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The Story of My Life . . . or Holy Shyt! I’m 32

*Editor’s Note: I started this blog in January.  Actually finished it, then never published it.  I know why now.*

Every year, I TRY to post a blog about what I’ve learned over that previous year.  With my Birthday being so close to the New Year, it’s usually just my yearly recap as well.  This time, I’m going to do it a little bit differently.  After another one of my “I haven’t gotten any sleep in the last 48 hours” Epiphanies, I realized that I can actually pinpoint the times my life took a direction I wasn’t expecting.  The first 17 years of my life aren’t going to be discussed here . . . mostly because I’m lazy.

All Denim Outfit . . .No One Loved me.

All Denim Outfit . . .No One Loved me.

The University of Dayton

No, we start with my first step into adulthood.  The moment I decided I was GROWN! I stood at the West Bloomfield post office, mailed that acceptance letter, and that was all she wrote! I was going to be the female Bill Gates, and change the world of computers.  *Mind you, I didn’t visit the school, didn’t know what it looked like, they just gave me the most money. So they won.* But I MUST admit, best decision I’ve ever made. The friends I made there, the people I met, the experiences I had . . . wouldn’t have had it any other way.  University of Dayton lead me to Zeta, and my Degree in Education (more on that later), my closest friends, love, hurt, fear, anger, and most importantly – Understanding of Myself.  On May 3, 2003, I graduated knowing EXACTLY who I wanted to be.

13 Years Ago . . .

14 Years Ago . . .

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

It SHOULD be common knowledge that Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. is the Greatest Sorority in the Nation.  But if you didn’t know, now you know, sucka! I joined ZPhiB because I wanted to be the kind of woman ZPhiB represented.  What I didn’t expect, could have never imagined, was the Family.  The Women I call Sister, not just Soror. The two women who grew up right beside me.  Who dealt with my Sophomore Year Depression, who dried my tears, and had numerous sleepovers with me.  The Women who taught me how to create a Programme, and put on a Dove Ball, and STEP.

Ryders of the Storm

Ryders of the Storm

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

Even more unexpected (and judge this next statement if you want) The Men I Call Brother. R.O.T.S changed my life. Not just because LeRoy was the scariest dude I had ever met in my life, but because they PROTECTED us.  From Greek Life Bullshit, and everyday Bullshit.  They knew how Naive we were, and they shielded us from so much more than we ever knew.  The Blu Bond is so sacred to me, and is still very much prevalent in my life. What I’ve learned, and cherished the most in these 14 years, is that Family can come out of nowhere.  These 3 Men, will forever be referred to as my Brothers, not my Frat.

2nd Best Kitchen I've Ever Had

2nd Best Kitchen I’ve Ever Had

My First Apartment

Having my own place was so freeing! I FINALLY had my own space.  I didn’t have to fear my mom randomly knocking on my door. You mean I can have HOUSE PARTIES. Kait and I entered in that adventure with the best of intentions.  We were going to be the only Best Friends that moved in together and didn’t hate each other.  The Road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions… The loss of that Friendship shook me to my core.  Not because I had known her forever, or because it was unexpected. But I saw that for the first time Money and Friends should NEVER mix.  We weren’t fighting over anything emotional, it was about her breaking her lease. *To move in with the man she eventually married but still…* Add to that, I spent 3 months without a JOB! As my support system from age 13 to 24 was leaving me high and dry rent wise, I had no idea what I was going to do.  Moving home wasn’t an option. So I began to hustle.  I had 3 part time jobs, 2 that were under the table (gotta collect that unemployment), and I babysat whenever I could.  I learned then, I’ll never be unemployed.  Because the Hustle is STRONG within me. I worked my way out of that rut, got a porn star roommate – no really, she did Porn – and Lived It The Fcuk Up.

These Two Ladies Saved My Life . . .

These Two Ladies Saved My Life . . .

The Triad

Words can’t even . . . The Triad is the Polyamorous Relationship everyone wish they had.  These two Women showed me what Friendship is supposed to be.  No Judgements, No Fear, No Regrets.  You live your life, you learn from the pain, and You Move On.  Diamond and Aaliyah were my anchors in the storm that was my early to mid 20’s. We Drank, (they) Smoked, and we Loved HARD. The nights/weekends/days we spent laying on someone’s floor crying and bitching about Men and Women! The Ex’s that we still talk to, the tradition of emailing each other all day, the Wearing White in public the day after Labor Day.

The children, and road-trips, and music that happened from 2005-2007. I don’t even talk to them every month. Doesn’t matter, the minute we are on the phone it’s like nothing has ever changed.  I’m my true self with them.  Not the woman I wanted to be post Graduation, but somehow better. Nothing seemed out of reach, everything was a great idea.  If later I found out it wasn’t, didn’t matter. We Laugh/Drink/Cry about, and Move The Fuck On.

To See a Mountain is to See God

To See a Mountain is to See God

Moving to AZ

And I did . . .right to Arizona.  With intentions of going back to school, and getting my teaching certification.  I was gonna fix my relationship with my Dad, so I could finally get rid of those Daddy Issues, and find love . . . Arizona started out as a peaceful place to me.   Instead of teaching children, I found a job teaching Teachers how to teach Children. I found my professional voice in AZ. In Michigan, I’m surrounded by family and friends who discount my knowledge of children because I don’t have any of my own. In Arizona, people assumed I was an expert. Took a little while to realize I actually kind of am. My love for children was confirmed there.  My life path was made certain.  Arizona was everything I didn’t know I wanted.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I thought I had also found the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with.

 

The Mexican

me and eric

Loving you is the best thing that ever happened to me.  It’s also the worst.  You changed me, turned me into a person I didn’t even know I could be, or wanted to be.  The last thing you said to me, in anger, was “You are just a faint memory. I’ve almost forgotten you existed.”  Even with that much hate in your voice, I remembered when it was beautiful.  When the love I saw in your eyes made every day worth living.  If I never see your face, and never hear your voice again, I Loved You.   In a way I had only read about in romance novels and Donny Hathaway songs.  For everything losing you took away, it gave me twice as much.  So for that, I saw Thank You. For showing me who my true friends are, and because you helped me stop hiding behind my weight. You were Loved Sir.

When I think of Home

My Mommy and Me

My Mommy and Me

I left AZ because I was devastated and I couldn’t be there.  Up until the point, the House I Bought was the Reason He Wasn’t There. Everything about my house reminded me of a loss I still can’t began to describe.  Emotionally, I was a 17 year old girl who had lost her 1st Love. I needed my Mommy.  I’m okay with admitting that.  I needed a break from those last 18 months.  My Mother Saved Me. I’m just glad I was Woman enough to admit I needed to be Saved. What I didn’t know is that I had been in a Domestic Violence relationship, and I needed to understand and forgive myself for letting it happen in the first place.

The Job I got once I moved back to Michigan healed me. I took the job thinking it would be just another opportunity to help children.  I was part of a team that worked everyday to save lives.  We worded to heal people who have been hurt/violated by people they love. We educate women (and men) about Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.  My clients, these brave and frustrating women taught me so much about how Trauma follows you your whole life if you don’t address it. My job taught me Accountability.  Owning up to the choices I’ve made in my life and their impact on me and others. My co-workers brought back my happy. In the completely emotionally damaged world we work, I smiled more than I cried. I looked forward to seeing them, and hopefully they felt the same about me.  We are a Strange Group of People, those of us who choose to do Social work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have to take a second to shoutout TIITC.  Never shall he be named, but he helped me realize that not all men are assholes.  He found me beautiful at my ugliest, and he let me cry on his couch when my Nephew died.  I wouldn’t have made it without him.  Thanks TIITC, you are loved as well 🙂

Finally, MJ has come BACK to 3013!

Finally, MJ has come BACK to 3013!

Which leads me back . . . to Arizona. Somewhere in the 4 years I lived there, it became Home.  I felt displaced in Michigan. I didn’t have my own space, I couldn’t live the life I wanted there.  I now crave warm weather, and mountains. I want two dogs in my backyard and Sundays at Mt. Lemmon.  I want Holiday dinners at 4 different houses with at least 3 different cultures represented.  I want to be called Aunt Marisa and ‘ARisa and Mz. Joy by children playing in my front yard. It’s time for me to stop licking healed wounds.  I’m finally stronger than that Pain. I leave you with an Eminem Lyric that perfectly illustrates my current mindset…

 But you won’t break me, You’ll just make me,

Stronger than I was, Before I met you

 I bet you I’ll be just fine without you

And if I stumble, I won’t crumble

I’ll get back up and I….

And I’mma still be humble, When I scream fuck you

Cause I’m stronger than I was – Marshall Mathers

 

Home is where the Heart Is . . .

You know how people say that, and it pisses you off because what the hell does that even mean?!?! Okay, is that just me? Maybe it is. Whatever don’t judge me, you don’t know my story. (I mean unless you read my blog then you probably know my entire life story.) Anyway, on my recent rip to Arizona, I’ve made some interesting observations that I would like to share.  Here they are . . .

1) I Am A Nomad.

This is a very important observation.  I don’t like being in one place for a long period of time.  I need a variety of scenery, and different things to do.  Without that variety, I get bored, and then I do dumb things.  More than just needing variety, I work better with a very precise set of circumstances.  I need a job that has a variety of responsibilities.  I need to be able to craft my life around my schedule, and not the other way around.  I need to have a readily available support team – be they family or otherwise – I can go to when I need something. As my Sorority Sister once told me, “You are consistently inconsistent.” That’s a very accurate portrayal of me.  I’m a flake, but I’m reliable when I’m not in Flake Mode.

2) Tell People They Matter, before you can’t tell them again . . .

When my Nephew Fred Lux died last month, the only thing I could think about was, “Did he know how much he was loved?” People need to know they are valued.  People should know you rely on them to get through your day.  At work, at home, when you go to the mall . . . Doesn’t really matter.  If you haven’t told them how important they are to you, assume they don’t know.  There were 500+ people at my Nephew’s Funeral . . . Standing Room Only.  People took time off their jobs, on a Wednesday, to make sure his family knew that he was important to everyone he encountered. Tell people they matter.  It’s not just about stroking their ego, it’s about touching their heart.

941299_10153386613930613_1059666991_n3) I will never NOT work with Kids . . .

Kids are the greatest thing ever in life. And not for a weird reason, but because they are the personification of innocence in a very messed up world.  The smile of a child is enough to change the direction of your day . . . If you let it.  I spent this vacation with children for the most part.  My nieces and nephews, the kids I used to babysit when I lived here, and even stopped by my old job.  The thing that struck me was that they remembered me.  Not all of them remembered my name.  But I made a lasting impact in some kind of way.  From a kid saying, ‘Hi Applehead’, to the little girl who couldn’t even speak, she just hugged me until I walked out of the door.  My reason for being, is to work with children.  To educate them, to be a friend, and to help them at whatever stage of life they happen to be in when they cross my path.  The absolute understanding of that concept was baffling to me when I was younger.  At 31, it’s a challenge.  Can I be what I think I’m supposed to  be. Can I live up to that standard? I’m not sure,  but I think so. I’m excited to see just how far I can go!

4)My Father Loves Me . . .

I know that sounds weird, but it has taken me a long time to accept my Father exactly as he is.  For years, I expected him to be what I NEEDED him to be.  Then, I expected him to be what I WANTED him to be. About two years ago, I came to the conclusion that I had been doing it all wrong.  Understanding  you will never be able to control another person’s actions creates a kind of relief.  You can stop holding them to the standards you have set for them.  When I left Arizona, I explained to my Father that I needed something from him, that he wasn’t able to provide.  But I wasn’t upset about it.  I just understood what I needed in my life at that time. But I love my Dad.  For every conversation where he tries to protect me from my own stubbornness, to his gestures of acceptance as weird as they might be to others.  I’m at the point in my life where I’m so GRATEFUL I have two Living Parents.  I can go to them in need of advice, and they actually respect my dilemmas/issues and give me solutions without Judgement.  Growing up is sometimes awesome.

5) True Friends are hard to come by . . . 

I’m not talking about people you see everyday.  I mean the people you don’t talk to for MONTHS, but one phone call makes it feel like they are right next to you.  My Best Friends all have “titles” – White Boy Best Friend, High School Best Friend, Lesbian Best Friend, etc. – But their Best Friend status is not based on their label/title.  It’s based on how/what/when/where/how they have been with me throughout my life.  I’m learning in my old age, friends are there when sometimes family chooses not to be.  I’m grateful for the people who call me friend. Those who listen to me talk about my life, and don’t judge me or my actions.  Those who might have a completely different outlook on life, but still embrace mine.  Friends who teach me how to make a new meal every time I see them, and who don’t judge me for late night texts/IM’s about my dastardly deeds.  I’m really blessed, and appreciative for all of you!

Thanx for Reading!