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*

On A Day Like Today:Janet and Stanley

Janet and Stanley Scott were married on  May 4, 2013 at Greater Second Baptist Church.
Stanley and Janet Scott on their wedding day...

Stanley and Janet Scott on their wedding day…

The ceremony was officiated by Rev Dwayne Ganaway. The reception followed at Patrick Henry Hayes center in NLR.
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“The special moment from our wedding day was our first look before the wedding where he and I were alone. We exchanged gifts and said a prayer together. It helped to ease the butterflies!”
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Janet wore a dress by Mori Lee. Shoes by Gianni Bini

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Stanley and Janet Scott on their wedding day.

Stanley and Janet Scott on their wedding day.

Janet and the Groomsmen

Janet and the Groomsmen

Scott Bridal Party

Scott Bridal Party

On A Day Like Today: Dani and Vernon James

Dani and Vernon James were married on September 29, 2012 at the Agora Event Center in Conway, AR.

Dani James on her wedding day

Dani James on her wedding day

I couldn’t believe the day had finally arrived! After all the planning, cursing, tears of frustration and joy, the day was finally here! I remember getting to the hotel, having breakfast with my beautiful bridesmaids and laughing and telling jokes as we all got ready. The Day went by so smooth, everyone had great attitudes and got along well. That says A LOT for 10 women trying to get dressed together in one room. Then the time came for me to put on my dress. It was just myself and my mother.

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I will never forget being able to spend that time with her. We laughed and cried and laughed some more.

We took our bridesmaid/groomsmen pics beforehand which was so much fun!

Dani and her bridesmaids

Dani and her bridesmaids

We headed to the Agora and waited for the time to come. I remember when I was the only one left in the room, I could here the music playing and that was the first time my stomach turned. I realized that the time was here, no turning back. I was nervous but it was from a good place. I was so ready for this day. I walked out to meet my Daddy and I couldn’t hold back the tears, I cried from that point on lol.

Dani and her father

Dani and her father

As I walked down the aisle to “Spend my Life” the only person I saw was Vernon. It was so surreal! The ceremony was perfect in every way! We said I do and the rest is history! It’s been 2 years and I am more in love today than I was on our wedding day.

Vernon and Dani James

Dani and Vernon James

On A Day Like Today…

“On a day, on a day like today…

I’ll find my way to you…”

Love is beautiful. But there is just something extraordinary about black love. About two people that have all odds stacked against them in the world coming together to form a union and love each other and conquer the world as one.

Black love is rarely showcased so I am going to use my blog as a platform for that. This blog is about things I love and love and marriage is like number 2 on my list of favorite things (only behind Prince Rogers Nelson).

Building My Brand

“Oh my God. I just started a business. I have no idea how to run a business. What have I gotten myself into?”

This is exactly what I said to myself when I started my small baking business a year and a half ago. What the hell have I done? How am I going to manage this? Am I breaking even? I don’t know. Because I have no idea what I’m doing.

Cooking and baking always came natural to me. I used to bake all the time when I was younger. Then I discovered boys and makeup and well, fuck baking that pie.

Picture it, the year 2011 and I decided to host Christmas dinner. But what am I going to make for dessert? I chose to make a chocolate cheesecake. Found the recipe in a Kraft Food magazine. I made it and it was perfect. I was proud. I was like yes, I got this.

In 2013, I made my friend a molten chocolate cupcake. I got real fancy with it and put chocolate shavings on top and posted it to Instagram.

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Someone commented and asked if I sold them and I was like, nah. I do this for fun.

The very next day, I took the remainder of these cupcakes and some vanilla ones to a Super Bowl party and was asked the same question. “Do you sell these?” Again, I answered no, but in my mind I was like, shooootttt I need to get my hustle on!

I had to determine what would set me apart from the other bakeries around. Since I was small and home based, I decided to just specialize in made to order goods. I make on demand, just allow me 48 hours to prepare your order. If you think of a flavor, I can make it for you. If you want something special for a birthday or any event, I will make it for you and if I can’t I won’t bullshit you about it.

I started making cupcakes, cakes and cookies, all from scratch and mixed by hand, and posting them to my Instagram account. Then I had to find a name for my business that wasn’t corny or pretentious. I remembered that my old coworker would call me Tia Coco. I had no idea why she called me that, but it was fake fancy like me, so I went with that name for my business.

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After posting enough pictures to my Instagram page, I got a little bit of a buzz from some of my friends. I would just make cupcakes and take them to local businesses or save them for my friends so they wouldn’t go to waste. I was just self promoting myself so that one person would like what they had and make an order.

Snickerdoodle Cupcake

Snickerdoodle Cupcake

I honestly cannot tell you when my business took off, but it did. And I was overwhelmed, yet thankful. I didn’t know how to run my business, keep track of the money I made, if I was running a trap house. Nothing. But I had faith and I kept going.

June 2013, a local boutique that I would take my extra cupcakes to offered me the opportunity to do a cupcake bar. I was so nervous and was like please let these people like my cupcakes.

At my first cupcake bar at Jeanté, summer of 213

At my first cupcake bar at Jeanté, summer of 2013

Well the customers did and I was contracted to do all the dessert bars at that boutique for the rest of the year. People would be so excited to see what flavors I would come up with next. That made me feel so good. Like I had finally found what I was good at.

Black and White Cupcake (chocolate cupcake, white chocolate icing)

Black and White Cupcake (chocolate cupcake, white chocolate icing)

As always in every love story, there must be an interruption. About a year ago I almost quit because i was financially drained. As I stated, I had no idea how to run a business. I had to reevaluate my business, how I took orders, my book keeping, the value of my products and had to stop giving out the homegirl discount. Making these changes worked and I continued on.

Everyone has a special something that sets them apart. Find what you love to do and make it a hobby. That hobby may turn into something profitable or just give you an escape from life.

I never thought in a million years that making a chocolate molten cupcake for my friend and posting it on Instagram would result in me having a booming business.

I am very proud of my business and one day hope to open my own bakery or just have someone lurk my Instagram page and put me on. I think I’ve worked hard enough for that small break!

Cake Pops

Cake Pops

*Visit my business IG page, tiacococupcakes, to see more pictures of my goodies.*

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.