They say that hindsight is 20/20, and as I’m getting older and more mature, those words definitely ring true. It took me watching this weeks episode of Insecure to realize something– I’ve been Lawrence more times that I care to admit. A fuck nigga who thinks that he’s actually a good dude. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but I have to be a man about it and own up to my bullshit. Looking back at my track record, I was bullshitting around for the better part of 10 years acting like a grown ass boy. Now, I could blame it on the fact that I had a dysfunctional childhood—I faced ridicule for being different, grew up around drug abuse– directly and indirectly, and had no relationship at all with my mother. If I wanted to make excuses, then I could say that all these things contributed to my becoming what is now termed “fuck nigga traits” as a young adult.
I used to could easily see the faults of others, and even though I never portrayed myself as a victim, I didn’t give a full account of the small things that probably drove an ex, or three to hold resentment towards me. I can look anyone in the eyes and tell them that I was toxic. And I mean that in the worst way possible. The internet in general, and Black Twitter in particular likes to perceive toxic people to be monsters – someone trying to tear them down and make their lives wretched at all costs. In my specific cases, this was so often the trend in relationships. Oftentimes, the times that I was perceived to be ‘bullshittin’ isn’t deliberately manipulative or cruel on my behalf. I was never trying to make anyone’s life miserable or attempting to tear them down. They just weren’t what I needed to be healthy. And the relationship became toxic as a result. After my last failed relationship, I decided that it was time for me to actually figure out why I couldn’t keep it together long enough to even find out if a woman would be down enough to stick with me as I built myself back up. So, literally the day after I said my final goodbyes to her, I started digging into myself and assessing my good and bad traits. I didn’t like what I saw, because I was looking eye to eye with the type of man that I never wanted to be. I was looking at a fuck nigga. While I may not have been the typical version, my intellectual, sophisticated ass was still a fuck boy– I just made it look good to the naked eye. Talk about being humbled, for a few minutes I was in denial and tried to blame it on anything else. I knew it wasn’t the case, and I was sad. But instead of sulking and trying to make an excuse for myself, I dug deeper in an attempt to find out what was triggering this behavior. I found the root of the issue. It was me. It was me not being happy with the person I was. It was me not loving myself enough to seek help for all the things I had bottled up inside me.
That along with all the other bullshit that I was going through really made me have anxiety about a lot of things, even to the point of contemplating if I had more value dead, rather than alive to the few people that actually gave a damn about me. I wasn’t really thinking about taking myself out, was I? Yes, I was. But even though I was pretty disgusted with the man in the mirror, I understood that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, so I started walking towards it. If you’re assuming that I went to church, then you’re wrong. But I did find God– the God within me. I found the keys to my spirituality through therapy, meditation and overall self-reflection. Those things made me realize the source my own toxicity about a year and a half ago. I finally acknowledged how selfish I was and how hard I was making the lives of others.
It was time to change, and for me these five steps really got me on the road to redemption;
1. I went to therapy.
I’ve always felt that I needed to see someone for all the things that I’ve been through, but I come from a very conservative family– which is code for one that does not believe in spilling secrets to strangers. At the point I was, I knew I had to shun that notion. So, after finally recognizing my issues, I sought therapy and it quickly uncovered the link between my toxic behavior and unresolved childhood issues.
(Side note, Don’t ever let anyone– even family, discourage you from seeking your happiness however it makes sense to you. If that’s through therapy, find a practice that takes your insurance or allows you to pay on a sliding scale. If nothing else, you can join a free support group. Whatever you are going through, you are not alone. Chances are, speaking with a professional will help you see your life’s challenges in a different light and bring you closer to some level of clarity.)
2. I started taking care of myself physically.
My therapist tried to prescribe me Adderall and Prozac, both of which he claimed, would helped my problems but only for a short while. I really wasn’t with medicating myself, as I knew it was not the answer. So I focused all my energy on working out, and trying to channel that energy into something productive. I did HIIT circuits and P90x DVDs in addition to practicing yoga. I loved sweating, and immediately felt the rush of testosterone after each workout. When I’d pose in the mirror after a workout, I felt amazing, despite being drenched in sweat. I found that it’s easy to forget the bullshit when you’re being productive, so I made it a priority.
3. I gave up clubbing and going out regularly.
Instead of drinking every weekend and going to clubs with loose women and unnecessary drama, I focused on exercise on weekends, spending more time with my positive thoughts, and dug more into writing, which I’ve always been passionate about. Partying and bullshitting can take a toll on both your body and your mind, and I needed my mind body and soul to be reenergized.
4. I stopped looking for the wrong kind of attention.
Looking back now, I’m disgusted with myself for trying to bed every woman that I came in contact with. I thrived on ruining relationships– mine and others. Therapy helped me realize how selfish I was being and why it felt worth it to me despite how many lives I ruined over the years. When I was a toxic person, I either attracted or created more toxic people. My romantic relationships were all short-lived and fueled with daily bickering that escalated into dramatic fights, which made me go out and commit a fuck boy offense.
5. I apologized to the people I’d hurt.
Owning up to my fuckery was a fundamental part of my recovery. When I reflected upon my behavior toward people I claimed that I loved, I knew I hadn’t been treating them fairly. Apologizing months or even years after past relationships ended was difficult but so rewarding. You’d be surprised at how forgiving and kind people can be. Even though those relationships were over, they appreciated me apologizing for the pain I had caused, and my conscience was clear.
Now, at this stage in my life, I’m going through a rebirth of some kind. I’m not perfect, but I’m definitely not the man I used to be. If you’re someone from my past– or present and I’ve hurt you, then I apologize from the bottom of my heart. Hurt people will eventually hurt other people and I’m not about that life anymore. Damn, it felt good to get that off my chest. Maybe I wasn’t a fuckboy, but I definitely was toxic. Key word in that is “was”…