Mask Off

The below is a transcript from the In My Opinion with Starr Howard Podcast // #WordUpWednesday – Mask Off // Aired on July 26, 2017

A few weeks ago was the beginning of a big melt down for me.  For the new booties just tuning in, I recently moved from Houston, TX to the East Bay Area in California.  It has been the most necessary and rewarding, yet hardest, thing that I’ve ever done.  I knew that with the move would come a new and evolved me, due to growth and development, but as you all know (if you don’t know yet, you will soon know. because we all, one day, must face growth) with growth comes loss.  Loss of comfort, things, and people.  People you thought would be with you for always.  I knew it was going to happen, but I didn’t know who, when, why or how.  Shortly after my move, I ended a 17 year relationship (9 years as friends and 8 years as committed partners) with the man who I thought I was going to spend my life with.  I also removed myself from a 15 year friendship with someone who violated my trust TWICE.  The second time was AFTER I spoke with her, sister to sister, about the first violation, then turned around and did the same thing again.

So, for those keeping count; I moved half way across the country, alone, to an unfamiliar place, away from my family, friends, favorite restaurants, tailor, dentist, mechanic, everything that was familiar.  I broke up with the one person who knows me better than I know myself.  That sounds a bit cliche’, but it’s the absolute honest truth.  I parted ways from a sisterhood that I cherished, with a person I talked to every day.  I got to Cali and realized that I am literally starting over.

BUT

Like most women, although all of this was transpiring, I never showed it.  I continued to get up and go to work with a smile on my face.  I continued talking on the phone to friends, joking, listening to their issues, providing kick ass advice, encouraging them, being a listening ear, sharing the beauty of Northern California with my social media followers, only to immediately log off and cry.  I would hang up FaceTime calls and bury my face in a pillow and cry.  I walk out of the office building, get in my car, strap on my seatbelt, and cry before I reversed out of the parking spot!  I remember getting in the shower every night and letting it all out.  The shower was my favorite place to cry because it was cleansing, literally.

This went on every other day, approximately, for 3 weeks, but n one knew.  There are 2 people that I speak with on a daily basis via FaceTime.  When I finally divulged this information, they were both in shock and  both asked “Where was I?”, not knowing that they were there in the middle of my storm, the entire time!  But, as women do, I hid it.  Maybe I didn’t want anyone to see me cry.  I was teased and reprimanded a lot for “crying too much,” both by family when I was younger, and an ex used to get annoyed when I cried, so I hid it.  Maybe I hid it because they would possibly ask questions that I didn’t have the answers to.

Truth be told, at the time, I had no idea why I was crying.  I don’t know why my heart felt so heavy.  I initially thought that I was homesick, so I booked a flight a week later.  I was back in Texas! Back with old and new familiar friends, back to driving down Westheimer and seeing family.  The weekend was amazing, but as soon as I boarded the plane, the tears flowed….for 3 hours!! It was at that time that I realized that I was not simply homesick.  I had been homesick before, when I went 2 hours away to college, but this was different.  Plus this feeling went on for about 2 more weeks.  I study psychology, so I knew it wasn’t depression.  I also knew that whatever it was, I had to go through it.  In my talks with God, I didn’t ask to remove the hurt. I wanted to feel it.  I wanted to experience it.  I knew that feeling it would remind me of that moment, when I made it out.  I wanted to remember what it felt like to be in a place that would ultimately make me a better person that I was at that moment.  With great pain, come great triumph and the same way I want to live in the triumph is the same way I want to live in the pain.  I realized that instead of pretending like everything was okay, giving the strangers the best part of me, but saving the worst of me for myself, I decided to tell my close friend what was going on.  My sister friend gave me the space to cry, in front of her.  We talked it out and both realized that what I was going through was a mourning.  A mourning of my previous life in Houston.  My previous friendship(s) and my previous relationship.  I decided to call and speak to my ex about the hurt.  I faced it.  No more pretending like I was fine.  It was important to me that I expressed my hurt and anger to those who were a part of the hurt and those who were a part of the healing, including myself.

I want to give you a few tips to help you get through your next melt down.  One will come, but prayerfully with these tips, we can prevent the explosion:

  1.  Recognize what you are feeling.  Be aware that your emotions are on a rollercoaster.  Recognize that although you may not know what the root of the issue is (and that’s okay) but you are cognizant of the change in your mood and behavior.  This comes with knowing who you are and not accepting the notion that your just having a bad day or going through PMS (A male friend suggested this to me.  *insert eye roll emoji).
  2. Feel it.  Whatever “it” is, allow yourself to feel it.  Don’t drink it away.  Don’t smoke it away.  Don’t sex it away.  Learn from Solange and feel it.  Go through that shit.  How will you know how good it feels when you get to the other side, if you never felt how bad it was?
  3. Face it.  Sometimes the hard ugly truth is that you were the cause of the melt down.  If so, face it!  Don’t run from it.  Don’t put the blame on anyone else.  Face yourself.  If your situation is like mine, call the culprits up, not out.  We call them up to lift them and not ridicule them. Face those people and tell them that they hurt you. It’s up to them how they receive it.
  4. Get yourself a support team.  Sophia A. Nelson called it in her book, “The Woman Code,” your Front Row.  The people who will call you and let you cry over the phone with no judgement and no interruptions.  Remember that in order to have a solid front row, you must be a great participant on someone else’s front row.

I’m learning that it’s okay to let others see you hurt.  We don’t have to pretend that everything is okay when it’s not.  Vulnerability is a sign of strength.  When we hide from our emotions they will eventually surface and create bigger issues.  Mask off and face real life like a boss!

 

XOXO

 

Starr

 

If you are experiencing constant and consistent sadness and depression, please consult a mental health specialist.  

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