A few weeks ago, I found an unopened letter that my mom wrote to me back in early 2011, when I was in the process of moving out of my house with Michal in Lancaster. I stuck it in a box while packing, and I totally forgot about it. Without going into great detail, my mom let me know that my dad in fact was aware of the “abuse” that happened to me, and that it embarrassed and ashamed him, like it was my fault. He was more concerned about his image than the fact that I was violated as an almost 9-year old kid. Finding this out now more than ripped off a Band-Aid….it means that the things that my dad did to punish me (including playing Lee and I against each other like a pit bull fight) wasn’t just intentional. It was devious, because he felt that we making him look bad because we weren’t meeting his expectations. At no point in my life have I ever wanted to disassociate myself from my dad than I have for these past few weeks.
As I’m writing this, I’m still awaiting word about if I will have full parental rights for my daughter. She stated that she prefers to live with my ex-in-laws (who also want to adopt her). She looks at me with the same disdain (albeit different circumstances) that I have for Larry Stowe.
I AM DONE FEELING LIKE A VICTIM.
The last 43 years have been based on feeling fear, insecurity, narcissism and self-loathing, and that will always be “Lane Stowe.” I became addicted to all of that. And now I know why. History repeated itself.
I had an older brother, Lawrence Arthur Stowe Jr. He was born in 1955, and he died in 1959 of pneumonia. He was also autistic. Even though we know much more about autism now than 1959, that’s still no reason to be ashamed and embarrassed about your child. My father was ashamed of Larry Jr., and put incredible pressure on my mom (and later me and Lee) to match his incredibly flawed expectations.
“Lane Stowe” was the result of all of that bullshit – struggling with racial identity, comparing himself with others and not feeling good enough, accepting abuse in ALL forms, and making TREMENDOUS mistakes because of all of these things combined. Three nervous breakdowns and a suicide attempt. Although I’m not changing the name of Lane ARTHUR Stowe for work/financial/legal purposes, as far as I’m concerned, LANE IS DEAD.
Mwenye Shoukari means “thankful” in Swahili. I’m thankful to still be here…I’m thankful to have found the courage to no longer be afraid. I’m not worried about what the judge decides, because Lauryn will always be my daughter. She deserves a better dad than what “Lane Stowe” could ever be.
This week is our six-year wedding anniversary. I know this is a big event to a lot of people, because it happened on The Today Show, and a lot of people love to hear the whole story. Believe me, I’m truly happy that it brought joy to so many people. In hindsight, I hate how “Lane” was that day. All of my insecurities were on the surface, and there was a whole lot of self-pressure to be “on” and everything going just right. I look forward to celebrating our anniversary, but just because it’s our anniversary, not because of all of that hype. Up until about six weeks ago, I’d be stressing about “oh, I hope I say and write the right things on social media” about our anniversary, and that was all rooted in the insecurity and validation. How incredibly fucked up is that?
This is why I choose to no longer be “Lane Stowe”. This isn’t a “change the name and you’re cured” situation. It’s gonna be a lot of work. There are a lot of changes that need to be made. You don’t go from living in the ego part of your brain to the spirit part of your brain overnight. (Yes Charli, I’m reading your book). The people who truly love me and are in my corner will understand and continue to be there. Those that don’t will easily identify themselves, and they’re not my worry anymore.
By the way, this is the last blog post. I went back and read all of the previous posts this weekend. Although there were some cool moments, there were also moments that are truly cringe worthy, and a lot of things that I wish were not written.
This name change (technically a nickname) isn’t a joke. In case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced Muh-WHEN-yay Shook-RAH-nee. If it’s easier, I’ll happily go by “M”, “Hey You!” or “The Happy Person Formerly Known as Lane.” Nobody bats an eye when someone changes their name to become famous. I’m changing my name so that I can finally feel REAL. No more performing. No more being “on.” Feeling authentic. I’m done worrying about being the “acceptable Black man” as defined by Larry Stowe. I hope that making this kind of change will be embraced more than it will be mocked, but I’m also realistic. (Kemba – I PROMISE to add the missing name when the time is right. That’s just as important to me as well.)
My older sister legally changed her name from Sharleen Stowe to Ayofemi Folayan, which translates to “Beautiful Rainbow.” That’s what she was to me, as we only see the beauty of a rainbow for a short amount of time, and I only had her in my life for two years. My great niece and great nephew are named Mawiyah and MeJean. I’m doing this to honor them, my true heritage, and also for Larry Jr., who deserved a helluva lot more from our father.
The first step has been taken….I have absolutely no idea whatsoever of what’s gonna happen next. But there will be no fear or insecurity on this new part of the journey.