I told myself not to watch that documentary, but I did it anyway. You know which one I’m talking about: Surviving R. Kelly. I thought I was just fine as I watched it because it didn’t seem to be telling me much of anything that I didn’t already know. There were a few things that stabbed me in the chest, like learning where “you are not alone” came from. I loved that song. LOVED IT. The lyrics started swirling in my head and I had to pause the show to stand and pace for a moment. Even in Michael’s voice, it made me sick. I knew the man was disgusting, but I had no idea to what extent. I, too, at some point in my life became one of those women blind to abuse.
Because my own trauma has been suppressed. Unlike most women who are still protecting this abuser even though they, themselves have been abused, I’m on a different road. I’m right there with the director of this docuseries. I’m at war with R. Kelly and all men who think this shit is okay.
For as long as I can remember men have looked at me sexually and have been bold enough to try me. They were always the suitors of my mother. I’ve blocked it all out until now. Watching that docuseries placed me right back on Cadiz street in New Orleans, Louisiana. I was nine, maybe ten. It was the strangest house that I can remember us living in, because you walk in a circle to get to every room. I’m going to draw you a picture. No, seriously, I am.
His name was Mr. William. Well, that’s what we had to call him. I didn’t care to know his first name until yesterday 1/6/2019. I called my mom with my shame, weakened pride, vulnerability, and pain and asked her his name. I needed to be able to call my abuser by name. “Henry” she recalled and I cringed and broke like the levees in New Orleans in 2005. Henry William. He was a taxi driver. I can remember always hating his face. He was tall, dark, and bald, just the way my mama liked them. His eyes were always yellow. He scared me from the first time that I met him. All I can remember about being around him is fear, even when he touched me. I froze in fear. I was just a little girl that needed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. I wished that I had just stayed in my room and peed in the bed. There was no need for him to come in the bathroom with me. He asked me if my mom really loved him? He asked me if she was just using him for me money? Things I’m sure he knew I had no idea about.
I can still feel his grimy, shaky hands. I remember what his voice sounds like. I remember his dick hanging from his white boxers. I remember being frozen.
Until this day, I can’t for the life of me understand why my mom thought it was a good idea to leave me and my sister alone with a strange man. It was something that she did was too often. I had and still have so many questions.
Mr. William wouldn’t be the last, but would remain one of those worst.
The second was Calvin. An ex-con fresh out of prison that taught me how to cheat while playing cards. He’d learned it in jail. He would wait for me to go swimming in the complex pool and invite his hands to my clitoris underwater while I struggled in the deep end. Once, he slipped dirty, guilt money in my back pocket as I walked home and ran off like I child. My sister was there to bare witness. I was older now, maybe 14. I didn’t want to be afraid any more and I thought I could tell my mom. Maybe my opening line was wrong? I pulled out the money to show her and she began calling me names: ho, bitch, hot in the ass. Before I could get the explanation out she lashed out in a rage asking, "What did you do for this money?! Are you fucking him? You're fucking him!"
I’d never tell again.
The only people that knew were my sister and the boyfriend I had at the time. My protective little Scorpio. He, himself was a child, but dare not let another man or boy near me. There are two boys walking around the world right now that got a hefty serving of his hands just for thinking about it. I’d never seen two beatdowns happen so fast.
It was the first time I was ever actually protected and probably why I’ve followed Scorpios to hell and back.
Shoutout to my first love. He deserves his own blog.
Funny that I met him because his little brother grabbed my ass and I dropped him with one right then a left. First fight I ever had in that neighborhood. He did stand back up in an attempt to defend his pride, but I’m certain I dodged every lick and put him on his ass again.
I wish I had that same energy with grown men back then.
Fear-- stronger than love and cocaine.
I started to write my encounters down. There were harassing phone calls from a man that my mom was dating. He knew she worked at night. It got so bad that I had to unplug the phone. He thought I was “fine.” I was twelve.
There were threats from men about what they were going to do to me if they ever got me alone. I made sure they didn’t. I collected friends the way black people collect grocery bags. I was never alone. Someone slept over or I slept out.
There was David--his middle name. I wish I remembered his first name. I remember seeing it on my caller ID and when I asked, he said it was his roommates name. He lied about his age just to get my phone number. I was sixteen. He said he was nineteen. Turns out, dude was twenty-two and married with two sons. How do I know? His wife called and ran down his history. She knew he was a predator. Twelve to fifteen was his range.
SHE KNEW HE WAS A PREDATOR.
Then there was Reginald, who would pass notes to me about my body, particularly about my fifteen-year-old pussy. He’d also make sexual gestures behind my mom’s back.
I climbed on up the ladder of perversion until… rape. Thirty-two and I’m still fleshing that one out in my mind: sodomy and a pregnancy scare.
My dad found my diary after searching through my things. At that time, I felt he cared with his tears and calls to all of his police friends to search for the men who harmed me. Now learning that my dad is pretty much a compulsive liar and abuser to women himself on other levels, his outrage was fake as fuck. He did forewarn my mother that this would happen, but that’s it. He offered nothing else. He didn’t take us away or tell us what to do just in case. He went on about his life and blamed my mother for what he should have taken half the responsibility for. He swears she kept us away from him.
People kidnap their own kids for less, every day B.
I wish I knew how to tell other women how to keep surviving these disgusting men who walk around without a care in the world. Here I am thirty-two years old and I’m still haunted. I stand with any victim. I didn’t need a documentary to make me believe these women or any woman. In my little time spent on earth, I’ve only met one woman that was not violated by a man. ONE.
I’m skeptical of every man that I come into contact with, from my cousins, to my brother, to my own father. NONE of them get a pass. I wouldn’t bat an eye if one of them were accused of sexual assault. I’d stand beside whomever it is with a torch to burn their entire life down.
This shit has to end somewhere.
If I ever have a daughter or a son and they are harmed, please use this blog as evidence against me. I did it. I put that motherfucker down like a dog. I will serve my time with a smile.
She was late, as usual, and like a jackass, I’d dressed and arrived early. After all this time, I still was made to wait on her. I wanted this to be quick and easy.
Why did I say yes to this?
Oh yeah, that’s right. She needed closure. She needed closure. Funny how what I needed never mattered.
I tapped my finger against the glass of unsweetened, iced-tea that sat in front of me in our once favorite restaurant. Was she trying to be funny by suggesting Copeland’s? I knew what she was doing, but I refused to let the nostalgia borrow a moment of my present time. My foot joined in on the rhythm that my finger tapped as my regret grew stronger.
“May I get you more tea?” The waitress asked. She’d never told me her name. I glanced at her name tag.
“I’m okay for now, Sharon,” I replied.
“Okay, just let me know if you need anything.”
A map to all your emergency exits. “I will. Thanks.”
She gave a friendly smile then speed-walked off like they all do when there are less people serving than eating. I pulled my phone from my open purse that sat in a vacant chair beside me. I needed to stop leaving my purse open for somebody to rob my ass blind. She was twenty-minutes late now.
“To hell with this, I’m leaving.” I dropped my phone back into my purse and reached for my wallet to pay for my watered down iced-tea. It was only 7:21 pm. I could still catch an early movie or something. I didn’t get all dressed up in my heels and skinny jeans for nothing.
“Melanie?” she said.
I knew that voice. Hated that voice. Used to love that voice. The sound of it saying my name didn’t have the same effect that it used to. I spun around, taking a deep breath as I did so.
She still looked the same: average height like me, chocolate, and beautiful. I hated that. She smiled and leaned down to kiss my cheek as if we were old friends.
Get your lying lips off me.
“Hi Mel, natural looks good on you,” she said, admiring my blonde-tipped afro.
“Lost track of time?” I asked.
“Of course not, I wanted to look really good for you.”
She took a seat across from me and the server rushed over with some menus—sprite for her, more tea for me, one seafood platter, and two martinis. She did the ordering.
“You still remember what I eat,” I stated.
“I never tried to forget.”
Was she seriously trying to charm me? Her vague email typed across my mind like an opening line as I stared at her:
It’s been a long time. I miss you. I should have written this sooner, but I didn’t have the courage. I need some closure. Copeland’s? Seven? You know the date. Say yes.
I’d been trying to forget the date for years. Twenty-six. The twenty-sixth of every month was our day. It was the date we’d first me. The date she’d admitted her feelings. The date we’d made it official, kissed, and made love. Not all in the same month.
“Tell me something good,” she said and leaned back.
Melanie, don’t play her game. You’re thirty years old.
I took a deep breath, sipped my tea, and made eye contact. In my calmest tone I said, “Let’s cut the shit, okay? What do you want?”
The silly smirk she wore faded. “I needed to see you.”
“After how many years? And how many women?” I asked.
“Why can’t anything ever just be simple with you?”
“For whatever reason you can’t ever be straight forward. Do you need some money? Some temporary affection?” I pushed.
“Why are you being like this with me? I know I did some things to you, but I come in peace. I’m picking up the check, so let’s just have some drinks and some laughs,” Erin said.
I’d laugh all right. She was the joke. There was nothing comical about our old union. I was serious, I wanted her, I wanted us, and every minute of my wanting, she played me. I snickered and shook my head as I gave in to the bad memories.
“What do I have to do you make you enjoy this night?” she asked.
“You want me to make a list?”
“If it will make you feel better.”
“It won’t. Erin, you are clueless. Why do you do this every few years. Just pop up like everything is peaches and cream? And before you answer, really think about why you can’t just leave me alone. We both know you got closure long ago.”
She tucked her hands into her pockets and for once she looked like she was having a thought and not acting on that stupid impulse that caused more trouble than thrills between us. Suddenly, she couldn’t look at me anymore. She began chewing on her bottom lip and before she could open her mouth, she was saved by the food delivery.
“Can we get some extra tartar?” she asked the server, still trying to impress me.
She knew I was an extra girl: extra cheese, extra ranch, extra everything that tasted good to my buds. I refused to let her in. I’d dated this girl when I was nineteen, her seventeen. I was her high school sweetheart and she was my young love, my second, first.
“What is it that you want from me, Melanie?” she said, breaking off a piece of catfish and stuffing it into her mouth.
“For you to tell me one honest thing. Before this life is over, I just want one truth from you.”
“Just one?” she asked with a raised brow.
She swiped her hands together several times as if she had dust on them then rubbed them against her jeans. That was a pet peeve of mine. Napkins weren’t just for decoration.
“I feel guilty. I pop up because I feel guilty. That’s my truth,” Erin admitted.
“Guilty for what? You’ve done what you done and I’m over it,” I replied.
“Are you really?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” I asked.
“Because just like me, you can never say no. How many times have I invited you here? There is never demurral, you just show up. It may not be for the same reason as me, but there is something. You wanted one truth and there it is. I feel guilty and I believe you want me to fix it. You want me to make everything I did to you right.”
If there was one thing that I hated, it was somebody telling me they knew more about me than they actually did. Not a word she said was true about my acceptance of her invitation, but one thing was for sure. This had to end.
“I really don’t think you should flatter yourself. What you did to me, I made right with myself. You cheated and you lied and neither of those things had anything to do with me and everything to do with your character. I sat there for days on end, staring in the mirror, trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Was I ugly? Was I too dark? Too—”
“Let me finish. You’ve interrupted me for years. Interrupted my time, my life, my true loving… you don’t get to stop me now. I answered all of my own questions, teardrop after teardrop. I came to the conclusion, that you, Erin Davis, are weak. Only the strong know how to love and appreciate. Only the strong know how to be faithful. Strong people accept the challenges that tribulation in love brings. Cowards run, they lie, and they cheat. Any excuse to get away from what they can’t really handle. I should have never questioned if I was too ugly for you. You are the ugly one and it’s sad that you can’t even see it. You feel guilty because I’m the one mirror that you can’t look into and the one you can’t break.” I waved my hand for the serve to come over. “All we ever were was six years of a cheap thrill, two people going through hard times that needed somebody. I should have known that I’d leave with exactly what I came with. I built you up and you tore me down.” The server stood beside our table. “Sharon, may I have one to-go box for my seafood platter and one for her guilt.”
“So, that’s it. You tell me off and you leave?”
“Yes. My wife likes her seafood fresh. You got the bill, right? Enjoy the rest of your closure."
©2017 Christiana Harrell
I’m starting to realize that my unhealthy boundaries are also in some of my “friendships.” I use that term lightly, because in all honesty all I have are a bunch of associates. A bunch of people who are in my pockets, my inbox, and my text but have no real part of my life. They don’t call to see how I am or what I might need. They call on me to suck up my energy and dim my light with their sob stories, begging, and gossip. Yes, I understand that life gets hard, but at the same time we have to check ourselves to make sure that we have done all we could on our own before we burden other people.
When I sit and analyze the people I know by name, I may count one or two as a friend, someone that I would be able to depend on if necessary. I thought I’d learned the friend lesson years ago, but for some reason I just keep on falling into this loop of disappointment.
I’m done now because I’ve flipped the switch in me that doesn’t give a flying fuck who may need what from me. If you were a fan of Vampire Diaries, like myself, one would say I’ve switched off my humanity. I don’t owe anyone my time, my space, my conversation, or anything of me that may drain me.
My actual best friend told me that she sleeps with her phone on silent and I’m thinking about doing the same. After ten, there will be just me and my bed. Hell, maybe nine because I’m old and I like my rest.
It took me a while to realize that the people in my life think it’s okay to call on me whenever necessary. It’s because I’m the giver of all things. I hate to see other people suffer so I will give of myself until they are at peace. I take on others people’s issues as if they are my own.
I can make a list of all the things that I need back, but I won’t because I’ve released it into the universe and gotten it back tenfold.
I challenge you to do the same. Go through every contact in your phone and ask would this person give me the shirt off of their back if I needed it? Could I call them to pay a bill? Could I call them for a ride if I was stranded on the side of the road? Could I live with this person if ever my shelter were in jeopardy?
I promise you that your view of each person individually will change. People don’t do enough but require so much.
So today I did some deleting and blocking of people that are honestly just a waste of space and I made my personal pages private. They can support my business if it’s real. I’m still sitting with the idea of changing my number. Soon though, soon.
I want to be in fellowship with like minds and energy. Nothing less. Iron sharpens iron.
My biggest dating mistake has been staying in places with people I no longer trusted. I pride myself on my high tolerance for bullshit, but believe me it’s nothing to be proud of. It’s something that I’m trying to unpack and toss out. First thing first is never ever committing myself to someone who I can’t or don’t trust.
I’m probably going to be alone a long time, because right now I only trust three people.
But I’m okay with it because my loyalty is unmatched. I think there has only been two people in my dating life that didn’t make me side-eye them. My first girlfriend and my first love—two different people.
I can remember the moment in all my serious relationships where I should have had more respect for myself and walked away. They showed me they were capable of deceit and it should have been enough. I should have left the Pisces that told me everybody cheats. I should have left the Aries that paraded her teammate around as her friend, only to later be exposed as her side chick with the love letters that I found. I should have left the Pisces that had naked pics of his “associate” saved in his phone. I should have left the Cancer that could disappear for days at a time and then pop up like nothing ever happened. I should have left the Taurus who didn’t bother to tell me she was dating and in love with someone else until after weeks of us talking. I definitely shouldn’t have married her either. Lastly, I should have left the Scorpio that could leave me at home alone, get drunk, make out with someone else, come home the next day, but gets upset when I move out.
I’m always willing to give people second chances. Why? Because I’m human and imperfect and if it were me, I’d want one. The problem with the chances that I hand out like Oprah is that I didn’t have healthy boundaries. I don’t say what I won’t tolerate soon enough. Shit has to hit the fan before I draw a line.
It stops here.
Don’t believe me? Ask the woman that I walked out on last month just making general statements that made me uncomfortable. Wasted money on a plane ticket and all, but I don’t care because you can’t put a price on peace. You can’t put a price on respect.
I’m no longer interested in lovers that only dedicate themselves to me partially. If I say a certain friend makes me uncomfortable and they ignore me, I’m out. If I don’t trust their friendship or the history, I’m out. If they are friends with someone who doesn’t care for me or has spoken ill of me, I’m out. It says a lot about them as a person and I take full notice.
I’m also not interested in anyone who wants to date me secretly (got several of those right now). Those types have other women or people they don’t want to upset and I’m not here for it. Now if you just like keeping things quiet until you know it’s real, that’s different. I just refuse to be strung along by anybody else. It is my job and my job alone to protect myself from unnecessary pain and disappointment.
People want to be in a relationship with me but don’t want the responsibility, so they can do what they want without me. Act single. Be single. I’m learning to respect myself more than what I’ve allowed. I also realized that my forgiveness is owed to no one. It truly is just for me. I’m forgiving myself everyday.
I need to be able to fully trust my lover when I’m not around. Total trust is love to me. I don’t like who I am without it. I’m paranoid, jealous for no reason, and downright crazy. Trust is more important than anything in my mind. Everything else can be worked on and out.
Trust is non-negotiable.
Is it worth rebuilding trust with certain people? That, I’m not sure of just yet. I’ll let you know at the end of my journey of cutting motherfuckas off and healing some unattended wounds. I’m trying to learn to trust myself again, because my romantic choices have left me in a place of extreme caution.
Here is where I am. I trust people to be exactly what they have shown me.