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Saturday, December 9, 2017

My #METOO Story : 'Mo Boobs, Mo Problems' Part 2

My #METOSTORY: 'Mo Boobs, Mo Problems' - The End

To read part one click here.

I walked into my house feeling dirty, and used. I’m not sure why I felt this way. I know I did nothing wrong. But, these are the stains, the scars left behind from these kinds of intrusions. They leave you feeling tarnished. I remember sitting down on the couch and wondering if I should tell my parents. I knew what their reaction would be. My step-dad, the strong, noble NAVY man would be pissed. And, I’m sure the ghetto in my suburban Mother would have reared its ugly head. Plus, who wants to be a tattle tell? The punishment for testifying on someone’s wrong doing in middle school was public shame, jokes, and the dreaded tattle tale label was hard to shake. Could I bare the social backlash? I couldn’t hold it in. I felt angry, sad, wronged, and I something in me felt I had to release these feelings to someone.
                I finally decided to tell my mother. Some girls may blush telling their mom that two boys felt them up on the bus. I have never been coy around my mother. For goodness sake this is the woman who showed me pictures of penis’ and vaginas when I was young. There was no holding back. We were like girlfriends, and when I told her what happen she assured me I did nothing wrong. It wasn’t my fault she said. I assumed our girlfriend bond meant she wouldn’t tell my father. I didn’t intend on him getting involved, I just wanted someone to share this ugly wound with. Mom betrayed me. She told my no non-sense step-dad  and as I anticipated he was furious. He came into my room, and demanded to go to the school and talk to the principal. My mom standing behind him almost sheepishly patted his back as he interrogated me.

“How could the bus driver let this happen?” he asked in his deep voice.

Sometimes my step-dad's  voice was so strong, so powerful I’d feel my palms shake when he gave me lectures. When I was younger I feared my step-dad's more than I respected him. He never hurt us, and truth be told my Mom was one the handed out corporal punishment. It's just my step-dad's He has this very imposing stature, and intimidating presence. He didn’t share his feelings with me or my siblings and when he did it was usually to express disappointment or anger. I was not close to my step-dad as a kid. In that moment of my step-dad started cross-examining me about every minute detail of the breast invasion, I remembered in that moment why I didn’t talk to my step-dad. I never felt like he really listened, and I knew there was nothing I could to change his mind.  I was going to be the girl who tattled on Beavis and Butthead. I know now as an adult my father was just trying to protect me, but in that time all I wanted was for the whole situation to go away.


                I didn’t sleep well that night. I remember tossing and turning scared of the social fallout I would endure for telling. I dreamt of my step-dad storming into the school, and yelling at the principal for justice.  Now I no longer felt the sting of being unwilling fondled, I was afraid of being branded a snitch.  The next day my step-dad dressed up in his Navy browns, and my Mother curled her hair. Why were these people getting dressed up for the demise of my social life? We all packed into the mini-van and headed to school.  My step-dad did not storm in the school like I dreamt, but he did insist on speaking to the principal. The three of us were ushered into the principal’s office were I had to re-tell the breast invasion on the bus. In the years of zero tolerance there was little leeway for the perpetrators. Beavis and Butthead were kicked off the bus and suspended. Turns out I wasn’t their only victim. The boys had been in trouble for fighting, stealing, and had been accused of other fondling incidents. Luckily they never told anyone why they were suspended or at least not who was responsible for putting them there. I had dodged some sort of social bullet. A few years into high school I saw Beavis and Butthead in passing one day. I looked at them horrified they would remember what I did and yell some obscenity. But I could tell from the way they looked at me, they had no clue who I was or how their actions tormented me. 


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Local Running Community Helps Former Homeless Reporter

If I were still a news reporter, this would be the headline to a story of how a local running community brought Christmas early to a former homeless t.v. journalist.

When I was a television reporter the holiday season lent itself to tell amazing stories of people's generosity and compassion. One Christmas when I was working as a rookie reporter in Lynchburg, Virginia I did a story on neighbors who ran in a burning home to alert a sleeping family to the dangerous flames. One Thanksgiving as a reporter in Hampton Roads, I did a story on a woman I met in a hair salon who made dinners and gifts for dozens of homeless people at the Oceanfront. I loved telling those stories. They reminded me that there are good people in the world, and the simple act of compassion to your fellow man can be life changing. I never imagined that I would be on the receiving of this kind of love, and generosity. That changed this weekend thanks to a local running community in Virginia Beach.

Tara and I at one of my speeches
If you follow this blog, then you know I've been homeless for over a year. Thankfully due to a lot of prayers and a very generous friend I moved into my apartment this past weekend. Last year when I had to sell my beautiful two bedroom, two bath condo to prevent foreclosure I had to part with everything; furniture, clothes, plate ware. All I have is now is small storage space filled with pictures, memories, VHS tapes I can't part with, and journals I hope to turn into books one day. 

My friend Tara offered to post on her Facebook page about my season of homelessness and lack of
furnishings to see if anyone could donate a few items. I agreed, and what happened next blew my mind. Within minutes of the Facebook post Tara's friends from all over Hampton Roads, one even as far as Spain offered their help. My phone was pinging almost every 10 minutes with someone else posting how they could give. It didn't take long for this community to offer a couch, a memory foam, running shoes, money, silver ware, lamps, bedding, pillow cases.... the list goes on. More than these tangible items this running community, renewed me hope that my life is worth fighting for, that living independently again is going to be OK, and that God has tremendous plans for my life. I can see it daily now, because He keeps sending compassionate, and loving people to help me get back on my feet. Their generosity has also reminded me that even though times are tough in our country; love is still present. 

I will never forget this feeling. I've been thinking about a way to repay all these awesome people. I think the best repayment will be striving to live my best life, and finding opportunities to pay it forward to someone else.

I am also thankful for the amazing new friendship with Tara who helped put all of this in motion. The first time we had breakfast and shared our stories I instantly felt safe and connected with her. The past three years have tarnished what I believed about friendships. Friends I thought I would grow old with hurt me in the worse ways, and so many times friends took advantage of my vulnerability. Everyday, through people like Tara God is showing me what real friendships look like. Friends are the people who walk in when the world walks out, who love you in the valleys and the peaks. Thank you Tara. The fact that so many of your friends gave this way is a testament to you just how awesome you are.

I can't wait to put all the donated items in my new apartment. My home will be filled with love because people furnished it from their hearts. I am immensely grateful. 

Thank you for giving me the best Christmas gifts ever! A Christmas where a running community showed a former homeless tv reporter that love is real.


Monday, December 4, 2017

My #METOO Story 'Mo Boobs, Mo Problems' Prt: 1

 I have to tell you for the longest time I didn't know what sexual harassment meant. As a recovering tomboy I swept a lot of what my guy friends, men, or strangers did under the rug and dismissed it as "Boys will be boys." But, I remember the first time that I couldn't sweep it under the rug, and the invasion of my space and body was too much to bare. It happened in middle school as I was started to develop physically way faster than my peers. Like so many victims of sexual harassment, I blamed myself. I feared the repercussions of speaking up. This is my #METOO story.




Mo Boobs, Mo’ Problems

                One bus ride trip changed my whole perspective on my big boobs. I sat in the front of the bus all the time. I can’t remember exactly why but I think it had something to do with the bullies that sat in the back and threw spitballs at people. But, on this day I sat in the middle of the bus because the bullies weren’t there. I was wearing a long shelved sheer, tight fitted blouse with a long draping emerald green vest. I felt super cute that day. It was a conservative outfit, but I still felt sexy.  It had to have been fall or close to winter, because I remember my nipples getting hard all day in that outfit. I tried my best to hide my perky tatas in school, but there was no helping it. As the bus neared the end of the route, I realized there were four people on the bus. There was me, the driver, and two white boys sitting in the back. They kind of resembled the guys from ‘Beavis and Butthead’ in looks and personality. They were awkward misfits who always made a ruckus on the bus. They mostly wore plain white t-shirts and jeans everyday to school. And, they always reeked of cigarette smoke. They kind of gave me the creeps, and I remember always trying to avoid them on the bus.

  As we neared the end of the bus route, the dark haired one of the two boys sat beside me in my seat. The blonde kid sat in the seat behind me. I was surrounded.


“Damn you got some big titties,” the dark-haired Beavis looking kid said.

He moved closer to me in the seat, and I could feel our knees touch. I didn’t know what to do. My insides were raging, uncomfortable, and scared. I wanted them out of my space. I glanced up at the bus driver who was oblivious to what was going on. The tall bus seats hid everything. Panic washed over me.
  
What was I supposed to do? Hit them? Yell ? What were they going to do to me?


The Butthead of the two boys reached over and grabbed my breast. He squeezed as if to check it was real. The entire time I stared into the window, hoping this violation of space would end soon.

“Stop,” I said softly.

This only made the pair laugh. The boy in the backseat stood up and towered over me. His hand went under my shirt. He grabbed both my breasts, letting his fingers wander around my nipples. When will this stop? Why are they doing this?  The boys didn’t squeeze hard but their touch hurt so bad, not just on my flesh but on the inside of me. I felt invaded, an experience I never felt before. I wanted them away from me, but the panic in me kept me frozen. I remember feeling like those cheap blow dolls I saw in the novelty store Spencer’s Gifts. Just like that air filled doll I did nothing. I just sat there while Beavis and Butthead had their way with my breasts. This happened in the span of about five minutes but it felt like hours. The driver rounded the corner stop, and looked up in the rear view mirror to see the boys taunting me.

“Hey you back to your seats,” the driver said.

Beavis and Butthead quickly returned to their rightful place in the back where the bullies, and kids who robbed others of their innocence sat. The driver parked the bus at the second to last stop, where Beavis and Butthead got off. The boys jumped out of their seats and walked towards the door but not before one of them blew a kiss at me. I turned my face away feeling dirty and ashamed. When the driver finally reached my stop, I slowly walked towards the door with my head down.

“You alright kid?” he asked.

“Yea, I’ll see you tomorrow,” I said never letting my eyes leave the ground.

I didn’t tell him what they did to me, I didn’t cry. I just got off the bus, and walked the block home in silence.

TO BE CONTINUED....


(This story is part of a memoir I've been working on since my 20's. It will be an installment of what I hope to be a long lists of Good Girl Chronicles books)







Saturday, November 25, 2017

#LOLOSLOVELIFE: SINGLE NO MINGLE

It’s been over a month since the Boston Bear and I parted ways. I’m using the words “parted ways” because it was more of a business transaction than a break-up. Break-ups to me include tears, long conversations, arguments, some sort of care to fight it out. There was none of that.  While I admit the shock of how it ended stung for a few weeks, I have found peace. Ultimately, we were just two people not capable of a relationship, not just with each other but anyone for that matter. One of us was more consumed with business aspirations than a meaningful relationship. One of was unable to open up due to fear of abandonment, and rejection. I’ll let you decide which was which.

Boston Bear was nice, but looking back I’m not sure either of us would have gotten into a relationship with the other if our lives were in better places. The relationship was notable in that it was the first time I had trusted a man enough to call him in my boyfriend in over four years. It’s also the first time a man I really cared for did nothing to fight for our relationship. The lack of energy put into saving “us” was hard for me to grasp. I loved hard in my twenties, and every man I uttered the words "I love you" too loved just as hard. And, even when it was over each of those men gave all they had to try to make it work. So when Boston Bear didn’t I was stunned.  I second guessed myself. I became self-conscience. I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer about that. Focusing on self-love and reconnecting on the love that never tires of fighting for me which is God’s love for me.

Now that the chapter with Boston Bear has come to a close, and I’m no longer beating myself up mentally about it, I’ve come to realize I not only want to be single for a super long time, I think maybe I need to be. Before you go call me a Bitter Betty who is so hurt from her last relationship she is ruling out men, hear me out. Here is what I am learning are the perks to being single— and why I have absolutely no desire for a mate in the next month or maybe even the next few years.

I DO NOT WANT KIDS- Yup you read that right. I am 33 years old and I am drawn to puppies more than babies. There is still a societal expectation that women my age should be married and with child. People say, “Your biological clock is ticking.” Hey we live in a world world where 50 year women like Janet Jackson was popping out babies. I have time. But seriously having a child takes sacrifice, patience, and selflessness. These are all things I am not ready to give. Also, rational or not I am super afraid of passing down generational hurt to my children. There are a lot of wounds from my family and childhood that have yet to heal. And, until I’ve faced those things and learned to make peace with them I don’t think having a child would be wise.

I WANT TO BE SELFISH- Since my first suicide attempt in 2014, I’ve lost everything I held dear. I finally feel like I am getting a second chance to live a life of my own path and creation. I want to pursue this new life boldly. Also when I was dating the Boston Bear I felt the need to be so selfless it wasn’t long before I submitting to all his needs and none of mine. In this chapter of my life, I want to look out for me only. I want to chase the dreams of my heart, consider me first, and learn to love myself completely.


DESIRES OF MY HEART - One of the beautiful things of my recovery is that I am discovering my purpose and new dreams are unfolding. I am in the process of writing my first memoir, and taking a bold leap of faith to become a professional motivational speaker. I want to pursue those things wholeheartedly. I want to travel, and see God’s beautiful world. I want to share my story across the world.

INDEPENDENCE -  Being homeless meant I had to rely on so many other people; shelters, social services, friends, strangers. Now I want to know what life feels like relying on God first and my strength second.

I AM AT PEACE/ MY HEART IS FULL - Throughout my twenties I wanted so badly to be loved and coupled. I had this ideal in my heart that I’d be married, and knocked up by twenty eight. Now, as I am moving into my own place, growing in a job that I love, I don’t have that same aching for a romantic relationship.  And, as time goes on I am less connected to the ideal of marriage; the idea of finding completion in another person. This is a major departure from my dreams in the past. It is not that I do not believe in marriage. I just don’t think I want it for myself anymore. Also I've met some amazing friends who have become family who fill my heart is so many great ways.

Who knows maybe 5 years from now I will meet a man is Dwayne Johnson’s carbon copy and we’ll fall madly in love. Until then I am perfectly fine—alone, single, solo….just me.




Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Power of Telling Your Own Story: The Black Danielle Steele

The Power of Telling Your Own Story: The Black Danielle Steele

When I was a little girl I always dream of being a big time writer. Cover of magazines, book tour, celebrity big writer. Way before Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City made writing sexy and fun, I wanted to be like Danielle Steele. Steele is a hugely popular, best-selling romance novelist. She paints the most beautiful love stories with her words. And, to top it off she loves luxury. Before I’d start any Danielle Steele book I’d turn to the back of the book to see her author head shot. Home girl was always on point. Her long hair, straight, and luscious hair would be pressed to perfection. Her makeup was flawless, and she was always sporting some seriously gorgeous jewelry. Before grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation would scare me from a writing career, I dreamt of being the Black Danielle Steele. (I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors you see in this blog. I do my own editing, and like I said grammar scared me from writing career.)  A few D’s in English class shot any dreams I had of being a writer. The pain of being rejected in a subject I loved so dearly was so painful I shelved the idea of ever becoming the Black Danielle Steele or the successful public speaking career I thought would blossom from my New York Times Bestselling books.



I still remember the time I brought home a ‘D’ in English. The reaction from my stepfather was enough for me to never believe I’d be a writer in real life. “Writer’s don’t get ‘D’s,” he said looking down at my red marked essay I brought home from school. I am sure he meant well, and didn’t realize how hard I took the criticism. But, what I heard was, “You are not writer material.” I continued to write in journals, and occasionally I’d write pretend soap opera skits and spread them around to my friends, but I never seriously pursued a writing career after that. I did not submit anything to school magazines, or offer to read in class.


I am now 33 with a much different story than I thought I’d be writing, and a new desire to recapture the dream of being a writer. The story I have to tell now is nothing like those steamy love stories Danielle Steele I read as kid. It is real. It is hard. It is at times shameful, and regretful. It is mine. I’ve been sharing my story from mini TV fame to surviving suicide to homelessness to the road to my recovery for over a year now. I am now writing my story with the help of an amazing organization called 'The Muse', giving speeches on my story, reliving the pain of my story, praying for grace and mercy along the way. I hope my story shows people that all of us possess the strength to survive unimaginable pain, heartbreak, and mental illness.


As I reflect on my last year as a mental health advocate and speaker I often recall the first speech I ever gave on my depression and how it motivated me to keep sharing. Last March I gave my first speech in a small church in front of some of the warmest, most compassionate Christians I’ve ever met. I remember standing before the congregation, with tears coming down my face as I shared my suicide attempts, the renewal of my walk with God, healing and the road to recovery. Afterwards, so many people shared their same struggles. We hugged. We laughed. We even cried together. We rejoiced, and a part of me started to feel stronger. Stronger, because I had survived to tell my story.

When I dreamed of being a writer and speaker as a little girl, this is not the story I thought I’d be telling. But, now that I’ve started telling it, I can’t stop. Now I don’t just talk for me. I talk for every person that finds comfort, hope, and acceptance listening to my story. With every speech I feel this is part of my new calling in life.



I can’t wait to see my book in print. I am taking a memoir class, and growing more and more confident in my writing ability. Some days I am frightened to keep writing. Some days I am too sad to walk down memory lane. But, most days the little girl in me is beaming. She is excited to think of having her picture in the back of the book, and her words capturing readers across the world.

Thank you for everyone who has supported my journey as a writer, mental health advocate, blogger, and speaker thus far.

If you’d like to continue helping me reach the dream of publication, you can do so with a small donation to my GoFundMe Page. Donations will be used to buy a new lab top ( I am borrowing one now), to pay for my hotel and airfare to a huge writer’s conference in Tampa next year, and more writing classes.


All donation can be made to www.gofundme.com/teamgoodgirl