"everybody is going to make it this time" (c) george clinton and bernie worrell
Like most adolescent boys, I went through puberty at 13 or 14; however, unlike most of those boys, I did not experience healthy emotional development until now at 24. As long as I can remember, emotions were to be shunned. Better yet, emotion and logic existed in an either/or vacuum. Eventually, I perceived emotions as weak and unbecoming, even unmanly.
I grew emotionally cold. I was selfish, self-centered, furtive, egotistical, insecure, stubborn, and a bevy of unflattering tags. And if I was not throwing a pity party somewhere, I’d walk away from people in a “let you die breathing” fashion. This was my winning defense mechanism.
Au contraire! Recently, I experienced an epiphany of sorts. I decided that I no longer wanted to be void of emotional feeling. First, I grappled with one of my biggest fears, vulnerability. Being in touch with my emotions and going further by conveying those feelings toward people would definitely supply ample opportunity to disappointment. And after being hurt once or twice in my young life, I built up a protective wall of Jericho proportions and called it survival.
In the past weeks, I did a lot of thinking and reevaluating. I noticed many of my issues originate from my earliest years and exacerbated with delay. My parents’ divorce struck a heavy blow to my trust issues. When my parents decided to call it quits, I didn’t suspect one of my parents calling it quits on the little league games, school field trips, and barbershop visits. I was 10. I was devastated and crushed by the abrupt life change. Outside a few 6th grade English papers and counseling, I made no effort in resolving my issues. I preferred hiding behind masks of humor, music, and anything plausible, creating that cliché snowball effect.
My timidness in combating my issues hindered happiness, soured relationships, and blinded me to opportunities. An emotion such as love was weak and unrealistic, even built upon an unhealthy dependence on another person, especially romantic love. And other forms of love were avoided too. Steve Hicks refused to love anybody or anything, even himself. And with the aforementioned epiphany, I decided to put an end to my cold and distant ways and accept that I have emotions and the capacity to love. I wrote letters, sent emails, and left voicemails letting those folks dear to me know how I felt about them in the most descriptive words. I was toppling my bullshit wall of anger, bitterness, and resentment to say, “I love you.” Those words would not be uttered six months ago unless I was zoning to a Minnie Riperton or Billy Paul song. That fear of vulnerability was preventing me from heartbreak but also from the great joys of life.
I reached out to my dad, as well, and told him that I loved him. He replied with a similar sentiment. He flew me out to Indiana for the weekend. Since my parents’ divorce, I talked with my dad on the phone periodically but I hadn’t kicked it with my pops for more than two hours face-to-face since 1996. There were hurt feelings lying below my nonchalant demeanor. I looked at him in the eye and told him the past was gone and I wanted to pursue a strong father-son relationship for the future. That moment, subtly, was a giant step.
This feeling is incredible. Quite refreshing. I don’t want to be that angry guy anymore. And as I told my grandfather on Christmas, I don’t want to become that grumpy old man in my mid-twenties. I want to open myself up to the wonders of life. I’ve learned that fearing vulnerability made me more vulnerable. I confused pessimism with realism and allowed myself to grow negative, but I take full responsibility for my attitude. I want to be happy and grateful. I want a better relationship with my brother. I don’t want to throw any more pity parties. I want to give more of myself to the world. I want to express love openly. I apologize to all of those poor souls who were witnesses to my Angry Black Man tirades.
Two of my historical heroes are W.E.B. DuBois and Malcolm X, not exclusively for their ideologies but for their courage to change. They fiercely fought for their convictions even when their ideas veered from the popular groupthink. I want to evolve like those men. And for those people erudite in American popular culture, I resembled Andrew Largeman in “Garden State” or Ryan Bingham in “Up in the Air.” People can change. Growth is one of life’s contradictions. I have no qualms. So if I was boisterous with my anti-love, screw emotion message, I want to be boisterous with my message of love, compassion, and forgiveness.
Thank you for reading. Enjoy these songs: http://www.zshare.net/download/717626304351d047/