More than just a Girl from the Projects…

Did you know that researchers found that children’s immediate neighborhood area has significant effects on life outcomes, which can differ considerably compared to those experienced by children just streets away? 

Well, this is, in fact, a true statement in some aspects! I was born into poverty. A single mother raised me with five children in low-income housing. The neighborhood I grew up in had the regular gun violence, murder, drugs, homelessness, lack of two-parent homes, and the everyday struggles of families living in the low-income projects. Although my mother lived in the projects, she made our home much more than that. She cared about our grades, activities, and where we hung out in our neighborhood, and she most definitely did not tolerate bad behavior. Our mother was not perfect, but she always tried and never gave up! She would say, “It doesn’t matter where you come from; it only matters where you’re going.” So, where I lived did not matter to me! Until second grade, which was the first time I was told, “You are just a girl from the projects.” It may seem trivial, but it came from someone I admired and thought was a friend. This friend had more than me, she was living in a two-parent home, and she would constantly brag about all she had or point out what I lacked. So, after the second grade, when friends would ask where I lived because they wanted to hang out, I would always come up with reasons why I couldn’t hang out to prevent telling them where I lived. Being a little black girl from one of the worst projects in our area always made me feel like I was not enough. It was not only students, but when teachers learned where I lived, they were sometimes judgmental. If not for what others said, I would have thought I was living the good life because our mother made us feel like we had more than enough! 

Middle School was a lot better than elementary because many of us came from the projects, and we all linked together, and I felt like I fit in! The only issue was that I was often labeled a trouble maker because of “the birds of a feather flock together concept.” I admit to often acting out while I was in middle school because I wanted an adult or someone to ask, “What is going on with you? Is everything okay at home?” It was middle school when molestation started. Therefore, I acted out for attention. I acted out because I was angry and confused about why this was happening to me. In class, I was the class clown who kept everyone laughing because it helped to alleviate the pain I was feeling every day. Being violated so young shifted me into this rage. I am ashamed of some of the hateful things I did or said during my middle and high school years. Violence & criminal activity was how I released anger. Running away was all I knew to do, but I realized early on that running away from home or dropping out of high school never would fix my problems. During this time, there was no such thing as “Mental Health Support,” but with what I know now, I was depressed and dealing with PTSD.

My anger stemmed from the fact that my childhood trauma could have been avoided and stopped, but it was not. No one took me seriously, or no one tried to protect me. It was not until the 11th-grade year that I joined ROTC and met a sergeant that would not give up on me, so I decided not to give up on myself. My 12th-grade year was when I decided that I wanted to be more than “just a girl from the projects .”I wanted to prove wrong my English teacher, who said, “You will probably end up in jail one day.” Or My chorus teacher, who often said, “You are nothing but trouble.” My goal was to show and prove that children from low-income housing matter and can also be educated and successful! 

Once I changed my mindset, I started to cut off those toxic friends that I used to run with and began to think of how I could get out of the environment I was in to do better for myself. One thing I knew was that my mother could not afford college or anything else. Therefore I worked until I came up with the idea to go to the Army, and that was the best decision of my life. The Army was just supposed to be my ticket out, but the Army became an amazing outlet. While serving, I was able to go to college, travel, learn, and experience things I would have never experienced in my hometown. Once I was enlisted, I realized that I could not do what I used to do, I had to change, or I would not last in the Army long! I went into the Army with trauma, just wanting a getaway. What I learned about running from trauma is that it will follow you until you face it! I had suppressed so much pain and memories for years that I had rather forgotten. I hoped to start fresh and gather all the resources to better myself! I did not know how, but I knew I wanted to improve myself mentally, physically, & emotionally. I pushed a lot to the back of my mind during my time in the Army, and I thought everything would be good because I was finally okay, I was living in a better environment, and I thought I could start over and forget the past. 

But the thing about trauma is that you must begin healing before truly living a productive life. 


Unfortunately, my healing journey started later in my life because I was not aware of all the available resources for mental illness, domestic violence, or trauma. Due to untreated trauma, I scaled through life from eleven to about twenty-five years of age, suppressing trauma and on the edge of a breakdown. I was like a ticking time bomb, and eventually, I would explode. After losing my grandma, who was my heart, having to leave my kids for deployment, being abused and cheated on, being away from my family, and feeling like there was no other choice, I decided to end my life. I have no regrets because that suicide attempt led me to many great resources, gave me the courage to end a toxic six-year marriage, and forced me to face my trauma. After accepting that I needed help, my healing journey began, and I have been healing ever since. It may sound unnerving or does not make sense, but Afghanistan saved my life and gave me a different outlook on life. I learned how short life was, and I realized that I was not my circumstances. I had been walking around for years shameful, scared, angry at the world, & suffering inside. I hated myself, and I was ashamed of where I came from. I never wanted to talk about what led me to a psychiatric ward in Ramstein, Germany, until Covid hit and all the trauma I had been in therapy for started to eat me alive and swallow me whole. I remember having suicidal thoughts and feeling isolated from any support. Instead of taking the wrong route, I stepped out on my faith and started The Pearl Blog: Where the Healing Begins & it was the best decision I ever made.

Blogging helped release my feelings and those heavy burdens that I was so carrying during the covid lockdown. I was hurting so bad that I wanted to find a way to spread awareness. I wanted to create a platform that promotes prioritizing mental health and healing, which was detrimental in 2020 with mental illness at an all-time high. If you are reading this, I want you to know that The Pearl Blog and my Mental Health Instagram @healingandgrowing_ are my passions, and  I advocate because I want to, not because I have to. There are many stigmas regarding mental illness, and I want to be a voice for the voiceless. 

So many of us are fighting mental battles alone. I know this because I tried to fight a battle alone and almost lost my life. When I look back on my twenty-four-year-old self that just wanted to end it all, I wish I could hug her & let her know, “It’s okay to ask for help.” I did not ask for help because I was ashamed. Shame, intrusive thoughts, self-doubt, anxiety, PTSD, and depression kept me voiceless. My family and those closest to me had no idea what I was going through. For that reason, I choose to be vulnerable about all my trauma because someone may be reading this right now and decide, “I want help.” My goal is to advocate and spread awareness. I am a witness that circumstances, my environment, or my Mental Health did not prevent me from prospering in life! I am still on my healing journey and have struggles just like you. The only difference now is that I recognize I have a problem, and I am in the process of healing those wounds and not allowing myself to be a victim anymore or allowing myself to project my unhealed trauma on others. I have no shame about who I am, and I can now proudly say…..

I am Michelle from Bethel Homes Project. I am a wife to an amazing man, a mother of 4, a combat veteran, retired military, trauma survivor, mental health advocate, mental health blogger, and NOW A PUBLISHED AUTHOR! My first book will be released tomorrow, April 28th, on the 4th anniversary of my fathers ascending into heaven. I usually hide out during April, and I soak in depression while isolating myself from the world. This year I decided to gain control of my life, and I refuse to be depressed. My father loved me, and I know he is very proud of me! In my E-book, The Pearl Blog Presents: The Healing Journey Healing & Growing One Day at a Time! I discuss the healing journey & the importance of maintaining your mental health. I answer the questions: What is healing? How do you start the healing journey? How do you recognize unhealed wounds? What techniques should you use to begin your healing journey? This e-book is a good read for anyone on their journey to heal and prioritize their mental health! The e-book is available for purchase here! Pre-order here to enter into the raffle to win an item from my Mental Health Merchandise and a $100 gift card! Also, remember you are more than what they say! You are a conqueror! Keep healing and growing and living life on your terms! 


🎃Happy Halloween

🎃Happy Halloween

I hope you all enjoyed your day! New blog coming Thursday! ✌🏾

📸Halloween Photo Dump! It was Mj’s first Halloween! We enjoyed ourselves! Didn’t even have to leave the neighborhood because everyone did such a good job for the kids! #happyhalloween #photodump #familyiseverything

My beautiful family 💕

How it started…

How it started…

I do not believe my husband and I ever said how we met, or how it started. Most of the time when someone asks us, we usually do not go into details. Funny thing is there are millions of people who have met like we did, but maybe it did not lead to love, marriage, and kids!

So, let us get into it! I met my husband on Tinder! Yes, you read right…. Tinder! I downloaded the app July 4th, 2015 as I laid on my coach with my headset on listening to music to drown out the loud sounds of fireworks. It had been less than a year since my return from Afghanistan and I was home in panic mode just laying around bored. My two boys from my previous marriage were gone for the summer holiday and the house was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The reason I had downloaded Tinder is because I felt ready to date, but because of my anxiety and being in a new place I was hesitant to get out and meet someone. Tinder gave me more control, and I did not have to share my number or did not feel pressured to meet up with anyone. While using Tinder I was able to go at my own pace.

Although I downloaded Tinder in July 2015 I only chatted with people, and then immediately I would get bored and delete the app! I never connected with anyone until September 2015. My husband and I had our first date September 12, 2015. We had planned a date on September 11th, but I was not able to attend, and I almost did not make the second date either. My husband has been boxing since he was an adolescent, so our first date was watching the Floyd Mayweather fight at the movie theater. Once I arrived at the theater it was full of people and immediately, I froze up and texted him that I could not come inside because the crowd outside was making me have anxiety. His response to that message let me know he was perfect for me! He told me stay right there, I will come out and get you. Our first date went well, and I am sure I talked his head off because he was so attractive, polite, & he made me feel safe and comfortable. After our movie date he and I sat in the parking lot until the sun came up talking about life. I did not want the date to end that night!

The months following our first date were rocky, and partially because of me! We both have flaws that made us not ready for a serious relationship! I was scared, guarded, and not ready to fully trust anyone with my heart and so was he. We stopped talking sometimes, but we were always led back to each other no matter what! Dating with PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, & past relationship trauma can be hard for anyone. I knew what my issues were, but I was not ready to fully express them to him. Our first year of dating was rocky, and simply because of egos, trauma, unsaid issues, & fear of being hurt on both sides. My husband has been my number one supporter when it comes to my mental health. I knew that any man I decided to date needed to know I struggle mentally, and I am not always this happy woman, and that I am flawed but I am worth it. What sealed the deal for me and made me marry him September 21, 2016 was the way he catered to my needs, the way he loved my babies, the way he attended my appointments, and became my biggest supporter. It did not matter what has happening in our day to day lives, he would always make sure I was okay and that is what I needed. Due to my father issues, I struggled with abandonment and I did not want to have a toxic relationship like my first marriage. I wanted this marriage to be healthy & happy!

One thing I can be completely honest about is that we did not go through “the honeymoon phase” our first year of marriage. We struggled our first year because I became pregnant and my pregnancy was hard, and he started his new job as an electrician and I wanted to support the long hours and schooling, but truth be told I needed help at home with the kids. In marriage it is hard to voice your weaker moments when you want to be fully supportive of your spouse. I always knew my husband had amazing potential. In the beginning of our relationship, I was often scrutinized because he worked at Macys’ and was told he only was dating me to benefit from me. What no one never knew is he has never asked me for a dime. Therefore, when he got a good paying job that he actually liked, I wanted him to enjoy it, and not worry about the stress of what was happening at home and that lead to me neglecting myself, which caused me to resent that he was working, and I was retired and at home with the kids. After medically retiring from the military, I enjoyed being home, but it was after our daughter that I felt like I needed to be out the house more and I felt the “stay at home mom” role was not enough. In all honesty a stay-at-home mom has the hardest job in America in my opinion and does not receive enough credit! I was craving work, adult conversation, and more freedom but I was not voicing all my needs and that led us to a bad place. We grew apart for awhile.

There was a year 2018-2019 that we were together…but separate and doing this time so many hurtful things transpired. We both portrayed hurtful words and actions towards one another simply because we did not communicate or know how to problem solve. Add losing a parent, sister with cancer, & being mentally exhausted to marital problems. I can admit with all I was dealing with mentally I completely checked out of my marriage and I thought I did not want to be married anymore. I kept asking myself why did I get married? I knew if I had to question the marriage that the relationship was completely over. During our separation is when everything became clear as day to me. It was April 11, 2018 I looked in the mirror and realized I did not know the woman looking back anymore. I was 220lbs, I was grieving the loss of my father, I was angry, I was numb, and I hated my life. While being all those things how I could I focus on being a wife. I needed that time to find myself again. I had lost myself, and the only way back to me was to allow myself to figure it all out. My husband has always been my safe place and I was dependent on him for my emotional and mental health so much that I did not know how to function completely without him. The year 2018-2019 I learned to stand on my own two feet for myself and my kids. I started being active every day and I fell in love with fitness. I never really focused on the scale because fitness became a lifestyle, and it was how I coped with the grief, anger, depression, and anxiety. I would leave all my feelings in the workout. Once I became physically, mentally, & spiritually better is when I decided I wanted to get back to work. Finding a job was not something I wanted or needed for finances it was something that I knew would make me feel whole again, simply because I wanted to interact with other adults and get over my fears of anxiety towards people and unfamiliar places. A job for me was getting back to a routine like when I was in the Army.

After months of soul searching and reaching a healthy and happy space in my life, I started to think about my marriage more. I missed my husband presence, but I needed to be whole before we reconnected. Also, I refused to be in an environment that was toxic for me or my children. My goal with this marriage was to see red flags, handle red flags, and not make the same mistakes. Since my husband and I had been apart we both had grown into different people. I wanted my marriage back, and I wanted us to grow into a loving and healthy space again but there was some work to be done. My sons have experience divorced and it was hard on them. I did not want to divorce unless I was for sure because to be honest my husband has been the boy’s father figure, and they loved and depended on him. I did not want to make a permanent decision over temporary feelings and cause more hurt to myself or my three children. The problems that my husband and I had were minor. We both needed to sit down and figure out what we needed and wanted from our marriage. There were some honest and hurtful conversations had. I made it clear that yes, I am a Mom and I want to support my kids and my husband; but I also must take care of me first! If I am not physically, mentally, and spiritually together I cannot function properly as a wife or mother. My husband understood that I had to have a life outside of kids and him. I did not want to sound selfish but, I had to be completely honest. We eventually came back together and I am glad that we did!

Where we at now….

One important thing I have learned in the process of my husband and I falling in love all over again is that it is not my job to make my husband happy and it is not my husband job to make me happy. A healthy marriage requires two people who are already happy within themselves to come together and combine the happiness and create a healthy relationship. My husband and I are one, but self-development is a must before you can become whole with another person. Our marriage is not perfect now, and we disagree at times, but what I can say is we do not have a toxic marriage! We are at a place where we talk openly and honestly with one another, we respect each other, we listen, & we do not act out of anger. The year of 2019 up until now has been our best years of marriage thus far! We have matured so much over the years, and we have grown closer than ever. Marriage is work and it takes effort on both parts. I do not regret the time apart, because it was needed to grow into where we are today. I can say my husband is my best friend, he finishes my sentences, and he knows what is wrong without me even speaking at times because now we are on the same page. I wrote this blog because I want to encourage anyone that may be having marital issues to take a step back and reevaluate before making a final decision. If you are not being abused or if there is no infidelity, then it can be worked out. We all have our own breaking points in relationships. My breaking point is abuse, infidelity, or lack of respect. If it is not one of the three above, then I can work through it. No marriage will be like marriages on television. All marriages are different and have different challenges. No matter what your challenges may be remember to put “You” first and evaluate what would be best for you! Do not let society convince you to accept anything that does not bring you happiness. I hope that my story inspires you to love, grow, heal, or let go what is no longer serving you!


Other Blogs I recommend if you enjoyed this blog:


Valentine’s Day…. Why the Hype??

Valentine’s Day…..

Why the hype?

Why the hype? It is a “holiday” that was created based off events or history that we as people cannot validate. I personally feel that it should be treated as any other day. I once was crazy about Valentine’s Day especially as a child because I enjoyed the school festivities, and more than anything I loved eating chocolate. My mom would give my brother and I a gift, and plenty of chocolate to last awhile. As I grew older, I did not understand the hype behind it. If you are unconditionally loved, then that should be a feeling everyday and it should not be some extravagant day of pointless gift giving. If you are someone who just enjoys celebrating the holiday because of tradition, that is completely understandable. What I want is for us all to keep an open mind when celebrating these ridiculous holidays, that really have no real meaning or substance behind them. On my most recent blog about the 5 Love Language’s I briefly discuss ways to give love and how some of us prefer to receive love.

My Love Language!

My love language is acts of service, I would prefer help around the house, 50/50 on responsibilities with the kids, light fixtures fixed in my house without me having to ask, or my partner simply prepping dinner or bringing home dinner. I like feeling stable, and I love knowing I have a partner that can help pull the load. I am a woman that can buy my own gifts, and wine & dine myself, or even pamper myself. Gifts are not something that brings me excitement and joy unless they are sentimental gifts with significance. My husband purchased me a professionally done painting for Mother’s Day of me and my late grandmother at one of my happiest moments with her, and that gift literally brought me to my knees, and it was all because of the sentiments behind the portrait!

No gift shaming!

I am not shaming gift giving, but I am shaming the waste off unnecessary money that is spent on holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas, & Easter. Christmas has nothing to do with gifts, but consumers go broke, or excessively spend during Christmas and it does not make any logical sense at all. For me Valentine’s Day is a “loving day” & usually I choose to love on me a little more than usual on this day. Loving on me does not mean showering myself with gift, but instead showering myself a little more love. Today I am barely moving a finger, and I will be basting in loving myself by allowing myself to relax & unwind, breath, stretch, and just be still today. Loving me includes allowing myself to take a break from the everyday criticisms that I place on myself or taking a break from being busy all day. I am just taking a moment for me!

Single, Married, or Whatever it does not define you!

If you are single, married, or whatever your situation may be do not allow this day to drive you up a wall, do not find yourself comparing your day with social media expectations of Valentine’s Day, do not feel sad if you are alone, or things are not going well in your current relationship. Take time today to say what you are grateful for, have some gratefulness that you woke up on another February 14th and just love on you. Expectations can be the biggest down fall because we as humans expect so much and it leads to hurting or having unrealistic expectations on days like Valentines Day!  Now that I am done with my rant for today I would like to wish you a Happy February 14th ! I hope you are somewhere enjoying yourself. Remember that giving and receiving love is something you should partake in everyday!

The Five Love Languages, Do you Know Yours? 💜

-Love Toni,



The Five Love Languages, Do you Know Yours? 💜

Love Languages!

With Valentines Day right around the corner, have you thought about what to give or do for your partner? Or if you are single have you considered what to do in celebration of loving yourself? Interesting enough we all love differently, but also those we love has specific languages or ways they prefer to be loved! What is your love language? What is your partner love language? And what are ways you could incorporate the love languages for Valentines Day and any other day?

The Five Love Languages:

There are five different love languages:
  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time.
  3. Physical Touch.
  4. Acts of Service.
  5. Receiving Gifts.
Words of Affirmation:

Would be the love language of an induvial who cares about all words spoken or written! With words of affirmation the most important factor is how the individual is being spoken to. Compliments would be a great way to make your partner feel loved if words of affirmation are their love language. A perfect Valentines gift or appreciate of love gift would be a handwritten note or a card expressing your love in words. If you are single for Valentines day you could always stand in the mirror and give yourself words of affirmations. Tell yourself how beautiful you are, or how successful you are.

Quality Time:

Quality time is a love language that require togetherness! This means your partner would just enjoy spending time alone with you, no matter where you are. Your partner prefers to be alone with your undivided attention and no distractions from the outside world. So, if you are a entrepreneur or a person who works often then quality for your partner would mean the world to them. No phones, no television, just you and them! Along with the quality time it would be important to be attentive, listen carefully, and make an effort to make sure the time you two are spending together is special! A perfect Valentines gift could be a candlelight dinner together, or simply cuddling on the couch and just having a conversation over a glass of wine or other libations. Whatever you decide, would be great because your partner main focus is the time spent together. If you are single you could always go on a scenic walk alone, take yourself to a movie, or a spa day and just enjoy time with yourself!

Physical Touch:

I am sure the first thought on physical touch is sex…But sex is not the only and most important way to express physical touch. Physical touch could be physically showing up in your partner life and being supportive, or it could be cuddling, kissing, holding hands, or simply just touching each other softly! A perfect Physical Touch gift could be giving each other massages! If you are single it could be taking yourself to receive a nice massage!

Acts of Service:

Acts of service is my personal favorite love language! Acts of Service is all about actions speaking louder than words! Acts of Service requires you to put in some work. If your partner loves acts of service then it would mean the world to them if you brought home their favorite thing for dinner without them asking, take on the resonantly of something that he/she always have to do, or simply help around the house. Acts of service kinds of help take some weight off your partner shoulders, which is why I love acts of service because I enjoys the sharing of responsibilities and not feeling in it alone. If you are single you could hire someone to clean your place, order in so that you do not have to cook or take your clothes to the cleaner to eliminate the problem of doing all your laundry.

Receiving gifts:

Gift giving is probably one of the most common love languages because who do not love receiving gifts? Receiving gifts is debatably the most misinterpreted love language because some believe that it is a materialistic love language and that the sole focus is gifts over love, but that is not true! Receiving gifts simply means the individual feels special or loved when receiving tangible items. The tangible gift does not have to be an expensive gift but could simple be something sentimental that your partner values. The person receiving the gift will cherish that gift and hold it near and dear to their heart. So, if your partner prefers receiving gifts then think of a sentimental item to give them for Valentines day, and if you are single go out and purchase something for yourself that you have been wanted!

Regardless of your love language, valentines and every day is all about love! Every day that you get another day to breath a fresh breath of air you should give and receive love because there is no life without love. Love from a partner, yourself, a family member, or a friend is important, especially during these times. If you are not sure of your love language or your partner love language please click this link to participate in the love language test and determine your love language. You can also share the link with your partner. Also, if you are looking for some last-minute Valentines Day gifts I have included some ideas below & linked  a blog I posted last year that revisits my own personal love story! prayer is that you are loving and being loved this Valentines Day! I hope you all enjoy!

-Love, Toni

Love is NOT always COMPLICATED

Love is NOT always complicated.

Believe it or not love does not have to always be complicated. I was that young girl that believed if my boyfriend did not argue with me then he was boring and the relationship would not last. I remember my 19-year-old self starting petty and unnecessary arguments with my boyfriend of 2 years who in all honesty was an amazing guy. Besides my husband, mt ex-boyfriend is the only man I have met that has a pure and genuine heart. The guy would open my door, never cursed me out or called me out of my name, he was always gentle and respectful… but I would in return purposefully piss him off and try to make him mad. I can speak on this now because I have been in therapy over 5 years and I now know I was the problem! The sad thing is I left that nice guy for one of the worst men I ever have encountered, and had two amazing kids with him, but suffered 6 years of unhappiness & abuse, and I still today have to co-parent with him. So, I mentioned that to say I have received the karma for mistreating a good man. I received the karma, and I learned a life lesson that love is not always Complicated, and love can be simplicity and just you and that person with no arguments or stress! There does not have to be conflict in a relationship for it to thrive. Because of the relationships I seen growing up, I did not know the difference and I thought conflict in relationships meant love.

Fast forward today and I am remarried to a man that has loved me more than any man on this planet besides my father. My husband is the most unproblematic man I ever met. He loves simplicity, and he does not deal with drama. My husband groomed me into the woman I am today and taught me the meaning of “Love does not have to be complicated!” He has shown me a different type of love. The type of love you crave for after we have been apart too long. My husband went through some rough times with me. He met me fresh off a deployment, and I was going back and forth in the courts with a toxic ex over our children, and I was angry as hell! I was definitely the angry black woman and I can admit it. I was not particularly angry with anyone but myself. I felt like I had been used, and abused, so I was angry that I allowed it for so long. My husband seen a light in me. Since I was a young girl I have always been told “There’s a light around you” or that I have a glow! I used to laugh about it because my first thought was “Yeah Right!”

I can admit with all of me that I did not fully love myself when I met my husband. I would punish myself on the regular by telling myself negative affirmations about myself, and by not allowing myself to be happy. When I met my lover, I knew he had pain and he had been hurt in some way and we connected on our traumas and pain. We did not really have a foundation, we just felt good when we were together and that was all we both ever wanted. I put him through the ringer the first 3 years because I was still healing and forgiving myself for failing myself. I felt like I did not deserve him, and although I knew I had so much love to give, I was scared.

Going on 5 years later and I can say I have learned so many life lessons, and I know now from therapy, research, and a lot of self-help books that conflict in relationships is okay, but it should not be normalized to enjoy relationship conflicts. Most conflict starts because inner anger that we are holding onto from our past. We become defensive towards the closest person to us due to lack of compassion for ourselves. If you have more compassion for yourself then, it is easy to be less defensive and open for communication with the person you love. Giving compassion for your lover, and yourself allows vulnerability.


Below I have listed the top reasons men/women start conflict in their relationships and I will also discuss ways to stop/heal these issues.

If you want a LOVING and UNCOMPLICATED relationship I suggest you….

  1. Focus on the positive things in your relationship. This could mean stop nitpicking about small things that are not a big deal.
  2. Have compassion for your partner and try to relate to them before you judge them. For example, stop criticizing them and pointing out all of their flaws before you point out your own. Give them positive affirmations to uplift them and make them feel secure.
  3. Stop, listen, & think before you react to your spouse out of anger. Taking time to reflect, can prevent words being said that you cannot take back.
  4. Be honest with your spouse & always express how you are feeling. For example, if you have an issue with your spouse today, discuss it today. A lack of communion and holding back feelings can lead to a huge blow-up that could be prevented with open communication & honesty!

Conflict can skyrocket during the holidays, but it does not have to! Do not ruin your holiday by having conflict with the one you love the most. Keep an open mind and remember Love is not always Complicated!

What does love means to you?

What does love means to you?

Have you ever been in Love? If so is/was it a healthy loving relationship?

Webster Dictionary defines love as:

***Just as a heads up this post will be personal and could bring up some emotions**

Just thinking about how I grew up perceiving love and how I finally ended up in a loving relationship is very emotional and hard for me to even think about.

Did my mother love me? Yes, I know she loved me very much. But did she know that some of her actions were unloving, did she know that her failing to protect me was unloving, did she know that not being gentle was unloving… Did she know that I asked myself many of nights? Why does my mother hate me so much? I was only a child and questioning my parent love should not have been a thought or question at the age of 12.

I have forgiven my mother, and now understand some of her decision making now that I am a mother myself. My mother and father both have caused me more hurt and trauma than anyone. My mother raised my siblings and I on her own. There was not much co-parenting happening. She had 5 kids to spread her love to, and I was her baby girl. Growing up my mother had multiple boyfriends, and that was my first example of what I understood love to be.

I figured if a woman and man argued and was hostile towards each other, but never broke up….it must have been because they loved each other too much to be apart. I seen my mother be abused, argue, & fight with men… but subsequently she always seemed happy again, so I figured that it was normal. I normalized unhealthy relationships at a young age.

I was sexually abused on my weekends with my dad by my stepbrother, & I often felt resentment towards my dad because these incidents occurred while he was laid up with his wife. I felt like if he spent more time with us one-on-one while we were visiting then the sexual abuse would not have occurred. I blamed him often because I felt like he should have known. So, while I was being sexually abused on the weekends at my dad’s house, I was also being sexually abused at my mother house by her live-in boyfriend. The difference between my mother and father is that I felt close to my mom so I knew if I ever mustered up the courage to tell what was happening to me, she would protect me. Regarding my father I had witnessed him angry and I felt informing him would only cause more trouble. My mother and I had a strong connection, although she was strict. My dad treated me like daddy’s’ little girl, but both said they loved me, and both gave me hugs and kisses. They expressed their love for me & so I assumed I would always be protected because of LOVE. Well one night I got fed up with my mom boyfriend coming into my room, and I informed her what was happening. I remember vividly my mother boyfriend running out the house, and he moved out, but we never sat down as a family to discuss this issue. She never apologized or mentioned that night again.

I was in the 8th grade when I came home from school one day & who do I see?… My mothers boyfriend with money in his hands asking for my forgiveness. I did not say anything, I went to my room & went on with my life like normal. He moved in and out a few times. My mom and my abuser never stopped talking and would continuously come back together, as if he had never abused me. I remember once I was an adult, she even allowed him back in her home, and without my permission brought him around my children. I felt so betrayed by my mother and although she has given me half apologies and never really discussed the issue, I had to forgive her because it was eating me alive to live with that anger and resentment. I was about 19 when I told myself, if my mom would allow me to get hurt, there is no one I can trust & no one could possibly love me any better than her.

My perception on love was shattered at such a young age, so when my first boyfriend beat me up I thought “ he just love me”, when my ex-husband abused me & constantly cheated on me I thought “he just love me”. I thought since the guy never left it meant he loved me. I would see the red flags and I would still remain in the relationship because I “wanted love” I wanted to be in love so badly that “I did not love myself enough to receive love properly”. When you have not felt real love, seen a healthy example of real love, or loved yourself enough… How could you possibly have a healthy & loving relationship? After my divorce I dated & I was smarter to avoid the red flags. But, when I did meet someone, I genuinely loved who was super kind, very selfless, loving, gentle, & understanding I was frightened. I would tell myself “he do not love you, because he being too nice” “He hiding something” “A real man, would not be this soft”, “Why do he care so much” “ I can not trust this guy”.

After extensive therapy and soul searching, I learned that I did not love myself. You cannot receive love until you have it within yourself. Loving yourself is the very first step! I used to listen to Fantasia Barrino “ I feel beautiful’ on repeat because the lyrics resonated with me so much.

🎵Nothin’ I ever did was good enough for you

Nothin’ I ever did could ever seem to please you

You always tried to make me feel small

And all I did was give you my heart

Never felt pretty enough

Never felt sexy enough, never felt good enough

You tried to keep me down on my knees

I got myself back up on my feet

Found the strength to set myself free

And I feel beautiful, beautiful, I feel beautiful, beautiful

You could not crush my soul, crush my soul

Nothing you can do to make you take away my right to feel

Beautiful, 🎵

I had let my parents unloving ways cause me to not love myself, I let men walk all over me & treat me in the most disgraceful way, and I was now at this place in my life where “A Real Man” was trying to love me & accept me & my kids as a whole & what did I do…..I threw everything negative at him that I could, I betrayed him, I pushed him into dark places that he did not deserve to be in, I constantly badgered him, hurt him, pushed him away.. & I was giving him all the hurt that was once given to me. I was giving him what I thought was love… & that pushed us into a place where we almost lost each other for good. So many people were hurt in the process of me giving to him what I thought was love. We took some time away from each other & realized that I was still that 11/12-year-old scared, abused, damaged girl. I realized I was fighting a battle with a person that did not mean me any harm. I was being my mother, father, & abusers, to someone who only wanted to help me heal & he truly “Loved Me”! Someone loved me without needing to abuse, mislead, lie, deceive, or take from me. He loved every inch of me to the point he kissed my flaws, he admired my weaknesses and strengths, & to him I was the most beautiful woman in the world. Me learning what love was, how to receive love, & how to give love came at a terrible price. It took me into some dark places and has left me with some lifetime trauma that I will forever be healing through. But I can now say I know love. I have experienced love, & I have given love. Love is not an unhealthy connection, love does not hurt, love does not cause you physical, mental, or emotional pain.