"A journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step." ~ Lao Tzu
I’ve always heard the saying that “life is a journey”, but I never really knew what was meant by it until a few years ago, when I embarked on the very first journey of my life. I was married, with a son, and living out a dream I never really wanted. I didn’t want any of it. I didn’t want to be a mother, I didn’t want to be a wife, I wanted nothing to do with either. But I grew to love both jobs as if it was my plan all along. Then I was hit with divorce papers and my seemingly perfect world came crumbling down. The life everyone thought was perfect was a facade, it was a fallacy. The exoskeleton of a world that I put together way before I got married or had a child started to crack.
I wear a mask, like many black women, on a daily basis. I code switch between my professional and my personal lives. I live in a world where there is a tale of two me’s. So when my then husband told me he didn’t want to be married any longer that perfect facade came tumbling down, the code switching stopped, my world halted. The super hard exoskeleton that I built began to give way. The mask that I wore began showing signs of wear and tear. And for the first time people saw signs of weakness in me. Me! After all black women have been deemed Super women. We can do it all: Be a wife, take care of our children, lead a Fortune 500 Company, negotiate a billion dollar deal, talk the Taliban in to giving up hostages, solve worldwide hunger and homelessness, and leap a tall building in a single bound, all the while planning a dinner party for 100 people and that’s all before 10 am.
I tried for a few years to hold it all together. I glued my mask back together flawlessly. The code switching came back with very little lacking and my exoskeleton was back harder than ever. And along with all that came a lot more depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety wasn’t mentioned before because I had it under control with exercise and with a stable family setting. This time my family setting was anything but stable. My life was spinning out of control privately, publicly it was on point like Steph Curry hitting those ugly ass 3's in the finals.
It was then I made the conscious decision to embark on my first journey to seek counseling. As much as I despised talking about what was going on inside of me and my head, I had to do something because I was responsible for another human being. I did everything I could to protect my child from the bad of the world, but when the bad lives within you how can you protect your child from that?
My mental health journey took me down paths I didn’t want to go down, but needed to go down in order to address why all this protection, if you will, came tumbling down like Jericho at the end of my marriage and more importantly why I had all these walls up to protect me at all. Trust me when I tell you there were visits twice a week, hours of crying, bouts of anger and rage, feelings of defeat, desperation, and despair. Weeks I felt like saying fuck it...I quit...this shit is stupid...I’m fine. But the next week I was right there because in the deep depths of my soul I knew I needed to be there to heal. I’m not all healed up and it’s hit or miss from month to month and week to week, but considering where I was six years ago, my life is Golden now.
You would think this is the only journey I have. Not by a long shot. Just this month I started off on two distinct, and so far as I can tell, unrelated until they are related journeys. Because I’m not that far into either of them I’m going to keep them close to the vest. I will say that both of these journeys are equally taxing on me and I cannot stop either because both of them are defining who I am now. My character has been shaped, my morals are what they are going to be. These two journeys are important to me in understanding how I came to be who I came to be, and I wholeheartedly believe these journeys will help me in understanding that concept. I’m sure there will be nights of tears, 'fuck its', 'I quits' and a lot of cursing, but I have a team behind me that won’t let me quit, will cry with me, and will curse me out with just as much fervor as I use to curse them. I know they have my back and they are there because they love me and want me to find my truth.
I was terrified to take my first solo journey, and these other two I’m on right now are definitely not a ball of fun. Just last night I spent hours on the phone dealing with the fallout of my emotions from one journey already. I’m not going to lie to you it is heart wrenching, but if you have a journey that you need to take, by all means don’t let fear stop you. Don’t let your family or friends stop you, don’t let anything stop you because when it’s all said and done the only person that has to take that journey and walk that path is you. Just make sure you have a team that is going to ride just as hard with you on your journey as they do when it’s time to hit the club.
"Life is a journey not a destination." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson