The Obligation to Love Your Oppressor

12 MIR Poetry Gallery
“You know, you really wooed me. You are really something else,” he said softly. It sounded so kind, almost even like a victory but I knew better. It was a sentencing, deep down I knew it was my punishment.
He then went on about his business, bedding women and taking names later. I went about mine, traveling down a slippery slope of depression that led to too many losses to count. I deserved to be punished, perhaps. We were not in a committed relationship and everyone knows that those situations are best worked out when the woman remains loyal to a man allowed to do whatever he wants. I could never be that loyal, it never seemed fair to me, So after I begged him through the ugliest of tears to allow me the label of being his girlfriend, he rejected me. I wandered into the arms of a married man and broke his shit up as badly as I had been broken.
The cycle of pain was a vortex that had me sucked all the way in. I always assumed I deserved all the heartache and pain coming to me because of karma.

Bubbling Over the Surface
I have been stuffing down pain and trauma experienced at the hands of males my whole life. Because it’s not trauma– how dramatic of me, it’s just the way things are. I have sat in several counseling sessions never mentioning molestation by another abused little boy because what little girl hasn’t been molested? I couldn’t play the child molestation card in life, I had to get over it. When it was time to give up my virginity there was no discussion session for me to explain that I was really scared and not ready. Sex is what you do to be accepted. Sex is something you do to gain love from a man. I had spent my high school years so lonely and unwanted I really just wanted to finally feel accepted.
We would make out and pet each other on my parent’s couch and when he left I burst into tears and I never knew why. Looking back on it, I wonder why he never asked me why I cried. We were young–19 and 20– but isn’t that old enough to care about the woman you are with? Did this intimacy we created with our bodies mean nothing to his heart? He never cared about my tears well into our marriage. Some nights I slept in the bath tub or on the bathroom floor devastated that we were falling apart and I couldn’t save us. I was the only one fighting for us and it was taking its toll and wearing me so thin. I still don’t know why I absorbed the weight of the entire marriage on my shoulders–maybe because women are the keepers of love. We fight for it and we are expected to make it work, regardless.
Nevertheless, I learned early that showing weakness is a drop of blood in shark-infested waters. To this day I hold back pain and tears because I know it causes a visceral reaction in men. “What the fuck are you crying for, that doesn’t solve anything,” they would say. I could never express the gravity of my abandonment issues, I could never level with a man about my depression or anxieties in any relationship because my traumas would always be diminished to dramatics and acting overly emotional. I was even called an emotional manipulator and I owned that title for quite some time. Clearly something was wrong with me. It was my issues causing these men to cheat or emotionally abandon me. I wasn’t good enough.
I swallowed my tears and toughened up accordingly. I came to the table with facts and a clear head and a basic desire to be treated with love and respect. I found myself being set on fire, gaslit into oblivion. No man ever said to me “I was wrong, and I’m sorry,” as the end result. I always found out about infidelities far too late in the game because I’m the woman and I am supposed to trust first, right? If he tells me he’s not cheating I need to respect it and stop bothering him like a crazy black woman. We are all crazy! If I make him mad enough with accusations then he would be justified in being unfaithful. If I notice inconsistencies I have no choice but to let it go. That is how you support a man– you pretend to believe his lies until you’re numb.
The past year of my life I have felt a shift. I can produce a detailed timeline of when and how he fell out of love with me over the course of a 3-year relationship. I watched it happen in silence. Sometimes I spoke up about it but those conversations only speed up the unraveling process. A man will take you from queen to peasant so gradually that you don’t even notice until you’re home alone on New Year’s Eve or performing on stage and returning to your chair alone as always. There is no one to cheer for you, to hold your hand or drive you home. You find yourself alone in your own relationship.
I stopped making excuses for these men. I just buried the pain away because I’m a mom and I have a career and so much going for me. I stuffed it down because I don’t have the mental capacity to deal with my issues of self worth. I casually dated a young guy a few years ago. He said to me, “I’ve taken other women out on real dates I just never have with you.” There was a flash in my mind of those wild days, men coming to my door with a bottle of whiskey and a smile. No dates. Just my empty search for affection and their desire to get their dicks wet. A few were fascinated by my quirkiness but it was never enough to keep them. It never made me worthy.
I stuffed it all down. He told me what I needed to know: there are women who are worth it and those who are not. I was not.

Trigger
These recent cases of women coming forward to accuse their oppressors is triggering me. I didn’t expect the amount of pain to come to the surface and rear its ugly head. I’m just so confused. We ride for men, we don’t snitch on them, right?
In exchange for them filling the voids of our emotionally absent fathers and boyfriends we allow them certain tendencies. What kind of weak bitch does that make me if I admit just how uncomfortable dick pics are? That’s no fun. It’s greedy to expect a man to care about who you are and what you’re about AND pay attention to all that ass. He’s going to choose that ass every time. His homeboys are there for shooting the shit about dreams and building camaraderie. It’s our job as women to take care of them in all the other ways.
I was taught through many examples to stand by my man regardless of my own happiness and fulfillment. Black culture teaches that turning on a black man is the worst thing a black woman can do. I once called the cops on my obnoxious neighbor and my mother reamed me out for possibly endangering his life. (He continued to intimidate and threaten me over the incident until I moved out. I remained silent about it because I knew my husband was not the type to defend me or involve himself in the situation. I simply had to pray that it never escalated beyond verbal bullying.
Black men are an endangered species and through the years have proven most dangerous to my psychological wellbeing. I don’t know how to reconcile those two facts.
Now that educated and independent women are on the rise we’ve been elevated to gods and expected to do even more. We should be honored to be side chicks. We need to protect our men and submit and cook and clean and ride for them. If he hits you, you can’t call the police. If he cheats on you, you have to become a detective and figure out what you did wrong. It’s your fault for not keeping him happy. Life and society has torn the black man down, we have to be a source of peace. My heart is in turmoil, I have been let down and lied to and made to feel so small and worthless and not good enough by the very group of people I am supposed to protect. While black women are protecting our men, who is protecting us?

Trauma Does Not Equal Drama
I resign, black man. I used to write passionate poems for you in an effort to remind me why I loved you. Maybe I really wrote those things in an effort to drown out the voices in my head crying out in pain.
I can’t allow another man to inflict damage upon me without taking responsibility for it. I can’t allow another man to introduce trauma into my life then accuse me of being dramatic when it’s time to work through our issues. I cannot play these games that men and women silently play but no one ever really talks about. It’s not a stabbing or a shanking it’s tiny little cuts that lead to small infections until it begins to spread. It’s all over my skin and I have never been able to properly heal.
If a nigga would show up just one time with a pack of band aids and some antiseptic maybe I would have it in me to try. But you keep throwing salt on the wounds created by you and the men who came before you and I can no longer expose myself to that kind of abuse. Gaslighting is abuse (I could write a book). Name calling is abuse. Abandonment, both physical and emotional is abuse.
I don’t have the energy or the desire to woo or impress a man anymore. Every time I have fought to assert my worth It has meant nothing. I have no desire to save or fight for a man any more after being hung out to dry and left completely alone and unprotected too many times to count.

I no longer feel the obligation to love you. I’m done.
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