Then, Now and Later

Generational curses aren’t always what you think… sometimes they don’t look like curses, they look like choices, decisions, preferences, but really those choices, decisions, and preferences are steeped in toxicity, and it takes a long time and purposeful healing to break free of that shit. But it’s real and it’s heavy, and it’s necessary to pull those out at the roots and start all over again with seeds of awareness and positivity.

This is my story… but I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit so read this with that level of understanding. Sensitive = savage.

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If you have read anything I write, you kinda know my background, but in case you don’t here is a summary. I’m Black and educated and dope, and my family is a daugeurrotype (read: one of a kind, fragile, phenomenal in many respects) picture of Black American historical excellence. They are a mix of everything Black culture offers, but also carry remnants of the very real difficulty Black people have faced emotionally and relationally being steeped in all that is america. We have been trapped in familial and communal belief that we aren’t good enough or deserve less than abundance.

My name isn’t Nova Bordelon so I’m not about to tell my family secrets, but like every family, some sections of my family quilt are too bound together with threads of love, pain, deceit, lies, and truths, told and untold. But here is the crux of the generational curse I see most prevalently reflected in my own life …

My mother and father divorced when I was young, and I didn’t have a relationship with him. She often said he was a great guy but not a good husband or father. Trust that he didn’t have the best example… but that’s another curse for another time. However from all the stories I heard, they clearly married out of love, there was just a general lack of responsibility on his part. All spices and sugar. And in complete juxtaposition to the marriage of my grandparents, both sets, that appeared to me more for stability than love. I knew more of my mother’s parents, but the narrative seemed to be the same. One party was literally THE PARTY­čÄë , the other the calm. All spice and salt, low on the sugar.

Yet I’m like berere, the Ethiopian spice.

I’m heavy on the spice, yet sweet and salty enough, for someone with the proper palate to need nothing else to flavor the dish. A salted candle apple of sorts. I need a similar mixture, less spicy though, to balance me out.

I have struggled with the love v. stability dynamic and how much of each I need. Most of the men I have found myself most attracted to, were not the most stable… they had more creative and artistic minds that were always moving but rarely stopping to put pen to paper, but they adored me. Who doesn’t want to be adored?!? The men that were stable that I dated, in retrospect, were settlements. Nothing against them, but I’ve got a three finger ring next to my pearls. I’m more Now and Later than chocolate truffle arm candy. These guys seemed to want someone more June Cleaver than Lucy Ricardo… and you know I’m all Lucy. Yet, the older I got, the more it seemed that stable men…well, stay…and love, real love, with it’s dips and waves, hills and valleys is unpredictable and inconsistent.

I can recall bringing my younger boyfriends around my family, and the more judgmental and righteous relatives would question them… What do your parents do? What are your plans? How do you plan to take care of her while she goes to school? Don’t you think she’ll outgrow you? Those guys would not hesitate to answer… and my mother, would curse my family to hell and back cuz she didn’t play that holier than thou high brow shit. But for me, I had every plan to be able to take care of myself, and saw myself as a rib and not them as a backbone. Yet somehow, when it came time to chose when it mattered, those questions popped back into my head. How does he plan to take care of you? What is his plan?

You see, the generational curse I was fighting was a lack of emotional intelligence, particularly self-awareness and as a result, empathy.

The five characteristics of emotional intelligence are self-regulation, motivation, social skills, and self-awareness and empathy. Self-awareness is simply the ability to identify and monitor one’s emotions, needs, and wants and perceive how they affect others. Empathy is the ability to understand, be interested in, and anticipate how others feel. They go hand in hand, you can’t have empathy without self-awareness. In my family dynamic, I saw women who knowingly settled for mistreatment in exchange for stability because they were completely unaware of their own needs or women who knowingly settled for stability and then mistreated the men that took care of them, in an act void of empathy. I never was aware of how those scenes and that history played out in my head… until recently.

I married for stability. Bad idea. He wasn’t stable in the ways I needed and we simply weren’t very compatible. I thought more stable would provide me with the consistency I desired, so post marriage that was the formula. I have a successful career, and I’m financially stable on my own, and I’d witnessed the dynamic of the woman making more money and how that affected the relationship. But that didn’t work either. I found myself in relationships where I was being asked or expected to be less of myself to accommodate some man’s inability to lead. That’s not the formula AT ALL.

Then, I recall seeing this image that I saved…

It was a moment in which that last missing piece of self-awareness was placed in the puzzle. When you love yourself, you create the spaces for yourself to be fully who you are, and to realize your ultimate purpose. Similarly, when you love someone, I learned, you create the consistency and stability needed to sustain that relationship if it’s genuine and if you know how. Love is not fleeting, it’s forever changing. It bends instead of dips and has curves instead of valleys. Love is an action and an emotion, it is incapable of consistency or inconsistency. It was the men who were inconsistent, not their love or lack thereof. Perhaps they didn’t care to, I’d like to believe they didn’t know how to… but now I knew! And being self-aware made me much better able to consider how my uncertainty about what I wanted and needed caused some of the inconsistent actions on their parts. Key word: some.

So when I found myself falling for a man who had the dookie chain to my three finger ring and was the Mystery Mix to my Now and Later… I asked myself : How does he plan to take care of you? What is his plan? Now knowing what I needed to hear in return. (I’ll tell you what he said later.) It’s not financial or material, as long as he has the means to take care of himself and any responsibilities he has created or taken on. That’s simply not my personal need. I need the provision of space, time, freedom, and support for my creative mind to flourish and protection of my heart from deceit and irresponsibility. Period. Once I knew what I wanted, it made me equally prepared to consider someone else. It made me prepared to accept someone who wasn’t perhaps who other people thought I should consider, but who I knew would be best for me.

So when I inquired about Mystery Mix’s plans, he smiled and said to me…

“To help make your dreams reality.”

Now that’s the gotcha gotcha! Speak yo speech. Real words spoken by a real man. Words he saw posted on my Instagram about a year prior, but that actually made it more impressive. Way to shoot your shot! ­čÄ» Be prepared and purpose driven about your shit!

What is most important is that I can now teach and show those that come after me that we don’t have to pick between two incomplete emotional realities. We can have it all!

Curse broken. Blessing bestowed.

“I got that ‘Now’ and that ‘Later’
He gone eat through the paper” -Megan Thee Stallion