Reflection # 6: The Abandoned Home

I neglected myself for him…

I literally left everything I knew for love. Let me be the first to say, “OPERATING IN DESPERATION MODE IS NOT LOVE!” The painting stopped. The work ethic tarnished. Eating habits destroyed. The meditation went dormant. My mom used to call me her “Iron Fist in a Lace Glove”, unfortunately all that was left of this beautiful lace glove was something empty, unraveling and hanging limp. I know I’m talking to someone out there…Hellooooooo??? All of the things that defined Chloé somehow went missing. I was having an identity CRISIS!

So what was left of me? Is this really what love is?

Alice Walker wrote the classic, “The Temple of My Familiar”, (this awesome body of work is the sequel to The Color Purple). Back then Chloe’s life’s theme could’ve been called, “The Temple of My Unfamiliar.” This body, my temple, my house, my sacred place of peace had become barren. I POURED MYSELF INTO A RELATIONSHIP THAT WOULD NEVER COMPLETE ME, IN FACT IT WAS DEPLETING ME… It left me empty, hurting and even ashamed because deep down inside I knew better (Destiny’s Child sang, “My Mama Taught Me Better Than That!” that’s right, keep singing the rest of the song no matter how cliché, BE A SURVIVOR!)

So here is my big sister/mommy moment of the day:

Do not ever rob yourself of the beauty and bliss that was created in you. You are indeed unique, one of a kind. Like a freshly cut diamond, there is no other quite like you. Let me remind you that there is nothing ordinary about you, you are a miracle, one of the wonders of the world. Think about that… Allow no situation or person to diminish that. How? Start by just taking a moment to look in the mirror and say, “What’s Up (insert your name)?” Your mental health, physical well-being and emotional balance are your priority. The uneasiness experienced when you feel yourself slipping away is the warning sign to get back to what you know…get back into your home…that place that was created for you to nurture. Please hear me when I say…NEVER LET YOURSELF GO.

Some of my fondest childhood memories were by the ocean. I found myself in the ocean. Her movement paralleled my freedom. No clear direction but the rhythm never stopped. I sailed, scuba dived and swam back into my paradise. I NEVER DROWNED.

My eyes tear as I write this because I know how it feels to be lost within yourself not knowing how to return to your “safe house.” It is not the end. I promise you this. Pick up that paintbrush, that pen, that mic, that recipe book, that sewing machine…all of the tools that set you free. These natural skill sets usher you away from your pain so that you can think clearly again.

Take this moment and own it….

~Chloé~

(Photo via Donnie Nunley)

Reflection # 5: My Euphoric Temporary Insanity

Some people say falling in love is a temporary insanity. It has an ethereal quality to it that makes us feel dazed.

I lost touch with reality…and it felt so good.

We all know that ethereal feeling, almost like floating on a cloud, like a feather, you’re weightless. Everything feels right and sounds right. The world seems so perfect! Talking on the phone all night. How lovely. Literally hanging on to every word he said-if he said it, it was the gospel. His smile is so cute and his muscles flexin’ in his tees and all these girls sweating him and his family really loves you and blah, blah, blah yeah we love that stuff in the midst don’t we?

“He” was the subject and main idea of most of my paragraphs. And those love songs, oh the love songs; “Boy You Got Me under a Spell, Drunk In Love etc., etc., etc.) Dang those songs those movies were written just for me…and my FANTASY.

What is it that puts us on this lovely high? Why do we literally lose touch with the reality that stares us in the eyes all in the name of love? These questions I pose but the answer is within you…

Reality for me… For starters, I wish somebody (anybody!!!) had told me to check out that “woozy ethereal feeling.” I can’t say for sure that I would have listened, but it is certainly worth mentioning to you that we need to pull the word “ETHER” out of “ETHREAL.” Ether is a pleasant-smelling, colorless liquid used as an anesthetic that is highly flammable. An interesting parallel to love…

IF THE TRUTH BE TOLD, WE WANT TO STAY ON THAT NATURAL HIGH. 
Why wouldn’t we? Falling in love feels wonderful but in the center of it all we tend to lose track of reality then things fall apart and it is not all “his” fault. There was a bitter sweetness of reality that I willingly avoided. Coming down to Earth meant that I would have to see that we were not perfect…we were not perfect for each other and simply could not be.

I was happy in my high; I didn’t want to see without my rose tinted glasses so I created my own euphoric world around him that made no sense, not even to me…

Sobriety for me… Establishing the difference between falling in love (which is temporary) and being in love (which is lasting).

Sobriety for me… Becoming very conscious of my needs and wants and facing the truth about them not being.

The high just wasn’t worth it…

~Chloe~

Reflection # 4: I Prayed For You More Than I Prayed For Myself…

I’m hoping you find yourself in this post, I hope it takes you back to or away from a place you’ll never go again…I’m happy that I had to dig deep to reflect upon my experiences of Codependency, what I mean is that this issue is more a part of my past but vivid enough in my memory to say never again… As females, it is in our genetic makeup to be nurturers but when I think about it, isn’t the concept of nurturing meant for babies and children? I was guilty, oh so guilty of taking responsibility for somebody else’s actions when in reality (REALITY IS FIERCE) I had nothing to do with it. In reality nobody actually asked me to make HIS BURDEN, my burden in the first place. I CHOSE IT. I CHOSE IT. I CHOSE IT. Know that we choose it. It wasn’t MY STORY yet I made it my story, my everything; hook, line and sinker…I remember the feeling…. His adversaries became my adversaries. His disappointments literally would spoil my day. Why??? Compassion is one thing; know that codependency is quite the other.

My heart is heavy as I reflect on the times I yearned for the love that I thoughtlessly gave…going into the pages of our past can be hard but cleansing to the soul when we see how far we have come. It’s a journey but it’s going to be alright, I speak from experience.

If he could just get everything that his heart desired then it would be my turn…Right? Then he would be that man for me that I so desired…Right?

I just have to wait…be that ride or die…be there for him…put my goals to the side for his…make him my number one as I became his number 2…3…4…wait…this doesn’t feel right.

Codependency for me was not seeing me because all I saw was him…

After years of my life I had to look in the mirror to see Chloé. Alone…

I looked like an abandoned princess. Size 0 with a bright smile to hide the pain of feeling like I lost it all. Dressed to a tee for the world to see when I really didn’t want to get out of bed to see the light of day. Focusing all of my intelligence, gifts and talents on how to make him happy. Putting my heart into everything I did down to making the cutest cupcakes. Handing him the keys to my car. (Bye Felecia!) Being a nurturer, being a fixer, taking his burdens with a smile while he became prince charming in someone else’s arms.

I’ve learned that sometimes words don’t teach like experiences do…but words can usher you to new experiences if you just listen…

~Chloé~

 

Reflection # 3: My Survival Kit Had Everything But You

It seems as if this little girl has always been on the run…doing things and going places. My mother made a fieldtrip out of virtually everything. 

At 13-years-old I left my small town every weekend to attend the first African-American finishing school, Ophelia DeVore, in the Empire State Building. My mom says that as soon as the car left the Lincoln Tunnel my eyes lit up and were glued to the Manhattan skyline. The energy was magnetic and it always seemed to call my name. 

I found safety in what most people would find intimidating…exploring places I have never seen thus expanding my horizons.  There was an allure in the idea of me against the world…I never felt incomplete, empty or lonely. Although I had not had my first kiss, I was traveling across the country by myself and in those moments…I was free and in control. 

Falling in love can be a delicious temporary insanity, you can lose track of who you are and the path that you were on. Instead of listening to the voices of wisdom inside you, you are hypnotized by the melody of the Pied Piper. If you are not listening carefully, the tune changes to that of despair but then consciousness returns. You doubt yourself, you don’t feel pretty, you wonder what’s wrong with you, but that little voice that says, “I will survive,” gets louder to the point that you have no choice but to let it lead you to your survival kit.  Mine was in the form of travel…you might find yours in opening up a business or reconnecting with your family…embrace the challenge. 

I return to a familiar place of peace and bliss when I explore. I am thankful for that old school song that my mother used to sing, “gotta get away, gotta do it now, gotta walk into the sun, ha, ha.” (Check out those lyrics, they are powerful) 

Beyond the idea of travel, my survival kit meant separating myself from anything or anyone that hurt me thus my theme; your survival kit has everything it needs, starting with you. 

~Chloe~

Reflection # 2: Me-Him = Undefined

Upon reflection (a phrase you will hear often in this blog), I can laugh out loud because maybe I should have punched that “bougie wine connoisseur” who introduced us right in the face. The attraction was there, he was friendly, smart and most of all made me feel at home in a new environment. I did not realize the void inside that relentlessly demanded companionship to make me feel complete. I never took the time to get to know myself. Who was Chloé? Perhaps Chloé could have navigated this environment alone without giving into the loneliness that comes when sheltered girls leave their small town world. 

Therefore, a subtle dependency occurs but you could have never convinced me of that. I was stubborn and determined to establish a relationship that was quickly erasing me. I started to make grown up decisions ‘with my grown self’ that Miss Chloé surely was not ready for. 

I began to withdraw from my social life, center my activities around his schedule, and deny myself everything I deserved as a young college student. I became “wifed” without the honor of having a husband or the commitment of a boyfriend. 

Part of my healing comes with taking responsibility of my actions. 

I wanted this. We often do challenge our better judgment for the hope and sometimes pipedreams of perfection. 

In relationships two halves do not a make a whole. Two complete people make one whole union. 

Me-He=Me

~Chloé~

Finding Me Before He: Reflection # 1

Reflection #1: The flaw I saw but didn’t have the courage to erase

Wait…did I just seriously let him talk me into thinking titles were unjustifiable?

I remember giving myself a title of honor. I was missing my two front teeth when I boldly stood in front of my preschool class and announced that my fellow classmates could no longer call me Chloé, I was now to be addressed as ‘Miss Chloé.’ It’s amazing that at 4-years old, I understood the honor due to me than as a college student who was in the process of compromising her standards in the name of love. 

Titles. What are titles? 

The Oxford dictionary defines ‘titles’ as a name that describes someone’s position. 

Whether spoken or unspoken we all have a title-position and place in the eyes of another. Be it mother, lover, jump-off or friend, the position is clear. Therefore, the real question is that of being real. Who am I and what do I really mean to you? 

Sometimes listening to your heart can speak much louder than his words. The problem lies in that we quiet the voice of truth in our hearts in exchange for desires that we think spell H-A-P-P-I-N-E-S-S. Deep down inside it erodes our confidence and diminishes our greatness.

Drunk in love or sober truths? 

The truth behind titles being unjustified just might equate to the lack of straight up commitment. 

Take a step back. Make sure that the script you are reading is your own. I admit, I accepted the ridiculousness of being untitled until I reached within myself and found Miss Chloé.  

~Chloé~

Welcome to “Finding Me Before He”

This series will be a Safe Haven for anyone who has felt that they lost themselves in a relationship. Some of us just lose ourselves to love like an outer body experience. You literally feel that everything you’ve ever believed that defines you just left. Emptiness… After the relationship ends, you realize, you got lost and you’re not quite sure how to find that person you once knew. Where is the map? 

I want to create an environment where you won’t feel ashamed… A safe place of healing with the realization that people do get hurt from relationships yet the focus is all about the recovery-making that comeback…  How will you comeback? 

This is not a “guy bashing” series! I believe that everyone needs and deserves someone… We are humans with souls-not cold, our hearts beat to the tempo of life and its abundance. Our blood still flows warm, rushing with emotions that drive us to a place.  Yes we do have feelings, desires. We need love…

My blog, my vessel of love to you will take you through the stages that I faced after my passionate, insane, twisted relationships in college came to an end. People often think of college love and relationships as mere “puppy love” but what many of us do not realize is that your first love in most cases significantly impacts and determines how you interact in all of your future relationships. 

Life happens. Bitter and sweet, I’ve been there… Yet after seeing my recovery and absolute refusal to let myself go, many of my friends and family asked me, How did you get over it?  How did you stop yourself from falling? How are you still able to love? I didn’t like feeling like MY STORY, my ups and downs were out there on Front Street for everybody to see but in retrospect I see the good. It seemed like the more I tried to disappear, “Go Ghost”, the more visible I became and drew people to me.  Wow… I didn’t realize how much my story inspired so many loved ones and strangers. At first, I was afraid to open up, I felt ashamed that “Miss Chloé, The Perfectionist” actually had a weak link. How would I be judged? I then realized that me helping another woman was more important than my own ego. I began to tell share my journey (both geographical and emotional) to help them on their path to finding the ultimate love of their lives… Themselves.  

The key to my recovery was not getting over it. I got through the breakup for it is a process that built my character and encouraged my faith. I took the good and the bad from relationships and then found Me…The Me Before He.

There is so much wisdom gained in a struggle.  James Baldwin even alluded to the beauty in a struggle, I can attest to this persuasion because you never, never give up. 

I learned so much about myself after relationships came to an end in my life.  I have given myself the permission to reflect and say to my past, “Thank-you.”  Those pages of my story still have an imprint on my life to this day but has not left a stain on my heart… 

Forgiveness for you…but I say never forget. Every trial has a purpose and a lesson-plan. Those lessons are meant to teach you… I believe my purpose at this place in time is to help you understand that this isn’t the end for you. Not so! It is truly the beginning of the improved you… 

How? I’ve learned that there is a beauty in transparency… like sparkling water it can be cleansing for the soul… I am Chloe Howard and in the spirit of love, kindness and wellness I am willing to share with you some of the most vulnerable stages of my life. I am okay with it, for I realize that this thing (my purpose) is so much bigger than me…

Like many of you, upon reflection, there were many dark times for me, sad times, seasons of naivety but joyful times as well. Joyful experiences sometimes carry isolated episodes of euphoric delusion that suppresses a multitude of warning signs that say “No” or “Go” or “Stop”.  Nevertheless, every question, worry, every tear, thought and fear that I had I will share with you along with every motivation and lesson learned. Because this work is my passion and prayer, I am confident that our mindset and heart of hearts will align and then you will see, you were never alone…

I might not know you personally but as a friend I will go turn back the pages of my experience to give you clarity. Perhaps you will see yourself.  Then I will show you how I left the past…explored the world while finding myself…  

There are just a couple of things that you must promise me when entering my Safe Haven; there will be no regrets, no shame, no fear and no hate… Just forgiveness, forward thinking, openness and honesty.

With these promises I will hold your hand and guide you in creating your own map to find “The Me Before He”….

~Chloe~