Coffee with Whiskey Recap: Finding Gratitude

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I am on several journeys…

  -to live more authentically

-to live life more abundantly and as depression free as possible

-to learn discipline by taking control of my compulsive habits

-to find balance between chasing my dreams and active motherhood

-to practice gratitude

That last one nearly flew out the window altogether this morning when I woke up to discover my car not in the neighborhood parking spot where I left it. Lately I have been meditating on what I am grateful for in an effort to combat my negative thinking. If I don’t reel in my negative thoughts they have the tendency to spiral out into full blown mental distress, so taking a moment to think about what IS going right in my life has been helping me to curve my thoughts. However, once I realized my car had been towed I knew I was in for a stressful day. My morning alone consisted of several calls to the bank to release funds from a check, several cab rides (to the bank, home, bank, towing place) and countless deep breaths of me just trying not to snap. Focusing on the positive was not helping me, I had to dig down into the nasty stuff.

 I was feeling resentful. I resent that small setbacks have the power to mentally derail me. I resent that sometimes I don’t get to take the mental health breaks that I need to recharge. I resent that when I have to cancel an event or obligation I have to reveal to others that I am not doing as well as I’d like to be doing or as well as I sometimes portray. I resent that I have to decide whether to let the kids know when things are going wrong or whether I should hide it from them and continue to pretend everything is ok. I want to be transparent with them but I also don’t want them to worry that I don’t have a grip on my responsibilities as their parent. These were the thoughts crowding my mind and causing anxiety– yet somehow, by naming my thoughts and the feelings of resentment behind them I began to feel a little better.

 I realize I was only doing half the work. Practicing gratitude is not the sunshine and rainbows of thinking only happy thoughts to push away the negative thoughts. The first step is to name the negative emotions, feel the negative emotions then to counter them with thoughts of gratitude. At least, this was the epiphany for me this morning and a formula I have found that is vital to my healing, coping and growth process. I have to feel and completely expel emotions by identifying them first, acknowledging why I feel the way I do and then thinking of positive aspects of my life I am grateful and thankful for that put me in a position to recover more quickly from potential depressive episodes.

 Writing/Journaling Prompt

 What’s eating you? Write about your different moods you have felt over the last few months. Is there anything weighing on your mind or subconscious? Are you in any physical pain? Is there a negative recurring thought that you have yet to address? If so, what do you suspect are the possible triggers? (Are you burned out? Stressed? Fearful of happiness? Etc)

 What’s feeding you? Write about what’s made you smile over the last few months. Is there a consistent need in your life that is currently being fulfilled? How are you better off than you were the previous few months? Make a list of what you are grateful for. (This can be a living list that you add to throughout the day or over a period of time. There is no pressure to come up with a lengthy list right away!)

 Tip: Definitely stay away from comparison to others. Gratitude has to do with personal progress, people, situations and things that you are grateful for in your own life whether considered a huge deal to other people or something small and seemingly insignificant that still warms your heart. You are free to take pleasure and find accomplishment in even the little things!

 Bonus: I am also on a journey of practicing self-compassion. I am aware that I am functionally depressed to some degree and keeping up the façade of wellness takes its toll on me. The best way for me to go a little easy on myself is by realizing that I am not alone in this battle. Click here, to read an amazing blog post about high functioning depression and I challenge you to go a little easy on yourself. You are not alone. Life can be difficult– it is totally ok to admit as much while putting in the work that it takes to be ok. The road to wellness may be difficult but I am determined to believe that it is well worth it.

 I apologize I couldn’t make the workshop today, but I will plan to see you Saturday, March 23!

 Good Vibes Always

~Whiskey

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I Know Why the Caged Mom Drinks: Tardy for the Party

Supermom

 I don’t remember ever wanting to be a mother. When I was a teenager I fantasized about being married and having a great career, but that picture never involved children. At 15, my first job was at the Roy Roger’s across the street from my school, I would have been horrified had someone asked me to babysit their snotty-nosed little kids! For as long as I could remember, I thought of children as loudmouthed little rude people whom I wanted absolutely nothing to do with.

Fast forward to me at 21 years old, freshly married, waiting in the doctor’s office for pregnancy test results with my heart beating loudly in my chest. My husband (now ex, of course) was grinning widely—elated by the idea that just weeks after getting married we would soon be bringing new life into the world.  I was heartbroken. We had literally just started our lives together, we were super active in our church, we had awesome friends and threw awesome parties, I had an awesome little figure I used to dress to the NINES in my awesome clothes. Now I was going to get fat and have to raise a child with barely any time to spend alone with my new husband. I was not happy.

When my daughter was born I was surprised by how instantly my figure bounced back and my maternal instincts kicked in (yes, in that order). I remember breastfeeding in my skinny jeans while my husband doted on me, thinking “Maybe this life isn’t so bad after all.” Then the storm came… I began to hate my marriage. I recognized that my husband was a great dad but not really that great of a husband. (This is the point in the story where I get really vague about the details that led to the ending of our marriage. There is a spattering of former mutual friends that likely read this blog and if the information got back to him I would look like the bad person so, I will skip the gruesome details).

We divorced. I fell apart. I still had to raise my then 3-year-old daughter and I didn’t really know how to do it on my own. I didn’t want to be a parent in the first place so how the fuck had I ended up raising a child alone?! In the beginning of our separation I had my daughter with me full time. After we figured out an alternating weekend tradeoff deal, I began to feel my freedom a little bit more. Or, so I thought. I spent my child-free weekends hanging out with friends laughing and laughing to cover up my loneliness. I constantly surrounded myself with people so that I would never have to feel alone. Until I was alone. 

The Great Depression

I was lonely. When my daughter was with her father and my friends too busy to provide a distraction, I spent my time binge eating, drinking, crying and contemplating suicide. The loneliness was unbearable. I was naïve at that time, I had no idea that life was capable of such darkness and sadness. I had thought that those painful chapters in my life were  over after the depression I suffered during my high school days. I knew I had to do something about it. I knew that I had to find love.

I needed a man’s love to pour into me. I needed a man to heal my broken heart and bring me to life again. I wish I could say that I rushed my healing process because I wanted to be well enough to become a better mother to my child but I wasn’t that emotionally woke back then. I was looking for balm to soothe my open wounds because at 25 I didn’t understand that healing is a whole ass journey and most times it is a lengthy one that can only be accomplished alone.

I sought love purposefully. I had a childhood friend I knew had always carried a torch for me, so I sought after him and prepared myself for a re-awakening. This was the man who would make up for all the pain that my husband had put me through. He would sweep into my life with right amount of affection and attention— he would appreciate all that I had to offer as a woman. I would slowly be made whole again… I had not taken into consideration that this man had lived an entire life since we’d last exchanged innocent, child-like flirtations. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I could have my heart broken twice in a row. I just knew that the next man I came across would be a savior.

When I found out I was pregnant with his child I was living with my parents after having given up the house I was renting. I was panicked, scared and, as it turns out, still suffering from depression with an added touch of low self-worth. How silly was I? Involved in an uncommitted sexual relationship with someone who was vague about why they didn’t want to be with me while struggling with their own personal demons. I was a doormat. I was a ball of emotions held together by his attention and approval. My pregnancy hit us both like a nuclear bomb—there was no time to react or think, we both just exploded.

I checked myself into a mental institution the night I realized that I didn’t have the guts or the violence to properly kill myself. I didn’t have the violence in me to have an abortion, either. I knew deeply that I would be unable to survive it. I held that razor in my hand, sobbing in the bathtub of my parent’s bathroom, cursing myself out for not having the balls to do the damned thing already! I barely survived that night. I spent my entire pregnancy malnourished and depressed. I worried I wouldn’t be able to love my child because I was too sad. I was prescribed Zoloft but I never fulfilled it because I was too afraid of who that would make me. I didn’t think there was anything that I could do to shake the feeling that I was drowning.

I spent years underwater.

Zombie

I was not alive for the first 3 years of my youngest daughter’s life. I still look at her in awe of how she is such a bright and happy spirit considering how completely broken I was when I carried her. I loved her instantly, but I still hated myself so my love wasn’t enough to raise me out of my funk. I was a single mother with two children, two baby daddies and suicidal thoughts. I was a lonely ass target for men to sweep in and woo me with empty words as an entry pass into my body. Sex was the only time I felt alive, the rest of the time I was just pretending. I maybe mentioned this in a blog post before but I still think of how my little girls used to follow me around our apartment watching me with their large eyes. Finally I asked them why and my oldest responded, “We just want to see you.” I realized at that moment that I was a zombie. breakdown

I still couldn’t do much about it or figure a way to dig myself out of my infinite sadness. It was around this time that a friend’s comment about my mental health pushed me into the decision to start writing again. I started this blog as a way to tell my story and to experience a release. I felt an awakening whenever my finger hovered over the “Publish” button for each post. I was surprised by the positive feedback I received and the fact that anyone even read my posts at all! I began writing poetry in journals at that time and came up with the idea to read them at local open mics to try to get more people to read my blog. I never imagined I would receive the kind of response I did the first time I shared one of my poems on stage. I was nervous but I was also tingling with excitement and anticipation—for the first time in a long time, something that I was doing felt right!

 Awakening

For the first 2 years of my “career” I was selfish. My brother lived with me at the time and he was a homebody type so as soon as I put the kids to bed I was making my way to the next open mic. I learned something new about myself each time I hit the stage and I never felt more inspired to write. I was finally waking up, but it still didn’t make me a good mom. Well, actually I should practice some self-compassion here and say this: I ALWAYS had food on the table, a roof over our heads and a stable well-paying job to sustain us. I have always been the champion and poster child for functioning depression mainly because I didn’t want to be a completely shitty mother and because I cared a ton about how people would perceive me not having my shit together. (Low-key I still do not have my shit together. I have so much catching up to do from years of not properly taking care of my responsibilities—that’s a whole other blog post!)

The more I wrote, the more I expressed on the mic and connected to people who appreciated my point of view, the more I smiled. Instead of moving silently through our apartment or barking orders, I spent more time talking to the kids and getting to know their personalities. Who knew that I had spent years sharing a space with these cute little people who were funny and fun to talk to?

Motherhood has since changed so much for me over the past 3 years. In the beginning I worried about how I was going to pour love into little babies when I had no one to pour love into me. I was obsessed with my own loneliness—but once I began to write I was able to enjoy my alone time. Blogging and performing poetry started out as a release and ended up being a beacon of hope that has led to a complete change in my lifestyle and mindset. On top of that, hanging out in creative spaces with like-minded individuals helped me to realize that I was not alone. A great deal of us are suffering in life and artistic expression provides therapeutic healing.

Sometimes, in the middle of a dance party with my daughters or while gossiping about that day’s school events I marvel at how much I appreciate my life now that I find joy in motherhood. I had gotten used to living a life of striving for perfection but after I came to the realization that we are incapable, it relieved so much pressure! I wasted time anxious about screwing up motherhood, while I was screwing up motherhood by being anxious and depressed. I was focused on all of the wrong things. As it turns out, all I needed to do to be a good parent was to allow myself room to be imperfect and to actively pursue mental wellness. Writing, speaking, sharing my story and connecting to others helps me to stay mentally well.

DoItForYouI have wacky friends, I work too hard, I might be a little too honest and psycho-babbly toward my girls but it’s who I am. We all do the best we can with the resources that we are given so I’m sure I’m going to screw them up somehow—at least I am authentically myself. I now have a better understanding of my role not just as “caretaker” but as the person who will embed life philosophies into their little brains mainly by example. I’m tired because I work a ton but I am present. I am at Girl Scout meetings, nagging about clarinet lessons, organizing birthday parties, shopping, chatting, singing pop songs, doling out advice, embarrassing them in public and all the other bullet points to the job description of mother.

Showing Up Late

Have you ever showed up late to a really great party that seemed like it was doing just fine without you, but now that you have arrived everyone seems so offended by your tardiness that they ruin your good time? I have—it’s called motherhood. My least favorite thing about being a single mother is the stories people make up about my life because of their own perceptions. For starters, parenting is personal. There is no formula that every mother should follow and there is no official council that adjudicates how well or how poorly we are doing. The only measurement of success is that you do the best you can. Obviously, if you are prone to depression like me, then you have to find ways to do what’s best for your mental wellness so that you can be healthy enough to take care of your children. As I said, I still have pieces of my life I am mending back together because I allowed so much to fall apart when I wasn’t well.

It doesn’t help me to dwell on that fact. It doesn’t help me to scroll through my social medias and wish I were more like the supermoms who constantly post pics and updates of their children’s lives and seemed totally immersed in and fulfilled by the motherhood role. I have made a lifestyle choice that is frowned upon, why? Because single mothers are supposed to sacrifice and center their entire lives around their children? Nah, it’s just not me! To be completely honest, I think it is a stifling and super unhealthy and unrealistic expectation. Black women especially, we like being seen as strong and selfless but nobody wants to be depressed or stressed so we end up hiding that part of it from the world. My identity includes “mother” but is not the whole of me.

I just want to type it again: My identity includes “mother, but it is not the whole of me. I make sure my children understand this about me because I want it to be an example for how they live their lives. I think women have a tendency to bury themselves in motherhood because the process of finding out who you are outside of everyone else (after baby daddy dumps you, completely abandons the family or even dies!) can be daunting. Growth and self-discovery can be very painful, survival mode and coping mechanisms become our go-to moves. I don’t want to just survive I want to chase my dreams and individual goals while being a kick ass mom. As long as my children are happy there is really no need to care about how others perceive our lifestyle.

Party Schmarty

Lastly, I just want to share my biggest pet peeve of being a single mother: people seem to be so caught up on the terminology. As soon as you say it, here come the questions and inferences:

“Don’t you share custody with the fathers?”

“Do the fathers contribute financially?”

“Aren’t the children gone all summer?”

“Don’t you receive a ton of help from your parents?”

My close personal friends are aware of my reality, I do not understand why I am expected to explain this to strangers or people who perceive that women use the terminology to play on other’s sympathy. Do people want single mothers to suffer? Are we not single mom enough if we’re not working three jobs with government assistance as our only support system? I do have help. I do have family support. I save a buck or two by having the kids hang out at their grandparent’s house after school instead of paying daycare. I pack the kids up and have them stay with their aunts over the summer, I beg and bribe my siblings to watch the kids whenever I have gigs. They receive clothes and gifts and hugs and laughs and texts and birthday cards from a whole community of support.

The same community that can’t always be there. They are not there when I am lugging eight loads of laundry in and out of the car or when I’m three seconds away from a nervous breakdown while ironing uniforms for the next morning. Community is not there when I am in full blown, exhausted introvert mode smiling animatedly and engaging in deep conversation about My Little Pony. The Community does not make up for the absence of a father figure in our household. I feel hopeless and scared and exposed—if something were to happen to our family I would have very little to defend us. I put on a strong face and bear the emotional burden of raising those little girls while making sure my depression, wavering self-esteem and self-doubt never touches them. I am the main parent. I am the person who can do the most damage to their lives if I fuck this up.

I fucked up. I fucked up for years, but I am present now. I forgive myself for being late, I can’t dwell on it. My twelve-year-old is blossoming into a feisty little beauty, they are both hella smart, creative and fun. I’m just so happy to be at the party I don’t care what anyone else thinks or has to say about it! I am here now, and I am having a wonderful time. 

legacypoem

 

Who TF Is Whiskey Girl?

2019 Behind the Scenes - we are magic

More behind the scenes in 2019! {Jacket: @vintagethrivals}

I’m tf is Whiskey Girl! I am firing up the blog again and I wanted to take a quick moment to reintroduce myself 🙂

I started this Embrace the Crazy blog almost six years ago with no idea how it would forever alter my life. About two years in (I’m old, I don’t really remember the exact timeline) I changed the name of the blog to WG’s Embrace the Crazy Blog without really giving an explanation.

At the time I decided to brand myself as Whiskey Girl (WG) spoken word artist, and I changed the blog name and my social medias to match accordingly. Everything I do—from stage performances, mental health advocacy, podcast to journaling workshops—falls within the realm of things that I am passionate about. However, I tend to compartmentalize my life so I’ve done a terrible job of representing all things Whiskey on this blog.

This year, I definitely want to add more content here and take the time to showcase a more well-rounded view of who I am not just as a writer, but as an artist/performer, mental health advocate and mother. 2019 will bring more poetry, more performance videos, more transparent blog posts—including the continuation of the “I Know Why the Caged Mom Drinks” series—MORE, MORE, MORE!

The effort it takes to balance my lifestyle of full-time job, child-rearing and chasing my actual dreams takes a tremendous toll on me but I absolutely can’t have it any other way. I fight for this artistry—it makes me a better person and a better mother. For all of you who read this blog and support my writing and other endeavors: THANK YOU! You are needed and you are integral in helping me to accomplish fullness of life and my goals both large and small.

I’m a month behind but I am present and I am ready to work. 2019—let’s go!!!

Good Vibes Always 

~Whiskey Girl

No Room at the Table

Table Meme

If you had showed 23 year old me a glimpse into the day in the life of Whiskey Girl I would be in a state of disbelief. Although, I suppose ten years is plenty of time to have morphed into a totally different person. Ok…well, I won’t be as dramatic as all that but I will say that I never expected to be living out this version of myself. The early teenaged me would be quite proud—and slightly puzzled that I have two children when I vowed to never have kids and to focus solely on my career (as an advertising executive because I was obsessed with the movie Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead). Anywho, the early 20’s me would be horrified. That version of me made the mistake of falling head over heels with a man and fantasized about a life of wifery on a daily basis. Who cares about education and life goals when you can cook, clean and cater to a man who barely even deserves it, right…?

We all know my story ends in divorce so let’s just hop right to it. That divorce was one of the most painful things I’ve ever had to go through. I remember feeling so empty, depressed, lonely and unfulfilled throughout the whole mourning and separation process. Alas, I was a wife missing a husband to complete me and fulfill my purpose (barf!) Surely I needed a man in my life, in my household, in my presence just to be happy! Fast forward to the present annnnnnd—what I need a nigga for again?

 

Material World, Traditional Girl

I am aware that feminists don’t all the way like me because by today’s definition of the word I probably don’t really qualify as one. I like the part where I can sleep around and not be considered a hoe and attend marches but for the most part I’m a boring bitch who believes in the traditional gender roles. No one is angrier than I am when I have to carry groceries by my damned self, take out the trash or get an oil change. If I have a dude in my life why am I doing these things? I want to give great bjs and get my nails done while someone else worries about paying all the bills—but the way my single motherhood is set up; it ain’t happenin’! I am not hot enough (or motivated enough to hit the gym) for random men to be paying my bills so I’ve had to choose the life of a “for real” single mom. Like, work 9 to 5, pay all the bills and file my own damned taxes—there is no knight in shining Jordans for me.

Even when I lost my mind over some good dick and literally had a mental breakdown that culminated in job loss, I didn’t have time to dwell on unemployment and try to find a Sugar Daddy to help supplement the household bills. I ended up pulling money out of my 401k and taking a quick woosah before re-entering the workforce and finding a job to sustain myself and the kids.

Fast forward 5 years and I’m making $30K more than I made when I was fired and I haven’t asked my parents to borrow money in about two years now. (I HAVE asked my brother A LOT, but that’s neither here nor there). This is a story of triumph, my friends! I am holding it down, dropping kids off to school, helping with homework, doing hair, killing it at work, trying to kill it in the writing/poetry field—my life is FULL. My table is dope and I built the shit all by myself and provided all the food—I’m not sure what anyone else can bring to that table…

Dog passed out meme

Gotta offer more than just good sex these days! There are options out there, my dude

 

There’s the Rub…

So, here is where we have a dilemma: if I am already responsible for and happy with “holding it down” for myself and the kids then why would I be interested in adding a grown ass man to the mix who expects me to hold it down for him, as well? There was a time when I couldn’t wait to take care of a man and devote my life to his happiness. I wanted the bottom bitch fairytale where I helped a man come into his own greatness and as a reward he would never cheat on me and someday make me his wife. How lame is that? Especially since these days, men my age only seem to be offering pretty package relationships that look great on social media but lack any real substance outside of that. Can a bitch cuddle in your lap and shoot the shit about future dreams and past heartaches or nah? How are you going to support me? While I am doing this whole “submissive and supportive to my man” bit, are my emotions being taken care of/managed/supplemented? Are you emotionally supporting me, or just murmuring “For real, that’s crazy” every time I try to talk to you about what’s going on in my life?

I am not a doting housewife. I can’t absorb a partner’s emotional stress without being poured into and loved on in the way that feeds me, as well. If you aren’t giving me attention and affection then I could give a fuck about broiling your salmon or doing your laundry. Love is not enough of a motivator to have me catering to a man who is essentially bringing the same shit to the table that I am. When he walks in the door after a long day of work, I am walking in at the same time having worked the same amount of hours on top of a laundry list of household and Whiskey Girl things to handle before the day is over. My lifestyle is already overwhelming for my temperament and mental health, so the thought of adding another person to that list of responsibilities sounds downright stressful.

EVOLVE, MY NIGGAS

The success of black women is a topic of conversation these days, but men don’t seem to want to address what our evolution and our success means for them. Well, my niggas… I will tell you.

Emotional support is the new breadwinner. Gone are the days when you choose a woman and take care of all the bills while she stays home and runs the household like the CEO of your life. These days, women have full-time careers and are working just as hard as men—if not harder because of the multi-tasking and juggling that goes into childrearing (don’t get me started on entrepreneurialism!)— while bringing substantial money into the household to sustain it. To be the main person responsible for maintaining the household while making significant financial contributions is a bit much to ask. You don’t have the right to expect more of this woman, you don’t get to stress this woman or treat this woman as if she is not a real or enough or lazy because she doesn’t make a four-course meal for you every night like your Mama used to do for your Daddy. She is not that woman. She is a new breed of woman, and she doesn’t really need you in the same way that generations of men before you were needed.

I feel the hate and the weight of the world on a daily basis. I have to be a straight up thug almost every single day, so at the end of it I’m not really looking to cater to a man’s needs while forsaking my own desire for love and affection. I want us to come home and breathe life into each other. I want to take turns cooking meals and helping kids with homework and cleaning. I have no desire to be a super woman juggling it all and accepting a quick plowing at night as the only physical intimacy from my significant other. The days of phenomenal dick and half-assed conversation being enough are over—it’s time to step up the game, fellas!

F with yourself

I think black women have been more than generous with the excuses for why it makes sense for us to be the glue that holds the relationship together. The long term effects of the cruelty of slavery, history of family separation, generational curses, yes, yes, to all that—but also, no. For generations we are the ones who have been cheated on, abandoned, emotionally and physically abused by men who no doubt suffered from some very deep-sated mental health issues. We are known for our perseverance and strength in spite of these factors—if you are a man who desires to lead a black woman of such character it’s high time you started coming correct. Don’t nobody care about your degree or your air of self-importance because you’ve never gone to jail or gotten caught cheating. Accomplishing personal goals and being good to your significant other is shit you are supposed to do. In my opinion, the traditional role of the provider has been missing the emotional aspect for far too long. Nowadays, you’re bringing home the bacon to a table that already has a feast laid out on it—what else do you have to offer, my dude?

And to be honest, some of you aren’t even all that interesting. You treat us like we are a game to be played, or like a whiny inferior person whose “spoiled ass” you have to give in to just to shut her up. You show up to meet the friends and you pose for the selfie but you’re not really taking the time to know who we are as people. You express a mild interest in our daily activities but intimacy and connection never seem to be the ultimate goal. In my experience, many men don’t seem to bother making the effort to really connect on deeper levels beyond slow missionary sex and fun conversations about nothing. If you want a place at the table I would suggest you explore deeper. Barging into an independent woman’s life just to prove that you can get in is lame. If you fight your way in make sure you have a purpose there and please GOD don’t waste her time!

She built the table herself, yes, but there’s so much more to carpentry than furniture. Cater to her emotional needs; build the foundation that will sustain the table and any other beautiful thing this woman decides to create in all her strength and independence. I promise you, there is room for you—your presence, your admiration, your genuine love and your time. Those are all things I would welcome with no hesitation or questions asked.

Sext

This guy gets it!

But…Not All Men!

Of course it’s not ALL men—shut up! This is a blog post to offer you something to think about. If it doesn’t apply to you, that’s ok. And if you are a good dude that knows how to complement, respect and keep a woman happy, perhaps you should spread the knowledge to your friends instead of always commenting on how you’re a good dude to an audience who doesn’t benefit from the declaration.

Comments are welcome below. (Don’t be a dick, please)