I’m at a solid 8 today. I managed to survive a cross country flight even though I had to swallow my pride and fly with the continual disappointment that is Spirit Airlines. I’m proud of how I managed myself and communicated clearly that I was on my way to a funeral when they overbooked my red eye flight and tried to tell me that the seat I paid for was not available.
Can’t cut a fool at the airport, but Spirit will test you…
Anyway, the sudden death in my family reminds me that life is ephemeral, and that I must not only live my fullest life, but continue pouring my energy into building a platform that helps others do the same. I’m reflecting on the history of loss in my family as I recommit to teaching others how to cope and find joy through the pain, and considering just how closely my younger cousins and nieces are watching and depending on me.
I could be doing better with eating more and better food. It’s easy to do in San Francisco, but Metro Detroit is a whole other story. I’m working on speaking the truth in love by being patient and speaking kindly to people even when they interrupt, frustrate, or annoy me.
A Personal Lens
When I was 8 my neighbor committed suicide with a firearm in front of his girlfriend and their young daughter. At 10 my own father died suddenly, leaving my heart cut in half as I attempted to navigate and learn in a world that was, from my perspective, senselessly full of pain, sudden abandonment, and emotional devastation. My big brother Steven died under traumatic circumstances as well, and I felt alone in the world with a mom who tried her best but also needed healing.
My wishes and prayers growing up were that I would live to adulthood, and that I could learn to create my own peace, joy, and contentment—fulfillment that couldn’t be taken from me. I coped with the perpetual heart pain by reframing my second by second circumstances. No matter the situation, I could contemplate an alternative reality that made my own seem grand compared to the other “what ifs” I dreamed up in my head.
Joy as a Lifeline
For me, finding and creating pure joy in unexpected spaces is a lifeline. It was my lifeline when my step dad physically abused me at 14. It was my lifeline when I contemplated suicide and considered what it would be like to no longer be able to experience either pain or joy. It was my lifeline when I decided that I’d rather die attempting to rally the front lines than alone in my room without the proper purple lipstick shade.
It was my lifeline when my god brother committed suicide to attempt to end his heart suffering. And again when a childhood friend took his life because he was not accepted for the beautiful soul he was, and instead was outcast for not conforming.
This is a rallying cry. I refuse to lose another loved one to suicide.
Haters want to steal our joy by discounting our value, manipulating the truth, and projecting blame. Making us think our radiance is too distracting, our shine too bright, and our laugh too loud. They throw shade to mask sadness and insecurity, because true joy is elusive to them.
How you doing cousin?
We have to take care of one another, and we can only do that when we take the best care of ourselves. Do the self-care check-in with your tribe or team to get immediately applicable tools to manage anxiety and depression, get tips on how to be great(er), and learn how to use joy as a clap back for the haters.
My family taught me how to cope and find joy in circumstances that are not ideal, no matter what. We’ve got the tribe on our side, and can bring the levity to any situation. Especially when you add a beat…