I remember the night that my entire perspective on life changed. At this one moment, I was no longer the wide-eyed kid from Detroit. I no longer felt the ability to complain about life and the injustices that I faced while growing up. I tried to pinch myself, praying that I was having a really strange dream. But, I wasn’t. I was wide awake, and not really knowing what to say or do. Childhood officially ended and at this moment, I became a man. There I was, 26 years old, consoling my mother over childhood problems she held on to for 50 years.
A lot of people have that moment, that breaking point when they realize that the heroes they’d looked up to their whole lives are actually flawed, fragile, and stumbling through life like us. I felt this many times growing up and it just becomes even weirder the older I get. How do you respond to your father showboating to not feel weak over something he should be crying over? How do look you mother in the eyes knowing that she’s held on to pain for so long that it she an extra bed in her room? It’s weird when the child becomes the parent.
It’s strange because I somehow wonder if this is how it’s supposed to be? We spend so much of our childhood looking up at our family and to see them as what they really are is difficult. What do you mean that it’s as hard for you to realize you made a mistake as it is for me? That’s not how it’s supposed to work?!? But, it is.
This small realization was one of the last lessons I learned from my parents. They showed me that if I don’t try to deal with my issues now, it truly can hurt me forever. It showed me how we can be worn down by our fears, or the things we never said. But, most importantly, it showed me to not hold things inside anymore. I learned a deeper level of empathy and how to let some things be. I used to have a Superman complex. I once picked women that all reminded me of my mom (character wise) and I wanted to protect them from the life she choose. Eventually, even that started to tear me apart. I had to accept the things I could change and not hold on to the mistakes of my parents.
People talk about the sins of the father impacted the sons. I truly agree. However, I also believe it is up to the next generation to push beyond their mistakes and missteps to something better. My grandmother always told me that she made these the hard choices so that one day I wouldn’t have to. I didn’t understand it then, but I now realize I had the picture backwards my entire life.
My family looks at ME as the hero because I am able to go farther and achieve greater things than they ever would be able to. They were my heroes so I can one day be theirs.
Who are your heroes? Have you ever had a mortality moment with your superhero? How has going up effected your interactions with others? Please let me know your thoughts, ideas, comments, questions, and stories below.