Survivors of Marital Bliss

61 Years and Counting…

On May 5, 2017, my parents will celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary.

6 – 1 or sixty-one or seis-uno (okay, I made that up).

But still, 61! The proclamation of this anniversary is not to admit my own years on this planet, although, not near 61, but to expose what it takes to make 61 years of marriage.

Thought bubble: didn’t Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris have a 61 milestone at some point? I digress…

We all have either blessings occur in our lives or a little luck or some combination of the two. We might have good things occur on occasion or bad things that occur in bunches. And every time we overcome those obstacles or celebrate these good times one thing is certain – we made it through.

Making it through isn’t just about you – although you might think it is – but it’s about everything around you. It is how you leave an impact on this world or how you touch (influence) others. And usually we aspire to touch in a positive way.

Therefore, to put in perspective of the magnitude to survive this momentous occasion I want to explore the significance of “making it.” I thought and wrote about one statistic at a time and in no-particular-order; although the first is most significant to me:

  1. Today’s divorce rate is a whopping 50 percent! The odds of making it past year 8 is off the charts – you can take that ‘ish to Vegas, baby. And may the odds be forever in your favor.
  2. Surviving military service during the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War. Downright lucky to have survived both let alone the streets of the inner-city.
  3. Diseases like cancer, diabetes, and all kinds of other bogus shit that crushes us humans daily! To survive the percentages is nothing short of a miracle. logo.png
  4. Car crashes is still a major killer in America. Count yourself lucky if you have avoided a disastrous outcome via unsure hands at the wheel of a steel killing machine.
  5. Natural disasters – thes
    e are easier to avoid if you stay put – but if you’ve traveled the world to Timbuktu and back you are liable to have encountered a disaster or two. Not my folks.
  6. Raising a shit-load of kids and staying the course. Hey, if one of the parental units said, “f- this, I’m out!,” I couldn’t be mad at them.
  7. One in four black men in prison – NOT my daddy!
  8. Shot by a cop – this would have been easy pickings back in rural Mississippi, circa 1950, but, alas, the good Lord was watching out.

And there are multiple other challenges, ahem, “opportunities” [as we like to call them in business] where my parents overcame or luck was on their side for their longevity.

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But I will say this – commitment, perseverance, respect, admiration, being on one accord, and love is the glue that held them these 61 years. And for that, I feel truly blessed to be witnessing this rare occasion. Good job parental units. Well done. I pray God will see you through many more anniversaries.

Now each of you go find your life partner to help you achieve that 61.

Go well and with love good peeps.

 

My 2014 Year in Review…

I survived.

That’s pretty much it. I made it through. I didn’t croak, end up on America’s Most Wanted or beaten down by a rogue cop.

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I survived.

As you become older and presumably wiser you actually look at longevity as the ultimate measure of success. No more of the foolish thoughts that I will live forever, take caution to the wind or let the chips fall as they may. Clearly life doesn’t care about my longevity or yours – death does not discriminate (although being rich has its perks in minimizing this risk I’m sure).

I survived.

As some of my brethren’s lives were snuffed out at the hands of evil individuals perpetrating as police officers I continued to live my life. As loved ones fell to disease and other ailments I found myself looking to make life changes, however, not timely enough to escape the constant hurdles of health life threw along my path. I was acutely aware of these challenges and I thought to myself, “I survived.”

I witnessed by way of CNN the peculiar disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, the capsizing of a South Korean ship claiming the lives of hundreds, the emergence of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and their terroristic ways, and the continued antics of North Korea. There was also the quiet killing of thousands along the Gaza strip as well as the collapse of the Ukrainian government.

However, I continued to survive.

I saw where we landed a probe on a comet with the joint efforts of the European Space Agency [ESA]. Meanwhile, while the country was in an uproar over domestic violence and child abuse Bill Cosby was about to be crucified for past indiscretions (rightfully so). The world kept an eye on America’s racial divide as an NBA [National Basketball Association] owner was booted out of that exclusive club. The Ebola virus was on the verge of kicking off a real live (or Walking Dead) Apocalyptic future – thank God it did not come to fruition.

Yet, I still managed to survive.

Germany was out winning the World Cup after a long absence and celebrations ensued across the globe. Sochi’s Winter Olympics proved climate changes are real as experts continued to warn of global warming albeit to pessimistic minds. The popularity of the 2014 Super Bowl continued to thrive as the world watched Bruno Mars croon his way across the stage. My thoughts drifted to an upcoming baseball season proving to be a farewell tour for DerekJeter.

And I was still surviving.

Same sex marriages prevailed across the land. Pot smokers rejoiced as prohibitions for recreational uses were lifted in two states. People came and went in and out of my life. I endured challenges of health and wellness while the Affordable Care Act and the State Exchanges became operational. I had the pleasure of watching my kids grow another year and I laughed and cried with family and friends. I sat back and reflected on 2014 and through this I thought…

I made it. I survived yet again and for that I am thankful.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Check out CNN’s Year End Review for further information.

Feeling Comfortably Numb

Minute by minute, then the minutes turn to hours and hours to days. And before you know it, eventually the days turn to weeks to months and finally years. The crushing feelings of hopelessness, rage, and loneliness become less and less. We have all heard the term “time heals all wounds” and it is true to a point. It isn’t that the wound is completely healed it is more like you learn to live with it. Living with the wound, not the pain is akin to having an appendage that has no use. Thus, it is numb, devoid of power or substance, and not something that can be removed. I have become comfortably numb living apart from my kids.

Many people, correction, women might not understand this analogy. The argument I’ve heard is that the woman carried the child in her womb for nine months creating some unseen bond. As a man we are not privy to this unseen bond because we do not give birth. Yet, we do have a spiritual connection to our offspring. And when our children are taken away through divorce the pain is real. Thus we have to find a way to overcome this painful existence. One of the ways is to remove the emotion from our inventory and create a hollow shell of where that emotion used to exist. Slowly we turn off the spigot that feeds the emotion leaving us with a numbing sensation.

I’ve heard other men say you learn to live with it and I have experienced it. It becomes a way of life. It doesn’t mean you love your children any less it only means your access to your kids has been limited and therefore the wound remains. However, the body begins to cut off any feeling you have in this perceived appendage and eventually, like the effects of nova Caine the feelings just go away.

Maybe men are designed to be this way by the Creator. Throughout history fatherless homes have been around due to wars and other duties previously dominated by men. It is probably in our DNA – this one strand that allows us to disconnect the emotion for the greater good of the family. This new era in which we live is exposing this DNA flaw for the entire world to see. No one talked about this much in the past, how a man might miss his kids daily. Men could only express this emotion during tough times on the battlefield or during his dying days. Only then does the child really begin to understand the impact his daddy has on his or her life. This revelation is harder and harder to manage in today’s society because of divorce and dysfunction.

Therefore, I make it a concerted effort to focus on my offspring the moments we are together. I make sure they know the love I possess for them and my desire to see them flourish. I continue to build a bond best I know how because I know I will become numb as they walk out the door when our time comes to a close. And because of this I am becoming comfortably numb.

What Value Doth Saith a Man?

Recently I had a great conversation with a beautiful, young, intelligent, and successful woman. We spoke over a candlelit sushi dinner and with just the right background music playing overhead. Her smile was radiant and her sense of humor was refreshing. She had a confidence about herself that shone through her lovely skin tone. And as we mused about our days and life and fun times she then popped me the question – What can a man offer a successful woman like herself besides his muscles and a dick?

Uh, what, huh?  Come again (no pun intended)?

I stammered as I searched for the answers. Mind you, she was not referring to me as we are merely friends (I think?). But her line of questioning did put me on the hot seat for a moment. I was not ready for the conversation to take this type of turn, but it did. Wow I thought. In my translation of her question I conjured up a doable meaning for me – What value does a man have to a woman?

In my quest to uncover this mystery about us men I felt it was in my duty to educate her but also enlighten all women that might have the same question.

Here are the results that protruded from my brain:

P.S. – I did not use the aforementioned values so eloquently established by said friend.

…waiting for it,

…hmm, harder than I thought, but give me a moment,

…I got it! Wait, I don’t have it.

…Can you repeat the question please?

Well, heck, I really only can come up with two things – good loving and muscles (or the ability to buy muscles).

But is that really all a man can offer a successful woman? Have men not evolved in a way which their value is seen as greater than the two-item list? Are we men resting on our past laurels? My friend then spoke of the unthinkable for a man; she wanted some type of emotional connection. I had to ignorantly, but innocently ask the question, “what the Hell does that mean?” Like, someone to talk to when you are lonely? Talk about my day at work? Should I whisper sweet nothings in your ears? Or are we talking telepathy? I was at a loss for thought and clearly out of my element.

“Check please!”

While I may not be the most metrosexual man of the day I like to think I am a fairly progressive person; someone that has been open to new ideas and various opinions. I believe in letting people speak freely about their thoughts and I usually try to keep an open mind when doing so. But now I was lumped into this archaic value of men – to protect and help make babies. Speechless.

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I don’t think it is a bad thing that a man can provide some muscle when needed. A man can install an air-conditioner when it gets hot outside. He can fix a tire on a cold winter’s day. Some men can barbeque up a storm and with minimal preparation. How about change a light bulb high above or even skin a fish. And a man can sexually satisfy a woman when he puts his mind, body, and back into it. And maybe, just maybe, a man can connect emotionally, evolving of sorts – but call it something else. How about call it thought engagement. That I can understand.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Goodbye and Hello

My weekend is filled with blissful fun – like packing and moving. Woo-Hoo! Nothing screams “change” like a new residence. The old residence contains family memories neatly packed away in U-Haul boxes awaiting the arrival of a few young men to complete the transition; while the new residence is a welcome change in eliminating strife and confusion from a wayward marriage. We all welcome these moments as we move past the pain, heartache, and sadness and look forward to new horizons.

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As I packed, I flipped through numerous pictures of me and my family. I looked through albums and smiled as I gazed at the pictures of the births of my kids. The pictures brought me back to all of those wonderful times captured in the four walls of the brick and mortar we called home for so many years. I smiled.

I rid myself of the various toys played with by the kids. I remember nearly every single toy I purchased and when my kids played with them. It’s a wonderful thing how the memories come flowing back. I caught myself basking in the moment. I smiled again.

The items left behind from my previous garage sale were stacked kindly along the curbside awaiting future homes to be adopted by other families. Neighborhood kids rummaged through the newly found treasures making their careful choices among the loot. I smiled again.

And as I prepared my new residence for the arrival of my “stuff” I felt a peaceful calm overtake me. I had a brief moment of bliss that I had not felt in a long time, a feeling that reminded me about the good in life. These are new beginnings, accomplishments through the storm, my kids and their smiles. I can’t help but smile again.

I’ve traveled a long road toward this moment as many people have and I haven’t cracked to the point of no return. I have held steady as I wound my way around those evil moments. I am nervous as any would be, but I feel I am in a good place. My mental capacity is strong, and I see the reaction of my kids to the new surroundings. They feel comfortable and secure even with less. And for this I smiled.

When it’s all said and done – even through the tedious tasks of packing and moving reflections of life are bound to occur. These reflections will be of the good and not-so good of the memories created through my family experiences. I can recall days which I can explicitly recount what we did as a family, the laughter that filled the room, and the smell of the family meal. All these events are happening simultaneously in my mind. The memories may be gone, but I have new ones waiting.

My kids see the change to the new residence and they embrace it. I see the event of change approaching and I slowly make my way toward it. I hope to embrace this change with the desire it will continue to rid me of my pain. I feel there is a positive smell of change in the air regarding my new residence with the smell catching me just under my nose and pulling me closer to acceptance. It pulls me toward the direction where my new future awaits. I smile again for the last time in my current humble abode.

Go well and with love good peeps.

O-M-G! Am I Really Incapable of Love?

What if you discovered something about yourself that was so hideous, villainous, outrageous and terrifying that it pained you to think about it? What if you woke up one day looked in the mirror and discovered you were the boogeyman, albeit wearing a nice crisp Kenneth Cole shirt with Levi straight legs? What then would you do as you left your humble abode to venture out into the world exposed for all to see? What if? Accept what has become? Push it aside as a non-truth? Or face it head on?

In a recent conversation about L-O-V-E (I shudder at the mere mention of the “L” word) I was the Peanut Gallery throwing small bombs of negativity. In true fashion to my pessimistic, sarcastic, and insensitive characteristics I had difficulty answering the simple statement.

L-O-V-E is _________.

Of course I could have wordsmith and found a very poetic description to fill in the blank. Or I could have quoted Biblical scriptures stating the prescribed definition – say it with me you scholars – I Corinthians 13:4. I might even make light of the moment and awkwardly provide a voice of humor sheepishly masking my real feelings. But the real challenge for me was I could not answer honestly. Maybe it’s just me or maybe some of you have gone through this. But how do you answer a question if you are unsure of the context? Better yet, is it possible that we don’t know what we don’t know?

And I may not know what love is. I don’t mean the love I have for my children, or my parents and siblings. Or the love I have for my friends. Or even the love I have for my cats. But what about love for a significant other?

In my marriage I often felt I was out of my league with love. My past relationships were brief compared to others. I never really engaged with another human being on such a deep level that I found myself shallow of thought. Yet, I felt encouraged and hopeful because I had seen an example of love through my own parents. I also believed in love as I was growing up. But something happened and my beliefs were shattered. I felt ill equipped to nurture my loved one as needed or to show compassion when required. I was headed for a bad turn and I didn’t see any way around it. And there it was – THUMP! I hit a wall of despair and my marriage and family crumbled. In the accident I was relieved of all sympathetic thought and any desire to show another human being love.

Therefore, I became incapable of holding onto one of the greatest gifts to mankind. Maybe I held onto the pain of a bad breakup time and again. Or the loss of my puppy as a child deterred me from loving again. I have felt there is nothing harder to overcome in life than the sadness caused by broken dreams. I have been depleted of emotion giving way to a shell of my former self in an effort to protect. In the long run I know this is an unhealthy place to be. Therefore, I recognize where I am and I move forward in correcting this trait.

I can love again.

If I focus on fixing ME the rest will follow. We all hear and many of us ascribe to the idea that we must be made whole. Making ourselves whole is a matter of discipline and introspection. It might be a painful process in the beginning but the results will be magnificent. Butterflies aren’t born beautiful they evolve. And so must I. Musicians George Benson and Whitney Houston (rest in peace) sang it best in the song The Greatest Love of All – “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”

This sounds like a good starting point for me.

Why Can’t I Make this Work?

I see it crumbling right before my very eyes. I stare into her eyes and see the pain and there is nothing I can do. I want to reach out to her, tell her how much I love her but my words are empty without the supporting actions. Every move I make is handcuffed. I cannot release who I really am because of this prison in which I exist and yet I know it will be the demise of my marriage. I look up into the night sky during an isolated evening and I pray a simple pray: God, why can’t I make this work?

A man’s vulnerability is a complex issue. But most women don’t care to understand this vulnerability we men deal with. Women believe if a man is in love he should open himself in such a way that whatever vulnerabilities he is feeling will be squashed by the love she brings. The truth of the matter is men don’t operate this way. When we open ourselves to experiencing such heavy psychological and deep-rooted vulnerabilities we feel weak. Weakness might be one of the strongest negative characteristics for men. It might be the kryptonite that destroys our soul. Submitting to being weak is a “no-no” in any language. Weak men are squashed and no woman wants a weak man.

Then how does a man express his deepest vulnerabilities without feeling weak? How does a man show that while he might have vulnerabilities he can remain strong? Aren’t vulnerabilities akin to showing a weakness? This conundrum in which men operate causes confusion. For all of us that Believe know confusion is not of God.

In today’s relationship-market our vulnerabilities become more exposed than ever. As a man of a certain age attempts to date he takes the risk of being rejected for some vulnerability if he allows himself to open up. We expect our maturity to kick in and for us to handle these situations like adults but the fact is we are human; humans with real emotions. These emotions are strong and uncomfortable. Many times to hide any weakness we downplay the emotions and focus on other things in life where we can approach them like robots. This includes our jobs, our golf games, exercise, or anything else that is not human, let alone female. And through this we believe we are able to overcome.

Well, what would happen if we allowed ourselves to be more vulnerability? What if we opened up without the fear of rejection? How would we be accepted by our potential partners? A man has to be very comfortable in his own skin to allow his willingness to be open not impact that whom he is. Only so many men actually reach this level of maturity. Many of us continue to wallow in the world of miss-illusions where we continue to shelter our deepest insecurities and harbor a false sense of who we are as men. The lucky ones, well, I believe they experience something much greater in their relationships. They experience a trusting bond with their partners that allow them to be as free as they can with no judgment.

It is only through this mutual trust that a relationship can thrive. Therefore, one can presume the question “Why can’t I make this work?” rarely occurs in a healthy relationship. It is replaced with “I am making this work.”