There are many interpretations on what love is supposed to look like and feel like. Yet what if you don’t have enough or no healthy representations around you? What is your starting point?
Sometimes, it can be as small as a guy saying the right things to you at just the right moments.
It can be someone giving you the attention you’re not getting at home or positive interaction where everything and everyone else has been negative.
It could be someone placing the possessive word “my” or “mine” to make you really feel like you’re special.
Straws, even pencil thin ones, have substance.
Until those straws start to break.
Like little glimpses in Seeing the Signs:
I noticed him staring
At some girl’s chest
When he thought I wasn’t looking.
And when I asked him about it,
He claimed he was looking in disgust
Because a decent woman
Shouldn’t be flaunting her stuff.
I caught him looking
At some girl’s ass
While walking with some classmates.
And when I asked him about it,
He claimed he was looking for comparison--
To see if I would look as good
In the jeans she was sporting.
Or humming the melody of Celie’s Blues:
I am not your woman:
You are not my man--
That would mean we are partners,
That we are joined at the hip
And walk hand in hand.
You are my Mister,
And I am your Celie.
Things only get done
When you want them done.
When you tell me
To call you at 5:30,
It can’t be any time before
And not a millisecond afterwards.
If I don’t call at all,
I hear your trash talk:
Your accusations of infidelity;
Your claims of I should thank the stars
That I have you
Cause no one else would want me.
Even when you have reached your limit and have received a much needed intervention, without that foundation and lesson from the past relationship, you are doomed to repeat the cycle, or even get in a worse situation.
Love does not demean and corrupt core elements of one’s self to make another self bigger. Love celebrates and enhances the self that is already there.
But what do you do when the very ones who were supposed to foster your self love are the perpetrators of the pain?
To be continued...
What Love is Not: Part Two (Elice's Story)
Being single felt foreign to Elice. Perhaps she was addicted to the feel of being on someone’s arm. After she made her journey from high school to college, it wasn't long before she ended up in another relationship. She hadn’t intended on it, originally. She was still hurting over her last relationship and had made up her mind to experiment in just having brief affairs.
It was supposed to be that way with Dedrick. Just a good time. Yet he said that their moment together was like a drug, and he was hooked on the side effects. He ended up leaving his girlfriend, and it didn't take long for him to start pursuing Elice.
He would make it a point to find her during lunch time and would visit her at her living quarters. She really loved how talented Dedrick was, but she always had a soft spot for musicians. He would always compliment Elice on how smart and beautiful she was. Most of the time, the conversation would end with him wanting a chance to have a relationship. For about three weeks, Elice valiantly fought off his advances.
Finally, Dedrick’s persistence paid off. He was thrilled. Not too long after the union, Dedrick wanted Elice to meet his parents. Elice thought it was a bit soon, but Dedrick insisted the love he felt for her had no timetable and that she was the type of woman he could imagine being with for a very long time. The family Dedrick had was the type of family she always wanted. His parents loved each other and seemed very invested in their children’s education. Dedrick invited Elice to his church, where he would play the piano and organ. The whole family and community were pleased with his choice.
A few weeks after that, Dedrick popped the question in front of a multitude of people. The college was relatively small, so it’d be safe to say in front of the entire campus.
Elice had to be honest with herself. She didn’t know whether she loved Dedrick, but she liked how being with him, his family, and the church community made her feel. Perhaps with time she could grow to love him as passionately as he did her. Besides, she didn’t want to embarrass him in front of everyone.
Although Dedrick celebrated it from the mountaintops, Elice wasn’t sure how she would be able to tell her family. She permitted Dedrick to drop her off at home one weekend to give him an opportunity to meet them. Once Dedrick left, she wanted to gauge how they felt about him. Her grandmother’s response, “There’s something not quite right about him.”
Elice wasn’t quite sure. Dedrick hadn’t shown any of the signs like the previous relationship she had. Dedrick didn’t act possessive. He didn’t put her down; in fact, he always made it a point to do the opposite. Their sexual moments ranged from scenes in Harlequin to episodes in some of Zane’s short stories. Nothing was broken.
But one night changed everything. The one night Elice dared to tell Dedrick no.
She was preparing for a test and wanted the opportunity to study without distraction. Dedrick was hungry for sex. His appetite seemed insatiable, and usually, Elice rose to the challenge. But she wasn’t up to it this time and told her so.
His actions afterwards made this statement fact: You never tell me no.
That night, her fiance pinned her to the bed and raped her. Elice was horrified. She had never seen him like that. Elice was heartbroken. If Dedrick loved her, how could he do this to her? Elice was ashamed. How could this had happened to her?
For every woman who talks about her rape, there are so many who do not. In some cases, the rape victim is put on trial, scrutinized from the clothes she wears to what she said to the guy and how she said it. She feels as if she has to relive the experience all over again when all she wants to do is get justice and find a way to put it behind her.
When Elice first decided to leave Dedrick, he didn’t take it to well. He became emotionally and mentally unstable. His roommate contacted her, and Elice discovered Dedrick playing the game of Russian Roulette. She aborted her plans because she didn’t want that on her conscience, but perhaps it was a mind game to get her to stay.
All of the nastiness Elice’s grandmother sensed in Dedrick became magnified. Elice was isolated from her old friends, and she was caught in a cycle of control and fear. Whatever little regard she had for her life was washed away upon Dedrick’s arrival.
So many on the outside believe it is so easy to just go. Yet it is not easy to leave an abusive relationship, especially when your life is being threatened. If you have kids, it is even riskier.
But the best thing you can do for your existence is to leave. The ambiance of a relationship isn’t worth your risking your life.
Love is not abusive. Love doesn’t gain might by taking out one’s life. Find the resources and utilize them. You are not alone.
Elice didn’t have to live this way.
I didn’t have to live that way.
And so did I.
Two days and counting until the conclusion of the Private Pain: Amidst These Ashes giveaway comes to a close. Have you entered yet?