It’s the week after Superstorm Sandy. Being a Native New Yorker, the images of the city that I love being submerged in several feet of water was a nightmare come true. The images of Staten Island, Breezy Point, Brooklyn and Northern New Jersey were heartbreaking. It goes without saying (I hope) but I’ll say here that my prayers go out to all those affected by Sandy and a huge thanks to first responders and others who have been working continuously to assist people in need. My family and I were lucky. We didn’t lose power or suffer any property damage and spent the days together – suffering from cabin fever. I noticed how many parents seemed to be going nuts with this unexpected staycation with their children. It was disheartening to hear some of what was said. I mean, I understand the feelings of wanting time to yourself as a parent, about feeling (or being) overwhelmed by children but my God, people , you did choose to have them after all! Kids give us such a unique perspective on life; we need to be aware of that as much as possible. It assists with the rollercoaster life of a parent. It assists us with making the tough decisions that allow our children to grow into the well rounded, loving human beings we hope for them to be. So to all those parents that just couldn’t wait to, “get these damn kids back in school!” just remember that every moment we have in this life are blessings and should be cherished because none of the time we have on earth is guaranteed. I would’ve probably been at my wits end with Dylan, Quan, CeeCee and Zaqanah in the house for a week, but you know what? I would’ve had a ton of laughs to write about this week. Instead, what I have is a bunch of emotions and more clarity about my future – both immediate and long term – that I’d like to share.
So as I’ve alluded to already, the other thing that Sandy brought with her for some of us was free time. It was unexpected time to spend with family, friends, at home, around your neighborhood – if you were lucky or, like I did, time to spend with yourself. It wasn’t what I planned for, but after it all, I realized that it was necessary. After being unable to get to the hospital prior to the storm, I was stuck in Brooklyn until the middle of the week when I took the free shuttle van from Brookdale Hospital to Blythedale Children’s Hospital. Not being able to be with Dylan more often really pissed me off. Here I was, yet again, with a lack of control over a situation where I should be in complete control: when I see my daughter. But, it wasn’t in the cards. I didn’t have the financial means to do anything outside of public transportation and by the time I thought about asking a friend if they would drive me to the hospital, it was too late. I’d spent all of Sunday evening stewing in anger about not being able to make moves the way I wanted to and squandered any opportunity of seeing Dylan until later in the week. So I spent the first two days of the week pissed off. When the shuttle buses from Brooklyn started on Thursday, I was excited. My excitement was dashed, however, after witnessing people – potential fellow passengers - acting like animals while waiting for the buses. With a very long commute ahead of me and already mentally exhausted, I headed home without seeing Dylan. Depression poured down on me and as much as I tried to change my perspective, I couldn’t help but be full of melancholy. I felt like a failure, like I had let Dylan down. My first rule as a parent was always to be sure that I had the ability to take care of my child. And right now, I couldn’t. I couldn’t be with her. I couldn’t see her face and hug her, rub her face or just read her a book if she needed me to. And the fact that it seemed like I’d be unable to get to her without a huge hassle for the foreseeable future, I felt useless. Thankfully, my girlfriend Sarah called me and I went out for a much needed dinner at Saraghina and then enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine at Therapy Wine Bar. We had a good time, but nothing could change the fact that I had not seen Dylan in a while and I was going home, again, without visiting the hospital that day. Full of emotion, I ended up losing my phone that night which could’ve been avoided if I had my head on straight.
It seems like a little thing but losing my phone really made me reflect on that night and all the decisions I’d made. I’d allowed my emotions to get the best of me and because of that, I acted on impulse – which wasn’t really bad – but the outcome of that impulse was. Being careless with my belongings was not like me at all and that’s exactly what I was when it came to my phone. And if anyone knows me, they know how important my phone is to me. So me being careless with it was not only uncharacteristic, it was also something that I would never do in my right mind. So now, I was also pissed at myself for being a space cadet and losing my phone. But more than that, I also started to think about what had me feeling that way. More than just stating, I’m upset about not seeing Dylan, I thought about why that upset me, overlooking the obvious. So, yes, I missed her but I also realized that I equated seeing her often to feeling like I was in control of what was happening to her. That was an illusion. Only God was in control of what was going on with Dylan and I’d decided that regardless of how upset her current condition made me feel, I was okay with it. I wasn’t going to make my feelings about it be the focal point of my feelings about Dylan; I wasn’t going to make it matter. I also realized that I was filling my days with distractions. Whether it be TV, talking on the phone, hanging out with friends, spending time with my guy, these were all distractions. And these distractions while necessary to achieving balance in life were filling up too much of my time. I had to make some significant changes and not soon. The changes had to take place immediately.
First, I needed to get back in touch with God. I am a believer in The Most High, however, on bad days, especially recently, it was too easy for me to lose sight of or even forget my faith. I’d gotten out of my habit of reading the Bible every morning and night and my prayers were not conscious enough. They were superficial and unfocused and trivial to say the least. I needed to submit to God and let him lead me. I needed to immerse myself back in my faith and get back on the road of positivity.
Next, I needed to rid myself of the distractions. What I realized was what I was calling a love life lacked love. The person that I considered my partner (my guy as I called him) was not as invested in the relationship as I was and, therefore, was not giving me what I needed. To be fair, he was always honest about his feelings with longevity and commitment so it wasn’t surprising. I was disappointed nonetheless. I will say, however, that any disappointment was both of our faults. I knew what he was willing to do and still hoped for more. He also knew what I wanted and did enough to keep me around. The failure of any longevity or significance with the relationship was both our faults and, unfortunately, I would have to walk away from it. All was not lost, however. He and I were friends before we were lovers and, thankfully, the friendship was intact. I expected to be able to move on as friends. In the last month, I’d been blessed to become better friends with my lawyer who was not only gifted in the law but was a man of faith and positivity. He was one person that I could speak with frankly about my feelings about Dylan without threat of being judged. He was a true blessing – love you Richard! And because of Richard, I was able to meet another man of God. He has provided me with healing words and has also become someone that I can be honest with. His strength, support and respect for my situation has opened up parts of me that I’d forgotten about. I don’t know what will become of us – if anything - but I do know that I am thankful for the friendship.
My biggest change had to be with the distractions no matter what shape or form they came in. At the end of the day, I’m still me. I still need to make a living, still need to do the work necessary to start the foundation for Dylan, still have to work on things for ChuggyBear Entertainment and still be there for Dylan every day. It was a daunting list of tasks to maintain but it would be doable if my focus was right. So my fears of not being social enough would have to be put on the back burner. It would be tough – I craved the company of others – but I had what I called “too much money on the table” to get distracted by having brunch or dinner, as much as I needed those too. I’d have to work hard at working hard but not so hard that I started to lose my mind. It would be a challenging but not impossible balance.
Any second thoughts that partially originated from the comments from family or others about how my time was being (or not being) spent at the hospital would have to be ignored. Because of all the work that I had in front of me, I had to use my time wisely. So if I had to work at the hospital making and returning calls, responding to emails or tweaking a proposal, then so be it. Was it an ideal way to spend my days with Dylan? No. But it was completely necessary. I am now prepared to do what is necessary to get all I want. And I still want it all: the best possible health situation for Dylan, a successful business and a healthy love life.
Step by step, I’m ready for the next leg of this journey of mine and all that comes with it.