A Glimpse Into My Life

See it through my eyes & understand me a little more

Tag Archives: Women

Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This!

Hey Ladies!

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Let’s have a chat, shall we? The other day, I started to think about what I want my life to look like in 2016. This year, I’m taking a whole new approach to resolutions (or something, I haven’t decided). As I looked at the calendar and compared it to the list of my goals, I wondered, “How in the hell am I supposed to get all of this shit done?”

I also wondered if I even wanted to get it done but that’s what December is for. November is for getting all of my dreams out on paper; December is the reality check (lol). After I got over the initial “ugh” feeling, I started to think about the best way TO do these things. That’s right! I got practical. I asked:

When is the best time to get this shit done?

And then I realized something – I should use my natural inclination to “wanting to do shit” to, you know, do stuff. Now, by this time, you’re probably wondering, “What is she talking about?” I’m talking about our cycles – the ENTIRE cycle (and not just Hell/Shark/JESUS IS IT ARMAGEDDON AGAIN?! Week). This is basically what I’ve come to learn about being a woman that wasn’t in those little books they give you in your middle school health class.

The point?

WE, women*, ARE NATURALLY INCLINED TO DO SHIT BASED ON OUR ENTIRE CYCLE. The whole thing. All 21-30 days. So here are some things to remember about them.

Week 1: I LOVE EVERYONE!

Principle: Do NOT Make Important Decisions. The rule here is that you do not, under any circumstances, make any major decision. Do not agree to shit.

Do NOT agree to a damn thing.

Why? You are ovulating (I know the cycle doesn’t start here BUT I refused to start my post detailing the horrors of Shark Week). You love everyone so much that your helpful ass won’t actually do any work because you’ll overwhelm yourself with “Of course!” and “Yes!” These are the couple of days that you’re happy you’ve once again survived the Rogue Midget in Cleats running through you womb like it was the 6 (shouts to Drake and/or Q. Miller).

Remember that everything only looks appealing. That event with those people you can’t stand because their energy is wrong? You’ll say yes to that because everyone deserves a second, third, twenty-seventh chance. The really bad ideas you hear that the Sharks on Shark Tank wouldn’t even entertain? You’ll say yes to that because everything looks appealing.

So do not make any important decisions. Have the conversations, take notes, but don’t commit. Besides, you’ll be so pleasant that people won’t be offended by your “No.”

Week 2: I’M JUST BEING HONEST!

Principle: Find A Different Way To Say/Do/Think That. Sure! They need to hear whatever it is you want to tell them, just not from you. The thing to remember here is that you’re suddenly more shrewd. Ovulation happened and everything became stupid. Your egg dropped, went unfertilized, and everyone, except you, became the dumbest person alive.

But you won’t say that.

You’ll just give off the vibe that you are too cool for school. YOU ARE TOO COOL FOR ANYTHING! Because you’re (pre)PMSing. Now while this isn’t a great time to start anything, it is a wonderful time to THINK about what you want/need to see happen in your life. This is the perfect time to write it ALL down (don’t delete anything) and get it ALL out. This is also a great time to start sorting through your things and purging them, especially within the first three days of this particular hormonal phase. This is basically when you prepare for the bullshit that is to come in the next week.

Week 3: JESUS FIX IT!

Principle: Love Yourself Because You’ll Think No One Else Does. This is the week that everyone in life holds their breathe about, whether or not they have a period. This is also the week that you have everything, and I mean, everything about yourself. And it is not your fault. And your boy/girlfriend are not insensitive bastards who wish to crush your feelings because they were raised by unloving people who left them alone in dark rooms. I hate to say this because it violates all of the Girl Code but…

It is NOT them; it is You.

And blame whoever you need to. Do whatever you need to do to get through this week since Self-Care is the name of the game (it’s the only game). Love yourself a lot because the mirror won’t. This is the time of the month (see what I did there?) you don’t want to be alive. These are the days that you’ll wonder why everyone hates you, why they dump all of their shit on you, and why you, yes You, can’t get it together. Your hair is dry. Your skin is splotchy. Your clothes don’t fit. And you want to eat everything in life that ensures they will never fit again. It’s okay, Dear.

As I said, your only goal here is to love yourself. Because this love makes the next week of eating crow and getting shit done a lot easier.

Week 4: LIVE YOUR LIFE!

Principle: Do Everything You Really Want To Accomplish. Depending on how bad Hormonal Armageddon was will dictate how apologetic you need to be on the first day of this week. It’s okay. We’ve all been there and your hair actually looks okay enough to make people want to stick around to go through it again. In three weeks. Because hormones. So start with the apologies and then get started on that list of things to do!

This is when you implement the new ideas and commit to the contracts. You are the most levelheaded you’ll be and as this week goes on, you’ll only become more pleasant. You see clearly here because you have 20/20 vision. You feel great here because your energy is back. This is where your personal “I Am the Shit” playlist comes in handy. You are unstoppable so go out and conquer the world.

You’ll only have five days to do so.

.

*Men are hormonal too but that required several drinks and a bulletproof vest to write about (I’ll put it on the list for next year).

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Why Men Should Stop Complaining About the Friend Zone

Alternate title: “It Could Be a LOT Worse, My Dude.”

Last night, I was spacing out in front of the tv watching one of my favorite shows on HGTV (Income Property). I love this show for the information it shares on income properties and being a landlord. I just wanted to share that so y’all didn’t think I was just…not doing anything.

Since I’m unemployed still.

Anywho…I’m watching this channel when one of my favorite commercials comes on – the one with the m&ms at the party.

“Watch out for the chocolate crazed maniac. She will devour you!”

Seriously, some good comedy there. Much better than SNL (don’t argue with me here because I’m right). But I got to thinking, “Geez! That red m&m has been Friend Zoned so hard and you don’t see him complain.”

I laughed and then said I was on to something.

Now this post is called why men shouldn’t complain but it is for EVERYONE! I just did that because I wanted more hits to my blog (thanks Google). It sucks being friend zoned. I know this from personal experience. I can’t really think of something that sucks more. Oh wait? Yes I can – homelessness, a credit score in the 500s, unemployment, chronic illnesses, etc.

I digress because you get the point.

But really I just want people to stop lamenting about being stuck in a Friend Zone. Because you could one day finding yourself smelling like a chocolate anything and being stuck in a small space with a chocolate loving maniac.

And I’m sure that won’t end well for at least one of you.

Single Black Female: Is Something Wrong With You? (#31WriteNow)

NOTE: This was a private post written in 2010. Funny…it still applies even though I’m 27. I decided to update it and share it with some of my more current thoughts (in italics).

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I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard that question or how often I’ve heard it hidden within some other backwards compliment, but I hear it often. It’s now to the point where I change subjects rather skillfully (if I’m up to the challenge) or I forget all of my Southern upbringing and charm classes and cuss someone out.

Yes, I’m single. Yes, I’m a Black woman. No, there is nothing wrong with me.

I understand why people become so up in arms when I take the opportunity to describe myself. It usually goes something like this:

“Oh, I’m 23 (now 27). I have my BS and MA. I hope to go on for my PhD. I want to work in Education (the policy/administration side…not teaching). I hope to…” and so forth and so on. However, in taking the time to describe myself I face these questions later:

1. Do you have a boyfriend/Are you courting? No./No.

2. Why don’t you have a boyfriend? I don’t leave my house? I don’t know.

3. What are you going to do with all that education? Use it.

4. Don’t you know a woman’s place? Yes. It’s her address right?

(Updated Note: I’m probably single because I have a smart mouth and unintentional snark.)

Wait…whoa…what in the fudge sticks?!?!

You see, when I get around family and this topic is always brought up, I’m left feeling like an outcast. Of most of my cousins from 15-26 that identify as a “woman,” I’m one of TWO that are single/uncoupled (three years later and it still applies). That can be a self-esteem killer, and until recently, it was.

I had an interesting conversation with a Sista of mine. She posed the two questions: “What are 10 ways a man could charm you?” “What are 10 ways a man trying to charm you would annoy you?” I gave her my reasons and quite honestly, it was an eye-opener for me (I’m actually going to answer these questions for myself again). The more that I thought about it, the more I thought about how these things impact my “dating” life. I mean, it’s really hard to walk around as a young, seemingly successful, Black woman who is single AND remain confident in yourself when there are so many things out there telling you why you’re still a failure. There are “experts” who release books on why Black women can’t get, keep, and marry a (Black) man. There are nightly “specials” that devote time to harp on the connections we make with each other, our accolades, and then pose the question (usually by non-Black people) why can’t we find, keep, and marry a (successful Black) man. (Sidenote: HA! I’m watching One-On-One and would you know, this is an episode about how a successful Black woman has managed to step on a Black man’s ego and that’s why she lost him).

I say one thing to these specials and experts:

Spare me the story of the tragic Black woman that happens to be successful and goes to sleep alone at night because she can’t find a successful Black man. And here’s why.

I’m 23 (now 27). I’m (still) being told that I need to start looking for a man. I need to settle down and have some babies (okay…now I want to. Then I wasn’t ready). That’s great. It’d be nice if I weren’t alone (if only it would cut down the chatter at my family reunions) and it’d be nice if I knew of multiple successful Black men aged 22-27 (let’s move this on up to 27-33-ish or something) looking to settle down. The fact is, they aren’t. MEN MY AGE ARE NOT LOOKING TO SETTLE DOWN (hmmm…this isn’t true so much anymore cuz I’m older now). Besides the countless male friends that I have (okay, 6 so as not to sound like a floozy), I also have 5 brothers that were raised by BOTH parents to play the field and put women through the wringer before they put a ring on anything.

So yes, I’m single. Yes, I’m Black. Yes, I’m a woman.

And there is nothing wrong with me….. I still want a boo though. LOL

My Endometriosis Story

Have you ever felt that something was wrong with you but because so many people told you that nothing was there, you started to think that you were crazy?

Well, that’s how I would describe the past 9 years of my life. For as long as I can remember, I complained about pain in my abdomen and side. The pain, which was pretty consistent, happened daily and got worse about midway through my cycle. I’d bring this up to people and I was told everything from “It’s all in your head” to “Maybe it’s gas.” At one point in college, I was in the ER almost every week so that people could help me get a handle on what they were calling GERD (a very severe form of Acid Reflux).  These years were also the most embarrassing. Because of the bloating and cramping that came along with my diagnosed incorrectly problem, I would wear certain types of clothing – always loose and never really form-fitting unless I was going someplace that was dark.

But the craziest part of it all were the comments from other people.

I heard things from people like, “Oh! When are you expecting?” because there were some days that I looked like a sorta pregnant lady (it was actually because of this question that I invested in sweatshirts). I heard things like, “Oh! She’s too young to have a kid. I hope the Dad sticks around.” to which I would always respond, “I’m not pregnant. I’m just bloated or some shit. And I can hear you.” But the most hurtful comments came from Medical Professionals. That’s right, those pesky people that we pay hundreds and thousands of dollars to reassure us that there is nothing wrong with us AND if there is, then they will fix it. But perhaps the most painful comment was, “Well, you know…you could have that type of pain from multiple sex partners. Young women like you often run into this problem. Your cervix might have shifted a bit.”

This was told to me after I explained to my lily-white doctor that I was not having sex, my cycles were painful, and I always felt faint and had trouble keeping food down.

After this comment, I just decided to stop going to see gynecologists who were white and practiced in rural areas where they probably never dealt with Black people. This decision meant that I didn’t go to a gynecologist for about 3 years. It would be another 3 years (so six total) before I was seen by anyone because I didn’t have insurance…and that’s another saga all on its own.

But more recently, my faith in good doctors has once again been restored. I have a wonderful doctor that took me seriously the very first appointment. Once I explained to her the comments I heard and my fear around coming back in to be seen, she reassured me that she would figure out what was causing the issue AND that she was opened to working with the other doctors to figure out what the problem was. After being seen by her, I had to go through a few ultrasounds because they found some growths in my uterus and she also wanted to get an idea of why my cycles were super heavy and painful.

And they found some growths (I named two of them Bruno and Endi) which my friends and family have reacted to by saying: “Dang! Those are like lil babies!” because they were sorta big (oh, I’m tiny. I’m 5’2″ on my license which means I fudged the numbers up a bit).

Now meet Bruno and Endi!

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Bruno is the seven pound fibroid removed from my uterus on April 2, 2013. This was the smaller of the two (I have no pic of the larger 11 pound fibroid also removed). Endi, the ovarian cyst removed from my right ovary, is that lil thing next to Bruno.

On April 2, 2013, I had a life-changing surgery where two large fibroids and a painful ovarian cyst were removed. To say I feel like a new woman would be an understatement. Because of their positioning, these masses made even simple tasks such as walking or running for my streetcar pretty painful.

Today, I’m at a point now where the big issues have been taken care of and I’m looking forward to simple pleasures in life that some (read: most) women might take for granted. The removal of the fibroids and cyst means that I can be monitored more closely. In the future, it’s likely I’ll be able to have a baby. And although that picture looks quite gross (it is kids, don’t worry if you felt this way), just think of this fact – I didn’t have the worst type of Endometriosis. That’s right, there are cases out there that are worse than mine.

So I’ll close this post expressing my deep gratitude that I finally have a doctor in my corner that LISTENS to me. I’ll also give myself some kudos for listening to my body and never giving up (I’m not a crazy woman with a problem y’all). Then finally, I’ll ask those of y’all mosey on over to my other post for my friend’s story about her challenge with Stage 4 Endometriosis. On top of all of that, all growths came back benign (no cancer for me!) after there was some concern over the rate that they grew at and the amount of growths they found in my uterus and other areas (it was starting to attach to my intestines).

I’m finally looking forward to doing fun stuff in life, like walking with no pain.

~Ms. C. Jayne

Finding Our Minds: Mental Health and African-Americans

There are many things that remain unspoken in the African-American community. It’s as if these things will simply disappear if we refuse to give our time, energy, and thoughts to them. One such topic is that of Mental Illness. In our community, we operate on the belief that all that comes our way (be it good or bad) is that of Divine Intervention or Planning. It attempts to offer rational thought to many instances in our life. It’s always the answer to our question, “Why?”

 However, in my life, there has been the constant question: Why must I have a mental illness?

 This blog will be part of a series on Mental Health. My hope is that we can begin talk about these issues and break down the barriers of communication. Too many people in my community deal with a mental illness of some sort and there really isn’t the space to speak openly about it. There is no room for us to really be ourselves. To ask the necessary questions. To live without fear of judgment.

 To the reader, I hope that these posts open up something within you and that you become more accepting of others. I hope that you find the necessary strength to reach out to someone you may think suffers from a disorder. That’s all we want as people…to feel a safe connection with another person.

 ~Miss C. Jayne

My Story

 I’ve always wondered if there was something about me that just made me different. To say that I was sensitive would only have been the tip of the iceberg. As a youngster, I remember that I could pick up on the emotions of others; and it’s something that I’ve grown to feel is a gift and a curse. My sensitivity to others (and intuition to some degree) allowed me to build close relationships with others but it often left me feeling drained. As I grew older, this trait became something more of a burden. When I started middle school, I went through many transitions because of family issues. Lots of things had to be held inside because I operated with the intention to protect my two younger brothers. But even then, I noticed something wasn’t quite right.

 I became withdrawn and many of the adults that I trusted wrote it off as my becoming a “Young Lady” (whatever the hell that meant). I became angry and I wanted to lash out. I figured out ways to hurt myself because I was in pain. I would go days and even weeks feeling as though I couldn’t do anything the “right” way and much of that “down” time was spent contemplating my death. Then there were the days that I was up. And when I was up, I was way up. Most people just wrote this off as me being my regular “goofy” self. I could always find silver linings and offer great advice or tell just the right joke that made someone else feel better.

 But inside, I knew it would be a matter of time before I was thrown back into that dark space. For a while, I hid it. I hid it well. Since I’d always been the “Sensitive Child” and the child that loved to read in my group of siblings, my parents didn’t think it was odd that I would lock myself in my room. And stay there. Because I was the “Goofy Friend,” close friends and acquaintances would assume that I was simply having a bad day and that I would come around soon.

 I always did.

 I managed to float along in high school and get through life. I joined organizations. I followed a strict schedule. I worked hard. I was able to cover up my insomnia by saying that it was the school work or practicing for whatever cheerleading competition was coming up. In hindsight, I managed to handle my “illness” and I felt that I had finally overcome whatever it was that plagued me. Then I went to college. I had a break. In the worst way possible.

 Freshman year of college was when my depression started to spiral out of control. Many people wrote it off as homesickness but I started to attend counseling sessions. Just to talk it out. I didn’t want to admit to the counselor, who was white, that I, a Black woman (who is supposed to be strong and is more than capable to handle life), felt as though I was losing control of my mind. This scared me. I was so afraid of becoming like the people who I’d seen in homeless shelters coming up or the people on the street. I remember the jokes that would be told in my group of friends about mental illness and I’d hesitate to even ask if it were possible to have an illness. I remembered the many church sermons that made it sound as though the people afflicted with mental illness had committed some unspeakable sin and this was their punishment.

 My depression only got worse. It got to the point that I lived for my “up” days. I tried to cover these extremes up and bring some form of happiness into my life through organizations and other student groups.

 My final year in college, I broke. My grandparents passed away. I went to their funeral and came back a different person. I drank…heavily. I did things that I’m not too proud of. I attempted suicide (landed me in the hospital). I took painkillers. Whatever. Just to feel something other than hurt.

 I knew then that I had “something.” I just didn’t want to admit what it was. I was still in counseling and it was obvious that I was crushing from the weight of my problems. So, I looked for an out. I left Michigan. I moved to a place where there was little family around me. I went to graduate school. I threw myself into my work. I got sick. I stayed sick. I had migraines every other day. The depression was intense. In a day, I could go back and forth between depression and mania almost twice a day. Three days before finishing my courses for my program, I decided that I didn’t want to live anymore. I took 3 sleeping pills (with an alcoholic drink) and I drank an entire bottle of wine. When I woke up, I was sure that the Universe hated me.

 This thing that I had…it had to be some punishment, but for what, I didn’t know.

 I didn’t want to talk about myself anymore. I didn’t want to focus on myself anymore. I started once again to focus on others. If I could get them through the day, then I’d have gotten myself through the day. But it was hard. It was lonely. It was the scariest thing I’d ever confronted about myself. One night, I finally decided that it would be okay for me to admit that maybe, just maybe, I had a mental illness. It would be okay to admit that it was something that surpassed depression (even though this is what I felt most of the time).

 I graduated in May. I flew home the following day. When I saw my therapist for the first time, I cried. It was all I could do. I sat in a chair across from a white guy who seemed caring and I cried. Then I explained everything that I was feeling. The confusion. The depression. The fear. The almost happiness. The panic. The mania. I explained myself.

 When I left his office, I felt freer…but I was more afraid that I’d ever been in my life. I was no longer a young Black woman with an education and a bright future.

I was bi-polar.

 To be continued….

*Image courtesy of Google Search. I’m not the young lady pictured.

Counter-Narrative: What’s Behind African-American Views on Swimming?

I have a habit of reading news articles and blog postings in the morning. It’s my way of staying abreast of “hot” topics and I get to hear others’ opinions on issues that I deem relevant. So imagine my surprise when I saw @BlackInformant tweet of a blog posting entitled, “Hair or History: What’s Behind African-American Views on Swimming?” I thought, “Oh, someone is taking a look at why African-Americans (largely) don’t swim.” I clicked and immediately became disappointed. In keeping with the current trend to garner readers and generate hits to blogs, this author immediately took the spin that African-Americans don’t swim because women are afraid of their hair reverting to its pre-relaxed state. *yawn*

 Before I get into my opinion on this matter and offer to you all a different perspective as to why African-Americans don’t swim, I’ll say that this is tired. This angle (let’s lambast African-American women and their choices about themselves) is old news. Can we let it go already? Please.

 To begin with, my initial reaction to this piece was negative. Since when did African-American women become synonymous with African-Americans (as a whole)? Our designation, racial or otherwise, includes two genders: male and female. This point alone cannot be argued and the fact that the author chose to focus only on African-American women devalued whatever point they wanted to make. In keeping with the misleading focus, the only “historical” evidence is the connection drawn between the European standard of beauty (e.g., straightening one’s hair so that it’s less African). In my opinion, this perspective, while valid in a sense, is indirect and doesn’t lead to a critical analysis of the topic at hand.

 Now the question is, “What should have been said surrounding this issue?”

 It is true. African-Americans, in large part, do not swim and our children are put at an increased risk of “accidental drowning” (a death that is very preventable). According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), “in 2007, there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States, averaging ten deaths per day; more than one in five fatal drowning victims are children 14 and younger; and the fatal unintentional drowning rate for African Americans across all ages was 1.2 times that of whites.” Studies also show that 6 out of 10 African-American children are unable to swim. This is the reality that we live with today, but why?

 In taking note of our historical record in the United States, it is no surprise that we are largely unable to swim. I’m of the opinion that children do as their parents have done – if a parent can swim, there is an increased likelihood that you can. This seems common sense to me. So why haven’t our parents learned to swim?

 If we examine largely segregated neighborhoods TODAY, we’ll see that many do not possess the facilities that would allow daily, or even weekly, swimming. Our high schools, by and large, do not have swimming pools, so there is no need for a swimming team or the need to swim. If a child does attend a school where there is the requirement that they swim for Physical Education credit (and subsequently a passing grade), there are ways to get around this issue and many educators/facilitators of this class readily sign slips because it’s hard to teach a person how to swim.

 If we examine the racial housing practices in the 80s, we see that a large number of African-Americans were relegated to “red-lined” neighborhoods (this practice had gone on for quite some time but it was brought to prominence as the Black middle class began to grow). Again, these neighborhoods, while a step up, may have lacked the facilities.

If we examine the practices of Segregation in the 60s (and before), we see that community pools prohibited African-Americans on the grounds that allowing a non-White person to swim in the pools would lead to water contamination. I commend the author of the original article for mentioning this briefly, but more has to be said about this.

 I’ll pause here and note that I’ve already gone back about 3 generations. So is it fair to say that African-Americans don’t swim because of something as simple as “hair care” issues? Isn’t that “blaming the victim” in some ways? Back to my argument.

 If we examine racial tension prior to the 1960s and dare to go back to slavery, we’ll see that there was no reason for African-Americans to swim. Largely, we were not given the opportunity for free time and I’m pretty sure that there weren’t very many swimming holes in the South…that were safe. For any person that is familiar with the landscape of the South (or the North before industrialization), you’ll realize that swimming holes were in isolated places…and it was never a safe bet for a Black person to be caught alone and/or having fun during these times.

 I think that I’ve made my point, but in the even that I haven’t, I want you all to take a few points with you:

1. We should encourage our Youth to learn how to swim properly. There is nothing more exciting in the summer than to cool off at a local pool and given the rates of accidental drownings in African-American youth, the ability to swim is a necessary skill.

2. Don’t reduce (or mislabel) a topic that applies to an entire diaspora to one sect of that population. If you want to write on African-American women, be up front about it. If it’s your intention to generate critical thought about the racial group as a whole, then speak on the group as a whole. I speak for many women when I say, we’re sick and tired of being the scapegoat simply to generate hits to your blogs/articles.

3. Finally, if you wish to analyze an issue historically, then do so. Provide evidence that backs you up. Provide anecdotes from older people. Look up statistics, it’s not that hard.

 But remember: be pure about your intentions. As a writer, the only thing that you have is your name.

Original article: Hair or History: What’s Behind African-American Views on Swimming? 

Sources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention – http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html

Despite Olympic Gold, Swimming Statistics Are Grim. Author: Tara Parker-Pope

I Was Told “No”

There’s an innate need in every one of us to feel as though people care for and about us. Many of us face darkened periods and don’t know how to get out of slumps in our mood. For some, the slumps can be quite devastating. My most recent episode with my “problem” has scared me in a such way that I’m once again seeking help.

*Before I go any further, I’ll say this: If you experience a “slump” in your mood that lasts an extended period of time, seek help! Go to a professional, someone at your school, in your church, or wherever. Go talk to someone. If you have a friend that experiences depression, give them a hug or a message every now and then to say that you care. It’s deeper than a bad mood.

On Tuesday February 23rd, 2010, I went home and I wanted to die. I walked into my place of residence and felt like it didn’t belong to me. I felt as though my possessions weren’t mine and that I served no purpose in being here. Although there was light outside of my window, I felt as though I was standing in the darkest place that could exist. Something had come upon me and swallowed me whole. My essence. My reason for being.

I went to sleep.

I made up my mind that this was just a funk and that I was having a “bad day” because of the stress from my life. I went to sleep. I dreamt of nothing. Even my dreams were void of life. The following morning, I got up. I thought, “I just need to meditate more and I’ll be okay.” After I finished that meditation, I felt as though something had come to swallow me again. This left me in a pool of tears on my floor.

I hadn’t experienced that reaction in some time. I knew to be afraid.

But I kept going. I put on my clothes and my happy face. I made my way to class. I remember thinking, “The weather matches my mood.” It rained the night before and would continue to rain until the following day. That’s what I remember about last week. It rained. The joy that I got out of that was that I could wear a pair of rain boots that my Mom graciously bought for me. It was almost like a piece of home.

That day went by and I felt myself growing more disconnected. I started to miss little things. The smile of my brothers. My Mother’s voice. Hearing my Dad laugh. A random message from my best friend. Blindly, I tried to reach out to all of those people…hoping that maybe this would shake me back to a place of happiness. It didn’t work. That night, I prayed harder than I’ve prayed in a while. I asked for help.

Then I slept.

This night, I had a nightmare. Images that I’d imagine the mind of a prisoner’s mind flashes back to when they reenter into society. There were screams of pain, women being abused, men being murdered, and the sorrowful cries of children who were starving. Where these images had come from, I’m not sure now. I don’t want to know. It was a reminder of the suffering that exists and I awoke with a start.

Drenched in sweat and feeling as though my chest was caving in.

The following day, I felt empty. I felt so empty that nothing could fill me. And when you feel that empty, what’s your reason for living?

I went to class. I hoped that being around people would help me some. I hoped that their moods would rub off on me. That somehow, they’d be so overflowing with happiness that I could begin to fill myself again. I smiled. I joked. I laughed. On the outside. Inside, I wept. Inside, I raged. Inside, I felt as though I could feel myself dying.

That night, I went home and I thought of suicide. I had a moment of clarity while my back was pressed against the floor — there have to be some people who want me here and even IF I can’t see it, it’s only fair to try to get help.

Friday morning, I called a center. They couldn’t fit me in. I asked for a referral. That person couldn’t fit me in. I then began to talk to the counselor on-call. I felt like I was beginning to get a grip…for a moment, I felt like I had a grip. But that “Why live?” though flashed again.

I decided to see if I could be kept somewhere overnight (at this point, I was having trouble sleeping…I hadn’t made it through an entire night yet). I called the hospital. They told me to come in. I went in and was “evaluated” to be turned around and told to go home. My problems weren’t serious enough to warrant a bed and besides that, I didn’t have insurance (I’m guess their whole issue was that I was “calm” and “coherent”). I called another place, their intake period was already closed. I tried. I mean, I had tried. I had to face the darkness alone.

I began to count the minutes. The seconds that passed. I practiced breathing and I prayed. I wanted to the sunlight to come swiftly. Only then would I feel “safe”.

Well, the sunlight came. I was brought out of my shell by a good friend. We went out and a had nice time. I laughed and met new people. I felt revived. That night (Saturday), I slept. There were no dreams but I began to feel a peace. I thought to myself, I just need to make it to Monday. That’s all I’m asking for. To make it to Monday. A new week. A new beginning. A new start.

That night (I believe), a friend of mine was at work. Saw that I was up and started to talk to me. I began to confide in her. It felt good to get some things off of my chest. I can honestly look back and say that the conversation that night was a REAL turning point. It ended just as the sun was rising and it felt like my sun was rising. I was okay. I knew it and I felt it.

To know and to feel something is an entirely great feeling. To know that even if someone tells you “No” that there will be someone who will listen feels amazing. To know that when you’re hurting and can’t fully explain why that there is another person who can validate what you’re feeling while also offering a helping hand helps to make you feel whole.

I felt like a person again. I felt like it wasn’t a mistake that I was here. I felt that someone other than my Mother and Father loved me just because. It wasn’t obligatory. They don’t have to. But they do. And that’s what counts in this world.

As Bassey Ikpi would say, “Love someone and mean it.” (By the way, she’s great. Really inspirational too.)

Dream.Hope.Believe

You can follow me on Twitter: @Complex_Smplcty

© This post was originally written March 3, 2010. All thoughts contained in this post belong to that of the author. Don’t steal. It’s not right or fun or nice.

Influential African-American Women

With the announcement of the passing of Dr. Dorothy I. Height (Civil Rights leader, long-time President of  National Council of Negro Women), I found myself both dismayed by the lack of familiarity my peers showed for her and the seemingly brief discussion of her life. She was a visionary and continued to influence change for our larger community, but most importantly for African-American Women.

With her passing, I saw something that happens once we lose a leader: my generation begins to acknowledge the contributions of women of color (most notably African-American) to our cause for civil rights. I’ve decided to do a quick post of influential African-American women and their most notable accomplishment. I hope that you all learn something from this.

-Miss C. Jayne.

 

Dr. Dorothy I. Height – (March 24, 1912 – April 20, 2010) was an African American administrator, educator, and social activist. She was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for forty years, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

ROSA PARKS, who is often called “The Mother of the Freedom Movement,” triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56) when she refused to give up her seat a Jim Crow bus.

DAISY BATES(November 11, 1914 in Huttig, Arkansas – November 4, 1999 in Little Rock, Arkansas) was an American civil rights activist, publisher and writer who played a leading role in the Little Rock integration crisis of 1957. She received the Spingarn medal because of her contributions to the cause.

PATRICIA R. HARRIS (1924-1985) was the first Black woman cabinet member (secretary of housing and urban development, 1976) and the first Black woman ambassador. She was also the first Black to hold two cabinet positions.

LENA HORNE, America’s first real Black movie star, was featured in numerous films and was a popular nightclub singer in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. She paved the way for Black men and women in Hollywood and was an active foe of discrimination.

SHIRLEY CHISHOLM was the first Black woman in Congress. Elected in 1968 from Brooklyn, she became in 1972 the first Black to organize a serious campaign for president.

JOSEPHINE BAKER (1906-1975), St. Louis-born singer and entertainer, became an international star and captivated audiences in Europe and America. She also focused attention on U.S. racism.

MARGARET WALKER ALEXANDER, poet, novelist and educator, is best known for her influential poem, For Aly People, and for her critically acclaimed novel Jubilee.

MARIAN ANDERSON (1902-1993) was a major concert artist and the first Black singer signed by the Metropolitan Opera. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in A Masked Ball in 1955.

MAYA ANGELOU, poet, author (I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings) and social commentator, electrified the nation with her reading of the poem she wrote for the inauguration of President Bill Clinton.

MARY McLEOD BETHUNE (1875-1955), the first Black woman to receive a major U.S. government appointment, was the mentor and mother-figure for generations of Black male and female leaders.

GWENDOLYN BROOKS was the first Black American to in a Pulitzer Prize. She was cited in 1950 for her collection of poems, Annie Allen. The Chicago-based writer has been a mentor to generations of writers.

DOROTHY DANDRIDGE (1922-1965), Hollywood’s first Black sex symbol, was the first African-American to earn an Academy Award nomination for best actress. She was cited for her performance in Carmen Jones.

ELIZABETH CATLETT has been called the dean of Black women artists. The painter and sculptor has won many awards for her interpretations of the struggles and triumphs of African-Americans.

RITA DOVE became the first Black poet laureate of the United States in 1993. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for her book of poetry, Thomas and Beulah.

KATHERINE DUNHAM, internationally renowned choreographer and dancer, made the world recognize the unique rhythms of African-American dance. Her work laid the foundation for contemporary Black dancers.

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN, the founder and chair of the Children’s Defense Fund, is the major advocate for American children of all races and genders.

ELLA FITZGERALD helped redefine American popular singing and was in the front ranks of the entertainment industry in the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.

ARETHA FRANKLIN, who made R-E-S-P-E-C-T a national anthem, is a perennial favorite who won the 1994 Kennedy Center Honors Award for her contribution to the world of music.

MYRLIE EVERS, an integral part of a historic team, played a major role in the Medgar Evers story and led the successful struggle, to bring his assassin to justice.

LORRAINE HANSBERRY (1930-1965), an uncompromising foe of racism, was the first African-American woman to write a Broadway play (A Raisin In The Sun).

BARBARA HARRIS, the first woman bishop in the Episcopal Church, was consecrated in the Massachusetts diocese in 1989 and became an international symbol of the struggle for gender equality in the church.

ANITA HILL, a law professor and activist, became the defining symbol of the Sexual Harassment Movement and was centrally important in redefining the role of women in politics and business.

ALTHEA GIBSON, who broke the color barrier in professional tennis, was the first Black to win the U.S. Tennis Association Championship (1957) and the Wimbledon singles’ title (1957).

ZORA NEALE HURSTON (1901?-1960), anthropologist, novelist and pioneer scholar of Negro folklore, was one of the most widely read authors of the ’40s. She later became a major symbol of women’s liberation.

HAZEL JOHNSON, the first Black woman general, was appointed brigadier general in the U.S. Army on Sept. 1, 1979. General Johnson retired from the Army in 1983.

FANNIE LOU HAMER (I.) (1917-1977) was a major figure of the Freedom Movement and the pivotal Freedom Democratic Party. ELLA BAKER (1903-1986) helped organize the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

MAHALILA JACKSON (1911-1972) transcended her field and became a national treasure. The internationally known singer helped make gospel music an integral part of the American vocabulary.

BARBARA JORDAN, one of America’s most admired women, was the first Black Southern congresswoman and the first Black to give a keynote address at a major party convention (1976).

JACKIE JOYNER-KERSEE was the first woman to win back-to-back gold medals in Olympic heptathlon competition in the 1988 and 1992 Games. She has been called the world’s greatest woman athlete.

LEONTINE T. C. KELLEY, the first Black woman bishop of a major U.S. denomination, was named bishop of the United Methodist Church in 1984. She retired in 1988.

SHARON PRATT KELLY, the first Black woman mayor of a major American city, was elected mayor of Washington, D.C., in 1990. She is a lawyer and former utility company executive.

TONI MORRISON, novelist and essayist, was the first Black American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. She was cited in 1986 for her novel Beloved.

CAROL MOSELEY-BRAUN, the first Black Democratic senator and the first Black woman in the U.S. Senate, helped redefine the role of the American woman in politics and national leadership.

MAE C. JEMISON became the first African-American woman to travel into outer space on Sept. 12, 1992. The physician/astronaut was one of the seven-member crew aboard the NASA space shuttle Endeavor.

CORETTA SCOTT KING, a partner in the Martin Luther King Jr., story, and the longtime head of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, led the movement for a national holiday in honor of her slain husband.

HAZEL O’LEARY is the first Black woman to hold a cabinet position outside traditional fields. She was named secretary of energy by President Clinton.

RACHEL ROBINSON, the other half of the team that gave us the first Black player in major league baseball in modern times, keeps the dream alive as head of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

WILMA RUDOLPH (1940-1994), the first woman to in three gold medals in track and field in a single Olympiad, triumphed in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the 400-meter relay in 1960.

EDITH SAMPSON (1901-1979) was the first Black delegate to the United Nations. The Chicago attorney was also the first Black to hold an appointment with NATO.

BETTY SHABAZZ was an integral part of the Malcolm X story. After her husband’s assassination, she became an education administrator and the keeper of his flame.

MABEL K. STAUPERS (1890-1980) almost single handedly changed the status of Negro nurses in World War II and afterwards helped integrate Black nurses into major organizations.

CONSTANCE BAKER MOTLEY, the first Black woman federal judge, was a member of the historic team of attorneys who won the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that ended legal segregation in public schools.

CICELY TYSON, actress and activist, helped redefine the Black woman – and the White woman – and gave a new impetus to the movement for cultural change.

SARAH VAUGHAN (1924-1990) helped redefine popular singing in America and was a major cultural icon in the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

LEONTYNE PRICE, the first Black international diva, paved the way for classical artists Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman and other African-American opera stars. Some critics said she was the greatest soprino of her era.

ALICE WALKER. novelist, essayist, poet and leader of the women’s movement, won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1983 for her book The Color Purple.

FAYE WATTLETON, the former president of the Planned Parenthood federation of American, almost singlehandedly redefined critical women’s issues in the ’70s and ’80s.

OPRAH WINFREY, actress and producer, redefined the talk-show format and day-time television. she is one of the most powerful women in entertainment.

Source: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1077/is_n5_v50/ai_16536449/?tag=content;col1