Wednesday, February 4, 2015

All Grown up

Here I sit with tears running down my face, the dog standing on my lap and anxiously peering in my face, licking the moisture on my cheeks and trying to impart in his doggy wisdom that everything is going to be alright or as my kinfolk use to say: er ting gon be all right.

I thought it was.  I really did.  I will be 60 years old in March.  A far cry from that child of the past who was stumbing around in the dark, alone, afraid, abused.  I am still Catherinesdaughter, I always will be...but I am more...much more.  I was a wife, I am a scholar , I am a mother a grandmother, a lover, a friend, a survivor ....a damn dog owner ( to the best Yorkie in the whole wide world...we took a vote...Charming won hands down).  But this morning I found traces of that hurt little girl.

It started so innocently.  A friend from my Bible power hour is recording her testimony of domestic abuse on YouTube.   That takes courage in itself.  While I can write my words down via my computer on a blog, I don't know if I could strip myself naked or let myself become more vulnerable by speaking my truth to a camera to later be played over and over by the masses.  YouTube is television for people who don't like to read.  If you want to know my story you have to read and let's face it....with like cursive hand writting is becoming a lost art.  

But I digress.  Any who.. I was listening to this lady tell the story of (part2) of how her twins father systematically broke her down emotionally, mentally and the horrific physical abuse he heaped on her.   her....HER....but in part 2 it was not just her anymore, his verbal abuse found it's way to her child, his physical abuse found it's way to her helpless child.  A child like myself who had no power and no sayso in the life that her mother CHOSE to live, a life that impacted this child.  I listened to my friend describe the words this man used one day to address her child, Ug-Mo, useless, your daddy does't love you and I don't either.  How my friend describe how he stripped her child naked and held her over a toilet and how she pleaded with him to stop.  Pleaded?  PLEADED?!  You didn't kill him?! my mind was shouting.  And I saw myself, I heard the worlds:  "No one wants you"  Yo momma don't want you, Yo daddy tried to kill you...Reform school...we gon send you to reform so ugly.....let me touch you...don't tell got no where to go...nobody loves you.......

STOP IT!!!!!

At that moment I hated my friend.  I became her child...we merged became one....the frightened,abused, unloved, alone child.
And I realized matter how I've matter that I am now loved or what I have accomplished....a part of me will always be that ...she is part of my DNA.  We will always co-exist.  The majority of the time (thank you GOD) I am the times such as this morning...she materializes ...makes her presence known and I weep for her pain...for the lose of her innocence.

So that was my Ah Ha moment....I realized past pain is not banished pain.  It is part and sum of who we are.

I couldn't finish my friends video.  I feel the anger toward her leaving my body now, my tears have dried, my heart has stopped hammering in my chest, the dog has calmed down and is bugging me to take him outside....the anger has subsided....but the old friend....hello...but you will find no welcome mat or warm hearth here....I am much tears make me present makes me GOD makes me stronger, even this 5 lb dog makes me stronger and I am the new and improved and highly favored ....CATherinesdaughter

Friday, June 1, 2012

And Let The Church Say Amen

A light shines in the darkness of my misery Lord.  You have brought me from the valley so that I might appreciate the beauty of the mountains and the majesty of your grace. There are times when I cry out: "why me lord?".  But why not me?  Didn't you send your son as sacrifice for my sins? So this is my prayer:

I do not understand why some people must suffer so much pain in this life, heavenly father.  It seems as if there are those who get more than their fair share of hardship.  What does it mean?  I know it's not a case of your forgetting us, but that's what if feels like.  Help me see that where there is suffering, there you are, for you have experienced ultimate suffering, and you suffer with us.  Yet, you overcame pain and death, and in your strength I, too, can triumph.  Cause me to grow in inner beauty and to learn and become wiser through my struggles.  For then, with authenticity and gentleness, I can lead others who are hurting toward your strength and your compassion.

When I was a little girl I loved the hymn: A Charge to Keep I have and Pass Me Not Oh Gentle Savior.  I still love them.  Lord what is your mission for me?  Lead me in your righteousness .  Let me not take up my hand in vengeance and violence.  Listen to my prayer Lord:

When I am tempted to strike out in frustration, anger or revenge at those around me, Lord, remind me that doing so will only perpetuate the very attitudes and actions I try hard to discourage in those who look to me for guidance.  In those emotion-filled moments, I need your strength to back away from the fight.  I need your wisdom to keep my mouth from speaking words I will later regret.  I. need your perspective to see others as people who, like me, need mercy.  Bring your peace into my encounters with others.  Show me how to maintain that peace no matter how another person may choose to behave toward me.  Amen and Amen.

Lord nothing succeeds without you in the midst.  I have sinned and fallen short in your eyes.  My past is littered with my mistakes and there are times when I open my mouth and the words are not Godly.  Please bridle my tongue and help me walk in your live my life as credit to my children....their God.

I felt something was missing from Catherinesdaughter.   It was the one thing that has maintained me and given me strength my entire life.  The one thing  that stopped a bullet from snuffing out a young life, the one thing that delivered a tortured young women from a raging river, the wonderful God who has carried me when I was not even aware of it.  I hope you are proud of me mama, I believe that I will see you again in another life.  I want you to know that I miss your calls just to say "I love you", I even miss when you where mad at me.  I know you did your best and I want you to know that I am so very proud to be CATherinesdaughter.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The straw that broke the camels back

When I was growing up, I remember people using the phrase "the straw that broke the camel's back".  It was usually reserved to signal the end of something and that end was usually explosive or violent.  Fights were a fact of life in my childhood.  I'd see people show up at our house with cuts or stab wounds that saw no doctor and the sight of their bloody clothes  was as common as having sweet tea with the evening meal.  However, Mr. Nap and Big Momma would brook no fights in our house.  They were always quick to settle any arguments that would arise with a big ole 38 or 45 caliber hand gun.  You were expected to buy your liquor, play cards or checkers under tree and take your fights outside. You would gather your straw.......

I remember a woman called Ms. Two Shoe who lived in a room down the hill from us with her common-law husband Junior Man.  Now Ms. Two Shoe was as nice as she could be to anyone but Junior Man.  She took pleasure in savagely cussing him out in front of the biggest crowd she could find. She would berate and demean him so bad that other men would want to jump on her and beat her tail. They'd say things like "I'd go back in time and kill that heifer in her mama's stomach fo I let her talk to me like dat".  Junior Man had grown up with a stutter and very seldom talked, but he would try to calm her when she would be in the midst of one of her tirades.  He would also cut any man that tried lay a violent hand on her.  Everyone laughed at him and talked about what a fool he was because he went to work everyday and came home every night and would clean up their little room and cook their meals.  They called him her butler and her flunky. And every payday Ms. Two Shoe would go to Junior Man's job so she could get his pay envelope. And he would give it to her.  Everyone laughed.  But straw was being gathered.

Every weekend Ms. Two Shoe would get drunk and disappear with other men.  You would see Junior Man going up and down the hill , to all the juke joints and liquor houses looking for Ms. Two Shoe.  When he would finally find her, she was usually so drunk she'd be falling out and his money would be gone.  He would have to borrow money to get them through the next week until payday.  Looking back in my minds eye, I see she was not a pretty woman, she was very tall and very black.  She a thick black hair that she kept braided, her lips were thick and she was missing some teeth.  Now, Junior Man was short, he came up to about the upper part of her breasts.  He was a caramel color, with what people back then called good hair and I remember he had the longest eyelashes.  The reason I remember this is because I had a baby doll and she had eyes with long lashes that opened and closed.   So beauty was not what kept Junior Man with Ms. Two Shoe.  No matter how drunk, no matter how mean she was to him, we would see him struggling to support her weight as he took  her back home, cleaned her up, got some food into her and nursed her back to health.  Back then people drank moonshine.  It was hard on the body and hangovers were vicious.  Some people even went blind from drinking shine.  But that's another story.   Junior man loved Ms. Two Shoe and whatever she dealt out he took.   But straw was being gathered.  The camel was beginning to limp.

Well one Saturday morning after breakfast, we heard these bloodcurdling screams , it sounded like someone was tearing those sounds from somewhere deep in their soul.   As we ran out in the yard, I remember seeing Ms. Two Shoe running butt-naked across the field being chased by Junior Man with a stick so big it could have been a small tree.  He was whaling on her ass. He was beating the holy hell out of her.  And he was not making a sound... he was not cursing or screaming.  All you heard were the sounds of that stick hitting her flesh and her horrible screams. I remember thinking she looked like she had red Kool-Aid all over her body.  But it wasn't Kool-Aid.  It was red.   It was blood.  And with each blow, it seemed to just fly from her body.  I believe I left my body while I watched this. It seemed as if I were hovering over the scene looking at everything from far away.   I vaguely remember Mr. Nap and some other men running down the hill trying to get to them.  The screams ...they seemed to increase in volume until I thought my head would explode.  And still the sounds of flesh being struck and red blood spattering out like liquid in a balloon that had been thrown against a wall.

 The camel was buckling ... the weight of the straw was too much.

And then she fell. He hit her again and again and again.....There was no sound.  The world seemed strangely silent.  She had stopped screaming.   And then everything went black.

I had fainted.  I think I was about 5  or 6 years old.  When I woke up was the next day.  The grown folks were still talking about it.  Junior Man had not come home that Friday night , he had to drive the white man he worked for out of town so he did not get home until that Saturday morning.  When he let himself into their room he caught Ms. Two Shoe in bed with another man.   He had stabbed the man to death.   He had known that she was not faithful to him. But something snapped the morning he found the woman he loved in their room with another man.  It was the straw that broke the camels back.  I never saw Junior Man again.  And Ms.Two Shoe .......I never saw her again. No one did.

A lot of my childhood is a buried memory.  The memory Ms. Two Shoe and Junior Man came back to me about two weeks ago.  I had my own experience with the camel.

The earlier part of this month...May 2012, I was hospitalized with what appeared to be some sort of stroke .  I live in Atlanta and luckily I was at my daughters house when I collapsed. I remember the concern in her voice... the touch of her hands as she tried to comfort me.  The ride the Emory Midtown....the pain as they pounded on my chest, the feel of the needles piercing my skin as they searched for a vein to deliver medications.   Waking up disoriented in the ICU with my daughter by side. Two days of uncertainty.  All of the tests coming back normal.  So touched by the love...  and then everything went so wrong........ I collapsed on a Tuesday and on Thursday my daughter came into my room to tell me she had wrecked my she showed me pictures of my wrecked car that she had driven without my permission.  I was stunned, she has two cars...why was she driving mine?   The rush of anger.  Oh Lord, what am I going to do?  I am on a fixed income.  Yes I was angry.  No I didn't ask : "are you okay".  Her intense reaction and anger.  Her giving me my missing.    My calling her, asking why have you taken my money, what are you going to do about my car?  The anger, disappointment ......both of us.  The next day I tried calling her....she would not answer her phone.

 My relationship with my daughter has never been easy.  She says I loved her too much and smothered her.  I wanted to protect her from the things I went through as a child.   My camel has labored long and hard to preserve and protect our relationship.  Each story has two sides. This is mine. I will not speak of the things that have happened in the past, for she did nothing to me that I did not allow.  I love my daughter but I do not like her.   The next day as I was being moved from ICU to a room on the floor, my son called to tell me that my daughter said she was putting all of "my shit" in my car and driving it to the front of the hospital where she would park it with the keys in the ignition, motor running and my purse with all of my identification on the passenger seat. And that is exactly what she did

It was two days before Mother's Day.  I will not speak of my pain that day, I signed myself out of the hospital and had the nurse to take me to the front of the hospital where I sat in a gown and slippers, praying that my child would not commit this heinous act.  Praying that no one would steal my car.  Wondering what I did the previous night that was so bad she felt justified in doing this. As I look back I see that she felt I put a material possession above her safety.  That is not so.  I know my child.  I know that she has always had  a darkness in her, a spirit that manipulates and uses.  I have lived with darkness for the better part of my life so I know it when I see it.  I have felt it in myself.  I have fought it in myself. The difference between us is that I have learned be truthful with myself and change the things I  can and forgive myself for the things I can't.

 I saw her car past with her in the passenger seat and my seventeen year-old grandson driving.  As I struggled to stand, I looked down the driveway and there was my car and as I walked to it I saw the massive damage to it and was chilled to think that she could have been hurt or killed.

As I neared the car, I saw all of my belongings carelessly  tossed inside.  My mind went back to earlier in the year and my daughter attempts at having me give up home and come live with her.  She said it would be a way for both of us to survive in this economy. And then I heard the motor running and saw the keys in the ignition.   Something in me broke.   The last straw.

 This is not the story of my daughter and I and our past trials. And I will not speak of our past.  But I do say nothing justifies this action.  My relationship with my  mother was not always a calm voyage but  I would never disrespect her like this.  Whatever I have done or didn't do in my relationship with my daughter, if she feels she has been wronged  ....I am truly sorry.  This is an accumulation of straws that has not only broken my has broken my heart.

Tomorrow will be the first of June and I am blessed and at peace.  There is no hate or anger in my heart.  My tears have dried.  I woke up this morning in my home my bed and I smiled.  I am Catherinesdaughter and I am healing.

Monday, October 31, 2011


When I was growing up I remember people saying,  "the leaf don't fall to far from the tree".  They usually said this to explain familial traits or generational fuck-ups.  "You jest like yo momma or you jest like yo daddy or those Joneses have always been crazy".  It was easier to lump everyone together than to try to understand the individual behavior.  The people in my family were hard drinkers and vicious fighters.  If you said the wrong thing your ass could get cut with a knife or stabbed with an ice pick.  If you really  truly crossed someone...they would pop a cap in yo ass. I can't remember a time growing up when violence was not a part of my everyday life. You had to be just like your peoples. 

For a long time I did not fit in.  I was too soft ....too afraid. I had no voice ...therefore I had no power.  I didn't find my power until my teens....when I was out on my own.  My cousin Rita had no problem with the familial tree and people alway heard her voice.  She would fight at the drop of hat.  Cuss you out if you looked cross eyed at her.  And because of this, she was my protector.  When I was in school or on the playground or just get to me had to go through Rita.  She was my shield against my being "beat-up" by girls who didn't like me. And my very existence was enough it seems for these girls to dislike me.  That and the fact that I never fought back.  I was terrorized so much at Big Mommas that I was afraid of my own shadow.  I had not found my voice.  I visited Rita recently and I asked her why I was the target for these mean girls.  She said :  "they thought you thought you were pretty".   What?! And then she went on to tell me how the boys thought I was pretty and that I had the best shape in the neighborhood.  Her words not mine.

Give me a break.

 They were jealous of something I was totally unaware of (being Pretty) and I something I loathed - the shapely body.  That was so fucked up.  Growing up no one ever told me that  I was pretty or even cute....they would tell me I had a wide nose or a big head.  But never pretty. Pretty to me was all of the long haired light-skinned Shasta Miller or Pamela Hicks.  I can use their real names because to them I was invisible. Or so I thought.  For a long time as an adult I could never accept a compliment on my looks. Someone would call me beautiful and I would immediately be on my guard.  What did they want?  Were they making fun of me? Now I could take a sexy but not a pretty.  I knew I was sexy but that was nothing in my mind to be proud of.   I was in my mid forties before I could see my beauty.  And I am not trying to be vain. I was like the 70 pound anorexic who looks in the mirror and sees a fat person.. I never saw pretty in the mirror until started to forgive myself.  See I thought that my body was all there was to me ...I was ugly ...this shapley body was something to be ashamed of . It attracted unwanted attention when I was growing up.  Later it seemed to define who I was. I was that fine assed ....fill in the blanks.   And I hated it.

 Do you know what its' like to be six years old and have grown men touch you because your of your ass or your hips or your legs?  They would whisper these obscene compliments to me when they caught me alone and pinched or rubbed themselves against my body.  I can still hear their harsh low breathing ....still  feel the wetness of their hands or mouths as they stole my childhood. I have hated my body for a large part of my life because it drew too much attention to me in a house where predators lurked and I was the prey. And now Rita tells me I was pretty and had a banging body.  This world is so fucked up. 

But I will always love Rita because she stood up and tried to do what the grown-up wouldn't do and that was to protect me.  During our talk I brought her up to date with my life after I left the "Alley".   I told her of anger and how I learned to defend myself.   She was so shocked.  Surely this was not Catherine's daughter.  I told her of the rages and the steps I took to insure that I would  never be that defenseless  6....7...8.. 9...10...11...12 year old that girl she protected. I told her of my times in the mental hospitals and the meds and therapy that became a vital part of my sanity.

She listened and as I talked tears ran down her cheeks.  I told her how bad it was for me in that house.  I told her how lonely I was and how her friendship saved me.  I told her that without her intervention I would have never been able to deal with pressure's that came with school and the added stress of adolesence.  I told her of the voices that filled my head as I tried to find my way as a young mother after the rape and being (blessedly) kicked out of Big Mommas.  I told her about "birds of a feather" and how that empowered me to take control of my life.

When I finished, she looked at me and said that she wished she could have protected me from everyone and everything when we were young.  And then I cried.  I cried because I still fight those demons from my childhood.  I cried because I never felt beautiful . I cried because it was not my fault that my body matured before I did. I cried because I was a mother before I quit being a child.  I cried because in finding my voice my anger caused my children so much pain. I cried because I learned to use my words as weapons.

 When I left Rita that day, I thought of my tree and the leaves around it. Growing up I never wanted to be compared to my mother ...but I was a leaf from her tree.   My children....while they berate me for my crazyness when they were young...they revel in their own anger.  When I look into their eyes my reflection stares back at me.  Both of my children need therapy, but they will never admit it or seek it.   My daughter finds escape in weed and sex.  She ridicules the psychotropic drugs my doctor has me on but she would not last a week without a joint. My son's addiction is things.  He has to have the most and the best.  He is his own advertisement.  Within 5 minutes of meeting him you will know of his ten cars, his sucessful business, his phones, his money, his women, his newest expensive toy.  He and I have had a twisted road and because of that our relationship if volatile.  When we fight it starts out as a firecracker which turns into an atomic bomb.  So I keep my distance. He loves me....he hates me.  He will tell you that he is not like his momma but he embraces drama. His temper is fierce.   He rages.  He is a leaf from the tree.  My daughter learned from her mother to use words as weapons.... she will always have the last word in any argument. 

They both carry guns.  They both blame me for something that I did or did not do when they were growing up. They both are repeating my mistakes in their own way. And what of their children?  Will this be generational?  For my children had a great example growing up....they had CATherine's daughter

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Being Real

I come from a long line of big legged, big hipped and big ass women with tiny waists.  Beautiful Women...eye-catching women.  I remember my mother wearing skirts with side splits and white blouses that she always kept tucked in.  She would top it off with a belt that showcased her tiny waist.  My mother had legs that would stop traffic.  I was too young to take notice of the rest, but I would always tell her that when I grew up I wanted her legs.  When she would walk by, men would say "damn Cat yo ass is so fine ...pick a tree...I'll pull it up by the roots and make you a chair ... so you can come and sit by me."  Growing up my body matured fast...too fast...because as a child it attracted the attention of predators.  I was ashamed of my body.  I felt that if it was "normal" I would be safe.  What I didn't realize as a child was that my body was normal...lush...but was the men that molested me that were abnormal.

As I grew into an adult it was the same.  Men  would notice my body, especially  my ass...first. I was never comfortable with my body.  I never enjoyed the attention...I wanted to be a pretty girl...not a body to be lusted after.  Somehow it made me feel less than the other girls, the pretty girls with the average bodies.   I never will understand men's attraction to a big ass.    But I digress.  When I was young and before this insane age of people getting butt implants, I wanted a butt-ectomy.  My word.  I wanted to get my ass reduced somehow.  Between my beautiful legs, my hips and the prize-winning ass ( just quoting some of my admirers through the years) I made it through my young adult years wondering ....did anyone ever look at me above the waist?  I know I have beautiful eyes, and a killer smile.  But guys always came at me with the "your ass is so fine" line.

I think because I never liked my body, I took it for granted.  The stomach would always be tight, the hips and ass would be just right and the legs and thighs would always be those of CATherinesdaughter.

Was my ass wrong  about that or what?   At age 35 my metabolism decided it wanted to take separate vacations from my body.  At age 40 I  knew it (my metabolism) was cheating because it was certainly NOT doing its job.  I was gaining weight and and it was getting harder to loose it.  Around  age 46 a newcomer and not a welcome one- was introduced into the mix.....menopause.  Now that bitch came in and messed up everything.  Can you say everything?  It appears that menopause and metabolism didn't like each other because later that year my metabolism packed up her bags and left for good.  On the other hand menopause decided to set up house for the next 4 years.  I will not even go into the hell of that heifers reign.  Between night sweats, hot flashes, cold flashes, weight gain in places I did not even know I had, hair growing in places that did NOT  need hair and hair falling out of  my scalp....and don't forget the coochie getting dry as the Sahara....wait a minute...I said I wouldn't talk about Ms. Menopause.  No I want to talk about that trick Mz. Metabolism.  When she packed HER bags, I could just look at food and gain weight .  The ass got bigger and I developed these hugh breasts.  I am 5ft. 3 and was beginning to look like Dolly Parton.   I woke up one morning...I swear it was overnight ...My breasts were sagging, my arms were bigger and I had a stomach pouch.  The body I had always taken  for granted decided to leave like a thief in the night. I guess it said "you never appreciated me bitch.....later!" 

So now that brings you to where I am now.  Ms. 50+ and wondering.....Lord if you just let me get a little of my groove back I will never ever complain about having a big ass, just make it firm again  and get rid of the stomach pouch....and make my legs smaller ...and reduce these breasts....and if you see Mz. Metabolism strike that bitch with lightning.  Sorry Lord.

Where am I going with this you say?  Denial.  And it not just a river in Egypt.  Since age 50 I have refused to weigh myself.  Even in the doctors office, the nurse would take one look at my face and walk right on by the scale. See all of the nurses knew if they insisted on me getting on the scale they would have to cancel all of the appointments for the rest of the day because I would turn that office out.  Yes,  the sister would go completely off.  I still get compliments so I would say to myself that it couldn't be that bad.  So what if you go from a size 10 to a 12 , then to a 14 ...then to a 16, I just stopped buying clothes with numbers.  Let's do XL, then XXL.  I just was not keeping it real.  Until I saw a picture of myself last year.  My daughter took me to LA as a birthday gift and while we were strolling through Beverly Hills my grandson took my picture.  I had the nerve to do my America's Next Top Model" pose.  Well.  The pictures were developed.  And there I was posing in my purple dress.  My ass looked like Barney.  But still I made excuses and steared clear of scales.

Which brings us to last week.  I was in New York on 86th street window shopping.  I was standing in front of Orva Shoes and you know how the window reflects your image.  I looked in and gasped ....I said to myself who is that fat woman in that ugly ill-fitting dress.  Girl needs the "What Not to Wear " team and Weight Watchers big time.  I turned my head so that I could get a better look at the poor woman.  My reflection turned its head.  I looked back into the window with my mouth open....the fat woman had her mouth open.  Oh Lord, the fat woman in the ugly dress was me.  Where did my fine-ness go?  Why didn't somebody tell me?  Then...well first let me tell you about Esther.  Esther is the part of my personality that doesn't take any shit, tells it likes it is and is really the part of me that needs the Meds.  Esther said: "bitch that's you!  You made us fat!"  Your ass is so fat it can carry a 5 course meal on it with filled water glasses and not spill an ounce.   I want a divorce...I want to go and stay with Mz. Metabolism."  Now I am one of those people that not only talks to themselves,  I will hold a conversation.  I said (while standing in the middle of the sidewalk in front of Orva's)  "Esther I didn't know"  It's not my fault". Before I could get another word out that bitch (Esther) said: "heifer you knew ..why do you think yo big ass wouldn't get on a scale?  The DMV ought to lock your ass up cause you been walking around here for the last 5 years with a drivers license that says you weight 134 pounds!  If they didn't know it you did!. "  Still she wasn't through.  " If I could get outta this fat for a minute I would beat your ass for messing ME up! And check this  Ms. CATherines daughter yo momma is probably turning in her grave. "   Don't start crying...DO Something!"

Well Esther didn't have to be that mean.  But she ain't never lied.  I knew I was gaining weight just like I knew my first husband was a whore.  So I took my shell shocked ass into Barnes and Noble ....and let me say here that I believe that  the Spirit - GOD  guides you....and the first thing I saw was this book "The 17 Day Diet"....and it was on sale for 30% off ...40% for members and I am a devoted Barnes and Noble member.  The guy just wants 17 days of your life ....and your commitment to getting healthy...and getting your butt up and exercising for at least 17 minutes a day.  I am giving him at least 30 minutes of exercise. I started exercising two days ago and I must admit I feel better.   I know it is going to take more than 17 days to do this.  But I've got the rest of my life.  And this time  I will love my body and embrace my beautiful big ass.  Today is June 1st, I started my next chapter.

Oh and I weighed myself.....217 pounds.  See how committed I am.  I put that shit out into the universe.  But I am CATherinesdaughter and I come from a long line of fine assed women.   Too be continued............

Monday, May 2, 2011


I haven't written in awhile because of  fear.  Fear of revealing too much of myself.  Fear of what others would think of me.  Fear of someone stealing my voice.  For a very long time I was unable to find my voice.  I would mimic others voices.  Their words would become mine.  I didn't want to draw attention to myself.  I never wanted to be on the wrong end of the conversation and have someone lash out at me.  It was easier to be the appeaser.   I did this for so long,  my voice became lost in my head.   When my voice did come out it was  clothed in anger would be the destroyer.  Because I was afraid to be me.  Afraid that anothers words would destroy me I had to make sure mine were more potent.

And it is not just speaking mean to me.  I can be in a regular conversation and I will look for the hidden meanings behind someones words.  It is not always what they say was what I hear.  Now that sounds totally out there...right?  But it makes sense to me.  My close friends understand this.  They know that if  I start to pop off at them....we need to talk.  Have I taken my meds?  Am I stressed?  Do we need to talk about something that was said a week ago that I have been simmering about?   In my youth I could never accept a compliment.  I would always doubt the sincerity.  I have grown out of that...thank goodness.
But once you hurt my feelings, once I find that you cannot be trusted verbally with my emotions..... your ass is grass and I am the lawnmower.

Now I can take a hit.  Just be prepared to get one back.  And be prepared to duck because I grew up with people fighting all the time and they did their very best to mess each other up.  Anything could  and would become a weapon.  I remember people getting stabbed with ice picks.  You don't see those anymore.  But when I was a child,  people would get stabbed with ice picks and die because the wound would be so small but the damage was often fatal.  After the childhood I went through, physical violence always seemed to be a fact of life.   One that had to be guarded against.  When I was young I never thought I would live to see my 30th birthday.  I never knew why I believed that but I did.  And once that birthday came and went I was at lose ends ....I hadn't made any plans for life after that 30th year. The thought of my death doesn't scare me. And during my fight with depression I always kept it on the table as a manner of escape if things got too bad to endure.  I have found that the hardest thing is just living.  Taking each day as it comes and believing that a higher power -God is directing your path.  That's what get me through these days now.  That and trying to learn from my mistakes.

But I still  fear my anger.  Therapy and meds have given me some control but once it becomes ignited the danger of losing control becomes too scary.  It becomes either you or me and I am prepared to sacrifice my life as long as I don't endure the beatings that Catherine did.
I still am Catherinesdaughter.   I still hear her screams.  I still see her face after each beating.  I still want to protect.  I am  still casting myself  into the role of  the protector  Even with my friends.

One day ....a month ago...I went to court with one of my friends to lend her "sister support" during her divorce hearing.  First of all, her husband is a nut case.  He verbally abuses her, steals and sells everything in the house that is not locked down to support his drug and alcohol habit.  She lives in fear of staying with that man and even more fear of leaving him because of his unpredictable anger. So I went to court with her because she knew and HE knew that I was not the one to fuck with.  And it hit me.  My anger was still there. The anger at anyone who abuses.  At anyone  that  That takes advantage of innocence.

 Once I became and adult, I can't really ever remember someone hitting me.  Definitely there were no ass whuppins from the men in my life or anyone else.  All it would take was my perceiving someone as a physical threat and my rage would take over.  My insanity would take over... I think you  could see it in my eyes....the violence ...the loss of control.  And they knew.  They knew that once the violence started it could easily turn into a kill or be killed situation.  For a very very very long time, I had no control when confronted with physical violence.  So  I would try everything  I could to avoid those situations.  I would never become my mother.

But words are another matter all together.  Words still have power over me.  They are my Achilles Heel. Not a slap. Not a punch.  Not a mean look.  It only takes one mean word to do my ass in.  They had and have so much power over me. And then it hit me....why am I giving these people so much of my power?  They know better than to lift a hand to me.  Madea and I both pack.  But why am I letting their words have such credence?

And do I really need to put up this shield of protection between myself and others?  Since that epiphany I am trying to not look for hidden meanings in a persons words.  And if they do speak daggers at me, I try to consider the source and the situation.  Some criticism can be constructive and I try to keep that mindset.  I am taking what I need and leaving the rest.  I am a lot happier these days.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Who do you hate?

I read a book recently in which the devil asked a man: "who do you hate?" The man wanted to change his luck because his life had been so hard and happiness had always eluded him so he made a deal with the devil. To change his life he had to transfer his bad luck - his karma to someone in his life that he was close to.. but whom he hated.  He transferred it to his best friend who he had been jealous of throughout their lives.  It was a wonderful look into the dark side of human nature.

But that question has been turning over and over in my mind. 

I asked myself:  Who do I hate?  And the answer surprised me.  I didn't hate anyone.  My mind reeled at this.  With my childhood I surely  had to hate someone.  Didn't I hate the people who hurt and failed to protect me?  Didn't I? Surely I had to hate Mr. Nap or Mrs. Alberta. Okay, if not them, then the men who visited the liquor house and tormented me...there had to be hate there.  No?   What about the cunning man who raped me, taking my virginity and leaving me with a son when I was only a child myself?  No?  Okay, okay what about the father who almost beat me to death when I was just a toddler?   No?  What about.........?

No I don't hate anyone.   I feel sadness but no hate.  I asked myself, why?  The answer surprised me again.  Forgiveness and power.   I forgive them all.  They took my power when I was young and couldn't protect myself.  As an adult I take back my power.  To let my past control my life now would be letting them still have control over me.  And while I can't go back and change the past, I do have control over my now.

I take back my power.   When I realized that, I also realized I was releasing the anger and the pain of my past and it staggered me.  When did I take back my power?  Did it matter?   Those memories and the pain are things that will always be a part of me.  However, they are not who I am.  They are not what makes me unique...what makes me strong...what makes me a survivor...what makes me Catherines daughter.

I have been in the prison of my past for so long that this new found freedom feels strange.  Don't I need my rage to protect me? 

I remember the first time I saw my father after he was released from prison.  We were strangers.  I don't even think he remembered beating me before he went home and killed his wife.  I remember Big Momma calling me was night and she said: "this yo daddy Neal...he came by heah to see you".  I remember seeing a large man, very dark with huge white teeth.  I was afraid of him.  How could he be my father?  I had only one dark memory of him.   After that first meeting, they arranged for me to visit him at the hotel he lived in- The Mitchell Building- it was a big hotel boarding house on Cotton Avenue.   Cotton Avenue housed most of the black businesses.  Hair salons, juke joints, gambling houses, restaurants   - it was all there.   And the Mitchell Building was  in the center of it all.  People rented rooms by the month, the week and sometimes by the hour.  It was a meeting place for hard men, bootleggers, pimps and pretty women with tight dresses  and red lips. Anyone who loved the fast life would sooner or later make their way to the Mitchell Building.  It was never called Mitchell Building, it was always The Mitchell Building.

And Neal's place was on the first floor by the door.  It would be filled with men and women smoking, drinking, gambling and cussing. My father Neal was a violent man, quick to laugh, quick to pull out his gun and quick to hit his women.  Plural.  There were always at least two of them at his place when I visited.  I would sit in the corner and watch all of this.  Sometimes I felt this out of body experience, like I was standing outside of myself looking at everything  but not really being a part of it.  Everyone knew I was Neal's little girl and they wouldn't think about pulling the mess on me that I went through at Big Momma's. They were too afraid of Neal.  So I was ignored by the men and fawned over by his girlfriends.  I wonder why I never told him what was happening to me at Big Momma's.  Of the torment and cruelty?  I guess I felt I really never had a voice.  Who would listen to me?  Who would care?  I think that I thought I was to blame and I was ashamed.  And I was scared.  I didn't want to make it worse.  I realize now that if I had told him, he would have killed someone.

I usually visited him on Saturdays and one of Neal's girlfriends,  Ms. Henrietta who had a beauty parlor on Cotton Avenue,  would usually wash and hot comb my hair.  I was tender-headed.  I remember getting burned by that hot comb.  You could smell the burned hair and hear the sizzle of the comb as she straightened my coarse locks.   I would eat either fried chicken or fish with collard greens and corn bread afterwards and then he would take me back to Big Momma's house. This was our ritual every other Saturday until the Mitchell Building shut down. 

Little girls and their fathers.  The majority of my life my father was Neal and that was how I addressed him.  It was only a year before his death that things changed.  As he grew older he had mellowed and though I can never  remember a time that he told me he loved me, he would always show up if I were involved in something.   I'd see him in the audience if I did a speech at school or if I received some sort of recognition.  I loved to act and was in several plays  and he would always come to see me in them.  When I became a television personality he always made a point of watching my show:  Noon Over Middle Georgia and my news spots.  He would never praise me, he would just show up or tune in.  There was a longing between us.  It was  as if he didn't know how to express his feelings toward me and I was wary of him.

Time passed and my mother died.  I felt as if the last person in the world that loved me was gone.  My father and I got no closer.

And then I started to become reckless and dangerous to myself and others.  I was so angry.  Neal started to call me just to talk.  He started visiting me.  He was a good grandfather, the love that he could not show me he showered on my two children.  I would catch him looking at me and I would hold my breath......

We started having special lunches together.  Every payday I would take him to a new restaurant and we would talk.  I started to relax in his presence. He would work on my car, a Ford Pinto and tell jokes about it being found on the road dead.  We started laughing together, I started calling him everyday. I love vegetables and he would cook my favorite foods.  I'd visit him.
 And one day while we were watching television at his house,   I called him daddy.  I was scared when I said it.  He sat very still, but I knew he heard me. He didn't say anything but I could feel something changing.   I leaned on him and he leaned back.  We went to sleep that way and someone took a picture of us.  That picture marks the day Neal became my father.  It hangs on my wall today.  After the first time I called him daddy, it  seemed I couldn't say it enough.  

That was in the summer and it was  the beginning of one of the best times of my life.   Thanksgiving came and he got tipsy after dinner and kept hugging me and telling everybody that I was his baby. I finally had my daddy and he loved me and he made me feel protected.  I felt I could finally exhale and relax. 

My father died of a massive heart attack a week and a half before Christmas of that same year.  I felt tricked.  I felt abandoned.   We had just found each other. It was too soon to loose him.   It wasn't fair. I loved him so much.   For a little while I had had a father and I loved him and he loved me...fiercely.

But I was on my own again.  Holding my breath...waiting to see what else would happen.

As I look back now, I see it was not all bad. I had the love of the most important man in my life.  If only for a little while.   And it was good.

 I am Catherines daughter and I hate no one.