Loneliness Doesn’t Knock

Photo by Leo Kwan via Unsplash

It shows up unannounced and doesn’t know when to leave


It is not like me to forget to respond to a text message from one of my brothers. We’re close. We usually speak multiple times per week. On this day, we had been communicating during one of my breaks, and I mentioned heading back to work. His response, “Okay, sis. Text me later.” I had all intentions to do so, but then 8:30 p.m. hit the dot, and I found myself buried in a recently gifted book of poetry to ease my troubled mind, and I remembered, “Oh! I have to text TJ back.”

Loneliness had crept in without an invitation, and with her, she brought fear, pain, insecurity, and a general feeling of sadness. I sent my brother a message to apologize for my tardiness. I told him I was having an emotional time and decided to read to curb the anguish.

Naturally, he wanted to know what was wrong. I told him I was experiencing a brief bout of loneliness. It comes. It goes. Sometimes I do have to encourage her to pack her things and set up residence elsewhere, but it was early yet. I did not have to ready the sage or drown myself in encouraging prayers. He said something I would have never expected from him. “You sound like me, sis.”

I shook my head in total disbelief. My brother has never had any trouble connecting with a woman. He isn’t shy. He doesn’t show off. He typically says what’s on his mind. And from my view of being on the outside looking in, he doesn’t have to try hard. I responded, “Yeah . . . but you have no trouble connecting. I’m shyer in that area.”

Loneliness had crept in without an invitation, and with her, she brought fear, pain, insecurity, and a general feeling of sadness.

Apparently, my younger brother was struggling at the same time I was, and I had to raise my ears to the presence of sound and focus more on listening to him. Perhaps now that he has gotten older, connectivity is waning. I am nine years older than TJ, however, between us, it’s always felt like we’ve only been a few years apart. Our bond is that strong.

And he’s one out of the five boys who can really get me upset when he’s out of line. The other is our youngest brother. For some reason, these two and I are linked solidly, and the links of our chain cannot be removed easily.

Sometimes I do have to encourage her to pack her things and set up residence elsewhere, but it was early yet.


He told me he is shy when meeting new people or even trying to approach them as well, and this floored me. My brother has had some challenges, and being a young father is one of them. In my mind, the battles with loneliness or trying to boost one’s confidence cannot overthrow him.

But it can. And it has. And I wonder how many times has he wanted to talk about this but decided against it? How many times has he wanted to just talk about being lonely regardless of the love surrounding him, and felt as though it would fall on deaf ears? At the end of our conversation, we agreed I would have to attempt to be more open to new people, and he would as well.

And this did not bat off loneliness. No, she still stood strong in her stance, defiant and stubborn. But now I have a reason to believe I can kick her out earlier than I normally would. I can advise her to seek another place of refuge; this mind does not have room and will not spare its vacancy for the likes of her.

I will not allow loneliness to sit idly along with the marks of my time, waiting for the best opportunity to pummel me into submission. I will devise plans and invent ways of booting her from entry before she settles in. I can . . . I can do this.

I tell my brother I will speak to my therapist about social anxiety and the loops I have been experiencing lately. He agrees this is the best thing to do; that every step I take will get me closer to where I need to be. And I tell him I am here for him — his sounding board for when loneliness wants nothing but a stabbing chance at his heart. He knows. He says he knows.

I can advise her to seek another place of refuge; this mind does not have room and will but spare its vacancy for the likes of her.

So, the next time loneliness attempts to high-step into the peacefulness I have arranged for myself, I’ll tell her this room is full. I’ll hang up the no vacancy sign and show her the door.

She won’t get in if I don’t hand her the keys.


Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium



Musical Selection: Erykah Badu, Bag Lady

YouTube

After 6 Years, My Hairstylist Is Breaking Up With Me

Photo by Ismail Hadine via Unsplash There’s just so much beauty in this one photo, it’s truly mesmerizing.

I’m not ready to let go but I have to


It happened on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, around 5:45 pm. I texted my hairstylist to see what her next available date and time for a Saturday morning would be so that I could make an appointment. Her response to me was, “I’ve stopped doing Saturday appointments altogether.” I was walking my dog, Jernee when the response came through. Instantly, I stopped. I re-read the text.

Did I just read what I think I read?!

I did. I re-read it again and the response did not change. She was no longer taking Saturday appointments. This meant my routine of every three to four weeks of a wash, cut, and style would go right out the window. This also meant all the bonding, growing, intense conversations about faith, love, and gainful employment would crawl behind my routine out that same window. My other place of peace will possibly be no more.

The boulder had been drug out, rolled toward me, and it landed . . . hard.

After I gathered myself, I responded by informing her that her new schedule, unfortunately, doesn’t work with mine and I’d have to take a day off to come and get my hair done and at present, my next day off is Tuesday, August 03, 2021. I asked if I could go ahead and lock an appointment for that day since I felt as though many of her clients are having to move their schedules around and her weekdays will probably fill up sooner than later.

This meant my routine of every three to four weeks of a wash, cut, and style would go right out the window.

We agreed on that day — 12:30 pm. It is safe and secure in my digital calendar as an “event” I don’t want to miss.

I applaud my stylist for being able to make a decision to move away from doing something that essentially eats up her entire Saturday and having the courage to step forward in another direction. But without saying it, she has broken up with many of us and for those of us who will not be able to consistently keep up with her new schedule, this means I would have to find another hairstylist.

It means moving on.

My intention is to seek a recommendation from her to another hairstylist within the salon who can manage my hair. It’s unruly and thick and wavy and grows funny in the back and I have a blonde patch that she has trimmed so perfectly over the years that is now shading itself a dirty grey. All of this, I love, but who else will?

I trusted her with my hair. Who can I trust to do what she has had the full capability of doing for six years?

But without saying it, she has broken up with many of us and for those of us who will not be able to consistently keep up with her new schedule, this means I would have to find another hairstylist.

Finding a hairstylist who proves him or herself worthy of taking your time and money is a hard task. It can also be a stress-filled one and I want to avoid any new stress factors at this time or in the near future. A recommendation from my current stylist is what I feel deep down, will suit me best.

I feel like I’m being asked to sign divorce papers and I didn’t even agree to a divorce. It feels like another act of abandonment. It reminds me of the pain that comes with leaving bits of yourself with someone you have come to love, respect, and look forward to seeing but now . . . now you have to act as though none of that exists. You are beckoned to put on a happy face, suck it up, and allow these new changes to comfort you.

Eff these new changes.

This is what I want to say but the adult in me knows acting like a three-year-old will get me nowhere. I implore myself to make note of the positives:

1. I’ll get to meet new people.

2. I can work on enhancing my trust meter.

3. I could get new hairstyles.

4. I would still be able to see my old hairstylist and chitchat with her from time to time if I agree to stick with the current hair salon.

5. I can take back my Saturdays as my regular hair appointment days.


As I call these positives within earshot, I feel better. I am not a fan of change especially when my comfort level is secure and I feel safe in the bubble designed for me. The moment that bubble is deflated is the very moment I have trouble seeing what could be beneficial for me behind my cloudy vision. I have to be reminded of previous positive changes. I have to remember how much their influence and impact had on my life and how I have grown for making those changes.

You are beckoned to put on a happy face, suck it up, and allow these new changes to comfort you.

After six years, my stylist is breaking up with me. There will be no fanfare or party or gifts exchanged. I do not look forward to inquiring about a recommendation — it feels like stepping over a line — like perhaps, maybe I should not ask. But she is also the perfect person to ask since she works in the same building with the same women and men doing exactly what she does on a daily basis. Someone there should be open to taking on new clients and perhaps they will be interested in taking on me.

Cue a-ha, Take on Me (this is still one of my favorite videos, btw).

2021 has been full of surprises so far. I guess if there was any year to jump into a sea of changes, this one is the perfect one in which to do so. Good thing I usually don’t have much trouble swimming. Let’s hope I can stay afloat long enough with whoever will be my new hairstylist — let’s hope I won’t have to change again after landing the new one or in the near future.

The moment that bubble is deflated is the very moment I have trouble seeing what could be beneficial for me behind my cloudy vision.

Six long years have come and gone. More are ahead of me if I am lucky. Six years from now, maybe I’ll even have different hair or a different way of addressing what my hair needs and what I want for my hair. For right now, one step at a time.

New hairstylist, here I come. Please, be gentle.


Originally published via Medium.

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.