Chapter 27: You Can't Make Homes Out of People


“you can't make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love."
-Warsan Shire 


For the past two years, I’ve had to deal with the dissolution of a relationship right before my birthday. I’m not quite sure what kind of message God is trying to send me, but I’m hoping this doesn’t become a growing trend. This year was particularly hard for me because I experienced some serious heartbreak. Despite being cautious with my emotions and guarding my heart, I was still deeply hurt. The kind of hurt where your girls have to come to your apartment and literally hold you as you bawl your eyes out and feel the anguish of abandonment and disillusion. Heartbreak hurts in a way that physical pain has yet to rival (in my experience at least). This aint my first heartbreak, but it doesn't hurt any less than the first time when I was 19. It’s one thing when you’re in a relationship that you’ve come to realize isn’t for you. When it ends, it still hurts, you still feel sad, you may even shed a tear or two, but there's a sense of peace when you've let go of something that you knew deep down wasn't for you.  It’s a whole other thing when you feel like you’re secure with someone, and you feel confident that the relationship has promise, only to then  have that all dissipate...and out of nowhere. It was tortuous.

My ego was bruised, and my feelings were hurt. It literally felt like someone had kicked me in my gut and was forcing me to stand up, only to kick me down again. It felt like that for an entire week after that dreadful Sunday night when he drove to my apartment to bring me my birthday gift and end things with me. I had a job interview the very next day and I was a total emotional mess because it literally came out of nowhere. And I’m one of those people who's extremely self-aware, and really good at reading cues, sensing a shift, and paying attention to red flags. But this...this  was one of those things where he made a decision out of nowhere, and went forward with it (he even admitted this). I was completely blindsided, and it was all the more frustrating because every time I checked in to make sure we were on the same page, he constantly reassured me and assuaged my doubts. But here I was, sitting in his car listening to him babble about needing a sign from God and not wanting to string me along. It took you 8 months to realize you were unsure, sir? Ok....

Naturally, I started trying to make "sense" of his actions. I started backtracking, trying to think if I missed any signs or hints that he had reservations about us or wasn't happy-- nothing. Just a week prior to the breakup, we spent the entire day together. It was a beautiful day, one I'll probably never forget. It was simple, chill, but memorable. We had brunch together in Harlem at a cute, new spot I discovered and wanted to try out. Then he drove me to one of his favorite cafes in Brooklyn (he knew I had a thing for quaint cafes). We spent the entire afternoon/evening studying, which then lead to a very deep conversation about faith, love, relationships, and marriage. We sipped lattes, laughed, debated, and looked up scriptures to back up our opinions, and just enjoyed the breath of fresh air we were to each other. I remember keenly, after explaining my need for a man truly devoted to God more than anything else, he looked me deep in my eyes and said, "wow, you are really something special." How did we go from that blissful moment, and many others in our 8 months of dating, to him handing me my birthday gift three weeks too soon in his car, telling me everything was great but that he needed a sign from God to continue dating me?

I chalked it up to the stress of medical school and him prepping for the board exams. I mean, honestly, I could come up with a few plausible reasons for why he did what he did. I  could even entertain the idea of him coming back around (because they usually do), but the bottom line is...he left. He made a conscious decision that he was ok with me not being in his life, and that speaks volumes. Despite 8 great months (no drama, no major arguments), despite him saying how difficult it was for him to end things, despite him describing me as the "most honorable and virtuous woman" he's ever dated, he still left. And  anyone who is ok with walking out of your life is not someone you need to spend too much time mourning over. And quite frankly, I am so sick and tired of men being able to acknowledge how great I am, and talk about how "virtuous" I am, compared to other women they've dated, only to turn around and treat me just like all the other women they've dated. Those compliments no longer move me. I don't care to be better than the last woman. If you can acknowledge how great and amazing and virtuous I am, and still treat me like i'm none of those things, then you're the issue. I don't need an ego boost. I need a man who knows what he wants and needs, and knows what to do when he's finally encountered it. Dassit.

Heartbreak sucks, but it's also extremely sobering and revealing. I pushed through that week and even in broken pieces, I did great on my interview. I got the job...puffy eyes and all. After I got through the interview, I called in sick on my job the next day so I could take a moment to deal with all my emotions and not lose my mind at work. Everywhere in Harlem I walked reminded me of him. Passing restaurants we frequented made me burst into was rough. I went to three different coffee shops that day trying to study, but I couldn't focus and I couldn't stop crying, so I went home to pray. I prayed, and bawled, and prayed and bawled some more. Eventually God brought me face to face with myself. He made me realize how false the sense of security in man can be, how fickle man can be, but how consistent His love is for me. He made me realize that I was allowing romance to distract me from the greater things He has in store for me . He wasn't telling me no to romance, but that I needed to refocus and realign myself with His purpose for my life. Despite the hurt and sadness I was consumed by, the following things became clear to me as I spoke with God:

  1. This is my season of self-investment
  2. This is my season of dedication to ministry
  3. This is my season of travel 
  4. This is my season of learning to truly fall in love with myself
  5. This is my season of learning to say no to things that don't serve my best interest.

Finally, this is my year of learning that love is elusive, so you can't make homes out of people. I'm learning that I must be brave and vulnerable enough to love freely, but more importantly, I must love myself enough to freely let it go if it chooses to walk away. I recently put an end to communication with Mr. "I didn't get a sign from God". We initially discussed maintaining a friendship (because you know men are always open to that), and he certainly was trying to keep communication flowing, but I had to stop it for my own peace of mind.  It's been difficult, but as much as I care for him, wish nothing but the best for him, and will continue to pray for him, he doesn't deserve open communication with me. As my girl and guy friends have expressed to me, he doesn't get to drop me and still enjoy the dopeness that is Ashlee Wisdom. He doesn't deserve my encouragement, he doesn't deserve the interesting and intellectually stimulating conversations I can hold, he doesn't deserve the enjoyment of my sense of humor or my passion for politics and social justice, he doesn't deserve any of those things. When he handed me that birthday gift (a watch to remind me of the 8 months of my time that he wasted, I guess?) he forfeited his privilege of enjoying and benefiting from the characteristics that make me who I am. He gave me 8 great months, yes, but in one night he gave me one of my greatest lessons in romance: never trust what a man says until it matches exactly what he does. Even if he's a so-called "good guy". This is new to me...Learning to move on from love that felt so good, and so right, but hurt me so bad. It's all good though, because i'm learning not to make homes out of men. I'm learning not to get too comfortable with false security, and i'm learning how to let go when holding on feels good but isn't serving me.




"the year of letting go, of understanding loss. grace. of the word ‘no’ and also being able to say ‘you are not kind’. the year of humanity/humility. when the whole world couldn’t get out of bed. everyone i’ve met this year, says the same thing ‘you are so easy to be around, how do you do that?’. the year i broke open and dug out all the rot with own hands. the year i learnt small talk. and how to smile at strangers. the year i understood that i am my best when i reach out and ask ‘do you want to be my friend?’. the year of sugar, everywhere. softness. sweetness. honey honey. the year of being alone, and learning how much i like it. the year of hugging people i don’t know, because i want to know them. the year i made peace and love, right here."--Warsan Shire