The beginning of this new decade has had the world vibrating on some high energies. But, for some us, after only a month in, life's already hit us in the face and all the hype of starting a new year and getting our lives together has flown away. I'm one of those who've been hit. In fact, life literally knocked me down. And as I'm writing this today, my heart is completely shattered.
Last November, during my trip to Atlanta, God introduced me to my soulmate. At the time, my life was already a little bit of a mess: I was burnt out and quit my job, moved back in with my mother whom I don't really get along with and my need for isolation was having a significant impact on all my relationships. I was visiting from Belgium to attend one of my friends' wedding but, secretly, I was hoping for this trip to be some kind of rebirth for me. I expected it to get me back on my feet and bring me closer to my dream life in some ways. Was I expecting it to bring me closer to my dream life in that way, though? Absolutely not.
Just like any other good modern love story would start, my soulmate and I met on Tinder. It was on a Saturday morning, I was laying in bed in my hotel room, binge-watching Being Mary Jane on Netflix, swiping left more often than right on my phone screen, only aiming to be entertained by some hot dudes. He, too, was bored, at his house, trying to take some beautiful women out on dates. In both cases, we just wanted to pass the time. Neither of us were looking for anything special. To be honest, I kinda sorta wanted a free meal (and why not the D as a dessert?).
But, for two people who weren't looking for anything special, we were strangely digging deep into the things that makes us who we are when we first talked.
I remember us chatting all day long that day. Eventually, he asked if he could take me out. The very next evening, I was getting ready to go on my first Tinder date ever. I was feeling like doing something fancy that night, so I suggested going to the Sun Dial, a bar-restaurant located on the uppermost floors of the Westin Peachtree Plaza that has a 360° breathtaking view of Atlanta. I was looking forward to meeting him but darn, I was so nervous.
One thing you need to know about me is that I never go on dates. In fact, I absolutely hate dating. It makes me feel way too uncomfortable. I could write a whole piece explaining why it does, but that night, not only was I nervous because of all the sex trafficking stories I'd heard, but I wasn't sure if there would be any chemistry between us, let alone if I'd find him attractive. Because yes, sisters, against all Tinder rules, I accepted his invitation to take me out based on the interesting conversations we had, his pictures didn't really reveal much. To make matters worse, the man had no social media. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no nothing. I was literally going in blind on this one. Blind, but not entirely.
My intuition had been guiding me from the moment that we matched and I could feel that it was pushing me to take the risk to go and see where all of this would lead me. And as crazy as it may sound, when I saw him walk towards me at the bar and felt every ounce of my body freeze, I understood why exactly I was standing there. At that moment, I knew...
"Oh, there it is... Here's the rest of my life. It's finally arrived."
Our date lasted for a couple of hours and every second of it was a confirmation of the revelation I'd had earlier. We started by digging even deeper into each other's souls, wanting to know about each other's dreams and biggest regrets. About our love languages, our way of communicating when we're angry and whether or not we feel fulfilled. About how we picture the future, how important family is to the both of us and how our mothers would react if we ever were to bring one another home. I'd always let him go first; I didn't want him to analyze my answers and say the right things on purpose -- I wasn't about to be played.
But despite that, every one of his responses still matched with mine and it made my heart race a little faster every time. Considering the way he was making me feel, it was necessary for me to ask him, before I accidentally let three my walls down and allow him in, whether he just wanted to have a good time or if he actually wanted something, to which he replied: "If you just want to have a good time, then so be it. But if you want something, I'm DOWN."
I nodded and smiled slightly but in my head, I was already planning the wedding. He dropped me off at my hotel and before I got out of the car, we exchanged our first kiss. Contrary to what one might expect, I didn't invite him upstairs. I knew the opportunity to spend the night with him would come again. And indeed, from then on, we didn't let go of each other. I spent the rest of my trip in his company. We went on more dates, ate some food, had a few drinks... We sometimes talked for hours, sometimes had sex, sometimes simply enjoyed each other's presence in complete silence.
Getting to know him was like getting to know a new version of me.
I didn't know it was possible to feel this happy, this peaceful and somehow so appreciated for who I truly am and all the things that I bring to the table. In the midst of my mess, life seemed enjoyable again. The more time we were spending together, the more I would notice how similar we were and how different we could be at the same time. Yet, just like the Yin and the Yang, we assembled perfectly. At a later stage, I was defining our relationship not as the comfort zone that we have to get out of in order to grow, but as the comfort zone that requires us to constantly grow as individuals. Both of us were aware that that type of bond doesn't happen often in a lifetime. So, we decided to take it long-distance. This is how, on my end, these six years of singleness and loneliness came to an end...finally.
Today, however, I'm writing about my pain. It's a kind of pain that I've never experienced before. A kind of pain that's had me curled up in my bed for a week, suffocating at the idea of having to live another day every time the sun rises. A pain that makes me hate myself for all the things that I am, and all the things that I'm not.
He left me.
A week after my visit this January, he made the decision to end our relationship because of a conversation that we had back when we first met that triggered his desire to live more purposefully and caused him to turn his life around completely. It made him do everything that I've done. He quit his job, moved in with a family member and went back to school to set the ground for his new career. There again, we were in alignment. But this time, our singularities literally disconnected him from me:
"Our relationship isn't part of my priorities right now. And, clearly, me not giving you enough attention makes you unhappy. Then, you become needy. I don't have time for that. [...] I'm unable to give you even the bare minimum of what you need right now. I know that you can do that but I'm a man; I'm incapable of focusing on figuring out my future as an individual and my future with you at the same time."
It doesn't sound that bad, I know. And from the outside, there's a lot of hope that we rekindle when the time is right for us both. The thing is, when I asked him if he still wanted me in his life, he never responded. And to this day, he still hasn't hit my line.
What would you answer to the question, "What's your biggest fear"?
Mine is to be abandoned.
My biggest fear is to see the people that I love walking away from me without looking back like I never mattered. It's being down on my knees, eyes full of tears, begging them to stay. It's reading their sweet words over and over again, not understanding how feelings can expire just like that. It's needing that closure in order to move on that I never really seem to find. It's wondering what's so wrong with me that always causes people to want to exit my life. It's feeling my heart constantly aching because it's never going to be whole again.
It's all the late nights spent questioning my worth and the importance of my own existence. It's looking for everything that makes me not enough of one thing and too much of another and trying so hard to find that balance between the two so that someone can come and finally be willing to stay. It's desperately hoping that someday, I'll hear the words "I love you" coming from someone other than me.
This isn't the first time I've been rejected by someone I love. As a matter of fact, I know the feeling too well. The more I mature, the more I'm able to recognize my fears, understand them and, by doing so, find a way to overcome them. Though I wish I could share with you the secret to beat rejection, unfortunately, this one still defeats me every single time.
The one thing that I can share with you however is the title of the book that I've read multiple times for all the reassurance and inner peace it instantly provides me with: What a Time to Be Alone: The Slumflower's Guide to Why You Are Already Enough by Chidera Eggerue.
Here are some of my favorite passages from the book:
1. “You are allowed to outgrow people and people are allowed to outgrow you [...]"
"We cannot expect the people we love to move at our pace. And we can't expect the same from them either. It just isn't fair. People grow, their priorities change with their opinions and, before you know it, they just might not have time for you anymore. [...] learning to let go of what no longer serves us is key."
2. “For the world, I’ll always be too much of one thing or not enough of another, but for myself, I’ll always be enough.”
3. “Anytime you find yourself in an environment that dilutes your self-esteem, picture four-year-old you and try your best to be her hero.”
4. “Nothing everybody ultimately does is because of you.”
5. “The sooner we stop pretending to be immune to feelings that scare us, the sooner life will begin to make sense.”
6. "What's mine won't miss me [...]"
"Life really doesn't require the amount of stress we exert on it most of the time. Learning to accept that everything is where it needs to be will give you the peace and clarity that you need to focus on what really matters: yourself."
When I met this man, it was clear that I was going to write about our love story, but not once had I imagined myself writing about its ending. Yet, here I am, 2,000+ words in. I don't usually allow myself to be this transparent and vulnerable to the eyes of the world, especially if the difficulties that I go through can't serve as a lesson.
But, I realize that it's not always about having it all figured out and seeing the positive side of every breakdown. Sometimes, it's about letting your sisters know that you're fighting the same battles. That no matter how successful they think you are at life, you, too, are hurting and that you're in this together.
If you haven't done so already, check out Chidera Eggerue ode to self-love:
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