This was no ordinary Wednesday night! This was the night me and my girl Amanda were going to go salsa dancing! Although, I have over 10 years of dance training, I can say that Salsa is a dance I'm still trying to master, and I was ready to learn. I love to dance and will shut any wedding, event, party down until my friends and I are the last ones on the dance floor... until the DJ starts packing up. It had been a while since I've shaken it like a polaroid picture, so you know I was geeked.
I put on a fresh-faced makeup look (for selfies), and comfortable clothes and heels, which I regretted 5 minutes into dancing when my calves caught fire. Ultimately, I was preparing for a workout. My look that night was for comfort, dancing gets hot, and sweating in your cute clothes is not the business!! Besides who was I really going to run into? Noooooobodyyy (in my best Keith Sweat voice).
I was feeling good with my comfy-cute look as I walked into the venue with Amanda. We quickly stepped out of the Michigan cold, walked inside, and patiently sat down waiting for open dance to get started. I definitely should've participated in that lesson offered before open salsa, because what I thought I knew about salsa vs. what I actually know... well, I'll leave that comedy for another blog. So, I'm watching the instructor call out steps for the class participants, when out of the corner of my eye I see someone who I once knew... at least he looked familiar. There's only one person I know who wears page boy hats like it's a fitted. I slowly turn my back to the door, and face Amanda with this pained look on my face, and she immediately can tell that something is wrong. The individual, who I instinctively was trying to avoid, was someone that I would have gladly accepted never seeing again a day in my life. Unfortunately, for me I was not afforded that great opportunity. Want to hear a story? Heeeeere it go!
Let me turn back the hands of time for you and give you some context from 3 years ago. It was the Monday after 4th of July weekend in 2014 when I found myself crying on my way to work, because this guy I realllllllly liked pretty much kicked me to the curb when I told him I was not about to be his back pocket chick that would entertain him, and his indecisive - noncommittal butt. "But, Ashleigh! You're a counselor, you tell people all the time not to fall into the trap". I know, I know... I could sense God showing me the trap signs early on, but you know, YOLO! Clearly, that good common sense and impeccable judge of character skill I once had was misplaced at that moment in my life. To be honest, I was struggling with being single. I thought I was ready to put myself back out there and begin dating again after a little over a year of just doing me.
I met him on Match.com, that should have been red-flag numero uno. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with online dating, I have several friends in successful relationships and marriages as a result of finding their love online. However, this was something I never wanted to do. I forced myself to do it because I didn't think God was moving fast enough for me, sooo... you know, I was just trying to help him out by casting the net wider. What really happened was that I was more concerned with being in a relationship, than being in a relationship with God. But, I digress. So, I'm on match for less than 48 hours when he reaches out to me, we have a lot in common, or so I thought, we went on a few dates and he was a really nice guy. I liked him.
He looked great on paper, he was 6 years older than me, and he wasn't someone I would normally go for, but he was attractive. He had a good job, he went to my alma mater, he was taller than 6 feet, had a serious side that matched my silly side, and a quirky nerdiness about him that pulled me in. However, he suffered from what my friends and I like to call "Educated Black Man Syndrome", a smart and educated black man who believes he is a "hot commodity", a gift to all women. Sir, what was I...boo boo the fool? The pickings may have been slim in my city, but I wasn't going to be one of those girls who was enamored by doing what a grown man should be doing in life... but back to the story. He had some family baggage that caused him to be emotionally dull, but that didn't matter! I'm a licensed counselor, we all have flaws. I was just going to take things slow, accept him for who he was, and be that patient-beautiful black woman that would soften his heart. I was going to show him how amazing I was *toots horn* and how it felt to have a great woman by his side.
We started to go on more frequent dates. We talked every day, but as the months went by and I began to like him more, I didn't feel any closer to him. He wouldn't open up. He didn't tell me much about his family, it seemed like we would only hang out when he had free time, and inquiring about what he wanted out of a relationship was like pulling big impacted molars (things you say when your sister is a dentist). Seems like clear red flags, right?! Ha! Of course not! Those were green lights that I pretended to see in order to convince myself that his potential was worth the struggle. I would lie to myself and say he just needed more time, but God was showing me his reality, I chose to overlook it. Over a period of 9 months (yes...you read that right) I began to learn that he was one of those men that no matter who he dated that woman would never be good enough.
I would never be thin enough, or pretty enough for him, not when this world was full of beautiful women that he pick and date, pick and date again, but never actually choose one. I believe that's why at 36, he was still single and had never been in love... well one of the reasons at least. There were a lot of layers to his onion. Despite his flaws, and his inability to care for me the way I wanted him to, I also saw that he was trying, sort of. He made attempts to show he cared about me a little bit. Nothing consistent, but just enough to keep me around for 9 months. He was in the military and had training in another state. So, out of those 9 months, we really only had a good 3 of them that weren't long distance. My besties could see what I couldn't. They told me was damaged goods, but I saw something good in the making. They were right!
Long story short, that holiday weekend I told him how I felt. I wasn't going to wait a year for him to figure out what he wanted. He said that our conversation ruined any possibility of quality time for us to spend together the rest of the weekend. When he told me that it boggled my mind a little. Nine months and he was still looking for the spark that would make this whole thing make sense to him. Oh, and did I mention that he told me all of this in an email 3 days after I told him how I felt. He didn't have the courage to say it to my face before he left to go back to training, and didn't have decency to call me.
I was mad, and I was hurt. I was hurt because I really liked him. Usually, when I like someone they like me back. He didn't like all of me, just pieces of me. I was hurt because after 9 months, even though he knew I wanted to be exclusive, he was selfish enough to keep me around, and I obliged. He knew dag on well his feelings weren't mutual! My mom was right when she told me a man knows what he wants. He thought I was going to wait a whole year for him to get back from training to see if we could be something more. Excuse my language, but to hell with all of that! Nope, that wasn't going to work for me and he knew it. I deserved better, and I knew my God is not a god of confusion. He might have looked good on paper, and I'm not saying he was a bad person, but looking good and being good are not synonymous. He just wasn't meant for me. I was mad because I knew that around month 3, but I didn't listen to my gut, b.k.a the Holy Spirit.
I was mad because I counsel people on how to have healthy relationships, and couldn't get my own life together. God had been telling me for months, but I didn't listen. I knew it wasn't right, because it felt like being with him was like trying to put a puzzle together, but none of the pieces fit. It was frustrating! God allowed me to get fed up! I wasn't married to this man, I didn't love him... I loved the idea of him. Although it hurt at the time, I'm so glad I went through that experience because it showed me what type of relationship I didn't want. I learned how I don't want to feel when I'm with my significant other. I learned how to communicate even more effectively. At the very least, it made me a better counselor for my relationship clients.
Fast forward to Wednesday night. I see him first, and I immediately swivel my chair around so that my back was facing him. If you only knew how many times I thought about what I would do if I ever ran into him again. My daydreams always consisted of me running into him at a WholeFoods, don't ask me why, I shop at Kroger. I'm standing in the aisle waiting to checkout, I am the fittest I've ever been and maybe 3 months pregnant. He sees me from across the store and watches as a theeeeee cutest, curly haired, caramel-complected, bubbly toddler runs up to me and wraps her little arms around my leg. Then his eyes lift up to see a 6-foot man, with a muscular, athletic-build, carrying a few additional items, call out to me. "Hey sunshine, I got the vanilla almond milk. You and the kiddo can have it, I grabbed some 2% for me".
Needless to say that is now how it went down that night. He saw me from across the room, hair in a bun, edges getting poofy from sweating my butt off, and stumbling over my own feet as I struggle with my salsa moves. I have no ring, no husband, no kids, and I'm still working on my fitness, but you know what, I'm just as happy as I was in those daydreams.
Months after I cut ties with him, I thought about how much I wanted to move on from this and for him to see how happy I was without him. I wanted him to regret being a jerk. Years passed, I matured, and I never thought about him again until that night. At first I panicked, because this wasn't how I wanted him to see me. For a second I felt like I had failed, I wasn't where I thought I would be, where I wanted to be in life if he were to see me again. Then I snapped back to reality. It didn't matter what he thought of me now. I reminded myself that with him I never would have been chosen, and just his flavor for the month until he found another flavor he liked more or found more attractive. I had to do a little praise dance in my head to thank God from keeping me from someone I once wanted.
You know what, I may not have been looking like I did in my daydreams. My hair was in a messy bun because I've been working out, trying to be the fittest I've ever been. I wasn't wearing my cutest outfit because I was out having fun with my friend, not worried about who I might run into that night. I may not be at my goal weight...yet, but I'm extremely happy with my 2% milk-drinking accountability partner that keeps me motivated. So, this guy I once knew may never know that I'm happy living my life, and by the end of the night I was OK with that. I didn't have to prove him anything. As I was walking out to my car I saw him attempt to get a young lady's number, and I couldn't help but think how God can change your life in one moment.
We never said a word to each other that night. Aside from the initial shock I was completely #unbothered. It's not in me to settle for being someone's option. I was truly grateful to have had my ego and heart bruised by him, because without it I wouldn't be where I am and who I am today. I drove home blasting Beyonce's 'Best Thing I Never Had' in my car, because when I saw him as I walked to my car, that's exactly how I viewed him... as the best thing I never had. Thank God I found the 'good' in goodbye, because while he is busy playing with options, I'm over here planning with the one.