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Therapy?

Oh shit, yeah?

 

It takes a few seconds, if that, to have an ‘oh yeah’ moment; whether it is mid-convo, a passage in a book, snippet from a podcast or a verse from your favourite track. The words resonate, providing a slight sense of relief.

 

I guess I don’t know it all.

 

A deity knows all, and I’m no deity. I’m human, a man flaunting his case knowing he dare not verbalise his plea. And, that’s why we love our quotes, our memes, and affirmations. We share that we provide a relationship and a shoulder to lean on. We are the ear and therapist. We share that we’ll always be there, while apprehensive of who’ll be there for us.

 

Oh shit, yeah?

 

Our words dare not suggest we be a deity, yet our actions fail to disguise our plea. We have things patterned, running on a tightknit schedule designed to fulfil our desires. We are of service to others through our relationships, our work and our art, our forms of expression. We are the change we yearn for, expressing our truth for the betterment of others. We never stop.

 

I guess I don’t know it all.

 

We are aware of our truth, expressive with its difficult nature for a shot of bliss tuned relief.  A notable desire yet we dare not verbalise our plea. We act as an example for others while we yearn for the change we desire. We too require a relationship and a shoulder to lean on. Have ears listen to our pleas, our desires, without us being of service.

 

Oh shit, yeah?

 

Get a fucking therapist then. Or, at least try one out. Create a day in your tightknit schedule for yourself, to waffle and have someone else figure out your shit. Be vulnerable and expressive with a professional and stop being a little bitch. Your relationships will not end, you are still an employed mentor, and a one to one session will not stop you from writing or acting. You have to firm that seventy pounds a session and embrace the unknown.

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Disciplined Madness

 

Consciousness » Forgiveness

°A person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment must accept that they were indeed the victim. You are not to blame for what has happened to you, but you must forgive. You must forgive yourself; accept, express and let it go, grant yourself the ability to experience life without judgement.°

‘If you met me three years ago, you’d hate me.’ This somehow became my go-to phrase for several years. I became aware of my ‘growth’ while in university, but never was I able to detail how that came to be; so, I’d usually follow the phrase by listing things I did three years prior. Like anyone gave a shit. Though what I almost never mention is why I did those things, and well, it’s simply because I didn’t know why. Nonetheless, ‘growth’ occurred and fortunately, in the most brutal fashion: University. I was finally diagnosed with depression and anxiety, suffered several intense panic attacks and fluctuated in weight due to an addiction. I didn’t think I’d experience and be diagnosed with several of what seemed to be fancy scientific jargon, nor did I think I’d have to figure out why, on my own.

 

Curiosity » Yes, let’s

°My half-sister has three boys, and I swear to God them man are on steroids. See, I pride myself on being somewhat healthy, but for some reason, I’m never able to keep up with the little fuckers. I can work out for hours, run up and down a stage for hours, anything, all without it feeling like the seventh round against Andy Ruiz Jr. But, I’m almost always fatigued by the time I head home; that’s exactly why I love them. They’re relentless, they want to know everything, they want to try everything, they want everything. One minute, I’m being bombarded with hints and questions about my phone, strength, and the hole(s) in my sock. The next, I’m a human punching bag that also can be a nerf target – thought arises, action follows. It is always refreshing to bear witness to their behaviour, to be reminded of what true innocence is, and the reward that comes with it.°

This is an excerpt from my diagnostic assessment report, by a chartered psychologist in 2015: ‘A free writing exercise from DASH 17+ was administered. This test provides a reliable measure of handwriting speed for students 17-25 years…and identifies students with slow handwriting speeds. On this task, Lawrence wrote at a rate of 22 words per minute; this yields a standard score of 8 which is measured in the average range, Lawrence wrote a piece about taking part in a national drama festival. This was an interesting piece that developed well and was informative. One spelling error was noted within his work which involved the mis-sequencing of letters within a word (‘olny for ‘only’) as were several crossings out.’

The first time I read this report was this year, 2019, when I randomly thought to myself, ‘oh shit, yeah, I’m dyslexic. Let me see what these man said about me.’ And, I’m glad I decided to only read it now because what I read would have been interpreted, in all the worst ways, by the anxious, depressed adult I once was. When I read this excerpt, it reminded me of the 2:1 I received in a final year module, which required me to adapt a short story into a play. I was shocked with the grade and feedback, considering I didn’t adapt shit. It was simply a play, written under duress, that was loosely based on the relationship between my mother’s sperm donor and me. I don’t recall the thinking behind my decisions but, I was praised for writing something personal, something I wanted to express.

 

Courage » You’re not fine, and that’s ok

°Your feelings matter, and no amount of logic will prevent the discomfort. So, are your shared beliefs – what has formed your identity – are they expressions formed by how you feel or how you should be?°

Experience tells me that it’s rather impossible to do the ‘right’ thing. You see, I remember having a panic attack during my graduation meal, and during the attack, I seemed to have no control over my thoughts and actions. Preceding the attack was my graduation, and all throughout I was thinking to myself, ‘why the fuck am I here?’ I didn’t want to attend my graduation because I hadn’t yet grasped the purpose of those three years; everyone at the table, bar Ronique’s parents, were made aware of that. So, as I was pacing up and down, trying to calm myself, I notice a shift in posture and expression from everyone at the table, and, well, that only made things worse. I began to think to myself…fuck, fuck, fuck! I could feel the eyes of every diner, and so I excused myself from our table, not once, not twice, but lord knows how many fucking times. Each time I did my best to convince them, I think, that I was fine. And, having excused myself numerous times, I just gave up and left the restaurant. Now, I’m sure that’s all everyone will remember from that day. I stole the show, and I did it without a fucking clue of what I was doing. Improv skill rating: 9.5/10.

 

Confidence » Double platinum with no features

°Someone, I know recently asked if I feel odd, out of place, when I’m in a room full of white people, and my response began with ‘I feel sexy.’ Of course, that had nothing to do with my response, but I knew I’d enjoy the confusion on his face. After I had my laugh, I gave this response, well, something along this line, “When I’m in predominately white or ‘educated’ room, there’s never a sense that I do not belong, why? Because I’m in the room.”°

There was no ‘growth,’ there was understanding. And, I understand that I must accept that my reality was nothing but a suppressed truth, that was visible to millions who empathise. I understand that I must rid myself of the shame and guilt of being born into an emotionally and financially unstable family. That I am not to blame for being abused and neglected. And, to lead a peaceful life, I must accept, express and let it go, grant myself the ability to experience life without judgement. The judgement of my past, my present and my future. I’m good where I am because I continue to learn, and I’m doing what the fuck I want. So, how am I able to detail how the past five years have shaped the being I am today? Well, nearing the end of October 2018, I decided to quit my tedious part-time job at the cinema. I’d just finished a shift, made my way to the exit and suddenly thought to myself ‘fuck it, I quit.’ I didn’t question the thought, and I’m glad I went through with it. During the ongoing experience, I began to own and practice my four C’s: Consciousness, Curiosity, Courage and then Confidence.

Right, so, at the start of October, I was filling out an application for a script program. And, as I was about to send off the application, I decided to check for the closing date, and um, well, bummer. The deadline had passed, by two weeks. I sat in the library chuckling to myself as I stared at an application I took pride in, a filled email tab, and no attachments. I could have closed the tab, but I thought why not send it anyway; so, I made amends to the email by adding, ‘Once I completed the application I realised the submission date had passed, but I thought why not submit anyway. Apologies if this causes any inconvenience.’ The very next day, I receive an email for an interview and sometime after the interview, I was notified and assigned to a play written by an award-winning playwright. The program did not start till November, so I had a month to bask in the possibilities of such a program, and of course, how it all came to be. Life felt like someone was blowing soft kisses at my gooch; shit felt so good it began to overwhelm the reality that I’m still an employee at the cinema.

During the weeks that followed the gooch tickling emails, I began to apply for other part-time retail jobs because I felt I needed to limit the time spent working at the cinema. So, I changed my availability to weekends only because I was certain I’d secure another part-time role, to which I did. The store I applied to wasn’t opening till December, it would be sixteen hours a week over three days, I believe, which was perfect. I’d be working weekdays, cinema on the weekends and in between that, I’ll be applying the skills learnt from the program. It’s mid-October and I could not have planned this any better. Then came the end of another Sunday shift at the cinema, a few days away from starting my script program, I stop and think to myself ‘fuck it, I quit.’ I certainly do miss the experience, the perks and individuals that made it the circus show it was. Great times with good people, but that did not stop me from going through with the sudden urge to quit, and I did so with the knowledge of two paid opportunities on its way. Well, at the time I thought it’d be two.

It’s January and I’m unemployed. I have finished the script program, but I am unable to work due to a passport issue. Luckily for me, I’m able to live off funds from the script program, and I’d just been accepted onto a year-long theatre program. February comes by and I’ve been invited in for another part-time job; this interview is what I’d like to call the turning point of my unemployed experience. During the interview, the area manager asked how many interviews I’d been in, ‘like five,’ I respond, to which he then replies, something along the lines of, ‘your resume is terrible, but you know how to manage yourself in an interview.’ Oh. It certainly threw me off since the interview had been flowing, but he was right, my resume was shit. We both agreed on how dull and generic it read yet, in person, I’m the complete opposite. After the interview, I sent my resume to a friend of mine who repeated most of his statements, but he didn’t stop there. That evening, my friend and I spoke on how I fail to sell myself on my resume…which is the whole fucking point of a resume.

Consciousness:

During this period of unemployment, especially from February onwards, I certainly questioned the rash decision to quit my regular source of income. There are days where I’ll struggle to fill my day with meaning. I’ll stay up till six in the morning, either playing video games or watching the NBA. I’ll skip the gym because I’m not motivated enough to leave my room. I’ll crave five to six meals a day because I found comfort in food. I’ll leave my room untidy for three days straight, and I’ll smoke every other day even though I know they’re all detrimental to my health. But, not once do I judge myself for it. I am unemployed, and I have every reason to be depressed and anxious about my situation. I’ve had to raise over a thousand pounds to sort out my passport, work cash in hand job to pay my bills, all while going in and out of interview after interview. I welcome each day because I refuse to play the victim who’s obsessed with what he can’t control, his desires, rather than what is already thriving.

Curiosity:

I’m willing to welcome each day as its own because of the faith in my ability to accept and be curious about what is. Unlike my nephews, I do not have the luxury of wanting to try everything, but I’m relentless in my pursuit of what I know works for me. Despite how depressing this period has been, I’ve not allowed myself to wallow in self-pity because of factors in my life that make it worth living. I continue to read because I understand the benefits of it. I continue to express myself through writing because of the weight it takes off my shoulders. I take on ‘twenty-four-hour theatre challenges’ because of the boost in energy it provides. I speak with Ronique every other, spend time with friends, workout, and take time out to play football with youths in the cage, all because of the peace it provides.

Courage:

Through curiosity, I found the willingness to practice a set of habits I knew improved my wellbeing. From simply tidying my room as soon as I’m up, to being vulnerable enough to admit how daunting a situation is. And, through acceptance and then the expression of what is, I realise and can pursue a worthwhile career other than acting and writing. I knew I couldn’t yet fully commit to those ventures, but I had six months of volunteering experience as a behavioural mentor. I was curious about the experience because I live the life of someone who was in desperate need of mentorship. Maybe if I had someone who understood and guided me through my childhood traumas, I wouldn’t have made the mistakes I made. Well, now I’m unemployed, in need of a career path, why not use that experience to kickstart a career? I certainly wouldn’t have planned for it to happen the way it did, but if I hadn’t quit my job that day, I would not be where I am.

Confidence:

Disciplined madness is the acceptance that I’ll never know it all. Eight months ago, I would not have imaged myself in this position, let alone find comfort in the chaos. I will never know it all but that isn’t to say I mustn’t go after the things I want. The past five years have given me the tools to be confident in my beliefs, my identity because I understand that I have control over one thing, and that is myself. I accept what is, be curious about what isn’t, and be willing to pursue the things I want. Because, five years ago, I did not think I’d be in a four-year relationship, nor have this perception of life. So, what’re eight months to Jigga who has experienced some real fucked up shit?

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IDENTITY

Type, this is who you’re marrying. Surname, what country are your parents from? Given names, what religion do you follow, if any? Nationality, who are you voting for? D.O.B, do you have ID? Sex, I thought you were gay. Place of birth, what ends you from? Date of issue, you’re just like your mother. Passport No, do they have two heads? Date of expiry, you remind me of your father. Authority, why are you crying? Identity, who are you?

21/09/2014

Consciousness -Awareness

1- ‘That’s just the way I am, you know?’

2- ‘Talk that talk, b.’

1- ‘If only I were born into a wealthy family, life would be so easy.’

2- ‘That’s right.’

1- ‘Think about, it’s actually unfair.’

2- ‘Uh, uh.’

1- ‘Nothing good ever seems to last, you know. What’s the point of living?’

2- ‘Woah. Hold on, wait a minute, let me put some kush up…’

1- ‘At nineteen I continue to move with time. Each year leaves behind memories tainted by pride, shame and guilt.’

2- ‘Uh, okk. At least acknowledge that that was funny’

1- ‘I often feel alone, no idea of who I am, but I know what I’m not. I’m aware sometimes, you know? Stillness does that. Stillness likes to relieve me of this hold, this hold on a heap of thoughts and suppressed memories. And, splat. Each thought leading to a traumatic memory, one that leaves behind a vivid, unpleasant image that loops till I become my own audience; reasoning why something or someone else is at fault for the path I’ve chosen.’

2- ‘Right.’

1- ‘But, soon enough, the informative show ends, and I’m brought back to a reality. A thrilling but often hostile reality designed to prevent me from achieving moments in my visions, you know? Picking up my son from the school like the proud father I’ll be, going on vacation with my wife, as a proud husband and, holding up multiple Best Actor awards. But, that isn’t my reality, and if I die with the knowledge of an unfulfilled life, shit, well, it gets like that. I haven’t found the right woman to marry let alone impregnate, and, well, I’m still an actor in training. Also, It wouldn’t make sense for life to turn out in my favour anyway, it hasn’t up to now and knowing God, he’s not going to make things easier, the prick. I mean, he made life a whole lot easier for my peers even though I deserve just as much, if not more, but I’m stuck with this shitty life. But, that’s nothing new, life is designed to fuck people over; some are just lucky with it. And, that’s calm, men like me must learn to take care of ourselves anyway.’

2- ‘That’s true, no one will ever understand where you’re coming from.’

1- ‘Yeah, yeah. Men like me are exposed to trash ass male models, and, we may not exactly know what being a man entails but, we figure shit out as we go along.’

2- ‘Yeah, figure it out, ok.’

1- ‘I mean, men are here to protect and provide, but I swam from the testicles of a poomplex who ‘protects’ and certainly doesn’t shut up about what he provides. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him cry, so there’s another box ticked. He’s a man. But, I struggle with accepting that because I know I’d never raise my children the way he raised me. It also doesn’t help when infidelity is either championed or glossed over within male circles. So yeah, I know I won’t be like my father, and I’ll never cheat again, but, aren’t I then going against who I should be? I’m a man after all, but If that is true, why must her face hijack moments in my day to day life? Why?’

2- ‘Who cares?’

1- ‘And because I’m uncertain of what to do as an audience member, I forcefully laugh. I mean, being sexually abused by a lady with a speech impediment is kinda funny. No? Well, I had to find humour in the situation before the imminent shift in focus to the blurred figure that accompanied her. That figure. She was present during the time underneath the dining table, yeah, I recall three bodies, three bodies, including mine. No recollection of her and stammer vag in the backyard though, so maybe she was only present once, and that’s why she is a blur.’

2- ‘You know men don’t get raped, right? I mean, do we, don’t we? Did it even happen? Why didn’t I say something if it fucking happened more than once? I probably wanted it, and they just couldn’t resist how good looking I was. No, for real, I must have been very good looking. Haha.’

1- ‘I’d laugh and make jokes about it, what other option do I have? Just humour. I mean, without it, it’s a lonely miserable life. A more lonely, miserable life that is. And, the humour is often enough; it relieves whatever negative feeling is brewing inside, you know? And, it did so, for years, and then came a call, I’d been asked to come in for an interrogation, a young lady is accusing me of raping her two years prior.’

2- Did I? Look, I didn’t, but since I’ve been accused, maybe I did. Yeah, maybe I did.’

1- ‘So, it had been hours after an unpleasant phone call with my ex, and just minutes before the call took place, I was offered, and I refused a quickie with the young lady. The young lady and I had history, a moment in time, and despite having a girlfriend, nothing seemed able to prevent history from repeating itself. So, I’m alone in my hotel room, the resentment towards my ex had built up to the point where I’d reasoned my impending actions. Fuck it, the location of our first sexual encounter wasn’t exactly the most pristine of locations. But hey, impulsive sex usually leads to a muddy surface, behind a basketball court, and a preempted one often provides better suiting locations. So, I walk down the hallway, into her room and I’m welcomed by her and her friend. I should have noticed the sign and bounced, but I did not, I chose to engage in small talk for several minutes till I eventually grew tired of my performance. I had no interest in this young lady or the bullshit conversations we were having, but I knew one thing, I was there for relief and she’d provide. Her friend still in the room, I took her hand, walked into the bathroom and proposed my reason for being there.’

2- ‘See. And, then you both stripped, blah, blah, blah. What matters is that she and her friend said you did, but whatever.’

1- ‘I bust a nut, we stand then step out, I said peace to the both and that was it. Yeah, so, have you ever heard of post nut clarity? Well, that shit is real. I was draped in shame and guilt – I just cheated, and It does not feel good. I walked out, back down the hallway and into my room, and my recollection ends there. A few months pass, no longer with my ex, still slinging out dick with no care in the world, I hear my name is being mentioned by the young lady. And, on a random day, I bump into an acquittance who proceeds to tell me that this young lady is telling everyone I’d raped her, my response being an embodied ‘really’ followed by a genuine laugh, I unknowingly dismiss the severity of the situation. A couple of weeks pass, and I bump into another acquittance who informs me of her accusation; at that point, laughter could not mask the evident anger. I took that anger and channelled it into each line of the messages I sent her, once again unknowingly dismissing the severity of the situation. Two years pass, nineteen years old and a couple of months away from starting University, I’m in the gym with my boy when I receive the phone call.’

2- ‘Meh.’

1- ‘Is this karma for cheating? Is this karma for exploiting another woman’s interest in me? Do I deserve this? Did I rape this young lady?’

2- ‘Yes, to all, I can’t be bothered anymore.’

1- ‘But how do you go about getting answers to those questions?’

2- ‘You don’t, you man up and live with it.’

1- ‘You man up and live with it.’

2- ‘Yeah, that’s just how things are, you’ll figure it out someday. For now, just stay away from people, even family. I mean, no one likes you, really. Even your own sister didn’t invite you to her wedding. That, and I know you still despise her for leaving you.’

1- ‘Firm it and figure shit out on your own. Firm it. On my own, but, when will that be? When will I be able to figure out why the fuck my life is all over the fucking place? Why couldn’t we have just stayed in Nigeria? Stupid fucking parents. And, my sister, where was she when I needed her most?’

2- ‘Look, no one cares man. You were abused by two women. You have no memory of your own mother till about nine. You were accused of raping someone. And, even your own sister doesn’t like you. Ouch.’

1- ‘My sister, the only guardian I recall being present while we were in Nigerian, the only guardian present during those hellish three years with our father, gone, just like that. Safe.’

2- ‘You chose to follow her out of his home and she left you. Damn, son. ‘

1- ‘She’d been the only guardian I felt safe with, and regardless of how little we knew of one another, I always felt that sense of protection from her, unlike our parents. But now it makes sense, I guess. She’d experienced twenty plus years of our parents’ unethical parenting methods – she may not describe it like that, but it is what it is – and eventually grew tired of it. She had a boyfriend who I’m sure provided her with a sense of security and being kicked out was the perfect opportunity to escape the cycle of madness. I don’t blame her, not one bit, but then to later distance herself from me and our younger sibling is something I can’t forgive. Not an invite to the wedding, treating me like some vermin around your kids, no visits, yeah, fuck her and her husband.’

2- ‘That’s still a dickhead move, no matter how I look at it.’

1- ‘And, to then move in with our mother, and right away, forcibly given the responsibility of looking after my younger brother. Little twelve-year-old me, with so much pain residing within, given the responsibility to look after, and care for an innocent child. If I knew the decision to leave my father’s home came at the price of my little brother’s mental health and our relationship, I probably would have stayed put. I was set up to fail, I was young and Ignorant towards my feelings, so how could I possibly understand his? You know? I still remember days where I’d tell him to sit and wait for me to finish playing ball before we head back home. Over the years, I’d tell him to play out, so I could ‘beat’ a link of mine, even if our mother were in her room, sleeping. I wasn’t equipped to nurture my little brother, and by displaying abusive, self-serving behaviour, I’m sure I instilled negative qualities in him that he’ll have to one day unlearn. Now I beat myself up because I’m partly to blame for whatever insecurities he has, and because I’ll be away from him for three years, I feel even more useless. I know I wasn’t a good brother before, but I was going through shit I couldn’t comprehend, and I’d always hoped to never experience another failed sibling relationship, but here I am. Fuck me, it’s really not fair how life keeps fucking me up the anus.’

1- ‘What a fucking shit life to have lived’

2- ‘I genuinely believe my life Is a comedy series. I’m certain not many people can say they know what it feels like to have nineteen years of your life be one big blur. To be forced to adjust to a new country. To be shamed by your guardians for things you can’t control. To move from one place to another, each time doing the absolute most in hopes of creating lasting friendships. For your father to beat your mother tongue out of you or what it feels like to watch your father smash your first phone, a present gifted to you for your birthday. To stand and listen to your mother denounce your existence, nine months of pain, all for what? No one will understand, really understand what it feels like to feel alone in the presence of their family. And, on top of that, must live with the foolish mistakes you’ve made. I mean, who sleeps with a lady he’s just met, behind a dumpster? Who cheats? Who moves to a lady after he robs her man? Who spits in the face of another man? Who does all this dumb shit and still expect to progress in life? C’mon. Look, time will only tell how life will turn out, and if at any point it becomes unbearable, maybe then I’ll go through with it.’

1- ‘Link up with the devil is long overdue.’

2- ‘You right.’

21/07/2017

Curiosity -Interest

1- ‘To think I’m three years into a relationship. I enjoyed my course. Erm, I’ve bought books. I’m saying yes, yeah, I’m actively trying to better myself. Life certainly isn’t going the way I imagined but, it feels better.’

2- ‘Ok. What makes you think that?’

1- ‘Where do I begin? Well, I certainly did not feel comfortable sharing my suppressed feelings with any of my guardians, my lecturers or the supplied university counsellor who couldn’t possibly help me within fifteen minutes. I did, however, have access to the internet and more importantly, someone I found comfort being around. I’d reached a stage in my life where I wanted my feelings acknowledged, my voice be heard, and my presence felt; I had this idea of what it meant to be a man, and God seemed to gift me Ronique. When I wanted to drop out of university, she walked me through why I wanted to drop out. When nerves prevented me from contacting women from my past, she encouraged me to have faith in my reasons. When I struggled to express how I truly felt, she did not judge or allow that to influence her vulnerability. Ronique is a woman who does not hide from her emotions, acknowledges and Is willing to express them without the fear of judgement, well, most times. And, when you’re around someone who’s shameless when it comes to expressing ‘weak’ emotions, you begin to question what on earth is wrong with you. I adored her, and her family set up, to the point where I almost felt second class; I’d feel embarrassed about my upbringing, and the qualities I felt did not compliment hers. From her being ok with my potty mouth, to her defending me to her housemates after I’d pulled a knife on a guest. Also, her father isn’t like any man I’d ever met. I mean, dude sits at the table with his fucking family. I just seemed to have been shoved into this new world, desperately trying to comprehend what the fuck was happening. I was spun. I hadn’t been this invested in mine or the life of another human being, and even when my insecurities caused me to regress, I knew I couldn’t jeopardise what I recognise to be my first honest bond with another human being.’

2- ‘To be honest, she was not trying to hear any of the feeble breakup suggestions.’

1- ‘So, with the respect I had for her character, her family set up, the embarrassment of not feeling like enough, and the awareness of everything I’d suppressed, I found the courage to confront myself. To be curious about who and what has shaped the man I am today; to truly understand and then be at peace with my life, moving forward.’

2- ‘Aww’

1- ‘Your mum. Anyway, so, who am I? Well, based on my experience with family members, articles and London’s Nigerian embassy, I believe it’s fair to assume that my culture certainly does not encourage equality and autonomy. The principle that enables elders and authoritarian figures to be assured in their harmful ways, a product of their conservative, ignorant beliefs has rubbed me the wrong way for many years. This idea that ones’ views and actions are above critique due to their age and status continues to play a huge part in the dysfunction in my life and in our community. Adults continue to operate under the ‘do as I say, and not as I do’ rule while creating a toxic environment, reinforcing this false hierarchy that pertains to accountability. ‘Actions speak louder than words,’ through my experience, that’s certainly not a shared or understood Nigerian proverb, as the use of language is often a tool used to pardon abusive, self-serving behaviour, to the point where the explicit hypocrisy becomes an unbearable joke, you know? It’s almost as if my guardians are unaware of how their childrearing methods shaped my being. Fair, as an adult they may be under immense pressure due to the current complications in their life, but simply because they are consumed by stress, it does not dissolve them of the responsibility they have to themselves and to the children in their care. You see, I may later be able to conceptualise the challenges they’ve had to overcome, to provide a better life for me, but unfortunately, the damage has already been done. They create an environment that stunts a child’s growth, as he must deal with the constant feeling of uncertainty no matter his age, qualification or plea. The fact that I got robbed once for my oyster card and rather than being upset that I’d just been robbed, I was fearful of how my mother would react. I’m eleven or twelve, I just got robbed, and I’m fearful of how I’d be punished. Like, I’m the fucking victim here. Man, my guardians did a grand job at creating a ‘perfectionist,’ they guilt tripped me into my place, constantly reminding me of all they’ve done or how another child is making his guardians proud. And, if dominance still wasn’t asserted, externalising through anger was always an option. And that sort of environment, that sort of ‘culture,’ stunts a person’s mental and emotional growth.’

2- ‘Yeah, yeah, sounds about right. They fucked up, yeah.’

1- ‘Yeah, that is essentially what I was raised in.’

2- ‘Yeah, you right.’

1- ‘Now, not only am I aware of my traumas, upbringing and past mistakes but more importantly, how everything has influenced my behaviour. And, I want to change that behaviour, so I spend most of my time in solitude, working on myself. I became obsessed with manifesting that wish, I watched videos on self-help, love or whatever you’d like to call it, I read articles on bettering one’s self, I did all the right things.’

2- ‘Aww, well done. So, the internet and Ronique?’

1- ‘That’s all I need.’

2- ‘In this life of sin is me and girlfriend. Me and my girlfriend, and the internet. Haha. You’re good, no need to socialise or anything, it’s your life you’re trying to figure out.’

1- ‘Well, people were cool to hang out with, sometimes, and it wasn’t anything more than just that. Most people’s behaviour just brought back memories from my teenage years. I’d hear or witness scenarios I was once involved in, and that shit just put me off, it seemed like people were after this social currency that had little to no value or they were just simply dickheads.’

2- ‘Fair enough.’

1- ‘Like, I am dealing with the consequences of similar mistakes you are making. And, not in a rude way but, it is not my responsibility to sort your shit out for you, so I’d pretty much distance myself. Every now and then I’d listen to people’s issues, and offer advice but nothing usually came of it, so now, I know to always keep it moving. Don’t get me wrong, I still hit up motives and had great times with people but remember, I had university, a relationship, and my mental wellbeing to take care of. I didn’t have the time or the patience to sit with someone who wasn’t trying to help them self.’

2- ‘Did they even ask?’

1- ‘They’d ask for my advice or opinion on things’

2- ‘True.’

1- ‘Anyway, back to the upbringing. Most of my teenage years were unsupervised, and besides church and chores, my only obligation was to look after my little brother. I had a little too much time on my hands, which is evident with how I operated on social media. I finally found myself an outlet, and of course, I abused the fuck out of it. I was living in the matrix with likeminded people, saying and doing things because I knew it’d garner attention. Over the years I had built somewhat of a following, to the point where women were starting conversations with nudes, follow back requests led to backs being blown and, susceptible men championed my hit-list. I lived and spoke about a lifestyle admired by many, but, the thing is, despite my social currency I still felt like a nobody. A nobody who seemed pleased to be recognised and appreciated for the false version of himself, but whenever he stopped long enough to think about the life he’s living, he wallowed in self-pity. Like, I’d always had this fear of being undesirable, and that feeling lingered during most, if not all my interactions; I had no clue why people found me funny, why women found me attractive or why men wanted to be around me. Looking back at things, it all felt performative. And, I’m sure that feeling of being undesirable came from not having any memory of my parents for the first nine years of my life, and then watching my father take pride in parading another woman and their daughter around. Having to deal with my abuse, alone. All of that made me feel unwanted. Just years of instability, and not one guardian equipped with the knowledge to walk me through things, to help me understand and accept my reality. So, figuring all that out, working to unlearn so much, and deal with people behaving like I was? Hell no.’

2- ‘Fair enough. So right now, individual learning is the wave.’

1- ‘Yeah. Yeah, and I’m starting to notice how undervalued I am.’

2- ‘Yeah?’

1- ‘A lot of people don’t appreciate how much effort I put into supporting them, even though I’m dealing with shit myself.’

2- ‘Do you communicate that with them?’

1- ‘I shouldn’t have to, and as I said, I can deal with my shit myself, plus I have Ronique.’

2- ‘You know what, you right. Keep talking that talk.’

11/12/2018

Courage-Intention

1- ‘I wasn’t born into a wealthy family. I did not have a healthy upbringing. I wasn’t afforded the privileges permitted to many of my peers, but I am here, living, breathing. And, as a young, healthy-ish twenty-four-year-old, why not put all that energy to good use. I mean, It won’t last forever.’

2- ‘Alright, hello to you too’

1- ‘How are you doing, man?’

2- ‘I’m chilling, yourself?’

1- ‘I’m good. I’m real good. I feel, fulfilled.’

2- ‘Okk, I’m listening’

1- ‘Man, life is fucking tough, mate. Like, fucking tough. But, I’m living, and I’m learning, and, I’m loving it. It feels fucking amazing. Shit is beautiful, man.’

2- ‘You should be a poet.’

1- ‘Your mum.’

2- ‘But, fo’real, it’s exciting, isn’t it? Like, you’ve done the hard work by just allowing yourself to feel anxious.’

1- ‘Man, fo’real. Even if that anxious feeling manifests itself into a nervous breakdown.’

2- ‘And, still. Being in that moment, identifying the trigger(s) and then setting out a plan to resolve the root cause.’

1- ‘Consciously going after what you want by doing and asking for what you want. Shit is beautiful, man.’

2- ‘I told you, poet.’

1- ‘Piss off’

2- ‘.’

1- ‘.’

2- ‘Remind me, what is it that you want?’

1- ‘Peace of mind.’

2- ‘Oh.’

1- ‘What do you mean, oh?’

2- ‘Peace of mind?’

1- ‘Yeah’

2- ‘Fo’real? In this economy? With the countless obstacles, you must overcome, the lack of opportunities available, and just the pressures of day to day life. Things aren’t always going to go your way, you do know that, right? You aren’t always going to get what you want, b.’

1- ‘I know, but that’s exactly what has made my life worth living, the obstacles and the ‘lack’ of opportunities available; just the pressures of day to day life. I can sit and mope about other people’s ideas of what a black man is or should be, turn into the incredible sulk because I’m not afforded opportunities handed to others, and be frustrated that I’m yet to achieve moments in my visions. It’s very easy to do all that. But, what about me? How do I view myself as a man, a black man? How do I utilise the opportunities afforded to me? How do I go about achieving those moments in my visions? You know there are seven plus billion people on this planet, some people create policies for societies to live by and, some are dehumanised by said policies. There are seven plus billion people on this planet, some people fight for their countries and, some are forced to defend their own. Seven plus billion people on this planet, some people study and research the human mind and body, some require assistance with the use of their mind and body. People are different.’

2- ‘Silly me, how could I forget?’

1- ‘.’

2- ‘A bit obvious, init.’

1- ‘Yes, but, don’t make the mistake of forgetting. I’m no fool, I’m just a little black boy from Nigeria, I wouldn’t be here if I thought everything would bend in my favour. But, you live by knowing and believing in who you are, your intentions, and having the willingness to adapt. And, me knowing there are seven plus billion people on this planet, all with views governed by their experiences, the pressures of their day to day life; to then have the audacity to think everything will go my way, c’mon.’

2- ‘Fair enough. So, how do we find peace?’

1- ‘Well, we continue to live with and learn from people, and not in solitude.’

2- ‘So, just give your time and energy to anyone who requests? That’s kinda foolish.’

1- ‘Oh, hell no. You’ll know who deserves your time and energy once you’re sure of who you are and what you stand for. And, when you have those people around you, your loved ones, you’ll find peace, no matter the circumstance. You’ll learn to love spending time with yourself, to be grateful for such a fortunate life, and go after everything you want with confidence. Our experiences may differ due to culture, upbringing and so many other external factors but what I have in common with them and seven billion other people is something that’s innate. Our emotions. We have something in common, but we’re all so quick to forget that. And, once I accepted that we’re alike, even if our words and actions suggest otherwise, it made telling my stories a whole lot easier.’

2- ‘Okk. What about psychopaths?’

1- ‘That’s an area I know very little about, for now.’

2- ‘We all don’t have something in common, then.’

1- ‘Look, right now, I suck at biology and a bunch of other shit, so just let me express what I feel is true, for now.’

2- ‘Alright then, these stories, what are they?’

1- ‘In the simplest term, how we can be better human beings.’

2- ‘Uhh, but who are you and what on earth makes you think you know how humans can be better?’

1- ‘I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely confident in answering that either. I’m still learning, but what I know is how I managed to be a better human being. And, since becoming the change I want to see in others, the lives of my loved ones have improved.’

2- ‘Yes, but that’s only you and your loved ones.’

1- ‘That’s totally fair and I’d be inclined to doubt myself if new experiences didn’t suggest otherwise.’

2- ‘Hmm. Ok, ok. I’m tired of the self-doubting questions and affirmations, who are you?’

1- ‘Aite, boom. I am a proud brother, boyfriend, friend, behaviour mentor, man, actor and storyteller, so far that is. And, it’s a result of pushing through, and not giving up during pivotal moments in my life. Nineteen-year-old me acknowledging yet struggling to express his traumatic experiences, and the self-righteous twenty-two-year-old who couldn’t afford himself the equal amount of time and love he afforded others. I’m glad I chose to continue pursuing a better life, even if I didn’t know how. And, my biggest learning curve thus far has been my university experience. I honestly did not think it possible to feel as lonely, confused and anxious as I felt, but, with discipline, I became a better person for it. You see, when you’re able to sit in a landfill for a room, smoking four to six zoots a day, you have a lot of time to think, and to ask questions. Questions about your childhood, your teenage years and all the mistakes you’ve made, your traumas, everything. Questions I was able to find answers to, even if they couldn’t save me from developing my saviour complex. I had found the courage to be curious about my own life, but the knowledge acquired only strengthened my belief in who I thought I was. I was still someone who didn’t deserve to progress in life, someone who thought time decided their worth. I understood how I developed that mindset, but rather than focusing on how to unlearn that detrimental, subconscious way of thinking.’

2- ‘Heyy.’

1- ‘Shut up, please. I understood how I developed that mindset, but rather than focusing on how to unlearn that detrimental, subconscious way of thinking, I tried to make sure people weren’t making the mistakes I made. I so desperately wanted others to live a peaceful, fulfilled life where they were committed to becoming the ‘best versions’ of themselves. But, the truth of the matter is, I was a coward. I was living the life of someone who had already given up on his own life, someone who allowed their past to define their present, someone who was afraid of becoming the ‘best version’ of them self. At twenty fucking two. My life and decisions were still heavily driven by fear because I still couldn’t pinpoint what I wanted from myself, let alone a friendship or a relationship.’

2- ‘Lucky she wasn’t trying to hear any of your feeble breakup suggestions.’

1- ‘Women, ayy. It’s just a shame that I allowed the knowledge of my dysfunctional past to skew my view on reality. I knew I had a woman who adored me, but I was still able to create excuses to justify my fears, I couldn’t even tell her I loved her back for the first year plus of our relationship.’

2- ‘You have always made Ronique sound real perfect, you know.’

1- ‘She & I know she’s not, I’m just owning my fear-driven decisions because at the end of it all, I know I committed myself to make our relationship work. I knew we had something because I’d always feel conflicted every time I ‘tried’ to break up with her. Each time, realising the obvious fact that I’d never been this comfortable with another person.’

2- ‘Good thing she wasn’t trying to…’

1- ‘Let it go. I’m just glad she didn’t adhere to any of my bullshit suggestions. But, then came the thought, why the fuck am I suggesting something I don’t want? Why must every co-created issue end with me feeling disrespected?’

2- ‘That’s how you were taught to handle conflict, no shame in that.’

1- ‘Nope, there is shame in that and I desperately want to figure out how to unlearn it. Feeling one way but saying the complete opposite, it’s a little embarrassing. It’s childlike behaviour.’

2- ‘Yeah, you had the information, but you didn’t know how to prevent your insecurities from clouding your decisions.’

1- ‘But, I knew I couldn’t afford to carry on defending the insecure behaviour because all It did was hurt the woman who cared for me most.’

2- ‘And, that was enough. Knowing you were hurting Ronique was a good enough reason to want progress.’

1- ‘Yeah, I didn’t like the idea of who I was. I wanted to be better than who I thought I was, and not for myself but for the woman I see myself marrying. The woman who’d allow me to achieve at least two of my visions, the proud husband.’

2- ‘And, with a little bit of barebacking, the proud father.’

06/04/2019

Confidence-Double platinum with no features.

1- ‘You know that somewhat justified fearful feeling you get before or after doing something you care about?’

2- ‘I think I failed that audition.’

1- ‘Yeah, that’s normal. Allowing yourself to intensify that feeling, and, it takes over the rest of your day or week?’

2- ‘I think I read that last line wrong. The reader came in too soon. I should have reminded them that I am dyslexic. What if they don’t get back to me? Fuck, I knew I fucked up that last line.’

1- ‘That’s madness. You’ve separated yourself from reality. I may have fucked up the last line, but how does knowing that serve me? The audition is over, they won’t be getting back to me for another week, and I obviously cannot turn back time. So, all I can do now is accept what has happened, accept that I performed to the best of my knowledge and ability, and continue to work with time.’

2- ‘Each second, minute, hour, day is its own.’

1- ‘And, if that mistake is still bothering me, I must sit with it, figure out why it occurred and how I’m going to prevent it from happening again. I look for answers when I think, not what if scenarios.’

2- ‘I can’t even entertain myself anymore, dull cunt.’

1- ‘Shuuuut uuurrp. I’ve become very conscious of how I operate because I can’t allow myself to continue moving with time while hoping things will eventually work out. I spent the first twenty-two years of my life living with that mindset.’

2- ‘It gets like that, b.’

1- ‘And, I’ve missed out on so many wonderful relationships because of it. Relationships I wish I could turn back the hands of time on, but, there’s no room for what ifs, now. I’m twenty-four years old, and I’m witnessing just how vibrant life is now, for me. And, all it required was for me to take responsibility for my own life, my mistakes and my visions.’

2- ‘The world will continue to move, even if you died today.’

1- ‘And, ever since I’ve found the courage to sit with what makes me feel anxious, I’ve been able to converse and gain ‘closure’ from the young lady. Finally, the thoughts of what ifs that took me out of moments with incredible humans, that happen to be women, will no longer be entertained. I’ve now been able to create meaningful relationships with women with varying experiences, two of them being my mentors. Their strong, honest and disciplined identity has certainly encouraged my commitment to appreciating all that my mother and sister have done for me. And, I’ll continue to use the knowledge acquired to rebuild our relationship; I know It’ll be a long haul but I’m willing to take on the responsibility. I can only imagine the adversities my mother and sister have had to overcome, and despite our conflicts, I appreciate them so much for doing what they felt was right. They performed to the best of their knowledge and assigning blame will not resolve what has happened. I mean, I see the way they treat my brother, and rather than questioning why my treatment was different, I acknowledge and respect their growth.’

2- ‘My life does seem to be this satirical comedy series.’

1- ‘I’ve made, and continue to make the conscious effort to learn, to right my wrongs, and I learnt that it starts with how I view myself. How does that little Nigerian boy whose childhood was stripped away from him, how does he feel?’

2- ‘Henry Mcgrath was right.’

1- ‘You shouldn’t tell yourself to grow up, not even as a joke. Let your inner child roam free, as that’s where all your creativity lies.’

2- ‘Something like that.’

1- ‘I’m just glad that he told me that, even if they were just words back then. Being able to truly understand who I am has allowed me to understand and communicate effectively with other people. He certainly is one of many that added to this film, this reality of mine. He taught me where to always return to.’

2- ‘And Stephen, he taught me how to be in the space, to be professional, and be receptive.’

1- ‘Yes, lets’

2- ‘Yes, lets. Patrick taught me how to listen to my body, to feel and not think. And, finally, baldilocks. John Cooper, the man who sparked the idea for this reality. My fucking heroes, and with great assistance from Ronique, I am able to focus on what matters to me.’

1- ‘People matter. And, I’ve chosen to apply my knowledge and experiences to aid kids and youths with recognising, understanding and accepting who they truly are. I listen, acknowledge and respond appropriately whenever they express themselves because I know all too well what it’s like to be dismissed. I know what it’s like to be raised in an emotionally stunting environment, and to then live with the shame and guilt of the mistakes caused by your lack of emotional awareness.’

2- ‘It’s my responsibility to help them find their healthy way of being expressive.’

1- ‘And, I feel confident taking on this responsibility because I have taken full responsibility for my Identity. I’ve found a new level of respect for myself, and I am in the process of creating a solid foundation that continues to encourage and remind me of just that. I am a proud brother, boyfriend, friend, behaviour mentor, man, actor and storyteller, so far that is.’

2- ‘And, in detail, how the fuck did I find myself here?’

Find out on the next episode of Dragon Ball Z.

Life is tough enough as it is, be kind and honest to yourself, and things will only get better.

My identity will only be defined by me.

My experiences have lessened my fear of becoming just like my father, the men I hate or and the skewed ideas of what a man should be.

I know there’s still so much I don’t know about life, societies, cultures, myself but with seventy plus years of my life left to live, confidence in my intentions and my willingness to learn, tomorrow will be a pleasant day.

Continue reading “IDENTITY”

Featured

Friend

You had two boys out in the courtyard, barefooted, playing football with a plastic ball, let’s say on a Monday. The following day, the two boys found themselves climbing the mango tree a few metres from the house. Wednesday arrives, and it is who can roll the tyre from point A to B the fastest. What upsets me about these memories is the fact that in my nine years at ‘home’ those are the only positive ones I have, moments shared with a child whose name and face eludes me. If only I were able to grow with that child, experience and share my developmental years with him…maybe he could have eased the pain caused by those women. I do not remember their names or faces, but we lived under the same roof for some time before my arrival in London. During that period, I recall, vividly, repeated offences that stripped me of my childhood – traumatic experiences that would later deprive me of meaningful relationships with women – I often wonder how I reacted during those moments, how I made things make sense, how I coped. Till this day, it remains the dominant memory of Nigeria.

 

As I witnessed my mother struggle to cope with a distant husband, moving from one home to another, being forced to raise my brother on her own, the vulnerability was not a choice. I watched a parent struggle to live with PTSD and Anxiety – often externalising through anger – the thought of shame and guilt embedding in her psyche haunted me…or maybe I was just tired of leaving things in God’s hands. My Father? The crippling fear of this man haunted me for many years. The only person left for me to turn to, my sister, well she was far too busy with her now husband. So, the hunt for immediate external affection began, just right on time with puberty. As my subconscious turned the hourglass on its head, objectives for this point had changed, the topic of discussion at school always seemed to be about girls, It was an all boys school after all, so to fit in, I started dating. Each relationship had zero chance at standing the test of time, my fear of and anxiety around women controlled me, these young girls were failing to fill the gaping hole created by women in my life. I had locked away the frightened child for so long that any attempt at freeing him, allowing him to open up his wounds resulted in the termination of that relationship. I had to protect him from being abandoned again. Guard up, I lived through my teens a victim of paranoia, often running away from every vulnerable moment, until that skype call with my ex. A moment that brought about eternal shame. Shame and guilt perched over me as I watched a young girl breakdown due to my infidelity, forcing me to be aware of myself becoming the very humans I despised. I promised myself to never get into another relationship after things ended. I grew numb, and for two years, I would only want to be around women offering sex. Eighteen years of constant chaos, loneliness and no sense of identity, maybe this is just who I am. If that is the case, I refuse to continue feeling those draining emotions; an unexpected cry for help would inevitably force people to listen. A recurring thought for many years as I dove further down into the abyss – unable to access my unhealthy coping mechanisms – an image of my distraught little brother became my only reason to live.

 

Unable to find meaning while in London, I chose to study in Crewe (absolute fucking shithole) where I met Ronique, breaking my promise only two weeks into University. As time passed, we shared new experiences with one another, often struggling to resolve minor conflicts, but the thought of leaving someone who had convinced me not to drop out, who encouraged me to make peace with the women from my past and supported me as I overcame my substance abuse, felt absurd. So I made the conscious effort to improve my way of living by dealing with the past which I allowed for many years, to control the now. While I worked on improving my mental health, as it is my responsibility, I began to experience moments of peace. Ronique and I had graduated, living in two different cities but things worked for us, until a few months before she travelled to China, where I found myself unconsciously reverting to my old ways. My mind worked hard to reinforce the status of the messy bitch, as the absence of chaos was unpleasant. I found myself making the mistake of trying to figure out, by myself, why the topic of China rubbed me the wrong way after a while, as it had to be something fairly serious. I would create elaborate stories to challenge the fact that I would miss the only being I felt genuinely cared for me, and this, of course, played on my mind as I could not come up with anything satisfactory. It began to show in my behaviour, and things slowly became awkward. But we continued to ride the wave, as we both understood the quality of what we had. Then came her birthday, the elephant in the room had pushed us to the point where we just had to sit, look at one another and admit we were moving mad. We shared a laugh and promised one another to be vulnerable, as life is hard enough, relationships with people you claim to care about should be pain-free.

 

I often chuckle to myself at how life has turned out for me, having had several bad relationships with women; never indeed fitting in with most men, my first real friend happened to be a woman. The vulnerability allowed us to create a bond which brought a sense of freedom, we shared passions and fears, never afraid to ask for what we wanted, never shying away from discomfort, we cared for one another. This influenced a year filled with glorious moments with some fantastic people; I look forward to growing with them, building a relationship with my family, and barebacking till I die.

Family

My routine for ten straight weeks:

Monday – Rehearsals

Tuesday – Volunteering

Wednesday – Work

Thursday – Volunteering & Popcorn_City

Friday – Work

Saturday – Work

Sunday – Be a bum.

Twelve to fifteen-hour days of joyful stress. The early morning routine of Oprah’s Supersoul podcast, reading then gym tuned me in for an eventful day, usually ending with a long walk, writing or an evening with someone. During this period, things were not only moving efficiently for me but for my mother too. Further progress had been made on her property back home, was cast in a film, made a return to further her education, and she landed a new job – she was glowing. She and I operated with a sense of wholeness; compassion filled home as we listened to one another, laughed our way through family nights in or one of her many informative stories. The reality I hoped for my entire life seemed to have presented itself. Then came the unexpected six weeks of confusion. During this period, I was no longer volunteering, I took time away from Popcorn_City, had no gym membership, dealt with my partner working abroad, panicked over a program I’ll be running, no internet access for a month, and I was suspended from work. I was forced to be still; as demotivating as this period is, it was an opportunity to learn – a perspective that did not allow me to wallow in self-pity. Everything around me seemed to be crumbling, but I was determined not to find comfort in the chaos. With the help of those I confided in, I was able to approach the future with an open mind; I soon found myself dedicating much of my time to my community. A refreshing plan that took up much of my time, but that sense of fulfilment still eluded me. I grew in frustration; unable to pinpoint the cause of this uncomfortable feeling, I relied on my unhealthy coping mechanisms to alleviate the uncertainty. I regressed.

One day my mother received a phone call from my brother’s school, regarding his focus during lessons, a call that prevented much-needed rest, as she had work that evening. I could feel her frustration as she went on a rant about the number of hours the school has cost her over the years, and during that moment, I figured out the subject matter. That day I came to realise that my sense of fulfilment came from a routine that did not involve the lives of those I lived with, that my mother and I weren’t aware of how little quality time we spent together as a family. Home was a checkpoint, a charging booth, as our routines required our full attention. After that realisation, I found myself wondering what it’s like to live out a large portion of your years being responsible for the wellbeing of three kids, work to survive, all while being an unwilling spectator to your dreams and passions. Sacrificing much of yourself in hopes of giving your children a right to opportunities so they may not experience the hardships you’ve overcome. All in hopes of a day where you’re able to reap the benefits you’ve sowed. I know how it feels when my expectations are not met: my dealer being out on a date with no runners available, not being invited to an event, not being checked up on during dark times. I’m also aware of the effects harboured feelings has on you, the slight resentment towards people for not fulfilling my needs, leading to the creation of many burning bridges. After all, I’m paying for that date; they should have at least shouted me, or am I not worth checking up on? I harboured those feelings towards people of no relation, so I can only imagine how the thought of your child failing in school – a privilege you have sacrificed so much for – made her feel. A dent in that perfect image of her child, and with the rise of knife crime, alarming, but often exaggerated chain messages on wazzup – all with the knowledge of our situation – the worst is about to happen; fear takes over. And, when you unconsciously view yourself as nothing more than an authoritarian, your personality often prevents you from communicating those feelings in a caring manner.

Acknowledging the rant for what it truly was, I obtained the burden of dealing with a school system unable to relate to black boys on an emotional level. I chose to aid in my mother’s realisation that my brother and I acknowledge and appreciate all that she has sacrificed, that communicating one’s feelings is not a sign of weakness; that our respect for her will not diminish at the sight of vulnerability. I strive towards a solid foundation by being present: communicating my feelings, sharing my passions and fears, not being afraid to ask for what I want; never shying away from discomfort. To be vulnerable, to be the change I want to see. We were two individuals with the faintest idea of how the other’s routine truly made them feel; we were only spectators to its effects. A child to a family of nineteen – overcoming adversities far beyond my imagination – growing to be in a position of owning properties, living out her dreams and passions, without the stress of financial income. She is the epitome of success. A scarred child, utilising his privileges to not only understand the effects of his ordeals but to realise the beauty in them, as it has made for a man willing to accept the givens and choose to paint the image he envisions. I take pride in my journey. My mother and I continue to work on building a foundation maintained by love, trust and vulnerability. Supporting one another as we create a functioning environment for David [My little brother] – for his image needn’t have blemishes we could have prevented. Our relationships will extend far beyond our titles, the pre-existing belief of our roles has gotten us this far, but it’s incomplete – a bond exceeding that of a ‘typical Nigerian family’ is our aim.