struggle

“I’m 28, raising four kids, in my mother’s house.”

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. A long while. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to talk about. I’ve just been “too busy” to sit down and free my mind of all of the things it’s been occupied with as of late. It’s funny I say that because I hate that. Too busy? Why? What am I doing? Mostly trying to figure out how to function at a frequency that this place seems to want us to vibe on. Nope.

A few weeks ago, my friend was celebrating her birthday at a nightclub, and I had arrived really late, but the important thing was that I was there, right? Right. I was having a good time; my friend was really happy to see me, so.. the night was as usual as it could be.

I remember asking this woman for a lighter so my friend could light her smoke, but this woman looked… Run. Down. I had returned her lighter and asked why she wasn’t dancing like nobody’s business. She looked at me for a minute before she sighed and shrugged her shoulders. I told her it was a good night… she was alive, and there was good music, she should just dance. And she took my arm and said “I’m 28. I’m 28, and I have 4 kids at home.” I told her that was amazing. And she shook her head, “No, I’m fucking 28 and I’ve four kids and I live with my mother.” She looked incredibly disappointed and sad. Like the world had made her believe her life was something to feel embarrassed about. I told her it was an incredible thing that she was raising four kids, when I can barely take care of myself, and that being 28 shouldn’t make her feel any type of way. 28 is the new 18! The fact that she was able to have a space to keep her kids fed and clothed — that’s an insane accomplishment. There are kids who aren’t so fortunate, who wouldn’t have parents putting their lives first because they would be out partying all night, every night, or outright abandoning their kids. Nobody knows her circumstances but herself, and there’s no reason for her journey to be questioned or invalidated because of some imaginary timeline constructed by arbitrary societal pressures.

She high-fived me, gave me a hug, and said “You’re right! Fuck. You know what? You’re right.. it is the new 18! I am hard-working.. I’m trying everyday!”

You are. There are so many of us trying every single day, and we don’t need the expectations of a society to measure our successes and failures.

I’m a fucking snail. I’ll get where I need to be at my own pace. Don’t compare yourself to others. Your journey is not their journey and vice versa. Just acknowledge the efforts you make every day, and be grateful for the things you have. The rest will follow.

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Courage: The Power Within

It’s strange to me that the very things that I was taught to embody to be a “good” human being, are the very things that have often led me down some fucked up paths. Or at least that’s what I thought.

I had been wanting to post something about an event, an occurrence in my life that really changed a lot for me. I’ve been wanting to share this for quite some time, but I think the reason why I hadn’t already, was because of feeling vulnerable.

Vulnerability is really strange too. I find a lot of things strange. There’s this thing that we all do to protect ourselves. We try not to question or say things that we feel will have a particular reaction, usually a negative reaction. We hesitate to tell our crush we like them in fear that they won’t like us back. We appear a certain way so we don’t receive the negative reactions attached to appearing any different. And we say and do things… with hesitation, always over-analyzing, always over-thinking our behaviours. It’s this feeling of vulnerability that we don’t want to experience. We feel the need to protect our hearts from getting broken, our self-esteems from being bruised, and ultimately… this fragility we all walk around with, is self-inflicted.

I knew from very early on, and I’ve mentioned this before, that I’ve always felt like the other. Not just in my appearance, or what I thought or talked about… but the way I carried myself. I think at a point though, I acted very selfishly… I had carried around the weight of my issues and what I’ve experienced in life, dragged it around everywhere. Everywhere! I was on the path to complete self-destruction before I had ever stepped in that direction. I expected my friends and my family to understand what I was going through and help me fix it. And that was the problem. The expectation.

November 5, 2011: I was having drinks with some friends. The night was fine; just like any other I thought. I was going to get wasted, get high off of whatever I could get my hands on, and I was going to force myself to forget the things that made me feel like not wanting to get out of bed every morning for the past however many years of my life…

November 6, 2011: I woke up in a hospital bed with my best friend sitting on a chair next to the bed… I had never felt more guilty and selfish in my entire life.

The vast majority of the night is not in my memory. It’s like a movie trailer… I recall snippets of things. I remember calling a close friend of mine and balling… I remember saying I can’t do this anymore; I can’t fight the thing inside of me that wants me to die. I remember being driven in an ambulance, sort of, it felt like a coffin on wheels. I felt constrained. There was a woman’s voice asking me questions like what I had taken, what I had been doing all night. I can recall someone kneeling down in front of me once I arrived at the hospital… and I didn’t look up because I was too afraid or too fucked up, or both, to care. I felt someone’s scruffy face rub against mine and their arms reaching around me, and I knew it was my brother. From that point on… I remember just having the toughest night of my life…alone…

I had to confront everything.

I had to acknowledge my fears.

I had to acknowledge I got my heart broke.

I had to acknowledge abuse, emotionally and physically.

I had to acknowledge the idea of someone close to me dying.

I had to face everything that I had carried around for so long… and deal with it, alone.

Up until the age of 21, I had never taken drugs or drank alcohol, with the fear of turning into somebody I really did not want to. And within the short span of 2 years, I had become the very person I had feared.

Someone, and to this day I don’t know who, wrote a note in my phone that night…

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And there it was… I couldn’t run from it anymore. Either get living, or get dying. You know which path you’ve been on. What are you so afraid of? I made a decision that day, that every day I was going to do the very things that I had been doing since I was a kid… believe in myself, believe in the power of change, and fucking love myself.

This was really nerve wracking to write… but I want to thank an individual I went to high school with for reminding me of the courage within me, and for reminding me of this journey I’ve been on. He had messaged me a few nights ago, when I had come home very discouraged. I had felt like maybe I was wrong about the universe, and my teeny existence in space and time. He messaged me on Facebook… telling me a very personal account of his life after high school, and that he’s sorry he never worked up the courage to talk to me in high school. He told me I was one of the most courageous people he had ever seen because I just didn’t give a fuck, and not just for the sake of nonconformity. I truly just didnt give a fuck and he was inspired by that. You walked around with a shaved head! I did, haha.

It was a mind trip. To think your own tiny little existence impacted somebody without you not even having realized it! The fucking universe intervenes and drops a bomb. She’s like “hey, check this out”… and some guy, I barely remember from high school… (we’re talking, totally opposite crowds in high school terms)… messages me to tell ME, I’m courageous and inspirational. MIND BLOWN.

But… then I really thought about it. I started to have one of the coolest revelations ever. It’s true. I’m not afraid to tell anybody how I feel. I’m not afraid to walk up to a complete stranger and ask them to go out with me. I wasn’t afraid to shave my head, dress like boy, and kiss my girlfriend in the hallways of my high school. I’m not afraid, I’ve never been afraid… so why was I so afraid of living when I had had the courage all along? I wear my heart on my sleeve always and I’m spontaneous; I do what I want, and I don’t care that that’s a vulnerability, because when I think about it… it’s not. It makes me courageous as all hell.

But that courage is inside all of us. For every day you get up out of bed and you face the world, you’re vulnerable… and that’s courageous. Don’t be afraid of vulnerability, embrace it. Just be you. Imagine the best you that you can be, because that’s who you truly are. Be vulnerable, it’s what makes us who we are and it makes this place one insane, wonderful mind trip.

I love you friends.

– Am 🙂