How to Divvy Out Second Chances

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I have always had a special place in my heart for romance. I blame my mother for letting me get a monthly subscription of Harlequin Presents books at the ripe old age of 13. I grabbed a book from a giveaway table at school and then found the little card inside that allowed me to order. I would get 8 books a month. In those books, I found a whole new world. Mami, though not entirely sure of all of the contents of the books, probably preferred me reading these than pining away over boys. I'm sure she thought the books were safer for me.

But, those stories allowed my little heart a glimpse romance. All that to say, I love love. Always have.

So, when my own heart was captured by someone that I had both a physical and mental attraction to, the romantic in me swooned.

That relationship would not last because in the past I was NOTORIOUS for falling in love with emotionally unavailable men that would eventually grow and flourish under my love but in a "this shit is too little too late" kind of way. See: this is how girls mirror what they see at home.

Years later, I'd cross paths with that passion again, in the same body, now aware of what was lost, understanding that I was "the one that got away" and speaking of doing all he could do make up for lost time.

Pretty Words Syndrome

Do you know what that means? It's when someone speaks all of the words that your heart has wished for. They pour out of what you think is their heart but it's really just a red balloon made to look like their heart usually with hot air.

Pretty Words Syndrome manifests itself in the saying of all those things with no ghatdamb action behind it to support them.

And it's not that the person doesn't feel them. I'd never minimize someone's emotions like that. It's just that they have no actual plan for how to make shit happen.

So you hear the pretty words and think "yassssss! This is happening!" But it really ain't.

Want a character embodiment of this? It's Kenneth from Waiting to Exhale. Making promises to Savannah that were never kept.

Second Chances

I heard the pretty words. I wanted to believe it. And for a while, I did. For a while, those promises were kept. Well, kind of. Because we know that sometimes narcissists give you just enough to keep you on the hook a little bit longer.

Here's the thing, though. Second chances are hard to come by in life. And when it comes to love? Well, I'm a lot more honest with myself than I used to be. I've lost a lot of the fear I grew up and into as it relates to confrontations and I learned how to get past some of the behaviors I adopted from watching my parents' relationship.

So, now I call it like it is. Most times, I am not screaming and shouting, I'm not throwing a pan at someone's head, not threatening their lives. I feel that my calm and true words are sometimes not heard. I say that because it seems that at times, men (men of color in particular) don't take women seriously unless there's some rage involved. I don't have that energy to give anymore.

I give my words. Succinctly and accurately. My truth can sometimes assault people. For men that love me, my truth can sometimes seem mean. Because I'm holding a mirror up to them and they do not like what they see and blame me for having the audacity to try to show them. That's not my problem. How you receive the truth is not something I can concern myself with any longer. My concern is in speaking my truth, protecting my heart and taking absolutely zero shit from you.

When I say "you aren't loving me the way I deserve and this second chance is slipping through your fingers" and you say you want to do better and do not pursue my heart with actual actions, well, that speaks quite clearly to my spirit.

And you know what? That's perfectly okay. It's strange but in allowing myself nothing less than what I deserve, I have found that regret falls away easily. While I will be sad to see this connection, this bond go away, keeping noncommittal people in my life who treat me like an option is something so far from my current vibe that the letting go is as effortless as breathing.

"Yo no soy plato de segunda mesa." That quote translates to I'm not a plate for the secondary table. In other words: bitch, I'm an entree and not a side dish (not to be confused with a side bish. That's a whole other convo). Either I'm at the main table or I am not in the banquet hall.

I'm okay either way. And while I've given a second chance, love love and really am a romantic at heart, the one thing I'm not going to be able to give is more time.

And while I can't say I'll never give someone a second chance again, I'm clear in what my role is when it comes to the building of a romantic love that is complete. I'm also learning how and who deserves a second chance. Because life is too short to not be entirely and fully loved. 

Why I'm Reclaiming My Time

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Relationships are hard. The right relationships are worth it. Believe it or not, it took me a long time to realize this. Not the hard part. But the worth it part. I thought all relationships fell into this bucket. And in the past, I've put myself, in some way, shape, form or fashion, in a "wrong" relationship.

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I mentioned this a few weeks back about realizing that I couldn't accept subpar treatment in a relationship because I didn't want my daughter to repeat that cycle.

But even then, I held out hope.

It wasn't so much that I didn't understand my worth as much as it felt like he refused to see mine.

But there was more to it than that. Because I give all to my relationships, the benefits were given early on and I ridiculously expected that it would be reciprocated.

Folks Will Take What You Give

People are simple sometimes. By people, I mean men (HA! Jokes, folks. Jokes). Not simple as in lack of brain capacity but simple as in they are trying to forge ahead through the path of least resistance. I think we all do that, to some degree.

If you are a giving woman, you give. This has burned me more than once. Giving doesn't guarantee the sentiment will be reciprocated. Not just in a romantic relationship. And therein lies the problem.

I'm Not Settling

I've certainly dated since ending that relationship so long ago. I will admit that at one point we tried to make another go at it but, I understood right, quick and in a hurry that words and actions not matching meant that very little had changed. I didn't give it a second thought as I had already mourned the loss. You see, I was ready to reclaim my time.

What Does That Mean?

While I give you a specific example above, I'm not speaking about one particular person here but rather, have identified my own patterns and understood that this is a change I have to make within myself. It's important that we take ownership of the patterns that we perpetuate in our own lives so that we can break those cycles for ourselves.

Reclaiming my time has to do with words coming out of my mouth that match my intent and desires. It means that I'm no longer listening to pretty words that tell me I am loved, cared for, important or a priority with no semblance of action behind it.

I'm so damn tired of it. I'm especially tired of the following phrases:

"Don't be like that." "Why are you being mean?" "You're special." "That's not the case."

There are more but I won't give them all to you here. The bottom line is this, you (the general you) ain't fooling anyone.

Women will sometimes fool themselves, though. I can admit that in the past, I've done that. Reclaiming my time means not wasting my own time on bullshit.

When words are not matching actions, I get real clear of how things will go down. I have zero interest in a man that doesn't keep his word. Just as I have zero interest in continuing to feed narcissistic behavior for no good ghatdamb reason.

I love companionship and I love love. This is the reason why I have a need to see to the truth and myself.

What kind of example would I be setting if I continued to accept less than what I deserve? Settling is something that I don't think I was built for.

I'm strangely happy and fulfilled in this single state. Truth be told, I don't enjoy dating. I was never good at it. Probably because I detest small chat and I'm slightly allergic to assholian behavior.

But, I am open to it in an "ohemgee, it's the beginning of the school year and I get to have new pencils" type of way. With excitement and happy expectations.

In the meantime, though, I have to say that I am enjoying this new open version of myself. This truth teller that I have become. This settler of nothing but magic. It's made me happier and I think it's made me a better woman.

Death of the Ride or Die

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As women, it feels as if we sometimes do an awful lot of waiting. We wait for the call, the text, the email. The kiss on the lips, the words we want to hear, the flowers on the doorstep. We wait on someone to get themselves together, their situation handled. Waiting on someone to fulfill the potential we bought into. My favorite is: we wait on people to realize our worth and the loss they will have in their lives when we walk away.

We bend over backwards and forwards, try to shape and mold ourselves to carry our weight and then pick up other people's along the way because hey, why not? 

But, if we stop for a second we will realize that no one asked us to do that! It's as if some of us are burdened with a curse. It's like muscle memory from generations past. Some days, it feels coded in our DNA like my curls and my soft brown eyes.

I've been called a "ride or die" before. I always thought that's the kind of girl I was. And I have been. For better or worse.

You see, a "ride or die" chick can easily end up being a use and discard one.

Giving all that loyalty and commitment to someone who hasn't proven themselves is dangerous. Trust me on this.

As women, it makes us vulnerable because our expectation is that giving that commitment means it will be reciprocated. We, who grew up with "all I need in this life of sin, is me and my girlfriend, me and my girlfriend. Down to ride to the very end, is me and my boyfriend, me and my boyfriend."

We have this idea of ride or die in our heads when most of the time, we ride alone and die slowly on the inside waiting for potential that never gets realized.

Sometimes, we ride and die for the optics. In the same fashion that people pore over weddings and spare no expense but put half of that time and energy into the actual marriage. It's about what looks good on the outside. The shininess of a thing that you can hold out for others to see.

Let me also say this, I know plenty of happy couples (married and/or co-habitating) that are in it through thick and thin. Balls in, as they say. It's a beautiful thing. Something that brings my heart joy, something that I revel in and deeply enjoy seeing, especially the ones I hold close to my heart. In these couples, I see the commitment on both sides. So in some ways, perhaps the ride or die needs to become more of a gender neutral commitment. Something that should be done by both people in a relationship. Like the dishes and the laundry.

Oh, and let me be clear on something: this isn't exclusive to romantic relationships. Friendships can fall prey to this as well.

But, I think that in 2017 the ride or die needs to be laid to rest. The generational curse of accepting less than, broken. The idea that we must withstand whatever may come at the cost of our sanity, our self-respect, our dignity and our very own daughters, discarded.

She should be given a eulogy for her strength and perseverance. Remembered for her moments of naivete when she thought that holding up someone she loved would garner that same support.

In death, we must shower her with all the flowers she did not receive, all the attention that she expected, all the love that was taken for granted. We must throw dirt on that casket, say a prayer for her and realize that we deserve better.

And then, we must step out of the bereavement clothing, go out and demand just that. Let's move from ride or die and into a place where we can be loyal to others but true to ourselves first. Love others after we learn to adore ourselves and serve others without expectations.

In riding for ourselves, we will surely lead better lives.

Looking Back To Move Ahead

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As I was going through boxes in the garage, carefully attempting to KonMari'ying my way through the things that have been stored there for at least 2 years, I found a card in what looked like an evidence bag. It threw me into a tunnel down memory lane. Not the pleasant memories that bring back images of birthday cake or dinner with friends. This memory was sour and ashen, reminiscent of what you find in the chimney the day after burning way too many logs. It was rancid with regret and soaked in dried up droplets of fear.

You see...a long time ago, in a land not-so-far away there lived a girl. Who met a boy. Who wasn't who he said he was. Who managed to lead multiple lives until one day he no longer could. And then the girl realized that for almost 6 years of her life, she'd been living in a make believe land with a make believe person that was neither nice nor good.

Crazy, eh?

This story would take a book to explain and in all honesty, I'm afraid there are pieces of this story lost to me because the trauma of what happened has managed to take an eraser to the edges of my memory in such a finite way. It is a miracle that I am still here. It is a miracle that more damage was not done.

I was broken down, I was isolated, I was emotionally manipulated. All these things I allowed. And yes, I could go breakdown the specifics, make excuses. The daddy issues, the depression at my entire family having suddenly moved away, the questionable decisions I was making in life. But it's a matter of taking responsibility and accepting what has happened rather than wallowing in it and continuing to play victim.

[Tweet "It's a matter of taking responsibility and accepting what has happened rather than wallowing in it and continuing to play victim. - @MyMamihood"]

In those boxes, I found a card sent to me by a man I did not truly know. He sent it to my job because he did not have my home address. And he did not sign his name. Rather, he signed it with the name of my tattoo. It was creepy as hell because I had not had contact with him and he had been...indisposed. And I wasn't sure he wouldn't attempt to physically see me. (Spoiler: about a year later he did try.)

Why is this coming up now?

Sometimes, in the midst of the storm, in the middle of whatever fresh shenanigans you find yourself in, you get a chance to look back and TRULY see how far you've come, the other roads that you could've found yourself on and the understanding that you might not be where you think you "should" be but you sure as hell aren't back there!

[Tweet "In the midst of the storm you find yourself in, you get a chance to look back and TRULY see how far you've come. - @MyMamihood"]

Amirite?

I suppose you want to know more about "the man I never knew". I don't know if I'm ready to talk about him yet. Mostly because I don't know where to begin the tale.

Know this: my faith grew by leaps and bounds due to my interactions with him, I came out of it mentally and spiritually stronger than I was when I went into it and though I had been systematically programmed to ignore or question my instinct, I realized the importance that your gut plays in every interaction you have. You just need to time it, train it and trust it.

[Tweet "Not everything that's supposed to destroy you does. A good portion of the time, it just makes those broken parts fit better. @MyMamihood"]

The card went in the trash. It's where it belongs. It served its purpose. It didn't scare me, it didn't made me feel sad, it didn't fill me with regret. It reminded me of how strong I am. Of how far I've come. It reminded me that I have a purpose and filled me with a deep sense of gratitude.

You see, not everything that's supposed to destroy you does. A good portion of the time, it just makes those broken parts of you fit better.

Sometimes, in the midst of the storm, in the middle of whatever fresh shenanigans you find yourself in, you get a chance to look back and TRULY see how far you’ve come. - Sili Recio


There are lots of great news in the midst, good people. I hope to be able to share it all with you soon. I'm not blogging as much this summer but you can still find my thoughts and tomfoolery on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Sex and the Sili

I have a long list of topics that I've been meaning to write about. About half of that list contains topics on relationships and sex-ish topics. It occurred to me that I don't think I've written much on this subject. Why? Not sure. I never lost my sexuality after I had my baby. For a while, I lost my confidence (and it had nothing to do with the baby). But here I am, opening up to you all about relationships and dating.

I really love The Good Men Project. I think I read about 5 articles on their site today. This one caught my attention and held it long enough for me to become introspective on the subject: If Only More Women Would Stop Doing This One Thing…

Let me start by saying that, I am a liker of the sext. And the romance. And the giddiness one feels when there's someone that "does it to you" without "doing it to you". You know what I mean?

I love the connection that we make in life. And I love it when  you can not only exchange energy with a person but passion as well.

After reading that post and wanting to talk about it I realized something: I think I've skimmed over the topic of sex on this blog altogether. Say it ain't so!

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During this year of Epic, I have to solemnly swear to be more open about certain things. I talk to some of my readers via private message and share information there, or on the Twitters. And I always seem to talk to my friends about the more risque topics.

But, I'm inwardly intrigued as to why I haven't stepped into my comfort zone on this topic. Could it be that even though I tout that Mamihood is all-encompassing, I've refused to add "sex, sexy, sexing, sexual" to the bucket? I recall touching on the subject when I had a negative experience with a future mentor (and present anal orifice). But not much more.

These thoughts have led me to theorize that perhaps I hold those societal prejudices against a part of myself. That, as a single woman, I am somehow devoid of feeling a certain way. Or that as a mom I am not able to have certain experiences.

So here I am. Ready to open up the conversation.

Can we go back to the article I read before I gave y'all this monologue (I am channeling Papa Pope, I think)?

We don't tell men what we want. And I think it goes beyond the bedroom but, I want to stay here for a second. Because it's important.

Being honest is paramount in a relationship. But it means nothing if we are not honest with ourselves. If we don't know how to make ourselves happy, why should we ever expect someone else to do so? It's unfair to put that on someone else's shoulder. I mean you could maybe put your thighs on their shoulders but the burden of pleasure? Madam! That lies squarely between your...ears.

According to the study mentioned, a whopping 87% of us “moan” or vocalize during intercourse to: a) boost their man’s self-image as a lover, and b) speed things up. And though I think I'm pretty honest and I like to think I'm up front and real with men, this statistic has me second guessing myself!

So the question is: how can we be more honest in the bedroom? First with ourselves and then with our partners. If it starts with us, I believe we need to start talking about it. So, let's talk about it. Do you talk to your partner about what you like? Do you know what you like?

Dating Dossier: Online Dating

I'm single. Did you know that? What you might not know is that I've never been a big dater. And thus, this world we live in of online dating and showcasing yourself online for the purposes of a partnership is, shall we say, unknown to me.

Crazy, right? I mean I live online, why is this so difficult?

Truth be told, I have no clue how this happens online. But there I went, signing up with an online dating site just to check things out. Allow me to channel Mother Oprah for one second and tell you what I know is true:

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Y'all, I can't do this. I just cannot. I think the first and most important reason is the total lack of punctuation in the messages I received. And deficiency of capitalization. What happened? Did a capital letter bully you in school? Did a comma slap you upside your head? What did correct grammar do to you to cause you to send me messages lacking in it?!

I don't think I can do online dating.

But seriously, dating is kind of scary. Online dating has a special level of OMG that I can't describe. I have no clue where to begin. So I've decided I will just be single for the rest of my life. Because if my option is finding someone via online dating, I don't know how it's going to happen. Ima need this vision board to work its magic and find someone to sweep me off my feet like I requested. Randomly and in a non-creepy, "this dude ain't stalking me" kind of way.

This is what I want. I wrote up my list a while back and obviously need to add a few more things to it. Like proper spelling and punctuation.

It's Memorial Day weekend. If you guys find a hawt guy that meets some of the criteria from that list that can actually sweep me off my feet without the use of the interwebs and its dating sites, I'd greatly appreciate it.

I'd also greatly appreciate some of those BBQ ribs. And a kale salad because...balance. Please and thank you!

3 Ways to Get Your Apology Accepted

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Who did it and why? is a question that often comes up in the therapy room. When someone has been emotionally hurt by another, it can be difficult for the hurt party to move forward from a place of pain, anger, and resentment. A common reason for this difficulty is the lack of acceptance of the offending party's remorse. An apology may have been given, but it was not fully accepted.

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Here are 3 ways to help ensure your apologies get accepted so you can start bridging the gap in your relationships:

  1. Listen: The first step to getting your apology accepted is to listen to what has gotten your partner so upset. Give you partner as much time as they need to express themselves; do not interrupt their story and reflect back what they have shared with you when they have finished speaking. The goal here is to understand your partner and for your partner to feel understood.
  2. Say "I'm Sorry": We often try to correct our wrong before we have actually apologized for our actions. If we feel our partner should not have been hurt by actions, or our actions mirrored one of their own behaviors from the past, we find it difficult to express empathy or remorse to our partner. Saying I'm sorry" is not an acknowledgement of guilt, it is a validation of our loved-one's feelings. If you truly want to move forward and bridge the gap with your partner, you must first validate their experience of you.
  3. Commit to a behavior change: The most challenging step to having our apology accepted is our follow-through with a behavior change. Gaining insight into your partner's emotional make-up, via steps 1 and 2, will help inform how you can better relate to your partner in the future. Behavior changes can be small or large, but are most effective when they are mutually agreed upon. Remember, your credibility is only as good as your follow-up!

Getting past hurt, anger, and resentment can be a challenge for families and couples. If you are having difficulty managing your relationships, I encourage you to explore counseling services in your local area designed to assist you in learning and implementing communication techniques that improve understanding and strengthen emotional bonds!

This post first appeared on Cheryl's blog.

Making "Cents" of Money in Relationships

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When we look at the marriage customs of our ancestors, marriage was often a business relationship that brought two families together. Now that love is the foundation of many 21st century relationships, why does MONEY seem to contribute so often to relationship conflict? Mine, Yours, Ours DollarsSometimes, when each partner works and they can't agree on financial issues, they decide to split the bills down the middle or allocate them out in some other fair and equitable manner. Once the bills are covered, each partner can spend what they have left as they see fit.

It sounds like a reasonable plan, but the process often builds resentment over the individual purchases made. It also divides the spending power, eliminating much of the financial value of marriage.

How to Bridge the Gap: Develop a pre-approved purchase agreement (i.e. purchases below a certain amount are discretionary; purchases above $500 are to be discussed). Be a check and balance for each other.

Debt Broken_Piggy_BankFrom school & car loans to credit cards and gambling habits, most people come to the relationship with financial baggage. If one partner has more debt than the other, or worse yet one partner is debt free, the sparks can start to fly when discussions about income, spending, and debt servicing come up. How to Bridge the Gap: make it a goal to live debt free; mutually develop a plan for paying down debt regardless of initial ownership. Once paid down, make it a goal to pay credit cards off monthly. For those who aren't married, knowing what you are about to get yourself into can help you decide how to deal with it. If you just can't come to an agreement, but your heart won't let you walk away, a prenuptial agreement may be an option.

Power Play Power_PlayPower conflicts often occur in the following scenarios:

  1. He works and she doesn't
  2. He's unemployed and she's working
  3. One partner earns more than the other
  4. One extended family has money and the other does not

When these situations are present, the money earner (or the one who makes the most money) may have a tendency to want to dictate the spending priorities. Although there may be some rationale behind is idea, it is still important that both partners cooperate as a team!

How to Bridge the Gap: The power play issue can get ugly quickly!! Few things build resentment faster than being made to feel inferior. If you've got the cash, you need to be sensitive about how you present spending decisions. If you don't have the money, you need to be prepared for the stress and tension that is almost inevitable, even in good relationships. The Bottom Line Like many relationship problems, lack of communication is often the underlying issue in money-management conflicts. Challenges aside, getting married can have serious financial advantages. It is a great way to double your income without doubling your expenses. If you can synchronize your goals, you and your partner can reach them much more quickly than working alone!

Dating Dossier: The List

A long, long time ago, I had a conversation with Robi about the list. She just celebrated her 13th wedding anniversary but this must've been about 5 years into her marriage. I remember her telling me she had found the list she'd made years ago regarding what she wanted in a man. And that she'd checked off her must haves for her husband. Good thing too because I didn't think an annulment would be possible then. We are list-making women. Robiaun is definitely my sister from another mister. Her husband says we are twins but I think that I lack the gumption and resolve that flows naturally from her. She's always been able to stand in her truth and in her worth. I hadn't seen that before her. Throughout the years she has stood by me and has provided me that backbone when I needed it, reminded me of my worth and more often than not told me that either 1. I was overreacting or 2. I was wrong. You need a friend like that. Someone that's not afraid to tell you the truth. I'm blessed (I guess) that I have multiple women that fulfill this role. But, I digress.

This post is about lists, dammit! Do you know what you want in a mate? Do you know what you need? What's a game changer? Where do you compromise? Do you know your worth? I'll be posting about the business of relationships soon. It's a repost from another lifetime but one that I think still resonates. But for now, let's focus on your list.

Well, actually it's my blog so let's focus on mine. I don't have one. I, the queen of lists, have not written down my needs and wants for a mate. Going through my corporate social responsibility class's discussion about personal vision and mission this past week reminded me that I need to get back to it. I know I wrote a list once. But I have no idea where it is.

Enjoy yourself...that's what your 20's are for. Your 30's are to learn the lessons. Your 40's are to pay for the drink. - Carrie, SATC

And so I will use my OneNote to put a list together. A list of must haves and a list of "if you got this you are SO out the door". We need these lists to keep us honest and to remind ourselves to not settle for anything less than what we deserve. I'm good for that. Personally and professionally. In friendship or partnerships. I am not afraid to admit that to you. But I want to do something about it.

I think that as women, we cheat ourselves out of leading the life that was set forth for us because we are afraid to speak our needs. And even though this started under the dating dossier header I think this applies to everything in life.

So here's your homework (yikes!). Make a list. If you are blissfully coupled (yay!) then make a list about your goals or a dream you want to accomplish. If you can't think of anything, make a Christmas gift list for me. Don't be afraid to ask me what I want.

Refer back to your list as often as you need to. Give yourself a measuring stick. And have a friend hold you accountable. Then, let me know how it goes.

What do you need a list for in your life right now?

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