For a long time, I wanted to get a tattoo. I actually remember thinking that it might be my first “adult” act once I turned 18. On my 18th birthday, I hadn’t come up with any good ideas and instead, I got a piercing. A shiny, gold plated cubic zirconia in the cartilage of my left ear. That was the expression of my adult self that I settled for.
It took me 11 years to finally settle upon something and pull the trigger on that tattoo. Crazy right?! Some people get a tattoo on every trip they go on. Some people keep an idea around for a year or so, then they go for it. I waited 11 years to get sold on the idea that I had. Took me that long to find a way to represent it. Once I saw it, it was so obvious.
I’ll get back to that tattoo. I actually will! This is not one of those stories that spirals out of control and loses itself. Just be patient.
So, faithful reader… You might be surprised to see that I’m writing anything. You might not every have read anything on this little blog thing. If you did at some point (umm yay!) Thank you.
2 years ago this very month (give or take), I was dumped! I know, what the WHAT?!? Who’d let me slip through their hands, right? You’re too kind, reader. Really too kind. Anyways, I won’t hash out the details (again). I thought that I had something figured out! I was dating, I was leaning about relationships, and I was going to make something of myself. Earlier that year, I had been downsized from a job that I should never have taken in the first place. It was the result of being unhappy in a previous job and seeing the wiring on the wall way too late. I snapped up the second offer I got and it was with a company that just didn’t know what to do with me. From the beginning, the fit was never quite right. However, I couldn’t think of quitting. I would never have the money to do that. That happened though. I wasn’t sad about losing the job, I was a little upset about potentially becoming another black man without a job.
Anyways. I was freshly back from a trip to Costa Rica and I was dumped. I thought that this was the end of all the good stuff. I had a job coming along, but now nothing with this person that I had been imagining a future with and back to the drawing board. Having to forget her friends and family and all of that good stuff. It was going to be back to nothing for me.
So you know what happened to me 2 years ago. What’s up between then and now you ask? Well. I did what I always used to do. I started living because of someone/something else that was not good old me. I think that the biggest shifts for me, within maybe the last 6 or 7 years, were the results of me feeling like I had something to prove to the world. I had a run-in with a girl from my history and decided to lose about 70 pounds (which are, of course back on me, dammit). I wanted to show that I was good enough to be cool to her. This time, I started doing all the things that normal Justin would never do. I got into dating (HARDCORE). My friends were shocked at how many girls I was dating at one time. It was weird to keep that all together. I started going places. I flew to different parts of the world. I thought that I should be making up for lost time with traveling. I never went anywhere due to hatred of flying, but now I was post-breakup. I could do all kinds of crap that I didn’t know I had in me. I started getting over my fear of planes. I started living the life that I thought someone my age should’ve been living.
The kicker though, the kicker was that I always had this idea that I was just looking for redemption through all of that. People could look at me and not see this broken person, they’d see the guy who was flying all over the place and having all of these experiences. He was in control of his life and making moves. I had no idea that I was just hiding through everything. Of course, I was having a good time with everything that I got into, but it wasn’t because it was actually anything that I wanted to do. It was being experienced to prove to myself that I was being different, or that I had grown in some significant way.
This absorbed me for the last 2 years. Under the guise of living my best life, I was able to do all of these great things, but they still felt like they were happening to me, not like I was DOING them. Not like I fully chose them. It wasn’t until recently, that I realized that I was trapping myself in this behavior. I didn’t really have to be in any kind of relationship with people, because I was always gone, or there was always another person to meet/get to know. In this way, I was executing the perfect hermitage. I would make random appearances here and there, but I had more reason to lay low, in between experiences, because I was always out and about and I just wanted time to myself. A perfectly reasonable alibi that wasn’t a lie, but was definitely a product of my own self-shielding.
I did all the therapy during this time and it helped me realize that what I thought was depression brought on by my current circumstances was really a culmination of how I was feeling all along. Just drifting along and going with what seemed good had gotten me there. As much as I wanted to blame my ex for all of it, I was unhappy before she came along. It took me 2 years of therapy to realize that I did have an importance. I did have a voice and my needs were important to pursue and aquire.
Back to this tattoo. It took me 11 years to find a tree. I’ve always liked trees because to me, they signify patience. You never plant a tree and get shade from it in the same season. They take their time and when they’re grown they’re strong. A theme for me is that I always take my time to things. Whether that’s understanding a situation, or getting clarity about who I am. It will never be instantaneous for me, but the reward is greater then the time it takes to get it.
Seemed like I feel of the face of the Earth for a couple years, or that I was all over it. I was taking time to get myself right and discover that I don’t have to just float through things.