Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Belated Birthday to Me!

Yep, Gamma had a birthday on November 11.  My birthday hasn't been a typically happy event.  We buried my father on November 10, 1982.  It was the year I turned 21.  No one was in a particularly celebratory mood.  I was living with my then-boyfriend-turned-husband-turned-ex-husband and it just wasn't the happy occasion we had planned on it being.   My dad was a tortured soul but he was mine.  I usually sink into a deep depression in November as it's also the month my wonderful Grannie died.  November has not typically been a happy month.

Anyway, when I woke up last Thursday and my beautiful granddaughter said "Happy Birthday Gamma" - all pitiful as she was on her way to the doctor - I lay in bed a while (contemplating taking a sick day) and thought about the best birthday I ever had.

Allow me to set the scene.  We (my daughter and I) had been living in NC only a couple of years.  She was about 7 years old and we were enjoying our new state.  My mom was living here then and as conflicted as our relationship has been, we were having some really good times during the first few years when baby girl and I moved to NC.  

My mom didn't drive but my daughter was determined to make my birthday a special event (she planned the whole day herself).  She said we had to go pick up Nanny (my mom).  I was then ordered to drive them to Kroger where the two of them went inside and picked up decorations -- balloons, a big old chocolate chip cookie with Happy Birthday Mom on it and other party supplies.  Keep in mind, even though I was driving I was instructed not to look at anything so I ignored the balloons and other bags of goodies and awaited instructions.   I was ordered to drive downtown to one of our favorite parks, Grace Court in the West End (still one of my faves).  I parked while they went to decorate the gazebo.  

I'm not supposed to know anything special is happening so being the good mommy that I was, I played along.  My daughter came back to the car and walked me to the gazebo telling me not to look.  When we stepped up I was allowed to open my eyes and my feast was before me.   NOTE:   I've got pictures (but no scanner) so when I get to a scanner I'm going to post them in.  That is the actual gazebo and it was a sunny day as depicted in this picture.  

I, of course, was so surprised and my daughter was pleased that she had accomplished the impossible -- planning a surprise party for her mom who had to drive them to pick up everything and to my own party. 

It's kind of hard to convey the beautiful weather, the true joy on my daughter's face as she anxiously stared at me hoping she had pulled off her surprise, the smile on my mom's face as she enjoyed her daughter and first granddaughter enjoying a truly joyous moment.  

That was a good birthday.  So instead of lying in bed and sinking into a depression last Thursday, I remembered my favorite birthday and went to work smiling. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dysfunction Does Not Discriminate

As most of you know, Oprah did an interview with Tyler Perry on October 20, 2010 during which Tyler admitted he had been molested as a child.  Feel free to go to Oprah's Tyler Perry Interview to catch up.

I cried during this entire episode.  It was very difficult to watch as the feelings that Tyler was describing were feelings and realizations that I just started coming to grips with during the past few years.  But I don't want to write about Tyler's story or even my own.  What bothered me are the comments I read from some folk on The Twitter.   There were folk tweeting about how Tyler's confession "proved" his homosexuality; how they didn't believe a word of it because he's a paid actor; they hate his works and bashed the interview because they weren't fans of his plays and movies.  What bothered me even more were that most of the negative comments were from people who from their avatar or handle seemed to be Black.  To be fair, the postive comments and support for Tyler outweighed the negative, but it still bothered me. 

I don't know why it's so hard for Black folk to accept that those atrocities occur in our homes.   It's that attitude that keeps so many of my people from seeking the help they so desperately need.  Tyler and I are roughly the same age (okay I'm almost 10 years older but stick with me).  We're from the generation of "what happens in this house stays in this house".  It's an unwritten rule in dysfunctional homes and it's damn near gospel in Black households even when things are normal.   My age group is smack dab in the middle of admitting your truth and keeping the family secret.  It's a very confusing place to reside.  We're young enough to recognize that times have changed, and that the only way we can improve ourselves is to put a voice to  secrets that have been maintained entirely too long.  Yet, we're "old school" enough to truly fear bucking or hurting our parents by revealing our own story which by default is theirs.  I can totally understand why Tyler couldn't tell his entire story until his mom passed away.  Hence, why I try to keep my Gubment name as quiet as possible on these innanets. 

One of the most helpful groups I ever attended was an Adult Children of Alcoholics group a few years ago.  No matter what meeting I attended, I was always, ALWAYS, the only Black person there yet I knew a lot of my friends who grew up in similar circumstances and whose adult lives were all screwed up because of our warped view of self.  Maybe I should try the group again.  Maybe I should try to start a group in a predominately Black location.  I don't know.  But I digress.

I guess what I'm trying to say is dysfunction does not discriminate.  It happens in homes of all races and income levels.  Some people rise to greatness out of it (Oprah, Tyler) and some just do the best they can until they can do better (yours truly).  I doubt if my story will ever make me lots of money.  It wasn't Precious or Bastard out of Carolina awful, but pain is pain.  I don't really think you can discount anyone's pain as not being "painful enough".   What I would like to get before I depart this earth is a sense of peace and a true level of comfort in who I am -- warts and all. 

So while I'm totally over Madea and praying desperately that Tyler doesn't mess up For Color Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, I can put that aside and says thanks for sharing.