*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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 🙂
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