Unprotected

I am afraid. I’ve always been afraid and left to fend for myself. I hide within my fear. Survival mode sustains me, I rise up and boss up because that’s what black women are expected to do; ALWAYS.

But if something were to happen to me, who would tell my story? And were I to suddenly go, these niggas knocking on my door wouldn’t even show up to my funeral.

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The Loneliness Chronicles: Part 1

13 MIR Poetry Gallery

Break ups are rough. I really tried to avoid ever having to go through one again so I fought like hell for my last relationship before calling it quits. Since its ending I’ve struggled with how I should catalog, observe and overthink about all of my emotions  aimlessly floating around. I am very much a writer that needs to bleed and share as part of my healing process but I want to be sure I am as respectful as possible addressing break-up-related topics because 1. I eventually want someone to have sex with me again and 2. At one point I REALLY loved that man and have respect for all he’s taught me and the greatness of our time together. I loved him. There are parts of me that still miss him and often, I feel lonely without him.

My inner circle of friends–who are surprisingly rational and pragmatic in spite of the fact that they’re my friends–have prepared me to brace myself for the inevitable loneliness that comes after a break-up and can last well into single life. I am not bothered by the concept of loneliness because it’s a natural ass human emotion and I’ve seen people navigate/have had to navigate through these feelings before. I know beautiful, smart, successful women who still experience that dull ache that sneaks up on them in hidden moments. The problem is that loneliness is sometimes associated with emptiness when I don’t think the two are as closely related as we tend to think. I like being alone, I understand that I am a complete and whole ass  person so when I feel lonely I don’t think it has anything to do with being incomplete or empty—I think we just freakin’ need people sometimes! We crave connection.

So…Just Love Yourself, Right?

Self-love is a wonderful thing. It is a long overdue concept, beautiful in its simplicity and practicality yet so easy to neglect. I am glad that it’s the latest buzzword on everyone’s lips and that we are all taking a moment to reflect and think about what it means to truly love ourselves. As with any good thing, it comes with a sprinkle of bad—which is, we can forget the purpose of self-love in the first place. Loving yourself and becoming firm in who you are—protecting your vibe and your spirit—is a practice that helps us to love others better, it’s not just for us. None of us are an island. I mean, good for you if you are the “cut a bitch off in a heartbeat” type of person but you are probably also lonely and acting too tough to admit it. A certain part of me wants to be driven by my anger and heartbreak but I realized from my last two nervous breakdowns break ups that I have to do shit differently if I plan to survive the after effects of emotional devastation and relationship separation. The remedy to surviving is OF COURSE self-love because that means you don’t need anyone else to define who you are. You are a free standing, infinite and self-sustaining resource for your own happiness. However, being whole and complete does not mean you won’t experience loneliness, so try not to beat yourself up about it.

The key to self-actualization is not avoiding experiencing or having to sit in negative emotions. For my personal journey I find that I am at my best when I accept reality and avoid dwelling on negativity. But sometimes shit sucks and I have to acknowledge unhappiness or unpleasantness and I have to feel it through until it’s over. I notice that I have prolonged my depression in the past by running from it or pretending it wasn’t real. It’s like a few weeks ago when I was cleaning the house and sliced my finger open on a piece of broken glass. I didn’t want to go to the hospital, I had shit to do! I didn’t feel like it and I could have probably survived just fine without the drive to drop the kids off at my parent’s house and the additional drive to the hospital. However, I had to grow up and make the trip to get stitches and a stupid tetanus shot even though I wanted to avoid it. The laziness in me didn’t feel like diagnosing a basic ass problem and going to get the shit fixed.

Navigating Loneliness in a Fake Ass World

The stigma of loneliness is the kicker! I held onto my last relationship for about 6 months passed the expiration date because I was afraid of who I was supposed to be when I became single again. I like to be raunchy and ridiculous, crack sex jokes and just be loose and carefree. I worried that I would have to change those things and be more careful about how I present myself because I didn’t want to come off desperate or lonely. I worried that people would be able to sense a lonely vibe from me and judge me because of it. These are all anxieties on top of fretting about how I was going to battle loneliness after severing ties with someone whose title and presence in my life validated me. I was not really pressed to be anyone’s girlfriend until I became one and it was like a sigh of relief. “I belong to someone. Someone, besides me, thinks I’m dope!”

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Yeah, none of that shit matters. 1. I was unhappy in my relationship because we were super incompatible so I was battling with loneliness anyway 2. I realize now that loneliness is not really a battle or anything to fight against. It’s one of those shameful emotions associated with weakness so no one wants to admit that they experience it. I always find it ridiculous when we try to shame normal emotions as if they are bad character traits. There is nothing wrong with me, I just want some TLC sometimes!

TLC doesn’t have to come in the form of a large penis and deep voice [at least I chant this to myself daily!] but it can be a quick chat with a friend, a smile exchange with a stranger, or even hugging a pet! Loneliness comes in waves—there are some big ones that can knock you the fuck out. You gotta sit in those, journal about it, think on those feelings while keeping your mind’s eye on the light at the end of the tunnel. That takes hella practice and it is still an excruciating process that may not even pan out in the end. The relief is that sometimes the waves are small. Sometimes, it’s just a splash of water, not enough to drown you but you will need to take a second to regroup and dry off after.

Loneliness is real. While you don’t have to be as TMI as I am being about it, no one should feel they have to deny the emotion or beat themselves up about feeling that way. Reading hateful comments on random social media posts make me feel lonely, watching the chaos and destruction of the world unfold on the news makes me feel lonely. I associate the emotion with disconnection and I’m now fixated on dedicated to exploring what activities and/or thoughts bring me back to earth and reconnect me with humanity and myself. I am navigating this bullshit, I am not thrilled about it but all aspects of life are not thrilling. I just need to embrace my reality and learn to validate my own emotions while releasing myself of the stigma society attaches to them.

And that’s real…

11 MIR Poetry Gallery

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Comfortably Numb

For more information or to sponsor my walk to prevent suicide click here.

I just finished eating dinner. I washed it all down with a gin and ginger ale in an effort to keep things cool and in control. This is a terrible habit that began years ago and I’m a bit ashamed for not being totally upfront about it. While I do not take mood-altering medication, I do drink—probably heavily. I haven’t decided how much of a problem it is. I do know, that it is frustrating for me. I am sure there are women out there that have fought similar battles and are single mothers that can deal with the same hardships in stride. At some point in my life I’ve had to accept that I am soft hearted. I don’t feel exactly like the rest and I’m not able to recover as quickly. To be strong pushes me way too far out of my comfort zone.

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When I was married I had an inkling that something wasn’t right about the way that I was living. I went to church, I tried to be a good wife, I tried to wrap my head around this brand of happiness for the rest of my life…but I knew that it would be less happiness and more settling for a façade and faking who I was in an effort to bring out the best in others. There had to be another way, but I couldn’t find one. I never drank and I didn’t even know how. The only thing I could remember is that women order rum and coke at the bar in a few movies I’d seen. So I bought a bottle of rum I used to keep hidden and I would mix it with anything and everything. I just needed something to keep the edge off. There was heaviness to my countenance that I couldn’t get rid of and I needed something to keep it from haunting me. It wasn’t often I did it, but when things got unbearable I had to.

 The Social: When I split from my ex husband I lived in a small house with just my oldest daughter (3 years old at the time) and myself. It was lonely and it was scary—the thought of cutting the grass had the power to send me into a downward spiral. I was living in a house that was meant for a family and now I was by myself, a stereotypical single mother. She went to be with her Dad every other weekend and on those weekends I partied hard. My mother calls this my mourning period but I’m not exactly sure the name that I would have for it.

 Anyway, it began with a bad snowstorm that winter. I was struggling to make the rental payments by myself, it was a pain to shovel snow off of my car in the pitch black of morning just to make it to work where I constantly battled not to have a nervous breakdown.  The snowstorm hit and I was stuck in the house alone with only the company of my thoughts. Since then I have contemplated suicide, even so much as held a blade to my wrist but I still don’t think my thoughts ever got as dark as they did that night. I’m as naïve as a little girl. I believe in unconditional love, in hope, in working things out—walking away from my marriage was the renouncing of all of those beautiful things that I thought made me ME. And after that night I had come so close in completely shutting down I vowed that I could never go to that place again.

So I drank, and I drink. When you see me out it’s most likely I appear to be the life of the party but it’s just something I need to do because that’s what’s expected of me and most times it’s an escape from loneliness. Furthermore, I can’t speak for anyone else but for me there was a complete loss of identity once my marriage was severed. I felt dirty and exposed, like someone’s tossed away garbage. I was forced out of a bond because someone did not want me. He was still alive, I saw him often but I couldn’t extract from him the answers I needed to help me cope with the loss of us. I fully expected to be married the rest of my life it never occurred to me that there were any other options! I still feel those feelings of exposure most times. When I was married I was way more secure because I knew that no matter what I did that day I would be able to come home to someone who loved and accepted me for the way I am. I lost that person and I lost that confidence in myself.

So, I still drink socially now, though I’m in a healthier place self-esteem wise, because sometimes you do have to fake it until you make it. I go out with my friends and they are all beautiful I have to get on that level and act like I’m the greatest thing in the room in order to not have my ego crushed and my mind racked with jealousy. I get in my head a lot and I revert back to that same old girl from high school that knows deep down that the same people who have love for me now would be no where to be found 10 years ago. I drink because sometimes I’m not really having fun. I just want to be at home, staring at the wall and not worrying about a thing. I drink because I still feel exposed. With the divorce hanging over my head I still have moments when I feel like someone else’s leftovers. I don’t want to be sober enough to recognize those that see straight through me and maybe even have to explain myself. I drink to avoid the eye contact of those who really see me.

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Image from: amithea.deviantart.com

 The Loner: After the night of the snowstorm, I did make a conscious vow that I could never revisit that place again–the darkest part of my soul where the will to give up on life lived. In an effort to do that my mind sort of kicked into survival mode—which is great for a temporary fix but terrible for the long term. Months after my separation from my husband I rekindled a former love with a broken man that did more damage to my soul than I thought was possible. While I was in it, I never allowed myself to feel the gravity of the pain of what was happening to me. I felt the bliss of survival mode. I was numb. I used to feel like it was a super power. There I was, blessed with the amazing ability of not having to deal with life because I could zone out at any time. It didn’t matter what was happening to me because I wasn’t really there and I didn’t have to be bothered with the burden of feeling. I created my own world for myself and I chose to live there to avoid feeling any unpleasantness ever again. However, reality intervened at a certain point and I had to step outside to survey the damage of the hurricane that swept through my life while I hid in my storm shelter.

 So, now I drink to remember how to feel, while most people drink to forget. It is a struggle for me to remain present and for me to feel emotions without going into my natural protection mode. I used to disappear from friends for weeks at a time–you couldn’t hold me accountable for anything because I didn’t care enough. I locked my soft heart in a safe and I refused to be held accountable for any pain I could possibly have inflicted on others because fuck them! No one had been there to protect me. I try to be aware of when I’m in that survival mode now. I sit back on my couch and I make myself a drink trying to wrap my head around how I feel about the day’s events. I most desire to be free without the help of outside substances but for now it’s about coping with the issues at hand. Writing a blog doesn’t mean I have access to all the answers.

 I drink to avoid the despair of having become so numb.