360°

360 Graphic

It has been one hell of a year!

In many ways I would truly like the year of 2019 to go fuck itself. However, I’m aware that I shouldn’t make such negative declarations because of the many lessons that life has taught me this year. I have had this premonition for a while now that I still had a major transitional phase left in my life, and from what I know of life so far, I knew that it was going to be ugly. This year has been ugly.

I started off the year making great money with plans to pay off debt, travel and to FINALLY be able to 100% support my children’s expenses. I write about what it is to be a single mother managing her own mental health yet it is always with the caveat that I am privileged to receive a ton of help from my parents and other family. I am grateful for the support, but I also feel like a failure as a mother who requires so much assistance. It has been a long-term goal of mine to relieve my parents of aftercare and babysitting duties forever. I could taste the reality of the making that dream come true this year. I finally felt as if I had my life together! I even had a cleaning lady, was on my way to good credit and looking for houses to rent for the girls to have a larger space to grow.

Fast forward to today and I’m working out deals with the leasing office of my apartment building to avoid eviction and I’m pretty sure my car is going to be repossessed this weekend. I have exhausted all resources and I am, quite frankly, completely defeated and not sure I have it in me to be a phoenix rising from the ashes YET AGAIN.

April Showers

My 35th birthday was April 15th of this year. On April 2 I lost my job. A few days later I found out a friend of mine had passed away. A few days after that my car was rear ended on my way to a performance.

Back in the day, a series of unfortunate events used to be just what I needed to kick into high gear, motivating me to sacrifice and rebuild. This time around I knew I didn’t have it in me. I knew that I was going to have to take those upper-case L’s while allowing myself to slow down and face the failure and despair of it all. For the longest time I didn’t tell anyone I had lost my job because I felt completely ashamed and I didn’t want to deal with anyone else’s disappointment in me without first dealing with my own. I was also harboring a ton of fear and panic because my major worry was that I was no longer mentally equipped to juggle 9-5 office work. (At the time I did not realize that it felt pointless to me to work so hard toward goals that did not belong to me, and in my opinion, did nothing to edify the world. I later discovered that my true passion is to be employed in the nonprofit world).

Honestly, I buried away the stress of that job because the money I made was finally going to allow me to provide the life I only dreamed of being able to provide for my girls. I wanted them to trust that I could take care of them without anyone’s help. I wanted to be an example to them of a winning woman who could do things all on my own. By the time I resolved in my mind that I needed to figure out a way to manage my stress, quit my poetry and performance endeavors to concentrate on my career and building a life for us— it was already too late for me. When I am stressed and overwhelmed, I tend to shut down and I can’t think straight or make good decisions. These factors had already taken their toll in my work environment and it was too late to fix the mistakes I had made.

So, there I was: unemployed with an entire poetry tour booked and prepaid. There I was numb, unable to process the unexpected death of a friend. There I was just trying to stay afloat without swimming or treading water because managing my own depression already feels like drowning—if these waves were here to take me out, then so be it. The practical portion of my brain set up a plan to focus on full-time artistry, to maximize on the free time I had on my hands to write more, promote more, improve my marketing skills and use the money from my poetry performances to support myself in between finding a “real” job. My productivity lasted about a week before I began to panic.

And it’s strange because I started to live this double life. I was able to fake being ok (and even felt ok for the most part) for two months until my children went off to be with family for the summer. After that, I split my time between hanging out in my apartment binge eating and watching tv all day and on stages performing and hosting events. I didn’t want to “fake” good energy or feel like I was pretending at my performances so I came up with a routine that consisted of sitting in my depression all day, then an elaborate bathing, saging and self-compassion meditation ritual that I would complete before each show. I wanted to allow myself the room to still show up in my authenticity— a little weary and broken— but to also use performance to bleed out my anxiety on stage.

Delayed Flowers

I know that I didn’t act entirely responsibly during this time. I put off filing for unemployment because my brain didn’t want to go there. I wanted to triumph over the circumstances, but I wasn’t necessarily putting in the work to do so either. I couldn’t rise out of my depression, especially when anxiety and resentment came to sit alongside it. I resented how much I had to lean on others for help. I resented that I had to share my embarrassing story before asking others for help. I resented that I had to hustle more to sell books at gigs and to land more paying gigs when I just wanted to stay at home and sleep and write and cry. Whenever I allowed myself to think of my predicament and the future ahead my anxiety would build, and I would fall into a spiral of negative self-talk that would sink me into a deeper bout of depression.

At one point I had put off the thought of suicide so often that I had to allow myself a few hours to journal about the scenario because I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Pheonix

The Things I Tell Myself to Be OK

You are not a fuck up…

There are disastrous people on this planet who just can’t seem to get anything right. They blame others for their problems and seem to be in constant need of SOMEthing from SOMEone at any given moment. Their lives are one highlight reel of poor decision after poor decision while others stand back and observe the continuous loop of shit show that can be cringey to watch unfold. Some days I feel like I fall into this category or n’er-do-wells. I worry that my life will be a constant cycle of digging myself up out of the trenches only to fall back in again. What usually happens is that at a time when I need minimal help that can prevent a downward spiral, I end up trying to handle everything myself because I don’t like to put others in a position to judge my struggle.

In my first session with my recent therapist she said to me, “You don’t do well asking for help, do you?” and I thought to myself, ‘Of COURSE not!’ These days it seems to me that people go out of their way to make you feel like a loser if you need help. Or, without your knowledge, whatever deed was done by the Good Samaritan is kept on a scoreboard and if your actions don’t comply with what they expect of you in the future then you are forever villainized as needy and ungrateful. Which is yet another aspect of asking for help that I struggle with; gratitude. Most of us have a love language or some feeling we need to receive in return to help us feel as if we have made the right decision in helping someone in the first place. For me, I always thought the best way to show gratitude is to pay it forward but I’m finding that this concept doesn’t satisfy everyone. So, there is the anxiety of feeling like a total loser/fuck up for having to ask for help, on top of having to share my personal business with someone, plus trying to figure out the best way to display gratefulness. I have anxiety just thinking about it! I typically just opt to isolate myself and try to avoid the hassle of involving anyone else in my problems altogether.

I am working on it, along with working on self-compassion affirmations to remind myself that I am not fuck up for making mistakes and to not let anyone treat me as if I am. This practice is definitely easier said than done because in this world where everyone is so FUCKING perfect, most jump at the opportunity to judge someone facing a hard time—especially if you are a person who is (by society’s standards) supposed to have your shit together. Single black mothers are the most marginalized women in the world yet expected to be amongst the strongest. We are to sacrifice for our children, grind, hustle, lose sleep, earn degrees and smash our career goals to pave a better way and provide better for our children. I want to do that; however, I crave the outlet of creativity. Stage performance looks like self-indulgence and ego and selfishness, so I am not that mom. I know I am not that mom and I feel the shame of not being that kind of mom every day. Being different does not mean that I am a fuck up.

You have more control over your life than you think…

I say this to people all the time as much as I struggle to believe it myself. The worst thing about depression, for me, is feeling as if life is an unpredictable crashing wave that will drown me every time I think I’ve finally learned to swim. I become fatigued of feeling overwhelmed and powerless so I am constantly trying to find ways bounce back and stay afloat. This year has been especially difficult because I think my super black woman survival mode powers are temporarily broken. When it comes to fight or flight, I used to ALWAYS be the bitch to put up a fight but this time I allowed myself to run away. I was too weak to deal with the shame of being on unemployment yet AGAIN, on food stamps yet AGAIN, of harassing temp agencies for work yet AGAIN—so I made the very stupid decision to wallow in my own depression and hope for the best. I allotted myself time mourn and process the shame of my situation which ended up being the best decision for me, although on paper it looks like the worst possible thing I could have done.
When it became time to clean up my mess I did so without desperation and anxiety guiding my actions. I took time out to face the reality of my situation and to mentally prepare myself for the worst-case scenario which was: losing my apartment and vehicle and having to completely start over again. Once I was able wrap my head around those scenarios, I felt more powerful than ever because I knew that it would be difficult to rebuild again but also that it would not break me. I had given myself some time and some self-compassion both of which led me to feel as if I could mentally handle whatever life would throw my way.

It’s still ok to hope and dream…

I am working full-time again at a mental health based nonprofit organization. I am making about $12,000 less than what I used to make, which is a large hit to the lifestyle I had hoped to create for myself and my girls, however I am working to make sure this doesn’t deter my goals. I still want to be independent; I still want to rent a house and clean up my credit and all the other goals that seemed a lot more achievable when I was making more money. I can sometimes get caught up in the despair of a situation and say things to myself like, “Well, get used to living in a cramped apartment with your children because there is no way in hell you can afford anything more than this.”

I refuse to limit my dreams like that anymore. At this moment I am in rebuilding mode so I have no idea how I am going to accomplish those goals, but it would be silly of me to completely erase them as viable options. I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but I can remain determined and I can hold on to hope.

It’s ok to be the only one who cares…

I hate that I am the only one who cares about me sometimes. It feels lonely for the most part, but life doesn’t guarantee that others will care about your issues or about you to the extent that you want them to. I think in all of my romantic pursuits this has been my driving force; to find a partner that truly cares about my wellbeing and to have a partner to help problem-solve life with. Now I think I just accept the fact that it’s up to me to give a shit about ME. Sometimes others don’t have the capacity to care—which is legit, therefore it’s up to me to continuously rise out of the ashes to champion for myself. As I said, it’s an isolating feeling but it is definitely a better feeling than simply allowing myself to drown. If there is no lifeboat you just have to find the strength to save yourself by swimming to shore. This time around it was so so hard and honestly, I relied more on prayer and fate than anything. I barely had it in me to fight. I only knew that as long as I cared enough and had hope in my future and my children that somehow things would be ok.

Enjoy the sun…

On top of everything that has happened this year I have been struggling with releasing an emotionally oppressive past relationship, sexual assault, being separated from my kids (until I can financially rebuild) and other issues that I keep locked in my privacy vault that I am not comfortable sharing. There is a part of me that worries that happiness will never find me or that I will never be able to properly experience joy, but then I remind myself that feeling pain and sorrow so deeply means that I am also capable of experiencing deep joy.

I refuse to allow a dark cloud to hover over any joyous or peaceful moments in my life. I refuse to believe that there is always another shoe to drop, tough lesson to be learned or fight to be had. Sometimes in life, we simply reap what we sow and have to deal with the consequences of our own bad decisions. It is important for me to remember that bad decisions do not make me a bad person. I also do my best to sow goodness and kindness into this world—so when it’s time for me to reap those things I should allow myself to feast on the harvest.

Little Girl

In 2019 I finally acknowledge that I have been showing up a little girl in many aspects of my life. Six years ago when I started this journey—this blog and the Whiskey Girl brand—I didn’t know where it would lead me and only a few years ago I realized that this was my path to healing. Healing would be lovely if it were a one and done kind of thing but I can attest to the fact that there are levels to this shit! I have been so resistant to pain, rejection, heartache and abandonment that I allowed that little girl inside of me to take over and wreak havoc in my life. In 2019 I realize that it is time to let her go. It is time to clean up and handle my life as a woman. What I didn’t realize about healing my inner little girl is that I would go through a mourning process letting her go. I feel guilty for letting her down, for not showing up woman for her— and I feel sorrow that she didn’t get to experience the happiness I wanted for her. However, I can’t let her rule me any more and the best thing that I can do for her, to honor her and my children and my future is to finally overcome my patterns of darkness and make the conscious effort to enjoy the sun…

360°

A sign of growth is usually categorized as a 180°, meaning you have completely changed, done an about face and are no longer engaging in the same actions you were before. From the outside looking in, this year seems to have been a 360° for me. I travelled on a path in the past six years that has led me right back to where I was: rebuilding after major mental health and employment setbacks. I am even back working at the very same job I had two years ago when I just knew that I was on this upward trajectory of success and more money. I returned to my old job a little different than I was before; I am rebuilding a little differently than I have before. I am more grounded in my identity; I am less afraid of the unpredictable happenings of life. I am less controlling, I am wiser, I am freer. It has taken me years to get back to this place and when I made the decision to accept the offer to return to a career I had left years ago I did it because I realize it doesn’t matter how others view my progress. To others my life may look like a giant step in the wrong direction, but in my heart I know that I have returned to a place that is more suited for me except I am wiser this time around and determined not to take anything for granted this time. I will take a 360° over a broken circle any day.

I am complete.

enjoy the sun

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

 

I Know Why the Caged Mom Drinks: Dark Season

Supermom

August has barely even ended and I am already wrapped up and completely done with summer. My final pedicure was 2 weeks ago (no gel) and my final stage performance on August 25th ended with me browsing online for comfy fall sweaters. The kids have their school clothes, and—after one last trip for additional school supplies this weekend—I am battening down the hatches and lying in wait.

It is Dark Season, my friends. As a parent who compartmentalizes A LOT I find this time of year stressful af and I have never identified with the commercials showing parents dancing gleefully down the aisles of office supply stores celebrating back to school season. There are so many moving pieces to my life that my head starts pre-spinning in mid-August, fretting about the stress of my commute, time management, shorter days with less sun and juggling parenting and school obligations vs. work and Whiskey Girl obligations. I am a walking, talking ball of stress and emotions at least until spring—and that’s a long time to be absolutely out of your mind while pretending to be a functioning adult.

This year, it’s looking as if Dark Season is being combined with my worst nightmare: actual success. Together, the two are a recipe for a mental health disaster! I have had more invitations to speak on mental health, to perform and to host and produce events than I have ever dreamed would come to fruition. I am over the moon excited that my little brand has gained some traction but I am also riddled with anxiety that I may not be able to juggle this lifestyle. I can’t sacrifice sleep because without sleep I am a murderer. I can’t sacrifice any more time with my daughters because I want to be a real cook dinner, help with homework, embarrass-you-while-bra-shopping kind of mom. Lastly, I absolutely cannot sacrifice my full-time job for obvious reasons like health insurance and not starving to death. [Side note: I have eliminated dating but that’s not really adding any time back into my schedule since dating nowadays is mainly “wyd” texts from dudes sent well after 10pm].

Last night, after the kids went to bed, I found that I couldn’t open a jar of salsa so I sat on my couch and cried for half an hour. Today, I used a knife to pry the jar open and performed an epic victory dance that probably lasted about 30 seconds longer than it should have. Clearly, I need to brace myself for the peaks and the valleys, because the fear is that if this is the first week of school I may end up in a mental institution by December. My challenge to myself this year is to do a better job of leveling my emotions so that I can experience more balance instead of the constant rise and fall of a terrifying roller coaster.

Although I am a single parent I still recognize that I am a privileged parent. I have hella family support, I have hella flexibility with my 9-5 job and I am starting to gain support for my creative endeavors. I am a person motivated by the good deeds of others and the concept of paying it forward, so in this case NOT having a nervous breakdown is definitely a way to show that I am worth the investment! I feel as if I owe it to my parents, my job and mental health sufferers/fellow advocates alike to keep my shit together for as long as I feel led to spread myself across these various projects. Most importantly, I feel that if I successfully juggle this lifestyle I will be able to show my daughters a realistic example of what it looks like when you follow your dreams.

At the end of the day, I want my daughters to know that on the road to finding and fulfilling your life’s purpose, some days you may cry over unopened salsa.

I Know Why the Caged Mom Drinks: Black Panther

I wanted to do something nice for the girls this weekend. I wanted us to go see Black Panther and I wanted to paint their little faces– but I don’t have white paint. So it was going to be black dots– which would be fine because they are low maintenance and they don’t really care about that sort of thing.

I had it planned, I would order the tickets online, we would watch a movie together and when they went to bed I’d tell them that tomorrow we are all going to see Black Panther.

So I tried to order the tickets and the transaction wouldn’t go through. I tried again with updated information and received an email from my bank. Apparently, I didn’t have enough funds in my account to purchase our tickets. That’s not right– because my funds are low but they exist and I know there is enough for this! This, I needed– this, I had planned for…

My bank had counted each error as an actual transaction and taken the money out of my account, placed it back, then took it out again. I sat on the phone on hold with the movie theater for about an hour. I vaguely noticed the chatter of the kids slowly died down. They eventually retired to their room, I still had the phone to my ear feeling frustrated and entirely defeated. Nothing is simple. Ever.

I got off the phone realizing that Black Panther was not going to happen for us this weekend. My money is all crazy and it will likely be awhile before the bank releases it back onto my account. I was disappointed and just sick of living this kind of life. What is the balance? Do you live poorly and save, do you make the most of your money, try to stretch, save and enjoy it? Do you martyr yourself and spend it all on the children? I don’t know the rules. I’m barely even in the game.

“Ok babies, what movie do you want to watch?” I call out to them. Silence. Walking through the foyer I notice the light in their bedroom. Peaking inside I see that and both are fast asleep with the radio on. I walked back into the livingroom, sat on the couch and cried. Is this what motherhood is? Running on a treadmill with the best of intentions and never going anywhere at all?

I don’t know how to juggle any of this. I don’t know what I am doing and I’m just so worried I’m going to screw them up in the process of figuring it all out.

The Scientist

I woke up this morning to receive my 6 year old downstairs. My ex husband drops her off to me every morning before work and picks her up in the evenings on his designated week to be with her. She’s tired because she stayed up late to watch the fireworks. I’m tired because I stayed up all night drinking. (The ugly shift from spending time alone to being lonely took place suddenly and the sadness caught me off guard.) I lay her down on the couch and go back to my room thankful for the chance to maybe catch a few more minutes of sleep. As soon as my head hits the pillow and my eyelids close, I pop them wide open again as I hear the sound of retching. I tilt my head up listening intently…the two year old is moaning. I go over to her bedroom door, creep it open slightly, and there’s a precious girl lying in her own vomit and stool. She wakes up and looks at me expectantly. I mentally rearrange today’s plans to include washing a load of clothes at my parent’s house. Which is more gas used to get there, more money, more time. More, more, more.

Sometimes in still moments I hear the Coldplay lyrics play on repeat in my head “Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be so hard…”  I don’t know why I have so much difficulty sometimes. I used to be a wife, I had a full time career, I ran a household—I was nailing this five years ago. But I’m not even that person anymore. I’m more fragile than I used to be…tired. If I had the money for counseling I wonder if I would go? She’s throwing up again…I should go