Famed fashion designer Kate Spade and I share the same birthday. I was obsessed with the Travel channel’s No Reservations and CNN’s Parts Unknown, both hosted by the popular, and semi-nomadic chef Anthony Bourdain. He combined two of my favorite pastimes in the world, good food and travel. I was inspired by his out of the box way of thinking which sparked my curiosity to explore life’s unbeaten path. Both Anthony and Kate were two celebrities who on the surface, appeared to have it all.
Those of us who were fans of the two influential personalities were stunned to find out that on June 5, 2018, Kate took her own life with Anthony following three days later. Their untimely passing ignited conversations with those closest to me as we all asked the question why? Celebrity aside, I immediately saw the humanity in two people with whom I did not know personally. It didn’t matter to me the how or the why, but I felt a commonality between the two and myself. I will never know what brought Kate and Anthony to the fateful decision to part ways with this world but I, deep down inside, understood it!
I’ve been kicking and screaming through a life altering journey much of which brought on levels of hopelessness. How did I get here? I certainly didn’t plan it. I’m one of the most optimistic people I know. I’ve created a platform based on self-love, the joy of travel, and a little spiritual enlightenment void of the ridiculousness of religion. I of all people, do not live in darkness but there I was squatting in it full time.
It was 2013 when I was at a point in my life when I believed I claimed my power and chose to be happy. I was employed and traveling extensively. I was doing the very things I dreamt about and thought were impossible as a struggling twenty-something. It was now all erased with company downsizing and mourning a nephew gunned down and left to die along with his childhood best friend. I was left in complete darkness and not equipped with coping skills to make sense of it all.
I welcomed the lack of hope, denounced affirmations and forgot what it felt like to truly laugh until the tears fell. My material possessions that I thought at one point defined who I was, vanished just as quickly as they came. I was below rock bottom and for the first time in my life, entertained the thought of not being here any longer. In my mind, if I were being punished and damned by the universe for all eternity, I was going to exercise the only remaining power I had. The power to choose not to exist. It was my last tool in the tool box and it would be the ultimate clap back and FUCK YOU to the world.
I felt dead inside. I couldn’t hear the music anymore. I’ve heard it all of my life and it guided me, comforted me when I needed it most. That was terrifying. I couldn’t find myself so I gave up looking. Nothing felt familiar and I didn’t know who I was. I was the real Walking Dead except I wasn’t dead….yet.
I wasn’t prepared to rebuild at this stage in my life. At least not from ground zero. The truth is that before things went south, I was creating a new one. It was going to be amazing as I was happy to be a spectator of my own leveling up. Then life happened. It’s very good at getting in the way of your dreams.
I had gone through trials and tribulations before but I always had the security of my job, the peace of my apartment, and people who I thought were my friends to rely upon. I was heartbroken when I realized everyone can’t possibly be your friend in the true sense of the word. It was also a reality check to find out that what you think will sustain you, will have an expiration date and you won’t be ready for the absence of comfort, routine, and the illusion of security.
The thing about loss, regardless of whether it’s a loved one or your income, is that you don’t know who is truly in your corner until the shit hits the fan. I thought I had a diverse network of friends and acquaintances. Some of whom boasted on social media about being “bosses” in their chosen fields. A few of them also benefited from my generosity when I saved them from eviction, put food in their refrigerator, gas in their car, and picked up the tab at restaurants and bars when I knew they were struggling or were fired from their jobs. It’s what friends do I thought. I don’t regret those memories because they were some of the good ones and even now, remind me of who I once was.
When it was my turn at the wheel of misfortune, the very same people I thought were my support system either vanished, or sent me a multitude of useless thoughts and prayers. So much so that at one point, I was convinced they thought I could pay a bill with them. I was still able to apply compassion to them while I heard my Aunt’s voice in my head echoing “Bless their heart”. They meant well and I knew it but that amnesia some of them were suffering from was beyond convenient.
It was a tough life lesson but they, despite the disappointment of dealing with their broken promises of reaching out to people they know for possible employment opportunities, and good intentions, weren’t responsible for putting food in my mouth, even if I had done the same for them. They didn’t owe me anything and above all, I knew that! I also knew that I was in no way obligated to share the details of my struggle with them. I was done with my own sob story and no longer needed to frantically get back to the version of myself they all knew and loved. That man was figuratively dead and after witnessing their failure to grasp that concept, was happy that he was.