Sunday, February 8, 2009

You are My God!

I am a big fan of Steve Harvey's morning radio show. I listen faithfully every morning when driving the kids to school and am always in the car at the reading of the "Strawberry Letter." For those of you not familiar with the show, the Strawberry Letter is the portion of the show where Steve and Shirley Strawberry respond to a reader's dilemma. Readers write in with questions. I love the candor of these letters and though they seem off-the-wall, baby mama drama to some folks... well, it sounds like regular life to me! I have known some chaos in my life and work with people everyday who know the same. Here is a letter from one of Steve's listeners with my reply posted at the end. :-)

Date: 02/08/2009
Subject: Another Again

I am a twenty-four year old African American female living in a small college town. I recently received my Masters, have stable employment, totally independent (insurance, rent, car note, etc.), seeking to pursue my Ph.D., personality and physical aspects are up to pare, but I'm newly single. My ex and I recently parted due to "spiritual" differences. He claims nothing was wrong with our relationship, I just didn't make he want to grow spiritually. Sure, we want and need that, but is this a reason to end a blossoming relationship? Prior to our relationship, I had been incarcerated, I smoked and drank almost on a daily basis, I was promiscuous and I had a "situational" relationship with God. (Trust me; the above-mentioned are only surface issues). He was well aware of these facts, yet we started a relationship. I changed everything for this man. I began going to church with him (please note, we were raised under different denominations. He's a 7th Day Adventist and I'm Baptist), I stopped all recreational activities and I was faithful. He has been spiritually "stable" for quite sometime, but this was new to me. He asked for my patience (compromising, understanding, communication, etc.) and I asked for his in return. Unfortunately, I was the only one in the relationship to uphold the bargain. I've been in other relationships and the pain never felt like this. I've pleaded my case with him, I've spoke with our pastor, I've prayed till my words were without sound and yet, he vehemently states, we can't be together. (He assures me there was not and is not another woman. I believe him). He wants to be friends, but let's be realistic; you can't be friends with someone you love. It's been almost five months now and I'm still miserable. Sleep and a smile have become daily tasks and happiness is now an elusive concept. I stopped going to church (his church) because my heart can?t stand to see him, I feel awkward in my old church, and I slowly see myself easing back into my old practices. How do I mentally, emotionally, and spiritually get back on track? Another again

Dear Another Again,

Girl, I read your letter and my heart hurts with you. The pain in your words is palpable and you've so poignantly penned your hurt. I'm sorry for the pain you're going through, but I do have some encouragement for you. God has presented you with a window to yourself. He is giving you a glimpse of something deep deep inside you crying out to be healed! How do I know this? Because you are grieving the loss of an adult relationship as if you were a dependent child losing a caregiver... the depth of your pain is tellin' on ya. You are a grown adult woman. No one can ever abandon you, they can only come or go out of your life. If they go, you keep on living. I would encourage you to look back in your life at other people who walked away, write them down. Go as far back as you remember until you remember "the one" whose leaving changed the course of your life. You'll likely see it was a parent or other essential caregiver. These wounds tend to occur in childhood. And you did aptly name yourself "Another Again."

One of the first things that strikes me is that this man was interested in you when you were fresh out of jail with some bad habits, despite his spiritual exterior. He kinda liked his bad girl. Once you cleaned up and "changed for him," seems like he lost interest. Perhaps he saw some authenticity in you in the beginning of the relationship that endeared you to him? We all like authenticity in a mate!

Another thought, and I'm just gonna lay it out there, it sounds like you made this man your God and, therefore, when he left, your "spirituality" went with him. No other person can be your Higher Power. We set them up to fail when we ask them to make us feel good about ourselves or emotionally caretake us. Perhaps he felt important in the beginning with such a lofty role, he was your savior, your rescuer. In time, the impossibility of the role set in and the man naturally wanted to retreat! No one can live up to the role of God. They're gonna wind up exhausted and resentful and you're gonna be angry at how poorly they do the job (they're not God after all).

As you are exploring past patterns in your relationships, I would recommend these as your next steps: thought-stopping and re-building. When you find yourself pining over him, obsessing, fantasizing about him, you say to yourself (out loud if you don't care what other people think) "STOP!". Make a list of replacement thoughts you will automatically insert. Here are some I really love, "The universe sends good things my way and I hold them close to me, because I deserve it." "I am everything I need and have everything I need." "I am just right exactly as I am today."

In re-building, you are going to make a list of everything you would love to do with your life. Include projects you've always wanted to take on, places to go, friends you've wanted to contact. Your list might look like this, "Learn a new language, learn to knit, start exercising, join a yoga class, research new job opportunities, plan a family reunion, etc." Pick one and get started. Right now. Today.

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  1. You are a very good writer, Melissa, and give excellent advice. Thanks for following our blog for writers.
    We'll be back.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Glenda. I'm enjoying the community of Appalachian writers. We're a special breed. :-)