Privilege to be Petty.

So the other day, I sent my ex a very blunt and (and in his view petty) text Petty textmessage waxing poetic about how how disrespectful of him it was to encourage and allow the random, white, broad (who he barely knew) to name the child he knocked her up with (not only the name we discussed naming our hypothetical future child), but the name of a very influential Black legend. I carefully chose my words, and articulated my thoughts as candidly and eloquently as possible. That didn’t matter, I suppose.

Now, I know it may seem petty, but I promise that there was some very specific context that motivated me to send it (and to that end, had me in my feelings — nearly 4 years after the fact).

In any case.

He called me today, understandably perturbed by my text the other evening. I won’t get into the specifics of our conversation, but he did say one thing that really stuck out to me.

He commented that while actions speak louder than words (something that I pointed out when he accused me of having a vendetta out for him — which I truthfully denied, as my actions, despite his damn near unforgivable deed, have shown that I have gone out of my way to remain friends with him), texting is, indeed, an action; not just a static stream of words or consciousness (as I suggested).

Moreover, as the wise Dr. Angelou pointed out, “I‘ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Down the line will he remember these petty text messages? Likely not, but he’ll remember how they made him feel. And, as an INFJ, feeling is certainly action oriented to me.

I digress.

While I defended expressing my thoughts, he pointed out that the ability to send a text message — a free and open line of communication, without filter or warning  — is a privilege. And he was right.

It took a minute for it to really accept that (because frankly, the sentiment reeks of a bit of self-aggrandizing, but I digress), but it’s true. He continued that if I was unable to stop persecuting him for the past (and in that vein, questioning his Blackness and all the other baggage that usually comes along with my random, unexpected rants), it may be better that we not communicate.

That hurts. But, I guess it gives me a lot to think about.

Side note: I sent the text Sunday evening. I had a dream that evening that he reached out to me and texted that I should stop the “Mrs. Grieving” act. The dream was bizarre, mainly because I am not a Mrs., but it dawned on me that I likely still am grieving. And it’s not an act.

Lesson: Save it for the blog.

Unchecked Motives.

After a heated argument with my ex today, he likened our “friendship” to an abusive relationship. While my initial thought was, “This man has a lot of nerve, after the hell he caused in my life”, upon further reflection, I realized that he was right.

You know the drill. Someone gets her ass beat (literally or figuratively), she tells herself that she needs to leave (of which she has every intention), he apologizes and somehow smooths things over, she believes him, and justifies the abuse because “he really is a good guy”, and the cycle continues.

Or. He cheats, and gets caught. His woman decides that the relationship is too deep to end because of one mistake. She forgives him. But then every opportunity she has (even if it has nothing to do with anything significant), she reminds him, all over again, of the cheating and how much it hurt her. She blows up. He takes her tongue lashing. And the cycle continues.

Neither of the scenarios are healthy. But, people tolerate these things. Why?

Love? Fear of being alone? Fear of change? Familiarity? Delusion?

I digress.

I read an article today that suggests that remaining friends with an ex is the worst possible thing. Like ever. In fact, many psychologists recommend against it. Lollie Barr in the article “Can You Be Friends with Your Ex” suggests that we check our motives. Like, why would I want to be friends with someone who broke my heart — who disregarded my feelings — who turned my world upside down? According to Barr, “Understanding your motives for wanting the relationship to continue is important. You could be resisting letting go because you don’t want to admit failure, or you’re holding on to a glimmer of hope…”

Or maybe it’s deeper than that. I mean, is that enough to tolerate the emotional abuse (often unintentional) that can come along with attempting to maintain a friendship with a person who, for various reasons, didn’t make the cut (to put it mildly), relationship wise?

Dr. Juliana Breines points to research suggesting, “…that on average exes tend to have lower-quality friendships than…friends who were never romantically involved. They are less emotionally supportive, less helpful, less trusting, and less concerned about the other person’s happiness”.

Case in point: my ex can’t even mention his son, by name, without it setting me off (and he knows it); furthermore, I have no desire or interest in hearing anything about him (most people have at least a superficial interest in knowing the goings on with their friends’ children, but I don’t) — in fact, it will trigger me to the point of me spewing the nastiest vitriolic jabs I can muster. And that’s not normal. (For those who may not read this blog regularly, my “ex’s son” refers to the child he knocked some random, goofy broad up with when he was out of town “for work”, and named him the name we had discussed naming our future hypothetical child — check it for reference).

It’s actually kind of deep, because if I was a real friend, wouldn’t I welcome hearing the great things about my “friend’s” child?

So, again, why? Is the love I was able to salvage enough? Because, let’s face it, there’s no way that I could ever fully recover from this debacle — even if I wanted to. So, again, why?

Nina Atwood, relationship (or more specifically, singles) coach, writes, “Wanting to be friends keeps you from feeling the full depth of the loss, softening the blow of the breakup”. For me, I think this is compounded by the fact that he is over 1,000 miles away, and I haven’t had the closure (of a face to face encounter) I’ve needed, since our relationship ended. So, if I can still talk to him every once in a while, I can pretend, for a moment that he just doesn’t live here. It’s not like I run the risk of running into him when I’m out and about.

Plus, I don’t think I’ve fully let myself heal properly. Putting things into further perspective, FWB was the drama that ensued after him, so…yeah.

So, at this point, I am still asking myself why I still desire to be friends with him. I have some serious reflecting and discerning to do.

Or, let’s be real — does he have any reason to want to remain friends with me? Being frank, what I’ve illustrated here is just a fraction of the things I’ve done during the course of our 5-year relationship to garner his disrespect.

So why? What are our motives? Our intentions? Breines cautions, though that, “Ulterior motives can be sneaky, though—our minds have ways of disguising them as more innocent aims. So make sure you are being honest with yourself about what your true intentions are“.

Lots to think about.

Standing in the Light, Part I.

I may lose some friends, associates and respect over this, but I’ve got to, as Aunt Ester (Gem of the Ocean, August Wilson) suggested — stand in the light:Everything and everyone got to stand in the light.” When Wilson wrote the aforementioned play, he juxtaposed the rule of law with the moral and natural order of things. As I center myself in the scheme of things, I think that my story juxtaposes betrayal (and its consequences) with justice (and its consequences). Maybe I’m trying to be too deep (to deflect), but it is what it is (plus, I’m an overthinker).

Stepping out on a limb, and holding myself to a certain level of accountability (and essentially not caring about folks’ judgment), I need to speak my truth. Plus, it’s only fair.

I’ve ranted about my ex and his foul actions that pretty much caused my complete emotional breakdown, but if I am being completely honest, I was no angel in this saga. Not by any stretch of the imagination. And I don’t want to be completely one-sided.

I had a 2-year not-so-secret thing (definitely not a relationship, but all things considered, an extended inappropriate situation) with my ex’s best friend of 20 years (and was a catalyst for a broken friendship). Not that it makes it any better, but this started after his betrayal. Yes, I was that woman (any name you want to call me).

Without getting into the gritty details of how this began (it’s complicated), suffice it to say that as soon I found out about my ex’s betrayal, all bets were off. And I was determined to do whatever I could to hurt him was badly as he hurt me — regardless of how it affected me in the process.

We’ll call my ex’s friend The Homie. The Homie and I were cool, because he and my man were cool. They spent a decent amount of time together at our place, so over the years, I got to know him fairly well. There was never anything inappropriate about our interactions — in fact, we never had any interactions absent my man. We even went on double dates with The Homie and the women he was cheating on his girlfriend with. Yeah, he was that dude.

Being perfectly honest, I did find him attractive, but I never thought about him like that (in a serious way, at least). But let’s be real. We’re grown, and it’s easy to pick up on unspoken chemistry — and I’ll just say that he was the type of guy who I knew would exploit a chance, if given, to test his boundaries with me.

Additionally, The Homie is a whore. He had a girlfriend with whom he was completely unfaithful, several kids with several women, and just an overall shady dude (sounds kind of like my FWB, who would come into my life later…interesting).

Admittedly, when my ex was out of town (I didn’t yet know the significance of all of these trips, but I was getting suspicious — hence, my eventual decision to check his e-mail), The Homie and I very innocently hung out a time or two (along with other people — a few times of which my man was aware). Now, I know what you’re thinking — there’s no reason why you and your man’s friend should have any interaction without him, but as I said, it was innocent.

For brevity’s sake, I’m skipping over a short amount of time (from about March to November — and no, I wasn’t hanging with The Homie all this time — this is just the time frame my man was out of town) — until the infamous bomb was dropped on me.

So, November.

A few days after everything was revealed to me, I ran into The Homie when I was out and about. I must’ve looked terrible and distraught, because when he saw me, he immediately asked what was 3wrong. On the verge of tears, I told him what was going on. I don’t think he even knew about it (my man was pretty private, and I know he wasn’t proud — at the time — of the situation). He was surprised, yet at the same time took kind of a conciliatory tone, and suggested that maybe we could work it out. On a side note, The Homie has had a couple children while in (or outside of, depending on perspective) relationships, so I guess hearing what my ex had pulled probably didn’t shake him too much. For him it was essentially, “been there, done that.” I digress.

We talked a bit more, and went our separate ways. Later that evening, he texted me, and asked if I was up. He worked fairly close to my apartment, and asked if I wanted company.

Here’s the thing: The Homie is a sleaze, he’s an opportunist, he has no conscience, he knew I was vulnerable, there was a certain kind of competition I had always sensed between he and my man; plus, he wanted to test the boundaries (or lack thereof).

And let me be frank. I am not an idiot. I knew what was up. But honestly, in that moment, I didn’t care.

In that moment, my integrity, my reputation, morality, and sense of right and wrong went out the window. Retribution and selfishness motivated me.

I was hurt. And damn it, even though he didn’t know it at that moment, my ex was going to be hurt, too.

The British poet, William Congreve, in the 1697 poem The Mourning Bride writes, “And all those ills which thou so long hast mourn’d /  Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d / Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d.”

You do the math. Form your opinions. Make your judgments. Or, wait until the conclusion — it’s up to you.

But, remember the Aunt Ester quote I referenced above? Caywood and Floyd (2009) suggest that, “August Wilson proclaimed the centuries old matriarch, Aunt Ester, his most significant character. Her presence incarnates a key Wilson idea: The need for African Americans to move forward into the future through embracing their past.

Don’t get it twisted, I’m not suggesting that my story is that deep or prolific. That said, though, as I stand in my light — shame and all, perhaps it’s a way to move forward.


→ Caywood, C. & Floyd, C. (2009). “She make you right with yourself”: Aunt Ester, masculine loss and cultural redemption in August Wilson’s cycle plays. College Literature , 36 (2).

→ Wilson, A. (2003). Gem of the Ocean. New York, NY: Theater Communications Group.

REWIND: Not a Love Thing.

This was written two and a half years ago about my FWB (before the drama with him smashing my friend). Re-reading this really shows me how starved for attention I was. Or, perhaps, how emotionally twisted I was after the number my ex did on me. FWB was the first person I “let in” after my ex — plus, as was said in my favorite movie, “Love Jones”, “This ain’t no love thing; we’re just kickin’ it.”

“This ain’t no love thing; we’re just kickin’ it.” – Darius Lovehall, “Love Jones” | © 1997 New Line Cinemas, Dir. Theodore Witcher

There are many reasons why my “FWB” is no good for me.

I am more than willing to put the 10+ years he spent in prison behind him – he paid his debt to society, and I am not a judgmental person. However, he is only 36. He’s been “out” for a little less than a year, but I believe that the 10 years “away” has invariably left him in a limbo state of grown childhood. I’m no psychologist, but there has to be something to this.

He has 7 kids with 5 different women. His youngest are 12 and oldest is 20 or 21. He was a busy (and sexually irresponsible) man for most of his life. I have no children (on purpose). But, it’s obvious, based on little comments he makes (that I ignore) about me having his baby, that he’d be happy to “trap” me, and that’s never a good sign. I’m not with it.

He’s married. He and his wife have not been in a real relationship since he’s been out, but, uh, yeah (I didn’t know he was married when we first hooked up). Neither of them supposedly have the money to file for divorce. Whatever.

His “wife” is nuts. Seriously. Though she is in a new relationship, she has told him that she’d rather see him “dead or in jail” than happy. So, living 40 minutes away is likely a good (safe) thing for me.

I am a PhD candidate, and he has no concept of what a PhD really is. In the past, he’s referred to my dissertation as “that thing”. Hear me out, I am the least pretentious person in the world, and I have never required that my partners be as “educated” as me, but…that thing? C’mon, dude.

He’s not curious about my book collection. Okay, this may not sound like a big deal, but it kind of is…to me. I have two, packed full, tall book cases (with mainly non-fiction cultural studies stuff), and NOT once has he perused my collection – even out of curiosity. I once joked that anyone who steps into my space, and doesn’t at least browse my books is…no good. Things aren’t looking good for him.

He was (admittedly) physically abusive to his wife.

He’s possessive.

Enough said.

So why am I hung up on this guy? I don’t get it, and it’s really fucking with me.

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“You always want what you want when you want it. Why is everything so urgent with you?” – Nina Mosley, “Love Jones” | © 1997 New Line Cinemas, Dir. Theodore Witcher

My sister says that this situation with him may be the universe’s way of showing me that I’ve “moved on” a bit from my ex and/or I’m ready to open myself up emotionally to someone else. Who knows.

I’m a very witty, intelligent, attractive, never married and educated woman with no kids. I’m a catch, and I deserve better than him. Let me keep repeating that mantra.

 

No Explanation Necessary.

This popped into my head the other day. I’m not sure what sparked the memory, but it really has me thinking and reflecting on life, relationships, self-worth — deep stuff, basically.

About a year and a half ago, I had a long phone conversion with my ex (not the jerk, “FWB” that I’ve been writing about, but a genuine ex). I vented about the aimlessness that characterized my love life (I use that phrase loosely — facetiously, actually). Despite what he did to me (I’m not sure if I’ll write about it here, but it was heart breaking, foul, shady — just all around wrong), I’m in a relatively better place now, and I still value his insight. He may have hurt me, but he’s one of the wisest people I know.

In any case.

We had a long talk about my life, and I ended up telling him about the assorted, not so good, shenanigans that cluttered my world. Without being judgy, he offered the following thoughts:

1. He likened me offering myself too easily & giving too much information to insignificant men to a library book. He asked, “Wouldn’t you prefer to be a rare book in someone’s private collection, rather than a beat up library book from which people can read the introduction and skip right to the end? Your story is too valuable for that. You’re classic, rare and exclusive; not a library book that the public can check out, a book that might end up in someone’s trunk, and not returned on time, or ever.”

Now, I know what you may be thinking — there is an air of hotep in that sentiment; but, I assure you, respectability politics is not what framed his analogy. I honestly feel like it was a suggestion to reflect on how I value myself.

2. My ex used to watch “Sex and the City” with me. In one episode, Samantha was interviewing with Richard Wright about doing PR for his luxury hotels. In any case, Richard looked at her resume and said, “This is all fluff. It’s nothing but parties and social events.” He reminded me of that episode and using that as an analogy, asked if any of the men I’m dealing with are worthy enough to be put on my (hypothetical) resume, or to serve as references (for anything significant or real). Obviously, the answer is no. They’re all essentially… fluff (or at least our relationships are).

3. And finally, I reminded him how passive aggressive image21& non-confrontational I am, and whined that I didn’t know how to end things with certain people. He offered me the best gem of this conversation. He said, “You don’t owe anyone anything. Does a dope fiend owe the dope dealer an explanation for not buying his product anymore? All he offered you was (XYZ), and it’s doing you no good. You don’t owe him shit.”

Touché.

So…in effort to (in the words of Iyanla Vanzant) do the work — my work, I stopped responding to the assorted, random “WYD” (etc.) texts from my fluff. It may not seem like much, but it was a start. Trust me, it didn’t eliminate anything, but it was a needed pause.

And a gentle reminder that reinventing my reality is possible whenever I choose.

“It ain’t nothing to find no starting place in the world. You start from where you find yourself.”
– August Wilson, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone