Read an Excerpt
1 Self-therapy for Dummies
Her words played in my head like a scratched LP. “Charisse, a good man is like Santa Claus. Believing in him feels real good until you find out he doesn’t really exist.” Although I ignored most of my mother’s attempts at wisdom, this little gem stuck with me... like gum on my shoe. No wonder I was nearing the big four-oh and home alone on yet another New Year’s Eve. No bubbly to pop, no confetti to throw, no love to kiss at midnight’s stroke; only me, my remote control, and six goldfish—one in need of a trip to the porcelain god.
Why was I home alone on New Year’s Eve again? Because of Marcus damn Matthews—“the one.” You know “the one,” right? The one who cheated. The one who lied. The one who broke my damn heart. The one who kept calling my house begging me to take his conniving ass back. That “one.” I had finally settled in for the night and tried to forget that I’d flushed three years of my life down the toilet of wasted time and squandered heart when my doorbell rang.
“What do you want, Marcus?” I asked, exasperated by his unwillingness to accept that our relationship was over.
“I want you. I need you, Charisse,” he pleaded, his eyes resembling those of a hungry puppy dog begging for his next Scooby snack. I guess he didn’t see the sign on my forehead: “No Dawgs Allowed!”
“No, what you need to do is go find that bitch I caught you with and ring her damn doorbell. Love don’t live here anymore.”
He let out a sigh of annoyance and aggravation, as if I was the one ringing his doorbell unannounced and uninvited. “Why are you doing this, baby? You know how sorry I am.”
“Yes, Marcus, I know how sorry you are... and that’s precisely why I’m doing this. Now, you can leave voluntarily, or I can call five-oh. In my neighborhood, you know they’ll be here before you can back out of the driveway.”
“All right, Charisse. I’ll leave for now. But this isn’t settled, not by a long shot,” he declared as I slammed the door in his face.
Damn! How could I let this happen again? I am suffering from a chronic case of Wrong Men-itis and it has to stop! I thought. Shaking my head in confusion, I walked back to the family room, which hadn’t been cleaned since the onset of my depression.
Now, how am I going to entertain myself until I pass out in a drunken stupor?
I turned on the stereo, determined to avoid any sappy love songs to send me deeper into my emotional upheaval, so R&B out, Pop out, Country way out.
Nowadays you couldn’t even trust Rock. Finally, the Disco station, XM-83. What a relief. “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees played, a perfectly non-suicide-inducing song.
Thought a gripping magazine article might help take my mind off my troubles, so I grabbed a few from the coffee table. My preferred subscription was Z: The Zaina Magazine, published by talk-show hostess Zaina Humphrey. Between hosting mind-numbing “hope you didn’t come for the cookies” open houses; helping delusional “my home will sell for ten thousand above market price, even with the lime-green carpet and Barney-inspired purple paint” sellers; and showing homes to unrealistic “will the seller spring for a Sub-Zero in this trailer?” home buyers, my days were consumed. I kept her show on TiVo for occasions when I needed my fix, though.
Forty locked its jaws on me like a pit bull, so my interests broadened far beyond the “Six Ways to Have an Orgasm While Balancing Your Checkbook” articles. I craved pithy, spirit-lifting, soul-feeding, personal-growth-inducing, psychotherapeutic edutainment in less than sixty minutes or for less than five bucks an issue. Zaina delivered. She taught me how to improve my relationship with myself and the people forced to tolerate me.
After perusing a couple of editions and glancing at a few nuggets here and there, I decided I would return my attention to the disappointing plasma if I didn’t stop to read anything in detail. Near the last pages, I glimpsed an article that piqued my interest: “Stop Attracting Toxic Men: Five Steps to Unpacking Your Emotional Baggage.” I studied it with a level of focus I hadn’t been able to muster in weeks.
Common Signs of Emotional Baggage
Do you find it difficult to share your feelings with your boyfriend even when he invites you to confide in him?
No. No difficulty. It’s none of their business.
Do you test his loyalty and find excuses to remain distant or break up with him?
Eeeeh, that’s a bad thing?
Do you stereotype men and assume if one cheats and lies they all do?
Hmph, well if the shoe fits...
Do you avoid taking blame for your mistakes?
So not true. I only blamed them because it was entirely their fault.
Do you have a lingering ghost from your past history that you’ve tried to forget but never put to rest?
Hmmm, maybe I’d better keep reading.
If any of the behaviors above sound familiar, you’ve got emotional baggage. Follow these steps to unpack your baggage for good.
• • •
Entertaining the prospect of dumping my bags and losing my bum magnetism filled me with excitement. But my stomach sank in fear of what might need to come out of the closet in the process. That’s a bridge I’m not quite prepared to cross.
© 2011 K. L. Brady