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That Time I Sabotaged My Relationship
Sometimes the problem is you
Do you know how every guy says he wants a girl who is “easy to be around?” Well, Desiray was just that. We met a couple of weeks after that time I was accused of kidnapping a white woman. Specifically, at the Borders Bookstore on 34th street (RIP Borders). I was on a serious Eric Jerome Dickey binge (Also RIP) and I guess she was too because we ended up going for the same book. In one of the few times I have made the correct decision when trying to impress a woman, I let her take the book, in exchange for a cup of coffee. As corny as that offer was, it worked.
We spent the next four hours laughing and talking about our favorite books, exchanging songs on our Ipods (It was a long time ago), and debating over politics. Desiray was tall, at least 5’8, with dark brown skin, confident brown eyes, and dimples on her right cheek. She was a mellow radical with a passion for social justice, good music, and marijuana. It was clear to both of us that we had something. So at the end of the night, we exchanged numbers and made plans to see each other again.
That random moment at a dying bookstore led to three blissful months of a friendship that ended up becoming romantic. In the beginning, everything seemed right with the world, I had this beautiful girlfriend who liked me as much as I liked her, and unlike previous relationships, it felt like this had the potential to really grow. The opportunity to find my very own “special someone” scared and excited me. I wasn’t used to things going my way, so like anyone with self-destructive habits, I assumed something had to be wrong.
In my defense, I was right. There was something wrong.. Desiray was the perfect girlfriend, and I had no reason to feel insecure. Unfortunately, no matter how good things were going, I couldn’t help but hear a little voice constantly asking “Why is she with me?” Desiray was beautiful, had a great personality, a booming career, and a loving family. What did she need with a guy like me? A little insecurity is ok, but you have to constantly do the work to control it. Insecurity should be a whisper that if managed properly remains almost silent. If you let it get the best of you, that small whisper becomes a shout, and then a drumbeat. Mine had the spirit of boom-bap on their side.
I started to tell myself that she was getting bored with me. That led to several arguments (That I started) where I would accuse her of not wanting to be with me. When I wasn’t creating false narratives, or demanding proof that she “really liked me” I was accusing her of cheating on me with her best friend who was gay, AND MARRIED.
Desiray put up with this for another month before she got good and finished with me, I can’t say I blame her. I probably would have dumped me sooner. When the day finally arrived, I think it hurt Her as much as it did me. We both liked each other, we both wanted a long term relationship, and what we had could have become that. Despite the potential we had, Desiray did something I was incapable of. She loved herself more than the promise of an idea.
I like to believe I dig pretty deep on all of these pieces, but I want to open up a little more than usual. It’s pretty obvious that I didn’t love, or think very highly of myself, and because I didn’t like myself, I could never wrap my head around someone else being able to. That part is obvious enough, but I would like to unpack some of the things that lead to my insecurities.
For as long as I can remember when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t enjoy what was looking back at me. What I saw was a big head, a nose that was too wide, skin that was too dark, and a crooked smile. I felt even worse about my body. A couple of days ago, I read an article written by Derrick Dennis of Level Mag titled, 9 out of 10 men suffer from body image issues. I think that’s what I struggle with now and definitely struggled with back then. I didn’t, and more often than I would like to admit still do not like the way my body looks. And just like Derrick Dennis, The pandemic has made it worse.
I want to have a body like Idris Elba, but no matter how much I work out and change my diet, I can’t stop seeing someone who looks sloppy, unkempt, and disheveled. WhenDesiray and I were dating, I was going to the gym four days a week, and objectively in the best shape of my life. I would still skip meals because I thought I was “too fat”.
Was that the only reason I regarded myself so poorly? Absolutely not, I have spent every day of my life learning to love the different parts of myself, I think we all do. But the thing we don’t talk about is like women, men can very much have body issues, and most of us will never know. But imagine a world where men had more reasons to love and value themselves, picture a world where there were resources for men struggling like I was and still do? If nothing else, we would have a lot more men in this world capable of loving the people in their lives truly, because they would know true love for themselves.
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