How can I be better? My personal journey to being my best for you.
Posted on June 30 2017
"How can I make this better?", I asked. Her response, "Just deliver my package on time. That's all any of us really want. We work hard and want good customer service." When I was re-designing my website, I knew that I was doing more than that. I was re-designing my business and the way I communicate with my customers. My hardworking, deserving and dedicated customers. I was re-designing my thought process and tackling my own anxieties about where and how I'd failed them in the past; and how I'd failed myself by not owning up to my mistakes sooner. I picked up the phone and dialed another number. This time I called a customer whom I shall call, Annie. As I was apologizing to Annie, she cut me off mid-sentence, " You know, Bianca...I've placed several orders with you and I think your products are the best out there. Some orders came quickly. Some didn't. I don't mind the wait, but I contacted you more than once and nobody ever got back to me. That makes me feel cheated and I don't like that". Ouch! Have you ever been hit with a truth dagger so hard you feel yourself bleed internally? Today was my day. I knew this going in, but it's always so hard to hear it. Especially, when you had the best intentions. But we all know what they say about the road to hell and what it's paved with....good intentions.
Annie's been a customer and supporter from day one. Annie came right out and asked me,”What happened?” The concern in her voice must of have released endorphins, because at that moment, I realized it was time for me to share what I'd only told a few select people. Many of you who've been customers for a long time know that I had fibroid surgery back in 2015, and shut down the site temporarily for almost a year. During that time I moved my office and equipment into a relative’s home. I lived there as well. What I didn't know was that this person, whom I saw as a mother figure, someone I was very close too and trusted my entire life, was undergoing foreclosure and she didn't tell me. I was driving one day and I got a phone call from her,”Come home right now. We are being evicted!” My entire world became fuzzy. Did she not know? Was this a surprise? Is this happening? How? There were so many questions. Not only had she offered for me to live with her and volunteered that I move all of my business materials in her home; she did so, knowing that she did not have a home to offer, and she said nothing!! I could've put my things in storage, but she offered up the space. I literally had 20 minutes during my car ride back to her house, to digest that I was homeless, that I'd lost everything, had nowhere to go, and to try and wrap my mind around the enormous inexcusable violation of trust, committed by a family member.
I lost thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment, ingredients, computers, printers, shelving, packaging, business documents, personal documents, all of it. Not to mention all of my personal belongings. Mementos from my childhood. Sentimental cards and gifts. She lived in her home for almost 20 years, and I'd lived there on and off, between my times living in Chicago and California. Her home was a landing pad for me, so I never thought twice, that neither I, nor my things wouldn't be safe there. I thought the house was almost paid off. I had no reason to think otherwise. She presented everything to be fine. Never asked me for any money and never mentioned any money troubles. The lights were on. There was always food. In fact, just 6 months prior to this happening, I bought a new car and she and I, along with other family went on a luxurious lengthy trip to New Orleans. Ordered the best food. Stayed in a 5 star hotel. We partied and life was peachy. I was completely blindsided. The entire family was blindsided. If she knew she was losing her home, why did she spend all of that money on a trip? Why not save for an apartment? Why let me spend so much money that I should've been saving?
My entire family had the same questions and received no answers. We were in complete shock.
When I arrived to meet her, she hugged me and said she was sorry for ruining my life. I asked her what happened and she responded, “I thought I had it under control". I thought to myself, " well, obviously, the fuck not!" That moment was the last time she would ever mention it. I've asked several times, and she will not talk about it. The sheriff gave us 40 minutes to gather what we needed and vacate the property. The bank owned the house and everything in it, my entire life up until that point. What still boggles my mind today about that situation, is not only had she just blown money on 5 star travel, she hadn't packed one box. Not a knife. Not at fork. Not even a pair of shoes. She hadn't secured any storage. She hadn't saved money for a hotel or an apartment. Foreclosure is a long process. It doesn't just happen overnight. There was an abundance of time to prepare for this. I wasn't just losing MY things. This was her house! Everything she owned was in this house and she hadn't packed one box! It was as if she didn't think this day was coming. As I stood in what used to be my bedroom trying to figure out what to take, I stepped away from the enormity of the situation and began to focus and acknowledge that something was really wrong here. Not with the eviction, people get evicted all of the time, but the way it was handled, I asked myself, " what is going on here with her mentally that she prepared nothing, said nothing, pretending everyday as if this was not going to happen?'. I can't stress enough, how she saved no money or packed one box of her belongings. I said to myself, "You're angry, but...stay calm. This is a mental issue. There's sickness here. There's probably been a breakdown of some sort or there will be. This goes beyond denial. Remain clam and strategize". I'm not a very emotional person. That's both good and bad. I tend to internalize practically everything. If someone I know dies, it may take me 3 months to cry. I immediately go into work mode and begin to process it from a standing of logic. It's not until later that I allow myself to really feel and grieve. I've never handled grief or loss of anything by confronting it head on. I have to slowly walk towards my pain.
After that realization, I left my bedroom and went to the basement and immediately began to gather the things that meant the most. I left most of my clothes and shoes, because they could all be replaced, but I couldn't replace my grandmother's bible, family photos, I focused on all of the irreplaceable things. Hundreds of books, art work, art supplies, etc. I get dizzy still, thinking about leaving all that stuff behind. I didn't say much. She was frazzled, but I could offer very little comfort. We filled our cars and went to my mother's house. She lived close by. She offered a place for us to crash, but she had a full house of her own. Including nursing my heroine addicted uncle back to health, who was sleeping on her couch. There was no room there.
I had to use every dollar that I had to pay for a hotel for three weeks until I could find an apartment. I'd been off work, recovering at her house after the surgery for almost a year, and used up my savings, so I had next to nothing for this hotel. We had to share a hotel room together for three weeks and then move in an apartment together, because neither of us had any more money or anywhere to go. I couldn't go live with my mother, my father wasn't an option, and I wanted absolutely no one to know what I was going through. I told a few close friends and that was it. They offered a place for me to stay, but I just wanted to tough it out. The apartment me we found was lovely. It was spacious, clean and a few blocks over from the house she lost. All in all, things worked out as far as housing, location, safety, I can't complain, because God really took care of us and my only stress was dealing with the deception and loss of material things.
I can say that now that it's over, but at the time it was hands down the lowest point in my life, and my only option was to team up with someone, who couldn't even look me in the eye and give me a proper apology. I'd never in my life been filled with so much anger and rage towards another human being. I'd never had anyone do me that dirty and for the first time in my life, I was stuck. I didn't have the funding to just leave, like I normally would have. A few weeks after we'd moved in together, I learned through a background check that 5 months prior, I was served an eviction notice and she hid it from me. It's a state law that all occupants of a bank owned home be served an eviction notice, so although my name wasn't on her mortgage, I received a notice, because I receive mail there. Under Illinois law all occupants receive a notice. It was only the two of us who lived in her house. I'd never in my life been so hurt. This was proof that there had been MONTHS to prepare for this, and that I was notified by the state, and she signed and hid mail from me. I found a copy of the eviction notice online and there is was, clear as day, the eviction notice in my name, her signature, and the time and date that she signed for it. I remember that evening clearly. She'd literally signed for the notice about 30 minutes before I'd arrived home that day and then treated me to dinner. All I could think about was her smiling and laughing and going out to dinner with me, like nothing had happened. Like she didn't just do some illegal shit and stab me in the back. Maybe she had plans on telling me in the beginning, I don’t know.
When I discovered this, I went deeper inside myself than I’d ever gone before. I internalized all of that anger and pain to survive this situation and my body manifested the worst anxiety and depression I’ve ever experienced. I would lay in bed at night and think about everything that I’d lost and have terrible anxiety and panic attacks, it felt as if my heart was going to jump up of my chest and run across the room. She slept like a baby. I know this because as I lay there heart pumping blood rapidly, I had to listen to her snoring. She was completely comfortable and cozy and I was going crazy. I was astonished at the way she was able to adjust to this situation, but of course she did! I was someone who wasn’t going to confront her and she had time. She had 5 months to prepare herself for this mentally and spiritually. I, did not. I had 20 minutes from the time she called me and told me to come home because we’re being evicted.
During this time any attempt to work on anything Hydro Quench related or contact anyone sent me into a full blown panic attack. I knew that the customer's who'd placed orders would be reimbursed via PayPal, so I just let PayPal handle it, because I couldn't. I should not have done that, and for that I am incredibly sorry.
For the first time, it hurt to live. During this time I would go to the library to answer emails, etc., but eventually stopped going. It took too much effort. I decided to see a life coach. I opted for a life coach instead of a therapist, because my issue wasn't based on past problems, it was rooted in a very specific breach of trust and I needed to figure out how to get back to being Bianca again, and the coach did just that. I was able to get back to being myself and get back to my first love, this business! I was able to crawl out of that emotional hell hole successfully! Talking with my life coach enabled me to create a game plan, fall back in love with myself and my company; and to separate my personal hardships from my work. I was even able to vanquish the anger and hurt that I felt towards my family member for what they did to me. I talk about this in more detail in my book "Hardcore Gentleness" forgiving and letting go and what it takes to grind out and be free. I was able to save our relationship and unless she reads this blog, she won't even know that I had such feelings. I did all of the work without her. Sometimes you have to do that, especially when the other person won't cooperate or even acknowledge your hurt.
I came out changed and inspired and I'm completely able to give this thing my all and everything again...and I want to thank all of you for sticking with me, taking another chance and for just being so fabulous and supportive. As a black woman, I know how undervalued we are. I live it every day. Our voices, bodies and likeness are exploited and removed from companies that we've helped to build every single day. Our concerns are mocked and we are often not heard, but I want you to know that I am listening, I've done the work, and I'm dedicated to giving the best service with love to us, and provide us with the nurture we deserve and products that help our inner selves grow strong. Stay tunned :)