Thursday, December 19, 2013

It's Hard For Me to be Naked with my Clothes On

I consider myself to be a strong, confident, fierce, black woman. I've overcome many obstacles, climbed many mountains and beat many challenges that have come my way in my 36 years of existence. You would think after surviving Hurricane Katrina, raising four girls alone, putting myself through college and finding my way back to myself after two failed marriages I should be doing okay, right? Well, uh let me say this... that life I just mentioned in this opening paragraph has left me with some wounds. Don't get me wrong, I thank God for who I am and that my story is hopefully a testimony to someone else. However, my wounds have left me unable to be naked in front of people. (I trust that you understand I'm metaphorically speaking when I say this.) 

Some of you may be thinking, are you emotionally unavailable, do you push people away, etc...? No, I'm not and I don't do any of those things. Actually, it's quite the opposite. I want to share who I am and for people to dig deep inside and discover the emotions that I try to sometimes hide. But, I am afraid of exposing myself. It's difficult for me to get close to new people who come into my life. Because of my fear of covered nakedness, it's hard for me to make new friends. And it's sometimes uncomfortable maintaining my close relationships because at some point I do get naked. I can flash my smile, bat my eyelashes, strut in my heels and sit with people and enjoy a nice meal on any given day. And while I'm doing all of this, in my mind I'm wondering, do they see me? I'm mentally trying to hide inside of my skin and keep a barrier between myself and others because the thought of people seeing all the pieces of me is frightening to say the least. Underneath my lip gloss and behind the dimple on my left cheek is fear, pain, shame, exhaustion, and frustration. There's a battle going on inside of me. The battle is between those in the previous sentence and forgiveness, humility, patience, strength, courage, and endurance. They are all on the inside fighting to overcome each other. Why must they fight? And why don't I want you to know that they are there? They are fighting to be with me, to overtake me and so I can choose one or all of them. I don't want to be naked in front of people because in that very moment they may not see me for who I am. And because I am concentrating on them not seeing me, I may forget that I'm a warrior and more than a conqueror. ( I know it may be hard to follow but stay with me). I sometimes forget my own triumphs when I feel as if I'm being exposed. It's easier for me to have a small circle because I don't have to be vulnerable. My guards are made of cast iron being held together by the constant need to protect myself. Covered nakedness as I call it is a frightening concept because it comes with pressure to stay on top, not have a bad day, always be on your game, keep the cape on and wear the S on your chest proudly and daily. I don't want to be exposed because I don't want rejection. I want automatic acceptance and understanding. I retreat inside of myself when I feel people are rejecting me without understanding me or making preconceived notions about me. Sometimes these feelings are justified and sometimes it's the covered nakedness issue. However, I don't spend a lot of time trying to figure out which one is the real deal. I give up before I give in. It's easier and safer that way in my mind. I feel as though I've dodged a bullet. And other times I feel perhaps I missed out on something.

There are parts of me on the inside I am uncomfortable with. There are parts of me I'd rather not know. There are parts of me I thought were gone but they are just on a year-round hibernation. There are parts of me that make me cry.  You may now understand why covered nakedness is a struggle. As busy and demanding as my life is, I go with the flow and deal with one situation at a time. I have an approach for just about everything. This blog has given me the courage to work on being free with my clothes on.

Do you have an issue with covered nakedness? 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Am I my Brother's Keeper?

My holiday weekend began last Wednesday. I did something I hadn't done in a very long time which was watch a Lifetime movie. Like most women, I am a Lifetime Movie Network lover. If you know anything about the movies on Lifetime then you know for the most part the movies are based on real life events. I came across the movie " Conviction" starring Hilary Swank. Conviction is the real life story of Betty Anne Waters and her brother Kenny Waters. Kenny was wrongfully convicted ( conviction overturned in 2001) in 1983 for the brutal murder of Katharina Brow in 1980. The real story is the selflessness, dedication, loyalty, faith and courage of Betty Anne. Betty Anne was 29 years old when her brother was arrested and convicted. She was married with two, young boys with only a high school equivalent education when she decided to go to college and eventually law school to become her brother's lawyer and exonerate him for a murder she was sure he didn't commit. Betty Anne's husband didn't support her decision so they split up and her sons grew weary of her not being around as she attended school and worked on her brother's case and they eventually went to live with their father. 

I'm watching this movie and I'm thinking the whole time, this woman has given up everything, her entire life to fight for her brother who may or may not be innocent. It didn't matter what anyone else believed, or said about him or how many times he had been in trouble in the past. What mattered was that she believed in him. I had to wonder if I would have done the same for any of my three brothers, or would anyone I know have done the same for theirs? This woman fought for 18 years to clear her brother and finally in June 2001 Kenny Waters walked out of prison a free man. 

I often think about the relationship my girls will have with one another when they are grown women, with careers and families. Will they talk consistently? Will they always be there for one another? Despite the issues I may have with them being their mother and trying to keep them on the straight and narrow, one thing I can say is they do love each other and they do support each other. They are always defending each other and helping each other with school projects and homework. I always see them talking , ( probably about me) laughing, playing games and watching TV together. It gives me hope that I'm doing something right. However, it isn't like that for a lot of families. I'm not suggesting anyone who has a sibling accused of murder give up their lives, switch careers to become a lawyer and fight to prove their innocence. However, a sibling should be, if not, as close as a best friend to you. Who else can understand when you're pissed off at your parents for not letting you go out after you've brought home a D on a test? It breaks my heart when a parent passes away and siblings start fighting over money and Kmart China before their parent's remains are in the ground. 

I know most of you probably only know the phrase "Am I my brother's keeper" from the movie New Jack City. Being your brother's keeper means they can call you to talk, if they are in need and you can help then you will, it means spending time together and looking out for one another's kids and so much more. My guy and his brother have one of the best sibling relationships I've ever seen. His brother is six years older and lives out of town. However, whenever his brother comes home they are like glue. And when they join forces with their father it's laughs, stories and more importantly lots of love in the room. They also talk consistently checking on one another throughout the week. Your relationships with your siblings are among the very first relationships you will have and develop. It's a foundation for having healthy relationships in romance, with co-workers, friends and in-laws. Are you your brother's keeper?