It started in 2010.
I call it my first "real experience" as an entrepreneur.
He and I were friends...OK, maybe a little more than friends and he made me feel as if I shared every aspect of his world.
I was in my early 30s and at the height of my creativity. I even toyed with the concept for the Gemini Moon Rising series, but they were still just concepts. For nearly three years, I plunged myself into someone else's business and got no ROI. I had no knowledge or experience with the industry and designed an eco-system that still stands as I type. I became a one woman show for a man who simply "OK'ed" an idea for it to move on to the next stage.
When I finally accepted writing as a profession and not a hobby, I couldn't write for myself. Why? I was too busy writing for his ass! I ran the online mag, created ALL the content, and managed the social media. When the hell was I writing for myself?
I knew by then I'd overstayed my welcome, so I skipped off into the sunset. Besides, what was I getting out of it? All that work and for what? Couldn't use it on my resume. Recruiters DGAF and any virtual footprint with my name on it disappeared because he "phased" it out.
Lesson: don't be boo-boo the fool trying to help someone else while you impale yourself.
Fast forward two years ago.
I ended up in a relationship with my first freelance client. We'd known each other for years. It's still vague how I got there but I was there.
A serial entrepreneur, he believed he had the juice to get my business off the ground, a business which I later rebranded. Our "dates" were filled with work and strategy talk, and minimal sex. Although helpful, when we worked it needed to be on HIS time. If I was not on HIS time, he'd then proceed to tear me down with words like "slacker," "lazy," "not hungry enough," and whatever condescending language he could conjure.
I became frustrated and did everything I could to avoid him and anything business related. I caught food poisoning five days before my birthday and he manipulated me into doing work. Real subtle. He'd ask for my opinion or approval or lay on me while I tried to sleep. Didn't matter that I had food poisoning. He was ready to work and he'd find a way or make one and ensure I did the same.
Tried to work on the sequel to A Tale of Two Spirits and I could get nothing done. Between him being a vulture about business and other relationship issues, I was empty and emotionally drained.
Sidenote: emotional abuse is real.
I'd stare at my laptop, look for the story in my head — and nothing. No words, not even a phrase. Nights I tried to work late, he'd complain and pressure me to come to bed. I'd ignore his rants, then he'd call my name and whine like a baby until I got annoyed enough to shut down and give in.
Months later, we had a huge blow-up and he ended the relationship. About a week later, I wrote the first half of my essay compilation Do You Know How To Be A Wife.
He's my first essay.
Toxic relationships kill creativity. Despite the amazing content you'll gain when in the thick of it, it seems as if creative liberation is a dream deferred. The time and location of when you attempt to create while they're away are insignificant. You rob yourself and die a slow creative death.
It's your intrinsic duty to create. It's not something you learn, it's who you are. When someone comes along and causes it to stifle, the effects can be detrimental. Had my business been up and running, I would've lost money. We agreed on nothing and he spent too much time highlighting what I didn't know, instead of showing me what I needed to know.
Don't play yourself beau.
Your relationships must be reciprocal. Just as much as you pour in and out, you must receive the same. When a man is not aligned with your purpose or, at the very least, accepts who you are and what you do, it simply won't work. The friction causes more damage and you end up unhappy regardless.
By no means am I against relationships for creatives. However, use your intuition. Trust the feeling in your gut and do everything in your power not to second guess yourself.
Honestly, I knew I should've walked away from both situations. Even further, they never should've happened in the first place. I allowed myself to believe that I could beef up my resume and get the guy. In reality, I wasted time and creative energy I could've used for myself.
Don't hold on to the asshole because you're lonely. It's pointless and you'll end up single anyway while your business suffers.
Treat yourself better than you treat everyone else, K?
The Free Spirit Pretty aka ShaVaughn Elle, the Erotic Mystic, is all about unicorns, sex, and spiritualism. She’s a witchy, literary architect who stirs together erotic romance, fantasy and supernatural to build stories that appeal to a readers six senses. Her focus is to show more women of color as lead characters and has published several books and short stories under the pseudonym, L.T. Robinson. When she’s not splashing mysticism on her own work, she manages literary projects through her consultancy, Indigo Ink Publications in partnership with Zen Publishing Company. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @shavaughnelle or @theauthorlt to drop her a line.