Do you believe Love is a choice?  I do.  My life used to be filled with darkness, sadness, and depression.  I changed it through God’s Love, now my life is all about Love.  Peace and Love surround me.  I will share with you how I changed darkness to light.

You may ask where did the darkness originate from?  It started in childhood.  I had two parents who loved me and provided for me.  However, there were many dysfunctions in our home.  As with most families and the generation before mine, they didn’t “talk about things.”  Some people also believe talking about the problems in your family means you are not grateful for the good things, or you are “bad mouthing” them.  This is part of the reason why we have so many broken people walking around because they have not healed from their past.  In addition, some people do not realize the effects their family history had on them.  Talking about your past and family history with the intent to heal and to help others is a good thing.  It is always about the intent. 

My parents loved me and provided for me very well.  I was a daddy’s girl, my daddy and I had a very special relationship.  But in order for me to share with you all where the darkness in my life originated, I also have to share the problems.  My father was an alcoholic and my mother was mentally ill.  My parents had a toxic relationship.  They argued and fought all the time.  I never once in my entire life heard my mother and father say I love you to each other.  Not once.  However, I did hear them say I hate you regularly. 

My mother’s mental illness caused her to be very negative, mean, and hurtful.  She called my father and I cruel and hurtful names.  My father’s regular name was a demon straight from hell and she often told him to die and go back to hell where he came from.  I was also a demon, bitch, whore, liar, user, and was not going anywhere in life.  It would swing back and forth.  When people were around I was a good mother especially to be a teenage mother, but when they left I was a terrible person and never going anywhere in life.  Every mistake I made was magnified times 10 and thrown in my face for a life time.    

One classic example was on my sixteenth birthday, I got a card in the mail from my mother, even though we lived in the same house.  She crossed out the normal beautiful birthday words that were on the card in thick black marker and wrote on the other side “This is the day I gave birth to the devil, the worst thing that ever happened to me.”  I tore it up and never said a word.  What everyone else saw was all of the presents and cake, they never knew what I was enduring.  Well……until years later.  Once my father passed away and I was out of the house, then she turned the behavior towards our extended family, then they knew.  My brothers also knew, which was why they got the hell out of that house at a young age.  I am only close to one of my mother’s sons, he is still struggling with the effects my mother had on him. 

As much as I loved my father, he was no angel either.  It was not easy seeing him passed out drunk for the majority of my childhood.  Being an alcoholic brought many destructive and hurtful behaviors.  The most embarrassing was how my mother and father would argue in front of family and friends when he was drunk.  They all thought it was the funniest thing in the world, they still do.  But I don’t.  It wasn’t funny to me then, and it isn’t funny to me now.  When they start with the “funny stories of Dot and Odess arguing” I just leave.  Their source of comedy is a source of pain for me. 

So, that is where the darkness started.  Then it became worse when my daughter LaDae’jha died.  When the doctor came into that room at the hospital and said they did everything they could do but she was gone, my soul slipped into darkness.  I actually passed out, went into darkness, and had a conversation with God.  I will keep that conversation to myself for now, but when I came back I was trapped in darkness for years to come.  I was alive, but not alive.  That also started the two years of instability.  Add homelessness and instability to a broken heart and darkness and you have a very bad situation.

i-choose-loveNow let’s get to the important part, how did I get out of the darkness?  GOD.  That’s how I got out of it.  I prayed for years and asked God for my healing.  Years.  There were many ups and downs over those years, some good times and some bad times, but God was doing something the entire time.  Believing in God and going to church was only part of the solution for me at that time.  What actually broke the darkness was reading the Word of God.  Not the one little scripture the Pastor was preaching from on Sunday.  I am talking about actually reading the bible, praying, and building a relationship with God.  God delivered me from the darkness, and brought love into my life.  That is why I choose love, because God chose me.     

Another way that I learned to choose love was from examples of other women in my life.  I had examples of loving women – my Aunts, particularly my aunts Sandra (Pookie) and my other aunt Sandra, my godmother Cookie, a second godmother Gwen, my Pastor’s wife Maria, my friend Kecia, among a few others.  These women showed me a mother’s love and were an example of a loving woman.  I also had women in my own age group who showed me love particularly my best friend Danietra, Cheri, Tammy, Toya, and others; but I am focusing on the older women because they were an example of a loving woman when I was young.  All of these women were very loving to me and gave me an example of what living a life of love looked like.

As I grew into womanhood and made many many many many many bad choices (no that was not a typo lol) God also had to show me some things in my life that needed to change in order for me to live a life of love.  Some of these behaviors were working as a stripper, dating men who engaged in illegal activity, confrontations with people (fighting and arguing), being vengeful and mean, my attitude, among other things.  I worked on my choices, my mindset, and my behaviors.  I am still working on them.  I always tell my audience that I am in no way claiming to be perfect, I am farrrrrr from perfect.  But I have come a long way, I have the basics now and I am operating in my purpose.  Part of my purpose happens to be to share my experiences with others and to assist women in their journey.  If you are in the process of changing your life, looking at influences such as your family history is important, but you also have to look at your self and how you are living.  If you are going to choose love, you will have to change somethings about yourself, and your behaviors.  That’s the hard part. 

My work as a Social Worker and with women is an expression of love.  I chose a career that is about helping people, particularly vulnerable women who are in need.  I spend my days talking with women about their problems, helping them to identify resources, facilitating meetings to address their needs, and events to celebrate them.  Most of all I am a source of support to them.  I walk into a homeless shelter everyday out of love. 

Latonia Walker Photo Shoot

My ultimate expression of love is to my daughter, Imani.  I deliberately chose not to continue the cycle from my mother.  I tell my daughter that I love her almost every day.  Even though her father and I are not together we have a good relationship and co-parent our daughter.  He is suffering from an illness and cannot drive anymore.  So, I take her to him for visits and we all share family time together.  I want her to see that we both love her.  I stroke her hair and back, kiss her, and hug her.  I tell her that she is smart, talented, and beautiful.  Most of all I tell her that she will never EVER have to be out here in this world alone.  God is with her always, and I will be here for her all the days of my life.  That is my ultimate expression of love. 

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Love, Tonia

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