Saturday, February 27, 2010

When The King of Lies Wins A Soul
Part 2

Part 1 of what happened to me recently is here. This is Part 2.

We beat the devil in a death game last Tuesday, and on the following the day, I began calling around to see how much I could get for my gun. A hundred bucks. Damn. That's less than I paid for it before some of you were born.

One salesman explained, "So many people are unemployed now that they're selling their firearms to get money."

My mind did a flash back of my son holding my .38 to his head and begging me to dare him to pull the trigger.

Maybe that ain't the only reason why, I thought cynically.

Hours later I was staring at my son and thinking, bitch, bitch, bitch. Putting me through that shit. Being broke and jobless ain't that bad, not yet anyway.

That evening I told my told 14 year old daughter, Cassie, about the incident over dinner.

"He loves drama," she said nonchalantly.

She never has taken his azz seriously, and that's all she had to say about it.


I actually discovered he'd taken my gun that Monday while looking for batteries in a box in my closet. I keep it in a gray suede case. My hand knows it's weight, and the moment I picked it up to move it aside, I knew it was missing.

I entered his room.

"Gimme back my gun."

He immediately handed it over. I checked the chamber.

"Where's the bullets?"

They were in his pocket. He reached in and gave me a handful.

"Why did you take my gun?", I demanded.

"Ma, I think of suicide every day."

"You were fine yesterday! On Valentine's Day. You were so happy. What happened?"

"The happiness never lasts."

"No one walks around on a happy-high 24/7. That's not how life works. Are you suicidal now?"


"Why you got all these bullets in your pocket?"

"I don't know."

I wasn't buying it. Sounded fishy.

Sure ya don't, nigga. You wanna go out in a blaze of glory with the cops, dontcha? Drama queen bitch nigga. My son. Damn.

I thought this but didn't say it, 'cause I wasn't sure. What if this was a lie, and the real deal is that he might be planning to step up his game from a sporadic drug user to a drug dealer, and a dumb one at that?

Hand him a stack of cash and tell him to add it up three times and he'll give you a different amount every time. People like this should avoid drug dealing like the plague. Along with me, even his friends have told him this, at least the real friends.

I left the room. In hindsight, that would have been the perfect moment to sneak away and call the police. I think it was fear that stopped me.

Fear of being paranoid and wrong... what if he's neither suicidal nor dealing, and only had it to show off to his friends, and ended up locked up on a felony over acting like a juvenile show off?

That's one of the problems of having a history of doing bad or crazy shit. You never live it down. People always jump to the conclusion you're back into whatever you used to be about, when it might be something totally different.

My mind was struggling to figure out the truth. Suicidal? Drug dealing? Showing off? Or something else?

Raising this boy has been like keeping a tiger in captivity. I keep training it but it can never be tamed. It is wild and unpredictable, compelling but repelling at the same time.

I hid the gun and retreated to my room, where my cowardly mother's heart would wonder again, what do I do about this stupid man-child?

I did what every coward does: I ignored this new event hoping it wouldn't repeat itself, and did it in the name of love and fear. Sometimes I hate myself, 'cause if that ain't some enabling, codependent, and fear-based shit, I don't know what is.

Since he refuses to take medication, I worry his mood disorder and/or wild side will catch him with him eventually, and the group of heartless crazies who own and run the privatized prisons will solve his problems by putting him in a cage for some trifling reason rather than a damned good one.

What a waste, 'cause he ain't all bad, and on good days he's great, and he does have talent.

It's relationships like these that bring confusion to many people, because if a lover, spouse, parent, child, or friend is all or mostly bad, it's easy to ditch their azz. But when it's more good than bad, then it's harder to totally give up on them even when the bad is really bad.


It was the next day that I became his emotional hostage. Wrote about that in Part 1, where his response to my asking him to look for a job was to hold a gun to his head and dare me, bait me, to just give the word for him to commit suicide.

Thinking about it too much gives me chills.


Have you ever loved a child, parent, sibling, man, or woman, who became lost, and you followed them to their dark place to rescue them, but instead lost your bearings?

And even though you still have a good idea of how to escape, you keep following them deeper into their crazy life to pull them out, only to realize you're too far away from where you need to be?

That's where I've been.

In my mind, I am on a path in a forest with old-growth trees. They are tall and beautiful, and their branches make a canopy. The forest is somewhat dark, but I can see the sunlight peaking through the trees.

I am holding my daughter's hand firmly. She trusts me without reservation, and she's looking up at me for direction. We follow the path, where up ahead we can see the light out of the forest, but I keep looking back, and I'm calling, "Xavier, catch up with us! Please!"

He's so far back that we can't even see him, but I know he's there. I sense the exact place where he is. My eyes adjust to the darkness, and he's crouching under some brambles or bushes, watching us leave, waiting for us to go, believing that he wants to be there and that it's his destiny.

He doesn't know this is a lie told to him by the King of Lies, Satan.

I tried to pull him away so many times, but he won't budge, and instead, pushes me away and runs deeper into the forest. This is why I left and I'm so far up the path.

I know that if I don't leave, whatever he is waiting for has very large jaws and teeth, and will consume me like beast.

I keep moving forward toward the light, slowly, but keep looking back... calling him.

"Xavier, please come."

Cassie always looks up at me when I do, waiting patiently while I pause, waiting for my decision in which direction we'll take. She doesn't know if I'll run back to him and try to save him again, or keep moving on.

Her eyes have the innocence of a child because she is a child, one who without reservation trusts whatever decision I make. I hold her hand tighter, and keep my feet pointed toward the path out of the forest where the sunlight shines. I do this even when I stop and turn my head to look back.


In that visual imagery, she's six years younger, around eight years old and still shorter than I, and Xavier looks to be around 14 or15. He's doing what I've seen him do in real life at that age. He'd sneak off and play war games in the woods all by himself when no friends were available, dressed in military face paint and hiding, crouching in the woods, watching people pass by.

I couldn't put my finger on it, but something about it was disturbing then. I used to tell him not to play this game alone because it scared people taking a walk if they saw him.

He'd laugh.

It's haunting now because my semi-conscious taps into it, and I intuitively feel that he gets off on the power of making others feel fear.

Fear is a bitch, something I learned at an unfortunately very young age. I wonder if he's haunted in his dreams at night that keep him so unrested during the day, dreams of baby boy days before he became my son, horrors that may have happened to him in two substandard foster homes before he had the language to express them or the ability to understand them.

Can you feel my love for my son?

The King of Lies misled him. He's been warring for Xavier's soul for years. Told him that this power to instill fear was good and would make up for the abilities he doesn't have, like getting a GED and learning a trade, or trying to network with others in the creative field. Satan lies to him daily that he never will succeed at anything.

"Join me in darkness," I imagine the King of Lies whispers in his ears and dreams. "I'll make you rich, the easy way, and if that's too hard, death will bring you peace."

Xavier keeps listening.

It hits me that both of my children in this imagery are the age of what they were when the King of Lies really got a grip on my son, the same evil that made him go bananas in the car one Sunday morning six years ago when I tried to take him to church, or led him to put a gun to his head last week and repeatedly dare me to dare him to pull the trigger.


I won't say who, but one person I know told me I should have dared him and said it would have solved my problems.

They must have forgotten I have a conscience.

They must not have thought about the blood, brains, and bone splattered on the furniture, walls and carpet.

They must not have thought about the impact on me or my daughter had the deed gone down from seeing his body and blood.

They must not have thought that God would no doubt consider this murder.

I thought of it all and said these things. I wasn't angry and said it with compassion. I understand this person's fear for me, and their deep anger that would lead them to say this in the heat of that anger.

I've lived with an angry person so long. If I've learned anything, it's that rage causes more problems than it solves, and eventually destroys the containers that holds it - you and your soul.

Inside your soul is your creativity.

What does the Lord do?


What does the King of Lies do?



I saw Xavier's psychiatrist Saturday morning. Xavier refused to go; no surprise there. I didn't mind. I needed the help myself. The doctor is black, my approximate age, involved in ministry work, and candid in ways that you never see in film or read in books, ways common in black culture. He's also a colleague whom I've referred patients to.

"I hate ungrateful people," he said flatly. "Your son has been a borderline sociopath for a long time. I think he's finally crossed that line."

"I tried so hard."

"You have," he said, nodding his head. "He's suffering from a generational curse that even adoption couldn't eliminate. He was dealt a bad hand, and you were too when you got him. You played it the best the you could. He's 21 now, and if you play any longer, you'll still lose and be a martyr."

I sighed deeply. Martyrdom has never been on my life's to-do list.

"I think the game is over," I said.

I didn't say, but I thought, I think Satan won his soul.

The doctor is spirit-driven and intuitive, and may have felt this too.

Like me, he knows that a woman is in most danger when kicking out or leaving a man with abusive tendencies and on testosterone overload. I truly believe this includes mothers, and sometimes fathers, of sons with these issues. I think a lot of them don't kick their azzes out is because they fear the category 5 hurricane that will ensue, and wonder if they'll survive it. This is why my solution is to move this spring. He won't, so I will.

"Be careful," my friend and colleague said as we parted.

His words made me fearful. I sat in my car a few minutes before driving home, pondering good vs. evil. The latter, when met with apathy or inaction, has a way of destroying good.

What good might my son do if he changes direction?

What good might I do if I overcome my fears and survive this awful time?

What is it, really, that the forces of darkness does not want me to accomplish?

I listened to my favorite gospel radio station. All last week and this one, I've felt the presence of the Holy Spirit swirling around me, protecting me, protecting my family, giving me just enough strength to get through each day. All year, really.

In a burst of energy, I could feel it again. The Holy Spirit was giving me courage.


My brother and his wife drove a very long way to see me that Saturday afternoon. He knows I'm financially living on the edge, and brought household necessities from Costco.

"Thanks," I said smiling. "I was starting to wonder if we'd need to steal toilet paper."

Everyone smiled. He looked like a knight in shining armor to me. The day before, he agreed to have me do some work for him. This saved my ass from being placed in a mandatory 40 hour per week "volunteer" program to get just a little over $400 per month and food stamps.

Not in a million years did I imagine I'd come so close to becoming an Indentured Servant, which is barely a step up from slavery. Until last month, I didn't know this kind of shit was forced on the broke and the poor, and my brother was last person I thought would buy my freedom.

I ain't poor. I'm just broke.

Ha-ha. It's all semantics, just like forced volunteerism and indentured servitude.

I really hadn't said anything to my brother about what had happened except two sentences in an email of how stressed I was that Xavier had found my gun and put it to his head in front of me while having a tantrum. This was mixed in with my efforts about trying to find a job and an interview in a few days.

I never thought my brother cared much about my parenting problems. Many years ago I begged him to step in and help with discipline, but he told me he wasn't interested in playing the daddy role to Xavier or beating his azz. As a result, I stopped telling him the details of how bad shit was.

Before he left, he did the one thing I was going to ask him to do before I asked him to do it.

"Put the gun in this bag," he said, talking to me but looking at Xavier.

In my family, we talk with our eyes.

Xavier got the message.


It's crossed my mind in the past that I might not survive being Xavier's mother. I do have one friend that I'm certain is dead and killed herself from years of stress from parenting a son as difficult as mine. I adopted this child, loved him as my own, and made a commitment that was strong as a rock, as granite, to see him to adulthood.

One day, my son may be in prison, and I hope it's not for murder, mine or anyone elses. Regardless of why he's there, Satan will think he won the final victory for Xavier. Maybe he will have.

Xavier may or may not have born with a generational curse of bipolar illness and a vulnerability to alcoholism and addiction, but I have given him a foundation to fall back on. It is strong but not perfect. He can get this only from trusting in the real rock - God.

The other day, Xavier was preparing to leave for a funeral. His birth mother's mother had passed after a long illness. My slender-built son took my place at the computer when I got up from listening to inspirational music.

I said, "You know that your funeral could have been scheduled for today."

He hugged me tightly.

I took a risk.

"Lemme do something to you," I said.

He waited, and I moved close to him and cupped his face in my hands. He didn't pull away, but looked down, as if in shame.

"Turn your body toward me," I commanded.

He did.

I held his face.

"Can you feel it?", I asked.

I think he knew exactly what I was talking about, which I've never done and probably isn't what you might think.

"Look at me," I commanded.

He did.

"Can you feel the Holy Spirit?"

His eyes welled up with tears.

"God is here," I said. "Tell Satan that he cannot live in your soul or take your life or use you to harm others."

He was talking to me with his eyes, watery eyes that told me he thinks it's too late.

"Tell him," I said, still holding his face.

He nodded.

"Out loud," I said.

He nodded again, and struggled to say the words that amazingly could not seem to come out of his mouth - and then his damn phone rang, breaking the moment.

Satan wants his azz baaaad.


Later, I couldn't find the perfect writing sample I need for an upcoming job interview. I'd have to write it from scratch. In utter frustration, I drove to the store to get a snack because it would be a long afternoon.

Upon leaving, I drove toward the parking lot exit slowly, and suddenly see a speeding car behind me. The driver recklessly zips around mine at the precise moment a pedestrian stepped from behind a column and into the path of danger. Instead, the driver barely missed him - because my presence slowed him down just enough to avoid hitting him. The timing was eerie.

I looked at this young man, and I don't know why, but he looked like someone who would do something good in life. The thought crossed my mind, God has a job for you too.

It hit me that God used me to save this random guy from harm or death. I'll bet this has happened to you, too. This sort of thing has happened to me before, and likewise, it's a miracle I'm alive because of someone else's timing.

I drove home slowly, thinking that the Lord uses us as His instruments.

I think that God brings us pain and grief and mundane inconveniences like not being able to find a writing sample, because somehow, we are pieces of the puzzle of his Grand Plan. He puts us where he wants us to be, often sacrificing our happiness and lives for a greater cause.

In some ways, I hate thinking like this. I live in the Land of Plenty, but what of the billion or two on this planet who are born, live and die and endure so much suffering during their lives?

I think what we go through gives us, who were born with so much even when it doesn't seem like much, a great responsibility to lift up others from war, poverty, disease, hunger, and being treated as less than human, less than animals.

This is why, I think, we get hit with unexpected problems and tragedies no matter how well we plan or are doing in life. Call it random shit that happens if you want. My darkest experiences gave me the gift to understand how to help others. The unexpected pregnancy and reluctant abortion I had at 19, it's resulting trauma, guilt, and then infertility, guided me into a profession where I dedicated my life to protecting children and families as a social worker and therapist.

It's not all in vain.

Or at least, doesn't have to be. We can share and guide others out of darkness, even though we are imperfect teachers.

No matter what happens to me, I have this unshakeable belief that has allowed me to finally kick fear to the curb:

I am His instrument.


In my mind's eye, I am back in the forest, still firmly holding Cassie's hand. She is looking at me, and I am looking back at Xavier. She's a little older now but still younger than in real life. Xavier is his age in this imagery.

He is no longer crouched under the brambles and bushes. He is standing with his hands in his pockets, looking toward us, but not moving.

My feet are still pointing toward the way out of the forest. I jerk my head toward The Light, the way out, and take another step in that direction, while looking back.

I know without knowing how that bullets are in his pockets. Up ahead, is the rest of my family, waiting for me. My cheeks are wet with tears. Cassie looks up at me.

"This way, Mama," she says, pointing to The Light.

I can feel the waves of uncertainty emanating from Xavier, just as she can feel my uncertainty of leaving him behind.

"I can't come," he yells back. "I have a funeral to go to. My grandmother died."

It crosses my mind that maybe the timing of her death could have been another effort by God to save him; she'd been sick for two years straight and could've checked out awhile back.. but she didn't. It wasn't her time. For all I know, God was saving her to help Xavier, who has courted Death, see what death looks like up close and personal in someone he loved.

God never gives up on us. I know she always wanted to see him freed from the generational curse that hurt her and her family so much, and Xavier knows this too.

Elsewhere, Satan shuffles the deck.

"I got him, and I'll win him for keeps, you just watch," he growls with arrogance.

I don't speak to him. Conversations beyond eff you with the devil are dangerous, because he mixes truth with lies to sucker and seduce us.

I yell to my son, "Coulda been your funeral this week. Remembah that. Come back a better man."

He says nothing, unsure if this is possible.

The devil laughs.

Cassie hates the sound of the Evil One and clutches me around my waist to hide from him.

God gets the last laugh, I whisper to her. Her eyes search mine and she sees the truth. She can hear the determination in my voice and feel the courage in my soul.

We walk toward the Light.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Intermission - The Job Interview

Spent the past few days preparing for a job interview today, among other things. Woke up at 2 AM and sweated over it until it was time to leave. Tried to study more but couldn't concentrate. Fretted over my clothes and hair.

As I waited for my turn to be interviewed, I heard a lot of laughter from that room.

Keep 'em laughing and they'll like you and maybe not notice you've got some gaps in how to do the job, was an unexpected thought that crossed my mind.

Then the thought about myself: You've got no sparkle. You feel beaten down and so blue and so broke.

I could feel my low energy slip away more, and wondered how much longer God would carry me through.

My cell phone rang.

"This is So n' So. Are you still interested in being interviewed for the position?"


We set a date and time. I was thrilled, 'cause that's a job that's closer to my home and one that I think I'd like more. Been waiting for their call so long that I thought they weren't interested. Hmmm.

I began to feel better. Having other options has a way of doing this.

Thank you, Lord, I said. Your timing was perfect.

I settled back and listened to the waves of laughter coming from that room.

The Spirit broke through my cloud and reminded me who I am.

I am who I am. I am serious. I am a seasoned defender of children and families. I am relentlessly thorough and methodical in every investigation.

More laughter from the interviewee.

Damn, whoever is in there is entertaining the hell out of them. Wonder if that person is charming and on top of her game.

Sure enough, a beautiful young sista emerged shortly afterwards. Lots of life and sparkle. Looked smart. I couldn't help but like her; hell, she reminded me of me over 20 years ago.

I smiled to myself, remembering who I used to be, liking that person as much as the person I've become.

They'll choose who they'll choose, I thought. If it's meant to be, it will be. If they select her, she'll learn the ropes like I did and probably do fine.

My turn.

There were two interviewers, both women my age or older. I don't think there was a question I couldn't answer well. I took my time, and I was serious as a friggin' heart attack.

Then one asked a long, round about PC type of question, which ended with, "Can you understand any Spanish in an interview?"


I was surprised when they burst into laughter.

The lady said, "Well, that was straight forward."

"I'm never not straight forward."

That wasn't always true, but that's who I've become. As I look back, that was one answer that might give me an edge if that's a quality they value, or eliminate me completely if they're secretly hoping for a bilingual employee, which wasn't mentioned in the job description.

Then they asked how I was in a crisis situation, and to give an example. Had lots of flashbacks then, to all the violence in my previous jobs, and last week, my home, when I wondered if Xavier and maybe even me would be dead before sundown.

The words wouldn't come at first. I wondered if they could read the pain on my face.

Finally, I said, "I handle myself well in dangerous situations. Been in quite a few. The main thing is to stay calm so the person out of control won't escalate."

They moved on quickly to the next question. I think they sensed the truth of what my eyes have seen, but didn't want to know. Or maybe that's just my imagination...

I know there is a job out there for me. I can feel it and have for months. The Lord will determine where He wants me, where I am needed, and I don't think the next job I get will be just a job. This is quite a contrast to how I felt at 2 AM this morning, full of doubt and hardly a shred of confidence.

Otherwise, I'm currently fine tuning the draft that I'll upload Friday or Saturday morning at the latest, of Part 2, When The King Of Lies Wins A Soul.

In the meantime, enjoy this intermission and click the link below. The lyrics are awesome and speak to my experiences, and maybe yours too.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

When The King of Lies Wins A Soul:
Part 1

There is something haunting about seeing your young adult child hold a loaded gun to his head and wondering if you're gonna die, too...

Last week was doozy, and I made it through Tuesday by the grace of God and a true friend. You really learn who those are when you have major problems.

Spent that morning asking my caseworker not to penalize me for not being able to come in because I didn't have gas money to drive there to job search. He's a good guy, but he had to put pressure on me because that's his job to make sure people comply. I couldn't, having only enough gas left to make it a couple miles when the program is ten miles away. This was very hard.

Spent part of that afternoon watching my son hold a loaded gun to his head because he got mad when I asked him to get another job since he quit or got fired from the other one. He still ain't told me why and I'll have to ask his boss in person if I want to find out the reason.

Timing is everything, but with people who really unstable, it becomes harder to ascertain if the timing is good. Lil' nigga seemed happy. Hell, he should have been; he'd had a wonderful Valentine's Day with his girlfriend on Sunday, thanks to me letting him buy steaks and a box of candy with my food stamp card. The following evening he had friends over. Tuesday rolled around, and late that afternoon he was blowing time playing on Facebook. He looked happy enough.

"Xavier," I said, "you don't look too busy. Why don't you look for a job again?"

Zero to sixty in ten seconds flat.

No, not the car of my youthful dreams, but his anger, and it's accompanying cussin' and bitchin' about how he's under too much stress and how he's done with all that. I walked out the room, telling him he was acting like an azzhole.

Less than two minutes later, this crazy boy is sitting across from me in our living room, gun to his head, trigger cocked, and repeatedly daring me tell him to shoot himself.

How did he get the gun?

I bought a little .38 for protection a whole lifetime ago, when I was 21 and living on my own. This gun has a lock on it, and I always keep the key separate.

Well, he friggin' found both.

He begged me to dare him to do it. Worse, he looked angry and impulsive enough to go through with it.

So many things ran through my mind in those few minutes... questions like, how did he get this bad? How did we get this bad?

"Go ahead, Ma, I don't care anymore. Just tell me and I'll pull the trigger."

"You're not that stupid, Xavier. You're really not."

What could he say? Yes I am? Nah, that ain't something he'd agree with, thank God.

Instead he said, "I'll do it. I really will, just dare me!"

"Nope. It's a stupid dare."

He then proceeded to ventilate of how hard everything is for him.

"You seemed pretty happy to me the past few days..."

"It never lasts. Just dare me."

All the while, holding that cold little .38 to his head.

Me, having visions of him firing it into his brain.

Me, being so gotdamned angry with him that the childish side of me wanted to dare him just to see if he had the balls (and the stupidity) to do it.

Him, how spiteful he can be, how he might be the kind of person who if I did dare him, he'd shoot me first for not loving him enough and daring, and then kill himself.

The image of us both laying dead and bloody, or him dead with me wounded in my chair or on the floor, then my daughter walking into the house an hour later and being traumatized from this scene for the rest of her life.

Or him shooting me, leaving me in wheelchair or dead, then chickening out in shooting himself... the trial, the family trauma... the waste...

While these thoughts crossed my mind, I just stared at him coolly and repeated in a firm voice, "You're not that stupid."

He vented some more about his stress. I know all about his stress. He thinks I don't, but I do. He gets stressed out if you ask him to do his laundry, yet when younger and maybe even now, thrived on the stress of selling a dime bag of weed and never 100% sure whether or not if he'll get busted.

The more he vented, the calmer he became. Fifteen minutes later, his azz is back on Facebook like nothing had happened.

What a narcissistic azzhole.

And nah, he ain't in the hospital. If I had tried to hospitalize him, he'd have convinced them he wasn't suicidal and been released, if not that day the next.

Then I spent the evening being yelled at by my landlord, who also has a mood disorder, for two reasons. He came home and my dog was startled when he walked in kitchen backdoor and barked at him. He don't give a shit that his dog has had diarrhea for two days and nights straight, and I'm the one letting her out.

He was also pissed that son had gotten too loud the night before when entertaining his friends who weren't loud. Like my son, he's a coward with other men but a bully with women. He has never told Xavier to keep the noise down. Nope, instead he yells at me to control my "child", when my child is a grown azz man. Instead, he becomes every bit as intimidating, hostile and ungrateful toward me as my own son does.

Some of you may recall a post I did on him in December, My Psycho Landlord, where he made a death threat to me and my dog.

How in the fuck did I have the bad luck to get sandwiched between these two nutcases under the same roof? And why is it that they both tend to flip out on the same day?

There are some men who are so threatened by women that they become extremely dangerous when they're expected to pull their own weight, or in other words, to exercise normal give and take in a relationship; could be a mother-son relationship, domestic partnership, or one at work or between a live-in landlord and tenant, as in my case. Being reasonable with a woman is not something they value nor want. They want total control, and generally it's exploitative.

Geezus, I hope being around all this lunacy doesn't make my daughter so scared or hateful of men that she rejects them. Most are not that way, and I keep telling her this and to observe the good guys in the family like my brother and nephew and her uncle. But still, who does she live with? I'll get back to her in Part 2.

Tuesday must have been a day when the cards were stacked for me to die. As soon as my landlord started yelling at me, I threw on my coat, grabbed my dog and left out of the house.

I sat in my car and cried like a baby. I couldn't drive anywhere 'cause I my tank, like my soul felt, had hardly any gas. For a few fleeting moments, the image of me putting my own gun to my head and ending the despair and futility flashed through my mind.

Just get through this month... you knew in December than January and February would be a bitch... The Spring is coming, and along with it, the flowers you love so much, and a good job with the money to escape are just around the corner... Just hang on, babygirl, it won't be like this much longer...

That was my internal voice of reason speaking. I love that voice.

Kit, where's your pride? How can tell us this shit? Ain't it embarrassing?

Yes and no. I actually wrote the draft for this on Wednesday, but had to think about more and whether I really wanted to share this. I have a lot of pride, too much sometimes, but am also guided by serving others.

I learned from being a social worker and a therapist that the shit I've gone through lately is so gotdamned common, particularly among mothers and women, but also fathers and men, that it ain't funny. Having serious problems can be isolating because often people feel horrible and embarrassed, and wonder if bad shit only happens to them.

Being a helping professional makes me no more immune to having family problems than being a doctor protects one from disease. Problems in life, like rain, rain on everyone.

I called my relative, who had planned to meet me a little later with gas, and boo-hoo-hoo'd. He's been trying to steer Xavier away from bad choices for many years, so is so familiar with our situation that he wasn't freaked out. The most useful thing he said was exactly what I needed to hear, and reminded me of what I "forgot" on this very dark day.

He said, "God has carried you this far and won't leave you now. Think about all that you've been through since November. You survived, economically making do with very little because your own clients can't afford therapy anymore. You emotionally survived Xavier's relapse at the same time your landlord began acting crazy and trying to hustle you for more rent money because he's not earning much and sick with lung cancer but no health insurance, and you checkmated his azz. Hang in there. God didn't get you this far to let you down now."

He was right. Judging by the police that pulled into the gas station right next to the one we were at, I'm pretty sure it was being robbed. What if we had chosen that one instead of this one? Damn.

This is one face of the Great Depression II. Danger and despair everywhere... but also, I must add, hope, love, and for most I think, a determination to survive.

And that was Tuesday.


There is so much in this post that I broke it up into two parts; the second will explain the title. Feel free to share your thoughts or experiences, and I'll post Part 2 in a few days.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Whose The Spider?

Has the person you yearn to get attention from on this Valentine's day disappointed you? Or perhaps you have an inkling that he or she will before sundown?

Yeah, been there long ago. Not a good feeling, and depending on the intensity of your feelings, expectations, or hope about your love object, it can be like a door being slammed shut on your love. Since your love represents the best of you, it's a sure sign that you have been rejected. Or lied to. Or played. Or whatevah.

If you're single, take it as an opportunity to walk away from the doorstep at the House of Pain, and find a new place to share the best of you.

If you're married, your marriage may need some work if this 'holiday' is one that both of you have previously valued.

Some people really don't. They see it as an opportunity for the stores to profit, or they aren't given to sentiment, or they simply outgrew the whole concept. Before you pick a fight, find out if this is the case.

Personally, I'd love a little attention today, but I'm not dating a soul. My ideal day today would be to have a boyfriend. He'd be a neat guy, would pick me up by noon. We'd catch a matinee, have a light lunch, and go visit a mutual friend afterwards for laughter and a drink.

This is a different script in my head than when I was younger. I always wanted flowers then, and very few times received them. Yep, sad for all the other times, but true.

There was something weirdly ungenerous about so many of the brothas in my generation back then. A lot of them bought into the myth that there were seven women for every man, and they acted accordingly. They created absolute misery among more women than I can count in the late '70s and '80s.

Now I only want flowers from my kids on Mother's Day. They rarely disappoint me. Crucify me for saying this, but one of my most amazing pot of flowers came from my son a few years ago. Lil' nigga stole them from the front of a grocery store just to make me happy. His sister snitched.

Hell, I didn't know whether to be happy or mad. Still don't.

Today, I think of all the twenty and thirty-something sistahs who have written sad or angry posts in their blogs this year about the crisis in male-female relationships, particularly among the college educated who can't find a committed relationship much less a husband. Many of them think this is something new. It ain't.

Shitty relationships ain't even a crisis, it's a condition, and the bastard child of being a second class citizen. These were common even before I started dating in mid-70s.

I think that when a group of people are grinded down and constantly stressed by the majority group, their self-image is at risk for becoming distorted. Watch this youtube video to see how it begins in early childhood with many kids.

Among my people, being perceived as tough is valued, maybe overvalued among men. It's the kind of tough that has little room for giving gifts as inexpensive as flowers and candy, or risking being played by a gold-digger since they've been played from the day they started grade school. It's the kind of tough that throws up walls without doors into their hearts, leaving no entrance for the real thing if and when it comes along.

And the women, most just want security from real love, and in absence of this, want the outwardly material signs to "prove" some man values them even when all the signs are there that he only values her physical attractiveness and her sex. As the youth fades, so do the number of interested men. Bank on it.

I've said it before, that the majority of my [black] friends, both male and female, from their mid-40s to early 60s, never married. And never will.

I think of the three men I liked the most (and loved as well) I could have married when I was in my 20s. I really didn't know jack about love back then. Thought I did, but I had to become a parent before I learned what love really is. The kind of love that is for better or worse, 'till death do us part, heavily involves sacrifice and going that extra mile even when you are weary.

One would have been a disaster. He did marry someone else eventually, and ended up divorce. We stayed in touch over the years, and in conversation, I saw glimpses of how he'd have been horribly incompatible with me. I was so glad I didn't.

The second one, I'm not sure. I'd try it again, but I broke his heart by leaving him because I felt suffocated. I was too young and briefly dated someone else.

This really crushed him, to the point where he'd die before giving me another chance. Geezus! Over 25 years ago and he could never let that go.

Then there's #3. Now spending a life with him would have been interesting. I abandoned ship on that one too. Again, too young.

And exactly when I was ready to settle down at about the age of 30, no more proposals. With few exceptions, I find this true of most black women. Can't speak for never-married women of other races, but I'll bet it's similar, and if not, that the gap is closing.

Often I think that people get old too soon, especially women in our culture. It's like, just when begin to develop real identity, maturity and wisdom, the kind that can sustain a relationship and be a good parent, we're not perceived as being desirable. Go to any party and watch 40 year old men leap over women their same approximate age to get to 25 year old women.

No, it's not fair, but evolution has no mercy.

I had an amazing conversation last night with my son and his girlfriend (yes, they're back together, poor things... lol), which illustrates this.

Her: "I know he has his problems, but I love him so much!"

Me: I love him too, but I can't stand him most of the time. He's a spider and you're a bug in his web. Hope you escape before it's too late.

Them: (they laugh, neither taking me seriously)

Her: He's wonderful. I want to have lots of his babies one day.

I don't why I said what I said next, but it just popped out.

Me: Could you love him if he had an accident or problem and couldn't have sex anymore?

Her: No! ... I mean... I mean, yes!

Him (laughing good-naturedly): Aww, she told the truth the first time!

Her: No! I don't know why I said that.

Me (lying): He saw the doctor this week. Xavier developed a strange case of measles and can't have kids.

The look in her eyes... panic. They searched mine for the truth, and he said nothing and watched her.

[As an afterthought, maybe I'm the spider...]

She hugged him protectively.

Her: No, you're messing with me! We'll have lots of kids one day!

I laughed; it was sincere. He laughed too, and then he talked about the family they hope to have one day.

For those of you who don't know, they just went through a thing where she thought she was pregnant; either that or lied to me to make excuses for his relapse into drinking and drugging from Thanksgiving through New Years, making my life an absolute hell and guaranteeing that he'll be on his own once all the groundwork has been laid.

Later in my bed, a few things crossed my mind. One is that I should keep my mouth shut. I'm really not into breaking up folks. All I can say in my defense is maybe my subconscious picked up something and tapped into it, resulting in a surprise response from her.

The other is that if she did think she was pregnant until recently, maybe hearing that he was sterile panicked her because it would have meant he wasn't the father. Poor Xavier if this is the case.

However, I don't think this was it, and instead see it as stronger evidence that the whole pregnancy thing was a lie to excuse his dreadful behavior during that period and get him out of the doghouse with me.

But the other piece - her clear, momentary panic over the possibility that he can only shoot blanks - now that's evolution at work.

Men are most sexually attracted to women of child-bearing age. This applies to gays too, whose brains may be hardwired differently, or be reacting to some unknown environmental alteration in utero, during childhood, or media/cultural influences that result in homosexuality. Too young is repulsive (for normal males), or past that age, is unappealing, and way past that age downright repulsive.

Kit in 2035: I'm studying Braille,
so my new guy and I will have more things in common.

What I did last night was actually the second time I ran that experiment.

The first time was intentional. It was with a retarded teenage girl who suddenly become very promiscuous. I asked her if she'd be running around having sex with a bunch of guys if she found out she couldn't get pregnant.

She said no. She was very clear about this. It was a aha! moment.

Her mother then got her a birth control shot that last for three months, and that stopped the sexual acting out. This girl may have been retarded, but she was listening to the drumbeat of her instinct to bear fruit and multiply - as we all do, whether we're conscious of it or not.

This begs the question that has been asked throughout the ages: is love a byproduct of our hormones and a manifestation of our unconscious need to procreate, even among the fertile who doesn't want kids, or any more kids.

My answer is yes and no. We are animals, but unlike them, we are people, capable of laughter, rising above our baser instincts, and being lifetime companions.

But how does one live well with the absence of a companion? I'll give ya hint in a moment...

If the love object you most wish to spend Valentine's Day is no show, would you be as disappointed if you learned he'd been to the doctor's and learned he - or she - was sterile?

If so, whose the spider?

I wonder if my thoughts are too raw, unpleasant or odd, to share. I'm sure some of you will tell me... lol.

Those of you who are in love or have found love may be like those who've had a good job throughout this horrific economic nosedive, and don't really have a feel for what it's like to go without since you haven't had to go without. For the lovers, you are truly fortunate and I am truly happy for you.

For the rest of you, today may be the perfect day to relax, or throw yourself into a hobby, or rekindle a passion for something you loved doing years ago. Plenty of them out there.

Some I've enjoyed are sketching, painting, crocheting, coin or stamp collecting, photography, writing, grooming a new hairdo for my dog, playing chess with a friend, trying a new recipe with a relative, and so forth.

I've been around too long to get sad about not having someone to share Valentine's Day with, but I remember a time when I was much younger and it was hard. It took time and work to evolve.

I don't know why, but I have a feeling that this post will reach someone who is lonely and sad, and perhaps trapped in a web of deceit or self-deceit, or simply not having someone who makes the sparks fly, but who is a good person and worthy of love, especially self-love.


~ Kit

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snow As A Metaphor
For Troubled Relationships

Have you ever been right, and everyone knew you were right, but still, something wasn't quite right?

Like, you're stuck in the snow, and you spin your wheels, they don't do a thing to free you, so you roll up your sleeves, get out the shovel and sand, and finally, movement.

What about the snow's perspective?

"Hey, I don't really want to be stuck to you. It just happened, and I'm just being me," Snow says. "So ain't I right, too?"

"But I'm entrapped," I say. "And you're so cold in a blizzard that it endangers my survival."

"Yeah," he agrees, "but I'm fun and playful and make you laugh. You know this, and you also know I get too deep and cold sometimes, which makes me unbearable to you. This is how God made me and you know this. Because of this, you ain't one hundred percent right."

I hold my head down in shame; what Snow says is true. We have a love-hate relationship.

"I have to move on, Snow. I'm sorry. If I stay, I will freeze to death. Where I'm going, it's warm, and if you follow me, you will melt."

"You want me to die? I'll die if you want me to, you know I will. A piece of me dies every time you misunderstand my coldness and reject me, and you turn up the heat with your anger."

"I know," I say sadly. "But no, I don't want you to die. I love you."

"I love you too."


This is the heart and soul of many troubled relationships, including the one I have with my young adult son. One person acts in ways that are as unpredictable as the weather. They may be, or at least seem, relentlessly cold and stormy at times. They are the way they are because that is how God made them, or because their ideal environment is not living with you.

And because of that, you're not 100% right.

We tell others about those blizzards or storms, and they say, "You're so right to get the hell out of there."

Even Snow knows this, and some part of him (or her) yearns to leave too, to be free, to be.


I could not be completely free and neither could my son until I freed myself from fear of his safety as an adult, and my ambivalence in believing he can survive.

You can't have it both ways: living like a car stuck in the snow and being able to drive with so much of it surrounding it.

"Can't deal with your disrespect any longer," I said in January. "I'm moving at the first opportunity."

Xavier began watching me dig myself out... my going on job interviews to get that full time job and good salary to free myself. He pretended not to notice when I ignored his dark moods and statements to bait me, like, "Don't worry about me, I won't be around much longer."

For those of you who do not know, he's been a long time expert at making suicide threats and attempts (or messing up or breaking up your stuff) to avoid both responsibility and abandonment.

Digging myself out, one day at a time. Digging out years of snow impacted around my metaphorical car. Digging out of debt, because not having enough money can keep you trapped in a baaaad situation.

Then, finally, he began to dig himself out.

He got back his old job. He doesn't know that I begged his old boss in person to give him another chance.

He does know why I applied for him to get to SSI for his emotional disability - "It's a safety net for you," I told him, "so that when I'm gone, you'll have a little money and medical insurance if you try to kill yourself again. You'll need that since I won't be around."

"Then I won't go," he said angrily.

"I don't need you to," I replied dryly.

And I went and he watched me go to SSI, as though he were watching me dig myself out.

"Sign this," I said when I returned.

"What if I don't?"

"It's your safety net. Take it or leave it."

He signed.

Both methodically and gently, the snow is being moved next to my metaphorical car where it is safe but won't hinder my movement, i.e. my life.

Next step: a bank account.

"Why are we here?", he asks impatiently.

"Adulthood isn't complete without a bank account," I answer.

I have him open a checking account and give him $25 for a deposit. I told the bank lady to not issue him a debit card. His credit is bad from two past cell phone disaster plans, so that's not even an issue.

I say outside the bank, "Any money from SSI, if they approve you, will automatically come here. Probably won't be much if you're working. If you choose to be wise, you will avoid getting a debit card since you had trouble keeping track of how much you spent with the last one, and use this account only to write checks for your rent when you get a room. You can also cash your paychecks here. I strongly suggest you pay everything except rent by cash, that way you'll hold on to your money a lot longer."

This was painful to the Snow; he knew this act was yet another sign of me digging out. When we parted, he walked to a friend's house rather than accepting a ride or returning home.

Two weeks had gone by before I realized his disrespect and the drinking had become sporatic, then stopped.

Another week went by before I realized that the Snow, aka my son, was was less sad or angry. I had seen signs of calmness, but it didn't really register until I accidentally saw two videos he made for his Facebook.

He sang his heart out, doing the kind of jazz that John Legend might sing and nearly as well, on two songs he'd written himself. Remarkable, because he's usually doing hardcore gangsta raps.

Apprehensively, I entered his bedroom. He laid in the dark even though it was only 6PM, and I could see the depression emanating from his slim body. His drama-prone girlfriend recently "discovered" she's not pregnant - if she ever was - and the two sorta broke up.


"What?", he answered, sounding irritable.

"I don't know if I should say this, but I heard your music and watched you perform in your videos. I think you found your niche. It's fabulous. Somewhere right down the street in DC, there's a small jazz club that I'll bet would love to have you."

I paused, then said, "But, what do I know? I'm easy to please and your mother. Still... your talent is a gift from God, maybe to compensate for your problems. I hope for your sake you keep using it."

He grunted, I left.

Minutes later, he was up, on the computer, and writing another song and singing again. My heart smiled.

This manchild's moods are so hot they're cold, like snow, and he can hit you with a blizzard of problems. At the same time, I've always said on this blog how much fun he is and can be. He's like sledding in the snow.

We used to do this a lot when he was little, before my daughter came into our lives; they're seven years apart. Sometimes I'd wake him up at two in the morning. We'd bring the dog and sled for an hour, come back home, and I'd put him to bed. We had two, an inflatable tire kind and a disc. They were great! A few hours later he'd be in class, and so excited that he got to sled, especially if it had melted before school let out.

As I been freeing myself and remaining psychologically free, one day at a time, he's began to copycat me, and slowly figure out that he doesn't need me.

This is a milestone for him, and a necessary transition for anyone striving for real adulthood, because adults are generally resentful when they need someone else to survive, and have to play by that person's rules or at least make compromises, no matter how reasonable.

Tonight (well, technically it's now after midnight) I am stuck home because of the real blizzard that hit our area. Around noon, for the first time in his life, Xavier shoveled our walkway without being asked and went out to shovel show to earn extra money, then returned this evening and shoveled the last snowflakes from the storm.

It didn't occur to him to remove the snow surrounding my car. As they say in therapy circles, there are no accidents in life. This is sometimes true.

Still, I wonder if maybe he didn't because he's tired and I really have nowhere to go tomorrow, or if it's because even the main roads are empty and nearly everything is closed, or because he knows I actually like being out in the snow and don't mind doing this myself...

Or maybe it's an unconscious knowledge that it's something I have to do for myself... unconscious because he hasn't heard a word from me about "digging out" or using snow as a metaphor for our situation. If it's the latter, he either knows I need to do this for myself, or he's still feeling some ambivalence about me driving off into the sunset.

Whatever the reason, Xavier was happy over his fatter wallet, and he had me laughing at his jokes just before he left.

I watched him from my window, walking in the middle of our winterland street to the home of a friend who lives a mile away. Tonight he walked like a man who is comfortable with himself - and with the snow.

He and the snow are one, and in my heart at least, my car is unstuck.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

When Debt Slaves Learn
The Art Of Pay As You Go

The new credit card laws go into effect on February 22, 2010. That link gives a readable description of what you can expect.

I see some benefits to the new rules, but how they will affect the overall economy disturbs me: "Issuers can still raise interest rates on future card purchases and there is no cap on how high interest rates can go. Business and corporate credit cards also are not covered by the protections in the CARD Act."

I'm hardly an expert, but I know that a great many small and medium sized businesses have been hurt or destroyed from the credit crunch. This includes people in my former office building and in others, where the occupancy rate has dropped from 10% to 75% in the past year. People laid off cannot afford services or to buy products from businesses, who in turn go out of business and resulting in more unemployment.

Thirty years ago, my undergrad Sociology professor said something I never forgot: "One day we will see a reverse of the size of our poor and middle classes. My best guess is that mega-businesses like McDonalds will outlast the USA."

We snickered and wondered which country could ever have the clout to usurp our nation.

"Not a country," he speculated, "but a group, and perhaps we'll evolve as the United Corporations of America, perhaps not in name, but in essence."

In principle, perhaps we are moving from a We The People nation to a We The Corporations nation. The new Supreme Court ruling that gives "personhood" status to corporations for election influencing powers that I spoke of in the last post has done much to set the stage for this.

This is the earthquake we need to notice. It is one that will last longer and impact us in ways far more than the tragedy in that far away hell known as Haiti.

Just as we have a long history of colonizing smaller nations, the multinational monied interests have been insidiously colonizing us for 40+ years with small, plastic cards in our wallets, transforming us into neo-slaves, aka Debt Slaves.

Without good credit, it is impossible to take out a loan for yourself or small business, to buy a house, property, or car using a payment plan, or in many instances, even rent an apartment when you have a good job but only a debit check card. Were so many of us not already deep in debt and two paychecks away from poverty, we might be okay, but most of us aren't.

The banks cut the credit umbilical cord for too many businesses, leaving too many at the whim of an in-progress job market overhaul, with the endgame being busting unions and reducing much of the middle class workforce to becoming the new working poor.

This has caused a strong ripple effect in race relations; as a black person, I've felt more racism in job interviews and elsewhere than I have in decades. Unemployment for African Americans has skyrocketed, and is as much as three times the national rate in many cities.

Racism has hit Latinos businesses hard too. A black accountant I talked to last week said his office is moving to a smaller space because many of their clients are Latinos, who are being pushed out of business. More than ever, they've been under a microscope in the past year for hiring illegals to work in their restaurants or businesses that do painting, dry walling, lawn service, etc.

I was shocked when he said, "Some of them are choosing to return to Mexico before things get any worse. They tell me they are sure they can do better there than here."

We laughed at this sad irony; who'd have ever imagined that?

I have been stunned to learn how unprotected some of my closest friends are from being "colonized". I hate to use that word, but it seems so fitting. Few have a clue what peril they are in. One guy has worked 25 years in a fat job with the government. He has a small house that could have been paid for ten years ago. Instead he has not one but two mortgages on it, and can hardly wait until he gets his tax refund.

I didn't ask what in the hell he's been doing with all his money all these years. I guess my jaw was hanging open when he boasted that he always keeps two months in reserve to pay his house note in case he loses his job. He doesn't even have a wife or kids. Heck, one surgical procedure with a long recovery period from an unexpected illness, and the bank will own his house.

He's much like many of my friends and a dear relative - and not that different from me. Although I've given great financial advice over the past nearly two years and in this blog, I haven't been so great in applying it to myself.

What folly, to see a train coming and not getting off the track. I can only speculate that it's part of that miserable tendency in human nature to think the worse will never happen to me.

The big bankers, like neo-colonialists, have become like the rain to the American public. They rain on everyone too vain or short-sighted to think the storm won't wash away their lives, as well as the uninformed or those too poor to have an umbrella.

No, forget umbrella. It's a flood. Many of us will need a boat and a life jacket to get through this Great Depression.

A small cash reserve ain't jack; for that matter, neither is a six month reserve. I thought it was, but it's not. The competition in the job market is fierce. Even when you're told you'll be hired, at the last minute they've gotten the budget axe or put on a hiring freeze, and are suddenly scrambling to hang on to their own jobs. Had it happen to me, twice.

There will be an art to surviving this Great Depression. Part of that will be surviving without plastic cards. The thing is, if everyone cut up their credit cards and can't or won't pay their bills, the banks will probably die.

What the big banks' art to survival will be under those circumstances is an answer I don't have; I only know that fear of diminishing oil and other resources, effects of global warming, combined with greed and tribalism, will make life very different, and bring utter chaos to our country.

Perhaps this really has been the game plan all along, with the anticipated result to be the birth of not the United Corporations of America, but what I wrote about in mid-2008: the North American Union.

Perhaps they will be one and the same.