For Lee, who’s discovering she’s a lot stronger than she thought.
I remember being 18 and wanting to be in love. I’d never been in love before and I wanted it. I wanted to know what that felt like. What I was missing. And I wanted to say I was enough for a man to fall in love with.
So I was 18. And we met. And he was 22.
In retrospect I can already see the jig just looking at our ages but I was a young bird and I didn’t know any better.
I was a student and he was a soldier. And he claimed to like that because I was so “smart” which made me “different”. He encouraged me in school and pushed me to stick with my major when I wanted to quit or give up. He’d never gone to college and I think education was a sore spot for him because he’d been working since he was 18.
I was deterred from going out too much. From making too many friends. Form being too social. But that was only because he “cared about me and needed to watch out for me”, to “protect” me and help me “stay focused”.
I was sheltered and he was exciting. And he claimed to like that because I was “a good girl”. He wouldn’t have to worry about me. I would check in and ask permission. Beg his involvement in my activities and interests but was always understanding when he was too busy … because work came first. There were nights when he would try to make it up to me and promise me a great time….He’s the one that taught me men are full of promises.. only to leave me waiting in my room, calling, texting, and crying wondering where he was. His excuse? Work. Or friends. Or he simply forgot:
“Why you trippin? I got you next time bae”
But he was fun. He was traveled. He was intoxicating and he was an escape for me from my drab and boring life.
He was the total opposite of my father. And I guess in some sick twisted way dating him was my way of annoying my dad. He was of a different culture. He had no degree to his name. He hated my dad and he picked my side in every argument. He “understood” me. my family didn’t.
I was a virgin and he had a baby. And he said it didn’t bother him because I was “pure”. But I could always hear the annoyance in his voice when I’d ask questions like “why do men like having their dicks blown on? How is that sexy” ( a blow job ) or “how do you have sex from the back if my pussy is in the front?” ( because I also didn’t understand my own anatomy).
I remember one night I went to a photoshoot.. and I came home a little roughed up. And feeling shame.
Because I wouldn’t be as pure and good as he wanted me to be, not anymore anyways. And feeling alone up on my pedestal.
And wanting to come down
But not knowing where I’d land in his eyes.
So I smuggled away my secret and smiled and laughed.. and made sure my burden didn’t weigh him down.
Because men don’t like damaged women.
He was my territory and I found myself fighting with women over what I thought was mine.
“Why that bitch stay on your twitter J, who that fuck is she ?”
“yo deadass you gotta stop arguing with them”
“But you ain’t gotta stop flirting with hoes??? I wouldn’t have to argue with no bitches if you could distinguish who’s your girlfriend and who’s a fan”
Funny enough I’m actually good friends with one of those women now and we joke about how she tried to fuck my boyfriend back in the day – cause we’re both a little weird like that.
J taught me that a man that values you doesn’t make himself a trophy to be won.
So I spent 2 years trying to make things work. Arguing and fighting because I’d began to believe that he was the only person who could or would love me, not with all my issues anyway. Because that’s what he had taught me.
I had a life plan: Date 2-3 years, get married have a baby and J had already taken up 2 of those 3 years so I felt invested. I didn’t want to start all over and be lonely and single like other girls, right? I didn’t want to be like those girls who were jealous of me because I had a man, right?
It HAD to work.
I deserved it to work.
I deserved him.
I’d seen my mother do it. My aunts. My older friends. So I could make it work too. What kind of woman would I be if I could not keep a man ?
And I cried and stayed.
Part of me felt responsible. Perhaps I’d been too greedy with my virginity, made my expectations and ransom too high? Maybe the things I learned in church about the value men place on sex and purity had made me unrealistic about what my body was worth. Maybe I drove him into her arms because I couldn’t do the one thing every man needs to be happy.
I felt numb, and worse I could never speak on it because I was so.. happy outwardly. I covered our tracks as if I was the one who trespassed. I lied. I made excuses. I “had my mans back”… like a damn fool.
I tried to drown away our problems in religion, time spent together, and forgiveness but the ache of betrayal in my chest grew and grew until it was resentment and part of me hated him for hurting me and hated myself for buying the lies he sold. But I suppose I wanted the idea of love more than the reality of my failed relationship.
I pulled away from him. Got quiet. Made myself small. And waited for it to stop hurting.
He returned by lashing out at me. Yelling. Cussing me out.
Reminding me that I was a whore when I stepped out of line, offended him somehow, or behaved “too friendly” around other men.
He was angry that I didn’t care anymore but I was just so tired of feeling things for him.
We got issues obviously. We need to handle them…i miss you lite weight
My only regret was not leaving sooner but I wasn’t strong enough to walk away from him and I was more afraid of being alone than of being with the man that scared me.
My issue with blogging is that I don’t want to sound big and bold and strong because I wasn’t and there’re times now when I question myself and have to remember everything thats happened and remind myself that its ok to be weak sometimes.
I’ve found myself the victim and somehow apologizing for being easy prey and justifying the actions of men by saying I was fucked up too. Making excuses for abusive manipulative behavior by saying we were both just growing up and that we were what each other needed at the time. I vindicated them and carried the baggage they gave me, alone. It took me years to start saying “you hurt me” without feeling shame that I somehow got got. Me smart strong me, got got.
When I was asked to write about my experiences I was hesitant. In some ways I feel as though I’ve cultivated this reputation of being bigger than I am. Loud. Fun. Happy. Dating astute men and garnering some esteem from fellow women. The initial intention of this post was to tell my girl “how I got so strong” but I can’d do that without telling you when I was weak too.
I spent the years after J avoiding emotions, relationships, and all things that could leave me somehow vulnerable again.
2014 was a year of weakness and bitterness and confusing anger with strength.
2015 was the year of “Running though niggas like a bitch going joggin” ( word to Future) I don’t even remember some of those men’s names
2016 was the year of avoiding commitment.
I can’t complain much about my dating life because I’ve always gotten the type of man I wanted. If I wanted a man that was like my father.. I got him. If I wanted a man that was “good” ( aka good on paper ) I got him too. But with each man I dated, or wasted time with, I can honestly say I learned a different lesson that made me a better woman.
So this was J..
J taught me what my limits were. He taught me that I am so much stronger and smarter than I could ever imagine. He taught me to speak up. To say NO. That it’s ok to hurt. He taught me that I can demand things and that I deserve be treated with the same regard that I treat others and that it is not outlandish for me to expect that reciprocity. That weakness is not the same as kindness. He taught me that forgiveness does not equate forgetting, or excusing, forgiveness is for me. He taught me that love doesn’t hurt. To trust my gut and not be afraid of being alone. That “single” is not “failure”.
That men are not the goal.
This relationship represented a turning point for me in terms of maturity and strength. I tried to add some screenshots of old conversations he and I had but honestly, seeing them and reading those old messages reminded me of a time when I wasn’t quite myself.
I spent the last few days trying to think of something clever to title this piece. At a point I even considered naming it after a friend who’d encouraged me to speak openly, for the first time, about some of the things I experienced in that relationship. But nothing felt right and I think I understand why now: I wasn’t writing this for myself, or just her, or anyone else for that matter. Lessons are to be shared, so this is for you.
Consider this an introduction.
I hope to have more to teach you, soon. I hope you find some value in the sharing. I hope my lessons become yours, sans the emotional damage, and I hope you meet men that teach you something and make you have to make yourself better.
Ever pressing, Ever learning.
With love, that only comes from inside,