i’m accustomed to traveling. granted, i haven’t left California soil in a year or so, but my soul, my mind, sometimes my heart, travels constantly; however, i’m recognizing that living out of a spiritual suitcase hasn’t been completely beneficial for my personal growth.
so let’s take it back. my mother had me young. growing up, i always admired how spontaneous my mother was. her laugh could fill a room; her jokes were a language that she invited you to speak with her, to tap into her world; she walked around our two bedroom apartment in lingerie, her long, jet-black hair always covering parts of her face. on the outside, she seemed care-free, full of feminine power, and spirited. as the story goes, i was seeded from a union that was toxic for her. my biological father, as she says, was emotionally abusive and irresponsible, so she found herself leaving a lot. and coming back. to leave again. her and i were somehow always on the go. my affinity for long car rides accompanied with music can be alluded to all the times i was perched in the backseat of my mother’s car, listening to music, catching the illuminated droppings of streetlights on my finger tips through the car window. i remember philadelphia trips (to visit my sperm donor). i remember living in north carolina for approximately two months before my mother met my (step)father. i remember multiple apartments, different rooms, the same baggage. i just always remember being on the go.
they say you pick up a few things from the breadcrumbs of heredity. i picked up my mother’s habit of movement. before, i labeled it spontaneity and being a free spirit. as i grow older i am becoming more and more cognizant of patterns that have underlined and added footnotes to my development - in relationship building and in my personal growth. i’m beginning to call it “the inability to cope with unreconciled past trauma and the habit of constantly running away from situations and thus only avoiding myself.” in no way do i blame my mother, but i do see where the role of learned behavior comes into play.
my proclivity for leaving - for running away from myself - became apparent in my first relationship in college. i was dating this handsome Jamaican guy who was a senior to my first year. we quickly became exclusive and inseparable. he lived in Long Island, so commutes from my campus dorm from Jamaica Queens to his house were a good thirty minutes; this meant sleepovers, skipping a lot of classes, and a great amount of sex. rather than this being an iconic trio, it quickly unveiled my insecurities as an eighteen-year-old woman trying to find herself as i was losing myself to the relationship simultaneously. within months i lost half the friends i made entering into college and tried to navigate the sunken place of my own relationship. we argued constantly, and my only remedy or way i knew how to fix things, was to flee the scene. every time. in those moments of tension, the only way i knew how to cope (or not cope) with the intensity of my emotions was to walk away from the situation, to run away, or to shut down and become silent. all were actions of non-movement. all were learned patterns of behavior for how i dealt with a lot of confrontations with my mother. all were toxic to my growth, because ultimately, every time i walked away, i only added more emotional baggage on my journey with self. with each dramatic exit, i only accrued distance from myself.
unfortunately, this relationship wasn’t the first inclination of this behavior - it only gathered pieces and created a mosaic of retrospect. during my teenage angst i was always running away from something: home, my mother and father fighting at home, fighting with my own mother, feeling like the black sheep of the family, my own projected insecurities in my friendships, the pain i felt deep down due to childhood traumas, the man who took my virginity, school and facing my failing grades. the list goes on. my running away took many forms, from sleeping through the day, drinking until i felt comfortable in my own skin, drinking until the comfortability became numbness, drinking until the numbness became blackness, having sex with men who did not love me, skipping school to drive to LA and buy clothes to mask my insecurities, hopping from relationship to relationship, disappearing on friends for months at a time. i thought that the running, the leaving, the “cutting off”, the apathetic, ruthless attitudes would be the remedy to the thunder and thorns that i felt inside, but these feelings caught up with me. they piled themselves into the deep crevices in my soul, in my mind. with a new door that opened, it let in just enough sunlight to illuminate all the shit i neglected and piled into those corners. it’d reveal itself every time. and every time, i had no idea how to cope. so the patterns continued. i continued to disappear. i continued to blame others. i continued to project. i continued to curse humanity because of all the wrong that people have done to me. i continued to victimize myself. i continued to run. but i was running from nothing, and no one, but myself, and i came back to myself - and those piles of unreconciled shit - every time.
in 2015 i was in a toxic and abusive relationship. quite frankly, i’m tired of beating a dead horse and even speaking life into the past, but i’ve accepted it as a critical vertex in my life, and a reference point to my own conscious self-development. after an escalated altercation, i ran away and came back home to California. i left my apartment, my job, my perceived sense of who i was, and i came out here to heal. i still kept in contact with ol’ boy because i thought i truly loved him. at the time, i thought my own healing was based off of the capability i had to love another man. if i can love this person, i must be healed from xyz, right? or if i love this person, this new relationship can put honey on these old wounds. completely false. ego disguises itself in glitter and gold and sends a cocktail from across the bar to lure us into the night of deception. the new relationship just re-introduced me to those old patterns of behavior, and each argument or altercation would feel like those avoided piles of unreconciled shit were closing in on me. the things i ran away from for so long began to reveal themselves in every aspect of my life: my relationship, my friendships, my environment at home, my belief in self and my own work, my self-confidence. the walls i built around my inner self were deconstructing right before my eyes and i was forced to acknowledge them. there was no more running. everywhere i went, i went with myself.
silent addictions are the deadliest to our spirit. for the past ten or so years, i have been battling an addiction that i would not have acknowledged a year ago. avoidance behaviors became an addiction for me. actions of non-movement (towards growth) became so ingrained in my habits that i no longer had the vision of how destructive the actions were. avoiding self-responsibility became too easy. blaming others became even easier. running away and waiting for the situations at hand to disappear became the easiest. self-sabotage became a ritual. little did i know that it became a cycle of creating resistance in my own life. i would notice patterns - of lovers, of friendships ending, of my own self-destruction - and wonder why they were so prevalent. i would write about, and preach to others, about self-love and progression, when my own lack of accountability and honesty with myself was my biggest reason for regression. my self-love was a lie because i couldn’t even confront myself or come home to myself. i didn’t know how to face myself in a vulnerable and constructive way; this test unraveled itself into my life in countless ways. the mirror i needed to look into reflected onto me through the faces of lovers, strangers, and friends. avoiding their gaze meant avoiding my own eyes. so, that meant running more. disappearing more. loving others harder, to mask the inability to love myself. i jumped from the next external to the next. the more i traveled to find the next external thing to grasp onto, the more i traveled further from myself. i became more and more distant from who i was, and who i wanted to be. certainly, i was trying to avoid myself. i didn’t want to face the fact that my own self-image was crumbling right before my eyes, because i was not living incongruent to an image i created. i hadn’t given myself time to align with who i wanted to be. i was too busy running.
running away from ourselves means we become less identifiable when we look in the mirror. it creates discord in our lives. it regresses us. it causes resistance in our lives because we are not centered in ourselves. i am in a space where i am not where i want to be, to be completely honest. i look back and see a timeline of yet more running. i am grateful for the lessons, the blessings, and the breath i have exhaled into the coming of my future, but my honesty with self leaves me somewhat dissatisfied for the space i am in currently. i know that it is okay to want more for myself, but i have also learned that it is better to confront myself and be honest about why i’m not satisfied. i have distracted myself for far too long with escapism, with running, with avoidance. we name distractions with a capital letter and give it space in our life. we feed them. we take money out of our wallets for them. we put emojis next to their name in our phones. we hold onto distractions so tight like they hold the answers to the questions we do not ask ourselves. it takes conscious intervention to break the chains of escapism. to grow, i know i needed to confront what i was trying to avoid for years.
when everything around me crumbled, i was able to see the truth through the pieces. it was then that i needed myself most, and the wall around my inner self had been destroyed. losing my job a few months ago has been a complete blessing. i have been able to be still and reflect on exactly who i am, what i need to heal, and where i am headed. losing my boyfriend a few months ago has also been a complete blessing. (there is no salt on my tongue when i say this.) i have been able to focus on myself and dig deep into my own wants and needs rather than a compromised, diluted version based on another human variable. in this stillness, i have been able to dig deep into the rot of my own internal garden and get some soul matter under my fingernails. my inner truths had been avoided for so long that i had no idea how to care for them. my deepest truths hurt, but that’s what makes them beautiful. that’s what makes them mine. recognition of what i have avoided for so long has given me peace. my feet have crossed scabrous paths, leaving bruises and scars, but i have learned to always return to myself. traveling, through learned behavior or a hereditary free-spirit, has always been a love of mine, but the coming home (to self) is the part i’m beginning to love most.
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