erotique (2).

erotique (2).

I had a dream about you.

Standing in front of you in my mind’s eye, with a peach coloured button down shirt, breasts hanging unfettered by a bra, no panties, pussy hairs damp with excitement.

I said, “remember the last time, when you were not so gentle, so careful with me, and I hurt under you, the onslaught? I don’t want to be hurt again.”

You said, “I remember. I promise it will be different this time. Come here. Come here and let me show you.”

So I walked forward, glided really, anticipation making wings on the backs of my heels.

You spread your legs and told me to sit on your lap, so I did. I sat, and leaned my upper body up against your chest, and pressed my face into the side of your neck. You wrapped your arm around my waist and brought me closer.

Your hand rested on my upper thigh. Said, “relax, baby” so I took a deep breath and tried to loosen my shoulders a bit more.

We kissed…at first just light pecks. I grabbed your chin and pushed my tongue between your lips. Your hand slid inside my shirt, past my stomach, and cupped my breast, squeezing gently.

Your mouth…on my neck now, licking and sucking. I moan and my legs spread open a bit more. I glance down and two of your fingers are curled as if to say come hither so my pussy came hither while you pushed your thick fingers between the fat folds that shield my walls.

Up, up your fingers go inside and rub against that spongy spot that when you touch makes my toes curl and my juices increase, covering your two fingers like you dipped them in a honey pot.

MY honey pot…

I cried out and clutched at your shoulders, my mouth open on the side of your neck as you stroked and stroked, breasts swelling and and nipples straining, body feeling like a coiled spring, begging for release.

Release…cum dripping down my thighs now while your thumb presses down on my clitoris and you ask me if I’m ready…

A thin veil of sweat covers my forehead and the tops of my breasts as I feel the spring uncoiling and a rush between my thighs while my body goes limp with the intensity of my orgasm.

You stick your fingers in my mouth and I suck off my juice, darting my tongue around the webbing between your fingers and I hear you inhale deeply and your arm tightens around my waist –

I wake up.

I wake up and rub my thighs together. I’m still wet, reaching my arm over in a bed that’s empty besides me, searching for you.

But soon – you will come.

And you’ll make ME cum.

To make up for all the lost time.

-a.

Advertisements
erotique.

erotique.

sitting on the edge of my bed, listening to the storm raging outside ~

 

i lay back on my bed, and my shirt rises up past my waist, revealing my panties. i reach down and stroke the outside of my vulva absentmindedly.

lightning flashes, then thunder rumbles, rattling the windows

i slide my fingers inside and stroke my vulva. i raise my left leg up and place my foot on the edge of the bed, then let my leg fall to the side. two fingers inside my panties now, slowly stroking the folds inside of my labia. i feel slightly damp. 

but ~ not yet.

i raise both legs up and slide my panties up past my thighs, over my calves simultaneously. i lay back, legs flopping open, exposing my fruit. 

thinking about him thinking about kissing him thinking about fucking him

i turn my face to the side, right hand between my legs cupping my mons, left hand holding my breast, squeezing my nipple between my fingers.

my hands stroking his chest, nails raking his skin, lips on his neck, moving down, tongue flicking and nibbling his nipples, kisses and nips on his stomach

my two fingers inside, moving around. drawing out my juices. fingertip softly stroking my nipple. 

i grasp his hips. his dick in my face. i kiss the tip, watch it jump. i take the head inside my mouth and run my tongue around the slit. i open my mouth wider and take more in. like i’m sucking a popsicle. up and down up and down up and down my mouth moves up and down….i take it out of my mouth and lick the vein on the underside of his dick. that’s his sensitive spot. i lick and suck the underside and cup his balls with my free hand….i hear him moan….i spit on his dick and take it back in my mouth.

do you like that baby do you like it you like when i spit on the dick yea you like that shit

he pulls me up, we fall back on the bed. i sit on his stomach and slide down and grab his dick and sit on in. i wiggle and slide down on the dick. i lean forward, place my hands on his shoulders, hips bouncing up and down. he grabs my head between his hands and kisses me. we kiss and my walls grip his dick like a closed tight fist ~

my fingers moving faster now. thumb pressed down on my clitoris. my hips gyrate in a side to side motion. i moan a little into my pillow.

he makes me stop riding him. he says, hold up, and flips me over. then he’s on top of me. i wrap my legs up around his back and my arms around his neck. he starts thrusting…slow at first…then faster and faster. my mouth open, pressed to the side of his neck. 

shit baby fuck me daddy fuck me baby fuck me harder give it to me baby fuck me daddy oooo daddy fuck shit you fucking me like you wanna own this pussy like you wanna OWN this pussy

i feel pressure. my fingers move faster. i bite my lip, but a moan slips out, this time a bit louder.

before i cum, he stops and pulls out. he stops and pulls out and slides down to the edge of the bed and grasps my hips, and puts his mouth between my legs. he spreads my thighs and my labia and starts sucking on my clitoris…i scream and instinctively try to close my legs but he holds them open and keeps licking and sucking ~

mouth open. legs spread all over the bed. my skin is covered in a fine layer of sweat. pressure building ~

he sucks and licks my clitoris and pushes his finger inside my vagina and one inside my anus. i feel my juices run down my leg at my climax. i cry out and hold his head in my hands, legs shaking ~

 

when i cum, it feels like honey on my fingers. with my free hand, i reach up and wipe sweat off the side of my neck. i look to my left; my panties lay in a small pile in the corner, discarded. my shirt is twisted up around my torso. i almost blushed at the nature of my thoughts. 

almost.

 

my husband will soon come; in the meantime, i’ll make sure i cum in the interim. 

 

 

-a.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

an open letter to Black men ~

an open letter to Black men ~

 

“Show me how you treat your women and I’ll show you the condition of your race” ~ Dr. Yosef Ben Jochannan

 

Black man, I struggle to like you.

Not love you, because believe it or not, I do truly love you.

Simply, like you.

It’s impossible for me to hate someone that is so close to me, who looks like me. So I don’t hate you. But my love for you is formless and undefined; it spreads out seamlessly, like the breath that comes from my mouth when its cold outside. Foggy. Milky. Transparent, even.

I know why, too.

It’s not because of what’s been done to you. It’s because you know what’s been done to you, and you continue to allow it.

You make excuses for your oppression. You treat your oppression like a bed with a pillow top mattress and Egyptian cotton sheets. It’s comfortable, so you lay in it. You pull the Egyptian cotton sheets up over your heads and ignore the cries and screams of your women and children.

Your women and children cry out for your love and protection but you ignore it.

Not only do some of you ignore these cries, you actively do not care about their tears.

I know. I can tell.

You get into debates about balancing your chakras while thousands of brown and black babies languish in foster care.

You wear crystals around your necks suspended with chains and hemp ropes and hold them in your fists while black bodies fall in puddles of blood, shot down by police in the streets.

While you burn sage your women are dying in jail cells, with plastic bags around their throats and  pillows over their faces.

You laugh at images depicting your dehumanization.

You make babies and abandon them.

You emotionally destroy your women and abandon them.

 

what happened to you?

 

Black men, as a collective, are like a huge wounded animal. One that has had band-aids applied to bullet wounds that have festered with infection. I see you walking, to and from work or standing around with trauma hanging off your backs like its packed in trash bags. When I look in your faces I see pain, anger, and defeat. I turn away from it. As a healer, its in my nature to want to run to you with bandages, and seal up your wounds. As a nurturer, I want to hold your heads to my breasts and soothe your pain, anger and fear. As a leader, I want to whisper into your ear confidence and strength. Something that your mothers should have done. Something your fathers should have done. Your mothers and fathers should have prepared you for what was to come, if they were able. If they were there. I could be your mother. You are my suns.

 

I can’t do the work for you. So I turn away from you.

 

The work isn’t being done. The healing work is not being done. You ignore the work that needs to be done.

So I struggle to like you.

 

But:

I want you to do better.

I want you to be better.

I want you to be accountable for yourself.

I want you to take care of the children.

I want you to listen to your women.

I want you to love your women.

I want you to be tender with your women.

I want you to stop lying to your women.

I want you to stop blaming your women.

I want you to kill for your women.

I want you to forgive your mothers.

I want you to forgive your fathers.

I want you to be stronger than you are.

I want you to stop making excuses [for everything].

I want the good men to take a stand and mentor the bad men.

I want you to stand for us. For all of us.

I want you to fight for us. For all of us.

 

Until then, I struggle.

 

 

-a.

 

 

 

do you know how to love?

do you know how to love?

If someone asked me if I knew how to love a few years ago my answer would have been an unequivocal yes. It’s easy to love someone or something, right?

Not exactly. Well. Not for me, anyway. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

There will come a time when you have to make yourself self-evaluate. So this is what I did a few years back, after the end of my last serious relationship.

I wouldn’t have known what a “good man” was. The only example I had of a man that was good was my grandfather, and he passed away when I was 20 years old. My own father was absent from my life. I’ve never exactly figured out the reason why. I was raised by a mother who espoused her singleness and aloofness; I absorbed all of this like a sponge. She told me once that she was afraid of men. I don’t know if it was because of choices she made or because of what the men that passed through her life did to her. I never asked her. I recall being stunned into silence when she told me that.

So I carried this in my mind. But at the time, when I was young, I didn’t realize what I was carrying around in my mind.

Growing up without a stable father figure left me feeling unwanted most of the time. Someone who was not worthy of love. Subconsciously I thought if my own father didn’t love me, what man would? So I put up with things that I shouldn’t have to keep men in my life. I put up with cheating, beatings, verbal and emotional abuse. I put up with men who I should have cut from my life the very minute that they said something terrible to me, or raised their hand to me. I didn’t. I kept them around. Longer than I should have. They said they loved me. I believed it. I didn’t have a positive example to reach back to. Actually I didn’t have an example, at all. So I thought that was what love was. It was supposed to be a struggle. It hurt. It was the tears soaking my pillow at night when he would ignore my calls. It was the bruises on my arms when he grabbed me. It was the sharp pain in my chest when I was pregnant with his child and he asked me, “how could you do this to me? Get pregnant on me?” as if he wasn’t there. It was me crying in the bathroom at my old job when he sent me a text telling me he needed “space” because I was “too clingy” and I didn’t hear from him again after a year and a half of us being together. It was me bending over backwards to please men who would never do the same for me. It was me working hard to hold on to the strings of the relationship when those men didn’t care and had already let me go. All of it hurt. It was pain.

I was always told that the demise of my relationships were always my fault. It was something I did. I don’t claim to be blameless but of course there were two people in the relationship; how could everything be my fault? Obviously I attracted narcissists. However, after the end of my last relationship this was something I struggled with. It’s ridiculously easy for me to forgive someone, even when they don’t offer an apology. I’m so much harder on myself. I think I beat myself up for months about what happened and why it happened and what I could have done differently.

Then the hard part.

I didn’t even love myself. I cannot explain in words how hard that was to admit that, to say it out loud. I didn’t love myself. I felt unworthy. I was not lovable. I remember saying that to myself out loud and in the back of my mind was a scene from my childhood. I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old. My father had came to the house. He was sitting on the couch and a glass of water was on the floor next to his feet. Me, being a rambunctious child, was running back and forth and I accidentally knocked the glass of water over. He looked at me, and made a face (disgust?). Think of roadkill on the street. You walk past it; you’re either disgusted by all the blood and gore splattered all over the pavement or you’re indifferent to it. That was my father’s face. I never forgot that face or the shame that I felt. Literally that was the only thing of my father that I remembered.

You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you should forget.

How do you begin to love yourself after almost an entire lifetime of almost hating the refection staring back at you in the mirror? I would tell myself every single day that I loved me. I repeated it like a mantra. I love ME. I forgive ME. On those days when my heart was heavy and I felt lonely and my feelings had been run over by a truck, I forced myself out of bed and said it anyway. I learned to love my crooked jaw, and my stretched out stomach, and my oddly old looking fingers. I learned to love my natural hair and my turned up nose and my skinny calves. I learned to love the stretch marks on my ass and the lumps in the backs of my thighs. I realized how resilient I actually was. I was never actually weak. I temporarily handed my power over to unworthy men. But slowly, I took it back. I took my power back.

I learned how to be happy alone. Not just content, but happy. Too many times I let the unworthy slip through the cracks, because I was lonely. I took myself out on dates. I treated myself to a bouquet of flowers, or dinner, or a pair of shoes. I took myself to the park to sit in the sun with my toes in the grass and good books. I learned how to reward myself and not feel guilty about it.

I forgave my father, and the hearts that didn’t love me back when I was oozing with it, when my longing to be loved was overpowering. I forgave them all. I wrote their names on pieces of paper, granted them my forgiveness, then tore the pieces of paper up and threw them away. Symbolically, my soul was taking out the trash.

I stopped tearing myself down and calling myself stupid for wanting to see the good in people, even when it hurt me to do so. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing; but when my intuition tells me to go or to let them go, I needed to start listening.

I realized that I don’t have to do anything but be myself. I don’t have to change my hair, or gain weight, or conform to anyone’s standard. The way that I am is perfect. People have came into my life and stayed in my life, simply because they like and love me. I didn’t have to work hard or bend over backwards. They stay because of me.

The wall I built up around my heart is slowly turning into an open door. 

Now, I’m still learning to love the parts of myself that no one claps for, in those secret places that no one but me knows and may not ever know. It’s okay. I’m a work in progress. As we all are.

But I’m up for the task.

 

a.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on abuse of teenage Black girls.

There was a girl. She was sixteen years old –

Locked in a bathroom, sitting on a closed toilet stool, rubbing the tops of her thighs with a wet rag, trying to take the stinging out.

The boy (and he really was just a boy, at fifteen) that she was going with at the time had taken his belt off and hit her across her legs.

She was able to get away from him long enough to lock herself in the bathroom. She decided to wait him out. Hopefully, whatever it was that made him angry would dissipate, and then she could come out of the bathroom and try and slip away to the bus stop. Maybe. But she could hear him on the phone, through the thin walls. He was on the phone, talking to another girl, telling her that he wanted her to come over. She sat on the toilet, in a stupor. What about me?

Then, silence.

She was able to slip out of the bathroom and collect her things and slip out the back door while he was in the downstairs half bath. She ran, barefoot, as hard and as fast as she could, to the bus stop. Luckily, there was a bus pulling up as soon as she got there. She threw her shoes on the ground, and slipped them on all in one motion, and boarded the bus.

While on the bus, she thought about what has just happened and that one time (the first time) that he pinched her so hard that he left a purple bruise on her arm, and the other time when they were waiting on the train to come and he twisted her arm up around her back and held it there until she started to cry and none of the adults around stepped in to help, and the other time when he squeezed the sides of her mouth together so hard her teeth cut into the inside of her mouth, and the other time when he deliberately scratched the inside of her vagina with his fingernails and then he laughed and why would he laugh at that?

and when do you decide you’ve had enough?

That sixteen year old girl was me.

And I’ve never told anyone about this. Until now.

While I was on the bus on the way to the train station that day, I stared out the window, thinking how difficult it was for me to reconcile that horrid, abusive man-child that I had left behind in his mother’s apartment to the sweet boy that I had met a few months back…

We met like this: I had a girlfriend who was talking to a boy who “lived up the road” which meant he was from the city. We lived in the suburbs (which is a nicer way of saying we lived in the sticks). Anyway, this boy would drive down to see her and one day he brought his friend with him. His name was DeMon*. My girlfriend called me and told me to come outside so I could meet this boy. So I bundled up and walked over to her house. We stood outside by this boy’s car talking until the streetlights came on. It was freezing outside that day. And me and him stood out there, whispering and giggling, our collective breaths puffing out and rising into the air, curling into each other. I remember my toes feeling like tiny blocks of ice inside my shoes and my nose going numb from the cold. But I ignored my discomfort. I ignored my frozen extremities. I wanted to know more about this boy. I was sprung off one conversation with him.

I remember my girlfriend telling her guy that she was hungry so he drove us to McDonald’s to get something to eat. DeMon and I sat in the backseat, huddled up like bench warmers on the football team. He fed me french fries; I was blushing down and smiling like he had just touched me in all my secret places. He was so…charming…and he said all the right things. At the end of the night, we exchanged numbers; I had to hurry back home, even though I didn’t want to leave this boy and all his new found sweetness.

So that was the start of our relationship, I suppose. We talked on the phone every day. I couldn’t wait to get home from school to call him and tell him about what happened at school, the shade of lipstick I wore, the outfit I had on, and who said what and where it was said. And it seemed like he felt the same. Eventually, he started to act different. Saying things that were disrespectful and mean about my hair and my clothes. Saying the way I wore my hair was stupid and my lips were ugly.But I let it slide. I thought I was in love.

The first act of violence he committed against me was the pinch.

Because we lived so far away from each other, we would usually meet at a central location. Most of the time, we met downtown. In Atlanta, the World of Coca-Cola used to be right next to Underground. He got us tickets and we would go inside and take the tour. Neither one of us really cared about the historical aspects of the museum; it was just an excuse for us to see and spend time with one another. At the end of the tour they have tasting stations set up where you can sample beverages that are unique to each region. I stopped at one station and got a drink, I can’t remember from where, and I tasted it. The taste was so bad that I bent my head down to spit the drink back into the little cup. That’s when he got mad and pinched the meaty upper part of my arm so hard I had a purple bruise there for days. After we left the museum, with tears in my eyes, I asked him why he did that. He said because I pissed him off and I was a stupid bitch. 

Then the second act of violence.

Later, at the train station, I was still sniveling at him about what had happened earlier at the museum. He decided to shut me up by grabbing and twisting my arm behind and up my back, so hard that I cried out loud in pain. There were adults standing on the platform waiting on the train as well; none of them would look our way as we boarded the train and he shoved me down into my seat. He sat next to me; I angled my body away and squished my body as close to the window as possible so I wouldn’t have to touch him. When I looked at my reflection in the mirror, red streaked, puffy eyes stared back at me. And I wondered to myself how I got here.

Our relationship trudged on, with him becoming increasingly more verbal about his discontent with certain aspects of me such as my hair and my weight (I was very slim back then), and me becoming increasingly more uneasy with him and his Jekyll and Hyde personality. I felt like I was walking on eggshells with him all the time. It was an uncomfortable feeling, and one that my immature, teenage mind didn’t know how to deal with. But I still talked to him. I think I was hoping that the sweet, charming boy that I had first met would make a reappearance.

But it never happened. That sweet, charming boy never came back. Because it was never who he actually was.

The last time I saw him was at his house. He was alone. His mother was at work.

(I already know someone is going to say, “well why was your fast ass at that boy’s house, anyway? You didn’t have no business being at that boy’s house while his mama was at work!”) Yea maybe I shouldn’t have went to his house but it is what it is. It doesn’t excuse what he did at all.

Now that I got that out the way –

…as I was saying. The last time I saw him was at his house. His mother was at work.

He hit me with a belt that day. I honestly don’t remember why. I just remember hiding in the bathroom with my thighs burning like the suns of a thousand hells were beaming upon them, eyes so puffy with tears that they were almost swollen shut, waiting for him to get off the phone with that other girl and go to the bathroom downstairs so I could leave and never come back. I was Fed Up. All of a sudden, I was tired of being pushed around. Maybe I realized that he would never change. Maybe I realized this later as I was running to the bus stop barefoot. Maybe I was just tired. Maybe I was sad. Maybe I felt stupid. Either way, I was done.

You may read this and ask yourself why did I continue to visit him, or why didn’t I tell anyone about the abuse. The first question is difficult for me to answer because I am honestly not sure. Did I like him? Of course I did; or maybe I felt like him and his treatment of me was what I deserved. I recall him telling me that obviously I liked being hit and shoved around; of course I didn’t. I don’t think anyone likes to be abused. People can be made to rationalize abuse; but that’s different from liking someone to dehumanize you. I may have had a bit of Stockholm syndrome (if that’s even possible to have a little bit; it’s probably all or nothing). I am not sure if I would have tried to protect him or defend him. Really, it was no need to protect or defend his image because I never told anyone what he did to me. I just…liked him a lot. For a long time. Until I finally got Fed Up.

And I never told anyone because, instinctively, I felt that no one would believe me. I think I was afraid of the stigma that is attached to victims of abuse and assault. I felt like I would have been blamed for the actions of my abuser. I felt like someone would have placed the blame squarely on my shoulders because I would meet that boy alone at his house and in abandoned train stations. Maybe I didn’t want to get the police involved. It could have been any of those reasons, or all of them as a whole.

I recall a girl that went to school with me. She was dating a boy on the wrestling team. And I remember them getting into a fight, in which she was probably not the aggressor, and him breaking her arm. He literally broke her arm. Other students shunned her; because she would go over to his house alone. They said she would suck his dick and that she was “fast”. So the whispers from the boys and some of the girls indicated that she deserved it. For being fast. And being alone with boys.

Victim blaming is a huge problem.

Young Black women are more likely to suffer from domestic and/or intimate partner violence, the least likely to report it to the police, and between the ages of 15-35, the most likely to die from domestic violence.

Some of the reasons for this, I believe, is the (sometimes blind) loyalty that Black women have for Black men, even when these same men are dragging us through filth and mud. And that talking about the abuse and seeking help is akin to betrayal of Black men, and could possibly earn the victim backlash from her family and the community at large.

If you don’t believe me about this backlash, go on Facebook and type “Domestic Violence” in your search bar and read the comments on some of the posts and articles that appear in your search and you will see what I mean. The deflections from men and women and the attacks on the ones brave enough to speak up and out about Domestic Violence is disheartening.

I wrote this in hope that if a young woman saw it and was a victim of Domestic Violence then maybe she would find me and my story relatable, and realize that she was and is not alone in this.

Experiencing DV was one of the most dehumanizing and isolating things that I have even endured, and I wouldn’t wish it on my bitterest enemy.

The last time I spoke to DeMon was when I was 18 years old. I had given birth to my son a few months earlier. It was in the summer. I’m not even sure why I answered the phone; I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. I told him about my son and he said a few unkind things; the gist was that he figured I would end up being a statistic, I wasn’t shit and he probably wasn’t shit either for messing with me those couple of years back.

He was right about one thing.

He definitely wasn’t shit.

 

a.

 

(*DeMon is an alias)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THAT TIME I ALMOST DIED.

Now that I have your attention

….ok I didn’t actually DIE.

No I am not communicating with you via the spirit realm. But I suffer from anxiety. And I honestly thought that I was dying.

I remember that day like it was yesterday (doesn’t that sound like an introduction to some flashback on a shitty 80’s sitcom with the screen fading to black and the sound of a harp in the background?)

But anyway…

I remember that feeling of tightness and heaviness in my chest. I remember the shallow breaths that I struggled to take. The lightheadedness. Dizziness. The tingling and then numbness in my fingers and toes. My daughter, Shelby (who was about 10 months old at the time) was standing in the hallway watching me, covered in sweat and trying not to fall down. She stood there, balancing on fat little legs giggling at me while I clawed futilely at the wall trying to keep from falling flat on my face. I remember hearing her little joyful baby laugh as I slowly slid to the floor, praying that I didn’t die in front of her. I could still hear her laughing but it sounded like it was coming from far away. Everything in the hallway was spinning –

I was 20 years old.

Only 20 years old and thought that I was going to die in front of my child face first in the hallway. I was still a child, myself.

But let me back up a bit. Because this just didn’t appear from thin air, obviously. Anyone who suffers from anxiety has a trigger or triggers. And that trigger(s) has a root source. I’ll start from the beginning.

I had a grandfather (everyone does, of course). But my granddaddy was special. Growing up in a home with a single mother, he was the closest male relative that I could say was a father figure. My own father was painfully absent (but that’s another story for another time). Anyway. Everyone, young and old, Black and White, and rich and poor loved my grandfather. He was very active in the community and his church. He lived his life with so much joy. Honestly, I could wax poetic about my granddaddy for days. That’s how great of a man he was.

Then, he had a stroke. I was about 16 at the time. The time in my life that I was a know-it-all teenager and had stopped looking at my grandparents with the wide eyed idolization that I had as a child, and was eager to escape from the old fashioned and perceived oppressive views that I thought they had, and strike out and find myself as a person. Also, I had friends, of course. And then there were boys to look at and gossip over and call on three-way with my girlfriends. I couldn’t do all that around my grandparents. I couldn’t stand outside and talk to a boy and stick my ass out at him with my grandmother looking out the window, watching, and then calling me into the house so her and my granddaddy could fuss at me. So gradually I pulled away, and stopped visiting as much, and stopped calling as much.

When I was 17 and a senior in high school, I had my first child, a boy. I named him after my grandfather. My grandfather was still alive at the time, and I remember him being… just…over the moon that he had a namesake just for him. By this time he had had a series of strokes. And even though he knew I named my son after him, sometimes he didn’t know who I was. I remember being so uncomfortable with that, as if he was forever supposed to remain that vibrant, larger than life man that I always knew him to be. This man now, who was old when I was born, was even older now, and his brain capacity was diminished. Sometimes he verbally attacked my grandmother, and she would call the house asking for my mother, crying because she didn’t know how to handle this new person that my granddaddy was. I withdrew further into myself. I didn’t know how to deal with it, either.

By the time I was 20 (and with a second child in tow), my granddaddy had his final stroke. And (I know someone is going to hate me out there for saying this) but I couldn’t bring myself to go to the hospital to see him. When my grandmother instructed for him to be moved to hospice I couldn’t bring myself to go see him. Admittedly, I had a lot on my plate, as a young mother working a full time job with a toddler and an infant, but that’s no excuse. I was a coward. I couldn’t bear to lay my eyes on what I knew was the truth – that my granddaddy was dying. For all intents and purposes, he was gone already. My grandmother had them pull the plug. At the time, I was working nights at a convenience store by my house. I remember my mother coming by the store that night, and telling me that he had passed away. I watched my mother’s tear swollen face and mouth moving but no sound was coming out. I blanked out. I was still numb. I still wasn’t ready to face it. So I suppressed it. I pushed it to a small, dark little place in my mind and refused to face it.

The next few days after he died were a blur. All that I remember clearly was my sister and me standing in the bathroom mirror getting ready for the funeral, and me trying to adjust the ill-fitting black dress I bought just for this occasion. I remember all of us meeting at my grandparents’ house to wait for the police escort and my grandmother staring at me closely and telling me to take care of myself. I remember the entire family standing outside, holding hands as we said a prayer. I remember everything outside was quiet, almost a deathly silence. Even the birds weren’t chirping. No wind was blowing. I remember riding in the front of the limousine on the way to the cemetery. I remember all of us standing up in the church and singing “Happy Birthday” because we buried my granddaddy on his birthday.

And I don’t remember shedding any tears. Not one. Apparently I had become level expert at pushing those feelings deep down into a little ball and hiding it in those dark recesses of my mind that I was too afraid to explore.

But this is how repressed feelings of sadness and inadequacy and despair can suddenly rise up and bite you in the ass.

I was still working at the convenience store at the time, and I recall having a conversation with someone about their sister, who died of lupus. He advised me to go to the doctor and ask to be tested for it, because the disease is so common in Black women. I said okay, and then hurriedly changed the subject. The word “death” made my brain go into panic mode, and I remember breaking out in hives, but at the time I didn’t realize why it was happening. I sat, looking at hives on my arms, freaking the fuck out because I thought these raised red lumps on my arms were indicative of imminent death. Crazy, right?

A few weeks later was when I had my first anxiety attack, in the hallway of my house, in front of my daughter.

The lady who babysat my children came to my house when I was able to crawl to the phone and call her; and called my sister and grandmother for me while I sat, sweating like a maniac, waiting on the paramedics to come. The paramedic that came into my house made me stand up and walk down my driveway to get on the gurney. I remember almost staggering down my driveway like a drunk person. At the hospital, I cried and told the emergency room doctor that I thought I was dying. He immediately prescribed me Xanax and suggested to my mother that I seek out professional psychiatric help.

Later, when I was at home laying on the couch covered in a thin blanket watching the walls bleed rainbow colors (because – Xanax), and bawling my eyes out, my mother asked me what was wrong with me. I told her I was afraid of dying. I was afraid of death, I was afraid of the grave. Ever present in the back of my mind was my granddaddy, laying in his grave. She didn’t say anything. As a matter of fact, she continued to read the newspaper in silence. Because…how do you begin to respond to that?

That was the root of my anxiety. Was I afraid of death? At that time, absolutely. I don’t think you ever realize the finality of your own mortality until death comes to someone close to you. But that wasn’t all. The guilt that I had internalized for not being there for my granddaddy in his final years. The fact that I felt like a shitty and selfish ass person. The fact that I was a coward. The fact that I wouldn’t go to my granddaddy and hold his hand and talk to him, even if he didn’t know who I was sometimes. Even if it did break my heart. I should have been there. I should have been there in his final moments. I should have done all those things – but I didn’t. I felt like I let my granddaddy down. For someone who already suffered from low self-esteem and the tremendous pressure of being a young, single mother of a toddler and a baby that I was raising alone, all the angst over my granddaddy carried me over the edge into an abyss of self- loathing and fear.

And it took me years to escape.

I stopped taking Xanax because I didn’t like the way it made me feel. I couldn’t function in a zombie like state watching colors bleed from the walls when I had two babies to take care of and a job to do. I taught myself how to meditate. I taught myself breathing exercises for those times when my breath would seize up in my chest and I felt my brain getting foggy and the world going blurry.

And…I finally brought myself to go to my granddaddy’s grave and ask him for forgiveness.

For not being a better granddaughter to him when he needed me to be.

The last time I had a full, blown out anxiety attack was about five years ago. I was driving, and I had to pull over into an empty parking lot. It was so bad that it felt like my scalp was about to slide off my head. My chest was hurting so bad and my heart was beating so fast that I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my chest. I had never felt anything so completely terrifying in my life. I was only a mile down the road from the hospital, but I refused to drive down there. I told myself that I could get through it. But if I didn’t pull through it and it was my time to go, then it was just my time to go. I stood outside and forced myself to breathe from my diaphragm until I was able to calm down enough to get back in my car and drive back home. I didn’t want to sit in an emergency room; I wanted the comfort of my bed. I was able to pull myself through it. And let me tell you, if you can pull yourself through an anxiety attack I salute you, because that shit is hard as fuck. I fucking SALUTE you.

And I had a dream that night, about my granddaddy. I was standing at the window in my grandparents’ kitchen, staring out with tears streaming down my face. I felt strong, hard hands landing on my shoulders and forcing me to turn around. And it was my granddaddy, enveloping me into his warm, loving embrace. I cried, soaking his shirt with my tears. And I felt his love for me in that embrace.

The next morning when I woke up, I felt more at peace with myself and the world than I had felt in years.

If there is a spirit realm and my granddaddy is somewhere in it roaming around, that dream was his way of letting me know that he forgave me.

And….finally….I was able to start working on forgiving myself.

 

 

-a.