The No Caller ID Phone Call

If I thought the call on my screen were a bill collector I would just let it go to voicemail but unfortunately, I had seen this “no caller id” call a few other times and ignored so I figured I would answer it today in the car coming home from an errand. I am glad I did.

I answer, “this is Michelle,” my phone serving as both my personal and business cell. Hello, she says, I am calling to ask a few questions, I pause and think I know she doesn’t think she can start talking without telling me who she is.

She proceeds to tell me, “I am (the man’s name) wife. And I just had a baby! I literally could not breathe. This man is a pastor, we had great conversations, we have known each other a few years now, dare I call him one of my best friends that is a guy.

Sometimes the conversations go into what it would be like to be together, but nothing real serious. Last week (when his wife was giving birth) he told me his sister was in the hospital and had to be moved to ICU. Like wow, he asked me to pray for his sick sister in ICU to cover for what is really happening – HIS WIFE GIVING BIRTH!

Over the last three years, we (I say we but really it is “I”) have shared the ups and downs, pains and sorrows since I have known him. He knows two of my children well and has a special name for one of them even, and they know of him. I mean seriously they just think he is some cool guy that just happens to be pastor.

As I still sit in shock, I find it hard to focus on what I need to do, I am trying to find something good in this. I decided to make something good out of it by sharing it with the world. In sharing my hope is to perhaps move another woman to ask some hard questions, especially if you are single and have male friendships with potential, considering marriage, etc., in whatever case, if something just doesn’t feel right, LISTEN! The more he flirted with suggestive remarks about our relationship, the more I felt uncomfortable, at times, but recently the red flags were clearer or am I “woke” as they say! The louder the inside voice the more I pressed him recently about his life and future.

About a year ago, I became angry at his games and some of what he would share about his family life that sounded out of pocket to me, I never gave him my new number. Eventually we were back in touch after I called him to let him know I would be in town and by this time I was no longer dating someone. After about 6 months of an occasional phone call or hello, he called. We caught up and picked up where we left off.

During my travels, I would ask to meet up, but it seemed it was more comfortable for him to visit me then me going to him, another red flag. Considering too many red flags presenting themselves, I decided to tell him that we would discuss the future of our relationship after his sister was better.

Meanwhile, his wife is supposed to call me back and according to her, we were going to support each other. Um, no sweetie, we are not. Instead, I would highly recommend a therapist and not a pastor! A licensed therapist! I will also maintain that having been in a dysfunctional marriage, at best, for most of the 17 years I was married, that is likely the direction of their marriage given all this and many other concerns he and I discussed. It was all too very familiar to me. I am starting to grow very weary of the familiar!

Listen to yourself, what you need is within, just listen, perhaps we just don’t listen because most of the time we want what we want, this blinds and binds us.

It seems the best place to end is, to repeat as I repeat to myself, listen to yourself, all that we need is within. Perhaps we don’t listen because we want we want and or our issues blind us. My eyes are open, but my heart still trusts until I am shown otherwise and clearly the two don’t mix at times. There are times to bypass the emotions straight to thinking and logic. I am grateful that I am not as blind as I used to be. I am grateful that what happens in the dark is brought to the light…eventually…and if not in this life well that’s another blog post.

My take-aways –

I have no idea what to say! Maybe only that it is not a woman’s job to uphold a man to honor. I am not responsible for his actions. This is not a reflection on me. However, I am learning the law of attraction and attachments. (more on this later).

Everyone Needs Some Power!

I could remember days thinking if I only had someone to call that is neutral and will tell me the truth but be kind and gentle. I mean the type of help that is not bossy or imposes their crap on me, etc. This is what a life coach can be. A life coach does not take the place of friends, family or even therapy. Instead, I view it as a supplement to what you may be already doing. If that is not the case, and you do not have support, I highly suggest a life coach or therapist.  

To paint the picture plainly, I liken it to vitamins. I used to hate when my mom would say, “that supplement will be more effective if you took it with this…so I took the other vitamin, then she would add another vitamin and before you knew it I would have a pile of vitamins on the counter that all had a specific purpose. While true, super annoying and it is super expensive!

It cost to take care of yourself. Not just monetarily but it costs time, emotional energy, creating intentions, mindfulness, and exercise to get all the chemicals working together and balanced in your body!

Hiring a life coach can be a pivotal shift in your next steps. I listen, I ask questions. Life coaches are not necessarily giving advice, we are not advice givers. All that you need is within, sometimes, we just need help rediscovering it. That is my role, to ask the right questions to help you rediscover what somehow got tucked away somewhere. There are many reasons why we compromise or ignore our conscience, nonetheless, we do and finding our way back to knowing ourselves and making decisions that are true to self is what coaching is all about.  

Personal power was a big one for me. It was that space where I constantly squashed my gut feelings and resigned myself to being agreeable for the sake of peace. While there is a place for peace and agreement, in my experience this was not a healthy response overall and wounded my spirit and self worth. I will never forget one couples counseling session and the counselor told me in front of my ex-husband that it is perfectly normal to desire personal power over areas in my life even while married. In this space, the space that I had permission, just like everyone else, despite my experience for 17 years in a difficult marriage…for the first time, in a long time I felt like I was given this space in time to experience a level of freedom and power. I felt of little value for so long in our marriage that I lost sight of my personal value regardless of my behavior or what anyone else thought of me.

When I began rediscovering my personal power I experienced so much freedom, l felt like a bird let out of its cage! I knew exactly where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, and began that journey as soon as I was free! I hope this happens for you too!

New name and new everything

As I contemplated how to jump back into my blog, I immediately thought of this picture. I remember thinking on this day, what the hell, just make a funny face and take a picture, it was when the Mayor was about to declare that we all had to wear face masks when entering any public place.

Then I realized I had to change the name of my blog for sure (even though we are still “Harried Hamptons”) the change was needed, in addition to adjustments to some posts for those who might be new to the website. About two weeks ago during my soul searching, therapy, self-care time on the beach, the phrase: my book in a blog, came to my mind and I added it to my notes (the notes feature I keep on my phone for moments like this.). That was it, its the name of my new blog, and I need to start writing again.

Meanwhile, I am almost half way through a graduate program to be a clinical mental health counselor. I am super excited and can’t wait to take all this knowledge in my brain that’s about to explode and put it into practice with clients! I can’t wait for the ideas and visions I have had for my private practice to come to life!

All this being said, the websites focus then is still to share my story but it is also to feature and highlight the deep things of life and particularly surrounding mental health and therapy. Now come with me for the next leg of my race!

Race and identity – Going a little deeper

In my 20’s, I wrote a poem about what animal I would be, I chose a bird. I went on to describe all the reasons why, which included the ability to see things from above and how that view would look different. Forty-two years into my life, in so many ways, I see two worlds that seem so far apart, but like a bird’s view, I am sure although different still look amazing from above.

Race and people groups have always been a topic I was curious about since I can remember. Recently, in my writing endeavors I searched Google for books to encourage our teens on how to struggle through the variety of disparities they see, including race and particularly bi-racial life. I think “his-story” is an excellent way to see and understand life’s issues. To my surprise, but then not really, there are very few books on the experiences of “mixed kids.” It’s these things that remind me of the disconnect in the two worlds I speak of.

How skin color has that much power to change the path of one’s life, if even for good, is still crazy to me.

James McBride, shares his story of two worlds in his book, The Color of Water, he says, “I thought it would be easier if we were just one color, black or white. I didn’t want to be white…I would have preferred that Mommy were black. Now as a grown man, I feel privileged to have come from two worlds. My view of the world is not merely that of a black man but that of a black man with something of a Jewish soul.”

I relate to him, though I was “white,” among mostly “white” family members I frequently questioned why I seemed so different. Now as a grown woman, over 40, and comfortable in my skin (please allow me) I appreciate all the view points I have experienced.

I spent so many years in the “black” world, from my ex-husbands family who took me in at 15 YO to my husband’s family who is like my own, these are two of the many experiences that shade-in all the empty places I questioned growing up. I only see color when I am asked to identify myself, my children or my husband in terms of color… and unfortunately, that is asked a lot in our society. We have still deemed it important to stick people in color categories for many reasons but one that comes clear to my mind is money and that is a shame!

race pic

Online discussions on blogs and social media about our society’s racial divide impact me… they cause me to think deeper. Suggested solutions by a few were on point for sure: racial and cultural training in police departments, politicians actually doing something, the need for racially equal people of influence to have a voice and engage with young people on solutions.

All good and for sure a place to start, I just don’t think it will truly fix the reoccurring tragedies we hear about. I don’t intend to make this post about solutions, or even police shooting young black men, nor do I say that to diminish those evils, rather, I just want to tell my story. But truly, I believe there is only one answer ultimately that will bring about true reconciliation and restoration and that is salvation through Jesus Christ which changes our hearts, from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh.

Growing up, my Grandpa, from Italy, brought to the U.S. when he was young, abandoned by his parents, raised in an orphanage, and extremely prejudice against any people group except Italians, encouraged hate, exclusion, division and fear. He encouraged me through his words and actions towards me to not like people because of where they were born or the color of their skin or the language they spoke. I am not exactly sure how I ended up where I am today, but one thing I am certain of – I decided that his beliefs were not something I was taking with me in my adult life.

Herein is my point, we each get to decide what we will take with us into our adult lives. The police officer who is fearful (different than afraid) and full of pride (yes for the most part, I think racism is rooted in fear and pride) of “black” people chooses to think that way. And even after being “trained” to not be prejudice/racist, he could still choose to not like black people. Knowledge alone, is like a Band-Aid, we don’t heal from the Band-Aid!

I am not giving a blanket, pat answer to racism, and surely this isn’t a simple matter; and my jacked up thinking can’t be only designated to racism, obviously this applies to all the issues of life! I tell my children quite often when they do something out of character, “they have lost their minds!” I completely relate to McBride’s mother when she made remarks regarding “the white devil” and “white people” as though she were not white herself.

Surely, like most, I dream of a society where all colors are equal and seen as the Creator designed it to be in the first place – ethnically different for sure because that makes it all so fun and creative, like God. And since as children we internalize what we hear, just as I did from my Grandpa, that means to not be “racist” is an individual decision that each person makes whether through omission or commission.

In my journey to share my story, and to one day write a book that my grandchildren and others can use as a compass to guide their thinking about their racial identity, I will also continue to pray for change in the hearts of not just the “white people” but black and brown and cream and caramel colored people, too!