A story of love, heartbreak and growth.
I wasn’t the best boyfriend. An OK boyfriend? Sure. But I didn’t deserve the pedestal I put myself on or that everyone else did. We were all the labels in the book; from high school sweethearts to best friends, it all clicked. I had everything I needed in one person. After graduation, it seemed like people were expecting us to ride off into the sunset on some magical flying horse. Some last grand gesture of love from the Wilson High School power couple right? But the truth is there was no sunset. No magic white horse. All I had was more time with a person that I was too broken and self-centered to understand. She told me I was everything she dreamed of: light skin, curly hair, pretty eyes, and I could make three words feel like a thousand. She knew I had it. But I knew I had it even more. My confidence turned to arrogance and that was my first mistake.
My second was thinking I would never lose her.
I thought I had it all figured out too. Not only was I nice to look at but I knew her body like the back of my hand. Making her orgasm was something I craved and there were times I would go down on her just for the fun of it. Every spot, every part of her was my playground and I didn’t play fair. Why should I? I was able to satisfy her physical needs in ways that were unheard-of at our age. To the rest of the world we were incorruptible and unwavering and yet, we both still felt empty. We both still felt something missing. Our relationship was exhausting and I could never figure out why. I thought I was giving her the world but I wasn’t giving her a damn thing.
We were both hiding.
We had been hiding for so long. My image and obsession with being the perfect guy became more important than anything else in the relationship. Ironically, even more than giving her actual companionship. I never let her in. I never let her know the real me. Backshots and an “I love you” were my solution to every problem we had. I couldn’t care less what we were arguing about. I didn’t argue; I resolved. Her feelings were an annoyance and I could never be bothered to listen. Sex made it worse. The intimacy and passion made her want to connect with me more; she wanted to give me more of her heart but reciprocating that was something I couldn’t do. And soon her affection turned to resentment. I wasn’t giving her what she needed. At the time I was nothing more than a pretty face and a good lay. I would drop everything for sex but made writing a love poem feel like pulling a molar. She needed more. She deserved more. I was her boyfriend, but I was far from her partner.
She was alone.
I didn’t give her a voice. I was too prideful to sit down and talk with her, and the slightest criticism made me defensive.
“Why are you complaining.”
“Shut up. I don’t want to hear it.”
“You’re always in your feelings.”
I would be the first one to preach about good black men but made little to no effort to be one.
“I’m fine as hell, I put you to sleep and I even wipe you down after…..what more can a bitch ask for?”
I was stupid. Just stupid. I didn’t realize how meaningless all that shit was until the day she left. I hated her for it. I “took it like a champ” and never showed how I felt about it. My pride made me throw my hands up rather than put in the effort to make her stay. I missed the big picture. I spent so much time hurting and confused when I had no right to be. In my eyes I never did a single thing wrong. I was the perfect boyfriend remember? I wasted no time making it about her and acted as if she had made the worst decision of her life. But what was she leaving behind? Dick and a pretty smile. She wasn’t letting go of the love of her life, or losing her best friend. I had stopped being those a long time ago.
The pedestal I put myself on crumbled under me.
I was lost. And I was too prideful to look into myself for the answer. All she wanted was for me to show love as much as I demanded to be loved, but its so much easier to play the victim. All she wanted me to do was give a damn. I spent what seemed like days listening to 6lack and pacing in my dorm trying to find an answer other than what was right in front of me. Smoking made me overthink the situation more. Other girls were around, but they seemed so worthless compared to her. And in my loneliness I resonated with her heart like never before. I missed the girl I fell for in high school. As cliche as it may sound I didn’t realize what I had until she was out the door.
It was time to man the hell up.
My pride was everything to me. A troubled childhood made me unwavering and strong; I never showed weakness and that strength is what made her fall for me in the first place. Yet, the walls I put around myself were as much for her as they were for everyone else. Tearing it down was terrifying. I didn’t know how to love another person like that. I didn’t know how to let someone into my heart. But that fear was what pushed her away in the first place and I had to get rid of it.
“Why are you talking to me?…”
“I’m not perfect. I have never been. In all honesty I am as flawed as they come but I want to be better for you. Only you. Giving my heart to another person terrifies me….it’s a feeling that has become almost alien but I want to give you that. I’m ready, I want this……. please teach me how to show it.”
We talked for hours that night. There were times when I struggled to put my feelings into words, as if I was learning to speak for the first time. I opened my mouth but nothing came out. I had never opened up. Never dared to show another person how vulnerable I was. But I didn’t have to say a word to her. My eyes showed my conviction, adoration and pain in ways that my voice never could. She held me and for the first time in my life I felt safe with another human being. I told her about my childhood, everything that I had seen and experienced. I showed her who I was and not what I thought was expected of me.
“Let go baby. I’m here. I’ll always be here.”
We had been together for more than 3 years at the time. But never had I loved her more than that moment. Never had I understood her more than right then and there. Her feelings weren’t annoyances anymore; they became the blueprint I needed to be a better man. She told me she never wanted to leave but didn’t know how to save me. I didn’t blame her, and even apologized for my immaturity, something that would have been unheard-of before. She was the first person I let in, and in that I found the love of my life. I was so focused on being someone else, and hiding my true self that I didn’t see the person in front of me. She still listened to the same music, ate the same food, laughed at the same jokes and could even out smoke me. We fell for each other all over again, and I was able to pleasure her heart as much as her body.
The moral of the story is that I know its hard. I know that we all have our own defenses and insecurities that hold us back and keep us from investing wholeheartedly into another person. Love is terrifying. I get it. But when done right it can be a beautiful thing. Open yourselves up. Learn the difference between love and lust. Sit down with the person you care about and listen to their heart.
Fear kills love in ways that heartbreak never could.