In college I was in one of those relationships where you both become awful versions of yourself. We clearly, should not have been together, but at the time it wasn’t actually so clear. I kept hearing from my friends, mentors & family members that he wasn’t a good match for me, that I was changing, and how unhealthy our ‘romance’ was. The people I valued before him, and whose opinions I would care about after him, all had a similar voice- “end it”. At the time, in my ‘fog’ I felt offended. I found myself defending little things he did, over explaining to people ‘what it really meant/or was really like’, nit-picking the details and never actually seeing the whole picture for what it was. I was persistent in protecting what we had, even when it was harming myself (and those around me). I learned life changing lessons from dating this guy. I learned loyalty is a core part of who I am. I learned that I love hard, and would spend many nights crying over those who didn’t also. I learned the kind of person I wanted to be and the guts of who I should marry. We inevitably had a nasty break-up, I had wounds for years after and have a hard time even liking people with his same name.
There were warnings though, there were people who I trusted, I valued their opinions and loved much more than him that I never listened to. They had the same voice and the same message. I learned if everyone around me is echoing the same words, there is likely a truth I don’t see, it is time to pay attention. This ‘warning lesson’ has kept me from many painful things and unhealthy decisions as an adult, wife and mother. This is how I feel when black men are killed. This is how I feel when rapists walk free, and other injustices sweep our neighborhoods. There is an echo, a story with the same plot, and people who I will continue to love after the presidential election who have the same voice rising up. There is a truth here that has gone unseen and it is time to pay attention. Let’s not stay in this relationship, defending it when it’s harming us, nit-picking the details of each death, and giving loyalty to what won’t love us in the end. It is time.