I’ve been very intentional as it relates to my journey of healing over the past three years (as of the writing of this post. In my head, it sounds like a constant refrain. I’ve tried to be more open to a broader audience so I could stop living in the fear of not appearing to be the stereotypical view of silent strength that many men of color are taught to prescribe to and I want to let others know that keeping these things bottled up can only hurt us in the long run.
Check out the following short clip from The Fresh Prince and I’ll be sure to continue my thoughts beneath.
I just had to take a moment before finishing this post. It’s still a hard clip for me to look at.
I carried the character’s feelings – abandonment, not feeling as though I’m good enough, anger and a broken spirit – with me for years. To a certain extent, I still do.
When folks hear me talk about my journey of healing, this is where it all starts.
I was soon to be 11 years old when our family dynamics changed irreparably – our unit changed, never to be the same again. I internalized much of that. I won’t go into the gritty details in this post because this is about my journey and no one else’s.
I’m now 41 — between the start of what I view as the beginning of things through the time when I started walking my path, that’s nearly 30 years of my life. I just grew tired of being stuck in a rut; hitting the gas pedal and not being able to move forward. I was tired of relationships (whether romantic or on a friendship level) not being as open as they could be. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know that I was broken emotionally. I held a warped sense of who I was. I became an over-achiever – student government, preaching at a young age, not trying to not cause issues for my mom. I also grew to be distant because that was my way of numbing the pain I felt.
Did I understand what I was doing at the time? Absolutely not.
As the old saying goes, “If only I knew then what I know now…”
People are naturally drawn to me but I would hold relationships at a certain distance. I would build that wall so high, dig a mote around it, place alligators and sharks in the water, put up some barbed wire fencing, and on and on. Then I would stand a few football fields back and smile and wave and I thought I had it all under control.
I thought I was protecting myself. In the end, I wasn’t allowing any of the comfort, companionship, love and sense of belonging I was searching for to enter because I had set up so many booby traps — but I did have a fucking smile on my face – looking crazy as all get out.
A significant relationship ended for me about three years ago – partly due to my issues and in a big part because of the other person’s honesty and loyalty. For whatever reason, the lightbulb turned on and I thought I needed to make a change.
I started participating in counseling and began explaining to folks that my past actions touched what was wrong emotionally on my end. I didn’t always get the results that I wanted but everyone is on their own journey and I have no control over that.
BTW, that’s also an issue I’ve had – I wanted to fix everything for people.
My healing was put to the test recently as it relates to friendship and romantic partner. To make a long story short – I reached out to trusted people, shared my grief, approached counseling and was able to pull myself out from wanting to retreat behind the wall with the mote!
It may not sound like much but I’m so proud of this!! I’m practicing what I preach. Has it been perfect? Hell no! But it’s a hell of a lot better than what I used to do.
I will always look at the world through the eyes of Will Smith’s character above. The difference now is that I have gained tools to handle it in a better way and demand that I be treated in a better way.
Love and light!