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We spent years together, on and off. Our friends, families, and bills were intertwined. After several breakups and makeups, I was certain that we’d gotten over the standard hump many long term unions face and were headed for a stable life together. We hadn’t though. I could cite all the reasons we were doomed, or all the ways we could’ve tried harder, but I’d rather point out the aspects of it that stung me the most. Marrying someone doesn’t force them to be inspired by you, and some of the relationships we value most are the ones in which we are, unfortunately, preparing the person we’re with to be a better person for someone else.
R E A D Y ?
I never realized it until now, but I was my husband’s launch pad.
I had my son pretty young and married his father shortly after that. We were two wide-eyed idiots who were trying to please our parents, raise our son and do the right thing back then. We stayed together for a few years after we got married and then we went through a long split. I moved out and finished undergrad. He bore most of the brunt or raising our son during that time and got a stable gig in the county he lives in. I saw those things from afar and thought “Good for him,” but I had no desire to go back because the reasons we broke up hadn’t really been resolved. He’s always had different religious and familial values than I do. Also, I’m into a lot of stuff that he’s not even remotely into. I’m pretty much a walking mashup of art galleries, hiking, yoga, mediterranean food recipes, and violent mood swings. Also, I’d changed a lot from when we first met. During our short dating period I was an all-around hustler and aspiring rapper. By the time he came around seeking reconciliation, I lived alone and worked on Capitol Hill.
And I was god damned happy. I mean, I was so happy that him coming back was probably my fault. There probably isn’t any man alive who could resist a woman that happy. The freedom I felt back then oozed from my pores. I ate well, slept well, and I was in a space where men were merely exercise for me; men were merely food. Anyway, word of my happiness must’ve eventually spread to his kingdom, because he mounted his white horse and came riding into my village to fucking ruin it.
So, we got together again. Because our divorce wasn’t finalized and he’d grown so much, I thought maybe it was destined. Also, the only thing that could ever trump the happiness I felt at that time was my son’s happiness, and he seemed so taken with the idea that I feIt compelled to dive back in. That was a little over a year ago. Halfway through that year I realized I’d made a mistake. I can even remember the actual moment when I said it aloud. I was sitting at the breakfast bar in our little kitchen drinking coffee from a mug scarcely smaller than my face when his key rattled in the door and a wave of anxiety washed over me. In that moment, a succession of questions slammed my brain and I answered them in my head just as quickly as they came.
Why don’t you want him here?
Because all we do is watch t.v., eat starch, and argue.
Then why don’t you just leave?
Both our names are on the lease, and I just started a business.
Why the fuck did you do this shit then?
He seemed so different. I thought it was the right thing to do…
And then came the question I resented most.
I feel like I’ve done so much. I gave up my place. I bought him DJ equipment. I cook his food, wash his clothes and pick up his fucking socks, and I’m not so hard on the eyes either. So why isn’t he going all out for me?
S E T ?
The answer I discovered was hard for me to swallow, but it stared me in the face with each act of disregard he showed me. My husband just wasn’t inspired by me, and somewhere toward the end I stopped being inspired by him. After the inspiration falls away there’s only the sense of duty that’s left, and duty sucks ass. Crazy part is, I found it intriguing for awhile. I was like “Oooh. He’s being aloof and giving me space.” Then, slowly I began to realize that it wasn’t that at all. It was more like “Oh. He’s not putting in effort because he knows what kind of person I am, and figures I won’t leave because it would look too much like failure. Public failure, at that.”
Isn’t it terribly sad that he was right? Even after I got to a point where I’d look at him and wonder how we managed not to kill each other, I didn’t want to leave because I didn’t feel like we’d survived long enough for me to avoid eating humble pie. My life finally looked good on paper again and it was way too clutch to give up. What does “looked good on paper mean” exactly? It’s the id-driven way in which you assess yourself, with the hopes that others sum you up similarly. This was me, completely and utterly bullshitted up for the win:
M’Shai S. Dash has been married eight years to the father of her son and they live in a flat in Maryland. She recently launched a public relations firm and continues to freelance for several lifestyle magazines. She wears moderately priced shoes but it’s totally ok because her ass looks great in jeans and she looks better than she did in highschool. So suck on that, you little thotlets.
Okay. The last two sentences are a bit of a reach, but my point is that I stayed for as long as I could bear for fear of embarrasment, and because I was terrified that I’d end up being my husband’s launch pad–a starting point to rocket him toward a new life where a more evolved version of himself would treat another woman better than he ever treated me. I fought bitterly against it happening, too. I tried to force the universe to yield to my will. My husband is handsome, tall, and a great father to our son. I may never find that again. I repeated the latter to myself over and over. If I thought spinning around in a mirror while saying it three times would’ve helped, I would’ve done that too.
But I prayed instead. I feel like the only answer I got was that no matter how hard my ex and I had tried to concieve, it never happened for us. It was a source of pure grief when we first reconciled, but toward the end I took it as a sign.
L A U N C H.
So just like that, eight years turned to dust. The only difference between this split and the previous one is that at this point my fervor to fight for us has completely dissolved. It’s been replaced by something grander than the muted love I felt for him in the end. Now, I want him to leave me the fuck alone and find someone who inspires him, since it clearly isn’t me. She’ll give him more babies. She’ll get along with his mama, siblings and his friends. She’ll be stable, and balanced and she’ll shield him from seeking me again. Hopefully, she’ll make him happy.
Oh, and one last bit of housekeeping.
In order to make this thing as balanced as I can and not some burn article against my ex, I should end it by letting you know that I can be a mega-cunt. I’m distant and a bit narcissistic when I’m on a creative streak, and I lose patience when things don’t move at my own pace. I’m vain, but it’s the type of vanity that comes from being a perfectionist and not from being arrogant. I have baggage. Molestation, rape. A history of mental illness on my father’s side, a history of mental illness in me. I make too much noise in the kitchen before dawn, have a Super Sayan level of shade I adopted from my mother’s side, and I love so hard that sometimes it blinds me. Those are my things; my bullshit. I own them wholeheartedly. I’m unpacking them in therapy. They aren’t quite as heavy to carry as they once were, but I mention those things because they’re a big part of the reason that I clung to something dead for so long.
These days I view my weaknesses as tantamount to anyone else’s, and I don’t plan to let them govern my self-worth or ability to find love. Also, there’s a mashup of enough good qualities in me that still make me a great catch for the right person. The person I married wasn’t that person, but that’s okay. He’ll be that person for someone else.
I still believe in love. I still believe in black love. I haven’t lost an iota of faith in marriage, either.
Now that I have closure, I feel like I’m a more evolved version of myself. I did accomplish some marvelous things in my marriage, after all. I looked the man I once loved in the face and absolved him of any duty to me. I was big enough to confront the fact that we’re toxic to each other when we live under the same roof. I let him go. He let me go. We acknowledged that we gave it a good run–twice. I thought I regretted it, but I don’t. We did it for us, for our son, and we did it to be sure. That’s priceless for me. I’ve regained my freedom and it’s onward and upward for both of us, I hope. If the only reason we crossed paths in this universe was to create that kick-ass kid of ours, I’m good with that. Hey, I’m content to have been his launch pad, if nothing else.
W E H A V E L I F T O F F.
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What I gained from slowing down and becoming more outcome-oriented was a better understanding of one rule: I’ll never get to any desired outcome without braving the middle of it.Read More...
People who bash marriage are obsessed with it the most. If they weren’t, they’d just shut up about it, because the opposite of caring deeply about something is being indifferent to it–not embarking on a journey to discredit or belittle it.Read More...
Every time I hear a story about a young girl engaged in risky behaviors, I feel an urge to reach her in some way. Anecdotes about my past and the hard lessons I learned about womanhood and self-love always swell just behind my teeth, awaiting the brain signal that would springboard them from my tongue or inspire me to pen an open letter to the young women my grandmother would’ve call “fast girls.” Only, the world doesn’t really need any more open letters, and I’d rather be more of an advocate than a mentor for those girls. That works for me because I was once a “fast girl” myself, hurtling toward an uncertain future at warp speed.
Mini memoir of a Warp Speed Girl:
I survived Washington, D.C. in the ’90s with all of my fingers and toes, no crack addiction (if you grew up in Washington, D.C. during that time you’d know that this was no small feat), and no chronic or incurable illnesses. What I do have is a chemical batch of craziness that trickled down from my father’s side of the family tree like sugar maple sap. Other than that, I’m OK. I even managed to get hitched and give birth to a strapping boy with a penchant for video games, pizza, and Regular Show. So why revisit my past at all? Because under all my layers of spackled-on adulthood, I’m still bothered to my bad-girl core by what young girls have to contend with today. I’m especially bothered by this: Read More