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21 more things = 42

The last post was the 21 things I KNOW at 42. At the end I said I'd consider writing 21 more things to make it 42 in total & then ...



"Relationships are just like photos; you must go through the negatives to develop."

I had to take my stuff back.

You know how when you’re in a relationship you give your whole self to the other person? You know how you try to grant them access to your innermost…everything? You know how when it ends you feel like you’re missing some key parts of yourself, like someone absconded with your prize possessions? Yeah…that. I’ve too often felt that.

It’s not a good feeling to wake up one day and feel like you were taken from yourself. It feels even worse the morning you wake up and realize that no one took anything from you; you gave it all up. Willingly. So, does that mean when things fall apart that we neglect to pick our stuff up on the way out the door?

My last relationship ended in a way that I’ll describe as amicable. The truth of the matter is there’s another word, other words, that best describes the split, but they won’t come to me at this moment. We made a surface concerted effort to continue to be kind to each other; we made a heart-felt but logic-free decision to remain as close to the friends we once were as possible. What I was left with was a false sense of hope (not of getting back together) and undeniable malaise. I learned that malice does not always come with forethought and the sting definitely lingers.

The farce is what got me. When I left, I left some of my things. It was just not important to get those items during the grab-n-go, and since I trusted my “friend,” I knew I could get those things anytime. We even discussed it once or twice. We were too comfortable. Now, I’ve just recently begun to [quietly] share my love of words and their meanings so bear with me as I break you off another vocab lesson.


1 a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint

2 consolation for grief and anxiety

My relationship had ended and I was in a state of mourning. I grieved with the pain of discovering that we were far more flawed than I knew, and much of what I knew wasn’t even real—or maybe just full of holes. My consolation prize was the privilege of still calling him my “friend,” which was the band-aid providing ease and the illusion of freedom from my pain. Our relationship was all wrong, not to discredit the good, and I was grateful to have been given an out before it seemed like it was too late. I still internalized it as a personal failure, which led to some really contradictory thoughts—how can I know I’m better off and still be mad about this?? This thinking left me stuck, giving him the right to hang onto my things, including the intangible.

One day it became imperative that I stop telling myself I’m OK and do the work to get to OK. “Close all doors,” said the voice in my head. But… “All of them,” the voice directed. What about the…? “And get yo’ shit back!!” Final word. In my mind I imagined this dramatic knock on the door and demanding my things. One thing in particular, a GINORMOUS Cup’O’Love that I’d made during our relationship, was running through a 1-shot slide show, on repeat. The cup became my mind’s symbol for our whole relationship, friendship included. I had another dramatic thought. I’d storm in, take that cup and drop it off the balcony and watch our love shatter into small pieces. It’d happened in real life, and I wanted the physical representation of what I’d felt. Then my rational mind woke up and took the wheel before my hurt emotional-self caused the whole team to crash and burn. Instead, I brought the cup home and put it on my coffee table. No need to destroy love. I just had to take it back and work on purification. My ability to love and trust is in the wash, not the wringer. I’ve put it there and when the cycle’s done I’ll hang it out to air dry. I control that.

I’ve gained my total separation. I’m working on peace of mind; which delivers a piece of my mind back to me. This time around, no one is keeping anything with or without my permission. I’m just glad I finally grew into the understanding that these pieces of me may not be taken care of the way I would have, and they do get returned worn around the edges some, but they do get returned whether it’s willingly or I have to track them down.

Another of those moments where I’ve come into my own power. I love when this happens. As a special young lady just realized, without the rain, flowers don’t grow. It’s hard because some days it feels like you just might drown before the storm lets up. Lucky for me, I’ve got a GINORMOUS Cup’O’Love to catch a good deal of that let down. I wrote a poem years ago about Taking Me For Myself. I guess this lesson continues to creep up and the faces continue to change.

I’m getting it. Slowly and steadily.

Watch me move.


  1. Beautiful sis! Reminds me of Ntozake Shange's piece from For Colored Girls. The lady in red starts off by announcing "Somebody just walked off with all of my stuff!". And ,like Ntozake, this resonates with me but then, your work always does.

  2. aww...you went & made me blush. & you know i'm light skint so it's crazy obvious. luckily, i'm without company. thank you, mama!! & that's a huge compliment i'm not sure i've earned the right to accept, but...i'll take it as fire under my ass. i got something to aspire to.