My on-again, off- again boyfriend was on his knees crying for just one more chance. I had forgiven his many indiscretions over our seven-year relationship. But, I was tired. The relationship was taking a toll on my health. His touch had begun to make me nauseous. I had lost so much weight that most people no longer recognized me. My friends didn’t understand the hold he seemed to have on me. I didn’t either, but deep down I thought that my love would change him. As I stood in the doorway looking down at him kneeling on the chocolate carpet, I felt nothing but pity. The love was gone. Just then, the door to my daughter’s bedroom opened and Destani emerged.
“Daddy”, she said as she rubbed her eyes.
“Get up”, I said to him. “Don’t let her see you like this.”
Destani dragged her favorite ragdoll by the hair, the doll’s gingham pink and white dress trailed on the carpet behind her as she ran into her father’s arms. He knelt there crying as they hugged. The whole time Destani’s eyes were focused on me, she looked at me unblinking. In her beautiful brown eyes, I saw the reflection of the dysfunctional relationship of her parents. It was in that instant that I realized that the cycle must stop. One day a man would break my daughter’s heart, and I wanted her love herself enough not to tolerate being treated less than the princess I told her she was.
I was determined to be the example that I wasn’t provided in childhood. I grew up in a home filled with mixed signals of what love should look and feel like. One day my parents were affectionate and loving, and that very night I would be awakened by yelling and breaking glass. In early adulthood, I chose to stay in relationships that mirrored the example I was given. I spent my 20s loving a man that didn’t deserve all of the love and affection that I lavished upon him.
As I watched the exchange between Shad Moss and Joi Chavis on WE’s Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta last night, I was reminded of that night many years ago. Shad had just returned from a trip to Atlanta to promote his new mixtape. While there, he indulged in the nightlife and was tagged in a few inappropriate photos on social media. I have no idea how it feels to be embarrassed on that level. But, I do know the uneasy feeling of sitting in the waiting room of the pediatrician’s office as your boyfriend’s other woman stares at you from across the room holding a baby who could be your daughter’s twin. When the whole town knows your not so secret shame, it can feel as if the whole world knows. There is nowhere you can run to escape it.
I felt the heart of this young woman who loves a man who just isn’t equipped to love her in the way she deserves now. I also heard the words that were unspoken as she explained that their daughter misses him when he is on the road. Joi misses him. She is longing for the comfort and security of having the love of her life present – in mind, body and spirit. I heard the words that were unspoken as Shad expressed that he was ready for the family life because she was the mother of his daughter; while all the while neglecting the three words Joi needed to hear most I LOVE YOU. The truth of the matter is, even if he had professed his love -his actions say the opposite. When your actions and words aren’t in alignment, your words mean nothing. As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words.
If I could give Joi one piece of advice, it would be to look at the reflection of her dysfunctional relationship with Shad in her daughter’s eyes. She is watching all of this play out and is forming opinions about what love looks and feels like. You are her example, wipe your tears and move on because Joi comes in the morning. If this man cannot see what the whole world does, it is most definitely his loss.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of The bLink Marketing Network and Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta. The opinions and text are all mine.
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