On Restructuring Relationships

In high school I had a few steady boyfriends, and the relationships never really ended. We would always just change the way we worked. I moved, they moved, or some odd circumstance made us drift apart. One winter I cried in the parking lot of a south-side Virginia complex when on the phone with an ex who ghosted me, and then had his current girlfriend call me back. Just to dig the knife deeper. I cried an intense kind of cry that night. I cried for weeks, really. I was on my way back to New York and knew that me leaving Virginia would mean it was over forever. Months later, my brother saw him in Target, and I felt none of the pain that consumed me so deeply for so long.

Years later, I met and fell in love. I had a baby. I got married. I grew this blog, and occasion, I shared our relationship on here. It felt right. After all, it was a lifestyle blog, and he was and is in my life. Like most couples, we struggled, and like many couples I kept much of that to myself. I worked on it tirelessly. For about a year I paused friendships, just so I could see the lines jump back on the screen. beep. beep. Tell me it’s still going. It was, just. Just. I would always have a just.

I became an advocate for couples therapy-seeing how it could blow life into two individuals who found themselves in the trenches. But the just was always there. And it wasn’t simple. It was complicated and personal and private and we both always knew. Not many others did. But we kept at it. I kept at it. I’m a woman after all. A black woman, to be specific. A black woman with two young kids to be exact. We just don’t give-up.

For one, we were young. Two, we grew kids and businessess simultaneously. Three, it had already been so very long.

But at the beginning of last year, after about a year in my own therapy, I think I settled on one of the hardest things a woman and mother may have to. I decided that the just was too loud. The kids could feel the just. I felt the just. He felt the just. We, then decided to restructure our family.

Looking back, 2017 was the hardest year of my life. How does one run a site for women, while keeping a very real thing–a very real and tangible experience for myself while so many women face the same circumstances? But I look at my kids, made in love, and I look at our love, and I look at our healing, and realize, this isn’t just the just. It’s so much bigger. And so, this story will always remain private– for us. Where it rightfully belongs.

During this time, I’ve realized so much about myself. I realized the way love can expand and layer and move in different directions-if allowed to. I want to teach my children, that strength is sometimes knowing when exactly to change things. It’s knowing that the very thing that has scared you you’re entire life, isn’t something that you have to run from. Strength is knowing when to be quiet, when to love, when to step back, when to restructure.

After I shared this on Instagram, many of you messaged me, reading in-between the lines and expressed that you were too in a similar place in your marriage. I wish I could give you all the advice I devoured for months. I wish I could give you all the hugs I asked for and needed. I wish I could share this in a way that felt both graceful and insightful. But my daughter (who can read) deserves this story. My son deserves this story. My long relationship deserves this private story. I deserve to hold on to this story. In private. In our family.

And so, a changing relationship looks a lot like a restructured family. Something not bonded by the struggles of two people trying to figure them out, but by the love in which it was initially built, and an acceptance in the way families often look in 2017, 2018 and so on.

In light of this, I want to make an effort to continue to share varying stories based on parenthood. Not just motherhood. I want to continue to peel away this ideology that nuclear remains the only way.  I hope that the stories these women write on the blog for you over the course of this year and the years to come, and the example of the image with just me, River, and Oak, will help you peel that away too. All in all, I wish the same things for this space as I do for my family: community and welcoming peace, even through the grit.


(photo by Andre Wagner)

12 thoughts on “On Restructuring Relationships

  • Reply Ali January 23, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    This is so beautiful, LaTonya. Thank you for sharing what you were willing to. And for gracefully showing what it looks like to have a boundary in a sometimes boundary-less age.

  • Reply heaether January 23, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    I admire you immensely for respecting not only your family’s but YOUR own privacy. Just because you have a public platform doesn’t mean your followers HAVE to know everything. Our culture promotes exposure in unhealthy amounts and I’m happy to see someone say “no this is my story only”

  • Reply Elizabeth January 25, 2018 at 12:04 am

    Yes. This is also how I feel about birth stories. We don't need to post them. We don't need to give details. We can remember for ourselves. Best of luck. A new beginning is on the horizon.

  • Reply lydia @makinglamadre January 25, 2018 at 12:05 am

    So often women, in this world of social media and over exposure, just ignore the hard stuff, the real stuff or the un pretty stuff. Thank you for acknowledging this. The acknowledgment is enough. xx

  • Reply LaTonya Yvette January 25, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you so much for the sweet note.


  • Reply LaTonya Yvette January 25, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you love, yes. Keeping it for myself has meant so much to me, and has done so much for my own healing, and I know it will only do more.


  • Reply LaTonya Yvette January 25, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Thank you Lydia. It is definitely a tough balance. My goal is to always be open with topics I am comfortable being open about. But not overly exposed. And there is definitely another level of privacy I sought in 2017 and now in 2018, and am happy people like you and others are respecting that.


  • Reply LaTonya Yvette January 25, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    Thank you Elizabeth. It is how I felt about my birth stories as well. I was asked to share them quite a few times, and always felt them to be too private and for myself and for the kids one day. Not everything experienced is made to be shared.


  • Reply Jody Winter February 21, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Sending you a big hug all the way from New Zealand. x

  • Reply Samantha Sophia March 14, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    I totally missed this before. I love your intagram and your blog and I find myself during lunch breaks or when I need a little inspiration from another black woman / mom creative floating to sites like yours. I blog about my life as well and there are some things where I think would be edifying to others but I need to consider the privacy of my loved ones and especially my children since they can't quite give consent. It's a fine line. A difficult balance. You've done it with grace.

  • Reply LaTonya Yvette May 23, 2018 at 1:30 am

    Thank you so much Samantha. Keep coming back to this.


  • Reply Quiana October 5, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    I missed this post in the midst of crazy and am still continually thankful for your style of capturing black motherhood and the few times our paths crossed when I lived in NYC. Love you and your beautiful family.

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