It’s rough out here in these social media streets. The world domination of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have evolved to the point of allowing our obsession with being connected, to become part of our daily routine. Move over coffee and bagels, mornings just aren’t mornings without a check-in with the gram. In our attempt to showcase the highlight reels of our existence, the rules of engagement have been stripped (literally), and indelibly changed.
When I first joined Facebook, it was exciting. An opportunity to reconnect with high school classmates, out of state family members, and acquaintances I’ve grown fond of during my travels abroad. Instagram and Twitter then became tools I would utilize to further express my quirky personality, or at best trash talk on Football Sunday (currently boycotting). That was enough to keep my current followers content I thought – until it wasn’t.
Something changed. It wasn’t so much that I followed new people who were influencing the way I interacted across social media platforms, but rather the people I already knew who were now taking a more provocative approach in becoming double tap worthy or dare I say it, relevant. To avoid beating around the bush any further, they’re naked! Everybody is naked and I, the furthest thing from being a prude, was not ready.
Chris Brown - Strip (Official Music Video) ft. Kevin McCall - YouTube
I want to make myself clear, I too follow the “fitness” model pages, and the beautiful Instagram underwear models like the rest of us. It’s fun, a great stress reliever and lets be honest, a little eye candy while strolling through timelines in between tv commercials. It’s completely harmless. My issue which has me perplexed beyond belief, are the regular folks that I’ve come to know and love, that have revamped their social media profiles to be void of any actual clothing, or wearing very little of it. A complete contradiction as to how they’ve previously represented themselves so much that I’ve now dubbed Instagram, Sextagram.
I do pride myself on creating a non-judge mental space here. I could care less what adults do on their own individual platforms. Sex sells, and I’m not mad at that. My question is, what was the tipping point that made being in your underwear if you’re not selling a product, now the golden ticket to Insta-fame?
We are witnessing men of all ages and various backgrounds, ditching the beloved (orannoying) food pics, and gratuitous gym routine videos, in lieu of jock straps boudoir-esque photos to steam up our timelines. Is this what we’re doing now? Do I need to adopt an “ifyoucan’tbeat’emjoin’emmentality?”
Everyone wants to be seen whether they’re willing to admit it or not. Who doesn’t love it when the amount of likes steadily increase after your latest fresh cut barbershop selfie? There is no shame in wanting a sizable following whether it’s to connect with your tribe, or to grow your business or online presence. Is it necessary however, that we resort to pseudo-adult entertainment tropes in order to be considered desirable? Is this the new way to get dates or potential sex partners?
Some may argue that Instagram is the new Grindr giving the popular dating (hookup) app a run for its money. It could also very well be that a sexier approach to one’s influence is just another phase in the evolutionary tract of digital connection that like the constant changes to social media platforms and how we share, is unavoidable.
There are a plethora of tasteful and artistic photographs online that are sexy in nature and even if not intentional, fall prey to an observer’s perception of arousal. At any given moment, someone is posting their gym progress complete with shirtless selfies and flexed muscles. There are however, elements of our community that are predicated upon appearance and the need to always be perfect and enticing. It’s not indicative of everyone, but it’s always been a part of the fabric of who we are.
Ciara- Click Flash (FULL HQ) - YouTube
It might be easier just to go with the flow and rather than question someone’s motive for pulling a ToniBraxton Grammy dress circa 2001 glow-up, throw my own work out pics into the mix of my DallasCowboyssuck memes and get with the program. I’ve never asked the men I knew why the switch up on their profiles, but often assumed some were getting naked to reach the highly coveted 10K followers. Who am I to judge when it clearly worked?
I think my problem is not that I’m a prude, jealous, or judgmental, but overly analytical. In my brain, anything, including the workings of Instagram, has to make sense. Maybe that’s just the point. It doesn’t have to. I can just relax, throw in the towel and view the cheeky (punintended) surprises on my timeline as entertainment. I’ll still have my suspicions, but will continue to watch and double tap when warranted. As you were fellas, as you were.
Your plane has landed. After going through baggage and customs, your exhaustion sets in due to several days of leisure. You are now beginning your second descent back to your reality. Brick by brick, your mind begins to put up a wall of protection. An impenetrable fort of strength and solitude that will ward off incoming attacks from forces within the Matrix. The enemy threatening your overall peace is persistent, and hell bent on deconstructing your soul of you let them. Yourvacationisover – nowwhat?
Khalid - Location (Official Music Video) - YouTube
If you’ve traveled as much as I have, you’re familiar with the inevitable case of the blues that creeps up on you after a well earned getaway. It’s what happens when you create a narrative that you’re returning to a life of punishment disguised as a 9 to 5 gig, family obligations, and full on adulting.
I know that feeling all too well. I have however, developed 5 ways to fight the post vacation blues that will have you thinking differently about how you perceive your life before, during, and after your time in the sun.
CreateAVacationPlaylist – Music heals the soul. When you’re stressed out about that presentation at work, or your finances as you plan for the future, a playlist created by you that sparks memories of good times at the beach, or sleeping in on plush sheets at the resort will be just the happy pill you need. You’ll be surprised how your energy shifts and you’ll feel the gentle pull of your cheeks as a smile appears effortlessly. Let the memories of specific moments of your vacay remind you why you’re hustle and grind is worth it.
CreateTheLifeYouDesireNow – let’s face it. Many of us do not have our dream jobs. That’s ok. Bills are due every month and you have to do what you gotta do. That doesn’t mean you’re required to wait until conditions in your life are ideal before you start that business, network with people who are where you’d like to be, or take small steps towards a new venture and leap into something new. All you have is this moment so why not start being the person NOW who you’d like to be tomorrow. In the words of JenniferLewis in the 90’s cult classic film PoeticJustice, “Time ain’t for eva.”
CaptureTheMoment – I don’t have anything to deep to convey here. Just take lots of photos of your vacation. Now if you’ve read some of my other posts, you know how much I’ve stressed about being present while you’re away. That doesn’t mean you can’t slice out a small part of your time to capture crystal blue waters, that strong cup of Dominican coffee, or that fried red snapper from the small mom and pop restaurant on the beach. Just as music allows you to be transported back to a place and time, a photograph of days spent in paradise can accompany that foot tapping jam. All photos do not need to be posted on Instagram. Save some for yourself to be your own piece of joy when you feel it’s hard to come by in your every day world.
Gratitude– it’s never a bad time to express gratitude for where you are. Good, bad, or indifferent, it’s serving you in some capacity. The job you’re complaining about every Monday morning is allowing you to have great memories on vacation with friends and loved ones. Always respect what gives you the freedom to take a break from the rat race. If there are changes you need to make in order to be happy, do that – NOW!
PlanYourNextVacation – No need to read that twice. You’ve read it correctly. Planning your next time away from the grind can be therapeutic. It can create bonding moments with those you’re traveling with as you hash out the details of a new adventure. Even if your financial situation doesn’t warrant you to take time off in the near future, there is no rule that says you can’t put something on the calendar and work hard to make it happen. Time flies by quickly so while you’re off working your daily gig, it will eventually be time for you to take off once again to create new memories. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can take your time working towards new goals that include organizing exciting destinations to discover.
That’s all I have for now. I hope these 5 suggestions can provide you with something impactful as you diligently work towards creating the life you want. Most of us who don’t have the last name Kardashian have to work unfortunately. Our time away enjoying what the great big world has to offer can sometimes provide an illusion that dissolves the moment your plane touches down in your city. The vacation blues don’t have to plague you without your permission. You can utilize my 5 ways to fight it, or discover your own tricks that can spark joy in your life. You don’t have to allow that wall of yours to be so high that you can’t see over it to brighter possibilities.
Life is hard. There is no getting around that fact. There are however, insurmountable pockets of joy that I’ve been told, should even the scale. What if doesn’t though? What if there are just extreme circumstances that occur in your life that are beyond comprehension and rationale? Whatifyou‘veexperiencedfartoomanyheartbreaksandmisfortunethatinyourmind, convinceyoutogiveupthefight.
Our personal journey can sometimes feel like war. An unapologetic punch in the gut attack that comes at the most inconvenient of times. It is a constant battle to make sense of what has happened to you, or adapting to the catastrophic mess you may have created yourself. Then there is the realization you come to regarding the choices you’ve made that led up to it.
Taboo - The Fight (Official Video) - YouTube
We can encounter moments that give credence to the saying shithappens. Aseriesof unfortunate eventsthatare beyond our control. They create the inescapable “loudthoughts” in our minds. The kind of thoughts that keep us up at night recreating what happened, and what you could have done differently to not be where you are. Whether you are a good person whose had the unspeakable happen to them, or you’re a product of choosing a path not in alignment with your who you are, it all comes down to choice.
Whenyoufeelasifyou’relivinginthebowelsofimpossibility, it will be the choices you make, or don’t make that will determine whether you will move on, or live in your misery permanently. At the height of sadness and despair, the pain which crippled you can morph into a security blanket providing you comfort. If you’re not careful, it can become your identity and ultimately your world. A sunken place that you will muster every ounce of your dwindling strength to defend it’s existence and to maintain your current status quo.
Within all of us, there lies a piece of ourselves who we’ve always been during the good times that gave us joy, and the tough times that made us stronger. It is our soul that despite it all, never gives up! The problem is, that soul, that core essence that makes you the best version of yourself, cannot lead you from an place of hopelessness.
It will simply sit inside of you dormant, patiently waiting for you to decide to be you – to step up. It is a part of you that is arrogant, and taunts you with whispers saying, butyoualreadyknowwhattodotoovercomeyourpaindon’tyou?
Eminem - Lose Yourself (Official Music Video) - YouTube
It is in that moment of the whisper that you’ll have to decide who you’re going to havetobe in order to move forward. You’ll have to embrace relying on nothing but a feeling, a courageous memory of you at your finest moments of badassery, and the soulful desire to be free of your pain and current circumstances.
Your comeback, the triumph that you’ll need to tap into your soul for, will not come from physical manifestation of events that immediately shift your reality for the better. It will be the choice to want something more than the comfort of your pain. Pain is not your friend and it will provide all the evidence in the world to convince you that it is. It will be your choice to combat life’s losses while being uncomfortable every step of the way. The peace we seek doesnotliveintheeasy, but at the end of the messiness of the fight.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Yeah, it was the latter that summed up my 2018 but I’m a hopeless optimist at the end of the day. Whether the year has made you, or broke you, we as same gender loving men can all agree that there are some things we would be willing to not pack in our travel bags as we venture into the new year.
The following are a few of my own observations but I could honestly go on and on but hey, why should I have all the fun? Add your two cents in the comments but these are my top ten things I think gay men need to leave in 2018.
Jussie Smollett Performs “Ha Ha (I Love You)” - YouTube
Instagrampersonaltrainers clearly getting a little “help” achieving their physiques trying to convince you that you too can look like them after following their workout routines, and purchasing their meal plans.
OverPromotionofPopdivas on social media. JussieSmollett put out an amazing album that received little to no support from same gender loving men online.
ThirstTrapping when you’re regular job is being an accountant but you’re putting adult entertainers to shame on Instagram. I’m watching though but…Why?
Theneedtobeperfect. You, your life, and your body are ENOUGH!
Supportingorganizations, churches, artists, and businesses that do not support you, and who you love.
Votingagainstyourinterests just for a paycheck and attention. Believe me on this. It’s a thing.
Obsessionwiththelivesofcelebrities you’ll never meet. Support your friends and family’s entrepreneurial efforts using your actual social media accounts. Beyoncé already has a paid staff.
ThatannoyingInstagramselfiepose with one foot lifted while the other is firmly planted on the ground to give the illusion that you were caught off guard with a candid photo. The jig has been up. Take a selfie if you want and own it without it having to be anything but.
BeingoffendedbyKevinHart while giving reality show divas a pass on past homophobic comments. Most of us were already in the know of the comedian’s comments and acted accordingly years ago. #TeamDerayDavis
Notlovingeverypartofourselves. Society beats us up enough. We don’t have to join in the beat down giving the hardest blows we can muster. It’s possible to be proud of who we love without taking away from the countless other parts of our humanity.
Did I leave anything out? Don’t forget to comment below. Here’s to an abundant and prosperous new year!
There was a time when folks across social media platforms were claiming beards are the new six-pack. I for one did not, but I did start growing one in early 2015. One of the reasons I decided to pledge my allegiance to the illustrious beard gang was that it provided a visible and unique accessory to compliment my bald head. A fate I inherited from my family genetics that was hopelessly inescapable. I wanted something that could I change up and allow myself to stand out from my brothers in the hair struggle who like myself, adapted the smooth and shiny crown with confidence and sex appeal.
Before I give my thoughts on one of the fastest growing trends in men’s grooming, Let me first preface my opinion by stating that had the existence of man weaves or male units as it’s called in some circles, existed back in my mid-twenties or early thirties, I probably would have lept at the chance to relive the joys of a full head of hair or at lest the illusion of one.
TYSON BECKFORD | Videofashion's 100 Top Models - YouTube
As luck would have it, my early days of adulthood were inundated with now iconic pop male references of style. When my hair began thinning, MichaelJordan had already accomplished his second three-peat, TysonBeckford was deemed a supermodel and working for Ralph Lauren, and the hyper-masculine bravado of hip hop legends Onyx had dominated the airwaves. All of these notable men sported baldies and influenced a generation of men, particularly of color, to opt for the shaved head look not just out of necessity, but as a fashionable hair (less) style of choice.
Onyx - Slam - YouTube
Today, men now have the option to look a myriad of ways and join their female counterparts in drastically changing their look with ease. If you can part with a few hundred dollars, you too can experience unbelievable magic at the hands of a talented stylist within a few spins of a salon chair.
Michael Jordan's 1st 3Peat 91-93 Championships - YouTube
I first saw amazing transformations of men while viewing the Instagram account of celebrity stylist JohnCotton of New York City. Cotton, has groomed the domes of such personalities (none of them wear male units) as SNL’s JayPharaoh, Louis Vuitton’s VirgilAbloh, and Empire’s JussieSmollett. When he isn’t styling Hollywood’s elite, he’s changing the lives of every day men (and even some women), one male unit at a time.
Now let me be clear here, I’m always an advocate for the entrepreneurial warriors of the world so I’m elated that not only is John solidifying a reputation for his masterful work, so are many others in this small but growing talent pool of barbers / stylists. Personally, I’m very happy and content with my bald head. It’s served me well and I now can’t imagine looking any other way. That’s just me though. I applaud however, the men who may be in their early twenties who like I was at that time, not ready to deal with the realities of maturing, or heredity. I get it!
Any man deciding to inject a little variety and spice into their lives with a new do, should! As I’ve stated earlier, this is now available and the process is executed so brilliantly that it is virtually impossible to detect when someone is wearing a man weave. I’m not kidding! Some of the work I’ve seen is not only mind blowing, but life altering.
A post shared by John Cotton (@johncotton3) on Nov 6, 2018 at 7:58pm PST
Whether you’re looking to reclaim your hair or you’re content with rocking a baldie with a sick hat collection, the beauty of it all is that you have options. The reasons to opt for a male unit can range from suffering from hair loss due to genetics or illness, to just trying something different. The choice is yours and you can feel confident that you’ll look convincingly natural.
That leaves men like myself who are going to carry on the legacy and be like Mike and accept what is, and use what momma gave us with as much style and swagger as possible. Let’s all tip our hats to burgeoning careers in the male grooming industry and the lives they’re impacting. If man weaves aren’t for you, then rock your flyest fitted, fedora, or painter’s cap and don’t forget your sunscreen for your head while at the beach. There is enough shine for us all despite what’s on top of our heads and we now get to co-exist in a culture where that’s possible.
The weather has dipped to a chilling thirty-three degrees. What was once beautiful autumn leaves vibrantly and boldly displaying their colors to those fortunate enough to be paying attention, are now beginning to turn a shade of brown aimlessly floating on to the ground. This of course is evidence that winter is coming, but more importantly my favorite time of year – the holiday season!
It’s pretty safe to assume that a good portion of the world, regardless of religious affiliation or lack there of, recognize this as a time when people tend to slow the pace of life down. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, or NewYear’sEve, it’s the perfect time to bring the madness of the Matrix to a halt, and reflect what’s truly important. It’s amzing to witness a festive atmosphere when human beings are attempting to be at their best.
In the earlier part of my career, I had to work during some of the busiest days of the season. Whether it was before or after the holidays, I was spending all of my time in the office. I hated it but I was also very much used to it. Unfortunately however, it also meant that time spent with family and socializing with friends had to be scaled down, or eliminated altogether.
It was during these solo moments that my own personal traditions were born. I became a decent cook while making my own holidays meals (after several frantic calls to my dad during the process) I also decorated my Christmas tree and apartment all by myself. It became “mything” and I grew to love the quietness of it all. Of course I would have preferred to be with loved ones and my crew but I learned to appreciate the metime, something I needed daily to remain sane in a chaotic world. I also began to view this opportunity for myself as a meditative like retreat, and focus on bettering myself and my thoughts.
There were also years that I spent celebrating with likeminded people who became family out of necessity. The lifelong bonds that were created due to all of us being in the same boat of either having to work, lived too far from family or sadly, couldn’t go home because of how we loved was desperately needed. There was always a few buddies of mine who were not welcomed by the very people who were supposed to love them unconditionally. To be honest, I wasn’t always happy to be around family when I was closeted. The strength to keep up the facade became unbearable and I had no desire to dodge the nosey and sure to be asked question of “doyouhaveagirlfriend?” No sir, I would much rather be playing spades, and sipping on drinks with the family I chose who knew me better than anyone else in the world. That was my meaning of the perfect holiday season.
As we close out the year, I find myself in a caterpillar like state of existence. I’m wading knee deep in transformation of a very different kind, anxiously awaiting and preparing for a new beginning and ready to spread my butterfly wings. This year in particular was basically a bust, but when I think back on how the past solo holiday experiences taught me to go within to find strength, a sense of family, and resilience, I was grateful that what was now occurring, complete with challenges, was completely figureoutable based on my journey thus far.
Boyz II Men - Let it snow LIVE - YouTube
The magical moments of possibility reared it’s head recently and could potentially be the game changer I desperately needed and deserved. I was conscious of my own gratitude for still having my actual family to lean on, and two friends who selflessly forced me to continue to pursue my dreams and remember who I was.
I could always depend on myself to feel empowered during the year’s end because it brought about so much joy, not just in the lives of others celebrating the season of giving and receiving, but for myself and my overall well-being. It was a time to disconnect and reflect on where I am, what is ending, and look forward to the birth of a new reality. It took being alone and those safe and comfortable times with my same gender loving brothers, that allowed me to cherish the experiences that had me falling in love with myself, and the man I was becoming.
Nat King Cole - "The Christmas Song" (1961) - YouTube
If you’re finding that your holidays will be a one man show, it can be tough, I’m not going to lie about it. There are however, ways to create what you need out of necessity and to feel a sense of security and be unapologetic about your own self-preservation. Take the time to treat yourself right. Buy yourself something special, have a cheat day in lieu of a cheat meal, and laugh with people who’ve become your gototribe. This could be your chance to end the year powerfully with intention, purpose, and apply your own meaning to the spirit of the season.
I hereby declare myself man boob free! Okay now that I have your attention, I wanted to bask in my own glory of approaching my one year anniversary of my gynecomastia surgery. I have absolutely no regrets about going through with the procedure. Every day that goes by, I can’t help but smile from ear to ear when flexing in front of the bathroom mirror.
It’s been such a liberating experience having my chest match the spirit, and vision of the man I was on the inside. There are moments however, where I shake my head at the sight of my former chest and release a sigh of relief knowing that the limited existence I was living due to suffering with gynecomastia, and that cycle of my life, is now over!
One of the things I’m most grateful for (besides being able to feel comfortable walking around shirtless) is that I had a front row seat to my surgery. Now yes, throughout the experience at LexingtonPlasticSurgeons in New York City, I was under anesthesia, but I was fortunate enough to have it all recorded to view at my leisure while I recovered at home.
The surgery which lasted a couple of hours, was broadcasted live on periscope for all the world to see. Well at least those who logged in and were curious enough to stop, look, and give the occasional WTF gasp! I thought it might be a great idea to share with my readers exactly what one would experience if they are suffering from, and wanted to do something about the Big Gyno monster.
So here it is, my transformation in which my surgeon, Dr. GeraldGinsberg will take you through each step as he literally changes my life right before your eyes. You’ll be able to see what I went through and hopefully become informed enough to decide if going through with male breast reduction procedure (gynecomastia) is right for you.
Believe it or not, my results are still taking form. It’s not uncommon for complete recovery and optimum results to not fully take effect until about six months to a year. So grab some popcorn, No wait, don’t do that. I will warn you now that the video is graphic. It is surgery after all but it’s important for interested parties to see how the procedure is supposed to be executed. Don’t be fooled by shifty surgeons only performing liposuction and not actual glandular tissue excision which is the root of your gynecomastia.
After viewing the video, you cannot say you weren’t in the know or that I didn’t steer you in the right direction. Also, be sure to refer back to my previous posts for additional helpful tips and feel free to leave your comments and questions below. I’ll be taking a hiatus for the remainder of the year so I will see all of you in 2019. Here’s to a better year for all of us!
Things weren’t getting better. In fact they were continuing to get worse but I began to trust myself and the butterflies in my stomach that told me, something better is coming. I found myself each day expressing gratitude because as dismal and things were, they could always be worse. I had a roof over my head, food to eat, clean clothes, and saw people everyday who loved me unconditionally.
I lost it all including my way of life but still embraced stumbling over a million and one little toys spread about. Life was happening to me now and I was willing to work through the mess to get to the other side. I got to see myself for who I truly am without all the trappings. At first it was harsh and extremely ugly. I learned in the process that I get to co-create the next chapter of my life and know that deciding to end it all was not an answer to putting my light out before I could show the world all of my gifts and abilities. In the darkest of days, I felt the magic deep down. It took some digging, crying, anger, and blame before I saw the value in myself again. I’m still here to make a difference and regardless of life’s jabs, I’ve managed to still be standing. I’m still able to wake up each day, begin again and chose to walk with the butterflies.
Throughout my present journey, I dialed back my social media presence for a variety of reasons. When I would reactivate Facebook and Instagram it all seemed ridiculous. Countless people still subscribing to an illusion. The illusion of if you’re posting on social media, life is good. Why wouldn’t it be? Everyone is carefully crafting their profiles to appear glossy and full of happiness. I get it. It’s just far too many people I witnessed and some of whom I knew, were not always telling the truth about so many things. It felt as if people across various platforms were scrambling to maintain a facade, and mine had faded long ago. I was now exposed to the truth of a new me and a new normal. That’s the version I wanted to present to the world. To me, authenticity still mattered.
Mario - Drowning (Official Video) - YouTube
The one burning question I, and maybe some of your reading this might have, is how did I shift my perspective when nothing changed in my life? That is indeed the right question but took months before I could answer. I knew that when I was able to generate income, travel again, and build a new networking and social circle, I wanted it to be from a place of empowerment. I didn’t want to still harbor feelings of despair and then get a job and then say, wow, all is well because now I’m working! Those feelings of hopelessness I had yesterday is all gone with the wind. For me, it couldn’t work out that way. That wasn’t good enough, death wasn’t good enough nor an option because I was strong enough to see this nightmare through to the end!
It was important that when the universe granted me with a new beginning, that I would be mentally strong and prepared dominate in a manner as if my life depended on it. I wouldn’t have had this fire if not for the hell and back journey I trekked through and for that, I was grateful. I was happy I was unable find a reason to leave this world. What I thought was my lowest point was actually me exhibiting strength that came from me simply standing on my own, wanting and deserving more than my current reality. I’ve earned my life, and I was owed my destiny.
MONIFAH - ONE MOMENT - YouTube
There are so many lessons I’m learning throughout this process but one of the biggest is that anyone’s life can change for the worst at the drop of a dime. Regardless of your education, resources, organizational affiliations, you are not immune to a personal catastrophe. You can however, be better prepared for it and chose who you’re going to be when the cinder blocks of life are stacked against you.
In this moment, I can say without hesitation that I’m doing fine. I’m a man of conviction and it was important to not just exist and survive, but to live and thrive. I’ve been doing some heavy lifting in creating a new world for myself. I have broken from the chains of societal norms and no longer holding on to ideologies that weren’t serving my greater purpose.
I created Ruelon.com when it was painful and down right terrifying to be completely honest with myself. I did it anyway because I always believed it would help someone else. I just wished that I remembered who that man was who took risks before the thought of not being around ever crept in my head. I’m the shit, and no job, vacation, fair weather friends, or social media outlet can tell me any different. I no longer had to be the person people knew me as. I was in constant state of becoming and surrendered to the concept of letting go and letting be.
If you’re still reading this, and you feel the world is against, you, maybe you’re right! That very well may be a sign that it’s time to create something new from ground zero and this time, you’ll know and do better. I was grateful that I received the support when I needed it even if I rebelled desperately clinging to a cycle of my life that ended.
Your pain, as gut wrenching as it is, will not be battle you have to fight alone. It will take time, lots of time, and will require people who love you when you can’t do it on your own. If you find yourself in a position where your family isn’t the greatest, and you don’t have many friends, then I encourage you to talk with someone through a variety of resources who get it! I chose to fight because it was what my soul wanted. It’s not to imply that those who lost the battle didn’t try – their circumstances may not have been mine. That has to be acknowledged and their efforts respected. I was grateful to learn that my soul knew the way home and it would take me there when it was time to do so.
Janet Jackson Shoulda Known Better - YouTube
I had to learn to embrace the fall and accept the help when offered. It’s one of the many things I’ve adopted as truth. I’d encourage anyone who is struggling to reinvent themselves to create their own personal code that serves you, and only you. A code that can stand on its own and compel you to keep believing in yourself during the moments that convince you it’s not worth it. Those moments will come, but trust in the notion that they are temporary and they are not in alignment with what you’ve already committed to being.
My new outlook on life is now wrapped in a blanket of enthusiasm that something amazing is happening behind the scenes. It hasn’t all manifested yet and that’s the exciting part! I’m co-creating my “what’s next” knowing that I’ve got work to do. I’ve always been on the right path but it was the painful detours that gave me what I needed to reach my destination. It is for that reason that I owe the ugliness of it all my gratitude.
I had been stripped of everything I knew and possessed. I was cut down to the white meat as my cousin would say. It was deep and there was no bandage large enough to cover my wounds. One day when the pain of failure was just too much for me to handle, I went running. I’ve come to love being a runner and now I felt I needed to run for my life. I yearned for my privacy and immediate peace even if it were only for a couple of hours.
For weeks I ran up inclines on hills and walked on flat ground. Some days my outings were to vent. I was so angry and although I had my headphones on, the music wasn’t playing. My rants on a quiet Virginia Street was all that was feeding my angry inner dragon. I yelled and screamed. It felt good. No one was around to hear and I let the universe, everything, and everyone who I thought screwed me over have it. The reality however, was that I only had an audience of trees that aligned the suburban street revealing cooking cutter homes.
It wasn’t until my daily runs began to permeate thoughts of solitude that I opened my eyes to the true magic of my surroundings. It was beautiful, it was intoxicating, it was liberating. It was simply nature’s peace and it radiated throughout my entire body causing me to feel light as a feather. I felt something shift from within.
Something amazing was happening and I was aware of it. It was obvious and certain occurrences felt as if they were appearing just for me to take notice. Butterflies, creatures I hadn’t paid much attention to before were flying all around me. One in particular was adorned with the most beautiful shade of royal blue. Dragonflies would hover over my head and when they flew closer to me, were prancing about with vibrant colors of blood orange, emerald green, and once again, royal blue. I was in awe of their beauty and how they made me feel. I remembered how I always loved the color royal blue. It stood out to me as being such a powerful color. It was also my nephew’s favorite. He was buried wearing it. I wore that very same color to his funeral.
A few years ago I developed a fascination with birds. Particularly hawks and eagles. I’ve always found them to be so breathtakingly beautiful and majestic. I would see hawks almost every day on my runs. Sometimes off in the distance and often one, two, or three at a time. It seemed as if with each day that I ran, they flew closer to me and then on one beautiful summer day, one landed on the median on the street across from me. It sat there for a moment as if it were contemplating its thoughts. I stopped and waited to see what it would do next. In some way, I was hoping it was a sign that things were changing for the better. I waited for it to see me and to provide answers to the many questions in my head. It did nothing but it was something so peaceful about being that close to such a divine like creature and feeling protected. In that moment, I felt apart of something greater. I felt hope. This hope began to build with each day and was heightened when I would see the hawk, the butterflies, and the dragonflies all at once.
As I became completely engrossed in my daily bouts with nature, I began to play my music again and I started to feel. I missed emotions that gave me a sense that I was alive. Memories of places I had been, and people I have met began to flood my mind in complete overload. It was overwhelming and I felt like I was meeting myself for the very first time. I had good music and a good feeling and in that moment, it was enough. I went with that!
As the weeks passed, I thought it would be a great idea to begin writing myself notes as a reminder to do something good for myself each day and to love myself. I know that sounds like it should be an obvious thing to do, but when life was beating me up, I too got a few licks in. I had to change that mentality ASAP!
I fell in love with being out in nature immersing myself with physical activity. I was building someone new and my body was beginning to morph into a much healthier version of itself. I embraced this experience of awakening but I wished it would translate to physical manifestations of income and financial freedom. It was fun however, finding value in myself without the need for validation from a job or a vibrant social circle.
I wanted my happy back. The kind of happiness I saw in commercials. I know that sounds silly but it’s what I wanted to believe. There was no doubt in my mind that with all that I had been through, suicide and the fuck you it would have been to the mean cruel world wasn’t enough! I wanted more than the finality of my existence. I wanted to win, I wanted to fight back, I wanted the universe to right the wrong. I now believed that it would, but not without my cooperation.
There could no longer be any part of me that felt sorry for myself. I had to snap out of it and lick my wounds when things were better. Until then, I would keep persisting until something happened. I wanted new experiences and despite coming out and discovering a new path for myself previously, I knew once again with all I had been through, I really liked me. It didn’t matter if no one else did. They weren’t on this journey with me and they damn sure couldn’t save me.
I decided it was a good time to create my own personal code. It all came about while running in the rain and I began with making commitments to myself. I was committed to my overall physical well being. Not necessarily for the aesthetics, but for the release it provided in addition to the mobility it allowed me when life itself was stagnant. I made a promise to myself to work on my dreams until I was getting paid for them.
The High - YouTube
I was committed to family and to their success along with my own. I would walk my own path even when the decision to do so wouldn’t be popular or the norm. I would continue to have new experiences that challenged me. Lastly and the most important code of all, was to love me first, and not join the world when it used me as a punching bag. How could I have ever joined in the battle that would be my demise? I knew better. I always have to have my back when others don’t see my worth. I will never let myself down again. This was my promise.
I fought for as long as I could to maintain my life as I knew it. Unfortunately, I lost that battle and I was being forced out my life, my city, and my peace. When I finally broke down to tell my sister I was undone and couldn’t hold on to my way of life, she said in a way only a mother can say to her child or in my case her little brother, “come home we got you!” She lived in Virginia and it was my only option to begin the healing process in a judgment free zone. I would be with people who would give me what others could not, sanctuary. I was offered time to figure it out. The same sister who loved me when I told her I was gay, was now loving on me some more at a time when I no longer felt like living.
A month after my fall from grace, I remember one night after 2am and I couldn’t sleep. I thought the insomnia I had experienced for weeks after my nephew’s death was returning. I found old episodes of SexandtheCity on tv and even with the nuisance of commercials, was a welcomed distraction. I could see New York City in the background and I needed to be reminded of home even if it was interrupted with an ad for rheumatoid arthritis medication. Now two glasses deep in Cabernet Sauvignon, I was resting comfortably on my sister’s beige sectional. My, how the mighty have fallen I thought as looked at the floor filled with my niece and nephew’s toys. As depressed as I was, all I could think of was why is it that children’s toys have a million and one pieces? That made me smile and while Carrie Bradshaw lit up a cigarette on the screen, I wished I could light up my life and go back home. That however, was not possible. I was here, defeated on the sofa, and I wasn’t going back home any time soon.
The days passed at a excruciatingly sluggish pace. Hundreds of resumes were submitted with rejections that followed, if I even received a response at all. The good thing about being around my family during this chaotic time, particularly a 7 month, and four year old is that they kept my mind off my troubles until night fell. It was then that the darkness within rivaled the shadows of the night outside of my sister’s patio doors.
There wasn’t anything I could do to improve my circumstances. I meditated, spoke to my deceased mother for guidance and received nothing but silence. Maybe she had given up on me too. Maybe my time was up and I’ve lived all that I was supposed to live. The darkness continued to be relentless returning with a vengeance. Thoughts of not being good enough, that I’m being punished, and not worthy of happiness facilitated a strong argument to just end it all and be done with it!
I was desperately wishing that I had it in me to make peace with leaving this world in a manner that would be painless, easier for my family, and discrete. Even in my darkest hour I thought damn, this is one more thing I can’t do. That infuriated me. I envied those people who could find the one thing to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and warrant not giving a damn about the consequences of ending one’s life. Surprisingly, there was something buried deep within that would not allow me to go through with saying goodbye. How could this be? I had lost all hope but I still managed to pull something out of me that I had ignored my entire life. It’s what saved me.