I Settled By Marrying Mr. Good Enough

Her Voice

I've always been an overachiever in life, excelling in whatever it was I poured myself into. When it came to my love life, it was no different.

Or so I thought.

I had this notion that if I followed all the steps and did everything right on my end that everything would fall into place. Little did I know, that's not exactly how life goes, especially regarding love.

Love is patient, love is kind, but what happens when you aren't?

What happens when you choose to jump ahead of Cupid, and he uses you for target practice instead of his primary target?

I'll tell you what happens; you end up settling.


I was nineteen years old in a relationship with a man ten years my senior.

I know what you are thinking and looking back on it, you're right. But things happened, and here I am. We started off as friends, and it evolved into something more.

I was a freshman in college and had little experience in the dating world outside of high school puppy love. He pulled out all the stops in the romance department and not having experienced anything else I was impressed. I remember him continuously saying to me that he was a rare find and no other man would treat me as good as he did. Being young and naive in all departments of life, especially love, I believed him.

However, in accepting what I was fed, I never once felt that spark, that blissful feeling of happily ever after; you know like you see in the movies. I brushed it off and labeled it as a phase and told myself, "This is as good as its probably going to get for you."


My second year of college, I got pregnant. I'll admit that I wasn't too thrilled because it wasn't a part of my plan.

The kids weren't supposed to come until two years after I'd graduated, but he treated it as if he was checking something off of his list of shit to do before reaching thirty. My parents were divorced, and his had been married for thirty plus years. In his head, it was what was supposed to happen at the right time for him and that was his primary concern. Upon us telling friends that we were expecting, it was mentioned that we should get married. He was on board; I was hesitant.

I knew I wanted to get married, but even after all this time dating this man, I never once saw myself growing old with him. We talked about it more, and he sensed my hesitation in not wanting to do it. He then started to remind me repeatedly that he was a rare find and no other man was going to treat me the way he did. He even took it a step further and told me how lucky I was that a man like him wanted to marry me and this is what was best for our child.

I agreed and stood before a judge in the courthouse of my hometown and married the man who didn't make me happy.

One year later, I began to change. Every day, I was going through the motions to just get through the twenty-four hours. I wasn't happy and felt undone in many areas of my life. I came home to a man who complained about me not generating income and suggested that I get a job. I didn't know how I was supposed to balance a job going to school full-time, maintain a 3.0, and take care of a baby who was only in daycare for my school hours. His nagging went on for a while so I had to quit school to get a full-time job in hopes that if I made him happy, I'd be satisfied.


The problem with that theory is I didn't know at the time that I was responsible for my happiness.

It wasn't until we moved to Florida for his job that everything started to sink in. I found myself depressed and married to a man who didn't notice anything outside of his own needs. I didn't want him to touch me at all, so when we had sex, it was out of obligation and not passion. Every day became harder and harder to cope with life.

I was miserable.

I would go to the bathroom and shut the door for my daily crying session. One day, that was interrupted by my two-year-old son who had walked in. I didn't notice him at first until his tiny frame pressed against me and held my face so he could wipe away the tears. In that moment, I found a piece of myself that wanted better for the eyes staring back at me.

When my husband got home that night, I told him I was leaving. He wanted to know why and I told him everything I'd been feeling and have felt for the past couple of years. He seemed confused and began to regurgitate that same manipulative phrase over and over again. When he realized it no longer worked, he grew angry, then he spouted off hateful words about how ungrateful and undeserving I was to have a man like him. He was right; I didn't deserve a man like him, I deserved better.


I deserved a man that I loved, and he wasn't it.

I made the ten-hour drive back to my home state with my son in tow and never looked back. I remember pulling into my mother's driveway and having the feeling of relief wash over me. After that, I struggled with forgiving myself for being that naive nineteen-year-old girl who was falling for any and everything because she didn't know who she was. It became a burden, and I lived my life for a while full of regret and what-ifs. It wasn't until my mother and I had a very real conversation about my choices, she told me to stop feeling sorry for myself, and that the lessons from my choices help shape the person she knows is deep down inside. I asked her if she knew that he wasn't the one for me. She said "yes" and then told me, "As a parent, you allow your children to make their own mistakes and figure it out."

That's what I did.

I figured my life out. I immersed myself in my faith and found God in the dark places of my mind that I thought I'd never escape. It was then I discovered that I wasn't prepared to fall in love with anyone because I hadn't yet fallen in love with myself. That was the very reason why I'd always sold myself short on what I deserved. If I wanted to get anywhere in life, I had to change this.

I started by looking in the mirror every morning and telling the reflection that was looking back at me that I am proud of the woman she is and who she is becoming.


I told her that she was beautiful, kind, smart, and worthy of a fairytale love.

Telling myself those things was the easy part, believing them was hard. I kept at the routine until I started to believe everything I was saying. In that belief, I found my worth, which changed how I viewed love. I now view love as sacrifice. You have to be willing to sacrifice for the other person. At this point in my life, I'm only willing to do that for my son, so I've chosen to take a break from dating for now and focus on my passion, which is writing. I want to show my son that no matter what you go through in life you can always change it and find a way to follow your dreams.

However, while I'm on my break from the dating world, I'm still navigating through exactly what I want in a potential partner. While doing this, I've decided to remain celibate because I value my body now more than ever. Whenever I decide to jump back into the dating game, I want to be prepared and know that I am now dating with a purpose. That purpose is to find someone who I'll be willing to sacrifice for and receive the same in return. I'm taking my time and observing my mistakes because although they don't haunt me anymore, I'm still working on forgiving myself for making them.

In the meantime, I'll be living a life of fulfillment and passion.

I'm going back to school in the spring to study my craft. I will continue to work on myself because I now understand that it is okay to be a work in progress and a masterpiece. I had to learn how to love myself, and know my worth before I can expect someone else to. In determining my value, I move differently in life, especially regarding love.

Settling doesn't live here anymore.

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

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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

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