I’ve made so many decisions since I moved back the South. Where I was going to live, what I was going to do, where I wanted to go, etc. In addition to starting a new job, I’ve also been tasked with keeping up with another job I have and simultaneously getting another two jobs off the ground and running. The thought of totally working for myself has always scared me to an extent. As an unmarried single person, there isn’t even the “safety net” of a spouse who could hold me down while I got something off the ground. I remember reading a quote that said entrepreneurship is like jumping off a cliff and building a parachute on the way down. The thing about building a location based business is that you have to be willing to put down some roots in order to build up some clientele and network. It isn’t something that happens overnight and it takes some deliberate effort. But maybe it’s time to do something different and consider settling down for a change. While I love the idea of some stability, I also hate the feeling of being stuck without a good reason. And if I have to settle down I want it to be close to a beach where I can see and swim with some dolphins. But the truth is that if I’m taking the fairly big step of renting an office, then I need to do something that actually justifies the monthly fee that I’m paying. Logistically, having even two private clients a month would pay for the office itself. Two people out of a city of several million doesn’t sound too bad. It just means that I need to be strategic and market appropriately. Maybe it’s time to step out and do something different. I don’t love the idea of working for other people for the rest of my life.
Getting to know someone takes time. It’s not something that happens overnight or without some sort of effort. As a hopeless romantic of sorts,I love the idea of a whirlwind romance. But as a therapist, I’ve worked with couples who got together without taking the time to get to know each other. Relationships aren’t always easy to maintain and I think that distance tends to make them more complicated. Of course with modern technology you can communicate and see the other person on a frequent basis but it’s not the same as having the person be physically present. It takes a lot of time and energy to be in a relationship with someone that you don’t see often. I remember reading an article somewhere that said long distance relationships can work when they are for a specified period of time. They become harder to maintain when the time apart (weeks or months) is undetermined. I think that it’s especially hard if the relationship started online because you don’t have the experience of the initial chemistry in person and the process of building trust with someone you’ve never seen in real life is difficult. It’s not hard to feel alone in a long distance relationship and find yourself seeking out companionship that lives locally. I read a quote that said,”if you aren’t with the one you love, you’ll end up loving the one you’re with.” I think that’s a great example of how some relationships meet their demise. Absence can make the heart grow fonder but it doesn’t happen all the time.
Like many black women, I have a love-hate relationship with my hair. It really tends to have a mind of its own and rarely submits to my commands. These days there’s a lot of hype on embracing one’s natural beauty and avoiding chemicals in order to leave hair in its natural state. About a year or so ago my hair was very damaged and required a hairdresser intervention. She gave me a protective style in order to help my hair to grow back. I’ve always had very thick hair that was challenging to manage. Growing up, my mother used a relaxer on it for a few years and then changed her mind deciding that I needed to go natural. It was ok for a few years. I didn’t look my age because of the cornrows but I really didn’t care that much because we lived in the middle of nowhere (literally) with no boys in sight for miles. However, after moving to the Atlanta metro area I decided it was time for a change and (finally) my dad backed me up in getting my hair relaxed again so it would be easier to style. Fast forward two days ago when I finally took my hair out of the protective style that it had been in for over a year. My hair was completely chemical free. I washed and dried it about 3 times in an attempt to get it to the point that I could comb through it. I broke several combs in the process and still was unable to get through all the tangles. It literally would not cooperate and I decided that I needed to see an expert. Once at the hairshop I had a brief consultation with my stylist who took one look at my hair and recommended putting a relaxer back in. As much as I liked the idea of being chemical free, the day to day upkeep of it was a commitment that I just was not willing to make. So I agreed and I am now back on the creamy crack. I can comb through my hair and now I can swim and workout without altering my entire day. It’s a beautiful thing. Will I ever go natural again? To be honest, probably not.
A few days ago I took some time to watch the movie Losing Isaiah. There was a certain sense of urgency as Netflix was about to take it off in order to make room for more movies. I first saw the movie at my grandparents house in Michigan. I remember renting it with my very own library card when I was 9 or 10 and watching it in the living room sprawled out on the very comfortable carpet. I remember being happy in the end that the baby was returned to his biological mother. However, this time I watched the movie with a different perspective. One that’s been informed by several years of being a social worker and working with families and kids. The movie brings up some interesting questions that are still relevant today. A mother abandons her baby in a trash can. The baby is born addicted to drugs because she used substance while pregnant. A kind social worker at the hospital he is transported to adopts him. She and her family raise him as her own. Meanwhile, the baby’s mother gets her life together after finally becoming sober and decides that she wants him back because he’s her child and she never received notice that her parental rights were being terminated. So there’s a lengthy court battle where bio-mother’s lawyer insists that black babies need to be with their black mothers. However, there is a marked difference between the income of biological mother versus that of the family that has adopted the child. The life that he lives with his adopted family is vastly different than the one that his bio-mother can finance. The movie ends with full custody being given to the bio-mother who soon realizes that she needs additional support so she reaches a hesitant agreement with her son’s adoptive mother. There are certain situations where I don’t think people should be allowed to have a do over. I don’t think that any child should be denied access to their family of origin but primary custody should have remained with the adoptive parents until the child was old enough to make a decision. I’ve met a good amount of parents who have adopted kids and then decided that they were too hard as a result decided to relinquish custody back to the state. I’ve worked with parents who have voluntarily given up custody of their children because they felt powerless and felt that their lives or the lives of the other children in the home were at risk. It’s a hard decision to make. My whole point is that kids shouldn’t be taken out of a loving, stable, and safe environment because their bio-parent decides that it’s for the best. There were other options that would have allowed Isaiah to stay where he was happy. Yes, children can be resilient and they can recover but there’s no need to inflict that trauma on a child and mess up his primary attachment so that he can be with a black parent. No reason. It’s cruel and unnecessary.
Like many people on social media, I was immediately worried when I saw the missing person poster of Nayla Kidd, a student in New York who had gone missing. It was almost as if she had disappeared into thin air. As is my practice whenever I see a missing person poster, I prayed for her safe return. She was enrolled in a rigorous program of study at a pretty prestigious university. I followed the case fairly closely and was relieved then the news broke that she had been found safe and sound. You can read more about her story in her own words here. As I read her words I realized that her reasons for wanting to get away were very similar with that of many others. Life tends to happen so fast after high school. You get into college, you start working a job and you are immediately thrust into a path that sometimes already seems pre-destined. You’re expected to make adult decisions that can have a permanent impact on your career and life. I could identify with Nayla’s sentiments of feeling overwhelmed and upset with the current direction of her life. In her situation, she made a very deliberate choice to take a break from it all for a while. She needed time and space to consider her options and make decisions that were more in alignment with what she wanted out of life instead of forging forward through labs and classes that she didn’t enjoy. I don’t fault her for this at all. However, I also can’t imagine what it was like for her friends and family who were probably worried sick about her safety and well-being. Last summer a former college classmate of mine went missing for a long period of time. It wasn’t a case that got a lot of media attention but it had a horrific ending when her body was found in a lake. She was a beautiful soul who left behind 3 kids and the entire situation was just so numbingly sad. I say all this to say that a lot of anxious, tears and worries could have been avoided if Nayla had felt she could communicate her displeasure in her current situation and let someone know that she was fine but needed some time away. However, those type of declarations aren’t always supported or respected and this was probably one of the reasons why she didn’t feel comfortable sharing her plans with anyone. I’m so glad her story had a better ending than my college classmate and I hope she finds what she’s looking for.
These past few weeks have been unusually stressful for me. I feel like everyone has a certain level of stress that they manage and cope with on a daily basis. It’s like a “regular load” of sorts. And then there are the things that can’t really be helped. It’s like Murphy’s Law gone haywire. The past two weeks have been exactly like that. From my job doubling my caseload, to car troubles, to making a decision to separate myself from someone who didn’t have my best interest in mind–it’s been exhausting. I was talking to someone the other day and I said that I felt like building a fort in my house out of blankets and chairs, crawling in and never coming out. Very unreasonable I know. The theme of my life sometimes seems to be this song “You Can’t Win.” But one thing that I’ve learned is the importance of being flexible and resourceful when necessary. I have to admit that times like this make me miss the presence of a significant other in my life. I’m not complaining but it would be nice to have someone as an actual support who had a vested interest in my life and was there because they wanted to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and would do anything for them but it would so clutch to not go to bed alone every night. I’ve never been one to flaunt my single status or to complain about it but there’s something to be said about the power of “we” versus “me.” Normally I would take this time to launch into some Pollyanna-like declaration that everything will be fine. Someone will come into my life who genuinely want to be in it and I’ll experience some degree of happiness in the future. But I’m just not feeling it right now. Yes, I’ll be fine. I’ve been living this way up to this point and a change isn’t anywhere on the horizon. I’ll continue to adapt and make adjustments as necessary but it honestly does just plain suck at times. But that’s my life. At least for now.
One of the features that I enjoy on my most used social media site is the one where you can see what you had posted on that same day in years past. Not too long ago I ran across a status I had written describing my excitement of starting college and classes. Looking back, it feels like it happened a million years ago. I remember agonizing about what my major would be and feeling torn between social work, psychology, and music. College was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was great because I had the opportunity to meet new people, manage a schedule, and experience life in another structured and sheltered environment that was in a lot of ways like my home life. I learned a lot about assertiveness when I had to challenge grades with certain teachers. Before graduation I had to advocate for myself when it came down to required classes for graduation and I found a loophole and used it to my advantage. I learned about discipline and while I never perfected the art of studying, I learned about the benefits of procrastination and racing to meet a deadline while still delivering a quality scholarly work. College taught me the importance of time management and balancing conflicting priorities. The untimely deaths of several of my classmates reminded me of the importance of appreciating and living life to the fullest. Looking back, there’s not a lot I would change–except maybe being a bit more open minded and allowing myself to have more fun instead of being in the books all the time. Ah well.