"I launched myself at him, and pinned him against the wall, and started cursing him. I wasn’t using any vowel sounds, it was all consonants." [An Interview]Read Now
MW: So… we’re going to talk about your experience partnering with a narcissist, because they are mind-killers who crumple reality and the only thing to restore the sanity of their victims is a witness. So I’m going to witness for you. Tell me the story even if you don’t remember it. Whenever you’re ready.
I was working as an art model. I had this day when I had a different type of modeling job that was outside of what I normally do, like a clothing commercial. And I went and I looked around and I was like, oh no, I am not what they are looking for at all! Everybody here is white and a certain body type that is not my body type, yeah no, okay, so I left. And I was like, what the hell else am I going to do with my day? I don’t have anything else planned and that was totally disappointing, and it was a beautiful day in Manhattan, and I was walking past Union Square because that’s where my train stop is, and I was just like, I don’t want to go home, I’m just going to sit in the park and think and see what happens.
So I went into the park and it was really crowded and all the benches were full. So all these people get up from this one bench and I sit down, and at the same time that I was sitting down -- I’m going to call him The Motherfucker -- (laughs)
-- The Motherfucker is coming from the other direction at the same time that I’m walking up, and I don’t see him and he doesn’t see me because of this whole group of people that was between us, and when they get up and walk away it's just the two of us on the bench. So this young man walks up to us trying to sell us something. And it's clear that this young man assumed that we were a couple -- and neither of us is interested in what the kid is selling and the kid goes away. And then The Motherfucker turned to me and -- he said something -- and I just thought he was talking to himself (laughs) and I didn’t pay any attention. Because you know, people talk to themselves. And then I realized he was talking to me and I was like, what did you say?? (laughs) And he said, yeah, I think he thought we were together. And I remember thinking, duhhh, that was obvious. Did you really need to say that? (laughs)
I really don’t know how we got into a conversation after that but somehow we ended up talking and I was like, what do you do? And he told he he was a poet, and I was like, oh! My sister’s a poet! She might have heard of you! And then I found out that my sister had been in his class before at some workshop or something. So she knew him. Him knowing my sister -- I was like, oh okay...
MW: You’re not a stranger...
Exactly! At some point in the conversation he asked me if I liked eggplant, and at the time I really loved eggplant. And so...
MW: Oh, but that's also the penis emoticon.
MW: Eggplant is the penis emoticon.
Oh shit! (laughs)
MW: He wanted to know if you like that diiick…(laughs) fuck outta here...
(laughs) He was like, I know a place right around the corner that has the best eggplant. So, he took my wrist. Not my hand, but my wrist, and led me to the place. And for some reason on the walk, I felt instant comfort. I remember he used the words, older brother. I don’t remember exactly what the sentence was but I remember him giving me the impression that he might become a...wait... DID he say that? Because at this point I’m not clear. Because I remember thinking to myself that he was gay. And so, somehow this combination of whatever I thought -- oh, this is going to be my new gay older brother! We’re gonna get eggplant! (laughs) We sat down and we were talking and talking -- and I was talking a lot. I was talking more than he was talking. Probably because I thought he was my new gay big brother (laughs).
MW: Right (laughs)
At one point he asked, like, do I date men? What’s my story? Do I date women, what’s the deal? And I was like, oh, you know -- I don’t remember actually -- I don’t remember what I said-- but it was something along the lines of -- I might be interested in either. I was like, yeah but, that’s my story. So you… you’re...you’re gay right?
MW: (Gasps) You said that??
I said that (laughs). He paused for a second but he didn’t show anything in his face, it's just, his response was slow to come out. But his face was like... like, totally at peace somehow. And the next thing he said was, well I’m attracted to YOU. And I was like, ohhh.
MW: That’s a good answer.
That had not even occurred to me that that was a possibility, that that’s what was happening. I didn’t read that type of energy AT ALL, at first.
MW: How much older than you was he?
He was 18 or 19 years older than me.
MW: So he’s that Old motherfucker. Got it.
Yeah, that’s that old motherfucker.
MW: And when you started dating him, you were how old?
I think I was 32. And I remember that somewhere that day he asked my age and then when he found out my age his energy became more clear, like clearly like, this man is attracted to me, oh I feel it now. But he wasn’t vibrating that energy until he found out my age.
MW: Maybe he didn't want to be coming on to somebody too young…
Well you would think that… but the woman who came after me with whom I’ve begun a dialogue about our experience, she’s telling me that he now is seeing this twenty-something year old.
MW: Oh. So how did the relationship progress? How did he become yo maaaaan?
(Laughs) That’s a good question. It’s a blur. Honestly. I don’t… I remember that after we slept together the first time, which was pretty soon after our first date...because I wasn’t thinking of this as any possible serious anything! This was an old man -- this was an experiment! So after we slept with each other, that next morning he told me loved me! And I was like, shocked! I don't think I said anything. And he put me in a cab to get home. And I went home and I felt really great, I felt amazing, like there was something about it that was so cool. The sex was very mental. It was more mental than I have ever experienced before, and it was interesting, and it was like woooow, I didn’t even know. So the next day I was glowing. Everywhere I went, people were smiling at me, people were complimenting me. I just was buzzing with lucky happy sunshine feeling. And I remember that sometime after that I was really fucking annoyed because The Motherfucker was texting me so much that it became disruptive to the rest of my life. I’m the type person who keeps my phone nearby so I know if someone needs to get in touch with me, but...
MW: What kind of messages?
Honestly like, they were sweet in themselves -- I don’t remember what they were, I just remember they were sweet but they were so often and so much I was like, I can’t focus on what I’m doing because my phone keeps buzzing. I was like, what the fuck? I was mad about it and I told him to calm down and that’s not okay. And I don’t remember exactly what it was that he said, but it had something to do with a sense of togetherness that he... like... felt with me… and something... something. And it sounded very sweet and yet it was not cool that he was sending me all them text messages.
The thing is, a lot of times I DO remember what people say. If we were rehashing a conversation I’d had with other people I’d probably be able to tell you what they said. But… he..
MW: Um hmmm…
A term I’ve learned is “word salad,” where people… if they have a high functioning verbal ability, they can sound like they’re being profound... and it's just a little twisted somehow...and there’s something off about it but you can’t put your finger on it because you’ve lost half of what they’re saying. But maybe you just missed something...? But it’s like… I can’t… part of the reason why it's a blur is because there were so many things like that… where for me it was like… it felt like a mental challenge. It was weird and I was like, how can I make him understand me? How I can make us understand each other? This is really challenging, but interesting! (laughs)
MW: Let me see if I follow what you’re saying -- you’re saying initially you met this person, and the initial meeting was based on someone else's misunderstanding… (laughs)
MW: ...and then he misunderstood how old you were, you misunderstood his intention and his sexual orientation, and all these misunderstandings were interesting to you…(laughs)
MW: (laughs) and you’re not sure when you and he became an official couple, but you know that it quickly started from being a little confusing and to being way more confusing… and what I’m saying to you is --
MW: No, absolutely not, I’m not saying you’re crazy in any way. I’m trying to figure out what is the mental state…
But I can't remember any of it...
MW: Exactly! Let me say to you this -- trauma changes the brain. So if I’d asked you these things maybe a week after they happened you might be able to tell me exactly. But this stuff was years ago. And in dealing with narcissists, after you’ve tried to bend your mind so many times to understand what they’re saying -- because they really seem to believe what they’re saying and it AFFECTS them somehow -- and because it affects them it affects YOU somehow, and you really try to understand. But it's confusing. And so you can’t remember what was said you only remember how you’re supposed to feel about it.
And here’s the also-anotherthing part of it -- The Motherfucker is a poet. Has been a celebrated user of language. And that’s what -- his use of language is his bread and butter. He teaches it on a university level. It's like if we’re having some sort of discrepancy in our understanding that requires vocal communication, it's like, fuck!
MW: I know this is kind of nebulous for you, but -- I have two questions -- one, when did it go from, this is just a guy I’m kind of dating who sweats me too much, to, I’m in love with this man? And two…
I’m still trying to dig into myself to think of what is the answer to the first damn question. How did that happen? But you know, after the first time you sleep together and the person just flat out says I love you, then that kind of like automatically sort of puts you in a space of considering… or put me in the space... I guess... of considering them as a possible partner.
MW: That’s called the love bombing phase.
(laughs) Yes I’ve heard of it.
MW: You’re not alone. And it happens to empathetic people who don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. Because you don’t want to reject him, you put his comfort over your comfort…
I guess. I must have felt that. Possibly. (laughs) I don’t remember.
MW: And here’s my second question. On his end, when did it go from, I love you, you can do no wrong, you're my everything, to, what’s wrong with you?
Okay. Oh gosh I remember! The second question. The first time I went to his apartment I was with him, we went together. But the second time I was in his apartment -- which, I can’t remember how much time we’d been seeing each other before I went to his apartment a second time -- I think it must have been soon, probably the next week -- and that’s another thing -- we had been -- there was something about how much he was open about me coming to his place when we barely knew each other. That’s kind of weird. Especially in New York City, motherfuckers are crazy. I could have been crazy but I guess he realized that he was probably the crazier one. But anyway, I didn’t know which buzzer was the right buzzer, but he lived on the first floor. His window was open because it was summer, so I called through his window. Not too loud but loud enough to project if he was towards the back, so when he came to the door the first thing, before a hug, before hello, before anything, he was upset that I was calling his name out in the neighborhood. He was upset that I was yelling his name outside. And I was like… he was so upset that he was yelling about it. He was UPSET.
MW: He yelled at you?
Yeah, he yelled. I mean...yeah. He yelled. And he was like… and the thing is, that thing that he was complaining about, it wasn’t new to me because I remember at some point when I was a kid, somebody being really clear about not wanting me to say their name out loud in the neighborhood. And I don’t remember who that was but I remember that, like it wasn't a completely foreign idea. And so, I just remember being`so hurt. Because you know, everything up until then was just these beautiful bird sounds and stars twinkling type interactions, and then, all of a sudden, the first thing he did was yell at me instead of righting his face to say hello. So, that. That was it right there.
MW: Do you think if that hadn’t already happened to you as a child, if it didn’t trigger your own acceptance of somebody else's bullshit at an age where you couldn't be like, I can call your name if I want to fucking call your name 'cause that’s your name, what the fuck...
MW: ...your paranoia is not my burden, get your life together man, I don’t know. (laughs) That sounds like you got some shit going on. And you of all people are so quick to do that, to be like, no that’s YOUR shit man, that’s your shit.
MW: So I’m asking you, do you think if that thing as a kid had never happened -- that The Motherfucker’s behavior would have rung an alarm?
If that had not ever happened, if that was totally unfamiliar, I would have thought right then and there, this motherfucker’s crazy, and I probably wouldn't have even gone in.
I would have just turned around. You know, I noticed, the day we met and he took my wrist and not my hand and I thought that was weird. I brought it up to him later, weeks later, and he explained that he felt like touching my hand might seem too familiar, so he took my wrist.
MW: How long were you with him?
Almost five years, like four plus years. Maybe five years.
MW: Was there ever a point in your relationship where you were like, this is exactly what I want, this is the relationship for me, I’m happy in this relationship?
No. There was never a point where I was like, this is exactly the relationship I want, no. It was never that. But, there was something that happened very early on, in whatever it was, that made me feel like… if I… if we… like we could work on it being that. Like it could become that.
MW: What happened? What was the carrot?
That's a good question. I know that because our conversations… because I remember working on it. I remember talking about working on it with him. But I don't remember when that shift happened. I don’t know.
MW: That’s okay. It's all just one big muddy mud mud, isn’t it?
Yeah. Yeah (laughs) Like I know there are specifics in there, but...
MW: You can’t get them out. That’s okay. We will speak on the mud. Even if you don’t know what’s in there, we just gon’ point it out and be like, it's that pile right there, it's all in there, if you need it you go get it. (laughs)
It's in there.
MW: Can you specifically speak on when you started to feel like he was fucking with your reality? Or like...I don’t know… just that moment where like you just decided, I can’t keep working on this?
I remember at one point he was trying to get me to understand something the way he saw it. I don't remember what it was but I remember he was trying to get me to see it this particular way and I remember telling him well, but this is how I SEE IT and these two things can only exist in different universes, they can't BOTH be true, only ONE of these things can be true. What I’m saying or what you’re saying. So he told me again, whatever he was saying, and I remember looking at him and being like, Motherfucker! You know that what you’re doing is, you’re asking me to scrap the way that I SEE IT and adopt the way YOU see it?? I asked him this, clearly. And he said some shit about togetherness.
And um, I just, lawd, I don't know what all he said, but I know I didn't -- I knew I was right, and I knew there was a problem here. But I also felt at the same time, based on the shit he said at the time, those particular words and phrases, I remember feeling like, there was just some sort of breakdown in his understanding of what I was saying…
MW: Oh wow…
Yesss! And so. Here’s part of the way this fucking relationship sapped my energy. Because you know that as a Virgo, I can THINK and THINK and THINK and so… I just got to working on this project, of how to phrase things in such a way, that The Motherfucker could understand me crystal clearly. (laughs)
GirI! I am JUST starting to recover my energy.
MW: Oh my God... (laughs)
And that’s just ONE part of it. I’m sorry, I don’t remember the question.
MW: No, you answered it perfectly! The question was, when did you start to realize that he was trying to shift your reality?
That’s the thing. What I’m telling you is that even though I started to realize it right then, he talked me out of it.
MW: Again and again. That’s what they do.
Yeah, so I can’t say that’s when -- you know what I’m saying? That’s not the turning point that happened and made me leave. Here's the turning point that happened -- I was still asking questions, I was committed. I had become committed to working on this relationship like a project. I was gonna...we were gonna -- like, it was like a mental challenge.
`MW: It's because you don’t want to lose. You don't want to say you put in all that time for nothing. You don’t want to say your heart was wrong.
For sure. For sure. But I was committed to the relationship and I made that clear to The Motherfucker. And so, whenever he would do and say things that didn’t sit well with me, I would talk to him about it. Because my grandmother was a psychologist and she dealt with children who had problems and I have always, believed -- I was brought up to believe -- that everyone has the capacity to grow and change. And so, being in this relationship, I was struggling and trying so hard to help him to grow and change in such a way that he could understand that certain things were not ok. And I remember talking to him about his relationships with other people, and ways I thought he could treat other people better. Like, we talked, I talked with him about these things, and this is another thing I’ve read about that people who have dealt with narcissists have experienced -- where the person will seem like they’re working on the issue and improve for awhile and BE BETTER, and then revert right back into the same shit. Like as soon as it seems like, oh okay, they are growing and changing, its happening, I can see it, I feel it, I’m starting to feel better about this! And then boom, like, it's like none of that shit ever happened. All those conversations, all that work, just gone. And that's really disorienting.
MW: That’s the perfect word for it. Because it does something to your idea of life. Like, wait a minute, it's not supposed to work like this.
Right! Exactly yeah. So there's a connection between my relentlessness about this, like, about reality (laughs), about my reality and me needing him to understand it. And what changed is, as that continued and I got -- how can I say this? -- I uh, I just got more and more distinct in my use of speech. I got more and more patient and kind and compassionate in my manner. And I did all of these things that made it kind of undeniable that I was clearly, OK actually. And what happened as a result is that The Motherfucker would… I would realize I was ok and I would go to walk away from a conversation. Just any conversation that had gone awry and I realized had gone awry and I was just going to walk away, I wasn’t going to get caught up anymore. I was finally realizing like, oh, I don’t have to sap my energy in this way, I’m just not going to engage in this conversation. That is when The motherfucker started doing things like standing in front of me, standing in my path so that I couldn’t get by. To go. And not engage. To disengage from the conversation. He started making it physically impossible for me to disengage from the conversation, and THAT is when I was like, oh no, that is not okay, our days together are numbered.
But at that point. Because at that point. Girl. GIRL. I’m an artist. Motherfuckers be broke. And I just… I have hustled and made do with very little in terms of financial resources, and I understand that that's kind of how it goes much of the time for people in certain parts of their careers, and at one point when me and The Motherfucker were seeing each other, he was like, well why don’t you let me take care of you? I see that you have really amazing in terms of the way you think and what you can make, why don’t you let me take care of you financially so you can have some time and space to develop as an artist.
MW: And who doesn't want that?
And I had never been offered such a thing before, and I was resistant at first like, oh my god, that's a big step, and I think that’s when our relationship went into partnership, was after that offer. I considered it, I didn’t just jump in… but then I did jump in because I considered it a short time and then I was like, well hell, miracles do happen! Maybe this is one of them! Let me try to see! (laughs)
MW: Umm hmmm… sheeeeit.
So when I realized that our days were numbered when he started to become physical -- and that physical stuff did begin to escalate --
MW: And at this time was he supporting you financially?
Yes! That’s why it wasn’t, I’m leaving tomorrow, or I’m leaving right now -- it was, I have to figure out how to get out of here. And at some point later -- not at that moment that he was blocking my path -- but later when I was speaking with him about how utterly inappropriate and unacceptable that is, to do that to me -- he somehow acted like I was overreacting and we were only playing previously…? And I was really serious about it. And it was, he didn’t mean it that seriously. Meanwhile the fact is that I couldn't get past him regardless of HOW he meant it. But I don’t remember how he did it or how he said it, but it was confusing. Like I got CONFUSED.
MW: Yup. Yup. That’s wonderful that you can say that. I got confused.
And then I was like, well COULD I? COULD I have gotten past him? WAS he playing? WERE we playing? What happened earlier ACTUALLY? It was like, I could see where he was not treating… there were certain things I could identify were not ok, but then there were other things… it was like ways of twisting the truth around on itself, like in the process when he was speaking to me and doing that with me, I just… I couldn’t… it just got me every time. It was like my mind was getting twisted around. And I don’t really know how to explain it.
MW: Yup. That's exactly it. You’re doing so great. I know it hurts. I know it hurts your mind. (laughs) But you’re doing so great.
MW: So… is there any aspect of the relationship that you want to talk about that I haven’t asked you about?
I mean… there is just… SO MUCH I COULD SAY I WOULDN'T KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN!! (laughs) There’s just so much. I can’t… that question… I don’t even…
MW: Okay, I got you. Was there a main issue you two had arguments about -- like money or fidelity or jealousy, family -- did he have triggers or certain things where you felt like -- okay, I know no tot talk about this with him, or I know not to… these are the things that I know or I’ve learned…
I’m sure there were at different points, but they shifted so often that I would have had to keep a catalogue of them to recount them to you. Like, they were little things. It wasn't the type of things that were memorable, it was little shit. But it was not consistent, and so, it's hard to remember. It's a whirlwind in my mind. I remember that we always had things about food. It was always something about food. He wanted me to cook and he hardly ever cooked. And when he cooked, he acted like that one time meant he was contributing in the cooking department when really, he wasn’t. And I was doing basically all the cooking and I remember that there was always something wrong with the meal. Like, there was always something to complain about. I remember having a lot of strife about food and it's like, but you want me to do all the cooking, like, what the fuck? And that's just one thing that's bubbling up to the surface right now but I'm sure there were other things. I'm sure.
I’m in this band of his. And when we were together I had a lot of issues about the way he treated other people in the band. And I told him. I was very clear with him about it. I told him after a rehearsal, after a show, after various other things about the unacceptable ways he was treating people. And he got upset with me because I was telling him about it in front of them. And he felt that it was not being loyal to him. He invoked this vision of a relationship in which the couple is a solid front.
MW: A united front…
That you don’t disagree in front of people. And I understood that. I thought that I understood that, that made a certain kind of sense. But I could never do it though. Because I could not accept the way he was treating… just certain things he would say to people. It was so not ok that I couldn’t hold my tongue and I would tell him, look this is not okay. Because I'm also a person who has done a lot of performances in ensembles with people and I understand what people need in terms of like if you’re doing all this work and you’re putting your heart and soul into something, then the person in charge is mistreating you, that's really not ok. Professionally that's not okay. So as a member of the band, as a person who is a member of a group of people who are collaborating -- not as The Motherfuckers girlfriend, but as a professional in this band -- I had an issue with what was happening, and that was a source of strife between us because he would he wouldn’t talk about it in front of them but later he would be so upset. He felt I was disrespecting him in front of the band.
Yeah. There’s lots of things. They just aren’t coming out at the same time.
MW: That’s alright. Like they say in church, just take your time. (laughs) Do you have advice for other women who are currently in the situation of dealing with a narcissist?
Keep a diary. Write down the things that bother you, or that don’t seem quite right and write down everything about it so you can see there IS a pattern. It's so disorienting that it's hard to keep track of what HAS happened and what IS happening, and just what’s going on. It's so disorienting that unless you write it down or have a solid couple of people that you’re telling all about it, it's really hard to understand how crazy it is and leave.
MW: How do you get from the place of being on this merry go round where you talk about the behavior with the person and the person seems receptive to understanding what you’re saying and they seem to make an improvement -- and then they go back to square one -- to the place in yourself where you firmly say, they're not going to change. I’m wasting my time. And I need to cut my losses.
Well for me, it was that he became more and more violent to the point that I realized that I was not safe. That I was physically unsafe. I was like, I have to go because I am not safe.
MW: And how is it that you didn’t know you weren’t safe when he yelled at you... but you knew you weren't safe when he blocked your path…?
No! I didn’t know I wasn’t safe when he blocked my path, I knew I wasn’t safe when he did something to my neck! And my neck was sore for like the next… I don’t know , until it recovered.
MW: And that was the last time you…?
Yeah. Yes. Standing in my path was clearly not okay but it wasn't… for whatever reason, it was still talk-me- out- of- it- able.
MW: And hurting your neck was not talk-you-out-of-it-able.
Yeah. The last evening we were together I had just read this forum post about emotional labor that someone had shared with me. It was so great. I was like, oh, FUCK yes, THIS is why I’m so fucking tired all the time. I’m so exhausted. I don’t have nearly as much energy as I used to have. What the fuck?! And when I read that thing about emotional labor I was like, yes, that! I’m doing so much of that! SOOO much of that! I deserve awards! (laughs) And I don’t remember exactly how this happened but somehow -- I don’t know if I talked to him about it -- I don’t remember -- but I remember that somehow the woman who sent me the article who also was in the band at the time. She’s not in the band anymore -- and she’s a little twisted herself -- but she also was texting The Motherfucker -- and she sent him a text message that was like, yeah, your girl read about emotional labor and she might not deal with your shit anymore! Or something to that effect.
When The Motherfucker got home he was PISSED. He was livid. He was so angry because he had this idea that I was putting his business out in the street and discussing our relationship with a member of the band that he did not necessarily trust and didn’t want her to know what was going on his personal life. And in actuality I wasn't friends with this woman. I hadn’t really had any discussions with her about my relationship. So everything he was saying was unfounded in actuality. But the issue that I took with him in response was not to defend myself and say, no I didn't tell her anything… I said, you do not have the power to dictate my level of closeness with the people I have relationships with or what I share or don't share with them. And I was sitting on a stool at the time and I so I was positioned a bit beneath him, and I remember him walking up to me and talking down at me and just yelling and yelling and yelling and yelling and yelling and it went on and on and when I tried to get up and walk away he wouldn't let me get up and walk away, and I mean this yelling must have gone on at least an hour...
MW: Oh my god...
Of screaming in my face. I don’t remember what he was saying, I couldn’t hear what he was saying because of just the fact of how it was being delivered. It was so much. So that happened, and I picked up my phone because it was close to me and I had it in my hand and I was asking him to stop yelling, like if it was something he needed to communicate with me, I needed him to not yell. And I remember that… at some point he said something about how he was expressing himself and it happened to be loud but he wasn't yelling. But he was yelling when he said it. He was just yelling and yelling it was something about the force he used when he didn't let me pass, and I had my phone in my hand because i just wanted to have it in case I needed to call 911, and then he grabbed my phone out of my hand and walked out of the room and went downstairs, and came back in the room without the phone. So then I'm even more upset like, where is my phone, give me my phone back, what have you done with my phone, GIVE ME MY PHONE! So he yelled some more.
And then.. . I don’t remember what he was saying… but I do remember the room we were in was in the top of this house we were renting. That was supposed to be my space which I never go to use because I was too busy catering to him. But that evening I was finally like, okay, I’ve got some time and space and I’m going to take it and do something creative.Yes! I’m going to spread out! That was the evening this happened, and I remember he pushed me, when he was done stopping me from leaving the room then he pushed me out of the room. Well, just out of the room are stairs going down so I had to be really careful and steady that I was not getting pushed down the stairs in such a way that I would injure myself. Because he was pushing me all along the way. And then it also seems to me that same evening I was in bed -- I had gone to bed before him -- and him storming in the room, turning on the light. I’m almost asleep, in that in between place, and he turned on the light and pulled the covers off of me and he up was upset again! All I know is there’s a particular type of roll that I learned in dance that I remember doing but it was difficult because I had to do it over the side of the bed to get away from him. And I remember him hitting me with pillows but hitting me really, really hard with pillows, and I remember… just some crazy shit. It was weird but violent. But weird. I remember that I was very, very, angry. I was so angry. I was angrier than I ever remember being in my life. And at some point I used all of the energy -- everything I had in my body -- and I launched myself at him, and pinned him against the wall, and started cursing him. I wasn’t using any vowel sounds, it was all consonants. I was so mad. I went to sleep in the other bedroom. He kept bothering me. After the fight was over he wouldn’t let me alone. And he’s also a photographer and I think one of the things he does to terrorize people is like, sort of claim that he’s being an artist in that moment and getting the most provocative possible photo. I mean this motherfucker is a crazy motherfucker.
MW: So he fucks with people and takes their picture and then is like, I just wanted the best possible photo?
That’s not exactly the words no, no. He would say something way more poetic and complex than that, but basically something like that. And I remember that night, I thought the fight was finally over, I went to the other bedroom, I’m trying to finally sleep, and he gets his CAMERA and starts to photograph me in the other room. And I'm just like, GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! And then he just wanted to photograph me being mad. It was insane. And I left the next day.
I was born on Market Street. I was born right in downtown.
MW: Is there a hospital there?
No, I was born right on the street.
MW: Girl, what?
That’s what I’m saying. Everybody has a story and it's amazing the fact that I… I rarely tell my story because it's impactful. My birth certificate says 1617 Market Street. My story started from there, and I went to a hospital for children from like birth until I was a year old, and then I got transferred out and put into the foster care system. I was cared for by nuns the first year of my life. Knowing my story and being able to still adapt and live in this city and be here through my challenges and hardships -- it's a blessing.
MW: Did you ever reunite with your family?
Yeah. My mom and dad, they had five kids. They were together 37 years. My mom -- I lived with her -- she passed away. She had pancreatic cancer. She passed away when I was six months pregnant, on her 56th birthday. She passed away that day. She was scheduled to come home and be on hospice but she didn’t want to come home, and we all felt it. She told all her kids that she loved us and that she was going home. It was really hard on me and my siblings. We fought. We fought the whole year. But at the end of the year, we all separated and went our own ways, and that was the best thing we did. Because we all got jobs.
MW: So breaking apart and coming back together made your relationship easier?
Yeah, because we all got jobs, we all got our lives together. We needed to get space and not be cooped up in the house trying to kill each other, mad. It's a beautiful thing to have that. I never expected for us to be this strong, where we’re working and not struggling and giving up and letting depression sink in. We went through those phases -- losing our mom, having our dad cry for a year straight. That was his soulmate. Even though they made certain choices, they have to live with them, and they lived with them together. So it's interesting to hear my father say that he still loved us even though he wasn’t able to keep any of us. Because yeah, they had five kids. She had one boy and four girls. And we were all raised in the foster care system. You would never know it… and it's crazy how they stayed together that whole time. Even though they didn't raise me and I wasn’t with them everyday, they didn’t miss any holidays. Every time I seen them I seen them together and they was always happy. In love. And that’s the only thing that mattered, was that they had each other. They couldn’t raise me and I accepted that for what it was. I still loved them for what they were and I always wanted that love that they had.
And I used to tell my brother, okay, what if we lived with mommy and daddy. You think we’d have what we have now? The knowledge? The respect? You know? And he was like, you’re right. And I was like, see? We can do better. What we learned was more powerful than what our parents would have taught us. We didn’t have to see them out there like that. We didn’t have to go through any of that. We got to see them..
MW: At their best…
Yes. At their best. Roses do grow from concrete, you know what I’m saying? After my mom and dad got clean and they got my youngest sister back, they did buy a house in Antioch and they did get on their feet and I am very proud to sit here and say that.
When I lived with the nuns I had my own baby book. And they had literally had my whole little life, my whole first year, in that baby book. They told me how I came to them, how I was born on the San Francisco streets and how when I came to them I had the most big, beautiful brown eyes.
MW: You were loved.
Yeah, and I was innocent. And my fiance had acknowledged that. He told me how sweet and kind I was, and he made sure that when we got together that I knew that people couldn’t just talk to me any kind of way. He said, I’m not going to let you fall victim. I give my everything to my family and he seen that. He said, you are so kind and patient to your family, cooking and feeding and catering to them, and they’re hurt, but you’re pregnant and you just lost your mom. They should be helping you. He was so protective and comforting throughout my pregnancy and he told me, like, you know, you might not have enough money right now -- because we had to spend so much on the funeral and stuff -- but he just reassured me that my daughter came first overall. Even though my family was grieving and needing comfort, she needed me more. He said I shouldn’t have to struggle with my baby. He assured me that I could just be a mother and not struggle, and I love him for that. Because he showed me the same love that my mom and dad had, that unconditional love. So I’m happy.
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Later in my years I became a crack addict.
MW: How old were you?
I'd say 50. At the age of 50 I decided to try crack for the first time.
MW: How old were your children? What was the situation that made you try it?
I was 50 years old. My children were grown. My youngest daughter had just graduated high school. I had two granddaughters and one grandson at that time. I lived a lifestyle that was not pleasing to my children. I lived with women at that time and I wanted to do some changes. So I started going to church and I met this young man in church that turned me on to crack cocaine.
MW: What do you mean?
Well he would take my vehicle and be gone all night. And I wanted to know where he was because I thought he was cheating with someone, not knowing he was cheating with the pipe, you know. Well anyway, I jumped in the car and went with him. And when we went to this place where they were, I had a choice. I knew it wasn't right to do... but he started to smoke the stuff and I wanted to try it. I had no idea that I was going to like it. I had no idea.
MW: How soon after the first time did you do it again?
Maybe a week, two weeks. I'll say two weeks. We did it off and on -- I said I'd only do it with him -- and less than a month later I was selling things out of my house. My kids would wake and up and the stereo would be gone, or they would wake up and the pictures off the wall would be gone. It was never a fun thing -- it came from me doing things people would not expect me to do, just starting off. I never had a fun time, it bloomed straight away. In a month I had sold just about everything out of my house, with his help. I started doing it a little more frequently then he started cheating me out of the drug, so I started doing it by myself. Smoking it in my car, wherever. He died about two weeks after that from an overdose.
MW: Is that when you stopped using?
No! (laugh) It got worse. It got worse then because I didn't quite know where to get stuff so I went back to the people he first took me to. That's when my drug addiction really went off. It skyrocketed off. My children started trying to find places for me to go, and I got evicted because I didn't pay rent. They needed to stay with me because they had mishaps in their lives and their children, and I let all of them down. I started selling the grand kids stuff, sold my daughter's clothing, prom clothing, took their toys and sold them at Christmas, took their shoes out the middle of the hall, they were brand new. Whatever it was that needed to be sold, I did it. I had not yet started with myself, starting selling myself, because I still was able to hold down a job. But I did break into my girlfriend's house, stole her TV and stereos and stuff like that.
The next year I went into a mental health facility. I went there voluntarily, I was so high and I went there and they ended up locking me up. Fifty nine days in a mental institution. I stayed there and I received my GED (laughs). That was the craziest thing.
MW: In 59 days?! (laughs)
In 59 days I took the test and received my GED. I'd been to adult education centers and never was able to finish because life and situations, or it interfering with work. But I went into that mental health facility, and the only reason that I was able to finish, you know they had smoking privileges. And the only way you could get smoking privileges was either to work in the cafeteria or go to school. So I picked school. I was under a lot of medication that they had me under, and the teacher told me, why don't you just try and take the test? And I passed it by two points. That's how I got my GED. Believe me, that was not the plan.
MW: Well sometimes its God's plan I guess (laughs).
O-kay! It was God's plan, it wasn't mine. So I came out with a GED. After that I continued to smoke crack. I worked. By God's grace I was always able to keep a job.
MW: When you were in there for 59 days, you were clean? For 59 days?
MW: And then when you came out you started using again?
Yeah. I was gon' start using. It wasn't like they did anything to me. I could have told you, I'm gon' start using. Because I had a problem coping with stuff, and I couldn't deal with myself knowing I got my kid and my grand kids put out. Dealing with that on a clean and sober head was very hectic and embarrassing, so I started getting high. I didn't want to think about it. When you high you don't think about all that. You don't have no conscience then. So I started back getting high. My son gave me a vehicle and I sold that. I was just selling everything. To the point where nobody wanted me to stay with them or anything like that. Eventually I started selling myself. Stepping in and out of strange cars and stuff like that. Nothing I was proud of but that's where it started. It went down to that level. My oldest son would come out, Ma come on go and take a bath. He wouldn't give me any money but he would make sure I eat, give me a pack of cigarettes or something. Plenty of times he had tears in his eyes. He couldn't trust me. My daughter moved in with somebody else, she didn't want to have anything to do with me. It was a bitter pill to swallow. Because I made things like that. I can face that now but at that time it seemed like they were doing me wrong. They were all doing me wrong and none of this was my fault.
But anyway, I continued to blame them -- they don't love me, they don't care. I went down that road. But after... oh I must have jumped in so many cars this one night. And that morning, me and the ladies was still seeking to get high, still waiting on one more. I jumped in this truck. This man connected eyes with me and I jumped in his truck, and he says, I don't normally stop for people. I don't know what it is, but I stopped for you. I got in his truck talking bout, what you want head or ass? Whatever, you know, let's get this over with. So I can get my money, get my hit. He looks at me, he says, ma'am I don't want anything from you. But some kind of way, I been clean for 13 years and God told me to stop. He said, what you doing out here? Why are you out here? You don't belong out here. And I just broke down crying. He said, where is your family? Where is your people? And all I could remember was my baby son's phone number. And he called him. And my son told him to put me on a bus. He said, don't let her go back to get nothing because she gon' run off. And he put me on the bus, and he gave me a pack of cigarettes. I smelled so bad, I know I did, because I had been out there selling my body for two days and ain't had no bath so you can just imagine that. This man didn't never tell me I smelled. He put me on the Greyhound bus, my son paid for the ticket on that side, so since I couldn't cash in the ticket I had to get on the bus. He bought me a sandwich and gave me a big bottle of water because I hadn't ate in a few days. So I was really hungry. But anyway I got on the bus. When I got to my son, he said we were moving to a city a couple hundred miles away. I said, these muhfuckas trying to take me off some fuckin where, I won't be able to get back to my people, what the fuck Imma do way out there...
Oh this some real shit. I said, oh he think Imma come way out there and he gon' be my fuckin daddy, fuck all this shit, this too real, let me get out here away from all these crazy muhfuckas.
These were the things I said to myself because I wanted help but I didn't want it from my son, you know?
You know, not your children! But that son was the most like me from before, when I wasn't using, you know what I mean? He was very disciplinary. But I said, he ain't 'bout to tell me what to do, aw that's bullshit! So anyway, I went out of town with him. Remember I didn't have any clothes because he'd told the man not to let me go back and get anything. I had one jogging suit that my daughter wore in high school. I had gotten that small. And when we moved we was around all these white folks. We ain't in the hood no more. What the fuck, I don't like none of these white people. When I got here, I thought they was gon' kill me, all these white folks. I ain't trying to hear all that, staying with these white folks, at home we stayed in the hood! Now we looking and the neighbors is white? I'm like, these motherfuckers gon' kill us. They gon' try to lynch us. I ain't never seen this many white folks at one time.
(Laughs) I mean I seen 'em but not these many!
MW: I know what you mean.
I told my son, I said listen, I don't know how we gon' make it. So I decided to start going to meetings to get some help. I got a sponsor -- cause it wasn't no black women -- got a white lady to sponsor me and she helped and she was very nice, and she would tell me I wasn't making the meetings like I should. Well I was too embarrassed to tell her I didn't have any other clothes. It had got cold and I didn't have a coat. I didn't have boots or none of that. So she kept getting on me and I finally told her why I wasn't making the meetings, and she took me to the thrift store and bought me a coat, some boots, a couple of outfits, and it was like brand new to me as far as I was concerned. And then I said, oh these white folks ain't that bad. Me with an addict mentality, still on that trying to get something for nothing type shit, I used all I could get out of her.
I got into a live in program and I got my own little room, I got a key. I got a key, somebody trusts me now. I got a job and I was able to pay my own rent. I stayed clean for 22 months. I applied for another program and I got in, but between when I was accepted and able to actually go, I relapsed. So they could no longer accept me because I was using.
MW: Where did you get drugs from?
There were drugs all around. There's always a way to get drugs. We know each other when we see each other. You go somewhere and you know what the deal is. On the streets, you know where the drugs are. I don't have to be using and I can tell you where they selling drugs at. So I started using, and I lost my place. What happened was that I got a car, and I drove back to my hometown to go to the gay parade. Like I said, I had a sponsor and I had 22 months clean, but I wasn't working on myself I was just getting clean time. I went home and me and my father got into it, and I got angry and started back smoking cigarettes, and... then I got one. I gave the car and some money to somebody to go get some crack and he never did bring my car back. He kept the car, the money, everything.
MW: OH MY GOD.
I had only had my car one week. It was brand new. I never got that car back. The people at NA had to send for me. So I got in a van and went back. But then again I was still using, I wasn't ready to stop. I lost everything I had and I began being on the streets in the new town same as I was on the streets back home. Walking the streets, sometimes getting no sleep, staying where ever I could. I ended up staying by a friend of mine house, and they smoked. The job I was working, I ended up going to them and telling them don't take no resources out of my check like taxes and I ended up smoking like $20,000 worth of crack up in that house.
Yeah, I smoked $20,000 worth of drugs. Thank God I didn't die. From there I went to treatment, and from there I just tried to be clean. I tried to stay wherever I could. My daughter in law let me stay a few nights there. She didn't trust me and she was scared of me being there. Because she knew I'd steal everything we got and sell it. But I was tired and I no longer wanted to do that. It was hard to build that trust back because I had stole so much from them and carried them through so many changes. They thought I was going to be clean a long time, and then I got that 22 months, and I always say, Imma get clean, Imma get clean, so it took a lot for her to trust me. But through that process she let me sleep on her couch for three years, and I came up with three years clean and still was like homeless. And I was just was tired, and I contacted an organization here, and they helped me get an apartment. And when they put me in an apartment, that's when my life started turning around. I got into a program for people to study English literature and the humanities, and I graduated. The program lets you earn college English credits. Something happened in that moment that really made me want to change my life and go back to school.
I never did know what Socrates was about. And I kept hearing about Socrates, and Socrates really interested my thinking process. Because they would ask me, what is your allegory of your cave? And I'm like, shit, my allegory was drugs. My situation was drugs and drinking -- and they told me that I could get clean but I didn't believe them like the people in the cave.
MW: Yes! You in the cave like, ain't no world out there! (laughs)
Yes, turned the other way! They telling them its life on the other side but its like, oh no, we wanna stay like this. Well that was me and that hit me real hard. I said wow, that's fuckin me! So that was the start of the grass turning over in my life.
And then something happened. I was working as a Certified Nurse's Assistant and one of the residents fell because I fell. Its because my knees gave out on me and they took me to the hospital and told me I had rheumatoid arthritis in my left knee and the doctor said I could no longer work as CNA. I worked as a CNA for 32 years -- who the hell is going to hire me in my 50s? You know what I mean? This is all I know, this is what I raised my children on-- so I went into a depression on that -- a deep depression. I was like I gotta make a new career change in my 50s. Alot of people was telling me it ain't nothing wrong with it and I thought about my sponsor. She was very encouraging to me. I started going to school and I remember when they gave me that syllabus I was like, I can't do this shit! Aw naw, I'm in the wrong place. But someone I went to meetings grabbed me and said, you can do this! They must have saw the fear in my face. So I called my sponsor and told her, I have English, I don't know how to write no paragraphs, I don't know none of this. I am not prepared for this shit! So I got a tutor.
But anyway, I graduated from my program! I'm working in Human Services. I am a respectable woman in the community. I am coming up on seven years clean! I am married. I have a two bedroom apartment. I am presently in school earning my bachelor's.
I want to help people. That's what I'm trying to figure out, I want to help people with substance abuse but I can't... that's not going to be my call. I want to deal with something in the area of that but I can't deal with it 24/7 because I'm an addict myself. I still go to meetings myself. That will be for the rest of my life. I have accepted that. I have to do whatever it takes, in order for me not to pick up. It is possible. Do I ever feel like getting high? Hell yeah. (laughs) I don't do it. I don't do mind mood altering nothing. I am not able to go into bars and kick it. I don't do that because I'm not challenging my recovery. I ain't gon' be able to do that one. I'm too afraid and its a good fear, for me. So far that's keeping me clean. I abused my privilege on getting high or drinking a drink. I'm presently working on myself. I still have a sponsor. I chair meetings sometimes. I have sponsees. I am doing the things that are expected of me in order to be a productive member of society.
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When I talk to men now, so much of the worry and stuff that I have, like how do I look? You know, or what does he think? Does he think I'm attractive? None of that is present anymore. None of it. And once I've left that conversation, I'm not thinking about it, I don't care what he thought. It's all about me now, and what I think. Its not present in my eyes or in my energy. There is no flirting. Its like he knows after talking to me for a few minutes that she's not available.
MW: The last time you made love, what made you say, this is the last time?
I think a lot of my relationships go the same way. They're mostly about sex. Even though I tell myself that its not, tell myself that its love, but they're mostly about sex. I guess the last time I was able to get a really good look at myself in that situation. And so I decided to stop. I didn't decide not to do it for the rest of my life when I decided in that moment, but I decided to step back and take a break.
I met a priest. I heard his sermon. I'm not religious or anything but when I talked to him... he was a very attractive man, a black guy, and when I talked to him, I approached him and said, I really enjoyed your sermon. A lot of times when men look at my face I can see them being attracted. For him, for this priest -- that whole avenue of thought was gone from his energy, and I wanted that. I knew that would make me focus on other things. And I had a baby, I needed to focus on my baby.
So, I tried it and it changed me. Not just from having sex but it changed things I'd never be able to articulate to you, just profound things that ... that's why I say I must have been a sex addict. Because once I came away from it and looked at from that perspective, I had to admit to myself - yes, I was dressing up my apartment for, what if I get a man? I want somebody to come in here and think, this is nice, or she's got taste, she's this or she's that - trying to get sex. However I dressed, trying to get sex. Trying to get a man. Trying to maybe get respect because I was a single mom, you know. Trying to find love. I didn't have an affectionate father. So, I think that's what made me promiscuous. So the minute I had a man touch me or hug me, it was like for the first time because my father never hugged me. So whenever I see doting, affectionate fathers, I always say, you're helping her. You're helping her.
MW: That's awesome that you're taking your power back in that way.
Its like I met myself. Hey girl! (laughs) Its like I'm meeting her. And I love her. And I will never give up my celibacy, never. It means way too much to me. But then there are the guys who try still.
MW: They don't be knowing...
And you can't just throw that out there when you first meet somebody, oh I'm celibate. But sometimes I do.
MW: Do you have an end date?
For what, my celibacy? Death girl, death. That's the end date. I am never having sex again.
MW: Are you serious?!
I am 44 years old. I have had sex. I have had great sex. I had enough sex for the memories to last me forever. I can just draw on those, because it really doesn't get any better. It hasn't. I think I had the best sex of my life when I was 26 with this guy named *****. We lived together for 2 years and I'm 44 and its never gotten better than him? I'm alright.
MW: Is it partnership that makes sex good for you or do you just go by the sex itself?
I never cared about myself. I was always trying to get the man or get the sex. I wouldn't ask for what I wanted. I was always pleasing. But I realize that's the kind of person I am in conversation too. I'll let someone talk and encourage them and never say anything. Which is okay with me. But. With sex that's probably not a good thing. I'm not really missing anything.
MW: Are you looking for partnership?
MW: You like, I got this... wow. Well it is rare that we as women get to focus on ourselves that deeply. You know how you said you were probably a sex addict in a past life?
MW: Well maybe you were a nun...maybe you were someone who dedicated their life to introspection and maybe you miss yourself. And how come its okay for a person to stop having sex to dedicate their whole life to the study of God, but if you say you're doing it just to study yourself, you're weird? People say, oh that's weird. I'm fascinated by this. Because when I think about it, I could easily spend 60 years just thinking about myself and loving myself. There's so much in there. I get it.
Thank you. But like you, I meet interesting people all the time. I don't feel alone. I guess I can only deal with people in short doses. But living with someone and having a partnership, I don't think that would ever work for me. I think if I could find a man who has made the same decision I have, who has also chosen celibacy... but I don't think they're out there.
"I don’t want no parts of that erroneous myth of the ride or die woman because I almost actually died...I done all the riding I’m gon do." [An INterview, Part 2]Read Now
[Note: After breaking up with her fiance who, unbeknownst to her, has embarked on a life of crime, this Marrow Woman finds herself in crisis, living with a new love and fellow artist, who is struggling with his mental health.]
He triggered in the mornings because of past abuse, so for the first two or three weeks I was there, every morning, he would pick a fight with me and it was shut the fuck up, and it was this, that and the 3rd. I remember he had a fit in the bathroom one morning mad about something, and broke a bunch of shit and dropped something down the toilet. Well I didn't know he had dropped something down the toilet because he was just fucking shit up and the toilet overflowed, and he just blamed me. When he came home there was this pissy, shitty water all over the floor, the carpet was all wet. He said, I think you should move out. Every other day he was telling me that I should move out. I mean to the point where one day I was sitting at the bus station with my stuff, just sitting there like Jesus, am I gonna become the stripper again today? Because you and I both know I ain't got no job down here. I ain't got nowhere to go and I just refuse to go to my mother and my sister’s house under those circumstances. When I tell you that it was hard.
I tried to kill myself at one point, in June when there was no water in my apartment and so much had happened. I finally was just like, I don’t wanna go through this no more. It’s enough. I took all the little Tylenol, Advil, whatever the fuck it was in the bottle. Now it was only about 12 of them but I was high as a kite. I threw it all up. My body made me throw it up. But when I woke up I was like, okay God I’m still here. I guess you know I’m serious about it. I was tired and sad and it’s not that I didn’t care about my life, it's just been the quintessential fucking dark skinned field nigga cliche, including me having a bunch of relationships with men who belittle me, berate me, put me down and diminish me instead of building me up. I’m a single mother and I’m alone, and the men that are coming into my life are actually hurting me. And it just made me sad. Like, I’ve walked with you 20 years God and I don’t even have water. This can’t be right. I’ve been through so many twists and turns. This can’t be right. It can’t be this hard. I done moved down here in love knowing that I’m dealing with a brother with a lot of trauma, but believing in the power of God and the possibility of the connection, because it was a connection I didn’t have in my previous relationship. So it was like, though this guy is super unconventional and crazy as a damn roach, he’s so genuine. He will drive all night to come see me, if he can solve the problem he will. Loves me. Gave me his key within like the first two visits.
In some ways I didn’t know he was sort of just like that. He jumps into things and saves people and gets caught up in stories. You know, if he goes somewhere and it's a fight, he’s going to jump in there and get involved if he feels like there’s an injustice, you know? He’s just one of those kinds of people so it wasn’t as much about me as I thought. But because I was so down and nobody had my back, I was so appreciative. I was adamant that because of my experiences dealing with my mom's mental illness, that I was going to try my best to love him as best I could. And I remember when I first moved in, that week we made some progress. At first he would jump whenever I would go to put my hand near his face. He would put his hand up to actually block - and it took awhile - but after awhile he wouldn’t block my hand and he would let me touch him. And that was through me being there day in and day out riding through a lot of negativity. Or just being there.
The situation with the baby mama was really the end of it. Because this man -- I knew at some level, ain’t no way this man ready to let this woman go if he had two babies with her in less than two years. You know what I’m saying? Whatever he saying is going on -- that the girl been cheating and whatever -- he unpacked the whole tale of abuse. Everything that happened. But because I was going through so much it was like, I don’t have to move in with this man, I can stay with a friend and get my finances back -- but I know he was here for me and it's like God put this possibility of this great love in my life, I’m gon’ try it. So I committed to being in love with him for the summer, and getting this job and stacking my paper and being focused and riding through it and really being in his corner and it was so much. He really does have a lot going on in his mental level. One time he came out the house in the summertime in a damn suede coat. Chile… it took me a minute to talk this man (laughs) into taking that shit off. You know you a good woman if you know your man is crazy as a goddamn roach and you don’t shame or belittle him, you just tell him to go take that shit off and come out in the right clothes, okay? (laughs)
MW: Girl you are a good woman.
(Laughs) Ain’t I?
MW: I think that would have been the day I woulda been like, aw nawl. (Laughs)
I know folks is like, how you gon' be banging the nigga from the special class? Well, it's a long story. I was not trying to y'all, but he showed up for me, loved me. That’s when I needed a friend. And I was just like, that’s what love do, love don’t expose you. Everyone is vulnerable and weak in some way. He has been through some real trauma. And he also has his bachelor’s degree. He did that. And he also is an accomplished artist and a hustler in a righteous sense, and he made it through prison, and he made it through all of that other shit. And I believed he really loved me, even through all of that stuff with that girl. I’m like, I don’t know her motives, I don’t know none of that, I don’t know what you doing God, I don’t know. But I know this thing with me and him is much needed in my life and it's a feeling I never had. I never -- I couldn’t get this thing to happen with my ex fiance, and I don’t know why it's happening right now. It's so weird.
We went through a lot of stuff. Just him like, triggering and being abusive and me showing up and taking it like a fucking doormat. Like if I could just be still, I got enough sense to know he don’t mean all of this terrible shit. Or he’s not seeing this situation clearly right now. And I can pray for him or I can be patient with him. But I just ended up absorbing a lot of emotional blows and a lot of verbal blows. And a lot of mental blows before the physical confrontation ended up happening. And what the impetus was for the physical confrontation -- that’s the only time he’s ever been physical. I can’t say he’s Ike Turner or some kind of woman beater because that’s not true. Verbal shit and mental shit and the magnitude of his mental health issues though, that is true.
But this particular day I had hacked into his phone, because you can’t be a little bit crazy and a little bit slow and then date a really smart girl. You fucking with Lex Luthor, nigga I will hack your whole life while you sleep, you don’t even remember to take the goddamned Popsicle out the bed before you go to sleep. I pay attention to everything in this motherfucker and when you good to me, it is turned in the right direction. When I think you been shady, then you fucking with the wrong one. So I figured out how to get into his phone, tiptoed in that bathroom and read all the messages from that girl. And he really was trying to disclose… I just don’t know what happened… like as this story continues I’m going to run out of understanding. Which is why I needed to talk about it. Because I don’t understand. He was trying to disclose and be honest in a lot of ways. He just has a pattern with women and a history of violence, but when I saw he had been flirting with the girl and had me living in his house, I just was in a rage and I came out of the bathroom like, I’m just gonna let him sleep, I’m going to wait, blah blah blah, and I just couldn’t do it. Now mind you I know this the same man who wake up every morning in a trauma fit ready to fight because of early morning trauma. But I don’t give a fuck about none of that shit.
I moved in with him after I got set out. Evicted. I got set out and there were parts of my life that I flat out lost. Because the day that he came with the U-Haul truck, he had been driving all night and hadn’t slept and was drinking coffee and Red Bulls and shit, trying to move all my shit -- the heavy shit -- all by himself to the truck. And I said I’m not gon' have this man die. And then he had to drive away from me to go to the airport, and I said again, I ain’t gon' have this man die trying to help me. This is just stuff. And God made me prove it. So much of my life- years and years and years of stuff -- this life that I had built, my memories, my photos, so many things that I lost because I didn’t have help and I didn’t have somebody who would let me store a box. And it just hurt. It was just another L after all those L’s I told you about, it was just another L. So I ended up moving in with this guy. And now I am fucking. I didn’t fuck my fiance and he was robbing people. I done lost everything and I’m still trying to practice abstinence and live right. So yeah I’m fucking the shit out of this hankty little cute ass with his soft lips …(laughs) So I went headlong in the direction of this lifestyle.
MW: Was your son living with you at the time?
No, my son missed the whole summer of no lights and no water because as soon as he graduated from high school, my sister was like, you should bring him here. My son’s father has known my son was his since the DNA test when my son was 7, been in his life since he was 5, but has never met him. But in his life meaning we have working phone numbers for each other. Because of this business with my ex, I had to settle my son’s child support case like six months early. He basically got like $2,000 off of his child support order because he covered the money I needed to move into the shitty dump in the worst part of town, Murder Row. He was abusive to me, talked to me bad, played with my nerves, wasn’t gonna send the money, just treated me with all the disdain and bad shit he could do while I was down. And then when my son graduated, the nigga didn’t even call to say congratulations to my boy.
A whole year of nothing but black men shitting on my head, that’s what this year was. I think I even called my dad… my dad is not happy for me at all. For whatever reason my dad has taken to being mad at the women in his life for being mad at him for being a fucking dog. Like, we love you but you done cost us a lot with your abuse on women. How he treats women, it's not cool. All of this for your ego? It's been a lot of pain. So that’s been my year with men of color.
So now we got the guy I moved in with, he is showing up. And because he’s showing up and I know this brother has a vulnerability, it's more endearing to me because I know there are a lotta bitches who would take advantage of him, who would steal shit out of house. Because he is like most black men, is a sex addict basically, and gets all his affirmation through his dick, and I know what that can do to him. So I’m like, I’m going to protect him and I’m going to look out for him and I’m going to clean his place up and I’m going to pray and I’m just going to enjoy having a friend because I needed it so bad. Even though it was so toxic at times because I didn’t know how to be intimate in that context. I don’t think you can know. I think it's abnormal. I think a person would have to have grace from God because you’re dealing with an intimate violation on multiple levels on any given time. Nothing could happen… and yet your man could leave your house one way and not come back because he done had some kind of shift in his mood, like his actual brain chemistry just shifted and his whole mindset is someplace else. And I think there’s a spiritual component there as well, and that he has a tormented spirit. And it's just hard. You ain’t gotta do nothing wrong. You can be laughing and talking and then the relationship is over.
But to get to the day of the abuse - so now I done came out the bathroom after reading all of this shit and I’m in there breaking my goddamn glasses in his kitchen like, ding ding nigga, you done moved the wrong bitch in here to try to date some bitches on me! I’m vulnerable to you and you got the nerve to be giving me good dick and kind of loving me after the worst year ever? I feel like I’m gonna fucking hyperventilate at the thought of you leaving me, at the thought of you giving that energy to another woman because my life was so fucking unstable. I just got sat out in the street and now I live with you. This is scary! Red alert! No! No! No! This gotta be real love because I can’t take much more.
So I just fucking panicked and got in that nigga’s kitchen. Now did he have to put his hands on me? No. I initiated conflict and he initiated the physical component of it. And when he came in that kitchen, he woke up like any grown man would in his own house, to find you breaking shit at 7’oclock in the morning. Brother said, no ma'am, we are going to stop this immediately. He was definitive and was stopping that activity immediately and he just rushed me in the kitchen, like hemmed me up. Wasn’t even like I initiated the fight… he put hands on me and all I had was a wall behind me. It was one of those little narrow kitchens. The counter you could touch on one side, refrigerator you can touch on the other. There was nowhere for me to go. I’d a had to juke him like Emmit Smith to get the fuck out of the kitchen. There was no way to avoid what happened.
So now we in there tussling and I’m doing all I can hitting him but he is kicking my ass. Some kind of way my leg gets lodged on the counter in the kitchen and my body doesn’t follow and I come down in such a way that I really hurt. I can’t put no weight on my leg. I buckle and fall. I can’t stand on it. And he is hemming me up in a way that I can’t breathe and he knows I can’t breathe. He went from trying to deescalate to, now Imma get you bitch. You want to fight in my house, I’m about to fuck your ass up, you don’t know who you fucking with. I don’t. I done fell in love with some feelings on Father’s Day making art. You right, I don’t, this is all too much. I’m traumatized from people just shitting on a bitch till there’s nothing left, till you just see yourself as a bitch. To now being in this situation and you’re physically trying to kill me. There were two moments, because we separated and he came back and hemmed me up again and both times he choked me and I could see in his eyes, like there was a flash of what looked like pleasure in knowing he was hurting me and it scared me.
When he got off of me I grabbed a knife and he left and I smashed a couple lights out and fucked his place up. I hadn’t been in a fight with a man in years. I’ve never had a good man put his hands on me. And now I don’t know if this is a good man, I don’t know if God is in it, I don’t want to be in this city, I am underemployed. I missed God somewhere back before I moved because I wasn’t seeking Him properly and my heart was broken. Maybe God used this relationship to get me here but I don’t know if it's of God if it continues because I’m dealing with all the tumultuousness of it.
You know what I’m sharing with you is a lot. I am firmly committed to this ride or die role, to loving this brother. He really showed up for me, so I need to learn how to love him, learn how to defuse him or whatever needs to happen. Keep working at it. And I was seeing progress. But after this fight I have to call the police. Not because I want to be the girl who now has charges on a black man, but because I can’t walk and I need an ambulance. He crazy and I don’t want him to drive me nowhere. So I give the information -- he done made it so I can’t walk-- this nigga on facebook, I got his password, this goofball still posting on facebook -- I’m deleting shit, changing shit. I could have went harder in the paint. If I was a different kind of woman I could have cleaned his bank account out. I could have got his social security number, locked him out of emails, locked him out of his whole fucking life, and made him go and start over, if I was really a motherfucker. But I’m not.
So I’m seeing all this shit posted on facebook -- she just tried to fight me -- showing the pictures of the scratch on his face and the two little locks I pulled out, just in case the police get involved. Now I’m in the ambulance now, chile. I’m pretty sure I vandalized the place too before I left. He left and I kind of like…. threw eggs everywhere and flour. Might have bleached some shit. You know just went in the paint, like, you gon fight me? Okay! So I kicked over a couple of paintings and shit, you know.
That’s why I was on red alert -- all this shit with the baby mama-- that’s why I was like, don’t have me living with you and be disrespectful. If you want to get back with her, at least let me get my shit out of here, straight up. Don’t do that, after everything else I been through. I ended up going to the hospital and they called an organization that helps people in my position. They don’t always have space but my advocate at the time made space for me. I stayed there for five weeks and it was the most humiliating shit ever. My son -- I’m still claiming that no matter what, my baby gon start college on time -- so the whole time I was petitioning the shelter asking can my son live with me. The Friday before they said he could come I called my son and said, just so you know, we’re staying in a shelter. I told them you’re a certain age so you can stay here with me, you’re going to have to leave everyday -- this is what it is while you’re in school. He committed to doing it with me. I mean, this is the kind of shelter where you get buzzed in and out of your room. You can’t even sit in a separate room than your child. Your child has to be with you at all times. This is all stuff we’d never been through before and it hurt me. Like, this dude is still using my microwave, and I’m living at the shelter. We ain’t made it a month and a half because you flirting with your baby mama and you done moved me in? I’m hurt! And the verbal abuse and the up and down of the relationship didn’t change. I still was trying to make it work with him though.
MW: From the shelter??
From the shelter. And I’m gonna tell you why -- because he was still loaning me his car, he was still coming to see me everyday, coming to see me making sure I was good. It was humiliating for him as well but he was still trying to be with me. And I guess it was like, this could be a learning experience. If we come through this and get counseling and get better, this could be a blessing to others. I take my responsibility so it does not have to escalate to the aggression level in the house. I can’t say he’s a woman beater because he ain’t been in here beating on me. I would be lying on him. We had this incident and I’ve been trying to unpack it all. Like I said, you heard all the other shit that happened. Everybody else done took a shit on my head, you know? I’m tired. And now I don’t even have a roof? And I have less of my shit? My whole life is in three bags. I feel like nothing. It’s just ridiculous.
I wished that it instantly changed, even with that, but some days he was still abusive. At one point I got food poisoning at the shelter. They give you old meat. You can cook anything you want as long as it's from their kitchen but all the food is donated. You have to cook at certain times of the day. So I got the slow cooker, and I done went to great lengths to make me a pot roast with some potatoes, I’m excited about this pot roast, it spent a day and a half slow cooking. I eat this shit and get food poisoning from it. The chills, vomiting, diarrhea, I was ill for two days. I go see him -- because I ain’t seen him in a couple days and that's weird for me. So I’m like, I’m gon' go see him.
He’s mean. He’s in one of those moods where everything is my fault, just like my ex fiance. I think he was bipolar too. Everything was my fault. So I go over his house sick as a dog. Now mind you the week before he had been sick and I took care of him meticulously. I let him breathe on me. Because I felt in my spirit… if I had felt the holy spirit say once, don’t do that, you gon' get sick, I wouldn’t have let him breathe on me. But I knew that what he had, I wasn’t gon’ catch. I just knew it. And I didn’t get sick. But its the fact that I was there taking care of him, traveling on two buses from the shelter, bringing little apples and fruit… I mean I didn’t even have food. I got a dining pass at my son’s school and was stealing food out the cafeteria. If I get two chicken breasts, one for him and one for me. Little shit like that. And I’m going over there taking care of him. But I got sick and he treated me so bad I ended up going home in a Uber. But first I fucked his house up, threw up in his damn sink and I was so sick that all that was left was spit and bile.
Again, he’s bringing something very toxic and vulgar and just savage out of me through all of the ups and downs of the relationship. One minute we cool and the next you in a corduroy coat in the damn summertime, the next minute, you trying to get back with your baby mama, the minute after that you don’t want to be alone talking about, don’t leave me, I’m afraid. The next minute it's something else. It’s so much. And I’m still trying to ride it out, he still saying it’s just me and him, he not trying to get back with his baby mama. Right up until the baby comes. Now he’s being mean to me again. Just verbally abusive and mean. Like he knows I’m a good woman and so he can’t say he wants to try again with the mother of his kid. He can’t say it. He can’t say, I’ve had two babies with this woman and I’m not ready to fully let her go, I love her. I want my kids back. You a great girl but I want her back. And he couldn’t say it so he just was mean to me. But he went down there and the shit didn’t go like he thought it would with the girl.
He had fucked a bitch one time too. Left my house Saturday morning -- we happy, we together, baby I’m coming in, we together -- I never had a man who stayed out all night, I don’t deal with that type of nigga, I just don’t. It’s too much stress. You not finna be not coming home at night. I’m too sexy and fine. Again, I’m Lex Luthor -- I will fuck around and cryptonite your whole life. Encrypt your gotdamn whole life, will fuck you up, don’t do that to me! And I never been the kind of woman to deal with it. This was the first time. We have an amazing weekend, again these moments of synergy. He says, baby Imma be hanging out with the brothers tonight but I’m definitely gonna be home, don’t worry. So at 1oclock in the morning I’m calling him on the phone and he’s not answering. What the fuck is you doing at 1oclock in the morning that you can’t answer the phone and you got a woman? On no day. I can’t be your woman if I can’t reach you at 1oclock in the morning. Do you work for the pentagon? Are you on a stake out? Are you NY undercover and I didn’t know? Why the fuck you can’t answer the phone nigga? What’s going on??
So he don’t answer. I done called all the calls I’m finna call for the night and I done just snapped -- nigga I know you with a woman, fuck you, my heart is broke. My heart is hurt. He never called me, he never came home, he just said, Imma fuck this bitch tonight, I guess it's just me and her. I’m just gon' risk it all even though I got this girl and all her shit still in my house. Because when I left the shelter, I moved into campus housing. I was adamant that I didn’t want my son around that guy one day. And I never modeled shacking up or had no niggas around my son, and I certainly wasn’t finna start with that volatile ass dynamic. So I ended up getting campus housing by a series of serendipitous events, because I had nowhere to go. When I had to leave the shelter I got an extension, I was there five and a half weeks, and the only place to go from there was the mission, the actual homeless shelter, or back to my guy. And because he injured my leg I couldn’t even start work with the one job I did have for a month and a half.
At some point we got back cool and was sort of talking after he did that shit with the girl he was fucking, and all I asked this man was, don’t clown me. Don’t make a clown of me. You want somebody to take pictures on facebook with you and say you in love and all this stuff? Then don’t have me out here looking like a clown, man. And I felt like he did and I was deeply hurt by that. You got my shit in there. You fucking somebody on top of my life in your home. You couldn’t even wait. I’m gon' fuck you up! I don’t care how crazy you are. Nobody’s popping popcorn in my microwave! I already lost everything so that's my mindset at the time. My baby daddy done cheated me out of 2k, I tried to make amends with my ex-fiance and do right by him, and he done left me with a bunch of fucking bills and a bunch of hurt feelings. This other dude I really had feelings for, was harboring this real like, feels like a soulmate type of vibe -- he was like, I will never fuck with you, I feel like you’re terrible, go away. Yeah, I know, you’re in love.
So that’s the year. So now we get to this stuff with dude and I’m like, I would have never picked this guy for myself. Although I had a real spark with him. I’d have never picked a dude with two small children. I would have never picked none of this for myself. God what are you doing? Or is it the devil? Who’s doing it? Because it feels like shit! He’s doing really bad, traumatic, toxic things to me. I’m trying to make amends and he’s like, I gotta go see my baby, don’t worry I’m not trying to get back with my baby mama. I’m like okay well let me come by, let us talk about it. Because he wouldn’t see me. And again, I think he’s doing that so he won’t have no kind of feeling or conviction when he goes down there to fuck that girl. I’m finally gonna see him and I’m like I’m finna come to your house. Now mind you he’s still got my shit but he’s not answering my calls. He’s got me blocked online, he’s being rude, curt, but he’s still got my furniture. Why do you deserve to keep all my stuff? I don’t know if he’s going to move this baby mama back up here to his apartment. She’s a basic ass girl, pretty girl, cute little dark skinned girl, but a basic girl, you know, work at McDonalds, hood family, mama dating an addict, this girl is everywhere. This is every baby mama in the projects right now. A girl, for real. Literally a girl still. And I don’t know if he’s going to bring her back and now she gon be in there living with my shit, I really don’t know. All I know is when I showed up at his house -- I didn’t know he had inboxed me like don’t come, I’m gonna get on the plane.
I ended up going all the way on the bus to his house and he’s not there. And I just lost it. This is my one real heart. I done cried a million times… walked… done spent five weeks trying to make it work with this nigga, and still this woman crooks her finger and he goes. And goes knowing I’m coming to his house to meet beforehand. Still telling me he love me, all this shit. I just couldn’t take it. And shimmied my injured ass, knee brace and all, up the side of his balcony and jerry rigged some damn chairs out there on the side of the building, and climbed that shit like a Lego tower, and got upstairs on his patio and (laughs). He called it a home invasion. I’ve never been a felon.
So now I’m in okay, and looking around this motherfucker like, what can I touch. I’m looking for other girls stuff in there...because literally my jewelry is still in his bathroom. So what kind of bitch is coming by to fuck and I got a box of jewelry in the bathroom? Who did the nigga say the shit belonged to? Niggas don’t buy throw pillows! It boggled my mind. So I tabulated in my head how much it would cost to replace the stuff that I didn’t think I was ever gonna move out of his place if he still don’t do right. My shit is still at his house right now, mind you. Not because I want it there but because I can’t afford a U-Haul. Which is full of shit. I actually have to go to his job, pin him down and be like, can I have the key right now to move my things out please?
The first day I went, the day he stayed out with that damn girl, I couldn’t take it. I cried as many days as I was gonna cry and ended up going to his house, popped his car tires and left. Was trying to have a conversation with him, scared as hell, prayed the whole time, Lord please don’t let there be a woman on my stuff. I just can’t take that. It’s been a long year. Now mind you, this is all out of character. I never popped my ex fiance’s tires. But this is after a year of hell and bullshit that I have finally reached my maniac level. This motherfucker is fucking bitches on the remnants of the last little bit of my life! Oh hell no, in the mighty name of Jesus, we ain’t having none of that! I just couldn’t take it! So, he done went to see his baby mama, I climbed the thing and I’m in there tabulating, $2000 for my table and chairs, this and that, okay, how much shit I gotta fuck up for us to be even steven?
So I done tore up a bunch of stuff and then left, spray painted dog on the door, cheater. I’m like, you gon bring this bitch back like y’all on a damn honeymoon? I want the bitch to know, I was here. Okay? This motherfucker didn’t just get taste all of a sudden, this my shit in here. And he better know I don’t appreciate being violated. Injured me and now he adding insult to the shit, its too much. I felt like I couldn’t take no more, like my heart couldn’t, my soul couldn’t. I’m hyperventilating and crying, I just felt violated, like a communal raping from the brothers in the community. I vandalized enough shit to feel like I got my dignity back. I popped them tires like a real thug, fuck you and fuck this car, ok? (Laughs) And left on the bus! And went to my second job like, oh well, cest la vie, it is what it is. He came back four days later after gallivanting butt naked and the baby mama pulling her titty out… I said, you mean to tell me your baby mama was breast feeding around you and you ain’t fuck her? You fucked the shit out of her! Came back had his dick itching, feet itchy...I’m like, I don’t know if the bitch dirty, you dirty, I know you can’t never fuck me again and I know I was giving you five years of saved coochie. That was a special blessing, and the best head ever, and he fucked it up. For what? He got to be crazy. We doing art fairs together, I’m helping him sell his art, he teaching me his hustle on every level... if he was a little bit less crazy he’d be the perfect guy. All the while I’m working, working, working and he was in and out of life.
That was a horrific story, wasn’t it? It’s got to get better… and it is. Right now I’m walking, I have three jobs. I literally go to work before the sun comes up and I come home after dark. It’s dark all the damn time. And I’m like, sleeping four hours a night. But I gotta trust that it will get better. I cried about it. Folks don’t know, every time that someone has abdicated a role of communal protection, something bad happened to me. And while you marveling at my strength -- my ex fiance just called and he was thankful that I could pray for him about his case -- its like you don’t understand. I’m over 30. I was a high risk pregnancy with my son when I was a teenager and I almost died. This year I could have been making love to my husband, I could have been preparing my temple, my body to rest, and all that money that you working for, you’d have had somewhere to put it. You don’t have no kids. And a woman that you know cares about you because you’ve known her so long. Or a woman you know care because she moved into your place when your shit was in squalor, when you were heartbroken and too traumatized to wake up without fighting. And she loved you! I feel like in every way… I just didn’t feel confident.
There was this other guy -- he was never nice to me. Why you don’t never tell me I’m pretty? He would refuse; it was if he would rather you leave me feeling worse. You can’t help but see I’m going through something. I’m not trying to fake it and hide it, I’m asking for help. I feel l’m drowning. I’m telling you I can’t take no more, I can’t do no more. And in all those moments nobody showed up for me to the point like I felt like nothing and tried to kill myself, to the point where somebody else tried to kill me twice in one day. He actually tried to kill me twice in one day. He tried to choke me the first night I was at the fucking shelter -- on crutches. I agree to meet him, it's 1am -- he shows up high as a kite on recreational drugs-- he’s been doing shrooms. This nigga has a chemical imbalance, and the pills, I know he didn’t take the pills because I got them here with me! I got mad and took the shit out the house. Not my finest hour, I wanna give the nigga back (laughs) his pills cus he needs to take em! (laughs) So he drunk, high on shrooms, and storms out the car on me cus he lost $100. Ookay. To the point where I just got out with my crutches and started hopping through downtown back to the shelter at 3am. Ifelt like a fool. I felt like any fucking hobo, I couldn’t even run. If somebody wanted to rape me… I’m trying to get around downtown at night a lone. And he sped off and left me when I got out the car. Got out the car because he was being verbally abusive, very much so. I’m like, ok, well he needs to know, he can just ride while I hop home. That’s the protocol right now. And he’s so out of his fucking mind he just pulled off and left me! He left me many times. And yet will show up and buy all the prints at my art show. Play music at my art show. Help me sell things.
MW: That’s so fucked up.
It's so fucked up, he can't do no better. I’m working my third job, I just got my third job as a TA in a classroom for children in the retardation bracket, their IQ is around 50. They have Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, those sorts of things, some kind of impairment. So they have a lot of behavioral issues, and I’m learning a lot of things. It’s not small thing to try to date somebody with mental health issues. Or someone who’s been incarcerated or a trauma survivor with PTSD. Those are the two things I know he has for sure- PTSD and he’s bipolar. And he really loved me. I’m not saying he didn’t really love this girl too -- I’m not saying none of that. I’m saying I didn’t… it feels unfair and it feels unjust and after all the other stuff that happened, that I’ve been confronted with love in a way that feels completely undoable. And again, through no fault of my own, I’m alone, and I’m uncovered, and I’m going through all this stuff, and again I didn’t have anybody to say, did you eat today? How you doing? It just hurt. And I’ve cried about it and I’ve talked to God about it, and I believe God, and I believe there is a husband for me. It will take God to find him.
MW: I know that they fucked up, but when you look back, you really didn’t want to be married to any of them. When you look back, they were your best options at the time but like you said, you wouldn't have chosen them. You feel like you were put with them, but I don’t think you’ve met the caliber of man you deserve, and that just takes patience. But God forbid you meet the man you’re meant to be with, and you’re married to a man who fucking is stealing tvs or a dude who is wearing suede coats in the summer time.
MW: You’d be so mad! (laughs) You’d be so mad that the dude you were meant to be with, who was your equal, rolled up on you and you were Mrs. Summertime Suede Coat. I’m just saying.
(Laughs) It’s true.
"I don’t want no parts of that erroneous myth of the ride or die woman because I almost actually died...I done all the riding I’m gon do." [An INterview, Part 1]Read Now
There was domestic violence in my last relationship. A lot of times when you go through that they say you should talk to the person but I can't talk to him. I can't even get him to acknowledge what happened and he's fucking somebody else now which adds insult to injury. It's just a mess, an all around mess. And I'm like, for the sake of my own mind, this really did happen to me. Sometimes I want to shout, somebody hurt me! And nobody cares.
MW: That's hard too, when you're trying to make the person who did it care…cus gotdammit that's the hardest thing in the world.
Or at least get it. That’s these conscious types. How you gon claim to be conscious, or be an activist, and not have empathy for our (women's) suffering? And we have to be habitually supportive while they dragging us through hell. So, I don’t want no parts of that erroneous myth of the ride or die woman because I almost actually died so I think I am done. I'm all rolled out. I done all the riding I’m gon do. So how would you like me to start?
MW: Just tell me what you want to tell me and if I have clarifying questions along the way, I’ll interrupt you and ask them. If you have a story to tell, just tell me. But I do always like to know how old you were when the story you’re telling me started.
At my current age. But since I’m an actor and don’t tell my age, that’s all Imma say. (laughs)
MW: Let’s do it like one of those surveys. Are you… 18 to 25?
MW: Are you 25-34?
MW: Are you 35 to 44?
I’m up in there. In that neighborhood.
MW: Okay, that’s good. (laughs)
(laughs) Okay beautiful. I guess I can start with last year. This time last year I was engaged actually to a brother that I have known since high school. We lost contact in my late teens, early 20s when I got pregnant with my son, and I kind of found him on facebook. He was always on my heart because of the way that we broke up. I felt that it was my fault, not knowing at the time that all the unrest in my life -- I had left home, my dad was an addict, my mother had already had a couple of nervous breakdowns by the time I was sixteen and pregnant, so that was kind of the situation. So I left home, I got in my car one day and left my dad’s house to go live with my mother and she was in the middle of a nervous breakdown when I got to her house she didn’t recognize me. She was like, which one are you? What did you come here for? Did you come here to hurt me? I couldn’t really stay there. I stayed for two days at my mom’s house, and I woke up - it was the middle of February - and I woke up and all the windows in the house were open and she was sitting there with a crowbar across her lap. And I was like, my mother could kill me. She doesn’t know who I am.
In the midst of that, I didn’t feel like I could go back to my dad’s place so I was staying with friends. I had run out of places to stay and this guy I had just met got my phone number. And I love to tell this story that my baby daddy was driving a pimpmobile. But it really was. It wasn’t even his car, I found that out later. But it was green with gold flecked paint, it had 100 spoke daytons - and white wall tires. And he told me I looked like Foxy Brown the rapper and asked me for my phone number, and I ended up staying with him. Now you can't stay with no grown ass man and not be doing something, even though I was under aged. Obviously this man was sleeping with me and I got pregnant. I felt so ashamed because of the turmoil of the situation. I didn’t want to tell my boyfriend at the time, my boyfriend of two years, that I was pregnant by this guy and that I had been homeless and all of this stuff, and that’s why we’d lost contact. So I told him it was his baby. At the time, as a teenager, I was like, I don’t know, my life is all fucked up, my mama is in the middle of a tailspin, my daddy is drunk all the time and now I’m pregnant. Being with that high school boyfriend was the last time I was actually in a decent relationship of this sort.
My son’s father was the first man to ever hit me, ever, with a closed fist and everything. So we weren’t together for very long. But obviously when I had my son and it wasn’t my boyfriend’s at the time, we broke up and lost contact again. And because I knew I had hurt him by telling that lie - because I couldn’t articulate as a teenager in crisis, I just don’t want to be alone and you’re the only thing that feels stable so I’m just going to say and do whatever it takes to keep you around because I’m afraid, I’m pregnant, and both of my parents are not functional -- I couldn’t say all that as a teenager. I just always harbored this guilt. So years later I get saved. Obviously the relationship with my son’s father was short lived because it wasn’t healthy at all and I was just like, I’m not going to bring a child into an environment where somebody could die. I don’t make a good victim. And if I start feeling like my life is not worth living, I start thinking about taking other motherfuckers with me. Everybody got to be miserable in this motherfucker, not just me. We all gon be in this motherfucker rocking like Ms. Sofia, I ain’t gon be alone. (laughs) So I knew I couldn’t stay with him.
So I moved in with my cousin. It takes me years to really sort of figure out my life. Fast forward I got saved and it was always on my heart to find that old boyfriend I’d lied to and reconnect with him. You know, make amends. See what's going on with him and be as much as a light and a friend as possible and reconnect. It had been I don’t know how many years since I saw him and I always felt like it was my fault he didn’t get married because the first girl he ever loved lied to him and cheated on him. So I was like, I’m going to make amends, one day I’m going to find him, and when I found him, he had been standing still for basically all of those years. He had never done much with his life. He had finished high school and worked a few factory jobs but never really had nothing to show for that time. Now I done went to school, I done for real got saved, I got God in my life, raising a great son, I’m an artist… my life really took some positive turns and I think he was inspired by that and attracted to it. So I used that to be an inspirational friend and encourage him to do great things but he started falling in love with me. It took me about 2 and ½ years to say, I’m not going to leave this brother in the friend zone. I’m going to give him a shot because he keeps asking for a shot. He’s serious. He won my heart bit by bit, he really did. I had gone a few years without dating at all. I’m like, okay, the next man in my life, Jesus gon pick. I’m one of those people (laughs). So I didn’t do no dating for a few years. So he came into my life as a friend and we went to dinner one time and he was like I wanna kiss you and I was like shit shit shit, so we ended up cultivating this sort of weird dynamic because I was always the one driving the pace because he liked me more. We weren’t a couple until I wanted to be a couple, so I know he had resentment around that. So by last year we had been engaged for a little over a year, still having issues. We didn’t even have a ring yet but there were a couple of times where we were at the courthouse - we’d had a great day and we would be like, let’s just go do it. We had gotten to that point where we were planning on sharing a life, we were on a lease together, even though we were living in different cities. Well the reason why we are not married now is because he decided to go to work one day and rob his job of some TVs…
Yes chile. Now this was not in his character in any way that I knew of, but we were living long distance. So I know who he was in high school and I know who he has presented himself to be in this long distance relationship. He was a real baby Christian. When we first reconnected he was living with this ghetto ass girl -- I should send you a picture of her - her ass was a damn mess, she looked like a damn bum, the type to shave her whole eyebrow off and then draw it back on. She got neck tattoos… in all her pictures she got the middle finger up, that type of girl. He was with her, with the neck tattoos and the Newports - just a very hard looking woman. He was living with her and I got the sense that it was some sort of vampire energy around him. I just wanted to be a good sister in Christ. I thought that was me making amends for our past. And he kind of fell in love with the God in me. So, we been praying. I got my prayer partner who was going to be my maid of honor for the wedding and we praying every day. Praying for her man, praying for my man, praying every fucking day for a calendar year. And he wasn’t a lick less crazy. Over the course of the year I discovered he had been dealing with depression; we went on our first family outing, me him and my son went to this Christian conference called Women on the Front Line, a three day intercessory thing. And when I tell you it was an excruciating road trip...this crazy nigga couldn’t make it to the church without calling me the devil, he hopped out of the car in front of my son, just a mess. I thought, how could I possibly be the devil and I’m taking your goofy ass to church but… okay. If somebody in this scenario got to be the devil I guess you ain’t gon call yourself the devil so it's gots to be me. Okay, that’s fine. We made it through the weekend and I was just crestfallen. We fought for days in this little hotel room. He never de-escalated. He never came out of orbit. And I just remember being in the altar call at church like, I don’t want to marry him.
MW: So you had never actually lived with him before?
Never. Nope. Never once, we’d never lived together. Now as far as this TV theft incident, I remember back in July being in his bedroom and seeing this big ass TV and him being like, baby we got a special from my job, I bought this, and I’m going to have my friend put it together and when we move in together I’m gonna put it in our place. I thought nothing of it because it was the only one I’d ever seen. In a couple days it wasn’t there anymore, it was wherever he was storing it. So now flash forward to December, the reason why he hadn’t moved to be with me sooner was because he liked this little factory job, he liked to be able to pay the bills, save money, it was a good job, there was a promotion in it, and there was pride that, as a man, he took from this job. So you must know I was surprised when his friend called me from his job. I’m out of town working on a play; mind you on the way to the play this nigga done clowned so bad in the car, I finally asked him, are you trying to sabotage my job? And he was like, maybe.
Nigga you crazy as a goddamned roach. Let me get on a motherfucking plane now because I ain’t never tried to keep you from doing nothing, especially your damn job where they was paying you. Why are you trying to ruin my shit, okay? So let me just leave you standing here in the airport, okay? So I go ahead and get on a plane, still praying, I’m still trying to make it work and still be myself - which is what caused the fight. You ever had a man like the idea of you but…? With the Christian girl archetype and the ex-girlfriend coming back narrative, I’m an entertaining girl, I’m a cool chick, a lot of people like me - but that doesn’t mean they like me beyond the part of me they can relate to. They don’t know what to do with those other parts. And he resented me in a lot of ways. So I’m like I’m not gon let him ruin my career so I’m gon get on this plane. So I did. Mind you I’m still praying, still going through whatever. This man decides without speaking to me that he was going to rob some TVs from his job. I’m sure he’d gotten away with it in the past but the security cameras caught him this time. Of all the people I know I never would have thought him bright enough to be a criminal. He’s not the smartest nigga but he’s a good man. I mean that honestly -- he didn’t know the difference between Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman.
Yeah, and he told me Nina Simone sounded like a man and I was like, I don’t know who I’m dating. I don’t wanna talk to you no more. (laughs) He said Harriet Tubman was riding on the back of the bus -- it’s too much! What the fuck are you talking about? And he would be really condescending to me. I know you can’t act too book smart dating a blue collar brother because they not that book smart. You can’t do that. So I never did. But he would always be mocking some shit I came up with. Like it's ludicrous. He’d be like, you think what? Yeah nigga I do, and I got some books to back it up. Folks agree with me! So I’m working on this show and he done got busted because he the wrong nigga to be committing these crimes. So they catch him immediately, put him in the back of the car, come to find out he has a warrant for driving on a suspended license. He blames me for that because he was providing for my household even though we didn’t live in the same town. Again, if I’m pressed to be a relationship with you, I’m going to be single until I’m married, that’s how I look at it. If you want to take me off the market you have to provide for me. He was my man so he was paying bills and doing the shit men do for they woman. But he wasn’t getting the pay off of him bringing his ass down there to live in the household he was providing for, to reap the rewards of the friendship he was cultivating, he didn’t get that. Now they gon keep him for a month because he got warrants in two counties, one for this new charge and one for the license that’s suspended.
MW: Were y'all doing it or were you waiting for marriage?
We were not doing it. We fooled around, petting and hand jobs and a kiss or two in some no-no places but we were not actually having sex, we were waiting for our wedding night for that. Well at least I wasn’t having sex, I can’t say what this nigga was doing down there. He wasn’t honest with himself and he wasn’t honest with me. And he has a very close relationship with a gay man and I don’t know many straight niggas who can hang out with gay men. That’s just a taboo in our communities. So I always thought it was sketchy. And the gay friend was the one who loaned him the car to commit the crime and the one who paid his bail to get out of jail. And that was a big deal with his sister, she said, you his fiance, you ain’t gon pay his bail? I’m a mother. You trying to tell me I’m supposed to take my rent money now and bail this nigga out? No.
MW: Yeah, no.
No, I’m not about to do that. I didn’t have nothing to do with him stealing. I wasn’t his accomplice. He tried to say it was because I said I was going to break up with him if my car got repossessed. I was just mad. But just because of one comment you trying to pin your life of crime on me? I said, I’m getting rid of this car and I’m getting rid of you, the day I have to get rid of this car is the day I get rid of you, I think I said some shit like that. (laughs) And he was like, I thought you was gon break up with me if you lost the car. You know what, that car has been repossessed twice. You ain’t consult me. Whatever you were thinking, you didn’t call me up and say baby, here’s what I’m thinking of doing. And then that negated the fact that he had already stole shit before but now you wanna try to pin it on your lady, it's your lady fault you out here making dumb life decisions. I just thought that was some coward, weak shit. And his sister talked to me bad, I ended up in the emergency room because my blood pressure was so high. I’m out of town working on this play alone. Me and his sister went back and forth so hard if I’d have seen her, I would have popped her head like a pimple, I’d have been in the penitentiary for the rest of my life, I was furious! They wanted to keep me at the hospital because my heart rate was so high. The nurse took my phone. She said, ma'am, no, you’re done. Whoever you keep texting and talking to, it's over. And I felt like God was like (laughs), IT’S DONE! You finna fall out and this nigga not even here, like that's really what God was saying. You could die in here today and none of those people that you so worried about are here to help you. This man that you love and got your pressure up over, he can't even come see bout you if you fall out here. Think about it.
And after he got out of jail our relationship wasn’t the same. He stuck me with the lease for the townhome we had rented together when we thought we were getting married, and the rent was higher than the place I had been living in before. And I couldn’t sustain it. I lost my place, I ended up moving, all because this relationship ended. I ended up moving to the worst neighborhood in town. Murder row. Everybody told me. 2016 was just the hardest year ever. That includes the year my brother was murdered, 2014. 2014 I was like this is fucking terrible. 2015, it's alright, but nothing great. 2016 I was like woahhh. If I live through this year, I can live through anything, I can tell you right now. If Imma go out, Imma go out fighting. I either gotta give up or I gotta fight until I’m okay. And I’m still fighting. But really the thing that was the impetus for it was my love life and this desire of wanting to have a mate. Going on five years as a single Christian woman with no man, just seeking Jesus, and to get to this point where I’m with this brother, he ain’t doing right, he ain’t everything I want but I’m praying, praying, praying for him, I know he loves me, and now he does the most self-sabotaging shit ever. I liken his behavior to me going out and letting all the niggas in the neighborhood run a train on me before the wedding. Who the fuck does some self sabotage shit like that? It's like insanity. Why would you do that? I didn’t get his actions. It was crazy to me. I ended up having to go to eviction court on my own even though we were both on the lease.
MW: So he was like, I’m not going to move in with you because you didn’t pay my bail?
We done. We done. Didn't’ talk for like three weeks while he was in jail and it wasn’t much to say when he got out. We talked a couple times and it didn’t necessarily go any smoother. And to me I just thought you can’t call me your family and be loyal to me, but you letting your sister talk to me bad, you making these kind of crazy life decisions. Whoever you making these decisions with, that’s your family. Those your people. And to me its like, you stupid because your sister would never take your side over her damn husband, she’d put you out. That’s her husband. So I’m your wife, why the fuck am I even addressing your sister at all? Why is she even talking to me? You put me in a position where woman to woman I have to respond. Ain't no, that’s his sister I gotta respect her because this bitch ain’t saying that’s his woman, let me tell him how I feel about his lady and address him. This bitch talking directly to me. So that means if I beat this bitch over the head with a damn crowbar, her ass deserves that! I wasn’t messing with her, you know what I’m saying? And I just didn’t get it, why he didn’t have my back. It felt disloyal. Regardless, I can’t do this. I can’t do it. He clearly don’t give a fuck, he making these kinds of decisions. And basically we let the relationship die. But we had these things that we were tied into and responsible for. It's just because he was so unrepentant, and kept saying it was my fault, that I was selfish. From what he told his sister, I was selfish, and that’s why all this shit happened. He had obviously been telling this bitch nothing but negative things about me, going to her to vent, for her to have so much negative to say, and I just felt betrayed because it's like, I did take your crazy goofy ass to church on our first date. I connected you to my Christian council when we first met. I didn’t try to touch you , push up on you. I didn’t even wanna be your damn woman, I was your friend, for years, I was using you? Get the fuck out of here. You ain’t never had to provide for no woman.
It's like, so many other brothers I’ve dated, they don’t know nothing about warrior shit. Everything is handed to them. They don’t hunt and gather for nothing that they fighting for, they get offended. They say, oh I dated bitches with master’s degrees before, I done dated beautiful women - why the fuck is we comparing? I don’t know what those bitches allow in they life but that’s not me, that’s not my life. Don’t try to make me feel like I’m on discount just because you ain’t never had to do shit for no woman. If you gon fuck with me, you gon provide and protect and nurture and serve and sacrifice and love me like Christ loved the church. You ain’t got much but you got enough patriarchy and enough bible in you to know you want a wife to obey and submit. You ain’t got no ideas as a leader but you know what you want. So you gon have to pay for that. That’s gon cost you something- time, energy -- and he had been paying. He had been putting it in and I couldn’t do nothing but respect it. I was loyal to him and faithful to him the whole time we were together. And then for him to like remix it, or rehash it in his head or hit the replay button and say I’m using him? It's your fault, I ain’t gained no weight, my drivers license suspended, I couldn't do this, couldn't do that, all because of you. And I’m like, okay, everything is my fault, now I’m out the way.
MW: What does him not being able to gain weight have to do with it? (laughs)
I don’t know, because he was feeding me, I guess. He was feeding me with his money, I don’t know girl. (laughs) I did it all! I left the nigga skinny, he black, he everything, it's all my fault girl, I did it all.
MW: Girl bye.
It was a lot of hard days. When I moved on that street everybody was like you moving on the worst street in town. And my car did get repossessed. I got it back for a little while. I did get it back with my income tax. And ended up walking at night, that’s when things really started getting worse. I feel like my life is not going well. I feel like God has forgotten about me when I’m out walking at night because it's not cool for a woman to be walking after dark. It's just not cool. And that was my life. And that's not where it really got bad, it actually got worse than that, right around the time that I met the brother who was abusive.
So my fiance left my life -- and I wanted to tell him this, he actually called me a couple of days ago and asked for prayer. You know now he’s dealing with a felony charge and I guess he’s dealing with the fact that he still ain’t quit smoking pot, he’s dealing with the fact that he ain’t finished school or finished successfully the courses that he started, he’s dealing with the fact that he’s still underemployed and still fucking around with these temp jobs because of his life life choices. Now I’m not there and he didn't’ become a millionaire in a year. Go figure. It didn’t all fall into place after I left. So he called me yesterday and instead of me saying I told you so, and called him stupid or said fuck you, get off my phone, I prayed for him and I let him pray for me, because I still need prayer, very much so. And I wanted to tell him that his abdication of responsibility is abdication of leadership, and him not keeping what he said he would do in my life and really showing up -- and what the fallout was for the past year. That I did have to live on murder row where there have been multiple murders; where, while I lived there a woman was murdered, gang raped. Like the niggas in the neighborhood ran a train on this addict, she had an OD fit during it while they were gang raping this girl, and instead of them calling the police, they cut her up and threw her in the river.
MW: Oh my God.
That was my street, while I’m walking back and forth to the bus. At night. Very scary. So that’s one thing. The landlord was mildly racist. There was the indignity of poverty, there was the indignity of being evicted. Not once, because I lost two places. I lost the place before that and that’s why he was like, I’m just gonna move down baby, let’s get married. You’re trying to pay all these bills by yourself, I’m just gon move down. Okay, so now you’re my hero. But ultimately, I end up in a place that cost me more money, I lose that. I end up moving by myself, I had nobody to help me. I end up moving to this disgusting slum, basically, run by this quasi-racist slumlord who is certainly racially biased because he rents to a lot of poor black people. We immediately end up in eviction court. And I was just trying my best, working four jobs, still underemployed, couldn’t stay on top of the bills and the requirements of the housing. You know, living in a house you gotta take care of the lawn. Every time a letter came about the grass they would give it to me. I’m like nigga I don’t even own a lawnmower! I can’t pay my bills on time! Now I gotta be responsible for the damn grass?! It's too much! Okay! (laughs) Plus they had me paying for like the sewer, I mean the shit was in his name but it was just a line item on my lease. That’s the kind of landlord he was. Technically by law he was charging for shit he wasn’t supposed to. He just kept it in his name and put it on the lease and when I couldn't stay in there successfully-- my water was off for awhile, my lights were off -- and I’m dealing with this predatory energy because I promise you the day I become single, men are different with me. I can tell, the energy from men shifts. When there is somebody covering me who really loves me, my inbox is different, everything is different. Now I’m vulnerable, I’m poor as shit, and it's still dudes trying to slide in and sneak in where they can. I was supposed to have been married, I’m over 30, I’m trying to prepare my body for more children, and instead of that I’m having to experience the hardest 2 and ½ years of my life, and it's because of love.
So I was going through all this stuff, still trying to build my business, still trying to work every job that I can as much as I can, and it's getting harder and harder, and on Father’s Day - there was this artist guy -- I’d never really thought of him - I thought he was kind of weird and a little crazy -- his visual art reads to me as crazy as well -- he inboxed me like, for awhile saying, I wanna book you as a model. I said, you know what, fuck it, Imma just take this time to make my art, I ain’t gon miss another opportunity to make art, I’m gon call this nigga back, and tell him my per diem, I’m gon make some art. I went, it was supposed to be for him, but he ended up modeling for me and I took his photos. We drank wine and I smoked some pot with him and we’re vibing really hard. And I’m not usually that loosey goosey in a work environment. It depends on the person and the situation and all of that. But the vibe just seemed right. So I’m shocked that our chemistry was this...like, for real. At some point he was standing next to me and I was like, oh my, there’s no space. This dude that I thought was weird and not my type at all, I’m having like a God moment. That’s how powerful the connection is. Our art was perfect. The art making was perfect. It was this weird artist space, like you could tell he was trifling as hell, he a bachelor, he’s an artist so his mind is sort of cluttered so there’s stacks of things all over, but it all just fit. It all fit together. He let me into his space, he trusted me, he took every step that I wanted him to take as a photographer -- and I had every intention of modeling for him too, at some point I think I ended up giving him a lap dance -- I didn’t take my dress off (laughs) but my damn dress was short too, it was summer time, my gams was out, I was turnt up, we done smoked a little bit, the photos got this little one hitter in the photos, him hitting it, you know -- we had a good time. And I think I ran out of gas and he came and picked me up.
And this whole time with me and my ex fiance -- there was this other guy that I had a concurrent narrative with. He is a male model. I post our photo every so often but not too often because everybody makes a big stink about him. My ex fiance did, this other man I dated did -- and truthfully, he was the nigga to beat, in my mind, but they don’t know he treated me poorly. And I had shot my shot with him right after me and my ex broke up -- this was the guy I really wanted and we had been kind of talking and vibing as friends. We had great chemistry. But he was like bitch I’m not fucking with you, I think you’re crazy, I hate your guts. Now that’s because I’m like moving into, moving on down basically. My relationship was in a shambles. It’s like every time he’s been in my life, I’ve been in crisis as a woman. And when I’m in crisis, my need for love -- it's like I’m flailing, I’m flailing. I need help on every level. I need somebody to help me come move my shit, I need somebody to affirm me right now, I feel scared, I feel sad, I need help with everything, everything. My neediness goes way up when I’m in any kind of crisis. And the last time he and I were close, it was right around the time my brother had died, so all he’s ever known of me is that we have a good time… and then I nut the fuck up! (laughs) We are good and then I nut up and he just did not have the patience for it. He was harsh with me, he was cold, he was like I’m not dealing with this, whatever you got going on. You homeless, your nigga left, I don’t care whatever happened. I don’t fuck with you like that.
That’s basically how that went. Crushed me girl! And when I say I shot my shot, I was so honest, I was so vulnerable. We do have a great rapport. I don’t know why when it's me plus him I go into full conniption mode. Some of it is situational, but I also think it's his energy and the way he handles me kind of pushes me...he has kind of an Iceberg Slim quality to him. He is an activist as well and black and conscious in the Hotep kind of sense. So now I basically done took two Ls. And the remainder of the spring was random niggas trying to cut into me while I was down. There’s a certain kind of like man that will try to slink in. He don’t wanna be your man when you down. He’ll buy you some gas, maybe some McDonald's. You know like the kind of dude that wanna exploit a black single mother. And some little guys were 90k professionals, some were lighting designers, some were some broke motherfuckers. And I wasn’t having sex with nobody but it was like… I just was run down and dudes was trying to take advantage of me. I got my guards up 24/7 and I still need help and community, I got my heart broke twice. Now all spring -- because I’m a cute girl, I’m letting my energy kind of lead when it needs to. If I don’t feel pretty enough I’m absolutely gonna inbox a boy, fuck this shit, hey, how you doing, thank you for telling me I’m pretty, and there were two or three guys I was talking to, an activist -- anybody who’s kind of hot shit -- a hot shit activist, a hot shit painter, the lighting designer, and like a poet, one of these little light skinned, green eyed poet type niggas -- but the poet was a total Hotep - has two wives and believes God told him he should have a third. And that he was going to have 12 sons. But I digress from that story.
That was my spring. Every kind of dude was attracted to me, but with unfocused energy, unintentional energy, no intent to really help me or be in my corner so I spent the whole spring rejected and alone and getting my son through school and working and being the best mom that I could be, still making the best art that I could make, showing up for everything that I can, ain’t done nothing wrong as far as I can tell. I didn’t rob nobody, I did pray for this nigga, I wasn’t using him. I was a stripper from 18 to 23 -- if I wanted to be a dirty bitch my whole life, I’ve been provoked enough to be a dirty motherfucker but I chose not to be that. And its like damn, I still got shit on in every way from everybody. Even from the conscious brother that you would have thought who know me, who seen me.
But let’s get back to the domestic violence situation. We had the best date ever and I’m thinking Jesus is in it. Now mind you, I had a feeling like the week before, or maybe a month and a half before with another photographer friend of mine. We had been working on some stuff and when we got to the end of the work day it was like, we just had the perfect fucking day, woah, like, oh my God, there’s chemistry, I wanna kiss you, woaaah, is this God? But then the energy between him and I stopped. Like, I couldn’t even find him in the spirit, I couldn’t feel the connection to him. But I knew that I had had this God moment, and I knew there was something to being around him.
The same thing happened with this guy I was telling you about. I was like, wooaah, the art, everything, it was like we were in perfect syncopation, all of it. Like I would start a thought or I’d think about something like, man it would be great to have some lemonade, and he’d be like, do you want something to drink? Are you thirsty? This happened so frequently and happens so frequently with me and this brother. And we just immediately clicked and started talking and hanging out and we were vibing, vibing, vibing. Now he had a baby on the way, the baby was due in October. Now from what he had told me, the girl had cheated, he wasn’t sure if the baby was his- whatever - but he did have a son with the girl. So he got two babies with the girl, and the girl was 23 years old…
MW: Oh no…
He’s 33. Oh no is right. If I hadn’t have had for real all the feelings that a woman could have at one time… I wouldn’t have fucked with him because on paper that don’t look right. He wasn’t even of interest to me until that day, until that very day. Every time I saw or thought of him I was like this nigga weird and crazy and no. No, no, why is he even talking to me? Beat it! (Laughs) This ain’t my type of nigga. I wasn’t even checking for him. And then we had this amazing day. I said wowww, okay. And he was coming all the way to another town to see me. And he was like, yeah I definitely will come see you, this was great. I’m excited about it. And we’re vibing. When I say we have amazing conversation with genuine laughter. Very quirky guy. He told me immediately, he told me everything that had been going on with him, that he had been incarcerated for three years for robbing a nightclub in his early 20s, that he had fought alot… he fought a lot in prison, he fought alot in life, that there was domestic violence in the household he grew up and his father had pushed a kid through a TV when he was younger… he saw his mother get beaten up. He didn’t tell me what he was diagnosed as, I don’t know now -- it sort of changes. But what sticks is bipolar, that’s the one he consistently acknowledges. And I didn’t immediately disqualify him because again, I had this amazing experience creating art with him, and then I grew up with a mother who had been diagnosed as schizophrenic when I was a child and had three nervous breakdowns over the course of my growing up. And I knew what kind of woman my mother was. And how resilient and how gentle and how beautiful, and how pure of motive, and how traumatized and how I always thought she deserved love and how I thought it was an injustice from God that she was alone. Like if she had been loved properly would she have become healthier? And this feeling and this art making and all of these places where it’s amazing, I thought, Imma give it a shot. He showed up for me, he got my water cut on in his name. It was a tough June, July, and finally in July he was like, you should just come move in with me for a month or two. Because I knew my son wanted to go to college in a city near ours and I thought, this is fast, I’m taking a risk, but it's a risk worth taking because of all the good. And as soon as I got down there it was rough and traumatic in every way it could be...(to be cont'd)
"When he forced me, I thought it was normal. I was like, maybe this is just what women have to do. Maybe this is our life." [An Interview]Read Now
When I was a little girl, I was raped by an uncle when I was five. It was somebody… its really complicated. All this stuff gets jumbled in my head. My father sent us there to be babysat by his biological aunt who he felt really connected to because his father left them and his mother developed an extreme mental illness as a result. His mother became a hoarder, she became really overly religious, she would bring homeless men in the house.
And so, the aunt, who was my dad’s mother’s sister, she married this guy - I don’t even know his real name but we called him ***** - and my parents would send us there because my dad really wanted to believe he had a family. But ***** … he would chase me in the basement and do things… but we had no idea it was happening to my sister too. So we’re both having this thing happen to us and we have no idea its going on. What I found out as an adult is, the way it became exposed was that my sister mentioned it at church thinking nothing was wrong with it. She said, oh yeah, my uncle ***** puts his penis in my mouth. And so the church people called DHS and the social worker came.
MW: How old was your sister?
Probably less than ten. She had no idea that what she had said meant anything. This stuff was going on in our house and our parents said, if the they talk to you, just say no comment. Don’t talk to anyone about this. They asked me what happened and I told them he kissed me on my neck and my mom was like, oh that’s all that happened, not a big deal. So for me, this type of sexual thing was considered normal, like anybody was allowed to own me because this happened and there was nothing said and there was nothing done, so my body, in my mind was for anybody.
So it went on from there to being molested at a camp by a counselor. I remember it was an afro-centric camp so that probably skewed my view in some ways. I don’t know. And so this camp was supposed to be empowering for black people but it didn't really seem empowering for black girls because this black afro-centric guy was putting his hands all over me. And the camp didn't really seem like they believed me when I said something, and the only reason I said something was because some of the other girls were telling me, this is bad, and I was like, this is what happens, right? So I don't think my mom ever asked me anything about it, she was just like, are you going to continue going to that camp? And I was like, I don’t think so, I don’t know. My brother was making a big deal about it, like, we need to sue them, we need to do this, and we need to do that, and I was so ashamed I wanted to disappear. I wanted to go away.
Somehow I imagined being -- not that nothing happens to white people but it happens to us in a different way. I imagined like "The Bluest Eye," [by Toni Morrison] like being some little rich white girl with my dad in a different place, that cared for me, who stepped in and protected me, but the only way I could get it is if I wasn’t black, because my dad had too many issues with his own dad leaving, to worry about what was happening to his children. So… after that I really grew up thinking, okay, nothing happened there. All that happened was that my mom took me out of camp. Nothing was said. One of the camp directors asked the counselor who did it to me, in front of me, okay, did you do this? And he was like, naw man I wouldn’t do that, I didn’t do that. I don’t know if he was ever even fired. I remember some of the girls at the camp wanting his attention. He was that older guy and all the girls wanted his attention, like he was going to make them a woman or something. I was like, am I supposed to be a woman now? Is this supposed to have done something positive to me? All I know is I felt like someone let the breath out of me, like a bridle on a horse. Like someone had taken me somewhere and taken the breath out of me and I don’t know who I am or where I’m going. Or whats happening to me. As I got older I really think people didn't even know who I was. Between all that physical abuse by my dad, chocking us literally, choking us figuratively, calling me worthless, even at times calling me a whore, I felt I must have done something for this stuff to happen to me and I felt like I needed someone to protect me from myself, and from the people outside who might get me.
I went through a lot of stuff, I guess. I ended up getting married. To a guy that raped me. I was 23. There are some parts of it that I’ve never said. I was 23. I had just been sexually abused by someone I was dating and a friend was like, we need to go out, we need to cheer up. I had called Women Organized Against Rape and they never … they said somebody was going to call me and nobody ever called me. And even though they couldn't tell my color over the phone, I was like, this isn’t for me, nobody helps me, nobody ever helps black women, nobody cares about that type of stuff. And nobody called me back. So my friend was like, we need to go out, so we go to this lounge. And this guy with this accent comes over and he’s like, why you look so sad? I’m dressed in all black - black shirt, black pants, black boots, black hat - a black soul. Black skin. And he said, why you look so sad? And I said, I don’t want to talk about that. And he said, well if I'm going to talk to you more, I need you to be happy. So we end up exchanging information. He walked me to my car, and he started coming over. He was always there. Whenever I felt empty, he was there. He started coming over on Wednesdays , and he started staying from Wednesday to Sunday, and I’m thinking, you know eventually, … that he can protect me. Because he’s this guy who is always talking about - he’s big and bad and he beat up his boss, and if anybody hurts me he was going to get them and I was like, okay, this is what I need. He was from central Africa. When he forced me I thought it was normal; I thought if I wanted to keep him there, this is what I had to do. It happened before and no one did anything about it, so I was like, maybe this is just what women have to do. Maybe this is our life.
So I was pregnant. I was pregnant with the guy's baby who was not a citizen, who was not a permanent resident, whose student visa was running out, who was a rapist. Who, had some type of record that I didn’t know about. And so he came when he found out I was pregnant. First of all I had to go get the test by myself. I asked him to come with me and he said, no you can do that by yourself, you’re grown.
So the sweet, I don't want to see you sad type thing, it didn’t really matter anymore, But I was still clinging to that. I needed somebody to love me, I needed somebody to protect me. My dad didn't protect me, my dad was holding on to something else, my dad hurt me, even in his presence he was absent from me. This was like my parent's relationship. This was the same stuff I would see between them, my dad breaking plates, he would chase my mom outside and call her motherfucker, just all kinds of stuff. So I figured, I need to be nice. I need to get him to stay with me. So I go get the test. He’s excited, he’s like, you have to lay down in our bed, don’t do anything, I’m so excited. But the next morning I’m in the shower and he comes to me with a knife. Holds the knife up to me and says, you have to get rid of this baby. I don’t know where this calmness... I don’t know if this was normal to me, but I said, I can’t get rid of it. You gon' have to give me some time. I don’t even remember what happened after that, but I remember my sister found out I was pregnant and she said she would keep the baby and I should get rid of him and not tell him I was keeping it. And this is the same thing my dad's mom did with his brother when she left her husband. And I just had this pull like, I need someone to protect me. If I have this baby, who’s going to protect us? Who’s going to protect us when somebody comes to rape my child or rape me or come get me? And I just thought, if I could just get him to love me, If I could just get a man to be there then I'll be alright.
So I ended up secretly marrying him. I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want my dad to know I got pregnant. I didn’t want him to think of me as a whore. I didn’t want to feel like, I'm a black woman, I can't get raped, that's not what happens to us. I'm strong. So I didn’t tell anyone. Because my dad couldn’t protect me. He wasn’t going to. So I went and found somebody on the street in New York to be a witness. We got married in City Hall. I felt like I was delusional, like I must have been someone else. I married him three days after he came at me with a knife and told me to have an abortion. Then I went and I had the abortion. Like I was the walking dead.
MW: What was it that you felt like you needed him to protect after you had the abortion?
I had the abortion and I felt like my dad would have thought of me as a whore. I had the abortion and I didn’t want to have it, first of all. But the main reason I did it because I was scared and I thought my father was going to look at me like a whore if he found out I was pregnant for any reason. He wasn't going to believe that I had been raped because it just doesn't happen. So I married him thinking, this is all I have. I'm not having this baby because he's basically threatening me not to have it. There was nobody I felt like I could really go to. Go to the police? that wasn’t even an option. S when I married him I felt like I was out of my mind, you know? Stockholm Syndrome type thing. I felt like I needed somebody and nobody… I felt like an empty hole like there was nobody there. Although he was crazy, the one thing he was, was there. Always, just there. There. And if I could keep that, maybe that could protect me from everything that had happened. Maybe I just needed to be better. Maybe I just needed to make sure I didn’t do whatever it was that made him rape me. I don’t know if that makes sense...
MW: No, it does.
I deleted some of the stuff that happened because its so long. There were other instances, like from five until 26, there were issues of sexual abuse. And so for me, he told all theses stories about beating people up and fighting for girls he’d dated before and I was like, okay, this is what I need. I need somebody who is going to keep this away from me. But I never realized all this talk, he was directing towards me. All this violence talk changed to, I'm going to put a knife to your throat, to, you had the abortion now you married me, nobody knows you maimed me. When I introduced him to my father I thought, I'll pretend I have a dad. When he talks to him he is going to feel like, this girl has somebody. He is going to see a dad, because a lot of people think young black girls don't have dads, but I had one. Even if he's... you know... he's a person. So it will scare him if he's not going to protect me. Even if my dad doesn't. But when he met my dad, my dad basically cursed my mom out and cursed me out and ran upstairs and left me and this guy and my mom downstairs.
So in hindsight, I'm like, well damn. There goes this idea that this girl had somebody. Now he's probably licensed to be like, oh well you know, I'm going to use her. So for me it was like, supposed to fill in this father void, I guess, so I married him. You know I'm studying clinical psychology now, and I wish to God there was some type of syndrome for after a woman has been traumatized and has an abortion. I was out of my mind. Like in the same way that somebody gets drunk and they get married, then annuls the marriage. I was completely insane. So the relationship turned to physical abuse. Not just sexual, but physical. I started to wear Muslim garb just to cover scars. And so he doesn't have a VISA anymore, doesn't have permanent residency, is not a citizen, so I'm married to him. But nobody knows that I'm married to him because in mind I was going to be better. I was going to make this thing better.
MW: So at this time, he was living with you in your apartment?
He came whenever he wanted to. He always said that he was going to stay, but he'd be gone for days at a time, and then he'd come back, do what he was going to do to me and then he would leave. I don't remember when he came to finally stay with me. Maybe after a couple of months or something, he came to stay. And I'm thinking when he came to stay with me, this is going to make everything better. We're going to live together, we're going to be a family. I converted to Islam because he was a Muslim. I figured we're going to pray together, we're going to go to the Mosque together, we're going to pray five times a day and God is going to take this away. Because that's what folks say God does, he heals, he changes this stuff.
It didn't change at all. I went to the people at the Mosque and I told them, I'm secretly married to him. I told them the whole story. And I heard crazy things like, he can hit you but he shouldn't hit you so hard that you bruise. Maybe its because you're light-skinned. Its not really that bad. I went to the church after awhile and they said, you're not supposed to get divorced, you're not allowed to get divorced. You need to stick it out with your husband. You need to pray for him. I'm thinking all of this is messing my brain up. I don't know if that's too much for…
MW: No, that is amazing. First of all, you're a poet and the way you speak is poetry and I can't wait to type it out and I can't wait for you to read it. You're just so eloquent. And this story is...is... I don't really have any words for it. I'm just so sorry you had to go through all of that.
MW: I said I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that.
MW: Thank you.
MW: And I want to know...how did you get free?
This is one thing I remember very well. I don't know what to call God now. I don't know what He or She really goes by but there was this one night after being in this for two years. After being isolated from my family, after not being able to come inside, like literally locked in my apartment, while he was sleeping I got up and I went into the second room and I laid out the Islamic prayer mat. And instead of trying to pray in Arabic, in the correct formatted form, I just laid on the mat with no garb on, and I said, I don't know whether to call you Allah or Jesus or anything, I don't know what your name is, but I need help. I said, if I'm meant to leave this, if this is the type of life I'm not supposed to be living, if I'm missing something, if this has been my lot in life but you're ending it, end it for me now because if you don't, I'm going to die. And I got up after laying there flat out and it seemed like the stars and everything were so big, everything was with me that night. When I got up it seemed like I was a whole 'nother person, like I was made new. And I got up the next morning and I felt like I had to leave. He went to work, I packed a bag, and I left. And it wasn't that easy because with this being my norm in life, I felt like I was hurting him by leaving. I felt like I was messing up his life. So I came back with my brother-in-law and my sister to come get my stuff and he's coming in from work. He has no idea that I left.
MW: Oh wow...
He's coming in and we're coming out with like rocking chairs and everything, and I passed out on the floor. I don't even remember it, my sister said I passed out. I don't remember how I got out of the apartment after that, I don't remember nothing. I don't even remember in between, what happened, because I ended up going back to him. I had no... no right to being in the world without him. And I think he represented so many things. He wasn't just this person, he was my Dad, he was my uncle, he was my camp counselor, he was date rape, he was all these people that I felt like I had done something to cause them to do something to me and I had to go back to him and make it right. So I went back again after getting a protection order because he stalked me, and my parents left, they went to California for vacation. They didn't seem really concerned. They said, whatever you want to do, if that's what you want to do, go ahead and do that with your life.
So I dropped the protection order, I went to court. The judge was like, if you drop this order, I can't protect you. And I'm looking at him like, Judge, I don't remember y'all protecting me. I didn't think this consciously ... but I could feel, like, this is not protection. I mean he's outside, he's waiting to protect me. I just have been doing something wrong. I've been doing something wrong with all this people. So I go back to him and after awhile I just said, I'm going to make up this story again that I had a dad at home. I said, if I don't leave -- because he wasn't going to let me leave this time, he had placed knives all over the apartment -- I said, if I don't leave, my dad is coming here to get me. And he said, okay. But just make sure you come back. So I left. So I stayed with my sister. But my sister's husband eventually kicked me out. Because he said, if he wouldn't have married my sister, he would have married me.
MW: Oh my Goddddd...
And so, I'm carrying all this stuff with me, and I'm like, how could you say that? How could you be one of these people after I trusted you to be somebody else? So all of these people are shaping my view of men. He said, if I wasn't with your sister, I would be with you. You have to leave. Because I had started to try to see people, and I had started to try to date and get my life back... it was over a course of like a year or so I stayed with them, and he said he was jealous.
And so I ended up moving in with my parents. That wasn't good because my Dad... my credit was messed up because of my ex-husband, I still had this order of protection, I'm still looking over my shoulder, but eventually I got enough money. I saved up every dime, nickel or whatever, I paid things and I ended up moving into my own apartment. On top of that I realized how much in jail either I was or I wanted to be. I'm not sure. I asked the apartment if they could put bars on my window. In a suburban good neighborhood. I said, I don't know who's coming in here. And they said, we don't really do that in this neighborhood, I think you're safe. But I would literally go into the apartment and leave the door open because I was more afraid of what would be in the apartment rather than what would be outside, if that makes sense.
MW: That makes sense.
Like if somebody was going to be waiting for me, like if somebody was going to pop out of the closet, or any shadow that looked like a person, anything , any noise...
So yeah, I got that apartment. Now I am where I am now. I go to counseling. I got a dating coach to try to help me try to figure out patterns that I developed, like feeling like I have to please somebody in order for them to like me. If somebody is really genuinely liking me and showing me affection, I get scared and I don't talk to them anymore. I'm trying to be open to love and I'm really hopeful... and just opening myself to loving myself more...which is finding that person... maybe there's more than one, you don't know - maybe there's people out there who are just not looking to hurt people, who are looking to love, who have the God in them to treat me in the way that Beyonce said, when you love me, you love yourself. Love God Herself. So. I don't know if I talked too much.
MW: Not at all. How old are you now?
MW: Oh wow. The fact that you can tell the story with that much insight and reflection into the process of abuse for you… like - for example - the way you are so clear about what you needed from him. That means that you're so far advanced in your healing. That’s just so awesome. That means you can see the lay of the land. You might still be in the land, but at least you can see it.
I feel like I really just got to the point to where I can look back at it and actually see with new eyes… like my eyes have been replaced or something. I have… I don’t know - a new opening in my soul or something. I look back and like… I used to feel like, oh my God, why do I keep running into these creeps? (laughs) I guess a lot of women do… run into guys who only talk about sex because they want that. And I thought it was something that I was doing to bring them to me, like this has always been me. And I was like, you know what, no. No its not. And I’m not going to blame myself for other people. I’m going to protect myself because I can do that. I don’t need anyone to do it. I can do it myself.
MW:I wish I could hug you. I’m such a hugger. (laughs)
MW: Do you have any advice that you want to give women who… might not be as far along in their healing process?
I would say, always write. Always write. Always reflect. That way you can look back and see how you were thinking a couple of years ago compared to how you are thinking now, and see how far you’ve come, and give yourself the credit you deserve for making it so far through so many negative things. You know, we ask ourselves - why does this stuff keep happening to me? But you been beating it like a boss but you didn’t realize it. But if you look back, you see how boss you did.
MW: (Laughs) Yes! Like, you are a boss, and you left a manual of your bossness.
MW: Thank you, that was perfect.
"He kept saying, I love you, over and over. He called me his wife's name. It was hard for me to process what happened as rape." [An Interview]Read Now
God I hate this story.
MW: You don’t have to tell it if you don’t want to.
Yes I do. (laughs)
MW: Yes you do. (laughs)
Boooo, okay. So, when I was 21, I worked at this telemarketing company. Um....looking back, I was in a state of transition. I had quit my good job as a receptionist because I kept getting in trouble for being late and it just got to be really tense. I’m an artist and I like to do my own thing. So since I quit my job, I didn’t renew the lease on my apartment. I figured I could stay between my mom’s house and some friends. I just needed some time to figure things out without worrying about making money.
MW: Shit, don’t we all...
Yeah… sometimes I be like, fuck money. (laughs)
MW: I hear you.
So I was kind of lost. And me and my boyfriend kept breaking up so I couldn’t stay with him. I was very unstable. And of course this is all hindsight. It was a confusing time. So I started working this little job because my money had run out and I needed to feed myself and get back and forth on the train without asking my mama for money. So I started working at this telemarketing company. And in a sense I felt kind of ashamed because I had quit my good job to be an artist, but shit that was in summer. (Laughs)
MW: (Laughs) Right.
Now here it was winter, I had no crib, no car, no job, no summer festivals for me to be cute and sell my stuff. And of course I judged myself like, you damn fool! I felt like a failure. I'm saying all that to say, my self esteem was low.
So at the job, there was this supervisor. And let me just say this...now that I’m in my thirties, I know now that what happened to me was that I just immediately wanted to fuck him. Period, point blank.
MW: Wowwwwww (laughs)
(Laughs) But I didn't know what to call that feeling. I didn't even really acknowledge it at a conscious level. I was just drawn to him. But he used to flirt with every chick there except me and I started feeling lowkey jealous. So I started flirting a little myself. Not much. Just enough for him to start paying me some attention too. But then one day he let it slip that he was married, like mid flirt he said some shit about his wife, and I was like, hold up, you can't do none of the stuff we was just talking about if you're married. But he was like, why not? And I remember being confused. Because mind you, I was only 21. He was about 35 or 36. So I didn't understand that people legit cheat on their partners. I still thought married meant married.
So even though he had told me he was married, in my mind I felt even safer flirting with him because I knew nothing could happen.
MW: Even though he had said, why not?
Yeah, that's what I'm saying, it didn't compute. It didn't make sense to me so I ignored it. It would be like if your husband said, I’m pregnant. It's like, yeah right, shut up, stop tripping.(Laughs) So he said that on like, a Friday, and I was perplexed over the weekend, but by Monday it was on and popping. I was more excited about the fact that he had finally gave me some attention than I was worried about the fact that he was married. I just hate rejection so I felt cute again. But I reiterate, I never saw myself as trying to fuck a married man. I was still very naive in that respect. I saw myself as stunting on these hoes (laughs). You know? As being the bitch wanted by the nigga that all the bitches want. At least that's who I was trying to be. And that bitch is even more cold if she ain't fucking that nigga. So I really wasn't trying to fuck him. I was attracted to him, and I thought about fucking him, and I wanted him to want to fuck me, but I wasn’t trying to fuck him. I want that understood.
MW: I understand.
Okay. So because I wanted him to want to fuck me, I started dressing mad inappropriately for work. I got a big ass and big titties and all my clothes were tight. And he noticed. This other chick at the job who I was cool with noticed too. She and I had started sitting together on our shifts. We used to compete for completes. That’s what you call a successful close, is a complete. She was real thick too, and real cute and we clicked...
MW: What do you mean y'all clicked? Click, clicked or friendship clicked?
Both. But I didn’t realize it at the time. At first it was just a friendship click but then, ok no wait I’m getting ahead of myself.
MW: Take your time…
So the folks at the job used to throw parties on the Fridays we got paid. I had never been to one but then the married dude and my thick friend told me I should come. The three of us had started drinking Tequila together sometimes after work, in his car. And let me just say, I hadn’t really drank Tequila like that before, or any hard liquor really, so I started doing things...I wasn’t myself. Or maybe I was myself, shit, but not the self I was used to.
So one of these parties was coming up and me and my thick friend were talking about what we were going to wear, and the married dude was listening and I remember wanting to impress him. I can't remember if he asked me to wear something tight or a skirt...I think he did..but either way I wore a tight skirt with him in mind. The party was cool. It was real cool, actually. Lots of fried chicken and Tequila. (Laughs) Stepping. It was at this little hole in the wall spot on the west side with wood paneling. Some Chicago shit, for real. I took the bus there, but I told my thick friend I wasn't sure how I was going to get home because the bus had stopped running, and she said one of the other supervisors who was friends with the married dude would take me. I never confirmed that with him though, so I mentioned to the married dude too, that I didn't know how I was going to get home. And to be honest, I wanted him to take me home. I was drunk and he was sexy as fuck to me and I wanted to be alone with him. So he was like, I got you. And when it was time to go, all four of us were at the door, it was me, the married dude, my thick friend, and the other supervisor. The married dude pointed at me and was like, I'm taking her home. My friend pointed to the other supervisor and said, no, he is taking her home, I'm riding with you. But the married dude was like, no, he can take you home. I’m taking **** home. And it was awkward, but I didn’t understand why, and I also I was drunk and pretty oblivious.
MW: Wow. So wait. Did your thick friend like the married dude too?
I didn’t think so, but as it turned they had been fucking the whole time. But I'll get to that.
MW: What the fuck…?
Exactly. So I get in the car with dude and he is drunk as fuck and so am I, but he was so drunk that his driving was making me nervous. At one point he looked at me, and he put his hand on my thigh. I didn't stop him. I probably smiled at him, to tell the truth. I didn't really like it though. I felt like he had skipped a bunch of steps. I remember his hand going up. I don't know if I opened my leg wider or not, but I probably didn’t because I was on my period and wearing a tampon and I knew I couldn't have fingers in my pussy.
And then he took his hand away, and then I remember he turned off onto a side street all of a sudden and parked the car, and literally the next thing I know, this nigga was fucking me. I don't know how the fuck he got his dick out, pushed my draws aside, leaned my seat back and got on top of me in one movement, but that is what that motherfucker did. And I just remember laying there in shock, like, what the fuck? And this is the craziest shit, and how I know I need a lot of fucking therapy, is because I remember not wanting him to be mad at me because I didn't want to fuck.
MW: Oh my God.
And so I patted his back softly. I called his name gently. Like I was trying to wake him up or something. And he kept saying I love you over and over again. And he called me his wife's name. He finally stopped and got off me and drove me home.
So the next day I slept all day. Well, after I dug out the damn tampon. I didn’t process what happened as rape. I just...I was numb. Also I felt guilty because me and my on again off again boyfriend was trying to be on again. Late that afternoon, I called my thick friend to tell her what happened. And she guessed it before I even said anything. She was like, you fucked him. And then she was lowkey mad at me because apparently it was her night to fuck him!
For real! She told me they had been fucking since she was 17. At that point, she was 19, he was 35 and I was 21. She told me she knew I was next to get fucked but she didn’t think I would take her night. She said she always got the ride home after the parties and I took her ride.
MW: Did you tell her he raped you?
I don't think so. I told her how it happened but I didn’t call it rape. I was ashamed of myself. I felt like I asked for it. And then I was so shocked that the three of us had been hanging out and she knew I was crushing on him, but I had no idea they were fucking. That blew me even more than what had happened. All this time, I thought everybody was just flirting with each other because that's all I had been doing, but she explained that he had had sex with pretty much every chick at the job. So I'm thinking I'm special but really I'm next. I’m thinking I'm flirting but really I'm asking for it.
Somehow our conversation turned to threesomes. She said he had made her have a threesome with some old chick and it was gross. I remember talking to her like it was all perfectly normal but inside I was losing my shit. By that Monday, I was in the hospital with a lung infection. I smoked joints and I was asthmatic and I had a cold and I wouldn't stop smoking and before I knew it I couldn't breathe at all. When I finally got back to work after all of that, that nigga looked at me like he broke me. He looked shook. He made some comment like, damn, did you you really have to go the hospital? Like I was being dramatic.
So, I am really not proud of the rest of this story. Long story short, I kept fucking this nigga. I don't remember how it happened the next time but I know I was drunk. I was always drunk off Tequila when I fucked him. Mostly in his car but he took me to a hotel once. I hated him. But he had this hold on me. And he was so funny and his conversation was dope. And he was always getting me drunk. But he was a slimy rapey motherfucker too, you know? One time he took to this club but we started drinking in the car before we went in, and I got drunk. He tried to fuck me right there in the parking lot! And I was like, nigga you gon at least take me in and dance with me! So he took me in and we danced. There was a motel attached to the club and we got a room. But the other thing was that he never wore condoms and since I knew he was fucking everybody in the world, I started to worry about that, so I told him to strap up. He went and got a condom, but I felt his dick before he put it in me, and he hadn’t put the condom on! He was..despicable. And then when I would tell my thick friend what we did, she would always be like, he took me there before. But I wasn't jealous because I couldn't stand him. But I think she loved him. Another thing was that the three of us together had a cool dynamic. We laughed alot, just drinking and talking. That part was fun.
MW: So a while back, you said that you and your thick friend had click clicked. How does that tie in?
Okay. So...yeah, I was feeling her. And I had never been with a girl before so I didn't really know how to feel what I was feeling, you know? But I think us talking about threesomes had kind of opened the door a little, since we were both openly messing with the same guy. Not openly like people at work knew, but we didn’t hide it from each other. So we used to go to this comedy night on Thursdays and it had free food and open bar for an hour. This one night I got sooo drunk within that hour. By the time the show started, I was done. But just before I started feeling sick, I started feeling frisky (Laughs). Me and old girl were talking and I told her I was feeling her, and I like, rubbed my knee into her crotch under the table. But then I got nauseous and started throwing up and our mutual friend who was our ride, dropped us both off at her house. I was passed out on her bed and she was like, I know you not gon fall asleep after all that shit you said. Look what you did to me! She grabbed my hand and stuck it in her panties, which were soaking wet. So needless to say, I perked up. (Laughs)
MW: Obviously! (Laughs)
And we had a really good night! After that, I really didn’t want to deal with dude anymore but she kept wanting to so I did for her. As a friend. I was not her girlfriend, and I did not keep...you know...with her, becsuse she got a little clingy and I got a little mean. Like I said, all this shit happened when I was drunk. When I wasn’t drunk I was distant and... incredulous (laughs) unless it was time to drink. It was a bad time. But the very last time we all hung out together was when we had the threesome.
MW: So you had a threesome?
Yes. And it was awful. But you know, God works in mysterious ways but it was exactly I needed to see myself, like really see myself.
MW: What do you mean?
Well like I said, every time I did something with them, I was drunk off Tequila. This one Friday, the plan was to go to the movies with my thick friend and our other friend, and then go to the party and meet the married dude. We had planned the threesome for after the party. But I turned up too soon. I drank a whole cup of Tequila with no chaser right after work, at like 3 in the afternoon, and then I smoked a whole joint. It was summer, hot, I hadn’t really eaten, and I passed out. They had to take me home and they went to the movies without me. I woke up on my couch like 9 hours later. And I hopped my ass in a cab and went straight to the party. My thick friend and the married dude were just leaving, and I got in the car with them. We literally drove right back to my house and had the threesome in his car on my block.
MW: Why in the car…?
Because it wasn't really my house, I was staying with a friend. But the thing that saved me was that I was, for the first time, stone cold sober. I couldn't drink because I was scared to because I had just passed out earlier. I just couldn't do it. But because of that, I saw what I was doing with them. I smelled it. There was no filter. There was no hiding the fact that I was doing something I didn’t want to be doing. And in the middle of...the act...I vowed not to touch either one of them again. I was disgusted with the whole damn thing.
MW: Oh damn.
I tried to stay friends with her but like I said, she loved him and after the threesome I was pretty convinced he was the devil so…(laughs) I steered clear. I left that job not long after that and that's where our story ended.
MW: I am rarely speechless but…
And there is an epilogue. Me and my dude got back together and I had to tell him he needed to get tested because of all my fuckery.
MW: I am sure he didn't take that well.
How did you know? (Laughs)
MW: So...what do you want women to know? Any last words of advice?
Sure. All that shit I just said? Don’t do any of it.
MW: I can’t with you… (laughs) Thank you. Somebody needed that story.
Bless them. (Laughs)
"I broke one night. And when I say break, I mean I felt something in my brain snap. A switch flipped." [an interview]Read Now
The one thing I’ve been trying to come to terms with lately is having a mom who pretty clearly has a mental illness but has never been diagnosed. She would never get any treatment beyond pill medication. Coming to terms with that and understanding that really took a toll on me growing up and I certainly understand that it took a toll on her as well. I don’t know… there are things that just never really occurred to me as weird or off until I started talking about it with a therapist and she said, your mom might be sick. Your mom might be a sick person. And I was always like, well it was never that bad. The one thing that always comes to mind is after a particularly bad episode where she was being very mean or harsh… if I protested it was always like, it's not like I beat you. Which was… sort of this… underlying notion of, I could beat you… but I’m trying hard not to.
MW: And also… as if beating is the worst thing that could happen to a person. People act like physical pain is the only pain but… there are worse things.
There are, and that’s how my mom was raised. My grandma was not a kind person. My mom and my aunts definitely got knocked around a bit and manipulated, and in terms of that my mom is far and above but… one of the things that struck me as interesting in therapy was that I don’t remember a lot of my childhood. I don’t remember alot and neither do my cousins. We don’t remember a lot of anything. I mean maybe all together we could remember a full childhood but... I know memories are sort of a film roll and people remember what they remember but...
MW: That’s a sign of trauma…
And I didn’t realize that until I looked up the symptoms of people who lived with parents with a mental illness, and you know it's a fog. You don’t remember a lot. And I was like, oh, that explains alot. (laughs) So you know, that’s been the big thing, trying to have sympathy for myself while also having sympathy for her and the stuff she’s trying to work through.
MW: Which mental illness do you think it is?
I would venture to say Borderline Personality Disorder. Maybe Narcissism but that would be an extreme case. But BPD seems to be the one that seems most accurate. Just with the sort of like, manipulation and ups and downs and putting all her hopes and dreams and expectations onto me and others instead of like, doing it herself. So… yeah. It’s hard. It's hard trying to cultivate that compassion and sympathy.
MW: It is. I’m sorry. This hits close to home for me, because someone close to me also has BPD, and another close relative is a Narcissist, and I pretty much just figured it out. I had to get a book from the library to help me understand, what the fuck is this? Because it's not something that people… you sound crazy when you explain what it is. That's one of the things the book said was that it's something they can click on and off. They’re not trying to click it on and off but it only presents with certain people, with family members. And it talks about how hard it is be the child of someone like that. And it's very difficult to come up with a language for this because you literally become tongue tied. Its like you feel like you're crazy because you don’t know how to act around that person. You don't know what set them off, you don’t know what you did, you don’t know the rules. And you try to explain it to people and you sound crazy.
Yeah you do, because when you try to break it down and you say, this is what happened and this is what it was like, as part of the trauma and the survivor’s guilt, you start saying… well I personally… would say, it wasn’t that bad. Or, it could have been worse. I'll find myself talking with my therapist and saying, there would be hard days or whatever but it wasn't like she hit me. Or, it wasn’t her fault, or I’m probably being ungrateful, or, I’m not sure whether or not I’m making this up.
But there are things that are just… she rewrites history. When I was in middle school I had a therapist and I told him I’d been sexually assaulted and he told me that I needed to tell my parents. It was this big thing and I told them, and obviously my parents were upset. And years and years later after I graduated college, I brought it up on the phone with my mom in passing. I said, you know, that was around the time I was sexually assaulted… and she was like, what are you talking about? And I said, I was sexually assaulted, I told you this. The therapist told me to tell you. It was a really big deal. And she said, I would remember something like that, you never told me anything like that. And I felt like I was going crazy. I felt like I was losing my mind like, oh my God am I making this up? But I’m not.
I even went so far as to call my therapist from that time and I was like, I know we haven’t talked in fifteen years but I feel like I'm going crazy. Did I tell you? Did I tell you that I was sexually assaulted and did you tell me to tell my parents? And he was like, I don’t remember the specific event but I know personally that if you had disclosed that to me I would have encouraged you to tell your parents.
MW: When you told them, did you know who had done it to you?
Oh yeah, it was four boys I was friends with. I was in middle school at the time -- junior high. At my school they didn’t call it special ed, they called it specialized support and it was for all the kids who had dyslexia, and focusing issues. We got untimed testing and I had to stay late and all these guys did untimed testing with me and we had a free hour or whatever and they took me… they were my friends. They were some of my closest friends at the time and they took me to a playground and we had no adult supervision. It was 1990-something and it was a different time. It was just one of those situations where something that was probably normal and fairly innocent for kids, like experimenting, took a really weird and dark… I was with some friends and playing around and then it turned into something I couldn't get myself out of. And it wasn't rape but it was a sexual assault.
I carried it with me for a very long time before I told my parents. I haven’t even talked to my dad it about it again because I'm afraid that if I bring it up with him he’s not going to remember either. So I’ve sort of accepted that there's parts of my childhood that are… I don’t know… not going to get the sort of validation from her that I want. And it is what is. I get that validation elsewhere and that's ok. But it's only now at like 30 years old that I’m even doing decent work to move through this process.
MW: Yeah… because you have to move through it.
Yeah. And I wasn’t for a very long time. I thought I’d dealt with it or compartmentalized it but I didn’t and it was just sitting in me and becoming this toxic thing. It just builds up and before you can move forward with anything in your life and you have to get that stuff out. There’s a lot of weird internalized self loathing and self hatred and self harm that I kind of do that I didn’t even realize that’s what I was doing, honestly until I started working with kids myself. I was seeing these kids going through things that I had gone through and seeing their reaction to it - because they're kids and they react and they don't always immediately suppress - and you always see the signs of anything if they trust you and feel like they can unload on you. And was like, holy shit, no one was taking care of me. No one took the time to say, something's wrong. It was always this sort of, you’re really acting out, let’s try and fix you. Let’s give you this medication and let's do this thing, and let's do this other thing. But it was never like, what's wrong?
MW: And that's hard because the people who would ask you what's wrong, if they are the ones doing it to you, they aren’t going to ask you what's wrong because they’re the problem. My younger sister is a psychiatrist and as I would talk to her about certain things -- you know she’s diagnosed all these patients and she’d be like, oh shit, that's what that is! (laughs) And so you finally begin to have a language for it and understand this thing. It’s a fog really if you’ve dealt with it your whole life and you don’t know anything different, you just know something's not right, you just know that relationship is strange, it's weird, you always get a little tongue tied… you seem to keep hurting them… but when you get hurt it's not real or it’s not validated or no one cares. My sister tells me that she sees so many children come in with their parents and she can tell that the problem is the parent and there's not a way to reach the child without the parent being right there, still messing it up. And how you were saying that people would treat you like, I don’t know what's wrong with her, fix her -- my sister was saying that some parents will bring their kids in like, I don’t know what the problem is, but the problem is actually the parent themselves.
Right. And it's also hard because people with these personality disorders like BPD and Narcissism, on the surface they look...
Like normal people. They look fine. They're charismatic. They’re charming. My mother is charming and she's funny and she's smart and she's assertive, but that was all presented to people. So any other adult in my life outside of immediate family wouldn't know. But my immediate family, they’re all… my dad was I think after awhile, I think he was just like, I have to go. They aren’t still married. They can’t stand each other. The only reason they talk at all is because of me. My mom has told my husband, the only reason she married my dad was for security and the only reason she had me was to make sure he would stay. And my husband was just sort of like, uhhhh, I don’t really know what to do with this information. And its sort of of like great, thanks, sorry I didn’t really work out for you.
And you don’t have the language. You really have to take time away from it. I mean I left, I left home. I never went back and felt guilty about it but then I realized that going away was probably the best thing for me. It was only with that distance that I was able to learn and see what was happening. And I was allowed to get that language and allowed to learn how to take care of myself. I mean I was already taking care of myself, because I was taking care of myself and her emotionally. I had to be the parent fora very long time. There was a good eight years or more where she didn’t get out of bed. Pretty much after the divorce, she didn't get out of bed. She decided that she was done trying. She didn’t get out of bed. She didn’t work. She didn’t get a job until I got out of high school. She stayed at home sleeping, watching TV and I was on my own emotionally for that stuff.
MW: How were the two of you financially supported?
My dad’s alimony and child support. He was able to afford that. And he was willing to pay that. But yeah, she didn’t work. She hates to work. Like I said, she only got a job when I got out out of high school. She's now working… but I still have to support her a lot of times financially because she can’t really control her spending. Because she has a personality disorder. (laughs)
MW: And see, for years I didn’t know what it was called. It’s textbook once you know what the textbook says -- the reckless behavior, the depression, the not able to function, not able to hold down a day to day job but not having a reason why, being charismatic, being brilliant, being artistic -- all the things you think should make you okay but the person is just perpetually unokay. And the hard part is the way that people who are their relatives have to behave in order to not… first of all, you have to learn how to not trigger them, which is impossible.
MW: For their mental well being, you have to understand how to not trigger them and you have to understand how they’re so sensitive and it's hard because it takes a lot of forgiveness because for so long you felt like they didn’t care about you. Like all you have ever done is care about and tiptoe around their feelings… and now they have a diagnosis that means you’re supposed to care even more about their feelings. You have to check how you’re breathing. Like, am I breaking okay? Did I offend you by how I walked into the room? And you’ve always offended them by how you breathed and how you walked into a room but now, you have to take down the defenses which say, fuck this, I'm okay and Imma walk how I wanna walk, in order to consider their feelings about your breathing and its like… first you just need a moment to sit and understand what happened to you. It's like, I don’t even know if I'm ready to move into coping or compassion. I’ve only just been validated. Let me just sit here in my anger because it finally has a reason. Let me just get used to the fact that I ain’t crazy and this is real.
Yeah. It's kind of… you just assume afterwhile… you know something's not right but you sort of assume that's how everyone is.
So you assume this is how everyone operates. I assumed for years that this is how… I’ve always been super hypersensitive to people’s emotional shifts. And that's not to sound like, ooh I’m so special...
MW: But that’s what happens with abused children! I am the same way. And it's because the way other people feel determines how your life is going to go. And that's not normal with most people. You know, if you’re having a bad day it doesn’t mean your kid has to have a bad day, because you know how to separate the two… but for kids with parents who don’t know how to separate the two, then the kids learn to watch out for how other people are feeling. It becomes a survival mechanism. I think its called hypervigilance.
Yeah. There would be times where if my husband is having a bad day and something happened -- even if I wasn't consciously aware of it...something… something just clicks and I go, what's happened, what's going on, what's wrong with you, you look really upset, what's happening? And he’s like, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Nothing’s wrong. And I’m like, yes there is, yes there is, you just don’t know it yet. Maybe because he talked to his brother and his brother said some shitty. And he'll look back and say, well I guess my brother said something that kind of pissed me off. And I’m like... (exhales sigh of relief). And I assumed that's how everyone was. I just assumed that everyone was paying attention to everyone else's emotions all the time. It wasn't until college that I was like oh no, some people are like that, sure, but some people are not like that. And it's exhausting. It's exhausting constantly having to be in survival mode all the time.
And even now, I say that and immediately I want to say, but it's not like I was in danger….
MW: But did you know that’s a classic sign? If you look up the symptoms of kids who’ve been traumatized, that's one of the symptoms, what you’re doing right now. They tend to say it wasn’t that bad.
And see I didn't know this until I started going to a therapist for postpartum depression and she was very adept because her mom was a Narcissist. It was just… she was like, she would tell me, these are signs of trauma. And I was like, what? Nooo. I’m not traumatized. I’m just sensitive. My mom always said I was just really sensitive. I was too sensitive. (laughs) And my therapist was like no. No.
MW: No, yeah, that’s trauma.
So now there's a re-traumatization because you realize, oh wow, that is trauma, and you’re like, oh my God and sort of going over it in your mind. I read a book called Understanding the Borderline Mother and I couldn't get past the 20th page because I started having panic attacks and I was like, why am I feeling like this? I couldn't breathe and my heart was racing and I was scared and I had to call my therapist and she was like, you’re just triggered. You’re okay. You might not be able to read this book in one go. You might have to take it...
MW: Real slow…
MW: Oh honey, I understand.
I know. And it's really great because we’re both like oh, we both went through this and that's really validating to know we weren't alone… but at the same time… when you get off the phone, take care of yourself. Go drink some water. Take a deep breath. Take care of yourself because it's intense. I’m sorry you had to go through that too. That’s really hard.
MW: Thank you for saying that. Shit it was hard.
I can imagine. It's rough. I know that's not easy to come through. You should be really proud of yourself for coming through it the way that you have and becoming the person that you are.
MW: Thank you. You too. And you’re such a good mother. You should be proud of yourself too. And the fact that you’re committed to your own healing… that’s a step a lot of people never take because it's not a small step. They will admit stuff is jacked up but to confront it every day and say, I’m gonna look at these patterns and get out of these patterns.... It's not easy.
It's not. I did it because I was in a depression and it was like, I can't do this. I don’t have the luxury of doing this, I have a kid. That sounds weird but I’d had a mental breakdown in college and I was really sick for a long time, but when my son came, it was like, I can’t do this this go round. I have to get help, I have to find a therapist, I have to get on medication, I have to do something. I have to be present for him, I can't not...I have to do better.
MW: So you said that you’d already struggled with depression before you had a baby. So after you had him… was it just your normal depression that returned or did you feel like it was a different kind of postpartum depression?
I’m a person who has general anxiety all the time and in college, junior year was the first time I had a big emotional break and I spent a long time building myself back up. I would not have said while I was pregnant that I was depressed… and I was pregnant, went through labor, and had my baby and two days later I completely crashed. And I said something's wrong. Something's wrong, this isn’t right. And my hormones were going up and down and trying to regulate themselves but it didn’t go away.
MW: How did you feel?
Um… I felt like I wanted to die. And if something would have come along and put me in a life threatening situation, I would not have fought it. I had a hard time bonding with my son. I had a really hard time breastfeeding,. I had a lot of guilt around not wanting to breastfeed but breastfeeding. I had a lot of guilt around feeling pain.I had a lot of guilt around not being an exuberant mentally healthy mother. I had a lot of fear that because I was so exposed and raw like a raw nerve and my husband was seeing that - not for the first time but for a real intense period - I thought, he’s going to leave because I am a fucking wreck and he's going to go because I am not worth the space I take up in the world.
And… so there was a lot of that, just old self loathing and old self hatred coming up in the postpartum and I had to struggle to get the help that I needed. The nurse practitioner who is my gynecologist didn’t want to put me on antidepressants. And I said, if you don’t put me on antidepressants, I don’t know what I’m going to do. And she was like, well I'll do it but I’m not going to give you a long term prescription, and I was like, whatever, I just need something now. And it went away but it came back when my son was a little over a year old, and that's when I started seeing a therapist.
MW: I’m just so proud of you for recognizing you needed help and getting help. I’ve been depressed after having babies before but I’ve never… you know you hear the term postpartum depression and you feel like, everybody has babies and everybody feels like their life is over so what's the big deal? I felt depressed and I would go to my postpartum check ups and they would go, how many times have you cried in the last week? And I would go, every day. And it was the worst after my last baby because I was trying to adjust to having four children after having three children for four years and I was really used to that dynamic, and I had stopped being used to having a little baby and not sleeping. And then still having to parent three other children with a newborn - I was overwhelmed but I tried to just pop back into my life. I had to go back to work really quickly, too. And I do remember being at the doctor and sort of crying out for help and feeling ignored. She started telling me about her health problems. She was like, you're fine, you’re just talking, girl everybody feels like that, now let me tell you about me, and I was like…? So for you to be able to say, no something is wrong… I think as women we don’t put our foot down and say, no, something is wrong. Because I think with women, something is always a little wrong but we limp along and deal with it so we don’t know when to stop and say, someone help me.
Yeah! Everyone just tries to treat it as hysteria and say I'm overreacting but I would say, no, I'm really not. If I had not had the emotional break I had in college I may not have fought for myself as much, but in a weird way, I guess that emotional break was a blessing because I knew, something is not right. This wasn't baby blues, this was wrong. So I guess in a way, yeah, that first emotional break allowed me to know myself enough to say, I know that this is not typical stuff.
MW: And that's a blessing that you could say, ‘this isn’t baby blues,’ because with this being your first child, a doctor could easily dismiss you with, how do you know? Maybe this is what it feels like. And so it was a blessing that you could say, I may not have had a baby but I know myself. I’m not myself.
Yeah. (sigh) (laughs)
MW: Yeah. Do you want to talk about the break in college?
Yeah we can talk about that. It was precipitated by a lot of things. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t getting enough rest. As happens in college with a lot of people, I'd done too many recreational drugs. I’d been drinking too much. And I guess it just all built up inside of me. And I broke one night. And when I say break, I mean I felt something in my brain snap. A switch flipped. I literally felt a snap almost. And for three days I didn’t get out of bed and I was eating even less. It's weird to talk about. The way it manifested… and I believe things manifest they way they do to give you a message about what it's trying to work through...and this was right around the rime of Katrina. I was catastrophizing and having end of the world anxiety. I just believed in this really dark and twisted way that I was being given some kind of prophecy or omen, that I was being shown something and that the world was going to come to an end. I would read about all sorts of conspiracies around that kind of stuff and I could not pull myself out of it.
I wound up calling my parents and being like, something's not right! (laughs) They were like, oh shit, and they came out and wanted to commit me but there was part of me that was like, no, if I go home, it's gonna get worse. If I go home, I'm going to get sicker. There was a tiny pleading voice inside of me that was like, if you go home you will never get better. You need to fight to stay here. So I said no, no, no, don't send me home, I’ll go to my classes, I promise. And it took years. And I feel for my friends at the time because this was junior year and we’re in our early twenties. They didn't know what to do with a friend who was mentally ill so they just failed in a way. I mean they were there if I came around but I spent days in my apartment with no human contact. I finally had one friend come and be like, what is wrong with you? And I was like, I’m going insane, thanks.
MW: I don’t mean to take you back there… but what were those days like? Were you laying there thinking? What was going on? Were you sleeping?
I was sleeping, I was not sleeping. I was sitting there with the tv on. Actually a lot of the stuff that my mom did. I would get up and go to class because that was the way that I was like, if I can go to class then I won’t have to go home and be committed. So I would go to class and that was it. I wasn't really doing my work, I was just sort of there. I wasn't eating. Everything was grey and everything was heavy and everything was pointless and empty and I had no energy. I had no desire., I had no motivation. I had nothing. All I had was this fear. That was the only thing that was there. I even hallucinated for a brief period of time. It was just not right and it took years just to get to a space where I can hold down a job. My memory gets clear around 2006. Everything before then -- people would be like, don’t you remember this thing? And I would be like, I absolutely do not remember that thing! They would say, don’t you remember this person? And I’m like, nope! (laughs) I have some memories of some people and some events, but don’t you remember when so and so dated so and so? And I’m like, not really! Sort of…(laughs) I’ll take your word for it.
But that was when I started working with kids and that’s what started bringing me out of that funk was that purpose.
MW: And giving them what you needed? Like oh shit, no one gave me this!
Yeah, I say that a lot. If I’d had the program I work for when I was little, if I’d someone really truly paying attention the way that we do, I’d have been a completely different person. I don't regret who I am but I feel there was a lot of time wasted or misused because there was a lot of time where I was not moving forward. And I would have these kneejerk reactions to the kids and my co-workers would say things like, you need to watch your music with this one because she’s had this experience, and in my head I would be like, no one would fucking do it for me, and I’m fine. And then I’d be like, you need to stop, power down, she is 8, she needs your help. And then I’d just power through. But there was that immediate reaction of, no one fucking cared about where I was or what I was doing. Why do I have to bend over backwards? But that’s my mom talking.
MW: And I read online that children of people with BPD tend to be depressive. That’s their manifestation of their parent's illness. That reaction of, why do I have to be considerate of you and your feelings when no one was considerate of mine?-- I think our parents said that times 1000. Because whatever happened to them to make them how they are-- my sister explained to that with people with BPD or clinically narcissistic people -- something happened to them before they completely formed a personality. So their personality disorder is a result of trauma so extreme that they don’t know who they are. They don’t have an identity.
Yep. That is absolutely my mother. My mom doesn't talk a lot about her childhood… it's kind of foggy… but she does tell stories. My grandma beat her with a butcher knife. Not the sharp end! She would say, she didn’t beat me with the sharp end, she beat me with the flat of it.
MW: The person close to me who is a narcissist talks about their mother pistol whipping them for missing curfew. And I just wonder… you know when you were saying if someone had just talked to you when you were a little girl… but when you’re the child of a parent with a mental illness, whether it's depression, BPD, narcissism, whatever -- first of all, if -- you even say something to the parent and the parent is the problem, and the parent is charismatic, educated -- God-- they will make it their personal life mission to make you look stupid. They won’t stop until you’ve apologized 50 times. There's so many gatekeepers between children and healthiness when their parents are not healthy. And it's a tricky thing as a kid too, because no matter what happens, at the end of the day, that kid has to go in the house with that parent and there is no one there to help. How do you help those kids? And I’m not asking as a grown up doing Marrow Women, I’m asking as a kid, shit. (laughs) How could someone have helped me? How could someone have helped you?
Exactly. And in my role as a facilitator, there would be times when we would have to call child services in, either to the center or just to report, and we knew nothing would happen and sometimes we have to be like, this could make things worse. We determined our role is to be a safe place. To be the one safe place. They come there, they get some food, they're around other kids and adults who let them be who they are, and that's what we do. And if I’d had a safe consistent place like that, that provided consistent care… it's not like I would have been taken away but I would have had a place to go. And we have kids that grow up and come back to work with younger kids.
MW: And that's beautiful. Its beautiful when people give back in that way. Because there’s no cure all, there's no quick fix for the things that ails us. You gotta learn it, and turn around and help somebody else. One person at a time. That's awesome. That means that y’all do is working.
Yeah. It's the highest praise, I think, that they want to come back and be involved. There's nothing better than having them come back and say, I want to be here because I want to spread the word and be that person for someone else. It kind of changed my life.
MW: Wow. Thank you honey. Do you have one final thing you want to say that I didn’t ask?
The best thing I learned from all of this - and that I’m still learning - is that your body is your own best friend. That is the one thing, the one person, the one entity that is going to tell you what you need and what you’re going through and what you're dealing with. Trust that. Even if it's sounding or doing something that you’re like, this isn't right, it's because something's coming up that isn't right. But you can do this, you can get through it. Your body is your greatest tool. The one thing I learning in my thirties is how to trust my body and give it the support it needs to push all this shit I had in there for years, out. Get it out.
MW: Girl that's powerful. That's body wisdom. So many women don’t have that. Don’t eat when they’re hungry or sleep when they're tired. Don't ask for a hug when they need a hug. Don't let themselves cry when they need to cry. We’re just trained to ignore our body and push through with our mind. Logic over everything. And our bodies are very important and so wise if we listen. Thank you dear.
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MW: Let’s start with the beginning of your relationship with your husband. I’ve heard you say that you went crazy over him.
Yeah… and it was really not okay in hindsight. We don’t even talk about the things I did that were crazy. Now that I’m saying it I kind of want to go home and be like…(laughs)
MW: You put up with a lot boo!
...Are we gonna talk about the time I kept throwing rocks at your house? You wanna talk about that? You don’t want to talk about that? No? You wanna talk about the time you ran away to your aunt and uncle’s because a bitch wouldn’t stop following you around and you were like, I’m just leaving the state for a little while?
MW: He left the state?
He was going to visit his parents, and I was like, but why you running? So when we met, it wasn't like a "love at first sight" kind of thing but after we'd been dating for awhile, I think I felt like, okay, I like him and he's a good guy, he meets all the criteria on my checklist -- I'm gonna do my best to make this work, because this is the idyllic set up. I was like, I'm already late getting married -- I'm 22 and I'm not married yet, I'm already behind schedule.
MW: Wait, wait, wait...
Yes..I was behind schedule at this point. Remember, I was very Midwestern. My college roommate had gotten married literally the same morning we graduated from college. So that was the norm, to marry young. And even if I wasn't married at 22, I should have known who I was going to be marrying at 23 or 24.
MW: And just to clarify -- just so people know you are not in your 60s telling this story -- how old are you?
I'm 34. (laughs) I am of the recent generation, I am not an elder. (laughs) So I was 22 when I met my husband, right after college during my first year in grad school. I had literally been back in the city for 2 or 3 months. Even though it wasn't love at first sight, it was a good bet, a safe bet. I liked him. And then as time went on I did go, between the 6 month and 1 year mark, I did go a little nutty in the head, I think.
MW: Were y'all exclusive at this time?
Yeah. I don't remember us having a discussion about being exclusive, but we were. I had told him I had never been in a monogamous relationship before, just as a statement. I felt like he should know that because at that point, I don't actually know if I can be in a monogamous relationship because I've never done it.
MW: So at this point, you've never been monogamous but you felt like you were too late getting married, which is by definition... monogamous...?
Right. So I had never been monogamous as an adult. I was with my high school sweetheart from age 15 to age 20. But I started sleeping with the head of the office of multicultural students when I was 19. So there was an overlap. And then over the course of the following three years of college from 19 to 22, I was still sleeping with him and then I had three other boyfriends during that time period. And then I moved here and the only reason my relationship with him ended was because he got married about a month after I moved. And that technically wouldn't have ended it if I had stayed back where I was but me moving and him getting married at the same time cut that off.
The first one or two people I dated when I got here, I was still overlapping then too. And then when I met my husband, I was casually dating about two or three people at that point. But I shut down everybody for him, I even put to the side the person who all these years, I thought I was going to marry. And then my husband, he refused to tell me he loved me for a really long time. A really, really long time. At least it felt like a really long time to me. If I look back on it, by adult relationship standards it probably wasn't a long time. But here's this person who, I'm making this concerted effort, I've removed everyone else from my orbit, I'm focusing on you, and I'm really trying to be a good partner, a good girlfriend, I think I'm a good girlfriend, I think you like me, I don't understand why you don't love me. So we would battle about this. In hindsight, I wonder how do you fight with someone to get them to tell you they love you?
MW: Oh, I've been there...and they know they love you. They just need to say it already.
Right. I'm like, what is the win at the end of this? He says it and I say, you don't really mean it, you're just saying it because I want you to say it, or he doesn't say it and I continue to be in my feelings about it. There's no good outcome. So this went on for months. I mean we started dating in the fall, and then Valentine's Day comes up and I'm like, grrr, and then my birthday's the next month and I'm like, grrr. I'm like, all these times that you could write it in a card keep happening. I don't know how long it took him to tell me but I know it was a lot longer that I expected. So that was what set me off, I think. I was like, everyone loves me. Why don't you love me?
MW: What was his reason?
I think his defense was always that he -- it's not something he says often or casually and he wanted to make sure that he wasn't just saying it because I was asking him to say it. So eventually he's like, I love you. But then we would have these arguments where the core issue was, all I have to offer you is my love, and that's not sufficient. It seems as though that is the most irrelevant thing in the world to you, that I love you. A million other things come before that on your scale of things that matter and I don't know what to do with this. He's like, no, no, it's fine, I don't need you to offer anything else. Again, he was always very nonchalant during these discussions. I'm crying and sobbing that this is all I can give you -- I'm in grad school, I don't have any money, all I have is my love. So that was the next permutation.
MW: This is you telling him this?
MW: Well, what else are you supposed to offer? Money?
He was really focused on making money when I met him. He's four years older than me so at this point he's 27, he's been out of college a couple of years and he wants to retire at 35. He has a regular job but he's always trying to find ways to grow his money. Everything is money, money, money. He and his best friend bought a building so they could renovate it and rent it out. This was supposed to be step 1 to their money making scheme. I used to call him Scrooge McDuck. I said all you want is a room full of money to dive in and swim around because that's all you care about. He was like, no, but it's important. And mind you I'd just moved here to go to school to be a child psychologist so I'm all in the headspace of save the world, kumbaya and he's talking about, you know, money, and I'm all, what about love? And children need love for their brains to develop right! You know, I'm super melodramatic about everything.
So the next permutation was we move in together and I'm like, all I can offer you is my love...a comfortable home…a place to come back to at the end of the day for you to be at peace...
We'd have parties and I would cook and his family would come into town and I would cook, and I would keep the house super clean, I did all the housework. We weren't married at that point and I'm doing all the housework.
MW: Had it been spoken that you would be married?
We had talked about it and so that became the next level -- why won’t you ask me to marry you? So it kind of came to a head where I graduated from my master’s program and then we went to Puerto Rico on vacation, and my family had been in town for the graduation, we go on this tropical vacation, and then we get back and I was like two huge things just happened and he didn’t propose during either of those opportunities. He’s not going to propose. I’m going to leave. And so I'm looking for apartments -- he doesn’t know this but I’m looking for apartments, I’m trying to get more work so I can afford to get a place of my own because I had been living with him for the last year and a half. But I like making an exit plan because I’m like, I did what I could. I tried. I tried to be a really good girlfriend -- I thought we had a really good opportunity at a future but I can’t fight it anymore, like, he is completely indifferent to whether I’m here or not here. I know he loves me, he likes doing things with me, blah, blah, blah, but I honestly feel that if I disappeared tomorrow that he’s going to be completely fine. So I’m going to leave.
It's technically the second time in our relationship where in my mind I’ve decided it's over, but I haven’t told him. I actually got a cat early in our relationship in the first 8 months when I decided that since he wouldn’t tell me he loved me, I would break up with him. But I didn’t want to be alone in my apartment and I had just moved into the city so I didn’t know that many people. So I bought a cat. But then we didn’t break up because apparently he got himself together. So we had this cat all the way up until like two years ago, that was the break up cat that he didn’t know was the break up cat. In our house. She loved him though (laughs). That was the consolation prize.
So we get back from PR, no proposal, and I’m looking for a place. And then he proposes. Out of nowhere. Literally out of nowhere, like we go to dinner and a movie, it's a regular Friday evening, and I get all the way into bed and suddenly he’s got a ring. And I’m like, okay. I mean I’ve been asking him for the last two years for him to propose to me. I know I’m about to leave because I’ve convinced myself that he doesn’t want a future with me. All the reasons I thought were reasons to leave -- are those not valid now? So I said yes.
MW: Those are valid questions.
Yeah! I mean I went over the list, checked it twice, you know.
MW: Let me ask you this, honestly -- was there a piece of you that was super excited about starting over?
Yeah. At this point I’m like, I’ve learned some things, I’ve been back in the city for a few years. I can figure this out. I know I can meet people. I can meet someone who likes me. Because when I first moved to the city when I was 22, I went on a slew of dates those first three months. I was in these streets. So I was like, I will just return to these streets. I’m in my mid-twenties, I’ll be fine. I’m 25 at this point and severely behind schedule, but we’re going to plow forward with this. So he proposes, I say yes, we got married a year after he proposed. I wouldn’t say I had cold feet exactly but I was kind of concerned because he had never returned to the conversation about monogamy. We hadn't ever returned to.. we didn’t fall in love the second we saw each other. So, do you believe in the idea of a soulmate? And if so, wouldn’t the fact that you had all this struggle about whether you even wanted to be with me tell you that we’re not soulmates? So what are we doing here? Where are we going with this? Can we sustain this given that this is how things are?
To backtrack, his sister got married when we’d been dating six months. I assumed that because we’d been dating six months that I was going to be his date for this wedding. I find a letter from some chick he dated for awhile in college and then shortly before I met him -- and she clearly thinks she’s about to be his date for his sister’s wedding even though they’re no longer dating. So I’m like wait -- I thought we were in a relationship? How does somebody else think she’s going to your sister’s wedding and I haven't met your family yet and we’ve been dating seriously?
At no point was I really completely sure that he was even invested in this, that I was the person he felt most strongly about. So the videographer is interviewing me for my little wedding video and asks me, do you believe in the one? Or something like that -- which I now realize is an inappropriate question to ask someone on their wedding video because no one’s going to answer, no I don’t believe in the one, but that's what I was thinking in my head, and I’m flashing back to all the times I’ve discussed this with people, that I think you can make a relationship work with just about anybody. I don’t know that there’s one person for anyone. But you can’t say that on your wedding video. So whenever I watch my wedding video there’s this whole not true speech -- not that it's not true but it's not really reflective of my true feelings then or now in terms of what it means to have found the one. My husband is one of the ones, I’m sure.
MW: I once asked my boyfriend if we were a couple and he said sure, we’re a couple of people. But we were in this weird gray area where we were broken up but still sleeping together. We technically had no claim to each other but still got mad about other folks.
He’s had these really crazy straightforward situations. I’ve always had this rule that if I end a relationship, it's over. I have never done a repeat. Because I refuse to do the on and off thing, there’s never been a chance to take some space, a chance to think and then get back together. This fall will be 12 years since we met each other so for 12 years, it's just been, either we’re on or we’re not. No one's had a chance to go their corner and cool down from anything. Its pretty much been non stop.
So we get married. I did threaten to leave him once while we were engaged, over the same kind of, you’re a robot, why aren’t you a real person type of shenanigans. Like he’s definitely an animatron. So I went back to get some clothes and he’s like, laid out on the floor, drunk, and I was like…
MW: You’re a person…!
He cares about me. This is the most clear demonstration of the fact that you care whether we’re in a relationship or not that you’ve ever given me. And we’re engaged. And this is the first time I can say with real clarity that you want to be with me.
So we get married, it was great, it was wonderful. We’ve been married for 8 years now. And… once we got married we never fought about anything ever again. Because up to that point, all the things that I had been fighting about had been things related to proving that you care about me. But you married me. So now, that’s supposed to be the final answer. This is as good of an answer that I’m ever going to get. So there’s nothing to fight about anymore. He doesn’t really have anything that he’s concerned about or cares about so there’s nothing to bring up. And I just made the choice to not fight about the minor things. Because in theory I had won the big war. So we stopped fighting, we didn’t fight about anything. The only argument that we really had post marriage was about getting me a push present after I had the kids because he thought it was a silly concept.
MW: It isn’t.
I said but you realize I just passed a basketball through a grape. You were there. You were there. You saw what just went down. You should be giving me a standing ovation right now.
Right. So he didn’t get it, and he thinks jewelry's dumb, and he thinks women ask for jewelry because they’re programmed for it and all this other stuff. And he’s saying all these mildly offensive things. Anyway he eventually got me a push present a couple of years after our first child was born, and didn’t get me what I asked for.
So we don’t fight about anything until after our second child was maybe one, which was when I totally snapped. I was like, you treat me like the nanny, and not like your wife. All you talk about with me is the kids and the house and there’s no… you don’t care about what I think and what I feel. This is ridiculous. I’m going to go insane because, like, my only identity is the children’s mother, and the person who takes care of them, keeps them clean, feeds them, and you’re buying into that too. And I can’t do that.
MW: Were you working?
No. So at this point I’d been off work for four years. And I was involved in a lot of stuff, I mean I went on playdates and did stuff out of the house, I did stuff in the community. I wasn’t isolated… but I just felt like we had a long enough history together without children that I didn’t expect our relationship to become so all about the kids so quickly. Because we had been together for years. It wasn’t like our relationship was centered around who we are as parents to these children. We had been traveling, we had lived apart, we we lived together -- where did all that go? You knew that I was a person then, you should know I’m a person now. I know in retrospect that a lot of the things I said to him were things I should have said to myself like, why aren’t you a person, why do you not have anything going on worth discussing, like what are you doing that anyone would even want to ask you about? Everyone knows that you’re washing diapers and taking care of kids, but like what are you doing that anyone actually cares about?
So at this point, as I’m realizing this a little bit -- not as much as I do now, but a little bit-- I’m understanding that okay, I cannot rely on him to see me right now, because I’ve been crying about it and yelling about it and controlling and writing letters and emails and he’s not getting it. He’s not understanding that I need him to treat me like a woman,or at least like his wife, but not always like the mother of his children. I’m like pouring out my heart on a regular basis saying, you don’t want to sleep with me, you act like…. you treat me like I’m this fragile thing, you don’t have any real intimacy towards me, the passion, the intimacy in our relationship is shot because everything is always about the kids and I am distraught. Do I look that much worse after having children? And his answers are always like -- again with the nonchalance, like, nothing’s changed, of course I love you, of course you’re beautiful, I’m sorry you don’t feel like I’m passionate enough, I’ll work on it - you know, the same complete lack of concern.
So. At this point, one of my college boyfriends who, we had remained friends after we broke up, he had shown up in my Facebook life after my first child was born. He had been, from the moment I met him-- I met him at 19 -- he had always said he was a non-monogamous person. He didn’t have the language for what it was that he was doing. He was just sort of known on campus as a cheater or this guy who has a lot of women, but he didn’t have the language to explain it. He tried the best he could to say, look, I’m realistic, I’m not going to hold you to any kind of crazy standard either as long as we’re honest with each other. So we dated for awhile and then when I moved on we remained friends. He came to see me in the two weeks before I decided to really date my husband. This was the person I always thought I’d end up marrying. Once I was done with highschool sweetheart, this was the person I thought I’d marry one our lives lined up correctly., He came to visit, I focused on my husband for awhile, and he pulled back out of my life for awhile out of respect for my marriage.
He’s reappeared -- we’re two kids in and he’s reappeared -- and he’s still -- he’s married, he has three other partners, he’s still talking about building family systems on this model -- the same stuff he’d been saying ten years before that sounded insane now kind of made sense. I’ve got these kids and I’m always stressed out and exhausted. I would love to have another mother. That would be amazing (laughs). I’d love to have another mom in the house. And to be able to live in a space where there are other people to help you manage the parts of life that are not fun. That doesn't seem too crazy. And I guess if you really think about it, if you love someone, you can make almost anything else work, so now all the things he’s been saying all these years make me say maybe I should think a little harder about what it is I really need and want.
Is my problem with my husband not that he’s so nonchalant, but that I've never had to worry about getting everything from one person before him? Before, if I was with a person that was not emotionally available then the other person I was with was…. I always had balance back and forth. And I have no balance. I have him. And I’m a stay at home mother and my entire world is female. So there's not even any other male sources around me to provide any sort of balance. My stepfather lives out of state, my two younger brothers are very young. There are literally no guys in my life outside of my son and my husband. So I was like, maybe it's a balance thing. Maybe being around all these women and being so focused on motherhood has thrown me out of whack. I told my husband-- I think I need more male friends. And he’s like, I don’t really know what that means but okay.
And so we talk about it. I said, literally I think I just need some yin and yang, to balance out my life a little bit, balance out my life as a mother because that's all anything is ever about and I feel like it's sapping the joy out of my life and it's sapping the joy out of me because it's so unbalanced. So he's like, okay, making new friends is fine, whatever. Go make friends. I said, you change jobs and you meet a whole new group of people. I change playgrounds and it's the same moms. I said, I'm never exposed to anyone. He said, go ahead, make friends. So I told him I wanted to work on rebuilding my relationship with my friend -- the one who had reentered my life. And he’s like, oh-kay, whatever. Do whatever you want.
So we’re talking and we’re going back and forth and my friend introduces me to various resources online and I’m trying to decide, is my issue monogamy? Is my issue --you know, am I depressed? I’m trying to figure what direction to go in. And so in seeking some guidance and support on how to deal with this relationship with my friend, I wound up in a lot of polyamorous websites and online groups and, I’m reading books and audiobooks and I’m trying to figure out the right steps for this. In the meantime in my outside life, I’m meeting people who are polyamorous or becoming polyamorous , or in open relationships-- I’m meeting them in real life, so there’s a name for what I was doing before, whether I knew it or not. There is an actual community of people who don’t think this is completely crazy -- because no one in my life knew I was dating multiple people. That wasn’t something I made public knowledge. As far as anyone ever knew I was dating one official person. So this thing that I’d been hiding all these years and never discussed with anyone-- it's a real thing. Alright. Well let's figure that out.
So I say to my husband, I don’t think I can live out my entire marriage being monogamous. And he says, well I think a lot of people say that and that's why the rate of people having affairs is so high. He said, okay, what are you asking for in making that statement? What do you want? In looking at the way I handled those conversations in the beginning, I know I bungled and mixed a lot of things together. I mixed the issue of me feeling like I wasn’t having my needs met by him with the idea of being a person who naturally appreciates being in multiple relationships. And what it turned into was, I want to be in multiple relationships so I can have my needs met that you’re not fulfilling met by somebody else. Which isn’t the real message, but that's what he heard and that's what he continues to hold on to.
So he agrees to non-monogamy, and we said, we’ll read about it and learn about it and try it, and then I make the first of many errors in assuming that we’ll go ahead and try it means I can begin to consider my first steps to move into this. I now know that's not what he really meant. We had an argument one evening and I said something snide about, you know, you should be lucky I’m out on a date with you and not someone else -- something along those lines. And he said, why haven’t you gone on a date with someone else? And I was like, I was concerned about you because you hadn’t really talked about it and I didn’t want to jump out there if you weren't ready. He was like, don’t let me hold you back, do what you want to do! So, I meet someone online, then we meet up in person and I’m thinking, you said go ahead, don’t let your reservations hold me back from meeting people and moving forward. So then I’ve met this person twice in person for lunch -- literally for lunches -- only a few hours I’ve spent with this person, but we’ve spent a lot of time texting and talking online. So then my husband goes go fix my computer one morning and he opens my computer and messages pop up.
It just so happened that my male gym partners each had also sent me some other messages, and one random person who I didn’t know, so when he goes into my Facebook messages the first five to seven conversations are all guys somehow. I to this day don’t know how it's statistically possible for that to happen, since it's never happened again -- but that one morning, it's just guys as far as he can tell. And I’m like, but you know those two -- how do they count? And these were mutual friends of ours and we were discussing completely neutral things. He didn’t care. He reads through my messages with the guy who I’ve had lunch with and loses his entire mind, and is like, what is going on? We need to go to counseling! And I'm like, what you mean we need to go to counseling? We agreed to this. What did you think that meant? So now I’m the bad guy because I misunderstood the agreement.
MW: You misunderstood that when he said go ahead he meant bitch, try me.
Right. Basically. I didn’t read the subtext at that point (laughs). So I misunderstood the rules. So we’re supposed to be trying to figure out how we’re handling things and it wasn’t even like that much time passed. While we’re trying to figure it out I’m like, do you want me to end it? And he’s like, no, I know you and if I tell you to end it, it will devastate you because if you feel like you’re connected to someone, you have to stay connected. And if feel like if I tell you to end it, it's gon' drive you to do crazier stuff.
So in this interim, I meet the guy I had lunch with for a full weekend for the first time. In the middle of that weekend my husband is all in his feelings. That weekend was my staycation weekend. I take a staycation weekend twice a year -- I go to a hotel in Chicago and I just veg out without the kids. So this person came in town and halfway through my staycation weekend my husband starts wigging out. So my friend who visited was like, you need to go to your husband. Do whatever you need to do, you need to take care of him, he comes first. So I go and have brunch with my husband and he's beating around the bush and doesn't want to really ask… so when I get home after all of this, I have a really hard time with missing this new person in my life when he went home. So my husband knew something was up, not really sure what…
MW: This is like Bridges Over Madison County…
Never seen it. I know I’m terrible with movies.
MW: You have to see it.
So I was in struggle mode. He was like, I thought you would tell me you had seen him this weekend. And that you missed him and that's why you’re having a hard time and that I could actually help you with that but instead you’re just refusing to say anything so I can’t help you.
MW: Did he know you’d been with the dude who came to town?
I hadn’t said it but he deduced it. So shortly after this, he asked me some questions and I was not honest in my answers because I didn’t feel like he could handle it and I couldn’t handle what would happen if I told the truth. I couldn’t handle him flying off the handle in the way he was going to. I couldn’t handle the emotional response. I wouldn’t say I actively made up information but I didn’t give all the information I could.
He says he was making up this apology for putting me through all these intrusive questions and he needed to bluetooth the image he created -- to apologize-- into my phone. So he took my phone to bluetooth me this image and then goes through my log again with the new guy. I wake up to this long email in the middle of the night , and he's in bed next to me at this point and I’m reading it and my heart is pounding and I’m like Oh God Oh God Oh God Oh God
MW: OH SHIT.
This is like -- what just -- I just went to bed and like, oh my God my world just imploded. So I wake him up and I’m like, we need to talk, we need to talk right now. And I would have to say at this point we’d been together 10 or 11 years, I’d never seen him cry about anything ever at this point. But this made him cry.
MW: So he woke up crying?
Yeah, more or less. He said, first I was downstairs crying with a blanket over my head so no one would hear me, and then I wrote you an email and I came back to bed. I mean he’s completely devastated at this point. I mean, some of the things that he was upset about, were things I felt like, I legitimately had no idea that would ever upset you. That was part of the conversations that we had following this.
Remember we hadn’t really done any fighting up to this point. Life is going along fine and no one is arguing about anything. So now all these things are just coming up and now we’re fighting about every aspect of everything, because it's like, why would you send pictures of yourself to him, why would you send provocative pictures? You sent him a picture wearing something I bought for you, why would you do that? And I was like, because -- first of all, I sent the pictures because I wanted to. But why don’t I do stuff like that for you? You’ve never indicated that you would ever appreciate anything like that. You’ve never indicated that you ever wanted to see me in any kind of lingerie or cuties whatever, you've never paid any special attention to me if I’m dressed in that kind of way, you’ve never sent me a text like, hey sexy I can’t wait to see you later -- you’ve never once indicated that like, you have any concern about me presenting myself to you as a sexual being. So why would I have gone through the trouble of sending you stuff just for you to not respond or to be completely nonchalant or not care? This person, when I send stuff, he appreciates it and he says appreciative things. But why are you mad? I mean you can be mad that I sent it but don’t be mad I didn’t send it to you because you don't like me like that.
So we’re going through this whole thing where I’m like, you don’t think of me as a sexual person. I mean yes we have sex but you're not so hot for me that you wanna see what I'm wearing when you’re not there. And he’s like, well, why would you say that, of course I think you’re pretty. In his mind it's all of course of course of course, but he doesn’t realize it but he doesn’t make me feel like that’s how he feels about me. And so I don’t want there to be an element of looking elsewhere for something that wasn't present in my relationship but there's a little bit of that in there.
So that was in November. We went away on vacation in December and talked some more. This was a couple of weeks after the showdown where I didn’t sleep for two weeks because I was afraid my husband was going to email me int he middle of the night. For the record, I still... every morning I wake in the morning hoping that no one emailed me in the middle of the night. When I see that gmail indicator my heart starts racing. I have email PTSD. But if I do get an email from him -- any time of the day -- my heart starts racing. And I had to explain to him - he'd done this middle of the night thing a couple of nights in a row and I told him, I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep. I'm afraid when I close my eyes you're going to have a massive freakout and I’m going to wake up to this freakout and I can’t, like I'm literally going to go crazy.
So we go on vacation and we make up a list of agreements that are supposed to be revisited every three months. I don’t do very well at keeping to the agreements. And there have been various elements of the agreements that we’ve gone back and forth over and tried to… like we had to sit down and talk about what really mattered to each person. For him what matters is physical stuff. What matters to me is emotional stuff. I said, if we’re going to do this, to completely honest,you can sleep with whoever you want. Somebody who you feel like you're developing feelings for, then I want to know, that's when I need to know more about the person. And he kind of felt the opposite. He felt like, well you love everybody so that’s not the biggest issue. The issue is whether or not you're going to take it to the next level.
So we revisit it in three months. I asked him if he had any revisions, he said no. I did not revisit it at the second three month mark which was two months ago. We’ve had a few conversations since then about what he thinks is going on, what he thinks he wants me to do, how he thinks I should handle this. His primary thing right now is that he just wants to be in the loop. I don’t talk about my relationship with him hardly ever. I don’t make a lot of casual mentions. For the most part things are relatively calm. He knows I am engaging in this relationship with somebody else. He’s not in love with it because of the way that it started. And it sucks that’s what’s going to keep him from being willing to form a connection with this other person, because of the way things started. I try to think maybe in two or three years when we’re so far in the future that the beginning will seem like the past, that maybe he’ll want to meet this person, but I don’t know.
I asked him yesterday, will I ever stop being the villain in this story? And he was like, you’re not the villain anymore, and you were never the only villain. So you don’t have to be the villain. But you’ve moved on. I said, I wouldn’t say that. He said, I mean, you’ve crossed a bridge that you're not coming back over. You’ve made the leap and there’s not going to be a turnaround.
He’s committed to, I’m not going to leave you, I’m not going to leave my family. He just feels he needs to even things out my meeting new people, making new friends and if he becomes comfortable with it, dating as well. He is on a few dating sites. He gets upset with me about the idea of me putting our business in the street. To which my response is always, but who has a Tinder profile in this house? That would be you, my friend.
"I fucked up. I know I fucked up. I beat this man down. So while I’m trying to build my kingdom I’m letting my man fall by the wayside and run off with somebody else." [an interview]Read Now
"growing up in the 40's and 50's, I had classmates who were engaged. that's what girls did at that time.... As I got into my 20's, my mother kept pressuring me to get married. I had absolutely no thought of it, whatsoever." [an interview]Read Now
MW: Just before I turned on the recorder, you were talking about why you hesitate to give unsolicited advice to your grown children.
Anonymous: Yes. Because if your children do not take your advice, they will push away from you. It happens alot, when parents try to pull and rein them in, you really push them the other way. It doesn’t turn out how you think.
And then you take the case of that boy who was just picked up; he kills four people in a drunk driving accident and he gets probation, claiming that he had no moral compass to know right from wrong. His defense for the drunk driving -- he was 16 when he did this -- his defense claimed that because he came from such a wealthy family, they set no rules.
MW: That’s the affluenza guy!
Anonymous: Yeah, so you go from one extreme to another. That one is really extreme. Now, why a jury or a judge would fall for “affluenza,” I do not know. Makes no sense. It's kind of as stupid as that woman from McDonalds who spilled coffee on herself, and she got millions of dollars. How ridiculous was that?
MW: And now they have to write on the cups, ‘Caution, Hot.’ Because before, it wasn’t on there. Because you know it's hot.
Anonymous: How stupid.
Anonymous: I have seen certain products - I can’t remember what -- but it really made me laugh. I don’t remember whether it was a household product or hair product -- but I remember it said ‘Not for human ingestion.’
MW: (Laughs) Yeah, like, you have to be told not to eat this? But that's for the law. But it's all stupid, I see what you’re saying.
Anonymous: Yeah, sometimes people lack common sense. It's almost as if it's been bred out of Americans. Common sense.
MW: How old are you?
Anonymous: 72. I’ll be 73 in April.
MW: What would you go back and tell yourself at 35? Now that you’re 72.
Anonymous: Hmmm. Probably would have gone ahead and graduated from college. But then when I did go back, I had gotten sick. I’d developed thyroid disease and I had part of my thyroid removed. And that was just as I had started college again, and at the time I was in Topeka. What would I do again?
MW: Or what would you tell yourself. Now that you’ve lived all this life, if you could go back and tell her anything, what would it be?
Anonymous: Hmmm. I kind of remember that… I don’t know. I really don’t. (Long pause) I should not have gotten involved with somebody that I got involved with. That’s just something I wish I hadn’t done.
MW: Why? Why shouldn’t you have gotten involved with him?
Anonymous: It just was not good for me.
MW: Hmmm. That’s the thing about life is that sometimes you can’t know what is good for you, until you know what is not.
Anonymous: Until years have passed, until it's gone, and you look back. And we always do stupid things, don’t we?
MW: Did you love him?
Anonymous: I don’t know. I’m not sure. Really, when I think back, I don’t know.
MW: Have you ever been in love?
Anonymous: Hmmm. Not truly, no. When I was growing up, it was the 40s and 50s. I had classmates who were engaged, that's what girls did at that time. You got married and you were a housewife. As I got into my 20s, my mother kept pressuring me to get married. I had absolutely no thought of it, whatsoever. Do you know what an old maid school teacher is?
Anonymous: That was gonna be me. And I was very content. And I knew that as long as I was working, I thought that I’d just continue living at home because when I was in grade school, a lot of my teachers were old maids. They were not old, but that was the connotation. Anybody who was like over 30, I guess, was an old maid. I had numerous teachers, and not just my own personal ones, but in the school system, who were not married, who lived at home.,
MW: With their parents?
Anonymous: Yeah. It was like, I saw nothing wrong with that. And I would have been very happy and this is what I wanted to do, but my mom would say, this one has grandchildren, when are you going to give me grandchildren and get married? But that was the furthest thing from my mind. It would just never, never cross my mind, really. And that’s why I don’t pressure my children. If you want to get married, fine. But don’t do it because you think Mama wants you to.
MW: So what happened? Did you just tired of her saying it and one day…?
Anonymous: I guess. I met somebody, my first husband. He’s the father of my first two children. And we got married. (Long pause). I never stayed married more than five years with either of my husbands. (Laughs)
Anonymous: After my mom died and my dad was sick and I went back to live with my dad because he had diabetes and was suffering from renal failure. He was on dialysis three days a week. He was in the hospital. The doctor told him he could not go home alone. He says, my Sweetie Pie will take care of me. And suddenly I’m getting phone calls -- Dad wants you to come take care of him. I had a wonderful job. And that very day, got a promotion with an increase in salary. I had a really good job. This was like a Thursday night. He says, my Sweetie Pie will take care of me, so my sister calls me and says, this is the situation, and he’s refusing to leave the hospital. The doctor says, either he goes to a nursing home or he has full time care. And he thinks…
MW: You’re gonna do it.
Anonymous: I gave up my job -- I mean this was so rushed, you would not believe. I called my boss that very night and told him what was going on. I said, I'm just gonna have to go take care of my dad. Because by that time my mother was dead and they were divorced by then. He had nobody. Who was gonna do it?
MW: Your sister couldn’t do it?
Anonymous: I don’t know if he asked her.
MW: He wanted you.
Anonymous: (Nods) I never asked. I never did. But he made arrangements for me to fly out. I did this in just a few days.
MW: And you had how many children then?
Anonymous: Five. But at the time, they were all older and on their own except the youngest was in highschool. I wanted to go first before I took him out there. So I moved him in with one of his older siblings and he was fine. Then I moved away and took care of my dad until he died. But one day Daddy and I were sitting outside on the porch and I happened to tell him, I said -- because it was so comfortable-- I said Daddy, this is the way I wanted to live. And then he told me if he had known that my mom was pressuring me he would have put a stop to it. But he said, I never knew that. He never knew. I told him, I said, I would have been so happy, and he said, I didn’t know that’s what you wanted, that you never wanted to get married and have children.
MW: So what do you think, when you look back, which way was better? You told me the other day that you can’t even count your grandchildren. I mean for someone who thought they’d have no children and now you have five children, and…?
Anonymous: About 15 grand-children I think. Now you know that’s ridiculous.
MW: And all these kids are going to go off and have kids. You’re going to be Great Grandma, Great-Great Grandma, Great-Great-Great Grandma.
Anonymous: By that time I’ll be dead.
MW: You’ll be dead but you’ll live on in all these people. And in their memories.
Anonymous: I hope so, and I hope they have good ones. It would be nice. But I never pressured -- and my son always said -- Mama, you never pressured me to get married. But he met this woman and he said he knew right away this is who he wanted to marry. So I’m glad he’s happy.
MW: You’re such an independent woman.
Anonymous: I think so. Probably why my marriages didn’t go too well.
Anonymous: Well in the first place,my first husband was an alcoholic. He was really bad. And the second one, I guess I just didn’t want to be married, really.
MW: Did you want male companionship or you didn’t care?
Anonymous: Didn’t care.
Anonymous: My girlfriends and I, like on Saturday nights we’d go to the bars and dance, meet guys. Let them buy us drinks. Have a lot of fun. That was life. That was fun.
MW: Yeah, you don’t need to like, do their laundry and cook for them… (laughs)
Anonymous: Oh no,no,no. (Laughs) No, no, no, no, no, no. Uh uh.
MW: See, and that’s the thing, it's like, nowadays women may not want to get married, and it's more accepted. But in terms of being more accepted, people say things like, I don’t know with these women nowadays, they don’t want to get married, and they act like that hasn’t always been the case with some people.
Anonymous: Either that or you’re gay.
MW: And why I gotta be gay just because I like my own company?
Anonymous: And it never… getting married was not something I had thought about. It never. It just never crossed my mind. All I wanted to do was teach. Teach high school.
MW: Did you ever become a highschool teacher?
Anonymous: I did some student teaching in a middle school. Middle school was nice. For whatever reason the school administration thought I’d be better teaching elementary. But I didn't want the little ones. A lot of older women seemed to do better with the lower grades but I didn't want that. Upper middle school and high school was what I wanted.
MW: So how did you feel on your wedding day?
Anonymous: I don’t remember.
MW: You don’t remember your wedding day?
Anonymous: No. You’re asking me stuff I don’t remember. I guess it's like out of sight, out of mind. It was not memorable, perhaps. It wasn't the most exciting day of my life.
MW: What was the best day of your life?
Anonymous: Oh my, my, my. (Long pause) The best day? Thats a good question. (Long Pause) That’s neat. (Long pause) One of the best was when I moved here. And I was also excited when I moved back home with my dad. I guess, having my children. And I think when my youngest son was born, I was shocked because I thought I was going to have another girl. (Laughs) I had four girls. I had all girls clothes.
MW: You had to go buy all new stuff!
Anonymous: Mama helped alot. She bought baby boy clothes. But I was like, shocked. Never imagined that I’d have a boy after four girls. I just figured another girl would be nice. I like little girls.
MW: And their clothes are better.
Anonymous: Bigger selection. But he was a nice child. All of them are. They were good children. They were nice children. But I enjoyed coming out here, oh my goodness. When I left to come here, it was was snowing. I was so glad to get out of dodge, I can’t tell you.
MW: I want to go back to something you said earlier. You said when children are grown, you can tell them what to do but they may not take your advice. What does that feel like… when you want different things for them and they aren’t…
Anonymous: Well, because they’re independent. And, you might hope they would listen to you. Quite often I don’t give advice because I don’t think it would be welcome. I think it would be more resented. And sometimes depending upon the situation, it's not welcome. And its more like, you’re interfering. Although they know really down deep, you’re not interfering -- you’re offering the best you can.
MW: And if they feel like you’re interfering, then they don't talk to you. And that hurts.
Anonymous: Right, right. I learned that from my mom. Don’t interfere in your children's lives.
MW: I want to switch gears for a second. I know my grandmother’s mother’s name but that’s all I know about her. What's something you’d want the grandchildren that will never meet you -- your great, great, great, great grandchildren -- what’s something you want them to know about you, from your own mouth?
Anonymous: Oh my. What about me? (Long Pause) Do you mean, like personality wise? I think I'm kind of a reserved person. I have always been. Not quite shy, but reserved. I am -- and I will describe myself as this -- I'm a socialist democrat, and I think that speaks to Bernie Sanders, that’s a term he uses. My daughter always says, Mom is left of left. (Laughs)
MW: (Laughs) Really?
Anonymous: I am a social liberal. Always has been. You know sometimes I wonder where it all came from, my attitude of… when I was growing up, seeing gay guys walking down the street holding hands was not unusual, especially in New York.
Anonymous: I’d go down to the Village -- I used to hang out -- oh my God, I could tell you some stories, since we’re talkin’ -- I need a cigarette first. I used to sneak over to the Village when I was like, between 10 and 12, and hang out in the East Village. James Baldwin was down there one time, and Richie Havens. I’d go hang out with the beatniks. They’d give me cigarettes and buy me coffee.
Anonymous: Somebody would walk me back to the terminal so I’d get the bus and get back home before my mother knew I’d skipped town. She had no idea until I told her.
MW: Are you serious? (Laughs)
Anonymous: She was shocked. She said, that’s where you were? (Laughs) And I’d hang out. I just had the greatest time.
MW: That sounds amazing. Wow. That’s awesome.
Anonymous: I had the best time. I’d just sneak over and go to New York. But getting back to the social issue -- it was quite common. A lot of gays were in the East Village back then so to me it wasn’t unusual. But where my social conscience came from, I’m not sure. I’ve always been like this.
MW: Live and let live.
Anonymous: Around the corner from where I grew up was a beautiful Catholic church, there was a nunnery and the public Catholic school, and some of my neighborhood friends went to the school, and on Saturdays, Catholics went to confession. And quite often my friends would ask me to go with them. I didn’t go to confession but I’d sit on the pew and wait for them, and maybe that's where I developed my appreciation of Catholicism, but when I say appreciation I think I mean the pageantry because a lot of Catholicism I do not subscribe to. But I love the pageantry. When Pope Francis was here, I followed him everywhere. People would text me and I would text back, don't bother me, I'm watching Pope Francis. The whole time he was on TV from the time he came on in the morning I watched every single minute of it. I was enthralled. It was wonderful. I enjoyed it. Like I said, I do not subscribe to all the beliefs or principles but its the pageantry, I love that.
I remember I was at bible study at church and I made the statement that whatever God somebody believes in is fine, and my pastor said, oh no no no, there's only one God. And I had to tell him I disagreed. I believed Buddhists and HIndus and Muslims, Christians, whatever you are, are entitled to believe in whatever God you choose. That's a choice. And just because I am a United Methodist and support my church wholeheartedly, I do recognize other faiths.
MW: I wish more people were like that.
Anonymous: I don’t understand why people aren’t.
MW: Because they believe that just their god is the right one, and telling other people they’re wrong is somehow proving allegiance to their god. That makes them good in their religion.
Anonymous: Yeah. But who's to say you’re not gonna meet a Hindu in heaven? (Laughs)
MW: (Laughs) You get to heaven and see Ganesh chilling with all his arms, like what?!
Anonymous: So, that is their beliefs. Maybe we as Christians may find out that things are not exactly what we thought they were.
MW: And that’s just the thing -- no one knows. No one.
Anonymous: Uh uh.
MW: And folks just be arguing. But how do you know?
Anonymous: I would never try to change someone’s religion. But at the same time, leave me alone about my own. I don't know, did I answer the question? I don’t remember what it was now….
MW: I don’t either. That’s what happens. (Laughs)
Anonymous: (Laughs) You get old and your mind starts wandering. Oh, dear.
MW: So how old do you feel? I feel like no one ever feels their age when they get older.
Anonymous: Seventy-two. I feel like if I didn’t have spinal nerve pain that really hampers me I might feel differently. But this is kind of debilitating, it really is, to be in constant chronic pain. But at least I can still get around somewhat. I mean I'm in pain all the time but I have my mind. That makes a big difference.
MW: It's clear too.
Anonymous: Yes it is. Sometimes I think I'm a little foggy but… you know what I hate about getting old is looking old. That's the one thing that's terrible. When your face starts falling and there's nothing you can do. Well there's something you can do but nobody's sticking needles in my face. I don’t like when you get lines. That part, I don’t like.
MW: My mom feels the same way.
Anonymous: Do you know that older women are the most invisible members of society? There’s been some studies done. We are the most invisible members of society. Its…. people don’t see us. You can see a group of older women and you probably wouldn't be able to tell anybody what they were wearing or what color hair they had. They are just invisible.
MW: That sucks.
Anonymous: We’re just ignored.
MW: Do you feel ignored?
Anonymous: Yeah. Sometimes. Occasionally. But... (Long pause) Maybe occasionally but I wouldn't say it's something that happens on a routine basis.
MW: You gotta get really good at pinching people. (Laughs)
"After this birth, I can stop counting the years between the abortion and today, wondering about the age of a ghost.' [An interview]Read Now
MW: You said you had something you wanted to share with our readers?
Anonymous: Yes. Long story short, I had a baby a little while ago. I was flipping through my notebook and came across something I wrote when I first found out I was pregnant. No point in keeping it to myself when somebody else might enjoy it too.
MW: Lots of somebodies. We love wise words around here…
Anonymous: Good. It’s from November 19th, 2014.
MW: (Laughs) Thank you for the time stamp.
Anonymous: Here goes…
I realized today I only have today. I’ve spent so many days counting tomorow’s, like pennies in a jar. Saving for something. Some other time to spend it. That time, it seems, is now.
I’m pregnant again. Fifth moon, fourth child, although the tarot reader said this one is returning. One of my babies who I left behind and wondered about has found me again. After this birth, I can stop counting the years between the abortion and today, wondering about the age of a ghost. The prodigal son has returned, and he grows in my womb, triumphant.
Some things are too personal to be published but still I write.
I can feel him in there, making me nauseous. Why does the body want to vomit up babies? It’s a mystery I’ll never understand. I keep him down there with tiny meals, lemon water, and dry heaves when I cry.
I still cry. Over the littlest things. Despair creeps in the wind, in the early setting sun, in the snow that falls in place of rain. It’s too cold for me outside. But inside has no breezes. Still, I’m tired of seeing what’s gone. If I have to pretend or outright lie to myself, I’m investing in happy endings.
My friend told me four babies are easier than two. She said it with an exclamation point. Four is nothing! She said. Hmph. We’ll see. I’m reading the postcard but I’ve never been to France. I can’t take nothing for her journey.
Still, I think I understand. Four babies is more hands to hold than I have arms, unless I become a divine Indian statue. Even those are only metaphor. Four babies means trusting someone else to hold, to help. Four babies means letting go of the idea that I can do it all myself. Four babies heralds the practicality of faith. The deliciousness of release. She said all mothers are supposed to do anyway is keep their children alive. I’m not sure if that’s true but it sounds good. For sure, four babies reminds me to give it to God/dess. I am the portal but she is the stars. She is the stars.
Sleep covers my days like a blanket, makes me fit for dreaming. I dream of possibilities, and for the first time, they are really possible. They really are.
I think this one might make me a woman. Welcome, friend. I’ve been waiting for you.
MW: (Fans self) Girllll…. you DEEP.
Anonymous: I know, right. (laughs) Thank you for letting me share.
MW: The pleasure was mine.
So, one of the issues with young black professionals, and young black women, which is our particular narrative experience, is that we are educated, we’re critical thinkers, we’re intellectuals, so even if there is an underlying issue of mental illness, we know what not to say. We know how not to tell the truth about it. We know how to articulate a language that evades detection. So you continue to suffer in silence – no one can see behind the mask because you studied. You’re a psychologist, you’re a chemical engineer for Proctor and Gamble, you are a medical professional – you know the language and articulation to hide behind. So we often go undiagnosed, unseen.
MW: But also, with us being minorities, struggling and surviving pain is an unspoken way of life. I struggle some days with wondering if I actually need help or if I’m being a baby. Because I think about everyone that came before me and how much they went through, and it’s like, how am I gonna complain? I don’t allow myself to feel overwhelmed because I know all these people who could say they have it worse than me so I deny myself a release. I just get mad at myself and say, come on, we can push through this.
You don’t allow yourself to be human. You don’t allow yourself to have feelings. It’s the constant comparison – it could be this, but it’s not. I could feel this, but all I have to do is focus in and take it one day at a time. But that’s not giving yourself the space to just feel and just be human about that. And we’re so isolated. Our jobs isolate us in the sense that we can’t, we don’t feel comfortable being vulnerable in that way. I don’t really get it. I have these conversations constantly. Sometimes I say, I just don’t want to do it today. I can’t walk in there. I’m done with all ya’ll.
It’s unbelievably difficult and I’m working to try to get to this space to release and reconcile. I appreciate my husband’s perspective in so many ways because in traditional Christian religion, you see yourself as an adopted child of God, through Christ, for better or worse. But in my husband’s understanding, he is the child of God. From the beginning, he is that essence. He – like he says – he rocks with the creator in that sense. And it’s so difficult, I believe, to reconcile that kind of power. Like, literally the creator of life is in my being, and yet I have an everyday job. Like, let me just shuffle on through and do what I’m supposed to do and say what I’m supposed to say, feeling like my chest is going to burst because my heart is bigger than my job. My heart is bigger than this next meeting.
MW: I told my husband, I said, I’m just convinced that we’re God, and we’re magical, and they’re shook. Because this system tries so hard to dominate every second of our thought process with something negative that we MUST have magical brains, and it must be that as soon as we focus on something positive it manifests, because they're literally trying to shut… its almost laughable, like, damn, y'all really sweating huh?
Like, y’all really trying…
MW: Y’all trying hard. But its not working. People are like, yeah, nawl, I’m not going to be scared. I still think God is on the throne and everything’s good and I’m just gon’ live my life.
People like, we all gon’ die! And I’m like, that’s just not the God I serve.
MW: That’s not who I serve.
I’m like, I don’t know who you’re dependent on, but for me personally, He is still on the throne. What does that scripture say? "There are giants in the land, but we are well able." Still here.
MW: Still here baby.
Still gon’ be here. This is covenant.
MW: Girl I had to laugh at myself the other day because I was like, bish is you thinking about money when you’re part of the LORD? (laughs) It don’t even make no sense…its like, but there’s EVERYTHING available to you…
You mean the one who set the earth in motion and the fullness thereof? Oh, so THIS is what I have access to?
MW: All of it. So I’m not gon' really sweat…
So I’m not gon' really worry about the funds because I am the child…
MW: (laughs)… the child!
Of the one who one who owns everything…
I don’t even ask my daddy – my earthly daddy– daddy can I have a little change? I don’t even say nothing. Daddy be like, you know I just thought...take that, gon’ head, take that baby. Glory to God. And I’m like, you knew? (giggles) But that’s because he’s Dad. That’s who he’s always been. I’m his only baby girl. Imma be 87 and he’s gon’ be like, here’s two cent on your dentures. So how much moreso does the heavenly father…
MW: Heavenly father. And mother. They a team. They together.
MW: They together. (laughs)
Always behind the scenes holding everything together. (laughs)
MW: Can you imagine how much easier it would be to believe that? I mean we believe it and we know it, but how much easier would it be if all the pictures of God were replaced with a black woman? Can you imagine if the image of God was YOU?
But see that would mean that now they can’t try to pigeonhole “Sharqueisha” into some inauthentic, hood rich, yassss bish and continue to devalue her presence. That would just give her too much power.
MW: It would.
Right? Because we see the images and they reinforce how we see the truth. We’re visual learners, all of us are. We’re visual. So we see stuff, you know, we hear stuff, and that’s what we internalize as truth. So what you hear about, what you see, goes inside you. Hence Jesus is a white man with long blonde hair.
I tell my students all the time – the people who control the world – it’s not the politicians, it’s not your vote, it’s the media, it’s the people that convey the narratives, the people who are writing the stories and communicating them, they control history. They control everything you think you know, the information you think you have. Unless you were there you have zero idea what actually happened. And you never will. So it’s like, the power and control rest with the people that are generating these narratives.
MW: Do you ever feel like we’re in the version of the movie Back to the Future, like the first one where Biff lived on the top floor of the casino? Like, I feel like I’m just waiting for Marty McFly to get his shit together. (laughs)
Yes, I often feel like I’m in some sort of alternate reality. I told my husband, Imma have to do something. I know it’s something I’m supposed to be doing. Because if I am discontented, if I am restless then it’s gotta be something. It’s not just the fact that I’m pregnant again, it’s not the fact that my house is a mess. Even though my anxiety and my OCD wants to make it that, that’s not even it. It’s like a life thing. It’s a, what am I doing? kind of thing. I’m 31. What are we doing? What is the stuff? Why can’t I be rested? What am I wrestling with? Or it’s nothing that… I don’t know… it’s just so strange, just something that… maybe I’m unsettled, or I’m in a particular space… but something is afoot. Something is brewing. And I gotta keep my eyes open. I gotta keep my ears open. It’s just weird. It’s not anxiety, it’s not stress… it’s just something. And I don’t know what that is.
MW: People say we should be happy because…
MW: But my body and mind fight every day. My body is getting to the point where my mind ain’t gon keep winning.
This is what I cling to. In the most difficult moments where I feel like they’re trying to kill me, I just have to remember who I am. That when all of my options have been exhausted, when I am fatigued, when I am done, when I don’t have a way out… it somehow clicks that I don’t play by the same rules.
MW: Speak on that.
The literal creator of the entire universe calls me daughter. And just like when I go to my natural daddy right now and ask for anything, or don’t even have to say nothing because he loves me enough to give me stuff and support me because he loves me, how much more so do I look to the Creator, to the essence of what gives me life and keeps me moving? I say, Daddy, I don’t have anymore. I quit. I’m done. And it’s almost as if He’s just waiting…
MW: I be holding on so tight. I’m so capable and that is my curse. I be like, I can do it!
Right. Not knowing that you’ve been held the whole time and what you thought you were pulling off , wasn’t even you. It was never you. Like my daughter – she’s 6 months old today and she swear she’s a big girl, as big as her other siblings. And so I hold her hands and she moves her legs, so the whole time she swears she’s walking. In the same vein, when I say, I can’t do it anymore , it’s almost like the creator says, I’ve been waiting on you to get to that place, every day, to recognize that you cannot do this. It was not designed for you to do it. This is not your fight. This is not your life. This is not your purpose or destiny. All that rests in ME. And the quicker I can sort of stop and say, what say you, source of life that calls me daughter and loves me unconditionally, what say you? And sometimes, there’s a clear answer, and sometimes the answer is just to rest. Rest in who you are. I know who my daddy is. I know where my support comes from. And I think the problem we have, because we’re educated and capable and we’ve been told we’re more capable than most, is that we start to depend on that. But that’s the danger. That’s the pitfall. Because all that capability – its terminal. It has an end. It’s finite. But what will keep you sustained is that connection to eternity. When I’m running out of time, I turn to the one who is time, who is the beginning and the end.
But that’s the struggle. The struggle is not believing the truthful lies we’ve been told about our capability and resting in those capabilities because they come to an end. And let them decide to change some degree requirements – we wouldn’t even be qualified no more. Somebody decided these were the requirements, just like somebody could decide something else is the requirements. That’s not even in our power. My parents don’t have degrees but they make more in retirement than I make working. And that’s because they had the wisdom from the creator to save and plan.
But for me, that’s part of our great work. It’s like that famous quote – “Our greatest fear is not that we’re inadequate, but that we’re powerful beyond measure.” That is my fear – that I’m greater than I’ve been told. That there is so much more on the other side of trusting and letting go and accepting, that there is power and beauty and brilliance and healing and affirmation and instruction and all these things that rest in the soul.
But all those things just get locked up and we go to work.
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"One day he finally told me flat out, he said if you keep hitting me, I’m leaving you." [An interview]Read Now
“just to make a long story short - I’ve been molested. On both sides of my family. By a girl and a guy.” [An interview]Read Now
Anonymous: I was living in Georgia and I was new there and I was going to the library just getting books and stuff…
MW: How old were you?
Anonymous: At that time I was probably like 27 or 28. So I came across this book called Secret Survivor and I said, hmmm, that sounds interesting. So I just started reading through it real quick and it was talking about adults who have survived domestic violence, incest, rape, and those types of things, and the book had all of their stories. So I started reading this book and it was crazy because I didn’t realize how powerful your mind is, how it protects you from things, thoughts, everything, to the point where your mind could think up something that ain’t even really happen to protect you, or make you forget something that actually really did happen, to protect you, too. Girl it just started to make me remember things that I had purposely tried to forget. You know like, things that I thought – because don’t you know how sometimes you’ll think about stuff and be like, did that even really happen? Or, am I tweaking? And then you might share it with somebody else and they’ll be like, yeah, it was like that but it wasn’t that color, or it did happen like that but it was in a different space than where you thought it was.
Anyway, it was so weird. I started remembering things like… just to make a long story short… you know I’ve been molested. On both sides of my family. By a girl and a guy.
MW: Oh shit.
Anonymous: Yes. And it’s like the one I had actually really tried to forget was the one with the girl. And this is one of my, kind of like, who I thought was a role model to me, now.
MW: Oh shit.
Anonymous: Yeah, and like, that was my favorite cousin so I tried to like forget that. Like, I wondered did it really happen, but it did, because I know it did, because I remember it, you know what I’m saying? I remember like every summer I would go down south to visit my grandmother, and I had a cousin there who would do the same shit. And it was like, it didn’t matter which side of the family I was on. And so it made me ask my sister – and I was so scared to ask her because I just was worried, like, did she remember any of this stuff? Or did anything ever happen to her? Because I tried to protect her from anything happening to her. But she didn’t know nothing. Nothing ever happened to her.
What’s weird to me is that I still love those people. I still love them. And I want to say something but I don’t want to say nothing because I’m scared to bring it up. You know how like when you’re growing up and maturing and getting your spiritual self together and it’s always those few things that stick in your head and bother you that you just want to get off your chest so it can just be done? That’s like a couple of the things that I think is like, on me, that’s holding me that I never addressed before. And another thing – one of my favorite cousins – we were like best friends – she married to the guy that I was in love with. Me and him were best friends and we used to have sex and stuff like that. He told me he had a dream, he said, I had a dream I had sex with you and your cousin, and I was like, huh? Whatever. And I told her. And it seemed like as soon as I told her that…
MW: She married him.
Anonymous: She married to him now, and they have two children together.
MW: Oh shit.
Anonymous: Umm hmm, and you know they were sleeping around together behind my back but I didn’t find out until she popped up pregnant but you know she didn’t believe in abortions or anything like that. So that’s another thing that’s stuck with me, too, and it bothers me because we don’t talk. Me and her was like this, okay? (Crosses index and middle fingers) Of course I wasn’t in her wedding. And everybody was like, why the hell you ain’t in her wedding? But how I look being in that shit? It would have been so weird and so uncomfortable. And it’s like the relationship that me and him had – it’s so weird because I can’t even talk to him like that no more. We can’t…
MW: Oh shit… I’m sorry babe. Do you think you would have been with him, though? Or was it more like a friendship?
Anonymous: Well, I probably would have outgrown our sexual relationship just because we were more friends than anything, but we would have still been good friends. You know what I’m saying, I still think about him to this day. Not in no sexual way, though. I just… we was best friends, like best, best, besties. I would call him and we would talk to each other every day about everything. And then we just so happened to have sex one time because… it was so crazy… I was dating this guy and he was dating this girl, and her name just so happened to be the same as mine – it was so crazy girl.
Anyway, I had transferred schools and my boyfriend broke up with me, girl. And it was raining outside and I had called my friend crying saying, oh my boyfriend just broke up with me and shit… girl, he came over my house. In the rain. He was crying and shit because his girlfriend just broke up with him.
MW: Shut up.
Anonymous: Girl! Yes. So we talking and shit, and you know what I’m saying, he crying, and I’m crying, and we literally sitting on my mama couch crying together girl… and then we just start kissing and shit, and it just went down, G, and it was some of the best shit I have… that was some of the best shit ever in life. You know what I’m saying? It was all emotional. Have you ever had sex with somebody and ya’ll was crying and shit? All this love and all this emotion, girlll!!! That shit was…
MW: It sounds so delicious.
Anonymous: It was! It was! And I would never want my cousin to have those memories of my motherfucking husband, G! I could never… you know what I’m saying? And I think that bothers her to the point where me and her not close no more either, because if you really feel like that was just in the past and we over it, why you won’t reach out to me no more? Why when I call you and try to reach out to you, it’s nothing? You trying to keep him away from me, as far as possible. Like, my grandfather just passed… you know what I’m saying, like, that’s my real blood cousin. I don’t even have that many blood cousins. My family was married like the Brady Bunch. My real grandmother died when my father was like four. So my grandfather’s wife … my daddy’s mother that we know is really not his birth mother. She already had children. My grandfather already had children. So the grandchildren, we not really blood related. It’s only the two of us and the fact that we don't talk is sad to me.
But you know, I think that’s another reason why I think those other cousins didn’t think it was nothing wrong with them with what they was doing to be because we wasn’t blood related or some type of shit. I guess. And then you know, I had to be around them because they were my babysitters. That type of shit.
MW: Oh shit.
Anonymous: You know what I’m saying? And it’s like, how many children are going through this type of stuff? Because I didn’t really realize, but a lot of people have been molested. Even my friend that I want to grammar school with, this guy, he was talking about his uncle was molesting him. And we didn’t know! He gay now, too. That’s why I be like, are we homosexuals because we were molested as children? How is it okay to be gay then? That’s a violation! Somebody violated you and now you’re sexually confused and you don’t know what the hell you want. You know what I’m saying? That’s what make me think about the whole gay thing, because I don’t know… I’ve had sexual relationships with women as an adult, but it wasn’t because…. actually I had damn near drained that out of my mind, from what happened as a child. I was young, G. My cousin, my female cousin was giving me oral sex. And I didn’t understand it. And she used to make me do it and I used to hate it, because I remember the smell. I remember the smell. And I used to be like, it don’t smell right. And I don’t want to do this. And it was like, hair, and smell, and I was like, this is just torture. You see what I’m saying? I remember that. That’s why, honestly, when I turned 23 that’s when I became aware that girls was actually doing this shit with each other willingly, like, it was cool. And I was like, for real?! What the fuck, like seriously?! And then folks was like, my girl got a girlfriend, and all that shit, and I was like, what the fuck is all the hype about? Okay, I want to see what the fuck the hype is all about! But when I did it, it was like, more of an experimentation type of thing, because I had remembered that happening to me but I was just was like grossed out from it, you know what I’m saying? And then my male cousin, he used to do stuff like try to force me to give him oral sex. Like to the point where I never wanted to be left alone with him but it was like, what am I gon’ tell my mama?
Why didn’t you tell her?
Anonymous: Because I was sc – first of all, my mama is crazy.
MW: So you were protecting him from your mom?
Anonymous: Yeah, and myself because my mama is crazy, G. She’ll lose her keys and blame you. You see what I’m saying? Like, somebody stole my fucking keys, and you be like, why would I steal your keys? I don’t even know how to drive, motherfucker! Like, are you serious? My mom was a firecracker, like, pow! Pow! Pow! So, honestly, I was scared. I ain’t even know if it was my fault, I ain’t know what the fuck! I didn’t know if I made them think I wanted this type of shit, or something – I don’t really know. That’s why I was like, why didn’t I say nothing? Why didn’t I say nothing? And it’s so many people who don’t say nothing… and I didn’t want that to happen!
Girl I went the fuck off the other day because my guy pissed me off. It was this little boy and it was all these different grown women bending all the way down the floor and letting him (humps the air) do all this type of shit and I mean the little boy – he been watching grown men because the way he was stroking and popping?! And I said that’s sickening, that don’t make no fucking sense. And my man was like, if that was my son… and I said no, that’s fucking molestation! I get so upset about these things because of what happened to me and my guy doesn’t know and I don’t want to tell him because he still see these motherfuckering people. Like, we still see these people! These are my family!
Anonymous: You see what I’m saying?? So it’s like for me to tell him, that cousin right there – that was one of the motherfuckers right there, and there go the other motherfucker right there. And I’m like, why is motherfuckers picking me? I look at my eyes. My eyes are the same from when I was a little kid. And my eyes ooze… I mean they don’t ooze sex but I got this seductive ass look, G. And some kids got it and some don’t but I had them eyes. My eyes were the same. And that shit is so scary because I was an innocent child. Those eyes wasn’t meaning that but it… I guess that’s what it… I don’t know. That shit is weird and scary to me because I see those eyes on little kids too, and I be like… damn. Them the ones you have to be protective of because it’s motherfuckers out here that’s sick. You know what I’m saying? And I was one of those kids that had them eyes and I look at my baby pictures and pictures of myself when I was young and my daddy was like, you was bad as hell, look at them eyes! And I’m like, I really wasn’t. In my head I was just an innocent kid, you know what I’m saying?
But yeah, that’s why with my sister, I tried to take whatever I could ‘cause I didn’t want her dealing with none of that shit. I used to… I had the feeling that she knew what was going on, because she was younger so they used to always try to make her be out the room or something like that. They would tell her to go get this or go get that, and I would be like (sigh) why? Why? I would be like ma, why ya’ll gotta go, where ya’ll going? And she would be like, oh we’ll be back. Every time, too. I’m like damn?! This shit is ridiculous.
And then this motherfucker tried that shit too when I was grown. I was like, this shit is not finna be happening. The last time I remember he tried to do that shit, my grandfather down south had died, and I was at least 21 because I could get in the club, and this motherfucker was really trying to pull it. And I was like, are you fucking serious?! No!! And this motherfucker was actually pushing up on me and I was like nigga, are you gon’ make me tell Grandma some shit like this now? All this time and you gon’ make me tell Grandma some shit like this? And he was like, well…
And then my other cousin that’s here – well he in jail now – actually both of them motherfuckers is in jail – that’s why I was like, what the fuck? Is it me? Because this is three cousins. Two guys on each side of my family and one female. But I wonder does she even remember that shit or did she put it out of her mind?
MW: Of course she remembers that shit, she was grown.
Anonymous: Because she’s like five or six years older than me so she wasn’t like…
MW: Oh I see what you’re saying…
Anonymous: But she was old enough to know that shit wasn’t right because she was like in high school or some type of shit and I wasn’t. Five years is a big gap when you that young, you know what I’m saying? So I was like, you know… but that’s one thing that always bothered me, and I mentioned it to my sister and she was mad because I didn’t say nothing. And that’s the thing when you be like, damn, why didn’t I say nothing? I just was scared because I knew it was going to break the whole fucking family down, G. That shit is some serious shit. That shit can cause all kind of problems. And then you know, when I was reading about how this shit be in the family and people don’t know, or people try to make it seem like it ain’t shit… and I seen my mother blaming me for some reason. I’m scared to tell her because she never made me feel safe to tell her certain shit. She always made me scared of her. I always been scared of my mama. And that’s not good. Because now – even my relationships with friends, anybody – if I feel too much pressure, I just go. I don’t want to talk to you no more, I don’t need to argue or fight with you, I don’t even need to be around you, I’m just gon’ totally disappear if I can. And sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not good cause sometimes you need to deal with certain shit. You know what I‘m saying? But I run G, because I don’t like all the extra shit, you know what I’m saying?
Like, I really love her though [my cousin]. You know what I’m saying? And I don’t really understand what she was going through when she was doing that, but I do know she is a good person, and maybe something happened to her. You never know. But see it’s like, the thing about it that’s so weird… I don’t wanna bring it up, G. I don’t know… I just can’t… I don’t know if I could do it.
~Takes a break~
Anonymous: I had two abortions. One when I was 19, and one when I was 20. It was pretty much back to back. Like, I was with this guy in college, my freshman year in college – at least I was out of high school the first time I got pregnant – that’s how I was feeling – like it wasn’t so bad as it would have been if I was in high school. But my parents were like – my Dad was the main one like, you ain’t having no kids, you too young! And then on top of that the guy that I was dating was abusive. Just before I found out I was pregnant the dude had tried to fight me and I had never been in no relationship like that. And the first thing I thought about was my daddy going to jail cus he finna kill this nigga, you see what I’m saying? I seen this whole big thing and I said, I can’t deal with this guy. Soon as I’m about to break up with him, I found out I was pregnant. I told him I was pregnant and he talking about some, is it mine? Girl you know I was straight at the chop shop.
MW: The chop shop?
Anonymous: At the time, that’s how I felt about it, you see what I’m saying? I didn’t… it never crossed my mind. I never felt bad about it or nothing. And then, I met another guy – I had transferred from that college to another school and I met this other guy and he was like 27 years old and I was about to be 20, and he was my boyfriend after the other dude and I wound up getting pregnant by him. And I waited until I was three months before I had the abortion because I was not really sure if I wanted to do it or not because my parents – my dad and my mom still was like, no, I shouldn’t keep it. So I had an abortion. And then I remember I didn’t come on my period for nine whole months. That shit had my whole brain fucked up. It was so crazy because every time I seen a baby, I would start to cry. My cousin – the one who I was telling you about – she went behind my back with my best friend and got pregnant – so then she had the baby around that same time. It was all this shit, G, it was too much. And then I have never been pregnant, never again, since then.
And oh shit, this another good one right here. One other time I thought I was pregnant. This was last year. My guy went out of town and I was alone, and I cheated on him with a guy. And of course, he did the dig inside of me and I was like, fuck. So my menstrual cycle was real weird all of a sudden. Once minute it’s real heavy and the next minute it’s not there. So, I’m like, my period acting funny, so I told my sister and she was like, Imma bring you these pregnancy tests I have. So she brought me these tests , I’m downstairs kicking it with my neighbors and shit, I come upstairs and take the pregnancy test and girl, it say I’m pregnant. I said what the fuck because I know me and my guy ain’t had no sex, so I’m like oh shit. So now my sister is like, you need to find out exactly how far along you are. I go to the doctor for the ultrasound or whatever. Why they tell me my uterus was empty? And I’m like, huh? So you know it’s like these mixed emotions going up and down, up and down, and they telling me it’s empty. So then they send in another doctor, and another doctor, and they checking, checking, checking. They gave me another pregnancy test. I’m not pregnant. So I called my sister and I’m telling her what’s going on, and she go in her purse like, what pregnancy test did you take? I’m like, the one that was in your purse. Girl, why… (laughs)
MW: Wait… so she was pregnant?
Anonymous: Girl, why I pee on her old test? (laughs) She had saved the motherfucker in the box, G, and it had fell out and I was wondering, why is this motherfucker loose in the box? Why it ain’t in no package or nothing? You know what I’m saying. And I pissed on it like this shit turned fast as hell! But it was already positive.
Anonymous: Yes, went to the doctor and had to pay $100 for an ultrasound and all kind of shit, girl. Yes.
MW: That’s so funny.
Anonymous: So after that I was like, I can’t be cheating and shit. Because I was scared as hell. And I was like no, I can’t be the type to have no baby with a dude and be lying and be telling him it’s his kid when it ain’t. I just couldn’t do no shit like that. And he would be so happy to have a child by me too, and it ain’t even his? Girrrrllll….that nigga will kill me. So that was it, that was my scare. Scared straight. Because I’m not a condom person. I can’t do it.
MW: Me neither.
Anonymous: I can’t. And that’s why I know I cannot possibly get pregnant easily because I’ve been with plenty of guys since I was younger and they all skeet, skeet, skeet, and nothing. I’ve been in plenty of relationships. I was with this one dude – we used to have sex every single day except for the days that I was on my menstrual cycle – every damn day, once in the morning and once at night, and I never got pregnant by him one time. That’s why I’m like, what the fuck is wrong with me? And that’s one thing too that bothered me – I be hearing them mama songs and I be feeling that shit. I be feeling bad. I get real extra emotional about that type of shit.
"But then there’s this whole other piece, which is that I’ve always been attracted to women. And he knew that before we joined the community. I had told him that a long time ago." [an interview]Read Now
MW: How old are you?
Anonymous: 38. Well no, 37. I’ll be 38 in October. Let me stop making myself older.
MW: What was it like for you growing up?
Anonymous: Ugh, growing up was hard. So, I’m biracial. My mother is black – African-American – and my dad is white. They ran away and went to Florida. The story goes that they got a Winnebago and went to Florida, and they were hippies, doing something totally “not cool” in the seventies. And my father’s mother who is white, totally disowned him because he was with a black girl. So they gave birth me in Florida, and I’m pretty sure they got married. That’s what they told me. But within a year they dissolved the marriage and moved back home.
So, my mother’s bipolar. And my father is an alcoholic. So they both kind of went their ways and kept being wild and eventually my mother had an episode where she took too much LSD, and the police came and got me from her, and took me from her custody.
MW: How old were you?
Anonymous: I was probably less than two years old at the time.
MW: How old were your parents when they had you?
Anonymous: My mother was 21, and my father was a good deal older. He was probably 31 or 32.
MW: What happened after the police came and got you?
Anonymous: There are some conflicting stories about how it all went down. My maternal grandmother tells me that wasn’t the first time my mother had been brought up on neglect charges with me. She says they had taken me before and brought me to my grandmother. But my mother denies that, so I don’t know. The final time, I don’t know where they took me but they contacted my dad’s mom, my white grandma who disowned her son, and apparently asked her if she’d be willing to take me in, because my mother was unfit. I don’t know what my dad was doing, but my grandma was the stable parent.
So she saw me and because I looked white enough, because I had blonde hair and my eyes were light, she agreed to take me because I appeared white. So it was just bad. She was trying to raise me as white, my mother sued for visitations after she got out of the mental institution they put her in. So I would see her like twice a month. It was some weird schedule, like every other weekend or every other Sunday or something like that. So there was very little time that I spent with her but it was very influential. I loved her. I was a kid, I didn’t know bipolar was. She was just fun and spontaneous and crazy and all over the place. And that was my whole introduction to black culture. Any time I spent with her was just black people, fun, partying, loud, dancing, you know? (Laughs) And then I would go back to my white grandma and it was total opposite life. Like living in Victorian England. Formal dinners, everything is clean and pristine. Total opposite.
I was the only child there so it was really quiet and I had to entertain myself all the time. And my grandmother was none too happy about me being there, so it was a culture clash every weekend. I had to keep code switching – which was great because I learned how to code switch. They never really reconciled what I was to be identified as. So when I was with my grandma I was white, and when I was with my mama, I had to be black.
MW: Which one did you feel like you were? Was it okay for you to act white around your mom?
Anonymous: Which one do I feel like I am now, is the question. (laughs) I don’t feel either. And I never did. It’s kind of like both of them are a part of me. My mother was definitely more understanding about it. She would say, I know you have to behave that way around your grandma, but when you here honey, you black! If you got one drop, you black! I was like, what? She was like, you not gon’ be like this all the time. You still need to know you black. She’ll still text me every once in a while, and she’ll be like, you remember you black? (laughs)
MW: People say, you don’t have to do nothing but stay black and die. But you do have to stay black! (laughs)
Anonymous: The bad part was there was nobody else in my town at that time who identified as mixed. There may have been mixed people but they didn’t say that they were mixed. They had chosen a side and they were just gonna be black or they were just gonna be white, and I didn’t know. Looking back, I’m sure there were other people there, but I never came in contact with them to the point that I shared the experience.
So in school, the whole thing kept carrying over. It was very segregated, growing up in the 80s. They had just legally desegregated the city where I grew up, so the schools were still segregated by neighborhoods. Not necessarily because there were black schools and white schools, but there were predominately white schools where there were pockets of black kids.
The white kids always knew I wasn’t quite like them. My grandma never really knew what to do with my hair. And it’s not even that bad but it’s curly and not like hers, so she tried to pin it but it never looked quite like her hair. I don’t know what else what would have tipped them off ‘cause I’m pretty light. But, I don’t know… they always knew I wasn’t one of them.
One particular white girlfriend just cast me out and told me, you can’t play with us. And this was in like, maybe first or second grade. I distinctly remember, every day we had recess at a certain time. And we would meet on the playground at the same time every day. And I just remember this one day, they were not there. And I was running around the whole playground looking for them, and somehow I figured out, oh, they don’t want to play with me today. There was this group of black girls in my neighborhood – because even though my grandmother was white, she lived in the city, and there was actually a lot of black people around – so I was riding the bus with all these black girls, and then get to school and try to hang with the white girls. I distinctly remember, the day I got dissed, my homegirls from my hood came up to me and they were like, girl, why you hanging out with those girls? They were like, you need to be hanging out with us. And I was like, oh. From that point forward, all my friends have been predominately black. I went that way. (laughs) That stuff played all the way out through high school. You know, are you going to be black or white? It was stupid.
MW: So how did you reconcile it as you became an adult?
Anonymous: It was a process. It probably still isn’t really done. I’ve just been learning and then what really helped was like, Mariah Carey came out on the scene, and I found out that Cree Summer from A Different World, was mixed. Everybody was like, oh you look just like Freddie! Now you’re Freddie, because they have someone to associate me with. And you know, as a minority, having someone in the media to identify with is like, huge. So it’s like, there are other people like you. So I see Mariah rock her curls and I see her rock her straight hair, and I’m seeing, this is what we do. We play both sides if we want to. We switch. So you just learn kind of how to swing it to your advantage. Ooh… I still have color issues.
MW: How do you swing it to your advantage?
Anonymous: Um, because… I think…. It’s hard because I don’t know how to compare it. In talking to other up and coming black people, you know how to code switch, and you know how to behave, and you know how to get by. You know how to play the game. Predominately white people are running shit, and you need to move up. Like at my job, the white people are in charge and I wanted to move up. So, I know how to exist in their culture, because I have. Because I was raised in it. So it’s not just me being a black person trying to suck up or trying to relate. No, I have white experiences that I can share with you.
For example, my white parents own a beach house. And only wealthy white people own beach houses and second homes in that area. There are no black people there with second homes at the beach in that area. So when I’m talking to white counterparts I can say, oh yeah, we used to spend our summers at the beach. To them that’s like, oh you’re one of us. Because you couldn’t possibly be black and you spent your summers at your parent’s second home at the beach. And my dad owns a boat, and I went fishing and crabbing, and I don’t know, we went camping. It’s shit that only they know. And only if you’ve lived in their world would you have references about that.
MW: Since you have a foot in both worlds… I know black people can be racist. We can be really racist. Are white people racist, like we can be? Because you know how we can be…(laughs)
Anonymous: (Laughs) Some of them are. But I don’t know how much they let out in front of me, because I don’t know how much they know. And you know sometimes, I don’t reveal it, but maybe they know, you know? If they know I have a black parent, then I don’t know how guarded they’re being around me. I don’t know if they’re scared to cross a line because they’re scared of repercussions. Stuff comes out subtly. And actually it was more so growing up. I would hear nappy or nigger or stuff like that. White people would say stuff like that around me.
And then when I grew up and moved away, things were a lot different. We’re talking from the 80s, 90s and into the 2000s. And then you know, next thing you know, there’s a black president. So it kind of shifted. But yeah, some of them are kind of like… I would just have to say they don’t know. They just really don’t know. They’ve been sheltered. Like for example, I have a half-sister and a half-brother on my mother’s side, and they’re completely black, African American. So my sister joined the Peace Corps. They all had to meet in DC before they went off to their countries or whatever. So she went to the official orientation and found she was the only black girl going to Peace Corps. And she encountered some girl who was from the Midwest. I want to say like North Dakota or something like that, I don’t know, who literally had never ever seen a black person in her life. And she was fascinated but in an ignorant way, like, can I touch your hair? I didn’t know you guys really existed, I’ve seen you on TV. My sister called me crying. She was like, I don’t think I can do this because they’re about to send me to El Salvador and I’m the only black girl. She was like, this is crazy!
So, it’s that kind of ignorance. They say shit because they don’t know they’re being ignorant. Even If I try to step to them, it’s over their head because they haven’t encountered that. I haven’t really encountered someone who was just like, I hate black people. That kind of stuff is just foolish and I wouldn’t even entertain it.
MW: So you’re 37? If you could go back and tell yourself something at 25, what would you tell her?
Anonymous: At 25… 12 years ago… okay so I had just had my 2nd daughter. I was in the Hebrew community. (laughs) I would have told her to get out now! I would have told her, don’t spend another five years in the community, leave now! (laughs)
MW: So this is the Hebrew Israelite community?
MW: Can you explain it to me?
Anonymous: Well all of my boyfriends have been black. My first husband, we met in high school. We had our first kid when I was 19 and he was 18, and we got married that year, right after we had the kid. No wait, I was 20 and he was 19. So we got married that year and we were literally two kids playing house. Way too immature. We broke up when my son was one and then got back together, but it was still like, bad. And the whole time, we both kind of felt like – he didn’t have a father – and we both felt like he needed a male role model or support. He felt it too, but in a different way. He didn’t just come out and say, I need a man in my life (laughs). But he would say things like, I wish I had a dad or whatever. So this community kind of showed up. I guess we attracted it to ourselves. There was a guy who kind of hipped us to it but he hadn’t moved to the cities where these communities existed at the time. He just had the information. I met him at work and he started pitching me all this.
They’re black Hebrews. The follow the Old Testament. They’re basically orthodox Jews but they’re black, so they follow Orthodox Judaism, like to the T. But they’ve kind of redefined it in their own way. They don’t have a synagogue like white people. And this is a whole other story – the community actually started in Chicago. The leader was Ben Ami, and this is like, in the 60s. He got a group of people together and they decided they were going to re-identify with their roots. They didn’t feel they wanted to be Islamic or Black Panthers. They felt they were connected to their Hebraic lineage. They felt like they were one of the lost tribes of Israel. So he decided that they needed to go back to Israel – and this is right around the time that Israel actually became its own country. The Israelis made a law called the Law of Return, and it said that anyone who comes back to Israel and claims that they’re Hebrew will get status and land in the country. So Ben Ami was like, oh, this must mean us too. He was like, we’re Hebrew too, we can go back right? (laughs) So he convinces this group of people in Chicago. First they’re gonna go back to Liberia and learn how to live off the land. So they literally left Chicago with like, tents, and went to Liberia and lived in the jungle for I don’t know how long. Some of them died of malaria or some shit. And they finally decided, okay, we’re gonna go to Israel. In Israel, the government was like, we didn’t mean ya’ll could come back. (laughs)
MW: Because we’ve never acknowledged that ya’ll were ever here in the first place…
Anonymous: Right. They said ya’ll not Hebrews. Then they said in order to be Hebrew, you have to convert to our system. You have to become Jews through our system. And Ben Ami was like, no, we’re not gonna do that. We’re already Hebrews and we don’t need you to validate us. So it was like a long thing they went through and they ended up just invading the land and basically squatting until the government finally gave them a place to be. They still have a presence there. They still have their own little village that they live in. The government did finally recognize them and give them some sort of residency status but they’re not full Jews. Crazy.
So that’s their story. Me and my ex-husband said, oh wow, this sounds like what we’ve been looking for. We both had been saying we wanted to study religion and spirituality. It just kind of fit with the questions we had at the time about life and community and that kind of stuff. So we decided to move to be with this community. And it was interesting. In one way, it did provide the answers we’d been looking for, but then of course, with any community, it has its issues. So as the issues started unfolding… I remember a year after we got there, my husband decides he wants to confess and come clean. Actually it was Yom Kippur which is a Jewish holy day where you make atonement for past wrong doings. You come clean and apologize to somebody or whatever.
He decides he wants to tell me he had an affair on me, before we got there. And I remember at that moment, I was like, this might be a good moment for me to make a break. You had an affair, maybe I don’t want to go forward with this relationship. But the thing about the community is that they’re polygamous, so the men were allowed to have more than one wife, but the women were not. So there were already women that liked him as soon as we got there and he was kind of like, trying to figure out how he was going to date these women. We were trying to figure that out for us, like how are we gonna handle this? So I remember when he told me he cheated, I was like, maybe I should just back out of this. But there were counselors and leaders within the community that took us in like, no, don’t break up your relationship. Don’t break up your family. We can work through this. So they convinced me to stay. But yeah, had I been able to go back I probably would have told myself to leave.
But then again, you think about it like, I had to learn whatever I had to learn so…I would have gone through similar drama somewhere else.
MW: What was it that you had to learn?
Anonymous: Oh my gosh. A lot of stuff. How to exist in a sisterhood. Because within the community there was a sisterhood and a brotherhood. You had sisterhood meetings. If somebody had a baby, we were expected to show up at their house and cook for them. Another big thing was, when women get on their periods, you’re not allowed to cook for your family because you’re considered to be unclean. So for those seven days, you don’t cook and another sister has to come to your house and cook for your family. It’s one of the things they try to sell you as the advantage of having a sister wife but we’re all kind of like, uh duh, you have a sister wife, you’re gonna be getting on your period at the same time.
MW: Exactly! That’s what I was thinking…
Anonymous: Right, that’s not a selling point! They’ll be like Sister So and So is inactive so she needs somebody to come cook. And a lot of the houses were communal so in a house, you might have more than one family living there. You might have a family with kids, and then some single brothers or sisters, or whatever. Or you might have two families. But yeah, if the woman got inactive and couldn’t cook, another woman had to show up and do it. Or, some of the men were nice enough to cook but it wasn’t on them. It wasn’t supposed to be their responsibility to do it. And then if a woman had a baby, they’re unclean 40 days after if they have a boy and 80 days after if they have a girl, so again, the sisters are supposed to step up and help take care of the baby, the family, and the other kids.
So it was a lot of cooking, oh my God. I like hate cooking now because of it. I got pregnant with my daughter and then I nursed her for a good 18 months and I didn’t get my cycle the whole time. So I was on call, like, oh yeah, she’s not on her period, she can do it. (laughs) And I got my period twice after I stopped nursing and then I got pregnant again. So it was another nine months of me being available, and then another year of nursing, until I was just kind of like, (laughs) This is some bullshit.
But you learn how to do it. I learned how to do some stuff that I really hated and there is a blessing in serving your sisters when they’re not able and being around them during those vulnerable times. I learned all that good stuff. I learned how to share my man!
MW: What was that like?
Anonymous: Part of it was because I wasn’t really in love with him. So, you know, we’d already been through marriage and breaking up, and infidelity. I felt like I was with him out of my resolve to keep the family together. I was like, you know, I only want to get married once and I want it to be forever. So I was just kind of like, you know, I’m going to do this. With conviction. I was in it for that reason. But I didn’t have that, oh I’m so in love with him, I want him around me all the time. I didn’t have that feeling so, I was kind of like yeah, go be with somebody else and let them fulfill your desires. So it’s off of me, you know?
MW: I know couples who are monogamous might kind of let themselves go because they don’t have to attract anyone… but dealing with a man who deals with other women, did that make him sexier? Did he step his game up?
Anonymous: (laughs) No. He’s like that anyway. He’s a Virgo and he is very sharp. If anyone would let themselves go, it was not him. I didn’t either because he didn’t let me, I think. He wasn’t having that. You had to be sharp. So no, there was no change. He was already sharp and he was already attracting women even before. But he had done so much stuff at that time to kind of shut me down. We had been through a lot of stuff before we even joined the community. He was very verbally abrasive, kind of borderline abusive, I’m not sure. I had shut down a long time ago and disconnected and there was this wall there. I would do stuff for him but I never really fully connected. So it didn’t make him more attractive, but it made it less of a burden for me, to deal with him. And he resented that greatly. He wanted me to want him. But I never could again, after some of the stuff he did.
But then there’s this whole other piece, which is that I’ve always been attracted to women. And he knew that before we joined the community. I had told him that a long time ago. He was actually always really open to it. He was like, you know, if that’s something you want to do then I want that for you.
Anonymous: I know right. It’s funny because he never approached it like, let’s have a threesome. It was always, I want you to have that. (laughs) So there was the whole element about the women he was dating, and me being attracted to them or them being attracted to me. (laughs)
Anonymous: So the first girl that openly said hey, I really like your husband and I’m really interested in being a part of your family, there was a protocol for that. They weren’t supposed to have sex, and the woman coming into the family was supposed to pursue the family, and not just the man. They were supposed to get to know the woman and the kids and understand that she’s going to be a part of a unit that was already existing. So you were supposed to spend time with the woman that was pursuing your man.
So this girl, she didn’t like me sexually. And actually we’re still really good friends to this day. But she liked me. She’d always say, I wish you were the husband and that your husband was the wife, because I would have liked to marry you. She was like, I felt really close to you and I felt like I wanted to be your best friend and I loved hanging out with you, but eventually I stopped liking him, but I really wanted to be close to you. Actually I think she might be secretly bi but she’s always denying it, like (whispers) no, no, no. But that’s because her brother is gay and he’s shameful.
But then there was this other one girl, and she was pursuing him, but then she started actively pursuing me. It was really interesting. So that whole thing actually dragged out about three years. She was pursuing him, and she kind of like, subtly started spending more time with me. I was pregnant with my third child and I had morning sickness all the time. She started giving me massages, she started making me dinner. She got really… and this was before it got physical… but she basically dated me. She’d give me flowers and she would write me letters.
It got to the point that—my husband sometimes had to do overnight security at one of the businesses owned by the community — and this girl would say, I’m gonna come over and sleep at your house, ‘cause your husband’s gone, right? So I’m pregnant, and it just became like a girl night. She’d come over and we’d hang out and talk and watch movies or whatever. But then she started lighting candles. And then one night I remember she stripped down to her underwear before she got in the bed and I was like, (laughs) uh, do you know that I like girls? I don’t know if I’d ever told her outright or if it was something she just sensed, but I was like, what are you trying to do? But meanwhile I’m pregnant and my belly’s growing and I’m not feeling attractive. So I’m like, I don’t want this to happen right now. But it was kind of intense.
There was a lot of other stuff surrounding it as well because like I said, she and my husband weren’t supposed to be having sex. This girl told me that she was a virgin but apparently she wasn’t and he knew she wasn’t, and at some point they started having sex but never told me. So this whole time I’m thinking she’s never had sex with anybody, and I’m not trying to go there with her and I’m her first sexual experience period. So it was weird. And this was going on my whole pregnancy with my third child.
So she eventually left and went to Israel because her family was living there. I had the baby, and they decided they were going to confess to me they had been having sex. So she’s in Israel and he’s here, and she gets on the phone and they say, we have something to tell you, we’ve been having sex. And they were like, we’re really sorry, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but we really want to get married and we want to make the family work so let’s get past this. So I’m like, okay, because by this time I’m really into this girl too. And she’s into both of us, not just me. So I was like, I think I can make this work.
So she gets to Israel and she starts writing me these letters, like really long love letters, and she finally comes out and says she wants to be with me intimately. And I was like, oh wow. But now you’re in Israel and I’m here…
MW: And wasn’t she still engaged to your husband?
Anonymous: Well, kind of but not really. Because we didn’t really do engagements like that. So it was kind of like, yeah that was still on the table. And he knew about me and her. He knew about the whole thing. He was like, that’s fine. If we’re all married, then hey, whatever, anything goes. We’re married. The whole thing was that he was supposed to be sending me to Israel. Because when you’re in the community, your whole focus is moving out of America and becoming fully Israeli Hebrew and revoking your American status. With being a Hebrew Israelite, that’s the ultimate. You move to Israel and you live there. This is deep right? So the whole thing is he’s supposed to be sending me there first and he’ll come later. That’s what the men do – they send the family there and the woman and the kids establish a home and he works in America and supports them and sends up enough money to build their house up and finally it gets to the point where he can move over.
So she’s there, and he’s supposed to be sending me there, and we’re supposed to be getting things ready so he can come. So I do eventually go, and we did eventually become intimate while she and I were there, and he was here.
Anonymous: So we’re there having our little relationship and he’s here and I don’t know…it got crazy is all I can say.
MW: Did he ever go there, to Israel?
Anonymous: He did, he visited for two or three weeks and then he went back. And I stayed six months, because the law is you can’t stay more than six months unless you’re actually a citizen. So, I don’t know. Wow. (Laughs)
MW: So how did ya’ll eventually break up?
Anonymous: They broke up actually. I’m like, how long is this story gonna get?
MW: (Laughs) Girl our stories be long…
Anonymous:I had always been like the bread winner, and kind of like wore the pants in the family. Mostly just because I knew more how to run a household, how to pay the bills, how to keep the lights on, stuff like that. And he just never really kept a job and he always wanted to work for himself, and he had stolen money from people before. I don’t know, I guess she just eventually caught on to his little game and caught on to the fact that our family was out of balance in that way. She was kind of like, you know, this is not for me.
And they fought a lot about things I didn’t want to get into. I don’t know what they were fighting about but they would fight a lot. These big, all out, hollering, screaming, blows. And I would just kind of stay out of it like, I don’t really want to know what they’re fighting about. But they had their issues as well. So that’s when she just decided she didn’t want to be part of the family. And I was like, well what does that mean for us? Because honestly at that point I was kind of like, I’ll leave him and we can be together. And she was like, no…that’s not really what I want. She said, I still want to get married and have a traditional family and have kids and that kind of thing. She was like, I don’t really want to live an alternative lifestyle. Because ultimately it would require her leaving the community if she did that. She was raised in the community. Her parents were inside and her sister was inside. So for her to do that with me would be totally leaving everything she knew.
I was devastated for a while. So then I’m left with him. He was like, we’re still married!
MW: How old were you?
Anonymous: This was like between 26 to 29.This was that age where I was like, had I known I would have said, get out now! So it was just me and him and we’re just kind of looking at each other like what in the hell? We both kind of like, tried to get over her because we were both really in love with her. Then we had to ask, do we still love each other? I mean, we didn’t really before her anyway. (laughs) What do we have now? Like, what just happened? It was kind of deep. So yeah, shortly after that I left him. Like a year later.
MW: Shit. That was an amazing story. Wow!
Anonymous: It’s pretty unbelievable, it really is. I need to write it down.
MW: For real!
Anonymous: I have witnesses, I do.
MW: Well I’m gonna type it out. It’s gonna be on the blog. You’re gonna read it and be like, oh my God.
Anonymous: Yeah, I’ve told it before and people are always like, what? Did that really happen? But I couldn’t make this shit up, man.
MW: Thank you so much for sharing.
Anonymous: You’re welcome.