It’s pretty ironic for me that May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Mother’s Day.. Triple M Day, I call it. How so? You ask.. well the relevance should be fairly obvious but I shall share my story anyway.
Without seeming to callous or to coy about it, I can bravely admit that I was raised by someone with mental health issues.. I could be dismissive by saying what child doesn’t think their parent is a little “off” at some point? or I could be over dramatic in the idea that I was raised by a nut job and found it so easy to relate to the character Christine in the movie “Mommy Dearest.” Neither of those reactions would be fitting in my case. Being dismissive about it for the last 40 years or so has only made the relationship with my mother more tense and very formal and being over dramatic has never garnered any positive results for any one. So now I just deal with it (finding a way to deal with it).
All in all I have mommy issues. I’m not bragging I’m just being honest. With the openness and candor I’ve seen on social media I’ve learned “I ain’t the only one honey!”
If you’ve met me, this may not be an obvious observation but if you know me you’ve probably witnessed the awkwardness of my maternal relationship first hand.
Do I blame her for her condition.. not at all.. I believe if she had the tools and the common knowledge now so easily accessible she may have been more self aware of herself and gotten help..Ahhh, who am I kidding she would still be the self centered narcissist pridefully adolescent being with a dark secret that she is today.
Someone recently said to me in regards to the relationship with my mother “The hurt have the tendency to hurt others”… that sounds pretty similar to the “crabs in a bucket” mentality if you ask me and just because she is my mother does it make it acceptable? NO it does not.. you see what I’ve learned is that there is a difference between obligatory love and unconditional love. Obligatory love is obliged by responsibility. My mother felt responsible for her irresponsible act of having sex with my father. There was no vision of happily ever after for my parents.. They barely knew each other and what they did learn about each other was nothing positive. When some one is obliged to love you they do the very basics.. the things that are morally and socially acceptable… obliged love draws a line at intimacy and emotionally connection.. Unconditional love consists of nurturing, supporting, understanding.. To love someone anyone I think it is to make ones life better.. I didn’t do that for her. I didn’t enhance her life in anyway and to say she didn’t enhance mine in any way would demonstrate a sense of ingratitude and I am very grateful for my life.
So as you can tell at this point, Mother’s Day holds a variant of mixed emotions for me. It pretty much passes by like any other day. I try not to BUY into commercialized holidays at any cost but there is a sense of appreciation when it is acknowledged. I don’t force my kids or even expect my kids to do any thing for me on Mother’s Day but I’m always appreciative when they do.. and they always do. My Mother’s Day is celebrated on a regular and almost daily basis when I get unexpected messages of love. Or when I walk by and one of my kids compliments me. My daughters hugs every day is a gift.. AND my grand twins well their little smiles are all I need.
My mother and I never had any of those moments.. I would give her gift she’d say thank you and …. that’s it. We never exchanged “I love you’s”.. shows of affections after a certain age became awkward until it was non existent.
As my mother descends into her illness and old age our decaying relationship will only crumble into the dust of our deaths. We will never have closure with one another. I must find peace within myself in order to heal the pain.
I must find a place of forgiveness not for her but for me because I believe the Universe charges a karmic debt when you disregard and abuse it’s blessings. My mother did that. I wrote all this because so many other people out there are dealing with or have dealt with their own particular set of mother issues. Some of us watch with envy and disappointment because we crave that mothering relationship that would excite us about this upcoming holiday. Of course I will gift my mother with a card or flowers because my obligatory need to honor her as MY mother will always be.
I’m sure one day I will share my memoirs with great detail but today from the moment I publish this post I will release a surmountable amount of anger, resentment and pain. I will let go of animosity and fear because I was vesseled into existence on a broken ship. It is not her fault that no one took the opportunity to repair the obvious damage that has become irreparable. I am now a vessel clearly damaged but I have all the tools I need to repair and heal as I explore so much more of this beautiful life.
Happy Triple M Day!!
I am certain that every living person suffers from mental health issues at some point on some level. No human is immune to the psychosis of their environment and while I am no psychologist I have observed enough of human nature to know that we are all fucked up to some degree. Self-awareness (or lack thereof ) dictates the extent to which our mental health issues are prevalent. For example, I know I’m a fucking nutjob. I am very self-aware of the little idiosyncrasies that exist in my defective personality. I HAVE ISSUES. I have parental issues, abandonment issues, high anxiety and occasionally I am a little OCD.
The levels to which we all exhibit our mental health can be based on various factors (again I am not accredited in psychology so my analysis is based on simple human observation). Yes of, course there are professionally diagnosed mental illnesses and I consider those to be severe mental health issues Some people are overtly self-aware of their mental status and simply don’t give a fuck. There are some of us that are so painfully aware of it that we go to great lengths to conceal it because we crave “the approval of others” (which is, BTW, a trait of Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD), anxiety and depression). Face it, if every person in this country were forced to be mentally evaluated by a professional, we would all be labeled by something other than our exteriors.
You’re probably wondering how I even came to blog about this particular subject. Well like I said I HAVE ISSUES and with the acknowledgement of those issues I’ve tried to identify the source and as I began to re-examine pivotal points in my life I was reminded of certain things. Within those reminders, there were more than ample opportunities to point fingers and place blame. I could call it genetic, environmental or simple in-definitive (as some shit just can’t be explained). Whatever the source, we can’t deny that we are all just a little fucked up and no, my analysis is not inclusive of serial killers, rapist, pedophiles, and murderers; that ‘s some next level fucked up. Yes, I do believe there are some sins against humanity that are worse than others. For this post, however, I am referring to those who are deemed “socially functional everyday ordinary I am capable of stalking people on Facebook” kinda fucked up. Harmless to others at best but self-afflicting in the most pathetic way. Well, I am writing this simply to suggest that we own our imperfections and for those of you that already do… Kudos.
We are not above our own bullshit, believe that. If you are reading this and telling yourself “I am not fucked up”, take a moment to examine your habits, your inconsistencies, your overcompensations, your lack of motivation or your vices. And while it may seem that I am making light of mental health issues, I am not. In fact, I feel more enlightened with the idea that we all are dealing with some inner shit and to stop taking other’s people fucked-up-ness personal unless that fucked-up-ness is directed towards me personally.
With that being said. I also want to encourage someone who is self-aware and finds it to be a challenge handling all the FUN (Fucked Up Ness) to seek some support or assistance. Seeking therapy does not make you weak nor is it against any religion to get unbiased input to better help you evolve. Black women, I speak to you specifically because we have been stereotyped into the idea that we just “Let the Lord” handle it when we should be laying on a couch in someone’s office sorting through the deep shit we have buried in our bosoms. Maybe “Dr. Feel Something” isn’t the route for you. I personally use a series of tools to sort through my shit like Art, BLOGGING, sharing, meditation, therapy and a few more natural herbal remedies. I want to believe that most people, after a certain level of life experience, become more self-enlightened. It has been my personal encounters that indicate that is not the case. In fact, I have found that if a pre-existing mental health issue/condition is not addressed in a timely manner it becomes unresolved and a festering personality defect.
Your mental health can be more than the result of a hidden family genetic disease that no one ever speaks of because they fear it but it is also affected by your diet, your environment, and your overall physicality. As we maintain access to endless information and become more enlightened, the plight of mental health will not be a phrase uttered with judgment and accusation but of acceptance and understanding.
If we all acknowledge our own FUN instead of someone else’s FUN, life, in general, would be a lot more fun.
So let’s go crazy.
While I have decided to embrace this new persona known as Harlo, I don’t expect my friends or anyone for that matter to address me as Harlo.. She is to me essentially what “Sasha Fierce” is to Beyoncé or what Chris Gaines is to Garth Brooks.. so I’m still me it’s just now I have this “Fabtabulous” alter ego. Will I flaunt this new personality? Of course I will and at every available opportunity!
So I’m gonna attempt to pick up where the previous post left off.. In the first sentence of the last paragraph of the previous post I referred to myself as being “born broken.” Shortly after I posted someone privately messaged me and asked that I elaborate. To that person I will say that an in-depth explanation will be in my new book “She Raised Me” coming this fall under my new pseudonym.. For now I will leave it as colorful wording; however I will share this. My ancestry and my upbringing conditioned me to believe that I was undeserving of complete happiness which caused me to question every euphoric moment; expecting it to be met with some sort equivalent misfortune. I could never accept true happiness under the premise that something bad was gonna happen.. Now I simply embrace those moments and if karmic absolution is the result then I want to be grateful for every moment that afforded me a moment of joy. And that me friend is what attracted me to Harlo.
Life and all of its nuances are filled with imperfections but that doesn’t equate to unhappiness. Harlo allows me to embrace, understand and accept those imperfections as simple aspects of life’s journey as opposed to my former enslaved mentality that believed nothing came without penalties. But in all honesty there is nothing that is to good to be true.
Finding Harlo allowed me a piece of mind that l never had before. I feel different when I embrace her. I even think different.. Does she affect the core of who I am? Absolutely but she hasn’t changed me just enhanced me. She represents the upgraded version of my former self. As she evolves so will I or vice versa.
I assure you that you will see the name again in all of its rarity.. It captures your attention doesn’t it?
Hi I’m Harlo Hendrix -Certified Game Changer
I’m sure the title of this post will one day serve as a book title but for today I hope it serves it’s purpose. If you follow me on social media personally and professionally you may have noticed some changes. I am specifically referring to the pseudonym “Harlo Hendrix”..
Let me start by asking “Isn’t that a cool fucking name?” It absolutely means nothing to me aside from the fact I feel a little tingly and silly when I say it. It’s a rock stars name and ‘ya know’ in some other universe, dimension and time I AM A FUCKING ROCKSTAR.
Why the new pseudonym you ask? I mean my name in general is pretty cool no matter how you arrange it… (so thanks mom and dad for that?) But there is something about the name Harlo.
I did a little digging just to see if the name had any real significance aside from the definition being “army hill.” Ah, doesn’t make the name necessarily more appealing but what I did like was the appeal of its association.. Harlo is associated with being universal and unisex. Uniquely without definition and not very popular to say the least..Well if I’m being modest it was definitively the perfect name for me.
The real purpose of this post was to explain “why” and not necessarily “what”. Well truthfully, I hit my bottom. Funny how that is a phrase normally associated with some sort of addiction or vice. I’m not sure this would be applicable to me but I had genuinely hit my emotional bottom. I was drained. I had convinced myself that I was in full on “midlife crisis” mode. BTW, I hate that term.. Why isn’t it called “midlife breakthrough” or “midlife blessing”‘ or something that promotes a positive transition into a profound wisdom and confidence. Okay, let me get back on track.
As I was saying, I hit an emotional bottom. I had come to terms with so many things in my life that contributed to the overthinking, over reacting, imaginatively insecure being who trusted absolutely no one. I spent a lifetime craving acceptance until one day I felt completely void. I was null. Right in the middle of a dualistic fit combined with intense pain and hilarity, I just stopped giving a fuck.. And I don’t mean it in a disrespectful sort of asshole kind of way but I just genuinely did not care. In a brief moment of declared insanity I finally let go of shit I had no control over and took control of what I could. If I’m not being dramatic it really was the death of who I was and the birth of Harlo..
Harlo is almost (and I use that cautiously) the exact opposite of who I was and everything I want and need to be. I wasn’t looking to reinvent myself it just sort of happened that way. Harlo trusts the universe, she trusts others that she is intuitively connected to and most importantly she trusts herself..it’s sort of creepy to refer to myself in 3rd person but she is definitely a new entity that I’m still learning to identify with.
I was born broken and spent a lifetime trying to insert the missing pieces lost in my innocence. I was never going to be whole until I stopped looking for those pieces and/or stopped looking for things, people and projects to fill that emptiness.
Well I’ve grown a bit tired.. check out Part II of this entry tomorrow….
Love has always been my greatest desire
And yet my biggest fear. It’s an entire enigma to me. I have no understanding of its purpose and yet it is the one thing I have craved my entire life. It’s such an overwhelming sadness (to not have it) and it wasn’t until I lost the very taste for love as it ceased to linger on the tip of my tongue that I began to recognize its beauty in totality.. (on on it seems to go but you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.)❤️
Love has been more of a concept to me than an actual process.. so lately I’ve been doing some processing of the entire concept… and this shit is just as complicated as a Shakespearean allegory but not as romantic.Love is based on some absurd loyalty put in motion by physical attraction and carnal lust.. Don’t bullshit yourself with the idea that you fell in love with a personality when it was really the intense passionate sexual attraction that pushed the word “Love” carelessly from your lips into whispers in the ear of a stranger.
Love is not some cute love story about the time you first you met or some quaint moment in the history of your past. Love is that shit that makes you sacrifice or gives you the will to be sacrificed at the mere thought of not pleasing the inner spirit of the one soul that connects to your every senses. Love is seeing a darkness so diluted by the brokenness that there is only one energy that could penetrate its obscurity. Love is that toxin so potent that to indulge could very well be your demise.
Will love be the death of me? I sure hope so. It would be less than vainglorious to suffer any other fate.
Lately I’ve been dealing with some real intense shit.. I really can’t explain the complexity of the issues I’ve been encountering and in the midst of it all I still don’t feel the desire to complain about it but more inspired to move forward.
Just to give you a gist of the laundry list of shit I’ve been dealing with it reads like this:
Unresolved relationship issues
and the great mind fuck known as Cancer.,
It’s a lot to fucking balance between work, parenting, writing and all the side grinds I pursue but I do it..
Most of the things on my list are more or less resolvable or simply out of my control but I will address the betrayal. Maybe betrayal isn’t the right word.. The context to which I’m using it feels wrong but I do feel emotionally betrayed.
Here’s why. It may be a little long but hang in here with me while I purge..
People think that because I’m an only child I was privy to a certain way of life.. Stereotypes like spoiled and selfish are often invalid adjectives associated with my character. Please note that I worked fucking hard to get where I am today.. While I appreciate the assistance I got to degree from my parents you better believe I had to work my ass off for that. I was a single mom often without financial, emotional or parental assistance. I’m proud of who I have grown into but I would be lying if I said I didn’t make some mistakes, some bad judgement calls, some poor choices. So I don’t pretend to be better, know better than or live better than anyone. I know that my journey in life is about constant growth and change..
At 48 I am still being molded into some great masterpiece and I can’t wait until it’s complete.. so recently when my father revealed he didn’t trust me I was floored. I could have taken it lightly and simply blamed it on an onset of dementia because he must be going fucking crazy or I could accept it as his truth, as my truth, as our truth. When I asked him why he proceeded to bring up an incident that happened over 25 years ago. An incident to which I have been remorseful and amended with the person I offended.. oh yeah did I mention that the incident he is referring to was regarding someone else and had no effect on him directly AND after all these years he kept that little skeleton in his pocket so that he could use it as a dagger to stab me with in a conversation over an incident that didn’t even involve me. Is that betrayal? I don’t know but that shit hurt..
I felt foolish..ya know? All this time i was bragging and boasting about how I was able to build a stronger relationship with my father after years of ups and downs.. After continuous pettiness, we were able to move to better place, a good place even a great place if you had asked my 24 hours ago.. Now I’m feeling like he just blew smoke up my ass to make himself feel better when all the while he fucking thinks the worst of me..
After I took a moment to digest the conversation I had with my father as he tried to justify his feelings towards me.. I hung up the phone. Yes I hung up on my dad.. I refused to continue a conversation that simple would ignite a bigger flame of fury.
But then I began to question everything.. I began to over analyze my life, my existence..Examining the relationship my parents had that brought me into being. I reflected on how they met on a blind date, hooked up, slipped up and were forced into a shotgun marriage. I can’t tell you how many times I heard my father was engaged to someone else when he got my mom pregnant and how my great uncles forced him to marry my fast ass mother.. that’s how you don’t start a life..
I’ve always felt that burden of virtually fucking up my parents life.. and they for the most part made it apparent that I had done just that..My mother once commented to a family member who expressed concern for me during my adolescence for not having proper supervision and nurturing to which she responded “Toni may grow up and say fuck me, so I’ve gotta look out for me.” Imagine how that made me feel… My father often referred to his budding career as a musician and how he gave that up to be a father and husband against his will..
I grew up where secret and lies were the basis for family dynamics.. Where gossip and descent preceded health and well-being. I was on a constant mission to prove I was worthy because love from my parents came with conditions. I’m not saying my parents didn’t love me but it was an obligated love..
But today at 48 I’m learning to be okay with not being a life changing moment.. I’ve accepted that my life was not a blessing but a burden. And while we are not always a purpose we ALL have one.. I’m trying to fulfill mine. I blogged all this to say…. my circumstances do not define me.. I define my circumstances.. I am inclined to remove the toxins in my life even if I was born into a toxic situation.. Having purged my current state of mind into this post I feel better..
I get me now more than ever.. myself awareness is so heightened..Simply in the idea of knowing who I don’t want to be….
I have forgiven even though I am amongst the UNFORGIVABLE!!!
I felt compelled to write this blog on the eve of my 48th birthday … uh… just because… I remember when I thought 48 was fucking old and yet oddly enough I feel renewed. It’s actually a pretty defining time in my life. I’ve learned some harsh lessons, made some rash decisions and it has helped me to further design the women I want to be.. I feel like I’ve lived so many lifetimes in this one I’ve been given. 48 just seems like an awesome time for renewal. I feel so blessed even in times of turmoil because I’ve simply accepted that there are things that I don’t have any control over and to be accountable for the things that I do.
All seems like common sense doesn’t?
I wish life was just that simple. I’ve missed out on so much of what life has to offer by being naive and ignorant. Not afraid nor ashamed to admit that. Although I have no regrets, I can admit to deservicing (not a real word btw) by not nurturing and embracing my talents. Now I feel like I can conquer all my challenges (except bungee jumping and extreme sports). I no longer feel as if I am entering a midlife crisis but more of a midlife crossroads.. I’ve been doing a pretty good job of “adulting” thus far so being a little more carefree will be such a welcomed change. I didn’t write this to bitch about turning 48. It’s a privilege and a blessing not granted to so many. Although 50 is the significant milestone, I’m gonna spend 48 doing some real shit..
Follow me on my journey of being 48, fly and fearless.
You remember when we were kids and on the very first day of Summer you would try to sleep in late only to be awaken by the beauty of the sun that lightly taps you in the morning.. you hadn’t noticed her for months because you were normally either on your way to school or already there.. She beams just enough to annoy and amuse you..
So finally you just say “f*#k it.. Make a big bowl of cereal and watch early morning cartoons… #latchkeykid #memories #reflecting
Okay I am going to try to keep this post brief. I don’t want to dwell on it but I felt it was something I needed to address. So I was compelled to write on this particular subject matter prior to the recent transgressions displayed against our brothers in Louisiana and Minnesota but I got a little distracted.
So, I was chatting with a friend about her new boo. I was excited that she mentioned she was dating someone new but as she begin to tell me about him I noticed she had nothing to say nice about him. Everything she stated was derogatory and negative. My initial response was to ask “Why the hell are messing with dude if he was all these things but instead I replied “well I am sure there must be something about him you like.” Anyway as the conversation continued I realized that this dude, perfect stranger to me, someone I had never met, was simple someone I had no interest in meeting. If I were to recognize him from the pictures she had shown me, I probably would not be the most friendly or the most welcoming to him all based on what his girlfriend told me. And then I asked myself is that what our black men deal with on daily? Their images are so tainted both internally and externally that the are fighting an uphill battle below sea level.
Now I am not saying the brothers are perfect. I’ve dated a few assholes and have suffered from “relationship remorse” but that is my internal situation. I don’t go bashing the last brother so that he is ruined for the next because let’s be real, what may not be good for you maybe exactly what the next women may need and vice versa.
I know, I know, you’re probably shaking your head and saying “some of these dudes are just trifling and need to be put on blast” and you are probably right AND there are extreme cases where abuse (physical, mental, emotional and sometimes even spiritual) is involved that you may need to tell someone about. However, if abuse is the case, then maybe you should be discussing your own issues and as to why you choose to continue an abusive relationship.
What I am getting at, is if you are with a man that is showing some genuine effort to be attentive, caring, supportive, etc and yet you find nothing good to say about him to others then why are you with him. No relationship is perfect but your relationship issues are just that YOUR relationship issues.
Now this should apply to all relationships but I find that in the case of LOVING OUR BLACK MEN we need to exercise a little more compassion with our words, a little more understanding of his burdens because society and it’s actions has shown no compassion or understanding for him. The same way we love our black sons even at their worst behavior we don’t systematically insult them or shame them to others. We need to apply that same logic to the men we are involved with, they are someone’s son too.
I wanted to elaborate a little more on this but I promised to keep it short. So stay tuned on a series of corresponding posts on this subject matter.
Next time I want to discuss “Baby Daddy/Mama Drama”
Our black men are targets let’s not be the one’s pointing out the bull’s eye.
Steering You towards a Healthier Happier Life
Official blog of Author Toni Racell
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Personal and Professional Development for Millennials
From no self-esteem to total self-empowerment
Author of the 'Lauren's Story' about a teenage runaway who ends up sleeping rough.