january 8th, 2014.

you know that old saying, ‘things that go bump in
the night?’

on this night, it was the shadowy beckoning many of
us dread, that went bump at my bedside.

there’s a few who know this story, the chosen few who
have by merit of their own character and their love and
care for me who know this story in full. i have made
mention of it here and there. it’s wild to even say now,
but on this night of january 8th, 2014 around 2 A.M., i came
as close to death as i have ever been. it’s surreal to
type the words out and look at them on a screen. but the
truth is the truth. thanks to the combination of a full
holiday season of food and drink, doing a lot of prepping
and other work, a ton of writing work and dealing with
shoveling for hours due to a massive snowstorm all while
sick, i was found to have dangerously high blood pressure
levels. stroke-level high. it had persisted from early
on in the week. i had actually stayed up all night to
get over the queasiness i felt. but when i took my own
pressure readings and saw it, i was shocked. i went to
my doctor bright and early the next morning. the look
on his face said it all. concern. he asked me about my
routine. then he put me on bedrest for the entirety of
the next week. so for those of you reading this who were
not able to contact me then, that’s why.

i was slightly numb. it didn’t fully hit me until my
sisters came by to see how i was. after their visit, i
went upstairs…and i broke down. bawling. straight up
uncontrollable sobbing. then, i looked at myself in the
bathroom mirror in silence. right there, i told myself
that i had to not only get well, but declare that i
WILL be well all the way around. for me, first. then for
my family and loved ones. because i realized then that i
was picking myself up on the fly, trying to give to others
and please others but i had slacked off on my own process
of self-care. i had actually subtracted from it by way of
stress, of being the one to get things done, by being the
one to be clear. at that point, i realized that being
well wasn’t simply about saying i would be. it was, and is
a daily process. i had dealt with the deaths of loved ones,
some tragic. i had dealt with the hurts of unrequited and
confused love. i had dealt with the thousand and one cuts
of racism that i internalized for years in workplaces.
dealt with disappointments. being a disappointment to some.
and all of that, i thought i had cut out of me. but like
anything else in this universe, it can – and does grow
back.

so from that point, i had to tell myself that i had to be
better about my diet, the crazy hours of eating, the high
amounts of stress and dealing with certain people’s own
issues. that’s why my contact with some folks has dwindled.
i had to distance myself from their toxicity through heavy
complaining, had to distance myself from their digital
posturing to hide their own issues, to distance myself from
their own gaslighting methods to make themselves whole. had
to distance myself from the overly self-centered. not naming
names, if said people read this. (i do invite them to get at
me to talk about it if they felt a way. no subtweeting or
passive-aggressiveness though, chill with that mess.) i
also had to be real with some of the folks who i cherish
about my connection with them. because i knew that i’d need
their support and not in a flaky sense. thankfully on the
whole, i’ve received so much love and blessings that it has
totally bolstered me. and i continue to. i’ve also sadly
had to let one or two people go who just didn’t get it,
whether they wanted to or weren’t able to. there was no real
malice in it.

i speak often about self-care because we are in a time where
selfies are popular, but self-care is less so. it involves
a lot of accountability. some hard truths. lessons that you
think you’ve learned, but come with new twists. sometimes,
you’ve gotta be an asshole. if only to hold your corner. i’ve
had to do that with a couple of people, and explain why after
the fact. i’m grateful they understood. i’m not writing this
to be in the position of sanctified poetic guru, even if i do
have the goatee for it. i’m just a Black man who is working
to make his excellence last and to do the best he can for
himself and his people. but i had to admit that i was my own
agent of sabotage.

over a year later, i see the difference. i’ve dropped a bit
of weight. i take the opportunity for long walks for clarity
and health. been better about the bonds with my people, even
in the strained moments. and i’ve been fairly cautious about
who i let in now. even the most well-intentioned can accidentally
poison your garden simply by being there too long enough with
their bullshit. all of the previous essays you may have read
on here, they have a purpose. there’s so much that drains us,
erodes us before our time. and we have to fight it, if we are
to live and be well no matter the path we have to take to get
there. as scared as i was with that bump in the night, i’m
glad i heard it. I’M GLAD I HEARD IT. because it helped me to
get to this point now. and i know there’s more sunrises and
sunsets to be thankful for where that bump in the night will
be a longer way off.

as always, thank you for reading. walk good, good people.

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