In life and throughout our days, there will be times when all of us will put on different faces (of our personality and character), be it through choice or necessity…consciously or unconsciously. It’s how we deal with certain family who are not quiet our favorites; how we can prepare ourselves to deal with the workload and stress of our jobs (and/or co-workers), while trying to retain our sanity or; when walking into some new or uncomfortable situation!? It can be for several different reasons or needs, this is just how we utilize those necessary strengths in our characters & personality as coping mechanisms, to get through enjoyable situations. See, I just wanted to clarify that when I reference different “faces”, that I’m not talking about something to hide who you are. What I’m talking about are those faces we wear in different situations and in different sections of our lives.

We’re all made up of so many qualities and characteristics, that together create who we are and define our characters and personalities. Generally, all the qualities play roles and work together, to create a functioning balance in our everyday life…at least, when you’re living just one life, that is! But, any time you try to walk two separate paths by living two opposing lifestyles, with the intent of not allowing the two to merger together…there needs to be certain dominant/defining qualities and behaviors that are acceptable and necessary, for each to function property. Just as there are others, which are unacceptable, potentially damaging or dangerous to the other.

For example:

In the streets and in the dope game, there is a level of seriousness that far exceeds the norm. Where violence and the willingness/conviction to act on it, (with zero hesitation) is necessary to establish your place. This is a very cut-throat and competitive world, that requires a certain level of aggression and strength…a much more intense version of yourself. Especially when trying to carve out your own place, within this world, and hold onto it. And to do this, you must be able to set aside certain aspects of your character and who you are…those that weigh “rights and wrongs”, your ability to be empathetic and compassionate and simply anything that might interfere or prevent you from doing the things needed to maintain and hold that position. This is definitely a much harsher and less kind version of yourself, that can be (and in my experience was) counterproductive to the other life, as well as the people in it.

As an example of this is…I might give someone a couple thousand dollars worth of dope with the expectation that they would have my money when I told them to. Now, ideally if I really worked easy, all the time, there would be a lot less 9 to 5 jobs being worked! TRUST ME! Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality and these aren’t always the best or most honorable people…don’t get me wrong, there are still a very limited amount who subscribe to the old way of thinking and belief in a “criminal code of conduct” and good business practice. But since the majority do not…this calls for the need to motivate and assure that they act accordingly. And believe me…the knowledge that violence is a very real option, is a helluva motivation.

Now, at home this is where you can let all the stress and tension of that life go…where you can show and feel love and compassion and ultimately relax and enjoy your time. When I would come home, I would finally feel safe and comfortable enough to let down that guard, that I would never dare let down outside the home. No matter what might have happened in the streets, when I cam home all I wanted to do was spend time and enjoy my loved ones…be a loving partner, be a loving father figure…I just wanted to leave everything else outside those doors!

I talked in another post on “Family”, about how I always felt family-oriented and family-driven…how I just carved a real family, so bad! There was a time (even in this situation) when all I wanted to be was a husband and father…to provide and protect and just share that love, within that life. I wanted that family life I had built up in my head for so many years…experiencing the biggest and smallest moments, that made it all up. At the same time, I still had this call form the streets and a loyalty to that life and family I had there. What made it worse, was that I always saw my ability to be a good provider as something that went hand-in-hand with those streets. It was a go-to means to and end…and something I saw was a good act!

With all that in mind, I honestly believed that when I first went home from prison, in 2001, I could successfully walk that invisible and ever-shifting line between my desired home life and the street life I couldn’t leave behind. I reality, bot lives can be viewed similarly, in some aspects…it’s just the approach to both that make them so drastically different. But with these “faces” I was sure I could shield the ones I loved at home, form any of the harshness and danger of the streets. However, it soon became so taxing on me, mentally and emotionally, that it became harder and harder to bring myself (all the way) back and forth. The lines began to blur and my lives began to overlap…one life would eventually begin to influence and affect the behavior of the other. It ended up being the more dominant and destructive characteristics which began to take over and change who I was all the time. This brought unacceptable an selfish behaviors into my home and into my relationship. Now, it not only taxed me and tore me apart (which would have been acceptable) but it began to wear away at the family I was “doing it all for” in the first place.

Look, in the beginning, I really believed that the greatest plan all worked out…fool-proof!! (at least, if you would’ve asked me then) I would run the streets and take care of business all day, then be home and be that family man at night. Honestly, I almost thought I could do it and it even seemed to be working for a little while. Money was good and business was smooth…my relationship was great and I was balancing both with what seemed like little effort. I was leaving the b.s. from the streets in the streets and keeping these two lives completely separate. But eventually shit caught up and it all began to change…1st it was for not shutting my work phone off at night, which was designated family time. For this I came up with every excuse to justify the phone remaining on and ringing non-stop. Next, I would just stay out later or find some reason to leave…always justifying it with legitimate business reasons…not allowing for the balance between these two worlds and neglecting my home life. Then, the “don’t give a fuck” attitude I tried to maintain (and leave) in the streets carried over…followed by a selfishness need to actually “not give a fuck” began to bleed back into my relationships and home. Along with this came more selfish and destructive behavior as the face of one life began to blend into the face of the other. But I still continued to try and justify those behaviors by claiming that all things I did were for my family…trying to turn selfishness into selflessness. I might be neglecting aspects of my life and hurting the people in it, but then I would just try and throw a couple of bucks at the problem and believe that would be a bandage and prove my love. I really did believe that no matter what actions preceded or followed…money equated to love. Always, mostly, this was all an attempt to believe my own guilt and try to make myself feel better. But the more the two lives blurred…it became more and more difficult to tell where one ended and the other began. My life/lives had really became a chaotic mess, which was only compounded by my abuse of alcohol and cocaine in unhealthy amounts.  

*Side note: I realize that ALL drug use is unhealthy in any amount and there will definitely be a post to follow, on just that. I reference “unhealthy” from even a user’ perspective*

Anyways, this made it virtually impossible for me to tell which “self” I was or the affect it weas having on those around me. I was losing more and more of myself…specifically those parts of my personality, that were reserved for my home and family. My personality and behaviors (in ALL areas of my life) were no w being directed by those parts of myself, which were only meant for the streets. This worked to destroy my home life, as well as send my street life into a chaotic spin.

See, its not difficult to utilize different parts of yourself to find strength or have compassion or deal with stress…whatever life throws at you. But to try and completely separate and compartmentalize your personality, character traits and emotions…to create two separate entities is a task that proved too much, for me. In concept, it allowed for the perfect meld of the two worlds…one I was so desperately sought out and one I was unable to let go of. Unfortunately, just like any time we spread ourselves thin and don’t maintain clear focus and our goals…we open ourselves up to lose everything! And this is a cautionary tale, from 1st hand experience of a person who did just that and lost it all!!

Source of image: New Orleans Ghetto

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