I was taught, raised, and expected to be responsible. I was sheltered under a cloak and garment of predetermined guidelines and rules that had outlined for me a conglomerate of heavy burden and challenge that I was implored to believe that I could more than handle. The truth is that I was given an idea and impression that not only could I handle it but that it was my purpose and call to handle it. The description of my job was to handle it and all that came with it and that included role playing and being capable of multi-tasking, multi-follow through-ing, and multi-finishing much beyond the science or scope of my years or my conscious possibility. I was expected and directed to “speak life” and to present into the atmosphere the power and possibility of optimistic hopefulness that would undoubtedly produce in others a great sense and meaning of joy and peace of mind that would force its way into the broken and cracked crevices of hearts and minds and make its way into the souls and spirits of humankind so as to break and release strongholds, binds, curses, detrimental cycles and manipulations. I was told that i had a power, a gift to “free” people and I was insured that it was in my “nature” to accomplish this feat, which was supposedly not a “feat” to me, but a responsibility of my faith that I had inherently given admission to by virtue of my actions and language, both of which I articulated even in the earliest recollections of my youth.
I was told that I had a gift and my gift was for “the people”. I was instructed to become a minister and a father and a husband and an “all around” type of man that could generate the type of solution solid enough to carry the weight of millions while being able to call on God in a manner that was akin to the promise of angels and the great prophets that the bible iterates are the culmination of God and his grace and mercy, strength and sovereignty. I was really given this commandment.
To add to such a course load, I was told that I composed of qualities and characteristic much familiar with leaders and leadership very much like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
And the reality is that for much of my life, especially in my performance or communication in conjunction with my gifts and talent, I have made certain strides in living up to that billing. Frequently I receive correspondence from across the globe relating to me in response to either literature that I’ve written, shows that I have appeared on, blogs or poems that I have released, a selection from my cd or response to a performance that someone either attended or was told about, something on YouTube or from a chance meeting and the interpretation from what I have spoken. I have been told that encouragement from me has saved a life or redirected a path or prevented an issue from destroying a life or lives.
I have letters and text messaging and Internet correspondence that has reassured me that these things, “said about me”, are true or at least true enough to the point whereas they are consistent and confirmed enough to give me enough information to value that “part” of me.
Those are the facts.
Here is the truth.
Right now I am in a hospital bed. I am 34 years old and on Sunday, March 3, I had a mild heart attack. I began experiencing severe chest pains late that night and my jaw begin to lock up. I knew it was a heart attack. But I didn’t say anything to anyone in the house. I put on some clothes and at 4:30 am I walked to catch the first bus that ran, the bus that goes by the hospital. I arrived at the hospital around 5:50 or so, still with significant chest pains, my jaw wasn’t hurting as it was, just tingling, and I had a shortness of breath and a small headache. The headache wasn’t really “small” but I have become quite accustomed to having them over the years so they don’t trouble me much more than being irritating aside from whatever pain I feel.
Immediately upon discussing my symptoms with the admissions clerk I was prompted to the triage nurse, who so happens I am familiar with from outside of the hospital, thank God for angels, and she was very responsive and attentive to me and made sure that everyone was alerted to the severity of my health. My blood pressure upon arrival was 265/149. As crazy as this may seem, that pressure is not a first for me.
Enough of that though, let me state some other facts in order to explain right now.
I was molested when I was around 6 and a few other times before I was 8 by an older female, not very much older than me but old enough to know better and yet old enough to have me surrender to a thought that I would be in trouble if I ever told, and I didn’t.
Soon after 8, probably at 10 or 11 I began to explore sex and I was, at 11, having sex with a female extended family member who was around my age. What I had been exposed to had given me an appetite or curiosity and this young lady, who from what I know now, had been in an environment much more dangerous and unfortunate than mine and she too had been exposed to sex as well. I don’t know how it happened that we began such acts between one another but soon we were, whenever we were around one other and alone, having sex. This went on until I was 13. I remember so bad wanting to alert my mother but she had so many expectations of me and issues of her own that I felt that I would do the worse thing possible that I was capable of, disappointing her. Soon after 14 I began what would be an almost 20 year obsession with having sex with women. As much of an issue as that is the fact that more depressing and destructive was the fact that I had no emotion or attachment aside from my physical prowess towards any woman. I didn’t trust them. I hated them, I liked how sex made me feel in the moment but I hated how it made me feel so empty and robotic immediately after.
The household that I grew up in was dis-functional to say the least. I won’t get into great detail at the moment but to say that I was very naive about what went on around me probably because I trusted my mother and her law to an unhealthy extent. She had given me hope so much so that in her I saw nothing but hope. Our home had parts of it all, drugs and abuse of them, homosexuality, and violence, and lies, and secrets, and a level of hypocrisy that provided a perfect frustration of drama that corrupted the spirit of “right” that my mother had engrained in us. I didn’t recognize it though. Maybe I ignored it, maybe I saw it but didn’t want to, maybe I had been forced to see so much good and told to adhere to her philosophy, “What goes on in this house stays in this house!”, and in that I was afraid to speak up about what I saw and felt. I hated it as it was though. To make that long story short, her secrets, combined with those issues of disfunction led to my mother being murdered on March 26, 1994. I discovered her body, bullet in the head, on Monday March 28, 1994, after my siblings and I had spent the weekend as we normally did at their father’s, who has been the closest to a Dad for me, home. We came home on that Sunday ignorant to what had gone on in the house and instead we were just made acquainted with a terrible smell that had made residence in every corner of the house. I remember making jest of the fact that I thought that “Momma boo-booed.” before I had closed her door and proceeded to usher my younger siblings to bed. The house was pitch black dark and though things didn’t seem “right” per say, I went about the regular routine so that when she did awake she would find that I had done what I was instructed to. The following morning I went to wake her, but she was not sleep. I found her body, I found out what that smell had come from.
These days I only have that image in my head, her, with the dried blood glued to her face, partially clothed, left to be found by her children.
The person who I always felt responsible, whom the police and States Attorney also claimed responsible, the person who had claimed that they would hurt my mom as a response to a breakup in their friendship/relationship has never been held responsible. By no court, no jury, no justice. I was always told by authorities that they were 100% certain of this persons culpability but had not more than a circumstantial case that they were unwilling to risk losing because of a lack of evidence.
But I have had to randomly see this person and exist n a world and environment that exposed me to hear this persons name and voice, see this individual somewhat continuously and have to share space and relationships with people that were more than acquaintance but friend and family with this person.
I started having significant health issues after her murder, I internalized severely and begin to experience severe hypertension and depression, no therapy, no counseling, and not much in the way of support. 4 years after, subsequent to me attempting to continue my education via college, Southern Illinois and Alcorn State, I abruptly quit school to move to Atlanta where my grandmother, my moms mother, was living. Soon after I was there, she died, the morning after I had finally gotten on my knees and told God that I was thankful for her, and that I was no longer able to watch her suffer in pain as she had been. My mother had always told me to be thankful for my grandmother, though they had issues between them, mostly out of the fact that my mother had left her family religious practice of being a Jehovah’s Witness to live a more liberal baptist lifestyle, she loved and admired her and she always gave me the love that she had for her. I had been alerted of other strains between them but those I was always “too young” to understand in that time, nevertheless, she loved my grandmother, as did I. And then she was dead. She had boarded the bus to go to dialysis that morning and according to the driver and others, at one point she just slumped over, lifeless and silently. She had suffered a heart attack.
Soon after my grandmother died, still suffering the health issues and depression along with insecurity and other issues I met a young man who owned a barbershop in Atlanta and he offered me an opportunity to cut hair in his shop. We became great friends, I looked up to him, I thought that he could understand me and that he believed in me. He was a very “cool” dude I thought and even though some of his activities were outside of being legal I still found a certain hero-esque quality about his presence. I, by this time, was no saint myself. Not long after I had begun working for him he had gotten caught in a situation that had absolutely nothing to do with me. One night I was with him, though I should not have been. I take responsibility for it, he was followed by cops and stopped per their investigating a matter that had happened in a nearby area. I was asleep when we were pulled over and a little confused as to what was going on but soon enough i was made aware, and arrested. Before the police were going to take us in they asked him for my involvement. A witness had already said that I was just in the vicinity and had not done any crime and I had admitted truthfully what my presence and situation was, they asked, rather told him that it he confirmed it, my story, that they would let me go. His quote, “I ain’t got nothing to say.”. They booked us and took us to jail. When we got in there he told me that they had nothing on us and that he was going to bond out and go home to get money to come and get me. He left that night, I was there almost 5 days. I had to call family to get me out. I was so disappointed and embarrassed and I felt like I had no one that I could trust or allow to penetrate my energy because by that point I was so broken and every corner seemed to bring another crushing blow. When court came around I was offered first offender probation and had to pay some fines, but by the time this situation was resolved I no longer trusted anyone.
After high school I had a girlfriend who had become pregnant with what I was told was my baby. I tried my best to take care of my responsibility. My mothers insurance policy had left me about $20,000 dollars when I had reached college age and I spent a significant amount of that on her child that I was led to believe was “my” child. Soon after he was born, I found out the truth and soon after embarrassment, ridicule, jokes, anger, hurt, and a letdown that devastated so much “good” I had in me.
Around that time I had begun gambling and selling drugs and had made a lot of money. I paid for college, the three years that I did go, out of my pocket. I purchased gym shoes literally 3-4 times a week, at 17-19, I had become a monster of sorts, so angry at everything and everyone but I hid it, I masked it, I had never been allowed to. I was, for the most part, in the greater publics eye, a smart, caring, jovial, and peaceful kid. And I had just been through a lot, but I had always been told, “You can handle it!”.
And the “shit” doesn’t stop there. I grew up in the church and my mom had built a reinforcing extended family through our church and her friends and these were pretty much all we knew in terms of family. When she was killed, those communications died. Those people, the church, and even family, left in droves, without explanation, without understanding.
I was homeless for 3 years and I felt I couldn’t trust anyone to share that truth with. I kept a gym membership to bathe, I had a storage unit for belongings, and I had a UPS box for an address.
In the midst of those years I “flipped out”. I was hurt and angry and in moments I turned that anger on those who were around me. I found myself desperate and in my desperation I did terrible things to people that I loved, that I love. I manipulated and stole from my family, my uncle and my sister to be specific. I ran out on everyone because I couldn’t handle the “reality” of my situation. I used people for their time and their personal security selfishly out of a need to be felt sorry for. I cut off communication over the years as opposed to explaining myself because I was hurt and trust had long dissipated from any part of me. I have an 8 year old son whom I left at six months old because I could no longer bare the pain that had begun to entrap every part of my being and ever present in my relationship with him. I stayed away from him for a few months and in that time I ended up auditioning for a reality show that I ended up landing a part on and it exposed more people to the “presentation” side of me, but after it wrapped and was about to air, I found myself for those 10 weeks sitting
in front of a tv, just me and my son watching it. I was hiding frm the world. A moment I should have been so proud of I celebrated in shame and guilt.
Along the way I’ve hurt others, to my belief intentionally and by fault of my refusal to comply with who I always felt I was, after a while, because I felt like I was responsible for all of it, good and bad, because it was who I am and I had to be responsible. By my early twenties i didn’t believe anything anyone said and when they used “trigger” words like TRUST, BELIEVE, LOVE, FRIEND, or a phrase like, “I got your back,” or “You can count on me…”, I ran, I disappeared. those words betrayed me for most of my life and caused severe turmoil inside of me and devastating chaos in all of my movement. The problem with that is that I haven’t known why and I’ve gotten no answers over the years so the cycle had just repeated. I let go of trying and by doing that I let go of who I was or wanted to be.
And along the way I have heard whispers and assumptions to my character that just crushed my spirit. For years I had been told and have heard that I was gay and hiding it. I have never been gay, I have never had a sexual encounter with a man nor has a man had a sexual encounter with me. I have heard that I was on drugs or a drunk. I have never smoked, injected, or ingested any drug aside from any that a doctor had prescribed. I have had 9 alcoholic beverages in my entire life, I don’t like alcohol, each time was in celebration with someone else and i have never been drunk. I have never even smoked a cigarette. My first cup of coffee I had in 2011 after my father died and I had a second cup in 2012 trying to see if maybe more sugar would give me an appreciation for its taste. It didn’t. I mention all of those things because every time I hear or have heard one of these statements it depressed me even more and alienated me from my safe zone. So I went deeper inside and kept to myself because it seemed that no one, especially those who I had expected to, believed me.
So I’ve held it in.
And it’s made me sick. Over these past two days and after a battery of test the doctors have gold me that my body is in great shape. The problem is that it can’t hold up under these conditions. My anxiety and stress along with a not so healthy diet and small amounts of exercise are going to collaborate to weaken my system and do severe damage if I remain in this same routine. I have to let it go and move on. I want to so bad. I have to.
Along the way of these facts though, I’ve done some good. I’ve self-published three books. I’ve been signed to a record label and recorded a song that was featured on an album that was released worldwide. I’ve done a reality series that aired on the TLC network. I’ve done poetry on the radio on a national top ten radio station (V-103.3 Atlanta). I’ve performed across the country on stages and for audiences of all backgrounds and purposes. I have been interviewed for newspapers and magazines and purposes that range the gamut of inspiration and hope to expertise and entertainment. I have made friendship and acquaintance with amazing individuals from across the world. People have come into my life and offered me amazing opportunities but I dropped the ball because honestly, I couldn’t trust them and instead of being able to express what was really going on,
I ran back home and every time I come back home, I find more rocks with information under them and well, that info just opens other wounds and… here I am. There are people who feel as if I took advantage of their kindness, sincerity, trust, friendship, loyalty, spirit, generosity, and more. The fact is that I did because I was unable to take advantage of them being in my life in the positive manner and my fear of being hurt or hurting others left me to do just that. For the last 20 something years I had an idea that everyone who hurt me in my past would come and apologize and free me from this prison of captivity and by that I would be able to escape into a sense of self that enables me to breathe and capitalize on who I am and be responsible to who I am for me. The doctors had performed a stress test and during our communication one of the specialists told me that I should consider meditation and some other exercises but the urgent need is for me to let it go.
Well I’m over it. I’m over what people think or feel. I can no longer afford to. I have to live my life. I am 34 freaking years old and I am in this hospital bed recovering from a mild heart attack. I talked to my son last night and I wanted him to come here but I do not want him to see me like this, this makes no sense. And I make no sense for allowing this to happen. I feel like I look like a fool. I know better.
I am not perfect. My story never has been perfect based on what I had imagined perfect to look like. Over the last 5 years or so I have suffered even more because I have really locked myself inside of my own walls to ensure that I protect others from what I felt my madness was. And I’ve been committing suicide.
But I want to live.
I want to share.
I want to help.
©2013 Cornelious M. Flowers III