You Can’t Run Away From Yourself

I know. I’ve tried.

November 2018, post-wisdom tooth removal. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

It wasn’t self-hate. I wasn’t trying to torture myself or beat myself into non-existence. I just wanted a break away from who I was, the things that happened to me, and the success that I couldn’t seem to attain. I wanted to fade away, to leap into the body and mind of someone else other than me. I wanted my freedom — to be unhinged and removed from the only person I knew better than anyone else. But guess what? Here I am. Here is where I’ll always be.

“And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” — Confucius

During my pre-therapy days, approximately two years ago, I would soak myself in negative thoughts. Sure, I could drum up positive feedback, words of affirmation, terms of endearment, and spread love to others —at my core, I was rotting — wasting away. I didn’t have the energy nor did I want to salvage the me hidden deep within.

Much of my adult life has been riddled with me trying to outdo my previous accomplishments then shaming myself when I couldn’t.

I left home when I was eighteen years old. My parents had been divorced since I was twelve and my stepfather wasn’t my favorite person. My mom wasn’t either — not at that time. During those years and several prior, she’d been on drugs and a violent alcoholic. So when college called, I went running toward it.

When someone you love deeply threatens to chop off any of your usable limbs while holding a machete simply because you stepped in to initiate peace between them and their spouse, it’s time to go. My mother became the person I ran away from first.

I wanted to fade away, to leap into the body and mind of someone else other than me.

The one person I loved the most, regardless of how quickly and viciously she changed, was the person who physically abused me, stole from me, left our home for days on end to be with other people (forget the fact her own children were at home, fending for themselves), called me various unsettling and belittling names, and said on more than one occasion “I just want to have fun” was the one person I begged to see me — please see me and love me. She couldn’t. Not during those days. Not without help.


Smiling Baby Tre, 1981. Photo of a photo.

Running away from my mom meant, in a sense, that I was also running away from myself. And I would do so for at least another fifteen years. Whether you want to believe it or not, there are pieces of you you’ve inherited from your parents and some of those pieces are the remnants of them you hate the most.

Anger built up in me. I was pessimistic. I had a condescending remark or rebuttal for everything. People lost interest in being around me. In all honesty, when I think back on those times, I don’t blame them.

Some well-respected and beloved relationships had been severed. There was no going back. I could only move forward.

I didn’t have the energy nor did I want to salvage the me hidden deep within.

According to Jon Jaehnig in Better Help:

Inherited behaviors are behaviors that are passed down genetically. Our genes control things like our hair type and color, our eye color, and our height—but we don’t usually think of them controlling our behavior. That’s partly because most of our behaviors are learned, rather than inherited.

No one tells you when you’re a teenager you will probably go through a phase in early adulthood where you recognize the hated behaviors of your parents and what’s worse, by yourself, you cannot get rid of them.

I was blooming into the person I couldn’t stomach and the world around me silently judged me for it.

As I grew older, I was able to point out the behaviors that needed changing and focus on how to do that. Genetically, there was and is no changing me, but various actions, those could be altered, finessed . . . they could be poked and prodded and shaped into better actions.

Mark Manson strongly believes in this method. He posits — a person cannot change who they are, it’s impossible, but that person can change their actions.

You can’t change. Like a thirsty man in a desert chasing a mirage, or a fat man peering into an empty fridge—there’s nothing there. So stop chasing it. Go do something else instead.

As I pressed forward into my mid-30s, various behaviors were noted, addressed, and have been and are being altered. I had to see myself for who I was in order to work on becoming better. I had to face myself, lure myself in, tackle the actions and pieces of me that broke through to the surface, and put in the work.


You will always be you. The parts of you you’ve avoided that need shifting or “finessing”, you will have to address. You will have to get knee-deep in the muck of who you are, dig for gold, and once it’s found, shine it to semi-perfection.

Attempting to run away from the very person you could always be may possibly lead to more damage. The weight of your very being is a hard one to carry but think about the outcome it could have if you run toward who you can become instead of running away from who you are (not genetically speaking).

I hope you will be able to give it a try, that is, if you are ready.

My mom also found her way to the person she was struggling to become. Her journey has been a long and arduous one — one I am grateful she had to experience in order to see the person she buried deep within herself decades ago. Ours is a story built on patience, strength, and forgiveness. We will always be working on us but it is much more beautiful now.

She’s a love I am happy to have.

I used to look in the mirror and see a woman I wanted to look away from. I now see a woman I want to run toward — I want to hug and hold her and settle into loving her forever. It was a long row to hoe and tilling my fields warranted a necessary harvest.

I am living in the abundance of that harvest.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

We Were Like That Lenny Kravitz Song Until We Were Finally Over

Rhythmic Prose

Photo by Jakayla Toney via Unsplash

Sometimes, I miss it. Sometimes, I don’t. You know . . . Us. It doesn’t hit me as hard as it used to when I was crawling through my twenties or attempting to climb my way through my thirties. But on those dreary, cold days where the wind is blowing harder than the predicted chill, I find myself lost in thoughts of you . . . of Us. And I do drift to a place where it’s not so easy to leave — the comfort of it can be damaging.

And who would blame me at this point? Good memories are hard to come by these days and I have enough stored up so I can pull from them at will. Isn’t that a blessing? Isn’t that something for which to be thankful? You would say so. I know this. You saw God in everything including the devil that wrapped himself up in us. You would call us golden if someone gave you the floor long enough to gloat.

I find myself lost in thoughts of you . . . of Us.

I didn’t mean to stray so far away but I was hungry — in search of other ways of getting fed and the easiest route was the one that led to strings being plucked by long, slender fingers and a voice like crème brûlée— sweet & smooth. I stuck to those things. Tangible and present. Different from what I had begun to see in you.

I could never deny the fire burning in us. We stoked it for years, poking at it with thick sticks, setting apart the embers. We had learned how to pull back just in time to save ourselves from becoming charred — scarred for life or disposable.

You saw God in everything including the devil that wrapped himself up in us.

We were music. Classical? Rhythm & Blues? Funk? Maybe we were jazz. The ease of each tune dancing across a room or a verse of scats uttered quickly by chocolate-covered lips. We lasted for hours on play. The B-side was the best side. The B-side was my best side.

Back and forth. Over and over. We had our best days and our worst days and some would say we were like that one Lenny Kravitz song until we were finally over. No more violins or bass riffs. No more snare taps or saxophone rips. No crooning or gyrating at the mic . . . We were — until we weren’t. We grew until we couldn’t.

I was hungry — in search of other ways of getting fed.

And it took so long to get to that place. What were we waiting for?

YouTube

Originally published on Medium.

Waiting For An Apology That Will Never Come

Knowing when to finally let go

Photo by Lucas Pezeta via Pexels

I left without saying goodbye. I did it because it was time. I knew it. I know you knew it. Why were we hanging on? There was love . . . there was old love that flickered as a reminder that my heart would keep breaking if the cycle continued and I did not want it to, so I broke the cycle. I should have been brave enough to say goodbye. I should have had the courage to tell you why I was leaving.

We’d managed to be what others thought we were for over a decade knowing damn well who we actually were and I guess that didn’t bother you but it sure as hell ate at the core of who I am. It stopped me from living freely.

The day I left, it felt right — like a rite of passage — something meant to cross me over into or on to a higher plane. I backed away slowly, taking everything familiar to us with me.


I had no plan of action.

The days that followed soon after, haunted me. There were photos of you up, gifts that you’d given scattered around my home, and scents you would wear. I had to erase them all. I had to get rid of them. It was a time of cleansing — burning sage and lighting candles became a frequent pastime yet you still remained.

I’d been doing fine, seven months had passed. Until one day . . . I was looking for an older photo of Jernee to share with someone and there you were, with the kids . . . All of you smiling. All of you happy. You staring back at the camera with a plump, dimpled cheek, and I lost a little bit of strength that built itself inside me. The tower fell. The wall came crumbling down.

Every brick that was laid crushed right before my eyes. I was breaking . . . again. And you wouldn’t know it.

I wake up sporadically during the night.

The other night, I had been awakened from a deep sleep by the urge to pee and the theme music from Pinky and the Brain playing in my head. How odd, I thought. Not the urge to pee, but the theme music. Why Pinky and the Brain? Why a cartoon from a time I vaguely remember? You’d know. I know you’d know. But I couldn’t ask you. It was late and it’d been nine months. And anyway, how would I start off that conversation?

“Hey, you’re asleep, I know . . . but when you wake up, you’ll see this — I had to leave. I was an ass for the way I left but it doesn’t seem like you mind. Why in the hell is Pinky and the Brain’s theme music popping up in my head in the middle of the night?”

You would scoff at the audacity of my untimely text message the moment you saw it. You’d curse under your breath, angrily. You wouldn’t want to wake anyone else up. You’d probably say something like, “How the fuck should I know, Tre? Are you okay? I know . . . I understand. But you still could have said something. I hate you for that.”

You were witty and forthcoming with just the right amount of bite in every word. The South does that to biracial women who are activists fighting to be seen. Fighting to be heard. Fighting to let others know they’re just as black as the rest of their people. And I loved that about you.

I haven’t found anyone else.

Not that it matters. Not that you care. Not that I expect you to. I left but you had done so years before and the door was slightly ajar. I had grown tired of looking at it that way — a sliver of opportunity for you to come waltzing back in. I closed it.

Funny thing is, I thought you’d appear with a key and open it. But that’s just a dream. And we were just a thing that probably should have never been that thing but it still hurts.

I don’t speak your name in therapy. I give just a little and keep the rest to myself. My therapist cuts through every inked blot and tells me like it is, “When you’re ready to share, I’m ready to listen. When you’re ready to heal, I’m ready to help.” And I know I’m ready to heal. I’ve been ready to heal. So what the hell am I afraid of?


I have an inkling I’m not alone in this. Many of us have that one person who stripped us of ourselves and left us with a gaping hole in our hearts. We have to move on, right? We must move on. The hard part is no one tells you that months or years later, reminders sneak up on you and restore some of those faded memories.

The fight then becomes keeping your sanity versus allowing those reminders to take over and win. How often are we telling ourselves, “I am more important than what we were? I have a right to heal and be happy.”

The truth is, there will always be a person with whom you connect intensely and if and when your relationship with that person ends, you are still you. You have to find a way to remain you and not lose yourself because of them.

You can move on or waste your time sitting around waiting for an apology that will never come. You don’t need it. Trust me, you only think you do.

And yes, I tell myself this too. And now, I finally believe it.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

New Work

An Experiment

new hire on November 09th,
transferral complete. I’m learning
so much about a market that
was not mine before. 
the difference between my
previous home and my new
one is that I’m actually at home.
stay with me, please — you’ll
understand soon.
 
I love what I do and where I
work, yet I’d forgotten
what it felt like to be safe
and now I remember — 
now, I know.

Hundreds of calls burst
through my queue — I don’t
know these names, they aren’t
familiar, but I am learning them.
each patient has their own
way of presenting themselves as
I work feverishly on the other end
of the line searching for the best
appointment times for 
their procedures. 
it’s a totally different ball game
with an entirely different 
outcome — yet being remarkable
has to stand out.

My longest call was an hour
and ten minutes and my patient
commended me for my patience
in assisting her — I thought about
my grandmother and I knew 
I would want someone to take their
time and do everything they needed
to in helping her and making 
sure she felt comfortable during the
scheduling process too.

4 MRIs of four separate body parts,
2 appointment dates and arrival times,
prep instructions, address for the facility,
and a transfer to the billing department
for a complete estimate of the costs . . .
if I make it to my 70s, I hope someone
will be my Job
I hope someone will understand 
I move slower than I once did.

Training is rigorous — 
we’re not simply thrown out
to an ocean of open mouths, however
we’ll sink or swim. 
I aim to swim like I always do
and three weeks in, I haven’t
drowned. I am still treading
water at a pace comfortable 
for me, however, excelling — 
hitting all cylinders according
to plan.

Working from home provides
a sense of peace I recalled
years ago in my introductions 
to various workplaces. 
everything I want and need
is here — I know where 
things are, I don’t have to
go searching for them.

My dog gets multiple short
walks every day and 
my mind, body, and soul feels
refreshed. 
it’s still early — but I would
be willing to stake several
claims on this quote: 
“Home is where the heart is.”

It is. mine has stopped aching
since my first day of 
new work.


Originally published on Medium.

10 Reasons Why I’m Not Giving Up on Myself

#4. I am a dreamer but I believe in miracles


Musical Selection: Alicia Keys & Khalid|So Done


These past few months, I have been dealing with my share of emotions springing forth unannounced and on most days, I am left feeling as though my tank is empty. I have to keep it full — fueled to its maximum capacity, so to speak, but it is hard.

This isn’t to say that I am not trying, I am. There are days harder than most and I find myself pulling strength and perseverance from the depths of my soul just to stay afloat. I am swimming. The pace at which I’m stroking in these tumultuous seas is a rapid one, but I refuse to drown.

Recently, I’ve lacked confidence, been incredibly hard on myself about little things, snapped at those I love, lost a few loved ones to a deadly virus, beaten myself up about my looks, weight, & overall personality, and cut ties with a few loved ones.

Let’s just say I haven’t been “living my best life,” and I am almost positive many of you reading this very article are probably feeling the same.

On my bad days, I feel hollow, as if I’m waiting to be carved and put on display for judging eyes and willful lips. I have to remind myself that I am a force and although my current demeanor isn’t one of which I’m familiar, I’m still in this skin struggling to break free.

Here are a few reasons why I’m not giving up on myself.


  1. I have a badass group of supportive people in my life. They keep me grounded, make me laugh, remind me of my best qualities, and share in my pain. They lift me up when I’m feeling down and aren’t afraid to pull me out of the dumps when I’ve dived in head-first. These are solid relationships — all have stood the tests of time. I can count on these people and for this, I’m grateful.

  2. There’s beauty all around me. I don’t have to go far to see the wonders of this world. A purple hue behind the clouds greets me in the morning. The sky is a set of open arms begging me to capture it. Trees speak in tongues and their leaves are the mothers of nature’s church. Birds sing glorious songs and the sun rises in a timely manner. I can look out my window and be reminded of all that’s beautiful in this world in an instant — that’s enough.

  3. I make people smile. My days aren’t all bad at work. I have so many patients who I make smile and bring joy to. They shower me with gifts and no matter how many times I attempt to reject them, they find a way to push through and give a little bit of their hearts to me. It’s breathtaking. Stop and smell the roses given to you while you still can.

  4. I am a dreamer but I believe in miracles. If allowed, I’d live in my dreams. You’d find me there doing what I love most at all times, away from anything that causes pain. But I can’t stay there. I know the importance of being in the now and trusting my faith. I believe. Wholeheartedly, I believe.

  5. I am keeping my close friends closer. They know me. They love me. They aren’t trying to change me. I can depend on them for listening ears and moments of their time. I don’t have to purchase or lease it. They’re readily available. They don’t make excuses and I don’t overwhelm them. They want to love me and they do.

  6. I don’t want anyone in my life who doesn’t wish to be here. I have toyed with the idea of making new friends, but people are WORK and currently, I don’t have the patience to deal with the extracurricular activity of bobbing and weaving through the hoops of people who want to be in my life one day, gone the next, then reappear as if nothing occurred. I am worth more than blinks and twitches. I know this. I embrace this. I want nothing less.

  7. I am a ball of energy who gets weak sometimes. But that doesn’t mean I am not strong. I can stand my ground and if necessary, I do. If I fall, I lift myself up and try again. A few scraped knees won’t stop me. I’ve had things break before and I’ve healed. I always heal.

  8. I am writing my way through the pain. The worst thing someone has said to me about my way of loving was, “I don’t need the way you love. I don’t want it.” And as much as they hurt or cut me deeply with that comment, I had to hear that. It enabled me to assess who I am in intimate relationships. I had been applying the same method of loving to everyone and people are different. It also made me realize that some people are just assholes too. I know which is which and now, I plan accordingly.

  9. When all else fails, enjoy the sunshine. Really, this has helped me more than I can express. There’s living in the rays of the sun. I try to get “outside time” daily.

  10. Every day, I am growing. I am not perfect and neither are you. I love who I am. I love who I am becoming. The work in changing is hard, but it is beneficial. I have value and I add value to the lives of those I love. I remind myself to remember this.

I look forward to the day when I can sit back and point out this moment in time where my struggles propelled me to change — where they caused me to do deeply-rooted work within me, and when I finally allowed myself to feel and believe I am not alone in growing and batting down the negative pangs of life.

If you feel the walls closing in on you as you endure these hectic times we are all trying to move through, I’d recommend changing your view of you. What motivates you? What keeps you happy? What do you like most about yourself? What do others love most about you? Take some time to remember you are a human being and life can be a bitch-slap out of nowhere. Be good to yourself. Be gentle to yourself. Be kind to yourself. There’s only one you.

I’ve made it to the point in my life where I stand firm on the following: I am not giving up on myself. I am worth the work, damn it!

And from me to you, you are too.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.