Not Okay

The indomitable Sarah Doughty, beautiful people. Truth is spoken here–such truth.

Sarah Doughty

“Here’s the thing:
Nothing about this is okay.
You are not okay.”

Here’s the thing you don’t seem to understand. You aren’t funny. Intolerance, bigotry, and misogyny is no laughing matter. It is not okay to turn someone’s fears into a joke. It is not okay to mock someone. It is not okay taunt a victim. To make excuses for what happened to them. To make light of what they needed to do to survive.

Have you not noticed the trail of burned bridges you’ve left behind you? Have you not noticed the people you have offended? How about the fact that they are women, or men that appreciate women for who they are? Their strength. Their resilience.

No. It is not okay. You are not okay. Get some fucking perspective and some humility while you’re at it.

© Sarah Doughty

Try to learn to be better.
For the sake…

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We Are the Village

And we must protect it

Photo by Heather Wilson via ReShot

I live on the third floor of a building with old, young, and the in-between gathered up to call this place our home. A neighbor of mine, who lives on the first floor, has three children — all under the age of five. She has been blessed with two handsome little boys and a precocious little girl with big, bright gray-green eyes. I know all of them. I’ve watched the boys grow over the last two years and while the oldest has calmed down, the middle son is still hyperactive, escapes his mother’s grip, and makes the area in front and behind our building his hiding places.

I have seen her chase after him with the youngest bouncing gingerly on her hip and the oldest advancing toward her van, attempting to open it as if he has no patience for his younger brother’s shenanigans. I have watched her load them all into the vehicle on her own, with a lovely smile plastered across her face as I yell out, “Hey there! Y’all good?”

She always responds with, “Morning. Yes, ma’am. Have a great day.” She doesn’t ask for help, doesn’t look for it, but I am a part of this village, so I help when I see the seams tearing. She has my attention.

On a cold winter’s day, with snow falling down in thick, beautiful flakes, I was coming up the stairs leading to the front of our building to gain access to the street. My morning and afternoon walk with my dog is when I see her most. She had the youngest on her hip, had already strapped the oldest in his car seat, and was calling out to the middle son to direct his little body to where she and his siblings had been.

Undeterred and happy to dance around in the snow, running from one end of the length of our building to the other, I called to him — he ran to me. With Jernee scooped up and carefully placed in my left arm, I guided him toward his mom. He is not vocal — not by much. He utters a few words here and there but is still developing his voice in this world. His energy, though, is undeniably sound. My mother would venture to call him mischievous — not bad, but curious and willing to test the waters.


Their lives are orchestrated by her.

I used to say to myself when I saw her, “She has her hands full.” But I realized after more time looking out for all four of them when they’re outside and I am approaching — she will direct the oldest to get the youngest while she chases after the middle son, and does it all in stride.

This is a never-ending job, one she has perfected. You may read this and wonder, “Where is the father?” When they first moved in, it was her, the two boys, and her boyfriend (their father). This is a quiet space and his presence was certainly heard. Whatever their reasons, they split up, but he comes to get his children or she takes them to him like clockwork every other week.

They’re making it work.

At first, when the young man left, I noticed how hard it was for her. With only the boys to look after, she would have them up, fed, dressed, and ready to venture out for their day. As her belly began to mound, chasing after the two of them was not a task, I could tell, she wanted to endure.

As the eldest of seven, with five brothers and a younger sister, I know the exhaustion of running behind and attempting to catch toddlers. It’s not something I wanted to do much of when I was younger and I was just their sister. I cannot imagine attempting to gather the energy while with-child to corral two quick little ones to do what you need them to do.

She did it, though — day after day.

As time passed, I noticed a pattern — a design, or rather a life-plan for her as she raises her children. The oldest is now four and runs to me to say a quick “Hello” or to dote on my dog, Jernee. He is better at helping with the younger ones and has his “listening ears” on most days now. The middle son still carries on without a care in this world, but I can tell he is protective of his younger sister, who is walking now and getting into everything. She has a fear of dogs, so she waves shyly in my direction if Jernee is in tow. However, when I am alone, she races toward me to hug me at my knees.

She is instilling in her children proper manners, love, empathy, protection of one another, and endurance. This has all been orchestrated by her, and it is working. The beauty of watching its progress is not beyond me — I get to witness it daily upon my interactions with them.


This is my village, and I will protect it.

Being the unit that we are here in this building and in much of my neighborhood, we look out for each other. My neighbor, upon unloading the kids and groceries from the van one night, dropped her debit card and receipt onto the pavement leading up to our building. I spotted it that night while walking Jernee. I rapped at her door. The young man (the children’s father) answered as he was caring for them while she was away. I let him know where I found it and he gave it to her when she returned later that night.

Recently, she thought she’d dropped her keys on the ground after getting them all settled inside one night before a heavy snowfall. The next morning, with the iced-over inches of snow covering our breezeways and every inch of grass in front of our building, she stated to me, “I think I dropped my keys out here. This is going to be a mess to get through.”

Envisioning her out there trying to dig through the hardened snow with her gloves, overcoat, and body triple-layered in warm clothing, I said to her, “If you can’t find them, let me know.” I was racing to get back upstairs to start my workday, but all I could think about was her finding those keys.

That evening after work, I saw her coming toward the building and asked after the keys to which she responded, “Oh my goodness! They were in my purse the whole time!”

We laughed and I said to her, “Thank goodness, because I was going to come back down here with the shovel and we were just going to dig for them.” I have no doubt, if she could, she’d do the same for me.


The village is supposed to rise up and make sure everyone has what they need. It is supposed to provide care, comfort, love, and discipline (whenever necessary) to ensure each of us can endure. It is not within me to stand idly by when my neighbors need help — never has been. I hope to get to see two more years of these little ones growing up before I leave this apartment complex. And until then, this is my village — I must protect it.

Shouldn’t we all do the same?


Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.

The Lingering Effects of Parental Divorce

It Changes Everything

Big sky. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

He used to call me baby, that was his way, until . . . Until he had to leave. I was twelve. Twelve years old, wondering what I did wrong. No one could tell me. I wasn’t old enough to be in the middle of the conversations birthed between adults. And as a Southerner, you listen to your elders. You heed their advice.

So, I thought my light had faded — if Daddy wasn’t calling me baby anymore . . . Who else would? Who else should? Was I even still deserving of that term of endearment?

My mom had been piecing together our puzzled lives. We had become the church feature — the company billboard for broken homes. They wanted me to tell the boys. To let my brothers know our family had collapsed. But how could I? I was still trying to figure out who was going to call me baby — still trying to find the reason why he had to leave.

I had an inquisitive mind so naturally, I wanted to know what went wrong and if I was it—the wrong that suddenly swarmed our home . . . was I it?!

I turned to my mom as I so often did during times of distress to perhaps pull the truth out of her . . . “Mom, what did I do?”

In the funk of a lead-ridden home, my words were useless. They did not exist.

I did . . . I did.

I still lived amongst the shadows of decrees and halves—“You’ll get them on this weekend, I’ll get them on that weekend . . .” And so on and furthermore. We were split in two. Halves of a whole. Soon to be halves of a half. Quartered. We had been made into pieces — cracked instantly on direct impact. No one would put us back together again.

I wasn’t old enough to be in the middle of the conversations birthed between adults.


Time shifted — we all grew up and out of our old selves. When I was nineteen years old, another girl was born. This one, you know very well. When she was sixteen, I realized, you had more years with her. You don’t forget her age. She doesn’t have to remind you. You’ve been to every recital, every honors night school function, and every church-affiliated soirée. I’ve often thought, it is better this way. She gives you purpose. She doesn’t question why you left — she doesn’t have to.

She could turn a corner and find you right there — waiting . . . waiting to hug her. Waiting to hold her. You had been the pillar in her dreams — strong enough for her to lean on — safe enough for her to discard her fears. I wish I had that. That . . . security and assurance. I dream of it to this day but it is not within my reach. That ship has long since sailed — I stand at the dock battered by the untimely waves.

I wandered far away, lost myself in the clouds above my head, searching for the years before the when that stultified my efforts in loving you and scattered all of us away from what was concrete. Nothing has been what I hoped it would be. Growing up without you—salty taste lingers in my mouth, a hint of envy . . . A bit of jealousy.

She had the traditional family unit— nuclear . . . Functional.

I’ve often thought, it is better this way. She gives you purpose. She doesn’t question why you left — she doesn’t have to.


The funny thing is, I say I am grown — I am mature. But truth be known, I still can’t talk about this without breaking down into a tear-consumed toddler who isn’t getting what she wants. And this, I am told, is normal or expected. Divorce. Divorce. Divorce squirms all up in my bones. I twirl the words on my tongue and the tears fall. They fall . . . I wonder if it does the same thing to you—it does not. It cannot.

And maybe, that’s why we’re estranged. That’s why we’re still holding on. No . . . That’s why I’m still holding on to pain and the moment you’ll once again call me baby.


©2016 & 2021 Tremaine L. Loadholt

This essay originally began as a narrative poem that had been published in In Two Minds on April 24, 2016. Its revision is now hosted at Age of Empathy via Medium. Thank you for reading.

“Our Father, Who Art In…”

I will never claim another

Gift Habeshaw | Unsplash

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. — Ephesians, 6:4, NLT


The way my father looks at me is as if he is looking at the world in every color, tone, measurement, and description all at once. He takes me in — processes me, and tries to understand my words while I am speaking. He hears me. It is a blessed feeling to allow someone to dissect what you are saying when at times, those words have proven difficult to express. Given my father’s background and his marriage to the church as an elder and minister, listening is one of the things he does best. Coming out to my father was not as hard as I envisioned it would be. As a matter of fact, it was quite easy. He knew I had something to share, he had known for years — thus, he pressed forward with opening the door to our conversation about who I, his daughter, was. I touch on this just a bit in “Unconditional.”

Listen to me, baby. You are my child. I don’t care about anything else. I love you for who you are, you hear me? That will never change. Never.”

I could never have selected another man in this world to be half of what makes me whole. It would be pointless and an impossible feat. My father was made just for me at a time when roaming the streets, hanging out with his friends, and catching up on homework should have been the only things on his mind. To be a teenager, trying to bring a female mini-version of himself up in a crazy world, I am sure, was the last thing he wanted. But he did it and in his own way. I had enough years with my father in our home to know what I should know about life and understand what I should about right versus wrong.

You can come to me. I hope you’ll always remember that. I love you.”

He fathered the way he knew how. He stumbled. He struggled. He made a ton of mistakes. But one thing he did not fail at doing is loving me. It took me nearly fourteen years after my parents’ divorce to realize that fact. Today, I can call my father up and we can chit-chat about whatever, like whatever is the best thing since jelly on toastWe can hoot, holler, boast, brag, and commend each other freely without that awkward silence that used to layer itself around us.

I no longer have to wonder what my dad will say or do about his oldest daughter being bisexual. I no longer have to shelter, hide, or deny myself happiness thinking I will be shunned from the spirit of the messenger. After all, I am his child.”

I am grateful for a father who openly loves me and dotes on me around his peers regardless of how many of them misinterpret the Bible. He has not struck me down — with words nor his fists. He tries to guide me in his own way and sometimes it may come off a bit preachy (that’s a given), he notices the coldness before I can even utter a word and simplifies and coats his words with love so as to not break my heart. There were years when I did not mention him, would not mention him. He was there, but not there. Not to me. Divorce can cloud a teenager’s mind and when step-parents are introduced, it can do even more.

I think back now to many of the hurtful things I said — how I allowed myself to let my tongue walk all over him without apologizing for my crassness. My father, knowing who I was at my core, gave me the space to vent and be free with my words in my growing up years without causing me to shrink. One thing he would say often was, “When you are older, you will know all that I did for you, how hard I tried.” I did not recognize the importance of that then. Oh, but I do now.

I am equal parts Michael and equal parts Angela and with the two of them buried deep inside my veins, I am one person. I finally understand why I ached for so many years when I thought of, interacted with, and tried to hold on to a bond with my father — stubbornness. The older I get, the better I am becoming at understanding who he is simply because he has always tried to understand who I am. My eyes are no longer closed.


To my father, who never has to change . . . thank you for everything past, present, and whatever there is to come. I will never claim another.


Originally published in Our Human Family via Medium.

The Incredible Need To Be Wanted

And, How It Slowly Subsides When You Know You Should Want More From The One You Want To Want You.

Javier Ramos|Unsplash

I let the morning pass, sip on my Vanilla Mint herbal tea, steeped to perfection and I think briefly to myself, “Should I check on her again?” I am fighting with the left-side of my brain, trying to understand the logic behind “No us.” I am losing terribly. This is always a no-win battle, and I have the scars to prove it, but something in me won’t let the thought of loving her go. I tell myself that I have been defeated many times before, that I fight well, that the scars that I have earned are healing, but I want badly to have the opportunity to have them heal further while being with her. I know… I know, radical decisions are not usually my forte’, but for some reason, I can see myself nose-diving straight into her life and landing perfectly on my feet.

How do we control what cannot be controlled?

Therapy is teaching me many things, but it is not teaching me this. How does one silent one’s heart? How does one make it be quiet when the mind has everything sorted out? I ask myself again, “Should I check on her?” She disappears from time to time just as I do when life is far too much to handle and taking breaks are the best things to do on the menu of working too hard, but it has been too long and my first email attempt has gone unresponsive.

Respect the boundaries. Respect the boundaries. Respect the…

Something could be wrong, but all could be right too. It is pertinent in life to respect boundaries. If they have been set, established, and agreed upon, respect them. It does not take a genius to know that doing this will more than likely, work out in your favor in the end. What do I mean? You will surely get over it. It will take time, but you will. And thinking of her safety, her heart, her willingness to create beautifully in the sober hours of the night will reconnect with you, but at arm’s length. You will succumb to healing and your days will get better. You will tap into the mystery of you and learn more about yourself because your focus will be on “Letting her/him go.” Your focus will be on learning to know what it is you need from someone else because you’ve truly established what it is that you lack.

It is natural to be wanted, to be loved.

But, it is important to recognize when you are on a one-way street down a highway to hell where you are the only one loving the other. Recognize that, move on, leave the place as quickly as possible, because if you linger, you’ll lose more and more of yourself every single day and collecting your meaningful parts will be harder to recover. Today, I am learning what she cannot give me, bolding every item in the forefront of my mind, and understanding that I have what I need for this time in my life.

I can give me what I need, even what I want, it’s just going to take a little bit more time.