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Sereni-Tea (se·ren·i·ty)

Ahhhh, drama—it's been the focal point of life since before I was a twinkle in my father's eyes. Well, more like, since Adam threw Eve under the bus, really. When I was younger, nothing could compare to the Young and the Restless episodes featuring Victor & Nikki Newman, who, by the way, has been doing drama literally since I was born.

Who could get enough of Brooke (I don't even know her last name), sis, done married every Forester man, in some cases twice (Bold and the Beautiful)? What is more enthralling than screaming "You idiot!" at a television screen living vicariously through the characters you think are real? Well, let's just say NOTHING beats reality.

Drama—the key ingredient that makes work-life explosive. It's the place you must, more often than not, will yourself to go. You pull up, and the only thing that keeps you from driving away is when you remember that banks don't accept leaves or sand as a form of payment. Believe me when I tell you some work environments are more toxic than the ajax and bleach combo you use to clean the bathroom. Work is usually the source of anxiety, sickness, depression, stress and conflict.

Drama—the fuel that keeps the family chat lit. You know those interesting stories that derive from events like Uncle Earl's funeral or how Auntie Jackie is getting married. Oddly enough, cousin Wanda, who has not been seen in 11-teen years, is mad because she didn't get invited. Let's not even mention how nobody likes old boy Aunt Jackie's is about to marry, but that's another story. None of that stops the fam from gathering to eat her food, drinks her rum and wonder why on God's green earth it looks like she picked the last dress on David's Bridal rack after a Black Friday sale.

Drama—the hill that relationships go to die on. On a hill far away stood an old rugged ex-boyfriend, sorry, my bad, wrong song. First of all, if there's no conflict, does he even love you? If there's no tension, can you'll even say you'll go together? Don't lie, if there's been no tire slashing, windshield bashing, drink throwing, and "Das ya rotten teeth ma with her pickey head" name-calling, are you'll even in love, though?

Like how do you know you're down for him if he's never made you wait on your own car while he gallivants the streets with top-shelf scrubs hanging from the passenger's side of (you) his best friend's ride? Seriously, how do you know? Is life even worth living if there's no drama? How a sis supposed to earn her coveted trauma badge if nothing dramatic happens to her? How can one ever be able to post, "I'm ready to tell my story" if ya have no stories?

Well, against my wishes, I have a couple of badges, so pull up ya chair; love, it's storytime. I saw a post last week by my good therapist that said, don't disturb single people's peace with your lack of vision and direction. I immediately remembered when somebody's son had a couple of years to waste, sorry I mean spare, so he thought, yip lemme kill some time with her.

There I was minding my business feeding my coffee addiction, sitting small in my corner, while happily living quasi for Jesus. In gallops homie, like something straight out of Bonanza into my deserted ranch. Aight, fella. I see you! And I see you, see me, see you! Flips imaginary hair, cue Marvin Gaye's 'Let's get it on!' Whoa there, buckaroo, not so fast:

Are you married? Do you have a girlfriend? Does anyone think they are your girlfriend? Are you done playing? Do you still want to play? What would you do if a player opportunity presents itself? Have you sowed all your peasant oats (cause he wasn't royal)? Do you only like girls or, nah? How do you act when you mad? How long do you stay mad? Where do you go when you mad? Who do you call when you mad? Where are you going in life? Do you have a plan? Is the plan in action? Do you know what it takes to get you there? Will you need help to complete the mission? Who are you asking for said help? Where do you go for advice? Who keeps you accountable?

What do you need from me as a partner? Wait, would you even consider me a partner? Do you gat daddy issue? Do you gat mommy issues? Are you still bitter from the last person that hurt you? Has anyone ever hurt you, or you be doing the hurting? Why you and your ex break up? Hold up, does she know you'll break up? Do you still talk to your ex? Oh, you'll, friends? What kind of friends? Coffee friends, bedfellows, or the kind of friends where you still go to the family functions? Sir, amma needs you to define friends.

Are you easily triggered? Are you mean when you angry? Do you think before you speak, or do you act first and think later? Do you appreciate women, or do you low-key hate women but like them for your convenience? Are you sure it's me you want? If what attracted you to me changes, then what? Why do you like me? Wait, who send you? Why you here? Do you know Jesus? Do you love Jesus? Have you made Jesus your choice? Listen, I was one question short of a full-scale federal investigation.

Me: Girlllll, I think he the one! Awwwoooooo!

Him: I think she's it (oh my bad, wrong one).

Eighteen months and I've stopped looking found the one phase later (in my sponge-bob voice), "See Raquel what had happened was, although you been the next best thing to perfect, while I don't even want home girl, she was available, #respectfully. "But so that you know, it really hurts me that I hurt you." (Insert dramatic pause) Negro, what the H-I-J-K-EL-EM-N-O-P-Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la on Mary had a little lamb, did you say!? Cause I don't understand the words that are coming out of your mouth!

Sigh, Honestly, I want to sit here and drag this cat through the mud, but I can't. I've learned some valuable lessons in all of this. Lessons no life coach, mentor or self-help book could ever teach me. Because while I use to be one of those people who would regret experiences, I now understand that every occurrence carries its own value. I mean, it took Edison over three thousand tries on the light bulb; I just didn't know this applied to relationships too.

The overarching lesson there was that this dude, on no day, apologized for who he is. Either you accepted him, or you didn't. And if you don't, well then, that's on you. He admits when he's fudged up and whether you believe he's sorry or not, he does not dwell on things past, nor did he deal in hypotheticals. "The toothpaste is already out of the tube" is how I believe he would phrase it.

While all the veins in my neck were IV-ready, my boy has been unbothered since Columbus sailed the ocean in 1492. Cause when I'd get rowdy and riled up, he'd remove himself from a hostile environment. I don't care what you'll say, that right there is something to be admired. A skill we should all aspire to acquire.

Let me tell you, I was crushed and livid. Cause I was there thinking, 'Who does that?' But when all was said and done, and I could think more clearly, I realized every situation presents you with two options. You can stay, or you can go! But if you stay, being loud and salty still won't undo what is done. And if you go, that doesn't earn you the satisfaction you're seeking. Either way, it's not the person's job to heal you even if they hurt you. News flash: you'll never heal in the environment where you got sick. So why do you keep expecting peace in the places where you birthed chaos?

I hated hearing the phrase, 'people can't make you feel some kind of way!' I'm sorry, what, why not sway, why? I guess we all held on to some brilliant person's quote, "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent!" Yeah, whatever, Eleanor' First Lady' Roosevelt. Cause right then, in my regular-degular world; inferiority wrapped itself around my neck tighter than a scarf on a flight attendant. Degrees in all, I was feeling less than. My silk-wife-material had just been reduced to itchy side-chick-polyester.

No matter how messy the situation, what you do next makes all the difference. Imagine someone shatters your world. However, instead of adding to the hype by going all 1994 Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopez on them, you walk away without saying a word and never look back. Ooh-weee, hunnay, the power you just took back!! Talk about confusing the enemy; I mean that fella!

Listen, peace is not the absence of conflict, but it's the presence of composure. It's what you do when you're confronted with opposition. Do you act the plump fool, or you take that thing, leave it at the cross and say, "Here Jesus, this for you, cause right now I'm unable to can!

Hey, I get it, relationships will be tested, they're gonna go through some fire, but you do realize that some storms give you advance warnings not only that they're coming but to evacuate. Suffice it to say, though, with all the drama we consume (i.e. media and musical influences); we call anything peaceful bland and things chaotic the spice of life. #mixuplikeconchsalad

You know, home-slice asked me one time, "Why you always talking 'bout fighting for stuff?" And it's only in hindsight I get what he was saying; if it's always a fight, maybe that ain't for you. On the other hand, you have to ask, is it even worth the fight? 'Cause some situations are. I'll tell ya one thing, if I were saved good like one of those patron saints, maybe I'd send him a thank you card for all these gems he been dropped in my lap.

I suppose when we think of peace, it's usually the opposite of a storm. I'm reminded of Jesus, who was in the boat with his disciples but asleep (if unbothered and minding my business was a person). A storm rolled up on them, and while everyone on board was panicked and in a frenzy, Jesus remained calm. I couldn't think of a more perfect example of a person whose reputation could precede them. Yet these men were having the heebie-jeebies.

So, these disciples didn't just witness Jesus heal a man of leprosy or see another man's servant healed simply by Him speaking a word? Let's not forget the miracle of Peter's mother-in-law and countless others who were also healed at that time. No, aye? There they were faced with a storm but pressed even though they had peace Himself in the boat. #whatatime

You really trying to tell me you didn't see the inconsistency in home-slice? You didn't see the patterns? No, aye? Well, all the signs were there for me, but by jingle-hopper, I was gonna make this shoe fit. I was getting my Cinderella story, even if it was by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. Buddy, we could iron out the kinks later! To whom it may concern: DON'T. DO. IT!

Despite Jesus' track record, they still questioned Him. "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?" (Matthew 8:27 KJV) ( insert face palm) So, I ask you, "What manner of person are you that your life is subject to your words? What kind of storm can you dispel just by your presence?" What manner of person are you that you can speak things that aren't as though they were?"

Or, are you the one blowing the hot air that fuels the storm? Are you the quarrelsome heffa that will make someone live in the corner of a rooftop? Look, we've seen the message a million times, "anything that costs you your peace is too expensive." I'm just warning you, don't do that!

Serenity is not you physically laying on a beach chair as the waves hit the sand. It's not just peace meaning the absence of war. On the contrary, serenity is the state of acceptance. When you have certainty, there is no need to keep reviewing probability. Why keep questioning what you have no control over? Why keep questioning what you can literally see?

I had to accept what happened, whew challll and that was a task. I had to accept that no matter what I did, I could not change the outcome. No action, no words, no nothing could have made him make a different choice. I could not will him to be who I imagined him to be.

I finally gained serenity, aka the platinum level of peace, when I understood it is what it is and it's not what it's not. Accept that you're 40 and single. Accept that at 50; you may have to start over. Accept that sometimes you have to let it go and move on or move on and let it go. Accept he's just not that into you. Accept that homegirl for everyone; sorry dude she belongs to the streets. Accept that nobody owes you anything, not even your children. Accept that everything ain't for you and that your journey has its own unique path. Accept that maybe all your life's work may not be for the ninety-nine but perhaps for only one! Accept that you may never be the exception to the rule.

In the final analysis, let's take a new spin on an old adage, repeat after me. God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me." (unknown). I'll even throw in this nugget for free. If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else."- Marvin Gaye. Look, nine times out of ten, at the centre of your issues is 'you!' And that on periodt!

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