Tashera Simmons Speaks On Women Of Strength And Life After DMX
Despite being the wife of one of the most tormented figures in contemporary music, Tashera Simmons‘s strength is steadfast. The long-suffering better half of DMX was married to the hip-hop star for six-years when she made the difficult decision to walk away from the tumultuous relationship nearly five years ago. Now separated from the “Get At Me Dog” rapper (whom she affectionately calls “X”), Simmons is channeling her energy and experiences with drugs, abuse, and abandonment into launching “Women of Strength,” a non-profit helping women cope with abuse and abandonment. A few days before the foundation’s launch party (held at Manhattan’s Taj Lounge on Tuesday night), an empowered Simmons spoke on her desire to help others, her reality show, Irv Gotti, Kelis, and of course, DMX:
Tell me a little bit about the foundation? What inspired you to launch “Women of Strength?”
TS: I’ve been wanted to do the foundation, but I haven’t been focused. I’ve never been able to really focus and I never had the time to give 100 percent. But now, with me and X being separated, and me having more time on my hands, I came up with it because of me just being abandoned as a child. And my dad turning to drugs and then ten years later, getting into another, well, I should say kind of being abandoned in a sense in my marriage, and you know, having a husband that’s addicted to drugs. That’s why I came up with “Women of Strength” because going through those different things was hard. So I wanted to come up with an organization that I could raise funds. Basically, I just wanted to create homes for people that’s been dealing with that.
But for now, I’m raising money for different organizations…It’s just so new right now, but that’s my goal, that’s my dream—to be able to help period.
Many would say that your strength was pushed to the limit during your marriage to DMX. How much did your marriage play into your decision to launch the foundation?
TS: Really, the drug part. Just being with someone for so long that’s been addicted to drugs and the mental struggle that I dealt with, it gave me the inspiration to definitely want to start something.
You spoke on X’s drug use. Did he have a drug of choice?
TS: His choice was coke, but they’re all the same, to be honest with you. The addiction, how you act, how you treat people, you just don’t care. At the end of the day, even with the popping the pills, it’s just a selfish thing. X was abused verbally and physically as a child, and I think that’s why he’s leaned towards drugs a lot.
Talk a little bit more about the abuse X dealt with as a child. Who abused him and what did the abuse involve?
TS: His mom abused him. I mean, she didn’t beat him up everyday, but she wouldn’t feed them and she would take all the food out of the refrigerator and keep everything in her room. That’s why you can never really judge someone until you know what they’ve been through, and that’s why I would never leave him because of that stuff. But enough is enough with that other sh*t.
Give us an update on your kids. You mentioned in a previous interview that there were a few issues, particularly with the oldest.
TS: The three younger ones is good. They’re too young to understand anything; they just love him. The oldest one, because he’s been there from day one and he’s seen the whole transition, he’s disappointed, not happy about everything.
X previously spoke on working on his relationship with your oldest child. Has he made any effort to rehabilitate the relationship in the time since?
TS: He’s been trying to reach out lately. Like this past month, he’s been trying to reach out. He wants to rebuild that relationship, and he’s so anxious to do that but, like I was telling him, it’s going to take time. Because with kids, when they’re hurting, you got to take it kind of slow. He just wants it to be like overnight back together, but I was trying to explain to him he got to try to understand why his son feels the way he does. It’s just a whole bunch of things. Me and X have been separated for five years, and so that alone, kids start feeling a certain way. Then reading on the Internet all the negative and the babies, so he’s looking like the bad guy already. But we’re working on it, we definitely are.
Have you put any more thought into filing for divorce, or is there any hope of putting the marriage back together?
TS: I don’t even know to be honest with you. I don’t think about putting it back together though. I think when you’re with somebody for so long, it’s just really…I took my marriage vows seriously. The only reason I haven’t gotten a divorce is because I’ve been doing so much, and there’s been so much going on.
You know, when you’re married, see I would handle most of his business stuff. So when we separated, I was still doing it, and a lot of things, like say, when he would get locked up or stuff would happen, no one could handle it but me. And that’s the thing about me, I’m a friend until the end. So I really wasn’t thinking forward to the divorce part because I’m like, “Damn, you really going to be f*cked up then.” That’s not my problem, though.
I asked him about it last month because I had been thinking about a divorce, and I just asked. And he said, “Well, since we’re not serious about anybody,” he didn’t see why we had to rush. And I’m like, “You done had four different babies!”
Staying on the subject of the kids X had outside of your marriage, do you think the day will ever come when your kids can have relationships with these other kids?
TS: Right now, I’m shopping a show, and I’ve got a couple of networks looking at it. But that’s one of the things I definitely want to put in one of the episodes that I want my kids to meet those kids because they didn’t ask to be here, and I want them to know them because what if one day in life, they start dating them? They’re really scattered. He has two by one and one and one, and they’re in Buffalo, Maryland, and Florida, and you just never know. I think they should know they’re brothers and sisters, I think they really should, and that’s something I definitely want to do.
Just to clarify, X has two kids by one woman, one by one woman, and one by another woman?
TS: Yep, I think it’s four all together; I think it’s two boys and two girls. I never saw them though, and neither have my kids.
Now the reality show is called “Tashera Simmons: Life After X.” When can we expect the show to premiere?
TS: We’re hoping at least by January. If not January, because I heard they do it a certain way, then by March or April, but definitely by the top of next year.
Tell us a little about the show?
TS: It’s showing us as a family without X, even though X will probably do some cameos, you know, with the kids and spending time with them. But it’s showing how we’re doing without him in our life like he used to be because we were really a close-knit family. Whenever we get picked up, it’s showing the foundation developing, and me writing the book. Just like me getting…’cause I done lost myself with X. Love him to death, but my world revolved around him without me even knowing it. So now it’s really just showing me and what I’m doing moving forward positive. I don’t never really want to say anything negative. I feel I went through everything for a reason. A lot of my inspiration came from it.
I don’t view it as you speaking negatively about X; I see it as you speaking on your experiences, and you’re entitled to do that.
TS: Exactly. You know people always got something to say. Like I’ve seen them say, “Oh she’s trying to get more money by bashing him.” And I’m like, “What? I would never.” So that’s why I always say that because I’m like I would never do that.
You were a housewife while you were with X. Now that the two of you are no longer together, how are you maintaining financially?
TS: Really, X comes with a lot; he’s high maintenance. You can’t have a job with him, but now that me and him are not together, I have a lot of time when the kids are in school. I have three little ones, so this is perfect. Me with the foundation and the show, because we’re all a part of it and they’ll get paid too. So I’m trying to think of things we can all do to be able to take care of ourselves and have fun with it.
When things get really tough in your situation with X, which of your celebrity friends can you call on to help you out? Not necessarily in the financial way since he’s providing support.
TS: In this situation, I found out who my friends are. Irv Gotti and his wife Deb have been so supportive in any and every way, financially and mentally.
Kelis, me and her are really close, but she’s always traveling. But you know how when you’re in the industry, you don’t have to see each other everyday? She’s one of those friends you can definitely call on. She’s been a real inspiration to me, too. She’s really positive; I don’t think people be putting her right. She’s been a real strength to me because just as a woman, a businesswoman and just getting out there and being a go-getter; helping me and helping me get it together. She’s really strong.
She appears to be very strong judging by the beating her image has taken recently in light of her issues with Nas.
TS: It has, and you know what? She does not care. She is something else; she doesn’t even care. She’s just like, “At the end of the day, this is me. I gotta deal with this sh*t, they can say whatever they want to about me.” She doesn’t even care. And actually, I learned that from her because you can’t worry about what people are gonna say. As long as you know you’re doing the right thing by God, that’s how I feel too.
Okay, let’s get back to how you’re maintaining financially. So you’ve basically never had an issue with getting support from X?
TS: Whenever he went to jail, that’s when I did have a problem.
And during those times, Irv Gotti and his wife stepped in?
TS: Yeah, Irv and I have been friends for forever. X knew him first, but I met him from their relationship. One thing I can say about Irv, and I’m not just saying this, he may be a sh*tty husband, but as a friend, oh my God. He’s one of those people…there’s been times when X has been in jail, and I’d be like, “Yo Irv, I need this amount of money.” He’ll be like, “Come get it right now.” Or he’ll just wire it. He is the most…yeah, I can depend on him for whatever.
What else besides the outside kids made you finally decide to leave X?
TS: Just no respect for the law; he was just out of control. He just felt like he was above the law. I felt like I was enabling him when he’s doing something I know isn’t right. Like he would have to go to court and you can’t just not go to court and keep having warrants and that’s cool and I’m just rolling with you, you know what I’m saying? You’re not teaching our kids nothing; you’re suppose to be a role model. This is not cool. He would be like, “I don’t give a f*ck.” It was just his reckless attitude on top of the kids and the sh*tty ass attitude. I was like, “Nah, it’s not for me. I’m enabling you now, and I’m not down for this bulls*it.” But the kids did it though to be honest with you. I was already feeling like that, and then when he had the kids, I was like, “Oh yeah, it’s over, for real.”
What do you think it’ll take for X to make some major changes in his life?
TS: You know what, if I knew that (laughs). I just told somebody else, “What is it going to take for Earl?” You know everybody thought him losing me was going to be it, and if you look at his record, the five-years we’ve been separated has been the worst five-years of his life. He done went down hill, for real. To be honest with you, I don’t even know what it’s going to take. He got me worried about him though.
Do you think X is too far gone to make a career comeback?
TS: I don’t think I’m just saying this because I’m his wife or whatever, but his talent has not went anywhere. I think it’s sad the way he hasn’t been taking care of himself like he should, but I don’t think he’s to that far gone. I don’t know if it’s just me, but a lot of people tell me that. They be like, “Yo, if X turns his shit around and get it together, I think he can make a comeback.” And these are people like Funkmaster Flex, Irv, and Nas. But I don’t know; I don’t think so, but I don’t know though. I hope not.
For more information on the Women of Strength Foundation, visit www.women-of-strength.com.