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