and growth is essential … I can talk to my father about my mental health limitations, and he breathes through my explanations, urging himself to understand.
four years ago, when I told him I was bisexual, my father knew– he didn’t flinch, didn’t judge, and most importantly did not condemn me. He simply said, “I’d always known, I just never knew how to approach it. What hurts me, though, is you felt that you couldn’t tell me.”
and all my life, I’d seen sinners and saints sinning the same, and one plucked as a favorite over the other, so I opened the closet, and sat safely there … for 30 years.
and now, gracefully shining in my 40s, I can say, “Daddy, remember when?” as I talk about my closeted days, and he’ll say, “Yes, baby, I do. And we’re past that. And we’re growing.”
I buy a few things that give me peace; fuzzy socks,The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama, amber, sandalwood, and lavender-scented candles, and sink into the first days of the new year losing pain and heartache, yet honoring grief.
A mourner does not need to discuss their mourning.
I take down the Christmas decorations before the 1st can whisper “goodbye,” and I feel complete relief. The space I missed is free of red and green colors and thistles from an aging artificial tree.
I have found my way into a friend’s heart who is a crush — who has found herself attached, too. She doesn’t want to be. I can tell. But here the two of us are — wading through unknown waters. And while I’ve been writing about and focused on her for a year and six months, she is succumbing.
I have a penchant for falling silent when I am angered. I do this to review what I should say — think about how I should approach the subject. She is the opposite — what comes to her at that moment is spouted and sprayed in your direction without warning.
A day chanced upon us and a rebuttal of hers had silenced me, which she’d recognized immediately when I did not return a response. My behavior placed her in a space to understand my silence as a warning — to embrace it as the moment of calm before a storm.
Others were witnesses — knowing her slight, she acknowledged my silence and advised them she needed to step away to check on me. Funny thing is, I’d been distracted. I moved to silence to take care of something else, but she now knows what triggers me — what causes me to shell up for just a bit before I make my presence known again.
Her birthday is coming up, and I made simple purchases; some things to brighten up her day. Nothing major. I love gift-giving on a budget. I love seeing the lives in my life circle the sun again.
I await the day I will share these with her.
Reflection has become my go-to maneuver for comfort
At this stage in my life, I reflect more. I find a comfortable space, sit back, read, then connect the stories of the books I have read with moments and events in my life.
It is an odd practice, yes, but it brings me the sustainability I have been seeking.
The dog, who is also aging, jumps into my lap and fetal-positions herself without my consent, and I allow her this peaceful display. I sip my choice of decaffeinated coffee and close my eyes.
“When will I move past the past?” “When will I allow myself permission to feel love again?” “How can I discern love and admiration from lust and temptation?”
I reflect to ensure I can still determine what is best for me. I reflect to ensure I can admit wrong and accept defeat. I reflect to ensure I will conquer my demons before they can stifle me into the pits of total despair.
Tradition no longer stimulates me
As I read through various posts on Instagram and WordPress, I noticed people who I follow sharing the vibes they wanted and the foods they intended to have for New Year’s Day. I tilted my head and whispered to myself, “I no longer crave tradition.”
I detest black-eyed peas, and I already had collard greens for Christmas. Cabbage had not been a craving, so I did not cook it, either. Instead, on the first day of the new year, I made barbecued chicken wings, steamed asparagus, and roasted red potatoes.
I did not invite a man to be the first person to walk through my door. I did not do laundry the day before or take the garbage out, either.
These things I did on the actual holiday, itself. I did them because I can — because they needed to be done — because when I did them; I wanted to.
Unbound to tradition or superstition, I still awakened with God-issued breath in my lungs on Monday, January 02, 2023.
I am growing as a plant-mom, and this warms my heart
I love my plants. I have a peace lily named Dora, a croton named Lyric, and a crossbreed aloe vera succulent named Jupiter.
I have shared a story or two where I mentioned them before, but I document their progress. I construct videos/reels via Instagram, and I share photos as well.
It is a thing of beauty to watch life take place before my eyes.
I am a witness to inescapable barriers of constant growth with these three, and it warms my heart.
I love this woman so much
Every day, I am growing into who I want to be, and the peace that comes along with this is indescribable. I no longer wait for anyone’s approval as it pertains to things I want to do for myself.
I do not seek anyone’s opinion on what I believe is best for me and my life.
I no longer search for love in the hearts of those who have not yet found it for themselves. Sometimes, this can be a hard one. With the crush, she’s here . . . I know she’s here, but deep down, I also know there is the impending possibility we will only be able to be friends. And for me, that is okay, too.
I cater to myself more fondly and with a passion, I could not conjure up for at least three years.
I love myself in the totality of the word “love”, and I imagine great things for my mind, body, and soul for the future ahead.
I am not the same person I used to be, and for this, I am eternally grateful.
“How dare that son of a bitch put our daughter in the middle like this?! I hated him before, but now?! Rena, I could gut that fool. I’m so angry right now!”
“I know you are. But we have bigger fish to fry now. Bree isn’t mad at you. She isn’t mad at me. She is still open to making amends and being a part of your life again. Cari, that’s big. That’s huge! The universe will deal with Marcus.”
The universe and everything good and beautiful will deal with Marcus.
The morning light peeks in and kisses Cari gently on her cheek. I look at her as she sleeps — so peaceful. So calm. Last night had been an interesting turn of events. It was Marcus the whole time, behind the crazy ploy of me not attending Bree’s graduation. Why would he even think that would work?
“Good morning, beautiful.”
Cari turns to me, looks at me sheepishly, and smiles. She is full of sunshine and elegance. All the years of drugs and pain and torture seem to disappear when I look at her. Her beauty is everlasting.
“Good morning, my love. Are you ready for today? You are coming with me to get our tickets to Bree’s graduation, yes?”
The thickness of her Dutch accent clutches me — reels me in and takes me hostage. I had been thinking about this, and it seems like something she and Marcus should approach as Bree’s parents. I don’t think I should be there for this.
“I’ve been thinking about this, Cari. Marcus has already shown us how he feels about me. This — this entire issue needs resolving and I think you should go at this one alone. While you’re away, I’ll clean up, pack us a couple of light bags, and after the graduation is done, we’ll take a short trip away from these last few days.”
Cari sits up in my bed, raises herself on her elbows, cups my chin in her hands, and steals my heart yet again with her words.
“I won’t let him make me . . . us uncomfortable. Marcus is a baby in a man’s body with plenty of unsettled issues. I will do this alone . . . this time. If he crosses us again, I won’t do it alone. Understood?”
“I hear you and I understand.”
I watch Cari, as she leaves my place. Everything in me feels like shifting — like maybe I made the wrong decision to let her do this alone, but I won’t waver. I’m sure there will be other times we’ll have to stand toe to toe with Marcus and his antics.
When we first started dating, we had some serious knock-down drag-outs with him, and since then, it has been a blessing — learning to leave anger in the past. Learning to live my life with a more Zen-like approach to things rather than raging through it uncontrollably.
Cari may be recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, but I used to be full of anger — that was my drug. That was my nemesis. I gave it up four years ago with the help of counseling, yoga, and taking on more clients.
Bodywork is where I release. Knowing that I can provide a peaceful and tension-free experience for my clients gives me an incredible sense of purpose — an understanding of how important my work is.
Cari will be okay. She’s got this.
I hate that Rena won’t come with me, but I understand her stance on this. Marcus has always been sly and cunning. It wasn’t until we brought a child into this world that I opened — truly opened my eyes to who he was and how he handled life.
And I hated it.
He was not the man I wanted to raise my child with. He could not be who I wanted — who I needed. He lacked the emotional wherewithal to sustain life with me. And after our divorce, the drugs took over, and he had a field day turning our child against me.
As I approach his home, Bree rushes out to greet me. I park the car, ease myself out of it, and walk over to my child. I cannot believe how much she has grown — how lively she looks — how beautiful she is.
Every inch of my body is shaking. She pulls me into the tightest hug I have had in years, and I step back to look at her once again.
“Bree . . . baby girl, you are so beautiful. I am looking at me!”
“Haha. Dad says that all the time, ‘You look just like your mother.’ I think sometimes it angers him — the fact that I look so much like you. Where’s Rena?!”
“She decided it was best for me to come and do this alone. So, I am here by myself to get the tickets and speak to your daddy.”
“He isn’t here. He’s been gone since I woke up this morning — not answering his text messages, either. I kind of figured he’d do that. I told him you were coming to get the tickets.”
I let out an exasperated sigh. He knows there is unsettled business — feelings that I need to get off my chest regarding how he’d been manipulating our child. What a coward!
“Okay, Bree. I will talk to him. He will know how I feel and also how Rena feels about his actions. Let me get these tickets and head back to Rena’s place so we can get ourselves together.”
I watch her skip off happily in front of me toward their home. We settle into their kitchen, and she retrieves the tickets from her purse. She confirms the money had been received via CashApp. I hug her tightly, tell her I’ll see her tomorrow, and I head back to Rena’s.
“You should have seen her, Rena — all bubbly and tall and gorgeous! God, the child is the spitting image of me!”
“Haha. You’re kidding, right?! Sabrina has always been the spitting image of you!”
“How have I not seen it before? Seriously, babe. She has my entire face!”
“She always had your entire face! She has your heart, too. I think and I fear, though — the more she’s around her dad, the more he’ll attempt to influence her.”
“And that is what I don’t want. I can’t wait to see her tomorrow in her cap and gown. She has been through a lot — I put her through a lot, but she still got good grades and is going to an exceptional university!”
“She’s a brilliant kid, and I can’t wait to see her continue to excel in life. I’m also looking forward to the two of you building a bond once again.”
We settle into the afternoon sun. The two of us sit peacefully on my balcony, sipping iced coffee, and eating danishes. I take one look at this woman — the woman I love — the woman I would lose myself for, and I feel tears escaping my eyes.
We have the rest of our lives ahead of us — working on who we were, who we need to be, and growing away from our past.
I love her without fail and I will always love her until I cannot.
“Cari,” I whisper lightly in her direction. “Will you move back in with me?”
And as I wait for the answer, the silence in the pause causes my heart to race. She pushes her body up from the chair, smiles slyly at me, and whispers right back . . .
“My love, I have always been here.”
This concludes the At 4 am, She Calls for Comfort series. Thank you for reading!