The Man, The Myth, The Legend (Part 2 of 3)
Part 2 - The Myth
“The worst part about being strong is that no one ever asks if you’re okay.” I believe I came across this quote approximately 5 or 6 years ago. Anyone who knows me knows that I love quotes and little sayings. This one, although I have no idea who said it, has stuck with me from the second I first read it.
As I wrote in “The Man” portion of this series, I’ve been “grown” since I was 5 years old. One of the byproducts of being grown, or at the very least thinking that you are, is that other people see you that way as well. With that stamp also comes supposed strength. I’ve been that strength for family, friends, and associates my entire life. I’ve prided myself on knowing what to say and the right time to say it. Being the “protector” to people has become second nature. Over the years it didn’t matter if you were having financial troubles, love issues, work issues, or just simply needed an ear to listen… I was happy to be that. I was the strong one. It was my job.
But, as quoted above, the issue with said strength is that you often find yourself alone. Correction, you often find yourself, very alone. Growing up, I didn’t have any big brothers or big cousins to fight my battles. If I was teased or bullied, it was just me, myself, and I who had to handle it. No worries. I got through it all. I taught myself how to fight. I taught myself thick skin. I taught myself how to be witty with snap backs. But when you have always relied on yourself, you seem to start believing it’s you against the world. There’s that strength again.
That strength came from several things. If I was asked to pinpoint it, my kneejerk reply would be “I’ve been a man since I was 5 years old.” I say that because it’s true. What is also true, is that strength comes from not having my father in my life. Because of that, I have abandonment issues. Thus, I typically push people or things away and/or keep them at arms-length. It’s not uncommon for me to not believe the things you say or second-guess your motives. It's a form of self-perseveration. If you don’t let them get too close, they can’t hurt you, right?
This form of self-preservation has been part of me ever since I can remember. I’ve used it in past relationships. I’ve used it with friends and associates. I also used it when I opted to make the biggest decision of my young adult life.
At the tender age of 24, I packed up every belonging of mine that could fit inside of a 2002 rented Chevy Impala and I moved to San Antonio, TX with about $1000 in my pocket. I left every one and every thing I’ve ever known in life behind in order for me to have a better life. To date, it may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. To leave my family and friends behind knowing that I’ve been the strong one for them, was incredibly difficult. I know my decision hurt them. I know my decision may have altered the way their lives would be today. However, it was what was best for me. And for that, I make no apologies.
Three years after setting foot on Texas soil, I was a home owner! I had purchased and began building my first home at 27 years old. I had two fairly new vehicles. I had money in the bank. And I was doing very well for my age. I was strong. I knew I would “make it” one way or another because I was all I had. I didn’t have the luxury so many of my peers had. There was no blowing money and having mommy or daddy save the day and pay my rent or other bills. I didn’t have the luxury of growing up here and having the inside scoop on good paying jobs or life-long friends to reach out to. It was all on me. One of the quotes I’ve written and say to myself is “born by myself, die by myself.” That quote has lifted me up more times than I can count. It has inspired me at my lowest of times and reaffirmed that I am strong. But, regardless of what it has done for me, at it’s root, it is a very lowly and dark phrase.
Do you know what it’s like to talk to yourself because there’s no one else to talk to?
To have to take everything you’re feeling and thinking, push them to the side, then give yourself a long pep talk as if you’re an entirely different person? That was and is me! How does the supposed strong one need a listening ear? For that matter, who will really listen?
When people perceive you to be a source of strength… when historically you’ve always known what to do or what to say in any given situation… you’re left with become your own go-to. I’ve learned that no matter how much people may love and care about you, seeing the “strong” one weak is almost unbearable. It’s truly core-shaking to most people. They begin giving you generic words like “it’ll all work out” or “don’t worry, everything happens for a reason.” Want to know a secret? NO ONE wants to hear that! Not because your intentions aren’t genuine and pure, but because everyone has literally heard that before. When a person is struggling, they’re not seeking basic and simple phrases. They want you to listen. To earnestly hear them and become empathetic. Unbeknownst to many, that really is strength.
I have said all of that to say that this strong man, this mythical being named Baseem, sometimes needs help. That would probably surprise a lot of people who know me. What else would surprise a lot of people is that I suffer from depression. It took me many of years to say that. To publicly and personally explain to people, especially loved ones, that I’m not “sad” or “angry”, I’m depressed. That I, Baseem, the man you come to with your problems, suffers from depression.
Depression is like the biggest and baddest enemy you’ve ever faced senselessly pounding
on you for no reason at all. It comes out of nowhere. There’s no time table on how long the beating will go on. And you may quite literally be fighting for your life! To keep it at bay is a full-time job with mandatory overtime. You have to fight! You have to be mindful of things that have or may trigger the onslaught. You have to be diligent about removing negative things and people from your life because whatever may be said, or whatever may happen, could very well bring on that big bad enemy. The self-care and self-love you have inside needs to be amplified.
Yet, knowing all of this. Knowing that I have to love me and knowing that I need to give myself positive affirmations, doesn’t stop the need of being checked in on. The irony of that is knowing that I often fall short in that same category. Rarely do I call or text anyone just cause. Rarely do I reach out to make sure all is well with people I care about. Those actions, or lack thereof, sadly sometimes play into my own darkness. “"Nobody ever checks on me.” “Nobody cares how I’m doing unless they need something.” “All people want is for me to fix their problems and make them laugh.” Those are just some of the thoughts. Thankfully, over the years I’ve been doing a lot better with snapping myself away from negative thinking.
So, to anyone who knows of my battle; Thank you for loving me in spite of myself and checking on me from time to time. For those who are just learning about this… surprise, lol!
Either way I hope this post, and this blog in general, gives out positive energy. I keep a lot of love bottled up ‘cause like too many other people in this world, I feel like “they know I love them.” Maybe you don’t. And maybe it’s time for me to do a better job of showing all of me vs you only seeing and believing in the myth.
Peace & Love
To be continued…
Note: This is part two of “The Man, The Myth, The Legend” title given to me by Bilal Benjamin