never been a victim of rape, but I could think of no Survivor’s Remorse worse than raising my unknown rapists’ baby. #DaaamnDaddy

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What My Cheating Ass Daddy taught Me About Empathy

Queen of team “No sleep til the to-do list is done”, has been one of my virtual “Friend-tors” for a little while now. Emmelie De La Cruz formerly known as The Branding Muse is a BEAST at Millenial Marketing. Be it Big Brands or budding personal brands, she’s your go to woman. Though Syracuse & execution are responsible for her business acumen, her “Cheating Ass Daddy” taught her a different lesson. And last night she shared with us just what she learned about empathy.

When I asked Emm if she would talk with me about her dad, she already had this popping ass title ready to go. It had been about a year since I read this caption under one of her IG photos and thought to myself *10 years? I wonder what happened there* And I was new to her coaching program, talking about an upcoming Facebook Live collaboration I was embarking on when she suggested “Don’t just collaborate with people in the same lane as you.” That was the green light I needed to say “Hey, you wanna tell me why you hadn’t seen your Dad in 10 years?” Then she hit me with the title and I was like *PERFECT!* Cheating?! Daddy? You Free July 20th?

*Juy 20th happens to be the magical date between Step Dad #1 & Step Dad #2’s birthdays*

So last night Emm spilled tea about her Daddy, her 6 siblings ( I would’ve SWORN she was an only child smh) And their 4 mothers, well 5 including hers.

But the lemonade I wanted to sample was WHY empathy?

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand & share the feelings of another. Emm is certainly empathetic. I think it’s actually one of the keys to her business. Definitely why I felt like we were long lost best friends on all those Periscopes with Trap Queen blasting in the background & the Melanin Magic Webinars where I watched her generate business ideas for me and several other viewers off nothing but keywords about our industry and a sentence about what we felt set us apart. She did en masse what I did for friends and family all the time.

 

But what did that have to do with her Cheating Ass Daddy?

 

Our conversation started out with Emm sharing that her Dad used to have her around his side chick while her mom was in medical school, and at the time, she just thought this woman was like her nanny or something. As kids we don’t really know the inter-workings of the adults in our lives. Once she was old enough to understand the pain he caused her mother, she couldn’t disown him for what he did, because at the end of the day that’s still her father. But she better understood her mother’s choices, and the lack of age gaps between some of her siblings.

Despite the slight overlap in age of his 7 children, Emm has a father worth admiring. She respects his work ethic, his hustle, his ability to survive by any means necessary, even selling socks on the Subway. Her ability to understand that infidelity is just something Dominican women have come to accept as part of the culture, and sharing his hustler spirit is how Emmelie has been able to empathize with her father. She chooses to see him for all that he is not just all that he ain’t.

Though he lives in a different country, and she saw him for the first time in 10 years last April, it hasn’t stopped her from loving him, and learning from him. Listening to Emm made me realize just how much further I have to go on my journey to be less judgmental. She also made me feel less alone. I learned that I’m not the only one out here with nieces & nephews I don’t feel connected to because my father wasn’t the only one who’s shenanigans interrupted the development of real sibling relationships. I’m not the only one who sees what’s accepted in the culture & doesn’t REALLY agree with it, but seems to keep finding myself amidst these relationships where I’m deserving more.

We didn’t just talk about Cheating Ass Daddies & Sidechick Step-Mommas or siblings that feel more distant than friends. We talked about how seeing failed relationships and BEING empathetic puts us in this place where we face a constant internal struggle of “If you love him you can work it out” and “Girl, you deserve BETTER!” Sometimes we don’t know what better looks like, so we just keep attracting these cheating ass reflections of the Daddies we saw the best in. #DaaamnDaddy

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What’s LOVE Got to Do With It?

I was driving to meet my *thinking face* “friend” for lunch and turning on a certain street made me think of my “first”.

Not sure why, but my brain jumped to the day I told him I didn’t want to deal with him anymore. I don’t remember verbatim because that was nearly 5years ago, but I’m pretty sure I said something like “I deserve to be with someone who loves me.” And he replied “I DO love you”

I just realized I can’t tell when a guy really cares for me.

So my brain did what it does best & jumped to several of the tabs I had open based on the keyword love.

1st tab was me asking my mom advice on successfully ending a relationship a few weeks ago. I laughed because, all of my mom’s exes are still in love with her. *So again WRONG person for ADVICE*

Next tab was my own exes and how even after not seeing them for YEARS I can still see their hearts smile in my presence. (Saw paranoid Pete a few weeks ago).

Final tab was my cousin’s Facebook post I had seen before taking that drive. Her Dad & Buddha are brothers. Her post read “I just realized I can’t tell when a guy really cares for me.”

When I read that Facebook Post my immediate thought was “Well of course you can’t because the man that made you didn’t show you how.” But during that drive I thought “What’s Love got to do with it?”

It’s hard to realize when a guy really cares for me because I’ve constantly received mixed signals on what love looks like.

I like for people’s actions to match their words because Buddha’s never did. Unlike my mother, I don’t tend to dedicate much time to relationships past a certain point. I’ve always just attributed that to high emotional intelligence. *And also that I had my life played so thoroughly by my middle school boyfriend that I see no need to relive that experience.*

If you don’t stay, they can’t play you

But seriously, for more than two years, I’ve exposed how my trust issues are rooted in the fuck ups of the male “role models” in my life. A biological father that let me down so often everything feels like abandonment. A stepfather that seemed perfect as a child until he committed the ultimate betrayal. So now I don’t even know how to trust gestures because quality time don’t stop a cheater from cheating. Another stepfather who hadn’t dealt with his own Daddy Issues so he over compensated & under-communicated. Which brings me back to WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

All the love in the world can’t make you show up somewhere you don’t want to be.

All the love in the world ain’t gone stop a wandering eye from bringing the rest of the body to the bedroom.

All the love in the world can’t make a listening ear from a shouting mouth.

And ALL the love in the word cain’t clear a cluttered mind.

Nina Simone said “You must learn to leave the table if love is no longer being served.”

TRUST ME, I “Liked”, “Shared“ & “Pinned” every image of her and that quote but I’m not sure I truly understand love anymore.

Everybody who’s ever hurt me told me they loved me.

So again, I ask, “WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?”

What’s Love got to do with happiness? ● What’s Love got to do with health? ● What’s Love got to do with intelligence? ● What’s Love got to do with discernment? ● What’s Love got to do with confidence?

E●V●E●R●Y●T●H●I●N●G!

Yesterday, my cousin who wrote that post turned 24. And because her father didn’t lay a concrete foundation of love for her to build on, she can’t tell when a guy truly cares for her.

I’m 26 still playing Russian Roulette with my time. Because I’ve never been scared to walk away, but the one thing all my Daddies failed to teach me was when it’s worth it to stay. What it looks like when you work it out with someone, not out of fear, not for the kids, not due to convenience, boredom or because they control your finances, not even for LOVE alone. What it looks like to build a solid foundation with someone because you love them, you trust them, you value them, you’re invested in their growth, and they’re invested in yours and you respect each other enough to show up when you say you’re going to show up. You communicate when you can’t and you’re disciplined enough to remain faithful no matter how tempting the fruit may look.

I want that. And despite what my Daddies never showed me I will have that. Because I LOVE myself enough to know I deserve more. Even if that means I have to cut folks off to create it.

“You’ve gotta love like you’ve never been hurt; to get the LOVE that you deserve.” -My Motha Best Friend Mary J. Blige

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Advice

 

Sunday was Mother’s Day and I fought back tears as I attempted to end my current situationship. He treats me well, doesn’t yell at me or hit me; because I don’t allow that shit; but there seems to be some break-down in communication that we’re having the ultimate struggle getting over.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My mom; single parent with 2 children by men that she’ll “always love but doesn’t like”; told me I over analyze everything. I shared with her some of my communication frustrations and she said “You give up too easily. Relationships have hurdles sometimes.”

 

I wanna be married.

 

I’m not looking to get married today tomorrow or this time next year, but I know I want to be married to someone I can trust. Someone  who communicates well with me. Someone not only on the same page but also in the same book as me. My mother isn’t married. Her partners have all loved her; but they’ve never in my opinion been in the same book. And despite proposals & rings and 7 or 13 year relationships; she’s never made it to the altar or even the courthouse. My mother doesn’t have the life I want. I hear her advice anyway, because, my mother.

Me hearing, my mother’s advice

Sunday I listened as he expressed his love for me. His fear of losing me. His declaration that I’m his lady and his THIRD confession that he is not ready for a relationship. I don’t want to lose him either, but I’m not in the habit of staying at the table when I feel my flavor of love is no longer being served.

It’s been more than a year since we became physically intimate. Even longer that we’ve been entertaining each other’s company. He stayed when he learned I was depressed. When he realized, my apartment is a constant mess. I don’t always use kind words. He stayed.

One day I asked if we should have joint goals, since we support each other’s individual goals. I think it scared him.

After nearly six months (because the six months before October 29th are questionable) I hear him for the first time tell me he’s not ready for a relationship. It makes wonder *Well what the hell is this then?*

I don’t like uncertainty.

 

I say this to him, but I don’t DO anything with his confession. I let it marinate in my mind & fester into a fungus that tells me I deserve more. I examine myself. Am I giving the type of love I expect in return? Am I making my expectations clear? Am I refusing to accept less than his best? I fail this exam.

 

I ask myself is this worth walking away: List all the reasons I should stay. Call my mom. She taught me to list the pros and cons. She doesn’t answer. It’s ok, she doesn’t have the life I want. But do any of the women in my life?

 clair huxtable GIF

On Mother’s Day morning, I tried to end my current situationship. Even handwrote a letter of all the points I wanted to address. I told him I didn’t want to give up, but I didn’t want to fight to be with someone who didn’t want to be with me. He detailed all the ways he’s shown me that I’m who he wants. He isn’t ready to give in.

He’s been hurt before. His mother is also a single mother. His dad with a similar past as Buddha. We both have trust issues. We don’t want to be hurt again. But it hurts me to sit in uncertainty.

I tried to call my mother again. Sent to voicemail after it rang twice. If I don’t know any women with the life I want. Then who should I look to for advice?

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Final Farewells

Two nights ago the First Dad gave a  “Farewell Address” that brought many to tears.

As Americans watched President Obama address the nation for the last time, they also shared their feelings on social media Tuesday night.
Source: Twitter Photo: Twitter.com

The memes were swift and for some the tears were real.

I wouldn’t say that President Obama has been like a father to me, but he’s definitely influenced a generation.

As heavy as his exit will impact us, I don’t suspect it hurts half as much as it would for one to lose their Dad forever

We’re a few days away from having a Monday off from work and school in honor of a Dad who died too soon.

It made me wonder what Daddy Issues come with death? How did Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s children cope with losing him?

I put out a few requests for people who’ve dealt with their Dad’s death to share their stories.

No automatic alt text available.

Didn’t get the response I was looking for, but I did get some feedback.

Losing a Daddy that was present and positive, made those who lost him fight harder  to honor and extend his legacy.

Losing a Daddy that was unknown or absent turned a hole of inquiry into an abyss of unanswered questions.

I wondered if having a dead Dad impacted a child’s behavior in school.

If MLK’s assassination was a symbolic dead Dad in the black community:

Leaving us to raise ourselves. Forcing us to grow up faster, and prematurely aging the parent left to provide for and protect us.

When most people reflect on Martin Luther King’s legacy they talk about his dream. But what about his death? And have we ever really processed it’s effects?

Have you lost your Daddy?

  • How did you deal with it?
  • What advice on coping would you pass on?

 

If I were still in the classroom. I’d flip the script on Martin Luther King Day. Teach a lesson on Empathy, by having scholars write diary entries as one of his kids who just found out their Dad died.

 

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Building Healthy Habits

First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Last month I participated in a Forgiveness Challenge. Turns out I didn’t have as long a list of people to forgive as I thought. The Challenge however did highlight to me the importance of building healthy habits.

I’m not the “New Year, New Me” type of person, but I have come to realize the key to feeling new starts with intentionally changed behavior.

Most people spent last Saturday “reflecting.” That was a buzzword when I was teaching. Means examining the things you do and looking for ways to improve them. So I did some research and came across a list of 5 steps on Chopra.com for creating healthy habits and I intend to implement them this year.

Forgiveness was a recurring theme in 2016. I was encouraged to write a letter of Forgiveness to Buddha. I was encouraged to be open to communicate with him. I did that and I have to say, I feel so much lighter since trying what I’ve been encouraged to do.

So in light of the New Year providing new beginnings, I’m sharing the 5 steps I learned on Chopra.com and how they can be applied to Dealing with Daddy Issues.

The First is to Set Goals:

  • My Goals are to not carry Daddy Issues into any future relationships.
  • To help others deal with Daddy Issues through teaching expressive writing.

I find mental to health to be of utmost importance so those goals are part of my bigger picture.

The Second is to Set Priorities, identify your weaknesses and strengths. Not all bad patterns can be attacked at once; so having small victories to celebrate along the way can be helpful. (Sunday my mom showed up with a new tv. She waited until it was inside my apartment to tell me Buddha helped purchase it. My boyfriend made it imperative that I call to say “Thank You” verbally as opposed to through Facebook message. Direct communication is one of my weaknesses. Tackling that is one of my priorities, and it will be something to celebrate along the way.

Once you set goals and priorities the Third Step is to Identify Harmful Patterns. The first line on Chopra.com in this section is “To change your negative habits you have to know what they are.” Some of my negative habits include shutting people out and not directly addressing things that bother me. I’ve done better at addressing things directly with the people who bother me.

Forming a new habit takes repetition and focus which brings us to Step Four, Making Steady Changes. Those priorities you set should be small and attainable, making them easy to implement and increase over time. Saying “Thank You” to Buddha on my  was a small step to me. I followed that up by wishing him a Happy Birthday three weeks later. Small steady changes to help me reach my goals.

And in order to reach those goals I have to complete Step Five; Reinforce Good Decisions.

I’m looking to build so much in 2017, Healthy Habits are just first on the List!

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Communication is Key

Last month my mom was testing out her Amazon Fire Stick and decided to put on the Love & Hip Hop New York Reunion. On this particular reunion Special Yandy Smith-Harris was at odds with her stepson’s biological mother, Samantha.

With her husband serving time in prison. Yandy began to feel that Samantha was keeping her stepson away form her and his siblings. Samantha felt Yandy had overstepped some boundaries. Yandy felt that these boundaries didn’t exist when her husband was home.

From the outside looking in, there seems to have been a lapse in communication. Whether you agree with Yandy or Samantha, to me, the common denominator is Mendeecees.

Once a man decides to blend families he has to have a plan on how to communicate the needs of the children to the women playing roles in their upbringing.

Samantha is entitled to be upset that her son was taken across state lines without her consent. However, her anger towards Yandy is perplexing because he was in the care of his father on the way out and Yandy made sure he got back safely.

My point is his Daddy has the same rights as his mother; and being angry at the step-parent for the actions of his other biological parent makes no sense to me.

Yandy is noble in her desire to keep the children present in each other’s lives in the absence of their father. However a ring and a title doesn’t grant you permission to take other people’s children out of school early without telling them. That’s borderline kidnapping boo.

I was annoyed watching two grown women engage in an argument that seemed avoidable if they all had practiced the art of communication.

It also dawned on me that dating with a child while I have none, makes me empathize with Yandy. If a man sets the tone during the dating phase that there is no need for his girlfriend to ever communicate with the mother of his child, if and when that woman becomes his wife, it makes it difficult for those women to know HOW to communicate in his absence.

Additionally if a man decides to make a woman his wife, and a permanent addition into his child’s life, it is his responsibility to help build a bridge between the two women responsible for nurturing and pouring into his child. At least provide a pathway of peace.

Pathway to Peace

If you fail to plan the roles they’ll play in your child’s life, you fail your child. #DaaamnDaddy