Featured Writer for December

Christie Alex Costello is a gem of a writer and I am happy that she is a contributor to A Cornered Gurl. She brings an airiness to the publication that isn’t often shared and I am delighted to have her as a part of our community. Christie shares with us in her first published piece, the true beauty of love and what it feels like to her. And, it’s not one of those listicles or checklists that we are all so tired of seeing as well. This piece is what landed her the feature:


What Love Really Feels Like

This is not a checklist.

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

The world spins quickly and while you hope it slows, it never does. Everyone keeps moving, calls keep coming, and each morning the sun builds faster over the horizon. Your world needs stability, yet all you find is madness.

Someone catches your attention for a moment. Everything around you seems to slow as you meet this unfamiliar set of soft brown eyes from across the room. A calming sensation wraps around you like a warm fleece blanket; this is safety. Looking into the soul of this human, your heart begins to race. The sand turns in your hourglass as the two of you shake hands. Welcome to my life, you think to yourself. You begin to speak your name but your throat feels like a hot shot of Fireball; the taste simulating and terrifying all within a single instant. Their hand feels like the kiss you waited for and never felt that first time.

As years go on, this sensation becomes more familiar to you — almost becoming accustomed to this person whom you seem to know well, or so you think. Your eyes have a harder time finding the fire which once burned so brightly. A third sensation builds — an ocean wave of turmoil at its core.

“Am I enough?”

Yes, but in a depth that you never knew existed until you do — you look into the crystal ball but have no understanding of how to read even your own message. You reach, search, and talk with strangers just looking to find a sense of grounding. You find none. The world returns to its fastest speeds yet. Your toes grip the ground to find balance. You wonder to yourself as you stare across the room, stuck in your own head.

“Will I ever be the same without them?”

No, you won’t, and you wouldn’t want to be.

No one warns us that water can get this deep, too deep to tread lightly in. The sensation of its blue vertical drop beneath you is captivating and frustrating. Self-love becomes this necessary ingredient now, a prerequisite to keeping the other human connection beside you; anxiety ensues. You are the depth that you once found daunting to swim in. The other human and yourself are now intoxicated by the power of this vast feeling of surrender; it is becoming hard to pull everything apart — these emotions feel like volcanic eruptions spilling into a world you both created. Although on some days, it can feel like an easy life, living as you watch from a different point of view. The power of your own existence.

“Has this always been our purpose as humans — to understand love?”

The same eyes from all that time ago stare into you now. They are brilliant. You have found a sense of home here. Those glimmers of acceptance hold your soul captivated and mesmerized, worn at the edges like a good book you’ve found yourself reading over and over again. The stillness through the chaos feels like a drunken spin of serendipity.

You think to yourself, this is us.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

I Won’t Apologize For Loving Me

You Shouldn’t Expect Me To

Christina Morillo via Pexels

You came with your demands and like the lonely loner I used to be, I agreed to them. I washed my body in your honey-do lists from hell, neglecting who I was and what my purpose is in life. I fell in love, instead. I clung to the idea of someone other than myself loving me — connecting with me, and this, I thought is what made me whole. When the years became stumbling blocks, I realized somewhere deep in the crux of us, my world mattered less. Self-love was a thing of the past and you settled into the beauty that beckoned it. You had made your voice heard, your goal accomplished. I was half of who I was before you and less than half of who I should have been after you.

noun: self-love: regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic). — Oxford dictionary

Do you know what it feels like to have the love of your life stop loving you? Stop making love to you? The damage was done and wading through those waters took up most of my energy and the rest of my twenties. I tried to give you more as we aged, even without your embrace — even without your love. I did not recognize the change in me until we parted ways, again. This time would be the end. The last chapter of our story built itself around our gloomy demise and I succumbed to it like a bee to honey. There would never be an us for the future.

It was for the best. It is for the best. I carried this mindset; moved with it, changed counties, cities, and states with it, yet you reappear just when I feel like I have moved on. I think this is your magic. This is how you draw me in. Two people — two great loves, neither of them willing to settle down with me. I wasn’t woman enough for one — wasn’t man enough for the other. And in my bold thirties, each of them plays see-saw in my life, taking me up and down. I am done with toys. I have no use for them. They wanted what they longed for — searched for. They have their “happiness.”

“Congratulations to you, what you wanted is what you got now . . . So you don’t gotta worry about me, you made it clear that you’re unhappy, (yeah). Go ahead and have your fun now, just remember what goes around comes around.” —”Karma”, Queen Naija


I notice that when I begin to love myself, to pay attention to myself and give my heart what it needs, old loves fall from the woodwork and make themselves known. I am left mentally screaming at them, “THIS IS MY TIME TO LOVE ME. DON’T TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME, PLEASE!” My voice goes unheard. People who know how to break you will break you. They know the right buttons to push. They have seen the storyline and played their parts in the ending — they wrote the manuscript. I have decided that I am not cut out for acting. If I hurt from it, then I’ll hurt from it. But, I am done going back to spaces where only half of me is being loved and the other half is avoided. That’s no way to live.

Two people — two great loves, neither of them willing to settle with me. I wasn’t woman enough for one — wasn’t man enough for the other. And in my bold thirties, each of them plays see-saw in my life, taking me up and down. I am done with toys. I have no use for them.

I Can Smell A Toxic Relationship

“By definition, a toxic relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner. While a healthy relationship contributes to our self-esteem and emotional energy, a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains energy.” — Thomas L. Cory, Ph.D

While I was in those relationships, no one could have told me that either of them was toxic. I would have countered with every excuse in the book. I would have placed my partner on a pedestal and shared with the naysayer that “things are just in a bad place for him right now” or “she’s struggling with some things, there’s a lot on her plate.” I was blindfolded. I also had a false sense of love wrapped around me and I wanted to keep that. Anything that felt like love from another person to me felt right.

Over the years, I have examined and reassessed these two relationships. I have processed memories, collected dominant scenes, and broken them down for better understanding. During those times, not only was I independent, I could be controlling. With memories of what I saw in my home, growing up taking over my characteristics, had I not changed, I would have found myself continuing a cycle of harmful behaviors toward myself and allowing the same from others as well. I was willing to take the bullshit of it all if it meant that I was loved. But, was I?

Now, I can spot the beginnings of a toxic relationship. I can smell it. I know it. Memories spring up from the past if a certain phrase is spoken — if similar behaviors are displayed. The first thought to me is to communicate what I am feeling — to share why I may feel unsafe. If the reaction from the person is one of anger, placing blame, and any semblance of violence, I do not stick around. It could be as subtle as belittling me or projecting their hurtful feelings on to me and I flinch. I know it will not end well and I voice this.

Feel it crippling your heart. Ooh baby, can you feel it tearing you apart? That’s right, that’s love. When it comes, you never wanna give it up. — “Let it Burn,” Jazmine Sullivan

I am learning that loving myself is far more important than any inkling or falsehood of love from anyone else. The depths in which I am taking are scary. I will not lie. It is both amazing and frightening to learn what you will allow and what you will not allow when you begin to truly value who you are and what you deserve. I had to make a decision: Do I want to experience what love is supposed to be or do I want to keep experiencing what I thought love was?

“If it hurts, it isn’t love.” — Chuck Spezzano

And I will tell you, I am tired of hurting from a false sense of love and the love I feel now — while loving myself, truly loving myself, is the opposite of hurt. I want to hang on to this for a little while longer. I won’t apologize for it.

No one should expect me to.


Originally published via Medium and featured in the Relationships tab as a piece behind the paywall. The link shared is a friend link. 

The Building Blocks of Me

Supriya Bhonsle via Mixkit.co

Stepping Out of Fear’s Shadow

The crows caw and squawk outside my window. It’s a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning and Jernee and Nala are quiet. They are resting while I work. The weekends are designated days for in-depth writing, reading, listening to music, soul-searching, and growth. I am learning how to shed old skin and create positive energy spaces for myself once again. I lost the sense of me a long time ago. I allowed fear, rejection, one-sided relationships, and false senses of love to rule over me. In the throes of sadness and pain, we can become fickle beings, even more than we already are.

I am learning how to shed old skin and create positive energy spaces for myself once again.

Opportunities are presenting themselves and instead of swatting at them because I do not know what agreeing to them will bring, I am saying, “Yes!” to open doors and walking through them. I always sit with something new for assessment purposes — to understand and research it thoroughly before committing. Quick decision-making can go two ways: good or bad. I’d like to aim for more good outcomes than bad and I have done this for the most part.

I am setting up my life as I would building blocks. Every new aspect, change, or decision is becoming a tool for growth and my future. I have goals set and many of them, I am planning to accomplish before the end of 2020. I have curbed my spending, devoted more time to reading and writing, and focused on building a brand. If I do not get a headstart on my future now, I may never do so. Once time has passed you by, it doesn’t circle back around to collect you on the rebound — it is ready, even if you are not.

The crows squawk again. There are five of them. One seems to lead the others into a cawing fest as I attempt to drown them out. Nature will not step aside because you need silence. The wind does not know its whistle disrupts your thinking process. The rain has no forethought of your plans to pen three articles before dinnertime. It is up to you to stay focused and get the work done.

I am my own pep squad.

While alone at home, I have to take mini breaks for moments of encouragement. If I do not do this, the work suffers. And at this point in my life, I cannot let the work suffer. When I think about the possibility of shifting from 40-hour weeks to 30-hour weeks, maintaining a strong writing base, and studying methods to enhance and hone my craft, there is no time for suffering. I sing to myself. I say delightful phrases and aphorisms. I make myself believe that everything I envision, along with prayer and patience, will manifest itself into being. I am my own pep squad and I cheer myself on wholeheartedly.

Support: It drives me.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines support as follows: the act or process of supporting: the condition of being supported. (n)

I know how important support is: familial, by way of readers, and friend-based. I have grown from it. I appreciate it. It is what keeps me going on my worst days. If it were not for support, I could not be a writer. What I have gained in the sense of love, understanding, kindness, and acceptance, has come in vast amounts from support. From the day I began putting my work online until now, I have needed support and I have gotten it.

I sing to myself. I say delightful phrases and aphorisms. I make myself believe that everything I envision, along with prayer and patience, will manifest itself into being.


I am stepping out of fear’s shadow. I made the decision a few weeks ago and since then, even though my limbs shake and my stomach gets queasy, I press forward. I want to know what I can do — what I will allow myself to do if I remove myself from the harmful grip of fear. Some fear is good. It can be a reminder. There are things in life that require you to be fearful of them so you will not bring harm to yourself or others. I am mindful of this type of fear. It keeps me safe. It keeps my loved ones safe too.

“Fear is a feeling that is internal and is conscience.” — Dr. Mary D. Moller

“It arises when sensory systems in the brain have determined an external stimulus poses a threat. Outputs of threat detection circuits trigger a general increase in brain arousal and can result in altered threat processing: fear and anxiety disorders.” — Jaime Rosenberg

The fear I speak of is that clutching fear that barks at you to not do something because it’s bigger than you — to step back and away from infinite possibilities. It cripples you, stirs up anxiety, and causes your body to shift and change along with this emotion. This fear will not have my attention anymore. I am setting boundaries and it is not welcome. Am I frightened? Hell yes! But I will not remain in that mode. If I cannot move past the scary bits in life, how will I ever know what can be?

With each passing day, I urge myself to do something a bit more difficult than the previous one and for me, this is a massive accomplishment. I am taking a personal stand against what fear has done to me and what I have allowed it to do. Reprogramming my brain regarding this emotion will take time, but I refuse to sit back and continue to do nothing. There is a life that I envision waiting for me and I intend to experience it.

I am taking a personal stand against what fear has done to me and what I have allowed it to do.

These are the building blocks of me and with every step, I am changing.


Originally published via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this an article behind Medium’s paywall. This article is also curated by Medium Editors and featured in the “Self” content tab for Medium.

I Will Not Chase You

Sébastien Conejo via Mixkit.co

You Are Free To Run Away

Communication . . . The human brain often relies on this form of connectivity — developing a bond through talking, hopefully, to better understand our loved ones and the people we meet. But how can we further strengthen a bond when we encounter someone who fails to communicate to us their need to leave, exit, and do away with us as their loved one?

Some people are quite savvy at discarding people like garbage. I have never been a ghoster. It really isn’t in me to just stop speaking to someone without learning, feeling, or realizing that this is perhaps what they want. If you are in tune with the air and space around you, moments of peace offer sound revelations. I have had to make two extremely tough decisions recently and both have broken my heart.

You know when someone needs space. If you’re a reader of subtle hints and can pick up on clues, you feel when someone doesn’t want or need you around. It really isn’t rocket science or an invasive study of some devastating happening in the body.

You. Just. Know.

And when you know, how you approach that situation can make or break your relationship. If you have come across ghosting behavior before, you know the signs. They appear without a warning. You do not get a caution light or an alarm. You just need to be prepared. What I have come to recognize as tell-tale signs of inevitable ghosting are as follows:

One-word responses.

They are no longer eager to speak to you.

You don’t hang out because there’s an excuse on their end — they are always busy.

They don’t return phone calls or respond to text messages when they did so in the past.

They aren’t the least bit concerned about your well-being.

If you don’t reach out to them, they won’t acknowledge you: a one-sided relationship ensues.

If there have ever been at least three of the above things taking place, ghosting surely followed. Therapy is teaching me not to hold onto people, not to cling to them regardless of the years invested or how we’ve come to be. I am learning that everyone makes their beds and everyone has to lie in them.

If we are faced with the potential ending of a long-standing friendship or relationship and it is not being communicated verbally by the ghoster, chasing after them won’t stop them from running — trying to get them to stay won’t ensure their presence.

They Want To Leave.

Let them. Move out of their way. If it is in the plans for them to return to you or reconnect, they will. But you have to be willing to let them run or disappear because it is going to happen and there is no stopping it. When walls are actively tumbling down, one person cannot stop them from falling.

You have to be open enough to the possibility of certain relationships reaching their end-date. It happens . . . It is life and life surely does not stop for any of us.

I am learning to appreciate the beautiful takeaways of loving these two people and holding space for them, should they ever pop back into my life for a season. Holding space, to me, does not mean waiting around for them, it is me simply having a spot in my heart ready for them when or if they ever return and loving them while they’re away.

It is me knowing that running is sometimes the answer to one’s problems and respecting that. It is me knowing that time shifts and people grow into beings we may not recognize and these strangers must flee away from us for however long it may be — even if it is forever.

Make no mistake, I am mourning my losses. I am grieving their disappearance and distance, but I will not chase them. I will not cloud them with my worry and my sensitivities. They want the air at their backs and new waves slapping their faces. I understand this and I have stepped aside . . .

They are free to run away.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium. The link share is a friend link as this is a piece behind the paywall. Thank you for reading.

Featured Writer for October

Esther Spurrill-Jones

Esther sent an email to me to become a writer for A Cornered Gurl because she had a piece in her drafts that she thought would be perfect for the publication and it was–it is. I have been reading Esther for at least a year now and with every post shared to Medium, she shows that her talents reach far and wide. She can do fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and micropoetry.

I am sure these are probably just a few of her actual literary abilities. When she’s writing, you’re reading. It’s hard not to. And for this, she is the featured writer for October. And now, the piece:


To The Man Who Told Me I Wasn’t a Feminist

“You can’t be a feminist. Feminists are anti-Christian and anti-men. That’s not you at all.”

Image created by author

I was in university. I must have been about 21 or 22. I was attending a campus Christian group/club when the topic turned to feminism. I mentioned that I considered myself a feminist. You and the woman who was leading the group turned shocked looks toward me and proceeded to tell me that a “real” Christian cannot also be a feminist. It was mostly you talking, but the woman nodded along and agree with everything you said.

To be honest, I don’t remember much of your reasoning because I wasn’t really listening. I was so shocked at what you were saying that I just stared at you with my mouth open. I probably looked like a fish. You probably thought you taught me something. You did.

I grew up in the church, so you might be surprised that I hadn’t encountered such blatant religious sexism before. I suppose I had, but it was mostly coming from old people like my dad (you were about my age), and never from women (at least not in my hearing). I was baffled that any person my age could think that a Christian couldn’t be a feminist — at least while continuing to be a Christian — and horrified that a woman could agree. I guess I had lived a sheltered life.

I had known you for a few months at this point, and I had a respect for you as the leader of the group. I lost all respect for you.

You taught me that I couldn’t trust a man just because he is a leader. You taught me that I couldn’t trust a woman just because she is a woman. You taught me that some young, university-educated Christians still believe in stupid, outdated sexist ideas. You made me even more determined to call myself a feminist.

You see, your mistake was in thinking that just because I’m a woman that I will listen to you. I don’t like to do what I’m told to do or be what I’m told to be. Like my Biblical namesake, Queen Esther, I will walk into the king’s court uninvited and ask for justice for my people. “And if I perish, I perish.”


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.