Familiar Hurt

by: Victoria Sharpe

Denise is ambitious, funny, educated, and confident. She’s experienced enough pain, yet her smile still brightens a room. Her energy is contagious, her soul is pure, and her spirit is magnetic. She sets a goal and attacks it purposefully. Just like the time she landed her bomb ass career-making six figures, got a house built from the ground up, and purchased her dream car all by the age of 32. Throughout her journey, she’s been fortunate to have those people to do life with, like her tribe, who keeps her grounded and holds her accountable. Sis is blessed, and she knows it.

But even on her most memorable occasions and while celebrating her most significant accomplishments, she doesn’t experience the happiness she wishes to feel. Instead, she feels lonely even when she’s surrounded by love, and no matter what, she can’t shake it. Denise longs for a life partner, a lover, a friend, a companion, a soulmate. Her biggest fear is being alone and continuing the generational cycle of single and divorced women in her family. In no way, shape, or form does she believe a man completes a woman, but she is aware that every woman in her family has the same story, and there is a reason. Besides that, she wants what she wants, and she desires to be loved and adored. As a powerful woman, she could easily manifest the man God has designed for her, but every time her ex-boyfriend Nick hits her up, she eagerly responds. Denise and Nick were together years ago. He’s the sole tie she can’t seem to break -- her kryptonite.

She continues to allow him back into her life after he’s shown her time and time again that she’s only an option. She’s chosen on the days it benefits him. And out of 31 days in a month, Nick contacts her at least twice, which is strictly for sex. Then he goes ghost. Denise then has to do all of her self healing rituals. These include church, morning devotionals, candlelit baths, “I deserve better quotes,” intense workouts and yoga, and conversations with her tribe where she convinces herself that she doesn’t care; she’s a savage. She’s in it for the same reason as Nick is in it for - sex. Good thing she doesn’t surround herself with “yes men,” so the condoning of her behavior rarely happens. Her best friend reminds her that he cheated, made her think she was the problem, got with the same girl he cheated on her with, and anytime he’s on bad terms with the girl he played her for, he hits her up….and lies so much that he even believes his lies. Which consists of but isn’t limited to, “We’re just friends. It’s complicated. If I knew what I know now, I would have chosen you”…..blah blah blah.

The self-healing rituals contribute to her getting back in alignment until she makes the same mistake, monthly. At this point, that’s insanity -- doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Denise complicates the journey she’s on to become the woman she’s destined to be. Every time she lies down with him, she takes two steps backward.

It’s the second time this month that Nick’s contacted her. She doesn’t question and lets him come over. He brings the Patron and weed because, of course, he never comes empty-handed. He wants the right time that they always have. After some shots, a few puffs, and small talk, they get right to it. He doesn’t try to connect, avoiding her eyes, refraining from caressing her; he’s there for one reason and one reason only. On the other hand, Denise aims to please with hopes that this time will make Nick choose her. Maybe she can blow his mind, and he’ll suddenly see her worth.

He leaves at 3:30 am, claiming he has to go into work early, although he works a typical 9-5.

Denise did it again; she tried to sex her way into love.

The next morning, she breaks down. She requests a session with her therapist, who agrees to see her right away.

“Why do I keep doing this to myself?” Denise cries as she sits across from her therapist. “I know I deserve better, yet I keep settling for this with him.”

“During our last session, you described the type of man you wanted to manifest. Can you describe him to me again, Denise?”

“A man who chooses me over and over again. A man who loves himself and others. A man with a giving heart and a welcoming spirit. A man who respects the spiritual world. A family-oriented man. A man that I trust who, in return, trusts me. A man who leads protects, and provides. A man with integrity. A man who I can grow and build with.” Denise explains everything necessary for her partner to be.

“That sounds like a good man. Now describe yourself to me.” Her therapist prompts.

“I’m a woman who loves deeply, I don’t judge others, I work hard, I love God, I’m giving, I’m supportive, and I have standards.”

“How would you describe standards?” Her therapist asks.

Denise shifts uncomfortably. “It’s a level of quality.”

“It’s also an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations. You asked, 'why do I keep doing this to myself?' Because this is your standard. You are doing what you know and what’s familiar. Familiar hurt is difficult to let go of. You’re not ready to let go of the familiar because you’re in survival mode. You’ve seen this behavior all your life, and you promised yourself long ago that you wouldn’t be like the women you grew up around.”

“I’m not like anyone. This is just my situation because I love Nick,” Denise responds defensively.

“This is learned behavior. Denise, you grew up around strong women who got the job done. They kept the bills paid and food on the table. They were providers. Nothing is wrong with any of this, except that they desired a loving, healthy relationship but allowed that one guy or multiple to show face occasionally. On the outside, they had it all together. But behind closed doors, they didn’t hide their hurt and loneliness from you. You knew your mom was sad whenever she played Mary J. Blige. You knew your mom was sad over the occasional guy that came over when she closed her bedroom door for hours. You noticed the difference in your mom’s mood when the occasional guy decided to show up. She was a little chippier, a little kinder, and a little more affectionate. This is familiar territory for you.”


Victoria Sharpe is a storyteller from Detroit, MI, who now resides in Los Angeles, CA. Victoria has written, and executive produced an award-winning two-season drama web series “Carter and Cody,” short films (which you can watch here: Carter and Cody on Youtube) as well as numerous stage plays. In addition to telling stories, Victoria is passionate about empowering women.