It’s Not Okay DAY 1. 12:45 P.M. My Life Is Officially Over
My life is officially over! Seriously, I’m not exaggerating. It really is O-V-E-R. I feel absolutely mortified, infuriatingly pissed, and pathetically distraught. To sum it up, I am nothing less than the superstar of my own major shitshow. And to make matters even worse, this entire debacle is all over—drumroll, please—a boy. Yup, a freaking boy, who just twelve hours ago was the “man” I was engaged to marry. All because I had let him sweep me off my feet as I fell madly in love with him in the short time frame of only eight weeks. And now he’s just another freaking boy, one who has left me utterly heartbroken.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I’m not supposed to be like this. Not after a breakup! It isn’t as if this is my first failed relationship. Hell, I’ve had twenty-five in the past year alone, and that’s not even including this one. Damn, saying that number aloud makes me cringe inside. Twenty-five, hold up, now twenty-six breakups in a year has got to be some sort of a record, right? If only we got consolation prizes for our breakups, perhaps a new pair of fabulous shoes. Then at least we could drown away our sorrows on the floor of a shoe closet worthy of Carrie Bradshaw, all the while knowing that each breakup came with three to five inches of pep-in-our-step leg-skinnifying stiletto pleasure. But no, life isn’t that fair. At least not in my world. All I’m left with is a slew of practice breakups, which should have prepared me for this epic one. However, as I sit here crying and drowning my sorrows with a bottle of rosé (I’ll switch to red once the sun goes down), a pen, and this diary, even through a haze of Grenache it is crystal clear that nothing could have ever prepared me for this. Yeah, this one’s gonna hurt.
Fuck! How did I even end up here?
Obviously I know the technical answer to that—it doesn’t take a genius to understand that in order to get to number twenty-six, you’ve got to start with number one (not to be confused with “the One”). And of all the ways I could have met a man, somehow my way was on a reality television show. I wish I could say I’m joking, but I’m embarrassingly serious.
Where do I even begin? I guess to make a long story short, this new chapter of dating on television began for me late one chilly September night in the great state of California after I’d been flown cross-country from Atlanta to Los Angeles, where I was promptly put up in an undisclosed hotel and stripped of my phone and any other form of communication with the outside world. Seventy-two painfully boring hours later, it was finally time to meet Number One, whom I knew little about except that he had won the romantic lottery by being chosen to date thirty “lucky” women, all handpicked just for him. A single father with Latin heritage, he was a former athlete and looking for love. And so was I.
The night had finally come. Doused with half a bottle of hair spray, my wavy locks had the texture of straw as I slipped into the slinky floor-length Halston Heritage gown I had purchased only days ago from the clearance rack at Loehmann’s. I had been impatiently waiting for hours, passing the time with several reapplications of mascara and blush, when finally a producer came to my door and ushered me down in the elevator, through the hotel lobby, and into a waiting stretch limousine. Already inside were four other women, also dressed in floor-length gowns and also ready to meet Number One. I took a seat against the window and observed each woman. One had a pillow shoved in the midsection of her dress resembling a baby bump, which I found quite ballsy and slightly uncomfortable given that Number One was a single father. Another woman wore a sequined gown with a plunging neckline, while another wouldn’t stop bragging in a high-pitched screech that she was wearing cowboy boots underneath her black gown, which had a conveniently placed cutout revealing her lower-back tattoo. The fourth woman—the only normal one, in my opinion—wore her hair in a sophisticated chignon that complemented her soft skin, which resembled that of a porcelain doll. A producer hopped into the limo along with a cameraman, and just like that, we were off and on our way to the circus!
A short drive later, the limo was parked in the cobblestone driveway of an enormous Spanish-style mansion, with Number One standing amid bright lights in front of a large fountain adorned with colorful flowers. With a dozen cameras positioned at various heights and angles, he waited as one by one, each of the four other women exited the vehicle and greeted him. Each engaged in a short conversation before sashaying around the fountain and entering the arched wooden front doors of the mansion. When it was my turn, I stepped out of the limo and began what felt like the longest ten-foot walk of my life. The moment I laid eyes on Number One, I was infatuated. His satisfactorily tall athletic build, blond hair, and expensive suit that fit snugly in all the right areas (if you know what I mean) had me both nervous and intrigued. A quick introduction later, with a grin, I too sashayed around the fountain and entered the mansion.
The setup was simple: If I survived the first night, I along with the other survivors would move into this mansion and begin “dating” Number One, who got to go on three dates a week with the women of his choosing; two of those would be private solo dates, while the third would be a “group date.” Each week, Number One got to eliminate a select number of women until it was finally down to one who, if all went according to plan, he loved enough to propose to, and the two of them would ride off into the sunset together and live happily ever after. Oh, and all of this while cameras rolled, capturing our every move.
After surviving the first night—which really ended at sunrise the next day—I began what would be a seven-week romance with Number One. Each week brought a new round of dates and with it a new destination, and of course, new drama. Week after week, I found myself on these dreaded “group dates,” where I’d sit back and watch the majority of the women flaunt their assets, play damsel in distress, and take every opportunity to one-up each other. Luckily, each woman also got a little private time on these dates. At first I longed for these moments where I’d get to flirt and make out without the prying eyes of the other women, but week after week, as I continued to be bypassed for a solo date, I found the conversation becoming more and more dull. Nonetheless, week after week I stayed, partially in anticipation of getting a solo date, which I hoped would ignite a romance between us, partially because I was traveling the world for free—but mainly because I was just so damn attracted to him. Boring conversations aside, let’s be honest, nothing makes a woman want a good-looking man more than other women wanting him too; it’s the basic law of human attraction. His position of power created an aura around him that made him attractive enough to justify turning a blind eye to the painfully boring conversations I endured for weeks.
Fast-forward seven weeks, twenty-seven eliminated women later, thousands of miles traveled to incredible countries like South Korea, Vietnam, and New Zealand, and a hometown visit in which I had introduced Number One to my family, who were less than impressed, and I was still in the “competition” along with two other women. Our worldwide journey had brought us to our final destination, St. Lucia, and with just two weeks until the end, this week of dating was far different from the others: It was finally time to take part in what the show dubbed the “fantasy suite dates.” This was the moment when I’d get to spend the night with Number One without the prying eyes of cameras or producers. This was the moment where sparks would finally be ignited.
Ha! Yeah, right. Unless if by sparks you mean he blasted Ray Jay and R. Kelly all night long and showed me dozens of videos of his old soccer highlights on YouTube. There was no getting to know me, no romance, and there was most definitely no fantasy involved in the evening. All there was was the realization that I was nothing more than a pretty object he had no intentions of liking, let alone loving, and thus no amount of free travel was enticing enough to stay any longer. In fact, I couldn’t wait for morning to come so I could hightail it out of the room, say goodbye to this journey, and go back home to Atlanta.
The following morning, when I tried to explain the disappointment of the night, his disinterest in anything but himself became even more apparent. Delusional, like most men, he insisted everything was just peachy fucking keen, and all he would say, no matter how hard I tried to explain my point of view, was, “It’s okay.”
Throughout the show he’d used this phrase so many times and in so many serious moments with each and every woman that it had gone from a running joke to a disrespectful annoyance. It was as if those two little words were Number One’s way of saying, “I just don’t care.” And now, here he was doing the same thing to me, yet again. Everything I said was met with the same gag-worthy response. I told him I didn’t think we were compatible . . . “it’s okay.” That he didn’t seem interested in knowing me on a deeper level . . . “it’s okay.” That it was rude to bring up the fact that he had indulged in an overnight date with another woman two days before our own . . . “it’s okay.” To make matters worse, in the middle of my rant, he actually had the audacity to wipe something off my face! I shit you not! After about six “it’s okays,” I lost it.
“It’s not okay!” I screamed. “Everything isn’t always okay. Feel something! Respond to something! For the love of God, say anything other than ‘It’s okay!’?”
But all he could say was . . . you guessed it. “It’s okay.”
Eight weeks of wasted anticipation and painstakingly boring conversations, along with resisting that extra glass of wine so I could fit into skin-tight cocktail dresses and brutalizing my feet in high heels night after night. Eight weeks of missing my family in the hopes of finding love, and it all came to an end in one maddening conversation under the blistering sun of St. Lucia. All I could do was walk away . . . irritated, pissed off, and over it all. Ironically, it was this combination of animosity and the liberation I felt at recognizing and dumping a textbook chauvinist pig that provided a clean break. My heartache was minimal and short-lived, and I left St. Lucia single and ready to put the entire journey behind me.
Little did I know that the ending of this relationship—if you can even call it that—would serve as the catalyst for my next twenty-five relationships and, consequently, breakups. That’s because, apparently, dumping the show’s lead was groundbreaking in the world of reality television, and honesty was refreshingly inspiring to viewers—so much so that I was asked to return for a second shot at love, only this time I would be the lone woman courted and fought over by a sea of hunky men. As irresistible as it sounded, I grappled with the thought of interrupting my life once again to partake in a second shitshow. I had been there, done that, and checked “dating on reality television” off my bucket list, but the hopeless romantic in me was still searching for love.
After debating for weeks, I reluctantly decided to throw my hands in the air, let Jesus take the wheel, and give love another shot. You’d have thought I’d learned my lesson the first go-round, but an unusual optimism told me this second time was going to be different. I don’t know what it was, but I just felt it. It was as if all the stars in my world had aligned, and I was about to meet my soul mate and live happily every after.
So three months after saying goodbye to Mr. It’s Okay, I was back in Los Angeles, standing in front of that same gaudy mansion, surrounded by cameras ready to capture my every move as I began “dating” twenty-five men. The next eight weeks were going to be the most intense, emotional, and fun of my life, surrounded by hot men and cameras. However, since polygamy is illegal (and gross), I couldn’t keep them all, and unfortunately each week I had to break up with one hot stud after another. (So unfair!)
Although each of the breakups came with a different story and different emotions, they seemed so much more amicable than my previous breakup with Number One. The earlier breakups were easier, considering I’d barely known the men long enough to be told their last names. But as the weeks went on, I found that the worst moments throughout the show weren’t the hours of exhaustion or the times I felt homesick or overcome with anxiety before a date, but rather when I had to say goodbye to yet another nice guy. The fact that I was standing five feet away from someone I knew I was moments away from dumping was awkward enough, but the guilt I felt afterward was torment. There was a control that came with being the one deciding who went home and when, a power that normally I would have loved to possess, but had quickly turned into a burden I couldn’t wait to shed. I found myself wondering, Why me? Who had given me the right to dump good, kindhearted men who had put their lives on hold, risked humiliation and heartbreak, and treated me with nothing but respect? Who had made me the judge in this case? Half of the men I dumped were probably too good for me anyway, and yet somehow, by breaking up with them, I felt like I was minimizing them. It got harder as, week after week, deeper relationships formed and I wondered, “Would they be brokenhearted? Was I about to ruin their lives?”
And now here I am, the one not all right. The one brokenhearted. The biggest and hardest breakup of them all is without question Number Twenty-Six. This is going to be one of those breakups that will define me for the rest of my life, haunt me wherever I go, a permanent skeleton in my closet. Not only is the entire world going to know about it, thanks to the making of this entire relationship being broadcast to millions, but this blunder will be the ultimate “I told you so” from every single viewer of the show. I’ll have gone from being a successful attorney to a reality television star to the laughingstock of the nation. I’ll be seen as just another woman who “couldn’t keep a man.” And if the devastation and embarrassment of that aren’t enough to set this breakup far apart from the first twenty-five, it will also brand me with a label I’ll have to wear forever. It won’t be a Prada or Dior label; no, this will be more like a cheap knockoff you get on the streets of Chinatown. In all my years and fashion faux pas (of which there are plenty), this is the worst label I have ever worn, and it’s called . . . ex-fiancée.
Because that’s the label you get when you fall in love, get engaged, and it doesn’t work out. You can’t cut it out, sell it on eBay or pretend it’s not yours. No, this one belongs to you forever. You now get the privilege of telling people—what do they call it these days?—oh yes, that you have been “previously engaged.” How delightful!
How did it go so wrong? Did I make a mistake that will shape the rest of my life by picking and getting engaged to Number Twenty-Six?
Of course I did! Was I blind to who he really was? Of course I was! I fell in love with a man who was everything I’d dreamed of—a family man who promised to protect and support me, who looked at me with the adoration in his eyes that every woman dreams of. A man who made me the happiest woman in the world. It was all so perfect . . . until it wasn’t. And despite knowing how toxic and unhealthy our relationship became in the end, I don’t know how and why it got to be that way. I just know that the odds of my ever getting over this breakup are about as slim as me waking up tomorrow as Beyoncé.
All right, so maybe life isn’t really over, but if you’re anything like me, your relationship certainly is. Why am I telling you all this? Because we’ve all been there—maybe not breaking up with someone on national television, but we’ve all known the kind of heartbreak that knocks you on your ass and leaves you feeling hopeless. Yes, at some point in our lives, we’ve all found ourselves going from the land of sunshine and roses to being smack dab in the heart of the storm. In fact, odds are if you’re reading this, you’re either a) going through a breakup, b) getting over a breakup, c) about to break up, or d) just want a good laugh at the disaster you’ve been lucky enough to avoid. (Note: if you fall into the latter category, I don’t blame you. I’d probably enjoy it a little too! But don’t laugh too hard, your time might be just around the corner.) Whatever the case, I’m here for you. Here to bare it all, one catastrophic moment at a time. No sugarcoating, no denying the brutal reality of heartbreak. Just my story along with a little advice on how to survive a breakup. It won’t be easy—survival never is. In fact, getting through heartbreak can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your lifetime. I mean it. It’s worse than a death and harder than battling an illness. With a death comes finality, with an illness comes an opponent to beat. But when it comes to heartbreak, it’s just you fighting . . . your own pain.
So buckle up, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Get ready to go from hysterically crying all day, to suddenly becoming a raging lunatic who hates the world, to finding yourself in front of a fireplace literally burning away every memory of your ex. And—believe it or not—all the way to being able to look back, laugh a little, cry a bit, learn a lot and most importantly realize that happily ever after might really be happily never after. I’ll tell you how I went through it all, and spoiler alert—I did come back, and so will you!
But before you do, you’ll have to ride out the storm. It will pass, and when it does, you’ll emerge better than ever. But you have to survive it first. So head to the wine shop and grab a few bottles (don’t forget the corkscrew), stock up on tissues, get a Netflix account, and pretend you’ve just gotten an invitation to your very own pity party! It’s yours and you can cry if you want to. For now, there are no words comforting enough, no amount of positive-thinking bullshit wise enough, and certainly no type of booze strong enough to bring you solace. It’s time to lie in bed in your yoga pants, smelly white T-shirt, and cry in between sips of rosé as you think to yourself, My life is officially over.
Lesson learned: Welcome to the Pity Party! Check your pride at the door!