I’m Drea. A 22-year-old poet and entrepreneur from the Bronx. Life is pretty good right now, and business is thriving. My story is interesting. Getting here was not a straight and easy path. In fact, I’ve tripped more times than I can count. Sometimes I didn’t know if I truly possessed the strength or the desire to get back up. But each and every time, I did. I’ll share some of that rocky road with you today. Since it’s February-Black History Month, and the month that houses Valentine’s Day-I’ll share my black love story. I’ll call it, “Ode to Me.”
When I was around 16 years old I got out of my first ever relationship. The love that I shared with my partner couldn’t even be described as puppy love. It was really more of a mild “like” that we mutually decided was passable enough for us to become boyfriend and girlfriend. The reason? I had recently lost a shit-ton of baby weight following some swimming classes that my dad had me take. Those classes really had me shredded. My body looked more defined and womanly than ever before. There were curves where I wanted there to be curves, and I was nice and tight where I wanted to be too. So, I experienced an influx of romantic attention at
school. Boys who never noticed me before were sharing pleasantries and giving me the time of day in the hallway and in classes. This unfamiliar attention really sent my head in a tailspin and deluded my ability to think logically. So, I found myself in a relationship with a boy who was more attracted to my body than my mind. We stayed together for around a year and a half. A year and a half of mundane and pointless conversations. Of making out in his parent’s home. Of almost losing my virginity in said parent’s home. Of New York City train rides home with my body pressed against his in a tight subway car. Looking back, it was a young and premature
relationship that I spent too much time in. But, that’s what happens when we are young. We feel like we have time to waste, so that’s what we do. We waste it.
As I continued to live and really experience life, I realized that I have a tendency to spend too much time in lackluster or just straight up bad situations.
Following the previously mentioned premature relationship, I was single for about a week. What can I say? My body was still banging and the young men who I’d friend-zoned heard that I was available again. I had no idea about the importance of taking time to reflect and heal after a relationship. That was an unheard-of practice at the time, making it impossible for me to indulge. So, once this 6’0 ft, dark-skinned, white teethed, smart, and handsome young man started giving me the attention that I liked, we began dating.
That was easily one of the worst decisions that I’ve made to date. I had no clue that I would begin a tumultuous relationship with a master manipulator, cheater, and liar. I was too young to realize the red flags. The truth is he’d intentionally pursued me because I was fresh out of a relationship and naive. During my previous relationship, I hadn’t taken the time to learn myself as a young woman. I pretty much ate, breathed, and slept that relationship. It was a huge part of my identity. I had no idea who I was outside of being someone’s girl. I was extremely naive and socially stunted. Making me a perfect target
Toxic. The theme of that relationship was toxic. Even so, the relationship was rooted in friendship and love. For the sake of this retelling, I’ll name my ex-boyfriend Sam. I had known Sam since I was in middle school. He was one of the ‘cool’ basketball players and I was frequently found with my face in a book and surrounded by snacks. He never paid me any attention. Ever. I didn’t pay much attention to him either, though. I was pretty content with my books, snacks, and small friend group. What I do remember is that he was extremely charismatic. With teachers, students, lunch staff. He was able to charm most of the people around him. Some people are just gifted like that. Oh yeah, and he lived right up the block from me.
Years had passed, and at this time I’d experienced my impressive glow-up. I guess Sam noticed that I was thick and thin in all of the right places. So miraculously, Sam struck up a friendship with me. Our friendship began during my last relationship, but once I was single he became extremely persistent about me becoming his girlfriend. So I did.
During our friendship, I was charmed by his laid back charismatic demeanor. I was finally able to experience first-hand why people gravitated towards him. Sam had this way of making you feel like you were so special and gifted. He was able to tell the greatest stories with full emotion. His teeth were so bright and white that you never wanted to miss a smile. He was raised in the church, so naturally, he was also encouraging and a gentleman. You just wanted to believe anything and everything that he said. Even the lies. And there were many.
When I saw naked pictures of someone on his phone and he told me that they were old. After that, whenever I looked through his phone all of the pictures and messages were always erased. It was like I was looking through a brand new phone. When I asked why it was like that he said he liked to keep his phone ‘clear for storage.’ Nobody needs that much storage. He was obviously hiding something, but I was too young and naive to put the pieces together. The phone situation was mild compared to other situations, though.
Over the course of our relationship, I’d broken up with Sam many times. Once I realized that he was a habitual liar, I tried to end things. Then he would threaten to kill himself by saying he was unstable and I was the only thing keeping him from just jumping off of a bridge. He would cry and plead. He would blow up my phone with messages, calls, and voicemails. He would pop up at my house unexpectedly. Eventually, I would concede. We would stay in the relationship and we would continue this toxic cycle of arguing, making up, and then having sex. He knew how to keep me right where he wanted me. For 3 years. Truthfully, I think I wanted to be there too. I hadn’t reached my breaking point. I was getting close, though.
I’ll always remember the time when I was breaking up with him, and desperate to hold onto our relationship he lied that his uncle had been shot and that was why he was acting out of character. Because he was extremely broken up about the shooting of his uncle. I felt terrible and like I couldn’t leave him in his time of distress. So I didn’t break up with him or give him a hard time. I apologized and hugged him and comforted him the way he needed.
Later on, his mother called me, so I spoke to her about Sam and I expressed my grievances about her brother being shot. She met me with confusion, telling me that her brother was fine and they were just in the church that morning having a great time. I was appalled and disgusted.
Shortly after that, I broke up with him. For good. I eliminated all methods of contact. I threatened to call the cops and file for harassment if he kept on bothering me.
After that, I stayed single. For a while. I’d learned my lesson. It was uncomfortable at first. I lost a lot of weight after that breakup. It’s like when I left him, I also left my desire to eat. I was in a weird place for a while. I felt strange just being by myself. I was upset. I was confused. Eventually, though, I was at peace. For the first time in a long time. I didn’t have to entertain any drama. I didn’t have to entertain a boyfriend. I just had myself and my thoughts. It felt so good.
During that time, I started a blog dedicated to self-care. Self-care had become a lifeline. Journalling was my gospel. Music was my sanctuary. Solo hikes and strolls were my religion. Since I was free from distraction, I learned so many amazing things about myself. I discovered a love of songwriting, exercise, painting, and solitude. I healed myself. I really did it. I became so much better. Healthier. Happier. More whole. I still heal myself. Everyday. It’s necessary.
So now, I create products for women who are on their own journey of healing and growth. I make self-care packages for women who want to love themselves deeper. I make body and hair oils for women who want to close the door to negativity and open the door to self-love and pampering. I help others heal and in doing so, I heal myself. I love it.
What I’d like for you to take away from this is to love yourself first. Before loving someone else, make sure you love yourself 100%. Before you allow anyone else to love you, make sure you know what that looks like.
So date yourself. Figure yourself out.
Do you prefer introverted activities or extroverted activities?
What foods do you like to eat?
What movies do you like to watch?
What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?
What is your love language?
What characteristics does your ideal partner have?
Do you have good relationships with your family and friends?
Do you want to work on that?
Do you need therapy for any reason?
How is your mental, spiritual, and physical well-being?
Are you happy?
Are there any parts of yourself that you’d like to get back in touch with?
Would a romantic partner be in your best interest right now? Long-term or short-term?
What does your ideal relationship look like?
Are you interested in a monogamous relationship? Polyamorous? Open?
What are your goals?
What can you do to achieve these goals?
Who can you depend on?
Where do you see yourself in 6 months?
The questions that you could ask yourself are endless. The point is that you need to get to know yourself wholly. Analyze your whole self. Be completely honest with yourself. It may be painful, joyful, enlightening, sobering, or a combination of everything. The process will be cathartic and it will help you grow. You will develop a level of self-love that you will want to protect and cherish above all else. So start now if you haven’t done so already. I suggest you fall so passionately in love with yourself that you attract someone who will do the exact same thing. They will fall passionately in love with you and they will respect you because you set that tone amongst yourself. This will happen when the time is right. Do not let society convince you that you need
to have a significant other tomorrow. Do not rush into relationships. Take your time. Make sure it’s right. Pray about it. Meditate about it. Write about it. Sleep on it. Make sure you take your time and maintain a level of self-love and self-awareness when you make important decisions about the next steps in your life. Remember, it is healthy to make the conscious decision to remain single until you are positive that you’ve met the right person. As long as you love yourself, you’re really not missing out on anything.
I know February has been notorious for making us feel like we need to be in a relationship, or married, or with children. I hate that. Let’s end all of that. Let’s make February notorious for encouraging us to reflect, heal, grow, and most importantly love ourselves. Let’s embrace ourselves and embark on a journey of self-love and self-discovery. You’ll be amazed at the treasures that you already possess.
Andrea Augustus, fondly known as Poetic Black Gurl is a young artist and entrepreneur from New York. Andrea is a doula and small business owner. Poetic Black Gurl is the name of her company. Poetic Black Gurl is dedicated to curating thoughtful self-care packages and products that inspire women to love themselves. You can check her out on Instagram @poeticblackgurl or https://www.poeticblackgurl.com.