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  • laurennicobutler

The Journey To Unpack

Updated: Feb 16, 2019

“Bag Lady

You gone hurt yo back

Dragging all them bags

Like that”

That’s how a toxic relationship had me feeling mentally and physically. For two and a half years I gave my light to someone else. Dimmed it until it was almost non existent because he said he loved me.

As I reflect on my upbringing, I know two things to be true. Firstly, little Black girls need strong Black fathers. They’re supposed to be our first love; they're supposed set the bar for things we will and will not except from these young men. Second, little Black girls need strong Black mothers. To break generational cycles so that we don’t have carry that trauma. To teach us how to love ourselves a way no man ever can.

The women in my family had a thing for holding down toxic men. That was my earliest and, for years, my only example of love.

So at 22, when I should have been blossoming into my womanhood, I was stuck spinning in this cycle. I was in a toxic relationship that was everything except love. Being gaslighted to the point where I didn’t know what was real and when my mind was playing tricks on me. It was control, insecurity, pain, and manipulation. I was anxious, depressed, going through therapy and prescriptions. But my fear of being alone would not allow me to let him go.

I kept myself there. Fully aware, but in denial.

As a young girl, I remember seeing my mom distraught over a worthless man. I would ask her, "Mom, why are you so sad? This man is no good for you, for us." She looked at me and said “No one wants to grow old and die alone”.

And all I could think was, what about me?

“I guess nobody ever told you

All you gotta hold on to

Is you, is you, is you”

I couldn’t drink it away. I couldn’t smoke it away. I couldn’t sex it away. I couldn’t even talk it away with my therapist. My true healing did not begin until I accepted the fact that I could not place blame on the man for what I went through. He could only do to me what I allowed--what I accepted out of fear. Yet, there is something so damn powerful about facing your truth. No matter how ugly or uncomfortable it is. I realize I had been hurting so bad because my intuition knew better than to do what my emotions kept wanting me to do.

We know. We always know. Whether we want to face reality is entirely up to us (unless we’re confronted with violence or death first, which is really fucking real).

“I bet you love could make it better.”

But I emerged. Not because I was tired, I had BEEN tired. Not because I didn’t love this man, because stupidly I did. I emerged because I began to love MYSELF more than I loved him. I began to feel so powerful. So in control. I promised myself never to relinquish that to any other person again.

Today, I am genuinely and authentically happy to the core of my being. I’m happy because I know that there is someone that loves me unconditionally--me. The peace I found in this area of my life has spilled over to all other aspects. I can’t think of one thing that can steal my joy away.

I don’t regret having been in a toxic relationship because I learned many lessons and finally feel like I’m the woman I was meant to be. It was hard discovering her at first, I was lost. But she was always waiting for me, with all the love I could have ever hoped for.