On Forgetting

Once, during a conversation with an abusive ex, he looked at me and said, “What happened to us?” Within the year that we had gotten back together, he was reflecting and thinking aloud on what had broken us up for an extended time before. At first, his question left me speechless because I realized in that moment that he had forgotten the things that previously broke us apart. And, perhaps, he had forgotten the things that were keeping us together. For example:

He had forgotten the time that he called the police to have me put out of his house during an argument that he wanted to end; upon ensuring my safe departure, one of the officers said, “I believe you, and if I were you, I would leave and never come back.”

He forgot the time that he threw my things out of his front door because I wasn’t packing them up fast enough upon his demand to GET OUT.

He forgot the time that he slammed the door, and locked the door in my face after throwing my things out of the door onto the concrete roadway at his front door, while I was standing there, left to pick up those things.

He forgot that his weapon of choice was almost always the telephone and, in particular, the block feature.

He forgot the many times he hated me as if I were his worst enemy in one breath, and then said he loved me in the next.

He forgot the many times he threw us away, as if our relationship meant absolutely nothing to him; by the next day he would call to see if I was “okay” and to say “I’m sorry.”

And, he forgot that the most important thing in his life was hanging out (drinking, and smoking); being with me came after he did all those things, and often to the point of complete oblivion.

Most recently…

He forgot the time that we went to the store and he was pacing, fuming, and finally yelling at me in front of the salesperson that he was ready to go; according to him, my transaction was taking too long.

He forgot about the many times that he came over to “see me,” and he pretty much passed out within an hour of being there.

He forgot the time that he hung up on me when I was telling him about the nail in my tire and that I was potentially facing a flat tire or the need for a brand new tire.

He forgot the time that he accused me of sleeping with one of his cigar buddies who I didn’t even know or care to know.

He forgot the time that he was so drunk and boasting to his buddies – with me in his presence – that he didn’t care about those b****** ( referring to the women who had just left a local establishment), and that he was, proudly, “a player.”

He forgot the time that he walked out of my apartment in his underwear because he got mad at something I said (and I have the pictures to prove it).

He forgot the times (plural) that he walked into my apartment, yelling, that if anyone had anything to say about any noise coming from my apartment to come and talk to him (WTF?).

He forgot that out of nowhere on a trip he accused me of wanting to sleep with the housekeeping staff at the hotel where we were staying, because they kept knocking on the door (to check on our need for cleaning services).

He forgot – during that trip – he said (via text from a bar) that he had taken the car and was half way back home without me.

He forgot when he used to say, “Don’t let anybody mind f*** you,” but he tried to mind f*** just about everybody he came in contact with.

He forgot that when I needed to go to the emergency room he was too tired on his day off to get up out of his bed and drive me to the hospital.

He forgot the times that I dropped what I was doing to come and help him, including the time that he had a flat tire; and for the time that he was too drunk to drive home on his own (actually, for that, I was glad).

He forgot – on the day of a recent outpatient surgical procedure – that he didn’t even bother to come over or call me before he went to hang out, smoke and drink with his buddies. And that night his phone died, so he did not – allegedly he could not – show up til five o’clock PM, the next day.

He forgot the many times that he spewed and condoned hateful words and contempt for black women, and thus for me as a black woman on a regular basis (he also harbors hate for many others, but he doesn’t dare say it outloud in public).

On the other hand,

He must have forgotten the time that he said to me, “You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”

He forgot the time that he took “full responsibility” for the breakup of our relationship.

He forgot that he said “I love you” at least twice a day.

He forgot the time that together we made it through, able to walk away unharmed – for the most part – from a devastating hit and run accident.

I suppose he forgot that he said he didn’t want any other woman in his life, but me.

He forgot that he said we were perfect for each other.

He forgot that he said that he would always be there for me.

He forgot how much he seemed to beam with love when we were out together.

He forgot that we used to make each other smile and laugh from deep within.

He forgot that when we reconciled, after quite a bit of time apart, he said that he would never hurt me again.

He forgot the many, many times he said “I am sorry” for hurting me.

He forgot that he said that the way that people break up says a lot about the kind of relationship they had.

He forgot that he said to me that the relationship would take care of itself; I was never quite sure what that meant for him.

He forgot that he would call to say he missed me when he lived just three blocks away.

I guess he forgot that I would often wait for him for hours when I could have gone to sleep or gone on to do whatever I was doing – without him.

He forgot that when his phone was not operating properly that I would wake up at five in the morning to call him just so that he would not be late for work, and when I did not have to be up for another hour and a half.

He forgot that I loved him like no one I have ever met, and I told him that on a regular basis.

He forgot about all the food that I prepared, with love, so that he could have a good meal at work and plenty leftover at the end of the day.

He forgot that I often complemented him with words like “Hey handsome!” He rarely accepted those complements.

Apparently, he forgot that he turned and walked away from us when I – rightly – implied that he might not be there for me on the next big thing in my life.

So finally,

While it is convenient for him to forget, I will not. I will remember everything that happened: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Perhaps the totality of these memories, and especially the painful ones, will keep me from accepting the future apologies that will come when he attempts to say “I am sorry” for the umpteenth time without meaning it and without doing anything to address and change his abusive behavior, which only becomes more complicated with each so-called apology.

Frankly, it is a relief that I don’t have to tolerate his madness and hatefulness any longer, yet I am saddened to know that he will be doing these very same things to the next woman who dares to love him. I’m sorry that she – and more likely it will be “they” since he actually prides himself on being “a player” – will be subjected to the anger and abuse that is controlling him and his relationships with women, and all because he has chosen to deny the reality of who he is deep-down under all the things and people he uses to try and cover it up.

He may choose to forget, and others – especially his so-called friends and associates – will both encourage and enable him to continue hurting black women and himself, but I will do my best to not forget: to recall and remember all the things that happened with us; and, because it would drive me insane and make me culpable to repeat and replay this horribly incredible emotional rollercoaster any longer.

There isn’t a cell in my body that hasn’t already told me that I deserve to have a better man and a better life. I know it, and so does he, which, I believe, is one of the reasons why he chooses not to remember.

© 2019 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

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Thoughts on Being There for the Ones We Say We Love

It’s what you don’t do

I know you love me

I don’t need proof. ~ Lianne La Havas

Recently, I learned that I would be hospitalized for a pretty significant surgical procedure. Prior to the surgery, I told a few family members and friends about the upcoming ordeal. The responses were a little bit startling. One person said, “When you have your surgery, you’ll have to go over to so and so’s house,” – meaning – that I should not stay at my own home, or not at his home. Another friend wanted me to come to their house; making it easier on them to be there for me. Neither response thrilled me. My preference, after surgery, was to be at my home, in my own bed. Given the pain that I would probably experience, and the healing that needed to take place, I did not want to be at anyone else’s place, but mine.

Making my wishes known to these persons was not a pleasant thing to do. I thought that it made perfect sense that I wanted and deserved to be in my own home environment to recover from this surgery. I assumed that it was quite reasonable that I did not want to be at someone else’s place. Obviously, I was mistaken, which is why I’m writing this blog.

I wonder how many of you reading this blog would be like those friends who said to me that I should be somewhere else or where they wanted me to be for my recovery? Would that have been your recommendation? Or, might you have said, like a few others did (if we were that close) “If you need anything, call us and we will come over and help you.” “We are here for you.” “We will try to be helpful to you.”?

It is often inconvenient to be there for the ones we love. It gets in our way; disrupts our plans; and, sometimes it costs us greatly to step up and be there for the ones that we love when something has gone wrong. To genuinely be there for others, in both mind and body, it sometimes requires that we stop what we are doing and be present to them. This is what I have repeatedly and consistently done for the special ones in my life. I have been there for them to the best of my ability, and, often, in more ways than one.

When I made it known to both friends mentioned above as to what I wanted for my recovery, it did not go as expected. One so-called friend flat-out ghosted me. He became angry, disappeared, and to this day I have never heard from him (and this he did right after he refused to show me much empathy for an unexpected almost flat tire). With the other friend, I met her halfway; I agreed to stay for one week of the two weeks of my recovery at her home.

Startling and disappointing? That’s what I was thinking, too. But, as usual, I came to realize that you win some and you lose some. Life has a very uncanny way of opening our eyes and showing us what we need to see when we need to see it; that’s if we are willing to take the time to stop, look and listen to the people around us. Because, as the saying goes, actions always speak louder than words.

©2019 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

Leave Hate Alone

I did not fully understand the concept of unearned guilt until I was in a relationship with someone who hated women; and, therefore, whenever I said or did something that reminded him of the women that he hated, he hated me: just like that, as if I had harmed him or taken something from him.

A time or two or three or four, I went back; I let his guilt convince me that I was to blame; and, somehow at fault for his despicable and painful predicament.

But, the best thing that I ever did in response to his hateful outbursts was to leave the anger, hate, guilt, and contempt with him, where it belonged.

I refuse to be with a man who hates women, because, if he hates women, it is only a matter of time before he will hate me

And you, if we let him.

© 2019 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

The Difference Between Love and Hate

When someone loves you they will do whatever they can to put a smile on your face.

They will not look for opportunities to make you upset or mad.

They will not ignore your calls, or disregard your feelings when you are feeling afraid, down or hurting.

They will not hide from you when there is trouble between you.

They will seek to be a part of your peace and healing

And the truth will not be far from their lips.

You won’t have to ask them or beg for their attention.

What is important to you will be important to them.

They will be there for you; they will try to understand you.

When someone loves you, they will look for every reason to hear your voice,

See your smile,

And bring you joy.

(Sending texts back and forth, all day, will not suffice, rather, this can become like a cruel tease);

Your face will be what they desire to see at the start of each and every day, or as often as possible.

Your voice will cause them to smile and laugh, perhaps outloud, even when you are not around.

The memory of your smell will fill them with warmth and anticipation,

And the thought of touching you will enable them to face the most frustrating of moments and people.

When someone loves you there will be a genuine sense of safety, happiness and freedom of mind and body.

Laughter will be more apparent than sadness or tears.

True love fills us with courage, not cowardice.

It took me most of my life to learn the difference between love and hate,

And it is one of the greatest, and hardest lessons that I have ever, ever had to know

And mostly from the ones who did not and could not find it within themselves to love me,

Like they said that they would.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

Black Panther: And the Beauty of Sunsets (and People) We Never Could Have Imagined

There is always more than one way to win when you are in a fight, or when you are facing an enemy or oppressor. What I liked about the movie Black Panther was seeing that it is not always necessary or wise to let the hate or contempt that you feel for those who hurt you eat you and every one you come into contact with, alive.

I know far too many people, a few that I still love, deeply, to this day, who are consumed with anger and hate. In some cases, they destroy everything that they come into contact with: good, bad, and in-between; until eventually their hate and resentments lead them to destroy themselves.

I’m all for insisting upon accountability and justice from those that I would consider to be my enemies and generally as hateful and abusive individuals, but, I’ve also learned that it is not to my benefit or for my good to destroy my own chances at happiness and joy because of what someone else did or said that harmed me or others. I cannot live my life wallowing and drowning in the inadequacies and transgressions of others who seem to be oblivious to their own brokenness and failures.

Approaching the age of fifty, I have learned that living in this way – caught in the grip of my past and pain – will keep me from seeing the beauty in life, the sunsets, the people and the places that I never could have imagined.

I walked out of the movie, Black Panther, being keenly aware of how important it is to heal from the losses and tragedies of the past (and even those that I encounter here in the present).

If we are ever going to be useful to ourselves and a gift to others, including the next generation, these actions – which require the evolution of self and the letting go of hate – are what we must take the time to embrace before our time is up.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

A Cautionary Note on Surviving Abuse

Careful, that you don’t become just like those who failed you with hate, anger, and abuse.

You deserve a life that is truly free from their madness and confusion.

Just getting away from them is not enough.

Letting them go and surviving the trauma is also refusing to carry your abuser’s self-destructive thoughts and ways around inside of you.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

Finding “The Strength to Love”: MLK Jr. Day 2018!

One of the most admirable character traits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is that he was not a hateful or divisive man. He was a man who routinely embraced and expressed love, even when it was not the popular or convenient thing to do. Dr. King was not a man of anger and hate, and I truly admire that.

The person that you become in life is up to you and you alone. Going forward, find “the strength to love.” Resist the urge to hate or be consumed with anger. We honor and celebrate Dr. King by being a loving people, even in the face of hate.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

N/B: Indeed, the use of “Strength to Love,” is an allusion to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 publication, Strength to Love, published by Harper & Row.