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 spews his hate on to me, if I let him.

And that is simply not happening.

Today, I choose love,

Not hate.

© 2019 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

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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, and a few that I attempted to love, 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 bring a premature, unfortunate end to themselves and the good that has come into their lives.

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.

You Call Me Out of My Name

You call me out of my name every time you ignore me or my calls

Every time you walk out and act as if I never even existed

Every time you accuse me of owing you for what you allegedly gave to me out of love

Every time you pretend that what you said and did were not intended to hurt

Every time you threaten to strike me with your hands or your words

Every time you dismiss me and my feelings like they mean nothing to you

Every time you refuse to acknowledge your part in destroying what we built together

Every time you put what we had in unnecessary danger or jeopardy by neglecting to take care of yourself

Every time you let your anger and self-righteousness demolish the trust we came to cherish

Every time you negate the love that some black women have given to you, including me,  because of the actions of those who did not

Every time you despise and hate me for what others did to you

Every time you blame me for your fears, shortcomings and failures

Every time you fail to understand the difference between the past and the present

Every time you assume that you know more than me or are better than me because you are male

Every time you forsake your own integrity and happiness

For a drink.

© 2017 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

The Womanist Way of Loving the Self

Womanist as defined by Alice Walker:

In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose, 1983: Harcourt, Brace & Howe.

Womanist

1. From womanish. (Opp. Of “girlish,” i.e., frivolous, irresponsible, not serious.) A black feminist or feminist of color. From the black folk expression of mothers to female children, “You acting womanish,” i.e., like a woman. Usually referring to outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior. Wanting to know more and in greater depth than is considered “good” for one. Interested in grown-up doings. Acting grown up. Being grown up. Interchangeable with another black folk expression: “You trying to be grown.” Responsible. In charge. Serious.

2. Also: A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or non sexually. Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength. Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/or non sexually. Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female. Not a separatist, except periodically, for health. Traditionally, universalist, as in: “Mama, why are we brown, pink, and yellow, and our cousins are white, beige, and black?” :”Well, you know colored race is just like a flower garden, with every color flower represented.” Traditionally capable, as in: “Mama, I’m walking to Canada and I’m taking you and a bunch of other slaves with me.” Reply: “It wouldn’t be the first time.

3. Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless.

4. Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.

Several years ago, I resigned from a tenure-track job at my alma mater, Clark Atlanta University. It was a very difficult but important decision and I wasn’t sure how I would make it, especially financially. Needless to say, I survived, and in hindsight I truly believe that I made the right decision, for me.

Being true to yourself is never an easy task. Today, I am very grateful for the ones who were there for me and who cheered me on when I made the hard decisions. Their open mindedness, positivity, and sometimes their overwhelming support brightened my days and gave me hope. On the other hand, it was my critics and even my “haters” who lit a fire under me; and thus, they were the ones who have enabled me to know what it is to live my life, my way.

The truth is: I could not have made it to where I am today, be the woman I am today, without both groups of people in my life. Those who loved me and supported me taught me how to have compassion and patience with myself; and, those who questioned, criticized, and some who eventually left or abandoned me (including one wanna-be pimp) taught me how to love myself regardless of what others might think, say, or do. Because of them, all of them, I am learning what it means to love myself the womanist way: regardless.

© 2017 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

Shoulda Been Gone: When Is Enough Enough?

Certainly, there are times when I have asked myself: why did I stay in that place, that job or that relationship as long as I did? Weren’t there signs or events that happened that should have made it easy for me to move on or move out? I suppose that out of a genuine need to feel that I did all that I could do in a certain place or in a relationship that I have struggled with timing an exit or an ending. Like many, I have struggled with drawing a line in the sand and letting it be. Leaving that line there or saying enough is enough in a place (such as a city) or even in an employment situation is especially difficult when others don’t want you to go or when they expect you to stay (perhaps stuck and unhappy in a city, a job or a relationship like ~ ahem ~ they are). Detaching, particularly where human relationships are concerned, is not always an easy or pleasant thing to do.

I don’t think my struggle with detachment is all that unusual. Compassionate, healthy, loving human beings want to make good decisions, and they worry about others’ feelings, not just their own. On the other hand, selfish, unhealthy, or worse yet, narcissistic, dishonest and delusional human beings could care less about how their decisions affect others; they want and justify what they want no matter what and no matter who suffers in the process, and they frequently inflict a lot of emotional pain and confusion upon themselves and others. How I appreciate displays of compassion and mindfulness. When it is a personal decision (and not the result of emotional or physical intimidation or violence), I respect that sometimes we as human beings keep trying or hoping for better situations or better behavior in people (all the while as we too are doing our best to improve or address our behaviors). Committing one’s self to gaining the best possible outcome is a very respectful, humane effort.

Nevertheless, back to my question: exactly when does one pack it all up and move on down the road? When is it time to let go of a place, a job, a person or even an idea (like a god or a religion) that is no longer fulfilling or that has run its course? There are times when people, places or things are only temporary; when they no longer provide us with a sense of meaning or safety. When that happens, it is time for me to let go, and I have learned that saying “enough is enough” is, at the end of the day, my decision. On the one hand, in making decisions of whether to stay or go, I often talk it out with others ahead of time, but it is not up to the situation or the person or the idea who is no longer enough for me to determine whether I should stay. A conscious movement away from a place, person or idea (especially one that is causing me unhappiness, stress, confusion or misery) is never easy, and to be sure, the act of severing ties with anyone or any thing can be accompanied by unbelievable grief, anxiety and loneliness. But, moving on, no matter what others might say or do to keep you from leaving, or pressuring you in to not doing what you want because they are afraid to end or bring closure to undesirable or outdated relationships with people, places or ideas for themselves (which is something I have personally experienced when exes and/or children are in the picture…and when it comes to gods or religion), is a very powerful act of self-love and self-affirmation. In a world that is constantly abandoning us and encouraging us to abandon ourselves and our agency and to conform to the status quo, it is important that we learn how to 1) take ultimate control of our own lives and choices, and 2) exhibit that power when necessary.

When should you be gone from people, jobs, places or ideas that no longer work for you? Be gone when you have had enough, and only you can be the one to say when that is. The others, the ones who are left behind and not happy with you for moving on and taking charge of your own life and destiny will just have to get over it. Or not.

© 2015 annalise fonza, Ph.D.