I was dating a wonderful girl at the time. We were good, or at least it seemed. Two weeks prior to this date and time, I had taken some money from my birthday fund, drove to a jewelry store an hour away in Roanoke, and put a nonrefundable deposit on an engagement ring. My reason was simple: I wanted to. I had thought about it, and I said to myself, I am going to propose marriage to this girl in the next month. My entire premise for even taking this vacation with this family was to get her parents by themselves, and talk to them about, and get their permission to, propose to her. These were all the thoughts in my mind. I had the best intentions, and so I went on a family vacation with people that were not my family.
The drive was hell. It was 14 hours in a car with my lady, her sisters, and this nigga who was a family friend (a family friend that one of her sisters had been in love with since the day I met them…glad that finally worked out). I hate riding in cars, and so I offered to drive the entire way. For some reason though, they gave me hell about wanting to drive. What? I did them a favor. Beside the point. It’s all good.
A.M.I. Anna Maria Island. Hence the name sake for this post. When we arrived, it seemed weird. Something was off about the whole thing. I brushed it off, and sucked it up. By the second day of me being on this adventure, I started to notice things. I started to notice that maybe I didn’t fit in quite as easily as I thought, I noticed that maybe they did not like me as much as I thought, I noticed that it was very awkward the whole time. In that same week, I came to a realization that maybe this entire relationship was not for me. This was not the first time however. Weeks prior I had second guessed some things, but a mixture of pride and stupidity wouldn’t allow me to act on it. I assumed that if we were engaged, and if we were thinking about marriage, then all of it would go away. You know how when a girl is in love with someone, and they think that if they get pregnant then everything will be ok? That’s how I felt about being engaged. In spite of all the red flags (that me and her felt mind you), I still thought that they would go away if we were making intentional plans for the future. This week was just an odd time. Her parents, her parents friends, her parents friends family, everybody that was there. I had never in my life felt like such an outcast in my natural life. Although I tried, I still couldn’t fit in. After this week, I thought that this was the beginning of the end. This is my green light that this is all over, and I said to myself I was ok with it. The reality is this: no matter how much you love someone, love doesn’t garner belonging, love doesn’t garner family, love doesn’t garner acceptance. To me, it was a simple thought, its over.
I would be stupid to tell you that I didn’t love her. I really did. I'd also be stupid to tell you that I wasn’t in love with her. In spite of that, I don’t believe that she was ever in love with me. We had some good times, though. We made each other laugh, we had common interests, all of that didn’t make it so that we were in love with one another. There were times in this relationship where I felt like the only reason that I was even involved was out of pity, and that the reason we were together as long as we were was due to the fact that she couldn’t bring herself to leave me. So with that, and knowing that, I lost myself, and did and said whatever I needed to in order to keep her around. That’s not love. If I am being real, I hated most of the things that she did. I hated her friends. I didn’t feel that I had the same calling on my life as she did (fun fact: we both do the same thing now. Crazy how the universe works). I always told her the opposite though. I would tell her these things so that she would be happy, and if she was happy, she would never leave. This week, on this island, brought me to a place where I was fed up with myself. I said, "you know what, I don’t know this person that I see when I am looking in the mirror. The person I see, I hate. I don’t want to be that." So, in this week, I quickly realized that I had not been myself. I have examples. For one, I am very confident person in myself. I don’t let people talk to me any type of way, I don’t let stuff go, I am a fighter. This girl’s mother had one thing that she just knew she was on the planet to do, and that was to constantly cut me down. When we first started dating, I would always respond. Always. As time went on, I began to fight less and less, and over time, I just gave up. I said "maybe you are right about me, even though you don’t know me." Right or wrong, it wasn’t up to her mother to tell us how this relationship was supposed to work. We should have been the ones to do so. If we had actually done so, we would have broken up years prior. We would have quickly realized that we were terrible as a couple, and been better as friends. I believe that with all of my heart, if we had never dated, we would be friends right now. But we didn't break up. We were two people not being themselves in order to please someone else. Another example, family/community. This is one of the most important things to my heart. I went out of my way to make sure she never felt as I did. My family did also. Here’s the thing…when we dated the only family that she had around her was mine. Her family didn’t live close to her, but mine did. Due to us being together, we made her a part of the family. My parents treated her like a daughter, my sister treated her like a sister, and we gave her unconditional love. Because they wanted to. Her family? Not even close. They treated me as though I owed them something. I was constantly trying to prove myself to people that didn’t know me. My family, however, never asked that from her. They looked at it like "my son/brother loves this girl, and we respect him enough to respect his decision making. Because we love him that much, we will bring her in as a part of what we do." I never got that from them. It was there in spite of how they felt, not because they wanted me to be. I noticed it from the beginning, and it was magnified at the end. That still hurts to this day to be honest. The question still remains, however, why wasn’t I good enough? Why wasn’t I whatever you thought she needed in a man? I don’t get. I respectfully courted your daughter, which I never did in any relationship prior. I didn’t touch your daughter (at first…). I asked for your permission before I ever asked her on a date. I kept you in the loop every step of the way, and I didn’t have to. I did so out of respect. I didn’t get that same respect in response. For almost 4 years, I tried at no avail to prove my worth to these people, and they didn’t give a damn about me in the first place. These same people were better to me after we broke up, than when we were together. Really?
All of these realities would hit me, day after day of being on this island. I slowly began to distance myself from these people. They made me sick. I couldn’t go home, so I had to just be there. I became cold. I became unresponsive. I became the outsider that they had made to feel. I don’t look for confrontation, and so I didn’t look for it then. She would ask me everyday about it. She asked on Wednesday, and I told her I was tired. When her mom pulled up on me and asked me on Thursday, I told her that I was tired. When others would ask, I would just say that I was tired. I wasn’t lying, I was telling the truth, I was tired. I was tired of being in a one sided relationship. I was tired of feeling unwanted. I was of being second class, when I had given first class effort. So I took my tired ass home. I remembered something though. I wasn’t alone in these thoughts. The Sunday before I came home, I sat in a room with a woman I thought I loved, and she looked me the face and asked me “are we good?” Now up to this point, I had never lied to her. Not even once. This day though? I lied right to her face. I said, "of course baby, we are good." We weren’t. Not even slightly. She knew though. At least I think so. So I lied that day. I wish I could say that was the last time that I lied to her. It wasn’t. After that day, it became easy. The lies continued. The lies were heavier. I didn’t care though.
She came back for her last year of undergrad. When she first came back, we didn’t even act like a couple. We acted like friends. We were homies. I rarely saw her. When I did, it seemed forced. There were just a lot of things that went bad after that. I spent 3.5 years with only her being what I wanted. Because I felt unwanted, I began to want other things. My eyes began to wander. My phone began to wander. My company began to change. She was never around anyway, so I found other people to spend time with. So did she. Weeks turned into months, and in that time, I watched this relationship crumble. It finally came to a point where on a Tuesday night, we ended it. Now I was in the midst of rehearsals for a show I was in, so I was just like ok, and I was done with it. I kissed her goodbye, and that was it. I had something to do, so I bounced quick. 20 minutes after I was singing bgvs. So, I didn’t really think about it much until like 2 days later, and then the weight hit me. I was sad, for that day. I wish that I could say that I was sad longer, but I wasn’t. I saw it coming. I knew it for months. I felt it for months. In her kiss, her touch, her conversation, all of it. I wouldn’t say that we are even friends now. We were. But that slowly turned into nothing at all.
Each year, around this time, I remember that island, and the terrible memories that come with it. I wish that I could say that I wish her well, but I don’t. I honestly don't care. I just don’t. I do however, wish the best for whoever comes along to be with her. I hope that he is good enough, I hope that he fits in, and I hope that this family learned something and changed their actions, and I hope that he gets the chance to belong. A chance that I never got, but a chance that I hope others will get.
Love yourself first, and hope that others see that, and do, as well. Always be yourself. You're the best version of you that anyone will get the privilege of knowing.
So that’s that. I'm with it. I have moved on with my life, but there are just some days, like today, where it pops into your mind. Maybe now it will stay out of my head.