skin-deep

while you inherited her smile
(orthodontia straightened yours)
your eyes are wider & world-weary
(hers are narrow with bourgeois smugness)
you have his bullshit-detecting (rejecting) nose
(hers seeks out malleable sycophants)
the family resemblance is skin-deep
(like the way she cares about people)
you value people based on their character
(not how they can be of service)
it’s unspoken – you don’t care what people think
(she screams it constantly, proving the opposite).

diffusion

over two decades ago,
you mastered the art of
creating diversions to diffuse
tempestuous timebombs who
have become strangers
& left you wondering,
“how do I share anything
(much less, genetic material)
with these people?”

There is no Hallmark card for those who have strained relationships with their parents.

A concept that boggles my mind is that we’re supposed to accept blood-relations as family under all circumstances. Gaby sent me a great article called “Motherless by Choice” by Katie Naum. Ms. Naum’s mother wasn’t loving or supportive — she inflicted psychological terror and abuse. After years of trying to build up her self-esteem while her mother constantly tore her down, Ms. Naum escaped. She has cut off contact with her mother and has become happier, healthier, and more mentally stable.

I commented on Ms. Naum’s article to congratulate her for working on becoming the great woman she always had the potential to be. I assured her that there are many of us who have toxic relationships with our parents, so ignore the naysayers and people who don’t understand. I couldn’t believe that numerous commenters shamed her for removing her mother from her life. People quoted the Ten Commandments about “honoring your father and mother.” People warned that she would regret not making peace with her mother when her mother died.

My relationship with my mother hasn’t been as toxic as the author’s with her mother. But I related to Ms. Naum’s feelings. For years, I attempted to be the perfect, obedient daughter that she and my father expected me to be. Any time I would disagree with them, they would berate me for being ungrateful and insolent. My father constantly itemized how much supporting me cost. I blindly accepted everything they said as true. I thought my worth was based on their pride in me.

Father’s Day is on Sunday. I’ll be in Alpharetta for the day, as Brie needed someone to watch her while her nanny makes lunch and my parents go to church. I’m looking forward to having sister time without our parents or her nanny. I didn’t attend Mother’s Day, as I took a trip to California with Andrea and Shaina, instead. I don’t regret missing lunch with my mother that day — she was still harassing me because I don’t make spend enough time with “the family.” (Even if for the past several years, I would go there for lunch or dinner once a week. I don’t know any other people in their twenties who make that kind of effort, especially with parents who are the vortex of negativity in their lives.) Raf is in charge of getting our card, but there is no Hallmark card for those who have strained relationships with their parents.

Family’s involvement in your life should be conditional, just as it is with anyone else. Sharing genetics shouldn’t be a free pass to repeatedly tear someone down. Birthing someone doesn’t give you the right to consistently scream that you hope she fails, since her goals don’t aligned with yours. On the surface, I’ll be civil. But I can never be sincere about celebrating the days that praise the two biggest haters in my life.

(dishonorable) martyrdom

there were a limited amount
of times when i could be
foolish enough to mistake
your pawns for people
who have been hurt
by anyone except you.
martyrdom is honorable
& you (supposedly) sacrifice
your happiness for others —
but nothing brings more joy
than for people to marvel
at how selfless you are.

someday, you’ll see

someday, you’ll see there’s a (vast) difference between
teaching one’s child how to make good decisions
& insisting your way is the (only) correct path.
someday, you’ll realize that I’m not rebellious,
(adults don’t rebel; they act on their own accord).
someday, you’ll see that you removed yourself from my life
by (constantly) criticizing everything that garnered your disapproval.
someday, you’ll realize that love is (truly) unconditional
(not contingent on being who someone wants you to be).
despite your insistence that I’m nothing without you,
I’ve never been more certain that I’m becoming
the woman I needed as a role model, but got you instead.

Writing Process Blog Hop

Robert invited me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Hop. He’s a fellow writer whose blog From a Clogged Mind features poignant poetry, exciting flash fiction, and occasionally, music videos for songs he enjoys. My favorite of Robert’s works are his flash fiction stories — action-packed with an air of mystery.

The rules:
1. I must answer the four questions below.
2. I must link back to the person who invited me to this Blog Hop.
3. I must name four writers who will continue this Blog Hop and notify them.

Questions:
1) What are you working on?
Aside from what I’ve been posting here, I’ve been outlining a romantic comedy trilogy. It may or may not be based on my hilarious female friends’ adventures in dating. It’s definitely based on how as twenty-somethings, all of us are trying to figure out how to be adults while still having fun.

2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?
With my poetry, I have a signature punctuation style — I use parentheses, don’t typically capitalize titles or within poems, and use dashes rather than ellipses. My short stories are dialogue-driven (sometimes, the story ends up being completely comprised of dialogue), which probably makes them read more like a play. I’ll get back to y’all on the novels once I’ve hammered those out.

3) Why do you write what you write?
I’ve kept a journal since I was four. Writing is my stress reliever. It’s the way I cope with and sort through my emotions. The reason I’m going to write those romantic comedies is that the genre is one of my favorites and there are too many cliched and unrealistic series out there. I wanted to write a rom-com series that was relatable and not rehashing what we’ve been forced to read, for lack of a better selection.

4) How does your writing process work?
Like Robert, my poetry is usually inspired by whatever music I’m listening to, or in my case, my mood. For short stories, I have an idea for a funny conversation or situation and write without planning it. For novels, I brainstorm, outline the characters and plots, then write (and continually revise).

Look for the Blog Hop to continue next week at these sites:
Author Miranda Stone
Miranda is a fantastic author. Her poetry is moving and has extremely vivid imagery. Her short stories have unique characters who don’t typically do the right thing, yet you find yourself sympathizing with them anyway because you’ve glimpsed why they’re flawed.

Little Steps
Dean is an expat whose life was turned upside down once she became a mom. She shares her stories and photos about the “little” triumphs (and struggles) of motherhood, as well as photos and stories from her travels with her family. She features other parents on her blog, as well.

The Lovely Photog
LeSha is an amazing photographer. She showcases her photos, gives helpful tips to newbie photographers, reviews beauty/hair products, and shares stories and photos about her family. Her blog is a collection of everything she loves.

Unzip These Lips
Vic is a youngin’ (a high school senior), but is mature for her age. Her blog features evocative poetry and prose posts about her budding relationship. She also reblogs feminist and LGBTQ articles, as well as other bloggers’ works that she enjoys.

I’m going to cheat and mention one other blog for y’all to check out, which I recently discovered:
Benjamin’s The Breakdown of Taboo – his poems are uniquely structured and thought-provoking.

the futility of deterrence

Once upon a time,
I aspired to be
a (perfect) good girl
whose existence was validated
(solely) by making you proud.
But your expectations
& mine were mutually exclusive.
Your (belligerent) efforts
will never deter me
from becoming the woman
I never knew I could be.