I lost My Hymen

(Story Contains Graphic language)

A tomboy at heart boys never really fascinated me, i mean, there was the occasional crush, and me seeing a boy and saying “he is cute”, but that was truly it. During my teenage years my mother would repeat these things constantly, “save sex for marriage,” “you have a period now you can get pregnant,” “boys only want one thing,” and her most famous line “Remember keep your drawers up girl”. My mother purposely put fear in me which made me terrified of the opposite sex. My mother meant well, and I’m sure she wanted me to make better decisions than she did when she was my age.

I was 15 years old and a sophmore in highschool. I was a virgin, I never had a  serious boyfriend(one but we talked on the phone, puppy love vibes) I had never saw male genitalia, and recently had experienced my first experimental kiss. I had self esteem issues, i had prepared myself to be alone, no boys were into little old me me, until i met Lamont.

As soon as the last day of school let out for the summer in 2003 i knew i would be going back to my town, Richmond! I lived with my aunt in a different city during the school year (i personally wanted to move with her, i needed a new enviornment) my mom lived in another city about an hour and a half away.  I couldn’t wait to get back to my city. I thought it would be fun for me to come back to richmond for the summer to spend time with my mom, little sister, and my friends. I was ready to hang out, and just be a teen.

On this particular day i decided to meet up with a childhood friend i hadn’t seen in a few years.  She was just finishing her last day of classes and we wanted to grab lunch and kick it at my house. I walked to the high school where she attended, we exchanged hugs, walked a block to the burger joint, and made our way back to my house. Her and i sat on my front porch, eating our burgers, reminiscing about old times. We also caught eachother up with what we were doing currently. I noticed that there was a guy across the street staring a hole in the both of us. “What is he looking at”? i asked “Who”? asked Mekia looking around me, “Do you know him”? she asked “hell no, i replied, i only been here for two days”. At this point we were both on guard and ready for whatever. The first step that he took across the street would be his last, we were mini gangsters.

We continued talking and laughing still keeping one eye on this creep. “oh shit” mekia said, i turned around and saw the creepy guy running across the street to where we were, we both froze. I admitt, we were both scary as hell, but vigilant. I turned to mekia to put her up on the plan, i said “So look if he tries anything, i will jump on his back and you start screaming, i have a pen here in my purse, that should….. mekia interupted me “Hold up, A pen? what you gone do with a pen? write him a damn letter”? “Girl, just agree to the plan of attack” i replied. We both stood up, in a stance ready to strike. He walked over smiling, “Hey how y’all doing, I’m new here so i been trying to find a store around here”, mekia and i looked at one another in silence. There was a drive through store just around the corner that had a tall sign of the store name that was visible from my front yard “A store”? he asked again making us both turn back to him, mekia replied “it’s a store right around the corner, the sign is big as day”. “Oh, my bad, I’m Lamont i just moved here from L.A”. He then puts his hand out to shake ours. “I’m mekia, this is cecilie”, “Aht, don’t tell him my name, we don’t know him” i said. “I don’t bite, i didn’t mean to scare you or anything, i was scared to come over here”. He kept staring at me, never keeping his eyes off my lips. “I saw you walking earlier, you live here”? he asked, i looked at him from his head to his nike air force ones, “Maybe” i replied. The closer he came, the more i could smell his colonge, “wow he smells good” i thought. He wore Ecko jeans, a brown and white stripped shirt, and white air force ones. He looked like the rapper Nelly. Durag with both of his ears pierced and stocky build. I knew he had to have played a sport. Mekia rested from her stance, she had the nerve to sit back down. I stood, i guess she figured he wasn’t a threat, but there i was holding my ground, still on edge and alert. I wanted to get a good look at him just in case he tried to pop off and i could give police precise details about what the attacker looked like. The more small talk he made, the more i stared him down. “Okay, he’s cute, i thought to myself, he’s dressed nice, he has all his teeth, and he smells good”. I noticed his smile, the way he smiled at me, it made me feel, good. I finally sat my ass down on my front steps next to mekia, my legs started to get numb and i assumed he was no longer a threat so why bother? but again, i was still alert. All three of us engaged in conversation. He told us that he was a football all-star who had just graduated from High school with a full scholarship to play college football. He went on to say that he turned the scholarship down so he could “Travel and see the world”. We all talked until it started to get dark out and my street light went on.  Mekia announced “Well I’m going to go home, before my mom gets there”. We both stood up and hugged one another.  While hugging she whispered to me “So where is that pen at now”?, i stepped back and squinted my eyes. We all said our goodbyes. I noticed that Lamont didn’t take the cue to leave too. “Is that your best friend”? he asked “something like that” i replied. He stared at me for awhile, “What”? i asked, “nothing, i just like looking at you” he said. I rolled my eyes and let out a chuckle. “I’m serious, i think your beautiful” he said.

That night was filled with the smell of grass and his colonge in the air. A young group of boys played football in the street. We heard them yelling, boys talking mess to one another, and laughing, you know? normal clown behavior. There were a few little girls on roller skates, gliding up and down the block. It was the pefect summer night . I loved talking to Lamont, it was different, something that I was not used to. By the time my mom pulled into the driveway, my heart stopped, well at least it felt like it did. She got out the car with a “what the hell are you doing with my daughter at night “? look on her face, i knew my mom all too well. I greeted her, “Hi mom” hey Ces” she replied, “Who is this”? my mom asked.  “This is Lamont he just moved from LA he is staying across the street with uncle”. At this moment, i knew the dectictive in my mother were going to start asking questions. Lamont offered his hand to shake hers, i was on pins and needles, my mom then shook his hand, “Hi I’m lamont, i as actually just looking for a store around here, cecilie happened to be outside when i was looking”. “Well I’m cecilie’s mother, the store sign is as big as day, you can see it from here”. I started to bite my lip in anticipation for embarrassment.  If you have ever seen the movie “Friday” and witnessed Craig’s character (played by west coast rapper IceCube) mom replying dryly to Mrs. parker invitation to call her when she returned home from work, that was my mom. She smelled bullshit from the jump, she barely gave him a chance. “ummm hmmm” she said As she made it up the stairs to the front door she stopped, and looked at me, “Ces it’s dark, you have 5 minutes to say bye, when you come inside come to my room” “okay ma”. I already knew what that meant she was about to get in my ass, play the good cop bad cop role. She just didn’t want to embarrass me in front of lamont. She closed the screen door.  “Can i have your number”? Lamont asked, “sure,” i replied, i went to grab a pen and paper and came back outside. I wrote my number down and he said he would call me. We said goodbye. I slowy did the walk of shame towards my mom’s closed bedroom door. I had a feeling that i wasn’t going to see the otherside of her door after i walked in. “Hey ma, you wanted to talk to me”? “Yes, what were you doing outside in the dark with that ugly little boy”? “Mom! mekia, him, and i were just talking, mekia just left” i replied. “Now he know he a damn lie talking about looking for a store, he seen that big ass sign above the house” “Here we go” i thought to myself. “Mom we were just talking, that’s it”. She stared at me “Alright cecilie, i don’t want you outside with him in the dark, the freaks come out a night, and he probably one of them, i don’t know that boy, and you don’t either”. “Okay” i replied. I turned to walk out of her room, she mumbled the famous black mom saying “aint bringing no damn babies in here, shiiit, little boy just want one thing”. I rolled my eyes and closed her door. I left the interrogation with a smile.

Later that evening my little sister and i wacthed the hip opera “Carmen” on MTV, the house phone rang, my sister Bre got up to answer it, she then returned and handed the phone to me “Hello” i answered “Hey beautiful”. Trying to sound sweet and innocent i replied “Hey” “did you get in trouble he asked “no” i replied “you sure? cause mom’s was looking like she was ready to kill me” i laughed “no its good”, “can you come outside for a minute?”  I peeked inside my mom’s room, she was sleep, “yes, but only for a minute”. “ok, cool.” I told him meet me outside on my porch in 5 minutes. We hung up and i blasted off into the bathroom like the road runner to freshen up. I needed to look extra cute tonight. I brushed my teeth, sprayed on my victoria secret love spell, and applied light gloss to my lips. i looked at myself in the mirror, “okay ces it’s just a boy, no biggie, act cool, be yourself, don’t stumble, you got this”. I was the blueprint, a the teenage version of Issa Rae from “Insecure” giving myself a pep talk, to myself!

I had never experienced so many butterflies, i now had a reason to relate to Alicia Keys song “Butterflies”. I walked onto the porch wearing gray above the thight shorts, an oversized B2K t-shirt, with a blanket wrapped around me. It was summer, but summer in the Bay area. The days were hot, but the nights were cold. He sprinted across the street and made his way to my porch. A big smile crept upon my face. The closer he got, the more the light hit him from my front porch. The high school all-star/ nelly knock off made his way to me, a dark and chubby girl. If my hormones hadn’t shown themselves before, they sure as hell were greeting me now. “Hey you” I said “Hey cutie” he replied.  “I dont have long, the warden might notice I’m not in the house”. Lamont laughed “Oh okay”.  “Can i ask you something, i would have asked earlier but it wasnt the right time”, “Yea, shoot”. “Can i kiss you”?. I looked puzzled, i had never been asked to be kissed, what was i suppose to say? i hesirated, “Um i guess”. I thought  It was just a kiss right? no biggie. He stepoed up to where i stood, he leaned over and the kiss started off  as a peck. The now innocent peck caused our lips to open and our tongues to dance the tango. I didn’t  know what feeling it was but I have never experienced anything like that, Ever! Not only was the feeling felt throught my body, but in other regions as well.  A small moan escaped my mouth, He pulled away, “You taste good” he said, i replied “Thanks, i guess”. “Can i see you tomorrow”? he asked, “Sure”! i replied. We kissed once more and said goodnight. I snuck quietly back into the house. I felt like Tom cruise from the movie “Mission In Possible”. I shucked and jived from the front door to my room. I felt like a spy. I made it to my room without waking up the warden(my mother).

I climbed into bed with overwhelming feelings of bliss and excitement. I closed my eyes and thought “This is going to be an EPIC summer”.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Getty images

My Plus Size Life

Have You ever felt like this?

Since i was a young Lad, i have always been “big boned”, wait, there is no such thing as “big boned”, look i was a little chubby. What normal little kid wasn’t? I loved the attention from family members and especially my grandmother. She would pinch my cheeks and call me her “chocolate baby”. Those memories were the happiest of my childhood, until it wasn’t. My first realization that i weighed a little too much is when i was seven years old. My aunt and i was playing around and she decided to try and pick me up, oh boy why did she do that? not only did we both fall, but all the weight of my body landed on her big toe and that poor toe hasn’t been right ever since, travesty right? My mom wanted to set an example for leading a “healthy lifestyle” so she started to work out in the mornings, and drink slim fast like it was water. She had her insecurities as well and she wanted to become her small size that she was before she had me. After eating my oatmeal each morning my mom would turn on her exercise video, i would get on the floor with her and mimic every movement. I always wondered “why is she doing all these silly movements with her body? she sure has energy, and how can she drink those yucky chocolate drinks? iv’e tried them and they aren’t that great”. The workouts and slim fast payed off and she dropped the weight, but it seemed her habits and routines rubbed off on me. She would try to encourage me, but she stopped, i guess she figured since i was a little kid i would run around and all the baby fat would go away.

 

In elementary i was the “fat girl”. Kids made fun of me, not only was i chubby, but i had a very dark complexion. The names they would call me would sting in the beginning, but after awhile i just became immune. That is when my personalty flourished. I might have been fat, but i bet i was going to make good grades, run for student body president, and be the funniest kid in school. Some days the teasing was overwhelming. I would go home and tell my mom, she would tell me to not listen to those children and if i wanted it to stop then maybe i should loose weight. That is when it began, the low self esteem and humiliation for looking the way i looked. When i look back at it now, my mom wasn’t trying to intentionally hurt me, but she wanted me to be healthy. When i went to routine checkups at the doctors they would always classify me as being overweight for my age, and with that came resources and many brochures. I know my mom was concerned and it became a wake up call because she had gotten it confirmed from an experienced physician. From that point on my mother changed the way we ate, fried foods would be limited to once a week, vegetables were introduced, and kool aide was no longer the drink of choice. I hated it! I wanted that nice cold cup of sugary red kool-aide, I wanted those chocolate chip cookies in the pantry shelf. Coming from a low income neighborhood meant that we had little no any resources on healthy eating and portion control. The pamphlets from the doctor  were the only thing we had to go off of, and some of the “healthy foods” were hard to purchase because of the price, most people in my neighborhood were receiving food stamps, including me. My mom was doing the best she could to make sure my sister and i always had a full fridge, we never went Hungry.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night, sneaking cookies, and eating cake frosting. Some nights i got away with the crime, other nights the food police(my mom) caught me in action. Even though my mom tried to cook healthy meals, she would not have the energy for it at times because of work so we would stop by McDonald’s or grab a pizza. I didn’t overly eat, but i loved food.

As i was going into junior high school i started to become more insecure about the way i looked. I was at a stage where puberty started to set. I hadn’t come into my girlish looks yet. Being fat gave me a identity, i also identified as a Tomboy.

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Me at that awkward phase (middle school) sporting a Tommy Hilfiger Fit.

I would wear the most baggiest clothes. I thought they would make me look cool, and i would be able to hide my body. I hated dresses and wouldn’t be caught dead in a skirt or tight shirt. This was also a time in my life where i started to like the opposite sex. I had a major crush on this boy Ariel, he was the hottest thing since sliced bread, and he had the eyes that were just as blue as the ocean. I lurked in the background while all the cute light skinned skinny girls would flirt and giggle with Ariel. I noticed that he never talked to the girls who had darker skin. But All i could do is admire him from afar, he would never take a second look at a girl like me. I would go home, look in the mirror and wished the my skin was lighter and my body was thinner. My mother always told me how beautiful i was, and how i should be proud of my complexion, and that she only wanted me to be healthy when the subject of weight came up, but at that age i didn’t want to receive it, i didn’t believe anything because my looks didn’t catch the attention of my peers and Ariel. I wished that i could be as thin and pretty as the late singer Aaliyah and a frame like the singer Mya. There was no Lizzo or Joanne Borgella, Ashley Graham, Tess holiday, or Dainielle Brooks. In the 90’s there were no child/teen that was my complexion and that looked like me on television . Traditional media considered “being heavy” not acceptable, there was and still is a stigma about being overweight. No one considered that maybe it was a genetic factor, something medical going on like a thyroid condition. People in our society assume that heavier people just sit around and stuff their faces like you see on “My 600lb Life”, in some ways, with some people,  that would be accurate, but not everyone falls into that box.

During the summer of 2000 My aunt Stacey had loss a tremendous amount of weight. My mom and i both noticed how great she looked.  My mom asked my aunt what she did to loose so much weight, my aunt mentioned that she was doing the Atkins diet. Now, back then Atkins consisted of only eating lean meat, vegetables, cheese, and sugar free desserts(basically no carbohydrates). My mom mentioned that we should both try the diet together, and we would be able to motivate one another. I was apprehensive about it, it was a change and a habit i didn’t want to break, but i knew we both needed the body reset. My mom and i both loved food! but we knew what we were consuming weren’t good for our bodies. My mom and i decided that the next day we would start our “diet”, if the “diet” had failed then we agreed to try something else.  Boy was it a challenge! seeing my peers eat junk at lunch time while i ate a salad really made me feel excluded. The few friends i had would ask me why my eating habits changed, they expressed that they saw nothing wrong with me, but i wanted to show my mom and myself that i could stick to the food plan.

As i became closer to graduating from the 8th grade i started seeing and feeling the weight loss. My confidence had soared, i started to dress more “girly”, I started to get my eyebrows arched, and my peers started to notice. I had the great personality all along, but now, i had the body to match or so i thought. Ariel had moved away suddenly so i never got the chance to even shoot my shot.

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7th Grade

I saved myself the embarrassment of approaching and being rejected. At least I knew i had done good when my mom and i went inside of target one day and i was able to fit clothes in the juniors department, i no longer needed to shop in the adult woman section. My mom was proud and that made me proud, this weight loss had made her happy. I finally was able to stick to something and achieve my goal. Even at a routine doctors visit, my doctor had asked what things had changed since the last visit. I told her that i was becoming more active and cutting out carbohydrates and desserts. The scale confirmed that i had lost 30 lbs. Even though i had looked great physically i wasn’t able to really enjoy what i saw when i looked in the mirror, i felt like the weight that i worked so hard to lose wasn’t enough to get attention from “the boys” i started to think were cute, i wasn’t skinny, but in my mind i knew “thick” wasn’t going to get it either. It was all in my head. Towards the end of the 8th grade year i started to build friendships with my peers, the weight loss even got me noticed with the “popular kids”. I met dope people in my choir and Drama class. I had come out of my turtle shell, talking, and frequently socializing. Surprisingly i even received compliments from boys, they would tell me that i was much nicer than the other girls and i carried myself in a way that made me more approachable, those things were all nice things to hear, but i didn’t believe it, my self esteem was so shattered that i questioned if i were attractive. A few of the guys in my Drama class would ask me out and try to pursue me but, i was shy, i thought i had wanted the attention but when i received it i would clam up, i was not ready for that type energy yet.

Going into high school i still had the mindset that because i was still plus size i wouldn’t be able to attract the high school guys. I also noticed that the girls with a lighter skin complexion received more attention from the boys. I didn’t understand why this was. I figured a girl is a girl, we all have the same thing at the end of the day. but that’s just how it was, and continue to be. High school for me was the big time! sink or swim, high school was a whole different ball game. I knew that i was a “attractive dark skinned” girl, i knew that i had a great personality but i was too shy to be myself, and too quiet to get noticed. I felt like there was always competition between the girls at my high school.

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High school freshman Year

Who had the best hair style, who wore the latest Jordan’s, who lost their virginity first, it was a freaking mad house. One thing that i can say that i did, i was always myself around my friends. Even though i had gained some confidence with the weight loss, i still thought that i wasn’t good enough, i always felt like maybe if i were skinnier i would have more opportunities, to get noticed, to be popular, to be visible. As high school went on i started to come into self love by encouragement from friends. They let me know that i was cool and that i was beautiful the way i was, that i would be beautiful at any size. My girls Jamie and Tamica would always tell me “If they cant take you for who you are, fuck em”!

My self perception of myself started to change, once i had saw that i wasn’t the only plus size girl at my school, i was relieved. One girl that taught me to embrace myself was Tajma. She was a grade up. We had choir together in junior high and that girl could blow a roof off an house. She had a lighter skin complexion, just gorgeous, and plus size. She would dress to the T’s and her make-up game was unmatched. Not only was she beautiful on the outside, but she was just as beautiful on the inside. I thought to myself “now that is a dope ass girl”. Her walk, the way she made her presence known gave me confidence. She inspired me to showcase my talent, to reveal my full self. I started to dibble and dabble into makeup. I picked colors that would accent my chocolate skin. I stared to wear clothes that didn’t take away from my shapely figure, but enhanced it. The tomboy that i once knew was slowly disappearing. I became a fluttering butterfly, i started to enjoy and love who i was, a cute, chocolate plus size dope ass girl from Richmond.

The older i became, the more comfortable i became within myself. Of course i wasn’t small or petite, but i remained healthy and active. I accepted my wide hips, and thick thighs (i get it from my mamma). My mother would always compliment me, she was noe my personal hype man. I eventually learned to accept my dark skin, i learned the many stories of what dark skin represented, my ancestors, my bloodline, my African roots. I became proud of my skin complexion.

It also helped that i always had friends and people around who didn’t care what i looked like, they pumped me up, they would point out features of mine they wish they had. My personality would, at most times  make up for what i thought was flawed. I came to the realization that i had to learn to love me, i had to look in the mirror and find parts of my body that i liked, parts of my body that made me unique. Looking back on old high school photos i wish that i would have enjoyed my shapely figure. I wish that i hadn’t been so self conscious. I learned that i had to love myself fully, in order to be loved by another. It might sound cliche, but it applies. Now, i love every fold, flap, garage door, and muffin top. I no longer seek validation from the opposite sex or anyone. I give myself the validation that i need.

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After high school i would loose weight, then gain it, then loose some and gain again, i was a never ending light up YO-YO. I have tried all diets, weight loss programs, fasting, not eating at all. But no matter what i try my structure has never been, or will ever be thin. I noticed that whenever i had weight loss my frame stayed the same, my body just became leaner. I would still have the full hips, large thighs, voluptuous breasts. There was no escaping my genetic make-up. Aside from debilitating migraines, i am relatively healthy, that matters.

I always thought that i wouldn’t be able to attract the opposite sex because of my size and skin complexion . As a teen I was always the “fat dark one” of the group, so i would go unnoticed, that made me feel unwanted and totally invisible. Some men can be just as shallow as women. I don’t have the body like like many female celebrities. Compare me to Sara Bartman, my sista who was naturally bred. My skin is not light, and Hey that’s Okay!. It doesn’t take away from who i am as a person, It doesn’t take away from my education, knowledge, skills, or independence,If anything My dark assists me makes me stand out. I’m damn proud of that.

Are men really intimidated by a woman’s size? or is it their own insecurity? Does he think he could handle her? Does it matter that her body is naturally curvy? Does it matter that she has a muffin top and some love handles? Do men think that all women should be built from the ground up like female Hollywood celebs?  or any other woman who has been surgically enhanced? nah, and a disclaimer, i’m not in anyway am i against surgery, or getting enhancements, but personally it’s not right for me. I refuse to fit in, to indulge in surgical fads because celebrities engage in it.  I figure, if i don’t fit into society’s  “box” then i can bedazzle one for myself. Men who cannot accept a big, sexy, curvaceous, confident , smart, and witty woman, Well! They don’t deserve to reap the benefits that us “big women” can provide. Not just the physical part of us, but the mental.

We will not settle!

Don’t Settle!

As you get older things start to sag to the ground, your metabolism slows down, you put on a little more extra pounds due to having children or leading a hectic life. Sometimes life is moving so fast that you don’t have time to go to the gym, cook a nutritious healthy meal or plan. You pick up that doughnut because you’re on the go, or you stop by your favorite fast food place for dinner because it was along day and your not in the mood to cook for yourself or the family. And let’s face it, at times it’s just pure laziness. It is possible to be plus size while you practice healthy eating habits and participate in daily physical activities (Yoga, Walk, Gym). A woman who is plus size can be completely healthy.

For any woman who has experienced society’s idea of what “beauty” is i say to you, Queen you are the epitome of femininity, power, and grace. You are desirable, and wanted, YOU ARE WORTHWHILE!!! When society states you are are not desirable, i am here to tell you, THAT’S A LIE! Society is what we make it. Embrace your body, treat it with care, be kind to it. YOU.ARE.BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!

Self love and self-care, is how i continue, and will continue to get through my plus size life.theofficialblackgirldiaries_20200530_202824_0

Like This post? Can you relate in any way? Have you had Challenges with self-esteem or body image?

Like, Comment, and Share!

 

“You can’t hate yourself happy. You can’t criticize yourself thin. You can’t shame yourself worthy. Real change begins with self-love and self-care.” — Jessica Ortner

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Photo: https://www.trendhunter.com/trends/challenge-conventional-beauty-standards

 

Aye Yo!!! Play that “Masterpiece” by Jazmine Sullivan!

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COVID-19 And Mental Health

Finding out that my employer was closing all preschool programs for two weeks surprised me. Not only was this paid time off, but I would Finally get a chance to relax, catch up on my blog, clean, organize, and sleep! It was Going to be a two-week mini vacation, right? Wrong!!

I do not watch the news(it’s depressing) I guess you can say I depend on social media to tell me what is going on in the world. Not only that, I admit that I do love the Shade room and all the juicy gossip that comes from their blog page I consider “Juicy news mixed with informative news. I first heard about the virus back at the end of last December. My co-worker asked me had I heard about this new virus called the “corona virus”. I thought to myself “Corona”? a virus from beer”? My co worker had explained how it started in china and how many people were becoming deathly ill. On my lunch I looked up information on the virus the corona virus and what I read was shocking. People that were traveling had to have their temperature taken multiple times at the airport, any signs of illness would be handled immediately, and almost every person I saw in a picture had a medical face mask. What the hell was going on, was this the regular flu? Well not exactly. In the coming days I started to hear more and more about the virus on social media. The comments warped me in, and I started to get different information on social mecia from people that were posting and commenting. I wondered if it would travel to the united states, were we next?

By January there were cases of COVID-19 not only in china, but in other parts of the world eventually reaching the united states. I am an early childhood educator, working on the floor with children, so our protocols on health and safety became a little stricter, Hand washing became even more frequent, sanitizing surfaces and toys were also implemented daily. My co teachers and I talked to parents about proper hand washing, what to do when their child becomes ill, what to do when they become ill, and we gave each parent a handout explaining what the virus is and what to look for. At this point things were still pretty normal for me. I would go to work, walk my dog, go to the store, pick up essentials like toilet paper and soap without having to worry about if it were there. Life for me had not changed, life for the people around me had not changed, my routine was much like…. a routine, until it was not.

As the virus had reached the united states, specifically California, I started to freak out a little. How would the virus effect my work? How would the virus impact my families that I serve? How would it impact the state as a whole? Is this virus that deadly? In the middle of march, I decided to take a few days off for my anniversary. Two days before I was set to go on my vacation my coworker had expressed that she was frustrated because she went on her routine store trip for her family and she revealed that  tissue, hand sanitizer, bleach, Lysol, and paper towels were flying off the shelves. I thought to myself what does tissue have to do with becoming sick? I mean, you can only wipe your nose so much before it starts to become raw. I had to look this up, as a ,matter of fact I have to see this for myself, so after my shift I made my way to The local CVS pharmacy because I didn’t feel like going into a big grocery store. When I walked down the tissue isle, I saw a lot of toilet paper, and cleaning supplies. I thought to myself “what was she talking about? It is a plethora of ass paper and other household supplies”. I bought what I needed to get, and I went on my way. Thursday When my vacation day started, I saw many posts on social media about how toilet paper was becoming a hot commodity and how people were in a panic,”Mass Hysteria” was what one article called it. I thought to myself again “why are these people buying up all this ass paper like this”? I went on with my day and put this news in the back of my mind. Boom, Friday comes around. On this day I am playing my R&B, cleaning, folding clothes, and looking up fun activities to implement for my kiddos, I actually looked forward to going back to work that Monday, I was pumped! By the Friday evening I received a text from my supervisor stating that our center would be closing for two weeks due to COVID-19 virus making its way so close to home. By this time there were a few cases reported in our area. Not only was our center closing, but other centers, and school districts in the local counties were closing as well. “shit” I thought “this is serious”. It made it even more real when I checked my work email and the CEO of the organization confirmed closures of all childcare centers. Panic started to set in for me on that day. During the weekend I started to see why all the ass paper and household cleaning products were disappearing, people were getting ready for something big, something that we never thought would happen, a state lock down.

 

The first couple of days were the Bomb! I took so many great naps, ate good snacks, (oh the yummy snacks) cleaned things that I had planned on cleaning before but put it off, organized my sneakers and clothes, took online training’s for work, I even had time to read books on my kindle that were sitting there waiting to be read. As I finished the tasks on my “Get it Done” list I found myself becoming anxious, more anxious than usual. I already suffer from severe depression and Anxiety. My daily Routine, work, and my kiddos made me busy, so busy that the anxiety took a backseat and never interrupted my driving. My anxiety started to peak when it was announced that the state of California was on a quarantine. A quarantine? Wait, so now I see why the ass paper was flying off the shelf, we were to become confined to our homes for the coming weeks maybe longer. No more get together’s, parties, and mall trips. I thought to myself it should not be too bad, I am off for another week, and by the time I go back everything will have gone back to normal, i will be able to go out and socialize,Wrong again!

This quarantine  no longer felt like a vacation, for me, it was the start of loneliness and extreme anxiety. First, it was No public gatherings with 50 people or more, then it went down to 20, Then 10, then to no physical contact, then basically to the powers that be stating “Stay your ass at home period”. There was no shopping, movie trips, or going out to eat. I am not built like this; I cannot possibly stay inside and do nothing for the next week. To keep my anxiety levels down I did things that would occupy my time, I worked on developmental assessments for work, I finally got to read “Make room” by my favorite gospel artist Jonathan Reynolds. Netflix was a huge source of my entertainment; Tidal music was another. My coworkers and I started to do group text daily to check in with one another, and of course good old Social media. But eventually Netflix no longer stimulated me, i found myself talking to my small dog rocky, I had gotten so bored that I would run out of things to do and my thoughts would start to race, Would I get the virus? Are my families okay? Are my coworkers okay? Is this it? Was Jesus coming to save his people? Was this the end of the world? It certainly felt like it.

I never thought I would see the day where I was excited to get dressed to make a trip to go to the grocery store. I would start to get anxious in the grocery store because i had never seen shelves so empty, it looked like something from the film “Bird Box” or a cliche zombie movie.  I had to stop at many different stores daily to find toilet paper. Getting out and  taking those “essential” trips eased my anxiety a bit, because i wasn’t on house arrests, but at the same time i became frustrated. I missed my boring, routine having consistent scheduled life. Yes, I am an introvert but when you do not have the option to go and come when you want, it gets pretty intense being indoors. This was my life now; this was all of our lives. As days passed certain things started to trigger my anxiety, things like:

  • The news
  • Seeing every human with masks on
  • Uncertain of what will happen
  • Would I or any of my family catch the virus
  • Would I lose my job?
  • Would the economy crash?
  • Will I find ass paper?
  • People coughing or sneezing around me
  • Zombie Apocalypse?

My employer posted mental health resources for staff and families. I haven’t called the hotline yet, but the way i have been feeling i will be calling soon. I didn’t realize how much COVID-19 affected a persons mental health until it effected me, a person who already deals with depression and an anxiety disorder. An online article for the health reform website stated that A broad body of research links social isolation and loneliness to poor mental health; and recent data shows that significantly higher shares of people who were sheltering in place (47%) reported negative mental health effects resulting from worry or stress related to coronavirus than among those not sheltering in place (37%). Negative mental health effects due to social isolation may be particularly pronounced among older adults and households with adolescents, as these groups are already at risk for depression or suicidal ideation. Research shows that job loss is associated with increased depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem and may lead to higher rates of substance use disorder and suicide. Recent polling data shows that more than half of the people who lost income or employment reported negative mental health impacts from worry or stress over coronavirus, and lower income people report higher rates of major negative mental health impacts compared to higher income people.

 

This Virus not only poisons the body, but as you can see from the statistics it poisons the mind. COVID-19 has changed my life, it has changed all of our lives, but most importantly it has changed the way I look at medicine and our brave health care professionals. I am just a teacher who is at home, comfortable, no exposure, with food, ass paper and technological entertainment. If I am experiencing severe anxiety and depression, I can only imagine what police officers, doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks, mail workers, and amazon workers feel like. As California continues to flattens the curve, it personally gives me hope that I will be able to serve my families again, I will be able to step outside without a mask, and gloves. I will be able to breathe the air freely, hug my kiddos, hug my coworkers, shake hands, connect with people by having close contact, But I also know it may never get back to “normal”.  As of today, our childcare centers including mine remain closed (except for 9 centers who provide emergency care for essential workers) we are set to return on July 1stth, 2020. I look forward to that glorious day, but I am also mindful that the May 15th date can be pushed back again based on if we as a community are doing what needs to be done to keep all of us safe, which is STAYING HOME!!! I guess we will see within the coming weeks. God Bless You All and Let us Keep Up the good work!

If you have feelings of Anxiety or depression please call these support hotlines Below:

NAMI HelpLine | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Monday-Friday, 10am–6pm ET. 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

LifeLine Crisis Chat: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/

If it is a life-threatening emergency, dial 9-1-1.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – For youth and adults
(800) 273-TALK (8255) 1(800)799-4889 (options for deaf and hard of hearing)

Veteran’s Crisis Line
(800) 273-8255

Youth Line
1(877) 968-8491
Text TEEN2TEEN to 839863

National Institute on Drug Abuse Hotline
1(800) 662-4357

 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

National Domestic Violence Hotline
1(800) 799-7233

Rape, Sexual Assault, Abuse, and incest (RAINN)

1(800) 656-HOPE

 

Have you experienced any mental health during this pandemic?

If You enjoyed this post like, comment, and share!!!⬇⬇⬇ 

 

 

Cite: Panchal, N., Kamal, R., Orgera, K., @cynthiaccox, C. C. F., Garfield, R., Hamel, L., … Chidambaram, P. (2020, April 21). The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/     

Featured Photo: http://www.sactownmag.com/Blog/2020/coronavirus-mental-health-Q&A-2020/

The Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat

After Christine contacted me over the phone about the weekend retreat i was apprehensive. I had never gone far away from home other than my first trip to New York city. I was going to a place that i never been. Spending a weekend with other individuals i didn’t know frightened me, Not only that, But the retreat was based on the catholic religion, i grew up in a christian household. I knew of some differences between both religions, but i also knew that God and the son was apart of both. I asked myself, is this okay? can i intertwine Christianity and Catholicism? Does this make me both catholic and christian? Is that even possible? I prayed and, god let me know that it didn’t matter, as long as i came to him, served him, i would receive my healing either way, as long as i put him first.

Rachel’s Vineyard was a  three-day retreat program, open to mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings of aborted children as well as those who have worked in the abortion industry. That weekend helped retreatants begin healing from their loss through group sharing, a memorial service and Mass.

I feared that the people who were there to help me heal would try to convert me to Catholicism (my anxiety). I thought that these two religions couldn’t mingle.  Feeling afraid and not knowing  what to expect i asked My new love interest to join me. I expected a  “no” but it was the total opposite. He supported and wanted to join me with no questions asked. Weeks before the retreat Christine and i would email back and fourth whenever i needed support and i would call her when i had a bad day thinking about my abortion. She was so kind, understanding, and she never judged. she always reminded me that god loves me so much. It was a breath of fresh air. Days before the retreat i was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect or what horror stories that i would hear, i didn’t know if i would break down in tears while i shared my story. Was this retreat really going to help me heal from my abortion? was this some type of cult? was i going to a safe place? Was it wrong from me to seek healing from the catholic religion and not my own?  My thoughts were racing and my anxiety started to get the best of me. He stayed in my corner reassuring me that everything would be fine because he would be there. We drove an hour and a half to our destination and may i just say my anxiety was getting the better of me, then again my wonderful love interest  offered  words of encouragement and brought me back down from my nervousness. When we arrived, we pulled up to what seemed to be a church.

I wanted to jump back in the car and turn around to head home, but there was no turning back, i knew i needed to do it. I thought to myself “were going to sleep here”? i was expecting a spa, nature type of environment, i began to tense up, at least him and i would be able to share a room right?  Christine met us outside and gave us details on what the weekend would be like. Her presence gave me a sense of calm, her tone of voice made me feel safe. There were two other couples there along with a few single women. Christine gave us a tour and showed us where we would be staying.  When i walked into my room there was a beautiful scarf that had been handmade just for me,

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My note from my Rachel Vineyard Staff

a letter on top of it with a beautiful flower. There was also a pen and pad to write down thoughts or any inspirational thoughts that might have come to mind.  Justin and i also learned that we had to sleep in separate rooms, we should have saw that coming, but we made it work.  An half hour later we were called into a small room. We wasted no time going into introductions and explaining why we were there. There was also living scriptures. We all sat around in a circle with Christine and 3 other staff  who helped her to coordinate the retreat. Christine then asked each one of us to share why we were there and what we hope we will get out of the weekend. The stories i heard made me tear up. Many abortions and miscarriages, so much loss. When it was my turn i looked at him, he gave me a look,  a look letting me know “i’m here”. I started to tell my story and couldn’t get it out before i burst into tears, thoughts of the clinic, the operating room, The pain all came back. He held me and whispered to me “i’m here baby i’m not going anywhere let it out”. At this point everyone who had shared their experience cried with me. I will never forget that feeling.  Christine thanked Justin for supporting me through everything. I was thankful that god had brought me a man that i could be vulnerable with, a man that could see all my scars and love me for them. We all stood after stories were shared, Christine and the father of the church led us in prayer. I had the biggest headache from crying and snot continually dripped from my face into my soggy napkin.  After the session was over we had dinner in the dining room. He and i talked to young married couple about their experience. Tom and Chen (not their real names) had suffered from miscarriages after Chen had  an abortion.  They told us that they were planning on getting pregnant soon but wanted to come the retreat to heal the loss of their other pregnancies. They were a really nice couple and we all had many things in common. After dinner we all headed to our separate rooms. I hugged him and thanked him again for coming with me, even though he had nothing to do with my abortion experience.

 

I had a hard time sleeping that first night. I was in a new place and even though it was a holy place, it was also terrifying. I didn’t know what to expect, were they a cult? were they planning something sinister? My anxiety was at an all time high and i stayed at alert just in case there were plans of any ill will(pure paranoia) The Next morning came and i had slept horribly. Breakfast was served in the small dining hall on the first floor. He and had communicated the previous night about how they would wake everyone up for morning breakfast and activities, also thanked him again for coming on this journey with me. My new love and i sat at a table with Tom and Chen.  They smiled as we walked towards them to sit and talked about what we thought the day was going to be like.  I finally felt like i wasn’t alone, i finally felt like god set this up for a reason.

The day was filled with testimonies and prayer groups. They split us up into small groups and we would meet in different parts of the church. One of the exercises that broke me down was The Role Play. One of the councilors would pretend that they were one of the people who might have contributed to our experiences, they were also there to just let us vent. As everyone participated in the exercise i stared to sink into my chair. There were no limits, there were no guidelines, we were freely able to express any and every emotion that we felt or were feeling in that moment. I saw anger, pain, hopelessness, all the things that i had experienced. I saw tears, i heard cries, i heard yells, and no matter what the counselor she still managed to conduct this exercise in a respectful and supportive way. Once the last person finished, i started to feel hot all over, my heart was beating at an alarming rate and i felt my palms starting to sweat, my palms never sweat, but instill i knew this is what i came here for, this was apart of the healing. She called me and asked me to sit in the chair facing her. “Who am i today”? “Express how you feel, don’t hold back, i will be playing a role”. I looked down nervously and started to rub my hands together, “You are my ex” i replied quietly, “Okay”, “what did he call you”? she asked “he called me C.C”. “Okay, What do you want me to know”? “I want you to know that these last few months have been hell for me, i’m angry with you because you were supposed to take care of me, you were supposed to take responsibility, you lied, you broke my spirit, we were supposed to do this together.” “What did you want me to do”? She replied “I wanted you to protect me, i wanted you to honor your word, i wanted you there with me at the clinic, i wanted you there for the recovery process, i wanted you there”! I started to feel a burst of anger, i started to feel my knees shake, then there it went, the tears started to draw up. “Well” she replied, “What do you want me to do about it now cc”. I stared at her for a moment, and in that quick moment, she sounded just like him, that was something that he would say. My face was wet, and my heartbeat slowed down, “i want you to say your sorry, that’s all i want to hear”. She stared at me and she leaned over and said “i’m sorry, i’m sorry you went through that, and i’m sorry for letting you do it alone, i’m sorry”. I broke down, she held my hand and she rubbed my back, it was a comforting feeling, i cried the hardest I’ve ever cried in my life, it felt like a the dark heavy weight that i had been carrying had suddenly been lifted. The anger, the resentment, that hate, it all dissipated. On that day i believe the lord had laid his hands on me, his spirit moved through me, i felt at peace, but i found myself drained by the end of the exercise. Towards the end of the day the whole group met back up in one room and discussed what they learned about themselves. Everyone went around and shared their experience, even Justin. Even though he didn’t experience loss at that magnitude, he talked about different kind of loses he had experienced within his family and friends. I knew on that day, at that moment, that he would be my biggest supporter.

 

   Conclusion in Pt. 6

Pic Credit: https://mfsdiocese.ca/ministry/healing-reconciliation/rachels-vineyard/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where My Girls At?

My husband asked me a question the other day. He asked”Don’t you feel lonely without friends? I mean it’s good to have a life outside of us”. “Nope” is what I replied knowing damn well I was lying. I wanted to really say “Hell yea I miss my girl friends. The tea/gossip is shared with your best girlfriends, not your husband”. I don’t think my husband would care to know or listen to “oh babe guess who is pregnant”? or, “I heard'”….. I could look at the expression on his face that he thought “why in the hell is she telling me this?, I just want to make it to Game Stop before they close”. So I’m finally saying it out loud, I MISS MY GIRLS!!!!!! I understand that people who built everlasting bonds  loose touch and connection. Between careers, family, responsibilities, and making time for personal Rest and relaxation, it can become challenging keeping up with your girlfriends AKA your aces and or your ride or dies. I know I could have done things personally to make sure my friendships didn’t fizzle, but to be honest, i was always socially awkward. I have always been reserved, quiet, and pretty much by myself, Hell my Barbie dolls were my only friends as a child. The older I got the reservation became frequent and I didn’t know how to make  friends. I was familiar being by myself and my loneliness became natural. I was the quiet girl from Richmond California, and most of my peers called me “white girl” because I talked proper, was a huge fan of the group Nsync, and always had my big ass head in a book. It was hard for me to fit in with the “It Girls”, I was socially awkward. The only friend I had was My girl Mekia my best friend from elementary school. She would come over and we would dance in front of a Blowing fan with my mother’s good sheets wrapped around us singing and dancing to Selena’s “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and other Selena classics, ( two black girls from Richmond being hooked on Selena for quite a time). We had sleepovers, we would ride our bikes up and down 23rd street, and make frequent stops to Hill Top mall’s Claire’s to buy Nick knacks with our allowance. We would argue over which boy was the cutest (Usher, Justin Timberlake, or Marques Houston) We told each other about our first crush, but she ended up moving to another part of town and we attended separate schools.

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Adams Middle School Richmond Ca, (1998)

I missed her, even though we talked on the phone frequently, she and I Eventually had to adjust to being apart. She went on to make new friends, while I sat lonely and miserable attempting to make friends. Eventually when I entered Jr. High and slowly started to come out of my turtle shell. I would talk to classmates here and there, and judging from my peers spotting the Justin Timberlake mini poster I had in front of my clear binder Pocket I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed this amazing group.  Some of my peers had similar interest (cute white boys with blonde curly hair). At that moment I realized that I was not the only black girl in my jr. High that had a thing for white boys. I was ridiculed by my peers for being a “Black Girl” who went crazy over entertainers that didn’t look like me, but I didn’t care, I was convinced that Justin Timberlake and I would wed, and when we did, they wouldn’t be invited.

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My Room Richmond Ca, (1999)

 

I built some of my best friendships over Nsync and The Backstreet Boys. Not only did my new friends have the same interest as me, but they also looked like me too. Finally, I felt like I wasn’t the “whitewashed” girl everyone perceived me to be, there were others!!!!! 

I met Jamie, my ride or die, my Thelma to my Louise in  Junior High. We bonded over Nsync, and I was shocked when I learned we had more things in common other than boy bands. We clicked instantly, and from then on we were there for each other’s Teenage and early adult years. She was there for me through every heartache, crush and vice versa. I also built a friendship with another girl who lived in my neighborhood. We also became close. As we got older we were into the IMX’s and the B2K’s, not excluding Nsync, we were still hooked on them of course. Two Years went by and friend Kim(not her real name) moved to another state. I was devastated, I had built yet another bond with someone and they were leaving, but at least I had Jamie right? I decided to move to Stockton California with my aunt to attend my sophomore through senior year at a new high school. I was sad that I was leaving but I was excited to enter a new beginning. I needed a new environment and I thought maybe I could make new friends. Even though I lived two hours away from my sister/BFF we still remained close. At this time Mekia and I would keep in contact but it wasn’t the same not having her there, but once again, I had Jamie. I would go to Richmond to spend weekends with Jamie at her house, and she would spend some weekends with me in Stockton.  The distance never affected us because we were like sisters. While in my Junior year in high school I made new friends.

 

 

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Junior Year (2004) Kelli (bottom left) Ic’ee (upper left) and Tequilla (upper right) 

In Stockton California We all met through a chance encounter all caused by Stockton’s thick winter fog, The bus we were waiting on was late, it was a group of us girls waiting for that long yellow bus to arrive, so we decided to walk to one of the girl’s house to warm up and the rest was history.  From then on we became close, we would hang out at lunch and eventually after school. I liked these three girls, they were nice to me, and we had things in common. I felt so good about the friendship I had with these girls, so much so  that I introduced Jamie to them, we all clicked. We would all go places in our big group and for the first time in a long time I felt like I belonged, I didn’t have to fit I with the popular crowd because I felt popular when we were around each other. It was a sisterhood. Thereafter I met another girl we had two classes together, as soon as we talked and got to know one another, We clicked. we had a similar interests. She was the funniest outgoing person I ever met.

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Senior year (2005)

I could say that I had friends. I was finally adjusting to my new life in a new place. After graduating from high school, we were in each other’s lives for a moment. I moved back to the bay area to go to college and my girls stayed in Stockton to do Continue their education. We started to hang out less, even though we would chat on the phone from time to time. Jamie and I picked up where we left off when i moved back to the bay area and we were hanging with each other all the time! When I would visit my aunt in Sacramento California the girls and I would hook up and hang out since they only lived 30 minutes away from my aunt. 

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Shay, me and Kelli (2006)

When I would go back to the bay area we would talk on the phone and text. We all had our own lives at this point, so the phone calls would slow down and when we couldn’t get a hold of each other, Jamie was there, watching my back. The sisterhood bond that i built with my girls was slowly fading. I blame part of it on myself, but I knew that we would still love each other even though we were not around each other like we were as teens. We became older and faced our own individual journey’s, It happens.

Some of us moved to different states for school, some of us were just getting the hang of being responsible adults and figuring out what to make of our lives.

Jamie and I would still hang out along with another girl I met in high school Diamond(not her real name). Her, Jamie, and I had gotten really close. They were there for my transition into adulthood, they were there transitioning with me. They both were there for me through silly boy troubles, my abortion and depression. To be honest, while going through my depression i admit i pushed them away, I became more and more of a recluse. My depression hindered me and it affected my relationship with Jamie.

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Jamie and I (2007)

I didn’t want to hang out with my girls and when I had the had time to, I turned down every fun invitation. I was so closed off, I don’t think that Jamie had no idea the extent that the depression had over my life at that time. Jamie had been there for me when decided to terminate my pregnancy, but after i fell into darkness. Depression took away the most important thing to me; my girls. I felt that if I talked to them about my depression I would be looked at as a burden.  I didn’t want to keep talking about my depression with them, for one, I was the Debbie downer all the time, and two, I wasn’t the same Cecilie they had grown to love. I was not myself and I was embarrassed for them to see me that way, weak, and vulnerable.  To this day I don’t think Jamie really knew how dark of a place I was in.

2009 is when I met my now husband, Diamond, Jamie and I didn’t see or talk to one another a lot. Partially, my fault, I didn’t make too much of an effort because I was so busy getting to know this new guy and all my energy was spent on my happiness. Diamond  and I continued to talk over the phone when we needed one another for advice and support, she was also busy being a new mom. By this time Jamie had a child. I noticed that her and diamond’s time was taken up by motherhood, and I was just getting into this new relationship with my guy. Somewhere between my relationship with him, and my relationship with them, communication was lost in translation. I felt a strain between all three of us. We even fell out and had a big argument over something i cant remember. Some things were said and i knew then that the connection had severed, and things weren’t going to be the same as it was. My sisters were no longer. They say “people come into your life for a season, a reason, or a lifetime”, Was that the case for all my fizzled friendships? Did God only place them there for a short term? All the laughs, secrets, and fun times? that’s it? it’s just over? Like that?

I needed my girls to be there through the happiest times in my life, and I needed to be there for theirs. Baby showers, births, Bridal showers, engagement celebrations, weddings, job promotions, all those experiences should be shared with your closest friends. By no means am I perfect, I don’t even think I was a perfect friend, but I did the best I could to support and be there for them, and that was all I could have done. My girls from high school also had children of their own, in which I’m very happy for them, we talk from time to time. Whether we decide to connect again or not, I still hold those memories we created, and think of them pretty often. I hate to admit it, but yes, I definitely feel lonely in my life right now. Other than my co-workers, my husband, and dog, I have no social life, So I often ponder the question; “Where my girls at”?

“Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.”
– Ally Condie

 

Have you  had  similar experiences with friends? Did you grow apart overtime?  If so, what could you have done differently? Share your thoughts below ⬇⬇⬇

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5 Things Every Black Woman Needs To Hear From Their Significant Other

As a black woman in today’s society it’s hard for some to  acknowledge struggles that black women face in society and have faced for years. We are wives, mothers, daughters,  and entrepreneurs, but yet i feel that we are not acknowledge enough by our people and by our men. We work, go to school, bear children, cook, pay the bills, do the shopping. We are expected to do all this and perform to the highest standard in the bedroom. There are rewards and incentives that should be implemented in order for us to continue to feel like we matter, that we are needed and wanted. Everyone needs a little Positive descriptive acknowledgement(PDA). I learned of this through my early childhood education training’s. The term (PDA) or positive descriptive acknowledgment is basically praise we give children when they act on a positive interaction or behavior, it is used to build a child’s confidence and to encourage more of the positive behavior. I believe adults need this also. Who wouldn’t want to hear praise in great detail? I know i would feel warm inside if someone acknowledged my good actions and qualities. To use PDA on a woman is Not just saying “man babe that fried chicken was good” but describing the positive action or behavior “babe dinner was delicious i appreciate you taking the time to make this meal for the family”. Not only do you try this with your significant other, but try it on your friendly cashier at a local grocery store, your bubbly waitress at your favorite restaurant, even a helpful retail employee, i promise it does wonders. Take notes! Black women need to feel appreciated! Which brings me to number 1:

1. I appreciate you

From picking our kids up from school, to grocery shopping, doing laundry, cooking, making kids their lunch, making the husband his lunch, it is in us to nurture and take care of our family. When we do meet needs of our family and go far and beyond we just need a little something to show that the people we take care appreciates our acts of care and pure well being. So when a man comes home to a clean house, dinner, and some nasty adult behavior It helps to let your lady know “thank you babe” be specific on what your thankful for “thank you for cooking my favorite meal, thank you for cleaning the house, thank you for putting the kids to bed, i really appreciate everything you do for us”. Women need to hear this daily!!!!!!

2. You Are Loved

Women need to know and hear that we are sexy no matter if we have wide hips, big behind, or non existing breasts.  We as women tend to pick our bodies apart and compare our bodies to other women’s bodies, i know i do, but when you have a man that loves your weight, stretchmarks, saggy breast, flabby arms, wide thighs and much more you realize that what society considers beautiful doesn’t matter because you have a man that thinks you are the most beautiful in his world, the Beyonce to his Jay- z , the Jada to his Will. When i have one of my days where i’m not feeling what i’m wearing and insecure, sometimes we need our men to make a deposit to our confidence bank. We would like to hear ” you are right for me, every part of you is beautiful,you are enough, you are my queen”. When i hear these words something inside me rises, my confidence goes from 0 to 100 and i feel confident in my own skin, not only do i know i’m sexy, but my significant other knows it too.

3. You Are Respected

Would you ever disrespect your mother by calling her a bitch or a Hoe? would you want a man or woman to call your daughter out of her name and abuse her? So why do we do it to our women? I have been called a bitch, and i have heard women being called bitches and hoes. The same women that you are calling a bitch is someone who contributes to this world. As women we need respect, we want respect, we demand respect. Respect is what we have earned, people respect all women/men no matter what decisions or experiences that women have gone through. When there is no respect shown, that can’t  be reciprocated. We have to set an example for the younger generation. We have to teach society that women carry a lot of power, a power that men alone cannot hold. Women, we also need to set boundaries for ourselves when it comes to us respecting ourselves and other women. When a man/person acknowledges that you have boundaries and expectations it leaves no room for disrespect. My favorite author and life coach Iyanla Vanzant stated ““We have such a rich culture and in that culture, there are roles and purposes and powers, we live in a society now where women are commodities, where women are demeaned, diminished, demoralized in ways that we accommodate, And if we really understood who we are as feminine representations of the creator of the universe, some of the things that we experience in life — like crying when the unemployed boo boo leaves us , if we really understood who we are, we wouldn’t be so apt to let other people define us and confine us. We are out of order!”. Ladies we must respect ourselves, we must carry standards and believe in our morals in order to gain the respect that is deserved and necessary.

4. Its Okay

As women we are expected to be superhuman. Work, raise the children, prepare the meals, clean, fold laundry, picking up and dropping off kids at school,  hold down the house And while the husband is away, still keeping our personal dreams alive, but at times it can become overwhelming mentally and physically. Some of us might be depressed, drained, and loose sight of our own happiness and what we want. When we hit a stump in the road and we feel like we are not in control, when it’s too much pressure, too much demanded tell her it’s okay, tell her she Doesn’t have to take it on by herself. Every great man needs a greater woman to stand next too. Becoming a team and keeping open communication supports the union and love between lovers.

5. I can’t do this without you

So many responsibilities are put on “The man of the castle”. Whether it’s his job,  bills, household repairs, men can’t do it all without a strong woman behind him supporting him. Just because men are strong, does nor necessarily  mean that they can’t feel or become overwhelmed. At times i believe that men can be just as sensitive as women. Men go through challenges, hardships, loss, and self doubt often. Men need a woman that’s going to listen, a woman who is loyal and honest, a woman that is going to give him the gut wrenching low down dirty truth. Men need to feel like they can trust their woman with everything. When a man feels secure and know that you are down for him with the utmost  loyalty, they will want you there through all life challenges. When he is down on his luck he will look to god and to his woman to pick him up, when he gets laid off his woman should do whatever is necessary to make sure the family is taken care of while her man looks for work. He shouldn’t have to carry the load in his own, he needs support from his woman. When challenges and obstacles arise, women should hear “i can’t do this without you babe, i need you”.

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”

 

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 Photo Credit: If Beale street could Talk film (2018)

 

 

 

 

 

Mental Health Awareness

I have experienced being in a very dark place. At times i still manage to go there. I lost hope, i lost, confidence, and i felt like i lost my mind. Growing up there were no therapy sessions, or someone to check in on you just to ask if you were okay, you were considered weak if you cried or if you couldn’t handle life’s problems. I took my depression as something that wasn’t normal, i wasn’t supposed to feel a heightened sense of dread, worry, pure and utter sadness. I didn’t know at the time why i had those feelings and how i could climb out of the dark ongoing realm that was my life. The feelings i had were so intense, and so powerful, that i contemplated leaving his earth. I thought “I can’t see a therapist people, friends would think I’m weak, they will think I’m crazy. It had gotten so bad that my body was here on earth but my soul had left, my soul changed. I never could comprehend why so many other people in this world  were depressed, how could something like depression intervene with everyday life, Could it really stop time? Could it really stop you from living a normal healthy life? Could it effect the way you think? Hell Yes! That definitely was the case for me. FB_IMG_1539369015587The picture you see below was taken on a pretty bad day. I was highly anxious, just had taken my anxiety and depression medication, it was a bad day. I still managed to pit on my poker face.I figured that i could capture myself in that moment, so if one day when i conquered this i would remember what i felt in that moment. This picture was taken in 2008. I still remember the day, what i ate, what i did, how i felt. I forced a smile to let outsiders know things were perfect.

See, i was good at putting on a facade and portraying perfection, i did it quite well for awhile until i couldn’t any more. It started to show within my character, and sad enough, my big brown eyes. Loved ones knew something in me had shifted, my shift was infinite. I looked in the mirror and i couldn’t recognize this who i had become. I was full of life before, i shined when the sun didn’t, i was bubbly, i was outgoing and loved to joke and laugh. I finally realized i needed help and started treatment. My spirit reached a breakthrough with the help of god, Prozac, prayer, writing, and persistence. I’m saying this to say if you are ever in a place where you want to harm yourself, if you get to a place where you feel sad, worry, and severe anxiety, talk to someone, get help, this does not mean you are weak, You are not alone.

There is a stigma in the African american community surrounding mental health. Having a mental disorder symbolizes weakness. According to NAMI (national alliance of mental illness) “Although anyone can develop a mental health problem, African Americans sometimes experience more severe forms of mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other barriers. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. Common mental health disorders among African Americans include:

  • Major Depression
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder)
  • Suicide
  • Post Traumatic stress Disorder

“African Americans are also more likely to experience certain factors that increase the risk for developing a mental health condition:

NM-Mental-Health-Community-Workshop

  • Homelessness. People experiencing homelessness are at a greater risk of developing a mental health condition. African Americans make up 40% of the homeless population.
  • Exposure to violence increases the risk of developing a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. African American children are more likely to be exposed to violence than other children.In the African American community, many people misunderstand what a mental health condition is and don’t talk about this topic. This lack of knowledge leads many to believe that a mental health condition is a personal weakness or some sort of punishment from God. African Americans may be reluctant to discuss mental health issues and seek treatment because of the shame and stigma associated with such conditions.”Many African Americans also have trouble recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, leading to underestimating the effects and impact of mental health conditions. Some may think of depression as “the blues” or something to snap out of. This is not something you can just ignore and sweep under the rug. If you notice that a loved one is not themselves and you notice a shift, step in, be there, listen, it could be a matter of life or death.

If you feel down and need extra support please call  (1800)-662-HELP (4357 you really don’t have to experience pain and fear by yourself. I made it through my storm, at times it can be challenging, but I’ve gained the tools and knowledge to manage my major depressive disorder by attending cognitive therapy, attending support groups, and starting a blog. Don’t let life stop when that light goes out, find another source of light and let it carry you to utter happiness.

 

Pic Credit: https://nmblackhistorymonth.com/event/mental-health-and-the-black-community/

Featured Image: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

                                                                                                       

 

 

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A letter To Isaiah

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Dear Love,

Please don’t be upset with me, i did it for me and daddy. I know it sounds so selfish but i was scared, alone, and had no support. I think about you all the time, i always wonder what you would have looked like? would you have looked like me? would you have looked like your father? would you have those big beautiful brown eyes? or chocolate dark skin like me and daddy. Most nights i dream of you, you come in my dreams in all white, you touch my face with your tiny hand as i am down on my knees, you look at me in my eyes and say “mommy, i’m okay, god is watching me until you get here”, i cry when you walk away and take tiny steps into the white light, i want to hold you, i want to feel you. I’m sorry you had to feel the pain of being ripped apart, it was painful for mommy too, i thought about your tiny brain crushed, you little legs broken, your heart disconnected. I’m sorry i couldn’t protect you, i’m sorry that i didn’t listen to my first mind telling me to keep you.

I loved you from the moment i heard of your presence, but mommy wasn’t ready and daddy was just as lost as i was. I know you heard me crying at night, did you hear me? did you feel me rubbing you? telling you i love you? I can imagine your laugh if i tickled you all over. i can hear your cries from a fall, i can hear a coo and see your bare smile when i make funny faces. I can hear your cries, i can smell you. Can you forgive me? can you forgive me for ending a precious life before it begun? You would have been 10 years old by now, now that i think about it i could have made it work, you coming into this world wasn’t a curse or a burden, but a beautiful intricate gift from god. Mommy got help from your loss, i tried so hard to forget you but you remained in my mind, in my heart. No amount of medication or therapy would keep me from you, it didn’t matter what i did, you were always on my mind, In the morning when i would wake, until the evening when i would close my eyes. At night i pray that when i leave this world i can go straight to heaven to see you,  if you see me in heaven will you recognize me?  Mommy has healed and it took a lot of work on my end to come to terms with aborting you. Now all i can do is hope and pray that i will be blessed with another intricate gift from god, your brother or sister. Even though i never had the chance to meet you i love you like i would if you were here.

 

                           ♥♥♥ Thinking of you daily, love always

                                                                                                                         – Your Mommy

The Healing

At this point in my life i focused on getting mentally better and becoming spiritually  stronger. I was anxious about Rachel’s vineyard but i knew that it was what i needed to heal. God and i had plenty of conversations throughout the day and night. My faith was stronger than it had ever been. Being in a relationship was the furthest thing from my mind, i really just wanted to be alone, i wanted to figure out what kind of woman i was going to become after the storm dissipated.

I still attended therapy once a week and took my Ativan as prescribed. Ativan made me sleep most times so i would usually take them at night to help me with my insomnia and anxiety. I was was still unsure of the Prozac, i knew i needed to take it. My relationship with God was becoming stronger, but the feeling of hopelessness and dread still remained.  I knew that if i started to take the medication or at least try it, i would become the person i was before my abortion. I knew God had was the only healer i needed, but i realized that physically i needed some relief, My brain was experiencing a chemical imbalance. I started taking the Prozac daily and i noticed a change in my mood,  i started to feel normal again, i figured the Prozac was starting and already had taken its course, working through my bloodstream and making its way to my unbalanced brain.

My mom and i were transitioning to move. I was excited to get away from the place where i had experienced my depression and trauma. After we moved into our new place, i finally felt like things were getting better for me. Dre would pop into my mind on occasion, but when the thoughts of us entered my mind i would do something to distract me.  I figured if he really loved me and wanted me, he would make an effort to do so, but he never did. My aunt invited me to take a trip to New York city. My anxiety screamed “no”!, but my gut told me to go for it. I had never been out of northern California, EVER! i had never been on a plane, Shocking right? This was the time for me to take chances and experience things i never experienced. This was my redemption. In 2009 at the beginning of summer i took my first trip to New York. I enjoyed the trip, it was fun aside from the rude new York people. I was content, i had no panic attacks, no depression, i was actually able to enjoy my surroundings and the company of my aunt and her best friend. Before my new York trip i started talking to a guy on Myspace, yes! i typed right, Myspace!. He seemed really nice so i thought what would be the harm in just talking and getting to know one another. We exchanged numbers and we started to talk daily. We even talked while i was discovering new York. This guy was different, he wasn’t what i was used to at all, i knew he wasn’t Andre. He listened and he was consistent. I really liked him. I knew that i had to have “the talk” with him when i returned from new York but that that moment i enjoyed Manhattan and Harlem. I saw so many people, i saw so many beautiful things my senses were occupied with something other than nervousness and fear. I had so many thoughts running through my head about this new guy, Would he think that i’m weak? would he think that i’m crazy? is he going to accept my skeletons if we get serious? Would he hurt me the way my ex hurt me?

When i returned to California i came back a new person. I looked at life differently. Even though i was only in new York for a week i felt liberated. I was confident and the anxiety and depression not once visited.  The day that i returned home i agreed to meet this new guy in person. We decided to meet at a train station. He rode the train home with me. He was, sweet caring, attentive, and very patient. We talked the whole train ride. It was something about him that put me at ease, i was able to be my new self around him. We continued to talk after our first encounter.  We went on dates but i knew that i had to tell him my truth before we went any further.

I was nervous and thought the worst before i told him, but if we were going to get serious he needed to know my truth. One night while we had one of our intellectual conversations i told him. His reaction surprised me. He didn’t judge, he did not criticize, he just listened. From there we went on romantic dates, he would bring me flowers, we would talk and laugh and enjoy each others company. I knew he was the one because he watched one of my favorite romantic movies “The notebook”, i don’t think any other guy would have tolerated a movie of that nature. As weeks went by we grew close, we were connected at the hip, wherever he was, i was. He had turned into my best friend. As i continued to heal and overcome my depression. Christine and i still continued to communicate and she was a huge supporter and available whenever i needed to talk. I liked our talks because she would revert some of my concerns and cite bible verses. She would tell me “God has forgiven you, he loves you, as long as you believe in him and ask him for forgiveness from your heart, you will be forgiven”. See, that is what i admired about her, She didn’t judge or patronize me, she reminded me of Gods grace and she reminded me that God loves unconditionally. On a day that i needed support and called her she let me know that there would be a post abortion retreat 40 minutes away from where i lived. She gave me details about the retreat and what things were going to take place for my healing, i agreed.thumbnail (8) She explained what the retreat was and what the retreat entailed. I knew it would be beneficial if i attended especially since i knew god was added to the equation for my healing. Before the weekend retreat Christine sent me resources, and a packet on what i would need to know about the retreat. One thing that really stood out in the packet was a letter regarding the a  letter explaining the memorial service that will be held on the last day of the retreat.  I already was having doubts. I never expected a memorial service for my unborn child. It was fitting considering the circumstances. I realized i was given an opportunity to say a proper goodbye to my child. Excited and anxious, i had to think about how i wanted to ask my new guy to join me.  Would this be the ice breaker? is it going to be too much to ask of him so early? Well his response surprised me…………

 

Continued in Part. 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Aftermath

After visiting my aunt i was able to reset. Things that i implemented in my daily routine were starting  to pay off. I started to feel less anxious and more normal, even happier. My mood changed from hopeless to hopeful. I started to live again. My mind was so much more clearer. I read self help books, books on mindfulness and meditation. I felt healthy and fit practicing yoga and Thai chi. I lost more weight, I started watching what I was consuming as far as food. I went to the gym everyday to help me free my mind of anxieties. Meditation was part of my daily routine. I still went in once a week for my counseling sessions but I still felt like there was something that I was missing.

When I had taken up the offer to stay at my aunt’s house for the weekend  I was able to breathe. I felt at ease with my surroundings. There were no racing thoughts, no worries, no hopelessness. My aunt lived in a beautiful home in the hottest city of the North bay. I would go into her backyard in the early mornings, look at the yard filled with grass, i would sit on the canopy and a swing. I would focus on my breathing. I paid attention to the sky, the way the air smelled, the way the sun hit my face. It was like I was with god himself.  I was at peace, i took advantage of the smells, the wind, the sun. I paid attention to how the cement felt under my feet.

My aunt and I talked I opened up in more detail about my ex and the abortion.  One day I had her house to myself and I was surfing the web. I decided to look up support after an abortion. The clinic had resources for after abortion but at that time I didn’t think I needed counseling. I got a few numbers and was interested in a retreat strictly built for women who had abortions. Was I ready to open that womb again? It was so nicely stitched shut, i knew I had to remove the stitches, that I had to open the womb for it to heal. I left my aunts that weekend feeling a sense of relief and calm, I finally felt that there was hope.

Once I settled back in at home I decided to call the hotline, I was so nervous and scared I didn’t know what expect. I called and i was connected with the sweetest the sweetest woman. Her voice was calm and she was very attentive. She asked me questions about my abortion and if it had any effects on my life. I told her I’m not sure but I had been recently diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. She explained that lots of women experience depression and anxiety after an abortion. I felt relieved that I wasn’t the only woman who has experienced depression and anxiety after a traumatic experience such as an abortion. She gave me a number and a website to visit so I could do more research on what this was that I was experiencing. I looked up the website for “Rachel’s vineyard”. I was immediately intrigued. “Rachel’s vineyard a place to go to heal after an abortion”. I thought to myself “wow, this type of place exists”? The other detail that caught my attention was the description of what Rachel’s vineyard was. It was a place of healing, a place where there would be no judgement, a place for all of God’s children to come and ask for forgiveness. I needed to call.

Was this a legit place? Was it some kind of secret cult? Was it a pro life organization that were going to condem me and tell me that i was going to go to hell? I prayed before I called and hoped that I would get the answers I looked for. Christine a woman who had been through a similar experience was assigned to me.  Christine  was sent from God to help me heal. She explained to me that what I did at the time didn’t define God’s love for me. She didn’t judge, and she didn’t quote scriptures, she listened to my testimony. Christine answered all my questions and she even went out of her way to mail me a packet with more info on the retreat and other after abortion resources. Before we ended the call she asked “Cecilie do you mind praying with me”? I don’t know what came over me but I started to weep. I knew what I had done was wrong considering my strict Christian background. Not only did i sin by having sex that didn’t take place within marriage, but I had killed a human life that God put there himself. I just knew God was punishing me for killing my baby. Christine prayed with me and at that moment I realized God loved me, he loved me so much, he knew what would take place, he knew the obstacles that i would have to face, anything to get me closer to him, he planned already. God wasn’t punishing me, he was preparing me for abundant blessings that were coming my way. Rachel’s vineyard would be the place where I found healing, and unconditional love.

 

Pic Credit: blackleaderanalysis.com

Continued in Part. 4