Sickle cell disease: At 15 (or 16?) I didn't fully understand what that entailed, but I definitely wouldn't have walked on the girl's back. It was just so normal for me to do something goofy like that because my brother is one of those physical players. He's the type of person who will poke you instead of wave. I inherited this sorta. I'm a hugger and somebody who will put my arm around you or put my head on your shoulder in a pic. That ONE instance made me treat everybody like they're super fragile. Two decades later, and that still crosses my mind because I wondered how long she was going to never tell me this. We went to Girl Scouts together, high school together, slumber parties and all kinds of birthdays. Never breathed a word. I knew she missed some school days, but I would've put money down that she was just faking being sick or her grandmother was cool with her cutting. Awful way to find out.

Menstrual cycles: I must admit that I still keep this topic close to the vest. Minus my mother, I don't really talk about it with anyone. I just don't feel like it needs to be a front-page news story whenever I talk to other women, unless it's relevant to the conversation.

Bowel situations: My mother and the ulcerative colitis forever made me change my views on that. She had to go to the bathroom REALLY REALLY bad, but did not want guests to leave the room. She actually went on herself (in a hospital) because she was too embarrassed to tell anyone. I had no idea until everybody left more than an hour later. From that point on, anytime someone came to visit, I would tap my watch every 10 minutes. Fuggit. If I have to be the bad guy and kick people out, G.E.T. O.U.T. Don't ask me why you've got to go. You just gotta go stand in the hallway. Deal with it.

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Check out her five Medium publications: Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

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