Return to Sender and Why Breakups Aren’t Failures

I self-published Return to Sender October 2018, but the book took a few years of collecting and reflecting the emotions from my first serious relationship. It follows me and at my most vulnerable points.

Return to Sender and Why Breakups Aren't Failures

There was purpose in the organization of the poems as the book reads like a story. It starts in the heat of my relationship with someone else where everything is going great and then slowly journeys into the flaws and faults of a relationship where I gave more of myself than I had.

Lastly, the journey ends with me falling in love again but this time with myself. The self-awareness at the end allowed me to take some fault for the failed relationship as I got the love I allowed myself to have. You are only what you accept you are. This awareness was key into why my relationship wasn’t going to work regardless of who hurt who.

Here’s a bit of a behind the scenes journey through the process of this book.

What’s up with the title?

The relationship ended via email. Crazy, huh? It was a lot of back and forth on and off situationship turmoil for about six-ish/seven years. I figured if it ended in an email, why not call the poems along the way letters? At times I reflect and I’m all, I wish I could’ve just packed all those emotions and sent them back to where the hell they came from. During the rocky moments there was a lot of “Let’s just be friends” from his part and the last time it happened I put my foot down rejecting that offer as it wouldn’t lead to closure.

Why did I write Return to Sender?

Honestly, it was mostly for closure but as I shared my poems with everyone else people were like, “I’ve been there.” I want people to know that heartbreak is absolutely supposed to hurt and it will for some time but it’s not the end of the world. Live in that hurt, make some art, and laugh until you find it funny. It’s going to hurt like hell but a newer improved, hopefully not jaded you is coming when you get through what could possibly be the worst time of a person’s life. It was also good for reflection as this was my first serious relationship and it wasn’t an emotionally healthy one and that’s why it had to fail.

What did Return to Sender teach me?

It taught me maturity. I developed a sense of who I am as a person and what my expectations from myself and my partner are in a healthy relationship. It also taught me to stop borrowing love from myself to give to others because I can’t pour from an empty cup. It took me 30 years to learn that I need to stop breaking myself to fix others. It’s hard but no one is perfect.

Return to Sender and Why Breakups Aren't Failures

Why did I stay so long?

My first relationship started in high school. I thought high school sweethearts are supposed to work out because they do in all the romantic comedies. Oh! But they do not have to. Just because it didn’t work out didn’t mean I failed. It meant I learned something. That took me a while to swallow that pill. I kept saying, “oh, I can fix this.” Sometimes it’s okay to say, “just leave it broken.”

What’s my favorite poem in the book?

Yesterday’s Poem as the repetition was fun to try. Each stanza starts with a word from the end of the last. I never did anything like that and it gave the poem a bit more power.

What’s my least favorite poem in the book?

Hang Up, as it was straight to the point and one of the last additions. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep it but sometimes straight to the point is good.

Are you and your ex still friends?

There is no closure when your relationship ends via email. So, no. After that email, I un-friended him some years ago and I don’t miss being baited into the drama. There’s nothing more expensive than my peace.

What was the hardest part of writing the book?

The hardest part was sharing it because poetry is a vulnerable experience. As an optimist, letting other people in and seeing that other side of me is hard as I like to paint pictures and fix everything but there is no toolbox big enough for life. I have to accept that there will be messes that will not be cleaned up. I’m okay with that. Every time I read the book though I cringe because reliving it makes me go, “who is this person and why is she like this?” I’m coming to terms with actually doing readings as I know the words are powerful when I read my own work. This vulnerability allows people to see me for who I am and it’s okay especially if it’s helping someone not be alone.

What relationship advice would I give a person?

I think a healthy relationship involves two people who complement each other. Having separate lives is super cool but complement each other’s love languages and roll with it. It’s important to pick one another up but my value shouldn’t change depending on who I am in a relationship with, that’s how I overdrafted my self-love account trying to build someone else up.

Also, don’t publish a book about a past relationship until you’re absolutely ready. You’ll know when you’re ready.

How has this book helped my relationships?

It helped my relationship with myself because I have expectations for myself. I know what to accept and what to decline. I also understand not to compare my last relationship to newer ones not just because it was unhealthy but it’s super unfair and unrealistic. It’s also taught me to be vocal and level headed. People are not mind readers and no one can know how I’m feeling unless I tell them. I also can’t control how someone reacts to my feelings. Life is not a romantic comedy. Sometimes it’s not even a comedy or romantic.

Return to Sender and Why Breakups Aren't Failures

What’s next writing wise?

Return to Sender and Why Breakups Aren't Failures

I do write other stories under various pen names but my next poetry book is American Hurt. It’s a reflection of America’s faults past and present. I wrote it in two days and it touches on capitalism, healthcare, environmental greed, corporate greed, politics, racism, and vanity. It’s available October 2019 (the anniversary of Return to Sender) on Amazon.

Am I worried about the criticism?

Absolutely, not! I’m 30 and I’m a black woman in America. I feel like I earned the right to be opinionated.

Check out Return to Sender on Amazon. Let me know your favorite poem if you already have it.

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