Kings Bleed Too
A space dedicated to exploring and expressing the experiences of Black Men…#KINGSBLEEDTOO
I think back to the times I spent waking up in a space that wasn’t my own. I woke up in a relationship that was filled with tolerance and resentment, and absent of love. Our address led one to a space in Kingsville, but her insecurities and feelings of abandonment were my true home. She would call me out my name. In moments of anger and frustration, her fist frequently found themselves being reintroduced to my face. One day she arrived home from work; me and my neon NIKE bag of items were gone.
My pride wouldn’t let me go back to either of my parents homes. Like many of this cities unkept and wandering souls, I found myself sleeping on the train. 56 hours later-she found me. Sitting in the grass, sweaty from a run I just finished. Tears in my eyes; not from feelings of embarrassment or shame. I desperately wanted to be found. I had asserted myself, only to crumble and stubbornly wait for her to come rescue me back to our misery. I felt like I was being saved by death. Who was I?
I remember not being able to contribute much to our relationship other than listening to her vent about her family, and providing her with orgasms of the finest variety. Oh, and I cooked and took out the trash. One time, in a way she only could, she told me with a smile: The sex is bomb, I just don’t like you afterwards. At least one of us liked something-right? How miserable it is to feel like a transaction. I would rather be sleeping on the train. At least there I felt like a person. Sleeping on the train alone was better than sleeping in a bed with woman who made me feel worthless.
She would say things to me like: One day you’re going to get that good job, and we’re going to have so much fun traveling together-but each time my mind wandered to thoughts of a better life, her presence was nonexistent. I always felt like she’d “love” me once “I got my shit together”. How naive I was to think that securing a stable career would fill the voids in our entangled web of cold pain and dark fears.
The person whose idea of love is connected to the amount of commas in my bank account; that’s not the person I envision myself with. That’s not my idea of love. However, that’s the person I felt obligated to be with. Suicidal thoughts;that’s what she shared with me. So I compromised my own life-my own peace of mind, in an attempt to “save” someone who (like me) was just afraid of dying alone.
These days we don’t speak; it’s for the best. We’re not friends; we never were. When I see her friends…I don’t see her friends. These days I live rather comfortably. I wake up in a positive space that’s filled with peace. These days, my bank account has a permanent comma in it. These days I deliberately place myself in spaces where the energy is fruitful. If it isn’t, I simply remove myself. The only obligation I have is to my happiness, and my peace of mind. These days things are much different.
I ride the train knowing that it will never serve as my bedroom again. These days I look in the mirror, and the person I see is someone I love. The women in my life, friends, mentors, big sisters, romantic interest, family alike, all understand me. I know love, but most of all, I know and love me. These days I don’t simply have dreams, I live them. These days things have changed.
~Stay True To The Good
My darkest moments; they always shared a common theme. They came as a result of me being consumed by my fears, and not devoted to the manifestation of my dreams. I would acquire all the tools. Round up all of my resources. Devise the perfect strategy and detail each and every possible variable...just to amount to feelings of hopelessness and failure. Why was I holding myself back? Why was I so content in a space of normality? Why was being perceived as being successful so soothing and acceptable, but actually doing the work to BE successful so intimidating and exhausting? I was successful alright. I was successful in allowing fear to dictate my actions and decisions. But that was back when I was fearful. Today, I am FEARLESS.
I remember the first time someone I loved told me I could be a really good personal trainer. It was back in 2008. My then girlfriend Shatorah Roberson, had recommended that I become a Personal Trainer back when we were still in undergrad, prior to Instagram's launch.
Why is this relevant to me? Well first and foremost, she was right (obviously). Most of all; the reason I disagreed with her had less to do with her and everything to do with me and more specifically my fears. Fear, for some, can motivate one to push past their limitations and unlock their potential. At the same time, fear can be what holds someone back from a life of happiness and positive energy. But as it pertains to Black and Brown men like myself and others, FEAR is more nuanced than feelings derived from watching scary movies, or spaces of unknown outcomes. Fear to us is the basis of why we're racially profiled. Fear to us is the restrictive veil in which we our existence is seen thru. Furthermore, fear to us Black Men is a state of existence that we have to be aware of, but not consumed by.
I remember standing online at a chase ATM machine, waiting with one of my athletes to get some cash. There were two white women in front of us. I remember walking up behind them and standing some 10-15feet behind them. My athlete was standing off to the side using her phone. I remember one of the women looking back at me and gesturing to the women with her. After what appeared to be some words, they both looked back at me and said: Don't worry you can go ahead of us. I finished my transaction and me and my athlete proceeded to stand outside the branch and wait for our Uber to arrive. The women inside the Branch ATM machine found their way outside and asked me what I was doing. I paused. I thought. I processed. They thought I was plotting to rob them. She was afraid that I was waiting for them to get cash out of the ATM, so I could proceed to rob them. They waited for me and my "accomplice" to leave the branch. But once we walked outside and stood there, they just knew we had the drop on them.
Our Uber came, but when my athlete asked me: Coach, what was that about? I knew the answer, but a chill hit me as I went to respond to her. The real world is cold. The real world is frigid and jaded at times. Most of all, the real world is full of fear. The question I struggle with is, how to best not let fear consume me and my life.
I remember when the video of Philando Castle's murder was floating around on social media. I remember when Mike Brown's senseless killing was on every screen in the country. I remember my athletes describing to me the story of the Gang that assassinated a young man named Junior in the Bronx. Horrifying content. I never watched any of those videos. Some images can't be unseen, some thoughts can never be unthought, and some moments in history just don't need to visualized to grasp their impact on society and or culture. Fear is felt and these days fear is being consumed at a vastly higher rate than when our parents were growing up. I believe fear can become a habit. The more you practice consuming and operating in fear, the more you are consumed and guided by it.
I don't have the world's most lucrative career. I don't possess any gems that have the potential to unlock life's secrets. But I do know this: One's quality of life will vastly improve the moment you decide to not let fear guide your heart and mind. So many times we are subconsciously consuming content that is encouraging us to live in fear. We share stories of breakups, failed marriages, loss of employment, death etc. We consume content that is ridden in speculation, uncertainty, and moreover fear. But what about love? What about positive energy and thoughts? Fear is a powerful tool, a very powerful concept indeed. But imagine if we feared less. Imagine if we consumed less fear and consumed more love? Fearless... Fear less.
As a Black Man, I understand that the world looks at me as a threat. They should. Because the day we all begin to live our lives outside of the fear that others project on us, that we at times project on ourselves...I hope everyone has their phone out. I hope that moment, those moments go viral. I hope you go tell it on the mountain. I pray one day that fear is understood more as a choice, and people inherently make better choices. I used to be afraid of being great at something. My fear of greatness is what made me frown upon my ex-girlfriend's advice. I guess I got over my fears eventually.
I’ve never been the type to glorify achieving a goal while putting in the minimal amount of work necessary. That’s not my philosophy, I don’t prescribe to such logic, but I certainly understand the approach considering the transactional energy that resonates throughout my generation and this industry.
I would never commit to a journey if I didn’t love the process. There’s something to be said about getting yours the hard way. There’s something beautiful in failing first, failing repeatedly, and learning along the way to your success. I believe in working for mine. I believe in the journey of my self-improvement. I’m fearless“
MAYBE IT WAS ALL THOSE NIGHTS I SPENT MAKING THE CAMPUS LIBRARY MY BEDROOM. MAYBE IT WAS THE TIME AN EX GIRLFRIEND PUNCHED ME IN MY FACE FOR TURNING THE RADIO UP WHILE SHE WAS TRYING TO EXPRESS HERSELF TO ME; LORD KNOWS I'VE ALWAYS BEEN ONE TO TUNE OUT ENERGY I DIDN'T AGREE WITH. MAYBE IT'S SEEING THE HEALTH OF MY LOVED ONES DECLINE, WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY PROCESSING MY LIFE WITHOUT THEM. MAYBE IT'S KNOWING THAT THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO HURT ME TO MY CORE. WOMEN WHO'VE CHEATED ON ME, DISREGARDED ME, TOLD ME I WAS "FAKE DEEP". THE ONE WHO LIED ABOUT OUR RELATIONSHIP TO PROTECT THEIR JOB AS A GRADUATE ASSISTANT. OR THOSE SUPER SPIRITUAL/RELIGIOUS WOMEN THAT CLAIM TO HAVE SEEN JESUS, BUT I ONLY EVER SAW NAKED. I GUESS I WAS SUPPOSED TO FORGET ABOUT THEIR MISTAKES AND NOT DORGET ABOUT THEM? MAYBE IT'S SEEING A WOMAN I LOVED AND MADE SACRIFICES FOR, TREAT ME LIKE A STRANGER. OR THAT SIBLING THAT TELLS THE FAMILY I'M HAVING A CHILD, AND NEVER APOLOGIES FOR LYING, THEN PROCEEDS TO ASK ME FOR HELP WITH BILLS.
SOMETIMES I TRY TO IMAGINE WHERE I WOULD BE WITHOUT PAIN. WOULD THINGS BE DIFFERENT WITHOUT SOME OF MY DARKEST EXPERIENCES? SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE I MARRIED MY CAREER TO AVOID HAVING TO DEAL WITH THE PAIN IN MY EYES. THERE ARE WOMEN WHO OWE ME APOLOGIES. THERE ARE MEN I WANT TO FIGHT. THERE'S MONEY ME AND MY MOMMA NEVER GOT TO SPEND. THERE ARE PLACES I'VE NEVER BEEN BECAUSE OF MY PAIN. THE OTHER DAY I BEGAN TO WRITE DOWN THE NAMES OF THE WOMEN I SLEPT WITH OVER THE YEARS. I HAD TO STOP. ALMOST EVERY NAME I WROTE CAME WITH SOME PAIN. THAT FEELING OF BEING EXPENDABLE; I KNOW IT LIKE I KNOW MY NAME. GIVING ALL OF MYSELF TO WOMEN WHO ONLY EVER WANTED 9INCHES AND NIKES.
I CAN'T LIVE LIKE THAT THESE DAYS, ALL YOUNG AND NAIVE. THE PAIN IN MY EYES HAS LEFT ME WITH DARK WISDOM. CAN'T BE OUT HERE JUST BELIEVING WHAT PEOPLE SAY TO ME, NOT AFTER ALL THE THINGS I'VE SEEN AND THE THINGS I BELIEVE. PEOPLE LIE EVERYDAY. I'VE BEEN TOLD "I LOVE YOU" ALL OF MY LIFE. I JUST NOW STARTED FEELING IT AT AGE 30. BUT I'M SUPPOSED TO BE SETTLING DOWN. IM SUPPOSED TO BE PLANING FOR A FAMILY. IM SUPPOSED TO BE 'GETTING MYSELF TOGETHER" AND "WORKING ON MYSELF". I'M SUPPOSED TO BE BOOKING FLIGHTS, TAKING PICTURES ON BEACHES IN BALI, AND "GETTING TO THE BAG"...RIGHT?
THE PAIN IN MY EYES LEAVES MY PERSPECTIVE JADED AND DARK. I SEE RED. I FEEL DARK. I WAKE UP AND RUN MY MILES BECAUSE IT BEATS DWELLING IN NIGHTMARES AND SEEING VISIONS OF THINGS I CAN NEVER UNSEE. IM TIRED OF PEOPLE SAYING "I DON'T SEE YOU OUT ANYMORE". IF ONLY THEY REALIZED THEY'RE THE KIND OF ENERGY IM AVOIDING. IF I'VE FOUND ANY HAPPINESS THESE DAYS IT LIES WITHIN DOING THE THINGS I LOVE THE MOST; WRITING, RUNNING, AND DEVELOPING ATHLETES. AND FOR NOW, THAT'S ALL I SEE...
MAYBE THE PAIN IN MY EYES IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEED... MAYBE THE PAIN IN MY EYES IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEED TO SEE. THE PAIN IN MY EYES IS WHAT I SEE. AND IF YOU ASK ME, THERE'S A LOT OF BEAUTY FROM THIS ANGLE
My Mother's favorite words to use whenever my actions remind her of the resentment she harbors for my Father. Their dynamic leaves me with more questions than it does answers. Nevermind her disdain for the man, I'll let God address that in his time.
Me and my Dad are as thick as thieves while also being nothing alike. My Father is a reformed drug dealer turned NYU graduate, who once dropped an Album in a group called The Homeboys. He's charming, smooth with the kind of voice that makes people feel comfortable, no matter what his lips are saying.
My Dad, like most young men was my first superhero. Growing up, he was invincible. He could do no wrong. Simply put, he was perfect. That was until the day I came home from school to our Coney Island apartment and saw his belongings lying on the curb...
We never talked about that day. But that was the moment our relationship began to change. It was the first time I saw my Superman bleed.
Over the years my relationship with my Dad has shifted. I remember at one point wanting to fight him. I remember feeling as tho I never had a Father, like my Dad was just some dude in the street -- and I was simply responsible for my own life and resources. I remember the moment my Dad became my enemy. I also remember the moment in which he became my friend.
It started with a conversation.
ME AND MY OLD MAN
I believe that lessons can be learned thru conversations. My Dad loved to talk to me about basketball and music. How he and my Uncle Donald worked with Michael Jackson. How my Uncle Jerry was nominated for Grammys. How he snuck into a James Brown concert at the Apollo theater in Harlem when he was kid. My Dad loves to talk. He's at his best when he is communicating and reflecting on his feelings.
I just wish he talked to me more about how much he loved my Mother, or any woman for that matter.
My Dad is about to be 60 years old and we've never talked about his relationship with my Mom. To be specific, he has never had a conversation with me about how much he loves my Mother, or any woman that he has dated over the years. Sure I know he loves my Mother, but my knowledge is based off an assumption. It's based off me seeing him engage with her in certain moments. But from his mouth, to my ears, I do not know the nuances of feelings he has for my my Mother. Sure I know he's attracted to her. I don't know about his experiences over the years regarding loving my Mother or any women he has dated. All I know is the assumed love that my Father has for my Mother.
Why is this important for me? Why is this important for men? Why is this important for Black Men, both Fathers and Sons alike?
I remember when my Dad taught me how to ride a bike. Before I ever touched a pedal, he had a conversation with me about riding a bike. He went thru some of the specifics like, "hold your handlebars tight" and "grab this lever to stop the bike from moving". I come from a family of ball players who love the game of basketball, so me and my Dad would always talk about sports. He's a huge Knick fan, and he loved watching college basketball. We could talk for hours about the nuances of the game of basketball, or about his love for music and fine dining.
But as I sit here, 30 years old and single, I wish my Father spoke to me more about the love he felt for my Mother. I wish my Dad's ambition and zeal wasn't limited to conversations about grown men playing a game. My parents were married for almost 20 years. Surely there are some stories in there. There are experiences, emotions, feelings, actions, that are all real life learning experiences that should be shared with his sons.
I always wondered why whenever I heard a Black Man speak of or reference their wife or girlfriend, it was often done with a level of reluctancy. I was always curious to about why my Dad, my friends Fathers, and most men I grew up around, always spoke of their girlfriends, wives, etc with this hyper sense of obligation instead of genuine love and passion.
I wish I knew what went thru my Dad's mind the moment he fell in love with my Mother. I would love to talk to him about the feelings and thoughts he had the first time he knew he let her down, or when he knew she was "the one". I would love to know the lessons learned throughout their relationship. What areas and moments he was most proud of, and which moments he wished he could have back. I wish all Fathers, especially Black Dads, talked to their sons about more than Lebron Vs Jordan. Talk to them about the love you felt for your Queen, and the moments you became her King. There is growth in that dialogue. There are lessons to be learned and feelings to be processed. Me and my Dad will continue to grow in our relationship. One day I will be a Father. I'm not certain of much, but I can guarantee you this: My children will know real love. My children will experience love first hand in both how I love them, in their observations of how I love my wife, and thru the conversations I have with them about the love I came to know upon meeting their mother.
Conversations With My Dad
Monday February 12th. Heart broken, mind racing, soul yearning for something I've never had from someone who never loved me...understanding. Somewhere I shouldn't have been, hoping to connect with someone who wasn't mine, trying to resolve feelings I wish I didn't have. The clouds were grey and thick. I remember looking into her eyes, knowing after tonight, I wouldn't see her again. Still I stood there. Eyes watering, I pleaded with her. I pleaded with myself. " I'm sorry. I love you". How strong was I in this moment? How did I end up here; in some public library parking lot, crying on my knees to someone?
As a Black Man, our strength is often times limited to our ability to perform in athletic spaces, or withstand forms of oppression and keep things inside while simultaneously projecting a sense of calm and style. That whole "I got this" attitude will have you fucked up, beloved. When discussing the concept of strength thru the lens of Black Men, the perspective is limited. Yes we can be strong on the basketball court or in the boxing ring, but our strength as Black Men is unlimited, despite society's efforts to project otherwise.
I think about my upbringing, the mindset of my Father and his Father. Growing up in Coney Island Brooklyn as a kid, my masculinity was defined by how many women I slept with. My manhood was measured by the clothes I wore and the car I drove. You were "A MAN" if you could fight, or if you could crack the more disrespectful jokes. How well you internalized and hid your pain was more important that the source of it. You weren't allowed to cry. Crying for a Black Man was seen as sign of weakness. In fact, the only time a Black Man can cry without being seen as “weak” or “feminine” is at a funeral for a loved one, and even then they’re expected to get over it soon thereafter. This is the logic my Grandpa instilled in my Father and two Uncles. That's what my Father attempted to instill in me.
That's NOT how I will raise my children. They deserve to know the truth. They deserve the right to process and experience feelings independent of people's misguided expectations. My children, if im fortunate enough to marry and have any, will be supported when their emotions make their way to their heart’s surface. They won't be shunned, but rather nurtured along their emotional journey. They’ll learn how to compartmentalize when needed, but compartmentalizing won't be their default response to dealing with their feelings. I won't yell at them for crying, instead I'll explain to them that crying is part of the process of healing. I'll share with them my experiences, the moments I cried and felt pain. Not for the sake attempting to impose expectations on them, but rather so they know their Dad, and everyone else for that matter, cries too.
So as a revisist that afternoon in Clementon NJ. Snot running down my nose. Fingers cold, lips chapped and eyes filled with tears. Tears she wiped out of pity from seeing this grown man weep like a hurt young lad. I remember riding back home in my uber. Still crying, my driver asked me if I was okay: "I'm good", I defensively responded. I arrived home and cried everyday for the next few weeks. Heartbroken, devastated and unable to find any sort of resolve. It hit me...my strength was in those tears I cried. You see anyone can can pretend to be okay. Anyone can deny hurt and pain, but in that moment, on that chilly night in NJ;as my knee touched the ground and my arms wrapped around her waist, I was in my strongest state. I was vulnerable, I was 100% honest, I held nothing back. In that moment, more so than any other moment, I felt alive. My truest, most powerful moment came when I let my guard down and opened up my heart. I was strong enough to open up, despite not knowing what the outcome may have been. I was open with someone I needed closure with. I was honest with myself for once. As Black Men, that is where our true strength dwells. In our ability to open up, be honest with ourselves and take ownership of our feelings. We are way more than society's projections. We are Kings, and Kings bleed too.
AS SHE RUBBED THE BACK OF MY SHOULDER AND CONGRATULATED ME, MY MIND WANDERED ELSEWHERE. A MODEST CROWD SHOWED UP ON THIS RAINY DAY IN TORONTO AND WATCHED ME FINISH MY FASTEST RACE TO DATE. LOVE ONES EMBRACING ME; A MEDAL BEING PLACED AROUND MY NECK. I SMILED. OUTWARDLY I REFLECTED HAPPINESS, BUT INSIDE I WAS MORE ALIGNED WITH PAIN. WHERE WAS MY JOY IN THIS MOMENT? IT SURELY WASN'T WITH CONNECTED TO THIS PRIMITIVE SYMBOL OF PARTICIPATION AROUND MY NECK.
AS BLACK MEN HOW FREQUENTLY ARE WE ABLE TO CLAIM OUR JOY? HOW OFTEN CAN WE HAVE OUR MOMENT AND CELEBRATE WITHOUT THE PRESENCE OF PAIN? WHY CAN'T WE SEEM TO CELEBRATE OUR WINS WITHOUT VIEWING THEM THRU THE LENS OF TRAUMA? WHAT HAPPENED TO NOTION OF EXPERIENCING HAPPINESS FOR THE SAKE OF HAPPINESS? BEAUTIFUL BLACK MAN, YES YOU CAN BE EXCITED, JOYOUS AND FILLED WITH POSITIVITY BECAUSE OF THE LIFE THAT YOU HAVE. YOU CAN BE HAPPY ABOUT IT BEING MONDAY BECAUSE IT'S MONDAY, AND NOT THINK ABOUT WHATEVER TOOK PLACE ON SUNDAY, OR WHAT MAY COME ON THURSDAY. YOUR JOY BELONGS TO YOU ALWAYS IN ALL WAYS.
THE JOY OF BLACK MEN IS OFTEN TIMES INFANTILIZED. BLACK MASCULINITY IS ONLY ASSOCIATED WITH STRENGTH. THE STRENGTH OF A BLACK MAN AND THE JOY DISPLAYED IN OUR SMILES ARE NEVER SEEN AS SYNONYMOUS AS IT PERTAINS TO THE BLACK MALE EXPERIENCE. JOY, BLACK BOY JOY, IS CELEBRATED WHEN YOU SEE IT FROM A CHILD. HASHTAGS LIKE #BLACKMENSMILING ARE TYPICALLY INTERTWINED WITH ELEMENTS OF CHILD LIKE BEHAVIOR. TYPICALLY THE JOY OF A CHILD IS CAREFREE AND SOCIALLY ACCEPTED. CHILDREN WAKE UP EARLY ON SUNDAY MORNINGS ECSTATIC ABOUT LIFE JUST BECAUSE IT'S SUNDAY. HOW COME THAT PERCEIVED NOTION OF JOY AND HAPPINESS ISN'T CARRIED ON INTO OUR ADULTHOOD? AT WHAT POINT DID THAT STOP? AT WHAT POINT DID IT BECOME 'WEIRD" OR "RANDOM" TO BE AN ADULT AND ALSO BE GENUINELY EXCITED ABOUT LIFE BECAUSE THE SKY IS BLUE? AT WHAT POINT IS THE JOY OF A BLACK MAN TAKEN FROM US? HOW COME OUR JOY, OUR CELEBRATIONS CAN ONLY BE UNDERSTOOD AND CELEBRATED WHEN UNDERSTOOD THRU THE LENS OF OBSTACLES AND SETBACKS? WE SEE BLACK MEN BEING JOYFUL AND CELEBRATED AND CALL IT #BLACKBOYJOY BECAUSE OUR UNDERSTANDING OF BLACK JOY IS SOMETHING THAT CHILDREN CAN POSSESS. BUT IF YOU SAW A BLACK MAN SMILING, WHILE WALKING DOWN THE STREET SINGING STIR FRY BY MIGOS, YOU WOULD INITIALLY PAUSE AND CONCLUDE THAT HE WASN'T OKAY. OR THAT HE WAS BEHAVING LIKE A GROWN ASS KID. WHO SAID THAT A BLACK MAN'S JOY HAD TO END WHEN PUBERTY ELUDED US? WHY ARE WE OKAY WITH PEOPLE QUESTIONING OUR HAPPINESS? WHY IS OUR HAPPINESS SEEN AS ANYTHING OTHER THAN JUST THAT; HAPPINESS?
I WONDER IF THE SWITCH TAKES PLACE BECAUSE OF THE INHERENT RESPONSIBILITIES THAT WE DEAL WITH AS ADULTS? CHILDREN TYPICALLY OPERATE IN SPACES WITHOUT RESPONSIBILITY. BECAUSE OF THIS, ADULTS DON'T HAVE TIME TO CELEBRATE HOW BLUE THE SKY IS. STILL THE FACT REMAINS THAT IT IS PERFECTLY OKAY TO BE PRESENT IN YOUR JOY FOR THE SAKE OF JOY'S SAKE. BLACK MEN, YOU CAN CELEBRATE YOUR LIFE AND ALL OF ITS NUANCES WITHOUT THE PRESENCE OF PAIN, TRAUMA OR ANYTHING NEGATIVE. YOUR JOY, BLACK MAN, IS FOR YOU. IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE SHARED BY YOUR PEERS. IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE UNDERSTOOD BY YOUR FAMILY. YOU CAN AND SHOULD CELEBRATE JOY AT ALL TIMES BECAUSE IT IS, AFTER ALL, YOURS. PEOPLE OFTEN TIMES FALL INTO THIS LOGIC THAT JOY HAS TO BE SHARED. BUT THE VALIDITY OF YOUR HAPPINESS HAS NEVER NEEDED VALIDATION, KING. YOUR JOY CAN BE A COMMUNAL EXPERIENCE AT TIMES, BUT IT IS YOURS BEFORE IT IS ANYONE ELSE'S. IT IS PERFECTLY OKAY TO PERFORM ON THE STAGE OF LIFE AND SIMULTANEOUSLY BE JAY-Z AND MEMPHIS BLEEK. YES, YOU CAN BE YOUR OWN DEWAYNE WADE AND LEBRON JAMES WHILE IN THE PURSUIT OF YOUR FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING YOUR OWN CHEERLEADER AND HYPEMAN IN LIFE.
BLACK MAN, YOU CAN EXIST IN A STATE OF JOY BECAUSE YOU CHOOSE TO. YOU CAN BE EXCITED ABOUT THE WATER BEING WET. YOUR JOY DOES NOT MAKE YOU A CHILD. YOUR SMILE DOES NOT MAKE YOU WEAK. YOUR JOY DOESN'T HAVE TO BE SHARED OR UNDERSTOOD TO BE YOUR REALITY, AND FOR THAT MATTER CELEBRATED.
I REMEMBER HOPPING ON THE PLANE MAKING MY WAY BACK TO THE STATES. MIND FILLED WITH ALL THE THINGS I HAD TO DO ONCE I GOT BACK HOME. MY THEN GIRLFRIEND WAS EAGER TO TELL ME ABOUT MYSELF. MY MOTHER NEEDED HELP PAYING FOR HER KIDNEY MEDICATION, AND THE LAST TIME I SAW MY DAD HE HAD A BROWN CIGARETTE IN HIS HAND. I WASN'T PRESENT IN MY MOMENT. LIKE MOST BLACK MEN, I HAD OTHER ISSUES CONSUMING MY MIND AT THE TIME. THAT RACE WAS ALMOST 4 YEARS AGO. I CAN NEVER GET THAT DAY BACK. ON THAT DAY, IN THAT MOMENT, MY JOY WAS NOT MINE. IT BELONGED TO ME, BUT THE MINDFULNESS I DESIRED TO CELEBRATE MY MOMENT ELUDED ME. IT'S A MOMENT THAT STILL HAUNTS ME UNTIL THIS DAY. I DIDN'T OWN MY JOY. MAKE SURE TO ALWAYS OWN YOURS, BLACK MAN.
Last week I was able to treat my dad to dinner for his birthday. He is 59 years young, and everyday I spend around him, I learn more about myself.Read More
You are a great man when you open up and operate in love instead of living in fear. Don't confuse people's judgements with your own insecurities. Your healing process is ongoing, but do not look back. Those who have not forgiven you are speaking to and about a person who no longer exist. That's their problem, not yours. A subtweet merely is an indication that they still care, but your eyes don't need to experience their misguided energy.Read More
THE NEXT TIME I GET ON MY KNEES AND CRY TO A WOMAN IT WILL BE TO ASK HER FOR HER HAND IN MARRIAGE. THE NEXT TIME I CRY, IT WILL BE TO REJOICE IN HAPPINESS AND THANK GOD FOR ALL THAT HE HAS DONE FOR ME...Read More
I don’t know when ill be okay again, but unlike how i felt a week ago, I KNOW I WILL BE BACK TO BEING THE BEST VERSION OF MYSELF SOON. I'm starting to see the purpose in God's plan for me these days. It’s just a matter of time, and what a time that will be.Read More
I copied my notes from this past wednesday bible study. As someone who is looking to grow spiritually while developing overall as a person, I think it's important to share my journey with others. Checkout my journey and notes below.Read More
It's okay that i'm off social media. Ain't no twitter in heaven anyway. I used to cry myself to sleep every night. The pain of feeling unloveable consumed me. God was always around tho. I started praying more and my tears suddenly stopped falling.Read More
I remember moving back home in 2012 and reconnecting with a woman named A.T. I don’t want to put her on blast, so im using her initials. It’s crazy bc I knew her since middle school. Our families went to church together and they still do. Any who, she was the most reactive woman I ever met. I could NOT tell her anything. She punched me once. I remember not speaking to her for maybe 2 weeks after she hit me. She reached out to me on some “why aren’t you talking to me” vibe. She was abusive then, and if im being honest, i was too naive and "in love" to see how badly her energy impacted me.
You see, i’m a terrible liar. I'm not good at lying AT ALL. However, my bad lying ass will tell a lie quick if I feel like i'm going to be unfairly judged and abused because of being honest. I really have to trust someone to be vulnerable with them. It’s something I’m getting better at, but I really struggle with opening up to/trusting people...At the sametime, I wasn't always like this, Nor do I think that kind of behavior is acceptable. I hate that about myself and it's something I am working to change each and everyday. So far, so good.
Anyways, me and her broke up. I almost died in the hospital after a horrific car accident, and she never came to see me. Whatever. Fast forward, I met another woman. I fell in love with her pretty fast. Like a week in. Looking back, it was because i was so hurt from being with A.T that the next woman to be nice to me was like a Goddess to me. About 6/7months into our relationship she shared with me that she dealt with chronic depression, anxiety as well as an eating disorder. At the time, I DID NOT understand the magnitude of what that meant and or the skills needed to grow in love with someone in that space. I grew up in the church. I've always had a very strong relationship with God. I come from a big family. Im inherently loyal to the people I love. But i remember beginning to feel hopeless in that relationship.
It’s odd bc I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A SUPER SPIRITUAL AND POSITIVE PERSON. I loved going to church. My mother is a pastor, and so are many of my mentors. At one point in my life, i wanted to be a Pastor myself. I say these things because the culture of spirituality is something I grew up in. It's also a sacred space of love and confidence for me. I was always a prayerful person who relied on my relationship with God to guide me each and everyday. It's where my confidence stems from now that I think about it.
But when I met this woman i just stopped going to church. You see, I was honest with her about my past with A.T. I told her everything, and she used it against me. Now i'm not saying she's evil. She prob doesn't realize how that behavior impacted me, but it sure did. When I wanted to go to church, she questioned my intentions. She felt like I was trying to get back with my ex, or that my ex would try and get back with me (even tho that wasn't true). If you know me well, I never run back to people. Until this day, I have only done that with one person, Cierra. Anyways, I remember asking her to go to church with me. Because I was honest with her about A.T, she didn't want to go. Furthermore, she would argue with me about why I wanted to attend that church. She would also make me feel bad about wanting to go alone if i hinted at it. She would question me about wanting to get back with A.T. She would tell me she was miserable and beg me not to leave her. And because of my blind loyalty and love for her, I listened.
You see, i did not want to hurt her because I loved her. I never want to hurt a woman I love, or see them cry. It kills me in way that reminds me of the terrible things my dad did to my mom. Anyways, I did not want her to feel alone and unloved. On several occasions throughout our almost 3 year relationship, this woman would tell me she was going to commit suicide. It didn’t help that I would come to her place and find a shit load of pills just lying around the house like some sort of decorations. I felt like i needed to be with her at all times to protect her from herself. I compromised my honesty for her. I compromised my relationship with God for her.
I never realized how much that relationship impacted me until now. I think back to the women i’ve dated since then, or even my personal relationship with God. And man, i really lost my way. I’ve always wanted to read the bible with the woman I loved. I’ve always wanted to attend church regularly with the woman I loved. We ain’t have to be trying to get married. We ain’t gotta be celibate or nothing conservative like that. But that spiritual foundation, FOR ME, is a necessary component for me to further a relationship with a woman I am in love with. Because of those relationships, i became a different person. A person I DO NOT LIKE. A person i am daily trying to move away from and towards the person I know i am. Cierra would ask me about prayer and church. It would trigger feelings I thought I dealt with. I would clam up and lie because I wasn't sure how she would respond. I desperately wanted to do bible studies with her. I wanted to attend church with her or just pray with her when things between us were good and or bad. But we never did. In my heart and in my head, I felt like she would resent me like my ex did. I felt like had I shown her that side of me she would have thought I was weird and judged me, even tho she was the one bringing it up.
You see, i never had issues being myself before. Like, a person like me, for the most part, have NEVR EVER lacked confidence. Ive always been confident. I was just born this way. But when you love someone, when you’re loyal to someone who doesn’t love themselves, someone who doesn’t believe in themselves, sticking around them long enough will make their problems your problems. I know both of these ex's never aimed to make my life miserable. I do still believe they loved me, just not in a way that worked for me. But both of those relationships consisted of more negative moments than positives. More trauma than happiness tbh. I'm not blaming anyone because i'm not a victim. But damn, i’ve been impacted in ways that I never realized. I'm 30 years old and there are things I just don't love about myself. Anyone who knows me knows, I'm always willing to work to get better. Whether that's my love life, career, family time, or just my own personal development. I want to be the best version of myself because I genuinely love me some me. But it took some broken hearts, hurtful comments and behavior that I just never exhibited before for me to realize that I really have turned into a person that I don't recognize when I look in the mirror. First step in growing/addressing a problem is identifying the source then admitting you have one, or vice versa, I dunno lol.
It’s weird to be honest because there are moments in which I experienced happiness in both of these relationships. But the residue from them has left a stain on my heart and in my mind. I used to date a woman named Cierra. I wanted to grow with spiritually. To be honest, I had dreams of marrying her. But I just couldn't get past my own bullshit. I remember being reluctant to talk to her about God, or even church because i felt like she would attack me for it like the woman before her did. I then felt like maybe going with her wasn’t a good idea bc I had done that with A.T. And that got me snuffed and fought with, you know? They say hurt people hurt other people. Well broken people will break you too.
Until it’s time to put yourself back together. That's where I'm at right now. I'm alone and i'm okay with that. I'm broken, and i'm not okay with that. But i'm growing each and everyday. I'm learning. I'm doing the little things like reading my bible daily and going for runs. I decided to get off social media. It's so triggering. I look at subtweets and want to cry. I see conversations with people that break my soul.
But there is healing in forgiveness. So much of me feels miserable because I know I could have done better in my past relationships. But I'm learning to accept those moments as lessons to be learned from, and moments of growth. I forgive myself for the fucked up shit I did, whether it was lying about dumb shit, or being loyal to people who had a negative impact on me, or just like not being present in my relationship because I was so fucked up over my past. I'm a good person, but I have not been one to myself and others for a while. That ends right the fuck now.
8th February 12:02am Thursday. I'll be back another time for part 2. Got some emotions to WRK thru.
STAY TRUE TO THE GOOD
How much would you pay to be great? How much are you willing to sacrifice in order to achieve your dreams? To what length are you willing to go to in order to see your visions turn into reality? When all have plans, sure. Many of men and women have come up with great ideas. But there is only one Oprah. There is only one Jay-Z. There is only one Chris Rock. Sure Kelly Roland is amazing, as is Michelle, but there is only Beyonce.
I've taken my losses, yes. But I'm not the only person in this world dealing with a broken heart. I'm not the only person who lost a loved one, and has a terminally ill immediate family member. I'm not the only person who can't sleep at night. The nightmares suck-yes, but so does living in one. Who said that my circumstances have to be my downfall? Who said that my shortcomings and lack of will be the reason why I fail? Why the fuck can't I have whatever the fuck I want? I refuse to fall into this notion that I am somehow unable to overcome whatever the fuck is in my way, including myself.
I'm amazing. I'm brilliant. I have an outstanding, loving, supportive heart, and I'm capable of changing the whole world with my ideas and work ethic. I'm an amazing boyfriend. I love hard, and I show up for mine. I'm God fearing. I'm a great listener. My work ethic is unparalleled. I'm amazing in bed, and I'm just as good holding a conversation. I'm respectful, reasonable, and honest. I'm super creative. I love helping others win. So why not me? Why can't Percell Dugger's name be in the conversation as one of the most influential people the world has ever seen? Someone told me I looked exhausted the other day. I said: You're right. I'm tired of the excuses. I'm tired of the pity party. I'm tired of the overly emotional, hyper sensitive and super reactive energy. Most of all...
One day you wrote me, asking me about how you could best love me. That day was triggering. The letter you sent me forced me to begin to address my internal feelings of being unlovable and unwanted. I think back to the scars i got from other women, the ones i put band-aids on. How I come off strong and confident on social media, but deep down inside I’m hurting. I remember crying on the phone with you from my hotel room during the summer. Remember that? I didn’t want you to leave. You came back, but I was never really present. Not when I’m hurting, struggling to piece my life together while attempting to continue like one of those people who “got their shit together”. I don’t regret falling in love with you. You were a pleasant sunny day to my cold and bitter winter. I resent myself. I resent my inability to grow past my traumatic past, and build a beautiful future with you. Didn’t realize how broken I am. Didn’t realize how hurting I am. And by the time i began to, I had already hurt you and pushed you away. Too late for i’m sorry. Too late to start over. My path is better traveled alone, because it’s forcing me to grow. I love the God I see in you. Sometimes I just felt like the devil had too strong of a hold of me. I’ll always hate myself for not being able to love you like you loved me. Too hurt and battered from my own shit i guess.
Until life forces us to be in the same room, i'll always wonder what it would’ve been like for us to be a bride and groom. Maybe then i’ll ask you? I probably won’t. I'll probably just admire your beauty from afar. Maybe one day im blessed enough to end up wherever you are. A dream come true. There’s 7 days in a week, and not one goes by where I don’t think about how much I love you.
I find myself in an almost constant state of reflection. Constantly comparing my former spaces and energies to my current ones. Am I thinking the same? Am I moving the same? I think back to where I was in my life when I first started blogging. And if i'm being honest with myself, I'm more unhappy now than I was back then. Back when I wrote The Transition and Why Do I Workout So Much, I was crashing with Camille, trying to figure out If being a lawyer was really what I wanted to do. I was miserable then, and as I write this post, 4 years later; i'm still very much unhappy with my current space.
Why is that? I making money. I eating everyday. My mother's health is improved. I'm a published writer. I have been in NIKE ads, I'm a NIKE trainer. I have run several half marathons. I have a podcast, and I'm currently filming and producing a TV show. I'm the head strength coach of a women's college basketball team. I'm a business owner and CEO of a successful brand. Yet I sit here and I feel so unfulfilled. Why? I ask God this question on a daily!
I think back to my relationship with Alexandra. I think back to my time with Shatorah and Bree. I think back to the times I spent with women who I cried over like Shatorah or Hannah. Women I confessed my loved to, only to end up feeling humiliated and worthless. Women I bought wedding rings for, who couldn't visit me in in the Hospital after I almost died in a car accident.
I refuse to continue living my life, 30 years in, and be a bitter broken bum ass piece of shit. Phyllis is a great woman. She has been outstanding in her ability to nurture and support me in my darkest hours. But i'm tired of always needing someone's emotional support. I'm tired of feeling slighted by women who don't give a shit about me. Tired of women telling me about myself, like I asked for their fuckin opinions. Tired of women I've only met once gossiping to our mutual friends about my jaded my sense of humor is. Tired of women telling my jokes are unattractive, as to suggest that I ever gave a shit about being attractive TO them. I resent Rea because I knew she wasn't shit, but I still left myself emotionally available to be let down. I kept my heart open for her, while her legs were open for someone else.
I'm tired of holding back the good in my heart. I'm tired of punishing the woman next to me because of the women who sit in my rearview mirror. My past is checkered, dark and full of despair. I've been punched by woman, cheated on by a woman, dumped by a woman, cops called on me by a woman, lost a job dealing with a woman, lost a scholarship messing around with a woman, and damn near changed my religion because of a woman. I don't want that to be my life's story. I'm an amazing soul when I move with a pure heart. It's been a minute since I woke in a positive mood. That changes today.
Percell deserves to be happy for Percell's sake. I deserve the right to know what I love and who I love, because I love it, and not because it's better than what I'm used to. I not living in my past anymore. It's about time that I left those feelings, those tears, those fears and those nightmares there...in the past. They aren't welcome with me on this journey anymore. I owe myself a real shot at happiness. I owe it to myself to love myself more than anyone else.
Here's to me shooting my shot at life. Triple double, no assist.
*This is my last blog post for a while. Thank you all for tuning in over the years. I'll be back eventually. For now, it's time for me to heal and grow. I pray you do the same.
STAY TRUE TO THE GOOD
From the door I showed you my scars
And I told you girl, "I won't lie". Know I'm not perfect. At my worst I was the best at being a fck boy.
If we at war, then this is a war that I can't afford, no I can not. Forcing me to choose between showing you attention and getting my work done. Knowing I can't do both, I always chose you. The moment I didn't, you complained. punished me for it too. I guess that's how you show support.
I wanted more but that was before.
Lord knows I'm torn, so I cry. From the corner of my eye, baby girl,
It's been hard for me to smile.
Lately, it's been hard for me to smile. So much familiarity in these tears. I pray they don't define the narrative of my career.
There is something to be said about the notion of effort. For many, myself included, we believe that the quality of our life, relationships, career and health are a result of the effort we put into them. If I love her with all my heart, we will live happily ever after. If I’m the first one in the office and the last one out every day, I’ll get that promotion.
If this logic was true then many of us would always get some rest whenever it was time to go to bed. We would get dressed in our pajamas, turn off the lights, lay down, close our eyes and go to sleep. We put in all the effort to prepare ourselves for rest, so in theory we should just end up in dreaming and enjoying some good old fashioned sleep. Too bad that’s seldom the case.
We POUR so much of our energy into effort. Trying to get someone to love us, trying to love someone, trying to make money, trying to find happiness, trying to help others. We pour so much into attempting to control our outcomes and achieve our goals that we lose sight of what is most important; the journey. Take me for example. I wake up every single day and pour my all into my company GOODWRK. If I am not working on building and running a successful business, I am pouring my all into the athletes and clients that I train. When I’m not with them, I am likely pouring into my podcast. If I am not pouring into my podcast, I am pouring into my work as a journalist/copywriter. If I’m not doing that, I am pouring my all into fitness modeling at a casting near you.
Now before I go any further, think for a second. At any point above, did I ever mention pouring into myself? Pretty miserable right? I’ve tried my best to pinpoint the areas in my life in which I can improve things. And I often came to the conclusion that i needed to add more value to my life by having a role in others. Be their source of inspiration, be their source of love and great sex, be their source of support and knowledge, be their coach, be their mentor, be their fitness expert, be their lover, be their friend, be their workout buddy, be their therapist, be their media outlet, be their press coverage, be their editor, be their lover, be their friend.
Funny how pouring my all into these external spaces and people has left me feeling less, you know, poor.
Stay True To The Good
I remember the feeling of trusting you. I remember the tears that came down your eyes, the night in your laundry room, you told me you loved me. That wasn’t the first time you said it, but it was the first time i believed you. How dark of a space I was in to believe truth in your green cold lying eyes.Read More
I’m not sure if i’m battling my demons or sleeping with them. In a home filled with love i’m most at peace sleeping alone. I wish and wonder what life would be like if you never hit my phone. How does one get some caught up in the game, that they forget about home? I guess I never got those memos of you always putting on. But maybe this is all is just test for me? Especially since these days people want to check for me. It’s stressing me. I don’t go to bed until 3am, then wake up at 7 and give the world whatever is left of me.
I think about this #MeToo situation and how it’s triggering. I wonder about a situation I was a part of, truthfully. I remember being in David’s place at Columbia University. He was in Seminary with my Mom. She introduced us. I was maybe 15/16? I say maybe because I don’t think about it, personally. I just remember him spooning me. I remember laying in the bed sleeping with my sweats suit on, and him coming to lay down behind me. It was uncomfortable. Not like he was invited. The choice was ever extended to me. I remember getting up and leaving to head to school in the morning. I remember my mother later saying that he came out of the closet, and THAT’S when it fell on me. What was he trying to do that night, i mean honestly? He was my mentor at the time, he had to be like 27, but was he also sexually fond of me? It bothers me. I remember trusting David and saying I could just share with with him. I passed out on his air mattress religiously. Esp when my mom was annoying me. It was a single sized one, so why the fuck did get out his bed and come laydown next to me?
I hate that I feel like I can’t tell you parts of my life’s story. I feel like you wouldn’t understand. Every time I’m vulnerable I feel like I get judged or hurt. I really like you, but that doesn’t mean that I always think this will work. You want me to call you when I get home every night, but the service in the train station is spotty. You wanted me to facetime you before bed, but the phone I have when you’re around, isn’t mine to begin with. You wonder about who I’m laying down next to at night. I’m trying to discern getting to the shelter before it closes. There’s layers in this. Layers that I never share because no one besides me really cares. My space, past present and future, is just that: mine. How could I tell you this? How could I explain this? You’re consumed with your own life, just take this good dick and think I got it like this. And do have it good in some ways, but that woman you swear I’m seeing isn’t even into guys. The phones I use aren’t even mine, That passcode you used, the phone you went thru, the messages you read, I’d be lying if I told you what most of them said, because they’re not for me… But you wouldn’t understand what this kinda life is like like. I write a lot. I don’t get paid much for it. And selling pills to people in dangerous, but it’s so rewarding. I do just enough to address my major bills. And when you have friends like I do, you get things take care of. But I still have pride. I don’t accept free rides. But since you want to know everything about my life, consider yourself inside.
I remember moving out of Chicken’s house. People think I left because I found a great opportunity and a really good job, but I was emotionally depleted. The memories I have of my grandmother mostly positive ones, but when she began not know who I, or her husband of 75plus years was, I couldn’t deal with it. She’s alive till’ this day, technically speaking, but to me she might as well be gone. Her birthday is 3 days before mine. She didn’t even know it until she was reminded of it. She hasn’t called me in years to wish me happy birthday. She doesn’t even remember what she had for breakfast. I hate seeing her like this. I hate that i’m in the position to even feel compelled to write something like this. I remember when Brandon showed up at my Birthday celebration. He told me how she didn’t even know who he was. We shared a moment, and I confessed to him that in my head, Grandma is already gone. He looked me in my eyes and told me he understands how and why I feel this way. We have a big family. She has tons of support. My presence, or rather the lack of, won’t be missed by her. But I miss her, the strong, aware, and responsive women that I knew her to be. That’s not what she is anymore. And it’s really fucking bothering me. I pray for my Dad and Uncles and my Grandfather. My 7 siblings, whom I know love her dearly. I hope they can understand my actions. I just want to hold onto those good moments that I had of Chicken.
I know this may come as a surprise to you. Put yourself in my shoes. Depression isn’t something that goes away. There are levels to depression. When you talk to me about your Mom, and you describe her pattern of behavior. How she’s always opting not to attend family events, or socialize, or how she projects when communicating. She’s dealing with depression. And when you judge her, when you get upset with her, when you look at her with frustration and lack patience with your mother, do you think I don’t notice? You think I would be comfortable opening up to you about my battles with depression? You think your response to her would make me want to open up to you and talk to you about my shortcomings or my setbacks, or my demons, when at times you resent your mother for hers? You might be shocked, or rather Thrilled to know that there are way more than 7 reasons why I just won’t do that.
These days you and I just don’t speak as much. I spent years getting to know you. Slept in the same bed as you, cooked for you. Did things for you that I dare not do for any woman. And I don’t know that i can even call you my friend. Sad shit. I tried texting you the other day, I still can’t imagine hitting send on this google doc that I wrote to you. Too much to say. Too much to feel. Sometimes I think about our conversations and interactions over the past 5 years and it all seems surreal. Like a bad movie. Like a terrible script. You were supposed to be my best friend. Now I feel like you ain’t shit.
I remember moving to a new city thinking I would find love. All I found were some groupchats with some dummies who don’t get out enough. The kind of people that think living on their own and having a degree makes you poppin. I’ve been homeless, I lived in condos in other countries, and I do well for myself these days. I know enough to know that my income and my living situation isn’t a reflection of my happiness. Neither is it a reflection of my status. And if you think it make you look good, you may want to step outside the district of your mind, and experience something real. You’re not poppin because you’ve made a habit of paying bills.
Thanks for reading. Just some experiences I lived thru over the years. Promise I'll post more. For Now...
Stay True To The Good