I often have these random thoughts that go through my mind right before bedtime.
The other night as I was reflecting on the past 10 years of my life, I began to contemplate the stage I am in at the moment.
It was at that moment that I realized that I have in fact being going through seasons…and I am nearing my favorite season of all: SPRING.
The four seasons of the year are separated by three months. I am thinking of my life’s seasons being separated by a span of four years, totaling the 16 years leading up to when they say life begins: the age of 40.
So let’s rewind back to 2004. Summer 2004, specifically, which coincidentally marked the beginning of my four year Summer season.
It was June of 2004 that I moved to Doha, Qatar; the flourishing heart of the Middle East. The years between 2004-2008 marked some of the best times of my life; and that is what Summer is about isn’t it?
I mean, think about it. What goes through your mind when you think about Summer? For those in school, it marks a time of freedom, of letting go of responsibilities and enjoying every moment without the pressures of homework and curfews. It’s a time of baring more skin, partying a little harder, soaking in the sun rays, refreshing splashes in cool pools of water.
One word to easily equate with Summer is: fun! And boy, did I have fun my first few years in Doha. I was in new country, immersed in a brand new culture. It was in these years that I made life-long friends, and learned what love really felt like. I danced…a LOT…and laughed a lot. I shopped and travelled and explored. It was a time of my life that I wished would never end.
But as all seasons eventually come to an end, so did my Summer. And although I’ve painted a positive picture, not all aspects of this season are enjoyable.
Another word to equate with Summer is: heat. And man was it HOT in Doha. The breeze felt like the winds of hell and the desert sands and dust in the air sometimes made it difficult to breathe.
To attach that metaphorically to what I experienced during that time was me having to deal with the heat of my own insecurities. As I mentioned above, I learned what love really felt like. But that didn’t come without the pains of my past interfering at every moment. What could have been a Summer romance that could have lasted the seasons of time was marked by occasional sandstorms brought on by my lack of trust in my mate, and my persistence on “checkin’ them hoes”.
My poor dear ex…he went through hell indeed trying to maintain an oasis where my actions indicated that I seemed to prefer a drought; and by the end of the Summer, the heat that was once defined by passion between the two of us had all cooled down significantly…the winds were changing, the leaves of our lives began to lose their green vibrancy, the sunny days were turning darker…earlier.
The eve of 2008 marked the beginning of one of the worst (and best, which I will explain later) breakups of my life…2008 marked the beginning of my Fall season.
I was still in Doha and although the temperatures outside were still very much Summer, the weather of my heart was going through some serious changes.
I do love the Fall as a season. I love the cooler breezes, the red, yellow and orange leaves, the opportunity to add fun layers to my wardrobe. In my heart, however, I was mourning the loss of Summer, and what transpired over the next four years was a series of one fall after another.
It took me a year to get over the demise of that relationship. I’d hope to marry this individual and he’d hoped the same. There’s only so much a person can take, however, and even though I grew to love him even more for breaking it off, at the time, I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to bounce back from it all.
I cried…a LOT…and I yearned a lot. Yet I am eternally grateful for the experience as if it weren’t for this breakup, I probably would have never changed. I may have never realized that I had to let go of past pain, I had to be more careful of my present, more aware of my self-worth and beauty and value.
I learned that when in a relationship with a man, the first thing you must do is trust that man. There will always be at least one woman out there with a scheme of causing division between you but she can only do so if you allow her.
The lessons I learned in that breakup were so profound that the next two men I was involved in over the course of that four year season questioned whether or not I cared. Well, one appreciated my lax attitude towards “them bitches”, welcomed it in fact. But he was man who held himself in high esteem as well so this was expected.
The other fellow was so caught up in his own insecurities that he misunderstood my unwillingness to concern myself with the next chick as “Oh, well I guess you just don’t care about me.”
Errrrrgh? (in my Scooby Doo voice)
If may interject with a little side note here, you may have noticed that I am trying not to go into full detail of my experiences to spare you a mini-autobiography. Those who know me, and have been following my blogs (even the hidden ones) over the past 8 years or so already know the full extent of what I went through.
As a timeline:
2008: I spent the entire year trying to get over my ex and trying to reconcile with him #atthesamedamntime. I was unsuccessful, which only added to my grief, and the colors of my heart (my leaves) continued to fade and fade and fade…
2009:…but they hadn’t yet begun to fall off the trees. They say the best way to get over a man is to get under another one. In the place where I am today mentally, I don’t particularly agree with that statement, however, that was the exact remedy for my heartbreak.
I met a charming young chap who seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. He was fun and funny and we had a blast together. He was completely different from anyone I’d ever dated and people often questioned how we managed to pair up…until they experienced the live show that was us together in our prime.
I thought for a brief moment that there was some sort of miracle of nature in the works…that the leaves of my heart that had began to turn brown were transitioning back to a bright orange. That was until I discovered that I was just a placeholder until someone his mother would approve of came along. This is when the leaves began to fall…and the breeze got just a bit chillier.
Although there were tears and mourning when yet another relationship failed, where it took me a year to get over my Summer love, it only took a matter of weeks, I’d say about two weeks precisely to get over this one. As I said before, the lessons learned in the Summer breakup were PROFOUND and my heart grew so much stronger in the process…although, not strong enough…
2010: Forbidden love is the most dangerous love…if you can call it love at all. If 2008 was when the leaves changed color and 2010 was when they fell off the trees, 2010 was when the leaves began to rustle around on the ground, trampled on by uncaring children, burned in the backyards of my people down South.
Yes, I got involved with a man who was otherwise attached. Ironically, my relationship with him was probably the most passionate. However, it was the same fire that ignited this passion between us that eventually singed the leaved of my heart.
Before I go on, I do want to point out that although I am describing these seasons as they relate to my personal relationships, there were things going on in other areas of my life as well. In my job for example. I began a job as a pre-school teacher in 2007 and even my experience there was marked with a fair share of stressful changes.
The hurt and pain I felt as a result of my breakup reflected in my performance as a school teacher and it was only in a matter of months before my job was on the line. Just as I got my heart in check, though, I got my professionalism in check as well; and I was able to at least win over the parents of my students. The self-absorbed _________who ran the school was a bit harder to win over, insisting on bringing up my past mistakes every moment she could, not believing that it was possible that I truly could both change for the better AND maintain that upgraded level of professionalism.
In 2009, instead of being let go from that job, for reasons I am still unable to explain other than an apparent jealousy of self-absorbed __________; I was transferred to the same school at a different location.
Although, I was an excellent teacher, with a proven record of having both the best behaved and brightest students in the pre-school, I was still under the cloud of the mistakes made my first year with the school and coupled with all I went through with the leaf-burning relationship I will describe more in a moment, 2010 also was the year I was told my contract would not be renewed with the school.
This brought on a entirely new list of problems that weren’t made better by the fact I had fallen in love with a man I could never have and wasn’t sure I would even want even if I could have him. THIS was not made any better by the fact that this man was a walking talking boiling teakettle that suppressed its shrieks instead of whistling them out in release.
THIS was not made better that although we both knew we couldn’t have a future together, we couldn’t seem to stay away from each other, an act that only brought more pain to all the parties involved.
And THIS was not made better by the fact that unlike me, his pain resulted in an anger with himself which was projected quite unfairly on to me (although I probably deserved it being that I allowed to get myself to get deeply involved with him in the first place.)
So by the close of 2010, not only was I jobless, homeless (thank God for my friend Melanie, who allowed me a room in her apartment…if you’re reading, girl, I love you dearly), a few delinquent payments away from being car-less, I felt as if I was also heartless.
And not heartless in the way of cruelty…but heartless in that my heart seemed to have been trampled to death…it was on its last beat…its image was the likeness of a tree completely swept of its leaves on a cloudy Fall day…the breeze now indicating that Winter was very near.
2011: So much had began to happen in my spirit. It started in the final months of 2010…my arguments with God, that is. I went on my final vacation in July of 2010; a lovely time in Bodrum with my friend Malik (God bless him).
I remember on our final night there, I wasn’t feeling well so I stayed alone in the hotel room while Malik and another friend of his who’d joined us went out on the town. As I lay there in the bed, moaning in pain from menstrual cramps, I began to literally curse God.
I called Him unpleasant names, told Him that He was cruel for allowing me to go through so much pain over the past year or so when I was so faithful in my honoring of Him. I asked Him why He’d allowed me to lose my job and to get involved with such a heartless and selfish person. I’m pretty sure I shouted “F**k you!!" once or twice. I was so angry with Him.
These random acts of vocal frustration with God continued over the past couple of months. Although I’d found another job as a pre-school teacher at another school, the pay was only a fraction of what I made before and there was no way I could pay all of the debts that had piled up. Thankfully I had THE MOST AMAZING FRIENDS who in their minds, GAVE me money to help…not LOANED it to me. (Shout out to my bestie Marie, my Kiwi chick Michelle, my homey Gasan, my Trini bud Brent, my Egyptian pal Kareem, and everyone who was soooo supportive to me during this time…I will never forget any of you!!)
Still, I’d become used to a certain lifestyle and that had all been stripped away from me. I blamed God for it all.
Then the anxiety attacks began. I remember one day being at the school and sitting there with my babies. Suddenly, their little voices became too much for me to bear. Their faces were blurred in my sight and all I saw instead were all of my failures, all of my unattainable dreams, all the things I wished I’d done and wished I was doing instead of my reality.
I felt as if there was a pillow over my face and I was being suffocated. I honestly don’t remember how I snapped out of it…not sure if I went to another room to catch my breath or if it passed on its own or if I ended up somewhere looking like this:
…but I will never forget how I felt in that moment.
It happened again, on several occasions, at school and at home…although not as dramatic as the first time. I eventually confided in the counselor of the pre-school about it…an act that ended up getting me fired.
Yes. You read right. These c*nt bags (sigh, I am still working on forgiveness in this area…pray for me) decided that it was dangerous to have a teacher with “such conditions” working with their little ones. Which to an extent, I totally understood.
It was HOW they fired me that was f*cked up. It was on a day where we were short-staffed; one of my assistants was out for the day and these sl*t buckets called me in the office, right as I had my kiddies geared up for story time at the end of the day and basically asked me to “leave quietly”.
Yo. If you gon’ fire me, tell me BEFORE I come to work, not after I have worked a whole day. And what was the sense of urgency that I couldn’t have stayed the remaining hour of the day with my students? PLUS, these b*tches sent me a TEXT saying that they would have all of my supplies packed up for me and that I could come pick them up…but not to go in to say goodbye to the students.
Ahem, where was I?
Oh, so yea…this was the final straw for me.
Now, I’d like to mention, that even though I was angry with God, blaming Him, cursing Him; at the end of every fit of rage I would burst into tears only to have Him comfort me to stillness…even if only for the moment.
I thought so strongly about just giving up on Him in the way it felt as if He gave up on me, but I just couldn’t. His hold on me was too strong; my love for Him too deep.
So naturally, although He wasn’t my most favorite beings at the time, as I drove home from being dismissed that day, I asked Him quite plainly: “Lord, what do you want me to do now?”
And He replied just as plainly: “Go home.”
And this is exactly what I did. I called my mother and within two weeks I was on a plane headed for North Carolina. It was probably one of the worst trips of my life, by the way. Flight delays, flight cancellations, sleeping on airport benches, almost missing a flight, running through airports in tears like a mad woman, more flight cancellations, overnight stays in hotels as a result of more flight cancellations, and missing luggage once I finally reached NC. If this wasn’t proof that my return home was heaven sent, I don’t know what was. The devil was pissed.
He thought he almost had me. I know that if I would have stayed in Doha, there wasn’t going to be a happy ending for me. God was calling me home. And it was only within a matter of weeks, as I began to bundle in the warmth of love while everything around me seemed to die and retreat into an extended hibernation as the winter cold crept in, that I knew that my obedience to His voice would yield blessings upon blessing for me.
2012 marked the beginning of my winter season, and I brought the year in screaming…literally. My spirit underwent an amazing moment of healing in the six months that I’d been home, and my faith in the Lord had been completely restored. It wasn’t until I was out of the stifling clouds of Doha and back into the fresh air that I began to see and understand my experiences for what they were: preparation.
God had/has some serious plans for me that would not be able to come to fruition in the unhealthy environment I’d come to call home. He had to remind me that home is where the heart is, and my heart is with Him. Oh, how wonderful He has been to me.
New Years Eve 2011 was spent at a midnight church service where I sang, danced, and cried happy cries as I had never done in my life! It was also the first time I’d ever “caught the Holy Ghost”.
Whew, man…let me tell you…if you have never felt the exhilaration of being totally engulfed in the presence of God, then you haven’t fully lived. I’ve always wondered if it was all an act when people would get to hootin’ and hollerin’…until I found myself being shaken uncontrollably and physically SCREAMING out every last drop of pain, doubt, regret, and resentment that had been piled onto my spirit over the past few years. I literally felt it leaving my body, ya’ll and I’d never felt so refreshed in all of my life!
On the dawn of 2012, I felt I was ready to take on the world…and this Winter season has been one of tremendous growth for me.
Now, I know growth is the last word one would associate with the Winter. Nothing grows in the Winter. Or so we think. Yes, the ground is frozen cold, the trees are desolate, and everything is blanketed with snow. But underneath the soil, life is still going on. Growth never stops. And sometimes, it is in total stillness, that the best growth takes place.
This is what this Winter season I am currently in can be summed up to: growth in the midst of stillness. And I’ve grown and am growing in so many ways.
Life here in Fayetteville is nothing like my life in Doha. In Doha, I had friends and a social life. In Fayetteville, I am alone (save my mother and nieces and for a brief moment Beefcake) and my social life consists of clowning with my co-workers, greeting fellow shoppers during my retail therapy sessions, and down-ward facing dogging with my fellow yogis.
Where I was a butterfly in Doha, I am wrapped back in a cocoon here in Fayetteville, but still, this is another perfect illustration of life happening beneath the surface.
These past two years, I have focused intently on rebuilding my relationship with God and with glorious results. He’s blessed me with jobs and job promotions, my own place (my FIRST place that is truly my own, mind you!) a car that is paid for and restored physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
He blessed me with a man who was a wonderful support in my reclaiming my independence here in North Carolina and I pray now that this man is continually blessed as he was the vessel for God’s blessings for me.
He’s blessed me with insight, and an enthusiasm about devoting all I do and dream of to Him. I want every song or book I write, every dance I perform, every thought I think to be grounded in my love for Him. A major change from when I was cursing His name only three years ago. I now bless His name.
Just like with any season, though, there are those days that are unbearable. The coldest days of my Winter were when my mother allowed the enemy to lead her to cause division between us. Her own level of insecurity and jealousy, and her inability to let go of past wrongs were projected on to me a such a magnitude, I actually thought, probably quite dramatically so, that if I would have remained in her home during that period, that she would have tried to kill me.
Yea, I know…that’s a bit extreme. But ya’ll weren’t there. Ya’ll didn’t see how the devil, knowing that I was embarking on a relationship with the vessel of God’s blessings mentioned above, used her in such a despicable way. I won’t get too much into detail as that is a winter storm I am trying to keep in the past. I will just thank God in the midst, as it was yet another storm He brought me through as the victor.
Another cold chill came at my workplace, prior to my promotion. I worked on a job where I had a manager that was so impossible to deal with, I almost quit. Moments like those are tests, however…and that particular test paid off in the end. As a result of my endurance and determination to continue to be the best I could be in my position, I was both promoted to that same management position and relocated to another store walking distance from my home. See how God works?
If you read my last post, you know of yet another moment of below freezing temperatures as defined by the block of ice that I have allowed to be built between ole vessel and I…who by now you already know is ole Beefcake.
It is in the Winter season that I am becoming more aware of the type of life I want to lead, the kind of life that God has for me and it doesn’t involve making any personal sacrifices for the sake of not being alone.
I want a family, I want a husband, I want a home filled with love, for one another and for the Lord. If that is something I cannot see myself building with you (speaking to any brother who may show interest moving forward), then we are better suited as casual friends. I have a book I am working on that will explain my meaning in more detail…coming soon to a Barnes & Nobles near you.
If my seasonal calendar continues to move as it has been, I have two more years of growth in stillness before all I have dreamed of and prayed for and believed God for will begin to sprout and bloom. I have two more years, God willing, until my Spring season begins…the final four years leading up to 40…a magical age indeed!
Now this isn’t to say that I am not going to live my life as I am already in that season today. However, for the things that I have begun working on, the ideas that God is laying on my heart and kicking me into gear to perform…I’d say another two years is what it will take for my big launch!
And I does love the Spring, Lord…I does love the Spring. Until then, though, I am so thankful for every single moment I have experienced over my young adulthood…as well as my continual transition into grown and sexy! ;)
It has been a journey indeed and it is far from over!
If you are reading this sentence, I appreciate you. You are the reason I have stopped stifling my thoughts and have returned to writing. You prove to me that my voice IS being heard and that there ARE people out there who care about my stories.
There are more to come…and they are all dedicated to you.
Thank you for reading! <3