A Waltz in Three

Hello blogosphere! After a month’s hiatus, I’ve returned to the beloved world of When Life Gives You Lemons. Today’s post is a collection of three poems, all of which were written at different times, hold unique meanings, and reflect a … Continue reading

Kissing Irony

Sometimes I am hopeful that pain will cease existing I cross my fingers curl my toes and pray for the best Then I remember nights spent in bed with tears on my face wanting a break from it all On … Continue reading

A Man’s World

What Men Do Eyes follow the rim of her skirt tracking her further further gone. Give that girl a dollar Haven’t seen somethin’ like that in years Baby got back. Teeth clench down at the girl with goodies biting harder … Continue reading

Ghost of Friendships Past

About a week ago, standing in my kitchen in the midst of seasoning pork-chops, a disturbing and unsettling question popped into my head:

“Who will be the bridesmaids at my wedding!?”

Gathering myself a bit and returning my efforts to the pork-chops, I realized that the root of the question that initially startled me was even more frightening…

Out of the women in my life that I consider close friends, I would probably only have two bridesmaids!

Frightening. Because as a women in her twenties, I must admit that marriage is often on my mind – society practically shoves the idea down my throat! And, as sad as it sounds, if I were to get married tomorrow, or in a month, the only close friends I can think of are two women that I’ve known for a couple years that I’d feel pleased to have as bridesmaids. What I’m really getting at here is that I only have two close friends – that are women.

I think of shows like Sex And The City or everybody’s favorite 90’s American hallmark Friends, where even society points out a crucial characteristic of human existence: friendships. There are also shows like Clueless and I Love Lucy where, content of both shows aside, the link between the two is the close friendships shared by the two main women: Cher’s Dionne and Lucy’s Ethel. It is almost as if the creators of the aforementioned TV shows we’re trying to convey the same message: You may have your boyfriend or your girlfriend, your husband or your wife, but within a telephone’s reach, you must always have your best-friend. As for me, it is wonderful having two very good friends – they are the most genuine, funny, and caring people I know. But, I would be remiss if I did not mention the close runner-ups that led to me only having two best-friends.

The truth is, I have a had a slew of “close” friends. But, at a very young age, I felt the sting of friendships gone wrong. I’d had pretentious friends whose narrow-eyed glances at my clearance-aisle jeans opened my eyes to class-rank, jealous friends whose “You’re so pretty – I hate you'” comments helped me realize that a jealous friend is no friend at all, and I’d had belittling, arrogant friends whose insults about my lack of maturity led me to bitterness – all by the age of eighteen. At a certain point in my life I had had it with people that I sincerely believed we’re my friends, people that I invested time in and genuinely cared for, stepping on me like I was their doormat. Somewhere along the way I decided that if someone I cared about hurt me badly enough, I’d completely erase them from the planet – mentally. Now that I am a young adult, I have to fight not to do just that.

For example, after a friend has hurt me, my impulsive defense mechanism usually kicks in:

Good friend behaves in a way that is hurtful to me > I assess my hurt at their behavior > I then determine in my mind the value of the person’s friendship > I come to the conclusion that his/her friendship is no longer worth my time (despite how much I might’ve cared for the person)

And that’s how it goes every time. The person’s phone number is blocked from my phone, all pictures of him/her are erased, contact with the person on Facebook deleted, and the impulsive list of “cutting him/her out” actions goes on. I figure instead of “working things out” with a person, essentially telling them, “Hey friend, you hurt me pretty badly on this one and I do not appreciate it,” I try to flush out the daily existence of the person in my mind. The major problem with the string of actions I’ve developed is that people do exist – they are very real. They are real for my memory, real for my emotions, real for me – the memory you have of people does not go away simply because you want it to.

It is that simple truth that has led me to reevaluate the method in which I deal with how people hurt me. “Deleting” people from my life does not work, and honestly, dropping friends gets very lonely. After a couple of years of leaving people behind who I didn’t think were worth my time anymore I started to feel like I was living with a trail of ghosts following me. I found that even when I entered a new phase in my life, a graduation or moving to another state, I was still carrying my ghosts of friendships past.

In the end, I think many people live their lives with a number of friends in their memories that they’ve “let go.” As for me, I have grown tired of collecting ghosts. I have learned that it is better to fight for the friendships I love, than to continually cut people out of my life. Fighting for a friendship, working through the nitty-gritty with someone that you deeply care for, and repairing ties with a person is no cinch. In fact, I’ve never fought to keep any of my friendships. Thinking through my life, I’ve decided that it is time to make a change. My two closest girlfriends are ones I would never want to lose, and I realize that I even though I may have intense moments of disagreement with either of them in the future, both of those friendships are worth fighting for. So, as I challenge myself today to fight for my friendships, rather than giving up on myself and the other person, I invite you to the challenge as well. Be the type of person who is willing to fight for your friendships.

As Bob Marley once said, “… Everyone is going to hurt you, you just have to find the [friends] worth suffering for.”

Any Given Monday

Melting Pot

Stir it in the pot:
a touch of pain, an ounce of sadness.

My days go by like hollow dreams –
One day, two day,
Wednesday.

Put it in the bowl:
A pinch of regret, a splash of shame.

Working my way through the weariness –
Three day, four day,
Friday.

Sifting through the garbage,
Milling through the wreckage,
Looking for relief.

Some Kind of New York Times

Love and Its Pages You are like an old newspaper – comfortable, familiar, soft to the touch. I hold you in my hands, Running my fingers down your spine – I smell you: pasty, subtle, pleasant to my nose. Your … Continue reading

Of Grammar and Other Things

Syntax You know my intimate details: my commas, my periods, my exclamation points. How can I hide from you? Shared syntax, parallel structure, semicolons. You know my rhythm: my iambic pentameter, a-bb-a, my ups and downs. You have read the … Continue reading

At the Jousting Match

Life is a game we play:
A tossed ball, a forgotten frisbee.

Memories fall out of a set like broken toys,
Chess pieces topple over into dust.

Life is a monopoly board, abandoned.

Figurines in a set,
Marbles in a box,
Dolls on a table…

Life:
Our magnetic tug of war.

The Inevitable

Life Lesson # 7

What is your purpose in the world?

Are you

writer

lover

author

friend

  philanthropist

teacher

mother

doctor

servant

helper

aid

singer

peace-maker

a force for change?

I have often wondered how my existence on earth will change the world. Today, I want you to go there with me. Yes, go to that place that you try to deny exists. That place where you question your purpose, and why you are really even alive here in our world. Before you go to that place with me, I’d first encourage you to breath. Take a breathe, a deep one, and let your mind wander with me.

The first thing you should know is that you were born with a purpose. Your life has meaning and you were born to give something wonderful and unique to the world. What is this amazing gift that springs out of you? It is your existence here in the world, with me, your mother, your friends, your co-workers, and even your pet. Your gift to the world is you – you as your most self-aware, loving, honest and giving self. If you are not self-aware, loving (to yourself and others) honest with yourself about your own issues, and are not a giving person, then I am here to tell you that you are only giving half of yourself to the world – and a “half” that the world may not enjoy. I will be honest with you:

Our world is jacked UP.

And our world deserves people who are willing to love, outside of themselves, who are willing to care for others, and people who are willing to promote the most beautiful kind of change: healing of the inner-self. We all have the ability to be who we were born to be.

“Your wisest, strongest self is waiting for you with arms wide open.”

Imagine that. God’s greatest gift to his creation is our potential to be great. That statement couldn’t be more true if it tried. We get in the way of our own healing. We are stubborn, unreliable, fickle people who can be so hard-headed when it comes to facing our own brokenness. A large part of accepting your purpose in the world is accepting the fact that you are indeed as imperfect as you believe you are. The great thing about understanding this truth is that it allows you to live out your purpose in the world through a humble and graceful outlook. Believing that the person sitting next to you, or a person you pass in the hallway, or the ex-girlfriend you had that was psycho, is just as broken and imperfect as you are allows you to love better. When you love better, you heal better and you are a more useful force for change in the world.

You were born to be great. I mean, think about it. Our existence functions around the idea of interconnected, yet purposeful coincidences. For example, when I pass by a homeless person on the street, acknowledge him/her, tell him/her “Hello, have a wonderful day,” I have impacted that person’s life by simply opening my mouth, lending an ounce of kindness, and acknowledging his/her existence. Thus, in communicating with a homeless person on the street, a seemingly random, coincidental event, I’ve completed one of my many purposes here on earth: to brighten up, what could have been another dreary, hopeless, extremely depressing day, for a person who is down and out. No event is random.

I’m sure that we have all had those days, when something that someone said to you, or something that you heard driving home on the radio, or a phrase you saw on a billboard, or a hug that was given to you by a person who had no idea you even needed one, really impacted your life in an amazingly positive way. We never really know the impact we have on people. There have been times in my life where a simple hello, or a genuine, “Danyealah, how are you feeling today?” has opened up a wealth of healing and life-change for me. The moments when we extend ourselves to people out of kindness, the moments when we say hello to a homeless person on the street (who just happened to be “randomly” placed on the corner that you would walk past, on a certain appointed day in your life), and the times when we are being our most honest selves with ourselves and others, are the moments that we were born for. Your life is purposeful, friend. And, you were born to change the world. I know, it sounds so ridiculously cliche, but you have got to believe me on this one. Our lives are woven together, interconnected, and purposeful. Do you think that it is by mistake that you are reading this post right now? Not a chance.

So, I encourage you to do some soul-searching. What is your purpose here on our wonderfully jacked up earth? Whatever you find out, just remember that you were born purposefully to make a difference in this place we call our home.

J.C. – NOT J. Cole

Life Lesson # 6

In all my years of living, the best gift anyone has ever given me has been their friendship. My luck with friends has been spotty. If I listed all of the ways that I have been wronged by the “friends” that I have had, it would be pointless. I’d spiral into a frenzy of anger and unforgiveness; I’d be a wreck. The people in my life who have been real friends to me, the genuine, loving, listening friends have indeed made all of the trashy ones worth the pain. In all honesty, it is hard for me to talk about relationships. I spend a lot of my time giving my time to other people – people that I care about. I have had to negotiate the benefits of silence during times when all I could think of were hurtful, poisonous words to describe the way I felt after a broken friendship. There have been times in my life when I literally could’ve spit venom into someone’s face after enduring the hurtful remarks, the selfish attitudes, and the envy spewed at me from a person who I identified as a “friend.” As I reflect on all of my past relationships, I cannot help but think to myself, that graceful restraint has been a downfall. What really, do you say to a person who you consider a friend, when they begin to belittle you, admit that they are jealous of you, and fueled by their own insecurities, mock you?

What do you do?

As far as I know, there seem to be few remedies for emotional scars from broken relationships that actually heal those scars. In fact, there are so few remedies that I have determined there is only one elixir for the emotional turmoil that breeds from brokenness…

LOVE.

Yes, I will sit here, type this long, drawn-out post, and tell you that the only way I have healed from the wounds other people have caused, and wounds that I have allowed them to cause, is by taking a heavy dosage of love. I practically bathe in it – and saying that is an understatement. I mean, I really could just sit and around and spit fire all day about how I feel people have wronged me – I could claim my victimhood like a virulent infection and say, “Hey! Look at me. I am a broken mess because I have been mistreated by a number of awful friends.” As ugly as that sounds, many people live their lives with the armor of victimhood wrapped tightly around their hearts and minds. I tell you today, that even though I have been wronged,

I

am

not

a

victim.

And neither are you. It might sound a little harsh, but understand, harsh intentions are completely absent from this post. Because of my life experience, I can openly say that I do not wear the mask of victimhood. Although I have scars, and some deep wounds, I am more than a conqueror because of love. Yes! The “L” word that we often misconstrue, jumble up, and even believe does not exist. Love exists, friends. And it is powerful. Essentially, I am a testament to this: the good friends that I have had, the real friends, have loved me back to emotional health. The real friends that I have had have wiped my tears and listened to me drone through my most painful stories about low self-esteem. My real friends have loved me. Though far and few between, my real friends have loved me out of the bitterness, out of the unforgiveness, and out of the sarcasm I projected. Friendship has been the best gift given to me; it’s value is immeasurable, precious.

I would be remiss if I did not give all credit to the best friend that I have ever had. His name is J.C. and he’s such a nice guy. His dad sent him to me from a very far place. You see, his father saw the best in me. He literally loved me so much that he sent J.C. straight to the doorstep of my heart. When I first met J.C. I was wretched! I was so surprised at how much he cared for me, even when I abused his love. I cursed his name many times, told him him that I would not be able to trust him, and even turned my back on him time after time. But, in those moments he held me with such gentle tenderness that my heart had no choice but to melt in admiration for him. He has known me for all the years that I have been alive – our talks at night and our sweet conversations in the morning revive me. He has not only loved me back to life, and out of all of the sick mess that I’ve endured, he is love itself. Clothed in grace and rich in selflessness, Jesus Christ has been the best gift of love and friendship that I have ever received.