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I Broke Up With My Boyfriend And A Year Later He Became The Love Of My Life

I gave him 30 days to vacate.

Dating

It was four years after we began dating. I gave him 30 days to leave.

We shared a two-bedroom apartment together with our two dogs and had unofficially but mutually agreed to share our lives together. Only, I was unhappy.

My unhappiness began to grow into resentment. Like every couple, we had been through our share of ups and downs and had plenty of arguments and bruised egos to show for it. This time was different and my decision to leave was sporadic – almost as if I had woke up one morning and my inner conscience said, "Kim, today you have to take control of your life."

That was the day I walked my dog to the leasing office and handed over a 30-Day Notice to Vacate. I cried to my sister near the same oak tree that he and I carved our names when we moved there. I wiped my tears as my sister said, "Rest in your decision Kimberly, be sad, but don't stay there... Pick yourself up and move forward."

And, so I did.

My dog and I walked back to my apartment with dry eyes and a sense of peace that didn't exist in a relationship where I constantly ignored my wants and needs to please the man I was with. Prior to that day, I was in a relationship where the things that made me happy were mocked and ridiculed. "Why should I take you on a date? No man really wants to go on a date," he would say. "Why do you want to celebrate your birthday? You are near 30, grow up," he laughed.

He never kissed me and blamed it on his lack of affection from his mother, but I needed to be kissed. He never told me that he loved me and said that I should know that, but I needed to hear it. It always saddened me to hear my desires mocked. I truly liked the idea of dating the man that I loved for the rest of my life. I truly loved my birthdays even if I was closing in on 30. I loved to be kissed and I needed affirmations. I was good at voicing my wants, but I wasn't so good at moving towards them. Instead, I began to convince myself that they weren't a big deal. "At least I have man that doesn't cheat," or "He loves me, so I can do without those things."

I remember being sad at every family function or social event when I was always seen as the "single" girl even though I was in a relationship. I was too ashamed to tell my family and friends that my man refused to come out with me so I covered for him and, in turn, buried my true feelings under the perception of perfection.

I look back and I see that hurt and infidelity in past relationships triggered my desire to hold on to Mr. Good Enough in fear of subjecting myself to that same hurt and loneliness. He isn't right for me, but he is better than them.

But one day I realized that just because Mr. Right Now isn't as bad as the guys before him does not mean he isn't bad. He didn't cheat on me or curse me out like those other guys, but at the same time, he was not delivering love and affection to me in a way that I could recognize it. He failed at all of the things that I considered necessary in a relationship with a life partner. I decided that I didn't want to waste another second unhappy in this relationship and I convinced myself that the end result would be: one, him evolving enough to open his heart to fulfill my needs or, two, I would find someone else that would be more than happy to have me. I would be happy either way.

So I waited.

Two hours after the submission of my notice to vacate, he came home and I told him, "You have 30 days to pack your things and find another place to live. I love you but I've decided to love me more. You've made it very clear that you are happy with the way things are in the relationship. I've been feeling like a single woman with a roommate and, for me, that is not love. So... you have 30 days before the lease is up and my things will be gone by the end of the week."

And they were.

I moved into a one bedroom apartment with one of the dogs. I found a new job so that I could cover my solo bills. I bought a car and for a while, I endured and ignored his anger voicemails and texts until he eventually stopped calling. Though they hurt and I missed him, I shifted my focus from him to me and began to reconnect with the things that I loved. Family. Friends. Fitness. Fun. I began to meditate and reconnect with my spirituality. I had even opened myself to the idea of starting to date. It was the happiest I had been a very long time. I was alone but not once did I feel lonely.

Nearly a year passed.

I hadn't spoken to him. I needed to completely disassociate myself from him in order to focus on me. I wanted him and me to grow separately. I knew that when the right time presented itself, I would reconnect with him and his growth (or lack of growth) would become apparent and my newfound inner strength would move me toward (or away from) him.

Time continued to move forward.

When the phone calls began to fall off, my desire to reach out to him increased, and I could feel the anger and resentment leave me, but I still kept my distance. Previously, I had always been the fixer of the relationship, the one to initiate conversation or brush off disappointment in an effort to avoid an argument. I knew that if change was going to happen it needed to be as a result of his pursuit of me.

I was always in control of the relationship and this time I wanted to relinquish all control.

When he did call, my voicemail greeted him graciously. If he wrote, my reply was brief and amiable. He even appeared at my home wanting to enter, I declined tactfully. The message I wanted him to receive is I don't hate you, there is no anger, and I wish you a world of happiness, but please allow me space to move on. Silence is so powerful.

Being pleasant paired with that silence is even more powerful but this was no plot to play a game, I simply had no words for him and I was too emotionally connected to him to hold strong to the non-negotiables that I had set for myself so I could not let him in my space. But I knew that one day the words would come and I would have the strength to speak with no remorse or regret.

And, that one day came.

11 months, 47 voicemails, and about 100 missed calls later, I decided to take his call. The very first thing he said to me was, "Will you allow me to take you to dinner?"

That was the start of something new but this wasn't the man I knew. I went to that dinner with an open heart and open ears. I remember looking at him and seeing the man that I fell in love with and if the tears that I held back had a voice, they would scream, “How did we get here?"

That night he talked. I listened. I smiled. He kissed me. He said to me, "I didn't know how to show you love. It made me uncomfortable to be vulnerable. When you left you took a piece of me with you and I can't imagine a life without you."

I exhaled and he continued, “I'm not perfect. I've never been in a relationship this deep but I do know that I want to be the man that you want me to be and over the past few months, I've figured out how to love myself and control my anger so that I can give you the love that you need. All I need is a little help."

That was all I needed to hear.

A desire to do better was a compromise that I was willing to accept. We committed to frequent date nights. We signed up for couple's therapy. We began to pray together. We listened to personal development podcasts together and read books at night. For nearly 16 months, we completely eliminated sex from our relationship.

This was the first time that I realized that growth and personal development have to be intentional. People mistakenly assume that it will just come to you with time but it needs to be a deliberate action.

We were students of each other, willing to communicate and adapt for one another. Even our arguments were different. Before the breakup, he had a bad habit of dismissing my feelings and I had a bad habit of withdrawing or walking away during confrontation, but now he practiced empathy and I vowed to stay through resolution.

Those first months after we rekindled were followed by months of conscious effort to learn one another and he began to deliver love in a way that I could recognize it. He frequently kissed me, touched my face, held my hands, and affirmed his love for me. He was present.

The next 36 months were blissful. There were still ups and downs, but the ride was much smoother with both of us balancing and guiding each other. This time I didn't feel like I was in it alone.

I can honestly say that I learned more about him and him about me during the first year after we rekindled than the first 4 years prior to the breakup.

A relationship of any kind requires one to pour out and into another person, like a vessel of water into a bed of flowers to help it grow. That vessel will eventually become empty if it is not consistently refilled. I was that vessel that had become empty with nothing left to give.

Until now.

He finally began to pour back into me the love and adoration that I had been pouring into him.

We were finally together.

Two broken people found a way to stand strong on their own and became whole individually, which led to a healthier, happier union. Today, we are proud parents of a one year old baby boy and happy in a balanced relationship where we both strive to serve each other.

...All because I shifted my focus to that which made me happy and had the strength to walk away.

Kimberly Fleming is an author, speaker, and self-proclaimed motivator. Her life's mission is to encourage people to be the best versions of themselves while presently choosing happiness at each stage of their journey. Her work lives on her personal writing stage, graylove.com and on Instagram/Twitter @iam_KIMf.

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 submissons@xonecole.com

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.

Reparations

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

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