Personal Post – What drove me to leave America

Tiyaanah and I decided to leave America for various reason, but I won’t speak on her behalf. What drove me to move abroad (to Abu Dhabi) was very personal, and it has a lot to do with my family. Below, I list and explain what contributed to our decision to pack up and move overseas.

Trump Card

I could blame Donald, but he was the icing on the cake. If we’re working in reverse order, Trump was the very last motivator that made me leave America. Tiyaanah and I thoroughly discussed leaving if Trump won the election, but another conversation came first.

We’re going to escape if Hilary gets in office.

I understand why people would want a woman in office, but check out this video:

As a teacher, watching my black males suffer (more than other cultures) in school was too challenging for me to endure. I wasn’t stable enough to challenge that status quo, which leads me to my next topic.

And I could complain forever about how people were so up in arms when Hilary was “cheated.” Those people said nothing when it happened to Bernie. (Just Desserts. Jus’ sayin’).

I started losing my mind

I wrote a post about quitting teaching (you can read it here). Though I explained my external motivations, I never said what was happening internally.

Just to be real

I needed therapy. Or help. Or a close friend.

I had none.

With a little research, you will discover that many black men suffer from the ability to communicate their emotions. This is often due to their concept of masculinity and the resistance to seeming “weak.” Anyone that knows me knows that I have no desire to appear masculine.

God made me 5’6…why would I try to appear larger than I am?

During my third year of teaching, I worked at a very stressful school. Our second kid was on the way, and I didn’t have anyone that I could go to express my feelings to without feeling judged or heard.

I’m sure people are reading this and thinking, “You could’ve told me!” I did. Believe me.

I always have a way of making a light conversation heavy or philosophical. As I got older, I noticed more people avoiding me and my rants. As a result, I became more seemingly “awkward” or quirky. Some people assumed that I was changing, but I was just struggling with seeming normal. I was, in fact, more of myself.

But to avoid killing myself, I told any and everyone about my challenges. Pastor PJ was the first back in 2010 when I broke down and cried in front of someone for the first time. He was my most significant support until he moved away. I still love that guy.

In the past, I told people about my feuding family, overwhelming responsibilities at home, seeking therapy, and struggles with work. Buy I discovered that most friends could only tolerate listening and engaging with my work-related struggles because that was the most comfortable thing for them to relate to. In fact, that’s why most people couldn’t understand that I was struggling. No one could connect to me.

I’m a Black nerd that loves J. Cole and Paramore. Final Fantasy and writing novels. Photography and reading science articles. Who can relate?

People actually can relate to me, but I’m trying to show you what it feels like more often than not when the world revolves while I feel anchored. Reality and perception conjoin and often distort what is or isn’t, further complicating indescribable ambivalence.

In short, I was lost.

the decision to leave america

Therapy

People say that America had excellent [cough] therapists, and my health insurance covered it. However, I knew that my time in Los Angeles was over when a therapist refused to help me.

Her: Tell me what’s going on with you.

Me: Everything? Like now?

Her: Yes.

Me: Well, I’m just getting to know you, but (blush) here you go.

[Dumps mountain]

Her: Hmm…you say you’re angry, but I don’t hear anger.

Me: Huh?

Her: You appear to be coping well.

Me: I told you that I have good coping mechanisms, but I’m running out of tools and I think I’m going to snap soon.

Her: Mmhmm. And you also mentioned struggles at home. Let’s put you in a men’s group, and if you still think you have problems, come back to me.

Me: [raises eyebrow] O…k.

I could complain about that men’s group all day, but needless to say, I didn’t go back to her. I repressed all of my emotions, and I continued to vent whenever I had the chance.

Time

Time was probably my biggest problem. I had none.

Before June 2017 hit, my schedule looked something like this:

  • 6 am – Up
  • 7 am – Leave
  • 8:01 am – Arrive to work late
  • 3 pm – Dismiss the demon class
  • 4:15 pm – Home
  • 4:30 to 7 pm – Cook kid’s dinner, play, get them ready for bed
  • 7:30 to 10 pm – Uber
  • 11 pm – Sleep

I’d Uber directly after work sometimes, so I’d get a few hours at home to myself, but I usually spent the night prepping for the next day or playing Candy Crush to forget about life.

The schedule isn’t the worst thing in the world. I have a friend that’s a neurosurgeon and I know several engineers, so I’m not trying to complain. However, teaching those kids was the most difficult seven hours of my day. Everything else just felt like an additional weight.

Happiness

Ultimately, I realized that I wasn’t happy and I needed to leave America.

My unhappiness started when I graduated college and struggled to find work. It matured when I returned from the Bay Area, and I realized that I didn’t “know” anyone anymore. Then, everything just collapsed after I had my first son (right around the time that the cop killed Mike Brown).

Mike Brown’s death consumed me. (I even see Trayon’s influence on me in a really old post). I think it was the fact that everyone referred to him as a “man” and not the child that he was. He had only turned 18 three months before he was murdered, but the media labeled him as a “super predator.”

I wasn’t going to watch that happen to Kairo or Kalel, so I told Tiyaanah that I wanted to leave. I couldn’t do America anymore.

She agreed.

Now that we’ve left the states

When we were in LA, I’d rank my happiness at 4 out of 10. I was fighting depression and doing my best to remain the best dad that my kids could have. Now that we’re gone, I’m already between 7 and 8.

I’m not nervous driving around the cops in Westchester. I don’t see fights daily or hear about a kid wanting to kill themselves because of the neglect that they suffer from. I tune out or distance myself from everything Trump. I’m not overwhelmed by the mass murders because I know that my neighborhood won’t be next on the list. I’m not near the shootings in Carson. No days without electricity in Long Beach. I’m not in the midst of my combative family. My employer isn’t telling me that “I wanted to hire a blonde hair girl with big [you know] instead of you, but I’m glad I hired you.” I haven’t seen anyone get killed here. I’m just at peace.

Don’t get me wrong, life in Abu Dhabi is far from perfect. I don’t know ANYONE, and all the people I meet are very different from me. I don’t even know that we’ll be here next year because of the potential changes to Tiyaanah’s contract and our desire to find happiness may lead us elsewhere. But I’m happy to be here. I finally get to experience some serenity, and I’m more motivated to find other places across the world that can help me find an inner happiness that helps me face the struggles back in America one day. Best of all, I get a front row seat to the paths that my children are taking.

Disclaimers

*Long post. I know. It’s my therapy.
**It is not my intent to disrespect any friends that have been around for support. This is just a word vomit of my convoluted emotions.
***No dads were hurt in the making of this post.

If you have any similar or different experiences, please comment below. I write for honesty, so feel free to do the same.

14 thoughts on “Personal Post – What drove me to leave America

  1. Mental health isn’t addressed enough in our community. Those are all legitimate reasons to be unhappy and, if I was courageous enough, I’d be out of here, too. I’m glad you’re finding peace at your new home!

    1. Thank you. I don’t try to view running away as courageous, but it is definitely what I needed. Abu Dhabi isn’t the best place to find happiness ironically. It’s pretty stressful out here, but comparatively (for me, not Tiyaanah) the situation is way better.

  2. Sorry to hear you were struggling with all these emotions the whole time I knew you. You were actually the first corps member in TFA to really lend me a helping hand when you opened up your apartment to me and helped me lesson plan for my Da Vinci interview. I hate that I let the busyness of life get the best of me. You were actually one of the few TFAers I wanted to keep in touch with and there were numerous times where I told Nora that I wanted to have you and your family over for dinner but, as usual, never took the effort and reached out. I’m happy to hear that you have found some peace in Abu Dhabi. You have created a beautiful little family, brother. Keep on fighting the good fight!

    1. Thanks man! Your family is beautiful and huge, so I completely understand throwing all of your energy into them. I’m still inspired by your relationship with your kids and your students. Hopefully we’ll link up when I return to The States.

  3. Hey Man — know it’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other or spoke but just finished reading this and wanted to send you the love I can from here to there. I know that only goes so far and we’ve all got to find our ways to find what we need and I’m glad it sounds like your searching in the right directions. Just wanted to throw out there that I love and miss you both! Till we see each other again friend! Stay safe and good luck in Abu Dhabi!

    1. Thanks, man. We love and miss you too. Sorry we missed that last play, and thank you for always keeping us in mind when you were in LA!

  4. You motivate me to write my own story. I can totally relate to feeling alone. I just want you to know that I’m always here if you ever need to vent. You were there for me once and I’ll forever be grateful. The least I can do is lend you an ear (or eyes in this new tech era). The best part of this post is to know you went from a 4 out of 10 to a 7 or 8 on a happiness scale. Keep on trekking. You’ll find what you’re looking for.

    1. Thank you much. I will keep that in mind. And i always wished that I kept in contact with you. I love reading posts about your family on Instagram. Keep being a loving mom.

  5. Loved reading through your post. First of all I’m glad you were able to practice self care to this extent, even if it meant removing yourself from all of this. Family really does come first, in the end that’s what you have, sometimes it’s hard for us to do those types of moves. Second, I felt upset reading that your therapist was dismissive! I too, in the middle of all this, the police brutally, trump, all of it ended up needing to seek therapy, and it took me forever to go because just the act of looking them up and going was so hard for me, but I’m glad that I was able to find someone I eventually felt comfortable with. Point is, I know it can be stressful and sucks that after all the work you did to get there, she said that. Anyways, I’m wishing you and your family all the best, and good luck on continuing to practice that self care, wherever that may be.

    1. Bleh! My original comment didn’t post for some reason.

      I’m glad that you and others found therapists that worked for you. It’s great seeing how so many people are aware of their own needs. I’m also happy to know that so many people reach out for help. I wish you the best on your journey and hope that you continue to maintain your care of self.

  6. 1. I relate with you all the way 2. it makes sense 3. in this case I’m your therapist, my life becomes better by listening to your problems that I relate to, in a way (i need a therapist myself it seems)

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