Words of Wisdom from a College Dropout

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Do you take achievements made by you or others for granted? I have taken something my daughter does for granted. I didn’t dote on her for something that I need to brag about…a little since it is an incredible accomplishment. I think I became so comfortable with her achieving this goal that I don’t praise her for it. She made Honor Roll and I never made a big deal out of it. Now if she slipped in her grades, then I would be deeply disappointed. I said all that to say we have to praise our children for all their accomplishments both great and small. Never give up on them especially when they are doing well. There’s no room for complacency in success.

I took her achievement for granted. I took for granted the fact she worked hard and diligently to continually reach this plateau. I know all too well what it feels like to have a major accomplishment overlooked because it is one you have achieved repeatedly and now it is look at as the new norm. As an adolescent I maintained honor roll off and on in high school. To be honest after a while making honor roll became cumbersome and when no one else notices your accolades then you tend to lower the bar. By the time I graduated high school and attended Centenary College majoring in fashion design, something I was clueless about. I was over the whole academic league and settled for being a mediocre student. I failed classes that should have been a breeze because I stopped applying myself. When I would come home on break no one really inquired about school they just assumed I kept going back to I must be doing well. But that was far from the truth three years in I flunked out of school and my financial aid got cancelled. I came back home relieved I was done with college. No more pressure I could just be a mediocre adult with a mediocre life.

Then, I received the news that would forever change my life. I was pregnant at 20. I had my daughter at 21 and I realized that failure was no longer an option. I had a mouth to feed and an example to set. A few years after having her I reenrolled in college majoring in Communications. I made the Dean’s List and was even inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, a National Honor Society for community college. I had to set a great example for my daughter whose innocent eyes were watching and internalizing my every move. I have always said that “The woman I want her to be, I have to be.”

I am still in college and working on receiving my college Bachelor’s degree in Communications. I have never been comfortable being deemed a college dropout. Education is paramount and this was ingrained in me very early on. It was indelibly etched in my memory bank as soon as I began learning.

I have to recognize my daughter’s achievements both great and small as major accomplishments. With all she faces she still perseveres no matter the obstacle. There is nothing impossible in her eyes. I am often reminded through her achievements that just like I cannot give up on her, which I cannot give up on myself either. Mediocrity makes for an unsatisfying bedfellow.

When average is not good enough, what will you do to strive to be better? Share your thoughts below.

 

 

Open Letter about the Struggle of the Mind

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Dear Kid Cudi,

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Depression and anxiety are emotional attacks on the mind. It can take you all the way down. This morning Kid Cudi I read your cry for help. Many people battle with these two issues but they often battle it shrouded in shame and secrecy. I want to start off by commending you on both your courage and transparency.

I have been battling symptoms of depression and the anxiety it has brought on. I have been depressed and don’t really know why everything in my life is going well. I have two jobs where I am growing and developing so much. Financially I am in a great place. Spiritually I can truly say that I’ve been blessed. So why am I battling severe feelings of sadness and major anxiety?

I know I am anxious ending a relationship with a habitual cheater. I am afraid to be alone. I know I am an independent woman that can thrive on her own but it is more complacent for me to think the opposite. I am more comfortable not succeeding. As far as depression I have been out of therapy for months now and on and off my meds for a while now. Both help me to manage my bipolar symptoms.

I used to see a therapist regularly but I stopped seeing her and regularly taking my meds. I have moments where I think I don’t need either. I get tired of talking about what a mess I am. So I’d rather be lying in bed curled up and depressed all day accomplishing nothing. I get so depressed that I just want to be an underachiever and go against my overachiever ways.

I won’t write through it or fight it. I just let it be. It is at moments like these that I get lackadaisical about self-care. I won’t get dressed up or fix my hair up nice. I will lose the effort and will to look and do my best. There have been times where I just wanted to give up on myself completely. Moments like those are dangerous because that is when I ruminate on being gone and become part of the world of the nonliving.

Suicide is a strange bedfellow of those of us that battle with depression and anxiety. It’s all in your head is what others will say. Which will partly true it is a debilitating issue that requires immediate and compassionate attention. Your letter is a cry for help that must be taken seriously. There is no time for judgment and harsh criticism. Just because you are of a certain status does not make you impenetrable and immune to overwhelming feelings of sadness and hopelessness. So as a society we should not pretend to know your story or even have a full grasp as to what is going on in your mind.

Depression and anxiety are very real and are merciless in their attacks. When we allow these feeling to run rampant we feed into its powerful ways. Like you we have to recognize the attack for what it is. In my case I am depressed because I’m afraid of being successful and I am battling feelings of unworthiness and insecurity. I am anxious about starting a new life without the man I thought was my soul mate. Yet I know life is full of change and being uncomfortable with that change.

Kid Cudi to you I want to say take all the time you need and be avid about learning about coping with these intense and intrusive emotions. Unfortunately, they come back around but the fact that you recognize when they show up means you are ready to battle them head on. Take all the time you need for yourself. Be willing to be vulnerable about what triggers these emotions. That will be the catalyst that changes the way you deal with these issues. The struggle is real but we have to be willing to fight it head on. Life is too precious to throw away for a temporary struggle. I am praying that you get through this in time.

Hopeful regards, Neisha

 

Rite of Passage

Good morning! How are you? It is National Bullying Awareness Month. Bullying is dead wrong. It’s not some perverse rite of passage into adulthood. It is a demeaning and emotionally crippling act. As a teen I was bullied I went from being made to feel like the prettiest girl in the world to feeling like dirt on the bottom of someone’s shoe. I was teased mercilessly. I was told that the boy who bullied me liked me and that’s why he targeted me. You don’t demean and hurt someone you like. When my daughter was being bullied by an older boy I told her don’t let anyone disrespect you…ever. She felt empowered and would fight back with her wit and words. In honor of this month I will share my anti-bullying piece, “Ugly”. I hope someone sees this and also feels empowered.

 

U-G-L-Y you ain’t got no alibi

You ugly

You ugly

U-G-L-Y heard that word so much I used to think that was my first name

Look up that word in the dictionary and I would have sworn there was a picture of me

Look at me

Take a good look

You think by looking at me you know me

You don’t know me

You don’t know my struggle

It was UGLY

Looking in the mirror is pointless

When I know the horror staring back at me

I just want to break it and slam all the hurt away

UGLY

Could not even walk down my block

My name UGLY would ring out like a fire alarm

Juice containers being thrown my way along with that nasty name

UGLY

That one word has always conjured up so much pain and trauma for me

Confidence was stolen from me how could I believe in me

UGLY

Pretty yeah those were my sisters, my friends, not me

Always the ugly duckling never shed that awful cloak

It is devastating when those closest to you believe UGLY is your name

Fighting to take back the power that name took away

You pity me but secretly you are elated that you don’t look like me

Let me tell you something

Beautiful is this creamy caramel skin, almond eyes, and sweet smile

Don’t pity me; I pity you

Wanting me to stay down in the pit of despair

You don’t love me

I don’t need you anymore

Beauty is now synonymous with me

My daughter gave me back my beauty

Daily I look at her and smile

Fighting back tears for she is stronger than me

She is beautiful and she knows it

I remind her that she is beautiful just the way she is

Like a butterfly freed from its cocoon I am free

Liberated from all the ugliness

Flying above it all and coming back down to face my reflection

Beaming with pride I look in the mirror and say you are BEAUTIFUL!

 

Confessions of A Lost Mom

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Are you a good Mom? Do you often question how good or bad you are at being a Mom? Last week I was at the hair shop and I met an amazing little girl. We’ll call her Madison. Madison was a beautiful, fun, smart, witty, and bubbly ten-year-old. I usually don’t talk to children I don’t know but there was something about her that drew me in. We talked for a while and I learned the things she likes to do and about her relationship with her mother. They have an amazing relationship by the way but her Mom often cries because she doubts she is a good mom.

First of all, good is a relative term. What I deem as bad could be good to you. I don’t think good or bad is a fair assessment. I can completely relate to Madison’s mom and I often question whether or not I am a “good” Mom.  I compare myself to my mother most of the time and feels as though I pale in comparison. My mother was an excellent provider of stability, security, and we never wanted for anything. In hindsight comparing myself to my mother is actually counter-productive.

I harbor guilt within because motherhood was a role that I never wanted to play. And often I feel like I am a bad mom because of it. I feel guilty because I did not grow up wanting to be a mother. I grew up wanting to lead an independent life void of any children. I never wanted to be a Mom because I never felt worthy of the title and in addition I did not think I was capable of loving another person unconditionally because there were conditions on how I loved myself. I was thrust into the role of mother and for a long time resented myself for getting into the situation of an unwanted pregnancy.

I tried everything not to have my baby but God had a bigger plan. I can honestly say that during my pregnancy I was deeply depressed and was terrified of being a mother. I resented her Dad and God for thrusting me into the role of Mother. I did not want to be a Mom so why was I going to be a Mom.

Finally, my baby girl arrived and she not only saved my life but forever changed my life. My guilt of initially not wanting a baby turned into a mission to pour all the love that I wanted from my Mom into her. I never felt that made me good I felt like that made me guilty. When she was an infant I suffered from postpartum depression. I had suicidal idealizations every time she would cry and I could not figure what was the cause of her distress. For a while I contemplated suicide rather than be her Mom. For years I would harbor this guilt until my daughter was about 12 years old.

I would come home from work and bundle up in my bed and just lay there till the next day with barely any interaction with my daughter. I would not ask about her day or inquire about her feelings I would just lay there in a deep depression. I would ruminate on thoughts of how I was a bad mother compared to my mother. Constantly uprooting her from place to place or moving back and forth from my mother’s house and then back into my own place. I could not get it together. For a while I was sliding back and forth between place to place I desperately needed to get myself together. Every place I stayed at I was evicted from and I felt like such a bad mother for this.

Then, I moved into where I am now and had an epiphany that I could not move back in with my mother. I could not uproot my daughter not another time. I had to make this thing work and it has been working for years. Yet I still was battling depression and not communicating with my daughter. One day I looked up and noticed that she too was isolating and was depressed. I tried talking to her but to no avail. Finally, I decided counseling was best but she still would not open up. One day I asked her to give me her phone. I went through her text messages and found a conversation with a girl she met on KIK. I read from the beginning to the end and I was disturbed by a picture my daughter sent the girl. In so many words the girl was being bullied and was told that she was ugly. My daughter sent her a message back saying at least you don’t look like this and my daughter sent her a picture of herself. I was devastated that my daughter was depressed and was harboring resentful emotions toward herself. Look at the mess I had created. I felt horrible I immediately told my daughter how beautiful she was and she retorted, “Mom I don’t feel pretty everyday”.  It was then that I realized I wanted to repair our relationship I had to snap out of my depression because now it was taking an impact on her. What I did/did not do impacted her greatly.

Its funny people always pride me on my relationship with my daughter and I reluctantly accept the accolades. I worked hard to get to this point and I am going to work even harder to maintain the relationship we have. I love my daughter and nothing will ever change that. We have been through a lot together but I would not have wanted to go through it with anyone else.

So Moms out there stop beating yourself up. No Mom is perfect contrary to popular belief. We are not superhuman although some of our feats may suggest that. All I can say is introspect and check in with yourself often. One thing I loved that Madison said was that her mom yells out of frustration and Madison says when I get frustrated I don’t yell at you, and her Mom said I will try not to yell anymore. I had to tell her Mom she was doing an awesome job raising an amazing little girl.

Stop harboring guilt and raise your babies to the best of your ability. I have since forgiven myself for not wanting to be a mom so many years ago. I love my job as a mother and would not change it for anyone. I have an amazing daughter and we have an amazing relationship. I have since stop comparing myself to my mother and decided to make my own way. I take the good, bad, or indifferent and learn from them all.

Are you or a mother you know struggling with whether or not you are a “good” mom? Do you constantly second guess yourself forgetting that children don’t come with instructions? Share your thoughts below.

Don’t be Silent When It Comes to Bullying

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Have you or someone you know ever bully someone? What did you do to stop it? If you did nothing then you condoned the bullying. You cosigned their shenanigans. Why did you do that? Were you afraid of being bullied too?

For years I was bullied in my own neighborhood. By a group on my own street. Now that group will never admit that it was a collective consciousness. They will say it was one person in particular. But their silence solidified their allegiance to his tormenting of me.

Everyday he would stand with them and call me ugly and throw juice containers at me. Some would laugh but the majority stood in silence. This vicious cycle continues for years. I do not know what incited him so much. No one was brave enough to stop him. Not even me. I felt so powerless.

I recall walking down my street and he yelled my name ugly and other venomous words and my sister was laughing along with them. I was hurt and devastated did she agree with him that I was ugly. Did she believe that his words rung true?

My mother would say he likes you. I would think to myself that was an erroneous statement. That’s not how you treat someone you like. That’s not infatuation, that’s hatred plain and simple.

I realize at that time I lacked emotional strength and strong self esteem. I still hate that word ugly and the person that called me that. I know I cannot hold onto to this hatred for it is too powerful and draining on me emotionally. I have to let it go. How do I let it all go?

When someone comments on how beautiful they think I am I often feel they take pity on me and just want to build me up. I rarely believe it is genuine. I am still allowing his words to haunt and torment me. The nightmare will never be over if I don’t wake up and see that I am stronger than his words. I cannot allow my validation to be left in his hands.

I have to know that I am beautiful. I have to take back the power that I allowed that word to take away. I allowed that word to hurt and scar me. That one word has always conjured up so much pain and trauma for me. How do I regain my power, my strength?

Daily I work on rebuilding my self esteem. I ply myself with affirmations and encouragement. I write through my pain as I am doing now. I can look in the mirror and embrace my beauty. And acknowledge it to be good and true. I’m learning to say thank you and move on when receiving a compliment. I validate me no one else deserves that power more than me.

Were you ever bullied? How did you handle it? How did you heal? Share your thoughts below.