A few years ago, my uncle had a sore on his leg that he wouldn't get treated. I really think had he just seen a doctor and did his due diligence, the outcome would have been very different. He chose not to do that. As you can imagine the sore got worse and then became infected; which eventually led to him being hospitalized. The prognosis was that the infection was too far gone and had become septic so amputating the leg was the best long-term plan. He refused. When I asked him why during a visit he said: "My leg is a part of me and if it's gone, I won't be whole." Default to secrecy, my uncle was a schizophrenic. Days later while waiting for my grandmother to come for her morning check-in, he closed his eyes and was gone.
My son was about six when our uncle passed away, but it left a lasting impression on him. About a week ago we were having a conversation and I was impressing the importance of being authentic to your true self.
It was then when my unfiltered boy said "Don't you think you are being a hypocrite?"
I paused and my instinct was to become a reincarnation of my Jamaican mother and give him a tongue-lashing as to why children should never 'bright up demself with big people!' But I decided to scratch the surface to see where that comment was coming from.
"Why would you say that?", I ventured.
He exhaled and said, "Because you're only your real self sometimes and you are telling me to always be my real self. You should just be you all the time mom and not care what other people think. Uncle Locksley was himself all the time. He didn't care what people thought and he even kept his leg to prove it. "
As much as I hated to admit it, #myguyshii had a point. Due to some traumatic, unexpected events that happened throughout my life, I learned to cope but not actually start healing the wounds until long after. This resulted in me becoming really introverted in a lot of social spaces and wearing a mask for those that weren't apart of my inner circle. The fallout of these events and subsequent suppression lead to an anxiety disorder.
In that moment of transparency with Shii I realized that not only did I have anxiety, but I absolutely let anxiety have me. And last week on the eve of my 39th birthday I made up my mind to be the realest role model my son has; and become my truest self again in spite of the anxiety. My anxiety may never go away, but it doesn't mean that I have to allow it to rob me of the person I used to be.
The last time I wrote, I talked about the things Shii taught me as I delved back into the world of dating. I've taken a bit of a sabbatical from it all, though I must say that I learned a lot from the experience. But anxiety does what it tends to do in most areas of my life. It stifles me. And while there are rarely do-overs in life, I kinda wish that those individuals had a chance to meet that version of B. The awkwardly quirky, fun-loving, quick-witted black woman who loves to dance and sing. Who does a happy dance when her favourite foods are made. Who watches a movie at least 100 times, and will laugh or cry every damn time like it's the first. And whose fashion sense has two extremes--runway dreams or hobo-chic. She may gets lost sometimes but always fights her way back.
Twelve months shy of 40, I'm committed to getting more of a handle on my anxiety. I want to live the life I was meant to live. So that I can shine and share my light with more people. The universe has said as much. After all it's been conspiring this moment for 39 years and counting, I just didn't know it. Thanks Shii and Uncle Locks for helping me finally see that.
I tell Shii about my recent life goal.
His response: "You got this mom!"
Who would have known that my mental health advocate/life coach would be in the form of an 11-year-old?
He did, he tells me. And who am I to argue.