Updated: Apr 17, 2020
It took a very long time to understand this concept and even longer to believe it for myself. For years, I moved through life letting other people’s thoughts define me along with allowing my engagement on social media to dictate my thoughts about myself. Luke Lezon (Your Mess Matters) stated,
“social media is just a pretty filter on a broken image”
and although social media opened the world up for comparison, it has proven that “comparison is the thief of joy”. I was comparing the good lighting, great looking food, vacations in the tropics, sculpted bodies, perfect teeth, skin, and perfect hair days constantly. Although I had never had any of those things all at once nor could I afford them. It was clear that my image was clouded through the lens of social media.
And as a result, I ran.
I ran because that is the easiest thing to do when your back is against the wall. I ran.
After all, it was easier to do than to face the truth.
The truth was, I did not know who I was, and for years, it had all been merely an act.
I acted as if I had it all figured out when I truly did not.
The shift for me was the collapse of a four-year relationship in which I was certain was going to last a lifetime. I understand now that it simply wasn’t going to work due to the disconnect I had within myself. I did not fully love myself. How could I have asked someone to show me something I could not show myself? That is a lot to ask of one person, and I was selfish to do so. I wanted my partner to be everything for me that I was not willing to be for myself. I know now that we both had a great deal of growing to do for us to be whole, and we simply could not accomplish that together at that time.
This along with other circumstances occurring within my life led to my depression. I isolated myself from my friends and family and thus invested all my time and energy into work being that that was the only thing I felt confident pursuing. I used shopping and sex to make me feel better--which does not work, by the way, trust me. You’ll end up broke and hurting others along the way.
I recall at that time that my coworker kept buying me food. The first few times I acknowledged the sweet gestures; however, after the 3rd and 4th time I asked him “why do you keep buying me food?”. His response was "you are not eating, that’s why!" After work that very day, I bought a scale and lo and behold I was 20 pounds lighter from the last time I visited the doctor which was short of a month prior. I was so embarrassed that I could no longer fit any of my clothing. This was an initial indicator that people were a witness to my current struggles and that worried me tremendously.
I grew up with a mother that often said: "what happens in my house, stays in my house". And because of that, I believed that as a woman of color I was to uphold myself at a high standard and should not express my emotions outwardly, ask for help, nor fail simply due to my belief of societal norms spearheaded by my mother.
I also felt as if I was examined through a microscope constantly. And let us not forget my mother’s constant reminder to push myself to be the best.
My mother was the epitome of a strong black woman in my eyes;
however, I say this with despair years later understanding that to be strong, you must be vulnerable. I never once saw my mother cry, nor did I ever see her ask for help when she failed. Therefore, as a young woman growing up, I never really understood how she had become such a strong woman. And, with her as my guiding light, I struggled with identifying when it was appropriate to show emotions, when to ask for help, as well as how to get back up when I have fallen. I knew I needed to get help. Thus, I immediately started to research and in no time, I found that my company’s insurance in addition to medical and dental also covered counseling. That was the start of my new journey.