Ask Toi: How to Forgive a Cheating Parent?

Reader’s father cheated on their mother and reader needs help….

It’s hard to not have your parent on a peddlestool especially a father. As a kid you may have been sheltered from the things that were really going on. That’s understandable, that’s what adults should do. They shouldn’t be as open as they want with their lives for the sake of children. We know in these times some folks don’t care and do whatever they want to do. With that in mind, you’re an adult now. The wounds don’t hurt any less by finding out about your dad’s infidelity. Keep things in perspective. It’s okay to feel like you have lost respect for him. That’s actually quite normal. You’re not a kid you can express how you feel. You can also make a decision if you want to continue a relationship. I am not on team cut him off in any way. I don’t know him enough. I know in time it can be repaired if he’s willing to do the work to do so. If you’re willing to forgive and move forward is going to be key as well.

Also keep in mind that at the end of the day, your dad has to live with his decisions and most importantly your mother is dealing with it mostly. Take some time to process it. Deal with it and do not wave it under a rug like it’s no big deal.  As an adult it may help to speak to your dad one on one. Remove him from your mom and have an adult conversation. Speak candidly and maybe even go to a public place to keep you in aligned to attempt to remain calm when you speak. Remember you don’t have to take his issues on as your own but you can be verbal about where you stand.

You may hear, I am your father respect me. You can respect title and lose respect for your dad. He has to work through earning respect as harsh as it sounds.  Keep in mind that his pain doesn’t just sit with your mom and him but the kids adult or not feel the brunt of the betrayal of the family too. I don’t get why people don’t see the other side of it. Talk to someone you trust that can be a sounding board to help you through and not just someone who wants the details of what happened. If your mom and him work it out that’s great.  If they do not, that’s their marriage to work through. Support your mom in what she needs too. She is hurting too. Take a break from trying to fix it all. You are their child but not a child. You do not need to bandage this in any way to make it okay. It’s not your fight.  Be firm when you speak, say what you mean but don’t be mean when you say it.

I pray you receive closure. I send love your mom’s way and clarity to your dad. I pray he is remorseful and willing to do whatever it takes to restore balance in the family structure without taking offense to the responses. I find men tend to think that once the cheating comes out, the children and women are to GIVE this level of instant respect without ever acknowledging the pain. I find it hard to understand the lack of understanding of the pain of the betrayal. Your dad can’t shrug this off like no big deal. The family ideology has been broken. He needs to be in the forefront to fix it. Everyone will need grace during this time!

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Closing a chapter….

This has been a great weekend for me. I was really able to get a lot done that was on my plate. In the midst of all of that I got word that my childhood pastor had passed away. I really hadn’t formulated any emotions as of yet. Either it will come or it won’t. What I can say is regardless of how things happened it can’t stop the fact that the chapter has to close.

I’ve fought mentally and emotionally as I crossed into adulthood about what my childhood church family has meant. I remember being super angry at times about it. At the time while I was a kid, in my mind was the best place ever. Always super involved. In the choir, on the usher board, on other ministries. It served the purpose for my life at the time. I would never be able to go on record and say that it wasn’t the best place for what I needed even at points in it I wanted things to be different. It was the challenge for me that pushed me into adulthood.

I wouldn’t have met some of the best people in my life had I not been in the church. I wouldn’t have had some of the greatest memories of some of the best times like going on church trips or retreats. All of my time wasn’t bad. Not all of my memories come from a place of disagreement! I had fun. I was sheltered.

So I’ve closed the door to being a member at the church. That season is done. However now is the time to really close the chapter of all that comes with the passing of my childhood pastor! I’ve gained a lot of knowledge of who I am even as an adult! It shapes who I allow to pastor me now, what I will allow from church members and who I want to be as an example to my kids.

I’ve been extremely vocal in the past however none of that matters. I hope that my childhood pastor’s family is comforted. I pray them peace to all the members who remain and the ones that were there during my time and before who at the height of his tenure have the same type of memories that I have.

Closing chapters may be hard to do. However we all have to be able to do what’s best for us. Seasonal relationships matter and you can take the focus off of negativity to propel you into a great future!

I’m super grateful that I don’t feel with his passing that there were things left unsaid. I’m glad that at his passing I don’t feel a void or bitterness. I am happy for the beautiful times. I have no bitterness in my spirit and I try to live my life like that daily. I can close the chapter in peace and with the same peace release that back into my life.

~Pastor Albert Andrew Belton~

I’ve said this once and I’ll say it a thousand times even in difficult times we have to look at the good and focus on that alone!

Sunday Message: Give Up Cycle

There are many things in life that we all have to push through is not giving up.  It comes in cycles.  You get really motivated and if you’re not careful, you go into justifying why its okay and you will get back into a flow after a while. As time keeps going you fall off completely telling yourself the goal was necessary.  Such a harsh pattern to be in.

There are ways to get past.  One take your bigger goal and break it down into smaller goals.  This is a good way to get the motivation moving towards the goal of completion. With technology there’s no reason you can’t keep your goals in your mind, on your phone, and in your vision.  What are you doing daily to keep the goals fresh on your to do list?  I usually look at my vision board that I took a picture of and attack one thing in each category that will get me to the finish line. How can I be productive?  How can I use that idle scrolling on social media time to push me to better limits?  This is the mindset to have daily.

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Failure is a apart of life.  We win and lose at variations. Failure hurts. Failure burns.  Failure is embarrassing.  Some of my most humbling failures still make me emotional but I know it is necessary for my story down the line. Consistency is necessary and staying the course comes from not getting stuck in the giving up cycle, where we let the human part of justifying why we fell off and staying in that part of cycle stalls our progress. Think about it in simple ways.  If you ask a kid why they did something they most likely squirm making up excuses that don’t make sense. That is how we look in the mirror of life using excuses like “not having enough money,” “too tired,” “not strong enough,” etc. Meanwhile those who have less than us take the same excuses we sell ourselves in their watered down versions and make magic.

Giving up cycle comes to all of us.  Just because you see someone have a different level of success than her, stop focusing on that.  Focus on how you can take charge of your areas, stay out of the giving up cycle and  find ways to rise above it.  Life is already going to deal its own cards, why add onto it by sabotaging yourself. Start this week writing down what you want to do to be successful on your own terms.  How will you make it happen? Focus on that this week not the small failures you may have experienced this past week.  It will only keep you on the hamster wheel and not much will happen there.

Wake up.

Make that list.

Make a plan for that list.

Find joy in the midst of pain.

Make this week better than last week!

You got this!

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Words Do Matter; You Matter More

So while at an event in my hometown I had someone say something to me about my weight. Now you all know I had documented my journey and that when I was over 200 pounds very little had comments about my weight and at that time I was way over where I needed to be. It was devastating. Now I am at weight goal and tightening up and I am still getting comments about my weight.  I was taken back if I am honest. I talked to my husband and he was like “keep it in perspective some folks aint seen you since you were a kid. You’re a grown ass woman with an amazing body and 3 kids, stay the course!”  Can we just clone him?  He made me feel like the beautiful woman who I am.

This is the conclusion I have come to. A lot of folks will only see you at what they last remember. I went to college a size 0 and came back a size 4 that was an issue. Had a baby and was a size 6 and now I am holding at a size 8 and sometimes 10 depending on how the pants are cut. Issue.

I am not here to worry about what other people’s eyes see me as. I am perfect at the size that I am. I am not in competition to be at high school weight. I was unhealthy to be honest. I ate what I wanted, rarely went to the doctors and the only saving grace was a high metabolism and sports. Skinny isn’t always healthy.  I know folks smaller than me with high blood pressure and a whole gambit of health complications.

What I know is from head to toe I am finally in the best shape of my life and I can run and do 6 or more races a year. I can keep and outrun my kids and run up and down a flight of steps without losing my breath. I eat as well as I can and work out 2-3 usually more a week. I am fine!  I am enough!

There is a woman who is struggling right now with a lot of whispers and you may not be as confident as I feel or feel like you’re not. You are just enough. You are enough even in the state that you are. Its one of the things I felt I needed to say. I need to release it. I had a family member say oh you sure are hippy meaning curvy. I am supposed to be. Newsflash, I have regular amazing sex and I have 3 kids. They didn’t know when I had the athletic build in high school I used to want to have a curve. Now I have them and they are here to stay. I looked like a boy body shape and folks would either like it or have an issue.  So to the curves and the butt that I now have, please stay. We are going to tone up these next couple of months but we ain’t dropping you!

Do not let anything stop you from being your best version of you.  Trust me you can change your body, but be the best version of yourself inner and outer and trust me you will always shine in darkness.

What if you aren’t at the place you need to be and someone does make a negative but true comment?  Remember when the lady asked me how far along I was and if I was having a boy? Devastating. I cried. I was hurt. I made up in my mind that I wouldn’t allow myself to get to that point.  To prevent that I only keep my size clothes in my drawers. I don’t wear baggy clothes. They actually let you look bigger FYI.  Wearing form figuring clothes helps hold you accountable. I didn’t say tight, I said form-fitting or figure flattering clothes. The other day I found a size 14 pant in my closet, tried it on and it was drowning on me. I gave them away.  I keep myself accountable by weighing myself weekly just like I did when I was going to Weight Watchers meeting. It’s important for me to stay the course. So when that comment was made through the help of my husband and getting on the scale to see what was going on, I was fine. I knew it was a comparison of what they remember me from my past. I am still at goal weight. I am in training season for these runs. I can’t let words distract me. If I do I might not be able to get through my vigorous races ahead.  I got to keep running forward.

One of my favorite songs by Kirk Franklin, Imagine Me:

Imagine Me

Valentine’s Day Snub

This day can be so super dramatic. Between the movies that make it bigger than life. So often, we even I get caught up in this day. What I think is important is to be honest about where you are and your expectations.

When my husband and I dated in college he really outdid himself. Without even having to say anything he really did a good job. Before him I really was blessed to date and whomever I dated just naturally got it right. I love holidays of all kinds. I love the art of celebrating. It breaks up life. It gives you small victories to look forward to. So for me it’s another celebration. It’s not just above saying well as a married couple he should show love so this one day doesn’t matter. I post holidays of all kinds and everyday I get excited to find a way to celebrate one of those holidays so Valentine’s Day is one as well.

I used to not be so vocal in my love for the day because everyone would make these claims of how commercial they were. As a preachers kid holidays depending on which ones you celebrated were deemed wrong. As I came into my own, I realized how happy celebrations made me feel. So I don’t allow others’ feelings to fall on me. I won’t allow people to say that a commercial holiday doesn’t matter. I’ve heard it all from what if your husband wasn’t able to make the day special?! How is that possible when he and I can make heart shaped cookies and watch a movie feel special?! End of day I enjoy his presence and I enjoy celebrating these types of holidays with him. It’s a perk of having him in my life.

So there’s never a Valentine’s Day snub for me. Although I understand that some don’t feel the same as I do or as blessed as me in regards of having someone to share the day, I don’t want to snub my feelings to appease others. I can have empathy without dissing my own love of the day!

I respect everyone no matter where they are. There were many years that I spent with family, by myself or just with my girlfriends. Some years in my singleness I felt fine and other times I was heartbroken. Admit where you are. Own it! But be okay if you like me love these love holidays!!!!!

Mature Love

Let’s face it with the wave of reality television society obviously loves drama. We thrive on. We take it in.  We gravitate towards it. In the last 2 years I have taken on a journey to dismiss a lot of the drama in my life in the form of television and media. In addition to that in the last few years I have eliminated drama in my personal life and especially in marriage.

I think about the wonder years of college. Here I had come from this small town and I had recently been holding on to my high school sweetheart. I was so torn on keeping up this relationship but happy to start this new adult life. With limited time I ended one relationship and set out on a journey to find myself. In the midst of finding myself, I found a new relationship. In the beginning I kept telling myself to keep my options open but I fell hard and heavy with this tall glass of water who I later would end up marrying and having a family.  Oh the relationship goals I hear people speak of when I post my beautiful family is encouraging.  It encourages my husband and I to honor each other more and to be the example to ourselves and children.

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Let me dip my baby toe into the early years when we weren’t as gracious in relating to one another as we should. The drama and fights and break ups to make up were really out-of-pocket. My college years were filled with too much of it.  Our friends God bless their hearts had seen their fair share. From me moving off campus, to not being able to go down the street without a fight, goodness. Yes not anything physical but all that ratchet yelling could have made a lot of this reality television look like Elmo’s World. We were in love and I will speak for me unable to handle and know what adult love was supposed to look like. The cursing each other out, seeing or attempting to see other folks (depending on who you ask), acting a fool in public, breaking up and making up and not telling others, just exhausting to write let alone live. Back in the day it seemed like a whirlwind. It seemed normal. Everyone on campus knew we were toxic and out-of-pocket. Just a mess!

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Separating and allowing space and time and for me to honestly deal with some inner struggles led us back to each other. People think we just woke up one day and decided to give this thing called love a try. We were tested in that love several times almost ending our marriage. What turned things around from college and marriage was living and learning about myself. Finding out what worked for me. I found out my passions. I had learned to live with myself enough to not allow someone else to come into my space that wouldn’t allow me to be me. This allowance has come up several times in our current marriage. The ability to let your partner balance their lives with you is necessary. One day in our car we were at the point of divorce, he looked at me and said, “are we in or out?” He said if we are in lets stick together and make it and if we are out, lets find a way to be honorable with our children.  He looked me in my eyes and I knew he wasn’t playing.

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Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

We at that moment lived by our mantra” us against the world.” We had stated that mantra in college but it solidified with me and him that day. That was at least 2 years into our marriage. There are no cute pictures you can take when two people have kids and are literally walking around like hateful roommates. What picture can you show when you are at the point of no return?  what picture can you show when you have enough and only doing the bare minimal?  So I always go back to the picture below.  When we were happy and made the decision to love each other forever. The time where we were so in love that nothing before that mattered and now nothing after should be to the point where we can’t work together.  We are willing to be with one another and this picture reminds me to take a mental break, wait for an answer, love despite of, and go back to the basics of what makes us, us!

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We don’t have the answers. We live each day but we know what works for us. We were friends first. We have “truth moments.” We give each safe space to be vulnerable.  We are learning to listen and talk to and not at each other. These are things that we learned in counseling the first months of our first year! I stepped out what we should be in our marriage and looked at the value of what we are able to make and hold on to when disaster hits. We are stronger together because we still want to be teammates in this thing called life.  As holidays like Valentine’s Day comes we love love or at least I who loves all holidays love these and any love related holidays, but to know that we are working through things and have matured beyond the college days is a miracle of staying the course! I want to leave a highlight with you, don’t think you have to struggle to get to this great point. If you can avoid it, please do so. Know yourself before you enter any relationship. The best thing is to work on you, get counseling before considering dating because uniting with a person can be a trigger in itself, and be clear about boundaries.  I am not glorifying bad behavior.  You can have healthy love. I am glad that we did the work to get to where we are. Nobody wants that perfect love story, but our love story is perfectly fitting for us!

Ask Toi: Hump Day Edition

The question is how does our reader communicate to her boyfriend that he needs to stop promising the world to her during sex…

Well this is a good problem to have. In one sense know that during sex a man would just about empty out there account to you if it meant getting more. However it can be off-putting to hear it every time you have sex. I would just mention it obviously when you’re not in the moment. You have to bring it up so that it doesn’t mess up your head and then no one is having a good time.

Also know too if you leave it alone and don’t mention it at all it really could just be how things happen. Meaning men say dumb things at the point of climax. Most men barely follow through. Men make a lot of promises during sex. If he is saying weird things he wants to give you that you really wanted or needed and then falling by the way side with the come up, there’s a problem. If he is making promises on dumb and unattainable things then understand the other “head” is doing the talking. So if he promises you marriage or brings it up during sex but outside of the bedroom hes mute and you want to be married, let him know it’s not ok and that it has to stop.  If he does tell him how disheartening it is to have these conversations with him when he is doing it for the wrong reasons.  Climax produces a lot of amazing feelings but playing with your emotions isn’t one.

If it makes you uncomfortable or makes you want to stop having sex with him its worth a conversation.  However this is why women hold an amazing power.  We have the ability to really take a man down with that power. Speak up and find other ways to have some sexy talk during your sex sessions.

Side note for men: don’t tell a woman you gonna give her anything you can’t really give her once you wash up and leave. Talk that talk that can be backed up and not when we backing it up…..