On the wednesday before I left to return to New Jersey, I had lunch plans with my father. He’d called a few days prior to invite me to a large family dinner. “No,” I told him, “You haven’t spent any time alone with me since I’ve been here;” It felt like he’d been avoiding me. In response to my refusal to attend the family affair, he scheduled a private lunch appointment with me. We would meet downtown.
It was Wednesday, and I was planning to leave on Sunday. I was still pretty sad. And angry. I’m not sure what the trigger was, but by Wednesday morning I was bubbling over with anger, in fact. Why had my father been avoiding me!!? Why did my mom have to bear this all alone?!! It all seemed so convenient that he hadn’t been involved in any of this. He was happy and I was miserable!!
My resentment was mounting.
That morning I went to SportSpine to workout with Roberto. With each rep in my circuit I got more and more angry. My father had been acting as if nothing had happened! So many people had been there, they’d laid their hands on my situation and helped! My friends had been amazing, they’d done more than my own father!!!
I was working myself into a frenzy with all of these thoughts. By the time I was finished with my workout I was overcome with rage!
..Just in time for lunch
I decided not to shower or change. I would go straight to the restaurant. I also decided not to wear my wig, I wanted him to see my crazy haircut. I wanted to look bad, really bad. I needed him to see me.
I needed my pain to be visible to him.
My poor father never had a chance. By the time I arrived at the restaurant I was a ball of fire. I was as evil as a rattlesnake. I wanted him to hurt like me. I wanted him to feel it. I was cold and mean. I laid into him about how absent he’d been. He was visibly affected by my rage, I could tell. His eyes began to tear a bit and I could see his guilt.
I know my father loves me a lot; he really is a nice man. He just didn’t know how to love me through this.
But I was not rational in that moment, I was angry. And I wanted him to feel it. It made me feel powerful to blame him. And he kept defending himself, that made it worse. “I didn’t know how bad it was… I guess I didn’t really think about it … I didn’t know how to deal with this sadness at such a happy time in my life,” he told me.
With every defense I became more and more frustrated. He’d spoken to Kesner, they used to talk on the phone. Kesner used to call him for campaign advice. I didn’t understand why he’d been so distant. The worst was when he said that his new wife knew how I felt. “She was critically ill once and her boyfriend at the time wasn’t there for her…” “Whaaat?!? I retorted! “Is he still alive??? Unless she walked in his house and found him laying dead on the floor, she has NO idea how I feel! …”
Oh I was pissed!
Needless to say we didn’t part on good terms. He sent me a text after lunch to say that I shouldn’t have been so hard on him. To that I barraged him with a series of hateful messages, filled with the worst things I could think of to say to my father. I told him I never wanted to speak to him again..
All of this made me feel better in the moment but, once the dust settled, I felt horrible. I felt horrible about the whole thing. Horrible that he hadn’t been there for me… And horrible that I’d been so cruel to him. Maybe he couldn’t deal with it, but why did he get a free pass? Its not like anybody else had a choice. I certainly didn’t. Why hadn’t he been there for me? The whole thing was awful, and I didn’t know how to come back from it. I’d cursed my father, I’d hurt him. But he’d hurt me too. It was all bad, all around. I’d completely cut ties with him. Time would have to heal that situation.
God would have to do it.
I didn’t have much time to dwell in the mess I’d created because the Links were coming to town. I had to be present with my mom. I had to be lovely.
All summer long, I’d watched as my mom gave careful attention to the selection of her leadership council. She’d been intentional about appointing people to jobs that they could excel in; each according to their level of expertise. Everybody that she approached said ‘yes, I’d love to work in your administration…’ I was so proud of her, she was so good for the organization. And now this group was coming together for the first time for a leadership summit in my home town.
The first group arrived on Wednesday evening (the same evening that I cursedmy father) and we had dinner at the Ritz Carlton. I wore my wig and received many compliments on my pretty new “hair style.”
By the next day the entire council arrived, about 80 incredible women. We commenced summit activities and once again I was swept up in the awesomeness of the Links Incorporated. Hazel Dukes was there, and my buddy from Houston, Monique. And Marcella, my God Mother. I was full.
By Friday the summit was in full swing, but I had to step away for a few moments; I had a phone appointment with New Jersey unemployment. I’d applied for my benefits the month prior and had been waiting for this appointment so that I could begin to receive compensation. I figured I’d be able to sustain myself with unemployment benefits while I was in school. I stepped away and went to my mom’s suite to take the phone call. It was short: “Ma’am, it doesn’t look like your former employer paid into the system. It looks like there was a loop hole because they are faith-based…”
I didn’t hear anything else after that. No unemployment? Not even that? I’d worked so hard, how could they treat their employees like that? A loop-hole?
I couldn’t breathe.
How would I survive? I had no savings. I never made enough money in social services to save; I’d lived paycheck to paycheck in the time since I’d accepted my call to ministry. I had $300.00 in my bank account and no guarantee of funding from Rutgers. Where was God in my situation?
I lost it.
I sent a text to Monique. I was having a complete emotional breakdown; a panic attack. I needed her to come to the room and sit with me. I needed help. Where was God in my situation?! Everything had been so difficult, why couldn’t this just be easy?
Monique came and we sat and I cried. I told her everything. About my Dad and unemployment and how everything just felt so overwhelming. “It’s not fair! Why can’t this just be easy?”
She didn’t have the answers but she ministered to me with her presence. She sat with me while I cried it all out.
Before long I was able to pull myself together enough to return to the summit. When I walked back into the session, my mom saw me from across the room and mouthed “are you ok?” I wasn’t, I was barely holding it together, but I nodded my head to say ‘yes.’ My mom is so amazing; even in the midst of her leadership event, she was present with me.
A few minutes later, Marcella walked over to me. “I have a gift for you,” she said. She pulled out a colorful beaded necklace with two smooth stones on it. “These are healing stones, rub them, they have positive energy.”
How did she know that I needed that necklace right then and there? Monique, who was seated next to me, just looked at me in amazement. How did Marcella know that I needed healing stones in that moment?
I put my necklace on and rubbed my healing stones all afternoon; it was comforting. And later I sat with Marcella privately and I showed her pictures of Kesner and me. She had her ipad with her and I showed her my facebook album entitled “Kesner;” we went through every photo. I was grateful for her time and attention, it helped.
I didn’t sleep that night, however. I had so much on my mind: that awful lunch with my dad, the uncertainty of my financial situation, my emotional health and mood swings, my hair..
Courtney told me that if I ever needed to, I could call her in the middle of the night.
I needed to.
I called her at 4:30AM and she answered. I needed to talk it out. “Why can’t I just have a normal life?” – I cried. “Why must I persist in taking this road less traveled? Why don’t I just have a normal 9-5 job? Why is everything so hard? All I want to do is be still and paint my nails! I’m tired!” I also told her about the drama with my Dad..
Courtney talked me through. And she prayed for me. She talked me off my ledge in the wee hours of the morning.
The Links Summit ended that afternoon, Saturday. I was to go home and pack, as I was supposed to leave the following day. But I didn’t feel like packing. I didn’t feel like doing another thing. So instead I went home and watched TV under a blanket in the dark…
© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2012