When I was fourteen years old, I thought love betrayed me. I really betrayed myself.
I really hate to open up or even think about this moment of my life. I am embarrassed of it. I am ashamed of it. For the past four years I have been trying to put that aspect of my life in a metaphoric locked closet in my head so that no one, not even myself, would be able to open that door and see it. In the words of Solange," I tried to keep myself busy. I ran around in circles thinking I made myself dizzy" in an attempt to place that episode of my life so far behind me that no one, not even me, would ever fathom if I had experienced it.
As hard as I try to forget, though, each day I have a flashback of particular moments from that period of my life and the painful regret starts to plague my thoughts. However, I think "writing it away" (going along with the "Cranes in the Sky" vibe), is apart of the healing process and my self-care routine because as much as I've said that I've been restored, there are times when I am left feeling broken, and I'll be damned if I continue to remain somewhat broken at the hands of a black man.
He ain't shit, girl
Don't fall for the first person who gives you attention.
Four years ago, I was in a completely different space. I was either a freshman or a sophomore in high school (I can't remember) when I met him. He was four years older than me (I was fourteen with an eighteen-year old), so of course this relationship was problematic from the day that we met. I was a church girl whose eyes were so innocent that I wouldn't see what being played looked like if it had hit me right in the face. And the fact that I had never been in a relationship before was the icing on the cake of my naïveté. Sprinkle in a dash of loneliness from being the only child, insecurity in not having a lot of friends, my overall social awkwardness, and voila! There you have a fourteen-year old girl who felt invisible and strongly desired someone to give her the attention she's been lacking from her environment. I was young and dumb. I constantly question whether I should be that hard on myself, but in retrospect, I'm stuck between sympathizing with the fourteen-year-old me and being incredibly harsh on the actions I made because the eighteen- year- old me knew that the fourteen-year-old me could have done better. I find myself constantly choosing the latter because I can't really remember if the pain that the fourteen-year-old me felt from constantly being alone blindsided my instinct.
But what I do remember is me being instantly attracted to him, although I hate to admit it. I met him during a college tour affiliated with my aunt's church. Instead of focusing on the information that colleges provided, my fast ass was more focused on him. I hate to be that harsh on myself, but I deserve it. There was just something about him that instantly appealed to me. I know that sounds cliché, but I really felt that his personality and style was so unique that I couldn't help but like him. He was also attractive (it was really hard to type that compliment), so there was that. To top it off, he was interested in me, so, of course, I couldn't reject that. After years of feeling invisible, I was excited that there was someone who finally "saw me".
His stark uniqueness that I instantly became fond of had nothing to do with him. Hell, the only unique aspect of him was his name. In retrospect, I've learned that what was unique was the attention that I was receiving because I never felt that type of affection from a guy before. So when I knew that he felt a certain way about me (a feeling that was foreign to me), I took that feeling and held it so close to me that I didn't want it to slip away.
In fact, I did everything in my power to not let it slip away. That feeling was like holding a carton of eggs----I held it so tight that I didn't want it to let it fall and crack. So, I chased, and I chased more aggressively because I didn't want that feeling (that alien feeling of being loved by someone who wasn't family) to crack. My means of chasing him was going to the place where I knew I would see him-----my auntie's church. I started going to that church every Sunday simply because I would see him. I went out of my way in order to experience that same feeling. Thus, I really wasn't chasing him; I was just chasing the way he made me feel.
My visits to the church in which I saw him multiple times, led to our inevitable relationship (if that's what you want to call that disaster). You would think that I would stop chasing him because I finally had him. But no, the chasing certainly didn't end with the question, "Do you want to be my girl?". During the relationship, I chased for the love and affection that wasn't reciprocated and that same ole' feeling that I couldn't let get away from me. In fact, the entire relationship could be summed up by me doing all of the work. I worked so hard for the relationship that it was the impetus of my emotions, the momentum of my heart, and the driving force of most of my actions.
He isn't your everything.
However, I never saw the fruits of my labor. At the time, however, I really didn't care. As long as I was somewhat getting that currently dreaded feeling, I was ok. I say "somewhat" because he clearly couldn't make up his mind about how he felt about me. Actually, as the relationship transpired, that feeling that was in abundance on the first day that we met gradually reduced. Although I was aware of that, I was in denial because he was in control of my emotions and he made me feel good sometimes. I allowed him to have a significant amount of power over my feelings; my mood was predicated upon him. I gave him the keys to my heart, and he didn't know what to do with it.
I've learned that it was an intense amount of pressure that I imposed upon him-----to be the dictator of my happiness-------but I placed it on him anyway because I wasn't receiving the same affection from anyone else. I made him my everything and gave him all of my love and support, but all I received was crumbs of his indecisive feeling regarding me in return.
Don't be a fool
I was a fool for him. In my search for love and companionship, I ended up playing myself. I played my heart, my intelligence, and, more importantly, I played my self-worth. So when he told me that rekindling the fire with his ex was normal, I believed it because I was willing to stay in a toxic relationship that only gave me companionship in return. So all of those nights in which I would wait up patiently for his call only to be met with a voicemail were tolerable because I told myself that sacrificing myself for the idea of having a boyfriend and kind of being wanted by someone was ok. The days that I spent questioning his love for me (while knowing the negative answer) were well spent in my eyes because I made myself believe that this was what a relationship should be like.
Therefore, when the relationship came to an end, I did not initiate it (of course). In fact, I fought against it. I fought against a breakup because I didn't want that feeling to end-----the feeling of being wanted by someone---- and I didn't want our forced love to crack. But once we actually did breakup, after months of me convincing him to stay, I broke down. I wasn't eating, wasn't going to school, and suicidal thoughts ran rampant. I didn't want to talk to anyone because that feeling that I fought to have wasn't around anymore. It left me broken and unhappy.
There were days where I just didn't go anywhere and felt as if all hope was gone. I think the aspect that hurt me the most about our relationship was that I couldn't even get an apology or anything, especially since I learned he had a baby with someone else while we were together. He was over my auntie's house and eating our food meanwhile he had a newborn daughter. I was so shocked when I heard the news that I finally realized that he was playing me. Then, I finally learned that I really played myself because it didn't have to take a baby to make me realize that I was in a toxic relationship. I just ignored the many signs because I really believed that this is what a woman does when she's in love.
Now, I've learned that I was really never in love with him at all; I was just in love with this feeling that he gave me. Although he was a part-time (damn near once a month) sender of this love I felt I was missing my entire life, I made him the general manager of my heart and being. At an early age I learned the damaging effects of a black woman not being loved properly and being in denial about it without realizing it until now. More importantly, I learned the burden that black women often place on black men to control their happiness to compensate for the insecurities imposed upon society and environment and the emotional burden that black women often carry in relationships. That was me. That was what I was doing.
However, as wrong as he was, I know that I am culpable for everything that I received because I allowed it to happen. I forced it, and the result was inevitable. Although an apology from him would be nice, I've learned that sometimes you have to be ok with an "I'm sorry" that you'll never receive. I'm being loved properly now by someone who has showed me what really being in love looks like. He's showed me that what I dealt with wasn't love at all (it was more like the nearest exit to hell). More importantly, he's helped me to understand that I have an identity outside of our relationship and that my happiness ultimately comes first. I HAVE A MAN WHO LOVES ME FOR ME AND NOT HOW HE CAN MAKE ME FEEL, Y'ALL! That was definitely unheard of in my previous relationship, and I received the bitter end of the stick for allowing it.
But I'd be damned if I let it happen again. I refuse to allow my happiness to be conditioned by someone else. In the words of Toni Morrison from Song of Solomon, "You wanna fly you got to give up the shit that weighs you down". Well, I'm ready to pick up my wings and fly my own route without allowing anyone to stop me.