Reflection ~ Chris Brown (F.A.M.E.)

I remember the night of the 2009 Grammy Awards vividly! News broke that Chris Brown, the nineteen year-old teen heart-throb, the Upcoming Prince of Pop, heir to the King of Pops apparent throne had been arrested for physically assaulting his then girlfriend Pop Princess Rihanna. I was shocked. I shook my head in disbelief as more details were revealed. It all suddenly became very real when TMZ.com released the photo of Rihanna’s badly beaten face. I could no longer deny that this had occurred. I took a stand — and I will always take a stand against domestic violence! As the police reports were released and after Rihanna did her interview with Diane Sawyer, I felt a softening in my heart for Chris Brown. It surprised even me! But after Rihanna admitted that she hit Chris first, I just felt sorry for both of them.

Better Days

I felt sorry that they were too young and inexperienced in their love to talk and work things out. I felt sorry for them because of the sheltered existence that allowed BOTH of them to act out in inappropriate ways that caused irreparable harm to both of them. I felt sorry that Rihanna had been beaten. I felt sorry that the rising star that Chris had been riding was now tainted and he was now “untouchable!”

Time of course passed and these star-crossed lovers let the dust settle as the judge in the case made her decision for Chris’ sentencing. Community Service and anger management was the penance that he was told to serve and he did so in the allotted time and manner as was prescribed by the judge. Rihanna went forward with the love and support of her peers in the industry and her fans, while Chris continued to be ostracized and ridiculed at every turn.

People questioned his remorse, people questioned his regrets and people even questioned his manhood. What they failed to remember was this boy became a man without the guidance of a father. This boy became a man after watching his own mother being abused and suffering from domestic violence. This boy became a man of “means” after being a boy who came from nothing. This boy became a man in the world of entertainment — where nothing is as it appears. His “friends” deserted him, the people who gave him accolades suddenly refused his calls. He knew he had done wrong, but all he could do was try to grow from it and press forward with his music.

I remember when Chris’ latest CD F.A.M.E. (Forgiving All My Enemies) came out. I was excited for him. I wanted to hear about the things he had learned. I was glad he had time to reflect on his life, his choices, and his “friendships.” His music matured, the lyrics were certainly more sexually explicit and less bubble gum. He had changed, he was embarrassed and remorseful about what had happened but what was crystal clear, people where not ready to hear from him. It is three years later and people still aren’t.

I have to state that, “I do not condone Chris’ actions in beating Rihanna, but I do not believe that this particular action defines who he is and who he shall ever be.” I know that I will lose readers at this juncture, but I encourage you to continue reading.

F.A.M.E. to me, is a call for all of us to really look at what it means to FORGIVE! I realize that this is a difficult task for all of us. No one wants to condone domestic abuse. We know it is not right for guys to hit girls, we also know girls should not hit boys and we all learned that in kindergarten. No one wants to excuse Chris Brown for this assault, but I find it interesting how many other celebrities have not received this type of backlash after a domestic violence issue. Jackson Brown, James Brown, James Taylor, Wesley Snipes and a host full of other celebrities have never seen the likes of other celebrities condemning them, like Miranda Lambert has done towards Chris Brown since the 2012 Grammy’s. The only exception that I can think of was Ike Turner!

Miranda Lambert’s dismay that Chris Brown performed twice at the Grammy’s this year and won two Grammy’s was not an isolated reaction, her’s was just one of the most verbal. Twitter was all a buzz with Chris Brown haters. Domestic Violence haters. Friends began threatening to unfollow each other and in the midst of this three-hour show, something stopped me dead in my tracks! There was a tweet sent out from the Huffington Post from 25 different women, which stated in no uncertain terms that Chris Brown would be welcome to “beat” them as long as these women could be his girlfriend. Yes, you read that correctly! There were young women, whose self-esteem and self-worth is that low that they were willing to broadcast that they would be willing to accept such horrible treatment at the hands of a superstar.

As the parent of a tween aged girl, I found this to be shocking. What are we teaching our girls? Why would this be acceptable? Is the fact that he has “gotten away” with this given young girls and women the ideology that domestic violence is okay? This certainly gives us reason to pause and think about our own reactions to domestic violence, the way we condemn abusers, the way victims are perceived, the way that the law punishes them, and the standards and tolerance that our society holds abusers accountable.

It would be great if both of them put forth a positive message about the pitfalls of being young and in love. It would be great if Chris would talk to young men and tell them that they have an alternative to using their hands. It would be great if Rihanna would tell young girls and women, that sometimes love just ain’t enough and encourage them to feel better about themselves and walk away because love is not supposed to bring them injury or physical harm. They could both be great role models by speaking out about domestic violence, but the public relations machine that makes them their money has advised them both to do otherwise in order to keep the money coming in. Only GOD knows what their future holds, but the aftermath of their relationship has had a great effect on our youth according to the non-profit called Futures Without Violence (formerly known as the Family Violence Prevention Fund), according to their website, “1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped or physically hurt by a partner.”

Chris Brown is a young, talented man who is trying to go forward with his life as is Rihanna and apparently they have found it in their hearts to forgive each other and if they can do that and it truly appears that they both have, then who are we to still judge them!!! As they continue their musical journey this week with the release of two songs that they have released together. One of the two songs (Birthday Cake) is already controversial because of its lyrics and intimate nature.

I can only hope that this will be a peaceful journey for both of them and that they have learned the hard lessons of their youth. It’s their business and as public figures it is now our business. We have the power to speak out against what we believe is wrong but we are not the ultimate judge! GOD is the only judge that matters and GOD is the only one that truly knows both of their hearts. So the next time you begin to spew hatred about an incident that took place three years ago, please take a moment and think about what your own life was like three years ago and how it has changed. Think about a time in your life when you did something that you regretted and think about how hard you worked to overcome that situation. Think of all the people who embraced you at that time and think of all the people who went out of their way to remind to just how terrible you were because of what you did. As you remember that time, I hope that you will find it in your heart to forgive him — not forget what he did, but forgive him. He has already professed his forgiveness for you publicly!

Don’t you think it’s time for us to forgive all our enemies? Let the debate begin!

You don’t get to tell me WHO I can be anymore!

This is the August 1, 2011 writing prompt from The Red Dress Club called Mentors. Unfortunately I was unable to link up but I wanted to post this anyway.

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One of my favorite books is by Loraine Hansberry — that’s right it’s TO BE YOUNG, GIFTED, AND BLACK.

When was younger I used to call this the triple wammy! I was too young to understand that I needed to work harder than others in order for others to recognize my talents because of my color. I didn’t understand why my 2nd grade classmate couldn’t play with me anymore because her mother told her that “blacks were stupid and dirty.” I couldn’t comprehend that in my young mind how someone would think that I was stupid when I had skipped a grade to be in that 2nd grade class! I was devastated that my friend wouldn’t play with me anymore but I had an amazing teacher, who was angry enough about my experience to include a classroom lesson about how Americans differences make our country stronger! This may not seem impressive today but I assure this was quite controversial in the early 70’s and it was not a part of the state standards on curriculum.

Mrs. S. introduced us to all kinds of authors, who were all nationalities and paraphrased their biographies or autobiographies to explain to us what it was like in “their” AMERICA, and when she read from TO BE YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK something touched me.

I loved Ms. Hansberry’s story and I continue to be inspired by her daily! There have been so many times in my life when have doubted my own talent, diminished my own gifts in order to make others feel better about themselves or just surrendered my power knowing I didn’t have the confidence to follow through with my decisions because of my inexperience. But as I look back on those experiences, I reflect on how much I’ve grown, the confidence I’ve gained, and I proudly proclaim to those who doubt me or question my abilities — “You don’t get to tell me who I can be anymore”. I have surpassed the expectations of many people in spite of my age, gender, economic status and life circumstances.

Because of Mrs. S.’s care, love and “teaching outside of the box”, I am a confident, resilient, intelligent woman. I am an advocate for change and tolerance among Americas youth and I too am a TEACHER!

Thank you Mrs. S. for teaching me that I am blessed to be YOUNG GIFTED AND BLACK!

Post script:
You may wonder if my friend and me ever made up. Mrs. S. made sure that that happened. In fact, we all reconnected last year via the telephone when we found out that our beloved teacher is now suffering from a brain tumor.

As featured in MomMagazine.ca

After forty-two years I am finally comfortable enough with my life’s experiences to embrace all of my scars. Scars that hurt me to the core of my being to remind me of what has happened or what could have been.

There are two types of scars. Those that are visible and those intangible scars that live within me but are hidden from public view. It is these type of scars that could have mentally crippled me for my lifetime or help me to form who I have become.

My life has been tragic to some or triumphant to those who know my story. It has not been easy but no one ever said it would be! I battle with my feelings and emotions everyday but at the end of each day I know that my scars are my testimony that I am a cancer and rape survivor.

At the age of forty-one, my left breast waged war against me. The same breast that nurtured and nourished my three children planned a coup d’etat to overtake me. An irregular mammogram required me to take a second mammogram, which revealed a calcification and a suspicious mass that required me to have a surgical biopsy. Upon selecting my surgeon and meeting with him, I informed him that I wanted any and all suspected masses removed from my body. On the date of my surgical biopsy, I awoke to discover that a lumpectomy had been performed. I was relieved to have the surgery completed but I truly was not mentally prepared for what that actually meant. I had gone into surgery prepared to have a small circular scar from a needle aspiration and awoke with swelling and a four-inch scar across my breast. Three days later when my test results came in my surgeon called my home at 9 PM to inform me that all of my Stage One cancer had been completely removed. “Whew” I thought, “I’m glad that’s over.” But as I removed my bandages the following morning I realized that healing from this scar had not yet begun.

The visible scar on my breast was unsettling to me, and I couldn’t even imagine if I were to have lost one or both of my breasts. While I was thankful that I was okay, I cried each morning as I put on my bra. I had always loved my rack. It had been my favorite body part and my most treasured asset and now it was scarred. I became self-conscious about my clothing. I avoided all of the v-neck t-shirts and blouses I had with low plunging necklines. My husband being the amazing man that he is, looked at me no differently and loved me even more than before but I became sad and withdrawn as I suffered silently becoming angrier and angrier at my scar.

Around this time my intangible post-rape scars began to resurface. The thing about being raped is all though you learn to cope with the trauma certain things can trigger an emotional response and within seconds the mind can take you right back to that terrible experience. All of the insecurities from my past, my distorted body image, emotional eating, Post-Traumatic Stress, sexual expression and sexual repression resurfaced with a vengeance. I silently grieved my scars and suddenly I mourned for the nineteen year-old girl that I’d lost when I was raped. I mourned for my lost innocence, for my lost security and for my uninhibited desire to truly love someone with my entire being. I’d never known or felt that I lost so much until I stared at the scar on my breast, so I did what I had always been good at — I pressed on.

Faking it until I was making it.

I looked so put together. My work life was successful. My family life was doing well, but inside my scars had reopened into gigantic craters that engulfed me, and the sense of happiness and pride that I had established with therapy over 15 years ago was completely gone. I never looked in the mirror. I pulled back from hugs. Compliments all felt insincere. I couldn’t sleep. I was completely broken by my deep-seeded scars. I became mechanical. Going through the motions functioning on 2 to 3 hours of sleep and the rest of the day I ran on autopilot.

Determined to snap out of my Post Traumatic Stress funk, I pulled my copies of The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis and One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant back off of my bookcase and re-read them. I started journaling about my feelings, writing out my dreams, and creating short stories, blogged about my walking journey to better health and then one night when I was writing I wrote an erotic story that inspired me to reclaim my sexual power. A dear friend read it and said, “This is good.” He submitted the story to a website and within an hour, it was accepted and published as an online story. Talk about being shocked! I went to the site and set up a profile and joined a writer’s community within that site. I met an amazing group of friends. I read stories that were posted and I decided it was time to heal.

How my online life helped me heal

Accepting my scars began with a conversation with a new online friend. There’s something about the anonymity of speaking to someone online that allowed me to voice my deepest fears without self-imposed judgments. He asked me, “What do you like?” Sadly enough, I couldn’t answer! I’d become so disconnected from my own thoughts and desires.

I couldn’t answer that simple question. It wasn’t just about my hobbies; it dawned on me that wasn’t even in touch with what I wanted from my own husband in bed. I had never thought about what I WANTED! I know this sounds strange but most of my sexual “firsts” occurred during my rape. The involuntary nature and violation of it all left me in a less than adventurous state of being. There were and are things that I still do not enjoy, things that still freak me out completely and things that I have learned to love. I had discovered yet another area of my life that needed to heal and I began writing erotica to explore my desires and I began to finally connect with myself sexually.

My husbands love and support helped me to put my desires into physical actions and we made a pledge to make love everyday for ninety days. It might sound crazy but the intimacy and connections that we shared during that time is something that I will always cherish! The unconditional love that I’ve received from my husband and online friends during this difficult reawakening process has been phenomenal and so much more than I could have ever expected! My sexual re-awakening has been both a blessing in my relationship with my husband and at times a curse that required us to look long and hard at our relationship and our expectations of each other. But with the encouragement of close friends and my family, I returned to therapy to help me process some of my unspoken needs and to help mend some of my reopened wounds.

There was only one thing left for me to deal with and that was my scarred breast. So I took a shower and took a long look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t just look at my face as I had done for the last fourteen months. I looked at all of me! I sat in my bathroom and looked at my scar and reminded myself, that I am scarred but not dead and right then and there I embraced my scar! Not just that one, I decided to embrace them all! I cried and celebrated my scars as I looked at the mark on my breast.

Later that week I called my dear friend Chloe Jackman, a professional photographer (www.chloejackman.com) and I decided to reclaim my feminine power, embrace my scars, and celebrate my life by having a professional naughty girl set of portraits done for my husband. The highlight of that shoot was the photo in this article where I am embracing my scar.

I am not healed from my past but I am embarking on a new path towards a happier future, embracing my scars and enjoying who I am right now. Tomorrow is not promised and I have been given the chance to start over again! I acknowledge that everyone does not survive all that I have been through. But whether you have or have not experienced my life circumstances, I ask you to embrace your scars because they are what make you uniquely you. Reach out for help if you feel like you are sinking. You might be surprised at who is ready to help you heal.

For more exciting news about Mom’s check out MOMmagazine (www.MOMmagazine.ca)

Be brave and be well,

Sammie Love


RIP – Amy Winehouse

I know everybody has something to say about the passing of Amy Winehouse and it certainly is sad to see such a musical talent leave us so soon. She joins a list of talented 27 year olds that couldn’t beat their addiction and met the angel of death too soon.

I’d like to say I was surprised that she is gone, but I am not. It was never a question of if she would die because of her addiction, the question was when would she die of her addiction. Again, I’m not surprised — I’m pissed! I’m pissed off that this tiny woman with this large voice that touched so many souls was stolen from us by her demon of choice called drugs.

Those of you who are callous quickly started singing, “Tried to make me go to rehab but I said no, no, no!” The media paraiahs have made this weekend unbearable for her fans by clamoring over each other to talk about bits and pieces of her life and speaking of her talent and pain as if you actually cared! Amy died of addiction and part of the reason she was addicted was because the cost of her fame was too high for even the average human to handle. She was a media darling when she ascended up the charts and she became disposed of like garbage when she could no longer control her addiction. Did you know pictures of her high were worth more than her smiling and enjoying her life? How sad is that? I’m not implying that the media killed Amy, but I am saying the tabloids and the publics constant, incessant desire to be like the stars and know about them has become a bottomless pit of despair for those in the entertainment industry. In sharp contrast to Amy Winehouse’s death, there has been minimal coverage of the massacre in Oslo, Norway. Children were killed in the country that gave the world the Noble Peace Prize and yet the world wide media is still dissecting the life of Amy Winehouse and trying to be the first to report exactly what drugs did she die from. Frankly, I DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT WHAT DRUG KILLED HER! Amy Winehouse is gone and I pray she has found the peace and rest that she was unable to obtain here on earth!

The purpose of this post is to ask each one of us to stop feeding into the media and their frenzy. Stop buying the tabloid and reading them because our desire to consume entertainers is the very thing that breaks them. Do it in memory of Amy! Do it for PINK and Mariah that just want to enjoy their children and keep them out of the spotlight so that they can be kids. Do it for all of the up and coming stars.

Rest in Peace Amy! See you on the other side.