“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.”
– Chuck Palahniuk, “Diary”
One thing that I’ve observed in my three in a half years of being in high school is that we train ourselves to withstand high levels of emotional pain, especially young women, in our intimate relationships. No matter the offense or disrespectful action that our partners commit against us, we continue to stand by them without any recourse or reaction. Even as these actions become more and more of a pattern we continue to go back to the people that hurt us the most until we accumulate unbearable emotional baggage that prevents us from ever being compatible with another person.
Being trapped into anything is destructive. It kills your spirit, weakens your self-esteem and makes you bitter. But we’ve become so used to pain and disappointment that the concept of a good person that’s on point and about their business that also cares for you is foreign. Isn’t that insane? My response to that redundant mindset brings me to a metaphor that I thought of as I was writing on my debut novel The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson (available now). If you witness someone you’re friends with burn themselves on a stove, you’ll run to their aid and check to see if they’re alright and need medical attention. They’re fine though. The first time is an accident.
But they keep burning themselves on that exact same stovetop. Every time they do you become less and less concerned, or at least I hope you would be. It’s in human nature to shield ourselves from what hurts us. Our senses aid us in doing so. Why does this change in relationships? How do we change this narrative?
I discussed this with Tumika Cain, award-winning author of Seasons Of Change. She gave some insight on the situation that even enlightened me, showing her vast knowledge of the realm of relationships that’s dually reflected in the pages of her novel.
Randall: Tumika, I saw a quote on Facebook recently that said “sometimes the butterflies that tell you you’re in love but the pain.” I understand some adversity but I feel like pain is a strong word! Do you think pain and turmoil is necessary for a growing relationship or is it a sign that you need to leave at the earliest convenience?
Tumika Cain: There are no perfect people, so at some point we all fall short and hurt each other – whether intentionally or not. In relationships, there is the good and the bad that comes with it. However, when it comes to a person deliberately mistreating or abusing another person, that is where the line is drawn The whole premise behind love is that it’s selfless, it’s giving, and it esteems the other person. Love requires commitment, fidelity, sacrifice, compromise, and selflessness. A person who abuses another is obviously not considering what’s in the best interest of their partner. Too often women stay with men who demean, abuse, neglect, cheat and a host of other attributes that are directly the opposite of what it means to love. It is with great hope that we stay long after the signs have presented themselves telling us that it’s time to go. We hope the person will change. We hope the negative behaviors will stop. We hope that he will go back to how he may have been before the mistreatment began. And in all of this, we forget that we are important, that we have value and that we don’t have to stay with someone who won’t do their part.
Randall: In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good relationship?
Tumika Cain: As I mentioned earlier, love is selfless as a basis, but a good relationship should include some (if not all) of the following attributes:
Unconditional – we need to go into the relationship accepting the other person for who they are. Everyone has deal breakers and if the person is functioning in a place that is a deal breaker, don’t get involved. It’s much better to walk away before it gets started than trying to change someone later on.
Selfless – We live in a culture of selfish people who don’t take the time to think about the needs, wants or desires of anyone other than themselves. That does not work in a relationship. There are two people in a relationship and both of them matter. Which takes me right to my next point.
Giving – There has to be a balance in relationships. If one person does all the giving and the other does all the taking, the relationship is unbalanced. It is important for both partners to give and to take, sort of like an ebb and flow. It will not always be balanced because we’re at different places at different times, with those needs varying depending on the circumstances.
Esteems the other higher than themselves – This principle, I think, flies in the face of everything we are taught in our culture. In a world of narcissism and what’s in it for me, to say that we esteem someone else higher than ourselves is a foreign concept. When it’s done correctly, it creates the perfect balance because if I am focused on meeting your needs and you are focused on meeting my needs, then both of our needs are being met pretty consistently. The problem comes in when you are focused on you and I am focused on you (and vice versa) or when each partner if focused on self, no one is considering what’s in the best interest of the other. We should be
Forgiving – Because we are imperfect being, we all fall short and need to be forgiven. Forgiveness helps us to not get bitter and resentful. When a person truly forgives, they do not throw the infraction back up in the face of their partner or keep talking about it to other people. They let bygones be bygones.
Patient – We all come into relationships with our pasts, expectations, and shortcomings. To expect two people to be on one accord all the time without truly learning each other is absurd. Even the way we communicate can be very different. We need to be patient with ourselves and with each other as go through our learning curves. There will always be something new to learn and apply because we are constantly changing and evolving. Patience will always be a necessary ingredient in a healthy relationship.
Kind – Have you ever noticed how people talk to each other? Sometimes I just cringe. We can be so cruel and thoughtless to the ones we love and nicer to complete strangers. Our words need to minister grace and be soft. After all, a soft answer turns away wrath. We can diffuse a lot of circumstances by just remembering to be kind to each other and not treating our partner differently that how we’d like to be treated.
Compromise (but never at the expense of one’s morals, values or safety) – No one is right all the time and no two people want exactly the same thing at all times. We have to give some and we have give up some. If we can remember that both people in the relationship are of equal importance, it would help when it comes time to reach a happy medium. Not every battle is worth going to war over. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, do I want to right or do I want to be happy?
Good listening skills (we need to hear what the other person is saying and how they are feeling. This includes body language. We’d get into far less scraps with each other if we learn to listen to what the other person is saying and wait for the appropriate time to bring up an issue.)
Freedom to move, grow and make mistakes (we all make mistakes and life is a series of lessons that make us grow up as we pass them. There has to be freedom to not be perfect without the proverbial foot coming down on the person’s neck for making a mistake. )
Protecting (a mate should be protective of their partner’s feelings, their person, the reputation)
It possesses a level of privacy (it is not everyone’s business what is going on in your relationship with another person. Too often we blab to family and friends and those people put their two cents in and make things worse instead of better for the couple.
Accountability (a person who is not held accountable to anyone will do whatever he or she wants to do. Accountability helps keep us in line. We are less likely to behave any kind of way when we know that we’ll have to tell someone else what we’ve done.)
Respect – Everyone wants to be treated with respect. Men have an even greater need for respect because it’s how they were designed. This can sometimes be a fragile road to travel because men and women are wired differently, we don’t always know what the other considers disrespectful. This is where learning and listening to your mate helps a great deal.
Randall: Tell us about your award-winning book Season of Change?
Tumika Cain: Season of Change is a dramatic work of fiction that tells the story of Alicia and Avery Ayers. On the surface it looks like they have everything: they are attractive, wealthy, well-respected within their community and careers, and have the trappings of success that money can buy. They make it their business to keep up appearances, but behind closed doors their world is swiftly crumbling as unresolved issues from both of their pasts come back to haunt them. Each has done the best they knew how to sweep their issues under the rug, but never actually dealt with anything. As it is with life, that which we don’t deal with will always come back around….usually at the least opportune time. They are faced with real issues and reach a fork in the road where they have to take a real look at themselves, at each other, at their lives and make a pivotal decision.
Season of Change challenges stereotypes, exposes issues with the Black culture here in the United States, as well as shines a light on severe issues of domestic violence. Even though the issues are multi-faceted and the read is intense, one is not left without a sense of hope, redemption, forgiveness and the chance for a better tomorrow.
Randall: Was there a real live motivation behind the novel? If so, what was it?
Tumika Cain: Season of Change is a fictional piece of work that was written to give a voice to those whose lives have been touched by these issues, but have yet to find their own voice. This is their story, in part it’s my story, and unfortunately, it’s the story of many. While completely fictitious, it was written to be a catalyst for my own healing after being exposed to some of the issues therein.
Randall: Is the concept of a storybook relationship realistic?
Tumika Cain: A while ago someone asked me if I believed in happily-ever-after endings. My response was “Yes. To the degree that you are willing to work on the relationship, that is the level of happily-ever-after you will receive.” We live in a time and in a society that covets having everything right now. All too often I see people striving to have bigger, better, and newer, while never stopping a moment just to enjoy what they already have. It’s like we’ve gotten to the point where we don’t take the time to nurture what we have to the fullness of its potential. The journey is just as important as reaching the destination. We go into relationships talking about breaking up. That is ridiculous. Even the trees we see outside gain strength by weathering adversity. Is there such a thing as a perfect life? Absolutely not, because we are imperfect people, living in an imperfect world, but we can be blissfully happy within ourselves and with each other if are only willing to do the work.
Randall: What other projects do you have coming up?
Tumika Cain: By the end of first quarter 2015, I will have two more books out. On the Pulse of Morning is part two of the Seasons series. It’s a much softer storyline and I am really enjoying writing this book. The Heart of a Woman is my next poetry collection and it will come out around the same time.
In addition, my book club is sponsoring an event on June 6. 2015 called Say What?? Book Club presents Brunch with Your Favorite Authors where 9 of this year’s featured authors will join us and the attendees for an afternoon of fun, fellowship, good food and great books. It’s a book signing and opportunity to meet and greet with the authors. Our special guest for the event is NAACP Image Award winning author, Beverly Jenkins. We are all looking forward to and tickets will be going on sale soon so be sure to check it out.
I’ll be hosting a new internet radio show called In the Spotlight starting in January for authors looking for more media exposure.
Randall: By the time this article is published, it will be read by many young people. What is your message to them?
Tumika Cain: You are born with unique gifts, talents and abilities that have to be cultivated. On your journey, not everyone will understand the goals, dreams and vision you have for your life, but you have to pursue your passion, regardless. The goal when we reach the end of our lives is to leave here having fulfilled our purpose in life and with few regrets. While tomorrow is promised, it’s not promised to me or you, so each day make dedicated and deliberate steps towards fulfilling your purpose and making your dreams come true. Don’t worry about who hasn’t done it before you. When we rise and shine, we give others the freedom to do the same. Determine that you will live this life full out and know that as you continue on your journey, everything you need to make it will be presented at the proper time. You can do it!
You can find Tumika Cain at:
www.SayWhatBC.com will be live by the end of 2014
I also have two blogs:
-We came, we saw, we conquered! My debut publishing effort “Riverview High: Circumstances” reached #2 on the Amazon charts! Check it out on Amazon today. Don’t forget to leave a review!
–“The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson” is out now! Make sure to go get it!
Do you have any questions, comments or concerns? Was I right or wrong on this issue? I would love to hear from you! Contact me directly at: