I AM Vulnerable
This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a Men's one day conference with my brother at the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church. The guest speaker for the conference was Devon Franklin...author, movie producer, minister, and husband of Megan Good.
At the event I observed that majority of the men in attendance were older black men. I was thinking too myself how discouraging that was, but I understood base off the dynamics of the black church and how I felt growing up in the church. This blog post is not meant to discuss the black church, but too many young black men don't feel safe being vulnerable there.
One particular part of the conference I really enjoyed was the panel discussion, "Men's Real Talk Panel Session." The conversation was very vulnerable and I heard many things I have been saying on my podcast and this blog. It confirmed I AM going down the right path of healing and helping others. The speakers gave advice based off their personal lives and experiences with helping others. During the latter part of the panel discussion, they allowed men from the audience to come up and ask questions and I noticed every question asked was by a young black man. They talked about the anger they have, the trauma experienced, and fear they hold on to. While hearing these men that look like me speak, it only confirmed that what I have gone through in the past and still healing from today is an epidemic with black men. Not only being aware of it in myself, but also in the men I have close relationships with. These black men at the conference were seeking help and a safe place to be vulnerable. Black men are so conditioned to think that being vulnerable is being weak and it's eating them from the inside out...anger, substance abuse, mental and emotional abuse, etc.
After the panel discussion Devon Franklin spoke and what I appreciated from his message was that church needs to become a safe space for men to be vulnerable and have conversations. It's important to be vulnerable in spaces with people who look like you and come from a similar background. My current therapist is a black woman and before her I had white man. Before my current therapist, I was looking for a black man, but had such a difficult time finding one. My current therapist may not be a man, but she understands the dynamic in the black community and that helps me have difficult conversations that resonate in the black community that I wasn't able to have with my first therapist. Although he was able to give me the basic tools, I needed to go deeper. That's why I feel its so important for men to be able to be vulnerable with each other. That was one message spoken throughout the conference. Being in that space also allowed my brother and I to be vulnerable with each other and have conversations.
Before I decided to become vulnerable, I would abuse myself mentally and emotionally. Suffering from depression and anxiety was the feeling of being pulled in two different directions while trying to just take one step forward. Being vulnerable wasn't an option...talking to someone, anyone about what I was really thinking or feeling wasn't an option. I was hurting so bad inside, thinking I was strong on the outside. I picked up so many unhealthy habits that I AM still unlearning to this day. When I finally decided to become vulnerable, it was because I got sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Therapy really has helped me in my healing process...I feel so safe discussing and learning what my feelings are. My blog and podcast allows me to be vulnerable and in the process help others. Every time I go to therapy I feel refreshed physically and mentally. It's almost similar to a meditative experience for me.
I know every man has to find the strength to be vulnerable and start the healing process on his on time, but knowing they have those safe spaces with other men will greatly help. Let's all play our part in providing them.