Weekly newsletter: A Week of Sadness
Last Sunday, after the Atlanta Food and Wine festival, I laid in bed coming down from this great high of pulling off a series of successful events. As I scrolled through the Internet absorbing mindless fodder, I wandered to Facebook to see if I’d missed any messages while being completely absorbed with the festival. I noticed a friend request. I didn’t recognize the name at first and it seemed like spam, then it clicked. My biological father was sending me a Facebook request. And just like that, my world felt like it had flipped upside down.
One minute I was in bed resting my aching bones, and the next I was in a state of uncertainty. I, for reasons I still don’t understand, accepted the request. It was followed by a message that said he was contacting me to connect me with my brothers and sisters, his children. Immediately, I felt angered and saddened. There was no “How are you?” or “What are you doing these days?” and that made my heart and my soul ache in a way that I didn’t know was possible. For background, I met him for the first time when I was 16 (a few years after I found out he existed) and vaguely remember getting an email from him when I was 20 which I’m sure I responded to but the details of the exchange and why it ended are fuzzy at best. So, this makes about 15 years since I’ve had any communication with him.
To be honest, I forgot he existed. I’d buried it so deep, that I never thought about it. After taking a few days to process it, I realize that it affected me so much now because of the timing of it. I’m at an interesting crossroads because my ex-stepfather (my mom divorced him in September) is an investor in Studio No. 7 and I know that for my sanity, something needs to change. Having these two things occur simultaneously made me feel an overwhelming amount of loss.
While most of last week was a struggle, I finally found myself laughing again by Wednesday. Then early Friday morning, while still in a deeply vulnerable state, I found out that Anthony Bourdain died by suicide. My safe space of food and hospitality felt so dim. I was deeply sad all over again and grappling to try to make sense of the meaning of life. So much heartache in one week.
Not knowing quite where to turn, on Sunday, I started reaching for the things that helped me reach a really joyous place over the past year. I remembered to stop reading all the news articles. I remembered to stop scrolling on Instagram. I remembered to read my manifesto. And I remembered that nothing stands up to anxiety, sadness and fear better than gratitude.
Today, I’m feeling substantially better (I wrote this whole thing without breaking down). I’ll still allow myself to feel all of the pain and cry when I need to, but I’m also forcing myself to remember that despite all of this, I have so much that I’m thankful for. I have great friends and family that I know love me. I have a safe, peaceful space that I love to call home (despite my neighbors crazy antics). I love the work that I do and where my career is going. I can afford to travel for weeks at a time and explore different cultures.
I’m also grateful that I can share these stories and serve as a reminder that all truth is worth living and that your past doesn’t need to be your present or future.