Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Domestic Violence Chronicles II

Dear B.C. Readers:

The story you will read below is graphic, and not for the squeamish. I'm glad to share it with you as it is my hope and intention that it will reach those that need it most.

When we last left off I shared a brutal account of a beating that I wish I could say was the last. The hitting and violence decreased during my pregnancy, but it never completely ceased. Rather than discuss anything that happened during my pregnancy I have decided to bypass it, and go to a beating that took place a couple of months after my daughter was born. Due to some of the graphic nature of these stories and the positive feedback from my readers I feel encouraged to organize them chronologically, and save most of them for my book.

My pregnancy with my 1st daughter went quite smoothly. Mostly because my abuser was in jail for at least six-months of that time. My outlook on life returned during that period as I enjoyed that Summer by spending most of my time outdoors. I was healthy, eating good, and I was able to make it through his threatening phone calls from jail with ease. "You better not be going outside!" "If anything happens to my baby I'll kill you." The minute we would hang up, back outside I went. My teenage years were passing me by quickly. I wanted my abuser to stay in jail forever. I lived blissfully that Summer, and friends that hadn't seen me in months were so happy to just be able to hangout and catch-up. I never shared my secret of abuse with anyone other than my two best friends that already knew. I hoped and prayed that my abuser would miss the birth of our daughter; she was due in mid-August of 1993. I received a random phone call one day in July, and to my surprise he was out! They even released him with tokens to take the bus!! He was on his way back, and it was back to nightmareville for me. It's still sketchy as to if my mom knew that I was being abused or not. Till this day she has neither confirmed nor denied that she knew. Shortly after being home he accused me of being in a relationship with his older brother. He knew how much time I spent outdoors due to my undeniable tan lines. Life went back to restriction and living under his lock and key. When I went into labor with my daughter he told me that if I was really in labor I would need to cook him breakfast and iron his clothes (crease in his pants and all) before he would take me serious enough to head out to the hospital. I knew as the baby came closer to making her debut into the world my days were doomed.

I was walking to the kitchen when he cornered me between the sofa and the stereo in my mother's living room. Our daughter was not even 3 months-old yet. My mother spent the majority of her day at work so the only ones there were one of my pregnant friend's that was living there at the time, my baby, him and I. "Shit!" was the only thought that came to my mine. I never knew when the beatings were coming, and I can't remember for the life of me what set him off that particular day. I was hit several times after my baby was born, but this beating would be by far worse than any other. When he got me off my feet he began biting me viciously like an animal. Then it was blow after blow to my rib cage until he decided to wrap his hands around my neck and squeeze until I was nearly lifeless. I remember thinking, "I'm not leaving the world like this," and I fought hard to survive. I managed to get one of my fingers in between my neck and his hands. It was only enough that I wouldn't lose consciousness, but I was still turning blue. My friend ran out of the apartment with my baby during the brawl. I don't think I screamed this time. I actually tried to get under the sofa bed so that he would stop. I laid there for some time after he left without a hint of remorse on his face. I was bitten and battered but in a way that I had never been before. This time I realized that he had the power to kill me with his bear hands. As I laid there it never crossed my mind not even once to call the police and I realize that this will bother many of you as you continue to read.

Battered women syndrome is a complex phenomenon, and many like to dismiss it as pure foolishness. I can tell you that psychologically I was immature, but I know that's not why we (my friend & I) didn't call the police. Code of the streets say if you're a participant in the game than you must play by the rules. Code of the streets could have also been the reason why I could have been dead today. In a perfect world we would have made that 3-digit call and an ambulance would have came and assisted me 12-hours before I ended up having to have emergency surgery, but my world was very cold and so far from perfect back then. My friend must have asked me a million times if I was ok. I just needed to lay down so that I could try to continue ignoring my life. I could barely pick my baby up because I was in so much pain. My mom would be home from work soon so I was going to have to put on my happy face. He didn't hit and or bite me anywhere that would be visible with clothes on so I just had to pretend like always that I was fine. For the first time I wasn't able to do that. I was vomiting after this beating as if something inside me wasn't right. I knew it was possible to have internal injuries because he was hitting me so damn hard. I wondered if he would hit a man as hard as he hit me and I didn't think that he would. He would hit me as if he wanted to kill me. I decided to bathe in Epsom salt to see what if any of the pain I could alleviate. My abuser came back with Domino's pizza and disgustingly enough bought it right into the bathroom. I remember the pizza having bell peppers on it, and I declined. I hadn't eaten all day, and I wasn't hungry at all just sore. He said I needed to eat because he didn't want a skinny girlfriend and he proceeded to shove the pizza into my mouth forcing me to chew and swallow. Amazing! It's amazing what we will do as humans when we feel threatened. When I started to violently vomit in the tub he got scared and left the bathroom. When I got out I knew I needed to go the the hospital, and of course he refused to take me because the evidence of the beating was still fresh. When I lifted my shirt the bruises on my rib cage had started to form. I broke his rules, went to my mother, and told her that I needed to go to the hospital.

My abuser was furious, but he knew there was no turning back once I told my mom. My mother is one of those adamant individuals that once you say something needs to be done she will get it done! She called my uncle and he came quickly. My mom figured I was pregnant again and I didn't have the energy to let her know how way off base she was. When the doctors at Kings County Hospital ruled out pregnancy my mom jumped to saying I had PID she figured I had some type of sexually transmitted disease, and as I listened to her tell the doctors this I wondered where the hell her loyalty was to her child. My mother was always quick to condemn me and it took me many years to understand why. A surgeon came to my bedside and notified me that due to severe internal injuries conclusive with trauma to my body I was being rushed to the O.R. My appendix was about to burst and if I didn't have the surgery right there on the spot I was going to die. All I thought about was my baby who was at home with my abuser. I'm guessing my mom called him at some point because he showed up while the nurses were removing my nail polish and prepping me for surgery. As always he was sorry, begged me not to tell, and promised he would marry me. In what fucking fairytale does the princess marry a fucking monster? I was relieved when the nurse told him to go. He snapped at her and she looked at me. Through the cold doors I went. Unaware of what the recovery process ahead of me would be like.

The surgery was successful but I woke up in recovery throwing up. A nurse kept tapping me and she asked me if I wanted to die. "What?" Secretly I think she was right on point. She said it took me way longer than the average person to wake up from the anesthesia. She also said,"If you don't stop vomiting they are going to put the tube in." Again I thought, "Shit, not the fucking tube". I couldn't stop vomiting and therefore the medical staff decided to insert an NG tube down my throat, through my nose and into my stomach to sort of vacuum all that I was vomiting. You can't talk with a tube down your throat and it's the type of feeling I wouldn't wish on anyone. I was finally transferred to the Surgical I.C.U., and I was greeted there by a social worker who was advised by my doctors that I was being abused. She said,"Are your parents beating you up?" and I stared back at her so blankly? At my age she didn't even realize that I had a child or that I was being abused by my boyfriend. I didn't have the heart to say a word and so I just said I hurt myself moving furniture. She didn't believe me but she didn't push and I wish she would have. She reminded me of Michael Landon in "Highway to Heaven". Social workers have this angelic appeal that makes you want to open up, and run to them for refuge. She left me a bunch of pamphlets, and said I could call her if I changed my mind and if wanted to talk. My abuser would visit frequently and the question was always the same, "When they letting you out of here mami?" If it wasn't for my baby at home I never wanted to be released. The thought of going back to be around him disgusted me. Discharge day finally came about a week after my surgery and I was released with a cane to help me walk. His phony act would only last until I got home.

"Take care of your fucking daughter", was the first of many lewd and offensive remarks that I can remember. He blamed me for leaving her alone and offered all sorts of other twisted remarks. Once she was bathe and dressed he reminded me that my welfare check was sitting in the system and because he needed it I was going to have to walk nearly two blocks to the check cashing spot to get it. I was released from the hospital with a cane indicating how difficult it was to walk and this asshole was letting me know that I would have to get my money that he needed. In the cold chill of November I walked with him as my escort to the check cashing place which seemed like a two mile walk. I remember the walk being so painful and he didn't care one bit. The money went from my hand to his pocket. When we got back he knew all I wanted to do was spend time with my babygirl and so he made it his business to let me know that wouldn't be the plan. Thanksgiving was approaching and he said he was taking her to his Aunt's house. I knew in my heart it was his twisted way of hurting me and pay back for going to the hospital in the first place. I kissed my baby goodbye and took the opportunity to rest.

The Domestic Violence Chronicles can extend from Part II to Part XX, but the message will always be the same. If you or someone you know is in a Domestic Violence relationship, the violence will only escalate. It gets worse before it ever gets better, and the victim can end up dead as an end result. I never realized how much help was within my reach, and today with the Domestic Violence Hotline here in NYC (800-621-4673) you and your children can get out safely. In NYC, Safe Horizon is working diligently to protect victims and children of Domestic Violence. You owe it to yourself and your children to get out and away from your abuser. No matter what State you live in please contact me anytime you are in doubt or need advice and I promise that I will link you to the right people. Domestic Violence hurts and it can happen to anyone. I didn't have any children the first time my abuser hit me. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is hitting you or verbally abusing you please don't be afraid to seek help. If you are too ashamed to tell your family please seek outside help. I love you all and wish you all the best!

Much Luv

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gay Love

Dear B.C. Readers:

My next post won't appeal to all of you, and as I'm writing it I'm completely aware of this. I thank God that I've always been open-minded enough throughout my years to love, and appreciate all of my gay friends without judgment. From my flamboyant gay friends to the ones that were stuck on staying in the closet way back in the 90's, I have loved them. I also think that they have been drawn to my warm nature as an individual, and have always loved me back. What I have regretted up until about a week ago is never having had the guts to connect further by asking real questions and not just any questions, love questions. I've listened to, " Hey Barb, I dated such a cute guy last night", or "I hooked up with this hot guy at a party", but for my own fear of not wanting to be a disrespectful, nosy-sounding heterosexual female, I've always been polite in responding, but never bridged the gap. Thankfully, I met my new friend S.G., and he helped to bridge the gap for me. People, we have to wake-up there is only one love, and it's universal. It's not homosexual or's just a universal emotion and I feel so blessed to feel it in my life each and everyday in one way or another. Hugs and Kisses to my Gays!!! Never stop fighting your cause or being who God has intended for you to be. I publicly follow my gays on twitter, on facebook, and on my blog, and I encourage all of you to do the same. If you have never checked out Love B. Scott then you have yet to see what a gorgeous man looks like. Everytime he refers to his readers as, "Love Muffins" my heart melts. Here is my story...

Before I met S.G., I thought I was one of the last hopeless romantic's still standing in this concrete jungle. The only schmuck, that still believed in this invisible force of chemistry that one can only experience with another. That chemistry will rarely if ever be matched by another. I honesty don't even think it can be duplicated. You might go on 100 dates, and feel it on 1. I hope everyone in life gets to experience this exact feeling at least once in their lives. I've had countless conversations with my girlfriends, and none of them (well except for 1) have validated the feeling. S.G. on the contrary did, and he did so in such a passionate way that I could feel his sincerity. I don't want to offer the impression that heartbreak isn't sometimes associated with this type of bliss but when it isn't I'm sure that the relationship can stand the test of time. I'd love to interview Jada and Will, or Tamia and Grant Hill, or even Beyonce and Jay-Z (the lyrics to Halo are playing on repeat in my mind lol). This type of feeling can have all of those built up walls come tumbling down. I wouldn't mind betting money that their marriages resulted in these type of initial feelings. The thing is in the words of Keyshia Cole, "You can't help who you love." It's a sweaty palm, butterflies in your stomach, heart-racing type feeling. S.G. and I were having a conversation one day, when he mentioned that he was secretly in love with a guy that sounded like his perfect match. I could tell that the situation was frustrating for him so I prompted to hear more. I said, "I wanna hear all about him", and he said, "Ok since you live for this stuff I'll tell you". By the time he was done telling me I wanted to grab his love interest, and just shake him upside down. Here was this great guy standing in front of me, and just the fact that he wanted to share that greatness with someone else who wasn't responsive was beyond me? The rejection pained me, but at the same time S.G. expressed that he had never admitted his feelings to his love interest. That's the complicated thing about love. Ugh!!! Having the guts to admit the way your feeling is one thing, but the fact that we don't know how it will be received is another.

All of this reminded me of a course I took at St. John's University when I was studying for my B.A. in Sociology. The course was called, "Intro to Christian Marriage". My professor was so passionate about the course material, and I was engulfed in the study. It annoys me that at this moment I can't remember his name. He was an older white man late 50's -mid 60's, and what I remember most was how animated he was when he talked about the early stages of love. Those early stages where you like him or her, yet you don't know how the feeling will be received. What the class mainly focused on was when the unsuspected other party validates the feeling by saying that they too are feeling the exact same way. It's melodic at that moment. I'm guessing now that this was his segway into christian marriage. I can definitely say that there is something about the above stated that seems bonded in something beyond just this earth. S.G. reminded me of all of this just by his eyes and the loving expression behind them when he was explaining the feeling. It was at that moment that I connected with another human being that loved the way I love and this is where S.G. helped me to bridge the gap between heterosexual and homosexual love and I will be forever grateful.

I hope this short article will help you bridge the gap too, and I invite my gays to keep educating me. I have always secretly wanted my own gay boyfriend to hangout with. Love you all, and you will always have my adoration. I will always respect your struggle!

Much Luv

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Dating No-No's

Ok so in lieu of my Birthday, which was Sunday (7/25), I decided to accept an offer by a male friend for lunch and drinks on Monday afternoon. Ladies & Gents you need to set the bar high, extremely high (I'm having a Steve Harvey moment here). Because he's a friend I'm going to give him the ez-pass on a number of things he did wrong, yet I'm going to take the time to point them out anyway to hopefully avoid future mishaps. I was just reading a blog last night that I truly enjoy written by the opposite sex (hint, hint), and it pointed out that singles are the worse to offer advice as the obvious is stated. I'm going to beg to differ on that one for many different reasons. Singles have so much insight. Whether we've lost love, failed at love, been compromised by love, or just suck at love, we know what we want and what we don't want. So when the latter appears we are able to dodge it quickly and relevantly. My date gave me a little more than 24-hours notice, yet he never seemed clearly set on what he wanted to do, or in exactly what time frame. A lunch date turned into an early dinner date, and all because he didn't seem to have a concrete plan to begin with. I'm flattered that he thought of me and my birthday yet I don't want to be any one's last minute "squeeze in". We spoke several times that day on the telephone before he picked me up, and I can honestly tell you that I was excited. Not school girl giddy, but excited.

My favorite section of Brooklyn right now is between Fort Greene and Park Slope so being that my friend is from BK, I was interested to see what he had in store. He told me to come downstairs (in 90 degree NYC heat), yet it took him about 10 mins to finally appear. Fellas, the front door pick-up is so very much appreciated, but please don't call a lady until you're physically in front of her house or building. It will save initial frustration trust me. When he arrived I greeted him with a kiss on the cheek, and a hug. I haven't seen him for quite awhile now, and I wanted him to know that I was enthusiastic about the outing. The route we were on let me know that we were on our way to BK so I said, "Wow, I figured you would've just wanted to eat in Queens" not that I didn't want to head to BK, but again to have an idea of what the plan was. He said, "B, I have to stop home and get dressed", "I have on my work clothes". WRONG!!! I hit him with the, "excuse me *eyes rolling*" and he was like, "B had I told you ahead of time you wouldn't have come". Ummmm yeah exactly! Ugh!!!! is the only word that can clearly explain how I felt. Fellas please don't do this. Especially, to a woman who isn't driving her own vehicle. You take our control away. Not that we need to have all of the control, yet we should have just as much control as you do in the situation. Being polite, and convincing myself that I needed to be very open-minded about this dating thing I decided to tuck my attitude away, and to accept that I had been involuntarily kidnapped.

I knew my friend had gone through some recent changes in his life, which I opted to make the topic of discussion. He was living in his new place for a short while after breaking up with his on-again, off-again girlfriend. He seemed settled and proud of his new place so I wondered if maybe him taking me there was his way of showing me all that he was proud of. He's not what I would consider to be the "fresh-type", so I knew he wasn't taking me there with any ill intention. Again, with my attitude deeply tucked away I asked him how he was managing without his relationship. Everything seemed "sugar on top" fine. He explained that it was his "ex's" idea to completely call the relationship off, and in her honesty she let him know that he just wasn't what she was looking for and he moved-out of her place accordingly . In my mind, I commended her honesty, yet I sympathized with the hurt that must have caused him. Needless to say, everything is never exactly what it seems. I asked him if hitting the dating scene was advisable at this stage in his early transition and he came back with, "She's dating". Folks your instinct's will never let you down. My excitement for the date immediately started to shift as I started thinking, "What the hell have I gotten myself into here?". Again, because he's my friend it wasn't the worse case scenario, but still not one I wanted to be in. Now had he had a plan, and picked me up dressed and ready to go for lunch and drinks (as offered) then everything would have worked out accordingly. He would have had his time to vent over the past relationship and tell me how great he's doing and so on and so forth, but with this longer more stretched out date there was too much time for me to evaluate that "great" was so far from where he was actually at.

I was impressed by both his new neighborhood and his new place. As I found him putting on the TV, and the AC I reminded him that he was getting dressed and we were leaving shortly. Ladies always stand your ground. It's men's job to persuade us to do everything that makes no sense and in this economy I can understand the penny pinching but not on my Birthday! I waited patiently for what literally took over an hour. As we headed back out the door I was really hungry. I didn't eat lunch and now it was nearly dinner time. He asked what if any ideas on food I had, and I told him that when it comes to food I'm honestly not too picky. His apartment was in close proximity to this Jamaican restaurant I really enjoy so I suggested that we go there. I picked up on his feelings of reservation but I was completely clueless as to what they were about? At this point I honestly just wanted to eat and go home. I should have made more selections yet the restaurant being so close just seemed to make sense. He went as far as asking me if I was worried about running into anyone there and that is the question that completely and totally through me for a loop. Fellas why do ya'll do that? Why do you try and throw your own reservations about things on us? What was unbeknownst to me at the time was that his "ex-girlfriend" lived very close to the restaurant, and it was somewhere that they had gone together. The universe will give you every single thing you ask for including chaos and drama. What I also didn't know was that he was nervous. I picked up on him acting a little weird but foolishly I thought that was about being with me ha ha ha WRONG again! I could see from far that the restaurant had been beautifully renovated since I had last been there and my excitement for the date started to resurface again. The restaurant is a professional establishment and we were nicely greeted and seated by our waitress upon arrival. I took a quick inventory of the place which was moderately full. There were kats at the bar, some seated to eat, some couples seated and a few big wills with girls seated at a long table in the back. I was comfortable.

Coming in we both pretty much knew what we wanted to eat. Right before we ordered his cell phone rang. Awkward, was the only thing that came to mind because once he looked at it he excused himself, and walked out of the restaurant. I would never disrespect a date or a friend at a table and answer my phone unless it was completely and totally necessary. Awkwardness, turned into embarrassment in a heartbeat. Our waitress came over and took my order and asked if I knew what he wanted, and I said, "no". She picked-up on the vibe. Shout out to her. He walked back in as she was just walking away from the table, he ordered his meal and said to her "I think we might be taking that order to go". Embarrassment turned into shock!! Let me reiterate that this man is my friend, yet we were not out as friends that were not exploring the idea of dating regularly. He looked at me and said, "Someone saw us coming in here", and my childlike response was "so". Understand, I'm not out with someone who is not available to be out. I'm out with a "single man", as he has presented his situation to me. He was like, "you still want to eat here?" "That was my ex and she might show up here." I was like, "and what exactly would she show up here for?" "You are her ex-boyfriend" "Correct?". Nevertheless, here I am in a situation that I could have totally avoided had I exercised better judgment and just said, "no" to begin with. Ya'll would probably think I live for this stuff and would classically want something like this to happen but I promise you that is not the case.

He went on, and explained that what was bothering him so much was the fact that she was crying. I'm thinking, "Crying whoooa that's deep." Now let me recap, and remind ya'll. This is the same chick two hours ago that he went on about. "She's dating", she told me I'm not what she's looking for. Ok (deep breath), this is why relationships are so damn complicated and my new rule will be never date anyone that has not been single for at least 6-months. My friend would've done himself a favor by asking "B.C." vs "B" to come out with him, and instead just used the time to vent about how on the fence he was about this girl that he was obviously still in love with. "B" accepted that once again, she had been dealt the luck of the draw, and I reactivated myself into total "BC" mode. He would answer that phone mid-conversation once again, and that would be the last time he did that before totally pissing me off. I decided to walk away, free-up our table, and to walk to the front of the restaurant. I couldn't bring myself to walk over to the "take-out" section of the restaurant. Deep yoga breaths in tow I just removed myself from the situation and shook it off. The waitress walked over and said, "should I pack the orders separately" and I responded, "definitely". When he walked back in I realized what bothered me most was the comical humor he displayed. I understood it because it appeared to be how good he felt that she still cared, but I was bothered by it at the same time. As he continued to be rude he walked over to a friend that briefly acknowledged him on one of his trips out the door to speak on his phone. It seemed almost comical how he explained what was going on to his boy. The waitress gestured that our orders were ready. I thanked her again to show my appreciation. He hauled ass to his vehicle, and I followed behind quickly. He managed to still find the time to open my door.

By the time he dropped me off he wondered if he should call her, and I told him that he should. Make no mistake that I believe in love and in fighting for it, also make no mistake that I do not choose to be involved in silly antics that resemble circus acts. To my friend's credit he apologized repeatedly, and said that he would surely make it up on another date. There most definitely won't be another date. Fellas if the timing isn't right don't do it because 9 out of 10 it will backfire. Love the one your with or want to be with and safe the rest of us a headache by leaving us alone.

Much Luv


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Checking-Out of The Heartbreak Hotel

Love was on the rise this weekend in NYC, as La La Vazquez and Carmelo Anthony finally took the plunge into holy matrimony on Saturday 7/10. Congratulations, to the happy & beautiful couple! La La and Carmelo were engaged for five-years, which may restore hope in many that Love can truly conquer all in the end. The media gave good indication that an engagement would never come and that marriage would never be an option for the couple. I'm glad La La and Carmelo went at their own pace an ultimately defied the odds. By no means am I telling every girl or guy out there to hang around and wait forever. You have to know who you're with and you have to do what works best for you and your relationship. For some couples wedding bells may be in the cards but for others, it may just be time to check-out of the heartbreak hotel and to move onto fresh and new horizons. If you are finding yourself stuck in a relationship that is going so far left in the opposite direction of marriage and if marriage is something that you're looking for than it may be time to move on. You may also find yourself in a situation where you thought marriage and commitment were on the brink, but your hunni let you know otherwise and walked away.

The hardest part of a break-up after the acceptance, mourning, and anger stages, is typically finding the strength to move forward. A break-up can make you feel like you're down on your luck. So what can you do to get back out there and find the strength to trust another person with your heart? How much can our fragile hearts take? For some of us a summer dating challenge may be just the right start, but for others a self-pity party may be more appealing. I know I have sat on my couch many of nights curled up with a pint of Haagen Dazs Creamy Butter Pecan ice cream, and one of my favorite romantic comedies. I've played countless love songs on repeat only to make myself feel worse about why the relationship didn't work. Break-ups are really hard, but what's even harder is when we get to a point in our lives that we want so badly for a relationship to work. The knock out becomes that much harder of a blow when we dissect the failure from that prospective. The fact that the permanence of death isn't attached to a break-up is all the more reason to quickly bounce back from it.

I've decided that by removing the aspect of failure and by simply saying that if a "tried attempt" doesn't work out it just really boils down to compatibility. You and that person were just not that compatible and therefore the connection didn't go any further. When I hear things like, "It's his loss", or "I was the best thing that ever happened to her", I shake my head because honestly it's really no ones loss and more of a gain or a blessing in disguise. We hurt ourselves by blaming ourselves and by then trying to figure out what we didn't do right to keep the union in tact. In some cases we end up trying way too hard. In all actuality, that guy or girl may be the best thing that happens to someone else. The reality of a break-up is that we get another chance to learn what does, and what doesn't work for us. Although, it's an often heart wrenching experience to go through it can be used as the light that leads us to a positive and more healthy relationship. Keeping the faith is what helps to restore the hope. The lonely stage is probably the hardest of all the break-up stages. My suggestion for working through this stage would be massive doses of self-respect. The ironic thing in all of this is that we all know that with a little time we'll survive. The self-respect will come in handy because this is often the stage where some ex-couples evolve into booty calls. The ex will often make him or herself available if you are a willing participant. The reason this is so detrimental is because closure is no longer an option and someones heart breaks more. The shift in consciousness that I would ultimately like to see occur here is growth after the storm. I believe in Love and I also believe that some couples that go through a break-up can make their way back to each other but there has to be a period of time spent apart and spent apart means no casual sex. If absence truly makes the heart grow fonder than absence has to actually occur. Many have said, "To get over someone you need to get under someone else", but it's been my experience that rebounding can open a whole other can of misery worms.

Ultimately, my hope is that for any of us struggling with heartbreak and loneliness that we can feel inspired enough by Love alone to pack our bags and check-out of the Heartbreak Hotel. We owe it to our fragile hearts to go out there and meet people who will nurture and fill our love tanks. The sweetest thing about starting fresh is just that...starting fresh! Meeting someone who at the forefront does not take us for granted and appreciates us in a whole new light. We can open any magazine on newsstands today and see some couple getting married. Shaking off the hurt of a break-up is easier said than done but if we can remind ourselves that God envisions love and happiness in our lives for us then we must know that Mr. or Mrs. Right is somewhere out in the world with our name tattoo'd across their heart. Love yourself as much as you possibly can in the meanwhile, knowing and respecting your worth at all times. Happy Dating and keep me posted on all of your dating and relationship success.

Much Luv


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Are Your Relationship Deal Breakers?

As my "Sizzling Spicy Hot Summer Romance 2010 Challenge," is just about to kick off. I've been giving some serious thought as to what I will, and will not, deal with when it comes to dating. There are certain things at my age that I just won't bend and/or compromise on, and I challenge all of my fellow daters out there to start thinking the same way. I'm a free spirited person and I always have been. To some that means I don't take life too seriously. I'm not looking to work at a job for 35 years, earning a plaque or a free coffee pot after each 10 year mark. Coming from a household where pension plans and retirement packages were the topic of frequent dinner conversations I do realize the importance of a retirement foundation to fall back on and I don't knock anyone who pursues their happiness that way. I'm just not that person and quite frankly 10 years at any particular job would feel like a jail sentence to me. So what I thought to myself recently was, am I looking for a free spirited guy or would it be a better balance for me to get with the career oriented pension plan guy? Would I end up resenting a guy that punches a clock everyday, and looks forward to his pension plan, and his annual company family picnic? Would it be a good balance or would it be a deal breaker for me and force me to run in the opposite direction?

At the very top of the deal breaker list I created, I noted, "no cigarette smoking", as something I just won't bend on. The habit itself is absolutely asinine to me especially within a world that is shifting towards such health consciousness. Not to mention, but I had more than my share of secondhand smoke growing up as a child and I just simply can't be with someone who would want to share our personal space with cigarette smoke. Finger issues were high on my list as well and looking at my own fingers it's making me wonder if I'm simply looking for a male me (ha ha!) I tend to be attracted to fingers that are long and slender with long nail beds that are clean and unbitten. Men who have short stumpy fingers with bitten fingernails have simply never caught my attention. A person's hands and the way they keep them says a lot about that person on so many levels. When I see bitten fingernails I automatically tend to think of fear, nervousness, stress and worry. They look a mess, which just automatically makes me visualize a mess. When I sat down to make this list I never realized how many different directions it would take me within the thought process and I'm really happy I decided to do it. My list helped me to realize how much I love men's cologne. I can walk into Macy's at Herald Square on any given occasion and spend more time in the Men's Fragrance Dept. than in the Women's. One of my all time favorite male fragrances is Brit, by Burberry. A man's scent when he wears cologne is not just irresistible to me but it's also intoxicating. True story, I was dating this guy once and he smelled so delicious that when the date was over and we left the Floridian Dinner in Brooklyn, I asked him if I could have his shirt (he did have on a shirt under). Needless to say, he said, "no", lol and he got in his car and I got in mine. Cologne is such a big deal for me so I thought back to my childhood and realized that my dad's signature scent Jovan Musk for Men was something I came to depend on. I knew when my dad was home because of it and when he wasn't around I could just pick up his shirt and still smell it. As funny as it may sound cologne, just like perfume can create an invisible connection to a person. Once you begin to associate that scent with that person the connection has already been created.

Obviously, our childhood influences contribute so much as to how we perceive the world we live in and in this case me preferring to date a man that wears cologne. You have no idea how many men I meet that say because of skin allergies or just because they prefer soap alone they don't wear it. Knowing this I couldn't realistically add it to my list as a deal breaker. It is most definitely a preference but it's not something that would cause me not to date a man. Then I moved onto height and readers your girl BC is not a shorty! I'm about 5'7" and when I put on a pair of high heels I'm between 5'10" and 5'11". I have to be brutally honest here and because I typically opt to wear heels when I go out, I'm not going to date a man that's 5'4". A suitor doesn't have to be 6'2" but he can't be 5'4" and I won't bend on that. I realize that means that I will miss out on a lot of great short guys out there and I also realize how shallow I sound but please note I'm being true to self. My list also made me think of all of you, and I began wondering what my dating readers list would consist of and what my married readers lists used to look like before they found their special life partner? For my fellas, what if a lady doesn't know how and refuses to learn how to cook? If everything else about her is fabulous than is that a deal breaker that gets her left in the wind or would you bend and do the cooking yourself? What if she's the hottest chick you've ever seen and she's a chain smoker? What if she has big eyeballs like your girl BC? And for my ladies, if you don't drink alcohol and he does is that a deal breaker? If you're a health nut and he loves McDonald's can the love still flourish ? If he wears sneakers and you prefer shoes, is he a keeper that can change his style or is he a throwback? In addition, there are some habitual deal breakers for me as well. ESPN I can do 100%, but videos games including the little handheld ones...NOPE!

It's important to look at these things now rather than after jumping into the dating pool and wasting each others time. Some of the things we simply brush off as pet peeves can lead to serious disagreements down the road that could've easily been avoided with some brutal honesty to begin with. A man or a woman who doesn't take care of their children are not going to miraculously start doing so once they meet you. A woman that doesn't have a job isn't going to run out and get one because you're dating her. Daters of any age can benefit from these tips because ultimately they boil down to being true to self and not settling. Dating should be just as refreshing as laying down on a bed with newly cleaned sheets on it. Overall the experience is intended to be fun. Past relationships should stay in the past where they belong. Jadedness and scorness should be long resolved before delving back into the dating sea. Rebounders should spend at minimum 3 months single and getting to know themselves before attempting to date again. Deal breakers should be very clearly outlined and when you meet a nice man or woman who falls within your deal breaker box then you should be polite as ever and let them know, not what your deal breaker is or isn't, but that they're just not someone you'd be interesting in dating. Try something new whenever you have the nerve or the chance because you never know? The grass might actually be greener on the other side yet you'll never know if you don't try. Watch the romantic comedy,"Something New" if you need some help thinking outside of the box and enjoy dating because again, it's intended to be a fun experience. Keep integrity and honesty at the forefront and if you have 10 kids please be honest!

Thank you Aaliyah:)

Much Luv


Monday, July 5, 2010

The Chronicles of A Teenage Mom

Dear BC Readers:

I know that many of you are waiting patiently for Part II of the Domestic Violence Chronicles, and I promise you that it's on deck! One of my readers recently asked me, "BC, you have a teenage daughter right?", and I said, "I have two!" and she said, "How do you do it?" and I said, "It's not easy!" My approach to raising my daughters is to try my best to understand why God chose me for the role to begin with? Teenagers will truly test their parents patience in ways that are paralleled to none. Here is another excerpt from the book that I'm writing, which I hope will touch my parents of teens and bring you back to realizing how important we are in their lives (just in case you've lost touch)...enjoy!

Less than 24 hours after giving birth to her, my thyroid gland would stay enlarged for the rest of my life. The nurse midwife explained to me that this was the result of my loud screaming in Labor and Delivery. As I sat on my bed in the ward at Kings County Hospital Center that morning the nurse called out to me, and the other mothers and said that it was time to bathe our newborn babies. I can still remember how my heart skipped a beat at the thought. When I attempted to get up off the bed, I quickly remembered how painful the 30 stitches down in my vagina felt. "Ouch!" 15 inside and 15 outside. The male doctor that delivered my daughter didn't think "it was time yet", when I told him that I could feel my baby's head pushing down and out of my body. In the doctor's eyes, I was obviously too young or too new to the experience to know what I was talking about. Back then (1993) Labor and Delivery rooms were two very separate entities. My daughter was born in a Labor room and I was later pushed to the Delivery room for an hour worth of stitching. Getting up from that hospital bed bought all that pain right back to the surface. I remember thinking, "What am I doing here?" Why had God chosen me to bring this beautiful little girl into the world? I mean of course I participated in manifesting my own destiny, yet I believe all things come to pass for a reason and reasons that are very spiritual in origin. It crossed my mind in a humorous way that I must of selected this challenge after finishing up a past life that was super easy. I must have told the man upstairs that I wanted more of a challenge in this life and I'm sure my motivating spirit thought she could handle it all with ease. As I walked slowly to the nursery I found my daughter in her bassinet with a basin filled with water next to her. As I stood there, my body felt rocked and it definitely didn't feel like the body I had come to know. The West Indian nurse called out to me as she noticed I was just standing there, "Mommy come and wash your baby" and I just stared back blankly. "Come now and wash her up", "She soon have to eat". The little girl in me replied, "I don't wanna hurt her". The nurse chuckled to herself and shook her head. All the babysitting jobs I'd done up until that point could not have prepared this varsity football high school cheerleader to care for this newborn baby that was mine. I hadn't the slightest idea of how to wash my soft and beautiful, caramel-kissed baby that had just released herself from my body less than 24 hours prior.

This was my first experience with my inner soul. My soul felt so separate from my body almost as if it were hovering over the entire experience. The life of the free-spirit I was born to be was unraveling. My stubborn nature would serve as a double-edged sword in my life. In 1993, I never realized how badly I hurt my daughter. I hurt her because psychologically I was way too immature to have her and at that age sadly I could barely wash behind my own ears properly. Less than sixteen-years later my daughter would struggle and experiment with drug and alcohol abuse and have self-esteem smaller than a tiny village. No matter how much I loved my daughter, love just isn't always enough to raise a child. I made my young life unnecessarily difficult at a time when the only expectation I needed to fulfill was obtaining my high school diploma. I loved everything about high school my classes, being a cheerleader, and I loved being the center of attention (I'm a Leo). How did someone who enjoyed the spotlight the way I did have such a low self-esteem at the very same time? I failed my daughter before she was ever born into this world. I didn't know who I was therefore who could my daughter be? The oxymoron's of life are so blatantly complicated. Here I stand today, a woman in her early-thirties trying desperately not to lose the child that I bought into the world sixteen years ago. I look at my daughter today and I see a young lady that just wanted good things from life but had a mother that could only offer the bare minimum. God blessed my baby with the type of creative talents that I could have only hoped for. She can make miracles happen with her hands. She would draw at 10, Sew by 12, paint at 13, and play the violin gracefully from 12-16 (well not always gracefully on my ears). Having a mother that constantly dropped the ball when it came to the investment of her talents ultimately caused my daughter to lose faith in the world. A child's talents are similar to the seeds we plant in our gardens and when we don't water them they don't grow.

I constantly have sleepless nights now and I find myself dreaming of the baby I gave birth to way back in 1993. She was born a Virgo, with the spirit of a bull and by 3 I knew that she was going to take this world by the reigns and make it work for her. I've always lived paycheck to paycheck and what that meant for my baby was that a lot of her talents would tarnish because they would never have the opportunity to fully developed. Always forced to prioritize between sewing classes or my Con Edison bill would keep my baby's natural talents in limbo. Some would say these are the statistics of a teen mom. I would say as long as I wasn't trading my money for a crack pipe I'd beg to differ. I did fall under the radar of a statistic in some ways though because I was most definitely struggling under the poverty guidelines. My only priority now is to save my little girl and to start watering her garden again. She was the 3 year-old child that could light up a room with her smile. She was a little "Broadway Hit," and she often bought joy to others. It was Barbara's job to protect the image she had of the world. When Barbara let the world consume her, she let it consume her daughter as well. The young child that never had to crave for her mother's attention began to starve. The amount of pride I bore began to move me further and further away from God and indirectly away from my child. We moved into the homeless shelter Uptown when she was around 9. She was in the fourth grade and that's when I started to lose her. I was a young mother of 3 by that time, and I had a huge chip on my shoulders. I wanted to prove to myself and the world that I did not need the backing of a man to make it. Travelling everyday from Uptown Manhattan to Queens and back can be trying or anyone, but for a child it's just brutal. She always had a smile on her face. She was my silly child. Her 4th grade teacher couldn't understand her lack of enthusiasm so far into the school year. She was tired. She had a painting on display at the Guggenheim Museum that year but her childlike spirit was starting to diminish. Unfortunately, her life began to take a backseat as my life became consumed with full-time college and bills. By April of 2003, she was missing 22 homework assignments and because she was always such a great student I became confident on just her word, "I finished my homework at school", and I would reply, "great!". The homeless shelter forced her to grow up quickly and I will carry that regret for the rest of my life. As the oldest she was forced to carry the most bags, yelled at most to hurry along and exposed to images of addicts and prostitutes all things children should be sheltered from. My daughter slipped through my fingers in a sense because I was too busy playing out the role of Superwoman to see what was happening right under my own nose. My appreciation for my daughter was replaced by my expectation. I expected her to do well because I knew how bright she was. The problem was I forgot to tell her how bright she was. I forgot to tell my daughter how awesome she was. Even when she was accepted into a gifted junior high school I just expected it. A parent can contribute to their child's low self-esteem without even being consciously aware of what they're doing. While I focused so hard on my studies I forgot to hug and kiss the one little person who looked up to me the most. She was always my biggest fan. Had I been 40 and not 28 at the time I might have picked up on that. I might have been content with the goals already achieved and not aspiring for more and more on my kids time.

Teenage moms grow up and thankfully I have. I have also learned to push my pride aside and to not live my life in accordance to others. A bit of a rebel? Maybe? But I did a lot of things on this journey that other people wanted me to do and I sold myself short each and every time I didn't do what I wanted to do. I'm no longer guilty of doing what others "think" I should do. I make my own decisions and I make no apologies for the decisions I make. I have finally learned to accept complete and total responsibility for my own life and some of my messes have yet to be completely cleaned up. My daughter is stable for now. She has completed drug counseling and she is back on the right track. Helping her heal wasn't just her therapist's responsibility, it's also mine. I created most of the hurt and I have to repair that. A parent is always forced to weigh the balance between working out of the home vs being there for their children. Sometimes the ultimate sacrifice of parenting is putting our own hopes and dreams on hold so that our children are free to have theirs. Fear will never anchor my feet on the ground so I am a parent that will continue to fly. The difference this time around is that I will always take my children with me. I will never fly alone. My daughter will be fine and if you are struggling with a teenager so will they. The best advice I can offer is repeated confrontation. They will hate you now but it will save them later. Secrets have no place when it comes to raising a teenager. Everything must be on the table. You can't solve problems when you don't address that you have problems. The world will continue to tell your children that everything you say is false. It's our job as parents to keep fighting against the current. Knowing that you can really lose them should always be your strength in getting back up and challenging them again. Will it feel like your back will break? "Yes". Will it? "No". Never give up!

In Loving Memory of my cousin Eric 4/28/87 - 5/2/2009 (Had I known how to save a life, I promise you that I would've saved yours). I Love you cousin and you will forever remain in my heart.

Death is coldly permanent folks. Ask questions and help the young people in your lives.

Much Luv


Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Importance of Stillness

Dear BC Readers:

I'd like to share this story to let you know how my journey has led me to all of you. My hope is that you will connect and understand that even if we stray from our destined paths we can always find our way back. This is how I found stillness and oneness with my inner self.

On the morning of April 24th, 2010, I woke up at the crack of dawn as I often do every morning. I looked out of my hotel window onto the glorious sight you see above. I remember taking a very deep breath and exhaling in a way that a person exhales only when they are fully entrenched in the moment. Nothing skipped my view at that moment. Not the beautiful way the palm trees moved in the wind, or the way the sun peaked through the early morning sky, or the way the waves moved in succession. I watched the early morning joggers down on the boardwalk and I wondered briefly what motivates them to be up and out so early for exercise? Life presented itself to me in it's simplest form of beauty and I stopped everything to pay attention and watch. For the first time in maybe 20 some odd years, I wasn't worried about my early morning cup of coffee. The only sound I was conscious of was the sound of my own breathing. There was this awesome feeling of divinity and a feeling that I deserved to be exactly where I was. I've always been a spiritual person (I do not go to church) and yet I never question God's presence (Divine presence) in my life. The experience I had in the window that day was deeper than most I'd ever encountered. I stood there calm, and still, and I only moved away for an instant to grab my camera in order to try and capture the moment. I felt God's presence and I knew my trip to Miami Beach would have nothing to do with partying or shopping like I had initially imagined. I felt like I was being nudged yet I had no idea why and at the very same time I had a very strong sense of comfort surrounding me. The beach was calling and I knew I would spend my days there.

Worry and fear stayed back home in NYC. They didn't follow me on my trip and needless to say I was glad. I was also in town to see my girlfriend's new baby and I was genuinely excited and anticipated how great that would be. You see, living in a fast-paced city like NYC can make a person unintentionally overlook all the precious things that life has to offer. People can tell us a million times that "Life is short", but how often do we bask in that thought? The birds, trees, flowers, new babies, and even animals are things in life that I typically don't take the time to really see. Of course every now and then I'll take a long inhale of a flower's scent or I'll notice how blue the sky is but generally I miss out on these things because I'm constantly on the go. I'm often so fixated on just catching my morning bus and train that I forget to be still. I forget to live in the now vs focusing on the future or spending time reflecting on my past. My bills tend to consume my thoughts as well from time to time and that keeps me on a "hustle and flow" movement. I was in Miami Beach and the most surprising thing to me was that I was fully there. I wasn't worried about anything other than eating, relaxing, and thanking God for the moment. Nothing escaped my eyes as the essence of peace surrounded me. When I walked to Dunkin Donuts that morning, I saw every boat, every beach home, every water fountain and every lizard and bug lol. I was there in that city and that city had all of me, (my full undivided attention). My coffee tasted better than it had in years and food had a taste that I had never before taken the time to notice. I ate things that were unfamiliar and I was excited doing that. I remember sitting on the floor Indian-style at an excellent Thai restaurant in a city called Aventura. Every morsel of food seemed exquisite. I had, "satay gai" and "lobster pad thai" and neither one seemed more delicious than the other. I was at peace in a way that only being fully present can allow a person to be. I wasn't preoccupied with anything, well at least I thought I wasn't. The little electronic handheld device in my purse was the only thing that was keeping me from being completely still.

I wanted to share the feelings I was having with all of my friends and family back home and on facebook. The happiness I was experiencing seemed to be a litte foreign and foolishly I originally associated those feelings with my hotel, which I'm wondering if I should even plug ok, (The Fountainebleau) and being in Miami Beach. To my hotel's credit the ambiance is extremely tranquil and resort like. So that morning I uploaded pictures and made comments indicating my every move. After having breakfast at Ihop I headed back to my hotel and finally gave into the pull I was feeling toward the ocean. I'll share another secret with my readers; I am deathly afraid of sharks. I love to swim so the contradiction usually meets with me opting to swim in pools vs oceans. I don't know how a housing-project kid from Brooklyn develops a shark phobia but I have one. I am so ridiculously, and deathly afraid of sharks that I would hit my girlfriend up on her cell phone before I left New York and I would text, "Have you ever seen a shark in the water out there?", and she would respond, "No, B". The anxiety I felt about the ocean in Miami lingered that entire week before I left NYC. Now, here I was feeling like I needed to bypass my hotel's gorgeous pool and head straight for the ocean. That feeling was so bizarre at the time. They say in life that with God there are no such thing as coincidences. Let me share what the man upstairs was brewing. About 20 mins after I arrived on that beach something conveniently ironic happened. It was 85 degrees that day so when I left my hotel room I decided to walk with a spray bottle of water just in case it got really hot. I failed to properly close the filled water bottle and threw it in my beach bag. I left the room almost forgetting that my Blackberry was on the charger. I grabbed it and threw it in my beach bag. The water spilled and my Blackberry would be a wrap for the next 3 days of my trip. You can't be fully present and technologically co-dependent at the same time lol. I will always credit God for what happened to my phone that day in a good way.

As I entered the ocean, which quickly became a daily recurrence and often more than once a day. I began to notice a few things. The one thing that stood out the most was that my fear of sharks had drastically diminished. I'm not going to tell you that it miraculously disappeared because it didn't but I would go out deeper and deeper less concerned about sharks and more concerned with leaving my baggage in the water. I collected years and years of baggage. The kind of baggage Erykah Badu, describes in her hit "Bag Lady". For those of you that are familiar with that joint, I missed a lot of buses over the years. For those of you who aren't familiar just know that baggage can really hold you down. Here I was in a new state and had the feeling of peace that I never realized I was missing in my life. What I find most difficult to do in my city is to drown out the noise of my busy day to day. What I found in Miami Beach was a way to easily do so. Life is what we make it and this was the feeling I started to identify with. I always knew that God had a plan for my life I just couldn't seem to put my finger on exactly what that plan entailed. I started thinking about the things I was naturally good at. I've always had a spirit to motivate and encourage others. I don't do so well taking my own advice, (but we'll save that for another article) lol. When I finally went to see my friend's new baby the shift that was occurring inside of me on this trip was even easier to see.

I can't tell you how often someone I know or someone they know has a baby. Countless Baby Shower's, and 1st Birthday parties are often on my agenda. The anticipation to see my friend's baby in Miami was a feeling that I was unfamiliar with. I don't have any Godchildren, which should tell you that no one has identified that connection in me to their child. That used to be a very disappointing feeling for me yet I realize that in all of my ripping and running I haven't taken the time to show anyone how much I love and/or appreciate their child. It's one thing to love and adore your own children but when you can extend those feelings to someone else's child then that really says something about your character. The parents of that precious child have seen something in you that reminds them of God or of God's likeness. I couldn't believe how present I was in every moment of seeing this dear, sweet, beautiful little girl. From the moment I reached out to pick her up I was fully aware, present and connected. I was still. I had heard from my friend that her daughter had that type of effect on everyone but knowing myself so well I was surprised at how I connected. I really believe I connected with this baby because I was being still and I was connected with my inner self. Not to mention this baby has a tremendous spirit that is warm and inviting. Conveniently, my girlfriend had to work that day and I was more than obliged to stay at her house and watch the baby. I was connected with everything about this baby from her tiny feet and hands to her beautiful eyes. This is what happens when your being still. Stillness allows us to see everything in a different light and when we can see things in a different light we tend to experience them differently. I found stillness in April 2010, and I have been changed ever since. I walk with a new found stillness and peace that I hope to pass onto others. I appreciate things in a way that I never have before. My creative abilities are at an all time high and I can feel the gentle presence of God pushing me forward and letting me know that I am back on the path that he has always intended for me. Thank you for reading.

Much Luv