I Will Not Chase You

Sébastien Conejo via Mixkit.co

You Are Free To Run Away

Communication . . . The human brain often relies on this form of connectivity — developing a bond through talking, hopefully, to better understand our loved ones and the people we meet. But how can we further strengthen a bond when we encounter someone who fails to communicate to us their need to leave, exit, and do away with us as their loved one?

Some people are quite savvy at discarding people like garbage. I have never been a ghoster. It really isn’t in me to just stop speaking to someone without learning, feeling, or realizing that this is perhaps what they want. If you are in tune with the air and space around you, moments of peace offer sound revelations. I have had to make two extremely tough decisions recently and both have broken my heart.

You know when someone needs space. If you’re a reader of subtle hints and can pick up on clues, you feel when someone doesn’t want or need you around. It really isn’t rocket science or an invasive study of some devastating happening in the body.

You. Just. Know.

And when you know, how you approach that situation can make or break your relationship. If you have come across ghosting behavior before, you know the signs. They appear without a warning. You do not get a caution light or an alarm. You just need to be prepared. What I have come to recognize as tell-tale signs of inevitable ghosting are as follows:

One-word responses.

They are no longer eager to speak to you.

You don’t hang out because there’s an excuse on their end — they are always busy.

They don’t return phone calls or respond to text messages when they did so in the past.

They aren’t the least bit concerned about your well-being.

If you don’t reach out to them, they won’t acknowledge you: a one-sided relationship ensues.

If there have ever been at least three of the above things taking place, ghosting surely followed. Therapy is teaching me not to hold onto people, not to cling to them regardless of the years invested or how we’ve come to be. I am learning that everyone makes their beds and everyone has to lie in them.

If we are faced with the potential ending of a long-standing friendship or relationship and it is not being communicated verbally by the ghoster, chasing after them won’t stop them from running — trying to get them to stay won’t ensure their presence.

They Want To Leave.

Let them. Move out of their way. If it is in the plans for them to return to you or reconnect, they will. But you have to be willing to let them run or disappear because it is going to happen and there is no stopping it. When walls are actively tumbling down, one person cannot stop them from falling.

You have to be open enough to the possibility of certain relationships reaching their end-date. It happens . . . It is life and life surely does not stop for any of us.

I am learning to appreciate the beautiful takeaways of loving these two people and holding space for them, should they ever pop back into my life for a season. Holding space, to me, does not mean waiting around for them, it is me simply having a spot in my heart ready for them when or if they ever return and loving them while they’re away.

It is me knowing that running is sometimes the answer to one’s problems and respecting that. It is me knowing that time shifts and people grow into beings we may not recognize and these strangers must flee away from us for however long it may be — even if it is forever.

Make no mistake, I am mourning my losses. I am grieving their disappearance and distance, but I will not chase them. I will not cloud them with my worry and my sensitivities. They want the air at their backs and new waves slapping their faces. I understand this and I have stepped aside . . .

They are free to run away.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium. The link share is a friend link as this is a piece behind the paywall. Thank you for reading.

The Good Cry

The Great Release

Supriya Bhonsle via Mixkit.co

You have had an awful day at work. Your car wouldn’t start when you left. You finally get it going only to have the old lady on the highway merge as soon as you try to take your exit and cause you to miss it. You burn dinner. The dog’s belly rejects the food you have been feeding it for three straight years and vomit soaks your carpet. You are out of carpet and upholstery cleaner.

You forget to pay your cell phone bill.

The dishes need washing. The laundry is still waiting for you to remember it is there. Your youngest brother lost his job and you lent him your last $40.00 knowing he won’t ever be able to pay you back. Your crush knows they are your crush and is now avoiding you.

You stub your toe, break a nail, and lose your favorite earrings. There is an increase in your rent, effective immediately. You are shorted a day of pay — by mistake. The payroll department tells you, you will be “compensated on your next check.”

Your mother needs a ride to a city three hours away, however, has no gas money to give you. You do it anyway. While there, she gets hungry . . . She wants lunch . . . You buy it. You have $10.00 left to your name when you get back home.

Payday is eight days away.

There is a power outage in your area. No power for four hours, then six, then eight, then twelve. You spent $80.00 on groceries, most of the items are refrigerated or perishable. Payday is still eight days away.

Your co-worker quits, walks out the same day. That project he babysat is now yours. You take it on plus your work too. No pay increase, no new co-worker for five months. There is overtime, but there is NO overtime pay. You are asked to remember your role in the company and how influential you are.

You spruce up your résumé.

Your car battery dies. You replace it. The brakes go. You replace them too. The spark plugs no longer spark and you throw your hands up in the air — exhausted from this month from hell.

You kick off your shoes, sprawl yourself across the living room floor, and you cry. Your chest heaves. Your eyes are bloodshot red. You lose your voice. You cry until the pain seeps out of your heart, slithers down your hands, and floods your home. You cry until the tears are afraid to leave your eyes. You cry until the next-door neighbor knocks on yours and says, “Everything all right in there?”

You cry while responding. You tell her behind your stable walls, “I’m just having a bad go of it, is all.” She tells you she made lasagna and steamed broccoli. She is making you a plate. You cannot refuse. You cry because she is heaven-sent. You cry because she cares. You cry because there are still beautiful souls on this earth.

You have yourself a good cry for everything there is and everything there is not and you remember . . .

“Trouble don’t last always.”

You have yourself a good cry and get ready to endure life all over again.


Originally posted via Medium as a metered paywall piece. Shared is the “friend link” so that you’ll be able to read for free. 

What I Learn from the Black Men in My Life

Part II: No matter what, hold your head up high

Two men: each of them I have known for more than fifteen years, both of them are close to me. I love them. I try my best to understand them. I want nothing more than to always support them. And I pray that this world sees the beauty in them just as I do. I thought, “How can I have the world listen to them for several minutes? What can I do to gift someone other than myself the opportunity to get a glimpse of walking in their shoes?” The idea that turned into the words you see before you: ask them poignant, in-depth questions about being men of color in this world today and see where it takes us. This is part two of the series.


I begin this installment with Dre, just as I did in the first one. During this short conversation, we touch on his feelings about being wrongly accused, incarcerated, and blamed for being nothing other than a black male, driving to his destination, and having a car that at that time, fit a cop’s “description.”

I want to share this truth with those of you reading. A lot of what we will share are hard issues and heavy situations to discuss and each of my friends has agreed to do this — to open up and let their voices be heard because there is always someone else out there struggling to speak up and struggling to get by and get over their constant obstacles. Dre was the first to tell me upon asking if he will continue this project, “Yes, I’m doing it — having to deal with stuff internally . . . Those questions open up so much.”

And he is right. They do. But he also recognizes the importance of the project and stated, “I need to start sharing this. Somebody needs it,” which leads us to the first question.

“Did you or do you ever blame yourself for being in the wrong place at the wrong time? If you did, how have you worked through that? If you do, what are you doing now to remind yourself that it wasn’t your fault?”

“No, I don’t blame myself because it wasn’t a wrong place type of thing or from hanging around the wrong people. I was pulled over while driving down the street and basically escorted to the precinct. The only thing I regret is not telling my mother soon enough and cooperating. I just felt I was good since I knew I didn’t do anything that brought about everything that followed.”

I sat with his words and read and re-read them several times. I appreciate Dre for his candor. I have known him for thirty-one years and one thing that makes up his character is honesty without being rude in the process. Can you imagine yourself, a young man, eighteen years of age, driving in your car, heading to your destination, but stopped because of well . . . a car that looked like one your local police precinct informed you fit the description they had?

“I just felt I was good since I knew I didn’t do anything that brought about everything that followed.”

The next question gets deeper. “At this point in your life, what motivates you to meet your daily goals? Would you say it is harder for you to meet them based on your past? How much of a struggle is it, if so?”

“My motivation comes in different forms. It’s kinda hard to put one higher than the other outside of my relationship with Jesus. However, not going back to prison is a constant driving force along with my daughter, my wife, and just an overall desire to shove their statistics (the Bureau of Justice) in their face because I’m not joining in on the cycle of the high percentage of people who go back. Nothing has been hard, my perspective is way different than most due to the situation, so because of that, you can’t throw anything at me harder than that almost.”

I think about his experiences and I am reminded to stand tall and strong and to not let anything overpower me.

I know talking about this has opened up some wounds for him that are healing — have healed, but getting it out in the open as a way to perhaps help others is most important to him. Knowing all that I know about Dre, his resilience, his efforts to defeat anything harmful on his path, and his love for the Creator, I have no doubt that he is walking headstrong, upright, and with confidence. I think about his experiences and I am reminded to stand tall and strong and to not let anything overpower me.

Through him, I am learning to never back down. He has been out of prison for twelve years after being incarcerated for nearly ten years and I foresee many years ahead of him without being re-incarcerated. He has a beautiful wife and an adorable little girl and his “family” is the light of his days. I can hear it in his voice when he speaks or decipher it in his tone when we correspond via email or text message. The most important thing to him is staying “free.” The only thing he wants to be is free.


Man leaning against his hand by Patrick Pierre
Vic is next. To say that I admire Vic’s career choice would be an understatement. He gets to share his artwork with the world. Pieces of his artistic expression are on T-shirts, flyers, posters, stickers, and prints. He is the ultimate modern Renaissance man with a powerful voice found at the click of a mouse. I value his brevity, his need to shine a light on problematic subjects, and his overall appreciation of knowing there is always more in store for him. We began his introduction to this installment with the following:

“While residing in a red state, as a man of color, and in your industry, are you compensated fairly based on your experience and talent?”

“I’d say close . . . but no. As a graphic artist in the apparel and promotional industry — it’s in a weird space right now. Commercial art is up against the more “sexier” fields such as UI/UX along with these websites where they keep thousands of stock graphics on hand. All the customer needs to do is punch in some text and boom, (their item) arrives in the mail. Now it’s almost as if my profession is considered “niche” because . . . I create custom graphics to meet the customers’ needs. You’ll always need shirts for some kind of an event along with other accompanying personalized items. I freelance on the side as well so, I’m able to support myself.”

“I create custom graphics to meet the customers’ needs.”

Regardless of the ups and downs of his chosen profession and the not-so-fair compensation for the art he creates, Vic knows his worth. He freelances as a means to supplement his income and some of his work can be found here and here. He knows what he brings to the table and can continue to keep his brand and his work alive. Knowing this, led me to the next question for him.

“If anything, what would you change about the industry?”

“I don’t think it’s the industry I’d look to change. I need to change myself in how I operate within this industry. You know how the talk of the day goes . . . “Gotta be your own boss,” you gotta have that entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve looked into equipment, costs in renting commercial spaces, and proposals needed to fund all of this. It’s kinda daunting.”

Reading and re-reading his second answer and connecting with it made me feel a strong sense of pain. In his profession, if he truly wanted to be successful or maintain steady work, he would probably have to break the bank to do so and even then, it is not guaranteed. Because of his “entrepreneurial spirit” and his ability to network successfully, he has been selected to be among a group of artists to showcase his work at an event this December in Austin, Texas.

As a man of brevity, Vic’s art in most cases is his speech. The expressiveness in his print work and hand-drawn images is gripping and aesthetically pleasing to someone who appreciates art. His digital designs are popular as well.

Creative Art by Victor Garcia
As he continues to branch out within the graphic design industry as well as becoming a better-known freelancer, the sky is not only the limit, it is well within reach. Vic is teaching me that I am of great value — that my skills within my line of work are necessary and if I stopped now, what would I gain?

Photographer 1, Black Man by Victoria Leigh
Being able to have these in-depth conversations with my friends is eye-opening. I am honored to aim a camera at them, angle it accordingly, and capture the right moment in order to share it with each of you. From them, I am learning to continue to be my best self. I am also learning that this world — the world in which we, People of Color, are still oppressed, underappreciated, underpaid, underfunded, and under-promoted will never give us anything. We have to continue to create our own paths, strut down them, and open up new doors and walk through them, into a fruitful life.

Read: What I Learn from the Black Men in My Life: Part I

I think of them and I am eager to continue to walk boldly into my future knowing that I do not have the need to quit anywhere in my bones. It cannot be done, not if I want to truly succeed. I know now that no matter what may come my way, I can and will hold my head up high and remain focused.

I want to thank both of these men for continuing this series with me and giving me more to digest as it pertains to life and the ways of this world for a man of color. Andre Murray and Victor Garcia— here you will find their voices. Here, you will find their hearts.

We cannot afford to quit. It isn’t allowed.


Originally published in Our Human Family on Medium.

Part I

Featured Poem of the Week

Jackie Ann

Jackie Ann burst onto the scene via Medium at least three years ago now and when she did, I was right there eager to read her exceptional work. When she asked to be a contributor to A Cornered Gurl, it was a no-brainer for me. Her work fits the publication perfectly. She has a way of hitting you in the heart with uppercuts but delicately letting you down gently. She is the perfect combination of power and sincerity and I am happy that I came across her work when I did. And now, her featured poem . . .

An Outstretched Heart

pixabay.com

I thought love
was a fragile thing, a leaf
in late September;
something you treasure
for a limited time

But my love was red
then blue
then blind,
every kind
of joy and pain;
the summit of strength
then a tidal wave
crumbling the mountain
What could be stronger
than the creator
and the destroyer
together
as one

I thought love
was destiny, a whispering wind
at your doorstep
and no doorstep is too far
to be found

But you were not born
to be found;
you were born
to seek —
to plant seeds,
to nurture the roots
and the leaves;
the emerald veins
that sprout
from fertile ground
You were born
to be the sun
that warms
its petals
and makes them reach
for your open arms

Such a tender thing,
an outstretched heart.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.