For a period of my life, I somehow convinced myself that shoving my fingers down my throat and forcing myself to vomit away whatever I had just eaten was the way to exercise control. The notion, as utterly stupid as it sounds, proved hard to shake. This bad habit of mine started when I became a teen whose physical appearance was eerily reminiscent of the Pillsbury Doughboy and lasted off and on well into my adulthood—say, until my early 30s, when for all intents and purposes I looked like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo if he did a lot of pushups to overcompensate for the fact that he basically needed a bra as a teenage boy.
By then, I didn’t really need to partake in the habit to keep the weight off, but the practice was never solely about my weight. No, I did not like the love handles of yore resurfacing, but I hated feeling so heavy.
Growing up, I felt overwhelmed by my father’s alcoholism and the violent consequences it had on our home. And while I adored my mother as a child, her God proved difficult for me over time, because he apparently did not like that quality about me that made me different from other boys. Both my parents picked up on it, and one of the few things that united them was their disdain.
On top of that, I grew up Black and working class in the South. This country already cares little for my kind, but most Black kids at least get some solace from the hatred of the outside world inside their own homes. I have spent a lifetime searching for the peace most find as children.
I took out a lot of debt to go to college and managed to graduate into the media industry as it was imploding. A year after that, the Great Recession happened. I blamed myself for situations beyond my control because my student-loan debt was so high. As I would soon learn, that sizable debt and the terms of repayment would affect every facet of my life.
I can see now that much of the financial debt I have carried with me is weighing on me no less than my emotional baggage. I am not proud of what I used to do, but have you ever felt so desperate to feel lighter?
Thankfully, I don’t feel so desperate anymore. I had every intention of making 2020 the year I finally became the best version of myself. For me, that was truly accepting that I am not as in control of my life as I would like to be, and that’s okay, so long as I can control my reactions to whatever I’m confronted with. That, and I intended to have way more sex. You know, because I deserve it.
Admittedly, I started the year in a better space mentally, physically, and financially, but I truly had a come-what may attitude.
Then came a global medical crisis, which spawned a financial crisis, and because it’s America and racism never takes a day off, we have seen more state-sanctioned violence against Black people. Worse, a dumb, racist game-show lead is still president.
I may be in a better space personally, but pandemics can test you. Fortunately, I have not wavered, a testament to my commitment to use this year to become the best version of myself. That means breaking bad habits, like purging, and treating my body with greater respect. Yes, I miss the gym, but dumbbells, a kettlebell, and a yoga mat will get you there. The same goes for dancing like a stripper to City Girls and Megan Thee Stallion. I’m in the best shape of my adult life because I’m allowing myself pleasure—including tacos and cookies.
I know this gives off Adult After-School Special vibes, but I really did come to accept that I am not going to find the answer to any of my frustrations and angst by throwing up a catfish dinner. As if anyone should ever waste catfish, much less in this economy. I will always be a better man if I pick up my head from the bowl and find another way instead.
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