Being Strung Along In A Situationship Inspired Me To Create Wellness Retreats For Women

For the sake of the story, let's name him Uncommitted Chad.

As Told To

As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer. If you have a story you'd like to share but aren't sure about how to put it into words, contact us at submissions@xonecole.com with the subject "As Told To" for your story to be featured.

This is Brittany Autry's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.

The Introduction


Have you ever met someone and said to yourself, "yep, that is absolutely going to happen"? Well, that was my first impression of my ex. For the sake of the story, let's name him Uncommitted Chad.

Uncommitted Chad and I worked together, which made it incredibly easy to get to know one another in a short period of time. We didn't tell a single soul at our job and actually, lowkey didn't even engage with each other while at work.

Red flag.

He was fine, charming, spontaneous, and on top of that, he loved the Lord. We bonded over being from the south, our love of music, and our desire to change the community. I was smitten with everything about him. We dated for about a year without an official title. Throughout that first year, everything was great. We made each other dinner, we toured the city. We even had an incredible sex life. Everything was fairy tale perfect.

It wasn't until we celebrated my birthday at dinner with my closest friends that I started to notice that something was off. He didn't express interest in getting to know them and he rudely made assumptions about who they were. I decided to stop bringing him around my friends and individualized our time.

As time went on, I wanted more clarity on our situation, but he made it clear that he didn't want to be in a relationship until he reached a certain income level. I thought it was ridiculous, but I also rocked with his ambition, so I reluctantly stayed. Around a year or so of dating, we stopped seeing each other. He wasn't making any moves towards us being together. He wasn't happy, but he didn't try to stop me either. So, I ended it.

Strike Two


I didn't hear from Uncommitted Chad for months until one day, out of the blue, he called to ask me to lunch. He'd since decided to move back south to start a new business venture and support his family. It seemed like he was in a more positive place, so we slowly started to date again. This time, he expressed an interest in a real relationship and asked me to meet his mother. I was thrown off, but secretly ecstatic that we had come this far.

I bought a bus ticket, to make an eight-hour trip to visit him. On the day of my trip, I grabbed dinner with friends and I planned to Uber to the station directly afterward. Just as we were finishing up, he called and said he wasn't comfortable with me coming anymore. He didn't feel like it was the right time.

He. Didn't. Feel. Like. It. Was. The. Right. Time.

I was embarrassed, pissed, and genuinely hurt. I could not understand how in the hell he could decide an hour before my departure to tell me this. And most importantly, I couldn't believe that I had allowed myself to give this man another chance, only for him to show me yet another example of his inability to be in a relationship. How is it possible to be so wrong about someone?

I gave myself three days to be sad and then I decided to pick myself up and move forward. I blocked him from contacting me and didn't talk to him for six months.

The Breakthrough


Here's our pattern: every time I got away, he made small progress, and we would try it again. I don't know what type of spell he had over me, but he was a master at reeling me back in. He had moved to the south permanently, purchased a house, and invited me to visit for Valentine's Day. He even purchased my flight this time—which for my ladies who have been involved with an Uncommitted Chad, you are familiar with this mind game. I had decided that people mess up all the time and given that I'm a therapist by trade, who am I to believe people can't change?

So, I went.

The first day was great. We played games, had dinner and made breakfast together the next morning. I cannot pinpoint the exact moment that things shifted, but he told me that he was considering a position in two different places, neither of them being where I live. He discussed his business prospects, salary negotiations and even renting out his home, but he never included me in the conversation. As I listened and robotically gave feedback, I knew this would be the last time we gave this foolishness a shot. He was making future plans for himself. There was no "us" in the equation and if I stayed, I would just be hoping he would one day choose me. I got on my flight the next morning and never looked back. And I haven't spoken to him since.

Self-Therapy & Taking Control


When I returned home, I made a playlist of sad songs and began journaling as a means of coping. It sounds a little crazy, but I am huge on processing, so both allowed me to be sad, mad, frustrated, grateful and ultimately relieved. But I also knew I needed to process the end of the relationship in a real way; I needed a break. I remembered watching Eat, Pray, Love and thought it would be cool to have a similar experience. One night, I got an alert for a roundtrip flight deal to Bali for $650. I bought the flight and started planning my solo trip right away.

When I arrived, I sat in silence. I hated it. But I made myself sit in the discomfort and be present with my thoughts. I sought after activities for healing, so I spent intentional time with myself. I went to a coffee farm and tried different Indonesian blends. I rode elephants. I went to temples and prayed for myself and my family. I treated myself to fancy dinners where I sat at an actual table alone and ate food while I people-watched. I went to the beach to watch the sunset. I took yoga classes. I read by the pool. I wrote about my life thus far and the future life I wanted. I created commitments for myself. I also made a list of desires as well as non-negotiables for my next companionship.

Being with myself was so necessary. I knew I was leaving with something I absolutely did not arrive with.

The Birth of Wellness Retreats


After returning home, I began thinking of the sheer inner peace I felt being away. I thought about how I made the trip happen for very little, and the ways in which the trip helped me heal. A retreat seemed like the next logical option. I began doing some research and focus groups with my girls, and the Cent(her)ed Collective was born.

As I was setting goals for what I wanted to accomplish when back, I realized that I wanted to recreate my experience for other Black women. Given the stress that we deal with on a day-to-day basis and the various life events that impact us, we need more opportunities to be vulnerable, present and focus on ourselves. Mental healthcare is quite expensive if you don't have great insurance and I want to be a change in that.

Manicures and brunches are great, but they won't sustain us long-term. We must make our mental wellness hygienic and that requires daily practice, even if for just a few minutes.

I know for sure that my cultural impact is about creating healing spaces for my people. I want to ensure that I do my part to create access to quality mental health practices and resources for my generation and those who follow. Ultimately, I want to make sure that I relentlessly pursue ending the mental health gap for black women and girls.

So, ladies, let’s make it a priority to heal—whether it’s from a bad experience, a traumatizing job, or an Uncommitted Chad.

Brittany's next retreat will be held in Houston, TX from March 5th-March 8th, 2020. You may email Brittany for more information or visit her website.

Featured image by Brittany Autry.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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