"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.
"I called him and I said these words verbatim: Every piece of air, every molecule of air in this house, I pay for it. Every single one. So you not gon’ breathe any of my air and not contribute. That’s not gon’ happen." [an interview]Read Now
MW: So, we haven’t talked for awhile. The last time we talked, you had three girls. Now you have a new baby boy! Umm… where he come from? (laughs)
Anonymous: My youngest child came from my husband and I trying to work things out… and it ain’t work out. Because people still are who they are. And if you let me become more of who I am, then I have very little tolerance for who you remain, you know what I’m saying? It’s funny. Because we are both Aries.
MW: Girl, Aries men, Jesus Christ.
Anonymous: It’s ever…
MW: It is ever. They do have that possessive shit.
Anonymous: He is like me in that we both will hang on to something waiting for the other person to say it’s the end. I think in part it’s that possessive piece, but I think too it’s, I ain’t gon’ lose. And it really it depends on how you’re framing losing because in getting a divorce, to him it’s like, you didn’t stick it out. You don’t know what the future is gonna hold.
MW: And when the future doesn’t hold your family, it’s always gon’ be your fault ‘cause you gave up.
Anonymous: Right. I gave up. And now he can go to my children and say, well your mom gave up.
MW: Are you like that at all?
Anonymous: Yeah. I used to feel like, I’m not divorcing him, ‘cause ain’t nobody ever be able to say that I gave up. But at this point, I’m not gon’ hold on to something to my detriment. You know what I mean? And so we’re both alike in that, I don’t think of myself as competitive, but I am competitive in terms of giving up. I ain’t gon’ give up. I’m gon’ keep trying until the wheels fall off this thang! And he’s the same way, except right now he’s not trying. And we are the same in that we will both talk our way out of stuff, and talk our way into stuff, and so there are a lot of similarities, except he is much more calculating and much more manipulative than I am.
MW: Is he like your Dad at all?
Anonymous: I thought he was, but he isn’t. When we first got married I thought he was a stand up guy. I thought he would do whatever to take care of his family. That’s one of the reasons why I married him, too. I was like, I can see you’re going to do what it takes to make sure your family eats. I’m good with that. And recently he told me that’s how he used to be, but he realized that in America, no one cared about people working hard, they only cared about people spending time with them. So now he’s committed to spending time with his wife and his children except he’s still not spending time with his wife and his children.
MW: Girl. Talk about that.
Anonymous: So I left the city in 2010 and moved up here. We were separated for a whole year before I moved. When I got this job up here, we didn’t have very much communication initially. Then once he saw – unfortunately, sometimes people will use you and then they see you doing well, and they think, oh, I see you’re doing well so let me attach myself to you again. And so for a while he was saying, we gon’ get back together and everything is gon’ be great. I told him, No. Things are not good. And so I’m not even putting my mind there. I really want my marriage to work out but until you can prove that you want this marriage to work out and not just, I’m about to attach myself to you again – until you can prove that what you really want is your family? No sir. So between 2010 and 2012, I’m up here by myself. He rarely comes to see the kids.
MW: What’s rarely? How often?
Anonymous: Maybe once every two or three months. He just really had no desire to be a dad or a husband or anything. And of course the way that he rationalizes this is, I don’t want my children to see me as just an immigrant cab driver. So I’m like look, your kids are two, three and four – they don’t care what you are! They just want a dad.
MW: And wasn’t he an immigrant cab driver when he made those babies?
Anonymous: Yes he was. He was an immigrant cab driver when I met him.
MW: So how can…? Ok.
Anonymous: Right. It’s just the way that he rationalizes things. So he starts saying that he wants things to work out, and I’m still like no sir. Every time my life improves then here you come with your mess, and I lose. In 2009, I lost my house, my car, he left and had a baby with somebody else… it was crazy. And so I was homeless, in that I was living back with my parents with three kids. My car had gotten repossessed. Now when we got married I had two cars of my own – one of them was brand spanking new. I got married in 2005, and that year I bought myself a 2006 Camry.
Anonymous: So we had two cars. I bought our condo. So you know, I had stuff. And then between 2005 and 2009 I lost everything.
MW: But how though? Was it just that he wasn’t… what happened?
Anonymous: Well, a lot of stuff related to the economy, and also things related to the difficulties I’ve had carrying babies. The first pregnancy, I lost it. With my oldest daughter, at 17 weeks I went into preterm labor and they had to give me a circhlage and I was on bed rest for the whole entire pregnancy. So from week 17 until week 37 when she was born, I could only go from the couch to the bed. And so of course I wasn’t working. And then after she was born, he was like I need you to be here taking care of my baby. And in 2007, things weren’t so bad with the nation financially. And so I ended up getting pregnant with my second child. And then everything started to crash, just nationwide. The economy crashed starting around 2008. And so when the economy crashed people weren’t taking cabs, and so he’s not making as much money. And so just the broad scale stuff impacted our family and also impacted our marriage. And so we lost everything. In 2008 and 2009 we were having trouble paying our mortgage.
MW: I got evicted in November 2008 and I was nine months pregnant, so don’t feel bad.
Anonymous: We stopped paying the mortgage so we could take advantage of a government program that allowed people to pay what their property was worth, instead of what was owed. But the bank said, we can’t give you that because you haven’t missed enough payments.
MW: Are you serious?
Anonymous: (Laughs) So we were like, we’re telling you now that we can’t pay this mortgage. We don’t want to get six months behind and then you can’t approve us and we still have to catch up. Anyway, we just stopped paying and then he left in February of 2009. I was six weeks pregnant with my youngest daughter and he went away to Nigeria. While he was in Nigeria the woman he had been with for about a year called me. And this was the third time she had called me. I knew about her but I thought it was over because – clearly – I’m pregnant with baby number 3. So she calls me and she tells me all this stuff about how she saw the divorce paperwork and she know that we not married anymore. And I was like, no, because I’m pregnant with his baby. So he’s in Nigeria and I’m sick as I don’t know what. I can’t pay the mortgage. I started working a temp job as a case worker and I’m not making anything, and I have to pay for childcare. And he gone. So he comes back and he doesn’t come home but he calls me and he says, so now you know. So I’m like, yeah, now I know. And he asked, why would you tell her we’re having another baby? And I said, because we are. And he said, well who’s the daddy? Hmmmm, okay, alright, cool. Well I’m just going to go home and take care of my children and whatever you do is what you do.
So he doesn’t come home for maybe a week after he gets back from Nigeria. He finally comes back home and says, we’re going to work things out but I think we should have a period of separation. Um… naw… people don’t work things out by having a period of separation. People work things out by staying together and working things out. So either you gon’ work things out or you’re going to do what you gonna do. So he was all, oh no, we gon’ work it out. Like I said, he came home after about a week. My father calls me and says, did he come back home? I said, yeah he came back home. My father says, I’m gon’ come over there and talk to him. Now I don’t know if you know my daddy, but my daddy ain’t no punk. For the bulk of my life I’ve been a daddy’s girl. And here you come. My father knows I’ve lost everything, he knows I haven’t had a job in a number of years and then I finally start working and I’m still losing. And so my father comes over and they have an altercation and the police are called and the police come. They tell me, maybe you should leave for the night. I should leave for the night? Me and my kids should leave for the night? And then what? Anyway, I go. Me and my kids stay at my parent’s house for the night. My father is like you need to just stay here forever. Whatever happens with him happens with him but you need to stay here.
None of that is in chronological order though. I’m giving you bits and then giving you background like, this is what happened, and then this is how it happened. But anyway…in 2010 the bank told me I had to foreclose on my house and as I’m moving out he bring his happy self in there talking about, this is gon’ work out and we gon’ work it out, and when I get my life together we gon’ use this time and you gon’ get it together and I’m gon’ get it together. I said, umm hmmm. Here’s the thing – you let me get it together sir, and then what would be the point of having you? And I definitely think that in general, people need people – but if you let me know you’re not going to be a reliable person and you concerned with your stuff – you get yours while I get mine – then we gon’ come back together and Imma still use yours – no sir.
MW: Let me ask you this though – ya’ll was man and wife all this time, right?
Anonymous: : Yes.
MW: But were you actually man and wife?
Anonymous: Off and on. When I got married – and I’m struggling with this now – but when I got married, having had parents who had been together since 1969 and raised 8 children, my idea was that if I got married, I’m getting married for real. I’m making a commitment to my vows and if it is at all in my own power, I’m not going to give up. And I will continue to have hope. And if you come back to me and demonstrate that you want the same things that I want, then heck yeah we gon’ make it work. Especially now that we have three children together? Oh yes, we gon’ make this work. And I will go out of my way to make it work, which clearly I have done. And of course I had friends even then, with baby number three. But he just wasn’t faithful the whole marriage.
MW: Was he faithful to you before you got married?
Anonymous: I thought he was. I thought so. But then I realized he wasn’t. The first time I found out that he wasn’t, my oldest daughter was six months old. Same chick actually, that he ended up having a baby with three years later. And he had another woman, in Sweden. He was an international pimp. And he had been with this woman in Sweden, and they got a divorce and didn’t actually break up. Crazy. But yeah, I thought, this is my marriage and he’s faithful to me and I’m faithful to him, and whatever. But he wasn’t. And when I found out he said, I told you from the beginning I had a problem with women. I said, oh. Okay.
MW: Woah… but wait, is that true? Did he tell you that?
Anonymous: He told me that he was a womanizer before he met me and he was happy that… and I was like, wait a minute. What you were saying wasn’t that you were a womanizer before you met me and now you’ve married me. And you’re saying that you’re going to always be a womanizer?
MW: (Laughs) It’s like that parable when the dude takes in the snake and the snake bites him, and the snake says, you knew I was a snake…
Anonymous: Exactly! And that was exactly the story that I told him too. I said, at a certain point if I keep bringing the snake in while the snake is telling me that he’s a snake, only for the snake to say, well I told you I was a snake, you knew I was a snake in disguise…
MW: The snake says, snakes always lie about being snakes so obviously I told the truth… (laughs)
Anonymous: ...You know I’m a snake, you know Imma bite you like snakes do! And even now, nine years later, I still say to him, dude, I know what you are. You can’t come to me like, oh things are so different now, because I’ve heard the story of things being so different now. But anyway, I thought he was a faithful man but he wasn’t. He never was. And he had all sorts of rationalizations like, you preserve your wife, you use the women out there and your wife is special and you preserve her. Fuck that. Because while I’m being preserved, I need to get some. And you out there getting some. And that just don’t seem fair.
MW: So were you married to the point where you said, we’re married, and I know you out there getting some, but I’m not gonna get some… cause we’re married?
Anonymous: At different points I was. At different points I said I’m just going to stick it out, and even though you’re doing wrong, I’m not going to give you the ability to say that I did you wrong. I was like, you will never have that over me. So I just tried to stick it out. When we separated in 2009, I had a real quick fling with somebody that I grew up with. And that ended real quick. Actually it started in May of 2010 and ended in September of 2010, and I remembered that I did enjoy sex. It was like, huh, this is why people do this! I did enjoy this!
MW: You have three kids and forgot that you like sex… Funny how that happens…(laughs)
Anonymous: And especially since we were having hard financial times. After I had my daughter in 2008, for six months, my husband did not touch me. I said, so we got two children together, we live together, we sleep in the same bed, and you haven’t touched me? And he said yeah, we don’t have very much money and you get pregnant easily. So I don’t want you to get pregnant so I’m just not going to do it.
MW: Why couldn’t you use condoms?
Anonymous: ‘Cause he was out there having sex with somebody else, that’s why. I said, we can use condoms or I can go get some pills. I said, there are ways to prevent pregnancy. But he said, no, no, no.
Anonymous: Yeah girl. Six whole months of just nothing for me. And then when my youngest daughter was conceived, I remember the exact day. She was conceived like December 26th. Because I remember the whole month of December I got none.
MW: So wait. Ya’ll didn’t do it for six months and then the day you did it, you got pregnant again?
Anonymous: Yep. The day.
MW: And that was exactly what he said would happen! (laughs)
Anonymous: Girl, the day. We did it and I was like, awww. I’m sick. And I’m one of those people that immediately, I knew. As soon as he did his thing I was like, aw man, why would you do that.
MW: Are you serious? You know that quickly?
Anonymous: I know. And every time I know, here comes another baby. So anyway, I had forgotten how much I like sex. And then I remembered when I had that real quick affair. Not even affair, because we didn’t have a real marriage. We had been separated for over a year. So then I moved away in 2010, that’s what ended my little affair. But all the while, when I was still living in the city, he wasn’t really coming to visit the kids. His excuse was, you know I’m working so hard and times are hard and blah, blah, blah. And I said, okay. I live 30 minutes away and you aren’t coming to see the kids. So when I moved here of course, two hours away, he definitely wasn’t coming to see the kids. And he started coming to see the kids when he began to suspect that I was seeing someone. So between 2010 and 2012, it was very rare that he would visit. Maybe once every two or three months, he would come.
MW: And then when he would visit, would it be like no time had passed? Was it like a day in the life of a family or was it like, you sleep on the couch, the kids don’t really mess with you because they don’t know you…? How was it?
Anonymous: Well, both. He would come at night. And of course what that really means is that he was coming to see me, and coming to see who I was seeing. With him, it’s always been about possessing me and not loving me. And so he would come at night and he would hang with the kids for awhile which means our nighttime routine was all off, which I hate. And they would be excited to see him, and of course I wouldn’t argue in front of them because that’s not good for them to see. And at a certain point arguments become unnecessary. And he still wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do and I wasn’t expecting him to move here. I wasn’t expecting very much of anything until he got his life together – in his words.
But at the same time, by taking care of three children on my own, I couldn’t afford to divorce him. And so I was thinking, well – one of two things will happen – either he will get his act together or he will divorce me because he will get tired of this whole arrangement. And silly me – I mean it’s so contradictory to how I see myself and contradictory to my world view – but I was denying myself agency in that instance. I was saying, it’s on him. He has all the cards and I’m not going to do anything about it. And I was very aware that I was denying myself agency but I was rationalizing it by saying, well I just can’t afford to do this. So we’ll just have this arrangement.
MW: I hear what you’re saying about denying yourself agency, but you were also honoring yourself in a way. As a wife, you have this forever space for your spouse. No matter what’s going on. With you moving forward with the divorce, it’s like saying that’s done, and that you’re choosing to give up hope and you’re choosing to be a single mother. But those are things you don’t choose to do or be. So in a way, it’s also exercising agency not to sign the paperwork. It’s like by not divorcing him you were saying, I’m going to actively hope that you get your shit together.
Anonymous: Right. I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure that in the event that you do get your stuff together, that I am still here and the kids are still here. So yeah, I’m struggling with those feelings because now we are going through a divorce. I told him that in 2010, I had a relationship with someone. I was like, you cannot expect me to not want. I was 32 years old then, and it was unfair. You out doing what you want to do. Who knows who you’re sleeping with? But my whole life is centered round my children. And even when I go to work I’m going to work to make money for my children. Now it just so happens that I really enjoy the work that I do, but I still gotta hustle my butt off for my children. Once I told him about the affair he was like, let me help you with this and help you with the bills. He started kind of doing what he should have been doing all along. He said, let me help you pay for childcare.
Now mind you – at that time in 2012, childcare for me was $1200 a month. I’m paying $1200 a month just so I can go to work by myself. I’m paying my own rent, paying my own car note. I’m paying all of this by myself. He said, at least let me pay your car note. I said, well, that’s something. I’m not going to make light of your contribution. Whatever contribution you make, Imma take it. So he stared coming around like every other day, even though it was a two hour trip. I said, you’re making a two hour trip – one way – three or four times a week to see your children – I can appreciate that. I told him, I appreciate your efforts and I see you’re making an effort.
Then he found out that I’d had another affair. Now mind you we hadn’t been together since 2009. I had the one thing in 2010. Then in early 2012, I dated this guy from up here – another Nigerian. Now, this oughta told me something. (laughs) It was another Nigerian dude – and it’s funny – Nigerians all seem to have one degree of separation. It turns out they had somebody in common. I had just a sexual relationship with this dude, and it turned out he and my husband knew each other. Now I had loaned this dude some money and I said, dude, I need you to give me my money back. And he said well we can have this conversation with your husband because you better believe I know who your husband is.
Anonymous: Hold on. I said, you can do what you want to do. I can tell my husband myself I had a relationship with you. I still want my money back. So I tell my husband, look, I had a relationship with this dude, he say he know you, there might be some issues. So they have this person in common and they have a conversation about me. This guy tell my husband I’m all kind of porn star hoes. He said, as soon as I walk in her house, she pulling my clothes off trying to give me head. I mean just all kind of stuff.
MW: But girl to girl, was that true? Because I know how it is… (laughs)
Anonymous: I mean, it was good. But all the stuff he was saying I was doing, I was like, I need to be getting paid for that!
MW: (Laughs) Girl that’s the happy ending right there! That deserves a tip!
Anonymous: I don’t know. I told my husband, I said, you’ve known me since 2005. Some of that stuff ain’t even in my character. This dude told my husband that it wasn’t just him, that I was having sex with my current students, that he was in my office one day and this Mexican boy walked in my office and said, this woman don’t just care about West Africans, she care about Mexicans… just all kind of… first of all kind of racist stuff, and all kind of gender stuff, and he painted me out to be some kind of ho. I’m just having sex with all kind of students, everywhere. In my office, on the desk, under the desk, ridiculous stuff. So of course this causes conflict. And I still didn’t get my money back. And this dude is causing all kind of drama. He tells my husband, Imma give her money to you. No sir, you borrowed the money from me, you give it to me. But now of course, since there’s money involved, because I’m now a ho, because the guy painted a picture of coming over and sitting around my children and always being here – and none of that ever happened – he never even met my children, I’m not that mom.
So, yeah, he really painted a horrid picture. And so because of that, my husband said, I have to be there every other day. He said, I have to protect my children from their “horrible, ho mama.”And so because I am still hopeful that my marriage is going to work out – in retrospect, it sounds kind of silly because I know you are only interested in me because somebody else called me a ho. And you are not interested in protecting your children from their ho mama, you are interested because in your mind, I am still your property. And somebody else done touched it. Somebody else done played with my ball on the playground and I’m taking my ball and I’m going home.
But even though I know that’s messed up, I know that these are this three children and I am still his wife. I’m committed to making my marriage work and I’m going to make it work. And I need his financial support. But not really, because I wasn’t used to having his financial support to begin with. So we started talking about him moving here and I was like look, because of where I teach, you can go to school for free. You don’t even have to work during the week. You can come here, take the girls to school, pick them up from school, be Dad during the week and work on the weekends, as long as whatever you make comes here. So even if you make $600 every weekend, that’s $600 here. That’s tuition. And so he’s like well, I just have to tell you – if I’m going to move there to go school, I’m not gon’ work at all.
Anonymous: I said, thank you for telling me. That means you aren’t going to come here. And, you know – by this time I’m pregnant because I’m still trying to make it work, and we’re having these discussions, and you know how discussions lead to babies. And so he tells me he’s not gonna work but he would still like to live here. I said no. You’re not gonna live here and not contribute anything. And so, I remember calling him and I said these words verbatim: Every piece of air, every molecule of air in this house, I pay for it. Every single one. So you not gon’ breathe any of my air and not contribute nothing. That’s not gon’ happen. Not only have you told me you’re not going to work but you’ve also told me that in order for you to do well in school, you can’t really help with the kids because you gotta study.
Anonymous: So you not gon’ help with the kids . Your tuition is going to be free. No sir. That’s not going to happen. And so I said and then, besides that, what car are you going to drive? And he says oh, we just gon’ have to share a car. Hold on! I’m having all kinds of problems here. Because at this point, I’m pregnant with my fourth child. This car is not a three row car, it’s a two row car. Which means that every single seat in the car will be filled with a person already. So you want to drive my car. You want to get tuition paid for free. You want to live here for free. I don’t understand . What’s the point? He said, well the point is you’ll have your man with you.
MW: But what does that mean?
Anonymous: It don’t mean nothing. It means that I will have five children instead of four and I’m good on that. I will have five children and one of them is ten years older than me. So I’m like no sir, that’s not gon’ work for me. You can’t move here.
So, yeah. I get pregnant in November 2012 while we going through these talks about getting back together, and going back and forth about whether or not he’s gonna move here. And so I struggled when I found out I was pregnant. I was like, everyone knows I’ve been separated from my husband since 2009. And everyone knows I’ve been living up here by myself with my children. And everyone’s going to say…
MW: What the hell?
Anonymous: What the hell. Who the daddy?
MW: That’s like that newspaper caption in Atlanta – What happen? Why it happen? How it happen? (laughs)
Anonymous: Right. You know initially I was like, I gotta get rid of this baby. I can’t do it. And the first person that I told was one of my colleagues who told his wife and his wife called me that night. I said, I can’t do it. I cannot do it. I’m taking care of three kids and my marriage ain’t right. I’m in counseling right now trying to cope with what’s happening in my marriage. I can’t do it. And she said, if you go through with it and you decide you still can’t, do an adoption. And I was like, I’m not carrying no baby for nine months – ten months in fact – to not have it. I’m not giving my baby up for adoption. And so I struggled. I cried, cried, cried. And so when I finally told him – because I’d had lots of conversations before I told him – well lots of conversations with my therapist and with my colleague's wife – he said, well how do I know that’s my baby?
MW: He said that shit again? Is he slow?
Anonymous: Yeah. And the first time he said it in 2009, he was saying it to be an asshole. He knew we were married, and that I don’t go nowhere except to my parent’s house and to church. That’s it. You know that this is your baby and you just saying that to be an ass. But this time, he said, well you know you just had a relationship. And I’m like, I ain’t see that dude in months. If this was his baby, I’d be showing by now. But that’s beside the point – you know that this is your child. So I just had to decide, like, I’m having my baby. If he’s involved or not, it doesn’t matter. He hasn’t been involved in the girls’ lives. And so, if he’s involved or not, I cannot bank on not. I cannot say we’re having a baby or I’m having our baby. I’m having my baby. And I’m making a personal choice to do this. So he says, well, if you want to have an abortion, let me know.
I said, okay. Well I’m deciding not to have an abortion. So he said, good, good, I didn’t want you to because this might be my boy. I said, it doesn’t matter what the gender is – you still gon’ be you. So in an effort to try to prove he ain’t gon’ be him, he came to doctor’s appointments, and he was up here , and he was still paying certain bills and tuition and some stuff. And so again I’m like, I see your efforts, I appreciate your efforts. This is nice. Still you can’t come and live here cause you done already told me you ain’t gon’ pay no bills, you ain’t gon’ keep your own car – so you still can’t live here. But I do appreciate your efforts. And we can continue to talk about working things out.
My baby was born on July 4th –because I was so close to my due date, the doctors told me I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t travel. So all my family came up here, and my friends came over, and we had a barbecue and it was nice. My husband had not been coming around my family because of everything that had happened before. Everyone knew he had cheated on me. Everyone knew he had a baby outside of my marriage while we were married, who is older than our youngest daughter, everyone knew that he had left me and that I lost my house and my car because of him, everyone knew that financially, I was trapped because of him. They knew I’d had to file bankruptcy because of him – like all this stuff. So he hadn’t been coming around because he was embarrassed. He was like, I’m not coming around your family until things improve for me and I can show everyone that things are looking up. So when he finds out that I had two affairs, he was like well, now I can come around.
Anonymous: Yes. So he said, if your family will be there, I’m not going to come because the family don’t still know what you’ve done. So I was like, my family don’t have to know what I’ve done. What my family does know, is that I am 9 months pregnant with your fourth baby, and they’re expecting to see you at some point in my child’s life. At some point. So he’s like well, Imma have a conversation with your dad. Does your dad know what kind of life you’ve been living? I said yeah my dad knows that I’m up here raising my children, by myself. My dad knows that I am currently in therapy. My dad knows that I have asked you to go to couples therapy with me. And so, he’s like, well does he know about these other men? And I said, he does know that we have been separated, and I’m a grown woman, and he doesn’t expect me not to go out with anybody. I’m sure that’s not what his expectation is of me. So he was like, okay bet. I’m coming up there and talking to your daddy then.
MW: Oh wow…
Anonymous: So I’m not thinking that him coming up here talking to my daddy is not going to be, okay, let me tell you what your daughter did. I’m thinking it’s going to be him telling my dad, like, these are the plans we have now, we’re going to raise our four children now, together, and I’m going to finish school, and this, that and the other, right? This is what I’m thinking. Again, nine months pregnant. He comes – asks my father to come outside and they sit outside for like two hours. They talking. And I’m not thinking anything of it. I’m thinking that they working things out because the last time they really talked, they had an altercation in 2009. So I’m thinking they just having a grown man conversation.
They come back in, and I am at this point two weeks from my due date, and everybody is like, oh this be a great night for the baby to be born, your feet look a little swollen, you should go to the hospital. And I’m like look, the baby ain’t coming tonight. I don’t feel like going to the hospital. But they said, you should go. So I said, fine, I’ll go to the hospital. So we go to the hospital. At the hospital, he holding my hand talking about, oh this is gon’ be wonderful, Imma have my boy, my boy, I can’t wait for him to be born, this would be a great night for him to be born. Now, of course, he ain’t born that night, ‘cause I’m not in labor. All this time he’s being extra lovey, right? The next day, my father calls me and he says, I have some concerns about what’s happening with my grandchildren.
I said, uh, what’s happening with your grandchildren? He said, well, I was told that you’ve been having all kind of men coming in and out of your house. I was told that you sleeping with men and women while my grandchildren are there.
Anonymous: For every one truth my husband told, he told ten lies.
Anonymous: And then after telling all these lies, he went to the hospital with me talking about, oh it’s going to be wonderful, me and you and our children, it’s gon’ be great. And so I’m like, how can you do this purposely? How can you purposely do this?
MW: Because, he having another kid, he want to be able to come around and hold his head up, and the only way to do that is to bring you down a few notches.
Anonymous: Yeah! He had to take me down a few notches and then he felt good, like now that yo’ daddy think you a ho! I mean, that’s not even kind of logical. So when I found that out I was like, I’m so done. I can’t even continue to make it work. Because if you can go to my dad and tell my daddy I’m a ho, then, what you want with me?
MW: It’s like, we ain’t even friends! So why should I be your wife?
Anonymous: Yeah! You got a ho for a wife and you cool with that? Because now folks looking at you sideways like, well he the one said she was a ho…
MW: Well folks already think he a ho so he trying to make sure ya’ll are “equally yoked…” (laughs)
Anonymous: Now both of us are hoes. And again, I am about to drop a baby at any moment, and that’s the drama you bring into my life? No thanks. So the baby’s born, right? I drive myself to the hospital to have my baby, because – still – I’m here parenting alone. I let him know I’m at the hospital and he shows up three hours later as my baby is coming out, and the first thing he says to me is, yeah, when you called me, I started to come to the hospital but then I realized I was tired and I didn’t want to have an accident. So I just pulled over and took a thirty minute nap. And then when I woke up, I came. Negro, I am having baby number four! And you think, she’s gonna be there having that baby, I’m just gonna take a thirty minute nap. That’s the first thing you say to me, as soon as your baby come out, like, yep, had to take a nap real quick?
MW: When my mama was in labor with me, my daddy stopped and ate at the restaurant.
MW: Talmbout, the labor is gon’ be a long time, I’m gon’ be hungry so, I need to eat. And she sat there and watched him eat while she was in labor.
Anonymous: Aw naw, those kinds of things warrant kicks in the chest. I sound violent but I’m not violent. But I mean, you gon’ come in here and say, I had to take a nap or, I’m hungry, you just sit there real quick while I sit here and eat these vittles? No! So anyway, he tells me that he had to stop and take a nap, then they take me to the recovery room, and he says, earlier today I sent you a text.
MW: Wait, wait, wait. He starting shit in the recovery room? This man makes me tired.
Anonymous: While I’m recovering he says, earlier today I sent you a text and you replied that you were at home taking a nap. You should have let me know that you were going home because I don’t know if you got some other man there or not. Dude! I just had a baby. Just had a baby! And again, here you come with some drama about another man that does not even exist. So you thinking while I’m ten months pregnant, I’m gon’ get off work, have man in my bed, go pick up the girls, bring them home and cook them dinner, and then go to the hospital and deliver? Are you crazy? And then you said this to me while I’m recovering from a labor in which I did not have any pain medicine because it happened too quickly. Are you serious? So, yeah. Yeah.
So he leaves, comes back on the day I’m supposed to come home, and doesn’t come see the baby or nothing. He just calls everyday – how’s everything? Good? Ok. So he comes and takes me home. My children were in the city with my parents but they didn’t have enough clothes, so my parents and sisters met me at home to get clothes for the girls. So he was here. And as my parents drove up, he was walking out the door. He dropped me off, and thought he was just about to walk out the door. Mind you, my car is still at the hospital and he’s like oh, well your family and friends can figure that out. So my father comes in and says, you leaving? No, we gotta go get your wife’s car. And you need to be here helping her. So my dad and him go and pick up my car.
They come back, my dad leaves. As soon as my dad leaves, he says, I gotta go. He left. I did not see him between the day we got home – now mind you I said I had a really fast and hard labor. I couldn’t sit up for more than fifteen minutes. I was on pain medicine. The only thing I could do was sit up and nurse my baby very, very briefly. I would be in so much pain.
So he doesn’t come see us at all – and during that time I had several medical emergencies with my son and he doesn’t come at all – my son is fine now, though – but anyway, in September he finally comes, and he says, yeah, I been counting. Your six weeks are up. You still bleeding?
MW: Get the fuck outta here… (laughs)
Anonymous: I said no, I’m not still bleeding. But I’m not interested, thank you. Please don’t touch me sir, do not. You know that story – you didn’t help me bake the bread, you didn’t help me grind the wheat? You didn’t go with me to none of these doctor appointments. You didn’t go to the hospital. You didn’t come here to make sure I was emotionally okay when they had all these diagnoses on our baby. So, no sir. So he comes, he stays around for a few hours, plays around with the kids for a few hours, did not get none, and leaves. We don’t see him until December. Comes again, oh baby, baby, baby. No sir. No sir. ‘Cause you ain’t help me grind this wheat. You didn’t help me water the wheat. You ain’t cracked no eggs. No sir. He said, I know that you’re mad still, I’ll give you time to stop being mad, I’ll know you’re not mad when you let me. Ummm, nope. Trust me, at this point I’m not even mad. I just know who you are. So, that’s December. We see him again in March. And then we see him again last month. Again with the baby, baby, baby. Please do not touch me sir.
MW: So… I got two questions. The first one is, where else in your life have you seen this pattern? Or if you haven’t, the other question is – I don’t know if you believe that you create your life. Me personally, it helps me to believe that because I can get so pissed off at other people and live in this rage state. So I try to ask myself, how did I attract this to me, or how did I create this, or what is this trying to teach me? It helps put the power back in me because I know I can change myself. So why did you create this? Or what did you learn from it? Or where have you seen it?
Anonymous: When you asked me earlier about similarities between he and my dad… right before I got pregnant that was one of things that I was going to counseling for. The expectations my Dad has for me, and always, again, to my own detriment, trying to please my Dad. My Dad is a wonderful, wonderful man… but my dad is also very chauvinistic. And there are things that he believes that I don’t agree with about what women can and should do. The expectations that my Dad has of me, and even his ability to call me and say, I’m concerned about my grandchildren. Like, you’re living the life of a whore up there. Same type of deal. You know, the altercation that they had in 2009, and even as I’m saying no, no, no, don’ t do this, both of them are doing exactly what they want to do and I’m still trying to please and still trying to prove both of them that I’m committed. I’m committed to you Daddy. Look at me, look at me. And a lot of the stuff that I’ve accomplished, I’ve done so kind of seeking his approval. There’s a lot of stuff. And like I said, he’s a wonderful man and he operates within a certain framework, and his framework ain’t my framework. And when I realized that his framework ain’t my framework, and I cannot continue to try to seek his approval – because I’m never going to get the approval like I want it from either of them – when I was able to let that go with my daddy - was when I was able to file for divorce.
MW: Yes! Preach!
Anonymous: And like I said, I had to go to therapy. Do you know my father told me that I was a neglectful mother for going to work and what I needed to do was come and live with him and get on aid until my children were old enough and then I can worry about myself, but until then I cannot worry about myself?
MW: Oh my God, I feel my stomach sinking just hearing that! That is so oppressive! I’m not going to give your identity away, but I’m so proud of you for choosing the specific career path you’ve chosen if that’s what you were hearing at home. I commend your passion, you’re awesome!
Anonymous: Not only that but I had to move two hours away to get away from both of those things .
MW: So in a way your husband set you free because he helped you see that pattern with your dad. Because once you saw it, you were like, well I’m definitely not willing to do this twice. In fact I’m not willing to do it all.
Anonymous: Yep. And even now – because I filed for divorce in February and its taking much longer than I expected it to, but when I filed for divorce, my father was like, that’s a big mistake. Wait a minute. (laughs) Wait a minute! You know this thing ain’t working! He said, you should wait, because that’s a whole lot of money that you’re giving to a lawyer that you could be using for something else, and you can be paying up on your rent, and you could be doing this, and you could be doing that. And I was like, no. I have to do this. I said, if I don’t do this now, I will be in the same pattern.
And as my children get older – like, my oldest daughter don’t want nothing to do with her father because she’s seen what he’s done. She’s heard him yell at me. She’s heard him say things to make me cry, and I don’t want my children to see that. And I definitely don’t want my boy to think that’s how you treat women, and I don’t want my girls to think, oh this is perfectly acceptable because Mommy let it happen.
One night he called and wanted to have an argument and I hung up. I got off the phone. But my children had already heard us start arguing, and so they came in my room and said, is Daddy coming tonight? And you know what that said to me? That said to me, they are used to this pattern. They are used to Daddy abusing Mommy verbally and emotionally, and they wake up and Daddy’s in Mommy’s bed. Because what Daddy is doing is beating Mommy down so he can have control emotionally. And that’s not going to continue to be my story. I ain’t gon’ do it.
And that’s not gon’ be their story. They’ll be able to say, this happened, but Mommy put a stop to it. And, at the same time, they aren’t going to be able to say that they heard Granddad talk bad about Mommy.
You know, in some respects it’s put a strain on our relationship because he feels like, you just do what you want to do. And he said to me one time, the moment that you stopped doing what I want you to do was the moment that your life started going down hill. Which hurt, you know. That hurt. I was like, I was doing this to get your approval. I did the work. I’m continuing to do the work. I’m continuing to raise my children. And I don’t want to act like… I mean, my parents help. They do help. But I’m continuing to do the work. It’s not the moment I stopped doing what you wanted me to do that my life went downhill. He said, the moment that you started listening to another man was when you messed up. You need to listen to this man…
MW: That’s what he said?
Anonymous: Girl, yes.
MW: My father is a wonderful man too… (laughs)… but let me ask you this though – does your dad ever oppress your mom? I know you said he doesn’t yell but there are ways to passively oppress people too – like just hearing him say that now that you have kids, your life should be over – and I know you said your mom had eight children…
Anonymous: I think that my mom is also a product of her time, and she started having children when she was seventeen, and so it’s what she’s accustomed to. But my dad rules the roost, but he also at the same time spoils her. So she never has to worry about taking the bus to work, or doing laundry – my dad does laundry, and he cooks. So he’s a really good husband. I wish that my mother knew how much agency she has, though. Because since she started having children at seventeen, she never went to college. And a lot of times she’s like, it’s never going to happen for me, I wish I could. Actually today she said, I was looking at an adult learning program, and I wish that I could but I know that I can’t. And not that my dad is telling her that she can’t, she just feels like I’m too old. I used to feel like, why doesn’t Mom just stand up? But I understand why and I understand how it happens, and I hate to say this, but it ain’t gon’ be me.
In some respects, my father raised us to be a little too verbal, where my mother really isn’t. Like when he was telling me that I shouldn’t get a divorce. She didn’t say anything but she called me later and said I understand why you doing what you doing. You don’t need to have that conversation with Dad anymore because he doesn’t understand so just let it go. Do what you have to do.