Bad Habits, Expectations & Generational Patterns


"My  demons say "What's up" to me,

I can't outrun 'em

Do  everything I can to say fuck 'em."

- Alex Mali



I Do Not Own This Art

Part two of why Honestly Sis stopped: I don't handle breakups well. When Porsha Williams admitted on Real Housewives of Atlanta that she didn't want to eat, watch the baby, or work during her breakup with Dennis. I felt that.



Despite all the work I’ve been doing on myself, this breakup with Sincere (my ex) of seven-years was no different. I went into this relationship, preparing myself for an end, but still, when the day came, I wasn’t ready. My world was rocked, and I functioned one level above zombie mode. I could barely go to work, let alone bring myself to write or edit a letter for Honestly Sis. I was lying in bed in my dark moments, typing, “How to love yourself?” in the Google search bar. It wasn't pretty. I was a mess and feeling like a failure.


My whole life, I dreamed of finding "the one." I thought that when I met him, it would be easy and like movies. I expected a whirlwind romance that would quickly end in engagement, marriage, and children. But clearly, most black boys were too glued to sports and hip hop to get that motto. I digress. Despite my hopeless romantic ways, my relationships were anything but a fairy tale. Each one was full of turmoil and drama. And if I'm real, I know that my "idea" of the “perfect” relationships contributed to the drama. But how was I supposed to know that movies and television shows weren’t real? How else would a young black girl from a single-parent household in Detroit learn about love?



Back to Sincere, I convince myself that he is involved with someone else. So I decided to cut him from my life completely. Ok: I may or may not have thought he got someone pregnant because of a dream. But still! I went the whole summer without talking to him. I was determined to cut him out of my life. If he wasn’t going to love me how I deserved to be loved- he couldn’t have me. I would show him.


I ended all communication, knowing in my heart that he would realize how empty his life was without me. Then come crawling back. But he did not. Nor did I factor in telling him never to contact me, changing my number, or blocking him from most of my social media. Still, I expected him to find a way to contact me. As time went on, I continued to stay strong, occupying my time in standard "millennial" practices. I joined dating apps. Contemplate the idea of being a unicorn. But in the end, it all fell apart.



I wrote my book, took long walks with Cudi, and had lots of meaningless and pointless text conversations. Promising to meet up with people, knowing damn well, I never would. I was in no condition to entertain anyone, and in the end, I felt terrible about the constant flaking. So I swore myself off dating apps. I told myself that I was ok, and I didn’t love Sincere anymore. I didn't need closure. But I was lying to myself; I was living on the edge, avoiding our usual spots, to prevent any possible chance of running into him. I drove Jefferson with my stomach in knots, hoping I wouldn't go by him and some girl. If I saw his friends, I would do anything to avoid them or end the conversation quickly. As I told you before: I was a mess.


Then one night, I had a dream. In the dream, he reached out to me and asked if we could meet up. I went, and when I did, he told me he was getting married, and he wanted me to hear it from him first. To say I was devasted was an understatement. But to add salt to the womb, he brought the girl, and it turned out to be one of his ex-girlfriends. I woke up the next morning crushed. Reaching for my phone, I went on an unblocking spree. Throughout the day, I found myself stalking his accounts. I went into full FBI mode, hoping to find some hints that the dream was real. From what I could see, it was not. But the damage was done. I was shook.



The dream stayed with me for a week, and I tried to ignore it. But my stomach and heart were in knots. What if Sincere did move on? The avoidance began to take a physical toll on my body. It was as though my heart was overriding my pride. Finally, one night, crying on the bathroom floor, I admitted the truth out loud: I still loved him, still wanted him, and I hated myself that I did. In my mind, I thought that if I cut contact. Block him from my life. The feelings, the dreams, the memories of him would go away. But emotions don't quite work like that- I knew I had to talk to him. After seven years, I couldn't just walk away, still questioning everything that happened. My heart wouldn’t allow me to go out like that. I had to get some form of closure. So I reached out.


His response was unexpected. I thought he could be mad. Nasty or distant. But he was warm, calm, and welcoming. He reminded me right away why I loved him so much. He also reminded me that I blocked him and asked him to leave me alone. Sincere informed me that he was respecting my boundaries. Which I quickly followed up with, why now?



He asked me if we could meet in person. I thought about it all for about an hour. Before saying YEA... Our talk turned into dinner with lots of wine and a walk in the park. During our discussion, we learned just how much each other had grown over the last three months. For so much of our relationship, we were each other safety blankets. Thinking back on it, I feel like that’s why it happened. To pull us out of this cycle of co-dependency. To give each other a chance to be there for ourselves. To see the other person and how much growth has taken place over our seven years together. We both understood our relationship's demise, and at the end of the night, either of us wanted to say goodbye. So we didn't.


I wanted him back. I wanted us back. But time had passed. The decision has been made, and I had to face the consequences. Our lives had moved on in our time apart. I wanted so badly for this fairy tale ending. But I know now that life isn't a fairy tale, and that’s ok. My heart got answers to unanswered questions. I put to rest so many demons that haunted me at night. But most importantly, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that what I had experienced was love. Real love. Life-altering messy love. We both came out as different people. Better people, and for that, I couldn't be mad. Especially when I think about my parents.



They were each other first serious relationship. My parents met in their twenties. Like Sincere and I, they went through similar struggles. But unlike us, they came out with two children. (Just like Sincere parents) They were in love. Crazy in love. But my Father fucked up. He got another woman pregnant. While my Mom was pregnant, and that was one betrayal, she could not and would not get over. She refused to live with the constant reminder of the betrayal. She couldn't change the fact that she had kids with this man. But she could protect her heart, and that she did. After my Dad, there were faceless men until she met my Step-Dad. But even that wasn't exactly a fairy tale.


I’m learning that love is not something you can think through. It’s not something that can be calculated or controlled. You can only experience it, and Nip said it best: “You can’t possess people; you can only experience them.” People, much like love, is messy and complicated. Our society is quick to say what you "shouldn't" put up with without digging beyond the surface. You can easily look at my Dad and say that he’s trash. But I now see that he didn’t know any better. He was caught up in a generational family pattern. See, my Grand Father did the same thing to my Grand Mother. The only difference is that my Mom never shot my Dad.



My Grand-Dad went on to live. But Granny didn’t stay around to wait. She fled to Detroit with kids in tow, and that's how my family migrated to the North. This complicated chaos tornado of love was baked into my family DNA, Causing a string of failed marriages, abusive relationships, and outside babies. In Watchmen, they showed how generational trauma could get passed down to us whether we are aware of our roots or not. Angela turned out to be exactly like her Grandfather, and she never met him a day in her life. Fiction or not. Whether you want to believe it or not, generational patterns and karmic connections are real.


Energy doesn’t die; it is recycled. Meaning the issues, obstacles, and shortcomings that our parents (or even grandparents) refuse to address will eventually get passed down to us. Is that to say that Sincere and I are not responsible for the demise of our relationship? No. But it does mean the shit we struggled within our relationships and even within ourselves was not ours alone. But it is on us to do better and break the curse.


I don't know what the future will hold for Sincere and me. Or with me and any man, for that matter. But what I do know is, I will not build a cage around my heart or attempt to mold people into who I want them to be. My days of forcing a relationship are behind me. I’m also not going to be like the “Old Am” and drive myself crazy wondering when love will find me. For the first time in my life, I'm just focused on myself and truly learning to stand on my own.


I'm getting clear on who I am and what I want out of life. In return, I know I will attract the people who are meant for me. Besides, I know that God can’t bless who I’m pretending to be! What stuck with me most about the fallout with Sincere was that I was willing to throw everything away because of my pride. I was trying to convince myself that our relationship was a lie. To make myself feel better.



It made me wonder how many other women struggle with this problem. How many women are comforting themselves with lies? Or building walls around their hearts and stopping themselves from truly experiencing love? I made a vow to myself that I will never be that girl. I would much rather live a life full of "oh well's" than "damn I wish." I refuse to live my life based on family patterns, bad habits, expectations, or calculations. I saw that movie one too many times- and it never ends well!



-AM



JOURNAL PROMPT:

  • What are your expectations about dating and love?

  • What is your parent's attitude towards love and relationships?

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