This Life: Unwrapping to Get Whole

No one's going to love you if you don't share.

This Life: Unwrapping to Get Whole

Where to start? There's so much to unwrap when you're black, single, haven't reached the level of success you thought you'd have reached by 60, you're struggling to fit in, to be accepted, and all you get are more obstacles, more character-building events. What do you do? The obvious answer is to keep going, count your blessings, and practice gratitude and a host of other things to remain grounded and able to navigate life—you know, therapy. And, of course, it is easier said than done. As my friend would say, "The only way out is the way through," as in, you have to work through things by addressing them. Well, in my mind, I've thought, No one cares, or wants to hear your tales of woe, and, If anyone hears my stories, or sees the real me (damaged goods by way of abuse—both through physical/verbal, as well as sexual assault), they won't like me, whoever "they" might be. All my life, I'd never understood what being vulnerable meant. I've learned, but very late—as in, only very recently. I've never really been able to be confident that what I might share wouldn't be ridiculed, or not be considered worthy in some way.

The things that happened to me have gotten me to this lonely place: somewhere I hadn't intended to be. I've always been the odd person out, due to a lack of, well, many things, not the least of which were love and comfort, when things went wrong. From one to 10 years old, if you don't receive proper care, love, and comfort you have to somehow find it yourself. I've just had a string of bad relationships with people—well, men, in particular. What I've learned is you have to say what you want, how you want it, and if you're willing or not willing to compromise. You have to speak up, even if you think you're not going to net a result favorable for yourself. You have to say, "This is how I feel, and how I came to feel this way." As I'd never trusted, I never learned this is how you get people to love you, and want to comfort you or support you. In my family dynamic, there wasn't love. I mean, I guess there was some facsimile of love (or rather obligation), but I could never feel it. Rather, I felt like a burden, and unwanted. Strife: That was the name of the game in our household. Two adults, who shouldn't have even been together, made children they hadn't intended to make. Three, no less—although, I will say, the last one they were pleasantly surprised with, as that one turned out to be the best one (to me, in their eyes).

So here's me, in the middle. Emotionally neglected, verbally and physically abused, seeking solace in friends. That's in the first 10 years. The second 10 were worse than the first 10, to be sure. When you have strife at home, you tend to, through no fault of your own, act out—and you don't even know that is what you are doing. You become a weird person in some ways, and are able to mask being weird for a while. But when it comes to relationships? Well, that's a whole other thing. I could be my self with my friends, share my tales of woe, but with men? Not so much. I didn't know, because that is not what I saw or learned at home. It was desperation, and emotional bankruptcy. Desperation on the maternal side, and emotional bankruptcy paternally. No demonstrations of love and affection ever.

I did not know that I was loved, or worthy of being loved, or that I had value beyond chores, or that I was pretty or a beautiful human being. I only knew that I was not wanted, and at every turn for the smallest infraction, was punished and/or beaten. Even my own father said she (my mother) was hard on us. What he didn't understand is that he was the problem. He didn't love her. He was a cheater. He was a nice guy. He was funny, personable, educated (studying/passing the bar), and neither a drunk or a violent person. But, he was lacking in love. Probably didn't know how or that it was a necessary component in relationships. What I got from men is objectification—as in, all they wanted from me is my body. And after so many tries at finding the right person and failing, I gave up, and let myself be in an unhealthy relationship. Lovely, right? I traded. I compromised. Now, what I will say is, in my mind I thought, Something is better than nothing—incorrect as that may be.

I went with guys who expressed interest. White guys. I didn't know it was not the right interest, because I didn't know it was on me to dictate the interest level. I didn't know the power was with me, that I had to choose or not choose (that being a passive choice). But it was always white guys. Black guys never gave me the time of day. In my mind, I wasn't enough. I didn't have big tits, or a big ass, and I wasn't dressed to the nines—I was none of the things I thought the majority of black men were into. When I met a black guy I thought would be good—he had many qualities above the average black man that I thought I could deal with—he sexually assaulted me. Then, he begged me not to call the police and file a report. He begged me. So, being that I didn't want to put another black man in jail, I said, "Ok, fine," and gave him a strong admonishment, and told him to steer clear of me if ever he would see me in public. My bad. That was wrong. This was a good example of the brain being mis-wired. My experiences with black men have only been negative. So there's that. I think, They don't want me, and the ones that I would see and think, Maybe him, turn out to not date black women! The only thing about white guys is they didn't care enough about me personally. At the time, I didn't know that, though... The relationships just never worked out. So, I was always left thinking, What's wrong with me? Always. People would say and ask, "You're so beautiful; Why are you single or still single?" I could never answer, because I didn't know. I always felt out of place, unacceptable, unwanted. I am still haunted and dogged by those feelings, even though I know now that I am acceptable and worthy.

When you're traumatized early on, your brain becomes mis-wired; you become this person longing to just be seen and loved. And, it's on you to figure it all out, pick up the pieces, try to heal and keep going, in spite of it all. To me, it's all bitter pills. Have people endured worse? Sure. And it has always amazed me that those people seem to find love and relationships. But, I have said I would rather be single than be in some of the relationships that I've seen that were clearly bad. It's about trust and faith, I guess. There is yet more to be unwrapped. The question, is will I unwrap it?

Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
CL Williams
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