“My Hideout” by La’Porsha Rena
You hit hard, an arrow in the dark.
Took my Heart so far, I thought I had you baby (had you baby)
Made your mark, I let you take charge
Now I got to deal with the scars, you really hurt me Baby (hurt me baby)
Cold goodbye, pretty little lies
See right through your disguise, I can do without it baby (without it baby)
Came so close, ‘till you went “ghost”
Out there doing the most, but the most without me baby (without me baby)
I love Apple Music. It’s always thinking of new songs and artists I might like and dangling new music in front of me like a shiny carrot. When La’Porsha Renae’s 2017 album popped up as a suggestion, I took the bait. I was not disappointed. As I drove to my private practice one Wednesday afternoon I listened to the first few songs. By the time “My Hideout” began to play I was genuinely inspired. As a Black female marriage and family therapist, radio personality, and public speaker in the D.C. Metropolitan area, I come in emotional contact with hundreds of new people each year. For over a decade I have helped some of the most professionally put together, high-achieving men and women navigate their not-so-put-together inner worlds. It’s no secret to most of us that a single relationship can potentially turn us upside down. For some, the secret lies within letting go and moving on from the pain.
As I focused on the words of La’Porsha’s song, I was transported back into sessions with countless male and female clients from over the years, who recounted painful stories about giving their heart to another person who seemed to be along for the same ride. They began to trust in the safety of their relationship at whatever stage it was in and gave themselves permission to fall into routines of connecting. Whether it was daily texts and phone calls, weekly sleepovers, weekend getaways, or hanging out with each other’s family members for the holidays, they were given the impression that they were building something with another human being. On a seemingly random day their partner’s behavior drastically changed. Perhaps the couple had a petty disagreement the night before. Sadly, there may not have been any major event to signal the change. Their partner’s phone calls came to a screeching halt. The client repeatedly got sent to voicemail when they attempted to reach out. Text messages may have achieved short, cold replies if they were answered at all. The ‘partner’ they thought they were building a relationship with vanished into thin air. This phenomenon is so popular that it’s been dubbed “ghosting”.
Ghosting is a term used to describe the sudden act of stepping back or vanishing from the life of a person you began developing a relationship with. The act of disappearance leaves the other person without a true understanding of why the sudden change in interactions occurred and in turn, makes it difficult for them to get closure from their interactions with the person who left. With the rise of online dating, it’s become easier for people to engage multiple love interests at once, then narrow down their options to a single person by simply choosing to cease all communication with others who don’t make the cut by a certain stage of the process. It’s difficult when one person feels a deeper connection to another and has no clue that what they’ve shared thus far in the early stages hasn’t been as meaningful to the person on the other end. It’s extremely unsettling to be cut off without warning or explanation no matter what stage of the process two people are at.
However, could it be deeper than ghosting when you’ve actually made a commitment, taken the relationship public, or engaged each other’s families in the process? The very nature of ghosting makes it impossible for the abandoner to truly experience the damage they leave behind, and what I’ve learned as a clinician is that the deeper the relationship went the more difficult it is to stop the bleeding for the abandoned partner. Many brave souls try to confront their abandoner for clues that will help them solve the ongoing mystery-“What really happened between us that led you to leave me?” In the absence of their ex-partner’s account it’s quite common to fill in their own blanks with information that can’t be verified. Worst still is the internalization process that kicks in for many: “What did I do wrong?” Some physical confrontations render abysmal results. If there is any acknowledgment from the abandoner that the two were ever on the same page at all, it can be overshadowed by the deflection of responsibility for their sudden departure, or citing reasons for their departure that leave the abandoned person more confused than they initially were. If you’ve ever experienced this or any type of abrupt, confusing breakup, then you’re probably shaking your head right now. The only thing more maddening than being ghosted is losing your ability to freely trust and fall in love with another person for fear that they will carelessly dispose of your relationship like the last person did. No one asked for the emotional baggage, yet it’s here to stay until you gain some new perspective.
“My Hideout” by La’Porsha Renae Lyrics
If you think I'm going to give my love away,
well you're wrong, this time I put on the breaks
I'll wait, I'll save, it for a better day
I need a safe place where I can free my mind
I need a safe place where I don't have to fight
I can't. Won't fall for it again
I’m letting go. No you can’t stop me now. Break away ‘cuz I found
My hideout, my hideout
And now I know you didn’t have what I needed
So the best place for me is my hideout, my hideout
I wish I could tell you that there is a formula for choosing a trustworthy partner, but there isn’t. It’s also possible that your ability to discern potentially dangerous partners is working quite well, despite being abandoned in the past. The only dependable formula you can develop is one that helps you recover from dangerous romantic situations and continue your search for love with hope and optimism. Attempting to find love is a risk that we downplay for the sake of reaping the many rewards that come along with being successful at it. The mental, emotional, and sometimes physical risks of dating to find love are real. The following rules can help you recover in a realistic and healthy way.
Rule #1: If you’ve worked hard at striking a balance between opening up to a potential mate while using discernment to detect potential dangers in the relationship, then rest in that. We fail to see some negative qualities and characteristics in potential mates because they don’t want us to see them. It’s not uncommon to put our best foot forward at the outset of a relationship. However, commitment issues, insecurities, and other emotional issues eventually surface if you just give it time. A person can be polished, loving, and emotionally present until they aren’t any longer. It’s possible that even though they seemed to be well put-together and present, there were pieces to their story that you didn’t have access to.
Rule #2: If a person makes a choice to abruptly leave a relationship where there was no threat of harm, and fails to say goodbye, provide a reason, or leave feedback, then getting closure from them is outside of your control. Not having control of a process that is so deeply emotional and impacting can be scary and take you to dangerous places if you aren’t careful. Therefore, it’s important to actively seek out and deal with issues within your control. While you can’t be blamed for the immature way another person chooses to break things off with you, you can spend some time doing a self-check for your own emotional blind spots: Were you in an emotionally healthy place at the outset of the relationship? Did you take ownership in controlling the pace of the relationship? Did previous hurts from childhood compel you to be more attracted and open to your abandoner? Asking these questions can help you become aware of your own vulnerabilities and exercise even greater wisdom the next time around.
Rule #3: If you see any signs that another potential mate might not be as committed to the relationship as you, you can slow down the process of opening up in ways that could be hurtful, and save your love and trust for someone who proves over time that they are consistent and trustworthy. This may be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. Being the first person to let go of a relationship that seems to have potential, but is showing signs that concern you can be tough. You have to figure out whether or not your fears are being sparked by your past hurts or the present situation. In order to think clearly, you need a safe place. A ‘safe place’ represents a person, place, or thing you use to mirror back your current state and provide objective feedback about how it aligns with some healthy goals you’ve set for yourself. Individual therapy can be a great place to work through the confusion and pain of abandonment, while recharging your batteries for the next phase of the hunt for love and companionship. A therapist may be able to help you turn off the internal dialogue or blaming around the abandonment, validate your feelings about the past and present, and help you identify characteristics of safe and unsafe people to prepare you for the future.
La’ Porsha Renae’s song talks about leaving whatever is hurting in the past. As a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of her ex-husband, She teaches us that letting go may require some help and a hideout. If you’re having trouble doing it on your own, I encourage you to reach out today to a person or professional who can understand. Inspiration can come from places you least expect, so keep your ears open. I’ll keep my office door open in case you need to stop by.