Wow, Isaac thank you for your honesty and sharing your journey through this piece. I’m so glad to read that you have discovered ways to take care of yourself first and foremost, and how previous decisions were affecting you. I’m wishing you all the best as you continue on, and I hope that for every “down”, you are met with an “up” that keeps your spirit (and Dixie cup) full. I know what it’s like to love and to care about someone so much that you devote all of yourself to their wellbeing. Which sounds romantic, but it actually erodes your own spirit in the process. I see your struggle with feeling like you have to be a spokesperson for black & LGBTQIA+ people, and as a black woman I know the burden of feeling like my every move can dictate how black women are seen. But I want to say — you are allowed to be free, Isaac. You are allowed to be who you are, however that shows up in each moment (stricken with social anxiety, or depression, or the sheer joy of rapping to Princess’ verse on “Knuck If You Buck” with your best friends). However you show up is completely okay. Moreover, whatever you have the capacity to do, or not do, in 24 hours is enough. You are, *enough*. We don’t hear that enough as young black kids growing up, and it took me some hard lessons, bouts with anxiety, and a newfound black sisterhood to come to that realization. You matter. In spite of all of the suffocating narratives we internalize from these systems around us about how we have to be or perform— I want you to know that you matter, and you feeling like you can breathe is what’s most important, not what other people need from you (when you aren’t in the space to give). No doubt both you and I will continue to face hardships that try us to the very bone, but with community, and prioritizing what we need in order to be okay, we can get through. I am wishing you well with all of my heart. Take care!
P.S. Thank you for the trigger warning!!