Unspoken Southern Hospitality by Chalecha Cunningham

Unspoken Southern Hospitality by Chalecha Cunningham

 Second-Hand Bipolar

There are many times in our lives especially as children where we are taught to be ashamed of some things.  To keep the secrets or keep our "family" business quiet but what do you do when it's causing you or someone else in your family pain.  What if it is the source of a cancer that is eating away at the very foundation that is you? 

What if it means that you wear a mask in public while hidden beneath is the person trapped by shame.  These are the pieces of my life and I know that I am not the only one, but I want to be the one that reaches someone else and lets them know that it is okay.  There is nothing wrong with mental illness, there is something wrong with the stigma behind it.  There is something wrong with placing blame on something that someone cannot control and there is taking a stand to bring awareness.  There is no need to hide, you are not alone!

I sat in the pantry holding my knees tightly as I tried to fight back the tears. I didn't know what to do. I wasn't even old enough to fully understand what was going on. All I could hear was my younger sister, who was already older even though she was four years younger asking where I was. I stayed there, held prisoner by fear. My mother's voice followed but it did not sound like her own voice.

I couldn't speak. I was afraid. Afraid of the person whom I loved the most but was starting to realize I knew the least about. All of this because my mother was going to lie in the bed with me, something she had never done. Affection. My mother was never an overly affectionate person so when she became affectionate I knew something was wrong. I ran to the pantry and hid there because I knew my mother wasn't there. She was but she wasn't her normal self. So I hid and I cried. She found me.

My release became writing at a very early age. Things that my parents had taught us stuck with me. Things like saying please, thank you and common courtesy was a big deal growing up being raised in Oak Cliff, Texas. The South. My father would tell us that children are to be seen and not heard. We were told to speak when spoken to when being addressed by adults, never to lie and look a person in the eyes when you are talking to them. Those things stuck with me as I began to allow my pen to do the talking for me especially since we lived with our mother and she was also quiet, nonchalance and who didn't show too much emotion.

Living with a mother battling a mental illness which no one ever knew about until 10 years later gave me strength that I never knew I had. Although, she had many episodes, my mother was never diagnosed with bipolar, schizophrenia until around 2007.

There were countless times where I went to school crying on the inside but no one ever knew. Not even my closet friends. My pen knew and my notebook knew. They knew about the pain and fear that I had of losing my mother and her losing herself mentally. They knew that I was born a lesbian and trying to fit in my "Christian" family. My pen and my notebook knew how sad I was being someone I was not and not being able to speak about it. My pen and my notebook gave birth to my release.

Here I am. "Unspoken Southern Hospitality", is my first book of poetry. It is about love. It is about pain. It is about the fear of being loved for who you truly are. It is about acceptance from friends, family, God and the world. I take my pain, my fears, my sorrows and my joy and use it to speak to anyone who may not have found their voice yet. For those who somehow just cannot find the words. I speak for those who don't have the courage yet to stand up for themselves or to tell someone I love you.

I speak for those who feel that they are not good enough for family, friends or bullies. I say thank you to those who work every day without any reward other than their own knowing that they did what they must to survive and provide for their families.

This is my first attempt at writing professionally and definitely not my last. I have been writing for more than 20 years as a way of self-expression. When my mother didn't feel like talking I talked to her through my poetry and it has led me here. I hope that you read my work and give me an opportunity to touch someone else's life through my ink.

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazon Book Review written by Adie
Unspoken Southern Hospitality is a great ride through a spectrum emotions and in depth reflection on life experiences! Thank you!

Unspoken Southern Hospitality by Chalecha Cunningham
Unspoken Southern Hospitality by Chalecha Cunningham
Definition of a Mother

She's the shoulder to cry on
When circumstances are tough
She's that extra bit of support
When your best is not enough

She's your motivation and inspiration
In everything that you do
She's that hand
That holds you up
Until you're able to

The one you can rely on
For some sound advice and love
The one of whom you think
Is an angel sent from above

The one who has never doubted you
Even when you were wrong
The one whom you can
Always find refuge and a place to call home

A woman so sensational
That no other could ever compare
A woman who has been  
And to this day remains to be there

No goddess from an unknown universe
Could ever replace her strength or beauty
No man, super hero, or magician
Could ever take on her duties

Some may think that I am speaking of a myth
But I am referring to my mother
With which I am proud to be blessed with

Excerpt from Unspoken Southern Hospitality by Chalecha Cunningham

(  Continued...  )

� 2013 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author,  Chalecha Cunningham.  Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you really like this sneak peek.


Born and raised in the heart of Dallas, Texas, in Oak Cliff, Chalecha Cunningham is no stranger to all types of people. Life was always in her face.  Currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia by way of Baltimore, Maryland; she has never lost her Southern Hospitality.  Chalecha is a veteran of the United States Navy, a licensed barber and an Information Systems Specialist.  Jackie of all trades. 

Chalecha Cunningham is a freelance writer, poet and blogger.  Her online blog includes unspokensouthernhospitality.blogspot.com as well as her first published work of poetry, "Unspoken Southern Hospitality" which was published at the end of last year (2013).  Chalecha has definitely proven that you are not where you come from but what you do when you get to where you are going. 

Chalecha embodies her self-made motto, "built for this life" and she firmly believes you only have one life to live and it's yours to live it.  Through her poetry she speaks of love, cultural biases, heartbreak, life and the courage to live.  She takes you on a journey through her poetry that takes you outside of what is expected, into simply being!  Chalecha fully engages and encourages her readers to not only live life but to live YOUR life!

BPM:   What motivated you to sit down and actually start writing this book?
I actually had written this book about a year ago but it is such a personal and intimate part of my life that I was afraid of sharing and allowing so many people to see me.  It's hard being naked and this book is my nakedness.  Why now?  I decided to put it out there now because it represents a major crossroad in my life. I was in a situation where I could do what would make me happy or stay in a place that limited my happiness. In making the decision to be happy I had to let go of someone who made me very happy and it was very hard so I put it all into my book. 

BPM:  Does your upbringing or life experiences inspire your writing?  
My upbringing and life experiences definitely are what I draw on for a lot of inspiration in my writings.  I was born and raised in the South, in Oak Cliff (Dallas), Texas but I left home my sophomore year in college and joined the military, so where I came from and my values have always been instilled in me.  I also have my own personal beliefs and some things that I inherited from my military experience so I have a lot of different things that make me who I am.  I have seen a lot of things through others and that also inspires and influences my writing.

BPM:   Where do your book ideas come from?
My book ideas come from life, LOL.  These are some of my experiences and the things that I have been through directly and indirectly.  My ideas are the direct images from my mind, which sometimes seep out of my mouth and onto the page.  Everything that we do in life has some type of lesson and for me, I draw on every experience and believe that there is some type of plot or purpose for every character or person you meet in life.

BPM:   Introduce us to your current work.
My current work is a book of poetry titled, "Unspoken Southern Hospitality."
I believe that everyone at some point in life has had an experience in love! The concept behind this book is based on the different types of love that we go through and experience throughout life.  It's about the pain, the joy, the confusion, the want, and unspoken love.  It takes you through so many emotions and touches on things that you may have said or have wanted to say but just couldn't find the words.  To me, this book gives love an actual voice. 

BPM:   Give us an insight into your  story. What makes it so special?  
In this particular work, the main character is me and my experiences and it's special because it's simply me and it's pure and real.  Everything in this book comes from a very personal place or moment.  It comes from something that has drawn me to write about it.

BPM:  Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
I learned how to deal with past hurts and the stigma or ideas that are embedded in us as children and women that we are supposed to be a certain way and do certain things. 

Mental illness is a major disease in America and especially in the black community. It is seen as a sign of shame and there is a major stigma associated with it. The more we educate ourselves as well as become more open to conversations about this disease, the better we will become at addressing it. Too many lives are lost to mental illness so don't be ashamed or afraid; address it!!

BPM:   What defines success for you, as a published author?
Success for me as a published author came when I held the first copy of my book in my hand and when I was able to send copies to my family and friends and share in that moment.  Success for me comes in knowing that I was able to speak to someone that I have never met in life and give him or her a voice and let him or her know that they are not alone in this world.

BPM:   What are your ambitions for your writing career? 
My ambitions for my writing career are to be able to grow not only as an author but also as a motivator.  It is to share, teach, and heal someone.  I want my words to provoke not only thought but I want them to provoke a movement.  I want my words to encourage and strengthen someone who may be broken or who may have self-doubt.  I want my writing to be the fuel for someone else to do great things in their life!

BPM:   What are your expectations for this book?
I honestly don't have any expectations for this book.  I'm just blessed to have my first book published and be able to share my talent. 

BPM:  What would you like for readers to do after reading this book? 
I would like for readers to reflect and refuel.  I want people to read this and again be encouraged, be motivated, and dream.  I want people to read my book and become so inspired that they go out and do something that they never thought they could do or at least say something that they have always wanted to say.

BPM:  How can readers discover more about you and your work?  
Readers can follow my blog, unspokensouthernhospitality.blogspot.com to read previews of upcoming projects and learn more about me.  Readers can also find me on Instagram at unspokensouthernhospitality and on Facebook at facebook.com/CLCunningham44.



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