He Left Me Because I Inspired Him To Find His Purpose
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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xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The most Gemini woman you'll ever meet. Communications & community enthusiast, I run a media platform centered around spirituality, and I'm always looking to connect with fellow creatives. Follow me on Instagram & Twitter @savannahtaider
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo by Christopher Marrs
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image by Christopher Marrs