Playing House

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When I was a small child, around 5 or 6 years of age, I had a good friend named Paula who lived next door to me. Every day I would rush through homework and chores so that I could get outside and play with her.

Paula liked to play house. Since I was a couple of years younger than her, I played what Paula wanted to play and always by her rules. She was the “momma” and I was the “daddy”. Paula always started off our game really nice. She would pretend to take care of the kids and I would pretend to be off at somewhere at work and, Paula would call me often on our pretend telephones to tell me what was going on with her day at home with the kids. Really, Paula called a lot! So much so, that later, in my adult life I would take pains not to call my husband at work with trivial things.

Our “house” game always ended the same way. After a day at “work”, I would come home to Paula nagging and complaining about how hard it had been on her while I was at work and she was at home taking care of our make believe children. Being a child myself and not being exposed to parents who constantly bickered, I had no idea how to respond to this part of the game so, I sat and listened to her for a while, then I would end the game by telling her I had to go. With my utterance of the word “leave”, Paula would beg and plead with me to stay outside and play, always promising to be play “nicer” and I would stay. Of course, to my frustration, it didn’t take long for Paula to be mean and nagging again.

After one particularly tedious game of “house”, I dismissed myself and went inside to ask my mother what I should do. Mom sat across from me at the kitchen table with her head resting on one hand and listened quietly while I finished blurting out my concerns. When she was sure I was finished talking she responded. This is how the conversation went:

Mom: “Do you want to play “house” with Paula anymore?”
Me: “No.”
Mom: “Why not?”
Me: “Because it’s not fun when she starts complaining and being mean.”
Mom: “Have you discussed this with Paula?”
Me: “Yes, Ma’am! And, she always promises to be nice but, doesn’t keep her promise.”
Mom: “Well, what do you think you should do?”
Me: “I don’t want to play “house” with her anymore?”
Mom: “Have you told Paula this?”
Me: “No! She might get mad and want to fight me. Then, we wouldn’t be friends anymore.”
Mom: “Well, are you really friends if the only games you can play together are one’s that she picks out, and where she gets to be mean to you?”
Me: No Answer. I was thinking. My mom had taught me to be a very rational young lady.
Mom: “Baby Girl. If you are not happy playing games the way Paula wants to play them and, she won’t listen to you when you tell her how you feel about it, I ask you again, is she really your friend? You don’t have to answer that right now. I know you will think about it and come to a decision that will be good for you.”

In the mind of a 5 or 6-year-old, you friends are everything. Needless to say, I didn’t take
me long to figure out what to do.

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The next day, when Paula suggested we play house I flat out told her I wasn’t playing
house with her anymore. She protested and issued an ultimatum. If I didn’t play house
with her then I could just forget about us being friends!

Needless to say, I didn’t protest that one. I turned my little behind around and walked away. I didn’t play “house” or anything else with Paula after that. Something told my little mind that she really wasn’t my friend and that she played with me only because she could boss me around.

When I became an adult in a tumultuous relationship, I felt I loved this man but I was so
unhappy. One day I was staring out the window, trying to figure out what do when this
the memory of Paula and the way she “played house” came to mind.

The next time my boyfriend and I were together, I tried to talk to him about the way I felt about what was going on in our relationship. His responses were short and accusatory. It was my fault because I didn’t listen or, thought I knew everything. His opinion was, that I was a good catch and that, everything would be alright if I just did what he told me to do. And, you know what I did? I tried to do everything he asked me to when he asked and as fast as I could do it!

Only things didn’t get better. They got worse. His demands became greater and he was never satisfied with anything I did. There was always a problem with me. It got so bad for me in our relationship that I didn’t smile or laugh anymore. Everyone who knows me knows how much I loved to do both. But, I couldn’t when he was around. He would always make some negative comment that would soon turn my smile into a frown. And, I would go somewhere pouting, unhappy and feeling sorry for myself…and he would be happy.

No, really! He would be happy when he saw me unhappy! That’s when he wanted to talk about all these things that didn’t mean anything to me or have anything to do with us. As long as I was quiet and pouting, he was in his glory. I was playing “house” with Paula all over again! But, this time, I didn’t need my mother to push me in the right direction. I knew exactly what I had to do. And, that wasn’t talk. In the words of my Grandmother, “I can show you better than I can tell you”!

First, I stopped taking his calls. So, he began to send me emails and text messages constantly. You know the one that always start with “Baby” something, swim around “I need you”, and end with “I love you”? I didn’t answer any of them either.

I won’t tell you it was easy because, it was just the opposite. I threw myself into my writing to help ease the pain of loneliness. But, even with that, I perceived him as the victor. And, I couldn’t let him win. I had a God given right to happiness. And so, do you….

In learning to love this man from a distance, I began on the wonderful journey of not only learning to love myself but learning myself…Learning just who The1Essence is and cultivating a metamorphism into a beautiful butterfly. Still, it wasn’t easy. Accepting that you don’t truly love yourself is not an easy thing to do. It takes patience, tolerance, Faith and STRENGTH. And, I am still on that journey. But, ALWAYS better than I was yesterday.

And….my cut-off game is swift…

You have it in you too…I know you do because I was once you and, I believe in YOU….

“The hardest thing about life is learning how to live”! – The1Essence


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