They smashed my car window the day after Thanksgiving.
When I saw the damage, all I could do was laugh to keep from hitting something. Who does that?
Who throws a giant brick through someone’s passenger side window, consequently crushing the printer that was atop the seat, and getting annoyingly small pieces of glass everywhere — the kind that cuts you because you sat on it after thinking it was all vacuumed up — who does that?
After laughing, cursing, and shouting about it, I check the glove compartment for my passport. That was one of the reasons I flew back from L.A. to Baltimore the night before.
Thank, God. The passport was in tact.
I report the incident to the police, make a failed attempt to get insurance to cover anything, and seek to raise the funds I needed for the window repair because I have $10 to my name.
My pride is pretty much broken at this point, I’ve successfully reached another low, and I’m too tired to even cry.
My life was much different a month earlier:
- My pregnant wife and I were together in what looked like a healthy, fulfilling marriage
- We lived in the two story town house that came with my job living rent free with free parking in the city
- My credit score was a little over 800
- I had a full time job making almost $50K/yr
- As far as the world knew, I was a heterosexual Black man who went to a job he loved, and spoke out about mental health stigma and worked with brands to dope stuff. I had made it. I beat the statistics.
All that changed around my 31st birthday, October 20th, when I left my wife, quit my job (consequentially forfeiting our housing), came out to my 12K+ social media followers as Queer, told the world about how depressed and anxious and miserable I actually was, accrued $20k+ in credit card debt in order to travel the world, and basically became a pariah in all of my circles.
I had been drowning.
Having intense panic attacks while on Zoloft.
I wasn’t living my WHY at all.
My job required me to respond to 3am calls for university students who could be throwing up because of alcohol poisoning, showing signs of suicide ideation, or preparing to be kicked out of school because of a marijuana policy violation on any given day.
I wasn’t on call every day, but when you live where you respond to crisis, you take work home. Work is home. And, I failed to manage the extreme stress that comes with working a job where you’re being treated like crap, a relationship where you feel absolutely unfulfilled, and a life where you excel at being everything to everyone but suck at being kind to yourself.
I realize that I wasn’t just drowning. My ankles were chained the ocean floor, there was no light. There was me with only the last breath I took before plunging into something very dangerous.
Behind It All
It’s important to note that I’d been working with one of the world’s kindest, graceful, and amazing therapist up until this point.
My goal for therapy, starting January 2018, was to have the career, relationship, and life of my dreams. To manage my anxiety and depression that came from being molested a few times, growing up with an abusive father, a mother who left, and grandparents who provided basic needs but knew nothing of empathy — this is often the Black story.
And my story could have been me dead, arrested, on drugs. But, for me, my hell was obesity, a broken mind, and self-limiting beliefs that I could never step out and be who I really am.
When I took the leap and left all the things, I had a few commitments that I’d made at the same time. I would be there for our child no matter what. I was dead-set on breaking the cycle of fatherless children.
I’d communicate with my wife every day so she knew where the father of her child was. I’d take care of myself no matter what.
I kept these commitments. I went to the OB/GYN visits. I sent money I didn’t have. I did the best I could.
And still. me leaving all the things, all at once, seemed to trigger people in a really bad way.
I received texts and dms from friends, colleagues, and followers concerned that I was manic. Their official source of my mental health diagnosis: Google + the Twitter profile of Kanye West.
Deep down, I appreciated them trying.
But, mostly, I learned:
- to always greet a person from a place of inquiry when trying to support them — no matter what they’re going through and no matter what you think you know
- that because I made it known that I was leaving my pregnant wife, I would automatically be seen as leaving weak feeble woman out in the Siberian tundra (none of which was true and pregnant women are not weak nor feeble)
- that people’s Egos hate hearing, “I’m happy for your help. But, I need you to ask me about what I’m doing to take care of myself before firing off advice at me.”
What hurt worse were the women (both friends and strangers) who empathized with me until they found out my wife was pregnant.
Then, they’d berate for me for being an irresponsible-deadbeat-of-a-father, and the conversation would continue to take a turn.
This happened no matter where I was. It happened in New Orleans, Orlando, Costa Rica, Los Angeles, D.C., Baltimore, everywhere I found myself these past couple of months.
What hurt was my mom telling me I was going to hell for being queer.
What hurt was people telling me they wouldn’t support me unless I admitted myself or got help.
What hurt was watching an entire network of support burn away.
And, still, I kept my commitments.
When it feels like the world has literally left you in the dust because they think you’re some kind of crazed monster of an erratic loser, you really find yourself.
I found new friends and new support. Solid support. Gracious-I’ve-been-there-before-what-do-you-need support.
I also found myself at a life-changing crossroads. I could either choose drugs, alcohol, tons of food, and enter a brand new co-dependent relationship — these were my vices. Or I could chose God.
I chose God.
I had been a practicing Christian all my life but never really believed in something bigger than me. When I found myself prostrate in the sand of Long Beach, New York, I finally just surrendered to Spirit, God, the Almighty.
I didn’t nor do I know what to even call it these days. But, all I felt was warmth and security in that place.
It was like jumping out of an airplane with no parachute, and realizing there was no airplane nor need for parachute, and right there was the Divine.
That New York awakening happened at the beginning of my unintentional pilgrimage. And as the money began to dwindle and the secure housing did as well, my faith increased.
I realized that I had been so immersed in a life lived for others, that I had lost my intuition, empathy, gentleness, power. I had lost my power.
I was finally getting it back. The person who had always been in relationships he didn’t really want to be in was feeling powerful. The person with the low self-esteem was finally feeling like a 10.
It wasn’t always a high though.
I’d experience excruciating pain at night at least once an evening. It’s the kind of pain you feel when you’re breaking up with the person you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with.
I hear divorced people know this pain.
The kind of pain you feel when you miss your unborn child you used to read Goodnight Moon to.
The kind of pain you feel when you’re tearing away things and people and places and habits that don’t belong anymore.
It’s January 2, 2019 as I pen all this.
I’ve moved back in with my wife and the baby is due any day now. We’re seeing marital counselors. We’re trying.
Our child is the priority.
It’s different though. I’m different. I’ve grown and changed so much. I recently re-branded and relaunched my life coaching services. I’m writing again. I’m hosting events again.
But, it’s not the same when you’re rebuilding.
Still, I’m thankful for the freedom.
I wrote this because I know I’m not the only person who’s gone through it. I know there are ton of people out there feeling misunderstood, abandoned, guilty, full of shame, and needing to know that someone else is clawing for their liberation too.
So if that’s you, keep clawing.
- we don’t (nor can we) do life in a vacuum. Ask for help often. Even when it feels embarrassing and you have to accept food and money to just get you through the day. Pride won’t save your life.
- you’re not going crazy or off your rocker, but seeing a therapist is super helpful. You gotta get it out. I know I do and it’s so great to have someone hear me out from a non-judgmental and empathetic place. Also, only a licensed therapist or psychiatrist can properly diagnose you.
- you get to smile and feel joy and breathe even if others around you are hurt by you actions and even if you feel incomplete. Because you will feel incomplete and like less than on many days, and you still get to feel the sun fill you up.
- you get to take your time with restoring past relationships especially if people are refusing to apologize for how they’ve hurt you. There’s no need to try to repair and rebuild your world all at once. One conversation at a time. You set the pace.
- you’re gonna do — or have done- some regrettable things on your journey to freedom. That’s okay. So have I. I hope we can find a way to accept it all. It all happened. What’s most important is to avoid being a harm to yourself or others. Have a line. Have integrity. And if you don’t know where that line is, get help. Fast.
- you’re okay and it’s okay not to feel okay.
And get some rest, because no matter what anyone says or does, this is the only life you have. And, you gotta treat yourself well. Because, as we both know, sometime no one else will.