A Year of Hard Lessons -- And a Merry New Year
By Tree Alexander
January 10, 2013
Over the past year I have been an emotional wreck. I was lost in a pool of wants and needs while drowning in my own self-pity. Like somehow the whole world revolved around me and everyone in it was against me. Frustrated with my underpaying job and my overpriced apartment I got so overwhelmed that I lost sight of me. It wasn't constant but it truly was a rollercoaster of emotions including the vicarious traumatization within the community in which I serve.
Like others I played the victim and I played it well. I had an excuse for everything. Why my life wasn't what I wished it was, why my financial situation wasn't the best, and why I didn't want to go out after work. Isolation was my best friend and my worst enemy. I was "too busy" for friends, "too emotional" to meditate, "too tired" to write, and sometimes "too aware" to sleep. I just knew it was society, generation after generation of organized systematic oppression created by the highest parts of government to keep me bound by imperialism. You name it, I had an excuse. I blamed everything and everyone under the sun for why I couldn't do this or haven't done that, why I felt a certain way, or why my company hasn't launched. Nothing was my fault or my responsibility. This was hard to see and even harder to finally admit.
We have all been victims at some point in our lives, from feeling unequal to being abused and from inhumane childhoods to criminal injustice. Taking responsibility for all that has happened might seem ridiculous, but it is truly about freeing yourself. It is now time to take back the power and control that you have for so long given away. When you believe that someone or something is the cause of all your problems then you may be suffering from the same thing I was. Low self-esteem and poor efficacy, and there is nothing wrong with that. I believe that everything in life happens in cycles and some days you are filled with a positive self-image, drive and motivation while other days you might lack all of them.
What increased my awareness about the excuses I made was a cold, hard dose of reality. The end of 2012 was approaching and nothing in my life had changed. I was in the same place I was last year. My relationship dynamics looked just like the past three relationships that I have had. The universe was sending me a message. Telling me that I am not paying attention and for that I haven't learned and I will not grow if I don't wake up and take responsibility for what's happening around me.
Over the past two month I have been forced to get to know myself. This meant talking to myself and really identifying who it is that I have become. I have always said "people don't change, their priorities do" and when I took a good look at myself in the mirror I realized that my priorities were all off track. I had put so many things before me that I was tripping all over myself. Once we become aware and gain greater understanding of things we wish to change about ourselves, the only thing we can do now is make that change. The hard part is making it happen without regret, especially if we have a valid reason to blame someone else.
Within the last few weeks I have gotten the chance to be honest with myself. I challenged myself to pay close attention to how my choices have affected my life and the people around me. Without judging myself or blaming others I began to practice owning my thoughts, actions, decisions, and feelings. I am now much more aware of who I am and what I want in this life. My relationship has begun to grow into this unimaginable friendship that continues to evolve and I have started my family planning. There has been a huge shift in how I view life and my relationships of all kinds as well as my appreciation for all that has happen in my life to create the person I am today.
As I have taken control of my life I am filled with so many warm and fuzzy feelings that truly keep me living in the moment. 2013 ... This indeed will be a Very Merry New Year!
Tree House Talk (All Strength No Shade)
Tree Alexander, born in Chicago, Illinois, now living in Brooklyn, New York. HIV-positive AIDS activist and Case Worker. "I am the change I wish to see." Motivational speaker and youth advocate. Tree's target is to empower the youth and reduce stigma. Tree found out his HIV status one month after he turned 20 and HIV has changed his life completely. Tree travels and tell his story, letting people know that if we continue to conceal and fear this disease, we shall never overcome.
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