She was late, as usual, and like a jackass, I’d dressed and arrived early. After all this time, I still was made to wait on her. I wanted this to be quick and easy.
Why did I say yes to this?
Oh yeah, that’s right. She needed closure. She needed closure. Funny how what I needed never mattered.
I tapped my finger against the glass of unsweetened, iced-tea that sat in front of me in our once favorite restaurant. Was she trying to be funny by suggesting Copeland’s? I knew what she was doing, but I refused to let the nostalgia borrow a moment of my present time. My foot joined in on the rhythm that my finger tapped as my regret grew stronger.
“May I get you more tea?” The waitress asked. She’d never told me her name. I glanced at her name tag.
“I’m okay for now, Sharon,” I replied.
“Okay, just let me know if you need anything.”
A map to all your emergency exits. “I will. Thanks.”
She gave a friendly smile then speed-walked off like they all do when there are less people serving than eating. I pulled my phone from my open purse that sat in a vacant chair beside me. I needed to stop leaving my purse open for somebody to rob my ass blind. She was twenty-minutes late now.
“To hell with this, I’m leaving.” I dropped my phone back into my purse and reached for my wallet to pay for my watered down iced-tea. It was only 7:21 pm. I could still catch an early movie or something. I didn’t get all dressed up in my heels and skinny jeans for nothing.
“Melanie?” she said.
I knew that voice. Hated that voice. Used to love that voice. The sound of it saying my name didn’t have the same effect that it used to. I spun around, taking a deep breath as I did so.
She still looked the same: average height like me, chocolate, and beautiful. I hated that. She smiled and leaned down to kiss my cheek as if we were old friends.
Get your lying lips off me.
“Hi Mel, natural looks good on you,” she said, admiring my blonde-tipped afro.
“Lost track of time?” I asked.
“Of course not, I wanted to look really good for you.”
She took a seat across from me and the server rushed over with some menus—sprite for her, more tea for me, one seafood platter, and two martinis. She did the ordering.
“You still remember what I eat,” I stated.
“I never tried to forget.”
Was she seriously trying to charm me? Her vague email typed across my mind like an opening line as I stared at her:
It’s been a long time. I miss you. I should have written this sooner, but I didn’t have the courage. I need some closure. Copeland’s? Seven? You know the date. Say yes.
I’d been trying to forget the date for years. Twenty-six. The twenty-sixth of every month was our day. It was the date we’d first me. The date she’d admitted her feelings. The date we’d made it official, kissed, and made love. Not all in the same month.
“Tell me something good,” she said and leaned back.
Melanie, don’t play her game. You’re thirty years old.
I took a deep breath, sipped my tea, and made eye contact. In my calmest tone I said, “Let’s cut the shit, okay? What do you want?”
The silly smirk she wore faded. “I needed to see you.”
“After how many years? And how many women?” I asked.
“Why can’t anything ever just be simple with you?”
“For whatever reason you can’t ever be straight forward. Do you need some money? Some temporary affection?” I pushed.
“Why are you being like this with me? I know I did some things to you, but I come in peace. I’m picking up the check, so let’s just have some drinks and some laughs,” Erin said.
I’d laugh all right. She was the joke. There was nothing comical about our old union. I was serious, I wanted her, I wanted us, and every minute of my wanting, she played me. I snickered and shook my head as I gave in to the bad memories.
“What do I have to do you make you enjoy this night?” she asked.
“You want me to make a list?”
“If it will make you feel better.”
“It won’t. Erin, you are clueless. Why do you do this every few years. Just pop up like everything is peaches and cream? And before you answer, really think about why you can’t just leave me alone. We both know you got closure long ago.”
She tucked her hands into her pockets and for once she looked like she was having a thought and not acting on that stupid impulse that caused more trouble than thrills between us. Suddenly, she couldn’t look at me anymore. She began chewing on her bottom lip and before she could open her mouth, she was saved by the food delivery.
“Can we get some extra tartar?” she asked the server, still trying to impress me.
She knew I was an extra girl: extra cheese, extra ranch, extra everything that tasted good to my buds. I refused to let her in. I’d dated this girl when I was nineteen, her seventeen. I was her high school sweetheart and she was my young love, my second, first.
“What is it that you want from me, Melanie?” she said, breaking off a piece of catfish and stuffing it into her mouth.
“For you to tell me one honest thing. Before this life is over, I just want one truth from you.”
“Just one?” she asked with a raised brow.
She swiped her hands together several times as if she had dust on them then rubbed them against her jeans. That was a pet peeve of mine. Napkins weren’t just for decoration.
“I feel guilty. I pop up because I feel guilty. That’s my truth,” Erin admitted.
“Guilty for what? You’ve done what you done and I’m over it,” I replied.
“Are you really?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” I asked.
“Because just like me, you can never say no. How many times have I invited you here? There is never demurral, you just show up. It may not be for the same reason as me, but there is something. You wanted one truth and there it is. I feel guilty and I believe you want me to fix it. You want me to make everything I did to you right.”
If there was one thing that I hated, it was somebody telling me they knew more about me than they actually did. Not a word she said was true about my acceptance of her invitation, but one thing was for sure. This had to end.
“I really don’t think you should flatter yourself. What you did to me, I made right with myself. You cheated and you lied and neither of those things had anything to do with me and everything to do with your character. I sat there for days on end, staring in the mirror, trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Was I ugly? Was I too dark? Too—”
“Let me finish. You’ve interrupted me for years. Interrupted my time, my life, my true loving… you don’t get to stop me now. I answered all of my own questions, teardrop after teardrop. I came to the conclusion, that you, Erin Davis, are weak. Only the strong know how to love and appreciate. Only the strong know how to be faithful. Strong people accept the challenges that tribulation in love brings. Cowards run, they lie, and they cheat. Any excuse to get away from what they can’t really handle. I should have never questioned if I was too ugly for you. You are the ugly one and it’s sad that you can’t even see it. You feel guilty because I’m the one mirror that you can’t look into and the one you can’t break.” I waved my hand for the serve to come over. “All we ever were was six years of a cheap thrill, two people going through hard times that needed somebody. I should have known that I’d leave with exactly what I came with. I built you up and you tore me down.” The server stood beside our table. “Sharon, may I have one to-go box for my seafood platter and one for her guilt.”
“So, that’s it. You tell me off and you leave?”
“Yes. My wife likes her seafood fresh. You got the bill, right? Enjoy the rest of your closure."
©2017 Christiana Harrell
I’m starting to realize that my unhealthy boundaries are also in some of my “friendships.” I use that term lightly, because in all honesty all I have are a bunch of associates. A bunch of people who are in my pockets, my inbox, and my text but have no real part of my life. They don’t call to see how I am or what I might need. They call on me to suck up my energy and dim my light with their sob stories, begging, and gossip. Yes, I understand that life gets hard, but at the same time we have to check ourselves to make sure that we have done all we could on our own before we burden other people.
When I sit and analyze the people I know by name, I may count one or two as a friend, someone that I would be able to depend on if necessary. I thought I’d learned the friend lesson years ago, but for some reason I just keep on falling into this loop of disappointment.
I’m done now because I’ve flipped the switch in me that doesn’t give a flying fuck who may need what from me. If you were a fan of Vampire Diaries, like myself, one would say I’ve switched off my humanity. I don’t owe anyone my time, my space, my conversation, or anything of me that may drain me.
My actual best friend told me that she sleeps with her phone on silent and I’m thinking about doing the same. After ten, there will be just me and my bed. Hell, maybe nine because I’m old and I like my rest.
It took me a while to realize that the people in my life think it’s okay to call on me whenever necessary. It’s because I’m the giver of all things. I hate to see other people suffer so I will give of myself until they are at peace. I take on others people’s issues as if they are my own.
I can make a list of all the things that I need back, but I won’t because I’ve released it into the universe and gotten it back tenfold.
I challenge you to do the same. Go through every contact in your phone and ask would this person give me the shirt off of their back if I needed it? Could I call them to pay a bill? Could I call them for a ride if I was stranded on the side of the road? Could I live with this person if ever my shelter were in jeopardy?
I promise you that your view of each person individually will change. People don’t do enough but require so much.
So today I did some deleting and blocking of people that are honestly just a waste of space and I made my personal pages private. They can support my business if it’s real. I’m still sitting with the idea of changing my number. Soon though, soon.
I want to be in fellowship with like minds and energy. Nothing less. Iron sharpens iron.
My biggest dating mistake has been staying in places with people I no longer trusted. I pride myself on my high tolerance for bullshit, but believe me it’s nothing to be proud of. It’s something that I’m trying to unpack and toss out. First thing first is never ever committing myself to someone who I can’t or don’t trust.
I’m probably going to be alone a long time, because right now I only trust three people.
But I’m okay with it because my loyalty is unmatched. I think there has only been two people in my dating life that didn’t make me side-eye them. My first girlfriend and my first love—two different people.
I can remember the moment in all my serious relationships where I should have had more respect for myself and walked away. They showed me they were capable of deceit and it should have been enough. I should have left the Pisces that told me everybody cheats. I should have left the Aries that paraded her teammate around as her friend, only to later be exposed as her side chick with the love letters that I found. I should have left the Pisces that had naked pics of his “associate” saved in his phone. I should have left the Cancer that could disappear for days at a time and then pop up like nothing ever happened. I should have left the Taurus who didn’t bother to tell me she was dating and in love with someone else until after weeks of us talking. I definitely shouldn’t have married her either. Lastly, I should have left the Scorpio that could leave me at home alone, get drunk, make out with someone else, come home the next day, but gets upset when I move out.
I’m always willing to give people second chances. Why? Because I’m human and imperfect and if it were me, I’d want one. The problem with the chances that I hand out like Oprah is that I didn’t have healthy boundaries. I don’t say what I won’t tolerate soon enough. Shit has to hit the fan before I draw a line.
It stops here.
Don’t believe me? Ask the woman that I walked out on last month just making general statements that made me uncomfortable. Wasted money on a plane ticket and all, but I don’t care because you can’t put a price on peace. You can’t put a price on respect.
I’m no longer interested in lovers that only dedicate themselves to me partially. If I say a certain friend makes me uncomfortable and they ignore me, I’m out. If I don’t trust their friendship or the history, I’m out. If they are friends with someone who doesn’t care for me or has spoken ill of me, I’m out. It says a lot about them as a person and I take full notice.
I’m also not interested in anyone who wants to date me secretly (got several of those right now). Those types have other women or people they don’t want to upset and I’m not here for it. Now if you just like keeping things quiet until you know it’s real, that’s different. I just refuse to be strung along by anybody else. It is my job and my job alone to protect myself from unnecessary pain and disappointment.
People want to be in a relationship with me but don’t want the responsibility, so they can do what they want without me. Act single. Be single. I’m learning to respect myself more than what I’ve allowed. I also realized that my forgiveness is owed to no one. It truly is just for me. I’m forgiving myself everyday.
I need to be able to fully trust my lover when I’m not around. Total trust is love to me. I don’t like who I am without it. I’m paranoid, jealous for no reason, and downright crazy. Trust is more important than anything in my mind. Everything else can be worked on and out.
Trust is non-negotiable.
Is it worth rebuilding trust with certain people? That, I’m not sure of just yet. I’ll let you know at the end of my journey of cutting motherfuckas off and healing some unattended wounds. I’m trying to learn to trust myself again, because my romantic choices have left me in a place of extreme caution.
Here is where I am. I trust people to be exactly what they have shown me.
I’m all about myself for the next year or two. I think I’ve already said this, but I’m going to keep saying it or I’ll fall back into old patterns and behaviors. I saw this meme (above) and it got me thinking about the way that I love people.
My pain is quiet, but my love is loud.
There are all these studies and articles online that try to make you believe that if you share your life and relationship then it means that you are unhappy. The way I see it, we can’t win, no matter what. If you share your drama then people assume you need attention. If I’m going to share something then it will always be me at my best. I love seeing wedding photos, new jobs, and new babies. I clap for the good in the world. I mean, just like everybody else, I will sit and read all 353 comments on a dramatic post, but I keep that same energy for the good shit. I don’t care it’s it 353 comments saying congrats. I want to see it.
No matter who I’ve dated I’ve always put them at the center of my world. I show them off to my friends and family--only on social medial, because only the very special ones get to meet the fam in person. There isn’t a single person that doesn't know that this is my person, the person I hope to keep forever. Well… not my person person. I’m still waiting to figure out who that may be.
I like longevity.
I want longevity.
I need longevity.
Unfortunately, I haven't met anyone that mirrors my love. They are either silent, secretive, or wait for me to make a first move when it comes to sharing how I feel. I’m done doing that. I was sitting around the other day and an ex from damn near a decade ago hit me up to tell me that she still has not met anyone that loved her the way that I did. Her words made me realize that I need to be more selfish with the love I’ve been giving away, while receiving less than half of it back.
It’s why I’m exhausted now.
I’m exhausted because I love, love. I love how it feels. I love being in it. I love how it fuels me. I love making someone else happy. I love building them up. I love doing life with them, no matter how small the moment, I want them to be a part it. I’m going to die alone so I want to live in amazing company. I love being loyal to them, because to me they are receiving an exclusive gift--my love.
Yeah, I’m going to be selfish for awhile.
My guard is up too high anyway. This is the first time in my life where I feel that I’ve lost my ability to give my all. So this chapter of my life is called rejuvenation. I want to be me again, loving fearlessly and effortlessly. I’m purging all the toxic shit I’ve picked up from people who used my love to heal themselves, while I was left with nothing.
This time when I’m ready and I jump back in, I’m going to pay attention, because if the love doesn't mirror mine, I don't want it. My time is valuable. My heart is fragile.
She better write me love letters, give me back rubs, make me her woman crush Wednesday, shout she gives a damn to the world, and beta read my books then critique them. I better be her first and only choice. If she has to think about it, then I’m not the one. She better like doing corny shit, because I’m corny and I don’t care. I need to be challenged. I want to learn from my love, so she has to be smart. She better like spending time with me because it’s my love language. Well one of them. My special ass had a split between quality time and physical touch, so yeah, she better touch me. A lot. Otherwise, I don’t want her. I want to like her friends and her family and hope that they are all a reflection of one another in love and light. Dear God, please let her love money, but not be consumed in it, because I want a business partner, a woman who can inspire my art and make it with me. She gots-ta fuck me good and then make me tacos. “Ima clean up.” I said that in my best Yvette from Baby Boy impersonation voice. I know...she was the one that made the tacos. I’m always the cook in my relationship, so things need to changed. I want all that I offer. I’ve raised my standards and my prices, because I’ve given away too much and received way too little.
It better feel real.
It better be real.
It better be loud.
It better be safe.
It better be solid.
It better be secure.
It better be inspirational.
It better be equal.
The romantic part of my heart is in a box right now until it’s safe to take it out and put it back in my chest.
Never settle. What you want isn’t too much.