So When is Enough.. ENOUGH?
When is enough, enough? This has become an ongoing cycle of questioning for me.
As a young black woman, I feel that I am always measuring how much I am worth to calculate how to be enough for a man. It seems like in order for me to develop confidence within myself, a man’s validation is always needed. But why? This is a post for those out there where the problem roots deep. The people who seem to get into toxic relationships and patterns and can’t figure out why. Well, I’ll tell my story — one of them to keep it short.
Freshman year, it felt like I found the love of my life. We met here at Howard and it felt like Allah placed them on this earth for me (I know it’s dramatic but that’s how feelings make you). He got my number at a party after we danced together and our bodies were so in sync. What do the kids say? Heaven sent? We planned on having a little library date to get some work done and get to know each other more in depth. Looking back, it was the most innocent thing I’ve experienced here. Our backgrounds were so similar, struggling single mother households, dead friends, struggling cities, we were the same person as a different gender from two different states. When you’re in situations like this you never think “this is too good to be true” until you’re in too deep. After a while I invited him to hang out in my dorm and we talked more in depth than I have with anyone ever before. I was able to express the poetry I wrote about and the problems that I kept to myself because I didn’t want to be seen as weak. He soaked it up like a sponge and reciprocated the emotion. He even broke down crying to me about losing one of his closest friends to gun violence and I knew all too well. His poetry was so deep that if hurt was an injury you could see his bone marrow from the outside of his arm. Talks like these turned from once a week to every night calls. The "I like you’s" turned into "I love you’s". This man made me feel comfortable being myself. I didn’t have to hide a piece of me to be liked or wear a mask to be accepted by him, but maybe that was because he was too busy hiding himself to care about me hiding. Now we’ve all had that situation where you’re talking to someone and the rumors start to come about and boy did they come, but let’s pause right here. Have y'all had that battle of thought where you’re sitting there like damn maybe they did do that, but then again “hating hoes ain’t happy” and people love to lie. And then you go with the second option that the rumor wasn’t true? Big mistake. So after the rumors and the confrontation, we leave each other alone, but deep down inside we were cringing to have that connection back. We were part of the same activity and we would have to see each other all the time. It was awkward, so I gave in to have the infamous talk. You know the talk that you think you need to have for closure? The one that won’t change a thing, but you say it needs to happen enough that you convince yourself something will? We talk, he apologizes and we agree to be cordial with each other for the sake of people watching, but what exactly is being cordial with someone you still love deep down in your heart? Oh, I’ll tell you — comfortable. Comfortable to flirt and find yourself caring about them again. Even when you sat in the mirror hours at a time and said you wouldn’t let someone disrespect you again.
As the semester wounded down, someone took something from me that didn't belong to them. It was degrading. It made me sink into the darkest place I could ever imagine. Now I’ve always watched documentaries about sexual assault, but when it happens to you, it becomes your distorted reality. I wasn’t the same girl anymore. I couldn’t hold my head high and feel confident in my body. Now this is where it gets important to read. One day, he called me and asked me how I was doing and said he said he could tell I was going through things and he wanted to make sure I knew that could talk to him. I was hiding this pain and punishing myself, but now someone noticed my hurt. I went to his dorm after us not talking for a while and he hugged me. The bottle that I’ve been pouring pain into broke when he touched me. I was becoming dependent on his anecdote. We laid down and cuddled like we use to and he let me cry and explain everything I felt about what was going on. He was protective of me — I was safe with him. He would never do anything to hurt me, and I know because he told me as he kissed my forehead and pulled me into a bear hug.
Coming back from break is when I would say that feelings became strong as everclear straight. I forgave him for the other girls, we moved on, and he said he wouldn’t do it again. Besides he protected me. He was my safe haven. My confidant. Everything was back to normal, the talks, the cuddling, everything. I was living in bliss; it was a hood love story. At least that’s what my friends called it. Then what we thought would be the best of us became the worst of us — Spring Break. I went to Miami and he went back home. Every night, no matter the time difference, we would talk all night and remind each other how much we loved each other. We were making goals for each other. It got to a point where we were so imbedded in each other we made plans to bring each other home to our parents. He told me I reminded him of his mother and loved him like she did. We were head over heels. Before we hung up with each other we would have that cute argument of who loves and misses each other more and nothing mattered to us but us. When we got back to school everything was fine for a couple days.. but then it was like something changed in him. It turned from talking every night to me being lucky to hear from him. What did I do to him? How could I fix it? All I knew was to give him what he asked and I was determined to get my man to love me again. Somewhere, I lost who I was, yet he completed what I was missing, so I NEEDED him, even though I didn’t want to admit it to myself.
While I was walking to meet my best friend at his dorm I ran into him coincidentally and we told each other we would get together later that night. I was like a kid on Christmas Eve awaiting Santa Claus for his text. When he finally texted me I didn’t hesitate to respond. We made each other feel good and then talked about life with each other as I played with his hair. He soon fell asleep on my chest and I sat there for a couple minutes before something told me to do the unthinkable. Yup you got it.. I went through his phone. I know, I know, big nono, but it was like God was telling me D’Zyre you HAVE to. This was also the week he was supposed to come home with me. So I opened his phone and I didn’t really have a purpose so I was just clicking random things. He texted so many women I didn’t know who to look into. I just closed my eyes and asked God to guide my hand and I was taken to a message with a young girl. It was all friendly until I scrolled up and wait — this was the same thing he was telling me. Everything about his family, how much he loved me and wanted to build.. with me. I felt manipulated to the tenth power. That was the first knife to my heart. Now I knew I was looking with intention, so I tried his notes. And now another knife of lies was in my heart. But I guess that pain wasn’t enough because I kept going. I searched my name. He was disrespecting my name in his group chats, they all knew he was playing me and they laughed, was I in some type of sitcom? But through the hurt, it still wasn’t enough until I seen a name that shouldn’t have been in his phone. Now remember how we talked about rumors? This was one I ignored, but not anymore. So I did what anyone would do; I read it. This whole time, they were having sex after our activities and they knew how wrong it was and how much pain it would cause if I found out yet they still did it. Apparently over Spring Break when I thought we were so invested in each other he was planning how he was going to have sex with her over and over again all night long. they even made an elaborate plan on how to lie to my face about it. I don't know why I didn't push him off of me, punch him in his face, or even put a pillow over him.. I was too stuck. I broke it off and of course I got cussed out and rumors were made about me to put me in the wrong and not him.
So when was enough, enough? You would think after that, but I invested so much into him I wanted to know why would he do that to me? Why hurt me? So of course we had another talk and he told me how much he loved me and needed me and everything a man seems to say when they’re trying to not lose you because they know how much you can be manipulated.
That’s when enough become enough.. at least with him, but overall? It caused a deeper wound.
I am scared to be loved by men, if we’re being honest there is a piece of me that even fears men. With my father being unknown in my life until I was 14, I have never been taught how a man should love you. I even had a “sometimes” father, but when people play takesy backsy with their love and commitment it's as if it was never there from the start. A piece of me feels that at this big, large age no man can ever come to me and say “let me teach you how to be loved”. Maybe I am the stereotypical black girl with daddy issues, but this is why my problem roots deep. Now some people may say, well if you didn’t have a father and you envy him then that should be your guide to finding the correct man for yourself. But is it really? If I don’t know the person I hate so much, how can I protect myself from someone just like that? The answer is you can’t. As Tupac said “all along I was looking for a father and he was gone”. I was looking for that love and that validation for so long I didn’t realize the toxicity of my actions and the people I involved myself with. I write this post to say it's a journey that we all are on. It's okay to not be okay.