If It Costs You Your Peace, Then It’s Too Expensive

I’m months away from self-publishing my first romance novel and I have no idea what I’m doing. Talk about overwhelmed. But what made the process even more cumbersome was creating a social media presence as a new romance author.

Everyone says that authors must be on social media. They must be on social media, and they must create an email list. I mean, these are things you have to do, right? Well, I haven’t created an email list, but I merged onto Instagram like one does the 101 in Los Angeles: full speed ahead. I must note, I had taken a significant amount of time off from Instagram because of the toll it took on my mental health; when I returned, things seemed different.

Didn’t matter. If I wanted book sales then I had to be on Insta and if I had to be on Insta, it was imperative that I created Reels. So that’s what I did. I started posting Reels every day; in the beginning, the process was fun. Exciting. My first Reel had a significant number of views and likes. Oh, this is easy, I foolishly thought to myself. That is until I posted my second Reel and received almost no views.

In an attempt to find readers, I began following Bookstagrammers—zealous readers who critique books with pithy Reels. I also followed fellow Black romance authors in an attempt to create a community. Soon after, I realized a few things: Bookstagrammers are frightening, and following authors wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be.

Despite my discomfort, I continued on. Soon, I learned that in order to find success on Instagram, I had to feed the algorithm. Think Little Shop of Horrors. If I didn’t feed it Reels based on trends and lots of them, then I could expect to be hidden from view—tucked away in back while the popular kids took center stage. I found myself worrying more and more about what I wasn’t doing right instead of having fun doing something new. I worried about views, likes, saves. Engagement. New followers. I began worrying that my book would debut and the Bookstagrammers would turn up their noses in disdain, calling it trash or a huge disappointment.

But did I stop? No. Instead of pulling back, I went even further and created a TikTok account. Think louder, faster, and even more intimidating. Nevertheless, I swiped and swiped in an attempt to find a community. Didn’t find one, but I did stumble across Booktokers who lambasted authors for petty grievances. It didn’t matter what the author did, somehow they failed because the critic wasn’t happy. Tropes. Dialogue. Genre. Couples. Race. Story structure. Anything.

Day by day, I felt smaller and smaller. I felt like I was a failing author even though my book had yet to be released. When I researched the steps of self-publishing, I became overwhelmed because, according to social media, I wasn’t moving fast enough. No, scratch that, I wasn’t fucking good enough. Then, when I found time to start my second novel, I was exhausted and hopeless, thinking what was the point? The book wouldn’t be good anyway. When it came time to post Reels, I thought what was the point? No one was going to see the video anyway.

The downward spiral was swift, and I was powerless to stop it.

Last night, I woke from a nightmare then spent the rest of the night scrolling TikTok, feeling worse and worse about myself as a person and writer. I felt like I was drowning—pulling in gulps of social media noise that did nothing but pull me further into the darkness. I couldn’t find perspective on anything. TikTok was yelling about the state of the world or shitty romance novels and Instagram stories were saddled with outrage from the latest school shooting.

All of it became too loud and too much.

Social media wasn’t helping me connect to readers, it was making me feel unworthy. So much so that I was convinced I couldn’t keep up and was willing to chuck my budding writing career because what was the fucking point? As I sat on my mom’s bedroom floor and told her my dilemma our conversation led to one inevitable conclusion: I had to get off social media, immediately!

So that’s what I did. When I tell you the relief I felt when I suspended my two accounts. Whew! All of a sudden things became manageable. Perfect? No, but definitely manageable. My overall anxiety eased up about ten minutes after removing the apps from my home screen. Walking through the self-publishing shadow of darkness felt less intimidating. My writing ability felt less threatened.

I understand the role social media plays in everyone’s future but there was a world before social media and those who were out there pursing their dreams got along just fine. Will I return once I have a physical copy of my book and have uploaded the eBook? I’m not sure. Is there a chance I’m missing out on an audience because I’m not posting a reel every day and begging for someone’s email so that I can bombard them with newsletters? Perhaps. But I know there was no way I’d be able to write my second novel and work through the self-publishing process if I spent hours on Instagram and TikTok feeling like a loser.

I guess I’m going to have to wing it. Take a chance. Figure something out. There’s a quote that says, “If it costs you your peace, then it’s too expensive.” Right now, this is how I feel about social media. I couldn’t sacrifice my self-worth and desire to write just because someone said I had to spend all day on two apps that made me feel shitty no matter how hard I tried to remain unbothered.

I’m here to say that I know there are ways it should be done. Roads we have to take but if these ways and roads constantly chip at who we are, then I say fuck ‘em.

There’s gotta be another way.

Hold On.

Trigger Warning: post addresses mental health and depression.

This is depression.

All is well. Life is manageable. So much hope. So much joy and peace. The darkness is gone and although I never forget about it, I’m grateful for the light. What I don’t think I fully realize is that the light is fragile. And in a way, I feel like I know this but maybe not because one day—one random day. One conversation. One misunderstanding and all that I’ve worked for vanishes and I’m left in the dark again.

This is depression.

All of the tools to get out. To get me back to the light are useless. Nothing works and all I can see, feel, think is that I’m a piece of shit. That I’m stupid and childish for thinking I could live the dream of being a published romance author. That my novels could spread the good news of love. Because look at me—I’m in the dark yet again.

This is depression.

I get up the next day and exercise because, you know, they say it helps. It doesn’t help mainly because endorphins take time. I feel hopeless. Like it was all a lie. How could I be so naïve to think I could live in the light. The tears won’t stop. The thoughts won’t stop—they’re on a constant loop: you’re a piece of shit villain who can’t get your shit together.

This is depression.

I cry in bed. I can barely sleep. I think about my manuscript, and I can’t write. Can’t edit. Can’t do the one thing I love—the thing I can always do. My depression traps me in a loop of thoughts with no way out. It tells me that I’m mean and unlovable. That I’m too much like my father. That I’ll never be a good person. Never escape. Never live a free life. It tells me that I’m alone. That people are tired of hearing about mental health, especially mine. With no one to talk to, I lay in my dark room while my dog sleeps next to me.

Still crying, I get the urge to listen to Adele’s song “Hold On”. Full disclosure: this song came to mind the day before, but I couldn’t listen. As soon as I press play and read the lyrics simultaneously, I’m bawling because I feel so seen.

How can someone know how I feel? How can lyrics come from my heart, but I didn’t write the words? As Adele shares her pain, the song tells me to hold on.

Hold on/Let time be patient/You are still strong/Let pain be gracious/Just hold on


I write about love and I’m deathly afraid that I’ll never experience the love I write about. But the love I write about is love that accepts no matter what. I don’t write fantasies—I write about possibility and acceptance is a definite possibility because all I have to do is offer it to myself. Accept that sometimes the hurt is so deep and scary that I feel like I can’t escape. Accept that I’m afraid. Accept that I’m not perfect. Accept that I don’t know the future. Just accept myself and see the good. See the good and accept the bad. Accept it no matter what.

When I think about the song—how each word speaks truth. How it helps me to stop crying. How it helps me to write this post. I think Adele wrote her truth and regardless of the fear, the fans or music critics, she shared it. And because she shared it, I could hear it. That’s what takes my breath away. That’s what makes me think that maybe my stories have to be shared because I don’t know who, besides myself, needs to hear (read) the words.

This is depression.

And this is holding on.

Claim My Rightful Space

This week, I watched Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls (2022) which premiered on Amazon Prime. The reality show focuses on thirteen contestants, vying to become one of Lizzo’s backup dancers, eventually accompanying her on tour. Lizzo created the show because when she asked dance companies for dancers, they rarely, if ever sent dancers who looked like her.

Instead of waiting for space, she created it.

The reality show is a true celebration of dance, dreams, and beautiful bodies—bodies that look like mine. The women are diverse in background, experience, and training; moreover, they come in every color, shape, and size. The show isn’t about being thin, it’s about being strong and authentic. Watching young women exist with no thought of achieving “thinness” was refreshing. In the show, they are valued, supported, and celebrated. They don’t have to play the fat, Black-girl stereotype because Lizzo created space for them to be complex, nuanced women going for a dream.

Photo Courtesy Of: fangirlish.com

The show made me feel seen. For so long I hated my body and while I work to show it love, sometimes it can be difficult when whiteness, thinness or certain curves are touted as the standard of beauty. While watching the show, I couldn’t help thinking about one of the many reasons why I write romance. By writing characters that look like me, I create space for fat, Black women to be pursued, loved, and adored. The idea of space is interesting in that there are spaces fat, Black women are allowed to occupy and there are spaces we’re walled-off from.

Romance is one of those spaces.

Although fat, Black women exist in the billion-dollar romance industry, they don’t exist in abundance. And why is that?

Before I answer, let me introduce you to Ms. Vivian Stephens. Ms. Stephens is a 90-year-old Black woman, who in the 1980s, worked as a romance editor. Given a supply closet, an assistant and stacks of unread romance manuscripts, Ms. Stephens envisioned, nurtured, and spearheaded the U.S. romance industry as we know it today. Not only did she launch the careers of some of the genre’s most successful authors, but she also founded Romance Writers of America (RWA), a non-profit association that supports new and established romance authors. As the genre grew, Ms. Stephens was eventually pushed out of RWA along with editing all together. Although she started her own company, none of the authors she discovered followed her and eventually, she worked as a freelance editor and romance author.

Vivian Stephens. Photo Courtesy Of: BGSU.edu

On Black Romance Podcast, Ms. Stephens said that she ensured romance novels centering women of color, were written by women of color. She felt that if someone wasn’t familiar with the culture, they might use derogatory language and offend readers. And according to Ms. Stephens, romance novels shouldn’t offend. They should bring hope. She created space for Black women to write romance—to see themselves as lovable.

First romance written/center Black woman. Photo Courtesy Of: goodreads.com

What’s interesting is that forty years later, RWA, the organization she founded and was subsequently ousted from, has come under fire for their insensitivity to race, culture, and ethnicity. In 2019, RWA suffered a PR disaster when a board member encouraged an author to revise portions of her novel that were culturally inappropriate and offensive. After a Twitter campaign, not only did the author not remove the content but the board member (a woman of color) was dismissed. Neither the genre nor the association lives up to the values on which it was nurtured. Today, the romance industry is dominated by white women. And since the 80s, it has managed to exclude Black women. Returning to my question: why are fat, Black women underrepresented in the romance genre?

You tell me.

When I read romance novels—novels where the heroine is pursued, and adored but I never see myself, what does that say? I’ll tell you. It says: Chantell, you’re not welcome in this space. The space of love and romance. I’ll go one step further and say that if the genre does have Black female leads, but they’re written by white women, what does that say? It says: Chantell, we’d rather have white women write for you, instead of you writing for you. That’s how much we don’t want you here.

When I sent my manuscript to my editor, I panicked about what comes next on my writing journey. Ultimately, I must share my work. Share it in a space that says through its actions, that I’m not welcomed nor am I worthy of love. But then I learned about Ms. Stephens and realized that as a Black romance author, I’m not the interloper. I’m not trying to break into a white-woman-dominated industry because I belong in this space—a space that was built by a Black woman. A woman who supported authors, created stories of love, and made sure everyone was welcomed. I’m a Black woman and I’m creating and claiming my space in a genre that wouldn’t be what it is today without the perseverance and ingenuity of a Black. Woman.

If you watched or read anything about Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings, then you know that being a Black woman in the United States is taxing as fuck. When we enter a space, our hair, voice, body, mannerisms, intelligence, and appeal seem to threaten people. We must navigate microaggressions, sexism, racism, performative allyship, and dangerous liberalism. And you mean to tell me that after enduring that shit, I get to escape to a romance novel where the lead has alabaster skin and silky, strawberry blonde hair?

It’s a no for me.

The music industry didn’t create space for Lizzo or her dancers, so she created it herself. The romance industry hasn’t created space for fat, Black women, so I’ll create it myself. Then after I create the space, I intend to fill it with fat, Black women who are complex, lovable, sexy, and intelligent. They are adored, pursued, and worshipped as the goddesses they are. There’s something about knowing history. Let someone else tell Ms. Stephens’ tale, she was just a lady who worked as an editor. But when you dig for the truth, you realize there’s no romance industry without her.

That empowers me. Fuels me. Encourages me.

Gone are the days of people dictating which spaces Black women can occupy. Gone are the days of erasure. Of regulating imagination. Of picking and choosing who’s worthy of love in a billion-dollar industry of fiction writing.

Black romance writers have unleashed their vivid imaginations, challenging stereotypes, unconscious bias, and marginalization. If you didn’t know, we’re all one hundred percent that bitch and we’re creating and claiming what’s rightfully ours.

Be A Doer.

Take a leap of faith.

Seize the day.

Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve always imagined.

Above is a list of motivational sayings meant to inspire us to live our best lives. Heartfelt, they empower us until it’s time to actually leap, seize, be bold or go confidently.

What these phrases fail to mention, is what’s on the other side of the leap. What comes after seizing the day? In a way, they remind me of 60 second videos that showcase weight loss or a beautiful, yet complicated make-up look, making us forget that it takes work to get those results.

The work. The struggle. The grind. The hustle. It’s the underground dirty work that no one wants to talk about because it’s not glamorous. To be clear, those who’ve done the work don’t mind sharing what they did to achieve success, it’s usually those asking who don’t want to hear about the fight.

Well, I’m addressing the work mainly as a way to unpack my emotional reaction to this part of my creative process. If it helps someone else, great, if not, thanks for letting me share.

I can’t pinpoint when I decided I was going to be a romance writer or when I started my manuscript. Either way, my first draft is complete. Saturday, I went to the library to print off my 488-page manuscript. With a copy editor deadline looming, I had to get the story on paper so that I could begin my own editing process before sending it off.

While waiting for it to print, I heard one of the librarians say, “This is someone’s monumental effort.” I shrugged off the comment until I rounded the corner and saw all 488 pages of my manuscript sitting on the counter. I wasn’t excited. In fact, I freaked out. Suddenly, my “leap” had become real instead of a cute catchphrase. Of course, I should’ve been proud of my effort, but I wasn’t. I was very, very scared. 

My fear died down then morphed into anxiety as I began to shape the novel with my content editor. This person’s job is to identify areas of the manuscript that need clarity, color, and dimension. This ranges from story structure and flow to paragraphs or lines of dialogue.

The first day of feedback, I was like, “Fuck. This. Shit.”

The second day of feedback, I was like, “No, really. Fuck. This. Shit.”

Writing is an interesting form of artistic expression because the writer spends a significant time alone in their head. We experience doubts, fears, and worries as we figure out how to push through in order to create something worth reading.

But writing isn’t a solo endeavor because after hours, days, weeks, and months alone, we have to share the work in order to make it better. A doctor breaks the bone and sets it so that it heals correctly. Working with editors is the same thing–they have to break the story, ideas, characters, dialogue, and description so that it can be its best self.

Breaking bones isn’t fun, and neither is having your work edited.

I thought I was prepared for this process, but I wasn’t. While I didn’t expect someone to say my work was perfect, I wasn’t ready for my editor to scrunch her face, tilt her head and say things like:

I don’t get this. I don’t understand what you’re doing here.

This line doesn’t fit.

This description isn’t adequate.

This scene doesn’t align with that scene. 

Would this character really say that?

Every time we met, I grew more anxious. In my mind, I thought, “What now? Where have I fucked up? What’s not good enough?” That thinking led me to defend my choices because my work, my heart was being threatened. Essentially, I was being judged. Critiqued. But truthfully, I wasn’t the one being judged. The work was. This led me to wonder, how do I separate myself from my work so that someone can break it to make it better? 

I followed my instincts and talked to my editor. I explained that after spending months alone with a project, it’s difficult to hear someone show up and highlight all the ways I didn’t get it right. That it’s hard to hear someone say that they don’t understand why a line is present or why a scene doesn’t end a certain way. 

Instead of sitting across from me trying to figure out why a scene or line is shitty, I asked them to just tell me, “Chantell, this line isn’t hittin’ and we’ve gotta figure out a way to make it slap.” Before they accepted the request, they made it known that my discomfort with feedback makes editing hard for them as well.

No shit. 

That’s why I’m communicating. Trying to figure out why I’m triggered by critiques. Trying to figure out why they’re so painful. Trying to figure out how to not make my editor uncomfortable. I’m fucking trying. Why am I trying so hard? Because I’m a writer and I won’t give up. I won’t shy away from the difficulty. I won’t run. I won’t back down. Instead, I have to trust the process.

It’s vital that my work is broken so that it can be its best self. Moreover, it’s vital that I separate myself from my work so that as it’s broken, I remain whole. 

This takes humility. Communication. Patience. Grace. Trust. 

Out of my comfort zone, I must be willing to face the discomfort in order to grow. See, that’s something the motivational slogans fail to mention. So, here are my revisions:

Take a leap of faith but don’t look down.

Seize the day and be prepared for some shit. But it’s okay, you got this.

Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid–the forces may not look like how you imagined so be open.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve always imagined. Also, your confidence will waiver, and inevitably you’ll get lost, but don’t quit. Eventually, you’ll get there.

After all is said and done, a writer fights through the writing process, and self-doubt. They work with an editor and find ways to separate themselves so that the work can evolve. Then, after all of that, they publish it, and share it with the world. That’s the part that used to scare me the most: what would people say about my work? 

Who would lambast me on Twitter and why? Who would pop off on my Black characters or why the Faeries in my book don’t align with someone else’s imagination? But the editing process has taught me that some people break work to help it grow while others break it because they can. I’ve decided that I’ll always write books I want to read and that I can’t and won’t make everyone happy. There’s a motivational quote that I do like because it speaks to the realness of putting yourself out there.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”  -Theodore Roosevelt


To put that in 2022 language, it means: who cares what people have to say? They’re not the ones out there. They’re not trying, failing, and trying again. No, they’re sitting behind a screen talking shit about those who are bold enough to put themselves out there.

We’re living in a day where everyone has an opinion. And I believe that if we take on what other people have to say, we’ll never make it to the arena. We’ll never move outside of our comfort zone, into the discomfort of doing something new.

Changing our lives, rethinking our values, putting ourselves out there is scary. But how we handle the fear, the setbacks, and the trials are what separates us from the doers and the shit-talkers.

Be a doer.

Timing is Everything.

Drake said, “Better late than never, but never late is better.”

I’m 41 and while people over 55 probably see me as young, I feel old. This is evident when I think about becoming a romance writer. Sometimes, I feel like I’m too late and that the dream doesn’t suit my reality. This feeling usually ebbs and flows, depending on the day. Some days, I confidently pursue my dream then out of nowhere, I’m smacked with the debilitating feeling that I’ve missed my chance–that the world is faster and wiser and I can’t keep up. Pivot. Create a fresh set of life experiences. Live the life I’ve always imagined.

Then I think about the years I spent working towards consistent and sustainable mental health and realize that had I pursued my dream on someone else’s timeline, I would’ve missed out on the internal growth that means more than any external success. But I go back and forth on this–on one hand, I’m grateful for my mental health and on the other, I feel like I’m too late to reimagine my life. Believe me, I know how it must sound but it doesn’t make it any less true. I’m finding that the challenge of executing a life-pivot hinges on self-acceptance and the ability to stay in my lane, ignoring what other people are doing.

Sounds good BUT how do I stay in my lane and ignore those speeding past, arriving at their destinations before I see my own exit? How do I remain positive about doing what I love, trusting that my gift will make room for me? How do I move past the fear of trying to break into a saturated market, creating a voice that will cut through the noise? How do I write my romance novel without comparing myself to those who have come before me?

These questions take turns popping up throughout my day. They find their way into my subconscious, eating away at my self-assurance, creating moments of self-doubt. But when I offer myself some perspective, I realize that I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t fear living their truth. Who doesn’t fear following their heart into the unknown. Who isn’t anxious about pursuing the thing that makes sense.

“Better late than never, but never late is better.” We’re. Never. Late. No matter when we decide to move toward our dreams. Timelines are bullshit and journeys are unique to who we are. Yay to the person who had their shit figured out at 25. And Yay to the person who had their shit figured out at 35, 45 or 75.

George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” This quote is a gentle reminder that if you’re still alive, you have time to do whatever the fuck you want. Even if that means becoming a romance writer at 41-years-old. Offer yourself some grace. You’re not too late. If you listen to and trust your heart, then you are and will always be right on time.

Copyright 2022. Do not repost without permission.

One Main Decorative Statement

In 8th grade, I was placed in Regular English. 

The class was disruptive, packed with rowdy students unwilling to listen to our young teacher. I was very shy and subject to bullying at times; I didn’t perform well in class because I was desperate to remain invisible so they wouldn’t bother me. At progress report time, my mom asked why I was underperforming, and I told her my class was full of kids who didn’t listen to the teacher. During the first quarter parent-teacher conference, my mom brought it up to my teacher and advocated for me to be put in another class.

“The only other class I teach is Honors English,” Mr. O’Malley told her.

“She can handle Honors English,” my mom replied. 

“Hmm. Well, if she raises her grade to a B, I’ll get her in.”

My mom looked at me and asked, “Can you do that?”

I nodded. “Yes.”

I raised my grade and was promptly moved to Honors English. 

When I got there, we were assigned a book report presentation. I don’t remember what book I presented but I do remember my friend presenting the book Dawn by V. C. Andrews. Enthralled by the drama and romance she described, I borrowed the book from the library and have been reading romance novels ever since.

Another key moment from that year was when my teacher told us to find someone interesting to write a short story about over spring break. I was thrilled by the assignment but a little disappointed because most of my friends were going to Disney World or seeing family somewhere outside of Indiana, but my mom and I weren’t traveling during break. As the end of break drew near, I needed a story, and I didn’t have a character, so I invented one. He was a loner, going about his day—invisible, and inconsequential.

One day, we crowded around Mr. O’Malley’s desk, begging him to tell us what we earned on the short story. Finally, he agreed. He wrote the grade down, showed the student then scribble it out.

When he got to me, he said, “Oh, yeah. You wrote about the loner. It was good.”

Then he wrote down my grade and showed me. I earned an “A”—the highest mark I had ever received for a creative story. I was beyond proud of myself. As we walked out of the classroom, I told my friend, Sarah who immediately downplayed my accomplishment, making me feel small, like what I had done meant nothing.

Two things happened in that moment—I fell in love with creative writing, and I internalized my friend’s snotty comment, never taking writing seriously. Like reading, it was a hobby—a way of escape, but I could never be good at it because Sarah, from 8th grade, made me feel like shit for getting an “A” on my first short story.

Fast forward 28 years and here I am on the other side of 40. I checked all of the boxes: high school, college, graduate school, and a job. I battled severe depression. I cried over feeling like I didn’t have a reason for being here. That I didn’t have a gift or purpose. But through it all, I took an active role in my healing and expansion, which led me back to 8th grade. 

The other night, I thought about the story of that loner. Until then, I hadn’t thought about 8th grade, working to get into Honors English or my short story in years. Like opening an old photo album, the dust-covered memory returned, vivid and powerful. I remember throwing my heart into that assignment. Then I thought about how it felt earning the “A” and how it felt when someone dismissed it as nothing. At 13, I didn’t understand that I had a shitty friend. I didn’t realize that I, the little Black girl who fought to get into Honors English, could actually become an author.

Throughout my healing journey, all of the bullshit has fallen away to reveal my most authentic self. For my Clueless fans, there’s a scene where Tai compliments the stickers on Travis’s skateboard. He says, “Oh you like ‘em? I was thinking it was too cluttered, you know. I wanna wipe all this out and just concentrate on one main decorative statement. Like uh, Marvin the Martian, right there.” That’s how I feel about my life—I’ve been given the chance to wipe away all the clutter of inferiority, doubt, trauma, good choices, bad choices, pain, and heartbreak to focus on one main decorative statement: writing.

That’s why my site has evolved, again. It has become the landing page for Chantell Monique the romance author. 

Life is short, fragile and precious. We’re surrounded by a significant amount of loss, and we push past it without stopping to consider whether we should remain on the same path of least resistance. 2022 is almost here and I can’t enter another year saying life’s short only to do nothing to create the life I actually want.

So, yes, I’m a romance writer and all of my time will be spent on my first novel. I’d like to blog but to be honest, friends, I can’t keep writing about my life—it’s time I start living it. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to declutter your emotional baggage, so that you can focus on one main decorative statement in your life. Until then, take care, be safe and go watch Clueless.


Copyright 2021. Do not repost without permission.

On Taking it One Day at a Time

A few weeks ago, I shared a depressive episode I was going through on my Instagram story. It wasn’t my intention but in a split-second-decision I posted a series of childhood pictures with captions detailing my current emotional struggles. Up until then I had experienced multiple triggers that I thought I had under control but my usual coping mechanisms weren’t working. I continued to dip further and further; I had low energy and unchecked negative thoughts with crying and feelings of hopelessness. All of which led me to my Insta-post. I let the story run for the full 24  hour cycle; two friends reached out to me. The first was a friend from my days living in Los Angeles, who said he sometimes felt the same way and that we must take it one day at a time. And the other–my friend in South Bend–said this:

Oh, friend! You are a joy. You are joy. You are a gift. You are light. You are a delight. And these photos show you have been ready for the world and its adventure for forever. I know it is a long work to undue/to reimagine/to create when there is so much pain deep in the bones and heart, and you have been gifted with a deep patience and openness to the work of healing. It is not a fun gift (though you are so good at being open to those, too!), but it is taking you into your power everyday. How lucky we all are to know you and love you…

It’s hard when circumstances require healing (or longer healing), but I am grateful that we have language and resources to do that when our parents and grandparents could not. So all those ahead of us and around us benefit in the commitment to it. Wishing you continued clarity and satisfaction.

What. A. Fucking. Word.

I cried.

I felt seen. Understood. Held in a space of gentle care.

I didn’t post what was going on with me for attention or to engage in trauma porn. I did it because it felt right at the time. And in return, I received such gorgeous words–words so powerful and painfully thoughtful that they seeped into my heart, taking root in my soul. My friend’s message helped me to reimagine my healing journey–to see value in my patience and openness to the work of healing. She helped me come to a deeper understanding that my healing work wasn’t just for me but for those who came before me and those who will come after. Her words also reaffirmed the truth that I wasn’t alone. Something that is important to know when darkness sets in.

Then, like a feather floating along on a breeze, the idea of resuming antidepressants landed softly in my lap. I tried antidepressants in my 20s–I hated the side effects and stopped. In 2018, I tried them again after finding a very understanding general care practitioner to help me through an unmanageable moment in my life. But again, I stopped because I didn’t think they were working. At that time, I wanted a pill to instantly make me feel like my best self and when it didn’t happen I relied on unhealthy coping mechanisms to dull the pain.

Why would antidepressants work this time? What was different? Was I a failure for taking medication–like perhaps I wasn’t doing enough on my own? I sat with these questions until I could clearly see that a lot had changed. For example, I was coming up on a year of consistent therapy; I was eating cleaner and getting a little movement in my life; I had a lovely, albeit mischievous companion pup and I lived in the same city of my mom and friends support system. Therefore, needing medication on top of what I already had in place was not failure. In fact, it was pretty fucking amazing to not only recognize where I was in my depression but to be open to healthy adjustment.

I made an appointment with my general care practitioner who was happy to see me again and was more than delighted to hear how far I had come. She didn’t harp on my weight; instead, she prescribed an antidepressant that didn’t have weight gain as a side effect. She was as encouraging and supportive as she was almost three years ago when we first met. My friend said that the work I was doing was taking me into my power. As I walked out of the doctor’s office, I felt powerful. At that moment, I also decided to take it one day at a time.

Gifting myself the freedom to be present, allows for this work to continue without resentment or a push for a nonexistent finish line. 

A few months ago, I was hesitant about describing my healing journey as work. I thought people would reject the word and avoid taking care of themselves in that way. But I can’t sugarcoat the truth. It takes courage and a lot of work to care for and heal ourselves. Inner-work is grueling. It takes multiple starts and stops. You never know where you’re going until you get there. It costs coming out of your comfort zone and a willingness to be open to change and adjustment. Believe me when I say, the payoff is greater than the sacrifice.

In my dark moments I normally lose hope. I’d move in the energy of what’s the point? I’ve come to realize inner-work is all about hope–something we deserve to have. There’s nothing wrong with hope. It’s a bubble that drifts about. Yes, it’s fragile but it’s also a gentle reminder of brighter days ahead. I’m grateful to be here today. I’m grateful to have hope for my present and my future. I’m grateful for my loving friends and my soul-mom; I’m grateful for you, dear reader, and I hope you continue to find your way one day at a time.

All my love,

Chantell Monique

Copyright 2021. Do not repost without permission.

Wounds. Growth Triggers & Healing.

Part 2 of “Friendship. Divine Love and Lessons Learned.”

It’s amazing what our minds and bodies do to protect us from harm. If you’ve ever been in an accident–minor or major, then you know that when it occurs, our bodies jerk into protection-mode. It’s not until the next day or days after that we realize we’ve been through an event.

That’s what happened to me regarding my last post. When I wrote it, I was still in shock and able to clearly articulate what happened and how I was feeling at the time. Days later, it seemed the reality of it slapped me in the face. I’m telling you this because I want to be transparent about my journey. I don’t want you to think I’ve got it all figured because I don’t. And I also don’t want you to think that spiritual growth is easy because it definitely is not–which is why most people don’t do it and I don’t blame them.

After I posted what happened between my friend and I, I began to feel a lump of dread in my chest. No matter how much I slept or journaled, it wouldn’t disappear. Moreover, as the days wore on, I began to feel sad and depressed. I knew it had something to do with what transpired but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what, especially since I had wrapped up my thoughts and feelings so nicely in my last post. Clearly I was fine–right?

Wrong. Something was very wrong.

Clarity about the situation came in waves–the first being the realization that I wasn’t a victim. Yes, rejecting me even though I didn’t make an offer was insensitive, but he did it for a reason and I needed to understand why. His honesty served as a growth trigger that led me to examine my own behavior and hidden motives I held within my subconscious. Unpacking that box and being honest with myself made it all abundantly clear. The truth was, I loved him from a wounded place. I was afraid I was unlovable; I hated being single and I was desperately afraid I’d never find my person. While my platonic love was real, those wounds and hidden motives of not wanting to be alone caused it to be tainted. 

I just got a relatively large tattoo. My artist covered it with this bandage called second skin to help expedite the healing process. After six days, I began to smell something a little off with my tatt. I thought it was my shirt but after I showered and changed shirts it was still there. That’s when I chose to peel off the second skin to clean my tattoo, which was basically a wound. After, I never smelled the weird smell again. That’s how I’d describe my love for him–something was a little off in my healing that caused a weird smell or behaviors. It wasn’t until I peeled back what was going on with me that I realized my wounds needed cleaning and air so they could finish the healing process.

I was so ashamed of what I did–unconscious or not. When I peeled back my friendship and care, underneath was a wounded inner child desperate to be chosen. Even though neither of us could see her, she was there, impacting our friendship. As I sat with that understanding, I cried. I cried for her, for the guilt and shame I felt–for it all. Then I did the difficult thing and offered myself some grace and compassion. I had to release the guilt because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was sad but I was also gentle with myself–something that was new for me. 

Here’s an excerpt from my journal entry about my moment of awareness:

Truth is. The situation was way more complex and layered. Multiple things were going on at the same time. Different things were being worked on. I’m through it and now wondering was it worth it. Only because all I feel is loss. Loss of my warm, delusional bubble that kept me buzzing around someone, desperate for their attention, convincing myself that I was being the bigger person. When in fact, I wasn’t seeing clearly. And sometimes, friends, we just don’t see shit clearly. We see through the lens of our wounding–where we are in that moment. It’s funny how we can miss something that wasn’t serving us.

It’s not until true clarity comes that we’re shocked silent by the harshness of the light.

Then we’re asked to offer ourselves some compassion because in the end, we didn’t see. How can we blame ourselves when we didn’t see the truth? How can we blame the wounded version of ourselves that made decisions based on their hurt? We can’t. We have to accept all of ourselves and love us through the pain, shame and disappointment.

The next difficult thing I did was email my friend, explaining that I was happy he said something; that clearly I was unaware of what was going on underneath and that deep down I wanted my person, the one I could be my warm, loving self with and that I needed some time away from our friendship to clear what was going on with me. I needed–need time to sort myself out. To continue healing and nurturing myself and to decide whether I can have a platonic friend of the opposite sex at this point in my life. I didn’t want to walk away from him but I couldn’t stay. The truth was–is I want my person and perhaps a platonic friendship isn’t serving me right now; it’s too close to what I want but not quite enough. And I don’t want to settle for not enough.

To be honest, walking away from him was harder than breaking up with my ex. At least I had him to talk to and hang out with–a placeholder for the real thing. Without him I’d be alone…again. But friends, that’s when the awareness of self-worth finally dawned on me. I didn’t want the energy of just enough in my life. I was–am worth more than that. Through the pain, I chose myself. I chose what served my highest good because I was worthy of it. 

As soon as I emailed him my realization, the lump of dread in my chest disappeared. My wounds were cleaned and I was healed. I felt like I closed the door to a long, difficult past and am now standing in front of a bright, sprawling future. I don’t know where I’m headed but I do know that I have healing, wisdom and love with me wherever I go.

I was hesitant to continue this story, sharing all of my experience because I didn’t want you, dear reader, to think that this walk of spiritual growth is impossible. It’s not. It may be difficult at times and fraught with pain but the freedom of healing is worth it. At least to me. If you have the opportunity to expand, to grow and heal, I encourage you to take it. Trust me, Source and its Divine Love will support you every step of the way.

I love you so very much.

Thank you for reading,

Chantell Monique

Copyright 2021. Do not repost without permission.

Friendship. Divine Love and Lessons Learned.

I believe Divine Love allows; it accepts us for who we are, giving us space to evolve. I also believe it’s important that we offer this love to ourselves before others. This is something I’ve been trying to put into practice; therefore, not only have I offered Divine Love to myself, I work to offer it to those I care about. What I didn’t account for was how it could be perceived by others. If you read my “Favorite White Boy of All” post a few weeks back, then you know I have a Cute White Man that I call my friend. A friendship I value and am grateful for because it allowed me to practice how to offer Divine Love to someone without demanding something in return.

When I met him, he was trying to get over a bad break up; I was already in a relationship so our friendship wasn’t built on the possibility of romance. The closer we became, I began to worry that I’d repeat the cycle of crushing on someone who didn’t feel the same way. Meanwhile, Source was teaching me the transformative power of Divine Love and I knew I loved him because I just did. Thing is, it wasn’t romantic. It was just there–kind of like how Source loved me. I didn’t want anything in return; I just felt compelled to love him, but I was terrified that it would turn romantic and I’d be crushed in the end like so many times before. I had a choice: I could stop being his friend in fear that I’d get hurt or I could trust Souce to keep me safe and love him with all my heart because why not. I chose to trust Source and love him. 

Recently, he and I were FaceTiming because he’s out of the country for work. During the conversation he kept coughing, and since we’re in Covid-times I asked, “What’s that cough about?”

He replied, “Oh, it’s a side effect from the high blood pressure medicine I’m on.”

Cue the record scratch.

“What? What high blood pressure medicine? When did you get on that?”

“About three weeks ago. My BP’s through the roof so the doctor prescribed it.”

He’s 43. I was shocked by how casual he was about the whole thing. I immediately went into loving-friend mode. I thought it was ridiculous that his doctor would prescribe medicine before trying to get his BP down naturally, like offering some sort of 60 day get-your-shit-together-before-I-put-you-on-meds type of trial. I eat plant-based and it helped lower my BP so I suggested that and the obvious: he should take a break from his high-stress job. He didn’t really wanna hear me so I changed the subject but I couldn’t get it off my mind.

After we hung up, I Googled “How to lower blood pressure without medication” and all these lists popped up. The next day I emailed him. Before I sent him my list of things he could try, I prefaced the letter with how much I loved and cared about him. I thought if I made it clear that the email was from a place of love that maybe he’d try some of my (ok, Mayo Clinics’s) suggestions.

After I explained that I loved and cared for him, I hit him with the list. I included some real suggestions like eating better and working out and I added a few of my own for grins and giggles. Like talk to your plant, play more guitar, and sleep-in–stuff like that. At the end of the letter I let him know that I cared for him and if he chose to disregard the whole list it would be okay because I loved and supported him.

He responded thanking me for my suggestions and explained how he knew he needed to change his lifestyle and how difficult it was going to be. Awesome, great! Then he addressed my love for him. He said that love came with romantic hopes and asked me outright if I had romantic feelings for him. That was fine but he didn’t stop there, he proceeded to tell me that he, under no circumstances, had any romantic feelings for me and that–

Yeah, I couldn’t keep reading because what the entire fuck?!

I’m going to be honest, friends. I felt sick to my stomach. It was like getting a rejection letter from a job I didn’t apply for. Like, damn, it’s like that? I didn’t even apply for the job! Tears stung my eyes as I politely responded, telling him that I didn’t have romantic feelings for him and that I didn’t want anything from him but to be well. After that, I grabbed my keys and got in my car. I drove and drove, crying and screaming out to Source.

“Why did you do this to me? See, I told you I’d get hurt in the end. Just like all the other times. I don’t even want him romantically, but here I am, getting fucking rejected!”

I couldn’t stop images of my past from flashing before my eyes. Like a movie montage, I saw rejection and hurt; fear that I was too fat, and Black to be loved; I saw my constantly broken heart and lots of tears. Old feelings of unworthiness and not enoughness washed over me. It was awful. So very awful.

Thankfully, the next day my feelings of humiliation receded. I felt around my heart for broken pieces, but there weren’t any. And that morning as I journaled, I realized I wasn’t devastated. Hurt, yes. Shocked and disappointed, of course. But shattered? No. Source kept me safe as I chose to love someone with my whole heart, wanting nothing in return. 

You know, I can’t say I never entertained a romantic thought about my friend, but after a while I realized Divine Love was way more important to our friendship than romantic longing. I really enjoyed being a loving friend to him. I had a blast talking to him, buying gifts, sending random dad-jokes or getting him to read a romance novel. It was refreshing to be my warm, loving self around him. 

I never intended for my love to be perceived as romantic or threatening. My intention was to be his friend and as I did that, I felt compelled to love him. Sometimes people are put in our lives when we need cheering up or a gentle reminder that we are seen, appreciated and valued. I chose to be that person for him because why not. Perhaps I should’ve asked him first. Either way, I didn’t want anything in return because I trusted Source to love and keep me safe. I didn’t need him to love me because I was already loved. Maybe that’s something I should’ve articulated to him in the beginning. I don’t know.

I’m not sure how or if we’ll move forward in our friendship. While I love him, I definitely can’t look him in the eyes without feeling humiliated. I mean, I’m still human, and rejection, even if no offer was made, still sucks. I guess we’ll see how it goes but I’ll say this: I don’t regret being a loving friend. I don’t regret trusting Source with my heart and I’m hopeful for a future where Divine Love from me will be seen as special instead of a threat.

All my love,

Chantell Monique

P.S. I removed the “Favorite White Boy of All” post because I’m humiliated. I wrote that piece thinking I’d found a great friend–one that saw me and my love for what it was. I can’t say that today. I’ll try to be stronger next time and allow this blog to reflect the ups and downs of my life. Until then it has been permanently removed.

Copyright 2021. Do not repost without permission.

Romantic Love Remix, Feat. Divine Love

Why do I love, love so much? Plainly put, Divine Love saved me from the dark hole that became my life. The journey was long, and difficult but worth it. Along with freedom, self-love, and a handle on my mental health, Divine Love offered me a new perspective on romantic love. Where I once built my beliefs of romantic love on learned behaviors and pop culture, I’m now operating from a fresh view–one that deviates from the status quo.

I recently convinced my CWM (Cute White Man) to read Get a Life, Chloe Brown. He hated it because he thought it was unrealistic. Saccharine, he called it, lol. I knew he’d hate it but I wanted him to read it because it shows (saccharine or not) that love isn’t some horrible thing. He comes from the camp that love is painful and rarely lasts. Meanwhile, I believe love is constant and how we choose to engage with it determines whether it lasts between two people. But I didn’t always feel this way; in fact, like him, I thought love only came with pain.

I didn’t have an ideal relationship with my father; I crushed on boys who didn’t like me back. I always felt as if I was an inconvenience or in the way. I thought I had to earn romantic love through paying a pain-tax. Thing is–I was willing to pay this tax because I thought once I got it, all of my problems would be solved. The dark hole in my heart would be filled and I’d live happily ever after. What I failed to see was that looking for someone else to fill that hole kept me in a cycle of attracting painful experiences. I assumed love was painful because I was always in fucking pain.

When Divine Love showed up in my life I was immediately suspicious. Why wasn’t it asking anything from me? Why wasn’t it demanding perfection? Why didn’t it judge me as harshly as I judged myself? Divine Love accepted me for who I was, no questions asked. It made me very, very uncomfortable. How could something love me without causing pain? How could it love me in my darkness? It’s funny, when something easy shows up, we immediately deem it too good to be true and dismiss it as a scam. That’s how I treated Divine Love–it must’ve been a scam because I saw myself as a piece of shit unworthy of love so where did it get off saying I was lovable?

No matter how much I tried to ignore it, Divine Love wouldn’t leave, so after a while, I engaged with it. Slowly, I let it into my heartspace. And from there, it began to heal my wounds. Divine Love didn’t cause pain; it healed pain that already existed. Through creating a safe space, it uprooted old hurts, mindsets and beliefs about myself that had to be released. I could no longer see myself as fat, ugly, and unlovable. Divine Love wouldn’t let me. It insisted that I saw the truth about myself; seeing the truth meant I had to let go of my distorted self-image and limited beliefs on love. It gently encouraged me to drop my defense mechanisms–the ways I’d try to protect myself from hurt and pain. It asked me to open up and be vulnerable–to be honest–to share my deepest fears and disappointments. It asked me to forgive myself, others, and my past. It nudged me towards trust–trust in its inherent power and in myself. It never talked down to me, or told me I was worthless. It didn’t get frustrated with me or lash out in annoyance. It taught me how to love myself without demands or conditions. As I moved in this deeper understanding of Divine Love, my views on romantic love shifted as well.

Image From: Canva

Romantic love has been packaged and sold to us (through media and learned experience) as painful but totally worth it. We’ve come to believe that people must change to be with us, or that we must change. We’ve been taught that if someone doesn’t meet our conditions, we should withhold our love until they earn it back, or vice versa. I’m speaking about the ways in which we show up as wounded versions of ourselves, demanding that we heal each other’s hurts. We’ve been taught that we have to battle through, but never address our wounding in order to arrive at the promised land of romantic bliss. When in reality, we’ll never get there until we take time to accept Divine Love and its healing so we can offer it to ourselves and others. 

It’s a romantic love remix, Feat. Divine Love.

I saw a post on Instagram that said: “If you want to be happy, love them for who they are. If you want to be frustrated, love them for who you hope they’ll become.” That quote invites us to accept people for who they are in the here and now. To show compassion. To not abandon them at the first disagreement or display of insecurity. It invites us to show up patient. Nurturing. Open and willing. It asks us to be so full of Divine Love that we have more than enough to give away.

Image from Instagram: @steven

It may sound saccharine and unrealistic but I believe romantic love can be a wondrous adventure of connection, exploration and intimacy. With Divine Love at the helm, it has the possibility to heal pain instead of reflect it. Think about it: what would our interpersonal relationships look like if we show up vulnerable and compassionate instead of defensive and suspicious? What would romance look like if we accept and love people for who they are? It may buck the status quo but I encourage us to consider remixing romantic love, so that it can bring us into a deeper understanding of ourselves and others.

All my love,

Chantell Monique

Copyright 2021. Do not repost without permission.