July 24, 2020, was a normal day. I woke up, went to the gym to work on this thigh meat, shopped for engagement rings and got dumped.
He and I met in 2019 after a long season of underemployment, near eviction, and wondering where my next meal was coming from. I had scoured the innanet looking for an out—a way I could support myself without leasing my body out on OnlyFans. Finally, I landed a gig that could pay my bills on time…finally.
I took those first few paychecks to pay off all my outstanding debts to friends and family—credit cards were an after thought. After my debtors were taken care of, I decided to treat myself with an excursion out. I went to my favorite gay watering hole—since closed—planted myself in my favorite seat perfect for gay-watching, and there he was. Tall, dark, handsome, perfect beard, beautiful teeth. He was EVERYTHING TO ME.
What followed was a fairy tale courtship. I had asked his mother and siblings’ permission to ask him to be my boyfriend: he said yes. I had moved in with him. I bought a car, he upgraded me, I’d gotten a promotion on my job, moved into a larger place, and went back to school, all because of our relationship. But what started as a fairy tale quickly turned left.
We went through this season of unending argument. Every little thing I did irked him, and all his quirks were like nails on the preverbal chalkboard of our relationship. I was complaining all the time, to myself, to my friends, and worst of all, to him. But one day, while talking to myself in the shower, I got out and looked at my reflection. I gave mirror-Jai the kind of look you give when your big ma’ would say something like “You ain’t had nothing better to do.”
I had worked hard to find this man and realized that I was creating an environment in which the love I wanted could never thrive. I created at least 50% of the dark cloud we were living under. So I made the decision: before I give myself permission to complain about anything, I had to write 5 things I was absolutely grateful for.
The first couple days were tough. My gratitude was surface level—bullshit like he has a nice smile and cooks. But days of my new routine went by and, while my gratitude may not have grown to a tremendous depth, my complaining disappeared. I found myself searching, attending to, and putting energy toward my quest for gratitude. I was so grateful for our connection to where, on July 24, I decided to buy him a ring.
I had already laid the plans for a proposal. His best friend gave me a “been waiting on you at da doe” style reaction, while his mother was elated. My mother was happy, and my very African father finally saw grandchildren in his sights. I was grateful and everyone around our relationship was waiting on us with bated breath. Everyone, that is, except my partner.
While I had been journaling my gratitude, I found out that for weeks leading up to getting dumped, he had been secretly recording our arguments. He played them back in an effort to make sure he wasn’t “crazy”. By now, these arguments were weeks old. I had forgotten much of their content. But for him they were fresh and real–wounds that he’d never let heal.
I was spending my mornings trying to get closer to my mate while he was spending those same mornings dwelling on all the things that drew us apart. My relationship was doomed today for arguments we’d had 2-months prior–doomed before I had ever realized it.
So he dumped me. The day I shopped for the engagement ring is the day he told me he had lost interest and wanted nothing further to do with me. That night, I slept in the guest room…a room that had been converted to a sewing studio. So instead of laying in the bed that we made together, I slept for two days on an air mattress in my own home. I moved out on August 1, and took the next months crying myself into recompense.
What happened, the deeper sequence of events, changed me forever. The year since my break up taught me just as much about myself as the year we spent together.
As soon as my Facebook status changed from “in a relationship with…” to “single”, I got to re-hash old flings, dive deep into my own version of a hoe-phase and dig myself out with new lessons for my new season.
What resonated most with me was this quote that said “what God has for me will be for me, effortlessly.” Relationships are work, just as writing this blogpost is work. But what I know is that when you find that right stride, like when I found my voice in writing, everything flows. Relationship (verb) gets easier, production gets more seamless and your life with bae makes total sense.
Ex and I lost that sense of ease. I fought to be understood in our relationship and my ego, as much as his, sucked the oxygen out of our shared spaces. It got tough because, deep down inside, I didn’t feel like I mattered and, from that space, probably stopped making him feel like he mattered as well.
What I quickly learned is that I am more resilient than I could have imagined. In the year since, I’ve realized I lost myself, found him again, was reminded of my dopiness by a circle of the most lit friends a gay could ask for, dated, lost, been dumped, and realized that my ex did what he felt needed to be done.
I’m still a hopeless romantic. I, now more than ever, believe in love: it’s beauty and wonder, but also its disappointment, let down, and rebuilding. Love is what we make of it. Love is gratitude, but love is also anguish and loss. The blessing of love is the process of realizing it and the people with which you share it.