I Worked Four Years in a Leadership Role with the Atlanta Police Department- Here’s a Look at the Good and the Unfathomable

By Rhonda E. Frost

In honor of Labor Day 2023, I share my employment story.

September 10, 2023, will mark the end of my time as Deputy Director of Public Affairs with the Atlanta Police Department (APD). I enjoyed three remarkable years in this position and was mentally set to stay until I retired. I loved my job and I was good at it. But in the fall of 2022, things changed in subtle yet obvious ways, and then on November 30th, 2022, there was a seismic and abrupt change wherein, I was ordered out of my office “effective immediately”, locked out without written notice or valid explanation, and stripped of access to the public safety headquarters building where I reported to work each day. As a 59-year-old career professional, I could not comprehend what was happening.

In the blink of an eye, I was isolated, exiled, and no longer part of the team. I sent a flurry of emails to APD leadership, City of Atlanta HR, the mayor’s office, and members of the public affairs team informing them I was locked out and asking why. No one answered my email. I was confused and afraid. I felt helpless and lost. I have always been clear on the history of the police and what they have the power to do. I did not know what to expect next. It was clear this situation was sanctioned and there were no rules to protect me.

That day and the subsequent 8 months of being banished from my office without an update or information, coupled with the deafening silence of those who should have intervened, will forever be seared in my brain as a diabolical, surreal, employment nightmare.

Turns out, the targeted and unlawful treatment I endured over these long months, had nothing to do with any wrongdoing on my part, but everything to do with the power of my adult daughter’s Instagram account, and her audacity to publicly analyze the crime scene video footage and question APD’s handling of a homicide case that occurred in the summer of 2022. If I had not read the investigative report (which I obtained through an open record request a few weeks ago), no one could have convinced me this could be real.

I would be doing a disservice to myself and anyone considering employment with the City of Atlanta/Atlanta Police Department Public Affairs Unit if I did not share this story. Zora Neale Hurston said, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” I tell my story to express my pain and disillusionment and to expose the unjust, professionally damaging, and hurtful series of acts I endured. I also speak out because I’ve had two interviews in the past 10 days and it is clear to me that I am suffering continued defamation and slander and/or fallout from the APD experience. I want potential employers and other interested parties to hear what happened. What I write about in this piece can be validated in an investigative report, emails, and or video clips.     

Until a year ago, no one could have convinced me this department, this police chief, this director, and their cohorts were capable of this level of conspiracy, defamation, silence, retaliation, and false narratives. I believed they were better than this. I was wrong.

The Good:

Before I go any further into this inexplicable experience at APD, let me give Carlos Campos (former Director of Public Affairs), his flowers. He not only hired me in August of 2019, but he promoted me weeks later into my current position and doubled my salary. He made sure I was paid commensurate with my experience and skills. He believed in me, trusted me with the opportunity, and helped to refine my journalism and writing skills to adapt to the police environment. I admired his writing style and the effortless way he blended policing, media, and journalism. We had our moments, but we shared a mutual respect for what we both brought to the table, which helped us get through challenges. I will forever be grateful to him.

I enjoyed almost every single day working with the team I was fortunate to supervise and collaborate with. Whether it was writing feel-good stories to show the heroism and kindness of employees, writing talking points, crafting newsworthy safety and crime messaging for social media, coordinating large annual events, scheduling and conducting interviews or reaching out to celebrity athletes to help crime victims, I understood the assignment. I was successful not just because of my talent but because I had skilled and dedicated people on the team who had the same goal, that being to make the department shine and show the “other side” of policing.

There are some amazing human beings out there who put their lives on the line to keep the streets of Atlanta safe, and who go the extra mile to help in their community. I did my best to highlight them. My performance evaluations are a testament to my work ethic.

The Unfathomable

“All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Lord Acton

Lord Acton knew then what we all know now, if power is unchecked, and if there is no accountability, those who have the power will run amok. Those involved in stripping my access to my workplace (or authorizing it), turning a blind eye to the lies, failing to intervene, and placing me on leave under the guise of some flimsy complaint of “rudeness”(which came about after my complaint on director), concocting false narratives to keep me locked out, and later showing up at my home to strip me of my work laptop, cell and ID card, while informing me my position was eliminated, are the epitome of corrupt use of power. These actions were “gangster” as we say in my old neighborhood. I guess this is what is meant when some say, “police are nothing more than a gang in uniform.” In this case, it is the chief of police holding the top position. He had every opportunity to get it right, to intervene, fact-check, and do something positive to turn this around, but he chose to try and make an example out of me. Our response to him is public.  

This experience had glimpses of Frank Serpico-esque treatment all over it but from a civilian perspective. As this other video my daughter recorded while talking to a police officer seems to confirm, it is indeed us vs. them.

Never in my expansive career both as a civilian and a sworn person would I have believed this could happen to any employee, much less to me, the employee with outstanding performance evaluations, the one who shows up to work while battling a life-threatening infection with an IV still in arm, to stay on deadline for work projects, the one with hundreds of sick leave and vacation hours on the books, the one who wrote viral good news stories to show the public the “other side” of police and the one who helped this agency shine with meticulously put together award events, heartfelt interviews, and polished annual reports. I took pride in what I did and what I accomplished and yet, none of that mattered.

The stage was set. The false narrative was in place. Egos were bruised. I had to go by any means necessary. I was no longer “one of them”. Apparently, there was some truth in my daughter’s video analysis of the crime scene or there would be no need to take it personally. Just an assumption on my part. Perhaps they do not realize that people criticize the police daily, and there’s a strong likelihood that almost every African-American employee in the Department probably has a family member who is not fond of the police for one reason or another. But I digress.

This was not about me, per se. I am just the “fall guy” as they say. This was a power move, a level of intimidation to send a message that scrutinizing the actions of the Department is not allowed. And if you have family members or friends who do so, especially if they bring media attention to possible wrongdoing or real/perceived injustice, you can and will be subject to the king’s wrath.

The investigative report I obtained exposed the APD and cleared me of any wrongdoing. It also reminded me of just how dangerous these types of cultures can be when they have an agenda to get you. Who will stand up to a police chief? Usually no one. Quite frankly that is terrifying.  

Closing thoughts

I was naive to think that APD leadership was different than other police agencies. I regret spending the last few years trying to convince my family, friends, and others that APD is about doing the “right thing”, and that they stand for fairness and full transparency.  

No matter where you work, checks and balances must be in place. The tone about right and wrong, legal and illegal, justice and fairness, policy adherence, proper accountability, honesty, ethics, and overall treatment of people is set by those appointed and/or hired to lead. The actions of those in charge will always trump their well-rehearsed talking points and politically correct statements regurgitated at press conferences.  

The leadership at APD failed me. I was thrown to the wolves without violating even one policy or work rule. How does one explain this to a new potential employer without sounding suspect? How do I answer why I cannot use my current supervisor or anyone at APD as a reference despite my solid employment history there?

I surmise, that new employees to the APD Public Affairs Unit, the City of Atlanta, or the Atlanta Police Department have nothing to worry about as long as their family members never publicly criticize any APD actions, and as long as they are OK with working in a hostile work environment, good with open disrespect by subordinate staff, fine with problems being ignored by those who are supposed to supervise, manage and intercede, and Ok with the possibility of being locked out of their workplace on a whim.

As the HR Commissioner said to me on June 6, 2023, before she too went ghost, “What happened to you should not have happened, and I apologize on behalf of the City of Atlanta.” It would have been nice if that meant something. She was right though. What happened to me should not have happened. And no employee should ever fear reprisals for speaking out against the actions of a police agency or for their family member expressing their First Amendment rights.

Dear Future Husbands: We Are Waiting on You to Show Up and Act Right

By Rhonda E. Frost

July 18, 2021

(Update to 2016 article)

I cannot help but wonder what would happen if we just stopped. What if we stopped forgiving, doing, accepting your inconsistent nonsense, catering to you when you don’t deserve it, taking your calls, making love to you, listening to your lies, accepting less than what we deserve, and stopped allowing you back in? Would you change? Would you show up and act right?  

There are so many good women out here ready to be a wife or in a committed relationship. Emotionally available women, doing the work, handling business, growing in knowledge, raising their children (or have raised them), and focused.  They are smart, attractive, sexy, funny, warm, and kind women. Women who have been broken, but still believe. Women who are willing to give love another chance despite the bleakness of it all. Yet, seemingly, so few men value her. Why?  

As days turn into months, and months turn into years, I cannot help but wonder when he will show up for the collective us?  

We…  

We carry children for 9 months (stretching our stomachs beyond repair), we give birth through our birth canals suffering through the most painful experience any human can endure (and live to talk about), we raise our babies, we allow you into our sacred place trusting you to do right.

We make a house into a home, we clean up after you, we cook, we nurture, we exercise the patience of Job (yes, the biblical Job) as we wait for you to grow up, communicate with clarity, love with good intention, put down childish things, make up your minds, and get right. 

We work with you as you sort through your feelings and emotions, go through your “mid-life” crises (most of your life), and take us for granted and mess up repeatedly. We forgive you, repeatedly. We answer the phone when you call even after days or weeks of silence, and even after you have hurt us one more time.

We lift you when you are down, and we allow you to keep coming back even when we should not.  Patiently we wait for you to see past our booty, breasts, and bodies or what we can offer you sexually and to acknowledge our soul and see our heart. Yes, we want and love sex too, but that is not the point here.  

We practically beg you to listen, to see our value, and appreciate our goodness. We wait in anticipation hoping you will finally claim us forever and be “him”, the “one”, our protector and provider. The one who will cover us with respect and love til our lungs no longer fill with oxygen and our hearts no longer beat. But where are you? When will you show up fully present, ready, willing, and able to assume the position?

This is not for the lucky few who have this in their lives, this is for the masses-the rest of the women who have not had this experience of love and commitment or at least not in while. I speak for them.  

Is it timing?  

Is it a lack of regard for monogamy?  

Is it too much excess or too many options?  

Is it the IG model, everyone is “snatched” thirst?  

What makes finding him or him finding her so tricky? What makes respecting a good woman so hard?  

What if we stopped?  

I cannot help but wonder what would happen if we just stopped. What if we stopped forgiving, doing, accepting your inconsistent nonsense, catering to you when you don’t deserve it, taking your calls, making love to you, listening to your lies, accepting less than what we deserve, and stopped allowing you back in? Would you change? Would you show up and act right?  

Would “I do” be restored to its sacred place? Would you then appreciate the woman who has been fighting for you the whole time or appreciate the next good woman you meet?  

What will it take for us (the culture) to change and get back to respecting real people and real love?   What will it take to value or desire marriage? What will it take for us to honor relationships and each other as human beings?  

These are rhetorical questions, but comments are welcome. ***sigh***

Signed,
Exhausted Single Woman
(and person speaking on behalf of women I know)

For more relationship conversations, please tune into our podcast, “What She Said” on YouTube where we delve even deeper into the issues and blessings of relationships and where we ask men the questions we all want to know.

You can check us out, subscribe and tune in here: Should Women Take Responsibility For Their Own Actions When Intoxicated? — Episode 23 – YouTube

On Being Black Enough: An Open Letter to My Brothers and Sisters Who Perpetuate Colorism

By Rhonda E. Frost

In honor of closing out Black History Month 2019, I write this letter for anyone in the Black community who perpetuates colorism. This is to anyone who said, “Kamala Harris isn’t even Black, she’s bi-racial so she doesn’t count”, to the many who say “Barack Obama isn’t Black, his mother is white so…”, and to the critics who deemed Meghan Markel, the Duchess of Sussex, not Black “because she claims she is biracial”.

This is for any person in the Black community who still disparages their own, based on race. To the person sitting behind a computer screen on social media, to the brother or sister at the office, in a college dorm, or those on the block, pushing the “skin tone determines Blackness” narrative-you need to stop. You sound racist, ignorant and hateful.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character…”; many of you love to quote this during Black History Month and you recite it often during the rest of the year. We say we want equality more than anything, and I believe we do. Yet here we are in 2019, doing to our own people, what the people who constructed race have always done to us; dividing and conquering based on color. Too many of you judge your “light-skinned” brothers and sisters, like some racist white people, judge Black people in general. What makes your judgment and tomfoolery different from theirs?

I am bi-racial. My mother is white, blond hair and green eyes, white. My father is Black. I wrote about it in a previous blog post entitled, “I Am Not Racist, I’m Woke”. I grew up Black. My neighborhood-Black. My struggle-Black. My self-esteem-Black. My money-Black. My anger-Black. My families’ interaction with the police-Black. Growing up, I saw none of the “white privilege” of my white side but that doesn’t mean I don’t claim my mother.

We inherited our lineage. I do not know how they did it where you are from; but in 1963, the year I was born, they were not allowing sperm, eggs and embryos to select the race of their parents before inception. Our parents did not consult us before they consummated their relationship and decided to have sex without a condom, therefore opening up the chance for us to be here, in all of our light-skinned-edness. Neither were we allowed to check off what color of brown we wanted from the skin tone hue wish list. We did not have options on hair texture, hair length, eye color, or body type(big booty, small booty or none at all). Nope, none of that was offered to us-no more than it was offered to the direct descendants of Africa or the whitest white person from Europe. We are all at the mercy of DNA and our parents decisions. Be still for a minute and marinate on that.

So who gets to define Blackness? Who is the authority on what office biracial people are worthy to run for as a Black woman or man (first)? Who are you to tell me what injustice I am allowed to be angry about, what I should protest, or talk about in race relations? In the words of Shannon Luders-Manuel, “Blackness cannot be taken away from us. Biraciality cannot be taken away from us. They exist as tangibly as our skin, made from Europe and Africa. We are the colonizer and the colonized. We are the oppressor and the oppressed. We bleed for our brothers and sisters. We carry on our backs the weight of what one half of us did to the other. We slip easily into white spheres, taking notes and taking names while nodding our European heads.”

Word has it that Malcolm X had White DNA, Frederick Douglass had White DNA, Bob Marley, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B Du Bois, and a host of other important people came to us with their mixed race and made a difference in the world. These biracial people fought for justice and freedom on behalf of all Black people. I wonder if their fellow brothers and sisters, yelled out to them, that they weren’t Black enough to represent, or did they simply appreciate their fight for equality, while seeing them as Black and equal?

For the sake of learning, read what “biracial” means here. To be clear, most people are not a pure race. Most folk are of mixed race heritage with the DNA from another race swirling around in their blood; just ask Henry Louis Gates from Finding Your Roots. By the way, when someone says, “I am bi-racial” it does not mean they aren’t claiming their blackness, well unless you are talking Tiger Woods, but for the rest of us, it simply means we are claiming both of our parents; the White and the Black one. Does that make us not Black? Should we only tell folk about the Black parent to keep our “Black card”? I am asking for all the mixed race people in the world.

In 2019, it is stunning to hear my own people judging within the Black community because of skin tone. We have enough to fight or be defensive about. Aren’t you tired of this? Too many are still carrying anger, jealousy and hurt because of skin tone; and it shows in our talk, our views and the way we treat each other. I have found that the more unhappy a person is in their own skin, the more they look outside themselves to attack or demoralize others. Happy people, with high self-esteem and in pursuit of a life of meaning and progress, just don’t normally have time for it. We have to recognize this in ourselves.

If your hope is that you not be judged because of race and that white people not devalue your worth because of your skin tone-you should want the same for your own people. If the Klan, a neo-Nazi, a Republican wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, or any other racist sees you or me walking down the street, we will both be viewed the same. They see us as Black. I suggest we do the same and embrace each other. Divided we fall, but together we can conquer the world, or at least conquer ignorance and move forward to a higher intellectual, financial and emotional ground.

All of our Black is beautiful and worthy. The day we start believing this, is the day we will stop with the colorism nonsense.

11 Things to Ask Yourself (and Your Partner) Before You say “I Do”

by Rhonda E. Frost

I’ve been married and I’ve been divorced. I’ve now been single (in the technical sense) for 12 years. This time spent, outside of the covenant of marriage, has given me plenty of time to think about what I want and need, and what I hope to give to my husband; it has also allowed me the quiet space to think about what I will do different when I remarry. For starters, I needed an honest examination of my beliefs, behavior and choices. I wanted a clearer prism. And I needed meaningful questions to ask myself, and my partner.

Full disclosure (as one of my dear friends often says, before he tells me anything), I am no guru. In fact, I have more questions than answers. I am however, a woman who has risen from the ashes of past mistakes; a woman in full transformation mode who has had her share of painful love lessons and relationship regrets. I am also a woman who has read hundreds of relationship self-help books and articles and have had the privilege to interview married and divorced people over the years, to gain perspective.

I am wiser now.

A little backstory: I was a wife at 23. It was an impromptu decision one day; we just went and got married. We were madly “in love”, and we didn’t want to lose that, or each other, so we drove to Reno, Nevada, found one of those chapels and tied the knot. And for almost two decades, we rode the wave of love and marriage dysfunction. I won’t speak on him here. I will only speak on me. I didn’t understand the gravity of the title of “wife”. I didn’t know what I wanted or needed. I did not know what to expect. I did not know how to love and give selflessly; nor did I fully understand or value commitment. I was without a point of reference. And the tumultuous events leading up to my marriage didn’t help(that is a whole other blog). Everything was broken: my boundaries, thoughts, expectations, trust, and self-esteem. What I learned is, being “in love”, isn’t enough when two people are broken and operating without a love and happiness plan.

Having said all that, if I knew at 23, or 33 what I know now at 54, about love, marriage, and commitment and how rare it is to find someone of quality who genuinely cares; who is willing to step-in, hold you up, and add value to your life, while being an “all in” partner, I would have likely still been married. but alas, we don’t necessarily grow from doing things right the first time, we learn and grow the most, through suffering.

The late great Dr. Maya Angelou said, “but when you know better, you do better”. I honor and value marriage today. I understand the work that it entails and I see the blessings and joy that come from a committed, healthy and happy union.

It’s taken years for me to even think about marriage, but now that I have begun to do so, there are questions that I deem important to ask. This list is not all-encompassing. You can certainly add to it or not entertain any of it, but the fact is, fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. That’s a five zero(50)! That means there’s a one in two chance that if you get married, it will end in divorce. Imagine hearing those odds on every flight you take. Imagine the airline staff announcing, “excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, we are so glad you are flying with us today to sunny Florida, we just want to let you know there is a fifty percent chance that this flight that you are about to board, won’t make it to its destination. Some of our pilots are trained, some not so much, but we trust them to get us there. Thank you for flying with Delta, we know you have a choice, but we are glad you chose us”. Would you still fly? Or would you look for other viable ways to get to where you are trying to go, with better odds? Or perhaps, you might decide to just stay home.

The point of that imperfect analogy is: all of us want to get there successfully, and with as little turbulence as possible. So, if you are going to take the chance, and if you actually want it to work, and enjoy the beautiful journey, we have to prepare for it. These questions are just a start. The rest is up to you.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you take the marriage flight:

1. What do I want? -It’s imperative to know what you want and to examine if it’s reasonable.

2. What do I need? -Make a list of what you believe you need from your mate. Talk about those things while dating i.e., sex, communication, attention, financial help, religious connection, someone to guide you, a chef, a prayer partner, a workout partner, a parent for your children, a business partner, etc.

3. What do I expect? -Examine your expectations. Are they reality based or fairytale driven? Do you believe every day is going to be blissful and without conflict? Do you think your mate is supposed to pay all the bills, initiate sex every night, keep the house clean, never get angry, be ready for sex on cue, look amazing waking up, cook 7 days a week, never get tired or frustrated…? I could go on, but you get the idea. Expectations can kill relationships.

4. What can I offer? -Every person needs to examine what they bring to the relationship. Ask yourself what you offer besides sex, having a six-pack stomach or being fine or sexy. Physical attributes are lovely and they add icing to the cake, but who are you without that, or in addition to that? Do you bring stability? A good credit score? Loyalty? Wisdom? An ability to plan and organize? Financial management? Humor? A good heart and loving spirit? Parenting skills? Communication skills? Another language to teach? Dreams and goals to share? Kindness and clarity? Prepare for that question. Think about how you will add value to your partner’s life. If all you have to offer someone is beauty, booty, a nice body, or a snazzy car and “things”, then you might want to beef up your relationship resume.

5. What am I willing to sacrifice? -I read this quote in a Christian article that aligns with this question. It said If we want to have a satisfying marriage, one where the passion and excitement never ends, we must be willing to sacrifice our own needs for the needs of our mate. In other words, we need to be selfless.

To that point, one of my single male friends called me recently to talk about the idea of marriage. He is 58 years old. I’ve known him for 9 years and he’s been running the streets as a single man and enjoying his freedom. But this call was different. He called to talk about marriage and how much he wants companionship now and how conflicted he is about sharing a life with someone, even though he believes it’s something he wants now. I asked him if he was fearful of sharing his money and assets (because he’s done well for himself financially and is nearing retirement) and surprisingly, he said “no, not at all, that’s the least of my worries”. He went on to say “I am more concerned with sharing my space and having to answer for my time.” There was a lot more to that conversation, but my point here is that the longer we are single, the more selfish we might be about time, resources and sharing space. And the less we want to sacrifice for someone else. Marriage is about sacrifice and caring for someone else. Think long and hard about what you are ready and willing to sacrifice.

6. Can I commit? -This is self-explanatory. It’s a yes or no question. And it’s not a convenience thing. It’s a lifetime thing. Commitment is real even when someone gains weight; even when days aren’t good, even when someone is sick, and money is tight; even when that sexy new coworker is smelling good and looking good sitting in the office right next to you, and you just had an argument with your spouse last night. Commitment, in today’s throw away, swipe left or right, effortless access to new ass, society makes this challenging. If you can’t commit and stay through a couple of forever’s, don’t commit or say “I do”. Period. You can’t straddle the single fence, in marriage. There’s no harm or foul in remaining single.

7. Will my baggage interfere? -We all have some sort of baggage, especially any of us over 40 or 50 years old. But yes, even young people can have baggage depending on what they have experienced growing up, and what they’ve experienced in love relationships. But the question is, will your baggage make your mate suffer and will it impair the relationship?

Baggage is anything you’ve been carrying from the past into the present moment that hinders you from being happy or living your best life. It is anything that will impact your relationship in a negative way. Baggage can be: trust issues, fear, low self-esteem, inability to allow your mate to feel free, inability to communicate, shutting down emotionally, violent tendencies, selfishness, non-productive financial habits etc.. You know what your past looks like. You know what issues have come up over and over again. You know what you’ve been through. It’s unfair to bring someone into your life and expect them to fix you or “just deal with it”, (though some will). And no, you don’t have to be all together to fall in love and marry (there are lots of married folks who didn’t have it all together, found a way to make it work and are still happily married), but you should have at least identified your issues and be actively working on them.

On a personal note, after carefully looking at my dating and relationship history, I sought counseling. I knew I didn’t’ want to go into my marriage(you notice that I am calling it into existence?) with baggage, and repeating old thoughts and patterns. I knew I wanted to do something different. I wanted to offer a better me. And perhaps I won’t be baggage free, but instead of having the type of baggage noted in the arrival scene of Coming to America, (only Coming to America movie watchers will get this), I will instead, enter with just a “carry on”.

8. Who am I when I am alone? -It’s been said that you have to know how to enjoy your life alone and be whole, before you get coupled up or marry. Your time being single(alone) is precious and is necessary. Being single allows you to do everything you want without accountability or sharing your time. It also is the time you learn to appreciate who you are, work on self and identify what you like about you. It’s the time when you can be completely naked. If you don’t like spending time with you, why would anyone else?

9. What is it that I think marriage will do for my life?- Ask yourself why you want to be married. Is it just to avoid feeling alone? Is it for financial reasons? Is it to have someone help with raising kids? Is it to be Facebook official; to be able to tell your friends you are married? Know why you want to be married.

10. Do I know what love is? And can I love? – Yes, I realize that is two questions in one, but both are so good! Listen, I don’t have the lock (aka the skinny) on what love is, but I do know saying “I love you” is easier than actually showing love on a daily basis to the same person. In my humble opinion, those words are overused, in feel-good moments, and underperformed, in real life. I bet right now you can name some people in your circle who claim to “love” someone or who once “loved” someone and their behavior didn’t match what you thought love looked like. When is the last time you even examined what the word is and what love actions look and feel like? To “fall in love” with someone or to say “I love you” is supposed to represent the highest form of feeling for another person, and the highest level of care. So the question is, what made you say that or feel that and what will it mean to say that to someone in terms of your actions? It can’t be just emotion during good times and great sex. When I was 20 and 30 those words didn’t mean the same as they mean today.

To go a little further on this subject: What makes us “fall in love”? To “fall in love” with a person, should mean you’ve seen something good from them. You’ve seen their light and promise. Perhaps they’ve shown consistent and demonstrative behavior that shows you how much they care. In my mind, it means they’ve established that they’ve got your back; they’ve been consistent in their truth and kindness, they’ve shown an undeniable level of attention; they answer your calls and texts, they show up when you need them, they support and encourage you, they laugh and cry with you, they ask about your life and dreams and they care about what impacts you. This application applies to both parties. Also for the sake of clarity, it’s worth it to find out each other’s love language.

11. What will I do different this time? -If you’ve been married or in a long-term relationship, and it didn’t work, ask what you will do differently this time. Yes, it’s easy to blame the other person and to think you were perfect in your relationship; but if you are completely honest, you will acknowledge that you probably didn’t get it all the way right and that perhaps you even did some things that were just wrong, selfish, and hurtful. The key here is not about blame or dredging up the past, but to learn from what you didn’t get right in your other life, and to avoid repeating the pattern.

There are many other questions we can ask before thinking about getting married, but these will get you started in self-reflection. What I’ve learned is that baggage, unrealistic expectations, lack of commitment, and just not knowing how to be a partner, are just as problematic for marriage, as are money and sex issues. I realize that this is a non-scientific statement, but I’d like to be proven wrong.

There is a quote that says, “to have what you’ve never had, you have to do what you’ve never done”. There is also a quote that says, “doing the same thing, and expecting different results, is insanity.” If all of your previous relationships have worked, this isn’t for you(and you should write a book that tells the world how that’s done). This is for the rest of us. We have to do what we’ve not done before, think like we’ve never thought and be open to seeing it from a different view, in order to grow in our relationships. Our future marriages depend on it.

*This is a chapter from the upcoming book: Relationship Soul Food: A Collection of Heartfelt Stories, Inspirational Quotes and Powerful Lessons about Love, Dating and Marriage, due out Spring 2019


          

 

Sending Light and Love

by Rhonda E. Frost

I woke-up needing affirmations, positive energy and love. I awoke feeling unsettled.  There’s an uneasiness and evil in the air right now in this country. I can’t seem to shake the heaviness. Surely many of you feel it as well. I feel like Marvin Gaye when he sings “What’s Going On?”.  I need intervention. I need an angel, like Alicia sings about, right here.

Have you seen the headlines lately? Are you watching the world like I am? Do you see what is happening in politics, in the NFL, in your hometown? Have you heard the voicemail message left on African American studies professor Jason Nichols phone just 2 days ago, in October 2017? If not, check out his Facebook page and take a listen, it will make you angry, it will make your heart hurt and it might make you cry. Every single day, there’s something more sinister, more divisive and more detached being said and done. The world feels whack right now! The leader of this country is insane! And racists are showing their true colors, sheets removed.

Having said that. I know there is still good out there. I know that love, a desire to heal and understand one another, is still the cure. And I know that we can stop allowing the negative energy to control our thoughts and words at any given time. But in order to allow peace and the good thoughts in, we have to step back, step back away from the darkness, and choose light.

So today, I’ve decided not to be consumed by the evil, stupidity, fear and hate. Instead of participating in the usual consumption of horrific news tragedies, or witnessing more of  the mind-boggling ignorance and disconnect in the highest office in the land, for just a little while, in my mind, I want to go back to the days when the world seemed less crazy-(like the past 8 years). I want to talk to my grandpa or grandma like the Judd’s mentioned in their great song, or have a long talk with my mama, and hear words of wisdom, hope and encouragement.

There is no better way to redirect negative energy and thoughts, than to look outward, and look for the good in others and in our lives.  So that’s what I am going to do. I simply want to acknowledge aka give a “shout-out” to people who make a difference. A shift in focus, if you will.

Special shouts out to our brave men and women in the armed forces who fight for our freedom every single day, to all first responders who spend their days and nights helping people and saving lives and to the self-less people like Chef Jose Andreas, who show up out of nowhere during tragedies, and do more than their fair share of giving, helping and feeding souls.

Shouts out to the parents who get up each morning and get their children ready for school before heading off to work, get home from work and go to their child’s sporting events or recitals, and then do homework, cook, clean and  somehow manage everything each day, before going to sleep and 6 hours later, wake up and do it again. You are hero’s and shero’s!

Shouts out to all the men who hold down their women and children, those who “cover” them, provide and protect. And to the men who show up daily, those who are in their children’s lives and provide for them, even when the relationship didn’t work. Men who say “I love you” and show it. And to all of the men who are emotionally available, vulnerable and real. The ones who love hard and openly,  the world needs more of you. You are appreciated.

Shouts out to women everywhere who are making it happen. Those who are rebuilding their lives after setbacks. Women who are starting or finishing college, starting businesses, taking care of children alone, trailblazing in their careers, lifting up other women, speaking positivity into the world, getting healthy, and finding ways to believe despite setbacks and heartbreak. Women who fight for human rights and are making a difference. We are better together. I see you and salute you!

Shouts out to those who wake up everyday fighting the good fight in this unpredictable world we are all living in-those struggling to feel safe, struggling to find their footing, feel connected and find purpose. I am right there with you. Keep praying, keep waking up, and keep believing that better is on the way. Don’t give up! As long as you keep getting up and keep taking steps forward, you will make it. We can do this!

And finally, shouts out to the brave truth tellers on race, the “woke” people in the world, the peace makers and those who want “justice for all”, those who know why Colin kneels and aren’t afraid to say it.  Those who use their platform daily to call out injustice, risking it all. And those who understand we all bleed red, and our hearts feel pain the same.

Though the world feels out of control, let’s take some time each day to find the good. There are good people, there are stories of redemption, forgiveness, success and hope that we can hold onto for inspiration. If each of us will take a little time each day to be kind, to show love, to lift someone else up, stop hate messages, and do something good for each other, we can make headway into this dark heavy cloud and maybe even break all the way through. Let’s get through these turbulent times holding on to each other.

As a country we’ve come a long way, but we have a long, long way to go. In 2017, I am clear that we aren’t as close to MLK’s dream as we had hoped(thanks Trump and Alt Right), but we can get there, together. As a people we must do better.  We can’t let the evil, incompetent ones lead us down the dark, divisive path and keep us there. We are better than this.

No, individually we can’t save the world. But we each can do something. Just do your part. Share facts and wisdom. Thank someone for what they do. Listen to someone else’s story. Control what you can. And once you’ve done all you can…pray, mediate and be still. And vote! Register to vote. Stay involved(I had to say it)!

It’s got to get better. We won’t be in this chaotic place always. The sun will come out tomorrow. I just have to believe it will.

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Dear Future Husband: I Can’t Love You Like This

 

Dear Future Husband,

If I am to love you, and give myself to you…if I am to trust you, and we are to have a future together, some things have to change. I can’t love you like this.

If every woman you meet is introduced to your false narrative and your soulless accosting of her gifts (both physical and emotional), how then will any relationship flourish?  If deliberate truth isn’t your M.O., how will we move forward as a unit or a culture? If you lack integrity, how can you be respected? If you don’t share your real feelings or intentions, how do we get beyond silly games?

And if one good woman is never enough for you, how will we ever get to “I do?”

Social media, the perceived(and real) male/female ratios, greed and overall nonchalance about commitment, have changed the dating game. Things seem out of control! The rotating bed partner effect, is real. They say, “why settle for one, when you have options galore at your fingertips?”-And that’s a literal statement. Literally, within minutes, and with little to no effort, a man can have a new body in front of him with just a swipe to the left or right or the right mix of words in a message said to a woman in need. Sheesh! How do we compete with the feeding frenzy and seemingly insatiable appetite of your world?

When and how can we ever heal from this relationship abyss of the 21st century, if nothing ever changes in you?

To the social media point-my Facebook (FB) “inbox” stays full. I could literally go on a date every other night, and take several trips a month, hell, I could even get married, if I acted on the messages, requests and offers presented to me weekly. So this isn’t speculation, it’s fact. I’ve been proposed to at least 4 times in 3 months. More proposals than any woman should have. But I am not naïve, I don’t look at any of this as real(though my future husband may be in one of those offers). I look at it as a game for most. There are serial social media predators. No, not all. But many. They use the same lines, and offer the same prizes, they inform you of their cars and wealth, they send you the daily “hey beautiful” messages. No, I am not saying some aren’t genuine, I would imagine some of you are actually looking for me(a wife) just like I am looking for you(a husband). But most, aren’t. Most are looking to score some a** and a notch. Some of that “good, good” as the young hip folks call it.

I am a realist, my “inbox” isn’t the only one with options. Some of my female friends have told me that a few of the male folks from my page, have trickled on to theirs and that they also get some offers and these same men use similar catch phrases with them. Hell, a few of my friends send me the pictures of him and ask “what’s this guys story, he is getting at me hard”, it’s laughable and sad. And there’s no doubt men are getting their fair share of direct messages from the more aggressive women as well.

But back to the point. It’s like asking a shark, not to follow the bloody chum trail. It’s not possible! Once they smell blood, they must have it-they want the meat. So is that where you are? And if so, how much of it do you need, before you are full and ready?

The lies, the hustle, the games. Aren’t we all too grown for that? I am privy to too many broken dating and relationship stories. Single women dating men who send their representative to meet them, reps who sell women the “I am single, ready and I have it all together” dream, they get her to buy into it and sign the contract, only to find the product he was peddling was a lemon, it didn’t work as promised, the quality or size  of the parts were not up to par, or the entire product was broken inside and out and rendered unusable for the long haul. And no refunds are ever given.

Or they come in like a wolf in the “Little Red Riding Hood” story, covered in false clothing, with false story’s and bad intentions (sharp teeth and all), ready to shred the unsuspecting female soul and take everything they can take from her. It’s enough to drive single women into the monastery! Oh the stories!

And so future husband, I have some questions…

I want to know: When did you learn to lie? When did you become a predator of sorts? And when did taking advantage of those who love you, and hurting them without basic human regard, become your “standard operating procedure”? How is it that you became a taker and not a giver? What pushed you to that?

I want to know: And to those whom this applies, how do you look yourself in the mirror after each sexual conquest and each “come up”? Do you beam with pride, like a college student when they get an “A” on a Final exam? Do you feel relieved and excited, like a runner who trained for months and then took 1st place in a marathon?

How do you reward yourself as you add to the trail of cracked hearts and to the unhealthy experiences and bitterness of women?

Where exactly are you going with all of that jive?

And who taught you that was OK?

Did you witness abuse and disrespect in your home? Did you see men hitting women, calling them “b*tches and h*es, and taking money from them and their children? Did the men in your life operate in infidelity? Or worse…did someone take your virginity against your will like the Antwone Fisher story? I want to know when callousness set in?

What created the anger and disconnect in you? Are your walls built from eye-witness pain? Did your Mom abuse you? Was she on crack and abandon you? Did your father fail to show up to your basketball games, give you a hug or provide financial support? Were you raised by pimps, gang bangers and pushers who taught you disdain for women and that it’s best to “get them before they get you?”

I need to know: When you are home on quiet evenings, do you sit on your couch for hours with a note pad and pen writing out the stories, compliments and promises to say to the next woman you meet on Facebook or in the club, or are you a natural wordsmith, freelancing and spitting compelling words with ease, like Pac, or J.Cole?

Do you use the same set of phrases and words on everyone? You know like these for instance…”good morning beautiful”, “baby I can’t wait to see you”, “call me, I miss you”, or “let’s put some stamps in your passport”-I could go on, but you get the point.  If these are standard, then what words are “special” for the people who matter for real?

I need to know: When does it stop? When is enough new p*ssy enough? Is it really that hard to be committed and honest?

Are the fast paced offerings of the next “best thing” or “greener grass” (aka better ass) that tempting and so out of control that you don’t know how to stop the runaway train and just love someone?  Hasn’t enough damage already been done to us, to you and the culture?

My dearest future husband, we need you and we want you. But we can’t keep up with this perpetual game of nothingness. We don’t have time for it. It’s making us bitter and cold.

We can’t love you like this. Something has to change.

A strong, loving and committed man, makes a formidable marriage and home.

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

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Don’t Awaken Her Love…if You Have No Intentions of Loving Her

Bob Marley has this quote that says, “The biggest coward is a man who awakens a woman’s love with no intention of loving her.”

And to that I say this: for any man entering (or trying to re-enter) any woman’s life…if your intentions are dishonorable, if you want only to take and not give, if you aren’t clear about what you want and need, if you aren’t emotionally (or otherwise) ready, and if you cannot add value: emotional, joy, love and financial value and commit to the process and the relationship, then do yourself and us a favor and keep it moving.

Don’t open a woman’s heart if you have no intention of doing right, being right and loving her. And if you aren’t capable of loving and staying-then stop before you start. To be in it, you have to be “ready, willing and able…”(in my Jaheim voice). If you play games, or dabble in it…if you toy with her emotions and heart, be ready to manage whatever the outcome of that looks like. Don’t play victim when it gets real. At this point in life, none of us have time for anything less than ALL IN LOVE. Most women have had enough of the nonsense, I know I have. I won’t do it anymore. Come correct or don’t come. Either way, we will be fine. Love us or let us be!

Now that you know…let’s proceed~

~by Rhonda E. Frost

 

 

An Open Letter to Exes

If you break up with someone or get a divorce there’s usually a reason that occurred. There was something that wasn’t working to the point where it made sense to let that person go. That being said, it’s natural to miss the one you loved or still love for that matter. Let’s face it, breaking up is hard and we all reminisce and sort through memories of times you shared with that someone who was special at one time or another and we all imagine what it could have been like had they worked for us. We all do that.

But here’s the deal, if you broke up with someone and you go back to someone else or you move on quickly to the next person before your heart is healed or before your mind is clear on what you want and need, it creates a messy situation and potentially a hurtful situation because what you will find after the salve of him or her over your wounded needy heart has dissipated and the excitement of someone else filling that empty space has worn off, you wake up and realize one of these things: 1)they are not what you really want or need, or 2) the relationship isn’t going to work for a myriad of reasons, 3) you realize you just aren’t ready for another relationship or 4 ) you miss the person you had-and then you have to back out of the new situation and risk hurting someone. Sometimes you can back out peacefully and amicably, sometimes not, because emotions are a tricky thing.

Now the other piece to this very important message today is this-if you move on to the next thing and you find you aren’t as happy as you might have envisioned…don’t, and I repeat DON’T pull the one you left back into the fray. Don’t text them, don’t send subliminal messages, don’t send sweet songs for them to listen to, don’t send flowers, don’t tell them you miss them and by all means, don’t tell them about your current or failed new relationship! All that does is: 1) it keeps them connected to you and keeps their hopes up of rekindling(which is what you hope it does) and 2) it creates a volatile situation for all parties. And above all of that, it’s selfish.

So if you have moved on, know that the other person is also trying to move on. And you calling, texting and sending mixed messages doesn’t serve the healing process. You trying to keep them in the relationship matrix because the new thing isn’t as good as what you had, isn’t fair or right. This is how people get hurt, physically and otherwise. The only time you should reach back to rekindle love with your Ex is if: 1) you plan to do right, 2) you have cleared the mess you created, 3) you’ve apologized for the wrong you’ve done and 4) both people want the same thing at the same time.

This is about feelings and raw emotions and selfishness. Be careful with folks hearts. It’s not a game. Playing with fire will often times get you burned or in street terms get you f*cked up!

In closing, the next time you decide to move forward with someone else, take a good hard look at what you have and examine the value and what they give to you and do for you and if you decide after that evaluation to go on, then do that and never look back but don’t do that and keep pulling others back in for your selfish needs. And if you disregard this PSA and do it anyway, well don’t act like a victim when the sh*t goes bad. You get what you get.

~Rhonda E. FrostMe June 2016

So Many Good Women-So Few Good Men?

There are so many good women out here ready to be a wife or in a committed relationship. Women who are emotionally available, doing the work, handling business, growing in knowledge, raising their children(or have raised them) and focused. They are smart, attractive, sexy, funny, warm and kind women. Women who’ve been broken but still believe. Women who are willing to give love another chance in spite of the bleakness of it all. Yet, seemingly, so few men who value her. Why? As days turn into months, and months turn into years, I can’t help but wonder when he will show up for the collective us?

We…

We carry children for 9 months (stretching our stomachs beyond repair), we give birth through our birth canals suffering through the most painful experience any human can endure (and live to tell about), we raise our babies, we allow you into our sacred place trusting you to do right. We make a house into a home, we clean up after you, we cook, we nurture, we exercise the patience of Job (yes the biblical Job) as we wait for you to grow up, communicate with clarity, love with good intention, put down childish things, make up your minds, and get right…

We work with you as you sort through your feelings and emotions, go through your “mid-life” crises (most of your life), and as you take us for granted and mess up repeatedly. We forgive you, over and over again. We answer the phone when you call even after weeks of absence or after you’ve hurt us one more time. We lift you up when you are down and we allow you to keep coming back even when we shouldn’t. Patiently we wait for you to see past our booty, breasts and bodies or what we can offer you sexually and to acknowledge our soul and see our heart…we practically beg you to listen, to see our value and appreciate our goodness. We wait in anticipation hoping you will finally claim us for forever and be “him”, the “one”, our protector and provider. The one who will cover us with respect and love til our lungs no longer fill with oxygen and our hearts no longer beat. But where are you? When will you show up fully present, ready, willing and able to assume the position?

This isn’t for the lucky few who have this in their lives, this is for the masses, the rest of the women who have not had this experience of love and commitment. I speak for them.

Is it timing? Is it lack of regard? Is it too much excess or too many options? What makes finding him or him finding her so tricky? What makes respecting a good woman so hard? I can’t help but to wonder what would happen if we just stopped. What if we stopped forgiving, giving, doing, catering, taking your calls, making love to you, listening to your stories, accepting less than what we are worth, allowing you back in? Would you change? Would you show up and act right? Would “I do” be restored to it’s sacred place? Would you appreciate the woman who has been fighting for you the whole time or appreciate the next good woman you meet? What will it take for us to change and get back to respecting real people and real love? What will it take to value or desire marriage? What will it take for us to honor relationships?

These are rhetorical questions but comments are welcome. ***sigh*** Back to work now…

 

No Time for Half-Way Love

the hourglass of time

I humbly admit, at this time in my life, I don’t know how to love someone “half-in” or “half-way”. I’m fifty-two years old. I’ve done it before and I just don’t want to anymore. I don’t have time for “almost in” love relationships.

I don’t want to hold surface conversations with shallow words and topics (not for long anyway). I want to go deep.  I want to know you and I want you to know me.  In the words of Rascal Flatts, “there’s a place in your heart, nobody’s been, take me there. Things nobody knows, not even your friends, take me there…I want to know everything about you…” that’s the kind of connection I seek. I want our “soul print” boxes to connect as Marc Gafni speaks about in his book Soul Prints. We can’t get to “soul print” connections on the surface. I don’t want to withhold compliments or touches. I want you to know I appreciate what I see and I want you to feel my touch. And I want to the same in return.

I can no longer tolerate pretense or to act like things don’t bother me when they do, or  act like I don’t see or hear what I see and hear. I don’t know how to get to know you without asking questions or clarifying issues. I can’t kiss without passion or make love like it doesn’t matter. Sporadic love, communication and intimacy doesn’t interest me.

Everything matters now. Every second matters. Every word matters. Every touch matters. Time is of the essence. The hourglass of time is turned upside down and the sands are trickling down, it won’t be too long before they are gone. I want each of my remaining minutes to be filled with passion, laughter, joy, love and purpose. I want my life to be connected and if we(whoever “we” are) choose each other, then I say, let’s be all in, let’s leave fear at the door and let us show each other what it means to love, protect and respect each other. If we can’t have that, then we can’t have anything.  No, I can’t do “half-way” love anymore. I’d rather fly solo until my present and ready someone arrives.

 

Rhonda E. Frost