Before I Loved Her, I Healed Myself reveals Hooks's challenging childhood growing up without a strong male role model, the compelling influence of the women in his life (including his mother and grandmother), his foray into drug trafficking, and his playboy lifestyle. It exposes the deepest wounds he acquired on his life's journey and examines his quest to find the meaning of manhood.
This memoir presents one man's chronicle of self-discovery in the process of finding love and purpose in life; it's story about pain, healing, restoration, and redemption. Via Hooks's emotional story, Before I Loved Her, I Healed Myself shows that transformation and personal growth are possible.
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Before I Loved Her, I Healed MyselfMemories and Discoveries of a Boy Evolved into a Man
By Stephen E. Hooks
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Stephen E. Hooks
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Beginning
"Through DESIRE a man, having discerned himself (spirit and soul) seeks and experiments with all wisdom." Holy Bible Proverbs 18:1
The Hooks Family Tree is where I discovered my beginning. I'm the great-great-great grandson of Unknown Hooks Moses's father, great-great grandson of Moses Hooks, great grandson of Edmund Hooks, grandson of James Edward Hooks, son of Steven James Hooks. My name is Stephen Elijah Hooks. I changed my name after an epiphany. Previously, I carried the last name of my mother's father a man I never met.
I discovered my ancestry inheritance through my father's lineage. It is extremely important to reconnect with the Hooks name because my root system originates with them. I am connected to them genetically, I inherited good and bad traits from my male ancestors. Through revelation, I discovered a mishap as it relates to my African American history. I have researched various cultures and discovered the sons (man-child) usually inherited the last name of their fathers and ancestors. The name given to the child was honor or disgrace and blessing or curse.
Because of the epidemic, whereas some African American males behave only as sperm donors, unfortunately leaving the parenting responsibility to single-mothers a master link (paternal fellowship) has been broken. In some households, the parents never married, those mothers' usually gave the child her surname. After diligently searching for answers and understanding, I became more enlightened. The lack of knowledge concerning my paternal Grandfather has bothered me, ignorance creating dis-eases of anger, rebellion, low self-esteem, confusion, and poverty, ignorantly I suffered with identity crisis in my soul. The dis-eases caused me to be lame in my maturation as a man, yet destined to evolve from boyhood to manhood.
My earlier stages of development were challenging without the consistent image of a healthy man to imitate. My dad Steven J. Hooks is a man of great potential, but dealt a discouraging hand of cards in his life. Steve (Dad) chose to sit by the dock of the bay, getting high while wasting precious time. He has spent more time in prison than in civil population. Knowing his history I understand his fate of circumstances better, I am able to love him unconditionally and forgive him for his absence. I believe had Steve (Dad) been a healthy man and played the best game of cards with what he was given, his life would have been more prosperous and my development as a boy-adolescent would have progressed with balanced nutrients. I have no excuses for Steve (Dad) or myself; we are our parent's choices and self-choices the product of our fortunate and unfortunate circumstances.
The chapters of this book are an amalgamation of scenes from the movie of my life thus far. To the credit of my mother who raised me as a single-mother. I give Thanksgiving to God who has placed many amazing women in my life, especially my Grandmothers. My Aunts have been a significant influence in my development as a male; they nurtured me as a community of divinely appointed women. I am forever grateful to you all. The greatest gift of God for a man is a woman. I have a diverse company of saintly women touch my soul. "Let your LIFE speak for you." These are eternal words of my Grandmother Sara.
My evolution into manhood could not have occurred without the presence of a few saintly men. I am favored to stand in their shadow during times of intense heat from the sun of affliction and soul pain.
The book evolved out of passion and inspiration; from two beautiful females, I am thankful to share space and time. One ignited the spark that birthed Desire; the other set me on fire to Love with passion. These experiences helped me grow into Manhood. I desire a heavenly paradise on earth with a woman made uniquely to assist in my continual evolution and revolution. After an experience with Danae, I discovered my wounds from multiple dis-eases within my soul. Years later, an experience with the other woman encouraged me to mature and heal myself. After many days and nights of solitude, prayer, meditation, research, tai chi, and yoga, I gathered the courage to reveal my soul. There is a special moment in my life that seems like a fairytale; it involves an event with both of these beautiful women, and I do not know if it were fate or a predestined happenstance.
I hope to provide information for women of the process of evolution that must take place in a male before he becomes a Man. "All males evolve physically; the question is will they evolve into Manhood, mentally and spiritually." Many males suffer within the cellular (spiritual and mental) existence of their being, and because of ignorance, we harm others and ourselves. I have listened to many women's questions concerning the issues we face as men. "Why do men?" Let me begin by saying I do not have the answers for all men. However, I have learned myself, and I can share my experiences as a once wounded and trouble boy, then becoming a curious, rebellious adolescent, then an addicted self-centered young man, now a healed and liberated MAN.
I have noticed there is still an enormous population of single mothers raising sons who will face adversity in their responsibility to raise a boy into a healthy, productive man. I know some heroic mothers who have done wonders raising boys, but a woman cannot be a father and give that son the inheritance and validation he must attain from his father. I hope my journey enlightens single parenting mothers of the process of masculine maturation. I hope my words heal wounds of a son whose father is incarcerated or just absent. I hope my journey will encourage young males to seek understanding in order to be free spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, only then can a Man love wholly. I have not been an angel by far, through much internal turmoil and mental anguish have I come to my continuing liberation as a Man.
My quest has lead me through Hell and into Heaven mentally. My desire to comprehend life, to comprehend love that one day I may experience a wholesome, healthy, and divine romance with a Woman who has led me to search the depth of my soul and deal with all my wounds and issues. I want answers to redeem me from my past and rapture me into my destiny, and liberate me. In the process of maturation to manliness I said to myself, Before I can Love HER I must Heal MYSELF. I invite you on my journey of memories and discoveries of a BOY evolved into a MAN.
Many times, I imagined, Steve (Dad) was a part of our family and we shared father and son experiences like Hedcliffe and Theo Huxtable. I imagined Steve (Dad) was a successful man and we lived in a nice house like the ones I walked past going to elementary school in North Avondale. The more I allowed my mind to wander away from my current circumstances of being a fatherless boy the less pain I think the reality that Steve (Dad) would never play the role I cast him, in the television sitcoms of my childhood imagination.
I grew up on Rion Lane, in a small metropolitan housing complex within the community of North Avondale, in Cincinnati, Ohio. The connecting tenements on Rion Lane project housing among the residential houses that surrounded it, yet they were not like the high-rise tenements on the east coast of the United States; we had a tri-level tenement, which included a basement.
My mother, older sister and I moved to Rion Lane in 1980. I was six or seven; I remember the first time I walked into my new residence after having lived in a house with my extended family for many years. I walked in 108 Rion Lane with a sense of uncertainty for my future; this meant a new start with friends and school. I would not have my cousins to fight with or protect me as I did previously; I would be by myself in this multi-unit complex of strangers.
The first time I saw Rion Lane, I admit I was nervous. I had never seen connected houses before. The neighbors were too close. We moved in our unit at night. I recall the fearful emotions I had, because I did not know what to expect the first day outside. Ma opened the door, one of my five aunts that went with us to investigate the new place had a flashlight. Entering the unit, we found a light switch near the door, which led up a flight of stairs. Ma turned the lights on and everyone jumped back as if we were watching a 3-D movie as a scary scene had startled us. On the floor was a sea of brown crawling invaders seeking cover. I was not a stranger to roaches and spiders; I lived with their siblings at both my grandmother's houses and other relative's residence.
Rion Lane was a small village full of single women and children, although a handful of units had two parents residing in them. I can name, on one hand the number of homes that had fathers in them. Other than the occasional children's drama consisting of fistfights (sometimes a weapon was involved like a bat or stick), yet no one died. There was nothing too extreme except for a family fight, which involved uncles, aunts, cousins and a grandmother if she was brave enough to engage in the feud. When the drama jumped off I was usually in the house. I heard about it the next day on the basketball court or the logs, a hangout spot were Rion Lane youth gathered to gossip and talk nasty if it were a co-ed social. I was glad I grew up on Rion Lane. In comparison to other metropolitan housing where my cousins lived Rion Lane was cleaner and safer. I used to hate going to other metropolitan housing projects like Millvale and Winton Terrace, because there was always drama, and in the summer, the air smelled of "hot" garbage because they were close to waste dumps and factories.
My mother was 20 when she gave birth to me. I have never seen her and Steve (Dad) together may be when I was a baby it happened, but as far as I can remember I do not have an image of them sharing space and time. Working sometimes two jobs to make ends meet and helping others as often as possible, a genuine caring person. Ma worked as a Nurse Aid on third shift, for seven years until laid off and a clothes presser at a drycleaners on first shift, part-time. I have never heard my mother use profanity. She never cursed at me, although I deserved it many times, and she neither drank alcohol or use drugs. My Aunts told me stories about her and Steve (Dad) partying when they were together as teens but after him, she turned a new leaf. Ma lived a sober life. My mother's life consisted of work and church. She was adamant about church, and even though she worked third shift many nights, she had bible study with us before leaving for work.
I went to church often as a child. (Tuesday choir rehearsal for adults, Wednesday bible study, Friday service night, Saturday youth choir rehearsal, and Sunday all day starting 8:30a.m Sunday school until 9:30p.m. Night service.) As a young boy, I had a concept of GOD and I liked being around the instruments at church, but other than that I would rather be playing basketball and watching Sunday Express KUNG FU on the USA channel or watching The Lakers "Show Time" Magic Johnson was my favorite NBA player. I would finish watching a game, rush outside to play basketball and try dishing passes I watched him create. (Magic, I had to run many laps for trying those passes in real games). The majority of my family grew up going to the same church. My Grandmother demanded it of her children until they were of age to leave her house. Ma was the most devout church attendant of all her siblings.
My mother's family is full of women; my Grandmother has six daughters, my mother included, and three sons. My aunts are strong women, all of them except one have been married before; none of them are married now. My aunts kept, my sister and me while Ma worked third shift until we became teenagers. My aunts are an interesting group of women each possessing a quality trait of my heroic Grandmother Sarah. When I was young, my aunts had one thing in common; they can cook and fight. I have seen a few of them kick butt before, especially my oldest Aunt E-Love. She is instant drama although she has aged she will give you the business if you mess with her daughters. I remember when I had to go over her house I would cry because, her curse words were like thunder bolts to my ears and she kept a belt for whooping near. All my aunts nurtured me as if I was their son.
Other than Steve (Dad), Ma had one man in her life. The man who liked my mother was a nice person, but I did not like him because he was not my Dad. Therefore, I played the angry son role, often showing my displeasure of him with my attitude. He was not welcome in my space, except when he brought fast food like White Castles, McDonald's or Skyline; he was cool then. I felt I was the man of the house, and only Steve (Dad) could outrank me anyone else was going to have to battle me for position. Ma was involved with this man for about four years. I have never seen her with another man.
I saw Steve (Dad) rarely as a boy. If you wonder why, I refer to him as Steve (Dad); because it is hard to call him Dad. The name Dad has a responsibility connected to it and even though he did not fulfill the role, I respect him as the man God allowed to bring me into the earth. Before we moved to Rion Lane, I stayed many weekends with Steve's side of the family. His grandmother Big Ma raised him.
Steve (Dad) has been in and out of prison since he was 16. Steve (Dad) is in prison while I write this book. When he was on vacation from prison, I say this because he has spent more time incarcerated than free, he would be at Big Ma's house, we would have brief encounters. Over the years I would see him on occasion, he would be on a familiar street corner in his childhood neighborhood. My memories with him are like faded Polaroid photographs tarnished by sunlight and moist.
Ma and Me
When I was a boy, my mother and I did not communicate much since Ma worked two jobs. Most of the time when we talked it was in reference to school, basketball, and God. Ma is a devout Christian woman, on a few occasions she used bible verses to discipline me; I recall her quoting scripture before and during whooping sessions.
Ma worked twice as hard to provide for us; she had to make up for an absent father's missing income. When she was not overwhelmed from working third and first shift, dinner was on the stove for us when we arrived home from school. On many occasions, Ma made spaghetti at least once a week. Other dishes were chicken quarters, broccoli, and Mac n cheese or cube steak and rice meals that did not require extreme prep time. Thanks Ma for your Love!
The couch has always been my mothers' resting place, still to this day. I hated the fact she did not sleep in her room; it kept me from sneaking out of the house plenty of times, although I made my fair number of escapes. Ma was always concerned about our academic future; she made sure we did our schoolwork before she went to work on night shift. Often times she would be extremely tired and could not get up when I came in from school or basketball practice. While half sleep my mother would mumble, "Do your homework," as she heard the front door open and close.
I was reserved, introverted, and curious as a boy. I spent plenty of time in my room because Ma did not like me to be outside while she was sleep. In my bedroom, I daydreamed of a life different from the one I was living. I daydreamed I was a basketball star, the next Earvin "Magic" Johnson; I wished for the yellow and purple converse shoes that never came. I traveled the world from Africa to New Zealand, returning to reality, I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling. (I wish I were an avid reader as a boy. It would have benefited me in developing my writing skills early). When, permitted to go outside, I spent most of the time on the basketball court, except for times when I was brave enough to disobey Ma's orders and went exploring with the other boys from Rion Lane.
Ma was very protective of me as a boy. I felt like she was sheltering me from being adventurous as a boy and I resented her for that the older I became. She would say no to many request, I wanted to do what other boys did, for example go to house parties. (Now, I understand why she did it.) She always wanted to know where I was going, who I'd be with; what time I'd be back; parents of the people I was with; and the phone number to their house was.
I had a curfew although other boys did not. If I was late, Ma was yelling my name from the back door, "Stevie"! If it took too long to show up Ma was in her red 1985 Renault Alliance looking for me, sometimes she had a belt on the front seat next to her. I was so embarrassed, Ma had a Geri curl in the eighties and she would have on her plastic curl cap. Ma, I forgive you for making me wear a Geri curl all those years, I hated having an afro in elementary.
Excerpted from Before I Loved Her, I Healed Myself by Stephen E. Hooks Copyright © 2011 by Stephen E. Hooks. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Inspiration and Revelation....................ix
Moment of Clarity....................xi
PART I Memories....................1
Ma and Me....................9
Danae and Me....................26
Hooks Reunion (History)....................38
PART II DISCOVERIES....................47
Sex, Lust, Love....................58
Woman of Desire W.O.D....................70
FOR THE RECORD (4 W.O.D)....................94