The evening was growing late, so I walked him to the door. As I reached for the knob, he enveloped me in his arms and for a moment, no words were spoken, yet so much was said.
He held me securely as we stood there, in the dark foyer, with only the porch light reflecting on us. With my head pressed against his chest as he towered over me, in all his chocolate glory, I remember thinking how safe I have always felt in his presence. It was nice.
After a while, he broke the silence by quietly, but firmly asking me to look up at up him. I couldn't. His oversized penis was the only thing separating us and with every breath of him I took in, I felt every bit of common sense leaving my body. I knew that locking eyes with him would send me over the edge. So, I whispered, "I can't."
He placed his finger beneath my chin and slowly raised my head up to meet his. Damn. Looking at him, my imagination began running wild. That's when I had an all-out battle between my flesh and my spirit. I don't mean that on some super deep religious level. I'm talking about a real-life, full-on war within. I went back and forth about the short-term benefits and long-term consequences. I knew my next move would be a critical one. Not just for me, but for him too. It didn't take long to realize what I needed to do. So, I closed my eyes, hushed my hormones and replied, "I'm just trying to be a better woman."
With that, I took a deep breath, stepped away from him, opened the door and bid him a good night.
This isn't about turning down sex.
In the past, I have allowed my insecurities, voids and loneliness to lead me to make some unhealthy decisions that ultimately had a negative impact on my own life and on the lives of others. I have entered situationships based solely on [good] sex and tried to build a forever with someone that should have been a never. I have ignored my intuition and jumped in bed and into relationships with people I knew were not a good fit for me just because I was tired of being single. In each of those instances, the writing was on the wall, but I tried to rearrange the words to tell a different story; one with a happy ending.
However, since then, I have been intentional about mending my broken pieces. I grew tired of bleeding profusely and cutting other people in the process. For more than a year now, I have been seeing a therapist on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I had to come to terms with some hard and ugly truths about the kind of woman I was and the choices I was making that created the mediocre life I was living.
I had to go back and clean up my past.
I had to forgive a lot of people, starting with myself.
I had to humble myself and seek forgiveness.
I released a lot of guilt and shame.
Now, I'm realizing that healing is never complete.
However, every day, I'm working to evolve into a better version of myself. I am accepting the past for what it was. I am releasing the parts that I can and using the rest as an opportunity to do and be better for myself and for my daughters.
For the first time ever in my adult life, I feel like I don't need a man or sex to be OK. I didn't say I don't want a man, but recognizing there is a distinct difference between wanting and needing one.
Somewhere along the way, I figured out that my singleness is not a deficiency or indication of my worth or lack thereof.
This season has been about changing the narrative [internally] of who I am as a woman, what I stand for and making sure my decisions and actions are in alignment with that. l'm noticing that as I work to become the woman I was meant to be for myself and to myself, the world is also taking notice.
The heated night I referenced above could have gone a different way. I was lonely and vulnerable and I was with someone I care about, but even then, I made the decision to do it differently. For me, I think that's what healing is – recognizing the decisions, behaviors and patterns that lead to unwanted and unhealthy outcomes and choosing to do differently, even and especially when under pressure. I believe it's small incremental changes and actions over time, that ultimately make us who we are and collectively, it has the power to change the trajectory of our lives - for better or worse.
As great a man as I believe he is, I know Mr. Wonderful and I have fundamental differences that make us incompatible. Therefore, I chose not to share one of the most sacred parts of myself with him. I knew, based on my past, that if I had, it would create a burning desire within me to force fit a relationship that was never supposed to be.
I don't know about you, but sometimes, I wonder how you know when 'the work' [the therapy, prayer, meditation, etc.] is working.
I don't know about you, but sometimes, I wonder how do you know when 'the work' [the therapy, the prayer and the meditation, etc.] is working. How do you know when you're healing? For me, it was in that moment, when I made the conscious decision to not repeat old toxic behaviors – that was the moment I knew I was healing. Growing even.
Knowing that I'm one decision, one action closer to being the woman I desire to be gives me hope and serves as encouragement for me to continue with my work. The journey is a lot easier when you know what's at stake.
Quelina J., a Richmond native, is a writer and speaker who focuses on women's empowerment and growth through transparency. Through her blog, quelinaj.com, she shares her own experiences in hopes that it will inspire other women to heal from the inside out.
Featured image by Getty Images
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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It appears that LeToya Luckett is off the market. The songstress, who got divorced from Tommicus Walker in 2021, surprised her Instagram followers when she uploaded a Reel of how she spent Valentine’s Day. The video was a collage of roses, rose petals in the shape of a heart, dinner, and LeToya walking down a hallway with a man walking behind her. While she didn’t give any further details about who was in the video, she did stop by the Tamron Hall Show and shared that she was in a great place.
“I will say that I am daily, I am spoiled with kindness. I am spoiled with peace. I am spoiled with support. I am spoiled with consistency, love,” she said. “And I have to give it to myself first. But the fact that God saw fit to put it in a form of a man, I won’t complain.”
While we don’t know much else about her new bae, it seems that he is making the mother of two very happy. LeToya went on to share how her new relationship has put her in a blissful state and she finally feels stability.
“You know what, I'm very happy. I have so much peace, y'all. I have so much peace. I'm happy,” she gushed. “And I’ve never really been in this space before because I felt like even since a kid, I've been moving around, trying to figure it out. And then, you know, getting married, having kids, going through a divorce, and moving– it was a lot. You know, and I feel like I'm finally in a place where I'm stable. I'm stable, and I feel good.”
But that’s not all she talked about. The “Torn” singer and Tamron also talked about the importance of having self-esteem and self-worth. LeToya’s Instagram page is filled with stylish photos of the singer, family photos, and positivity. She also has had many exciting career ventures, such as starring in the upcoming BET+ thriller One Night Stay, and most recently hosting TV One’s Urban Honors.
However, when it comes to how she lives her life, she remembers the things her mom taught her, such as turning lemons into lemonade.
“So, you know the world is going to deal you the cards, right? But you have to figure out how you're gonna play them. And it starts with you. It starts with you,” she said.
“I am so glad that I watched my mom do that. And she was the example of that because it taught me that regardless of what happens, what type of lemons life deals you, you've got to turn it into lemonade. You got to make sure your side of the street is clean. Regardless of what everybody else is doing or saying. You got to make sure that you're together, that you believe in yourself. You can't go expecting people to love you, people to respect you, and treat you a certain way. If you don't respect yourself.”
Feature image by Prince Williams/WireImage