Read an Excerpt
He's Gone ... You're Back
The Right Way to Get Over Mr. Wrong
By KERIKA FIELDS
SOULS OF MY SISTERS BOOKS
Copyright © 2009
All right reserved.
Chapter One The Point of No Return
"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship." Louisa May Alcott
You know it immediately when you get there-to that point in your relationship where there is no turning back, when you finally see your relationship for what it was, not what you wanted it to be, when you are forced to face the fact that the relationship is not working and you have to move on. Alone. It's a very painful place, this point of no return. The pain is so numbing, startling, and piercing that you cannot ignore it. Because up until this point you figured that you could make the relationship work, had convinced yourself that he (or you) would change, that things would miraculously be different, that he was The One, this was it, the love of your life, and love conquers all, even lies, neglect, abuse, abandonment, fear of commitment, substance abuse, infidelity, indifference, and unaccountability.
When that moment comes, you know it immediately, regardless of what happened to bring you there. It is a moment of immeasurable clarity, because it contrasts with the continual noise in your mind, the questions, doubts, hopes, and fears. It just is. The Truth. It is over. And there is no turning back.
It may have been a long time coming, and even though you knew that eventually it would have to end, that you would have to walk away, you didn't let yourself think about when exactly the end would come. You said things to yourself like this can't be happening; I can make it work, etc. But when you reach the point of no return, your self-talk changes effortlessly, through no attempt of your own. You just stop and hear this: "I cannot do this anymore." Period. There are no excuses, no explanations. Just fact. "I need to leave this man alone," your inner voice says. And you are calm. "I cannot survive if I stay in this place with this person." And you take a deep, cleansing breath. "He is not the one for me." And you see, finally, that it is so true. Then there's that so sad yet simple statement: "I'm done." And you are.
And it didn't even really hurt, yet, because at that point, in that moment, you were anesthetized by the truth. The tears that did eventually, inevitably fall were not fast, erratic tears. No, this time they were hot, heavy, and slow. You felt each individual crystal teardrop as it formed in your heart, moved past your chest, then traveled up inside the back of your throat until it reached the inside corner of your eye, where it teetered, only for a moment, before it fell, full and hot, almost burning your delicate face as it rolled down the side of your nose, slowly taking its time to reach the rim of your top lip, where it sat still once more, pausing before its trip to its final destination, that place called your tongue, where you discovered that its saltiness was somewhat bittersweet. Yes, because, you see, these were not the tears of a woman in the wrong relationship; these were the tears of a liberated woman, a woman who is no longer in denial or in limbo, a woman who has let go because she has had a moment of clarity about her situation, an epiphany of sorts, and she can see that no amount of crying, begging, talking, drinking, sexing, lying, or praying will make it work.
Now, instead of working on your relationship, you will be working on yourself. Instead of nurturing him, you prepare to nurture you. Instead of wracking your brain trying to figure out what will make him happy, you figure out what makes you happy. What do you want to do with the rest of your life? What kind of lifestyle do you want to live? These are important questions, especially because we tend to make many sacrifices and compromises in relationships. And for the most part that is expected and commended. Love is a two-way street-give-and-take is mandatory in any relationship. Unfortunately, since women are by nature more nurturing than men, we tend to give more than we get, and we don't even notice it until the relationship is over, until we've reached the point of no return.
Believe it or not, the point of no return is a really beautiful place to be. You've made it through the turbulent times of struggle, the doubt, the questions, the suspicions, and the insecurities. Now you are on solid ground. Your feet are planted firmly in a hard but necessary place called reality.
The point of no return is a very personal place. Regardless of what has happened in the relationship in the past, or what wrongs you feel have been done to you, regardless of disappointment and distrust, or having your heart broken over and over and over again by the same person, there will come a point when you will say enough is enough. No matter how many times you tell yourself that you have to, that you must move on, no matter how many ways your mother, your sister, or your best friend says you should leave the relationship, tells you he's no good, he doesn't love you, you deserve better, etc., etc., etc., it is you and only you who can, and will, decide when the relationship is truly over. And no matter how many times you've forgiven him, taken him back, suppressed your true feelings for the sake of saving the relationship, the time will come when you will KNOW that it is over. And you WILL move on. But when you do, it will be your decision. NO ONE, nothing, can tell you any different until you reach that point, that powerful, pivotal point that only you will experience, that only you can define.
The point of no return is always a different place for different people. He may come home late one too many times, and ignore, hit, or insult you for the last time. It really depends on how much you, and only you, can take or are willing to tolerate. Some women put up with verbal abuse for years only to leave-and rightfully so!-once the abuse turns physical. Some women cannot tolerate verbal abuse at all, on any level, at any time, from any man. Some women choose to look the other way if they know their man is cheating; others do not. So yeah, it's personal. It basically depends on your individual level of tolerance. What bothers you, disturbs you, or sets you off may do nothing for the next woman. What gets you to that place where you can't go back? Sometimes all it takes is the wrong glance, the indifferent attitude, or something as simple as the wrong word. A hurtful word or a slap out of nowhere or an inexplicable insult is easy to recognize and they are understandable triggers of a relationship's demise. They are jolting incidents that shock you, then help you see.
I had a friend whose live-in boyfriend was the sweetest man she'd ever met-in the beginning. Then, after they'd moved in together, she realized his casual drinking wasn't that casual and his occasional drug use was happening more than occasionally. She even discovered he had nightmares that she had to carefully coax him out of. But she loved him. So she kept him. Everybody told her she was crazy if she couldn't see he was crazy and encouraged her to end the relationship. But she didn't. She was convinced he made her happy and was willing to tolerate his many issues, until she called me crying one day, saying that she'd told him to move out. She couldn't take it anymore. She had reached her point of no return. Of course I was extremely curious about what he could have done, after all he'd already done, to make her get to that point, to make her make him leave. Did he hit her? Sleep with her coworker? Steal money? No. It was something much more simple, but to her, much more hurtful: he called her a cunt. That one, ill-chosen word blew her mind and blew the relationship wide apart. To this day, she cannot remember what the discussion was about nor the argument that resulted from the discussion. All she can remember is that word-cunt. They had been going back and forth in an effort to resolve their many issues and many things were said. But that word stopped her cold in her tracks. She was immobilized by its implications. She had been called many things in her day, but never that. And to be called that by a man whom she loved dearly, whom she opened her heart, home, and legs to (let's keep it real, ladies), was all the more devastating. The moment he said that word to her face, she realized how he really saw her, how he really felt. She couldn't excuse it away. With one ugly word, this Queen of Denial relinquished her crown to the reality of the man she was living with.
For the record, this friend wasn't the only Queen of Denial I knew. In fact, I've known many and have been a Queen of Denial myself at one point or another-walking around with my head held high, refusing to look down and around at what was really going on in my relationship. It's what a Queen of Denial does best-denies anything is wrong, denies the relationship is suffering or, as in my case, denies it is doomed from the start.
A few years ago I met a guy who was sweet and sincere and soulful. He was also ten years younger than I was, recently divorced, working odd jobs, and living in a room. He was in a transitional phase of his life, starting over, figuring things out. I was a grown woman working on my already established career and raising a child. Still, I believed him when he said that he was ready for a serious relationship, that he knew what he wanted, that what he wanted was me, us. So for six months I pretended it was really going to work-despite the fact that he was young, confused, and broke. I acted like all I needed was love, that it didn't matter if he didn't have any money and could do absolutely nothing for me. I pretended that I didn't know that someone who was recently divorced was in no real condition to jump into another relationship. I convinced myself that the age difference didn't matter and wasn't an issue when, for me, at that time, it was. I even got mad at my best friend for bringing these issues up to me and got even madder when, at a party, she went up to him and basically told him not to play with my heart, to make sure he knew what he was doing because she didn't want to see her friend hurt (again).
In the end, she was right, and my boyfriend and I both ended up hurt. He wasn't ready for me, wasn't anywhere on my level, and definitely didn't know what he wanted out of life. It ended up being a painful experience that I could have avoided if only I wasn't a Queen of Denial, if only I hadn't lied to myself about what I wanted out of a relationship and where he was in his life. I did learn a lot about myself from the relationship and have forgiven myself for denying myself the truth of what I wanted, needed, and deserved from an intimate relationship. Plus, I know I'm not the only one. I know there are way too many Queens of Denial out there, so beware. Sometimes they are not so easy to see. But because I've been one, I find Queens of Denial simple to spot:
* A Queen of Denial will get angry if you approach her about obvious problems in her relationship.
* A Queen of Denial rarely discusses details of her relationship with anyone, even her closest friends.
* If she has, in some rare moment of weakness or clarity, mentioned trouble in the relationship and you ask how it's going, a Queen of Denial will lie to you-and herself-saying everything is fine.
* A Queen of Denial doesn't look you in the eye when she tells you how happy she is.
* A Queen of Denial makes excuses for her man's whereabouts, bad behavior, or disrespect.
* A Queen of Denial goes out of her way to make the relationship appear to be something other than it is.
* A Queen of Denial thinks her outward appearance is more important than her inner state of being.
* A Queen of Denial does most of the work required to keep the relationship together.
* A Queen of Denial is deathly afraid to face the truth about her relationship, because if she does, then she will have to relinquish her crown, and she will no longer be allowed to live in fantasy land; she will be forced to live out her days with the rest of us, in a place called reality.
As you look at this list, I know you may know a few Queens of Denial in your world. Like the friend who's always acting like her relationship is all of that when everyone-including her-knows her man is a chronic cheater. Or the coworker who has been engaged for years, loves to show off her engagement ring, but still can't tell you exactly when the wedding will be. It's sad, because Queens of Denial suffer for their obliviousness. Take, for example, our girl Jennifer Hudson's character in the movie Dreamgirls, Effie White. Now there was a Queen of Denial who suffered. Curtis Taylor was a hustler and player, but she didn't mind. She could handle it. She basically threw herself at him, claimed him as her man (he never claimed her), turned a blind eye to the fact that he was clearly infatuated with Deena, convinced herself that he was instead in love with her, then was surprised and hurt when he unsympathetically ended their business and personal relationship in one move. After all of that, she still wasn't having it, and she told him, told him, that he was going to love her indeed. Wow. Now I'm not being unsympathetic. I loved the movie and was in awe of Ms. Hudson's performance, even though it could never compare to that of Jennifer Holiday in the Broadway play, which I was fortunate enough to see live as a child. It's just that Effie White was the ultimate Queen of Denial. But she was just a character in a movie. There are, unfortunately, Queens of Denial everywhere, walking around every day, pretending that everything is all right.
It's sometimes easy to see Queen of Denial traits in others, but can you see these traits in yourself? If you are honest with yourself, I think you'd agree that you have also been a Queen of Denial at one point or another. Have you ever lied to yourself about the state of a relationship? Have you ever lied to family and friends about a relationship issue? Have you ever convinced yourself that you were willing and able to deal with a situation in a relationship when in fact you were not? If so, you have been a Queen of Denial. But it's okay. Women often turn into Queens of Denial to protect themselves emotionally from pain they don't want to or are not ready to face. Because once they face or acknowledge the issue, they have to make a change, and change is always a challenge. Change can be scary. Change takes strength, courage, and dedication. A Queen of Denial doesn't want to deal. She wants the problem to go away on its own. And sometimes problems do go away on their own. Sometimes ignoring little things can be harmless. Sometimes it's wise to pick your battles and not dissect every single little thing that is not exactly perfect in a relationship. But sometimes being a Queen of Denial can be hazardous to your health.
For instance, if you are in a relationship with a man who has hit you and he convinces you he won't do it again, not only are you a Queen of Denial, you are putting yourself in a position to be physically hurt again. Or, if you are dating a man whom you think may be gay but you don't want to bring it up, embarrass him, or start an argument, not only are you a Queen of Denial, you are putting your health at risk. We all know how prevalent HIV is in the African-American community, and we also, unfortunately, know that there are a lot of brothers on the down low these days. If you see signs that your man may be gay or may be having sexual relations with someone besides you-a man or a woman-don't be in so much denial that you don't protect yourself. Don't be in so much denial that you put your own health at risk. Look at things for what they really are right now so you can save yourself a lot of future heartache, pain, and disappointment.
Another drawback to being a Queen of Denial is that it prolongs your point of no return. The longer you continue to lie to yourself, the longer you will put up with the problem and the longer it will take for you to walk away.
People who have been in a failed relationship (and that's everybody, isn't it?) can identify their point of no return. They may not have even known what it was when it happened, but once they look back they can pinpoint the exact moment when they knew the relationship was over. That doesn't mean it actually ended at that point, that moment, on that day. It just means that when it finally did end, they knew exactly when and why. And they may not have known exactly why right away, but once they really thought about it, it was clear.
A lot of times, women choose to ignore the point of no return and push forward in the relationship despite its occurrence. Most times, they regret it later. Most times, they wish they had acted on their innate knowledge, paid attention to their sixth sense and made a move. Unfortunately, many of us choose to stay, work it out, ignore the signs, and hold on-when there's nothing left to hold on to!
Excerpted from He's Gone ... You're Back by KERIKA FIELDS Copyright © 2009 by Kerika Fields. Excerpted by permission.
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