Smiling

This year marks eight years since I’ve been divorced. I’m 30 years old and have been divorced for eight whole years. What the what?

I left everything at my husband’s home when we separated and that included my wedding pictures. I hadn’t seen those pictures since February 13, 2007. For some reason, I wanted to see them so I asked my sister if she had some.  She sent me a few and I almost cried.

Not because I missed my husband. Not because I felt any remorse.

But because I am smiling but I look absolutely miserable.

I’m unrecognizable to myself. And I don’t have any eyebrows.

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Right before the formal ceremony, my husband and I had gotten into a fight. A physical one. But you would never know it by looking at the picture.

Opening up about  domestic violence is not an easy thing to do. It comes with a lot of judgement. Comes with a lot of victim blaming.

“I would never let a man hit me”

“You’re dumb for staying”

“Any woman that lets a man hit on them is dumb and deserves what they get”

“Why didn’t you just leave?”

I don’t know how many times I had to grin through people saying these things while I was in an abusive marriage. Didn’t have the courage to say that that was my current situation.

I’ve been more open over the years about my marriage because you never know who you can help with your story. Opening up always comes with judgment and criticism and what you should have done. But if it helps get someone through, I can deal.

I married very young, 21 to be exact. I didn’t love myself very much and was in a bad place mentally.  I was soooo in love with my husband and I can’t even tell you why. He wasn’t a nice person. He wasn’t nice to me. He was very mean spirited. He was ugly. God he was ugly but I loved his uglass. He had green eyes though, that has to count for something.

But there was another side of him. He was funny. He was charming. He bought me gifts. He was very persistent about marrying me. He proposed to me three times. Three. The last time he proposed, I said yes.

A week after the proposal, we went to the courthouse on my lunch break and got married. I wore a brown skirt, bedazzled mules (it was 2006), and a white button down. Nothing fancy. Just couldn’t wait to marry this man. My sister, brother in law and their two youngest children stood as witnesses. A 15 minute ceremony changed my life.

As soon as we walked out of the courthouse, I knew I had made a mistake. I didn’t tell my parents I got married until after I did it.  And now I know I didn’t tell them because I was ashamed and knew that I shouldn’t have gone through with it. Neither of them talked to me for weeks.

We had been married about a month and one day, his friend stopped by the house. I opened the door and told him that my husband was not at home and to just give him a call. He said he didn’t have his phone but to let him know that he had stopped by. I said ok and shut the door. About 15 minutes later, my husband came home and I told him that his friend had come by looking for him.

Remember that scene out of Purple Rain when The Kid slapped Appollonia so hard that she spun around? Yeah.

He accused me of sleeping with his friend (in the 15 minutes that he was gone) . I just laid on the floor. Confused. Face throbbing. Wondering how did this just happen to me. My mother, father and grandfather told me if a man ever put his hands on me to kill him dead.

But I just layed there. Stunned. Hurt. Disoriented. Spaced out. He left out the house and took my car keys to make sure I didn’t leave while he was gone.

I called my Mom but I just couldn’t bring myself to tell her what happened. I was literally shaking but I dried my tears and had a normal conversation with her. I heard him pull up to the house and I rushed her off the phone.

He came in the house with dinner. He kissed me on the cheek like he hadn’t just slapped fire out of me less than an hour ago. “Baby, can you get plates so we can eat?”

Am I in the twilight zone? Is he really acting like he nothing happened? What the what?

I just sat there and ate dinner with him in silence. I didn’t know what would happen next.

I hid the abuse from everyone. I became distant from friends and family so they wouldn’t ask me or suspect that anything was going on. I lost contact with so many good people trying to protect the image of my marriage and my husband.

Why did you stay?

I to this day cannot tell you why I stayed. I can tell you that I loved this dude. I loved him so much. We had good times. Some really good times and I would just try to forget about the bad stuff. I was also young and impressionable. He had alienated me from some family and a lot of my friends so I really didn’t have anywhere to go. But I kept smiling. “Tiora, how’s your husband? How’s married life?” I would just smile and say it was great. *internally shakes head no*

Why didn’t you just leave?

You know. I tried to leave quite a few times. As I would be headed to the front door, he would grab me. By my arm, my hair, my waist, my shirt, whatever he could grab a hold of. I would run, but he was bigger and faster than me and would catch me. I would just say to myself, “If I could just get to the front door, If I can just get to the front door, I’ll be free”. But he would beat me to a point that I couldn’t, I would just give up. I was fighting him but I would become exhausted. I would just beg for him to stop. Please. Just stop. I’m done fighting with you. “You can’t go to your Mom’s house looking like that. How are you going to explain to her what happened? What are you going to say?”

I would clean myself up and lock myself into the bathroom until he fell asleep.  This was a regular thing with us. I was in a toxic situation and didn’t know how to get out.

My mother and I made amends and she wanted to throw me a wedding reception since I got married at the courthouse. I told her no, but she was adamant about it, so I let her. I’m 21, I don’t really have a backbone. At this point, I had already checked out of my marriage mentally but I let my Mom and my sister plan this beautiful ceremony that I didn’t want.

But I was too scared to tell them that I didn’t want it and to scared to tell them what was really going on in my home. So once again, I smiled through it.

So, we have this reception. My family and his family come from out of town. It’s beautiful.

I’m miserable.

He showed up drunk and high. He was being unruly and I was just so embarrassed. But I smiled through it. No one had any idea that I was on the verge of tears because I just wanted to run away from the entire situation. We had so many beautiful pictures and we looked so happy but I was going off on him about 90% of the ceremony and people were oblivious to it. Because. Smiling.

The toxic cycle continued after the ceremony. I would never know what would set him off. I would walk on eggshells around him. Some days he would start with me and I would talk cash shit back and be like one of us is going to die today, but it won’t be me. It was  awful.

I was disgusted by the sight of him and by the sight of what I had become. I was not myself. I was miserable. Miserable. MISERABLE. MISERABLE WITH A SMILE ON MY FACE.  Many days I thought that death would be better than the situation I was in. But no one knew I was suicidal because. SMILING.

The day I left, he pulled a gun on me. I saw the red dot that was pointed at my head gleaming on the wall. The wall that I had painted a beautiful Ecru because I wanted to make his house our home. I saw that red dot and him smirking at me. He thought he won. I closed my eyes and prayed and told him I would rather be dead than to be with him one more day of my life.

The smirk left his face and I ran. I left everything that couldn’t fit into my car and I ran. I never went back.

I smiled through the pain of a divorce, I smiled while I was partying to get over my divorce, I smiled the day my divorce was final. I smiled and joked and laughed and cried and dusted my issues under the table.

I had a slight breakdown in 2010. A whole three years after my divorce, I couldn’t smile anymore. I had to face my shit. I was dying on the inside and no one knew. Because you guessed it. SMILING.

I am healed now. I have truly healed. You never get over something like that. You never forget something like that.

I chose to own it. I chose to face it. I chose to heal. I chose to live life. I chose to not ever lose myself in a man again.

I haven’t stopped looking at my wedding picture since my sister sent it to me. I’m thankful for the girl in that picture because without her, I wouldn’t be who I am now. But I’m glad she’s gone. I’m glad I’m a different person now. Glad that I’m happy instead of just smiling.

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30

I had been excited to turn 30 since the day I was sitting in the formal living room when I was 10 and my Stepdad told me that I couldn’t sit in there until I turned 30. I guess 30 is when they could fully trust that I was responsible enough to not spill juice on their never touched couch and oriental rug.

That day finally came on June 7, 2014. I woke up and was like, I can sit in the formal living room now without being put out. I win at life.

So many people, especially women, have anxiety about turning 30. Why?

That is a legit question. Why?

Is it because for years we have been told by society that by the age of 30, our life should be completely together?

That by the age of 30, we are to be married, have children and be paying a mortgage?

That by the age of 30, we should be in our chosen and desired career?

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. Guess what’s going to happen the day you wake up and you’re 30 and you have none of the above?

Life is going to keep on moving.

You are no less of an awesome person if you have yet to get married or have a child or have a house on your 30th birthday.

Are you living your life? Are you happy? Are you working towards your goals and dreams?

If the answer to those questions are yes, well you’re doing ok for yourself.

You never fully figure life out. It will throw you curve balls until the day you leave this Earth. You will always have questions and uncertainties. You will lose friends, gain friends, move around, outgrow people, etc, etc,etc.

You may wake up one day and realize that damn it, I may not have wanted to have kids anyway and I’m glad I didn’t get sucked into what societal norms told me I should want.

You may discover that you prefer to be alone or enjoy someone until you can’t enjoy them anymore. And that is way cheaper than divorce, trust me, I know.

Turning 30 is not the end. It’s really the beginning.

What you desire will come with time. So if you feel yourself having a nervous breakdown, slap yourself.

Turning 30 was a new chapter in my life. It was an awakening. I turned 30 and all my fucks went out the window. You don’t like me, awwww I can’t contain my tears. Awww you think I’m fat, well tell your fine Uncle Alton to stop texting me and asking me to come sit on his lap. *insert nail painting emoji here*

Fall Back Game Like…

“Women are supposed to be better than men. They are supposed to be held to a higher standard. That’s why it’s different when women do or try to do what men do.”- S. Kaine

I was kind of salty when I agreed with that because I like the thought of equality and what not, but when I heard that statement, everything about it made sense.

When did women stop feeling? When did we become so quick to give up on a relationship at the first sign of trouble? When did we decide to just throw in the towel and say fuck it the first time he says something that we don’t like?

When did we start wanting the benefits of a relationship but not wanting to put in work for it? Your Instagram page tells the story of how you don’t really know what you want. At the top of the morning, your fall back game is like Neo from the Matrix. At lunch, theres a Tony Gaskins Jr. quote. Before bed, you just want someone to cuddle with and be there when you’re down.

How is someone going to be all that to you when you won’t even fight for the cause? When you’re so quick to dismiss someone over something small, how can you be ready to fight for forever?

The first time he text with a grammatical error, you ready to write him off but then the next minute you’re on twitter talking about not being able to find someone to love you. Maybe someone could love you if you just corrected his grammatical error in a nice way with a cute emoji under it.

You want to be married, but are you ready for a union? Ready to be a wife and not just a bride? Ready for the ups and downs and the bad days? How will someone know that if your fall back game like….

Relationships and marriage are not all butterflies and rainbows. There are going to be some days when you look upside your mates head and be like, “this dingbat gets on my last nerve.” But if you’re in it to win it, you’ll want that to be the only person to get on your nerves forever.

I know you’ve said in your head at least once, “but men do”. Well I’m a woman. I can only talk about things I see my fellow women doing and that I have been guilty of.

“Women are supposed to be better than men. They are supposed to be held to a higher standard. That’s why it’s different when women do or try to do what men do.”

The man is the leader of the house, but the woman is the heart of it. The softness, the love, the nurturer. Men and women were built to be emotionally different. That may not be what you want to hear, but it is the truth. A man needs a woman to be his peace. But if you’re more concerned about your fall back game and taking on the mannerisms of a man when that is not what you were put on this Earth for, how will you maintain a forever bond?

I’m not saying stop dismissing people over small stuff. I’m not saying to not fall back if you’re tired of trying to make fetch happen. I’m simply suggesting that it would be in your best interest to stop dismissing people over minuscule things and then making a meme about it and posting it to a social media website like you’re proud that you don’t have feelings. That is not a good look. It’s basically saying if you fuck up, I’m out. Fuck love and this union.

It’s ok to feel. It’s ok to be emotional. (Emotional,not crazy lady psycho pants). It’s ok to fall for someone and it not work out. That’s life. That’s dating. That’s what you do until the one comes along. Love and love hard. Because people with no emotions are classified as sociopaths and you don’t want to be one of those, now do you?

If things don’t work out with you and the flavor of the month, just live and let live. And don’t tweegram your way through it when it’s over.

Deal?

Deal.

BLERG!!!!

I saw an old co-worker at the store and after hugs were exchanged, the first thing she asked me was “are you seeing anyone?”

WHY IS THAT THE FIRST QUESTION YOU ASK WHEN YOU SEE ME?

I don’t know why these questions about my relationship status have been irking the shit out of me lately. There are so many other questions to ask me besides “are you seeing someone”

It’s almost like my worth or success is determined by my relationship status. Can I not live a rich, fulfilled life if I’m single? Do I have to have a mate for you to think I won’t be jumping out of the window of a two story building? Slit my wrist vertically with a butter knife? Eat my weight in Talenti gelato?

I have been bombarded with “You’re 30 and single and have this this and that going for you but you’re single. What’s wrong with you” faceass people since June 7, 2014.

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME. BEING SINGLE ISN’T A DISEASE!!!

Am I starting to sound bitter? I’m not…just kind of fed up with the questions.

I could have been married. Well, re-married. But I just was over trying to make fetch happen just to be married, so I didn’t do it and I don’t regret it one bit.

There are days when I wonder when my day will come. When I will get remarried? But I don’t stress out about it. Cause what good is that going to do?

I’m fine with being single. My life is good. I am happy. And I am happy because EYE am happy not because of someone else. My happiness has never been based on anyone else.  

So people, PLEASE STOP ASKING WOMEN WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM WHEN THEY SAY THEY ARE SINGLE.

IT’S NOT A DISEASE.

IT’S NOT THE PLAGUE

IT’S NOT A DEATH SENTENCE

When it is time to find your heartmate, you will. Nothing wrong with being single and having fun and doing whatever the hell it is you want to do because you don’t have to answer to anyone.

And next time someone asks me why I’m 30 and single, I’m a tell them it’s cause I got tired of their Daddy’s shit.

Weight Game

Losing weight is a bitch.

I have struggled with my weight since I was 7 years old. I was a thin child until my eczema got so bad that Dr.’s put me on medication with steroids. I was hungry all the time and turned from thin to chubby very quickly. I endured the chubby jokes, being called a fat girl, a giant, almost every insult you could imagine. Even the back handed compliment, “you’re cute for a big girl”

Tiora 12

I was looked over because of my weight. Boys didn’t pay attention to me. Not in a romantic way, just as their homegirl. Their fat and funny homegirl. . My parents were very good with telling me I was beautiful and special and building my self-confidence, but when the jokes fly from your peers, it’s kinda hard to hear your parents’ affirmations over the insults.

I had to get my clothes from the Jr. plus section or from the Misses section, at the age of 10. That was so embarrassing and it made me feel less than. I always felt like I had to work twice as hard, be twice as funny, be twice as fly due to my size.

At 14, I had a growth spurt and thinned out just a little, grew some boobs, a butt and I learned how to comb my hair. There was a boy that I liked that liked me back and I couldn’t believe it. He likes me? Chubby Tiora? That couldn’t comb her hair from 7th -9th grade? Now that I look back on it, I didn’t really like him. I liked the fact that someone was paying me attention. And I was grateful for that attention.  And this happened throughout a large part of my life until I started seeing images of plus size women that were desired romantically, not just as the fat and funny homie. Looking at my TV and at magazines and seeing Mo’Nique, Jill Scott, Countess Vaughn, and Queen Latifah in starring roles about being the object of someone’s affection really moved me and I started to feel better about myself.

I walked with a different air of confidence. Like yeah, I’m chubby but I’m cute and I can dress. Who gone check me, boo?

All the years of working up that confidence hit a snag when I met my future ex-husband.

He was a 6’4, athletic built, green eyed man with D2B that had me in a haze. I married him because I thought he loved me and who else was going to ask me to marry them at such a young age (I was 21 and thought that marriage was the end goal and I had reached it early in life)

The ink hadn’t dried on the marriage license when he started to verbally and physically abuse me. He would call me fat. A fat bitch. A fat bitch slut. Told me that no one would want me. Who else would want such a fat woman? I should be lucky that he even married me. I was fortunate to have a husband, since I was fat and all. And I almost fell for the flim flam. I almost believed him. I almost let him take my confidence away. I almost let him trick me into thinking, once again, that I was less than. But I didn’t and I left that terrible marriage and awful man.

I started working out and eating right post-divorce. I did this because I was trying to prove a point. Someone will want me. Someone will think that I’m amazing. I will not be fat. I will not be undesirable. I will not just be used for sex because I’m easy. (Fat girl=easy in some people’s minds because we should be grateful that anyone should even look our way.)

I worked and worked and I lost 40 pounds and I felt so good, but I still wasn’t loving myself because I was still bitter. I wasn’t over all the hurt from my marriage. I was still in a haze of hate for him and hate for myself because I allowed him to treat me like that.

Tiora 2008

After losing alllllll that weight, I went on a two year party binge to take my mind off of my failed marriage and a short lived super fail of a post-divorce relationship.  I was partying Thursday-Sunday and I had a rotation of men. I could not keep men off me. I gained my 40 pounds back and then some and I didn’t even notice it. How could I? My clothes still fit(kinda) and I HAD ALL THE MENS!!!!

I gained 60 pounds by making bad life decisions (partying, drinking heavily, eating terribly and not working out) and people telling me I looked great. I realized how much weight I had gained and decided right then to make a change for myself.

Tiora 2009

I was going to lose weight because I wanted to lose it. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to not get winded doing certain things. I wanted to be healthy. I didn’t want to get high blood pressure which runs in my family.

During this time, I gained a friend that showed me what true love was. And I was finally able to truly love myself. So my true journey began. For myself. I was doing it for me, not to show off or gloat or to prove a point.

I joined Weight Watchers, hired a trainer and started going to various classes. I became obsessed.

I would work out two, sometimes three times a day. I would not drink, I would not eat certain things and I lost 40 pounds in about 6 months. And I felt good. I felt great. I was happy with myself but at the same time I was miserable and didn’t understand why. Why am I miserable?  BECAUSE I WANTED A BURGER AND DIDN’T WANT TO FEEL BAD ABOUT EATING IT. I wanted to cook and bake and not feel bad about eating what I cooked because it wasn’t part of my diet. And I wasn’t there. If I ate one bad thing,  I would work out extra hard because I felt bad. I felt like I was letting myself down. 

I know I’ve been rambling, but whatever.

I have  finally lost all the weight that I have gained and put back on over the past 6 years.

Tiora 2014

I’m 30 years old and at a size that is cool but would still like to lose 20 more pounds. Will I struggle with my weight for the rest of my life? Yes. Will I get off track? Yes. Will I eat a cupcake if I feel like it? Yes.

 I am truly at a happy place in my life and with myself.

 I cannot stress about losing weight or gaining it. That’s life.

 I let my weight hold me back from opportunities,  effect my relationships, affect my view of myself, just, let it have too much control over me.

I have spent 23 years battling my weight and will battle it until the day I die.

I get tired. Tired of going to the gym. Tired of running. Tired of eating oatmeal for breakfast instead of a biscuit. TIRED OF GRILLED CHICKEN INSTEAD OF FRIED CHICKEN.

But those are things I will have to do for the rest of my life. I have to live as healthy as I can. Stay active, eat right but allow myself a cheat meal every once in a while because if I don’t, I will lose my mind.

I have shared my progress with people, but not the personal struggle. I’m sharing it now because I know someone reading this is going through the same thing. And it’s ok.

 I hate the rapper Curren$y, but I love his motto, J.E.T.S.

Just Enjoy The Shit. Enjoy your life. Keep a good balance. Don’t stress. It is what it is. Eat that burger and don’t apologize to anyone about it.

I Ain’t Got It

Disclaimer: This piece does not apply to those of you that do have it. Go forth and prosper. But if that’s not you , it’s ok to say, “I ain’t got it”

In a world where we live to impress people with the clothes and shoes we wear. How fly our hair and nails are. How crisp your line up is. Getting the new pair of Jordan’s every time they come out. To driving a car that you may not be able to afford that are laced with rims from Rent and Roll.

It’s easy to get caught up in that world. I know it is because I’ve been there before. I just paid all my debt off last year and it was a great feeling. This debt came from buying things that I didn’t need to impress people that may or may not like me and I may or may not have liked them. Buying things that I have never worn or worn once and never again because I didn’t want to be seen in the same outfit twice.

And then something magical happened…30 started creeping up on me and all the damns were thrown out of the window. If you see me in it twice, then you just do. If I don’t have on the latest fashions, I just don’t. I GOT BILLS.

But back to the subject at hand…

It is ok to skip out on some events, shoe releases, major sales and stunting opportunities if in the end all you’ll have to show for it is a mountain of debt and be living off Ramen noodles. Not even the fancy kind. Just the noodles and the flavor packet.

You can live a fun and productive life on a budget. If you don’t go on that trip that you just can’t afford right now, you won’t die. If you skip out on an event and stay in and watch Netflix, you’ll still be alive tomorrow. The people that you may be trying to impress will not be sitting there with you when your lights are turned off and you’re sitting in your car to charge your phone.

Set a budget for yourself every month, if an activity or a new shirt you want to buy doesn’t fit in the budget, skip it. If you have to decide between your lights and a BCBG dress, please choose the lights. How else would you be able to see how great you look if you don’t have any lights? And how else will you take that mirror picture if there is no reflection to be seen because you have no lights!!!!

You don’t have to stop living to save money. But make smart decisions that will benefit you in the future, not decisions on how badly you want the something right now. You never know, you might catch that something on clearance when your budget allows you to shop the way you want to. And then you’ve won that day. The day was won by you.

I ain’t got it is not a bad thing to say. It’s a smart thing to say and there is absolutely no shame in it.

 

Eyeliner. Mascara. Lip gloss

 

Eyeliner. Mascara. Lip gloss.

Remember when that’s all you would put on before leaving the house? Rather it be to go to school or to a party? Eye shadow was reserved for special events like school dances and proms and a nice event at church? If you were really feeling yourself, you would put on some dark brown or black liner and then slap some roller ball flavored lip gloss on with it? Maybe change the black liner above your lid to some white liner? Fancy.

For the past few years, we have seen understated makeup take a backseat. I didn’t even think about this until I was having a conversation with my friend, Christina, and she asked me a question. “Were we better looking when all we wore was eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss?” Through my eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, filled in brows, concealer, foundation, blush, and lipstick I answered, “yes”.

As I sat there and answered my friend with an honest yes, I thought about those days when all I had was mascara, eyeliner and lip gloss. Flavored lip gloss or the gloss that had a little pink or tan tint to it. Before the MAC counter was an everyday thing. When getting my makeup done was only for special occasions. When going to lunch or shopping with my friends didn’t require a beat face.

Please don’t read this and think that I am bashing makeup. Because for those of you that know me, know I love makeup. But for the past few weeks, I have gone back to the basics for everyday wear. Eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss. That’s it. I have even stopped wearing concealer on a daily basis and that does not happen!!! No gawd! But I feel free in a way and I can sleep in a little bit in the mornings. Now when I put my makeup on to go to dinner, an event, or just out for drinks, it feels more special than it did before. Doesn’t feel like a routine. I feel like I’m getting cute for a purpose, not just because that is what I’m supposed to do because that is the norm.

So if it’s in you, try to just wear eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss just once a week and think about the old times when that’s all you really did.