rowing up, I was always told that I was ‘a lot.’ As a Southern gay Black kid, I received that phrase as one of the two following notions:

  1. Your energy is so enticing!!! I just feel so good being around you and I enjoy what joy you bring to my life, or
  2. You should learn how to reel it in around me because you’re making me uncomfortable with the way you express yourself and I can’t deal.

The two extremes of ‘being too much’ or ‘not being enough’ have floated around in my consciousness for as long as I can remember. This has forced me to figure out where I can exist completely and feel safe as my full identity. This has been a lifelong battle I have had to endure, being mindful of where I spend my time and energy while being sensitive to those that are around me. I’ve had to become attentive to the tremble of my inner-consciousness when surrounded by new folx while needing to figure out my place in a social space. It has resulted in a constant tug-of-war with self. It has also given me the awareness to understand the energy others bring to the table, and how to take control of being the curator of my values, my energetic code, and the boundaries that mean the most. 

As someone who has transitioned into the wellness industry and spiritual work sector coming from a background in Education, it has become important to relearn how to impose boundaries around me while reminding myself how to tap into that attitude of gratitude. I am also reminded of how the Holy Spirit has brought me through many trials and tribulations while being out in the world. The pandemic brought a different challenge to battle and overcome along with an internal pressure to share these realizations with others — even as I am learning them for myself. 

I have already been through the process of dealing with substance abuse issues, I’ve learned how important it was to nip things in the bud before they become overwhelming. I have already been through the pangs of losing a job and having to switch careers out of discomfort and unhappiness. I have already been through the mental gymnastics of deciding who and what is best for me when it comes to social circles. The ups and downs haven’t been the easiest, but figuring out how to stay on the upper edge of the balancing scales has always been the most important piece of the puzzle. I’m someone who grew up with little to no boundaries out of a fear of not being accepted for who I was. When it came to my energy and time with others, too often, it was giving ‘free-for-all’ vibes and access. It felt like, “Take what you can get from me because, in turn, I want to be felt, seen, and loved by you.” 

That constant pining for attention and attraction was something that was latent in my actions because I wanted, and still want, to be seen as an equal. This applied to anyone, but especially other queer Black men. I felt like there’s always been a ‘cool kids club’ sticker that I never got growing up. It still feels like I missed out on the class for that, and didn’t even know the joint existed in the first place. 

I didn’t get the abs. I didn’t get the looks or the ‘pretty privilege.’ I didn’t get to pass the ‘you can still stand up after drinking this’ test either. I didn’t get the self-actualization medal; neither did I get that feeling of being comfortable within my own body, especially around others that seemed like they were so comfortable in theirs. Learning that I didn’t need to pass those tests or attend to that school of thought has been half of what I’ve been learning how to address during this time alone —  all while learning how to not feel like I’m missing out. When I tell you that FOMO is real!? The pandemic made me want to revisit those old insecurities; but I knew I would pull up with the same, less-than-stellar answers each time. I kept trying to make something new from the messages that I now recognized were already made clear to me.

The pandemic gave me time to recognize what boundaries already existed in my life and which ones needed fine-tuning, especially when it comes to past lives and relationships that do not settle my spirit or make me feel empowered. Being forced to ride out the waves of paranoia, fear, and worry alone made many things come up for review in my life. I took note of what worked energetically, what didn’t, and whether or not I was treating myself with the most kindness. It also gave me time to realize who in my already tiny circle was actually taking me down a different path than what I see for myself as I step into the next phase of my adult life.

I began to realize how lonely I was in my offline life. That lack of connection with those that mean the most to me in the physical realm was starting to affect me negatively. It pushed me into beliefs and behaviors that left me feeling ungrounded and unlike myself. Social media played a huge part in me pushing to feel isolated yet part of something larger, even if I didn’t find myself wanting to identify with the collective energy in the same way. I started to notice where my mood would shift as I mindlessly scrolled Twitter or Instagram, looking to laugh, cry, or feel something different than the looming depression that I was experiencing. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. The increase in the spiritual focus that I was able to acquire during this time definitely provided me with clarity as to who I really am and who I am choosing to be. Still, I definitely struggled to maintain that vibration of optimism and faith when it felt like my physical reality wasn’t matching what was happening in my mind and what I was intending to actualize. It felt like an after-effect of trauma and low self-esteem that was resurfacing. I consciously wanted to do something about it because I knew it was hindering me from feeling safe within my skin. 

It was already a lonely road growing up as a minority in my lived experience. Imagine the combination of being Black and a queer man in the South while still healing from a variety of prescribed mental health and substance use issues. Truly sitting down and taking a look at myself to figure out where to go from there, I still feel like I’m learning. Sometimes, it’s harder than I expect it to be.  I have felt helpless against intrusive thoughts, afraid they will overtake me and my spirit. It became increasingly important to learn how to create my own version of spiritual boundaries with things that were causing me physical pain. Learning how to enact these regularly has become a part of my everyday practice. For example, sometimes I flip one of my divination coins to help me make a decision like whether or not to leave the house; or I choose to shut off my social media feeds for a few days so that I don’t get sucked into the rapture taking place outside the four walls of my home. In addition to professional counseling, this type of boundary awareness and boundary setting grounds me and strengthens my practice. 

Therapy was a luxury that I was blessed to re-enter beginning during the Fall of 2020, especially after years of trying therapy on for size and knowing how it worked for me. It has been difficult to hash out and recognize my patterns. I’ve been able to notice where certain triggers take me and the energy that seeps out of me when I submit to situations and energies that don’t help me feel alive the way I deem appropriate. I noticed where I wasn’t progressing while wanting to do more about the boundaries I let fall by the wayside. Therapy has also given me the space to figure out why these boundaries even exist in the first place and reassess what my version of safety looks like.

What did the love of myself spur within me?  What did I need to really take a step into what it means to be loved by myself fully, first and foremost? My most important assignment became being responsible for my mental health by exploring the waves of emotions that I typically endure throughout a calendar year, what affects my vibration, and what brings me back to a centered state. I chose to make a commitment to myself. And that is a sacred promise that I intend to honor.

Every journey toward change has its challenges and obstacles. What do I do when the moon is in the sign of Cancer and I feel this vibe of wanting to connect with men while my hormones may be raging, yet I know from past experience that aggressively searching for those interactions has been less than fulfilling? Do I succumb to wasting my time and energy mindlessly scrolling the apps, or do I put that energy and desire to love into myself? Do I allow myself that moment when it appears, knowing that I am deserving of physical comfort? What about when I see my friends and loved ones running the streets, but the environment they are choosing to run through doesn’t necessarily fit the vibe that I want to engage with? Do I sacrifice this aspect of grounding and joy for the sake of connection, even though it may leave me drained afterward?

The jury is still out and I’m still in the learning process of how to enact and enforce resilience and discipline. But what do I know for sure: The strength that I have acquired through struggle keeps the walls up that prevent demons from knocking on my window. So, how do I keep those walls up? How do I create the specific boundaries that I know will benefit me long-term while I do this work?

I thought you would never ask.

To give a little insight as to how I manage these types of boundaries in my life through tangible actions, I have created two videos for you all to be able to sit, ingest, and adapt for yourself! Boundary setting is so important and having clarity around those velvet ropes that are being created in your life and why they are important to existing is half of the battle. The first video is a little ‘trick’ that I learned at the very beginning of my spiritual journey to help freeze out negative energy and bad juju from people, places, and things that attempt to detract from personal growth. The second video is a little guided affirmation and meditation for you to practice whenever you need it.

Blessings to the belief systems that brought me to this point and beyond.

Gary D’Andre or ‘GG’ is a Black queer educator, healer, and writer currently based in Brooklyn, NY. The creator and host of @MysticPod, he shares what’s happening in our world energetically while teaching his listeners practical tools to help them stay grounded through these shifts. His work has been featured in Vogue, InStyle Magazine, Oprah Daily, and Buzzfeed. He is obsessed with all things competitive reality television and is the most recent winner of Survivor: New York Blood vs. Water. Follow him on Twitter @gangstaGURRY and Instagram @gangstagurry.

You can also find more of his work on Patreon at patreon.com/gangstagury or at gangstagurry.me.