"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.
'I’m afraid of the unknown. I’m afraid to leave the comfort that I have because I don’t know how." [AN interview]Read Now
MW: How old are you?
Anonymous: I am 33. Gonna be 34 in September.
MW: Are you married?
Anonymous: I am. We’ll make eight years in October.
MW: Was it a long engagement? (laughs)
Anonymous: It was a very long engagement. We’re high school sweethearts. We were together for close to nine years, and then we got married in 2006. So, a long time.
MW: What is that like – being with one person for so long?
Anonymous: It’s nice. I married my best friend. We grew up together. We went through – I mean, I think it’s nice. I can say that. He’s like my best friend. He’s the person that knows me best and there’s some comfort in knowing that. You know, I can rely on him for anything. I always go to him for every decision that I make in my life and I know he has my best interest, and we also have a lot of things in common as well.
MW: I don’t mean to be all up in your business but like, is he the only guy you’ve ever… been with?
Anonymous: You didn’t know this?
Anonymous: Yeah. (laughs)
Anonymous: I mean it wasn’t necessarily planned that way. I wasn’t that girl in high school saying, I’m gonna marry the first guy I give my virginity to. It justhappened that way. We had a brief break up for about a year… it was probably in like 1999 – 2000, so about 2 years after we initially started dating. He ended up moving back to New York because that’s where he’s from, and I did one year of college away from home and then came back to the city. So there was a break up of a year and it was hard to get over it because he was my first love. I dated but I never went there with anyone. So then we kind of rekindled our relationship while he was in New York because I went out there to visit with my boss at the time, and I met up with him and yeah… it was there. The love had never been lost. So we kind of rekindled and in the summer of 2001, he came back here for good. So yeah, he is the only man that I’ve ever been with.
Anonymous: I’m surprised you didn’t know that!
MW: I don’t even know how to ask what I want to ask…
Anonymous: Just ask.
MW: What is it like to develop a sexual and emotional relationship with one person for all that time? Are ya’ll like masters of it by now? (laughs)
Anonymous: I don’t know because it’s all I know. I mean like I definitely sometimes live vicariously through my girlfriends. They tell me their stories. Some of them are horror stories and some of them are great, beautiful love stories. But, you know, he’s the man I love. He’s the man I have two beautiful children with. I don’t have… I mean I think that for what we have, it works for us. I think that we complement each other very well. There are times when we get on each other’s nerves –probably like today – but you know, it happens. There’s a bond. It’s weird. It’s almost like we’re – and I don’t mean it in a sick way, obviously don’t take it that way – but it’s like we’re brother and sister in a way, but we’re like best friends, but we’re lovers. There’s such strong connection that we have. We know each other. We know what each other is thinking. We know sometimes what each other’s next move is going to be. So there’s some comfort in knowing that.
MW: Are you comfortable in knowing what your own next move is going to be?
Anonymous: No. Sometimes I’m not. No. I think it’s more like we know each other’s moves. Like, we can make decisions for each other but it’s hard for us to make our own decisions. I rely heavily on his opinion and I think he does the same. For me, I second guess myself myself a lot. I over analyze things. And what’s great is that he can, in my situations, see the bigger picture. He may know ultimately what I want. I change my mind a lot, Because sometimes I don’t know what I want. Or I think I know what I want but then it’s like… the fear for me is being wrong. That’s my fear. But then he helps me understand that like, sometimes there’s not a wrong decision. It’s just a different path. And so I have to find comfort in that. And him telling me that and reassuring me is when I find comfort.
MW: I’ve asked this question to other women in different ways… But for me, the hardest part about being in a relationship is, I change a lot. And I won’t even see it coming, I’ll just look up and I’m different. And then when you’re in a relationship with somebody, those changes can negate… they’re dealbreakers, like, so…. I didn’t sign up for this. With you having been with him for so long, through so many phases of your life – turning 21, and then the blossoming at 25, and then having babies and being married, and juggling work and all that – have you found yourself changing in ways that you aren’t sure that you can share with him? Or do you suppress any changes because you don’t know if it’s a violation of your original agreement to be who you said you were going to be… or since he’s your best friend are you able to communicate those changes, or does he see them coming?
Anonymous: Yeah, I mean I think we bring those changes to the table. But because we have so many ideas and thoughts of what we want to do, we talk about them and… like for instance, he wants to move out of state. Within five years, that’s what he said he wants to do. But like I said, we complement each other very well because we bring that balance to each other. So for me, I’m like, oh my God, I can’t make a decision. He’s often the same way too. But I think more so, I’m like that. So he’ll tell me, don’t worry about it, whatever, that’s okay. I may be frustrated about an issue with my mom and we’ll talk it out and he’ll say, listen, this is why your mom said it this way. This is her point of view. He does that for me. Now for him, a lot of times he’ll have these ideas or just opinions about something and I’ll have to kind of, bring him to reality. Like his five year plan, for instance. I’m like, one, you gotta remember we’d have to make sure we’ve saved enough money. And is five years doable, to save money for a down payment on a house? Our kids will be in school and those are things we need to think about when we move. So I sometimes bring that to the plate.
To be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve changed a lot, and sometimes it’s like… I don’t know, sometimes I feel like I’m disappointed in that because I feel like I should be changing. You know, like I should be… I should shed my skin, you know, like a snake does, but I don’t and I get disappointed in that. Maybe I need to just do something different. I mean, I’m fully capable of doing something different. Sometimes I just… I’m afraid of the unknown. I’m afraid to leave the comfort that I have because I don’t know how. It’s just the unknown and that scares me.
MW: But let me ask you this though – is your comfort comfortable right now?
Anonymous: Probably not. I mean I guess if I have to think about it, probably not. I was going through Pinterest and there was this quote and it was saying, don’t be predictable. And I kind of feel like right now my life is predictable. I don’t have anything new. My life has just been… eh… you know? I feel like maybe this is a time for me to be bold and do something. So right now I’m trying to figure out, like, is that moment now? What’s the moment? I don’t know.
MW: It sounds like it’s now.
Anonymous: I don’t know.
MW: Well, I’ve never heard you talk like this before.
Anonymous: I just happened to see that quote and it was like, I think I’m predictable. And I don’t want to be predictable, you know? I want to do something. I need something new, something different. Just something… like I’m Mom, I’m in mom mode.
MW: It’s hard… motherhood is like a forest and you can’t see out. That mom piece is hard, especially when you have kids as young as your son. It’s like being in a cloud and you can’t see your way out.
Anonymous: Now you’re getting me all teary eyed, thinking about it.
MW: Girl that’s what we do here. We cry. That’s what we do. So what do you want to do? If you could do anything?
Anonymous: What do I want to do? Travel. It’s what I want to do. It’s on my bucket list, just to travel and experience things. So, I do it in little ways. Right now it’s just experiencing new restaurants, you know? Trying different types of cuisines or reading about different countries and cultures. That’s something I would like to do. Maybe it’s just getting a job where I can afford to travel, or doing something where I have the opportunity to travel.
MW: Right…because sometimes once you have a job where you can afford to travel, you can’t get any time off…
Anonymous: Right. But that is a passion of mine, to learn about different cultures.
MW: You told me once that your husband wanted to move away. Where does he want to move?
Anonymous: The east coast. And I love New York. If we could move there, I would love to. But at the same time, New York is so expensive… I don’t want to live so far outside the city and not be able to enjoy the city itself because of money and stuff like that. So I feel like in order to be able to live in New York, you gotta make that nice money. I don’t want to live in the closet.
MW: But don’t people tend to make more money in New York?
Anonymous: Yeah, because of cost of living. So, yeah, I would love it. My daughter loves New York too. It’s funny – the week before her nature school ended I was talking to her teacher and I said, so next week is the last week right? Can I bring something? And she said no, but your daughter said she’s not going to come. And I said, what? She said, yeah, she said she’s going to New York. And I’m like, no, she’s not. (laughs)
But yeah, she’d love to live in New York as well. Except for the walking you have to do, because she don’t like walking. I like it. It’s different. And you know what? At the same time, I was born and raised in Chicago, but I would love to be that person to be like, I’m from Chicago. I’m from the Midwest. But I don't live there anymore. (laughs)
It’s not like I’m trying to stop us. I guess maybe I am, by saying, oh well we have to think about these things. But I more so meant it like, if this is going to be a goal of ours then we need to set some goals. We need to be strict on a budget and say, this is our fund for when we move out to New York.
MW: So you’re saying he doesn’t…
Anonymous: He doesn’t plan.
MW: So when he says he wants to move, you can’t take that seriously because you can’t see how it’s going to happen.
MW: I follow the relationship coach Kenya K. Stevens online. One of the things that she says that I like, is that men say what needs to be done and women figure out how to get it done. And I have found that’s true, that men are very good at telling you what they want to happen. They have good ideas. But then they can’t tell you how it’s going to happen. So that’s your job. But you put your mind to it. It sounds like right now your mind is turned away from it because you’re thinking it's his job to figure out how to make that plan happen, and you know he can’t do it. So you aren’t investing in it. But if you put your mind to it, the two of you can get that done. And then he would support the decisions you make, because you said you have trouble making decisions.
Anonymous: Yeah… we haven’t really sat down and talked about it. But if that’s going to be a goal of ours then… I think that should be a goal of ours. We should have that planned. I like to plan things. Again, because I always focus on the here and now, it’s hard for me to see that. So if he can see that, I can see this – the steps to get there.
MW: What are your spiritual beliefs?
Anonymous: I believe in God, I believe there’s a God, I believe in hell. I’m not practicing. I just know that there’s someone bigger than me, than us. My kids have been baptized. For me, I think it was more about tradition. And also again it goes back to the unknown. Baptizing a child for me was, well, if your child was to die then they’re accepted by God and so they’re accepted into heaven. That’s kind of how I grew up. So although I’m not very religious, that was one of the things that I’m like, what if something happens? What if that is true? And they can make their own decisions when they get older. I fully support whatever religion they decide to practice, if they decide to practice a religion. I’ll be fully supportive of whatever. But it was the unknown and also the fact that it was a tradition. I had been baptized, my family has been baptized, my mom asked about it… it made my mom happy to see that and so… we kind of only go to church on the major holidays. I feel like a hypocrite sometimes… but we say grace before we eat… sometimes.
MW: But if you really believe in God like you say, are you interested in an actual relationship with the force you believe made you and guides you? Do you feel like God has a plan for you?
Anonymous: I feel like I do, in my own way. I don’t know… I feel like I do have my way. I do believe in God. I love Him, or It, or you know, It’s being. But I feel like if It wanted me… if It needed me… If It wanted me to praise It in that way, It would lead me to that. But I don’t feel like I’m being led for that. I feel like if He needed me to have more of a spiritual connection He’d lead to me to that. And I feel like now - the connection we have – I’m okay with it. Who knows? Things might change. I know that sounds bad but I think that maybe there would be a time in my life that, you know – if it happens, then I will. So I have to just leave it to the universe, and as much as I am trying to be so controlling of things, I have to let it be. I have to realize that whatever is going to happen is going to happen.
MW: I understand. You mind if we switch gears for a second? I don’t want to make this all about sex and stuff but since you said you’ve only been with one person your whole life, my readers might have questions. (laughs) If there was an alternate universe where your husband would still love you and not judge you, would you ever want to know what…
Anonymous: Yeah, of course. It’s not to say that I don’t have those curiosities. I just know there’s a price that comes with it.
MW: Have y'all ever talked about it? Because he has to know that you…
Anonymous: Yeah… but we’re not at that point in our relationship where we’re like, cool, you can do your thing and I’ll do mine. For us I think it’s still the ultimate betrayal so I wouldn’t. I love him and I have the utmost respect for him. I would like to think that if there ever came a time where I didn’t love him and I wasn’t attracted to him sexually and I started finding myself into someone else and I think it may lead into something, I’d like to think I would tell my husband. That’s what I’d like to do – tell him I’m feeling someone else. Would it happen that way? I don’t know. There’s definitely been curiosities but… I have a lot to lose. I have a wonderful husband… an amazing husband. I’m definitely lucky.
MW: Do you still have a crush on him?
Anonymous: Yeah. There are moments. There are a lot of those moments where I go back to when we first started dating. He’s the funniest man I know, and for me, to get to my heart, it’s through humor. So yeah. But shoot, if I could have my cake and eat it too? Idris Elba… who else would be on my list? A bunch of people…
MW: Do ya’ll do everything?
Anonymous: Yeah. You know what though? We’re very reserved. Sometimes it’s like, I want to go there but I want you to be comfortable going there. And so sometimes there is that hesitation between us. And I told him, I was like, we shouldn’t have this. We’ve been married for eight years, been together for 17 years – we should be doing any and every thing.
MW: Like what stuff, specifically?
Anonymous: Oh gosh…well there’s certain stuff that we have no interest doing. Like anal is one of them. He has no interest in it and I’m very grateful that he has no interest in it, although I would do it if he wanted me to but I would have a lot of hesitation beforehand. But everything else, we do. I mean not like, a threesome. He says he wants to but I think that’s kind of like what he thinks he wants.
MW: Has he ever been with anyone else?
Anonymous: Yeah, but remember, it was forever ago.
MW: But you’re the one who hasn’t…. so if you have a threesome it should be with another guy, for you. (laughs)
Anonymous: Yeah but I don’t think he would be down for that. I should say, hey, maybe just for a day, you could give me this gift… but nah, he ain’t having that. But then I could get sprung. It could happen. So I’m sure he doesn’t want to take that chance. I think that we’re definitely… we’re satisfied. We experiment and do things. But one of the downfalls I think, of two Virgoes together is that we get comfortable. You know? We get comfortable. But that’s just a downside. But there are those moments where one of us turns on the switch and the other is like, whoa, okay, I’m down.
I’m more of a sexual person than he is. I probably have never turned him down – maybe a handful of times. He has turned me down. He’ll say, ah, nah, I don’t want to. So that kind of sucks sometimes. I’m like, I shouldn’t be initiating it.
MW: So…what if your daughter brings a guy home from school and says, I love him, we had sex, that’s it. He’s the one. That’s it. I want to be like you and Dad.
Anonymous: You know, our situation is very uncommon. I don’t know anyone else that has done it. I would tell her that sometimes things might not work out the way you want them to work out, but that’s okay. I would say, okay, but you have to continue living your life. Your life doesn’t end with just him. You have to go to school, you have to get a job, you have to go out and explore the world.
MW: Do you feel like you took that advice?
Anonymous: Um… sometimes I regret… sometimes… but then I realize that if I didn’t do what I did, I wouldn’t be where I’m at now. And I’m okay with where I’m at now, for now. But when I went away to school, I was dating my husband so I didn’t really get to enjoy my first year at college being away. I was still stuck on him. I would call him every night. I ran up like a thousand dollar phone bill because I was calling him and I was all about him. And it also affected my grades. I didn’t do so well at the end of the last semester of my first year and I was going to be placed on academic probation. And so I decided I just want to go back home and go to community college because I felt like the school was a little too hard. I wasn’t ready for it. And my mom said, it’s only four years of school, it will fly by, just hit it hard, it’s only four years and then you’ll be done. But it took me almost seven years to get my bachelor’s degree, just because of who I am. I was hard on myself.
My mom definitely instilled that I had to go to college. That was not an option for me. I had to always do something. It was hard for me to relax because she never relaxed. She worked a lot. Like she worked all the time. She went and got her nursing degree, and then at 31 or 32, had her second child. She was a single mom. So that was my example, always running, always having to do something. And so I don’t feel good about myself if I take a day off. You know, taking the day off, sending the kids to the babysitter, I’m just going to do me…I feel guilty. It is very difficult for me to do that. Growing up I was always taught that you have to do something. You have to work and go to school – that’s what it is. You have to do that. Everyone does that.
So I would push myself. I would do it too much to where it affected my grades. I worked full time and went to school full time because I felt like that’s what my mother wanted. That’s what she wanted to see. That’s what she would be impressed by. And I’m just not that type. I would see people do it but I had to realize that people learn different. I learn different. I just realized that some people learned a lot quicker than I could. And so it affected my grades. There were times where I didn’t do so well. I would get a D… obviously that seven years could have been cut down if I had just focused on school or just focused on work. Because when I was in school, I always put work first. I saw so many people do it. People said, you can do it. You can be amazing at work and you can be amazing at school. You can do it. I fought the fact that…
MW: You couldn’t do it.
Anonymous: I couldn’t do it. I didn’t. It was a long journey for me to finish. But I regret the fact that I didn’t enjoy the ride.
MW: It took me seven years too.
Anonymous: And it took me awhile to accept that’s okay. As long as I was done, right? But at the same time I was like, I didn’t get to enjoy my time away. But at the same time it was like, I had another plan. I get to be with him and have my family.
But back to the question about my daughter – I wouldn’t shoot it down and say you can’t be with him or it’s not going to work out. Because I don’t know. It could, and it could not. But I just want her to understand that things may not work out the way you initially want them to work out and you have to be okay with that, and know that. It’s okay, things are going to be fine. They’ll work themselves out.
That’s still something I gotta say to myself, too. It will be okay. You know?
MW: I know.
'My father was good as far as being a father but my dad molested me...No one protected me. i had to protect myself." [an interview]Read Now
"every Friday night, we’d get into a fight and he would either beat me up and try to take my money because I just got paid, or he would just take the money out the bank. All of it. And it would be gone." [AN INTERVIEW]Read Now
MW: Did you have anything particular that you want to talk to people about?
Anonymous: I didn’t. I didn’t really know how this was going to go… I thought it was a Q & A session…
MW: It is. Usually the way it works is I make questions for people because I know something about their lives and what they’re going through so I know what to ask… but for you, I don’t really know. I have some general questions for you but I just wanted to ask first if you had anything specific…
Anonymous: I mean, I have two children and I have two different baby daddies so, that’s my situation as far as my outlook on love and life and moving forward…
MW: Do you love your children’s fathers?
I love them. At one point I was in love with them but at this point I am not in love. I don’t want any sexual relationships with them, but I love them to the point where I want the best for them. I love the fact that they gave me two blessings so I’m always grateful for that. I love them just because at one point I did, and anytime I love somebody, that love doesn’t just go away but it just changes. So I love them in different ways. Right now it’s from a distance.
MW: Did they like, do you wrong?
Anonymous: Oh girl yeah! (laughs)
MW: Since it’s two of them, did you learn different lessons with each of them or was it the same lesson?
Anonymous: My first baby daddy, we had a lot in common. We went to high school together… we had an intellectual connection. We could talk about everything, anything. He was actually my best friend at one point because I could talk to him about anything and he would listen. Things went south when… You know what? It was mostly my fault because I was still young and I didn’t take the time to get to know him more. I mean yeah we talked about everything but you have to look at a person’s upbringing. You just have to be around a person before you can actually… you’ll never really know a person unless they just reveal everything to you, but you have to be around them to know their actions and what they do in particular situations. So being that I felt that I found my soul mate, I just jumped up and said hey, let’s move away and start our life in another state. We’re both intelligent. We can go down there, find great jobs and start living our lives. Okay, well I’m 20 years old and I’m trying to be like married and grown and it actually worked out. We moved away and got $10 an hour jobs. He was 21 and I was 20. We moved into an extended stay suite, filed our income taxes as married because we’d moved to a common-law state, and bought us a car and within a month we moved out of the Budget Suites into an apartment. Nice apartment. We would save one of our checks and spend the rest on living expenses.
MW: Did you have a child at that point?
Anonymous: No, we had not. We were single still. He had a child and that’s one thing that drew me to him because of the way I saw his love for his child. But when it came time for me to go through that experience I saw it wasn’t really the love of the child, it was more so his obsession with the woman.
MW: He was still obsessed with his baby mama?
Anonymous: Yeah. That’s how I perceive it now because now I’m going through the same thing that she was going through at that time, and at that time I thought she was horrible, because I’m believing his side of the story. I didn’t know her side of the story. So I’m believing, oh she’s keeping your baby away, but when it came time for me… oh my God my voice is shaking because this is some deep stuff…
Anonymous: When it came time for me to go through it, that’s when I realized, I’ve been duped.
MW: Wait, what do you mean? You gotta explain.
Anonymous: We were single at first, living our lives. And then I got pregnant. That’s when everything went downhill. At that point, I could no longer hang out with him. Because we were like Mike and Ike. If he go, I’m going, if I go, he going. We never separated. But when I got pregnant, that put a halt on things.
MW: Because you can’t go to the club, can’t smoke, can’t drink…
Anonymous: Can’t do nothing. Can’t even walk, can’t even follow him around or nothing. You just sit at home getting fat. But that’s when… this kind of comes from scientific research too – once a man get a woman impregnated, it’s like you really don’t have a purpose anymore because you already pregnant. It’s scientific the way our body works. But it was true in reality because once I got pregnant, he wasn’t home with me, we weren’t Mike and Ike anymore, and he was just never there. And there would be bullshit lies as to where he was… it don’t take all night to do what you gon’ do. So there was times where I didn’t even want to have my baby because of the stuff I was going through, because I was crying and in pain and lonely. And this is not what I signed up for. So along with the pregnancy came abuse and control. We used to fight before I got pregnant, but after I got pregnant, I was a different person.
MW: Because before, you could fight back.
Anonymous: Yeah. I’m a fighter, I don’t care. Before I was pregnant, I would fight anybody. I was just really rowdy and crazy – I guess that’s the hood in me– but once I got pregnant, I calmed down a whole, whole lot. A whole, whole lot. I can get crazy but I still calmed down. I couldn’t really fight back. I had to just take the beatings and he was just a totally different person. And then once my son was born, then that’s when I saw the part that his first baby mama was dealing with. The stalking part. The harassment.
MW: So you two broke up and you lived separately at that point?
Anonymous: Yes. To tell the truth, I actually think he has a drug problem. Not weed, but a real drug problem. Based on the people he was hanging with, the hours, the erratic behavior, and that’s just how I feel. When I got pregnant, he was the one providing. But then he wasn’t able to hold a job. This was not the same person I moved with, and we made all this money and I budgeted our finances…
MW: Did money start disappearing?
Anonymous: Yes! Girl he stole, oh my God! That’s why I’m totally against joint accounts, because when he moved in and we did everything together we also got a joint bank account. Well, this was like a Friday night thing – every Friday night, we’d get into a fight and he would either beat me up and try to take my money because I just got paid, or he would just take the money out the bank. All of it. And it would be gone.
MW: Do you think he just fell in with some jacked up people once you moved away?
Anonymous: What I actually believe is that he was a crack baby. Like I said, I needed to get to know the family more before I jumped into this relationship with this person. Now in retrospect and now that I know the family, it’s a family full of crackheads, drugs, thieves, liars… it’s just bad. But on the good side, they did come from a family of educators and that’s why they’re so brilliant, but they use their brilliance for wrong doing and my son can’t have no part of that. My son can’t go to his great-grandmother’s house – where his father stays – because it’s a known crack house. She has a house and whoever doesn’t have a place to live can come flop there, in the basement its crack city.
MW: Oh shit.
Anonymous: And you don’t know who the fuck in your house – when, where, why, who, what happened - they steal granny money out her purse. No. My son cannot be a part of that environment. I’m sorry. So either change your environment, move out here, I don’t know. But if you want your son in your life, you have to make changes in your life. Because, my son good. He’s a good kid. So you not gonna tarnish that, no.
MW: So your baby daddy doesn’t live in the same place as you anymore? He moved back to the town where you grew up?
MW: So he doesn’t see his son very often?
Anonymous: No. When things fell apart here between me and him and my son was born, my sister came down here and she basically pulled a Solange, okay? (laughs) She was like, no, you is not finna be treating my sister like this, you a bitch ass nigga, hit me then! Hit me! And I had to get ready to take my sister’s side because if he did hit her than we was finna fuck him up, and that’s what was gon’ happen, okay? So he didn’t, and she was like, no, you and the baby are coming back home with me and mama. She called mama and said I’m bringing them back with me cause no, this shit is crazy. So the day that we were about to leave he came over there talking crazy acting like was about to stab me because I was leaving state with the baby or whatever. So eventually he found his way out of jail and back to the city where we grew up. We tried to reconcile. It was still the same abuse, control and him not really doing anything. On top of that, having motherfuckers in my house while I’m at work.
Anonymous: Yes girl.
MW: You mean other women, or just people in general?
Anonymous: Girl, I was at work so I don’t know who all was in there, but if you coming home finding hair rollers and shit that ain’t yours, yeah.
MW: Oh no. And why she come over there in rollers anyway?
Anonymous: This was my landlady. I finally had an epiphany later on and was like, that roller came from that old, 50 year old freak ass landlady. Cause she was a slut landlady so yeah I know she came over there and gave him some and left her roller over there on purpose.
MW: Shut. Up. (laughs)
Anonymous: Yeah. And when I was in the hospital giving birth to his son, he went home because he left the car seat and he was gone for like, too fucking long and I come home and I find a red hair in my fucking bed. Why he would bring the co-workers home on lunch break and it was a red head white chick?
MW: So you were waiting for him at the hospital so you could discharge with your baby, and he was basically like let me go fuck right quick before I bring my woman and my baby home?
Anonymous: I guess. There was red hair in my bed. How did it get there? His explanation was, oh, well you know I was at work doing physical therapy with the old people, hair travels, I brought it in here. And I said, whatever, you know you don’t get on my bed with no outside clothes on so I don’t know how the hair traveled in here. And this looks like ******’s hair. I think that was her name. Yeah, it was a lot of fishy shit going on. It was a lot of fishy shit going on, okay? (laughs) A lot, okay? I’m not a fool. I probably was then but I was young. But you can’t pull that on me now.
So that was that. I moved back home for awhile and my son grew up there a little bit. My son’s father went crazy. Like, I got a new boyfriend and everything, and I would let my ex see his son and keep him while I worked so I didn’t have to pay for daycare, but I didn’t like the environment because I didn’t really know what was going on, so that wasn’t really comforting for me.
MW: That’s so scary as a mom when you have to leave your kids with someone… because there’s so many stories in the news where…
Anonymous: I know! And its way more prevalent now. My kids don’t go anywhere, okay? I’m very overprotective. Because that is nervewrecking as a parent, especially as a parent of a young child who can’t talk. And my son has been handled more than my liking. But my daughter? No. Not many people have kept her, just my mother and her father’s mother. I’m very, very over protective. Now that she’s five she can go to daycare and to school, because she can talk now.
So, yeah that was nervewrecking. And if you can’t trust the father with their own child then that’s horrible. So that’s what happened with that one. With my second baby daddy, it was just something sexual and that’s all I wanted from the relationship but he had other ideas.
MW: You mean he popped you off on purpose?
Anonymous: Yes! Niggas do that, they do! They say women do that to trap a man but no, men do it too. I believe that these two did a great number on trying to trap me, but no, you can’t trap me. Even with a kid. I mean I’m trapped to the position of where I have to work harder and do more than I’m supposed to do, but hey, I guess I signed up for it.
MW: So does he take care of his daughter, since clearly, he wanted her?
Anonymous: Oh my God. This one is actually – he has a mental issue. And I’m not joking – it’s real. He has schizophrenia. And I know its like, how did I not know? You can pretty much call me prude now because the stuff I’ve been through, I’ll be damned… I ‘ll never go through this again. I need to know your family, I need to know who get drunk on holidays and go crazy, I need to know before anything happens between us. Really, I’m so serious. Because a lot of this could have been prevented if my loins weren’t hot and he didn’t look so sexy to me and I just wanted to have sex. But I would have known that he was schizophrenic and that he needed to take medication and that if he doesn’t take medication, oh boy, you’re gonna be in a lot of trouble, whoever around him, when he gets on his psychopath rants. So, needless to say, why I’m no longer in that relationship is because I’m not a trained therapist and I’m not trained to deal with mentally ill patients. (laughs)
As far as the relationship between the children and their fathers – my son is older now. I don’t have to be harassed by his father if he wants to talk to his son. I had to make that very painfully clear to him – we really don’t have to discuss anything. Our son is very mature; he’s smart, he can pretty much tell you what size he wears. Whatever question you have for me, he can probably answer it. So I don’t really need to have a conversation with you, nor do I have a desire to.
With my daughter, her father is crazy. So it’s sad because mental health is not something people really take into account because that shit is real, its serious, and those people who are mentally ill, they need some help. He need help but I can’t be the one to help him because I’m not a trained professional. I don’t want to kill my daughter’s father but if he had remained in our home, that’s what would have had to happen. At this point he doesn’t know where we live. He can’t talk to her and I don’t want to talk to him.
MW: Do you keep in contact with his mother? Because you said earlier that at one point, she had kept the baby…
Anonymous: Helllll no! (laughs)
MW: Dang! (laughs)
Anonymous: His mom is one of these like, sanctified holy Christians. And nobody’s a sanctified holy Christian, not even the nuns. Even they get pregnant and I don’t know how that happens if they’re sanctified nun Christians.
MW: Those priests have sanctified priest penis, that’s what happens.
Anonymous: I know, right? But… how can I put this? I guess Imma just put it – she’s dumb. I don’t really like her. I feel she’s phony. She hides behind her bible and she kind of tried to pawn her son off on me. And when he can live with me, oh, everything’s great and we’re friends, but when I send his crazy ass back to her, oh it’s a problem, or I don’t know. I really can’t tell. But the one thing I do know, is mama’s baby, daddy’s maybe. And the whole reason why he’s on child support now is because he had the audacity – him and his sanctified Christian mother and sister and family had the audacity to say that they had doubts that my baby was his.
Let me just tell you one thing. I know who get me pregnant, okay? Because I’m not a product of that, but my sister is. My mom lied to my dad for like 15 years about my sister being his when she actually wasn’t.
So if I ever had sex with two guys together and I didn’t know who the father was, I would have to make two difficult calls. That’s what I did with my son. It was a difficult call. Me and my ex got into a fight and I went and slept with my ex-boyfriend. We didn’t completely do it – like, I started to feel bad and told him to take it out and go get some condoms but by the time he came back from the store I was ready to go so we didn’t even get to do anything. But I still felt I could be pregnant by him so I had to tell both of them. I told my son’s father, and I told the other guy that to just be ready for that call so that when the baby comes out, we can go take a blood test and find out.
So them saying that I was lying about my daughter being her father’s child was a slap in the face because I know the effects of how lying about that can hurt everybody involved. So I’m just going to own up to my shit. And that’s what I did. But with my daughter, I wasn’t fucking with nobody except her father, so I know you my baby daddy. For you to sit here and lie – it’s not like you’re a freaking basketball player. Your family is not rich. All y'all broke. So it would be beneficial for me to make this somebody else’s baby. I was like, really? Okay well since your whole family got something to say, and your Christian ass mama with her judgmental ass, and your sister got two babies and she don’t know who the baby daddy is… I’m not her. They all in my business, guess what? I’m going to go down to the State Attorney General, and I’m going to file for child support but I’m also going to file for a blood test. Because I know what the results are going to say but since y'all doubt this, maybe you don’t want to have any responsibility towards this child, I don’t know what the reason was for that. Because your daughter is a slut and she don’t know who her baby daddies is? Well I don’t know, I don’t have that problem. So, 99.9999 percent, yeah, I’m pasting this on everybody’s bulletin, and you had something to say too? Okay. Well now your son’s on child support that he wasn’t he going to be on, but since y'all are questioning my character, now you know what my character is.
As far as taking care of her, he can’t even take care of himself. He needs a daily assistant to help with every day living because he’s crazy and if he doesn’t take his medication, he needs help. He needs someone to monitor taking his medicine, making sure he… he just needs help. So if he can’t help himself, hell no he can’t help his daughter. So that’s where I am…
MW: Wow…What was the lesson you learned from these two situations?
Anonymous: I would definitely get to know the person’s family first, like everything – who’s the drunk, who’s the pervert, what happened to you as a child – because you take a lot of your childhood into your relationships, so understanding that, I’m just really cautious about who I allow in my life. That’s the thing I learned from it. I would get little red flags… as soon as I see something I don’t like, I’m cutting it off. People don’t get second chances no more. I don’t have time for second chances. If I see anything that reminds me of any of my child’s fathers, you’re out. That’s it, you’re out! (laughs) Really, I have a low tolerance for a lot of things. I probably shouldn’t base my future relationships on that but if I see any sign that reminds me of it, I can’t move forward. That’s pretty much it. I’m at a place where I don’t want to hear no bullshit. If it sound like bullshit then nine times out of ten, it is.
MW: Is it hard though, being a single mom?
Anonymous: Oh my God, of course it is! I have a little disdain for my mother because she gets a thrill out of seeing me go hard at it like this. She tries to make comparisons and I always have to remind her that not only were you married and had help with your children, you also left them with your husband and one of them wasn’t even his. So you had a great deal of help. So you cannot compare my situation to your situation. But yes, it’s hard. It’s definitely hard because I have to switch from soft sweet mom to rough mom because I have to play daddy. So you never know which mama you gon’ get – sweet mama or rough mama.
MW: You gotta spank your kids and then hug them… (laughs)
Anonymous: Right! And the finances – I mean of course two income household is better than one. It’s a lot of things I want to provide my children materially, but I can’t. But at the same time, they don’t want for anything. They have clean clothes, food, shelter, love. But the things I can provide, I make sure I give that in abundance. Like I probably over compensate with the love because the other parent is not here.
MW: Do they ever express that they miss their fathers or want a male presence?
Anonymous: They do. And I try to keep that open as far as like my daughter – she does not like her dad to the point where she changed her last name…
MW: Your daughter is five!
Anonymous: She saw him acting in a manner she did not appreciate so she changed her last name. She said, that’s not my name don’t call me that. I don’t want his last name, he ugly. So whenever she being bad, all I have to do is tell her I’m taking her to her dad’s house and she’ll get in line and say, I don’t want to go! I don’t want to go with him! And that’s bad, but at this point that’s what she knows of her dad and she doesn’t like it. So she doesn’t want to have any part of it.
My son misses his dad. He wants his dad to make provisions for them to be together. He really doesn’t want to go to that house either. I made him write a letter to his dad so I could see where his head was at, like, what do you want? How do you want you and your dad’s life to be? In fact I think he did send it, because I told him, your dad should see this. I told him to write out an imaginary day or week with his dad, or whatever, so I could see what he wanted. He wants his dad to basically get on his shit, be able to sustain himself, and get a place to live so my son can go out there and live with him. At least we can do half and half and he can go out there for the summer, because he don’t want to do it forever. He just wants to spend an extended stay with his dad, but he don’t want to be at his dad’s grandmother’s house with all of those people in there. And he doesn’t want to be with another family, Because my ex has a habit of moving in with single women with a lot of kids. My son doesn’t want to have to deal with that either, he doesn’t want to have to share his dad with other kids that are not even his kids, when he goes to see his dad. So that’s his ideal situation. If it can’t be that, he wants his dad to come out here and visit and spend some time.
But my ex wants to come and he thinks this is a hotel and he want to stay here and I’m like, hell nawl. (laughs) You better make provisions, and I will make provisions to make sure you have your son. Get you a hotel room and stay or whatever he need to do. You’re a grown man. That’s the part for you to figure out how you gon’ be in your child’s life because I know men that they want to be in their child’s life, they will move to that state, get a job, just to be in their child’s life. I haven’t seen those actions being taken so it’s moot, as far as I’m concerned.
And there was a point where he would call under the guise of talking to his son, but five minutes later its, okay let me talk to your mom. And that’s when I was like, he’s at an age where I don’t have to get on the phone. My ex don’t even have my phone number. My son has his own cell phone. You can call his cell phone whenever you want. Guess how often it rings?
MW: How often?
Anonymous: Barely… barely. We don’t hear from him. This is when we hear from him – around tax time. Because he wants me to lie to IRS for him, or we hear from him whenever he gets a legitimate job because he knows child support is coming, and he wants to be friends so we can try to work something out. That’s the only time we hear from him. Any other time if it’s not him getting a job and child support coming, or it’s not tax time and he trying to get in good because he wants me to file taxes, and if he files taxes they’re going to take all of it for child support, he wants to be my friend so he can say okay, can you give me like three thousand of it back? So that’s the only time we hear from him. And I made sure that I opened the communication lines so he doesn’t say, you never let me talk to my son. He has a cell phone, and his phone number, and amazingly when your son calls you, he can never reach you. Don’t you think you need to fix that, when your son wants to call you, he can’t never get in contact with you? That pisses me the fuck off. Because he makes a big deal and says that I’m trying to keep him away from his son, but the communication lines are open. He calls you, he can’t get in contact with you. And then I have to look at his sad face because he tried to call his daddy and he can’t talk to him. Or you call from these stupid women’s numbers, and when my son calls back these bitches try to cuss my son out. And I be like, hold the fuck on.
MW: Wait, what?
Anonymous: Yes! My son was trying to call back a number his dad had called from and the girl gave him hell like, who is this? She was really nasty. But when she relayed the message back to my ex, he started talking to our son like, you don’t call nobody house and be rude. And I was like, wait a minute, that bitch was being rude. And my son has all the manners In the world because that’s how I raise him. When we go out white people are always saying, oh my God, and I’m like what, was he supposed to be acting like a ratchet ass nigga? So I know my son did not disrespect this woman. But you know what? You need to get your own cell phone so he can call you and not these random ass bitches you living with.
Anonymous: Okay yeah, that just pissed me off… (laughs)
MW: Has he had any other children, your ex?
Anonymous: He just has the one daughter he had before we had our son.
MW: Are you cool enough with that girl’s mom so your son can kick it with his sister sometimes?
Anonymous: You know what, my ex is not even cool enough with the mom to even kick with my son’s sister. He has to sneak and see his child. So if he has to sneak, there’s no way I can get in contact with her. I don’t know her last name, to even try to find her on Facebook so my son and his sister can have a relationship. But they look just alike.
MW: Well hopefully they can have a relationship when they grow up, and they don’t have to go through their parents.
Anonymous: True. I hope that right now my ex… I mean as long as a person is alive, I feel they still have hope. Whether I’m going to sit around and watch for it is a different thing. So hopefully he’s able to get it together for his son. And like I tell my son, once you sixteen, you’ll be pretty much old and mature and big enough to handle yourself, and you’ll know bullshit coming. You can do whatever you want with your dad at that point. But while I’m still your guardian, I still have to protect you.
MW: Because that’s what mommies do…
MW: Well, thank you for this interview. I enjoyed you.
Anonymous: No problem.
"they gave him 34 years. He was 40 years old, and he got 34 years in prison. To me, that said life... It’s been 17 years, 2 months and 5 weeks. I’m better because there used to be a time when I could tell you exactly.' [an interview]Read Now
'I am a woman who wants love and wants to love, but does not trust her body to anyone, a man or woman. The rape is too fresh.' [an interview]Read Now
MW: So we talked earlier about growing and cutting locs. Why did you cut yours?
Anonymous: So what I realized both times I had locs was that I was definitely experiencing – whether through direct intention or because of the nature of the relationships of the people that were in my life and the people who had locked me up – but I was experiencing the byproduct of voodoo. I first thought I couldn’t be completely sure but there were times when my locs would start locking themselves.
MW: You mean your locs started locking together? You mean they got thicker?
Anonymous: No, I mean they would start to twist on their own. I had a conversation with my very first love from high school recently and he was telling me about his brother’s locs and how his brother was having demonic experiences. And I was like, ok, thank you, someone is validating my feelings about what is going on with my body and my energy. Because I started having really serious problems. I was in the hospital like every month.
Both times I’ve had my hair locked it was by women who – although I was unaware – had been sexually involved with the men that I was presently sexually involved with. And that led to some very funky things. It was a whole circle of energy because the Chicago hip-hop scene is so small, which I came to understand, the deeper I got into the underground hip-hop world. I think I was always privately a B-girl but really, I’m a poet. So no matter how much I might want to break dance or how much I might love hip hop and nod my head, I love poetry and I love jazz, and I love hip hop because I love jazz, and not because I’ve always felt in agreement with the music and the lyrics. But I feel like, for many years I enabled certain behaviors in myself because I would keep bobbing my head.
So these two people I wound up feeling incredible attraction to – one was a MC and one was a DJ. The DJ, I spent years in and out of a relationship with – and they both had one woman in common who they had both slept with – and she was the last person who regularly did my locs. I came to a realization the last time that I saw her… her body had changed, her look was different – and I was like, you know what? She kinda look like a voodoo priestess. And then this internal voice was like, what made you say that? We were all in the room together – me, her and the DJ – and I noticed his energy was extremely different. And it made me realize that she was the one he had always wanted, but I think that since she had always been openly bisexual but definitely leaning towards lesbianism – like, she was a woman who loved women but occasionally would enjoy a man – I think I realized in both situations, with the MC and the DJ, that I was a woman who represented something for these men, but I was never the woman they really wanted.
So both times I had locs – and prior to this particular person locking my hair, the very first person who locked my hair used to be in a group with this woman I’m talking about. They weren’t necessarily enemies but they definitely had some heat between them. Now my head has been between all this energy for years, and I kept trying to figure out why certain things were happening, and never putting two and two together until I really started studying Buddhism. When I started studying Buddhism, a whole lot of things came together very quickly and rapidly. Within a two year period I went from having a job, my own crib, and living very comfortably, to being homeless, to living in a shelter, to living in a nursing home, to moving back home with my parents, and I cut my locks one night kind of in a fear because I had realized there were some negative energies that were starting to get way out of control, and that I needed to ground myself in something that would just allow me to be myself.
MW: Wow, that’s serious business…
Anonymous: Yeah, locks are extremely serious and I hold them to be sacred because learning about how slave owners degraded and manipulated the women by shaving their heads and making them feel less than female and making them chattel property – that really struck a chord with me when I first learned it. I notice that I had much more confidence - because I’d never been a person with much self esteem or confidence – until I got locks. It was the first time I allowed myself to be in my skin as a dark skinned woman. Because every time I would see myself – you know how you daydream? In my daydreams, I was white. And that’s when I realized how affected I had been by all of my experiences. So that is the short version behind how my locs got cut off twice and why I want to be inside of a specific place and specific energy before I lock back up. And that also gives me enough time to be settled on who I want to lock my hair, although I now know I can lock it myself. And even if I lock myself up, I still want to be in a certain space, mindset, heart set – that I do that with the spirit of love and having done a lot of work around my own healing.
MW: Tell me about your healing…
Anonymous: So, Daniel G. Amen has this book called “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,” which I found out about because the commercial kept playing over and over again at night. I bought the book because I wanted to know what other things I could do to aid myself besides the things that were being recommended to me – as a person who had dealt with mental health issues my whole life – in terms of medication. In this book, Daniel G. Amen talks specifically about the human brain and relationships, and how he did these imaging studies with people who were dealing with certain strains in their relationships, people who had separated from their spouses, and people who had lost their spouses in death. And in the book, he actually has pictures of the images of these brains. And it showed that how the brain looks when you lose someone in death is very similar to how the brain looks when you lose a relationship.
MW: You mean breaking up?
Anonymous: Yeah – and it talks about how when you are intimate with someone – once you become physically and emotionally intimate with somebody – there are unique bonds that form with the neurons in your brain. So once that relationship ends, there is an un-bonding process that happens, which is why people get physically sick and feel physical pain when relationships end.
I was talking earlier about the relationship I was in with the DJ – it became clear early on that I was loving him more than – not necessarily more than he loved me but more than he was able to love me.
MW: Not love as a noun but love as a verb…
Anonymous: Yeah. He was loving me to the extent that he was willing and/or able to, and I was loving him the way that I do naturally love, which is just full force. So now that the relationship is over – it’s two years later – my direct memory of that relationship ending is, the last night that I saw him, when I got home, I was raped in front of my house. By a man who I had mistaken for my first love – the first man I slept with. I was getting ready to say something to him, and then when he turned around I realized I didn’t know who it was. But obviously that was it for him. He pretty much followed me on the train, and then on the bus home. He had a gun. He took the gun off when I refused to let him go in the house, so that he could rape me outside. I never screamed. At one point there was this realization that I had my bag on and my phone was right there, but because he had a gun, I realized I was just less interested in there being two types of violence that happened in the moment. So I surrendered myself – my body – and just said, you’re going to have to do what you’re planning to do because you’re not coming in my house. My parents were asleep – I didn’t want to risk him coming in and then killing all of us. And when I started to cry – because I started calling out Jah’s name in my mind – so in my mind I’m thinking Jehovah. And then his conscience hit – it was like something physically happened. He stopped, he pulled away, and then he looked kind of stunned for a moment, and then he watched to make sure I got in the house safely.
MW: You mean your attacker waited to make sure you got in the house safely? Because you called on Jehovah?
Anonymous: Well I didn’t say it out loud. I had been calling it out in my mind.
MW: While it was happening?
Anonymous: Yeah – the moment he like, snatched my pants down.
MW: But then he stopped?
Anonymous: Yeah, he stopped. He had already penetrated me, but he stopped. And it was crazy because he had been talking to me the whole way home. He gave me plenty of information. He told me he had just gotten out of jail and his baby mama wasn’t letting him see his kids, he told me he had been raped while he’d been in prison, he told me that he had just come from getting all his tests done and he knew he didn’t have anything …
MW: So this is someone you talked to all the way home?
Anonymous: Yes, and that is nothing unnatural for me, which is why I didn’t see a red flag until too late.
MW: But he walked you all the way home, right? So at some point you must have gotten really scared like, okay so… where do you live?
Anonymous: He had already told me he lived on the west side but he said he knew people around where I lived. So I was like, oh, ok. And I was still very much in shock from breaking up with my boyfriend like, okay, my relationship is over, and I’m not going to be around a bunch of people I used to be around. I mean, my ex was the DJ. So I’m not going to go to the same places…
Doesn’t it suck when a hip-hop relationship breaks up and he gets the hip hop and you get to be the groupie? Ugh, I hate that!
Anonymous: I know, right? I wrote a poem about that. And last year on the two year anniversary of my rape – this is how spirit works – a friend of mine who didn’t know about what had happened to me invited me to come feature at this open mic, but she was like, I have to tell you – your ex is one of the DJs who are spinning tonight. Now, I have a therapist. So I talked to my therapist and I was like, so I got invited to be a feature at this open mic night and the ex is going to be one of the main DJs and I’m thinking I should do my rape poem. Because for me, that was the circle. I’m really big about completing circles and it was like this has rolled around again in such a powerful way. It gave me the opportunity to be inside my body and inside of my knowing around him in a way that I felt I never was. The first thing that I noticed immediately that night is that I walked in – and I know how he spins – so just hearing the music, it was like my whole body went warm. It was like, oooh, yes. That’s what made me comfortable. It’s like, just to be able to do it – there weren’t a lot of people in the room, or a lot of people we knew in the room – only a few specific people. But ever since the climax of our relationship, I see people and we get into conversations and all they can do is tell me about how much he hasn’t changed, how poor his behavior is, how they always knew I would outgrow him.
MW: Like that’s good news? Like you’re not mourning…
Anonymous: Right, and I would feel guilty that that information didn’t make me love him any less. It’s like, and that doesn’t make me feel better than him either.
MW: No, I’m sure it made you sad…
Anonymous: It made me very sad, because the whole time the idea that I’m clinging to is, I did what’s best for both of us, I’m going to take the time to heal, it’s not going to be about me being spiteful, what happened to me is not his fault, I have to take partial responsibility, and then I have to forgive my ex because he wasn’t there to protect me. And all of these ideologies – I’m still in the process – because it’s always easier to forgive other people and still self blame. And even now, recently, my ex reached out and told me what his situation was. I felt good that he felt like he could check for me, but at the same time I found myself being very realistic and checking myself like, you know this is not about you. You don’t need to rekindle anything. The only way that he is going to heal and grow the way that I want him to and the way that I believe that he can is if I continue to keep my distance and continue to work on myself. And my prayer has always been, if Holy Spirit and the grand scheme of things down the road – I don’t care if it's 16 years down the road – if it happens, then let it happen, and let it be blessed in the way it was not blessed when we were in it. Because we were both too broken. We were both too jaded. We were both too physical and sexual and not emotional and spiritual. And so, it is what it is.
MW: But you were both mirrors for each other…
Anonymous: Yes we were. But the thing is, my mirror woke me up. And his mirror made him angrier. So I think we reacted in different ways. There’s a scripture in the Bible that talks about how a man will look himself in the mirror and immediately go off and forget what sort of man he is. And I feel like my ex has consciously done that for awhile and made excuses for himself, because there is a place where he just doesn’t want to go. It’s a heart place.
And I feel like I also saw this in my husband, when I was married – my husband didn’t want to go to his heart place either because he didn’t want to open himself up to feel the risk of feeling pain. Because to love totally, means to feel pain, totally. He didn’t want to risk being pained completely. And I realized I’m completely the opposite. I will completely love every time and risk it all – but I’ve done that too many times – and then I got to the point where I couldn’t function. There was a whole year where I was just on the couch at my parent's house, having tics – and I still have tics and that’s something that’s new – and hearing voices – I mean the trauma climaxed to the point where my body broke. It was like, that’s it, we can’t do that no more, you have to stop, you have no choice.
MW: Wow. So after the assault happened, did you tell your ex?
MW: How was that?
Anonymous: He was angry. Anger is always his first response. I don’t think he always wants it to be, but he drinks. But I didn’t tell him right away. And I think what he was angry about was that that event did not change the fact that I wasn’t going to be seeing him, talking to him, and also me saying this is all too painful, even having this conversation and you’re getting upset. It was like, it’s not all about you right now. I understand it may be shocking and maybe that’s not something you wished on me, but I have way more reasons to be angry so I need you to just respect that part of it.
MW: Did it make your breakup that much harder because you wanted to lean on him?
MW: So how did you… how was that not a back slide?
Anonymous: Well, the rape happened on December 27th. I had just moved home to my parent’s house from the nursing home on October 10th. And the time that I spent in the nursing home, talking to people and praying with people, praying for people, having people pray for me, praying for myself– social workers kept asking me, why are you here? And why are you still dealing with this dude? And I had learned from the questions of others, that just maybe I really did deserve better. For me better meant having the relationship with myself that I had been trying to have with him for years – spiritual, balanced, rooted in love, and transcendent. And the epiphany came that after our interaction the night before the rape happened was that who I had made him out to be in my mind and who I wanted him to be in my heart was not who he currently was. So after the rape, I realized that inviting him back into my life also meant inviting back into my life the energy that surrounded my rape and I couldn’t allow that to happen. And not having him around to punish me for my mistakes, gave me to time I needed to forgive myself for them.
MW: How do you mean the energy he brought into your life was the same energy that brought the rape into your life?
Anonymous: I mean that the energy of neither one of us respecting ourselves or valuing each other enough to walk away from the destructive, codependent behaviors that engulfed our relationship. In 6 years, I still hadn’t learned to say no. Had I not left him that night on 12/27/2011 feeling worthless and numb, I would have had the wherewithal to prevent my rape. I had allowed my ex’s energy to render me powerless and eliminating that energy thus produced the opposite outcome, which was me being powerful enough to just say no.
MW: And why were you living at the nursing home?
Anonymous: Mainly I was there because my parents weren’t ready for me to come home. I had an illness and they needed to support me, and they really weren’t ready for what that was going to look like. I realized that and I was like, I need to go somewhere away to give you time to process this and also to give myself time and space to hear myself to know what I want to do for me. Not just, I’m in your house and I’m trying to abide by rules and all of that. Because me and my mother have a history that’s not a positive one, so the more friction that was between me and her, the more I would want to run to my ex. So I was just trying to give my mother time to know, because she really needed to process her decision.
And during this same time period, I was involved in work at Be Present and I had already been enrolled in an 18 month institute – so during all this – there was the breakdown, I was in and out of mental health institutions, taking different types of medication, going from employed to unemployed, the relationship – all of these dynamics are happening and everyone who I’m involved in this 18 month institute with know about it. And I have no money but the woman who introduced me to the work – her parents, who don’t know me – are paying for every flight I take for all the Be Present retreats and workshops.
MW: Can you explain what Be Present is?
Anonymous: Be Present Inc. is an organization that grew from a workshop started by Lillie P. Allen down in Atlanta. It grew into a not-for-profit organization. It is grounded in the empowerment model which, essentially at the root, is a support group. Its people intentionally in support of other persons – not necessarily people they know – it can be strangers, single moms who want to meet with other single mothers – but it’s pretty much a building block for helping people create that support wherever they are, because it is a national community. So headquarters is in Atlanta and people come from all over to come together for the purpose of the work. For me, I came from Chicago and at first, I didn’t know anything about it. I ended up attending a developer’s meeting for people who are aware of the model and committed to using the model in everyday life. And for me, I was drawn to it because at the time, my services had been cut. I didn’t have a psychiatrist, a therapist, or medication, and I was looking for a way to keep myself up, because I get depressed. Mental illness is very heavy on my father’s side of the family and addiction is on my mother’s side. So I was looking for support.
The Be Present empowerment model demands that you be present in your hearing so if your mind starts to wander or you start to think about what you’re supposed to be doing or you’ve missed what that person had said, you are expected – and therefore have the self expectation – to speak up and say, I’m sorry, I was not present and in the moment with you and I missed what you said, would you mind repeating that? And sometimes that does turn into a further conversation about, where were you? Because the interest is then, did something that person said trigger you? Or was that just a moment of, you were struggling with listening or you just had a natural distraction in your mind?
One of the first meetings I went to – it was held in a small and intimate room, but to me, it represented all of humanity. And that impacted me in a powerful way. I realized I had come from that, I was raised on that. In my faith as a Jehovah’s Witness, I grew up integrated – even though I came up poor, black, living on the southside of Chicago – we lived below the poverty line – I didn’t have a shower anywhere I lived, I never lived in a house –
MW: What did you have, if you didn’t have a shower?
Anonymous: We just had a bathtub. We just never had like a literal, shower head. But at the same time, I was always very cultured and we were always around people of various races. We went to meetings in our community and my father had been in a prison as a conscientious objector for the Vietnam War, and he met other men who had also been imprisoned. So we would travel and see the families of other men who had been imprisoned and they were all different backgrounds and ethnicities and cultures. And also because the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is world wide – I mean anywhere we go – if we took a family vacation, we go to the local Kingdom Hall in their community. And before that moment, I really never thought of my religion as a community. I subconsciously knew that because I knew we hung out at each other’s houses – people bring you clothes, bring food over – whatever – but I never thought about it in that sense. And at the time that I joined Be Present, I was estranged from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
MW: So it struck you as a kind of coming home?
Anonymous: It felt like coming home. That’s exactly what it was.
MW: Why were you estranged?
Anonymous: When I had gotten married, I married someone who was also a Jehovah’s Witness. The experiences that I had inside of my marriage – not necessarily with him as a man – because we were very young and we didn’t know how to wait to get on the other side of the struggle. We were both already running – literally ran, physically ran from our marriage. We had already emotionally run. I had definitely emotionally run the first year. Nine months into my marriage, I was trying to kill myself.
Anonymous: Because the communication in my marriage was completely broken down. And I felt trapped. Because I really believed in him as artist – I supported him – but he was really struggling with what it meant to be a man and what that looked like and we had two different ideas, and I felt like I had invested a lot of time before our marriage trying to emphasize to him what kind of woman I was not. I was not that woman that felt like my husband needed to have a job and we have a house with a two car garage, or he needed to be making like sixty thousand a year where I didn’t have to work and I could just stay home.
MW: So you’re saying you were not that kind of woman?
Anonymous: I was not that kind of woman. But we were surrounded by peers who were already at that level. Many of us were young and we had a lot of peers that were married young. And that’s something now that people recognize – and not just in the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses – because there’s a whole history behind teenagers getting married, or people getting married at a young age, period. Men and women. Different cultures are different. In certain Latino cultures, people are married by 15. It just is what it is, you know? The difference is that the family – our family did not bond. And that’s what I felt like really contributed to my marriage not being successful because there was too much backtalk and whispers and judgments, and the more I tried to say, can we – ‘cause my family will have a family meeting in a minute – and I was like, we really need everybody to just come to the table…
MW: What were the judgments about?
Anonymous: I found out later but I think I knew in the beginning – that there was a huge fear in his family about him marrying me because...me and my parents definitely had a conversation with him about mental illness, about my genetic predisposition, what could potentially happen down the road – because my mom did not know that my father was mentally ill before she married him, and found out later, and suffered a lot of pain just out of ignorance and not knowing and not having a language for it. And my father is the person who has , what they call, a strong aversion to medication, and he has a good reason for feeling that way because the medication just sucks – its sedative – and you feel like the person’s going to give you medication to help you function but you really can’t function at all.
For my husband, even though we had watched videos and he had talked to my family – my father kind of took him under his wing – my dad’s a carpenter, my husband’s an architect – he was giving him work because he wasn’t working. Before I got married, I told him it was fine that I was the one with the job – I paid for our apartment, I had already paid cash for my car. I was 19. I was like, I know you’re a talented artist and I know that you’re going to make it work – I didn’t have any doubt about the fact that he was going to be a successful individual – but he just needed it to not be what it was. He needed it to not be that I was the person managing finances, and I was the person who had paid for this and paid for that. He needed to be the person that was handling that, because that was what his manhood was tied to.
The other part of it was that there was nothing he could do to change the fact that I was mentally ill. And I think that hurt him in a way. I don’t know if my husband somehow shut himself down some because he was afraid that he might lose me, or something tragic might happen. We had a conversation once about the fact that he wouldn’t cry – I mean as long as I knew him, in arguments or whatever, or if something happened tragically – I never saw him shed tears, ever. And part of that scared me, because I was like, why is it that nothing moves you to tears? And he told me about what happened when he was young and lost his grandmother. And that was something that we had in common, because there was something that definitely happened to me when I lost my grandmother. For him, his solution was just to not be that close, you know, to just not have that attachment and connection. And his father had abandoned their family too, so he was dealing with the abandonment of his dad and the death of his grandmother at a young age. I think it affected how he expressed himself.
For me, the death of my grandmother when I was a young girl – she died from brain cancer and we took care of her until she passed away – that was the first event that triggered me writing poetry. So I became a poet at 9 – I was published at 9. So I pretty much knew that’s what I was going to do.
And something that struck me while I was married was that, I was not writing. It took awhile and I realized how long it had been since I had written a poem, and I thought, this is bad. Something’s really really wrong. Essentially by the time we had reached our second year of marriage – in a two week period I had a 16 year old cousin that was brutally raped and murdered – it was all over the news. A week after that my husband’s two year old niece died – aspirated in her crib – and then the week after that, my niece my collapsed. She’s alive now but she was dead on arrival at the hospital and that’s when they found out she had leukemia. So that happened within a two week period. And prior to my cousin getting murdered, my mom had a phone call from my uncle about things that were going on and I had said to my mom, somebody needs to go get her. Because she’s either going to run away and none of us are going to know where she is, or she’s going to wind up dead. And I remember asking my husband if she could just stay with us for awhile and he was highly opposed to that, and I think I really began to hate him after her death. Because I felt guilty. And I felt like there was a chance for us to save her and he didn’t get it. So I have a lot of work to do around that and I’m still realizing it because sometimes things will happen that remind me of her and I realize I didn’t properly grieve. Because I was in too much anger about my marriage.
MW: Were you still at this point supporting the two of you by yourself?
MW: And when you say he had a problem with that… he wasn’t able to change it?
Anonymous: I think he was actively working to change it but what that meant was that my husband was never home. The first year of our marriage, he was not at our house. Mostly. Unless he wanted to have sex. And we had religious meetings that we were going to.
So I started having really bad panic attacks, and every Sunday we would fight. And I mean, it would be something stupid. Sometimes I was like, am I overreacting? And I was like, something is happening. I mean it was every single Sunday. Why is it all week, things have been silent and suddenly on Sunday when we’re getting ready to go for a spiritual activity, there’s a fight? And I had a real issue with trying to go into God’s house after what has transpired in my home and I’m cursing and heated. Once I get anxious or nervous – when I get angry period – I shake. I tremble. I’ve never wanted to be a go for blows kind of person, so I deal with it with tears and it affects me. So I’d be trying to get ready and he would be standing there, dressed, with an attitude. So I would be like, leave. Mind you, it’s my car. I’m married and I’m going to school and I’m letting him drive my car to school and I’m on the bus and on the train – because I was also in school for architecture.
So eventually I came to the point where I realized that we had demons in our house. And the night where it hit the fan was when I was so low and so depressed and so out of sorts – I didn’t know what to do. I got married with the impression that I was gon’ really stay married because I hold marriage to be very sacred – although I did know there were many issues going in – I tried to tell him, like maybe we shouldn’t get married, maybe we should wait, but he didn’t want to wait. And me being the people pleaser that I am, I was like, ok. My wedding day was a nightmare, and then a week after we had come back from our honeymoon, our home was burglarized. And then three weeks after that, I didn’t know who he was anymore. He was just a different person.
MW: How did he change?
Anonymous: It was like he just wanted to control. Like he was very affectionate all while we were dating – even though it’s not in the the same context, it’s kind of like that move ‘Enough’ with Jennifer Lopez. All of the wooing and bringing me flowers and going out on dates and to the movies and out to eat, and it made me feel – I mean he took me on a carriage ride and I had never had one of those before, and he brought me flowers . And so I felt like an adult. It made me feel like a woman. That was big. Because living in my mother’s house, I always felt inadequate and incompetent. That’s how my mother made me feel. I don’t think that was her intention and she has done her own homework around understanding and being aware of her behavior, and how I was affected then. And that’s not what she wanted. But there was a time when we had gotten to the point where we were okay – me and my mom — it’s funny because just the other day she brought up something and I realized – pretty much from the time I was living away, married to my husband, she punished my father because I got married. It’s one of those things where my mother had done a lot of things subconsciously in her life because she just hasn’t been able to come right out and talk about what’s wrong, what’s bothering her.
And she did write me a letter before I got married that pretty much said, I’m sorry for whatever I’ve done to make you feel like this is something that you need to do to get away from me. And in part it was true. But I was way too far into it. And I really didn’t know how to trust her, to say I don’t really want to get married. I didn’t have any of the tools to have that conversation at that point. I do now. And now that I’ve gotten involved in Be Present, I’ve quickly realized that part of rebuilding my life – not even rebuilding – part of building a life for myself, because I hadn’t done that – but I would have to start from the foundation stone, at home. I would have to repair the relationship with my mother and arrive in this place before I could be new. And even now, still, it happens to me where when my mother walks into a room, I tense up. And part of what that was about was that I was often physically disciplined. And I also remember having a conversation with my mother – this was part of my decision to go into the nursing home – was that we had a conversation and things were very thick – like literally, you know when the energy in a room is so thick that you have trouble breathing? We were sitting at the kitchen table and we had a conversation and she said something that triggered me and I got a little upset, and I said, you know, if you just would have talked to me more instead of whipping me all the time… And she said, I only whooped you like twice! I probably should have whooped you more than that. And I was like, are you serious? It was at least once a week. You only remember whipping me twice? So I was done. I was like, I think it’s a demon here too, and I gotta go. Like, I can’t even.
And I would watch my mother and she doesn’t know that she does this to this day but her eyes roll into the back of her head – and after having been to Be Present, I gained a much larger understanding about spirit. Even though I grew up in a Christian household, and I grew up reading the bible and hearing the scriptures expounded upon, in a very reasonable explicit way – to understand how spirit works for both God or divine force, and wicked forces, is something you really do have to experience to get it. And being in Be Present helped me to get it. Because I could tell the difference between how I saw people interacting, how I saw energy move around the room, how I saw people’s emotions, and how I saw people healing as well. There would be a different feeling when the healing started to set in and you could hear everything and literally my vision would go clear. I would have to take my glasses off because I could see 20/20.
After I came back from that first retreat, it was very clear that Be Present was something that I needed and that I needed to stay in the work and there was something spiritually healed to the point that I could come back and be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses again.
MW: Are you now?
Anonymous: I am now. But during that period, in the last relationship I was in with that DJ, he was getting angrier and angrier – he was like, who are these people? What are you doing? You come back all like you all different. And I tried to get him involved but he was like, no! And he really didn’t get it. He just knew that there were several lesbians in the community and he was like, is this some sort of lesbian thing? Because we had been having issues around my sexuality at that point, which he had been dealing with since having relationships in Chicago, since he’s not from Chicago. And that just about every woman he had been serious with had left him for a woman.
MW: So that was a valid fear? Are you bisexual?
Anonymous: Yes, I do identify as queer.
MW: And that’s not a problem for you, being a Jehovah’s Witness?
Anonymous: It’s not a problem for me (laughs). Nor do I think it’s a problem for God. Because I chose to live my life a certain way, out of respect.
MW: So when you left your faith for a little while during your marriage, is that because you wanted to leave your marriage and you were shunned or…
Anonymous: No, I left my faith because I felt like we weren’t getting enough support in our congregation to keep our marriage together. And I was frustrated by that. Also because there was a lot of behavior from a lot of couples – especially the younger couples – at that time, specifically at the congregation where we were, that said to me, there was something wrong across the board. So it was really about, I needed to distance myself from that congregation. But because there were so many factors, it was like, what was going on there, what was going on in my home, my husband’s family was getting more and more opposed to our marriage. But what really kind of drove the stake into my heart was that my husband had been having these conversations with my mom about me, and I didn’t realize. I knew something had kind of affected my relationship with my mother and I would be trying to explain things and she would just kind of like, fuss at me, or say, but are you aware of your flaws? And I would say, yes I am, I know myself very well… I didn’t realize that was going on until later.
So it culminated into a series of events and I started smoking cigarettes and I started smoking marijuana again and I knew those to be clear indicators to me that I was done with whatever my current situation was. Because I hadn’t smoked in six years. So I was like, this means I’m done, because I’ve completely given up on respecting my temple. I don’t feel respected and I don’t have any respect emanating from the people I really do want to be in my life, and I’m not willing to be in a situation that’s just about me correcting my behavior and nobody else wants to address theirs.
So I made the decision to move. At that time, while these things are happening, my niece was in St. Jude’s in Memphis battling leukemia. I’m going there and traveling back and forth. My husband’s getting upset about that, and I was like, that’s the closest thing I have to a child. For me to not be there – I hadn’t been able to step in the way I really wanted to for my cousin – so it didn’t even matter what he thought or felt. I didn’t even care. Part of me felt like that was wrong, and another part of me feels like I was justified because I hadn’t been shown enough sensitivity at that point to be able to then feel like, okay, why don’t you come with me for a few days? So it was rough. When I came back from Memphis, we had a conversation. I was like, I think I really need to have some therapy – I need you to go with me. I had even gone back seeing a psychiatrist, because there was a period where I wasn’t on medication, I wasn’t seeing a psychiatrist or a therapist or any of that, so I was struggling with things alone because my husband didn’t know how to support me. And I would be trying to get him to, or help him understand how to, but I think it was just overwhelming for him. And we later talked about too, how mental illness is in his family and the fact that they don’t deal with it. He has sisters who have attempted suicide – I’ve seen erratic behavior in his home – but it’s putting a label on it and dealing with it from a clinical perspective, I think was what threw him. It was just like…
MW: You just acting up… you just being crazy. Stop being crazy.
Anonymous: That was exactly it. And so I asked him to come with me to therapy and it was like, you the crazy one, I’m not crazy. I don’t need to go. So even when he agreed to come, he kind of just sat in the office in a very self assuming way, waiting for the doctor to talk to me and deal with me. And the doctor picked up on that – she was like, it’s not helping you that he’s coming in here because he’s not going to do anything. So it was at that point that I knew I needed to go. I had lost about 60 pounds rapidly. I had developed a benign skin cancer, and I had a doctor who pretty much said to me – I don’t know what’s going on but whatever it is, is it worth your life? So all those things happened – not necessarily in that order but they were in the same time frame – that led up to me not being with him.
And before it could end, I met this MC. This is going to come full circle because it connects to what we were talking about earlier with locks and energy. I met this MC on the bus on the way to school. I thought he might have been the most beautiful man I had ever seen. Not just like a celebrity or a guy in your neighborhood that you crush on, but I saw him and it was like I saw through him. So I got on the bus and the first thing I saw was his eyes – his eyes were gorgeous – and it was like seeing a lion on the train. And he had locks and I realized, I got a thing about me with hair. I remember when my husband’s fro grew out. I couldn’t keep my hands off him and he was like, what’s wrong with you? I was like, whoo! Your hair is what’s wrong with me! (Laughs) So I saw this King – which I still address him as – even though it was a really painful experience. Because I was at that point that I’ve seen played out on soap operas. I thought he was going to rescue me and I was going to find the real person I was supposed to be with. I don’t know what kind of delusions we get wrapped up inside of when we have not completed a cycle with one individual who we share a bed with, that we think the person who comes along is sent by God. That person is not sent by God. We gotta think the other way. That person was sent by somebody else to cause more trouble. And that’s exactly what happened. And so I found myself in the backseat of cars and I was just like, this really don’t feel like the fantasy…
So anyway, I give him my number but then I’m like, oh yeah, I’m married but we’re kind of having a rough time. I told him I was getting ready to go to Memphis and then I went to Memphis for a month. So while I’m away, I’m talking to him. I talked to him quite a few times – and texted him – and I talked to my husband once. In a month. So I knew I had a problem. It didn’t make it any easier that when I came back, somebody pulled me to the side to tell me about some inappropriateness my husband was having with his ex, who I felt like was never out of the picture anyway. In a way, I felt that I was the person he wound up with because his ex said no, and I kind of reminded him of her. So I had some things that I definitely dealt with in my marriage.
And I had gotten to the point where I was having rape dreams and I realized – it was the first time I formed my mouth to say the words out loud – I was molested by girls when I was a child. And I told my husband. I had told him while we were dating that I definitely knew that I had two sexual identities but that I loved men. I wanted him to be aware of that. I wanted him to know me. That was something I had not had many conversations about, and if you’re going to be my husband, I wouldn’t ever want this to come out in some strange way and then he says, you what? That ain’t Christian! So I was like, you just need to know that I’ve been kind of raunchy. Like, I’m a tom boy who’s got cojones, and I’ve moved in some rough circles but I don’t believe in violence. I could have been a gang banger but I chose to just dedicate my life to God and focus on earning an honest living. So, that’s me, I just want you to know. My husband wasn’t an angel, but at the same time, he didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink because he had a heart condition. He was not a partier or a thug – but in some ways, I was those things. And I always thought that he would be the best part of me. That was my vision of our marriage. I really believed he would make me a better woman, and by him not having been involved in a lot of things that I had been involved in when I was a teenager, or when I was angry and lost, trying to find somebody who understood me – I thought that our relationship was going to be the glue. I thought he was going to… you know, be my rock.
So I was angry about where I was. I was uber, super attracted to this other dude. I was realizing that I was choosing to be reckless, and that I was angry because I couldn’t get my husband to just agree to have therapy and to talk and to understand. I said, so guess what, I’m having rape dreams and I’m telling you I can’t have sex and you’re forcing me to have sex. Do you realize what …
MW: Wait, what?
Anonymous: He would just do it. I would go to sleep and I would get woke up with a very hard object in my vagina.
MW: Would you say no?
Anonymous: Yeah, I was crying.
MW: So he was raping you?
Anonymous: He was.
MW: And did you realize that at the time?
Anonymous: I did. And when I told people who I thought would assist, they told me it was not possible for a husband to rape his wife. So I exited my marriage – and I don’t curse but I’m going to say I exited my marriage f’d up. I exited it into the arms of this man who was also Shady Grady. But he was an MC… and I fell into the Chicago underground hip hop scene. I knew about it and I was always kind of like, that’s not my thing, I’m a Christian, I know what kind of things that happen, and I’m artist and I do love hip hop and I can probably bust a rhyme if you catch me at the right moment, but I didn’t want to ever be a groupie... because that’s not what I wanted to be. But I quickly transitioned to being a groupie.
MW: That is such a crazy dynamic. There really needs to be a support group for the girlfriends of emcees. Because you don’t know where you’re supposed to stand, and you don’t know where you’re supposed to sit… you don’t know whether you’re supposed to dance… you don’t know whether the people you dance with are people your man has beef with… you don’t whether you should drink… but then the dude moves through the crowd and talks to different people and you don’t know whether you’re supposed to be jealous. And if you’re feeling jealous, you don’t know if you should go stand outside – because you don’t want to be the girl wearing the face at the club – and if you do stand outside, you don’t know if you’re being perceived as antisocial. And if you’re perceived as antisocial, you don’t know if the dude regrets bringing you. And then if they don’t want to bring you, are they bringing other people?? It’s ridiculous…
Anonymous: Wow, you broke it down, like the whole nine. This was my dilemma—if you think dating an MC is bad, the DJ is ten times worse, because they just watching you from behind the table! I dated a DJ for a long time after the MC. So then you get home and it’s a conversation – so I saw you talking to so and so and you hugged him for x amount of seconds and, I’m like, what?! (laughs) But it is a very different experience for the artist who’s in their element and their zone, and the person who – even though also might be an artist – the spotlight is not on them.
MW: We’re just the chicks holding the coats for the boys in the cipher…
Anonymous: And by the time I came out of my marriage – it’s not an overstatement – I was really at the point where I was just thinking about prostituting. Because I was like, obviously the only thing any of these dudes wants is my vagina. And my heart has no value in this world. So I might as well at least be making some money and not struggling financially, if I’m gonna have to deal with this. I have such a small mindedness about it – I’m like, okay I’m in it, I’m giving my all, so I’m expecting reciprocation. But after the third relationship where it wasn’t reciprocated I was like, well I guess that’s everybody. And the MC that I was involved with – when he started talking about, so what do you think if we got an apartment? That’s when the fantasy really took off but then he immediately – it was kind of like without him ever saying it he was like, girl I was just playing. I don’t know why you ever took it that serious. And then I started getting text messages from his – mind you, I’m in a condo with my husband, this man doesn’t live far from us at all –and I’m getting text messages from this other chick about the other dude. And my husband is in my phone – like I’m sleep waking up and he walking around the house looking in my phone…
MW: He like, Harpo, who dis man?
Anonymous: And I’m like, ahem, can I help you? Something you need?? So he was obviously having his own intuitions and I’m like, I don’t check your phone and I know who calls your phone. Because there was a time, during the first year we got married, his phone would be ringing at ridiculous stupid times. Sometimes he would answer it but after awhile he stopped answering it. I knew it was his ex but when I would pick up the phone, she would put her son on the phone. Or she would leave messages with her son talking. So I was like, what is this, code talk or something, so she’s not leaving her voice but you know to call her back?
So anyway, me and the MC have all of these different dialogues that are very different dialogues than I have with my husband. And I never engaged with my husband on hip hop and it wasn’t until we had gotten to this point where we’re just roommates – and I have this other dude in my life – that my husband breaks out Tribe Called Quest and we start having some conversations. Now mind you, his stepfather is a DJ. All the time he’s been spending at his parent’s crib, pretty much on the tables – I didn’t know anything about that. I didn’t know that side of my husband. He never shared it. And how am I supposed to know if you’re never home, and we don’t have no conversations about that?
But he had started painting and I got him into the art gallery in Marshall Fields. I have always been, continue to be to this day, a hardcore fan of my husband’s artwork. He is truly talented. He’s gifted. I will always honor that in him. He took me out to dinner last year and it was like, I love you. I never hated you. I just hated the fact that we couldn’t have worked through it. But it takes two and I was carrying too much on my own and it was killing me. I went from being 196 lbs, but then I was like 135 lbs within a month, and I was like, yeah… this is a problem.
I remember this one time while I was married, I was in the bathroom. I had been in there for like two hours while my husband was playing video games. I was slicing my wrists underwater just enough to get enough blood in the water to run down the drain. I really was just cutting. I realized it later when I started working in behavioral health – it was like, I was cutting, I wasn’t really trying to kill myself. But that’s how I processed it because my grandmother – my father’s mother – had recently been hospitalized for slicing her wrists trying to kill herself. My grandmother has had several suicide attempts. And her grandmother hung herself.
But anyway, the woman who had been texting me – I confronted him about it first. I was like, what’s going on? We’re not even like, officially in a relationship so I don’t know why this is an issue. So just tell me what’s up. And he was like, she’s stalking me. So I started getting frustrated. At one point I sent her a picture of me holding a machete like, I don’t have time to play games. You either want to talk about it with me or you want to deal with him. So at this point, I’m done. Because I’m crazy. And at this point I’m working at a research company downtown, and I find people for a living. So it was nothing for me to trace her phone number and find out where she lived. And so I drove to her home and I texted her like, would you like to have a conversation? Because I really don’t understand what is going on with you and this dude. And I’m just getting to know him and the other woman is not the role I’m trying to play. So she was like, ok, and I was like, good, because I’m downstairs in front of your building. Which probably scared the hell out of her.
So she came down, and I respected her. And when I saw her, I hated in that moment that my first response was, well that’s not what I expected for her to look like. She was a very fair skinned young lady and she looked young. And she told me that she had just lost his baby. So after I got done with that situation, I was like, nope. I don’t want any more relationships with men in hip hop. Because also, I was very much feeling like a groupie and I was like I don’t want to do that.
But then I met the DJ at this club I had been going to for over a year. And I had never seen him, and if I had seen him, I wasn’t paying attention because I was there to get free. I was there to juke and purge. I was there with girls who came out in heels and I was there in my Adidas and my jerseys, and I’m about to get buck. It was where I would go to remember the part of myself who used to start recording from the radio and fall asleep, and as soon as I would hear the click, I would wake up, and flip the tape over and keep recording so I could make my own little mixes. Like that’s what I did in high school. And my connection to my brother was through hip-hop. He was a DJ too, and hip hop was all we had. We didn’t have no deep conversations – we had the Roots CD, head bob, nod, yep, that’s what’s up.
And the DJ I began dating had the exact same name as my brother, and he was a DJ like my brother, and the relationship became the most intense transformative experience of my life because it took awhile before it registered to me that it was really about the fact that I really missed having a relationship with my brother. And that my connection to my man came through him being on the tables playing the music that I knew, music that took me back to a time when I knew something of my innocence. But we didn’t know that. And by the time we knew that, we had already killed each other emotionally. And so that’s what made it so hard because it was like, if I had known that five years ago …
MW: Five years you were with him?
Anonymous: Six. So I went through a whole lot with that. I was also searching spiritually and I felt like I had gone through all these religions and it was like hitting a brick wall, and on the other side of the wall, was the devil. It was like if you’re playing Super Mario Brothers and you pass through all these levels and now you have to fight King Koopa. And it’s like, aagggggh! I want the breakthrough but do I really want to fight King Koopa? And the devil was the fact that, I’m about to have a breakthrough but the person I’m in a relationship is fighting it. And he just wanted me to come back to the place that I was and I didn’t want to go backwards. So I felt the depression and the sadness setting in. And it didn’t help that I’d been with this person for five years and yet he maintained that he did not want it called a relationship – we would be out in public and I was just known as ‘his girl.’ I had completely lost my own identity. People didn’t call me by my name. But his official response was that we were just cool. We were not together.
MW: Did you live together?
Anonymous: It felt like we lived together because we were always at his place or my place just about every day.
MW: How did you deal with that… I mean, how did you accept that?
Anonymous: Because after going through what I had gone through in my marriage, and then the guy after my marriage, and then there had been some random guys that I had slept with, and then there was this other MC – at that point I was just giving it away because I felt like, I don’t know what I stand to gain trying to be in a relationship because it doesn’t look like any man I know is interested in monogamy. And that’s what I’m interested in. And I’m like, why even try the relationship thing? And at this point, I’ve already been physically intimate with a man, so it was like, okay fine. If I’m in the mood tonight then… because that’s all you really want. You’re not even really going to treat me like a woman anyway so let’s just get it over with. That’s how I felt. Let’s get it over with so we can go talk music, or maybe make some music, or just have pizza – I don’t care. You know, I was no longer myself.
Because who I really am… I’ve always been a little rough around the edges because I was a very naïve, trusting, loving young girl who constantly got abused by people I thought were supposed to… I done been spat on, I’ve been slapped, I’ve been consistently molested by girls and that led me to… how can I say… enabling that behavior with other girls. Mind you it started when I was five – by the time I was twelve, I was pretty much looking at myself like a child molester. Because I’m like, I’m pretty much trying to get this girl to give me her draws and I’m ten years old in the back of the school bus. I don’t have a context for that. I don’t have anything for that. I know that this is inappropriate but I don’t know what to call it because I got prepared for what to do if an older person touches me in an in appropriate way. I know what to call it when it’s a grown man trying to touch me. I don’t know what to call it when it’s girls my age trying to touch me and now I’m stimulated so now I’m touching. I don’t know what to call that. I don’t have a language for it. And now that it’s happened, I’m feeling way too guilty to talk to anybody or ask anybody, because I feel like a monster. So by the time I was 12, I pretty much thought that I was Satan’s child. And that I was beyond being loved by God. So everything after that point was performance. I performed my way through my life. The only thing that made me confront myself was poetry.
My behavior was really erratic. I was angry, I was stimulated, I was having a sexual identity crisis, I fell in love for the first time with a high school sweetheart and thought that I was going to have his babies and marry him. Because I had a really skewed understanding of men, sex, marriage and relationships. And friendships. All of those things. I have one person who has been in my life for 15 years as a friend, who for most of those fifteen years, was in love with me. And we are still friends. He just recently got married. But before he got married, I pretty much had to just give it to him. Because I was like, you need to not go into your marriage wondering, what if? We had this conversation and I was like, so do you think you’re going to leave her and be with me? Because I’m not going to be the mistress. And he had been with her since like college. We had only dated for a small amount of time and I broke up with him because I was like, I need a friend. I just really need a friend.
So anyway, as I got older and I was going through all of these emotions, I knew at some point I needed to see how out of control I was. And there’s a moment where you decide, I’m not ready to get off the rollercoaster. And you’re kind of get scared when you’ve been on the rollercoaster for so long, like, what the heck is going to happen when it stops?? Then what do I do?
MW: Because then you have to deal with yourself.
Anonymous: Yeah. And I’ve had so many conversations with women while working at Be Present – it’s a practice that I carry with me in my home, in order to heal the relationship with my mother, in order to be open in front of my parents without being apologetic, and also to transition back into being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses – I had to confront all of who I was, and all of the herstory of who I was. I realized that I kept running into relationships with people who treated me in the way my mother treated me that I didn’t like. I even dealt with it with my husband. And I felt connected to him in a way that I had never felt connected to anyone. I thought we were going to be married and in love forever. We both had a similar dream about our children, about an experience of us grocery shopping with kids in tow. But then I realized that it was all an illusion. And it was like, guess what, this illusion hurts more than reality. Just let it go.
MW: Because at least with reality – it can be painful but you don’t have to struggle with it. But with an illusion, there are so many things you have to reinterpret to make mean what you need them to mean. You’ll be like, see, he didn’t really mean that, what he really meant was… or, see, you need to understand that his mother didn’t love him and…. And his first girlfriend… … and you just find yourself explaining all the time. With reality, it hurts but it’s like, okay, it is what it is, now I can go study.
Anonymous: Yes!!! With my ex, I was always explaining his drinking like, he didn’t really mean that, he drinks and…
MW: And you get tired of justifying them to other people…
Anonymous: I know, right! After awhile I would just say, you know what, we’re good! We’re fine! (laughs) And while dealing with my ex, in 2007, I had my first psychotic break. My diagnosis transitioned from being ‘major depression’ to full blown’ bipolar disorder.’ I was hallucinogenic. And once you have a full blown psychotic episode and you start hallucinating and you’re no longer present in reality, you have a heightened experience as opposed to feeling depressed or sad. So inside of mania, you are super woman, on top of the world, I can do anything, everything’s coming up roses, sun is shining. But in reality, it’s raining on top of your head.
Anonymous: (Laughs) Womp, Womp, Womp. You thought you had clothes on? Girl you booty naked. So I went through that experience, but I had something spiritually happen to me inside of it. So I told him I couldn’t have sex with him no more, I stopped cigarettes, I stopped smoking weed. And we talking somebody who was getting like, maybe a quarter pound a week.
MW: So he was your best friend if ya’ll smoking together because that is heavy bonding…
Anonymous: Girl, the smoking, the drinking, the sex, the hip-hop, the movies… he don’t have a job. I’m working, so I buy his groceries, my groceries, he hangs out in my crib to escape his landlord who he lives with because he ain’t paid his rent in a year… the realness. And I’m just like, I know you still in love with your ex. I hate you because you get up out of my bed and you walk to the front of my crib and you whisper to her on the phone like I’m so stupid that I don’t know that’s who you’re talking to. I always know when you’re talking to her because your voice changes when you talk to her. Don’t we all know? Like, we know. But at this point, I’m like, this is going to be any relationship I’m in. Either I can deal with it…
MW: So you just thought that’s what relationships were? And it had not occurred to you that you were commanding this type of treatment? That you were in control and choosing people who would do this to you until you worked through how you felt about yourself, and drew those lines within yourself that said, no I deserve better than this, I’m a person, you can’t do this shit to me?
Anonymous: I may have said those things in anger, in an argument and then was like, okay fine. And then my legs flew open. (Pause) But… (laughs) saying that just triggered straight up mental and physical… there’s something that happens in the body when you are used to oral sex and then you have no sex and your body’s like, don’t remember that part. Fast forward that part because you don’t need to remember that!
MW: Wait, so are you celibate now?
Anonymous: I am celibate.
MW: So are you waiting for your husband, or just for the next person you fall in love with?
Anonymous: Until I’m married. But at this point, I don’t think I want a relationship.
MW: So you’re celibate indefinitely?
Anonymous: At this point, my prayer to God is, if there comes a time and it makes sense not just for me, but I can wholly be in a relationship with that person and that person can accept me for who I am and I can be in a relationship without referencing past relationships, and putting issues on them that aren’t them, then may that be Your will and let it be so. And help me know when that time comes. But until that point, I really want to focus on being spiritual in all the ways that I thought that I would be before all these things happened.
MW: I want to go back to something you said earlier. You said that when you and your husband were courting, he took you on carriage rides and all of that, and you said it made you feel like a woman. What do you do for yourself to feel like a woman now, since you’re celibate?
Anonymous: Being celibate makes me feel like a woman, because I own my body. And it’s the first time in my life that I can remember – because I keep trying to remember myself before sexuality, because I learned it so very young. And I remember all of the things that made me feel guilty or dirty – I can remember all of that. But I can’t remember before that. With the exception of when my grandmother taught me how to tie my shoes. That and picking dandelions out of the yard and my grandmother taught me how to suck the nectar out of the flowers. And I used to play in the dirt. I used to play with caterpillars as a child. They were my friends. Caterpillars and ants, oh we kicked it.
But I felt like, for so long, having sex was the only way I was ever going to get love from a man. And I had this epiphany the other day – I was like, if I do meet someone, if I do have the wherewithal to have some kind of shift in my life and I’m with someone who’d I’d like to move toward marriage with – I was like, I’d like to find someone who can marry me and for six months, just meditate and talk to me but not have sex with me.
MW: Like a really long period of foreplay, making love to your soul…
Anonymous: Yeah. And I think that would just be complete healing for a man to come in and say, Baby if you had no other half, if you only existed from the navel up, you should know that everything from the navel up is valuable. And when I thought about that, that’s what let me know that I’m different. Even though my body is like, its summer time and it’s that time…the birds are singing and the bees are buzzing and the flowers are flowering… my body has a mind of its own. I have medication that I take every day but I didn’t take it today because I’m fasting and when my body wants to cleanse, it tends to skip my medication. But my body also knows that if I stop taking medication, I’m more likely to have a …
MW: A lark?
Anonymous: Who says lark? That’s like the oldest word in the world.
MW: (Laughs) Whatever.
Anonymous: But I don’t trust my body. Because I remember that I pretty much hit rock bottom in my relationship with the DJ when I started getting intimate with his friends.
MW: You mean having sex with his friends?
Anonymous: Umm hmm. His friends wanted to do me and I had no self esteem to say no.
MW: Was this behind his back or was it like, his friends were hitting his ex?
Anonymous: No we were with each other but without the context of being “in a relationship.” And then he came back and he went through this whole thing – because he has this thing that he does when he says he needs clarity. Clarity is his word that he uses for I just want to be able to curse you out and dog you out and argue with you and then two or three days later I’ll call you and apologize.
MW: That’s clarity?
Anonymous: That’s what that word means to him. It was his manipulative tool. So what happened was, I just stopped feeling. It was like, okay I’m in love with you but you don’t want to call it a relationship, and you keep telling me that you don’t know if you can be faithful to just one person, but you’re super, uber jealous if I look at somebody and say hello… so that’ a behavior I don’t understand. I grew up with a mom and a dad, and a father who doesn’t cheat, drink, smoke or curse, so I don’t know about the world in that way. I don’t know about men in that way. I know there are different types of men with different ideals, and some are monogamous and some are not, but whatever the monogamous road is, I obviously don’t have the navigator to that particular area. I’m stuck over here in polygamy world where dudes are like, I don’t have a conscience. So, what am I supposed to do? And I the local whore or am I the groupie, or…?
MW: Have you ever considered that as a sign that maybe you’re supposed to have more than one mate? That maybe you need more than one man to support you?
Anonymous: (Laughs) Well this is the other thing that happened, was that I came to the conclusion that I think I wanted a polygamous household. I think I wanted a community. During the time that I separated from the DJ and I was like, I need to get back to a spiritual foundation and went cold turkey on everything, for about three or four months I was at my parent’s house and I was very frail. I was being juggled around the mental health system so I was on several different medications that left me really crazy and not stable. And I was just nuts. And during that time, he met this other person. And when I did come back and transition back to being on the scene, and I wound up moving back north and I was freaking out about not having him in my life, and I think it was one of those moments where it was like, oh I think somebody else is going to get him and I don’t want that to happen. Imma just have to sell my soul and go back out here! And that’s pretty much how I felt. I was pretty much telling God that I need this man.
MW: I prefer him over every principle that I thought…
Anonymous: That I hold true and I thought made me who I was. And so that’s the choice I made, and I paid dearly for it. So I own that. So when I came back, there was this chick in the picture. And he was like, when I first saw her I was feeling her, but she was kind of wigging, so now we just cool. But I felt there was this sexual tension between them and she definitely was like… it seemed like she just wanted to conquer him. So we all started kicking it together and I just feel like it was a free love experience. It was like the 70s – people were just smoking weed and having unprotected sex. Everybody felt like conventional methods of relationships didn’t apply to them because they were revolutionaries and they were against the system and traditional relationships were all part of the system. I would overhear these conversations and it was just like, lame. Even if I was around in the 70s I would not have been on that.
And that used to always be his thing to say to me—you are such a 70s black woman, blah blah blah. And I was like, I don’t know what that means to you but it definitely means something different to me. I am a soulful woman and I do have an old soul, but I have also learned a lot of hard lessons through sheer naïveté on my part.
So after we started hanging with this chick – I don’t think I was attracted to her in the beginning except for in the way that he was attracted to her – I felt like the only way for me to get some peace in this situation – at least from my end – was if we had a ménage and got it over with. So I was like, okay, let’s just blow it up because she wants you, you like her, I’m here, and my body changed again because I was on medication so he met the big booty version of me and he was like, oh, when you coming back over? (laughs) So it happened and he discovered in that particular moment that he couldn’t have sex with her, he could only have sex with me. Literally, he would try it and then he would come to me and be lost. So she got upset. So I had to help her out because I’m like, she gon’ be really pissed off if she done had a ménage and she got nothing. So I did my thing and he got intimidated and he was like, okay, I’m leaving. And I was like, what you mean you leaving? How you gon’ leave, this your party? It was his birthday. So that was a bust. So she left because she had to go get her child and me and him were going at it all day.
MW: You mean fighting?
Anonymous: No, not fighting. (laughs) And she came back home like, are ya’ll for real? Still?! She was like, I’m about to put some stuff on the altar! And that was when something clicked in me. I’m like, I’m in her house, in her room, in her bed, she has an altar in her room and she’s actively practicing Yoruba – which is a religion I don’t know a whole lot about – so that was also another intersection for me of a woman and sexuality and voodoo, and me having no knowledge. Because I don’t know what she’s doing on her altar…
MW: And why he couldn’t perform with her but you could…
Anonymous: Right! All of that. It was all very… I learned a lot about spirits. Then I started having visions of stuff going on with his neighbors that lived behind him and it got really vivid and very scary and then it got to the point where we both having experiences in his room. He kept telling me how sometimes he would be lying on his bed and it would feel like something would push down on him and he would wake up to an empty room and it would freak him out. So a person who was thinking clearly would have taken the hint that maybe she should take her leave and not put herself in that situation again. I had had an experience where I had been in his room and literally prayed to God like, something’s wrong, please get me out of here. And I literally felt like an angel carried me out of his house. I felt like I was getting trapped, like if you were in labyrinth and people were closing doors behind me. That’s how I felt. And yet I still kept going back. You know the saying goes, oh what a tangled web we weave? I literally wove myself into the black widow’s web. And it all came to a head when the year that I moved back in with my parent’s house, I had an experience where it was like, reality started to shift and change. Like I experienced shape shifting and seeing the room augmented and seeing different manifestations of evil spirits.
And then I started having the experience that I was pregnant. I was never sure if I was actually pregnant, other than, that’s what my gut was telling me and I was having crazy things happening, like bleeding for days, much longer than a period. And I was passing tissue and stuff. And eventually I was like, I need to go to the emergency room. And it was really funny because, that particular night, I think he had actually been with her.
The year before all this happened, we had been actively trying to have a child. And as that process went on, we kept back cycling through the pains of our relationship, so the fights kept getting more intense. And the more intense the fighting got, the more I wound up in the hospital having hallucinations and episodes and breakdowns.
So the last breakdown that I had that year, he came to my house drunk early in the morning. And I hadn’t been sleeping. And I know that when I stop sleeping, I’ve entered into a manic state. And when I haven’t slept in two days, I know I need to be in the hospital by the third day. Because by the third day, I’m no longer in reality. Which is normal for any human being who hasn’t slept in 72 hours, whether you have a diagnosis or not. You might sleep for an hour but it feels like you slept for seven hours. Time gets off. So anyway, he won’t let me sleep because he keeps ringing the doorbell and I come down to the door and my whole body is shaking and I was like, I need you to leave and let me go to sleep. It ends up turning into a domestic situation, like us brawling out in front of my crib. And I know that he’s not attacking me, fighting me, because I know he really could have hurt me if he would have. And he was the one who walked away with a bunch of scars because I was kicking the crap out of his face. I came down with a flashlight and I literally opened the door and hit him over the head with the flashlight. And so it just turned into something I thought I saw in a movie. It was so real – I was doing it – but I was like, this is not my life. This is the one thing I said I never wanted to ever do. First of all, I’ve always maintained that I would never put my hands on a man because I had more respect for men that that. If he puts his hands on me, I can leave, because I’m not going toe to toe with no man. And I just remember seeing his face the next day, just all of these knots.
So I started praying. This is straight up devil unleashed. This doesn’t make any sense. None of this makes any sense. And I’m dealing with something much bigger than me, and I keep getting sick – not because of mental health issues but because something is spiritually wrong and I need to address it and figure it out. He said he was coming to check on me because he knew I was going to get sick and he had been sitting outside my crib all day, and he had been calling me. I wasn’t answering his calls and then he started ringing the bell. I think at some point I buzzed him in but when he got to the front door, I started having this fear that he was coming to kill me. I was half in reality and half out and he’s beating on the door and turning the handle and I’m freaking out. I got in the shower because the water is where I go when I’m afraid. I’ve done that my entire life. I go get in the bathtub and turn on the water and or put my hands under the water and that’s what soothes me. At this point, all of these things come to a head. And the next day I felt uber guilty because I just beat up somebody I love…
MW: And he must have really loved you too…
Anonymous: Which is what I said. I was like, he wouldn’t have even come back if he didn’t love me. The other half of that story was that I felt like he came back to punish me, like he was intentionally trying to push me over the edge. And he successfully did that. And I finally came to the conclusion that there were evil spirits at work. Like, it seemed like a spell. It seemed like someone had done a binding spell.
This woman I worked with at the art center, she hired him. And before she hired him she asked me – is there anything I should know about him? Because she thought he was kind of weird. And I was like, well, he does do good work. He’s a hard worker. But he drinks, and sometimes he drinks too much. And she wound up firing him after several violent displays he had on the premises of the job. But of course he said it was my fault because I’d given her the wrong impression by telling her he occasionally drinks too much.
And in the process of doing the work of understanding myself and accepting what was mine and owning what I did – I realized I never really had the right to say anything to him about drinking because I medicated with weed. And it would be different just to say, I toke because I got pain or because I think herbs are healing, or to get over my writer’s block—but it was totally, I smoke weed so that I can deal with the fact that I’m in a relationship with an alcoholic and I feel like it’s okay that he makes me feel like crap and I’m still giving it to him and I’m enjoying that.
MW: Whoa, that was deep…
Anonymous: But it took a long time before I could have an honest epiphany with myself and say it out loud. It was like, okay, so that is your truth, but now what are you going to do about it? So that’s how I ended up at 28 years old in a nursing home telling myself, I have to be rehabilitated. I don’t want to be addicted to anything.
Also I had a cervical cancer scare, which was another thing I knew was coming because the last time I was intimate with my husband, I went to the gynecologist to get a pap because I was like, something’s wrong because I’m in so much pain when I have sex. And she said, what size is he? And I said, I’ve been married to the man for two years so size is not the problem.
So fast forward six years after I have my first complaint, I went back to the clinic because I thought I was pregnant by my ex. And the doctor was so sad because when I went to them six years before, my labs had come back abnormal. But they lost my file and they had been trying to call me on a number I didn’t have any more. So all this time that I’ve been with this other dude, what was really going on was that I had active HPV. And because it had been so long, I had dysplasia and I was in the second stages of cervical cancer.
MW: You are now?
Anonymous: No, this was back in 2010. And what they told me at Cook County Hospital was, well, you’re at stage 2 and we usually don’t do anything until around stage 3 or 4. We’re just going to watch it. So I immediately went to my favorite health food store and got on Cat’s Claw, and I started drinking Kava Kava to help relax me. Because what I know from having a strong family history of cancer is that stress makes it grow faster. And I was certainly in a stressful relationship. But by the time I had my next pap and came back from the follow up, it was all clear.
MW: That’s wonderful! You healed yourself?
Anonymous: I healed myself. But the first thing I had to do was, I cut back on my smoking. And when I was away from him, I smoked way less.
MW: You stopped smoking cigarettes or weed?
Anonymous: Cigarettes. I wasn’t worried about the weed. I was definitely like, well, it’s time to get some herb. I heard weed and cancer go hand in hand. (laughs)
MW: What experience have you come through that you could advise other women about?
Anonymous: The journey to self love. And I feel like once I got to a certain place in that journey, the women just started to come to me. And it’s still happening. And I’m grateful for that because I feel like persons who endure, persons who are survivors, persons who fight for the chance to not just survive but then to go on and live, do possess something valuable to mankind. And that the person who comes through that and comes through without haughtiness or inbred fear or paranoia of letting people in, that those are the people who we regard as healers. Because every person in my life who I regard as a healer is someone who came though something tremendous, and embarked on a journey to self love.
MW: What are you still dealing with that you need advice about?
Anonymous: I am a woman who wants love and wants to love, but does not trust her body to anyone, a man or woman. The rape is too fresh. My reproductive organs need more time than my brain does. My brain is the calm one in the conversation and my reproductive organs are like, we know that happened but… we’re running out of eggs, you’re pushing 32 – are we gonna be a mom? People are constantly having kids around me and their kids are latching on to me like starfish on a rock. I’m like, can you get your child offa me please? And I love children. My mom is in a difficult place processing me saying, I don’t think I’m going to get married, I think I’m going to be single and focus on my spirituality.
But it’s very hard, because I find I can get attracted to someone and their energy, and then the guy is standing in my face and it’s like, this is not what I meant to happen, please get out of my face you fine man! And so I need help with controlling my energy because the longer I’m celibate, the stronger it gets. It feels like a gravitational pull. They’re like, girl, we know it’s been a long time. You need this!
Ultimately I need somebody who can hold me inside of the energy that is me, with all of my powers, abilities, compassion, sensitivities. I know we have terms like magic and telepathy and clairvoyance, but really it just all means a person who’s incredibly sensitive to energy. Because I’m not trying to manipulate energy as a way of maintaining control. I’m just trying to be a huge emitter of love. And that’s all I want to be known for. That’s all I want people to feel. Because people have always treated my sensitivity like some sort of defect. I have so much compassion that I almost feel like I should apologize because it’s hard for people to deal with—and that was something my ex couldn’t deal with. He was like, I can’t deal with how much you hug people. And I was like, I’m sorry but I can’t not be that way because it makes you uncomfortable. I will always love all the people who I ever loved. That’s my blessing and my curse. I just don’t stop loving people and I don’t feel like I need to, either.
MW: But did you ever say to him, if you’re my mate then you’re my mirror, and if these qualities in me make you uncomfortable, maybe you have something you’re repressing… like, does he have an inner happy go lucky?
Anonymous: Oh yes. Totally. And one time he was going to get ready to go on tour and I was worried that he was going to leave me and that he couldn’t grasp how much I loved him and that it was all going to be in vain. And I was very intense and he was like, where the heck did you learn how to love like that? He was like, I don’t understand how you love. It’s so much. He had never been loved wholly before. Nobody had ever just loved him, or he had forgotten love. And as somebody who was a man who was estranged from both of his parents and had not worked through his mother son issues, it just all kind of melted. It just kind of melted.
MW: So now that he’s your ex, do you still get the urge to love him in that same way? Since you know he needs it, and you know you’re the only one who does it so deeply?
Anonymous: I used to. But now I just pray for him.
MW: I hear women saying that men fall in love with their ability to love, but then as soon as the women become “their women”, that gift then repels them and they feel like we’re giving something of theirs away. Like we’re too naïve to understand that men just want to fuck us or manipulate us. It’s always from a place of, what’s wrong with you, why don’t you see, as opposed to just respecting this very powerful innocence. People look at that love and innocence like it’s a weakness, but it’s extremely powerful.
Anonymous: Yeah… and also I think my ex had pretty much been broken by male on male relationships and pornography. I blame pornography for the failure of so many relationships, including my own. Because I definitely battle pornography in my life because it was the only thing that made me feel like I’m not the biggest freak in the world. Just watching it, I felt relieved that there were so many things going on that I didn’t do. Then getting with the guys who had been watching porn for years, you get to the point where they’re like robots. It’s like, boo, hello? Hey! Guess what? I’m real.
MW: If you do this, I will not automatically make this sound…
Anonymous: (Laughs) I will not.
MW: Is there anything else you want to say? And last advice you want to give women? Any last nuggets?
Anonymous: My advice to all women is to do their work emotionally and to not be afraid to reach out to other women to support you in that, no matter how ugly it looks at first. Because the process of taking the responsibility and having the willingness and the humility to do the work of healing yourself is what’s beautiful. And that ultimately will be the beauty that you find at the end of sorting through all the ugliness. That’s it.
MW: That's wonderful, thank you.
Anonymous: You're welcome.
"I don’t fear death. It’s sort of like another dimension, another level to this existence that I’m having. And I also believe in coming back. And so if my work is not done, I’ll be back." [an interview]Read Now
MW: You appear to be such a strong, confident woman. Where does that light come from?
Anonymous: That’s a really good question. Let me take a minute and meditate on that. Because what I feel like what you’re asking me to do is see myself which is something that I don’t often do. I just move and do. To be honest I think that I came here with this light that you’re speaking of. I didn’t ever think of it as like, confidence. It’s almost like something inside of you that makes you do what you feel like you have to do. And so for other people that might appear as confidence but for me, I’m just doing what has to be done.
MW: What do you have to do? What has to be done?
Anonymous: The short answer would be effect change. That would be the short answer.
MW: I’m cool with the long answer…
Anonymous: (Laughs) Oh, ok. So the long answer… um… I’m here to reach people, to bring people back to a place that we’re all striving to get to as human beings. And we’re so far away from that now with the way the world is set up. I remember as a young girl thinking, who did this? Who orchestrated it this way? Nothing made sense to me – people weren’t happy, it just didn’t make sense. And I thought, why are we doing this? And instead of just wondering why are we doing it this way, I thought, why don’t we change it? I don’t know if that’s the difference… but I know I felt like a powerful person. I felt like enough power existed inside of me and enough power existed inside the people I knew, that we could still do whatever we wanted to do, and that we could change the system into something that makes sense for more people. And I think part of that change is me having a voice.
MW: So that’s how you see yourself effecting change, is by speaking out?
Anonymous: That’s definitely one of the ways. Speaking out and using every way to speak out. For me, speaking out doesn’t just mean using my mouth necessarily. It could be using my visual art, or through dance and expression or, creating a production that makes people think, or just, you know, casual conversation that makes people think or just reaching out in different ways. But yeah, I have to speak the truth or the truth as I see it. Because I feel like I just can’t be quiet. I think my parents would say that I definitely came here to say something, or speak something. They tell a story about me being four months old and they came into the room and I was like tussling. Now, I was around four months so they knew I couldn’t sit up or run around or talk – any of that stuff – and so I was just having what looked like a nightmare and my mom stood over the crib and she didn’t say, what’s wrong? but she just thought it and then I said, dreaming. So she backed up from the crib like whoa, what is going on with this infant who just said the word, Dreaming’! Not Mama or Dada – and as far as doctors were concerned I wasn’t supposed to be saying anything – but I said the word dreaming so clearly that she could make it out. And so for her, I was a weird child from the beginning. But they always say – fast forward – since I started doing poetry and stuff my parents say that they always knew I had something to say. And I don’t think about fear often. I just think about what must be done.
MW: I was reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X. It just struck me how many times he said he was not at all afraid to die, even with children. It was really shocking to me. Are you like that? When you say you have to do what needs to be done, are you willing to take it to the ultimate?
MW: I wish there was a word for the face you’re making right now. (Laughs) Because the look on your face is like, you don’t even have to finish asking that question. Because the answer is hell yeah.
Anonymous: Pretty much. And that’s been something that’s been with me awhile too, not just since I’ve been an adult. I remember even as a child being very unafraid of death. I just don’t fear it. My thing is, death is a natural part of life. When we come into life, death is the other part of it. We came into life and also with life we accept death is coming. But it’s all in how you view death. And I view death in such a way that it’s not the end. And because I view it like that, I don’t fear it. It’s sort of like another dimension, another level to this existence that I’m having. And I also believe in coming back. And so if my work is not done, I’ll be back, don’t worry about it! (laughs) See you on the other side, I’ll be back. So to me, it’s nothing to fear. What’s most important is doing what has to be done. I understand that the journey that I’m on is a long journey. Our humanity is a long journey. Existence is a microsecond in the far vastness of humanity. We don’t know how long we’ve been in existence. Our little moment is part of a bigger moment and that takes some of us dying in a sense for that to happen. I believe in it enough to know… what’s most important is that I do the work I have to do and if I die doing that, it’s nothing to fear.
MW: I understand that’s your philosophy for the end of your life, but is that also your philosophy during your life? Because it occurred to me the other day that there are certain things I want for my life, like to be smaller and healthier… you know, just certain personal changes. Like if your body is the apparatus you’re given when you come to this planet, there might be certain habits or tendencies that you have to kill to become who you want to become. It’s like the machine can create itself. So do you find that you die in life too? Are you consciously different from who you used to be or have you always been who are? Do you find that you evolve or do you direct your changes?
Anonymous: I think it’s both. I think I’m evolving. I think I die small deaths. It’s funny having this conversation about confidence and all of this because at a certain point, I thought I was so confident and self assured and I was very grounded in who I was – and then through being married and dealing with my husband, it really shook all of that up. It made me think, who am I, where am I? Where is the person I thought I was? And so that experience was really symbolic of the small deaths you’re speaking of. And when these small deaths happen, you sort of come back stronger. And so I think that’s the other thing too – my soul already feels like it’s died so many times before I got here, and then this time I’m even that more serious. Because I don’t know how many lives I have left, so to speak. It’s that much more serious and I just have to get it done. Now I know what it’s all about and I just have to fight. At the same time, now I’m directing it too as I’m evolving.
MW: So, when you say your marriage shook you up – is that something you want to talk about?
Anonymous: I can. It’s not something I shy away from talking about. I don’t shy away from things like that because they’ve brought me to the place I am now and I’ve learned so much from them. So it’s like, okay, I’ll share my experience and let other people learn something too. But what shook me up is, I thought I loved myself in a certain way that I wouldn’t allow people to treat me less than how I loved myself. But what happened was in this relationship, I got so caught up in him and this whole idea of marriage and all of these things that were not me. I sort of got caught up in all of these external things. And so those external things caused me to not see my value. And before I knew it I was in something where I was disappearing.
And I remember – it’s funny – before I got married I had this ceremony where sisters came in and they bathed parts of my body and spoke words of wisdom to me, and I remember one sister in particular – she said, in all that you do – or in being married – don’t forget yourself. Take care of yourself because nobody else is going to take care of you. Look out for yourself. And those words stuck with me because, for one, it was kind of strange. It was like, I’m getting married, what do you mean nobody’s going to look out for me? My husband’s going to look out for me. It was like she knew something else. And then as I got into it, I began to realize that I was the person who was giving in so many different directions but there was not really a lot being poured back into me. And I think that – plus the sort of overall breaking down of his character – brought me to a really low place. I felt I wasn’t beautiful, and I had never really had those types of issues before. I thought I wasn’t worthy. I thought I had to sort of always prove something to him. And I think I was proving it to myself too. And these were things I thought I was already supposed to know so it was like, wait a minute! (laughs) It is a little scary to me that I thought I was in this place of security and self-love, but then I wasn’t actually there, and then I had to really get there and do the work. But the scariest part is just that I didn’t know. I didn’t realize I wasn’t where I thought I was.
And it makes me realize that you can’t get to these places any other way except through dealing with self. There’s no other, no in-between. There’s no showing it and going through the world and making it seem like you’re confident and you have everything together. There’s only one way to get there and you have to actually… get there. You have to do the work and deal with self and face the things you‘re scared of facing. And really love yourself. All of you. Good and bad, if there is such a thing. I don’t know if I believe in good and bad, but anyway…so did that answer your question?
MW: Totally. That was awesome.
Anonymous: I think that’s the other thing too, going back to your question before about confidence. I think now I really do know the reasons why I value myself. I think before I valued myself for reasons like, oh I look good or I’m smart. But now I value myself because I am. I just am. I’m in this world, I have work to do here, and all those things – beauty, intellect, a good heart – all those things are important too but I value myself in other ways that are beyond what other people can validate for me. So now, when I walk and I look confident or assured, it’s because it’s something that’s coming from so deep inside of me that no one can shake it up anymore. Or I believe that, anyway (laughs). Live and learn and life will teach you something else.
And I think it’s magnetic for people. My experience when I go out in the world is that people are drawn to me. All different types of people – old white people, men, women, younger people, kids – everybody says there’s this light. And like I said, there’s only one way to get there. You gotta do the work with yourself. You gotta confront and deal with issues that are scary that you don’t really want to deal with but that make you a better person and make you better to deal with the world around you.
MW: With everything that you know about yourself, are you looking for a mate? Or does that matter to you at all?
Anonymous: Um… I do want a mate, yeah. Because I feel like I’ll be able to be more fulfilled in life, meaning I’ll have a partner with whom to do these things that I came to do. I’ll have someone else’s support. And I love children. And I never saw myself in a relationship without another person to help me out with the child. Those are important things and I do want them. But now, am I actively searching for a man? No, I’m not. I feel like it will come. I’m just not concerned. I’ve never had a huge issue finding a man if I really want one, you know what I’m saying? (Laughs) So I don’t feel like, Aggghhhhh! People try to scare me, like, oh, you’re gonna be by yourself. But I think that’s unrealistic. It’s a choice but I gotta choose right. Because I’ve already been through a situation where I feel like I didn’t necessarily do as well as I could have.
MW: With all that being said, what are your requirements for a mate? Because with your perspective and experience you’ve had with loving yourself, you are in such a beautiful position to choose… I mean so many people choose their mates when they’re young or just – it’s like filling a space – you don’t really think about it. But you are thinking about it. So tell me…
Anonymous: I think one of the benefits of what you’re saying is that you get to know yourself better. And that’s what I was saying – with my first marriage when I was married before, I didn’t really know myself as well as I thought I did. And so I thought he was what I wanted but actually he wasn’t. And also I felt like I was denying certain aspects of myself, and since I was denying certain aspects of myself, I was looking for a man who didn’t have those parts that I was denying. For example, the importance of spirituality in my personal life – so I was looking for men who didn’t have any spiritual background or the same spiritual pull as I did. And so I thought that would be okay somehow because, at the time, I was minimizing the need for spirituality to be prevalent in my own life.
Getting back to your question – what I need in a mate is someone who can respect my purpose in life and equally important is his own purpose in life. I need someone who can understand the spiritual aspect of our existence so that they are not just living and thinking that everything is on this physical plane. Because of the work that I do with myself and other people, I need a mate who acknowledges that and has a clear understanding of that and supports me. That’s so much of what it is – you go out into the world and you’re fighting all these different battles and struggling – and you need somebody who can support you effectively. And that’s what it’s about – I can’t just have any guy because they can’t support me in the ways that I need. Even in small ways – I give so much love out into the world, so I need somebody who knows how to love me, how to give me love in return. Someone who has a good heart, who is dedicated to making a difference in the world. Besides that, on my list is an African man, who has an understanding of African identity, and who is an African person himself. And that’s important too because of how I want to raise my children. Now some of these things – I think I’m growing and learning that there’s a little flexibility in it. You know, like African can viewed at in different ways – or just having some sort of African descent or understanding can be viewed in other ways too – but I would say those are some of the most important. Someone who is my friend. I think that’s just like everybody else, right?
MW: Well, no – I think it depends on the point at which you catch a person. Some people want someone they can trust or someone who makes them laugh, or someone who is a certain height. Makes a certain amount of money. But it sounds like you’re at a different point…
Anonymous: Yeah, and that’s another one – I want someone who is very open and honest and not going lie. Because I feel like I can deal with reality, but you have to give me reality. If we’re in a partnership – a very deep and intimate relationship – let’s not deceive each other. Let’s just be open and bare our souls and say, oh this is still beautiful, you know? I think those are the main things. I like brown skin too (laughs).
MW: And bedroom eyes… (laughs)
Anonymous: Oh yes…
MW: Have you ever had the situation in a relationship – because you were saying that you would hope that you could also be open and honest with your partner – have you ever had a situation where you changed significantly in your relationship? And were you okay acknowledging the ways in which you’d changed to your partner? Because it’s like, you can go into a relationship but you kind of make this deal that you’re going to be who the other person fell in love with and the other person is going to be who you fell in love with forever. But then you go on this however many year journey together. You might stay the same but you might not.
Anonymous: Yeah… I think that in my marriage I changed in certain ways. Because I started out wanting to be very open and honest. I remember at times telling him my every move. It wasn’t so much just reporting it, it was just like, I wanted us to have an open and honest relationship and as part of wanting that, I demonstrated it. So he might ask me about my day and I would run down all these details. I just remember telling so many things about what I was doing and just trying to be open. At a certain point when it wasn’t reciprocated I began to close off and not want to tell him too much, and just kind of keeping things to myself, which was not who I really am. So I stopped being so open. I felt in one way that he didn’t deserve that since he wasn’t reciprocating. So in that way I changed. And I changed in other ways too – but I know if it was so much that I changed, or if it was that I’d never had this experience before, so I didn’t know how I would act. Before, marriage was something that my parents had done and my grandparents – it was something that was away from me, not close to home. So I had all these ideas about how I was going to be as a wife. And so I don’t think I changed myself because I hadn’t been a wife yet, but the ways I thought I was going to be or the things I thought I was going to do – that was very different from how I actually was.
MW: But so much of that is based on the person you marry. Because in order to have an idea of the kind of wife you’ll be, you have to have an idea of the kind of husband you’ll have.
MW: How old are you?
What do you know at 31 that you didn’t know at 21?
Anonymous: Hmmm… so much. I know that I am enough. I know that it’s okay for me to be who I am and not be afraid of myself, to not be afraid of being alone, to not be afraid of things I don’t understand. And that you are everything that you need. You don’t need other people to validate you. That’s one thing that I’ve learned over time – I don’t need people to validate me. And I think that had I learned that at an earlier age, that I wouldn’t have made certain mistakes or I would have learned a little bit faster. But I respect the process of learning and growth.
MW: What woman do you admire most and why?
Anonymous: That’s hard, because it’s hard to choose one woman.
MW: Okay, women.
Anonymous: My grandmother is one woman I admire a whole lot – my mother’s mother. She was a smart young girl who went through school. Her mother had told her to at least make sure she got through school before she started messing with boys. Soon after she graduated she got with someone, became pregnant and had her first child, and then married the man and it didn’t work so well. So she later married my grandfather and had more children. And he was an abusive man – he cheated on her and did so many things. I admire her because she was able to raise beautiful children with love. And she was able to endure. Like, I couldn’t imagine enduring all of that stuff. And she was still so full of love after going through all of these things. I won’t take the time to talk about all of the things I know about that situation – but just the fact that she was still able to be such a beacon of love – like that’s all you would ever know or hear or feel from her, was just love. And I really admire that. I think it’s remarkable. It’s like how they say that there are angels living on earth or these really remarkable human beings. I feel like I knew one and I’m blessed to have known her so closely.
MW: Was she Christian? Where do you think that ability to stick it out came from?
Anonymous: That’s the thing, she wasn’t really Christian Christian, like in a sense where she didn’t go to church every Sunday – or however often. But she had her beliefs based in the creator. She rarely went to church, she was mostly in the house. And that was her life, she just stayed in the house. When my grandfather died they had been married for over 50 years. She took care of him. He had diabetes later in his life and his legs were amputated and she took care of him all the way like a good wife. And he even said some really evil things even at that point. I remember one time I went off on him because I was like, who you think you are with your legs up here and she wiping your little ass…
MW: And that was your grandfather?
Anonymous: Yes! But that’s ridiculous, you can’t do that to people. And so, me being the person I am… but yeah, she stayed with him. And even that is one of the reasons why I admire her. Not necessarily because of the way that she did it, but just the fact that I can’t even fathom that I could do that. It’s like, what?! What do you have to have inside of you to stay? I don’t know… so in a lot of ways I respect her.
Then on the revolutionary side I would say Assata Shakur. I admire her a lot for her will and courage to speak out at time when she did. There’s so many women… like Sojourner Truth – she spoke out about racism and sexism so early, before they were even really terms we throw around the way we do now. And even my father’s mother, for just going out and being a woman who lived her life pretty much for herself. She went out, she took care of her children, she was a single mother at times, but she worked and she owned her houses and she always had nice cars and she was able to travel and go wherever she wanted. And she was really… she was the first vegetarian that I knew and she was really just non-traditional.
And then my aunts who I lost early. My mother’s sisters were dynamic women who were powerful. They were so creative, they did so many things. One was a seamstress and she put on fashion shows and she did all these wonderful things. My other aunt was a woman who spoke her mind and could be with the guys but also she was a lady and had all this jewelry and adornment, and the special moments she shared with me as far as taking me shopping—like the time she took me on a little shopping spree. My other aunt just up and decided to paint one day and she’s a nice artist. And they came together as sisters and started a business, my mom included.
And my mom is just another whole dynamic woman too, that I admire greatly for her courage. She doesn’t ask for anybody’s permission to do anything that she does in her life. She just does it. And she’s been able to do great things – she’s written Sunday school books for the church. I remember at other people’s churches you would get the Sunday school books that they would order but my mom would actually just write them and create them for our church, and she would put on productions, organize weddings… she would create things all the time, make food, dance, write a book about dancing – and she just recently published another book.
There’s just all of these very close to home dynamic women that I admire a whole lot. And outside of that, there are other people that I meet on my path that I admire. So it’s a lot of women. It’s hard for me to say the one I admire most. And it’s all inspiration. Like even going back to our ancestors, Yaa Asantewa and Solitude and Henrietta Davis and Ida B. Wells and all of these very powerful – Safiya Bakari – all these powerful revolutionary women, I respect and I admire too. So the list goes on for that one.
MW: Where do you see yourself at 40?
Anonymous: I see myself really living and enjoying the fullness of who I am and what I came here to do. I see myself really actualizing a lot of things that I’ve been using a lot of the rest of this time to prepare for. And that’s why it’s so important that I work with myself because I want to get to that place where I can fulfill or manifest or actualize the things that I’m supposed to be doing in greater depths. I feel that that’s what I will be doing. Hopefully I will also have a family, hopefully that will be a part of my life too. And learning how to incorporate those things – family and purpose. Hopefully I’ll mesh them well…
MW: What would you tell a woman who automatically feels defensive or insecure around other women?
Anonymous: Hmmm… that’s a good one. I look for the opportunity to talk to women who feel like that because I really don’t think that they understand what they feel toward that other woman. And what I mean by that is that what they feel towards that other woman is what they really feel towards themselves. Because you said women who get…
Anonymous: Right, defensive because of another woman’s presence or beauty or whatever – that’s been an obstacle that I’ve faced with sisters kind of often, and it’s always been very disheartening for me because for me it’s like, aw man, I’m so excited about meeting them. It’s like, oh, wow, you’re beautiful, intelligent, oh wow, this is wonderful! And then they’re like ugh, I can’t stand you! Or throwing hate instead. And they act like I’m trying to encroach on their attention or whatever… so I’ve done different things at different times. Sometimes I’ve tried to lessen my light or make myself sort of invisible so they can feel they have all of the attention that they need, or all the whatever that they need. Because I’ve just decided to not meet that with confrontation or competition. I don’t want to compete with my sisters. I don’t feel like that’s what we’re here to do. The only person I compete with is myself. Because I can be the best me that I can be so I need to just constantly do that. But competing with somebody else is like, you’re running two different races on two different tracks. How am I competing with you? We’re on two different tracks – I’m just running my race over here and you just running yours. So I just would say, I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend. I’m just your reflection. We don’t have to be at odds with each other . We could just lighten up a whole room. We could shine. My beauty or whatever that you feel threatened by is nothing but something that wants to grow inside you more. So you should want to talk to me so you can find out what’s going on with me and I can find out what’s going on with you, so we can share and we can grow, and be peace. Because it’s really something that you want but you feel like you can’t have it because you don’t have it yet. But you can. You can be here and smile and find beauty in all the things around you. You can do that and it feels good. And it only makes you more beautiful. And that’s what you don’t understand. The thing that you’re jealous of is silly because all it is, is love. So if you be love, then the same thing that you feel like I’m getting and you’re not, you would get. So just be love. That’s all (laughs) Just be love, it’s alright. You are just as beautiful, you are just as awesome, you are just as gorgeous – you just gotta act like it.
MW: So what you’re really saying though, is that beauty comes from within. It doesn’t matter how you look or how I look – the reason that I’m beautiful – this is what I hear you saying – is because I’m being love. And that’s why you can be beautiful too.
Anonymous: Absolutely. That’s exactly what I feel. Because I really don’t feel like – I tell this story – I was having this conversation with my mom. I was like, mom, all these guys are attracted and all these people are drawn to me and I don’t know what’s going on! Like, what’s going on? And she was like, hmmm, I don’t know baby. Cause it ain’t like you Halle Berry or nothing! And I just laughed and laughed. Because I’m not Halle Berry, I’m myself, and that’s all I need to be. And that’s enough to pull people, but it’s not even just that – it’s the work that you do with yourself and the choices you make about how you’re going to exist in a world, and I just choose to love. I don’t want to hold hate for people or feel jealousy – I don’t want to feel those lower parts of myself. I choose to channel and to put my best forward. And it makes me feel good and it draws things to me, anything to me that I want. And so I think it’s just a power that you use within yourself.
And also I think that because of that, beauty is a perception. Because what people see of me – like my mom said it ain’t like you Halle Berry or nothing – but that’s what they see. Now I know my flaws. Maybe you could call them flaws – but they’re just a part of the makeup of me. We are just our perfect imperfections. Beauty is just a perception. And because of all the things that are going on inside – the love that you’re channeling and pushing out to other people – it almost makes them see something different. It’s just like how they say that there are no real colors, that our eyes perceive that this table is brown based on how the light bounces around at different angles and reflects back to our eyes – that’s how we see blue as blue or green as green – so if you can understand that about perception then you can also understand why somebody can see something and see beauty. They don’t even see any of the flaws that you see or that you know of. All they see is beauty. I’ve had people tell me that I have a beautiful smile. Now I’ve been self conscious because I have an extra tooth going on up here – it’s like all this extra stuff going on in my mouth – but they tell me over and over again, you have a beautiful smile, you have a beautiful smile. And in my mind I try to make sense of that, like how can that be true? Because I know in my idea of beautiful smiles – I’ve seen beautiful smiles…
MW: But you do have a beautiful smile! It strikes me because it’s so easy—it just slides onto your face. (laughs).
Anonymous: (Laughs) Okay… I’m just saying I think its perception. And I think that whatever people see that causes that perception comes from within.
MW: Okay, so this next one is kind of a big question. What are your spiritual/ religious beliefs?
Anonymous: You know that’s a big question!
MW: I know. But people need to hear you answer so you need to speak on it.
Anonymous: (Drinks water) Oh gosh. Wow, so… I love this question. Although it’s very big. My spiritual beliefs are – well I’ll start by saying how I became introduced. I feel like all beings are introduced to spirituality before they even get to this place. So I feel like that happened. And I feel like there’s always been this connection that I’ve had with a higher power, or with a higher energy that resonates in an omnipresent way, like always and everywhere. I’ve always felt that way. But then I grew up in a Christian household – that’s where everything started. But even though it was labeled Christian, my parents were very revolutionary in a spiritual sense because even their Christian walk, they broke the boundaries with how they put everything in these boxes. I feel like all religions have these boxes and these boxes limit us. And I think in a lot of ways, they are stepping stones which we are supposed to transcend.
I think at a certain point in humanity that we came so far from the creator that we all knew – because that knowing that you come here with somehow fades as we grow up and get conditioned to this world. But at a certain point I really believe that it stayed with us for a longer time. And I think as humanity, we pull away from that. And the way to get us back is to remind us of our humanity. Because that’s all spirituality is really about, is about being a human. But people don’t understand what being a human is so we have to have this other thing called religion or spirituality to help to remind you. I think religion was formed in such a way where, maybe it had good intentions in the beginning but that can be up for dispute. I don’t necessarily know and I don’t necessarily know that it matters, but I think that at a certain point it was a way to keep us. Like, okay, love your neighbor, remember that this is what you’re supposed to do. Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t do this, don’t do that. It was here to remind us of those human things, and also to remind us that there is something that connects us all and is bigger than us all, and that is us all at the same time. Something to remind us. It seems like humans have a short memory. It becomes very important to teach future generations and pass on tradition and pass on these things to help people remember as a humanity, because we’re all just traveling this one journey together. So I think that’s how religions really started. But because of a lot of things – the perversion of humanity as well – because that’s a part of it too – we’re not just this one thing , this one beautiful thing – but I think we began to pervert it for different reasons and that’s when it became something that it wasn’t supposed to be.
But even in that, I think religion is a way to get you to a place of understanding, oneness, or understanding love in a more full way…understanding how to treat your neighbor – I find these are consistent in most religions – almost all, I dare say. And going back to my parents – even though I grew up in a Christian household – they were very open about saying study what you want to study, learn whatever you want to learn, because it’s only going to bring you closer to the creator, to who God is. They openly were like, ok, do it. And that was very freeing for me. I studied Rastafarianism, Judaism by way of Rastafarianism, Buddhist wisdom, the Baha’i faith, Islam, Shahar – a lot of different things I’ve studied, I see them all connected as just this one thing. If you could imagine different degrees of something – and that’s how I see spirituality and definitely religion in the context of spirituality. All of these various degrees, but we are all meant to go beyond those various degrees. If our spirituality is in a box, then you’re putting also the creator in a box, and I don’t know Her to be in a box.
MW: It’s funny that you talk about it in terms of “degrees” because each religion is like one full rotation. And degrees and rotations don’t form complete circles, they expand into another rotation…
Anonymous: Exactly, because we’re supposed to be evolving. That’s exactly what this is about. So it’s hard for me to say that I’m one thing, or that I subscribe to one thing, like Islam or Christianity or whatever, because what I really believe is that I’ve sort of, in a way, grown past that. It’s almost like a baby and a parent, right? At a certain point you gotta tell your child, don’t touch that stove, don’t do this, don’t do that, it’s better if you do things this way, or that way – they sort of give you advice and you need that because you’re a baby. And that’s what I feel like, in a way, religion is. It has its place. It disciplines you, it gets you ready for certain stages. But at a certain point, you should transcend to adulthood where you don’t need someone to tell you what to do, what you need to be doing, how many times you’re supposed to pray – you should already know what to do and you should have grown beyond the level where somebody has to tell you. This relationship you have with the creator should be something beyond what someone else can tell you. This is what we’re aspiring to be. And when we talk about Jesus and all these other great people, this is where they were. And if we halfway believe the things we say we believe, then we should be able to believe those things too. And we should aspire to do it. And it takes a lot of work and a lot of being real with yourself to get there. And that’s partly what spirituality is – yeah, jealousy might come up in me but I don’t want that to come up in me because I’m striving to be better. I’m striving to be a better human. I’m striving to have a deeper spiritual walk. So I choose not to give way to that thing. So I guess that’s the short answer (laughs).
MW: What do you do for self love and self care?
Anonymous: Umm… I do so much for self love and self care! I love it! I love to love me, I really do. Because I’m just so thankful to be who I am. I don’t even know how else to explain it but I do remember times when I wasn’t so grateful, but I am now. I’ve learned to appreciate so much about myself and even now I’m about to cry because I just feel so overwhelmed and I feel so glad to have that feeling. I know so many people don’t have it. And I really really do have it and I’m so happy.
But, umm… I do a lot. On simple levels, I cook for myself. I think that’s such an expression of love because first of all, I love to eat. (laughs) So to love myself, I cook healthy things that nourish my body and give my body the things that I need to be healthy and well and think clearly. And I take pride in that. I take pride in how I love myself. I run baths for myself – that’s one of my favorite things. I run these really nice baths for myself. Sometimes I buy flowers – roses – and just have a rose bath. I try all of these balms and put oils in the water and have incense and candles burning and sort of just romanticize myself and just enjoy myself and being alive and being here. And also as like a reward for myself because I feel like I do a lot for people and I want to stay motivated to do a lot so it’s important that I really love myself in that way.
I dance. (laughs) To love myself and feel my body move in different ways and feel the rejuvenation that goes through your body when you feel it move and how it can just do what it does. And you can do different things with your body and it’s like learning yourself. And I love that. I sing. I write songs to myself. I express my creativity in different ways. Even just speaking my mind sometimes is an expression of love for myself because I gotta say how I feel. I can’t be quiet and just… I’m important too and I have to remember that and act like it. So by speaking out, I remind myself. I also reaffirm other people and their beauty and the love I have for them. And to me, that is the same almost, as loving myself. It feels good to me, how I love myself.
MW: What is the woman’s role in our community? Or do we have a role?
Anonymous: Of course we have a role in the community! The woman’s role in the community, wow… well, we have a role first to ourselves to be there for ourselves, to be honest with ourselves about what we came here to do and our purpose in our own lives and not to suppress those things that we came here to do. We have a responsibility to be those examples for the future, for the women who are coming behind us, so they can be free enough to be who they are. Because we have to understand that our contribution is important. If it wasn’t, then we wouldn’t be here.
I remember one day I stayed up and I was looking out the window and I was up late between the hours of 2 and 6, and I began to see the night fade down as the day came into focus, and at one point it was a clear line – it looked like half of the sky was day and half of the sky was night, and it looked like the day was pushing the night down. And some sort of epiphany came from that about how the world is set up, or how life is set up. If you were to look at the day as a man and the night as the woman, both have a place in the world and both have to make room for the other, and both are important. So if we don’t value ourselves, first of all before anything else, then we are really not doing our part within the community. It’s important that balance exists. So first I would say our part is to understand that we do have a part. And not to be afraid to take on whatever role – to say the things that we need to say, to bring light to whatever we need to bring light to. And when nobody is listening to us, we can’t be afraid to do what we feel should be done. We don’t have to wait for nobody to tell us what to do. I think that’s our role. And to teach, because most of us are mothers in one way or another and we have a role as teachers. And teaching is not just telling somebody what to do but it’s actually being an example of what to do. So that’s a very huge, huge role because we have to stand strong when other people fall. And that doesn’t mean we don’t give ourselves permission to be human and make mistakes, but it means being honest about those mistakes so that people can learn from them.
And we have a role to respect ourselves so we can set the balance straight on how men and women relate. I really feel strongly about – and some of this, I’m speaking to myself because I’m not all the way at this point either. But I believe this is a role we do have. Because I think roles change at different times depending on your stage of life. And I think at this present time with how young sisters see themselves and how they’re treated, and how prostitution and rape are rampant and our bodies are not our own, and all these other things – we have a responsibility to treat our bodies in a certain way and to just have respect for ourselves so that other people will have respect for us. Mainly men, but also our daughters. We need to value our bodies and question our impulses, like why are we doing this? Why are we engaging with this person? Why are we sleeping with somebody who’s married, or why we let this man between our legs, period? A lot of things tie into that—emotions tie into that and it can be counterproductive to the work you’re trying to do in the community. You could be trying to build in the community and now you got a rift with a brother and now the community is divided and they gotta choose between you and him. It’s just all these things that get in the way of the real work, when really if you just respect yourself from the beginning, we can cut off some of these things and really show brothers that naw, this is how you have to act. This is where you have to come up to in order to get with us. This is what has to happen. You have to be an official man and do the right thing in order to be with us and that’s what it is.
And now we can have healthy families and now we can have healthy communities because that’s where it starts. So our role is very important because the family is the foundation from which everything else can grow. And if we are strong in that place, then there we go. But it takes us being super strong – we gotta be honest, we gotta confront things that need to be confronted, we gotta deal with things that need to be dealt with, you know – even our own mess. And we don’t want to hear that. So it takes a lot. But this is what we must do.
MW: Do you have anything else you want to say?
Anonymous: I think I definitely said enough.
MW: Maybe, but we needed to hear every bit. I truly appreciate you.
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MW: How long have you been married?
Anonymous: For awhile.
MW: When you got married, had you ever been with anyone but your husband sexually?
Anonymous: Maybe two other people, if that. If you can count that.
MW: What are your views on fidelity?
Anonymous: Fidelity means faithful, right? I don’t really know what my views are on fidelity. That’s a good question. I don’t think that if a person is unfaithful to their partner that it means they don’t love their partner. Those are two separate things. You can love someone and still end up feeling attraction – or feelings – for someone else. I think that’s very natural, very normal, very human. And it poses that question of monogamy—are humans meant to be monogamous? It’s not really an easy question to answer but I think that’s a good question. Are we intended to be monogamous? Because maybe we’re not. Maybe you can have feelings for someone and love someone but be in love with somebody else.
MW: Do you think someone could be in love with two people at the same time?
Anonymous: I kind of think so. I don’t know if I ever did that before but at this point I think anything’s possible. I’ve never been in love with two people at the same time so I can’t really say that. I mean I can love one and be in love with the other. At certain points, one might be your favorite. That’s how you have to look at that.
MW: Have you ever had feelings for someone other than your husband?
MW: Did you tell your husband?
Anonymous: I won’t.
Anonymous: I won’t do it. I know when you’re in a marriage people think that you’re supposed to share everything with each other but I think some stuff is okay to keep to yourself. Especially if you know your partner and you know they wouldn’t be able to handle it. Maybe they would or maybe they wouldn’t but just for the sake of loving them enough I’m like, I’m not going to put this on you because I think this is something you won’t be able to handle. I think this is something that may kill you on the inside even if you never voice it.
MW: What if your partner came to you and told you he had feelings for someone else? Or what if he does have feelings for someone else but won’t tell you? Which would you prefer?
Anonymous: I don’t know how I would feel unless I heard it come out of his mouth. And even then I would be understanding because deep down inside I understand what it’s like to have feelings for somebody else. So I can’t come at him like, you dirty mother fucker. I can’t come at him like that when I know what my reality is.
MW: Do you think you might feel relieved?
Anonymous: Yeah. I think I’d feel like, ok we’ve cleared the air. Now we can talk about it.
MW: Is cheating a deal breaker for you?
MW: Yeah, me either. So if he told you he cheated you would stay with him?
Anonymous: Yeah. I have. We’ve been down that road before. Years ago it was a pill I had to swallow. And that was back when I wasn’t thinking about nobody else. I wasn’t interested in seeing nobody else. I was completely and madly in love and that’s probably why it wasn’t a deal breaker for me. I was able to see it as a mistake. It was something that he voiced was a mistake and he said he wanted to continue on with me so I had to take it for what it was. And everything in his actions matched his words so at that point I had to just make up my mind to deal with it. It was a hard pill to swallow though because I was hurt. I won’t lie. And that’s why part of me won’t let me do it to him because I know what it did to me when he revealed it to me. Me being the sensitive person I am – or that I was back then – dealing with that type of stuff, I couldn’t handle it. And I tried my best for damn near ten years to get over it.
MW: Are you over it?
Anonymous: I am now.
MW: Because you got under somebody else? (laughs)
Anonymous: (Laughs) Yep.
MW: Because they say the best way to get over one person is to get under somebody else…
Anonymous: And whoever said it isn’t, lied. That is the honest to goodness truth. It’s not like what I did was something I did because I was purposely going out trying to get revenge. This was years later, after he did what he did. It was something that just came up. So you know, after I did what I did, I was fine with it. I understood. I finally understood. I remember back in the day when he first told me and he confessed everything he did and he was like, you take it so personal like I purposely did it to hurt you… it wasn’t personal. And now I get it. Mine wasn’t personal either. I honestly get it. It had nothing to do with trying to hurt him or remind him or anything like that.
MW: Did you feel like you loved your husband differently before you knew what he did? Did his confession change your love for him?
Anonymous: No it didn’t change how I loved him, it changed how I loved me. How I thought about me. My self-esteem took a hit. And that hurt. Because that whole time, before he confessed what he did, I had suspected it all along. But I was being told that my intuition was wrong. So it made me feel really stupid afterwards when the confession and everything finally came out because I was like, I knew it. And you made me feel like I was stupid for feeling the way that I did, and I wasn’t. You did that to protect her and it made me feel like shit. Not to mention, you know, one chick was a chick that was coming around the crew, you know? So you got this chick smiling all up in my face and the whole time y'all know y'all got this going on. That’s hurtful.
MW: The person that you got with, is it someone your husband knows?
Anonymous: No. And I love that. He has no knowledge. He don’t know him. They don’t cross paths. They could see each other in the street and not know who they are. So, he won’t know.
MW: So… are you having an affair? Or was it a one time thing?
Anonymous: It was a fling. Like a cute little summer fling.
MW: Was it just physical or was it emotional?
Anonymous: I think we both – me and him – thought it was probably going to be just physical. Or at least me – that’s how I went into it. It was like, this is a nice guy, I’ve known him for a long time, he’s nice to me… we had flirted back and forth for years so when things came about, I just went for it. (Looks off into space)
(Looks back at me) What was I saying…? I had a flashback. (laughs) What was the question?
MW: You were saying you thought it was going to be just physical. (laughs)
Anonymous: Good, bring me back. Bring me back 'cus I left for a minute…Yeah, it started out physical like, it’s going to be no big deal. I gave myself permission to do this and it’s just a hookup. But after the hookup – during the hookup – I think me and him both knew like, oh shit, this is for real….
MW: We are not just fucking, we are making with the love…
Anonymous: Yeah it was like, this is serious. And even afterwards… when we finished he was like, okay, make sure you call me. And when I called I think what struck me, and really made me comfortable and happy was when he picked up the phone he was like, how are you feeling? Are you okay? He was checking up on me mentally, emotionally, physically – how are you feeling? And I liked that because it showed concern.
MW: Did it surprise you? That you were able to cheat? Wait, I don’t want to say cheat. Because sometimes I think we let the way we operate in our marriages and relationships define our personal morality and I don’t think it should be that way. Because sometimes being true to yourself pisses everybody else off, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be true to yourself. So I don’t want to say cheat. But what I mean to ask is, did it surprise you that you were able to sleep with someone other than your husband?
Anonymous: It did a little bit but, I gave myself permission to do that a long time ago. Because I told myself when I was in a really dark place and I was hurting. And that’s why I told you earlier about how he had done his dirt and he was confessing and everything… I purposely didn’t go out and get no bum to get back at him with. (Pauses) I don’t know quite how to put it.
MW: You knew you had that card…
Anonymous: Yeah. And I played it. And I waited. I gave myself permission a long time ago. So this wasn’t about cheating or not cheating, or anything. I gave myself permission a long time ago to do what makes me happy. Live in the moment. Whatever comes, comes. Don’t hold yourself back, because he didn’t. And it was at the expense of my heart. And if it ever hurts him – which, I don’t want to hurt him – but don’t hold yourself back from that. So when this opportunity came, I’d already given myself permission. And it’s crazy how – before I even committed it, or whatever you want to call it – I don’t want to say committed because it makes it should like murder – but, I said my prayers to God and I went on. I was like, Lord you gon’ have to forgive me but you know… I held back as long as I could! (laughs)
So I gave myself permission for that. And I know people might say, you should regret it, you should be ashamed – but I don’t feel one ounce of regret, not one ounce of shame. The only shame I had was that the day afterwards, I had such a fucking glow about me. And I couldn’t tell nobody. I just had to keep the happiness that I felt inside and that may sound weird to people, but it’s true. I was like, happy, that I did it. Because I gave myself permission to step out of something that I’d been in so long. Something that was starting to confine me and put me in this role and this box and… you know? So I gave myself that.
MW: Was it hard? I mean… how was it dealing with your husband after that?
Anonymous: It was hard. Only because I know something inside of me had changed. And anytime you go and you be intimate with anybody, I think something inside of you is going to change unless it’s like a random hookup with somebody and you don’t care about them. But when you have feelings for someone, and then you have feelings for another guy, it gets really tricky when you go back to your mate. Because, you know… when a dude get in it… tattoo his name in it…. then…
MW: His name is in it.
Anonymous: His name is in it now. And it gets hard to go back and look at the other dude, like… um, yeah. This is great. (laughs)
MW: This is really nice…
Anonymous: Sure, I’m very happy and satisfied right now. (laughs) But that’s the thing, after that happens, it’s like you’re constantly trying to get back to the other dude. It literally is almost like, an addiction. Like cocaine. Deep shit.
MW: Are you still trying to get back to him? I mean not every day, but some days?
Anonymous: I take it one day at a time. One day at a time. Which means I try not to go after him but I know if he makes his way back, it would be hard for me to turn him down. I got to the point that now that I’ve finally opened up, I feel like I’ll always be open to him. It would be hard for me to shut that down, unless something happens that would make me say, okay, I can walk away from this. But the feelings are too strong. They will never go away.
MW: You’re saying something would have to happen to make you break up with your own feelings for him?
Anonymous: Right. He would have to turn into like a monster or something to where I would be like, oh shit, I dodged a bullet. I gotta get the fuck out of here.
MW: So then are you open to love? Are you open to… if someone else was to come along? When you gave yourself permission, was it like, forever permission? Or just this one time?
Anonymous: It was forever permission. With him. I’m kind of exclusive in that way which sounds weird because of the conversation we’re having, but… I’m not just open. I’m not single. I’m not dating.
MW: It’s like you have one husband and one boyfriend and that’s it. (laughs)
Anonymous: And that’s it. (Laughs) And I’m happy. I’m okay with that arrangement. I’m alright with that.
MW: Have you ever wanted to leave your husband for this man?
Anonymous: No. Because I feel like that’s a dead-end trap. Never leave my husband for him. I will leave my husband for other reasons but I won’t leave my husband for him. Not for somebody that.. you know… I don’t know much about. I’ve known him for years but I don’t know him. I’ve been away for him for years, at certain points. So it’s been times where we haven’t been in contact that I know nothing about. Dude could have had VD or some shit. Or something that would make me like, throw up. So I was always conscious of those types of things. That he probably has his own issues and his own shit that I probably wouldn’t want to tolerate or deal with. And I don’t know about those things. So I can build him up in my mind as that dude who will always have a part of my heart but I can’t say that I would want to leave my husband for him.
MW: It’s like what the woman in the interview last week said – you can love someone and love has no bounds, but in terms of a relationship, there’s certain stipulations. So you’re saying you can love this guy, but as far as a relationship…
Anonymous: No. I could… I could want to build on a relationship with him but that takes an enormous amount of time. I mean, I could see myself building with him – that’s where it was headed… but I had to put the brakes on. Because it was heading toward that. I didn’t know how to deal with that.
MW: So… what if your husband came to you and was like, there’s this other chick I wanna bang… and you could tell him you feel the same way… like, do you believe in open relationships?
Anonymous: I used to consider it because I didn’t know how to deal with the feelings I was dealing with. But now, no. Only because I completely want to be free. I don’t want to be in an open relationship with my husband because I know my husband. For the same reason he wouldn’t want to be in an open relationship with me, I wouldn’t want to be in one with him. Because you’re not going to be out here doing all kinds of nasty, dirty, disgusting stuff to chicks and then be seen in the limelight with me. And people are looking at me like, ugh, does she know what he really does? And that’s also one of the reasons why my husband never wanted to go into one of those types of relationships with me. It would have to be a straight up split where I’m okay what I’m doing. If there are flicks out there with me in them, I’m okay with that because I’m not your wife anymore and it’s alright.
MW: Especially, too, explaining an open relationship to your children –
Anonymous: Yeah because I’m not going to present this idea that we’re together but behind closed doors we’re not together because we’re having these illicit relationships.
MW: So… you said you want to be free?
Anonymous: Yeah. Yeah. I’m okay with that at this point.
MW: And have you communicated that?
Anonymous: Yeah. But it wasn’t real… well received. It was like, what do you mean you want to be free? You can never want to be free – we’re a family! (laughs) And of course we’ll always be family but… I gotta go. I wanna be free!
MW: Have you felt this um… Okay, I’ll speak for myself. Before I got married I would have these periods of insecurity, like, I’m so lonely, don’t nobody want me… I’ll never have a family. But now that I’ve had the continual love and support of one person, who finds me sexy regardless of what I look like – crust in my eyes, dimples in my ass, whatever, baby weight, no baby weight – and then I have these kids so I have this growing authority of being a mother. I’m somebody’s mama. It’s like, in my life in a lot of ways, I’m the top bitch. And I’m doing what I want career-wise, I’m expressing my artistic creativity – I’m starting to feel myself in a way I’ve never felt myself before. And part of that opening is definitely sexual. It’s like a flower…
MW: For the first time in my life I’m really… opening…
MW: So what do you do with that when you are locked down? What have women done all these years?
Anonymous: I don’t know. And that’s a good question. That’s what I have always wanted to be able to ask a woman, but number one, where do you find them? Who’s going to be open enough to tell you that type of stuff? So yeah, I don’t know. That’s a good one.
MW: So you felt yourself flowering too?
Anonymous: Oh hell yeah I was flowering! Girl… (laughs) Blossoming, flowering and glowing… yeah. Anytime you get into something new and you feel that energy, that rush, that oxytocin fluttering around in your brain. That’s how that stuff starts. And that’s why you have to be careful when you say, I’m going to be with this person forever. It stunned me that another person could make me feel this way. It flipped my world upside down. Because when I first married I never in my life imagined that I woulda did something like that. But when it happened, it was so natural. It flowed. It wasn’t something devious or dirty. It was just…natural. It was a natural friendship that just blossomed into something else… but it just blossomed at the wrong time.
MW: Were you happy in your marriage when your fling started?
Anonymous: No. I had just been dealing with it a lot better. And even then, I was dealing with it better than I deal with it now. Now, my patience is just a lot shorter. It’s ridiculous. I would say I was happy because I was still… present, you know? My heart was still in it, my mind was still in it.
MW: You were in love with your husband? Not just loving him?
Anonymous: I think I was in love with him but afterwards… after that happened… I started wondering to myself, have you been in love all this time? Or have you just been content because you’ve got this marriage and it’s so wonderful and people always want this and women whine about this and you have it so you’re content because you’re settling with something that you think women all across America want? And when did it turn to that? When did it turn from being in love to having what people might call, a “perfect marriage?”
MW: Well… for women who might be reading this who are in a similar situation, tell them – how do you get your fuck on and not get caught? (laughs)
Anonymous: (Laughs) Well… I don’t know. I honestly don’t even know how in the fuck I pulled it off. I tell you what, act normal. As normal as possible…
MW: Otherwise it’s going to be like that scene in that Tyler Perry movie where he was like, sixty days ago you came in this house happier than you’ve ever been…(laughs)
Anonymous: Yes! (laughs) And that will fuck it up! I told you when I did it, I was trying to cover up how happy I was and how glowing I was. I had to darn near pull that back some because I couldn’t show him…
MW: Stop smiling!
Anonymous: Yeah, it was like, stop smiling! Don’t be beautiful! Stop being beautiful! You better put that scarf on, wrap that hair up, don’t be walking around here with a new attitude, you are not a new person! You are not that new bitch you think you is, okay? You are the same chick! Get your mind right! That’s the best advice I can give. Don’t start being on no new, different shit. If you go to the store at eight o’clock at night before you cheated, go to the store at eight o’clock at night after you cheated. Not 8:01, not 8:02, not ten o’clock. That’s a red flag, okay? Keep your routine. That’s the only way. I can’t believe I’m giving advice to lead women astray, Jesus please forgive me…(laughs)
MW: Don’t feel bad. This is just for all the women who may have given themselves “permission.”
Anonymous: Just… be you, as much as you can.
MW: Did you ever worry that your husband would leave you if he found out?
Anonymous: I don’t think I worried that he would leave me if he found out. I worried that he would hurt. I’m okay if he leaves… I just don’t want him to hurt so bad. I don’t want him to… I think the main thing that I worry about is him looking at me differently. Because he would stop seeing me as the best friend I’ve been down the years. I would just be this this evil bitch…
MW: But you were able to be his best friend when you found out what he did…
Anonymous: Yeah I know, but we all know about that double standard. Where, as a woman, if a man falls to his weakness you’re supposed to be forgiving and understanding but as a woman, if you fall to your weakness, then men act like it’s a moral crisis.
MW: Like, she’s no longer virtuous…
Anonymous: Yeah. You become a walking, talking moral crisis. I won’t be labeled as that. I’m fucking human.
MW: Damn right you are.
Anonymous: I’m human.
MW: You told me once that your friend didn’t make this about your marriage. It wasn’t about trying to steal you from your husband….
Anonymous: No, he never made it about my marriage. Dude never came at me like, fuck that nigga. He can’t do shit I can do. I can take care of you better than that. He never came at me like that. He never made it personal. It was never about getting back at him or being mean to him. His whole concept was just, come get this dick. I know you’re married. I know you are. But come get this dick. Stay focused on the goal. You need this and I’m trying to give it to you right now. (laughs) I’m trying to give you this penis, no strings attached. Come take it. Which coincidentally, was a great part of the love making… (Stares off into space) Can’t go that deep though. (laughs) Gotta save something.
MW: Bitch, take that glow off your face!
Anonymous: Yeah, gotta take that glow off!
MW: One more question… did you ever complain to this guy about your husband?
Anonymous: No, never. That’s one thing I would always – that’s some advice too – never bring your guy into it. Even when he asked me, so are you happy? I would say, yeah, I’m happy. But I know something is happening between me and you. My husband is out of it. He’s not the reason or motivation for any of that.
MW: Any last words?
Anonymous: No, I’ve said enough. I’m going to zip it up and tuck it away in my heart. (laughs)
MW: Thank you.
Anonymous: You’re welcome.
"Because if your girl walks up right now, I don’t play that shit where you’re telling her, I don’t know who she is. That’s not gon’ happen." [an interview]Read Now
MW: How long were you married?
Legally, nine years. We were together for five and then separated for about a year and a half. And then I left again after three months. It’s hard to even talk about it because so horrible. I don’t remember anything good outside of my children. It was never good.
MW: Not even before your children?
So this is the back story, right? This is where the real stuff comes up. We were together in high school. I went away to school and he stayed home. So of course there was this young love idea of, we’re going to be together, and time and distance doesn’t matter. But during my first year – or maybe it was closer to my second year – I started feeling like I couldn’t do it. Because he’s home calling me and when I’m not in my dorm room it’s like, where are you? And I feel like, even if I ain’t on nothing with other dudes, I’m a free bird. Anything that feels like too much, I’m suffocating. Especially when I know I’m not on nothing and you keep insisting on asking me, where you at? I don’t need that in my life, sorry. Anyway, long story short, I get to the point where I’m like, no, I can’t do this. So we broke up.
Now there’s this guy right – I don’t know if I ever told you about this dude – but it was a guy who I was friends with. It was very organic. At first I felt nothing. I mean, like nothing. It was just strictly friendship. We would just hang out, kick it, I’d call him, he’d call back – it was nothing. He was a friend. But then I was talking to him on the phone this one time and it was like something switched. (snaps fingers) It was like somebody turned on a light and I was like, ooh, I like this guy. And it was so weird because it had been like two years. And he wasn’t even the most attractive dude. But then something clicked. So long story short, we became intimate. It just happened like once or twice but after that it was just like, totally weird. Because we went there and now we can’t go back. And I feel like I wasn’t totally over that, and part of my trying to get over it …. I mean my ex-husband consistently reached out to me during that time and tried to holla back for us to get back. And after things got weird with that guy, I was more receptive to getting back with my ex.
MW: You went back with what was familiar…
Yeah, I went back to what was comfortable and familiar. And I was in high school when I first started dating my ex- husband and it felt good in high school – but when we actually got married, not so much. You know how they say, how you start is how you’ll end? And when I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I didn’t start my marriage from a good, fresh space. I started it from a rebound type situation. Even though this dude and I were never officially together – he was never my boyfriend, we were never in a relationship –I didn’t know what to do with those feelings. So it was just really weird. And so you’re right, I just went back to what was familiar and safe. Because that other situation wasn’t safe and I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t know how to deal with it. That being said, on my end, me being accountable for a failed marriage, I have to honor that. I didn’t go into it in a… not to say I didn’t have a good heart… but I wasn’t honest with myself or my husband about it.
MW: Were you in love with your husband?
At the time I felt like I was. I mean, I felt like aww. Yeah, we loved each other. But I do feel like being in love and loving someone is two different things. But at the time I felt like I was in love with him and loved him and all of that. And I may have been. But I still had this other thing brewing and sitting there that should have been dealt with. Or at least acknowledged.
MW: Did you ever deal with it?
After my husband and I separated, I did. This particular guy… I would see him around the way. Because I mean, even with my husband, even though I was miserable… if this is what it is then this is what it is. I’m not doing hookups on the side. I’m completely miserable but I’m going to honor what I said I’m going to honor. But after my husband and I separated, I actually did talk to the guy and we kind of hung out a little bit. And for me, it was kind of like, ooh, maybe something can come of this. For him, I feel like… I don’t know… even when I think about it I feel like it’s so fuzzy to me and it just doesn’t make sense and I just have to like, let it be what it is. In my mind I tell myself that he may have felt the same way too but there was this guardedness. Because you know, I’m married, I got two kids and I could go back to that. And I remember having conversations and even telling him. I’m about to go back. And he was like, really? I don’t know what it was like for him in college – but even back then, he kind of pulled back a little bit. Not that I wanted to be his woman but I just feel like he totally kind of stepped back…
MW: That’s how dudes are – when you’re totally available, they’re gone, but when you’re totally unavailable, they’re there…
Exactly! But when he had the opportunity while I was separated, I feel like he should have jumped on it but he didn’t. And it ended real bad for us. We had hung out – me, him and his roommate had gone to a bar – oh, this is so bad, girl. Horrible. And that’s why I don’t never want to judge nobody because we all have our times and our moments. So we went out and I got drunk, not knowing how to deal with my feelings and my emotions …
MW: (Laughs) Getting that liquid courage…
Right. So his roommate drove us in his car and I’m like throwing up out the window…
MW: Oh yeah, I’ve been there…
So I’m hanging out the car, scummy. I’m in the toilet throwing up. And then I said to him, I love you! Do you love me back?! I mean because we hooked up in like 99, so it had been 7 or eight years since then. I just needed to know. But the scene was just bad. If you didn’t know us and you just rolled up… I mean I’m drunk on the floor…
MW: Talking bout, I love you….
Right. But I feel like there was no judgment from him in that moment. But then he pretty much said no, he didn’t feel the same way. It was a dagger to the heart. I felt like God, the universe, the ancestors, whoever – was watching over me because I was pissed and I shouldn’t have even driven down the block but I drove all the way home. I told him to just leave me alone because I can’t get over you if I’m talking to you and sometimes hanging out with you. I can’t do that. Because when we would hang out, he would be like, okay, see you later, and I would be like, no, lets go lay up or something. So I can’t just hang out with you and be cool because I want more. So I was like, don’t talk to me anymore. I decided I would try again to be a wife.
MW: But it’s hard to be a wife when you have these unresolved feelings hanging around….
And I do feel like there was something there with him. It wasn’t all that I thought that it was. It wasn’t all I wanted it to be. Clearly there was an imbalance. I just had to acknowledge, he does not feel how you feel. You’re telling yourself that it’s more, but it’s not. And the man I’m with now taught me that. He helped me see that when a dude really wants to be with you, all that other stuff ain’t gon’ matter. They gon’ go hard in the paint. Even if he was scared that me and my husband would get back together, if he really wanted to be with me he would take this time and shoot his shot and go hard and say, I don’t want you to back – if the feelings were really there. Like my man now came hard when I gave him the opportunity to really show me. When a dude is feeling you, he gon’ get at you. He ain’t gon’ leave you wondering, maybe, maybe not.
So anyway, that was the situation before the marriage and after the marriage. In fact I feel like my feelings for him still kind of exist. Like, just the love itself. However, I had to move on in some way. I couldn’t wait until I didn’t feel nothing for him to move on because I’m like, it may never go away. So what, I’m just not gon’ be with nobody?
MW: Well do you still talk to him, though?
I don’t. When I told him to leave me alone, he did. And then maybe a year later I told him that I just wanted to clear the air because I feel like the last time we talked was weird, and we both live in Chicago and I didn’t want to run into him and it be awkward and weird. So I’ve seen him around the way but there’s been no conversation. Because… why? You know? What’s the point? But one of the things I do want to do, though… because you learn and grow and get better and go through things…. so I just wanted to be clear when I started my current relationship, that even if I did have residual feelings, like how do you deal with that? Because I felt like part of my accountability with my failed marriage was not being honest about having some old stuff lingering around. And so before I got into my current relationship I had told myself, whether somebody comes around or not, I’m just not going to deal with that situation. So it wasn’t like I’m running around with these feelings and I’m running to my man for comfort. It wasn’t like that. I had totally shut those feelings down and opened myself up for something new. I had to put it in a box, if that makes sense. Because the actual feelings may never go away. So I can’t wait until I don’t have these actual feelings to go on with my life.
And I met my current love shortly after I made that decision. But actually, he had been around. But I don’t do messy, right? And him and his girl had kind of broken up – they were like back and forth. He had called me and at the time he was staying with his brother and I’m like, that don’t mean nothing to me. You could be mad at her and go right back.
MW: Right, because you figure, I’ve done that. So I know what that looks like…
Yeah! (laughs) I didn’t want to get in the middle of it. Because I remember, he met me at this book store and we had ate and talked. He was still kind of messing with his ex. We were in the front of the bookstore and he wanted to go sit in the back. And I was like, so you trying to hide somewhere? You scared your girl gon’come in? I said, if you’re really done with that, why would you care? So it just felt like I shouldn’t be there. Because if you feel like you don’t want her to see us, that means you’re still in it. And I’m going to honor that. Even if you don’t honor that, I’m gon’ honor that. I’m going to honor the woman in your relationship even if you feel like you want to do something extra. He tried to holla but I couldn’t. I’m second to none. Because if your girl walks up right now, I don’t play that shit where you’re telling her, I don’t know who she is. That’s not gon’ happen. But eventually, once I was out of my marriage and I shut down the college boo thing, he called me. He told me he had his own place and I was like, ok. To me, that’s someone who’s really moved on. You’ve invested in your own spot, you’re not at your brother’s house. So then I could kind of take him seriously. So we started talking. We weren’t together together, but I was open to building with him because it seemed like he was done with the other situation.
MW: So when you ended your marriage, but before you were officially with your current love, were you scared to be a single mom?
I wasn’t. You know how some women say, I’m scared that because I got these kids, won’t nobody want me? I’ve never felt that way. That means nothing to me at all. Well do you mean in the sense of getting another mate? Or just being on your own?
MW: All of that. Getting another mate, being on your own, raising the kids by yourself – all of that. Because see for me, I imagine I would be scared of losing my husband’s help. But you said that your guy went out all the time and didn’t help you anyway, so I guess you felt like a single mother within your marriage?
Bam, exactly. Now with my guy now, that would be a different story. Because he does so much. He is totally present. So if he didn’t exist, that would be very overwhelming to me. But if it came down to it… I’m not good with discomfort. I don’t do well with that. Things have to…. I’m just very in tune with myself. So if something is not right, or makes me feel overly uncomfortable, I would have to release it and just deal with whatever. So if me and my man was to have problems and it was just so much with us, I would just have to suck it up. Because I feel like whatever issue that might be causing me pain would outweigh all the physical work I would have to do if he left. I have to be clear here (points to her heart) to even function physically. Like whenever we’re having an off day or something is not right, I’m like dude let’s get together and figure this out because I’m too uneasy. It’s affecting me. I can’t even think. So we would have to work it out or I would have to release the relationship. And if we couldn’t work it out, I would just have to do what I have to do.
But with my ex- husband… you’re right. I mean, he wasn’t doing shit, I was doing everything myself anyway so it was like, whatever. But there was a time when I remember my oldest daughter crying for him – because we had left and I had gotten my own place and all of that. She was crying, I want my Daddy! And I was crying, I want him too! So I’m not going to act like it wasn’t hard. I mean, it wasn’t easy. And it was scary. It wasn’t scary in the sense of finding another guy, it was just hard in terms of, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. You know how you get attached to what your life is supposed to look like? And then it was like, I didn’t see this when I had my vision. And I felt cheated because – although I’m still smart – I was really smart in school. I was doing research. I was on a good path. I used to think that if I didn’t leave, I would probably be a professor…
MW: You mean you left school?
Yeah, Ieft school to get married when I was 21. My senior year, I transferred to a school back home. But before that, I was doing good. I was real scholarly. So over the years I’ve just been really dealing with that. Because I left school for him and it ended up being some bullshit. Ultimately, life is life is life, I mean, coulda woulda shoulda. But at the time, I felt like I gave up so much and then it failed.
MW: What was it like dating after your divorce?
Well here’s the thing. By the time I was officially divorced I had already been with my current love for a year. So a better example of when I first started dating would be when my husband and I first separated because that’s when I was back in the world dating, talking to guys. Because for the past five years it had just been my husband – good, bad or ugly. I didn’t reach out to anyone. It was weird, being back in the world. I’m not a big… dater. I don’t know how it is now because me and my man have been together for some years, but it seems like there are so many games. Like people can’t just be real. And when you are real, folks say you’re moving too fast. I just want you to tell me what it is. I’m just a very upfront, honest person. What you see is what you get. I lay it all out. And that may be a turn off for some people. They might feel like it’s too much. I don’t know how to play. I don’t know how to do that.
MW: And once you get married and you have kids, it’s like, I’m not on that anymore. No games.
Yeah. At the time I was kind of open to dating but now if my guy and I was to break up, for me to start dating again, it would have to be super organic. You would have to fit into this schedule over here. I feel like I wouldn’t have time for it. You would have to be super real, honest, upfront – other than that, leave me alone. I can’t. I got too much to do, point blank.
MW: Because you have four kids, right?
(laughs) Yes. For the record, I have four kids. The youngest is one. That’s 17 more years of raising.
MW: Oh my gosh. So you’re not married, but you and your guy live together?
I’m not remarried but we’ve been living together for about four years. It’s so funny because… men are so funny. They think everything is a conspiracy. We had been dating about two years when we moved in together. Actually he moved in with me because I already had children and I didn’t want to uproot them so he moved in with me. I swear like, a month later I was pregnant. And he wasn’t mad or anything, but he was like, how did that happen? So, everything is a conspiracy now. But truthfully… I was actually trying though.
MW: You were trying but you didn’t tell him?
Yes. And no, I didn’t tell him. I was just ready. But I mean we were doing it raw. You a man, you know how this happens. But girl I was putting my legs up and everything. So yeah, we’ve been living together now for about four years. And for me, I’ve been getting clear and thinking about why I didn’t want to get re-married. Because even before I got divorced, what I told myself was, I didn’t know if I would legally get married again but I wouldn’t withhold love. I wouldn’t be like, I don’t want to be with anyone. Like I felt like I would always be with someone. I wasn’t done with love. I was done with marriage. Because you can be married and it can be shit. Or you can not be married and it can be great. To me, it ain’t really about the marriage. In my opinion, the marriage is not going to make or break anything. If anything, marriage can make things harder because you have that attachment to the outcome. It becomes about, we gotta show the world we can overcome. Well, I’ve been miserable as fuck. So paper or not, I just want to make sure I have a good relationship. And if I can’t have that, maybe it’s shortsighted but, deuces. Sorry. I’m not gon’ be miserable for the rest of my goddamned life. (laughs) And I’m not really attached to any religion and I feel like religion plays a huge part in that too. I remember when I was thinking about leaving my husband and I talked to my aunts and different people and they were like, just hold on…
MW: What God has put together, let no man tear asunder! (laughs)
Yes! And that’s so heavy. The weight of the world, the weight of Jesus on my shoulders! And then it’s like, Jesus sees me crying at night. Jesus sees me miserable as fuck. That was really heavy on me. So I don’t really knock religion but it’s just not my thing anymore. Did I answer your question?
MW: Well you pretty much answered my next question … I was just going to ask why you don’t want to get married.
Well actually – since my man’s never been married, I feel like he shouldn’t not get married. If that’s something he wants, I want to be open to it too. That’s why I’ve been investigating and figuring out why I don’t want to get married. And so if he wants to get married, because I love him, it’s like, alright.
MW: But you told him that you don’t believe in forever, right?
Yeah, I’ve told him that. In fact, I’ve kind of stopped saying it because I’ve told him enough. I don’t want him to think, how many times is she going to say this? So he knows. But now I think we’re going to make it official. We’ve been talking about it. Probably sometime this year. So I’ve kind of changed my mind. I’ve changed my mind about a lot. I said I wasn’t gon’ have no more kids and he got two up out me. Love will do that. Love will change the whole game.
MW: What is it like watching him be a father to your oldest two kids?
That’s been a process. And this is another thing that kind of pisses me off about my ex. He had consistently told the children that I’m the reason we’re not together. That I’m the reason we’re not a family. And see, children already take stuff on. My daughter is closer to her dad than my son.
MW: Well, also, she was a little bit older when you got divorced.
True, but I think it’s also that whole “daddy’s girl” thing. And so he told them it was my fault and they believed that. And they would bring it back to me. In their minds, I’m already the reason why their father and I are not together. So when they see my guy, they’re like, who is this new dude? They never said it to me out of their mouths and they didn’t really act that way but I could see the reservations in them in terms of like, really opening up. So they’ve always been open and accepted him as my partner. But I feel like recently, just within the last year, they’ve opened up to him being a dad to them. I’m not one who’s going to say, he your new daddy. If that happens, they have to feel that way. I’m not going to push that on them. I’m not going to force him being a dad on them even though he’s been my partner. On his end, he had to deal with a lot because my ex hasn’t been doing what he needs to do – financially and otherwise. So I always have to like, step back and get out of my feelings and look at this with clear eyes as it relates to his end, and also to the children. I always feel like the middle person. I’m the link between my man and my kids. I’m the one that they all love. And now that we have these new babies I think that’s made it more organic, too. Because now there’s more children and he’s just Daddy across the board. Before the babies came, my man wasn’t viewed as Daddy Daddy. He didn’t have children. He wasn’t anybody’s daddy. So I didn’t force it. It just happened organically.
However, I feel like my man would just get frustrated sometimes – and I would tell him, you can’t take the kids into this – they have nothing to do with the money their Dad is sending or not sending. They don’t have nothing to do with the adult stuff. So there will be times where my daughter talks about her father. And my man is thinking, this mother****—He was pissed. Because it’s not just that my ex wasn’t giving me money – he did other things to disturb me. But I would encourage my man to keep it separate. My kids don’t understand that and it’s not for me to explain to them. They don’t need to understand that. I don’t need to explain what their dad is doing or not doing. I’m not going to lie and make him out be something he’s not. But they don’t need to be privy to all of what we know about him. It’s going to unfold. If it’s bullshit, they’ll see its bullshit.
It’s finally better now but in the past it had been about finding that balance. I was in the middle between them and my man, and also I was trying not to let my anger towards their Dad spill over into how I treat them. Because you can’t be mean. You have to detach all of that from the kids because they have nothing to do with that. And I wanted them to look at my man as more than Mommy’s partner, but as a guy who is here supporting you, taking care of you. Like, I’m running to the store, they’re like, oh I want to go. But if he’s running to the store, they don’t want to go, you know what I mean? And it hurts his feelings. He wonders sometimes, why don’t they like me? And I told him, don’t take it personal. It’s not you. I think if it was any guy here, they might say, that’s not my Dad. But just recently for Valentine’s Day, he got them some chocolate and they were like, thanks Mom and Pops! Little things like that are so exciting to him because he feels like, I’m their Dad. I’ve been here. But my thing with him is that you can’t make them feel that. I mean I know he’s been here supporting them – not just financially but just being herE for them. But ultimately, that feeling has to come from them. So in the past it’s been kind of tough because of how he feels about it, and for me, I’m just always checking to make sure the children are feeling ok. So now it’s good.
MW: How long were you vetting him and dating him before you brought him around the kids and let him meet them?
Maybe about a year. And then we moved in together two years later. When me and my ex-husband separated, there had been maybe three or four dudes but none of them had ever met the children. But once it started getting serious and we realized we really wanted to be in a relationship, that’s when he met them. He would come over and we would go out to eat and stuff, and then maybe a year later after they had been exposed to him, that’s when he moved in.
MW: Who is that man in my mama’s bed!
I know right! (laughs) Who’s that guy?
MW: So… you and I used to talk about soulmates all the time. Do you still believe in soulmates?
I do. I believe in them in a different sense. Maybe it’s just life or being exposed to things or experiencing things – but I feel like I’m over the whole, “you’re my soulmate, you’re the one” ideal. Number one, I feel like you have more than one soulmate. Like, my sister and I call each other soulmates. I feel like the soulmate may not be attached to that romantic, you’re the one, we’re- going- to- be- together- forever love. I think it’s more so, you’re the one to give me the biggest lesson and get me to grow, spiritually and otherwise. Does that make sense? So I still believe in it but I see it in a different sense.
MW: Was your husband your soul mate?
MW: Is the guy you’re with now your soulmate?
I think he is one. But when I think about it in that context it would be the college dude who I didn’t end up with.
MW: That is so weird!
I know. I think about these things and investigate. I’m very intellectual and I try to figure stuff out. I felt like he was my soul mate. I feel like he is my soul mate. But that takes away nothing from my current relationship. Where I am is where I need to be. If college dude came around, it would be nothing. I wouldn’t say, oh ok, let me be with you now. Absolutely not. But in terms of what came up and the hold the relationship had on me, I grew the most from that situation, from the feelings and stuff tied to that. When you relate it to the way I view soulmates now – the ones who get you to grow spiritually and show you your stuff – he would be the one. I feel like on a natural level I went through the most with my ex-husband. On a spiritual level, I went through the most with the college dude. And I feel like all of that has made me a great person to be with my man right now. So it’s not in vain. I’ve learned so much from dealing with these other men that I can now present myself in a way that’s non-dramatic. But…I think the other guy – I think spiritually – on a soul level, he touched me the most.
MW: Do you ever miss him?
I do miss him. I liked how he thought. See for me, this is what has always been attractive in dudes – I call it the balance. I like people who read and think and all of that, and he was that. But I also like that balance of street cred with a little bit of swag…
MW: Oh yeah. (laughs) He has to be a little hood…
Yeah. And he had all of that. He had a love for people. He was almost like the male version of me. And we had great conversations. And I write, and he was the type of person who would read it. He would be totally open to talking about it. Just building in that way. So for me, it was a matter of me liking on him and being attracted to him, but it was also a meeting of the minds. So I do miss him. And I know if I saw him today, it wouldn’t feel like 7 or 8 years have passed. It just wouldn’t. It would be so natural for us to just… shoot the breeze and … catch up.
MW: So earlier, we were talking about telling your spouse if you have feelings for someone else – or knowing when and if you even need to. What if majestically, this guy started working at your job? So it’s not like you’re calling him and reaching out to him, but you were just around him all the time due to no fault of your own.
I would have to tell my man. Because that’s just being honest. And I’m so honest with him because… I mean, number one, I just want to be honest. But number two, I wouldn’t want anything to come up and I haven’t told him, and then he says I’m holding stuff from him. Like recently, this guy – and he was just strictly a friend – he texted me and said, I have tickets to a concert, does anyone want to join me? I think it might have been a group text. And I told my man because I wouldn’t want it to come up later and he say, oh, you keeping stuff from me. So I would tell him. But that would be hard. Because then it would be like, I’ve had feelings for you for twenty years and now you’re here. I wouldn’t feel tempted but I just… I wouldn’t want my man to be in that situation with somebody that he had been liking on or had feelings for and then he got to see her every day. Every day? For eight hours? Naw, that ain’t cool. But I would tell him. Because it’s the right thing to do.
MW: Yeah…. So switching gears – with children in the house and both of you working, does all the sex you’re not having ever become an issue?
That’s a priority. It has to happen. We have to make it happen. It’s important. And when I feel like he ain’t reaching for me – and it doesn’t even have to necessarily be sexually – I’ll say, what’s going on? You ain’t tapped me on my butt today. (laughs) If you ain’t reaching for me, I want to know what’s wrong because sex is so normal for us. So I’ll bring it up to him and he’ll bring it up to me. Because that has to be the norm. It can’t be that we’re so busy that we don’t have time for each other. I mean, my children are never going to go without. They’re always going to eat. I’m going to do for them even if I have to make myself to do for them. And so I have to view my relationship the same way. It can’t be a side note. But it’s so easy to do that to your spouse, like, oh, they’re grown, they’ll adjust. No. You can’t do that. Just like the kids have to eat, you have to make sex a priority.
MW: What’s too long without it? A day? Two days?
(Laughs) Naw, it’s not like that. I would say, if it ain’t happened in like three, four days, something’s not right. Somebody’s got to stay up or wake somebody up. It’s got to happen. No ifs, ands or buts.
MW: Well you kind of answered this already but – do you ever get the urge to stray? Like, I know society tells us that stereotypically, men have these urges – not that they necessarily follow them. But people never acknowledge that women – once you’ve had children and you’re following your dreams – those things can make you feel very alive. And when you feel alive, and you’re in tune with your higher power – you had a baby but you dropped the weight – men still trying to holla—you feeling yourself – you begin to really feel like a sexual being…
Yeah, but all of that energy goes to my man. He’s funny – he gets so hype about cheating because of his experience. He’s been cheated on. So he’ll say, it’s easier for women because when we walk down the street, dude’s look. I don’t even allow myself to go there. Number one, because I’m happy. Even if I wasn’t happy, like when I was with my ex – I didn’t go there. But now I’m in this great relationship so I definitely wouldn’t do it. When my man suggests otherwise, I tell him, the only thing you have to worry about is these books and these words. That’s what I get lost in. I get frustrated when I can’t read and write and study as much as I want. But I don’t feel like I’m missing out on any dudes out here. I just don’t feel that way. And maybe because it is really good at home right now. I feel very fulfilled. Especially now that I’m writing every day, I feel really fulfilled. My life isn’t perfect – it’s really busy and there’s chaos. Every moment is accounted for but I can appreciate that because I only give my time and energy to things that are important to me. There’s only so much time in the day, so I only give it to the things and the people who deserve it, and who mean something to me. If I’m not front and center in this family situation with this man – I’d have to step back and reevaluate if I want to be with you. Because number one, I can’t be phony and he’ll know it anyway. And number two, if I’m not feeling it, I’m just not feeling it. Point blank and period.
MW: What do you think about polyamory?
That sounds dangerous to me. I can't do the two in one.
MW: I don’t think women are built that way.
I think some are. I just know I can’t. That’s just me. My shades of gray are very minimal. It’s either this or that. And I think that’s good in some ways and I actually think it’s bad in some ways. You have to balance that out and balance is hard for me sometimes. If I’m with you, I’m with you. And if I don’t fuck with you, I don’t fuck with you, point blank and period. It ain’t no, on the fence. But I kind of admire people who could do that. I just know I couldn’t. I don’t even want to picture my man with someone else. And then he’s getting it?
MW: But you’d be getting it too!
It’s interesting. But see, that means feelings are going to spark.
MW: Well definitely – especially for a woman.
Even for a man. See, this why I’m a feminist, right? Because I feel like when we attach gender roles or gender ideas we lose our humanness. I think when we suggest that the women do this and the men do that – I mean, men fall in love. It can happen either way. That’s a human thing. But ultimately it’s like, for me, if he’s taking her and laying her down, those are very comforting things. You’re not just trying to get one off. So where is this going? You might say you’re going to stay with your family, but you’re not just trying to bust one. You are building with this person. That’s why I don’t like the idea of side chicks. It’s like, no, he has another relationship. She’s not a side chick. He’s building another relationship with another woman, point blank and period. They might not be married with kids but he’s building with another woman. And I think sex is healing. It does something. I need it in my life. I need it like water. It’s a need. So when you’re giving yourself to someone like that, that’s dangerous. It’s so much more than physical. Because for my man to step out on our family, he has to feel something for this other woman. I’m sure my man sees women that he’s attracted to all day. But if there’s one that he’s willing to take that risk with and be with like that, something’s going on.
MW: You know how people say, if you love one person it doesn’t take away from another person. And I believe that. But only as far as love itself…
But we’re not talking about relationship and a marriage.
MW: Right. Because building takes time. And when you have children and there’s only so many hours in the day and you gotta be here for me and feed them and cook and clean and help me pick out clothes – when you start spending time to build with someone else, now you are taking away from me.
Exactly. Loving someone and being in a marriage/ relationship are two different things. You can love someone but that doesn’t mean you’re in a relationship with them. You can love and that’s great. But when you’re in a relationship…to me, love is unconditional. I can love you no matter what. But to be in a relationship, this is what I need.
MW: (Laughs) There’s some stipulations around this piece.
Yeah, love is unconditional but if I’m in a relationship, this is what I require. And I need to know what you require. And if we get to the point where it’s not working, then we should renegotiate and see how we can move forward. Because there are some rules to relationships. I expect you to be faithful. I expect you to be honest. There are conditions. Me loving on you? I mean, I can love college dude and it is what it is and nothing happens. But for this relationship, I require x, y and z. Point blank and period.
MW: Good answer. So, what did you learn from your last relationship that helped you in this one?
Just like I need to be free and be who and what I am, I learned that everyone needs space to do that. And I just feel like if we get to the point where I’m like, I need you to do this and I’m nagging… I can’t stand to be a dictator. So I’ve learned not to be like that. I’ve learned to give people space to grow and build within themselves, and I need to compliment that. I’m not your mother trying to tell you what to do and not do. And that’s kind of how it was in my marriage. I need you to want you be here. My motto for my man – and sometimes the children – is be free. Do what you want to do. And if at any given moment, what you want to do is not the right thing for me or with me, we need to investigate that. I don’t like that struggle. I don’t want to nag.
MW: So you’re not trying to change a person. You either come ready made or….
Exactly. The way I viewed him was, if this man never changes – and that could be his career, his habits, whatever – because he was really messy when I met him. But in my mind I was like, you just have to deal with him how he is. Don’t try to change him. It’s like if my hair is natural and I get with a guy who’s like, you ain’t gon’ get a perm? No. don’t change me. When I came to him, there was no trickery. What you see is what you get. So for me, I had to ask myself, if he never changes, am I okay with that? Now, ideally, in relationships people grow and change but it has to happen organically. I need to give people space to be who and what they are. And on my end, I need people to give me space to be who and what I am. So we can flow together. And if we don’t, we have to step back and see if this is what we want.
MW: For me and my husband, when we got together, it was really organic. We kept saying that – oh wow, this is so organic. But when you put labels on it, a lot of times people stop letting it be organic because we start making ourselves flow toward whatever that title says we are.
And that’s why people have to be free to be who and what they are. Because my married might look different from your married. I read a few of your pieces about women with the housework and everything – and as far as the distribution of labor in my house, we all do everything. He washes clothes. There is no, I’m a woman so I have to do this. That doesn’t exist in my house. I simply don’t buy into gender roles. My son will wash the dishes and my daughter will take out the garbage. Everybody does what has to be done. I think people have to define it for themselves.
MW: What do you know now that you wish somebody would have told you ten years ago?
I wish somebody would have told me don’t hold back. Go hard. It’s like that Marianne Williamson quote. [“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”]
As it relates to my worth in general, I always wanted to relate to people. So I felt like if I really just be myself, I might overshadow people. I felt like people wouldn’t be able to relate to me. And now – and it goes to that other quote about when it gets to the point where being closed tightly in a bud feels harder than it does to bloom – at some point you can only hold back for so long and then you have to get out there and be who and what you are. In the past I was holding back in a lot of ways, and I thought that was admirable. I thought it was a way to relate to and connect to people. But it ain’t. I have to be who and what I am in any given moment. And if that means I won’t always connect to people, that’s okay. I felt like with me moving away from religion and Christianity, I’ve lost friendships because of that. And that was really hard. I don’t know if it’s that whole “equally yoked” thing, like they can’t have friendships with people who aren’t like them. In terms of religion, I’ve even felt that within my family. I used to make my kids go to church with my mom because I wanted a break…
MW: I do that too.
But the older they get, I feel like, if they want to go, they can go. I’m not going to make them. And it felt like she had a problem with that because she was like, you were raised like that and they should be raised like that. For a minute I felt like there was little tension there but I’m over it. I’m going to do what I want to do in my life for me and my kids.
MW: Can you talk about what you said before, when you said you’re a bitch if you don’t write? Because I thought this thing was recording but it wasn’t, so we lost it…but that was important.
For me, I’m becoming more disciplined in my life. There are things I have to do – like take care of the kids – but now I’ve been taking care of myself. I was exercising last week in my living room on this little elliptical machine because I know I can’t get to the gym. And my kids were all over the place and I felt like, I don’t care! I’m going to be on this thing for twenty more minutes! It didn’t matter because I’m like, I need to do it for me. I think that’s where resentment comes in, for women especially, because I think in society we are taught that everything comes first but us. But it’s like, yeah, I’m a mother, I’m a wife but I have dreams. What about me? And if we suppress that, it’s going to come up. So I would get up and get the kids ready, and take care of work business and my clients, and then it’s like, I did all this other stuff for everybody else – what about me? And I became a bitch. Just real cranky. So now, I make myself get up an hour earlier to write, and I have an extra pep in myself because I’ve done something for me. And I used to try to do it at night, like, okay, I got the kids down, now I’m going to write. But I would fall asleep. I had to change it to where my day starts off with – I’m not going to say the most important thing because it’s a given that our families are important – but in order to take care of them, I have to make a space to take care of me. Even when I don’t feel like doing it, I force myself to do it. Because if I let that hour get by and I get into mama mode without having done something for myself, I’m pissed. I’m a real bitch. (turns to recorder) I’M A REAL BITCH. (laughs) So I have to do it.
MW: (Laughs) Thanks girl. I appreciate you.
"I know you worried about how the bills is gon’ get paid but what that got to do with us having sex? We can have sex if the lights get cut off. The lights need to be off anyway." [an interview]Read Now
MW: I heard through the grapevine that you’ve started running. You look good girl! What got you started?
Running saved my life after my granddaughter died, because I was very depressed. I went back to New Orleans and I was angry. My spirit sisters in New Orleans held space for me. When I found out initially that she had died, I was so distraught and my spirit sisters all came within minutes. They descended upon the house and just encircled me, bathed me, got me in my right mind. They gathered all their money together, bought a ticket, and put me on a plane to come home. They were like, you gotta be strong because you gotta take care of your family. And that’s what I did. And then I brought my daughter back to New Orleans with me and they did healing work on her and prayed and laid hands on her and sent her back home stronger. And when she left and got on the plane, I cried. And I heard distinctly, my granddaughter's voice in my ear – and she was a baby, but I felt like it was her spirit – and she was like, run. Go run. And at first it was just a block, two blocks. And now it’s miles (laughs). I’ve gotten to miles. On average I do about four miles every time I go out. I’ve been increasingly going further. I’ll be doing my first half-marathon soon.
So, you know, running saved my life because I was depressed and I wanted to leave here. You know, death has that… you have to come to terms with death. Which is why I’m so into ancestor worship. Because it’s about making peace and knowing that energy… we’re all energetic beings. We don’t lose energy, it just takes another form. And that form to me, is ancestor. They’re in the spirit world and they’re working and I believe it. Because honey I go to my altars and I have a conversation. I say, I don’t know how I’m going to pay this bill Grandma. Daddy, I don’t know what I’m gon’ do. Imma have to leave this up to you. And they come through every time. I’m like, thank you, thank you creator, thank you ancestors, thank you for being in the spirit world and always being a guiding and driving force for me. So that’s the way I make peace with death, knowing that it’s just life transformed to another way.
MW: I used to get so freaked out about death because so many people kept dying. But then I realized that there’s just as many people over there that love you as are over here. You know, if Grandma and Granddad and Auntie and cousin can do it, then I can do it too when my time comes.
Right! So when my time comes, I’m going to be on the other side helping out my folks. I’m going to be annoying. (laughs) Because spirit has got your back. You make decisions but you don’t always have to be right. In our minds, we start thinking that we have to be perfect, and we don’t get to make mistakes. And that’s just a falsehood. We do get to make mistakes. I’m not a perfect parent, I’m not a perfect spouse, and I don’t profess to be. I’m on this journey. It’s a learning experience every time I walk out my door, every time I’m blessed to be able to wake up and breathe that life energy into me. I am not going to work to be perfect. I’m going to work to be a person that contributes to the society in the only way that I can. And that’s all that I can do. I know people are like, oh you have to perfect, but I’m not buying into that. That is one of the ways that they oppress us. There was a time when I felt like, oh I gotta be perfect, and I don’t deserve to be in certain spaces unless I show up perfect … and then we buy into this belief that we don’t belong in these well off spaces and these nice places, like we don’t deserve to be there.
I’m a student laureate for the state through my university… and the whole time I was in my ceremony, among a sea of white folks… I was feeling like, I don’t deserve this. Even though I had worked hard and I graduated with honors, and I did so much – because it’s based on what you do in your community, your grades — even though I had done all of this phenomenal stuff, I still sat in that chair and I felt like I did not deserve to get this award. And so as I had been processing information about what I deserve and releasing fear in my life – because that’s been a constant work for me – I realized my fear in that situation was because I felt like I wasn’t perfect. My skin wasn’t perfect. I was among a sea of white folks who I have to be certain way around, and my dialect and my speech has to be a certain way in order to be a laureate. Hell, I ain’t Gwendolyn Brooks! (laughs)
MW: Shoot, Gwendolyn Brooks wasn’t “Gwendolyn Brooks” in that respect! She could be real hood.
Exactly! And I had to say, oh my God, you deserve it, yes! Ancestors opened the door and you need to walk your black ass through it. (laughs) Walk through that door.
MW: Even if you ashy.
Even if you ashy. Walk through the door. You got crust in your eye. Walk through the door. Ancestors opened up a way for you. They smiling down on you in this very moment. This is a sacred moment. And don’t devalue it by thinking you don’t deserve it, or you’re not worthy. Or that you gotta be perfect to be worthy of it.
Ase. (laughs) Shit.
MW: So, I saw on Facebook that you and your wife recently had a civil union?
We did. We were the first couple to get our civil union in the state of Illinois.
MW: What? Awww! Ya’ll so fancy! You just gon’ be the first, and the first black, and the first black women… (laughs)
Baby let me tell you. I had to trick this woman. I was like, babe, they’re going to give us a vacation. They’re giving us a trip if we go. And she was like, seriously? She wanted a trip so bad. She was at that computer doing some work – I think it was for school – and I was like, shut it down, let’s go! We arrived, and like two minutes later, a white couple arrived. I was like, yes ancestors! We would have been number two if we had arrived like two minutes later…
MW: So you were there right when it opened?
No, we got there right before midnight and set up our chairs.
MW: You waited all night? That’s amazing…
We waited all night. We were also a part of the lawsuit to get marriage instituted for LGBTQ couples in the state of Illinois. So now Illinois has marriage equality, which doesn’t start until June 2014, officially. Which is a huge step, right? And I am very clear that for black LGBTQ people, we need extra support beyond just being able to be married, just like any other couple. We’re battling racism, among the LGBTQ community, okay? So I’m clear about that too. And we’re also battling poverty. Joblessness rates. I am working two part time jobs – doing things that I love – but in order to make ends meet, I’m clear that as a couple, we’re still existing in a state of poverty. We’re trying to transform that, and making the best of what we can here on the west side of Chicago raising our sons. We’re still battling the same fight that a straight couple is battling to exist in Chicago, in the hood.
MW: And single people too…
Single people, right. You know, just as a black person period. On top of being an LGBTQ couple, we have not had the comfort of being in the closet. We’ve got six kids we’ve been raising for 14 years.
MW: How old was your youngest child when you got together?
Our youngest son was one. He’ll be 15 this year.
MW: And he’s biologically yours or your wife’s?
He’s biologically mine but we’ve adopted them all together. But we each came to the relationship with three children. I came with two boys and a girl, and she came with two girls and a boy.
MW: Were you married to men when you…
I was married and getting a divorce when I met my wife. She was not with anyone at the time. She was just seeing other women.
MW: So did you two know – well I won’t ask you to speak for your wife – but did you know that you were a lesbian or…
So… here we are with these boxes (laughs). I would rather say…
MW: Get me out my boxes, girl.
I would rather say that I love people. Period. I’m attracted to who I’m attracted to. I just happened to be in love with a woman for the last 14 years. And when I was with the boys’ father, I was in love with a man for several years.
MW: So it wasn’t like, I love you but I have to go be with a woman now…
No, no, no. It was like, that was the end of our relationship, and it was done. And then my wife came along and I started loving her. It just happened like that. I never left my husband for somebody else. It was because our relationship had run its course and it was done.
MW: How did you know your relationship with your husband had run its course? Because that’s a really hard decision to make, especially when three kids are involved.
MW: Especially when you love the person, you know? And no one is necessarily the “villain” in the situation. How did you do that?
When your try just ain’t enough no more. When every attempt that you have made to reconcile the relationship is just not enough anymore. When it’s taking up more energy to try to reconcile the relationship than it takes to love each other. I think for me, that was it. There was moments where… because he and I had gotten back together. Actually, my youngest son was conceived when we were separated…
MW: You were on a break (laughs).
Yeah, on a break. (laughs) My goodness. At that time I was working as a traveling CNA and I was up here at a hospital working a midnight shift and I was too tired to drive back home. I ended up at his house in his bed and our son was conceived. So we got back together again. But one of the things that was the final nail in the coffin for me – and he was a cheater – oh my goodness, just, such a cheater – but that was not even the final nail in the coffin. For me it was like, whatever dude, get your shit together. But he left me stranded in the car with the babies and no gas in the car. I had been telling him, please put gas in the car, I have to travel with the kids. I was stranded at their babysitter’s house. I had went to pick them up and the car would not start and I looked at the gas tank and it was empty. And you know, for a man to not put – it’s like those simple things that’s like, ok, that’s the nail. It’s just gas not being put in the tank but it personifies him not even looking at the minor things about caring for him and his children. You would leave us stranded somewhere. And it could have been worse. I was a traveling nurse’s aide, so I could have been on a highway with your kids or whatever. So the babysitter gave me money to get home. And when I got home, this asshole was standing on our porch – and it was a hot day and the neighbors were out – and he goes, you got me running late for work! I'm running late for work and you ain’t showed up and bitch this and – in front of the neighbors. And I was like, whoa.
MW: Oh yeah. That’s it.
The babysitter gave me money to get gas. She not only gave me the money, she sent her boys to the gas station to pick up gas – just enough to put in the tank so I could drive to the station with the money she’d given me. And this is my babysitter. (laughs)
MW: So you’re supposed to pay her.
Right. I pay her. And then I get home from putting money in the tank that she had to give me, to get cussed out because he’s running late for work. And he left us stranded and did not put in any gas in the first place. And that was it. I packed a bag. And I had been saving money because it had been getting progressively worse. I had been tucking away money in a savings account that he did not know about. I’d just been tucking away $20 here, $30 here, whatever I could. And I took that money and I left him $20 and a note.
MW: You left him $20? You so sweet.
I was very nice. I was like, here’s $20 for the gas tank because I knew he didn’t have any money. I was very responsible with like, keeping the money and maintaining the bills, so I left $20, like, this is for the gas tank for you to get to work, have a nice life. And he came over my mama's house that night, just raging. Where’s my family?! (laughs) Knocking on the window, acting a damn fool.
MW: Oh no!
After all that. And this is why I love women because bitches will come together on a nigga’s ass! (laughs)
MW: Girl, won’t we though!
My mother was like get off of my motherfucking porch before I blow your ass off.
MW: Thank God for mama's.
And that was it. That was the last straw.
MW: (Laughs) I can’t believe he was like, where’s my family?! Shit, you left your family stranded!
Exactly. Nigga your family was stranded and your ass wasn’t there. You didn’t show up.
MW: Cussing out your woman in front of her kids…
That’s right. I endured years of foolishness from him. We were together for about 7 years.
MW: That’s what always happens at 7 years. That’s when you decide, either you’re gon’ stay or you gone.
They call it the 7 year itch. But it is that 7th year that is the critical moment where you be like, what am I going to do? Am I going to keep doing this or am I not? You gotta decide. You’re at a critical moment where you ask, am I going to do another 7? And I’m gon’ tell you something – I am in the 14th year, and every 7th year is like, ok, what are you doing? It’s a reevaluation process. I think it’s that mother energy. Those waves, that Yemaya, that change… what are you doing now? What are doing with your life? You start questioning your life. This is the 7th year, how are you doing financially? Are you on your goals? Did you get to define yourself? Have you been loving yourself? I feel like the universe asks these critical questions of us all the time, and its whether or not you choose to hear it.
MW: And it gets worse if you don’t…
And it gets worse if you don’t, yeah.
MW: She gets so much louder, to where you’re like, ok. I got it.
And me and my wife go through it too. In every relationship, you just gotta be guided by spirit. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, you just gotta be guided by spirit and know, ok spirit, what am I doing? Speak to your spirit internally. Those spirits – ancestor spirits – those are great spirits to speak to, but you gotta speak life into your own spirit and say, spirit are you doing what you want to do? Are you dancing? Are you laughing? Are you playing? Are you enjoying life? Are you doing work that is meaningful to you? Are you writing? Are you praising? What are you doing? And I do that all the time. That’s part of my running. Running is a ritual for me. All of that is spirit work for me.
MW: I know that every marriage is unique – so this might be kind of a hard question for me to ask – but is it different being married to a woman than being married to a man?
Girl yes! And let’s talk about how it’s different being married to a black man than to a black woman! Yes, let’s get real specific! (laughs) Hell yes it’s different. We women, we are emotional characters. We are heart centered. We are sacral chakra centered. We sit in our seat of creativity. We are loving, we are nurturing. We are ferocious and crazy sometimes. (laughs) And I’m speaking to me. My wife has had to deal with a lot from me, as I have from her. But being with a woman, there’s been more communication. When I was with my ex – like, there’s a secret life of men that women know absolutely nothing about. But being with a woman, I feel like there’s so many levels that her and I connect on. Very woman centered things. Like understanding that we both have a womb and what is needed to take care of that womb. I can go to her and be like, did you do your breast check? That’s caring and nurturing too. Sometimes men don’t want to talk about that stuff. I tried to talk to my ex about caring for himself but… in society, men aren’t given permission for self care. That’s very soft and there’s supposed to be so hardcore.
MW: Like, I’m a real man. I’m gon’ let the crust on my feet get as thick as possible… (laughs)
Exactly. And my wife and I get to cry together. But society says to men, men and boys don’t cry. There’s been moments where both us have been breaking down and crying and boo hooing and snotting and saying, what we gon’ do about the kids? and both of so emotional. And then also, I get to walk with her side by side and be very warrior woman. I’m very warrior woman. And she is very logical, brain, very sweet. So there are times when we play good cop, bad cop. And then there are times where we both fucking annoy the fuck out of each other.
MW: What are ya’ll signs?
She is a Libra and I am a fucking Ram. I’m Aries.
MW: Oh shit, so ya’ll are like direct opposites!
Oh my God. And there are times when…
[Her wife walks past and completes the sentence] I want to strangle the hell outta her…
And I want to strangle the hell outta her too. Even as we speak right now, we have been going through this very critical point in our lives, figuring out whether we will go another 7 years. Because the last year has been so hard. Losing our granddaughter. And then I was in New Orleans. And then she went to Paris. We essentially spent this last year apart. Apart not only in physical space, but also being apart spiritually, sexually – because of the physical space. So this year we’ve been asking ourselves, you know, what will this look like for us? Are we going to go our separate ways? And if we do, what will that look like?
MW: Damn girl, that’s real…
That is real. Yes. (laughs) But I’m at peace with that. She’s at peace with that. And we’re still friends. And that is my best friend. Like I can talk to her about anything, including how I feel about her. And I love that. I love that – even if we do decide together to go our own ways, since that is my best friend I can still talk to her about, I hate you right now. And I know you’re hating me.
Yeah. We live life, we learn honey. Nobody ain’t perfect.
MW: So, with you two getting together and having three kids already – apiece – did you have any kind of honeymoon period?
Girl no. Which is why, at 14 years, and the kids are already raised, we’re thinking, what are you going to do for the next 14 years? Because there has never been a honeymoon phase for us. We stepped into this shit and we’ve had guns blazing. We hit the ground running. And now we’re at the point of self-reflection, evaluation, and asking, what do you want to do for the next 14 years of your life? I’m 37, so that would put me in my 50’s. I wouldn’t consider that an old woman but right now I feel like I’m in the prime of my life. I feel good. When I wake up in the morning, I feel good. I put on my running shoes.
So yeah, we never had a honeymoon period to answer your question, but we have had moments of sweetness. She and I – I remember this one time where we just loaded up our car and asked Daddy at the last minute if he would watch the kids and he was like, yeah, bring them all over here. It was during winter break. We loaded up the car and went to Canada because I wanted to see Canada. And when we drove back – and let me tell you, we didn’t have a lot of money either – we drove back on gas fumes pretty much from Michigan to Chicago. We put our last bit of money in the gas tank in Kalamazoo, and we were like, Lord Jesus, Jesus take the wheel. (laughs)
MW: Like, pray that ‘E’ don’t really mean Empty… (laughs)
We laugh about that to this day. We’ve had so many moments of sweetness. Taking the kids on vacation, arguments and make up sex, all kinds of stuff. Our life has been so interesting. And I couldn’t have chosen – the spirits, the ancestors– could not have chosen a better person for me to have gone on this journey with the last 14 years. There is no other person I know in this world that would have gone on a journey like this with me. She’s helped me tackle this autism thing with my son. She will research the heck out of something. And then she’ll come back and say, you need to say this or do this, or you need to read this article. And I do the same with her. So it has been a very cohesive journey, fighting schools, doing things in our community… and I could not have done it with anybody else. I can look around my friends and I’ll be like, could I have done that with this other woman? No.
MW: So how did you know that she was the one?
So I know that people don’t often believe in love at first sight but I want to say it was a spirit connection at first sight. She and I met over Yahoo personals. She sent me a message and I sent her a message. My best friend who lives in Canada right now was like, there’s this cute girl on yahoo personals. I’m going to send you a link to her profile. And I said ok, I’m going to do it. This was right after I left my husband. I was like, I don’t know if I’m ready to do that. She might be some rebound booty or whatever. And that’s what I thought it was going to be. And then I came up to Chicago and I met her. I must have tried on like 16 different dresses and I pulled my hair up this way or that way. The first person who greeted me at the door was our daughter. She was a little bitty baby with these cute little locks and her bows were in her hair and they were just stuck in her hair any kind of way. My wife does not know how to do hair (laughs). And I fell in love with that little baby. And then my wife came to the door and it was a soul connection. That’s all I can tell you. We stayed up way into the night. In a month she had moved down here. And we’ve been on the west side pretty much ever since. Except there was this brief moment in our relationship where we lived on 119th.
MW: Oh shit…
Yeah, that’s wild wild. The wild wild hundreds.
MW: Yeah, that block is hot.
Hot. As soon as we moved there, a boy got shot right here on the corner. In the head. Right there on the bus stop. We tried to set up a block club right there. We had a block party. Girl do you know them people got an attitude because we had blocked off the street? The crackheads stole the dinner plates.
MW: Shut up!
It was a hot mess! My baby girl was manning the tables. Me and another neighbor had pitched in and barbecued. We had little Styrofoam plates we were going to hand out to everybody. My baby turned her back and the crackheads bum rushed the table, girl. Stole the dinner plates. I was so upset. And they were like – we had this little inflatable jumping house that the kids were jumping in – and they were like, you got this blocking the way! I said, the kids are playing! I had to move quick fast in a hurry. I was like, give me my west side back! Give me back my community! I love the west side. And I love New Orleans for that fact too, because of the community. I would go out on my porch in the morning and wave – and you better wave! Because if you don’t wave, folks gon’ be like, oh really? You ain’t gon’ say good morning? Well we ain’t gon’ watch out for you.
MW: We gon’ let it happen to you.
We gon’ let life happen to you, baby.
MW: A lot of the women I talked to discussed the inequality of marriage, and the disparity between women’s and men’s roles. How do you and your wife share the work? And how is that different from the way you and a man shared the work?
So, for instance – and it’s not perfectly hashed out, but… I feel like we do more of like, if you see something that needs to be done, just do it. It’s not a role. If the trash needs to be taken out, take the trash out. The kids have chores that they’re supposed to do and I’m forever hollering, like, do your chores! It can seem unequal in a same sex relationship too. Like, financially. Like over the years, there’s been an imbalance where I’m making a little bit more that what my wife is making. And it’s because of our education. She hasn’t graduated college and I have graduated college. What we try to do is be conscious of one another. Like for instance, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been taking note of what she does in the house and thanking her for it. Like when she cooked a couple of days last week, I had these little cards left over from Christmas and I wrote her a note that said, thank you honey for cooking. It’s about being conscious in any relationship because sometimes we’ll miss what somebody else has done…
MW: But we don’t miss what we do…
Yeah, we’ll be like, because I paid the bills! Because I, blah blah blah! And she had to tell me, like, yeah ok, you paid the bills, but I did these other things. And you didn’t notice that I mopped the floor. So I started coming in consciously, with more conscious effort and saying, she mopped that floor. Thank you for mopping the floor. Thank you for whatever contributions you are doing in this house. Because society will have you believe that everything must be equal. Well, there needs to be some equity but everybody can’t contribute in the same way. Especially right now where we in the African American community are experiencing such a drastic rate of unemployment and cutting in services. We have to gather whatever resources we can – whatever forms of community we can and try to bind them together to support us and save our community. And we are under some forms of attack. When you cut resources in the community like mental health services and drug rehabilitation programs and you’re cutting the SNAP program, that puts pressure on any relationship. It’s hard. And then you gotta think about like, okay so, I’m going to make a conscious effort to love and appreciate this person that much more.
MW: So how have you changed in the 14 years the two of you have been together?
Girl bye, I was a hot mess. (laughs) I’m still a hot mess. [Calls wife] Babe! How have I changed in the last 14 years?
[Her wife laughs and walks in from the other room]
MW: That was a very telling laugh…
She’s a lot more patient. A lot less naïve. A lot more understanding. A lot less demanding… she’s still demanding like she was but in a different way.
How in a different way?
Because I was a pushy ass bitch.
Yeah. It was like your way or the highway.
MW: Well that makes sense. Because she's the Aries, right?
(laughs) Oh yeah baby, April 9th. I’m on the nine which is Oya energy. So my Aries energy is a warrior energy. I will wipe it clean. I will show up and show out honey. I’m more mindful that I can be that way and I make a concerted effort to not be that way.
But sometimes it’s helpful to us for her to be that way. People will ask me, how do you deal with that? Well, okay, it is a lot. But on the flip side, when we have to go and fight CPS (Chicago Public Schools), all I have to do is say, well we can’t seem to work this out. Maybe I should call my wife. And they say, oh no, no, no. We can work this out.
My name precedes me (laughs.) But in a very good way. Let me tell you, I don’t attack people over freaking nothing! Usually it’s because you fucking over something. You know you doing it and I can’t tolerate it. I have no tolerance for people being wronged. I just don’t have that in me.
Yeah, I was telling one of my co-workers – we were talking about the lengths we’ll go through to help people – and I was telling her that one time we were driving down Sacramento and this woman runs out into traffic with one leg in her pants and one leg out and no shoes on, screaming, screaming, screaming. We saw the cops pass her. This woman is standing there…
Naked. Coming out of the field…
The cops passed her right on by and kept on going. We stopped. It turned out she had just been raped.
She had just been raped. She said the man was still over there in the field.
She had got away.
She had got away with her pants in her hands. No shoes on. And cars just passing by. This naked black woman screaming in the middle of the street…
With her pants off…
And ya’ll won’t stop?
Screaming and crying. So we stopped. And my wife gave her the shoes off her feet. And we called the police.
Yes, and we called the police. And you know them suckers showed up…
Acting a fool…
Talking about, what did you do?
What did you do?
And you know I have told the police off honey, let me tell you, plenty of times.
Yes, she is a cop cusser. (laughs) I keep bail money.
Because right is right and wrong is wrong. I mean they were addressing this woman who has been raped as if she raped herself. You know? Come on. This is a black woman. And they’re talking about, what did you do? Asking her, why didn’t you call the police? Come on! This woman standing here butt ass naked in the middle of Sacramento, a large major thoroughfare, boulevard…
Where the police just passed her by…
And you’re asking her what she’s doing wrong? Baby I was like, no. And we think about her often and how she’s doing and what she’s doing. Because she just got in the car with the police and you never know…
What they did…[Her wife goes back into the other room]
Did they take her to the hospital or file a report? What happened? Where did she go? Did she get counseling? So many times when shit happens to black women we just gotta live through it. We just gotta deal with it. And I feel like we shouldn’t just live with it. Because that – whatever that dis-ease is with us, it manifests in our physical body. We’re never allowed to line up spirit and the wholeness of ourselves. And so we’re always diseased. We’re always – it’s like – I know the First Lady – and I love her for it – has this fitness program now where she wants to get everybody moving and that’s going to be the answer to all that ails us… but when you’re talking about the complicated lives of women, and specifically the complicated lives of women of color, and you’re only addressing the physical, and you’re not addressing the mental / emotional, and you don’t have enough resources and you’re cutting resources for counseling and mental health and we don’t have these community healers anymore or we’re not seeking them out. We’re losing critical resources and you want us to just run it off. Exercise it off.
MW: Just eat right…
Eat right. When we ain’t got nothing in the community…
MW: Food deserts…
We got food deserts. Come on. We got work to do. And I ain’t got no time for all that stressed out trauma shit. You gotta find sliding scale services, seek out a healer, do what you got to do. Because we have to heal our whole selves. Exercise is only one part of it. I do reiki therapy, I do energy work. I tap into all of that because I need to heal my whole self. Running is just one part of that. And it fuels me to say, okay, I can run. Now what else can I do? Can I dance? And so I started dancing and that helps me, oh my God. Dancing was like, yes!
MW: And I love how open your house is because you have so much room to dance or do yoga, all that stuff.
Do alla that.
MW: Some of the couples I’ve talked to say that after being together for so long, and sleeping together for so long, and then the kids get in the bed… I hear women say they’ve totally squeezed out their own sleep. And more than their sleep, they’ve squeezed out their own rest. They say they have no space that’s just their own space. But when they tell their husbands they need space, it hurts their husbands’ feelings. So with you two both being women, do you ever sleep apart? I mean, do you ever need to? And is it ok?
I live on the third floor of this house. That’s my space. My bed’s up there. She has her room and I have my room. And there’s nothing wrong with it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Because we need our own spaces. My grandmother on my father’s side had her own space. I would see them sleep together sometimes, but my grandma had her own room. She had her sewing room and she sewed in there, she had her bed in there. I saw her doing prayer work in there. I think elders figured it out long ago. I used to think, why would people do that when they’re married? But I was younger. But now that I’ve been married for some years? Know that it is critical that you have your own space! You have to have your own space! Sometimes in the morning, I just need to wake up to my damn self, and she does too. It’s self preservation. And you also have to be able to have conversations with yourself and then be able to take it back to others and have a conversation with them that is more cohesive than arguing. Sometimes, you know – just being silent. I had never lived by myself until I went to New Orleans. And that was the first time I ever had a room of my own, just by myself. And that was so great. I had moved from my mother’s house, and then I moved into my own place and I had my daughter. I was a young mother then and my baby slept with me. And then when I met my husband, I was with him. And then I went from my husband’s house back to my mother’s house. And I lived a little bit alone in between there, and then I met my wife. And then we were together and we existed in the same space. And I never just had my own space for any length of time.
MW: So when you went to New Orleans, that was pretty much the first time for both of you, having your own spaces. And so when you came back together you were both like…
I need space! I need my own space. (laughs) And she was like yes, yes you do. And I do too.
MW: What are some of the struggles that the two of you have faced together?
An easier question would be what haven’t we faced together. (laughs) I am telling you, we have been through a lot. Monetary struggles. Housing struggles. Communication struggles. Intimacy struggles. You name it, we’ve been through it. And I’m looking to change that. I want to thrive. Everybody’s in such survival mode when it comes to this life and I don’t want to be in that survival mode anymore. I’ve been there. I want to have fun. I want to enjoy my life. I’m ready to thrive. I’m ready to see and touch things that I haven’t seen before. And travel. I’m ready to worry about my damn self.
MW: A lot of the women that I talk to say that some point – especially when there are children in the house – the men complain about all the sex they’re not having.
Girl bye, yes.
MW: So do you…
Yes. (laughs) Yes! That’s what I mean by intimacy problems. Yes.
MW: So which one of you doesn’t want to…
[Her wife says from the next room] Me!
MW: (Laughs) Right… because she’s the Libra and you’re the Aries…
Yes! I want it want it want it want it! That’s why I went to a concert the other day, so I could see some booties twerking!
MW: For me, the thing that turns my faucet off – cause I’m a Virgo – if my money is not right, my coochie’s not right. [Her wife runs in and gives me a high five]
But shit, we black women. Our money ain’t never fucking right! I ain’t got time for that. There’s a struggle out here and we should have sex through it! (laughs)
MW: Oh shit, I love ya’ll!
Shit. The struggle is real and I need sex. I really do believe that when you can have some intimate loving, energy begins to flow. And I know ya’ll worried about money but money problems is gon’ always be there if we can’t manifest anything beyond thinking about money. If we’re concerned about money and struggling about money and everything is about money, we ain’t never gon’ have no money. If we always seeing lack and we not seeing abundance and beauty and being grateful for what we got and trying to be intimate with our partners and loving to ourselves and patient with ourselves, we gon’ always struggle for money. We cannot let money continue to be the sole basis of why we fucking exist. We can’t. Girl I know it’s hard, I know. But I need some sex. I know you worried about how the bills is gon’ get paid but what that got to do with us having sex? We can have sex if the lights get cut off. The lights need to be off anyway. (laughs) That’s one less thing we gotta do. But that’s what I always try to tell my wife. Don’t the ancestors always keep us? Seriously. Things always work out in the end. We always uptight and worried about how we gon’ pay this and stressed out and blocking our own blessings… Shit always works out. A check always arrives from somewhere, somehow, we don’t know. But it always works out. You got a roof over your head, the babies are taken care of, you’re loved abundantly – that’s all that really really really matters. It really is. Because this white man will have you thinking, all I gotta do is work, all I gotta do is work, all I gotta do is work. (laughs)
MW: Okay. You shamed me. (laughs)
Shit, don’t give the white man everything and your vagina. I’m just saying.
MW: But you know, when I don’t want to have sex, I think what I’m really saying is, I need time for myself. Because when you wake up with somebody and go to sleep with them, and you cook and clean and deal with the kids, it’s hard to open your legs at the end of the night because you don’t have anything left. And so I think sometimes I withhold sex because it’s the only thing I have control over. I can’t not take care of my kids or cook or clean for my family, or deal with my husband kindly. So I think sometimes I keep my sex because it’s the one thing I have control over, that I can keep for myself.
Right, yeah. You need to restore yourself. You need to be able to go in your little room and say, babe, tonight I just want to be by myself and nurture myself. I take baths. I take long baths. I moisture myself up. And it ain’t for nobody but for myself. My wife don’t get to see it. It’s all about me. Maybe you need that. It gets greater later though. Right now we’re in the struggle. But at least we have partners. Because so many people don’t have partners. And whether we’re male or female or what have you – whatever relationship you’re in – there’s got to be a compromise. And you just gotta decide what you’re willing to compromise. For me and my wife – she doesn’t make a whole lot of money. So it’s about equity. At one point I was like, you’re not putting in money. I need you to put in the same amount of money that I’m putting in. But that’s not feasible. Her job pays low, you know? And they’re only giving her part time hours. So she’s putting in whatever she can. And she’s putting in some other things that I wasn’t accounting for, like the times that she would cook and I would come home and I didn’t have to cook. Or if she would clean and so I didn’t have to clean. And that is equity. You have to look at relationships from all aspects of what a partner can contribute beyond the money piece. The money is only a tool. That’s one tool that you have in your tool box to get you from point A to point B in life but you also have other tools that you need. And your partner may come with those tools.
MW: What advice would you give to women that you wish somebody had given to you?
I wish that somebody woulda told me don’t take my damn self too seriously. Have fun. Enjoy life. Run, jump, skip, dance, holler, scream, laugh real loud, be obnoxious, read everything, and enjoy. And just enjoy life. I know there is stuff that we need to take serious but we don’t have to be on edge every moment of our life. ‘Cause what it does it build up the fight or flight hormone in our body, and you see those women that have these bellies. My mama used to say, your gut bigger than your butt, baby! It was her way of saying, don’t be stressing out so much. Your seat of creation is off balance. Enjoy life. The stuff you gotta take serious, take serious. You do that job and then, once that job is done and it’s the end of the day, make sure you take some self care. Take a long hot bath and take care of yourself. Take care of yourself. I wish somebody would have told me to take care of myself real good. Love myself real good.
MW: And don’t wait for somebody else to do it.
And don’t wait for somebody else to do it. Love yourself real, real good.
MW: That’s so perfect. Thank you.
"MARRIAGE IS NOT EQUAL. There Is a Mexican proverb THAT says 'the home does not rest on the ground, it rests on a woman.'" [AN INTERVIEW]Read Now
"And I’m not about to get married for the sake of somebody else, either. Just because everyone is all up in your face having kids and tying the knot, I’m good on that. Just because we say I do doesn’t make us happy." [An Interview]Read Now
MW: The woman I spoke with last month talked about losing her virginity. Can we talk about that for a minute? Did you love the man you lost your virginity to?
I thought I did. But I was 19. I thought I did. It was the first time I’d really spent the night at a guy’s house, and stuff like that. I thought I was really doing it. I was in college, I was working. I had my own money. I had my own car. I was still at home – I hadn’t moved yet – but I was coming and going. And I had this guy and it was cool. It was fun. That’s what it was… he was fun. But when I came out of my fun stage and was looking at what my life was going to look like…
MW: How old were you when that happened?
I had just graduated from college—I was 22. After I looked at what I wanted my life to look like—and I looked at him – it didn’t equate. He couldn’t get with the program because he hadn’t grown up. It really made for a difficult situation. We broke up, and then when I went and got my own crib, we got back together for a minute. But in hindsight, I had been done for a minute. And I knew I was done. But we had been together for so long that I said, maybe we just needed some time apart and maybe he’s grown up some. But I knew in the back of my mind that shit wasn’t true. (laughs) I said, this dude is not any further along in this process than he was before. For a moment he’d gotten himself together. ‘Cause see, he was a street nigga. And it was fun. And then he got a legit job. I said sweet, ok then, this is actually going to go somewhere. I said, he’s got his gig – he was getting up faithfully every morning going to work. I mean, he was not late. Did not miss that alarm clock. If I spent the night at his house, I dropped him off to his ride in the morning. I didn’t take him to work – he never ever asked me to take him to work. It didn’t cross his mind. He met somebody who stayed south who was going in the same direction and he just had to meet them at a certain time in the morning. So I would get up, drop him off and then go back to bed. He had that gig and we started talking about moving. We were about to get an apartment and I was on 10. I was like, ok, this is really going someplace. I’m liking the way this is looking. And then…
MW: Uh oh…
Yeah, I’d gone to see the apartment and everything. I’m at school and his mama calls me and says, I know you all are about to move but maybe right now isn’t a very good time. Maybe you all should wait. You know his job at the post office is only temporary. I was like, temporary? Then she said, he may or may not have it later – he has to get through the probation season. I was like, what? After that he started temping, and after that he just stopped working altogether. I was like well, now you’re not legit anymore. I can’t do anything with that. (loughs) I need to know there’s steady income paying the rent. And after that, I just kind of had a bitter taste in my mouth with him.
MW: So when you got pregnant at 25, was that a planned pregnancy?
Of course not. But when you have your own crib, your own car, and you’re in your profession, you feel a little bit better about taking risks.
MW: And you had all of those things at 25?
Yes. I was in my career – I had even started my master’s degree. I hadn’t finished – I had to stop because the school was too far and I said, I’ll pick it up later – but I had started. I was in the profession that I wanted to be in at the time. So it wasn’t as big a risk. I wasn’t worried about being homeless. I wasn’t worried about having to explain to somebody why I’m having a baby. I didn’t have to do any of that. Now of course when my family got the news it was a little different because no one really thought I would have kids. They just didn’t peg me as having children. I was always with somebody else’s kid – my nephew lived with me and so did my goddaughters for a while – so I always had them, but they went home. (laughs) If I got tired of them or their parents wanted them back, they went home. But me having kids on a full time basis, nobody really expected that. And they definitely didn’t expect me to have kids with somebody who wasn’t a CEO.
How much of a CEO wasn’t he?
(Laughs) He was working at CVS. And no, he didn’t own the place. But he was working. He had been to school. He had been to the service. There were just certain things about his person that worked for me. And he was a lot of fun. To this day, we have a lot of fun. I was a little more comfortable with the risk. And I knew if something happened, that I was able to take care of my own kid and I don’t have to worry about hounding somebody, sitting up in court. I didn’t have to do any of that. My kid was going to be taken care of hands down, because I knew I could do it. And I didn’t have to depend on anybody else to do it for me.
MW: So, are you married?
MW: How long have you been together?
We’ve been together eight, going on nine years.
MW: How many kids do you have together?
MW: How old are they?
One is seven years old and the other is almost six months.
MW: (Laughs) And… why aren’t you married again?
By choice. I’ve been engaged for six years. He proposed to me just before our oldest son turned two. When he proposed I was excited. I was like, ooh, really? I pulled out my big notepad and started making preparations like, oh my God, where am I going to get married? But what I was caught up in at the time was the wedding itself. The dress, the preparations, what are we going to serve, who my bridesmaids will be, what they will wear, who my maid of honor will be, what she will wear. So I was going through all these steps, calling around, getting all these prices, putting money away, saving and everything. We figured we’d get married one year from the day we got engaged. I thought, we can do this. And then as the date drew closer – I’m calling around and I’ve already made arrangements with the caterer – we started talking money and that’s when certain things started to come out.
MW: Oh hell…
Yeah, about six months into it, we just started bumping heads on some things. First we looked at how much it was going to cost. He said, well I’m not spending that amount of money on a wedding. He said it shouldn’t cost that much. It was some idea he had for the wedding – I can’t remember what – but I totally disagreed with it. I was like no, I don’t think so.
MW: Because you were planning your wedding…
Right. (laughs) And then he made a comment and said we needed marriage counseling – you know how when you get married at a church and they make you get counseling with the pastor before he’ll perform the ceremony? Well he said we needed that. And I said, no dear, we need relationship counseling, and they ain’t the same thing. And at that point, it dawned on me – I think I’m good. We can exist as we are and if it becomes too much, we can go our separate ways.
And with all relationships, especially with men and women, men and women have different ideas of intimacy. Especially when children have been introduced into the equation. And mind you, he proposed after we had a kid. Now of course had he proposed before we had any children and we had gotten married before we had any kids, this probably would have looked very different. But, we did have a kid. And it did sometimes mean he couldn’t be first. As with all men (laughs), they have to adjust to this. And it’s a hard adjustment to go through – first, to realize they are no longer first – and then to say, I want this right now and it can’t happen. They say, what is this madness? What? What do you mean, not now? And I’m like, uhhh, not now. And he had been married before and he had a son with her, but it was still a very different dynamic than what he was going through with me. They didn’t really live together – I mean they did for a minute, but it was very brief. So still, that notion of having to wait – we’re all here together but I have to wait on the little person – he was like, what is that? I’m confused.
And then, a friend of mine lost her aunt. She had three daughters but I didn’t know that she had been married. And then at the funeral, her husband showed up. Me and her daughters got to talking and it came out that they had been estranged for years but because they were still legally married, he was entitled to all of her money. And I said, but she got kids – what do you mean? The whispering was that he showed up all of a sudden to claim his piece of her money. And I said, as long as she left her will to her kids, he can’t touch it. But they said, no no no, because they were married, he’s entitled to whatever she has…
MW: Right, because he’s the surviving spouse.
And I said that’s some bullshit. I said, I wish I would. We split up, we ain’t talking, you ain’t sent child support check the first, I ain’t seen you in 15 years, but you’re entitled to what I have? My kids don’t even get it – you get it? And we haven’t seen you and you’ve done nothing? I said hell naw. Marriage did that ? I said, that’s okay. We can stay together, but that’s all it’s going to be. (laughs)
MW: So how did your forever fiancé deal with the fact that…
Oh, he was pissed. Because at first, we just put it off another year. But when you continue to be with somebody, you learn more about them. And as you learn more about them as the years go on, you start questioning some things. And there were just some things that I was learning that… I had to ask myself, do I want to be tied to this for the rest of my life? Because I also believe that when you say I do, you should really try to make it be forever. I mean, divorce is expensive. (laughs) It’s expensive, it’s stressful, and I would rather not deal with it. If we come to the point where we feel that we can no longer make this work, I really want to be able to split amicably and easily. I don’t want to have to sit here and divvy up what belongs to you, what belongs to me, how much money you got to send me… I don’t want to be bothered with any of that. I don’t want to have to go the courts and let them say, ok, let them dissolve their marriage. Why should they be the ones to tell me my relationship is over?
MW: And how much I gotta pay...
Darn it, if I feel like my relationship is over… and that’s another thing – with that, it puts the government in your business. It’s a legally binding agreement, is what it is. And if at any point you want to sever that legally binding agreement, you got to go see the man. I’m okay on that. I’d rather deal with my own shit in house. So with that, it was like, why do we need to get married then? We can just remain together and that’s just what it is. Why do I have to have a piece of paper to say that I love you?
MW: So how does he feel about that?
He has come to grips with it a little better over time. He went through a period where he was extremely salty behind it. But also when I look at it – I don’t think he was ready, either. He thought he was. But in my personal opinion…
MW: He was ready to be married but he wasn’t ready for a wife…
Right. And I was not about to subject myself to that because I knew I’d have to get divorced. Because I’m not going to live in a marriage miserably…
MW: But you still are kind of in a marriage. You live together, right?
Yes, but things aren’t tied. There are certain decisions he can make that won’t affect me, just like there are certain decisions I can make that won’t affect him. There are still some things that are kept separate because we aren’t legally tied at the hip. Knowing that also allows a little freedom on my behalf to allow him to do certain things. It’s like when you know certain decisions will have certain consequences and repercussions, you’re more prone to try to control it because you know what the outcome is.
MW: What kinds of things are you talking about?
Like, financial decisions. You know, I made a conscious choice to stick with him when he decided to start his own business. Which is fine. He decided he wanted to quit his job and go ahead and start up his own and I said, ok, let’s see how this works out. I sat back and I watched to see how all this was going to pan out. But mind you, if the stuff went south, all our stuff ain’t tied together in one thing.
MW: (Laughs) So you have the luxury of watching.
I have the luxury of watching. And if you need my help and you ask for it, I have no problem with assisting. But I had to see if he had enough drive – and not just drive, but enough… see, before you start a business, you need to know the ins and outs. There are things you should research, like what is it that you need to get this baby rolling? Now, I thought starting the business was a great idea. He took the classes. I thought what he was going into was great. I just didn’t feel like he should let his full time job go in order to do it. So, you know I just said, ok, I’m being the motivator or whatever. But in the back of mind I’m saying, you know, if this shit don’t work out…
MW: I’m ok…
Me and my kid is gon’ be alright. And I just realized he hadn’t done his homework. But I knew he hadn’t done his homework when he started. I knew that already. I was just looking. And oh how badly I wanted to say something. And if we had been married, I would have, because everything would have been all tied up. But this way, I was able to give him the leeway he needed to learn on his own and…
Learn from his own mistakes…
Right. I was able to take a back seat and keep doing what I was doing – making sure the kids were good. He was still doing what he was supposed to do too, but like I said, he hadn’t done his homework. So when stuff didn’t pan out the way he had hoped, he was a little salty. Granted, I would have been too. But I would have done my homework first. And there were certain rules, regulations, fees, fines, (laughs), stuff you need – that he just hadn’t fully explored. He was just so excited that he did some of the research, but not all of the research. But he learned from it, though. So if he chooses to jump back in it again later down the line – which, I wouldn’t be surprised if he does – he’ll be much more prepared for it. But he had to go through it first to see what was needed. But had I been married? I’d have said, no honey, we can’t do this. And it really would have caused a lot of friction in the house because I’d have been up and screaming like, you can’t do this and we can’t do that and we have to pay so and so… but because we weren’t married, I didn’t do any of that. I said, is there anything you need me to do? I got some free time on Saturday – is there anything you need me to type up or send over?
Since you’re not legally married but you are monogamous, what are the rules of your relationship?
It’s us. We stick by each other until we can’t do that anymore.
What does that entail?
We support one another, we’re open with one another. We don’t feel like anybody owns anybody. I don’t own you because I’m married to you and you don’t own me because you’re married to me. We are existing in this together. When I feel like I’m not being supported, I have to bring it to the forefront and tell him what it is. I have to say, this here, this ain’t working. We had a conversation one time where I had to point blank come out and say, we need some space. We’re going to have to take some time apart. We’re going to have to because this here ain’t working. You need to be in your space and I need to be in mine.
And did you end up taking that space?
No… he was like, I understand what you’re saying. He was like, I see it from your perspective. And he made some changes. But I feel like when you’re human, sometimes you need to take space. That’s my own personal feeling. But when you’re married to somebody and you take space, it looks different. When you’re not married and you take space it’s like, oh, ok. You’re taking space – it’s not a big issue. Nobody’s up in arms like, oh my God, they’re getting a divorce. She done moved out the house, oh God. There’s no uproar. Ain’t nobody all up in the business, ain’t nobody all concerned. You don’t get all of that. But for some reason once you say married, it changes all the rules. I like the rules as they are, to be honest with you.
Now of course everyone doesn’t subscribe to this, clearly. His grandmother still says, I wish you all would get married but I’m not going to say anything. (laughs) Also his cousin isn’t married. They had plans to get married – they announced the engagement and everything – but for whatever reason, they still ain’t tied the knot. And I think its more so her than him. She’s strong willed like that. I think one day she just decided, you know what – I’m good the way this is and I think we’re going to stay right here for a little while. Now his other cousin, once she got herself a man and had a baby, she hurried up and tied the knot. She had other people in her ear, though. Folks saying, they already not doing it right. I think that influenced her decision to go ahead and do it. So they did it, and I hope they’re happy. They seem to be. And I’m not about to get married for the sake of somebody else, either. Just because everyone is all up in your face having kids and tying the knot, I’m good on that. Just because we say I do doesn’t make us happy.
MW: Well, let me ask you this – married men, because of the word married, expect a physical recognition of this union…with some regularity. Do you experience this with your forever fiancé?
That was what sparked the argument six months before we tied the knot. He was complaining that he wasn’t getting enough.
MW: But you already had a small baby?
We had a two year old. And I was working and taking care of the house and my feeling was, you want all of this extra but what are you doing extra? I’m going to work, picking up, dropping off. I’m cleaning, I’m cooking. What are you doing besides going to work? But I’m supposed to have enough energy at the end of the day to deal with you? But I ain’t dealt with myself, either. So I done dealt with the baby, the house, now you – and nothing for me? Yeah… I ain’t really liking that one. And marriage seems to scream that these are the things that are supposed to happen. Bullshit. I said, you know what? You can keep your marriage because I’m not on that. I’m just not. And men seem to have, once they get married, some sense of ownership with their women. It’s… I don’t know… it takes something away from it for me. At the time I preferred not to be bothered with it. Now that I’m older it’s not a big deal with me now because we’ve been through so much. At this point if I do go ahead and get married, not much will change. But if I’d gotten married when he proposed, things would have been totally different. At this point, enough has happened. We’ve gone through enough that now it doesn’t bother me so much. I doubt very seriously that anybody’s going anywhere. But at the time that he did propose, shortly after that…you’re in that process of learning somebody and you learn more and more about the person. And you have to make the decision whether or not this is what you want to deal with for the rest of your natural born life. You ask yourself, if this is the best it’s going to be, is that what you want to deal with? If this person doesn’t grow anymore than they’ve grown right now, are you okay with that? And at the time, I wasn’t. I was like, I’ll be damned if I deal with this shit the rest of my life. I’m just not going to do it.
MW: But he’s made some changes though?
Yeah, he’s grown. We’ve both grown.
MW: Have you ever considered the fact that part of those changes he made was because of you? And because you were acting in the exact same way that a wife would act? And can you consider that maybe he just needed a wife to help him grow up? And that you did that anyway?
No. Part of it was that he thought I was about to walk, to be honest with you.
MW: Got it. You're saying if you had married him and been a forever wife instead of a forever fiance, he would have said, I can do what I want because you ain’t going nowhere…
Right. Part of it was, he was in the process of making some changes on his own, looking at himself and deciding, there are some things about me I want different. And some of it was, wait a second, I think she’s about to walk. It looks like she’s going to talk. And is it really worth it me being this selfish, for her to walk? And he kind of weighed the two. And I mean, women do it too. There are things we compromise on for the good of the relationship. And he’s done that over time. And I’m not saying he was a horrible person. I think he’s great – he’s always been great. But when you look at what forever looks like (laughs), and what you’re willing to deal with for forever… you have to decide what you’re willing to deal with for the rest of your life. I asked a friend of mine that – she was talking about her boyfriend and I said, well, I can’t tell you to leave him. I wouldn’t do that. But you gotta ask yourself, if this doesn’t get any better than what it is today, are you okay there? And if you’re not okay there, you’re going to have to make some decisions.
So we’ve both grown. I’ve learned to compromise more on some things, and he’s learned to be more supportive in certain areas. I tell him, I understand how you grew up and what you’re used to seeing, but I don’t subscribe to that. I don’t make choices that will make my life twice as hard as it has to be. I’m not going to live my life twice as hard as it has to be. I’m just not going to do that. And so if we’re going to be together, you’re going to have to do your part. It took both of us to make children and have a house, so both of us have to pull our weight. Period. As long as I have to work… if I still have to bring in income, then you still gotta wash dishes. I’m just saying. As long as I have to contribute in this other way… if you want the 1950s lifestyle, I’m not opposed to it. But that means I get to live the 1950s lifestyle.
MW: Right – like, this is all I have to do.
There you go. And if you aren’t in a position to do that, that’s fine. I’m not knocking you. But then you can’t expect a 1950s outcome, either. It doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t. So over the years, there’s been some things we’ve learned about each other. There’s been some trying times. I know I’ve been in positions where I was going to walk. And he knows it, too. And there’s been times where he’s had to ask himself, is this what I want to be bothered with for the rest of my life? But he said when he put in perspective, based on what he has dealt with and what the alternatives are, he said yeah, I’d rather be here. He said, I’m going to sit here and try to make this work. I’m going to try to do what she’s asking me to do.
MW: So at this point, do you think your relationship is forever?
I feel that it is forever as long as we want it to continue to be forever. But if at any point, our attitude or feelings change, then it won’t be. I think we’ll love each other forever, but who can realistically say… there have been many people who said when they got married, that this is going to be forever – I’m going to love this person forever. Which, I think you do – love doesn’t change. But the ability to live with that person? If you all aren’t growing and changing together, or at least respecting the growth and the change that person is going through, it can’t go forever. It can’t. So one person is constantly growing and changing and the other person can’t deal with the change… that’s what happened with my previous boyfriend. I was growing and changing and maturing but he was still in the same space. So no matter how much he thought he loved me or how much I thought I loved him, there was no way it would work. It couldn’t. We didn’t want the same things. We weren’t moving in the same direction. It just couldn’t happen. So no matter how madly in love you are with somebody, the human condition is change. So if people are not on board, then it’s not going to be forever, no matter how much you may want it to be. And if you force it, everybody’s just miserable. When everybody could just be happy apart. (laughs)
MW: (Laughs) That was the perfect end to this interview. I truly appreciate your time.
"I felt that marriages were messed up. From the things I saw I thought, this is some kind of slavery." [An Interview]Read Now
MW: I want to start with a quote from last week’s interview. The woman last week said, “Marriage is what you make it.” Do you agree with that, or do you think marriage has a specific definition?
I agree with it. Marriage is what you make it – for me, at least. Some people are very traditional with how they see marriage. And it’s what they want. But I believe the only people who get to decide what marriage is are those two people in the marriage. They get to make the rules for their marriage and I think a lot of problems that people have, have to do with traditional rules of marriage and the pressure for it to be a certain way. A man is supposed to do this, a woman is supposed to do that. Or, even if it’s same gender marriage, one has to be the male and one has to be the female, whatever that means. (laughs) I think that causes a whole lot of problems. People follow those traditional rules instead of trying to figure out, or trying to understand who the other person is and work with that.
MW: That makes a lot of sense.
Yeah. Who are you? Who am I? What works? I think one of my issues is that I’ve tried so hard to forget about the rules– but lately I find I’m actually comfortable with some of them. And I’m just now realizing at forty-something that, oh, I kind of like that. For whatever reason- it might just be my personality or, I just don’t want to do a particular task –
MW: Right – like, isn’t a man supposed to do this?
Yeah. Or understanding that the person I’m with, maybe he’s just better at this particular thing than I am, so I’ll let him do that. And vice versa. I just think we get too hard and strict about, these are the roles. And they change over time, you know? The longer you’re together, you might become more capable at something that you weren’t very good at before. You might say, hmm, I like this and I’ll do it. Marriage is what you make it.
MW: Are you married in the conventional sense?
I am not married in the conventional sense. I am not legally married. If Illinois had a common law marriage – which it doesn’t, because we looked it up (laughs), we would be common law. We’ve been together 14 years. We’ve lived together almost ten years.
MW: Can I ask why you chose not to get married in the conventional sense?
I have never been interested in having something sanctioned by the state that I think is personal. I understand the economic reasons for it. I understand… for example, there’s this Supreme Court case with this same sex couple who had been together 40 years, and they had a civil union. Anyway, when her partner died she inherited all this stuff but there was like a million dollar estate tax charged by the government. See when you’re married, you don’t get taxed. So I understand why people want to get married for that reason, but I’ve always seen marriage as something different. Not an economically based thing, but a personal thing that is about me and this other person. And our family. And I think growing up also, I saw a lot of marriages that were sanctioned by the state and the church, but that I feel were horrible. I’m not as judgmental now the older I’ve gotten, but I’ve seen some things that really didn’t work. People were so taken with, we gotta go to the courthouse and get married or we’ve got to go to the church and get married. If my partner and I decide to do it, it will probably be a big party.
I never fantasized about weddings when I was younger. I wasn’t one of those girls who thought, oh my wedding’s going to be this, or this is what my dress is going to look like. I always fantasized more about the partner I would have and the family I would have. And how I could do it differently than some other marriages I’ve seen. And then the older I’ve gotten I’ve learned to look at those relationships and also take what’s good. Some of them were just no good (laughs). There was nothing redeeming about them other than the children they produced.
I was just never that girl. I’ve gone to weddings where I thought oh this is beautiful, but the marriage is the relationship, not the wedding. I think weddings have always been a turnoff for me in terms of the big productions, but the intimate, family weddings, I would always go – yeah, I like this. And those people, I always respected what happened in their marriage later, you know – the family they were trying to build. Watching them and seeing how it wasn’t easy, even with the best of the best. What turned me off of conventional marriage mostly was seeing things that made me uncomfortable growing up.
MW: Do you want to elaborate on that at all?
Seeing marriages to the extreme of physical abuse, things like that. Seeing people who were unfaithful. I mean consistently unfaithful to their partner. That’s just problematic. I don’t understand. I mean, why are you married? (laughs) Why are you trying be committed to people? And I’ve seen a lot of people who were together for 20 years who hadn’t cheated on each other. And I thought, ok, this one is sanctioned by law and by God, and that one’s not. But that one’s working a lot better in my opinion.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, many people encouraged me and my partner to get married. The very ones encouraging me to get married had their own partners, and their idea was, if he leaves you, you’ll be in a better situation. But these very people had their own husbands leave them while they were married and they wound up raising a child by themselves, essentially. Having to take their partner to court the entire time for child support. Whereas the partner I had, had already committed financially to this child. When I found out I was pregnant, he established all that immediately.
MW: Are you saying he established child support immediately?
Before she was born, he put away money for her. He said, this is established, this is for her, this is her money. And also as soon as she was born- well she might have been a few weeks old – we had the child support stuff all figured out. That let me know that even if he and I didn’t stay together, he was committed to her. I knew he was committed to her emotionally as a father, you know, as a parent presence. But the fear that a lot of women have – I’m going to be doing this by myself financially – I saw a lot of that from people, especially from family, and friends of my mother’s.
And I also saw relationships where gender … it didn’t feel like two people who respected and liked each other. It felt like work. Which is of course in contrast to the things you see in the TV and movies where it’s all romance. I always felt like I wanted something where, this is my friend, we like each other, with also the understanding that- and this was the older I got – that the romance part of it is not going to always be present. Just like any other relationship, you have periods where you’re really happy, and then other periods where you’re having to really work hard at communicating. And that’s any relationship that you care about. If you don’t care about the relationship you can say, forget this (laughs). I’m not going to be bothered with this drama. But if it’s somebody you’re invested in – your child, your parents, your siblings, your partner – then you want to expend that energy, You say, ok, let’s work through this. I didn’t see… I saw a lot of people going through motions. I saw a lot of people who – particularly women – who were working, coming home and working…
MW: (Laughs) Right? Working, and then coming home and working…
Going to work in an office, coming home and working some more. And I didn’t see husbands doing that. As I got older, I recognized some families, like, oh yeah, I didn’t see it at the time, but looking back I realize, the husband would cook. Sometimes in your youth you don’t see all of it, and then you step back as a person with some experience and go, oh I see it now. He may not have cooked but he brought home dinner twice a week. He did laundry. I can recall my uncle combing my cousin’s hair. And then I go, ok, so there were these things.
Those gender things really impacted me, though. And also, the idea that the man is supposed to be the breadwinner. And the idea that if he can’t do that, there’s something wrong with him. I never liked that. It didn’t seem fair to me. If there’s a husband who stays home and takes care of kids and feeds them and washes their hair and does the laundry and she goes to work every day – if that’s the way you’ve worked it out, so be it. Let it work for you. If there’s a partner who is not willing to wait at home or bringing in any money, then that’s a problem, with any spouse.
I was always just really looking at these relationships. I saw physical abuse. Disparity between gender and work. There was a “we’re in this together” mentality that I didn’t see enough of to want to do it. Or it was all Disney, you know. Princesses and diamond rings. But many of the women I saw who had diamond rings and their husbands bought them this and that, and they had the best car – their husbands were cheating on those women. And I thought, so, keep your diamond ring. A lot of women would accept that, though – thinking, I got a diamond ring and I get to drive a fancy car. And all that has to do with economics. They don’t want to be hustling out there, trying to make it. I just felt that, for a long time, that marriages were messed up. From the things I saw I thought, this is some kind of slavery. (laughs) And it felt to me that people who weren’t legally married in that institution seemed happier. Much more at peace with who they were, and are.
MW: What are your expectations for your partner?
Support. Emotional support. Which sometimes is probably unfair, because you need to be able to do a lot of that stuff for yourself. But I like emotional support. I need a cheerleader at home – somebody to say, you can do this, or, it’s going to be okay. Or ask, what do you need? And I want to be that for my partner. I expect equity. Fairness. I think sometimes one person at different points in the relationship is probably doing more in one area than the other person. So, my work equity is probably more with my daughter and what’s going on with her, in terms of taking her where she needs to go – piano, and this and that. His equity, his work comes in on the economic side of things, because a lot of my money is going to her. So his money, his work, is going toward providing and maintaining our home. To pay for long term kinds of things like the house, and taxes on the house. And he’s able to do that with the kind of job he has. At some point, that might be different. The older she’s gotten, he’s been able to take her to certain things, depending on his work schedule.
When she was a baby, I had more to do – nursing, you know – my body was so involved. There wasn’t a lot for him to do in that respect. But even though he wasn’t raised around babies, he still needed to know how to take care of her. I taught a Friday night class when she was first born. Instead of his mother keeping her, I wanted him to keep her for those three hours, without me around to say, that’s not how you do it. He needed to find his own way to do it, and make mistakes. My mother would say, he might be giving her the milk too hot, and I would say, maybe, but I might be giving her the milk too hot, too.
MW: So many women assume that because they’re the mom, they know the perfect way to do it.
Right, yeah. But all we know is we may have had some practice with babies. That doesn’t make you an expert. The first time I told him to change a diaper, he was like, uhhhh, and I said, oh, you never changed a diaper before, have you? And I was like, ok, let me show you this, and he said, ok, don’t stand next to me while I do it. Don’t watch me. (laughs) The equity… I don’t want there to be this sense of, you’re the man, and I’m the woman. Sometimes things break down traditionally, and it’s ok if I’m comfortable doing certain things. I want equity. I want fun, friendship. Which is different from romance. I’ve never been a big traditional romance person, because I always think that stuff is cliché and trite. Like, I’m going to give you a box of chocolate covered strawberries. (laughs) I don’t want that.
MW: And it’s only sexy because men want to watch us eat them. (laughs)
Yeah! Or they saw it on TV. I like stuff that means you know me. It’s sexier and more romantic to me to feel like you know me. I like when he gets me flowers but it doesn’t have to be all the time. Just to say, I’m thinking about you, that’s more romantic to me. Or to have an inside joke. Our own language. That we can laugh at something and nobody knows what the hell we’re laughing about. That is the kind of stuff I like. I’ve always been that kind of person. Especially after college. (laughs) You’re always so enthralled with relationship stuff in college. Everybody wants to get married, and this is the kind of ring that you’re supposed to want. That stuff is such a turn off for me now. I want fun. I want humor. I want a friend. That’s what I require.
MW: How old were you when you met your partner?
I was 34.
MW: How old were you when you got pregnant?
MW: You talked about how when you had your baby, your partner set aside money for her and that he was financially responsible right away. Also, you said you’ve observed certain marriages and realized they weren’t for you, and that you prefer a less traditional arrangement. How do you think your age influenced your decision making? How do you think it would have been different if you’d met your partner at 22 and had a baby at 23?
You’re absolutely right. My age did impact that. Because not only was he old enough to be an adult with a certain financial maturity, I was an adult. Even if he had said, I’m out of here, I was a tenure track professor at a university. I had a salary. I had health insurance. At 22 I wouldn’t have had any of that and we would have both been scrambling. But we were both at an age where we could say, yes, first of all, I want this child. I can take care of this child financially, which is a big deal. It’s all about love, but if you’re struggling to take care of somebody, that’s hard on two people. It meant everything to know that I was capable, that he was capable, and that this child would have a place to live. That it was safe, and that there was plenty of food. And if she got sick, we could just go to the doctor. And if she needed medicine, we could just go get it. We had a car and car insurance. Those kinds of things at 22… I was working on a master’s degree when I was 22. I would have been adjuncting at a bunch of places. He was a teller at a bank when he was in his 20s, and he was still in college. We would not have been in the same kind of position. And I think my expectations for a relationship would have been very different when I was 22.
MW: Talk about that.
Well I think I would have been more traditional. I would have accepted…when all the relatives said I needed to get married I would have said, ok. We would have had a wedding and done all that stuff but I would have been mad and resentful the whole time. Because actually, at 22 I was engaged to somebody. I accepted the ring and I remember putting the ring on my finger – and I loved him – but then saying, I ain’t marrying nobody. There was a voice in my head going, is you getting ready to marry him? And me saying back, naw I ain’t getting ready to marry him. I mean, I loved him. I wanted to be with him. And one part of me was like, ok, I’m getting married. And then the other part was like, um, this is never going to happen, for real. (laughs) And he turned out not to be a mentally healthy person. There were a lot of issues. And I think I knew that in my heart. I always tell my girlfriends, I remember buying one bride book and looking at the dresses, and then I think I threw it away when I moved out of the dorms. I knew it wasn’t going to happen. Because I knew we were too young.
The 20s doesn’t seem too young – I mean you’re an adult – but I was too young. There were too many things I wanted to do. I didn’t have the patience. I just didn’t know who I was. In my mid-30s, I had done some living. I had been in relationships and knew what I didn’t want. And I think that the thing that changed everything for me was deciding it was ok if I wasn’t in a relationship. When I moved to Chicago I was like, you know what? It’s ok. That was one of the best Valentine’s Days I’ve ever had. I hung out with myself. I bought plants for my apartment, I went to the movies. I wasn’t depressed about who I was with or who I wasn’t with, you know? It was great. And as soon as that happened, I met somebody.
Also I said to myself, I’m not going to depend upon a type that I think is best for me, you know – like an artist or a writer or professor. I had this type – bohemian or artsy or whatever. I let go of that and started to see these other human beings, these other men who had plenty to offer and were kind and generous. I said, just try dating someone who’s not in that category. And it’s worked out well. In your mid-30s – and he was the same way – we’ve already had drama. So that was not attractive. No more drama. I think at 22 and 23, you almost attract drama, especially if you’re an artist. Everything is dramatic. And you start to decide, I don’t want this stuff anymore. So yeah, economically, it would have been very different if we’d gotten together at 22. And even in our thirties, it was still stressful. Anytime you’re in a new relationship and you have a pregnancy and a newborn and a child in a brand new relationship, is very stressful. Because you’re still getting to know each other. It’s like warp speed. So instead of 14 years together it feels like 24. (laughs) I tell him, I’ve known you a loooooooong time. (laughs)
MW: Did your partner have the same ideas about marriage as you, or did he want a more traditional marriage?
He was like me about getting married. I don’t want to completely speak for him, but I know we both felt the same way about weddings. We were sort of like, you know, why do people spend 30 thousand dollars on a wedding? That could be their down payment on a house…
MW: College tuition, vacation…
Something, you know? Pay your bills, whatever it is. So we agreed on that. His mother was very independent, even though she was married for a number of years. She really was uber competent. She could run a household and work. She was stressed, she told me later– but she knew how to do so many things. If she took her car to the shop, she knew exactly what was wrong with that car. And those mechanics were not going to screw her over. So although my partner doesn’t consider himself a feminist, from his ideas about women, I could already tell he came from a competent woman. So his expectations about what women could do… he automatically thought I knew how to take care of things. But there were some things I didn’t know how to take care of. Because even though I’m a feminist, there were some things that I couldn’t do, or I didn’t know how to do. He was kind of thrown off by that, like wait a minute. Just like I assumed he could change a diaper, he was like, I thought you would know how to invest and do these kinds of things. (laughs) I’m a poet. I was an adjunct professor and a poet so it’s like, invest what?
But yeah, he was nontraditional in that sense. I honestly think that a lot of his aversion to marriage had to do with financial equity. To be perfectly honest, I think a lot of it had to do with fear of being tied to somebody financially, and then if it didn’t work out, having to go through a lot of craziness. But I made it clear to him that, although we have a child, I don’t expect you to take care of me. When we’re kicking it, or in a relationship, I’m not expecting you to take care of me. I think when he saw that, he felt better. And even after we had a child together, it was still difficult for me to let him take care of me. We were both responsible for her, but when he would say, yes we are responsible for her but you are her mother and I love you and I want you to be okay too…
MW: Because she can’t be ok if you’re not ok…
Right. There was a part of me that felt beholden, like I’m taking something from him. So I was over-the-top the other way, like, no, you just take care of her. But I began to soften up about that. I realized yeah, I’m also a human refrigerator for this child. I gotta feed her. I’m the one buying diapers. So slowly, I let him do things for me. And my thing was always, how do I reciprocate? And at that early stage, there wasn’t much I could do to reciprocate. Other than cook a meal or something like that. Now, at the stage we are now, he still has more economic capital than I do. So, how do I reciprocate? Well, I cook a meal. Or, I’m responsible for meals. I have food in the house for him. He comes home – even if I’m not cooking the food – there’s food for him. He’s a vegetarian, so I always make sure there’s something for him to eat. Gifts are not… I can’t spend a whole lot of money on a gift for him and he doesn’t want me to. He’s like, you ain’t got no money so… (laughs) So my gifts become gumbo at Christmas or crocheted scarves. He put on a scarf the other day and I was like, where you get that scarf? He said, you made it for me.
And also I reciprocate by being by his side when he needs support. And it became a more relationship then, not a transaction. That’s the way having a child early on made it difficult. Because I didn’t want to be that woman who says, how much money you got? or, you better get me this. I hate that kind of woman. I can’t deal with those kinds of people. And so I said, nope, just take care of our daughter. If you’re going to put a down-payment on a condo for the baby and me to live in, that’s for her. But he was saying, I want you to have what you like. Don’t just get the house… I mean, do you like this place? Is this a place you can live in? Do you like the neighborhood? And I was just tense about that.
I think he had seen as many bad relationships as I had, so he knew what he didn’t want. And I think right now we’re at a place where we’ve both calmed down about a whole lot of stuff that doesn’t matter. And now we see ourselves as a family, instead of only these two separate people. We’re a unit now. Now that we’re family, my mother is his mother in-law. So, early on in our relationship, he didn’t even know what to call my mother. He wasn’t raised in the south so he wasn’t going to call her Ms. Lucille. But then all of a sudden, my mother had a name. The children had given it to her. My daughter and nephews gave her a name and she became Mama Lu to him. My sister became his sister in law. His sister became my sister in law. His mother was always my mother in law (laughs). But, we became family. And when his mother passed, I think her death impacted that dynamic.
Also when you’re working as a unit, as a family, you forgive a lot more. My daughter and I always say, oh, that’s just your daddy. And I heard him say it other day to her, well, that’s just how mama is. (laughs) And I was like, hey, wait a minute, I’m supposed to say that about you! (laughs) And we laughed about it. When you’re in a marriage, even when it’s two people and no kids, you’re family. And when you start thinking about family, it feels different than saying marriage, to me. I just have all those crazy connotations with marriage. But when people say family, I can relate. I always saw myself having a family. We both knew we wanted something different. And we still try to figure it out every day. (laughs)
MW: Is your partnership forever?
I don’t know. This is anonymous, right?
MW: (Laughs) Yes, it’s anonymous.
I don’t know. I love him. But two years ago, I was ready to go. There was too much head bumping. I felt like, this person will never understand who I am, or let me be. But I think he started to understand that’s the place where I was and started to work on himself. Which then made me more forgiving. And I said, ok, he’s working on himself, now I gotta go work on myself. I can’t just be the one that everything is happening to. So yeah, I don’t know. But I will say this – even if we were to break up – and this would make it difficult for another man or another woman who wanted to date either of us – we will still be family. And I think that’s another thing people don’t quite understand. When you have children with people, and you have a long term relationship with someone, they’re still your family. His mother will be the only mother in law I ever have, for real. Even if he and I broke up and I was with somebody else, he’d still be my family. That is my daughter’s father. The father I picked for her. I mean even if it happened by accident – I didn’t have to have the baby. This is the person that’s meant to be your father and I accept that and I loved him and I picked him. As much as my mother talks about my stepfather, (laughs) he ain't this, he ain’t that, you know – his mother is in the hospital and my mother is so worried. And they’ve been divorced over 20 years. But that’s her mother in law. It doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter if we did end our formal relationship. We’d still be family. Whether he knows it or not. (laughs)
MW: Well, I think you answered everything…
We could talk all day. We done? I can run my mouth…(laughs)
MW: We’ve been talking for like 40 minutes. I have to type all this up! (laughs) It was awesome talking to you. This was a great interview. Anything you want to say that I didn’t ask?
Just… people need to create their own families and not be so pressured by the rules. You’ll find that some of these laws of nature are true, but some of them are false. And it’s up to us to figure that out. That’s it.
MW: Thank you.
"Marriage can’t stay stagnant or that shit’s going to crumble. I have to make my marriage what it is." [An Interview]Read Now
MW: How long have you been married?
14 years. No, 13 years. It will be 14 years. I’m rushing it. (laughs)
MW: How old were you when you got engaged?
MW: Did you feel ready at 20?
MW: How did you know you were ready?
Because I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else… I was just… with him. I was happy. Tunnel vision. I was good. I didn’t need nobody else. I wasn’t really looking for nothing else. I was happy where I was at and we just figured that was the next level for the relationship because we’d been together for years by then.
MW: What was your wedding like?
Quick. (laughs) And cute. It was quaint. One day we….gosh its such a long story so I have to go all the way back. So a few months after we got engaged, I got pregnant. Then I lost the baby a week after we found out. I had a miscarriage. But in that week… I feel like sometimes God will show you what’s to come. After it was over with and I lost the baby it was hard because in that time …we had become parents. We were bonding and ready to have a family. So when we lost the baby I think everybody – including my parents – was just expecting us to go back to girlfriend and boyfriend like, okay, whew. They were kind of glad we lost the baby. They were like, okay, now you guys can slow down and do this and do that, but we were like no, this brought us closer together. Maybe a couple of months after I had the miscarriage we were like, we should just do it, we should just get married. We had already been engaged. I’m not big on planning. I don’t like planning shit. I’m not a good event planner type deal. So all the wedding stuff – where we gonna have it, what church…all that stuff dragged me. So we decided to just do it and keep it a secret. We went to the courthouse downtown and did it and that was my wedding.
MW: So did ya’ll live together yet?
No. It was a secret. I was still living with my dad. We said our vows in front of the judge and got married and later on that day we went back to his house – his parents were out of town – and consummated the marriage. (laughs) Had a good old time. And then we got up and just kicked it, met up with some friends and hung out. And then the next day I went to work like nothing ever happened. And then I came home like nothing ever happened. And stayed like that for like a year.
MW: And you just dated your husband?
Yep. Nobody ever knew we were married for a long time. He would go back home, I would go back home, like, see you tomorrow honey! (laughs) It was crazy.
MW: I’m going ask you all of these at once and you can answer in any order you like: What did you imagine marriage would be like? What were your expectations for your husband? Or did you have expectations at all?
What did I think marriage was going to be like? I didn’t know. I had no clue. I thought marriage would be whatever you wanted to be at that age. You know, the sky was the limit. If we want to do this, then we’re going to do this. If we want to go there, then we’re going to go there. That’s what I thought going into it. I didn’t really have too many expectations for it. The only thing I expected was for us to play the role, husband and wife. The rest was up to us. You be down for me, I’ll be down for you. And we’ll just take this ride together.
MW: What were your expectations for your husband?
Don’t know. I have to go back into the memory repertoire, shit. (laughs) I’m so fucking serious. I think my expectation for him was just for him to give it his all. I believed that he would. I believed in that always. And I believed it was my job to motivate him. So that’s what I did. I’m his motivator. In the midst of it, I think there were times where he seemed like he was unsure about himself, but I never really thought much of it because to me, I’m his motivator. I just figured I’d be able to get it out of him. I’ll be able to be the person to help push him. It seemed like in his family, there weren’t too many people pushing him. So, that was my job. I don’t think I really had too many big expectations – just for him to be able to provide. That was the main thing. So I pushed him towards that, towards being a provider.
MW: So, has your husband lived up to your expectations?
Yeah. Because I think it was inside of him to be that provider, to be that masculine role model in a marriage. So that’s what he was. He went and made it happen. He secured a place for us and we moved in together. Right afterwards, I found out I was pregnant again. He had a job and it was like, okay, go, and he really kicked into gear. So he did, he lived up to my expectations and he kept doing it. He made goals for himself. And he had a pretty good job for awhile. But then it got rough.
MW: How do you mean, rough?
(Laughs) What he was doing got under his skin till he was like okay, to heck with this job. But he put so much effort into getting that job because there’s a process. He had to do the application, then he had to do the test, and then he had to do this and then he had to do that before he even got into it. So after going through all that and then getting into it and seeing how dangerous it was and the turnoffs and feeling like, okay, this isn’t really what I want to do, he didn’t really have a plan after that. I think that kind of left him in a rut.
MW: How has that changed your marriage?
How has that changed my marriage?
MW: Or has it?
Yeah, it has. It’s a bigger strain. And the dynamics have changed because we’re not 25, 26, 27 anymore. Now we’re older. And it’s not us with the first kid, now we’ve got 4 kids. So sometimes I feel like he’s kind of left me to weather the storm by myself. So now I’m wearing both hats in the marriage instead of just being able to concentrate on my part. Now I have to take care of my own goals, and take care of the nurturing side – and provide – while he figures out his plan and figure out how to work his plan. And in some aspects – even though what he’s doing now is intellectually smart because he’s starting his own business - he’s going his own way which is good, especially if you don’t want to work for “the man” - it’s just, it would be a lot easier if it was just a cut and dry business. For example, say I have a lemonade stand. You’re thirsty. You come to me, you give me fifty cents, I give you lemonade, that’s business. When you have a business that people don’t really understand, and it’s not very cut and dry like a lemonade stand, now we got a problem because people don’t really understand the need.
MW: It’s like you have convince people why they need you.
Right. And you have to do it though fear, like if you don’t get this product, you’re going to die (laughs). Or you wait for people to have the realization, like, yes I need this. But that may take forever. And so we’re on other people’s time table and that’s wearing thin.
MW: What are some of the symptoms of this “wearing thin”?
Fatigue. Shit. Complete fucking fatigue. That’s the main symptom. Because, you know when you have a marriage you have to be able to put energy into it. And when you have to do so much that you take out of your marriage and you never put back, you never replenish your marriage, you’re going to lose bits of pieces of it. And that’s a sign and symptom, when you don’t have money to go out and have a date night on Friday. When you don’t have money for a babysitter to just maybe go out and and maybe have a meal without the kids. When you’re always with kids or with bills. So, stress. Fatigue. Lack of… care. Where you get to the point where you really don’t care about trying to work it out because you have too much else that you do have to care about. Sometimes I don’t care if we don’t have a babysitter because I ain’t trying to go out anyway because I have to deal with this.
MW: So it’s like self-preservation mode?
It is. It kicks in quick.
MW: Do you believe marriage is forever?
Forever ever? (laughs) I’ve come to the reality that I don’t even like how that sounds.
MW: Til death.
Oh, I don’t like how that sounds.
MW: And it might kill you (laughs).
No. Nope. No. I think love is forever. Because marriage is an institution and I’m realizing at the ripe young age of thirty-something that institutions are not good. You have to be able to have a way out when it gets confining and starts to kill your individuality. Nobody goes into institutions like jail or college and says, I’m gonna stay here forever. No, you’re supposed to have a way out. No. Don’t do that. Love is forever. The love will still always be there. Love is forever. But to be in a marriage, with all the rules and stigmas and everything society puts on a marriage, that shouldn’t be forever. That’s why marriage doesn’t last. But on flip side, you have some people who divorce for years and get back together like they never skipped a beat..That was love, not marriage.
MW: What were your goals for yourself before you got married? Have they changed?
Some of them have. When I got married I was already on course. See, before I got married, I wanted a degree. That’s what I pictured. I always pictured myself going across the stage, getting my degree, having myself established. Because that was my ambition. That’s what I pictured a s a little girl. I wasn’t the little girl who pictured a wedding. People always say, oh I dreamed about this since I was a little girl. I wasn’t that child. I was never consumed with the idea of getting married. My goal was always to get my degree and a wonderful career, build my career and go on with my life. Then have a family. Man, this is taking me back. And yeah, I did in a sense go for my goal because I have my degree, it’s just that it’s taken me longer than I thought. Because of starting a family first I had to push my goals back, wait for a time, struggle for a time, to be able to get back to achieving those goals.
MW: How has having children changed you?
Probably like it changes every devoted mother. Everything’s about them. Now it’s no longer about me making money for me or me setting up everything for me. Now it’s about them. Whatever I set up, it has to be for them. It’s not just about having a career, it’s about having a career that I can hopefully one day pass on to them. That they’ll be able to dive in and love and enjoy. And kind of, you know, give them a taste of … I don’t know how to put it… life in easier in terms. That’s what I want for them. An easier life. I don’t know if I answered your question. Did I answer your question?
MW: Well, your answer was all about your kids, which is exactly what you said happens. (laughs) I’ve observed that women, especially mothers, take care of everyone except themselves. They are last on their own list. Is that true for you?
It was. It kind of still is in a sense. I’m not last on my own list any more, I stopped that. Now I kind of feel bad because something in my life had to take the hit and I hate it but I think my marriage took the hit. Because I had to push my relationship to last on the list. I still put my kids first because they have to live on. Hopefully they’re able to live on after me. I don’t put myself on the back burner anymore. I used to and that shit was draining because, you know, you have to do for you. Women of old always say that – make sure you do for you. Make sure you take care of you. So every now and then – I don’t give a fuck if I’m broke as shit, I’m getting my nails done. I’m not getting ready to go out with booty diggers.
MW: Booty diggers? (laughs)
I’m not doing it. I bite my nails. I know I bite my nails. (laughs)
MW: You said you put your marriage last. But since there’s only two people in a marriage, then technically you’re saying you put your husband last. So if your husband had a list, where do you fall on his list?
At the top. Top of the list. I know his list would probably be God, then family, and I’m in family. I have to go back and say– I guess you can say there’s two people in a marriage but I see marriage as a separate entity. Marriage has those rules. On my list my husband falls under family, but those rules of marriage and the way it confines–it has to go. That has to be at the bottom of the list because there is no room for that anymore. I love my husband and I care for him so he has to be at the upper top of that list, because in all honesty, the fact that our roles have changed doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of the best friends I have. He creates true balance in my life and I don’t think I realized that until recently. My family goes haywire sometimes and he’s the only one in the house who creates balance. So that’s important. I have to give him that. That’s what he brings. Balance.
MW: You said he creates balance in the house with your family. Do you live with your family?
Yeah. We live with my parents. Which is really good because my mom is sick, so it really eases her nerves having another woman in the house because she’s not able to do the things she used to do… there are other relatives in the house who aren’t handling what she’s going through very well so there’s a lot of stress on everybody. So having us there and having the kids there, it lightens the mood like you wouldn’t believe. But it’s still a lot of stress, though. We bring good to the situation but that situation is kind of hurtful to live in.
MW: Has moving back home changed your marriage?
Sort of. Yeah. It’s put it on ice.
MW: How do you mean?
It’s put it on ice big time because… there’s that part in the bible that says a woman leaves her mother and father to be joined with her husband. Well, when you move back, that’s the strain. Because now, what am I? I don’t feel like being a wife. I’m not a wife. I don’t want to be a wife under my dad’s roof. I mentally can’t wrap my mind around being somebody’s wife living in my dad’s house. So that’s a… big change.
MW: Does your husband understand that about you?
He does. He’s starting to now. He gets it. I don’t think he gets it the full extent. I think he would get it if we were in his father’s house. Then he would be like, yeah, ok. He don’t want his dad hearing him… you know what I’m saying? We can’t do the things we used to do as a married couple in our own house so… that’s a strain.
MW: If you could do it all over, would you do it the same or would you change anything?
I would do it the same. In the span of the years that we’ve been talking about, I’ve had kids, and you’d never change a minute of that. There’s been a lot of good times. It’s just in these recent years it’s gotten harder financially. Of course you have those moments where you think, what if I had taken another route, or maybe I should have a given myself more time. But I’d never change my kids. I live for them.
MW: So even though you don’t believe the institution of marriage is forever, do you think your marriage is forever?
Yes. To an extent, I do. Because, like I said in the beginning, marriage has to be what you make it. You have to, even in a situation like now where we’re in a transition, marriages have to transition along with the people. Marriage can’t stay stagnant or that shit’s going to crumble. I have to make my marriage what it is. And that’s why you have people who have alternative relationships, or they may… I don’t know… they customize that shit to fit them. So to me, that’s what marriage has to become. It’s going to have to be forever because we have kids. We’ll always be linked. Those little souls bind us.
MW: You have a daughter, right?
Yes. And three boys. Pray for me. (laughs)
MW: If your daughter came to you and said she wanted to get married at 21, what would you tell her?
Don’t do it! (Laughs) Don’t do it. You better wait. You better have your shit together. You better know who you are. Because here’s the deal – you’re going to change throughout those years. He’s going to change throughout those years. So you better have a good grip on who you are now. And at 21, I don’t think you do. Because you’re entering into everything. You just getting in the club! Who the fuck are you at this age? You don’t know what your personality is like in the club until you get in the club. (Laughs) You like oh, I’m the drunk bitch in the club or, I’m the single bitch in the club that’s going to block everybody off from the other single friends. No, but seriously you have to figure out who you are, what you want, where you want to go, what you’re going to accept. She has to be who she is and she has to be aware of being a woman. And that’s probably going to be a book I write, teaching girls how to be women, straight up. Like, I want all of that. Before you even think about getting with a man, I want her to be… I can’t say established because you’ll spend a lifetime trying to get established, but just being stable in being a woman.
MW: What is the most important thing about being a woman?
Good self esteem.
MW: Which is all wrapped up in knowing who you are.
Yes. Healthy self-esteem. One of the big things with the age she’s at now is teaching her how to groom herself. As she gets older, nails have to be done. I’m not talking about shallow shit, you know, or making her shallow, but just grooming yourself. When she gets to be a certain age, I want her to have pretty underwear. I shopped at Victoria’s Secret at 15. I thought I was doing something wrong and my dad found out, but he was like I’m so fucking happy that my daughter shops at Victoria Secret. High end underwear. My girl is going to do that.
MW: You just changed my life and you don’t even know it. I’m never going to buy a five pack of Hanes again! (laughs)
MW: My mother would never let me wear black underwear. She never took me shopping for pretty underwear because she thought it would me fast or something.
And that’s the fear. That’s the fear and that’s just so not cool. I did that up until a certain age but when I got to high school, I got my nails done and I got my hair done and I got my eyebrows arched and I wore Victoria Secret underwear and I had body mist and body spray. I knew I was the shit, fuck you. (laughs) You not hitting this because this is prime Grade A. And that’s the most important message that my girls have to know. See when you do all that and you put all that into yourself it does something to you mentally. To the point where, when you get a dude and he try to come in and bring you a whole bunch of garbage, or he come to you and he looking like he about to help somebody move, you tell him, you ain’t getting ready touch this. You’re not. You’re not touching this.
MW: You just taught me so much.
He’s got to know it’s prime grade A. It’s a mental thing with girls. You have to do that. When you get married and you don’t have yourself established… I watched myself go lower on those rungs, and constantly have to put myself on the back burner. I’m tired of that.
MW: This has been an awesome talk.
I know. (laughs)
MW: Thank you so much.
You’re welcome doll.
"I realized that if I kept the baby, I would be pregnant in a prom dress. That was the moment when I decided to go through with the abortion. I wanted to go to college, live on my own and be free. not be the pregnant fat girl at prom." [an interview]Read Now