To All The Girls I Loved Before…

Five abortions, three miscarriages, a few broken hearts and countless women whose names are unaccounted for I watched walk to their cars under the cover of night was the sum of my manhood…until I decided to change. Folks who knew me as a monster can’t understand how I’ve become the man I am today. The truth is, I’ve always been who I was, and I just had a healthy appetite for women simultaneously. There are folks that will point to my wife as the reason for my change; that’s partly true, but I also had grown tired of my lifestyle.

For most of my adult life I’ve kept women filed away in separate categories in my head, separated by what they did, how well they did it, what days they could do it, if they had boyfriends, kids, jobs, lived alone, lived with him, bi-curious, proximity to me and most important, if they had ever mentioned wanting to be in a relationship with me. It didn’t matter if I was single or attached, living with my girlfriend or a bachelor, all of this was locked away in my mind, ready for use at any time of the day.

My neighbor Mike lived vicariously through me, he would sit on his porch at the height of summer or dead of winter as women would come and go (literally & figuratively) from the afternoon to the middle of the night and on the rare occasion, the next morning. I couldn’t see a consequence to the way I was living, if you’d ask me, I was doing them a service. When I look back at it, I caused far more hurt than any thrill gained after a few drinks and couple orgasms, but that didn’t matter at the time.

We were all consenting adults and each of us knew what we were getting into at the time and the expectations were minimal. Well…except for those I called my girlfriend and pledged to love. I lied, cheated, hurt and loved them at the same time, but I wasn’t ready to be in a relationship, though I was. There was vulnerability in me that certain women were able to reach and for their accomplishment, I sentenced them to be my woman. Had they known the pain to come from that distinction, I’m sure they would’ve ran, but they, like the others, were blinded by my charm, my smile and ultimately, the way I touched them in places they didn’t know existed.

I learned a long time ago that I had a gift; people gravitated to me, there was something about my personality that drew people, men and women to me. For the fellas it was good look to be my homie, for women, the same, not to mention rumors spread in high school and college that I was a little guy, but a big guy at the same time. At some point or another, I would somehow talk nearly all of my female friends naked, 90% of the time against my best efforts, but it was a pattern that continued for a long time.

After a while, I had enough friends and just collected women’s panties (figuratively), I’m not sure what they wanted from me, I wasn’t taking the time to ask. Hopes, dreams, aspirations and that other shit didn’t matter, I just cared if you were sucking and fucking, within a two-week window. Unlike many men, there was no one woman that turned me into what I was; I did it because I could. I would always tell women that I could only do what you allow and many of them would allow me to keep extending the boundaries until there were no limits.

I’m still amazed at how quickly a woman erases her line in the sand once you make her cum a few times in a night. I’ve known women to lie to their husbands, leave their kids at the sitter, have threesomes with their best friends, my best friends, people they didn’t know, perform for my cameras, cross state lines, journey to the edge of night and never ask for so much as a promise that I would never hurt them. Maybe I just have a trusting face…

These women would compromise the standards they set for themselves during our first conversations. I heard over and over again how this one was ready for a real relationship or that one needed someone that gave as much as she did. They would say these things, but I never gave much more than a few inches of dick and a nap on my couch, here and there good liquor and buffalo wings were consumed, but for the most part the most emotion they felt from me was watching them walk to the car from my porch.

In between I spent a few thousand dollars on abortions, caught tears after miscarriages and endured being called a “motherfucker” repeatedly. I made plenty of mistakes, especially after a half bottle of Level and running out of condoms, so I took it all as one to grow on. However, I wasn’t showing my growth and duplicated my mistakes, to the point where I thought I had a problem and sought help. That shit didn’t work! I had sex immediately after my first session and settled back into the life I chose.

I rotated women in and out of my crib, in and out of my life, and in and out of bars and motels until I said enough is enough. It sounds like a scene out of a movie, but I truly woke up one day and said I didn’t want to live this way anymore. My pledge for change happened to coincide with a woman who fit none of the paragraphs above walking back into my life. I was seeing up to six women a week when I first began talking with the woman who would become my wife and thisfast they were out of my life.

Well, maybe not that fast, but I started to ease them out of the way as she and I grew closer. I think my body sent me the first message, I felt like I was breaking down and it was directly from the way I was living. I was consuming liquor like women, sleeping less than four hours a night, working hard, playing harder and I just couldn’t keep it up any longer. The pain I felt, the fatigue I lived was more than enough to for me to cease the bullshit. But she, she would’ve made me stop traffic so she could tie her shoe on the sidewalk, she was reason enough for me to say goodbye to a life I don’t remember saying hello to.

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Shadows of a Memory

I’ve been going back and forth in my head on whether or not to wish you a “Happy Birthday”, because these days, I’m unsure of where that conversation can lead. There have been so many changes with me, with you, with us, that sometimes it’s best to just let be what they may…even though it hurts.

I’ve known you for as long as I could remember. I look in my baby book at some of my first birthday parties and there you are, standing next to me with those big, beautiful brown eyes. You would occupy the space next to me for most of our life; at times as my friend, my girlfriend, sister, an ex and then whatever we became before it all fell apart. I have no clue where we stand now, because the issues you’re dealing with make it impossible for me to have a steady role in your life.

I’ve loved you for as long as I could remember. We’ve endured what causes most friendships to disintegrate, time. We’ve grown up together, grown apart, came back to one another and faced the ugly truth of life time and time again, but nothing we learned prepared us for the last nine or ten years. The last time we attempted a relationship we were simply no good for one another; I was in the middle of another situation and you had a girlfriend, but there we were sneaking off to see one another like we met on BlackPlanet. A few months of that and we were back in the groove of being brother and sister, supportive of the moves the other was making in life.

I looked for you for as long as I could remember. Then I got a phone call that no one had seen or heard from you for days, that you had run off after acting out violently to your family, they said you appeared possessed. The search went on for weeks and ultimately led to Florida, where you had fled everyone who loved you, everyone who could possibly help. The diagnosis was bipolar disorder; the reality was everything had changed. The days, weeks, months and years that passed before you reached out to me created a distance that had never existed between the two of us. A distance we tried to diminish at first, but your episodes became more frequent and your refusal of medication or psychotherapy didn’t sit well with me.

I’ve been your friend for as long as I could remember. I tried to maintain a friendship with you from the distance we maintained, but you didn’t make it easy, lashing out at me frequently, alternately loving me and hating me in the same breath, cursing me, then praising me, wanting to marry me, but telling me you secretly aborted my child the next. Oftentimes I would cry after our interactions, appealing to God, wishing on everything that you would miraculously get better by the next time we spoke.

And then days, weeks, and months, sometimes years would go by before we spoke again. During these intermissions you would be in jail, in mental hospitals, hustling bus fare back to Jersey and then escaping once again to Florida. At times, it would be like having my old friend back, but then you were someone I didn’t know, but I talked to the two yous like I loved them both equally, yet differently. And then days, weeks, months, and sometimes years would go by before we spoke again. Next I would receive long, incoherent e-mails from you about nothing; I couldn’t decipher what you were trying to tell me. The only thing that I could grasp was that you didn’t have my phone number anymore and I had moved from where you knew me to live last.

Yes, I had moved on, convinced that I couldn’t save you or carry the burden of your pain anymore. Besides, you didn’t think you had a problem, you had weed to smoke and sunshine to live in. Remember you told me that was all you needed in life? Against my better judgment I gave you my new phone number and you would call me practically every night at 2am, some nights lucid, others off on tangents I couldn’t follow. And then days, weeks, and months, sometimes years would go by before we spoke again.

Remember we said if we weren’t married by 30, we would marry each other? Yeah, I know you do, because right around our 30th birthdays you started calling and asking when we were getting married. For the first time in a long time we had a real conversation; I told you that I couldn’t marry you because what we wanted out of life didn’t match anymore. Seven years earlier you received a M.A. degree in Psychology and I was starting my career in Higher Education, but during those conversations you were content with living off of $266 a month from Social Security. Add to that you were still going in and out of jail, in and out of the hospital and in and out of my life.

I know I didn’t say what you wanted to hear because days, weeks, and months, sometimes years went by before I heard from you again; this time, you just wanted to move in with me and when I refused, I was on the wrong end of your wrath. You couldn’t process why I couldn’t have you in my home, why your instability wasn’t welcomed at my door, why I stopped sending you money as I had done since we were in college. I could no longer enable you, I couldn’t be accessory to the crimes you committed against yourself.

Somehow you found your way back to Jersey and when I saw you for the first time in many years, the light was gone from your eyes, the years away had taken their toll on you and our conversation was pedestrian at best. I cried in the car, cried when I got home, cried when you call to curse me out for not taking you with me. I didn’t know what to do with you anymore and neither did your family, who were tired of dealing with your assaults, physical and verbal, so you were headed back to Florida. Once again days, weeks, and months, sometimes years passed before you called to tell me that you were pregnant by some guy you met in jail and he was back in while you were carrying his child.

I didn’t know what to think, for thirteen years all you thought of was having a child, now here was your chance. The first thing that came to my mind was that you were in no position to have a child, but you didn’t want to hear any of that and for the first time in a long time, you seemed like your old self. Right up until the end of your pregnancy when wild tales of marriage to Jay-Z, Lyfe Jennings and Lil’ Wayne began and your quest to marry me reignited; I could be your physical husband, God said it was OK, that’s what you would tell me. Your son was born and everyone seemed happy, but I was concerned, because less than two weeks later you were gone again and he was gone.

I’ve loved you as long as I’ve known you. I’ve been by your side as you faced criticism from your family and doubted yourself. I’ve dealt with your emotions far before a doctor put a name to it, I’ve even endured pain I didn’t deserve, but I can’t do this anymore. Your latest overtures to me have been troubling and I have a wife to protect now, so I can no longer be for you whatever it was I have been in your eyes. It hurts, but we let go of one another a long time ago and simply loved shadows of a memory, something I can no longer do.

I’m Not Your Daddy, I Was Your Man

Ya Pop’s owes me a favor, I basically raised ya

Our relationship was never going to work. You needed far more than I was capable of giving you at the time. I had to be your man, your friend, your mentor, your counselor and your father. The other roles I had no issue with, but your Daddy issues were beyond my scope and I disappointed you time and time again.

I’m sorry.

Once you abandoned your hope of being Daddy’s little girl, you went out into the world on your own and landed in my life, in my apartment, in my bed. I was forced to teach you things about life that he should have when you were much younger; I was helping to build your esteem while fucking other women, how twisted was that? Your dad was supposed to warn you about guys like
me, instead, a guy like me was advising you on the pitfalls of life.

Between the fighting and the fucking I taught you how to cook, about building your credit,put stamps in your passport, took you out of sneakers and kept you in matching bra and panties. I read you Shakespeare before bed and held you during thunderstorms, but I turned our dreams into nightmares… I became your beautiful boogieman.

I spent so much time being everything to you that I had nothing for myself and you couldn’t give me what I needed, so I spent more time at work, more time in the bars and more time at the Red Roof Inn. I was running from the responsibility of being your boyfriend and your father as we contemplated having children together. I was looking for the release a woman offers a man, but couldn’t trust you were able to provide that for me.

I was wrong, I know this now, knew it then.

You were much stronger than most women I knew, you had to be, you were left to fend for yourself from a young age. Not to mention, I placed a thousand pounds of stress on your shoulders with my bullshit and you carried it until it broke your back. Somehow, you’ve put the failures of your father and a man you thought you loved behind you and you’re better than ever,
blossomed into a beautiful woman despite how ugly life has been to you. I know I’ve played a part, both negatively and positively, in your development and despite all I put you through we remain friends.

It’s amazing you’ve found it in your heart to maintain a relationship with someone who’s caused so much grief in your life and left you alone in a jungle with lions like me marking you as prey; then again, you’ve managed to forgive my hurt and have grown from it. I guess you remembered more of what I taught you about life than what I lied to you about concerning love.

The Defining Date

We had been dating for a little over a year now and my expectations for our relationship had been slothfully shifting from fresh and exciting to moments of confusion, mixed with occasional scavenger hunts for clarity. As it stands (and I’m completely speaking from my perspective alone), our present, more than slightly, clips the wings of what we planned for ourselves when we first committed to this journey. It was agreed upon that our prospects for our growing relationship would have simplicity and honesty embedded within our foundation. And from those standards we would build.

As time moved on, there seemed to be a shift working its way into our routine. A shift that imposed plans of unfair intentions; a personal agenda if you will. The one who I was growing to the level of Love with began to become inconsiderate, even selfish to some extent. Phone conversations embodied a dryness that only the Sahara could relate to. One word answers that could possibly equal to complete a single sentence replaced full, thought-out, verbal expressions from the heart. The change was not a welcomed one. This was not what we planned for one another. Granted, things do not always go as planned, however the committment to be willing to participate had already been establish; as well as the promise that communication would be our most resourceful tool. I made sure to separate my thoughts and abilities to perform beyond the idea of a man who does nothing more than to fit the form of the societal perception of what a man is to be. I am striving to be more than that for more than just myself. With confidence, I claim that ‘I deserve better’. And what I view as our finest hour would reveal all answers that I needed to better choose the direction that best suited the question of ‘Should I stay’ or ‘Should I go’.

Over and over, we entertained the idea of spending time with one another where it didn’t involve sharing spaces with family members or friends. Without even noticing, our time together had developed into this tolerable time that consistantly included us plus whoever else. Refrain from confusion, we Love our Loved ones and those who are dear to our hearts. We just wanted an intimate hour where our souls would be about to connect. And that time would be tonight.

For days we put thought into the idea of ‘Where do we go for quiet to ourselves?’ And not one time did we agree. I’d say, “Justin’s?” She’d say, “No.” I’d suggest, “Warm Daddy’s?” She’d reply, “No.” Then, she gasps with excitement, “How about we keep it local and go to this spot near my house? It’s nice. It’s quaint. And I really think that it would cater to the mood that we’ve been search for.” I was convinced. She had my vote. So, I responded with, “You’re elation helped me make my decision more and more as the words left your mouth. Count me in!!!!!” This was going to be great for us.

We arrive to the restaurant at about 7:00pm. There aren’t many cars in the parking lot (which is a good thing in my eyes; very little socialization with other customers). We approach the door of the restaurant, I hold it open for my lady Love, and we enter. The view of the interior completely took me by surprise. The lights were dim, the mood exuded an essence of romance that was awe so inviting. And to top it all off, after being seated, our waitor lights a small candle in the center of our table. I had only imagined sharing a space such as this with a female prospect, and tonight a dream seemed to reveal itself to be true. Yet, while all this was happening, I still had it in my mind to remain honest and focused on achieving the task of gaining answers to the questions that I had been keeping bottled up; a defense mechanism with a false purpose to shield me from hearing the truth. I was exhausting myself with harboring issues. And I vowed that I would not allow another opportunity to pass without receiving understanding of why changes have occured within our relationship.

Up to this point, we were near finishing our meals and conversing about good times that we’ve shared since being together. We laughed looking back on some situations, even expressing alternate ways that we could have handled them. We also went as far as revealing family stories about one another to add to the evening’s development. We were really having an awesome time, but I felt that if we wanted to continue moments such as this, then we would also have to be willing to tackle unstable situations such as the unspoken downward spiral that we have recently been experiencing. So here goes nothing…..(To be continued)