The Initial Descent of A Depressive Episode (Caution: Rough Landing Ahead)

The plane ride was an okay one, but a relatively long one. There had been a few disturbances, of course. The rough air from the bouts of anxiety caused by storms and clouds, the crying child and cursing man, representing the worse parts of my ego trip, troubles with my carry-on almost not fitting in the overhead bins, held for only the right amount of trauma and PTSD, and starved from lack of nutritious meals,  like friends missed and connections lost on this long flight. But there were also hours of smooth sailing, similar to a Mercedes Benz S-Class, expensive to maintain, fueled by mindfulness practices, victories, and self growth. Smiles and nods of affirmation and shared experiences, friendly exchanges shared by strangers on the plane, destined to share this ride with you unbeknownst to you both; strangers who became friends, even for this one trip. And some who will take other trips with you, both purposefully and accidentally in the future.

There was hope. A destination is always hopeful and exciting, even when you’re unsure where this trip may take you.

The initial descent of a depressive episode came without warning. I thought I had more time on this plane, to endure the flight, before this happened. I always knew the plane would eventually have to land. And on those hours of rough air that made me sick to my stomach as I tried to reason with why I even fly, unable to throw up in a barf bag, from fear of looking inexperienced and pitiful, I guessed that the descent may come, but brushed it off. And yet, the initial descent into my unknown destination, came with a familiar pit of stomach feeling as the plane begins to descend into a dark cloud, followed by the turbulence of anxiety, rocking the foundation of this plane.

I quickly remind myself that planes are made for flying, made for turbulence, disruption, worry, sadness, crying, isolation… People like me, I mean planes, strong, steel reinforced, impenetrable, weatherproof (from the wetness of the tears from the storms of course) can handle this landing, this turbulence.

We are only at the initial descent. So we all know that means 30 minutes, 30 more hours, 30 more days – who knows long this descent will take?

I want to trade the strange acquaintances I made, with the familiarity of people on the ground, at my home, that I love and hate. Fear has a way of making us crave the familiar – dysfunction and all. The flight attendants announce that we are closer now, but this descent gets bumpier and bumpier, and I become more afraid and afraid. I fear I’m going to die in this descent. I just close my eyes and wait, pray, beg, for the moment we touch the land, when I’m grounded again.

I think we are closer yet again. I’m not sure though. The storm has made my descent into a foggy hell of depression and sadness, and I can’t make out the destination anymore through my raindrops of tears stained window. I’m even more afraid of the landing now, because well, anxiety mixed with depression is a tornado. And tornadoes make landing dangerous. I am positive that the air masks should have dropped by now and allowed me to breathe more easily. But they never come to my rescue. And I can’t remember how to access the life saving float under my seat as we fly over the wide river heading into the airport, that I’m sure I will drown in – we seem so close to the sorrowful water. I wonder if it’s as cold as I feel? Or as hot as my cheeks flushing?

Who said planes could weather storms anyway? I remember now. My old classmate who was a pilot and lost his life – to himself. I wonder if he once had a rough landing, and it frightened him so much that he wasn’t sure he’d survive his own landing on the other side of the storm?

At some point, we begin the final descent, and I am deep in the clouds and I am not sure whether or not we will make it, and I become numb to it all and tune it all out. I fall back asleep, hoping to not have to move for awhile. I prepare myself for the crash that is inevitable. I don’t talk to anyone and it seems the baby’s cries have completely disappeared, but when I look around his mouth is still open, so clearly, I’ve gone numb, dumb, and deaf to everything. I hope someone remembers my mask after they assist themselves.

The plane jerks. Except, it’s not a jerk. It’s the wheels. We are close to my destination.The sound of wheels is like the sweet, sunrise of a new day. It is the sound of survival and arrival. “You made it,” I whisper silently to myself.

I prepare myself for the abrupt and fast skidding of the wheels across the runway of destination and growth, and brace myself as we brake to take a break, from flying. And I see that the rain has stopped at the destination, the baby is cooing, and the cursing man, eager to make his next connection, has taken to talking excitedly about how he has to get off the plane first.

Arriving to the gate, I wait my turn as those who were fated with me for this ride, take turns in an orderly, yet rushed, fashion to exit the plane. I let the rushed man go by. I can’t help but wonder if that descent was just as awful and crazy for them or if they think I was the crazy one on the trip or was I simply a figure, that set the stage for them in that trip. I will never know, because at that moment I take my carry-on which contains the luggage of my life that I carry with me, exit the plane, and look towards my final destination.

Until the next plane.

 

Reflections of 2017

It’s New Year’s Eve, and for me this is a day of reflection (and later, celebration). I truly believe in the power of reflection as a learning and growth tool, that is necessary for humans to really understand their lives. And so, as I sit on my brother’s couch (who the hell told him he could grow up and have a whole apartment and wife by the way?), I hope to try to make some sense of a pretty rollercoaster of a year and share my learnings with you.

1) I learned that I equate suffering with “goodness” in myself. I am sure this stems from a very conservative religious doctrine that characterized much of my early religious experiences and also from some complex traumatic events. It is unhealthy and damaging no matter how I look at it though. Staying in situations, jobs, etc to prove to people who do not value my well being, that I am worthy or “strong” is damaging. It kills my soul, ups my anxiety, and deepens depression. It also reinforces a faulty idea that I hold that I’m not good enough. It literally kills me. I am still working on how to combat that, but I took some brave steps against that belief this year, and have at the very least, realized that martyrdom won’t make me happy or make others see my worth.

2) Love did not knock on my door this year, but actively dating did teach me a lot about myself. Dating was an integral part of my journey this year. I further refined what I want, who I am in a relationship, realized patterns, and continued to try to understand how to balance doing enough with too much. I learned that no matter how wonderful you are, if a man isn’t on the same wavelength as you, he won’t come around to you. I learned that I bathe in self loathing and blame when rejected, and that destroys my soul. And so I learned to reframe the self loathing a tad more so as to protect my soul from that damage. I learned that I am jealous that I have friends who can easily make men love them, and seem to find beautiful men who are interested, even if short lived or forever. I learned that I hate being jealous, but it is hard. I am not sure if I am anyone’s cup of tea to be perfectly honest, and I also realize my standards are high. I realized that first dates are exhausting and to trust my instincts more, because my intuition is hella good.

3) I learned about loneliness – again. Living in NYC has been one of the most thrilling and loneliest adventures of my life. I’m perfectly comfortable being alone, eating alone, exploring; I actually quite enjoy it! But I’ve missed true and deep human connection, which in all of my travels, I’ve never seemed to lack in. But in NYC, connections seem fleeting, sometimes superficial, and often non existent. I am not used to not having close friends and coworkers around. I have learned or perhaps, deepened, my understanding that introversion has nothing to do with not wanting real relationships and connections, but instead means that in order to effectively reach my full potential and happiness, I must engage in meaningful relationships. I am still really not sure how to do this in a city like NYC, but I’m working on it.

4) I learned a lesson that constantly replays in my head. I am not perfect, can’t be perfect, never been perfect, and shouldn’t be perfect. This lesson is one that I’m always in a constant state of learning. I saw a beautiful quote that said “self care is… learning to forgive yourself for not measuring up to your impossible and damaging standards of perfection.” This is totally something I need to master in 2018. Expecting perfection in work, dealing with my emotions, my body, my health, as a daughter, friend, sister, relationships, and mentor is literally the most insane and hurtful thing I can ask of myself. I am literally asking myself to live in a constant state of shame and depression. I am torturing me. So now that I have learned that, the hard part is learning to extending grace to myself.

5) You get older. The years fly by. You develop aches and pains, your genetic lot of diseases, you have to eat better, move, manage past trauma, parent your parents, pay bills, plan for the future, hangovers get worse, and learn to live with it all. You also get wiser, more confident, develop more fuck it in your system, drink better wine, become more patient, and your sex drive and game gets stronger. Getting older is a blessing and privilege, not extended to all.

6) My siblings are amazing. I know this isn’t true for everyone, but I’m so blessed. I learned to lean on them more. So happy to bring in 2018 with them.

7) I am really, really, really angry. Maybe I’ll write a post about that one day. But I learned I have a lot of pent up rage in my body and mind. I am afraid to express it because it is so strong. I’m hoping 2018 will help me express and manage that.

8) You can be loving your job and career in one second, and the next, be in a state of exploration, trying to figure out what is next? I also learned that my worth is very much tied up in my professional success. I often feel that is all I am good at, and when that part of my life isn’t fulfilled, I feel like a failure. I have spent a lot of 2017 feeling like a failure. But along with that lesson, I learned, you can always make another decision to transform your professional life (or any life). And people will judge you, and that has nothing to do with you.

9) I learned to turn off the news and social media. That there are people who hate me because of my skin and gender, but I cannot indulge in that all the time, as it will kill me. That the world is scary and heartless, but I don’t have to be. And that to be black (woman) and conscious in America is truly being in a constant state of rage, but I have to learn to take care of myself if I want to help others.

10) I only have so much emotional energy to expend. Spend it wisely. Turn off your phone. Spend your time with people who fill your energy account as much as you fill theirs.

11) Despite all my flaws, I’m a badass in my own right. My flaws are not even flaws actually, they are me and what makes me glorious and human.

I plan to to into 2018 with these lessons in mind and do my best to build upon those, while also fully aware that I may have setbacks. But my hope is next year, I can write about a further step I took, a new lesson realized, and a little happier.

May peace and love follow you into 2018.

Happy New Year!!

Boring (A Poem)

No one knows how to be bored anymore

People are constantly looking for thrill and excitement

In the next adventure, the next drink, the next hit, the next person

No one wants to just…be

Especially if that means being bored

When I was little this was my favorite quote

“I’m bored”

And in true Dad fashion I would hear the response

“Hi bored. I’m James. “

My aunt once told me that I would never gain weight because I couldn’t stay still even when I was bored

I wish I could be that kind of bored again.

When I was younger my sister used to make up the most wonderful games to distract us from our boredom

Can’t touch the floor,

Barbie games that took longer to set up than to actually play,

Walking on clouds,

And her favorite

Mushed bananas. Where she convinced her bored little sister to smother her feet in lotion but some how we always ran out of time the moment the roles were to reverse.

I would quickly become un-bored the moment my mother reminded me there was always something that needed cleaning.

Boredom

No one knows how to be bored anymore

Constantly seeking the next great adventure

The next drink

The next hit

The next person

You bore me, swipe

You’re boring, swipe

Oh you don’t want to go out every weekend and get totally wasted

Boring

Swipe

No one knows how to have boring conversations that lead to tears and catharsis

Me and my friends recently spent hours that felt like seconds at a Mexican restaurant showering each other with love and praise

Lifting each other up

Allowing each other to be vulnerable

Allowing each other to…be

In these moments that passed too quickly I was not bored

My hope however is that the next time either of us feels boring

The next time either of us feel less than

The next time someone tells me I won’t find love sitting at home knitting and being boring

The next time one of us looks in the mirror and doesn’t see the fierce goddess that she truly is and just feels boring

The next time one of us considers that life might not be worth living due to loss, or feelings of less than

The next time one of us is bored

My hope is that we remember this night

That it brings a smile to our face

Tears to our eyes

Hope to our hearts

Joy to our soul

Life can be boring

But I…I am not bored

So This is 30!

I have officially entered the 30 club! Whoop whoop! I received about as close to a parade for my 30th birthday as possible. Thank you again to all my friends and family who showed up and showed out for little OLD me! As far as birthdays go it was pretty wonderful.

So now a time of reflection.

The last three decades have definitely been interesting. Living all over the world (or at least Europe) as a child, moving back to America as a pre-teen, middle school (ugh), high school, teen pregnancy, motherhood, college, grad school, first job, first counseling jobs, Love, heartbreak, Love again, heartbreak again, and ultimately self-love. Obviously a very condensed nutshell of my life so far.

Here are my hopes, dreams, prayers, demands, #goals for my 30’s:

Continued but unwavering self-love. I plan to love myself so much that the next time someone comes a long and it doesn’t work,or if no one comes a long at all, or if they do and it does work, that my love for myself does not waver or weaken or crumble. Honestly, this is a tough one.

More travel. Wether it’s around the world or up the street. I don’t care. Just do it. And take Taylor with.

Save money. This is an area I struggle with to the pits of my soul. But somethings gotta give.

One day make enough money to move out of my parents house but also still be able to afford to eat on a daily basis.

Do more things alone. I spent the last decade or so doing a lot of waiting for someone else to do things with. Autumns came and went where I didn’t go on awesome fall dates because there was no one to take me. Museums have been unvisited. Movies were left unseen. Restaurants were left untried. Because for some reason in my head, to do things alone was the ultimate form of sadness. My fellow bloggers write a lot about dating or dating experiments. Dating scares me. Maybe I will blog about my solo dates…hmmm.

Which leads me to,

Go on more dates. I honestly don’t know why the idea of going out with someone I don’t really know to well scares me but it does. Especially if this person was found on a dating app. People are crazy. I’m not trying to be no ones breaking news or lifetime movie. But, alas, it is the way the rest of the world works so it’s time to hop on board the dating train.

Find a workout/exercise/healthy living routine I actually enjoy. Kind of self explanatory really. Any suggestions?

Learn to knit things that aren’t rectangular. I knit a lot of scarves, blankets, things that look round but are really just rectangles sewn together. Gotta learn some advanced techniques.

Learn to leave people on “read.” This could probably be an entire blog post in itself and maybe one day it will be. But for now, just thinking of it as learning to walk away and not feel bad for doing so when relationships end or even just conversations.

So yea. I think that’s pretty much it. Pretty standard stuff really. Obviously the list has the ability to be adjusted and tweaked as needed. I feel like an official adult now! Not sure how I made it here but here I am. At the very least it should result in a few entertaining blog post!

What are/were your hopes, dreams, prayers, demands, #goals for your 30’s?

You Should Be Pressed

Every once in a while, well actually quite often, a phrase comes a long that gives me such a visceral reaction of disgust that I struggle to contain myself when I hear it. Phrases such as swag, bae and on fleek are on the list. The current culprit is:

“Im not pressed”

The context in which I have heard this phrase has always been in reference to relationships. I assume that what the person means is “I’m not in a rush to get in a relationship or have any form of intimate, genuine, authentic connection with people. I have options. You are one of many.” So forgive me if you utter these words and I adjust my interaction with you accordingly. We are clearly not looking for the same things.

I get it. Relationships are tough. Sometimes they suck. I almost daily contemplate becoming a nun, or just giving up on the human population period and wholly embracing my singleness forever and always, amen.

But call me crazy, for some reason I still have a little hope. Just the slightest bit of hope that someone will see me and say “damn, I need to get to know her.” And then they will get to know me and say “damn, I need her in my life on a consistent basis.” And then we will be consistent for a while and they will say “damn, I need to make sure that no one else gets the chance to experience this amazing creation of God that I have been blessed with.” Yep. Call me crazy but it would be kind of nice to find someone who is in fact “pressed.”

I do not like living, dating and trying to love, in a world where people are not pressed. Where no one feels a sense of urgency. Where no one sees the need to be with someone. Where no one sees the need for consistency, and respect, and the offering of time and intimacy because they aren’t pressed. Because everything and everyone is just another option and there may be someone better around the corner so I’m not going to be pressed about you or the next one or the next one. (I blame online dating)

I am well aware that I am not everyone’s cup of tea. Hell, I’m not most people’s cup of tea. Apparently I’m easy on the eyes but then slightly intolerable once you get to know me so there’s no need to be pressed. That’s okay. By all means take your unironed, unwrinkled, fluffy tail somewhere else. (Yes I did google antonyms for pressed) Find someone else who is also “not pressed” and y’all can engage in vague, undefined, inconsistent, random conversation for the rest of your unpressed lives.

Who knows, maybe I am the crazy one. Maybe somewhere along the line I developed a unrealistic definition of love and unhealthy expectations for what my love life would be like. Maybe my pressedness is what’s causing my singleness to thrive. Maybe I need to start practicing the art of the unpressed.

To end this rant, here is a unfinished list of all the things I am pressed about:

Love

Life

Finding a forever partner in crime

Turning 30 in 6 Days

Money

Buying Christmas presents that people will like

Whether or not my current job is the right fit

Why I’ve given up on weight loss and become content with that 20 lbs

What to wear for my last weekend in my 20’s celebration

Why I can’t figure out how to move out of my parents house

Whether or not I’m a good mother

Whether or not I’m just a terrible person who is incapable of healthy intimate relationships

Why I haven’t been able to find time to repurpose that dresser

If it snows this winter will I make it to work or will I get in another accident.

Love, I am pressed about love, giving it, finding it, wanting it, needing it, deserving it, fearing it, yearning for it, love. I am pressed about love and that’s ok.

(From the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace)

What are you pressed about?

I’m Going Through A Growing Pain and It Hurts Like Hell

You haven’t heard much from me lately, but that’s what anxiety does (and perhaps a sprinkling of depressive symptoms) – it makes you feel very apprehensive and approach avoidant about sharing. And every time someone says to me, “you’re so honest,” I try to decode if that means I’m pitiful and burdensome or truly courageous and inspiring; and lately I’m not so sure.

You see, I’m going through a transformative period, a growing pain, if you will, and I’m only so sure about this because I’ve been here before and know that you go through hard things to get better, stronger, and more resilient. Or so, I have been made to believe. I think it is true, but it hurts. And it’s hard. And I’m tired.

One of my growing pains stems from my career. For a couple years now, I have felt I have been searching for meaning and growth in my professional journey. I left a job I loved because it was time to spread my wings, and honestly, I’ve had my wings clipped more than once since then. I also know that it is easy to look back on those days with wistful nostalgia, but during that time, especially towards the end, the growth began there too, and it was also painful.  You see, for me, my career is beyond simply a job or something I do. It is my calling, my only love for now, the yearning for my soul, and my purpose. This is a lot to put into a job. But it is more than a job to me, and for a single, sometimes, failing at other parts of adulting, gal, this calling is the love of my life. To serve others, to speak for the voiceless, to bring about real change with the work I do, even if I’m one piece of the puzzle, is so important. And not to mention, success and competence at work, growing in my career – these things give me great personal satisfaction and fuels my worth. Maybe this isn’t healthy, maybe it is selfish (the last part), but it is me. There are many reasons why this so that I have explored with a therapist in the past, but it’s still me nonetheless.

And so, here I am in this career crisis. Nowhere near a beginner, but not quite sure if I’m a mid level professional, and feeling like a fish out of water lately. Feeling both plagued with incompetence and competence, a little too young, a little too old, and a lot lonely, I ask myself lots of questions here. And I’m sure these questions are beyond just my career. What is next? Where do I go? How do I go? Am I doing the right things? Do I make an impact? Do I do enough? Am I enough?

Am I enough?

AM I?

A thought that has never been absent in a growing period. A thought that haunts me all the time. A thought that can be both empowering and crippling. How does one ever measure up to enough? How do measure up to enough? And then comes another question that I have grappled with day in and out – am I too much? Are my flaws, my quirks, my voice, my being – too much? Is it me?

A long,soft sigh usually escapes my mouth at that point. These are the sharp pangs of a transformative experience. Other things include questioning your purpose, redefining and questioning relationships with friends and family, feeling hopeless at times, feeling joyous others, a roller coaster really, and really not wanting anyone to know or burden anyone. It means your quiet, but ever presents traumas, get louder to remind you that they too, are part of the process. Transformation means sometimes burrowing yourself into the cocoon of exploration, until you blossom into the butterfly of manifestation. It’s quite a beautiful, and yet, sobering process.

But with every growing pain, comes growth. And I have to remind myself constantly of what growth means, the benefits to be reaped. Increased self-confidence, opportunity, renewed energy, love, hope, and wisdom. You gain insight and will. You also often gain weight, but everything comes at a price. 🙂

I have no idea where this transformation will lead me, what brilliant colors will be displayed on my wings as battle scars, or what I will become. However, I’m comforted by an old saying, “just when the caterpillar thought its life was over, it became a butterfly and flew.”

Signs of my Emotionally Abusive Relationship

I keep telling myself that my last post about my last relationship will be my last post on the topic. But here we are. I think my worry is that someone will read it and think “oh she’s not over him yet. She’s undateable.” Then I realized I’ve apparently been undateable for one reason or another my entire life so no point in worrying about that now.

Sometimes when I’m by myself I find myself replaying some very key moments in the relationship in my mind. I continue to ask myself “how did you let all that happen.”

Confession, I have always wondered how women wind up in abusive relationships. Did they not see the signs? Why did they not walk away in the beginning before it got bad? I understand that there comes a time when it is no longer safe to leave. I guess I’ve just kind of wondered how it got that bad.

I think I understand now.

Disclaimer to anyone who reads this and may know my ex. He never once was physically abusive. And maybe it’s still how the whole process works, but I’m not certain he ever would have become physically abusive.

But that’s all I will give him as far as the abusive piece goes. The farther I get from it, the more I realize how emotionally abusive that relationship was. And how easily I got caught up in it. And how difficult it was to leave.

I don’t know why, but I feel like I need to give some full confession of everything I dealt with for nine months. I haven’t told anyone everything. Not even my closest friends. The purpose isn’t to gain sympathy. I think my main goal is to just put it out there. So it no longer feels like a secret I’m holding onto.

So here goes. A comprehensive list of things that took place in my last relationship that I consider emotionally abusive:

1. At my mom’s 60th birthday party he got mad at me because one of my best male friends was apparently looking at him for too long. He took this as a sign that we had slept together or that my friend was secretly in love with me. I had recently gone to Raleigh and met my friend for lunch. He thought we slept together then.

2. He got mad when I told him my “number.” Said I was lying because at first I said I didn’t know exactly. He said when I saw his face expression to that answer and took the time to count that I just said 10 because it seemed like a safe number but that I was lying. (Anyone reading this who feels some sort of judgement by this number…screw you).

3. Got mad at me when I didn’t text him while at my God Daughters 1st Birthday Party. Said that no one year old’s party should last that long. When I told him I helped set up and clean up because it was at my church he said I should have told him before hand because now it seemed like I was covering something up. By this time I was terrified a picture would be posted of me and the male friend from the first example and he would think I was cheating. That friend is my God Daughter’s God Father.

4. Purposefully got me drunk on our birthday celebration in order to see me throw up because I told him I did not want that to happen. I had previously told him that that had never happened before and I didn’t want it to happen on my birthday. I threw up. Asked for a bottle of water and some gum. He asked how I knew I needed water and gum if I had never thrown up from drinking before. Said I was hiding some wild partying days where I was also probably a hoe.

5. At my companies Christmas party, we fought. He was mad because I was talking to the other therapist and didn’t talk to only him all night. He was also mad I asked what time he needed to leave and that I asked more than once. When I told him I was worried the same thing was happening as what happened at my moms party, he said that was a sign that I was sleeping with someone at the party.

6. When dropping me off at work after we ate lunch together one day, an old co-worker drove by. I waved. He waved back. He got mad. Said I should not have waived and that the guy should not have been looking into the car that hard. He said that this was a sign that we had slept together at one point and I was lying about it. He asked what position he held at my job and I said he was a tech. Said that that was definite proof we had slept together or at least talked because at our company Christmas party I didn’t talk to any of the techs.

7. Pretended he had gotten into a fight at a club because someone said they knew me from college and made it seem like I was a hoe back in the day. He did this to see what my response was and to see if I confessed to being a hoe.

8. Forgot that I invited him to my best friends 30th birthday party. When I didn’t remind him but then said I would come see him afterwards he said this was proof I didn’t want him to come. Broke up with me for still deciding to go out. Called me a thot. Got mad when I posted a picture of me that night with the caption “thot adventures for the besties birthday.” Called me several terrible names throughout the night. Said I was choosing my friends over him if I didn’t leave and drive down to see him immediately. Threatened to share intimate details of our relationship to members of my church to prove I was a thot. The next day when things had calmed down and he encouraged me to go out saying he wouldn’t get back with me if I didn’t go, when I text upon returning home he acted as if he had slept with his ex and she was at his house. This was a “joke.” Said he trusted that I hadn’t been a hoe for the 24 hours we broke up.

9. Repeatedly said he couldn’t trust me after that night. If I didn’t call every day while at work for my lunch break he assumed it was because I was sleeping with someone at my job instead of calling him.

10. Got mad at me because I didn’t come down to visit him one weekend when he hurt his back. I was going down there any weekend that I wasn’t on call. I chose one weekend to not go down and not be on call to get things done. He injured his back and chose to go out and was in pain. Told me he had never felt so alone and should never feel that alone while in a relationship.

10. Got mad at me because I went to one of my best friend’s baby shower. He called, knowing I was there, and I didn’t see it. He said that I was choosing my friends over him. I made it a point to go to the baby shower because it was important to me and obviously he wasn’t important to me because I didn’t come to see him. I was on call that weekend and did an assessment right before the party. He said I made it a point to do the assessment quickly in order to go but never did the same in order to see him.

11. Told me I didn’t actually like him because he was not my “normal type” so I was probably secretly cheating on him with a skinny light skinned guy.

12. Got mad when I did not tell him what I liked about a movie I went to see with a friend. When previously he got annoyed when I wanted to talk about a movie a saw that he wasn’t interested in.

13. Constantly told me we had nothing in common because I didn’t like to party.

14. Got mad when I would wake up early and read while he was asleep.

15. Purposefully left hickies on my neck that he wanted people at my job to see…especially the people he thought I was sleeping with.

16. Tried to figure out which guy on the UNCC basketball team I had dated. Got mad when he wasn’t skinny and light skinned. Then told me why I was mad that he was looking and would not acknowledge my actual reason for being annoyed with him. Honestly I don’t even remember what my reason for being annoyed was but we argued about it and this triggered us not talking for a day and then ultimately breaking up.

There are more things. Smaller versions of some of these things. These are the biggest. These are the ones that randomly pop up in my head. These are the ones that make me feel stupid and ashamed and cause me to continue to beat myself up for getting into that situation and staying for any period of time.

But that’s the thing I guess. When you’re in it it’s harder to see. It’s harder to realize it’s happening. All you really know is it sucks, your miserable, there’s no one to talk to about it and sometimes the good times give you hope.

I have vowed to myself that I will never again be so afraid of losing a person that I lose myself. I have vowed to myself to never let a man have me questioning who I am as a person. I have vowed to myself to watch out for red flags but also yellow flags too. I have vowed to myself to run as fast as possible if a guy ever takes issue with my friends. I have vowed to myself to love me, unconditionally, and not allow anyone within a mile who doesn’t do the same.

To anyone who may read this and see some similarities in their relationship. I encourage you to step back and really decide if this is what you think you deserve. If it is, know that you deserve better. If it isn’t, choose yourself and move on. Above all else though, I urge you to please stay safe.