This was painfully obvious in July of 2004 when I was told that my contract for co-hosting Nickelodeon’s U-Pick Live wasn’t being renewed. In other words, I was being fired.
For the previous two years I had soared in New York City on the high of live television. Every day I lived out a dream by mingling with celebrity guests, signing autographs for kids, and attending various awards shows. I had a purpose. I was needed. Well, until I wasn’t.
When the Executive Producer broke the news that my tenure was complete, I felt paralyzed. It took everything in me to hold back a massive panic attack. My thoughts were, “You too? Why don’t want me either?”
My mind flashed back to my small town Michigan childhood. I thought about the countless nights I would stay awake waiting for my mother to return home. Sometimes she would, others she wouldn’t. This is where I first experienced abandonment and not feeling wanted.
Fighting back the countless questions running through my brain, I thanked my boss for the opportunity he provided me to live out my wildest dreams. As I stumbled out of his office and into the sticky July heat of Times Square, my mind went into algorithm mode and I made a rash decision.
Within two hours, four years of dreadlocks were on my apartment floor. A month later, I was living in Los Angeles.
Starting this new chapter in Los Angeles wasn’t beginning a brand new life, though. The book was still mine. It was still a story built by a kid who moved to New York City with $600 and a dream, a strong work ethic instilled in him by his father, and the resilience of his mother.
It was during this time that I began to view my mother in a different light: a light of appreciation.
For years the story I created was that she was someone who emotionally abandoned her child. I played the victim role all too well while ignoring what it must have been like for her to raise and provide for three kids on her own. Or, what it was like to survive a physically abusive relationship.