Today is a “coming out” kind of day for me. My birthday is Saturday so to celebrate, I’m flying to San Francisco to spend it with my cousin, who also happens to be my best friend. I haven’t been back for a year and a half.
I left San Francisco in May of 2015 after a long battle with Cancer. I also left a tumultuous relationship that brought so much strife in to my life. I’ve spent the last two years hiding out in my room at my mothers house. It’s no secret I’ve not only battled anxiety as well as PTSD but I’ve also struggled to heal from the side effects left behind from treatment. I’ll admit returning to San Francisco is really scary. After all, my departure was not on good terms.
I was blessed to cash in some airline miles and bought myself a round trip ticket for $11.20. What a steal!! As the time draws closer to driving to the airport I find myself nervous and very fearful. I suppose because my return to my beloved city by the bay opens the door to having to face the reality of what I left behind and why. It also means going out of my comfort zone (my bedroom) and learning to live life again.
Life happens sometimes. Occasionally we run away from reality and sweep the wreckage of our past under the carpet. We become complacent in our “safe” place. That’s what’s happened to me. I’ve become very complacent in the comfort of my room at my mothers which has become my safe place. I’m excited to go to San Francisco. I’m excited to spend time with my cousin but at the same time I’m scared. I’m not sure what the days ahead have in store for me however, what I do know is I’m ready to take on the challenge.
Diana Ross sang a song called “I’m Coming Out”. This song holds a special meaning for me today. In so many ways I’m Coming Out. As I board my flight to San Francisco I recognize I’m no longer the same woman I was when I left San Francisco two years ago. However, I really like this new me. Saturday is my birthday. The beginning of a new year and a new me. What better city to launch my “Coming Out” as the new me than my favorite city…..my beloved city by the bay. Look out San Francisco!!! I’m coming back!!
Dictionary.com defines the word Warrior as follows:
“A person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier. A person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.”
In my opinion, Velma Perez Dunkin should be listed in the definition. I am a warrior! Up until now, I’ve overcome so many challenges in my life. I have taken on those battles and persevered. I haven’t always won however, I’ve always made it to the finish line! A warrior is a person who shows vigor, courage, determination while persevering through adversities in life. That’s me!!
I’ve always loved the song “the Warrior” by Scandal. I can certainly resonate to the lyrics when Patty Smyth belts out “shooting at the walls of heartache, bang bang! I am the Warrior”. I’ve experienced heartache more than once in my life. I have the scars to prove it. I am certain I don’t stand alone. There are many of us who face adversity everyday however, as Warriors, we persevere.
I think the real warriors are those who have been brought to their knees but have managed to pick themselves up. Dictionary.com doesn’t mention the warriors who have battled cancer, overcome addictions, persevered through divorce or custody battles. How about all the single moms out there who sacrifice and fight every day to provide for their children? Being a single mom is hard work. It requires tapping in to that warrior spirit that lives inside all of us. To me, that’s a real warrior.
I’ve had the privilege of serving those who are homeless. Words can’t describe what they have to endure. It takes a warrior to survive life on the streets! I remember my friend James in San Francisco. He had been transferred to the Bay Area by his job. Suddenly the economy crashed. He lost everything including a place to call home. He found himself in a shelter. While in that shelter, he was stabbed and spent much time in the hospital recovering from the wounds. When he got out, he found himself living in a tent at a parking lot. His only friend was his chocolate lab.
He finally qualified for housing. However, he was diagnosed with bone cancer. For those of us who have battled cancer as well as the treatment that goes along with fighting the disease, we can attest that it takes a warrior to persevere. James was a warrior. He fought cancer while living in a tent at a parking lot waiting for housing. That my friends is a warrior!!
There are men, women and children who are being abused every day. Enduring physical, emotional and/or verbal abuse is tough business. It takes a Warrior to endure!! There are children being bullied at school. People overcoming PTSD, depression and/or anxiety. The list goes on. In my opinion these are real life warriors. It takes courage to persevere and overcome.
Memorial Day is Monday. We honor all those warriors who have served our country and lost their lives in battle. For me, I not only honor those warriors, but I also honor and respect the warriors who are enduring their own personal battles every day. Life is hard.
I happened to see a Facebook post one day posted by one of my best friends. She posted “Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates, You Never Know What You’ll Get”. I pondered that post for several days. After much thought and reflection, I had to disagree. While it’s true, life is similar to a box of chocolates you never know what you’ll get, but we’re talking about a box of chocolate!!! Who cares?! Chocolate is delicious! Who doesn’t love chocolate?! Life….Well it’s not always delicious!! In my opinion life is more like a box of jawbreakers with an occasional box of pop rocks. It’s tough and requires a lot of patience to get to the end while enduring the occasional surprises as well as unexpected explosions along the way.
I’d like to encourage anyone facing adversity today to put your warrior gear on and keep fighting. Grab your guns and start “shooting at those walls of heartache – bang, bang!” You’re a Warrior! I’m a Warrior!! If Patty Smyth is right the only way those pesky challenges of ours will win is “if they survive….the Warrior!” That’s you and me! Today remind yourself “I AM the Warrior!! Victory is Mine!” If you need a little motivation I’m sharing this video with you today as a reminder. I have used this song, among others, throughout the years as inspiration to remind myself “I AM The Warrior”. Face any challenge in front of you today head on and kick some ass!!!
One of my favorite songs is by The Black Crowes called “Jealous Again”. It’s hard to believe but I’m a rocker at heart. I love rock and roll music. I graduated in 1984. The year Ozzie was riding that “Crazy Train”, Van Halen was belting out tunes like 1984, Panama and AC/DC was a staple in every teenagers music collection and at every party. In fact, even after all these years I still get that exuberant feeling I got in high school when I listen to AC/DC. Black Crowes came on the scene in 1989. They have recorded many songs that I love however, “Jealous Again” has been a mantra of mine as I have come against many adversaries in my life while facing challenges.
My life story could certainly be classified as being a “Crazy Train”. In fact, I have heard the words “you can’t make up this shit!” on many occasions from those who hear my story. It’s no secret, I’ve faced some incredible challenges in my life and through the grace of god I’ve been able to overcome many of them. What can I say? I’m one strong lady. However, I’m human. The hardest challenges for me have been while being on the receiving end of those who have found it appropriate to judge me, ridicule me, verbally attack and even shun me while enduring those very painful challenges. I’m not going to lie. It’s been very hurtful. I’ve used the song “Jealous Again” as my mantra to focus on when my feelings are hurt by others.
Growing up my dad instilled a strength in me. He taught me many things including how to stand up for what I believe in and never give up. My dad was a force to be reckoned with. He was who he was. He never let what others thought of him bother him. Either you liked him or you didn’t. He didn’t care. He just kept on being who he was. He instilled that same attribute in me. In fact my dad used to tell me I had balls of steel and I looked like a movie star which is why any time someone hurt my feelings or made fun of me and I found myself teary eyed, my dad was always there to the rescue, reminding me I was fabulous and the meanies were just “Jealous”. I’ve lived my entire life believing everything my dad taught me.
I thought I would share this Black Crowe’s song, among others, on my blog today in the event someone reading today finds themselves in need of a “Pick Me Up” This blog goes out to my fellow warriors and survivors who are riding the wave of any particular challenge. Whether you’re fighting cancer, overcoming addiction or an eating disorder, recovering from an abusive relationship, dealing with an EX, overcoming PTSD, you’ve lost a job and are in financial disarray or maybe you’re facing the challenges of coming out as an LGBT. I’ve experienced many of all of the above. In my opinion, it’s none of our business what other people think of you or me!!! We are all survivors. Rock Stars at that!!
It’s been my experience that in every challenge or trial there is always a lesson to be learned. I’ve learned so many lessons that I’m embarrassed to admit, I’m “lessoned” out!!! One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is empathy towards others and the ability to recognize my strength and believe in myself and keep on keeping on regardless what other people might think. Here’s what I’ve learned…..
To those of you fighting cancer and lack the much needed support and encouragement from family members or friends….You’re not alone. I’ve been there. I even found myself being accused of faking cancer. A low blow when you’re at your lowest point!! Jealous!!! That’s what these people are! Jealous because you have the strength, courage and determination to face a battle that they probably couldn’t face themselves. Look back at your life and remember all the challenges you have overcome. You survived those challenges because you were you and now you’ll survive cancer too!
If you find yourself on the beaches of Maui and you’re sporting your chemo bald head or if you’re lucky like me and have lost your eyebrows, eyelashes, toenails and fingernails too and you’re greeted by the stares of many onlookers looking at you like you’re an alien…..don’t be discouraged. Theyre just Jealous! Unlike them you’re not defined by your hair or even what’s on the outside. You are strong and confident knowing it takes a Rock Star to fight cancer. You my friend are beautiful!! However, if you must retaliate do what I did. Tell the onlookers you’re a genie that washed up on the beach and would be happy to grant them three wishes!!
Maybe you’ve lost a job and in the process you’ve lost your livelihood too. You’re insecure and lack the confidence you once had in yourself. Others have ridiculed you because you’re rock bottom. Don’t worry about it. Those that criticize are Jealous!!! They don’t have the strength to wake up every morning like you do despite standing in a mine field while dodging the bullets of creditors blowing up your cell phone demanding money for something you can’t pay….every day, all day! Heres what I do. I ignore them and listen to AC/DC!!
To those overcoming addictions and are facing judgement based on a previous addiction. Put your rocker pants on and remember any one who judges you is merely Jealous. It takes courage and humility to recognize and overcome an addiction.
Maybe you’re gay or transgender and being judged for being who you are. Put your rocker hat on and remember those that judge are Jealous!!! They don’t have the courage to be who they are but you do! That my friend makes you a Rock Star!!
Maybe you’re recovering from an abusive relationship. Those around you don’t understand. They are shunning you or think they have all the answers while you suffer in silence. Those that judge you are Jealous!!! It takes a strong person to walk away from abuse. An even stronger person to endure the pain and humiliation yet believe that one day you will declare “I’m an overcomer!”
Maybe you’re battling PTSD. Overcoming PTSD is one hard battle. I know this from experience. I myself am still healing but here’s what I’ve learned. PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That means you’ve endured a very traumatic experience. Not a small feat! To anyone who thinks PTSD isn’t real. You’re just Jealous!! Those of us who have it have been through a war zone and survived it. In my book, that makes us Rock Stars!! I think PTSD should stand for “Pathways Through The Secret Door”. Behind that door are all of us Rock Stars!!!
I’ve been through a lot and have faced challenges galore. Through it all I’ve been ridiculed, rejected, isolated, vilified, judged but I don’t care. Like the song I’m not afraid of losing face. I wake up every morning. I’m still standing and that’s more than I can say for many others who have never faced the humility of many of the same challenges. How sad. It’s not easy being a Rock Star but some of us have to do it. It may as well be you and me!!! The truth is, I’m not afraid to have faith in God and even more so have faith in myself to keep going regardless what people think of me. Like I said previously my mantra is “Jealous Again”. It’s what keeps me going sometimes.
We all face challenges in life. Some of us more so than others. But when the challenges or the adversaries come, remember God never gives you more than you can handle and if you find yourself in a battle right now, relish the moment. It means God thinks you are one strong rock and roller! Now if God thinks you’re a Rock Star, who cares what everyone else thinks! They’re just Jealous!!! And remember, in the words of AC/DC, “Its A Long Way To The Top If You Want To Rock and Roll!”
I’ll leave you with the following quote today. Have an awesome day and whatever you do……DON’T GIVE UP!!!!
“Assert your right to make a few mistakes. If people can’t accept your imperfections, that’s their fault.”- Dr. David M. Burns
The past few days have been challenging. I find myself in a situation where I can no longer take the pain and suffering I feel deep in my heart. A feeling I’ve been experiencing for a really long time. Ironically this pain has been brought on by the very person I gave up my life for three years ago, leaving my family, friends and everything I knew because I believed I had finally met the man of my dreams. My heart was filled with love as well as hope for a new beginning.
Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day for couples. A day where we express the love we have for one another. I’m a romantic at heart so naturally, I hold this day very close to my heart. For Valentine’s Day I walked to Union Square where I purchased a mushy card along with a box of See’s candy specifically picked out by me to ensure the box was perfect when I gave it to my significant other. I also purchased a pair of well needed pants for my special guy. I gave my gifts to my “Valentine” sealing the gifts with a big kiss. The response I received wasn’t exactly what I expected. My “Valentine” lashed out at me saying I only bought him this gift so he would be indebted to me. He called me names, gave me the silent treatment and in short hurt my feelings. He ignored me for 24 hours and has continued to vilify me since. I should also mention that he gave me nothing for Valentines Day. Nothing! Not even a card or at the very least, a thank you. Since that day, things have gone from bad to worse. I’ve been punished ever day. Name calling, silent treatment and yesterday my loving “Valentine” left and never returned for over three hours. I have no idea where he went. My phone calls went unanswered. When I asked him where he was he blew up and was kind enough to say “Get the fuck out!” He knows I’m in the middle of treatment, I have nowhere to go and leaving at this time just isn’t an option. I’m trapped and I’m broke to boot!
I met Ron three years ago. He was quite a bit older than myself. I was 46 and he was 65. The man I met is nowhere near the person he became after I moved to San Francisco to live with him. The man I met was kind, affectionate, loving and pampered me in a way I had never been treated by any man. He opened my car door, he held my hand, he showered me with gifts and trips. I recall the first Valentines Day after we met I was surprised to receive two flower deliveries that consisted of two dozen roses. He called me beautiful all the time, he laughed at all of my jokes and he was a lot of fun. That all changed three months after I moved in with him.
Prior to moving here there were many red flags that as I look back I wish I had not overlooked by allowing the sweetness of this man to take precedence over the warning signs that were gleaming like a bright light. It began with a former girlfriend who continually called and texted at all hours of the night once I moved here. She was an ex girlfriend who also happened to be a 27 year old Latin Stripper who works at the Hustler Club. From what I understand, she had been “using” him for his money. Ron supplied her with $2000 per month along with many other perks but he insisted their relationship was over. However, I found it hard to believe since wherever we were, whether on Vacation, dinner or a movie, this woman was continually reaching out to Ron with messages of love or asking for money. In addition, her mother lived and still lives at one of his apartments. One day I found a dirty pair of underwear in his bag after he returned from his apartment building. I confronted him about it but he had an excuse that somehow turned things around to be my fault. After returning from a visit to Washington I found women’s underwear in our room that didn’t belong to me. When I questioned Ron he insisted they were mine and that I was “suspicious”. This went on and on and continues to this day. Every time I would confront Ron he somehow managed to twist things around making it all my fault and for many days after I would receive the silent treatment along with some name calling in between. I began to second guess myself and the result is I’ve become an insecure individual who is no longer the fun loving, free spirit with a sense of humor I once was.
As I said, three months after I moved here Ron began to change. The man that began to emerge was clearly not the same man I had met only a year prior. This new man insulted me, he called me names, he lied and a very angry person emerged that exhibited a very hostile temper. I began to feel like I was walking on egg shells. In addition, his sleeping habits changed. He was up all night and slept all day. When he arose from his slumber he would spend the entire time on the couch with a remote in one hand and tweezers in the other as he plucked the hairs from his face. If that wasn’t enough, he wouldn’t shower for up to three weeks. Attributes that continue today. Through all this I became very depressed. I felt like such a failure. I lost my confidence and my ability to even make the slightest decision or even do my own thing. I became lonely and very isolated. My demeanor changed and so did my last name. Ron insisted I had to change my last name. He vilified me every day until finally on a trip to Washington I went to court to have my name changed. Deep down I knew I had to get out of this relationship but the voices in my head reminded me of the person I initially met so I began to feel like there was something wrong with me. In addition, we travelled and on many occasions the kind man I met would emerge and I found myself believing and hoping things would get better. A few months ago I was informed of Rons infatuation with hookers and in December when I returned home from Washington I not only found earrings that weren’t mine, I found “spooge” all over the clean sheets in the closet. There were other things but somehow I managed to convince myself, it was nothing. I confronted Ron and at first he denied it and insinuated I was a lunatic until finally admitting it then punishing me…again. It’s my fault as usual.
I woke up this morning feeling frightened asking myself “what am I going to do?!” As I reflected on some of the horrible things Ron said last night I remembered him telling me I had changed. He accused me of trying to change him. He told me I need to accept him the way he is…..hmm A volatile, hot tempered, name calling person who doesn’t take a bath isn’t exactly what I signed up for. I stood up for myself for the first time. No tears, no begging I just explained that I wasn’t trying to change him, I was just trying to find the person he was when I first met him. This new guy is a stranger. I explained that I agreed I too had changed. I was no longer the fun loving, happy go lucky woman I once was. My only excuse is when you live in a negative environment with a negative person, it’s only natural to become the same thing.
I have no idea what I’m going to do. March brings two infusions and a cancer screening to ensure I’m cancer free. It also brings an appointment to begin my last phase of treatment to finally be on the road to healing. My treatment will be done on June 1st. After that I will be on hormone therapy for five years. At this time my medical treatment is being paid for and transferring to another state is not an option. I feel the need to stick this out for the four months required to beat this cancer. As I look back, I find myself wishing I had never moved here. I wish I had acted on the red flags but sometimes as women we meet a man who portrays himself as a dream come true. We are blinded by the good things and overlook the mine field of red flags coming at as like exploding bombs. If it’s too good to be true, we need to have the courage to walk away before finding ourselves in a relationship that’s hard to get out of.
I’m sharing my story today because I hope that someone reading this will take my experience to heart. If you’re in a relationship and something stinks…..run and never look back. I wish I had done the same. I believe that the stress of this relationship played a huge part in my depression, low self esteem, feeling of failure which ultimately led to my cancer. I’m better than this and I deserve someone who is going to treat me with love and respect and so do you. I have a faith in God so today my prayer is that the lord will see me through this and take me to a place where I’m loved and I can begin to heal from all this trauma I’ve experienced for a very long time. I also ask God to touch Ron’s heart in a way that he will once again be the kind and loving man I once knew and be nice to me. I don’t want to be hurt anymore. I’m looking forward to the day I can finally put this nightmare behind me and start living again. I pray for strength, courage and faith to persevere until that day. I pray the same for you. For all those young women out there looking for a sugar daddy….my advice is this. All that money, gifts, trips etc come at a price. These men are single for a reason. The woman before you paid a price and finally walked away.
I looked up the word intuition today. The meaning is as follows:
the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.
“we shall allow our intuition to guide us”
synonyms: instinct, intuitiveness; More
a thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.
plural noun: intuitions
“your insights and intuitions as a native speaker are positively sought”
synonyms: hunch, feeling (in one’s bones), inkling, (sneaking) suspicion, idea, sense, notion;
I chose this topic because many times as women we find ourselves in situations where we have this gut feeling something is amiss. Quite often it occurs in our relationships with others. Maybe a husband or a partner. We get this hunch or gut feeling that’s so strong it begins to drive us insane. It makes us crazy. The signs are all there but the proof isn’t. What happens next is nothing short of a nightmare. I’ve always heard that women have been blessed with an intuitive spirit. We all have it. For instance, as mothers we can sense when our kids are in trouble even though they’re miles away. We know when they’re happy and we know when they’re sad. We can feel it deep down in our gut. As women and or mothers we have the ability to read between the lines. However, at times as wives or girlfriends, despite having that strong intuitive hunch about something, occasionally we disregard it as “craziness” or after listening to the excuses or justifications of the other party we begin to believe we really are nuts. Even then, that feeling is there, it doesn’t go away and eventually it grows until finally we find that we have lost our identity by becoming consumed with that “hunch” that deep down we already knew was the truth. It isn’t until later when the proof is in the pudding that the flood gates open and looking back we can honestly feel that we knew it all along, we just chose to not see it. The signs were there. They were like billboards at every stop, but yet we closed our eyes to the hunch. It’s at that time everything makes sense and we realize we weren’t crazy after all. It’s also at that time that we wish we could go back to the beginning and address that hunch with the same tenacity we would’ve, had it involved one of our kids. However, the truth is the proof was always there. It was provided to us time and time again. The floodgates finally opened when we reached a point that we were strong enough to finally handle the truth.
I’ve heard many stories of women who have experienced this one or more times in their life. I’m no exception. The past two years I myself have experienced an intuitive feeling about a particular situation. It has consumed me and has turned my life upside down. Once upon a time, I was a strong, confident and an extremely funny and outgoing woman. Today I feel beaten down and now I’m fighting cancer. A wise woman once told me “Velma, everything always comes out in the wash”. She was right.
My life has always been an open book. I have always shared the ups and the downs of my life. Today is no different. I share the trials of my life not because I am looking for sympathy or attention, rather because if I can help others to avoid making the same mistakes, then to me it’s all worth it. As the weeks go by I will undoubtedly be sharing my latest setback. Heck I have 2 years of journals to refer to, but I have no intentions of beginning the saga today. I will only encourage each and every woman to act on any hunch. If it stinks, there’s a reason for it. Don’t back down and never allow someone to make you feel like you’re crazy. More often than not, your hunch hit the tail on the donkey. Remember as woman we are always smarter and more intuitive than we know. Don’t give up!