How I Found Self-Love, Healing, and Happiness
The resource to finding strength and tapping into your greatest potential often lies within YOU
I find myself writing a lot. It’s truly become a source of therapy for me. Recently I wrote an article I had planned to release as a reflection-piece on the trials I’ve overcome and how I’ve rebuilt my life in the last two years, but instead God had other plans. That particular article went unpublished because God saw it as a way for me to release thoughts and feelings that I had held internal for quite some time that ultimately birthed this particular article.
Part of HEALING and moving forward is your ability to acknowledge all past issues or traumas and address them accordingly. Often times we are not walking around in a constant conscious state of hurt. We are simply “okay.” For many, however, the reality remains that we have issues we have buried over time that we have forgotten or don’t feel we need to address immediately, but they remain there. Not addressing them only holds you hostage to the resurfacing of the problem, thus allowing the past to continue to control your thoughts and emotions with no resolve.
I’m no counselor or degreed professional in psychology, but I have the life experiences dealing with my own personal traumas that I share openly and authentically. I hope my testimony is used as knowledge in how to overcome some of life’s greatest challenges. Too often we are held hostage by our past and we don’t know how or where to seek answers to our problems. There’s one major place we often overlook, and that’s WITHIN.
“…I realized that I already had within me everything I needed to change my circumstances and create a truly happy life. We all have that, and I want everyone to know it.” ~Tina Turner
One of the reasons I love Tina Turner is her passion for life and her journey of finding the power she had all along. She CHOSE to be happy. Despite her traumatic childhood and first marriage that by all circumstances could have left her in complete ruin, she overcame it all and became one of the biggest icons in music and a woman of strength. She eventually turned to Buddhism which she says allowed her to tap into her greatest potential that lied within. She was able to roar from the ashes like a phoenix and chart her own journey, writing her OWN life story.
Unlike Tina, my younger years in childhood were relatively happy ones. I was a carefree child at times, surrounded by a loving family, and I had a sense of a higher power that was watching over me. I do, however, recognize certain experiences of my teen years that led to the development of traits where I gave others the power to dictate what they thought of me and my life, and I did nothing to fight back. At times, I felt powerless.
I remember vividly the times I endured verbal and physical assaults from my peers in middle and high school because of what they PERCEIVED to be my sexuality. I felt like I was walking around with the scarlet letters G-A-Y on my shirt, and my classmates were ruthless in their attacks on me. I wanted my torment to end. I wanted to be accepted, by family, by friends as a Black man that they and society wanted me to be. So, I shunned part of myself and hid what I knew was true, that I was in fact attracted to the same-sex.
Despite having very fulfilling relationships with women in my later teen years and into my 20’s, there was always that “one thing” in the back of my mind that I buried and refused to accept, that is until I could no longer deny it. By my early 30’s those “feelings” continued to resurface. When I was single, I eventually explored those feelings and came to a place of acceptance on my own, and disclosed to my family that I was in fact gay. Some relatives embraced me immediately, while others were disappointed and even concerned. While I had found the strength to finally be honest and accept who I am as a man, there were still other traits about myself that I still had not addressed.
Throughout my teen years and into my 20’s I developed unhealthy thoughts of doubting myself, feeling I was unworthy and less than a man. I spent so many of my younger years looking in the mirror and telling myself “I’m not gay” that I didn’t realize I was refusing to love the BEST parts of me. All because of how others wanted to define and FORCE me to accept, versus allowing me to come into my own, in my own timing, and embrace how my God created me to be. Those unhealthy thoughts led me into unhealthy relationships with men who also did not love themselves. My lowest valley came when I found myself in an abusive marriage with someone who tried their best to destroy my life and everything I had worked so hard to build. After a little more than two years, I used that same negativity projected on me by my partner, to give me strength to climb from that valley and rise to the mountaintop of discovering just who I was truly meant to be.
I can look back now and see that often times, I looked for love and happiness in ALL the wrong places. It doesn’t come from our parents, family, friends or partners. What I’ve learned in the last two years is that LIFE is truly what you make it. It starts with YOU! I started taking control of outcomes and decisions I made. I began looking at my flaws within and immediately started the process of making improvements. My life between the ages of 34 to 36 became very messy. I started losing part of myself because I did not fully love myself. I fell for someone who tried to control everything about me and even attempted to rewrite my past, present and future with deception, betrayal and lies. I was surrounded by so many other people I could not trust. I had to get away, and make a change fast. I consciously looked within holistically, even detoured back into my past to see how I developed what I identified to be certain codependent behaviors. Once I was able to take inventory, put positive solutions into play, and nourish my relationship with SELF, I began to see an immediate improvement in my life.
I removed people who could not be trusted, and even those who I felt would not support me in my growth journey. I took control of my own story, writing the latest chapters of my life and I began strengthening myself with knowledge, realizing that many outcomes are controlled by me, NOT by others. It’s never about what someone says about you or does to you, it’s about how YOU ultimately respond, and how much energy you give to the situation. The rest reflects on the other person’s character based on the grievance. Here’s where I believe I began to see a positive change I had been so fervently seeking.
I retrained my mind. I allowed feelings, thoughts and emotions to surface. I did not suppress, as I had done in my past. I talked about it with a counselor and I wrote out my deepest concerns to myself. I took inventory of the source of those feelings and how they truly made me feel. I made a plan of action of how to address when those feelings arose.
I shifted my emotions. When trauma and past grievances come to the surface that have not been resolved, it may trigger an emotional response. Emotional responses typically mean you are still highly sensitive to what or who has caused you discomfort. Reburying those emotions will only allow them to continue to fester until they overtake your mind. I forced myself to face issues head-on and figured out what action I needed to take to address. Whether I responded, how I responded, or did not respond at all. It’s because I am in control of my emotions and no one else. Although I am human, I now work consciously to never again allow someone to control my response to any situation.
I took control of ME. Part of taking control of my emotions was also making a conscious decision to be a force for good, positivity and independence. I set new standards for myself to never settle for how people treat me, BUT to show them how I deserve to be treated, and that anything less would not be accepted. This also comes with loving yourself to your fullest and shifting the way you think about life as a whole. You can choose to find the good in life, or look at everything with a negative scope.
I tapped into my power potential. God did not give us a spirit of fear, but we often are the ones who are fearful of just how powerful we truly can become. Many of us are so comfortable with where we are that we do not want to do the work it takes to evolve. Growth is a challenge and it’s not an easy process, but one way or another, the Universe will do its duty and life experiences will force you to evolve. The choice is OURS to make whether we make positive change or we make excuses refusing to progress or instead regress.
Love the best parts of you! I’ve spent so many years of my life trying to suppress what I now believe are the best parts of me, just so I wouldn’t have to deal with the opinions of others. Truth is, my sexuality is only a small component of who I am as a man. There is way more to me than whom I chose to partner with. I’ve learned it was the stigmas and stereotypes that I worked so hard to stay away from. Now, I used them as knowledge to help tell my story of how I came to accept me for who I am, and truly love the man I’ve become. Hope and happiness is evident in all aspects of how I now live my life. It was there all the time. The God within me was just waiting on me to ask for it!
So many of us struggle with fully accepting ourselves, flaws and all! That’s just it, those flaws, once accepted and shaped into something you use for GOOD, is what eventually makes you so beautiful! There’s a reason why true happiness radiates from within. The question is…when will you be willing to accept what God has already placed inside YOU?