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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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Looking for Love in All the wrong Places

Ok yall, I apologize. I started this blog to talk about my Daddy Issues and shed light on how Daddy Issues create other problems in our lives. Recently however, I’ve misused this platform to vent about my “Thought I Found A Friend” relationship drama. Not only is that not fair to you as readers, it’s not fair to him, nor myself.

Truth is however that writing helps me heal. It’s hurt how I talk to myself. Where I gain clarity and has brought about the most progress for me in identifying and finally facing some of my Daddy Issues.

The problem lies in this. When I was in high school I began writing in notebooks because I had come to the realization that people were not to be trusted. Before then, my notebooks were exclusively for poems and short stories.

I created this blog essentially as an exercise in trust. Could telling my story help others? Could others be trusted to know my story and not judge me? I did here what I often do in real life.

Look for love in all the wrong places.

My mother loves me, my monster loves me,  my uncles love me, my aunts love me, my grandfather reminds me EVERY chance he gets that he loves me, My grandmother loves me in ways her own children wish she had shown them and believe it or not all three of my Daddies tell me they love me all the time, well when I actually speak to them.

My problem has never been not being told “I love you” My problem is not feeling that people mean it.

When I was 12-13 years old I had my first boyfriend.

He was my 3rd-5th grade nemesis, but in 7th grade he became the “Love of my Life” My first Intellectual Asshole. I enveloped myself in him. Doing his homework AND mine (if mine even got done) Staying up late on the phone with him. Kissing him in the school courtyard, not caring who saw. I wanted to be loved.

At this time, Buddha was at peak failure. Living with some woman 5 blocks away, dropping off and picking up her kids at MY school that I lived right next to EVERY DAY. I would see him at the flag pole, roll my eyes and keep walking.

Step Dad #1 had seemingly fallen off the face of the earth. With his new baby and her mother that had a daughter the same age as me. I later learned that my sister’s father had demanded he back off not only from my mother’s life, but from mine as well. He had it in his mind that Step Dad #1 was using me as a pawn to lure my mother back in.

Speaking of my mother, she was acting very weird at this time. For 10 years I had been EVERYONE’s favorite person. Or at least it felt that way. Then my mother had my sister and I watched her create a new family I didn’t fell part of. My sister looks more like my mother, she’s as rebellious as her, and more importantly, at that time, she had a more loving, engaged and supportive father than I did. It was as if I was the little sister my mother never wanted and my sister was the daughter she always dreamed of. Any thing her father did to make me feel included always felt fake and forced to me.

To make matters worse, we had all just learned that my uncle’s girlfriend we didn’t care for was actually his wife. And she began speaking up more, putting a huge strain on my relationship with the one person I felt was always there and constant.

So, of course I fell in love with my nemesis. I wasn’t feeling very loved at home.

He listened to me. I learned from him.(He knew so much about so much the teachers loved his intellect but hated his attitude) And like most adolescent girls, my hormones made me want to be as close to him as I could whenever I could. Even if that meant listening to him watch The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen on the phone while I watched Nick @ Nite with my sister, 3 cousins and 57 stuffed animals laying in the bed with me.

When he started lying to me about other girls my famous line to them was, “I don’t care  what he told you. Until he tells ME that we broke up, it doesn’t matter.”

Emmelie said it best, I think I always knew that I was attracting these dudes, because that’s what I was seeing.”

Except, it wasn’t necessarily what I was seeing. it’s what I was experiencing I was watching all three, four including my uncle of the men directly involved in my upbringing, raise everyone else but me.

So the cycle continued from there. I kept looking for the love I didn’t feel I was getting from my family in other ways.

Though my relationships have been few and far between, they always seem to come at times where I’m feeling empty. Be it neglect at home, failed friendships, unfulfilled in the workplace. And they always help me refill in the beginning, and once I’m full again, I start to see their flaws, I take more notice of the half-truths and lies by omissions and my trust issues are back. And every canceled plan takes me back to that flag pole, watching my father take somebody else’s kids to school.

I can’t rewind time & make my Daddies be more attentive to me in my critical adolescent years, but now that I’ve acknowledged this pattern, I can stop looking for love in all the wrong places.

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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