A Room For One
Now I Lay Me down To Sleep by Cherlnell Lane.
As soon as we started joining together here comes pettiness to ruin things.
Okay Loves here is the situation, I teach "Writing Through It Workshops" so that people can reveal, deal, and heal from negative emotions and to commemorate and celebrate the positive ones. I use journaling and other techniques to help participants reach these goals. I have volunteered to facilitate three Workshops for free this month that are quickly approaching. Unfortunately I don't have enough journals to cover all of the classes. So I am asking all that can please donate $3 so that my participants can have something to write on when they come to my class.
There are two ways to donate: PayPal.me/cherlnell or $Cherlnell on cash app.
With your help we can make this happen!
Thank you! #cherlnell #wtiworkshops #iel3 #queensofacertainage
I am going to keep it as real as I can with you all. I am sitting here crying, my soul is so full of sadness that it's spilling out of my eyes right now. Rolling off my cheeks and hitting the ground where no matter how much I cry it will never wash away my ancestor's blood. And the very street that holds the blood is now filled with African Americans firing off illegal fireworks or illegal guns. I say illegal because buying fireworks are against the law where I live, and I would hope that anyone who got their firearm legally would not risk losing their license or their life by doing something as stupid as shooting a gun in the air because they were excited.
They are firing off their stupidity in these streets where; Niggers were killed for running away, Coloreds were beaten for wanting equal rights, and African-Americans are being murdered and harassed for having a skin tone that comes off as threatening by law enforcement. Law Enforcement that is enforcing the unseen laws of this country that’s why they are getting off scot-free. Open your eyes, my people.
In 1963 the country was outraged by a black church being bombed that killed four young black girls. In one week in 2015, at least nine African-American churches had been burned to the ground and the country seemed not to care. A white man walked into a church and killed nine black people in cold blood after they prayed with him. He was captured gently, fed a burger and fries, and had a fund for legal fees even though he was armed and dangerous. If it was flipped, if it was a black man who walked into a white church and killed nine white people? He would have been shot and killed on sight. Law Enforcement would have said that he was killed on the spot for being a “Terror”-ist. How many black men and women/ young boys and girls must die in cold blood before you all see that you all should not be celebrating the freedom of a people who refuse to give you yours. Let’s see, in this year alone as of June 27th, 2018 there have been 93 black people shot and killed by police. That number is straight from the Washington Post and I believe it’s been more than that because they have this pesky little section called “Unknown Race” where there were 153 shot and killed. You know that famous line, “A dead man tells no tales?” Well, a dead light-complexioned man tells no race.
America claims slavery. They claim that it wasn’t that bad, that everyone was doing it, that even though this country was built on the backs of my people, painted with our blood, and fertilized with the bodies of my forefathers, that we should forget about it because now they are allowing us to count as a full human in some cases. What independence am I celebrating? The independence of my wrongful death being caught on video or witnessed by many and yet because the person who murdered me could have owned me in 1776 they get off free. My family is left to plan a funeral and his family breathes a sigh of relief. Or the independence of our children, not being able to go to the best schools available because even though Brown vs. the Board of Education was decades ago brown people are still discriminated against by the board of education when it comes to being educated. The independence of the signs, bombs, and crosses still burning in our front yards.
America gives you the freedom to celebrate whatever you chose but please do so responsibly. This means knowing that the celebrating that you are risking your lives for (blowing up sticks of dynamite and shooting off guns) and “freedom” (most of the things are illegal so you can get locked up) for is not about or for you. For the people who say that this isn’t a race thing, they aren’t seeing the full picture or seeing clearly at all. I know some people who say they don’t see color may mean well. People who don’t see color are privileged enough where they don’t have to worry about their color, where their color is not thrown in their face every day, or they are delusional. Even the colorblind see different shades of gray. If you don’t see color, then you don’t see me. Which is the problem? If you don’t see me then you can’t see me as a person, you can’t see me as a friend, and you can’t see me as a citizen. You also can’t see how the problems I face could be different than others because of the color of my skin.
Happy “Independence” Day to the people that enslaved me, broke the backs of my people and used their spines as a staircase to the top. Happy “Wool being pulled over your eyes” day to those of you from the African- American community who thinks that they are a part of “We the people.” To the land that they took from the natives and the home of those of us brave enough to still leave our apartments.
Happy Fourth of They Steal, Happy Fourth of They kill, Happy Fourth of They Lie.
P.S. I didn’t forget about what they are doing to Hispanic families. Taking Children away from their families and locking them up in cages in prisons that you call camps is ridiculous! I don’t care what race you are. If you can change something about this, please do so. Just think if it was your child. Karma's a bitch and when it comes back to bite this president in the ass... God bless his soul.
I was walking through this hair festival looking at the wears, hair oils, and butters when I saw the most beautiful tote bags, with the cutest women characters. They embodied different personalities and expressed different emotions. They were beautiful, fierce, and plus sized! The look on my face must have said it all because the woman running the station smiled at me and pointed up. I then saw shirts with the characters and followed her hand to make-up bags and then to the earrings. The big wooden buttons, not a button like you fasten your pants with but the ones you wear with messages were clearing speaking. They spoke of empowerment, “Magical Black Woman” and pride, the image of Africa filled with purple adinkra symbols. There were even some earrings with the characters from the shirts and bags on them. After making the painstaking decision of choosing what I was going to buy. I started chatting with the owner of the business.
Brittany Washington of “My Beautiful Fluff” (www.mybeautifulfluff.com) was super nice and very inventive I found out as I talked to her about her business. Which is an artistic personality-filled fashion line for the fluffy woman that includes clothing, jewelry, and accessories. When I was done buying my goods I bid her goodbye and went on my way.
I loved my earrings and so did everyone else! So imagine my surprise when I found out that Brittany was looking for bloggers to test products and write reviews! I jumped at the chance. She soon sent me a package that I opened like a kid that had been waiting for their birthday! It had earrings that was coming out on the spring line, some with the original design, and my favorite ones “Kiss my Fluff” for when you need to let someone know. Then there at the bottom of the package was the “Self Love” tote & makeup bag that I fell in love with at the expo!
I have had this bag for months now and let me tell you... I love it. Her bags are lined and have zippers. They are very well made and I have washed mine about four or five times and this is how it looks now. I also love my fluffy sister on the bag how she’s so zen but confident. That’s probably because she has been saying all of these affirmations that surround her. “I am a Queen” “I am loved” “I am beautiful” Just the things we should be instilling in ourselves as black women. I loved the earrings almost just as much as I love the bag. Almost. Lol.
I thought this is a woman who is interesting plus was doing positive things so I decided to pick her brain.
Q1. So, Brittany, you have created this wonderful awesome brand for our fluffy sistas which we appreciate. Now we want to pick your brain. So where are you from and in what city do you now reside?
A1. I’m from the Quad Cities I was born in Rock Island, IL and now resides in Davenport, Iowa.
Q2. What is “My Beautiful Fluff” and how was it started?
A2. Wanting to embrace my journey back to natural hair I wanted to get the t-shirt with the colorful beautiful afros. However, they only went up to 3x or they were men’s shirts with the design on the front. I knew there had to be something for me. Curvaceous Curls was born which was the name originally until I decided I want to focus on clothing designed with curves in mind on a bigger scale. I remember the childhood nickname of fluffy that my mom so affectionately gave me from that Curvaceous Curls became the first design under My Beautiful Fluff.
I wanted My Beautiful Fluff to be empowering, motivating and encourage women to love themselves as they are.
Q3. My Beautiful Fluff has some awesome designs on a variety of products what has inspired some of these unique characters and sayings?
A3. Most of the characters and sayings are just things that I use on the daily. One of my favorite designs with the fan is an image from a Curvy Photo Shoot of myself that my amazing graphic designer tweaked to make it perfect. It is so far one of the most popular totes that we have. I also take customer input while at the She Event in December I had a customer who is part of a roller skating team and wanting to see an image with skates. I had an idea of retro skater girl with pretty puffs and my graphic designer made it a reality and it is now offered on earrings and totes. I get inspiration and ideas for a lot of different sources and part of the excitement is taking an idea from conception to an actual product.
Q4. MBF is making big girls happy all over the country but what is your favorite item from the brand
A4.I can’t just pick one item; my favorite items would have to be the Self Love Tote and Journal. That design is my favorite because it’s an embodiment of positive affirmations that I use myself.
Q5. You have such a wide selection of products what made you choose the products you did?
A5.I choose products that would be complementary to each other. I started with shirts then totes were added to my line, a journal that accompanied one of our totes and jewelry and makeup brush sets have been added to the rotation this year.
Q6. Where would you like to see My Beautiful Fluff in the next few years?
A6.In the next few years, I would like to see My Beautiful Fluff as a household name and expanded to a physical location in Atlanta or Chicago.
Q7. If you could tell someone who is just starting out in a business or any endeavor some advice what would it be?
A7.Stay with it, you will fail so many times before you experience success. Learn and grow from your mistakes but never stop tying.
Wise words from a wise woman. So support Black Businesses because not only does it help the interesting people behind the business but it also helps the younger generations watching who can identify and benefit from what’s being done, sold or made.
That’s my piece, peace, and tell me what you think.
P.S. Brittany has decided to bless all of my readers with a special discount code. Go to www.mybeautifulfluff.com fill your cart with goodies then use “cherlnell” in the promo code box for a discount of 20%.
I know that this one is pretty long and emotional but stick with it until the end. This is my story. That means this actually happen to me. I wrote this story a few years back (besides some updates). As some of you know I am teaching a class about writing through sexual abuse and I couldn't very well ask people to tell their story if I wasn't telling mine. So here it is the good, the bad, and the ugly. If there is anyone I have ever hurt out there please forgive me. - CL
I took a bath the night before and that was the last time I felt clean. I noticed that the bathroom was smaller to me than I remembered. I guess that should have been a sign. All of a sudden I could hardly move through the little room. It was like I was inside of a dollhouse. I chuckled at the thought, “Me inside of a dollhouse? Yeah right!” I didn’t like dolls let alone the “houses” they supposedly lived in. I could never understand why girls wasted their time with them. I looked in the mirror. I had grown, gotten taller, and filled out just as a sixteen-year-old should. The problem was that I was eleven. My D-cup bra served as proof that I was blessed with ample curves to share. Boys were starting to notice my shape. I knew this because their eyes wandered and lingered on certain places. Their gazes held something different when they looked at me that wasn’t there before.
I shook my head and turned my focus back to the room. It looked like the inside of a Pepto Bismol bottle - pink curtains, pink rugs, and pink walls. I mean even the toilet seat was pink! My aunt was girly and her two daughters followed right behind her with petticoat dresses, Barbie dolls, and curls. As you could probably tell I was not girly, no scratch that, I was anti-girly! I couldn't stand dresses and I hated the color pink! That’s why my changing relationships with my male friends upset me. It wasn’t that I didn’t like being a girl, I just didn’t like girly things. I didn’t like the invisible rules or the separation that was taking place. Boys and I used to climb trees together. Now, they’re falling out of them because they are too busy looking at me. Women were always telling me to stop climbing trees, stop being so rough, and stop acting like a boy. But that is just it, I didn’t act like a boy, I was just being myself. As I looked behind the door to see what my aunt had left me to sleep in, I noticed that it was pink with ruffles on the collar. I sighed and then I put on my aunt’s pretty pink nightgown.
The next morning I woke up excited because it was a Saturday. After my stressful week dealing with school work, friends, bullies and my parents’ divorce, my plan was to sit around all day in my PJ’s watching cartoons. You know, we never know when our last moment of childhood will be. It comes out of nowhere like a flash. It’s interesting how things change in a matter of moments, seconds, minutes, or hours. Things that slowly deprived a childhood of the love and nourishment that it needs until there is nothing left but a shell that blows away in the wind. It never occurred to me that losing innocence comes with a cost. I couldn’t have guessed that I would start paying mine that day.
My uncle sat relaxed with his elbows resting on the dining room table. He and my aunt weren’t married, but he had been there since I could remember so he had earned the title, “uncle.” I smiled at him like he smiled at us when he chased us around the house making us giggle. I loved when he played music and we danced around the apartment. The smell of his morning drink of gin and juice attacked my nose and made me wrinkle up my face. It was usually an indication of...nothing. That is just it, I don’t remember him not drinking. It was normal. I don’t remember him being an angry drunk, but I do remember his face from time to time being frowned up like he was really upset about something. Not today though he smiled at me and I reciprocated. Galloping feet grabbed my attention as I slid under the table just in time for the younger children to run past.
I was laying there watching TV when by some change in the current of neurons in my “uncle’s” brain made him decide to take his foot and put it under my gown. At first, I thought it was an accident. I didn’t pay it any mind the first two times. I thought that maybe his foot had slipped. Then, I realized what was happening. I felt my blood churn as his callused, roughened skin rubbed up against my leg, longer and further each time. I scooted away on the soft, beige carpet as my mind went through the denial that maybe I was in his way. That was until the further away I moved, the closer he got. He leaned back in his yellow chair and rolled it across the floor inching closer to me. It was silent as it glided across the fibers like an animal stalking its prey. If I could hear it maybe it would be a warning, a branch snapping under one’s foot alerting the pack, but there was no warning. When I couldn’t move over anymore, my legs were forced open by his lower extremities. My heart stopped as he entered me. The round firmness of his big toe expanded my young virgin walls. My heart hardened as he moved it in and out. My will was weakened and I was frozen in fear of what I am not sure. The shame and embarrassment that I felt lengthened the time and turned minutes into hours. Then five seconds after forever, it finally stopped. The whole time I laid there screaming inside hoping that someone would come and rescue me, remove me from this impossible situation. This impossible but happening situation. How was this happening? Maybe it wasn’t happening...maybe it was in my head? Maybe that’s why no one came? If only I could close my eyes and he would be gone. I closed my eyes but he was still there torturing me. The horrible feeling that was happening in my chest was still there. My heart was racing. I was mad that I was being violated, sad that it was someone I loved, and confused about why it was happening to me.
I told my mother as soon as I saw her. My mom is the strongest, bravest, and smartest person I know. So I figured she would know what to do. She sat there while I told her looking out of the window. The more I spoke the more her face contorted and tears welled up in her eyes. Her hands, once resting calmly on the steering wheel were now balled up tiny fists gripping the wheel. I knew that she was hurt for me and that she was ready to go off on someone for her child! And she did. I just didn’t expect that person to be me. I was the person bombarded with questions that I just could not answer, "Why didn’t you run and scream? Why didn’t you tell your aunt? Why did you let him do that to you? What did you do?" I was told that there was going to be a talk with my aunt and I was to wait.
I thought up so many different outcomes to this problem that I had now caused. I thought that he would try to kill my mom or my aunt. That he would try to do this to another girl or even worst he would try to do it again to me. After about a month of constant nightmares, I went to my mom worried, asking what was going to be done. She sighed and went on to explain to me that the daughters that he produced should not be subjected to the embarrassment and ridicule of having a father that raped his niece with his big toe. So I broke down, “What about me” I thought. “What about my embarrassment?” I didn’t understand. I was so confused. Tears ran down my face and I almost fell to my knees. I wanted to scream! “Why was all of this happening to me? Wasn’t I too a child?” Any ideas that I had that my age would matter were thrown out the window, ran over by a truck, and tossed in the gutter when my mother said, "What happened to you wasn’t nothing! I’ve had a lot worse happen to me. So suck it up and stop acting like a baby!" So I shut up and I shut down.
Even four years later, when I sat in front of what would be my first of many mental health therapists, I couldn’t bring anything up about it because I was warned that it was a private matter. That no one needed to know. Even when I could talk about it, I wouldn’t deal with it. I thought that talking about the rape without really talking about how it related to me was enough.
How my mother dealt with the situation and the fact that this was done to me by someone who I considered family set the standard. If I wasn’t safe at home, then where was I safe? If my mother couldn’t be bothered to protect me, then who? After that everything else was common practice like being used and abused by people in my life.
I become the statistic that everyone spoke about. I was fulfilling a prophecy put on me the very moment that my “uncle’s” skin touched mine. I was so hurt and confused by what happened to me, I felt unattractive. So when men approached me about sex, I was thrown so off guard that they even wanted to do something like that with me that I quickly did what they wanted before they changed their minds. I did what I could to make them happy because I thought that would, in turn, make me happy.
Six years after it was stolen from me, a poor, ignorant, misguided, girl on a dining room floor, I gave it away. Something I didn’t have. The first time that a man entered my body, something very important to me was taken away too soon. The next time that a man entered my body, something important was given to me early, and it changed my life forever. Seven months after I gave myself to a man, my son entered this world. The only reason that I hadn’t had sex up until that point was because I was trying to be good. In the end, I got tired of having my virginity. This thing that was supposed to make me pure when I already felt so dirty. Maybe I thought that it was a lie that I didn’t want to live anymore.
For years I went around trying to collect as much love as I could from men. As hard as I would try, I couldn’t get full because I didn’t know that to fill something you have to fix the holes. There was a big gaping hole in the bottom of my heart; whatever I put in came right back out in the form of anxiety and self-loathing. My idea of love was warped. I didn’t quite know what I was looking for but I knew it was something I didn’t have.
I just knew that there was something wrong with me. I was tainted and if people realized how much, they would never want anything to do with me. I didn’t see my love as anything worthy. So I wouldn’t charge much for it. For a smile, a kiss or a kind word, I would give everything I could in thanks for showing me attention no matter how slight. Being hungry for attention is like a neon light to soul vultures. People who prey on the souls of others to feed themselves. They follow you around waiting for the perfect time to strike and when you are at your most vulnerable point they slide in and rob you of your heart.
There was the guy who loved me so much that he threw knives at me. He threatened to kill himself for me. I promised that I would love him through whatever. That was the worst mistake I ever made in my life. He had me hiding knives under my pillow in order to sleep in case I needed to protect myself. He used fear to keep me near him. Fear of him hurting me, fear of him hurting himself, fear of me going back on my word, and fear of me being alone.
There was another man who played on my emotions. He used his voice and charm to get into my heart and his award-winning acting to chain me blindly to him. He, who wasn’t even in a relationship with me at the time, made me promise to give myself to only him. When I slept with someone else he cried real tears because he was so hurt and I cried with him. I felt lower than low so I was placed in the “makeup” zone. I was so busy making it up to him that I almost missed the fact that he was using me to cheat on his wife that I didn’t know he had.
By the time that I reached my late twenties, I had been so conditioned to receive and accept madness that I married someone I should never have. I used the equation: years known divided by the years we had sex to stand in the place of a relationship that never really existed. He was my go-to back scratcher when I had an itch, and I was his go-to honey pot when he needed something sweet. We were always there when neither of us was taken, to fill in. There was never a relationship, but I had to make it sound official. I couldn’t tell people that we got together in April and married in November because it would sound as unreal as it was. We didn’t go on a date for the first seven years of this so-called relationship, we just had sex and he was cool with that until he needed a place to stay. I then took a very thin layer of forged politeness to make me see the good in someone. He knew when to say please and thank you, but was rarely pleased and never meant thanks. Also, a thin layer of commonality made it easy for me to run off to the altar. Truth is, we didn’t have much in common so the things we had in common I held on to like the diamonds they were. I told myself that we were meant to be when the truth is that I never believed that there was going to be anyone else. I thought that this person was the best I was going to get so I had better not miss my chance. I knew the day after my wedding that I had made a great mistake, but it was too late. I had taken vows before God and I had to try as hard as I could to make it work. Four months later after the cheating, the screaming, the lies, and the abuse I decided that it wasn’t going to work for me or my son
After I ended my marriage, I decided to let go and let God. I thought I was tired of dealing with men who not only weren’t for me, they were detrimental to my health. I said a prayer that God would send the man who I was meant to be with to me. I prayed that God would help me know and understand my worthiness. That I would have the patience to wait for him and the eyes to see him when he showed up.
On July 17th, 2014, a year and three months after my divorce, I started talking to who I thought was the man of my dreams. We got married on December 13th, 2014. I thought that the experience would have been a great one and God would show me through this man what true human love was. Unfortunately, I was wrong. My second husband was definitely a life changer for me. He has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. So, he followed my pattern of abusive partners. He was just way more clever. He would say things to me that hurt me to my core and made me cry. In the same breath, I would take up for him because I just couldn't believe he would treat me that way on purpose. In my second marriage, I was so busy trying to make sure that I wasn't doing anything to make him leave me that I missed all the reasons I should have left him. As I wait for the divorce. I still feel unlovable and unworthy sometimes. I still have a hard time realizing my true power, and that I am a Queen because of things that I’ve been through.
I am mending my holes which started with forgiveness for all parties involved, including myself. My mother and I had a very tumultuous relationship after the incident. We were pretty much at each other’s throats all of my teenage years. I could not see how she could put his girls over me. I resented her for it. It seemed to me that every time I tried to heal the opportunity was taken away from me. She would say things like I wasn’t raped because he didn’t use his penis. Every time I said the word rape, she would say molested. It wasn’t until I looked up the word myself that I knew the truth and could stand on it. “Rape,” unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with or without force by a sex organ, other body part or foreign object without the consent of the victim. After I became mature enough to know the real meaning of and the meaning behind words, I was able to finally figure out the words my mother said. What she said was, “What happened to you wasn’t nothing! I’ve had a lot worse happen to me. So suck it up and stop acting like a baby!” What she meant, “In my mind was, ‘what I went through was much worse than what you went through and no one did anything for me so I don’t really know the right thing to do for you, but I’m fine and you will be too.” Once I saw her words this way I was able to forgive my mom, she was playing with the cards she had been dealt. Sure she could and should have played them in a different order, but once a card is played that’s it.
Recently my mother and I had a talk where she admitted everything that happened to me. She told me that the real reason she didn’t file charges was that she didn’t want me to have to relive the event over and over again with the police, in the courthouse, etc. My mom didn’t want it to be his word against mine. I was shocked, but because I had already forgiven her, I was able to hear and accept what she had to say. She didn’t know that I had relived the event every time that I had a nightmare and woke up in a cold sweat wondering if he was hiding in my room. I didn’t have a scary, hairy monster hiding in my room, it was him behind the door and under the bed.
My rapist has since passed away but before he died, I hadn’t seen him for years. While he was on his deathbed, I kept getting requests from his daughter to pray for him. She still doesn’t know what happened between us. I take praying seriously so I wanted to pray for him but I had so many reasons not to. I talked with God. I prayed for him to give me the strength and I remembered something my mother told me, “You don’t forgive people for them, you forgive people for yourself. They will still live their life or afterlife while you are still left carrying the burden they left on you.” I realized that I was tired of carrying this burden. I also knew that God will deal with this man the way he saw fit if he hadn’t done so already. So before he passed, I prayed for him and his soul to find peace.
I am still working on myself which I have found is the hardest part. Instead of cleaning and removing the cesspool of this incident, I have built layers up over the years. I thought the layers would hide the stench, cover up the scars and mask the embarrassment. I’ve since learned that layers are a temporary fix, a band-aid. Eventually, the smell comes through, cuts get deeper, and the mask fades away. After all of that layering, you still need to fix the problem - the rotting, infected gash underneath. Now, because of the lack of care, there has to be a careful breakdown and reconstruction to repair the injury that penetrated my innocence. After years of dealing with this pain, embarrassment, and low self-esteem, I realized that even though others may have dropped the ball in my life it was up to me to pick it up again. Not only have I picked up the ball, I’m dribbling down the court; I am doing spectacular things to uplift myself. I have created a loving family with my son. I am helping others release their pain through my pen by writing this story and teaching classes. I am doing all I can to help myself and others. After all, I’m not a child anymore...
The Curse Behind The Wedding Rings
By: Cherlnell Lane
Noise In My Head
By: Cherlnell Lane
Clang, bang, clink, chink, boom! Loudly explodes through the silence, interrupting my thoughts. Peace has been at a constant distance in this house as of late and it seems as if tonight is no exception. I transfer from my bed to my wheelchair. The creaking of my knees gives a voice to my pain, as I wait patiently for the two seconds it takes for my chair come on and “race” to the living room.
When I turn the corner I am face to face with exactly what I thought I would be, a meltdown. My walkers are face down, tangled together, and my son is beating them with a chair. I saw his thoughts racing back and forth between the walls of his head like ping pong balls.
‘There is another name of that game? Oh, yea “table tennis.” My memory has been horrible. My mind has been so gone lately but not as gone as his or maybe they are the same just in different ways. He can remember more than I but I stay more sane than him. Is that the way you would say that more sane, saner, sanier, hell, I didn’t know. We both are Bipolar. However, I have never been hospitalized or as angry as he.’
Puff, puff. Smoke billowed from flared nostrils like a dragon in a cave. I remember the first time I saw that look. He was in preschool and usually a very funny, mild-mannered little boy. But this particular time they called me down to the school, he was red with his nostrils flaring, little twists swinging, throwing tables and chairs. I was thinking, "What happened to my baby, why is he so angry?" The teachers wanted to kick him out. They said that he was uncontrollable. I pleaded with them and they let him stay.
Clang, Clang, Clang! Brought me back to real life. There is a moment when you are coming out of a daydream but you can't yet see reality. In that moment I was wishing, hoping, and praying that I would not come back to where I had left from. However, when my eyes focused there were my walkers intertwined, banged up, on the floor, and again being beaten with a metal chair.
“What’s wrong James?”
Bang, bang, bang, with the chair.
I bring my voice up firmly where he could hear me, trying to get his attention. He threw a chair. Boom! I flinched. He then started to walk back and forth like a bull caught in a cage. Only the cage was the inner workings of his mind. My walkers blocking my way to get to him, just like the voices in his head.
‘The voices were new to me, but probably not to him. I kind of figured that he was hearing them a while ago, but I didn't want to bring them up. I didn’t want to put the idea in his head and I guess, I didn't want it to be true. I remember the first time he told me. He was really scared. Like then I knew if I could only touch him, ease his mind, he would be okay but like the barbed wire around the State Pen his anger kept me away.’
Huff, huff, his breathing brought me back to reality. I could hear the rattle in his chest.
‘I knew exactly what it was, his anger. His brain was holding his anger hostage because it doesn’t allow him to let his anger show. That is a trait inbred by years of watching me. Letting people walk over me and not saying a thing. Not letting people know when they have hurt me, in turn hurting myself and being abused by people I loved and trusted. Being the scapegoat when people who are down want to bring other people down. I always turned the other cheek and he was there with a front row seat.’
Ring, ring, I’d forgotten that I had called the number to mental health. Since he has behaved like he should to go to the hospital and probably needs to go, I will make the executive decision.
“Hello, mental health how may I help you?”
‘Can you fix my son? Make him the way he used to be before the voices got to him, telling him how to live.’ I say in my head never letting the words leave my lips. Instead: “My son needs to go to the hospital. He is being very aggressive. He is throwing chairs and destroying property. I am afraid for his safety."
Bomp! Bomp! His fists go into the wall. Whew! I am glad that he didn’t make a hole this time.
“Okay, Miss you said would you like for him to go to the hospital?”
Time stops and thoughts race thru my head. Does he really Have to go to the hospital? Do I really want him away from me again? Away from home? Is this going to help or hinder him?'
I look up and he is still pacing. Looking as if any minute he is going to run out of that door into the middle of “Chiraq” and become another statistic. That was one of his old standards, running away. He would leave the house and sometimes run out of the school. You see, He is too big to be seen as the baby he is. Someone who sees him barreling down the street mad at the world might try to harm him, before getting harmed. Pop, Pop, Pop! Goes off in the background letting me know just how true that statement is.
“Yes, ma’am he needs to go to the hospital.”
“Okay well someone will be there within two hours.”
‘Great." I think then I hear it tick-tock, tick-tock. 'How I am going to contain this boy for two hours. Then another two until the ambulance comes.' I look through the pie window and he has seemed to calm down, somewhat.
“Okay, thank you,” I say and hang up the phone.
I roll out of the kitchen with my “everything’s okay” face. I want him to know that everything will be fine but at the same time I want to make sure that he doesn’t think that I am making light of his situation. When I look up, I see his face and his eyes look tortured. The pain he feels is palpitating it's like the pulse in the room matching my heartbeat thump, thump, thump! It wasn’t fast but was steady and dang if I couldn’t feel it in my throat. It makes me “Cough, cough!”
“You’re trying to send me away?” James says.
“No. Mama is not trying to send you away. I just want to make sure you get all the help that you need.” I reply.
“I don’t need help.”
“We all need help sometimes James.”
“That’s all you know how to do is call mental health! I’ll just leave if you want me to go so bad!”
He jumps up and starts putting on his shoes. Boom boom, boom boom, boom boom, goes my heart beating out of my chest.
“Why don’t you go to Davon’s house?” The words coming rushing through my lips.
There was a flash of remembrance on his face. 'He loved being with his friend, a boy in the building who suffers a form of autism. James and Davon were both wildly intelligent which made them perfect playmates. They got each other. As single mothers of special needs children, Tracy (Davon’s mother) and I helped out when the other one needed it. Now was one of those times.'
“You and Davon could play with his Xbox.”
He sat there pondering the thought and I saw the anger slowly drain from his face. Then in a quiet voice, he said, “yeah, okay.” I told him he could go as long as he took off his gym shoes and put on his slippers. As he walked to the back and accomplished his task I called Tracy. When Tracy answered I could hear the smile in her voice as she said hello. I explained to her the situation and she said, of course, he could come up. Even though we both knew the script of what to do whenever either boy was in crisis. I went through some key points before James made it back down the hall. I informed her that he was not to go outside and he could only have one sweet treat. By the time I hung up the phone James was at my side with a basketball. I told him that he couldn't take the ball with him. He held on tight and asked why. I was sure that a storm was brewing but being quick on my feet I said,
"You guys are going to be in the house remember, that means that you won't be able to play with it."
Then I waited with baited breath as he said "okay" and put the ball back. On his way back he looked at me and smiled.'I held on to his smiles like the treasures they were. They were becoming further and further apart. They were like endangered species; when spotted the onlookers watched in awe as they take in what only a few people get to see.' I took the chance and reached for him. He came towards me and we hugged. I breathed a sigh of relief and smelled his hair. It had been forever since I was this close to him. I wanted to savor the moment, but I knew that it would make things weird if I hung on to him for dear life. So when he let go so did I and waved goodbye as he walked out of the door.
While I waited for mental health services to come, I took pictures of his room and bathroom, which were a mess. I took pictures of the living room, and how he left it. I started to clean it up the best way I could. As I untangled the walkers, I thought about the first time he went to the hospital...
'He was in fourth grade and we arguing about something. It hurts that I can't even remember what the argument was about. He screamed then ran into the bathroom, shut, and locked the door. I asked him to come out he said, “no.” I could hear the tears in his voice. So I stayed by that door and tried to get him to come out. Then he said the words that would forever change our lives. “I am going to drink this bleach and die!” I used my mom issued x-ray vision and saw it through the door, the bleach was sitting behind the toilet, on the floor. I immediately called a neighbor who luckily was able to break into the room as James was putting the bottle to his lips.'
'That must be Mental Health.' I thought as I buzzed the person in. I called Tracy and told her to come down. I took one last look at the kitchen and living room before opening the door.
"Hello," I said before looking at this little woman with a sour face. "Come in." The woman introduced herself as Ms. Thomas, walked in took a look around and asked where was the client. “He's with a neighbor right now but they are on the way down.”
"You trust someone else with him like this?" She asked with a side eye that said either I didn't know what I was doing or I was lying about his behavior. I was sure neither of those things was true but to help her understand I answered, "She also has a special needs son so she is experienced with what to do? " Ms. Thomas chuckled then sat down, began to take out papers, and then asked,
"So Ms. Phillips what is the reason I am here today? "
"Well, my son had a really bad episode this evening. He was throwing and destroying furniture. He couldn't control himself. He's in so much mental/emotional pain. I also believe that he wanted to just run away"
"You believe or know Ms. Phillips?"
"Well, there is no way that I could know what he is thinking, however, I could make a pretty good guess that that is what he wanted to do. "
The woman smirked, rolled her eyes, and said; "And how is that, Ms. Phillips?"
"Because he has done it before and this is how it starts with the destructive episodes. He gets a certain look on his face and the look on his face is one I've seen before. " I stated while crossing my arms.
Knock knock. I was never so happy to hear a knock at the door in my life. I was becoming frustrated with Ms. Thomas. I opened the door so quickly that Tracy almost fell into the apartment.
"Dang girl is everything okay?" I gave her the secret look, fixed my face, then turned to introduce everyone to Ms. Thomas. Tracy left and gave me an "I'm sorry" look. James and I went through the interviewing process that Mental Health has to determine whether or not James needed to go to the hospital. When we reached the end Ms. Thomas looked at me and asked what I thought should happen. I told her that again that I felt that he should be hospitalized.
Tap, tap, tap went her pen on the paper. Just when I was about to say something about the tapping she asked, why. I told her because if he didn’t go to the hospital his episodes would heighten until he was somehow hurt. Like they always do.
"No one else has had a problem admitting him" I stated.
"That is what I mean Ms. Phillips. You basically keep using a method that isn't working. What do you plan on doing in the long run? I mean you want me to send him to the hospital but they aren't helping in the long run. "
Now I was mad, I wanted to know if she felt the hospital couldn't treat him, then how was I? Right before I was about to explain this to Ms. Thomas in a not so nice manner I heard. Scratch. Scratch.
James is playing with his car set. I smile because he's using the car with three wheels. Even though I kept telling him not to use it because it will mess up the track he insists on using it. He says that it is his favorite one and that it's not the car’s fault that it only has three wheels. He would look at me with that smile and say, "That's what makes it special. " I look at my baby boy and tears come to my eyes but I dare not let them fall. I have to be strong.
I look at Ms. Thomas and say, "Ma'am I am sure all of those things are true but what would you have me do? I'm in a wheelchair and he's 5:10 and 350lbs. I can't stop him when he has crossed the line. You as a mental health professional know without a shadow of a doubt that once those voices in his head take over if I get in his way we will both end up hurt. Or at least one of us... Look, I am putting together his application, to get the funds, to go to a residential center. I am just waiting for his doctors to get done with some testing. Meanwhile, how do I handle him when even you agree that James has issues that need to be dealt with professionally? This is what I know to do when something like this happens. I know to get him somewhere safe. So, do what you are you going to do? "
"Uhhhh. Well, I will send him this time. However, you have to make sure that he gets into a long-term program. " She pulled more paperwork out of her bag and began to fill it out.
"Sigh." I started to rub my head because by now I have a headache that is kicking my butt. I answer the questions and sign on the dotted line. Then Ms. Thomas asked me if I was going to be able to go with him to the hospital. I told her no. She asked why and I said, “Because I am in a wheelchair and it won't fit on the ambulance.” She looked at me and said that the ambulance will be there in about an hour and thirty minutes. I thanked her and she left.
Zzzzzzz. Zzzzz. I hear it loudly but with us talking it was inaudible. Now it reminds me of a sleeping lion so majestic yet dangerous. I leave him in his relaxed state, while I go to pack his things. I wake him up as the paramedics are coming up the stairs. I tell James that he was going to the hospital. He looks at me defeated, nods then put on his shoes and jacket. He gives me a hug when they put him on the stretcher. Click, click, click they seatbelt him in. Then they take him away, through the hallway, down on the elevator, and out of the building. As I look at him out of the window he looks up at me.
Pop, Click. I close and lock the door.
Click... Click... Click... I cut off the lights in the kitchen, living room and my bedroom. Tears threaten to leave my body but I struggled to hold them in.
As I transferred from my wheelchair to my bed, I instantly hear his voice asking me to sing our song. So I did: "You are my sunshine, my lovely sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray. " As I sung the song the whole night flashed before my eyes and the tears came pouring down. They fell for seeing my baby in various states; Twists swinging throwing desks, trying to swallow bleach in a locked bathroom, and banging walkers with chairs. For the visual of them putting him on a stretcher and locking him down. For him looking at me, his eyes saying save me and me not being able to do anything. I am crying from my soul, loud and dry heaving! And in the midst of that... "You know I always love you forever so please don't take my sunshine away.”
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Now I present...
Sisters Standing Together In Womanhood by Cherlnell Lane