When I Found My Claddagh Ring, I Almost Cried.

sterling-silver-ladies-authentic-claddagh-ring

Claddagh Ring Meaning

A popular piece of Celtic culture, the Claddagh signifies love, friendship, and loyalty. Traded among close friends and those in a romantic, committed relationship, a Claddagh portrays two hands holding a heart, topped with a crown.

The Claddagh is most often seen in a ring, but it can be expressed in necklaces and earrings as well. Some common reasons people wear Claddagh include:

  • As an engagement or promise ring: Yes, the Claddagh is so beloved, some use it to signify their romantic, lifelong commitment to one another.
  • Best friends: Close friends who want to honor their bond may wear matching Claddagh rings as a symbol of friendship and loyalty.
  • Looking for love: Wearing a Claddagh ring on your right hand with the bottom of the heart facing away from you is a signal that you are available.

 (Taken from Google)

I’ve always been a romantic. I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic. Perhaps this is my artistic nature. With that said, it is of no surprise really, that I kept a ring from a young man that I once wanted to give my everything.

I was 18, you see. I was. In love and a fresh-faced nursing student. I was in love with the idea of adulthood, American Movie Classics and this guy named Daniel Nelsen. In my years of dating, I never found a sweeter dude. He asked me to marry him. Sent me a key to his house, and said I was his everything.

Like with all young women eager for the world and its holdings, I’d break up with him when I wanted to date someone else. He was in New York, and didn’t leave. He’d take me back when I wanted and I did this to him for 2 years. Until, I finally told him how I was treating him was wrong.

In the madness of our coming together and leaving, he told me to pick out a ring. I was about to be chose chose! I wanted this ring to be distinct, unique and totally unlike any other I had ever seen.

I got the idea that I wanted a Claddagh ring from a Nora Roberts novel. She’s always so proud of her Emerald Isle heritage and this ring sounded like something I would love. That I have to have. Even now, so many years removed from wearing one I can spot on and the dating status of person wearing it.  

I remember the weight of it, how gorgeous it was. And it meant more to me than any jewelry I had ever owned. And our breakup was amicable, for the most part. And I haven’t spoken to him sense. There was no need to.

That’s ring replicated itself with my last serious boyfriend. I wanted one, I wanted that affirmation of what was unique and special about our relationship. When that shattered, I kept the ring. Which is odd for me. I kept this ring and stored it. I cannot tell you why.

It was only during a recent move that the small white box was unearthed. I saw the tarnished silver ring and thought. Not about the guy, but about–loss.

The loss of time.

The loss of future, and alternate nows.

I thought about how I allowed myself to be the damsel in distress waiting on someone to save me–waited for the kiss in the glass coffin; save from the spinning wheel; rescued from the tower.

 Yet, those before were not strong enough to stay. Or desired to rescue. I thought about trust I had given. Willingly. Pieces of me I gave away. Willingly. I thought about how none of what I gave to them could ever be given back to me. Ever. Conversely, nothing I did to them could ever be made right.

I lost what I could not replace or barter or hustle for more of: time.

I wept because the ring, with its tarnish, remembered.

For My Daughters-Lesson 5: Struggle Love Is Not Love

 

Babygirls-

I want to you to know one crucial thing:

You cannot make someone love you. 

Here’s another one for free:

You should not have to make someone love you. 

 

If I can have you understand just how precious you are, and how amazing you will become–I think I will have done half of my job as your mother. Knowing these two irrefutable things about yourself as women–as Black women–this will allow you to be dynamic. Also, rendering you immune to the thirst to be chose!

There is this concept a friend of mine came up with. Honestly, she may not have invented the term, but for the case, I’ll say she did. She called it: struggle love.

What is this, you  ask?

This is the type of love that is toxic, dear ones. It is this promoting of the idea if you ‘just hang in there’ it’ll be better–when there is no reasonable hope of such! Now, don’t get me wrong:  every relationship has bad patches! Every relationship has moments (moments!) where you don’t like or can’t stand each other. In those temporal moments, you may have the choice to ride out the bad, knowing, seeing where the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not dark all the time! But dark times should not be ongoing! Those moments should be few and far between.

There were men that I chased, hoping they would see how beautiful and capable I was. There were relationships that I stayed in far too long, hoping it would get better. But better never came. See, what people don’t tell you is that ‘struggle love’ takes from you. It saps your youth, strength and focus. It takes or sabotages opportunities! This is what I heard from a man that  tried to keep, that it took over three years to leave:

“I don’t want you to go out of town for school, because I would miss you so much.”

And I listened. The thing behind that? He didn’t want me to be far from him, because he was insecure. And sometimes insecurity in the wrong man leads to controlling behaviors. Or to be clingy and manipulative.

Another man I tried to date wanted to change who I was. Hated how smart I was, that I kept myself up, and that I was ambitious. It was odd:  the same thing that drew him to me, was the very thing that made him hate me.

Struggle love props up this idea of the happily ever after at all cost! It promotes this idea that everything that makes you valuable as a woman is wrapped in being with man! While doing whatever it takes to keep him! It involves ignoring or tolerating outrageous, abusive behavior because ‘he’s my man, and you just don’t understand.’ No!

If you have any inkling; any type of ‘something told me’, any funny feeling? Believe it. This is the Almighty protecting you, warning you, from something that can hurt or trap you. The thing is, my loves, a hurt is something you can be be mended or healed from. A trap? That takes a while to get out of, and may leave scars or residue. With that residue, along with the hurt? This may make you susceptible to evil, manipulative people.

My dearest ones, my heartbeat in two places, I want better for this for you! I want you to remember you are a Queen. You are entitled to be both beautiful and ambitious. You are allowed to manifest your own destiny! You have the right to tell a man ‘no’! And that is a complete sentence! You are allowed to possess all pieces that make you formidable and feminine. Change for no one. Change for no man. Saying ‘I’m sorry’ doesn’t fix something, or everything! You are entitled to leave any relationship when you believe that you had done all you can. It does not make you less than a woman to be single or walk away from what no longer suits you! Own your power and person, my loves.

You have the right to have healthy, lasting love. You do not, will not, have to give your body to boy, a man (or another woman) not be valid, valued or loved. Love is not a struggle. It is given. That which can be given, and given freely, is never a struggle.

I love you beyond the stars, to the moon and back.

Always,

Mommy

 

 

Daddy Lessons #2- Dating

 

“If a man likes you just a little bit, you’ll be amazed what he’ll do for you.”

-Richard L. Bush (1948-1998)

 

This is the simplest, boldest piece of advice I have every gotten in regards to dating and dealing with men to date. My father had the habit of telling me this type of advice on a regular basis even when I was still considering boys as gross. However, the truth of this statement? Unparalleled. Armed with this secret confidence, I began to be a constant observer of male behavior.

I began to watch how he and my mother interacted. I began to watch how he treated her, and how she responded in kind. I watched how he did things for her, just because he wanted to. Or because they needed to be done! He got her flowers because he wanted her to have them! Not  because he had done something wrong.

My father loved my mother. Completely. It wasn’t until he died, and I really began dating, that I saw how completely he loved her. That kind of love, I know now, is rare. And worked for. The cooler thing is he liked my mother, as well as loved her. They still went out and did things together. They made time to talk and laugh and be a couple–independent of the three of us.

I took their marriage, their relationship, as a roux–the bare minimum that I would accept as a partner. I expected to be treated well. I expected to be listened to and respected. I expected to be valued. When I ran across a young man that couldn’t or wouldn’t? I ended the relationship.

Now, have I always gotten that formula right? Nope, not at all. I chased me that I thought like me, and it came to naught. I stayed in crazy situations longer than I should, because I gave people time to change. Hell, I stayed with my ex-husband waaaaay longer than I should have because I knew (or thought) if I was a little more patient he would change. This has been my Achilles heel:  I love too hard. I give too much. And I sometimes am way too patient in anticipating a human being change. But perhaps that is the maturity in my father’s statement; I waited to see if like would surface, resurface, or how often it would surface.

On the other hand, I have been on the reciprocating end of affections of young men that I, too, was crazy about. This young men that decided to call me just to tell me ‘Good Morning.’  Who opened doors for me. That got me the flowers. Gave me money to ‘just have’. Even two of them decided they could not live without me and decided to make me a wife.

This quote gave me the awareness of what being treated well is. This portion of wisdom allowed me call crazy what it is. It allowed me to know when relationships should begin or end. It allowed me become cognizant of my time. To value my body. My skills. My talents. It allowed me to recognize what I bring to any situation. It allowed and allows me to know if those attributes are not appreciated, I don’t have to ask for permission to leave. I can just go.

The best thing my Daddy ever gave me was a sense of self. From that sense, he gave his oldest daughter to knowledge that I was special. If any man didn’t see me as that, or able to love me past the pretty, I didn’t need him.

 

Someone Please Go Get Kanye! Now.

The founder of For Harriet, Kimberly Foster, said it best:

“We have been talking about Kanye’s downward spiral for five years. When does a spiral become who a n—- is!”

From that life quote, we have this. Aside from the con artistry that is the church he is running, this is a level of strangeness I couldn’t ignore.

Like, bruh. I cannot with dude.

Stop blaming this nonsense on his mama being dead or his non-therapeutic levels of lithium or his sleep deprivation. Young fresh to deff ‘Ye, has now transformed into an ASN. Wanna know what that acronym means? Here you go.

Kanye is now an Ain’t Sh!t N—a.

This is no longer up for debate. Don’t at me! Don’t email me! I said what I said.

I am far from a prude on my worst day. That being said, like what you like. Flat out. Bedroom behavior ain’t no one else’s business anyway! However, when people make dumbass statements like this?! As a Black woman, I am tired of the men that look like my father saying how less than desirable I am.

Like, DUDE?! Who TF asked you do weigh in on sexual prowess?! Kanye, fam, let me tell you something. You married a girl that was ranthu by Brandy’s little brother! That Reggie Bush smashed! Like?! Don’t come at Black women as it relates to this.

‘Ye! Yo, you the one said that that you had to take all these showers and prepare to be with Kim Kardashian! Like, where did this come from, sir!

I don’t remember since Kanye has been famous him being seen with anyone that wasn’t light-skinned (like Amber Rose) or just White! Sex is a sensual act anyway, but let me tell you a bitter truth that I heard in middle school and through high school. It was relayed and rumored that White dudes would eat you out and White girls would give head. I heard this at 12! So the fact Kanye repeated something he may have heard in public school almost 30 years ago? I’m not surprised at.

I’m not shocked that he said this either! He’s been on this campaign of trying to be the White OJ was before the death of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson! What better way to do that then to praise or possess the closest thing to affluent social capital (aka: A White girl)? What other way to tell the people around you where you have casted your lot than to denigrate those you seen as less than? The quickest punching bag for men like Kanye West is Black women.

This off hand comment reduces us as Black women to parts and their function; the rating of her sexual self (is she a freak or not); the reasons why she is not desirable and should only be used for satisfaction.

I’m done being shocked at what this dude does or says. This is who he is! From his musical gifting and talents, he’s trash. But this is a level of trash that solidifies just why I don’t fool with him anymore!

The killer part? I wonder if the Black girls he was with before would give him a glowing review on his cunnilingus or coitus skills. Or does he just come up short.

Being Part Of The Knot-Part 3: Being Chose

I am a fan of jewelry.

I always have been. I think that the first time I saw a crown, I have wanted one for myself. I especially fave been fond of rings.

On and in my pursuit of trying to have a husband before any sense of life or self, I imagined what my wedding set would look like. I imagined Colin Cowie would do the reception (Google him!). I, in my Vera Wang gown, would walk in with Derek Jeter on my arm with cream and pink roses to a cheering chorus of about 200 people.

And the ring, darling? The ring!

I wanted the ring, size 7, platinum or white gold with princess cut diamonds. I imagine the rocks would glimmer, and shimmer in the light. It would be like holding all the rainbows in the world on my left hand. Our first dance? It Had To Be You by Harry Connick, Jr or Nothing Even Matters by Lauryn Hill. We would dance and I’d twirl, and I’d be a whole Queen forever.

Alas, that didn’t happen that way.

However, but I did think about this.  What is it about being chosen–getting chose, as I call it. What is so powerful about those words (“Will you marry me?”) and the appropriate answer (“Yes.”) that will allow women to put up with so much, for so long, in order to be chosen?  The best that my experience and failed relationships can garner is the reason why getting chose is so powerful is simple. Everyone wants to be special.

To be special.

We all want to know there is someone in the world whom decides that they cannot live without us. That they ache for us, lose breath at the site of us. Can think of no other lips to kiss, not body to meld into, hand to hold other than ours. We want to have the affirmation that we belong to and with someone. Harlequin has made love and its storytelling a multi-million dollar business! I mean, it was the fiction of Nora Roberts that reminded me, showed me, that love deep, solid and mystic was not only possible–but available! And from her  Three Sisters Island series, I got this Gaelic phrase:

Image result for a ghra a amhain

 

We all search for that, at the cost of ourselves, and complete selves. In the pursuit of being the love and the only to someone else, look at the behavior we consider. That we tolerate. That we endure. That we silence. For women, we do it in the pursuit of metal and rocks. This proof that we can–and have–endured all things toward the pursuit of this wearable proof that we were chosen. That we are the love, the only, the precious one.

At the cost of being special, we forsake warning signs. Don’t ask questions. Lie about answers. We hide from truths and wisdom from sources that have seen and lived longer. Being chose is better than being alone–so it is said. The beautiful thing about relationships is they are supposed to add to you, not define you. Not encompass and rule over you. Your partner is  not a trophy, but an asset.  A reminder that with this world and all its darkness, you are not alone to slay it. That you are worthy of something lasting, beyond a day–beyond a dress. More than any band, more than any Colin Cowie centerpiece.

Being chose is indeed magnificent. I myself have been chosen twice. What I have learned is that what problems were there before being chose, will be there after–waiting. They will amplify. They will irritate. They will root. They will embolden or embitter. Be careful dearest ones in the pursuit of being chose; that is only half of what is required. The other part? It matters who you are chosen by…

 

 

 

“Blackness Is Ongoing.”-The Power Of This Will By Undoing

I am in this space of radical love and self-acceptance. In my devouring of the fire of Feminista Jones; the medicine at the shoulder, knee, yea, hands of Toni Morrison; I came across the sister oracle, Morgan Jerkins.

This book had been on my radar for over a year. It had been in my literature orbit, and hidden among other Amazon needs. However, now, this time, I bought it.

What I got in the about 8-hours of the author herself, was a dual realization of my power as a Black woman. And the invisible chains that held, pulled and sought to destroy me.

I found myself nodding when she talked about the paradox of being a smart, quiet, Black girl. I teared up remembering my middle school self: smart as hell, awkward, with parents that prized grades over social status. The struggle with sexuality as a Black woman versus the idea (even appearance) of being fast. I was mad as fuck with her as she relayed her frustration with college acceptance; the loss of her father and hiding in the depths of academic success. I clasped my hands, as if she could feel them, when she talked about her faith. I even teared up at her *manifesto in Chapter 9.

The power of this book is it’s willingness to confront the joys and struggles of being a Black woman. She rips off the Band-Aids with laser precision and pulls no punches.

While reading it, I found Morgan on Twitter. I tweeted her about how the book effected me. How I wished I had something like this 25 years ago when I was a girl and trying navigate woman spaces I was thrust into. I had to examine myself and alla my stuff as the choreopoem goes.

In, with, that examination, came a strange empowerment. The further acceptance of my Blackness. Of forgiving women in my family whom did only what they knew to do in order to keep me safe and tame. I no longer felt that my experiences were alien.

This book was a reminder of self, my entire self. Of allowing my daughters a freedom I never tasted. I was reminded my soft heart and quiet nature were never a detriment, but a tool. I was reminded just as Phylicia Rashad said:

“Your whole self is such a treasure.”

I had forgotten that. Like any good writer, Morgan made me remember. For that, I am thankful.

Thank you, Morgan Jerkins.

*The manifesto in Chapter 9 is one of the boldest, most vulnerable things I have read pertaining to loving yourself as a Black woman. I am glad I have this book on Audible so I can go back and reference it on blue days. The days where my magic, my swag or my sway feel less than. Where I feel less than. Where I am low, in need a level of refilling God-deep. One of the joys of being a writer is you get to see and feel deeply. With that depth, the refilling, too, must be just as deep.

Dear Wendy

Image result for wendy williams

I haven’t watched the show in years. It gets old hearing about the garbage activities of famous people. It gets tiring of hearing you, as Black woman,  gleeful revel in the downfall of other people. While I do not revel in what is happening to you, one can only say the karma along what is happening to you is akin to Lady MacBeth. It is poetic.

Woman to woman, lemme tell you how raggedy this is. You have touted your marriage for your entire career. Admirable, yes. Not everyone needs to know everything–I completely agree. You are a mogul in the public eye. So I get how no one needs to know everything, sis. I get it. You have every right to protect your family–but this here?

I have no sympathy for your, Mrs. Hunter.

None.

You have sat on your perch and watched the other people’s relationships fall apart and given your unsolicited advice. Now that all your funky laundry is being seen and smelt? You want to deny it and shroud it in shenanigans.

Sis, come on now. WE SEE YOU!

We saw you fall out. We saw the broken shoulder. We saw you disappear from your show for weeks.We know that Kevin slick treats you bad. Like, c’mon sis! C’mon! Be honest with us! Let us know what is going on!

Yes, we that believe are going to pray for you, it’s the right thing to do. But the fact that this dude had this broad (this whole woman!) on the side for at least a decade eating and living out YOUR BAG?! And he had a baby with her?

SISSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Like, the book from this ALONE is a NYT best seller! You don’t owe people anything, shug. But you need to understand some atonement is going to be necessary. Some cleansing is going to have to happen. Like you showing off your ring saying, “Don’t ask me about my marriage until you see ring off my finger! And it ain’t goin no where! Not in this lifetime!”

Wendy. Nall.

Every woman that has tried to hang on to a relationship which was burning down around her has done what you are doing! We save face. We lie. We hide to regroup. We pretend the world isn’t noticing how bad we are. We fortify the lie with our own belief. Yet, people see it.

Wendy, the world sees this. We see how he did you, Sis. It’s not right. It’s not okay, and you have a right to privacy. However, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander! You made tea bags and big cups what you do. But don’t be surprised with that tea being sipped is brewed and steeped in the things that are happening to you.

I wish you well, Ma.

Let him miss you. Cut the check. And let him roll over and realize the bag he secured has a hole in it.

With Love,

JBHarris