On the anniversary of my rape, he wanted to have sex. And I did too, a little, but not enough to overcome the feelings of fear and foreboding and discomfort. I couldn’t.
In 2015, I said no. And no, and no, and no. And when it was clear that I was going to continue saying no, he stopped asking. And forced it anyway.
In 2016, I said no. And no, and no, and no. And when it was clear that I was going to continue to say no, he stopped asking. And turned away from me, calling me a tease, blaming his frustrations on me, telling me that he regretted the time we had spent together because it prevented him from sleeping with other people.
I needed comfort. I got a bed partner who resented my inaccessible body.
I switched. Stopped thinking about myself, my triggers and traumas, and began to worry about him, and his mood, and how I could make it better.
Why do I always end up with an angry man of color? Is it my role to be burned by someone else’s rage time and again?
Is it my duty, as the sad girl, to weave my grief into blankets that will cocoon the angry man and absorb his pain until they burst all over me?
I am tired.
On my birthday, I made the mistake of showing him how upset I was that I had waited on him for dinner for so long, the restaurants were closed by the time he finally showed up.
“I don’t feel comfortable; Imma head out,” he told me.
“But it’s my birthday,” I pleaded, “And my party is tomorrow. How am I supposed to host people, how am I supposed to keep everyone happy and light, and have a good time? How can I do that when you’ve made me so sad? How can I project the positive energy that people will want from me?”
“You’ll do it the way you always do it,” he told me before he left.
The party was great. Everyone but him said so.
“I haven’t felt this happy in a long time,” our friend told me, and she continued to dance even as everyone else was leaving.
“You’ve had the best parties of the week,” the DJ told me some days later. “Your birthday was so much fun. It was the favorite.”
“Well, I had you DJ-ing!” I told him.
“It’s not that,” he said. “Everyone came for you. They came because they all love you.”
I know that people have love for me, because I work hard to spread love to them. I care about their wellbeing, before my own. Sometimes, I think about the Mrs Who, Whatsit, and Which in “A Wrinkle in Time”, and try to emulate them. Their characters are magical beings, former stars who exploded to bring more light into the world, in a fight against the Dark. When I’m with others, especially when I bring people into spaces I have created, I try to explode positivity at them. It’s why I’m an introvert; I need to recharge afterward. It’s funny: most of campus thought I was so positive, but my housemate believes I am one of the most negative people in the world. As an actually positive person himself, his energy was integral in most of my recoveries. Thank you, Nkosi. I love you.
You know what’s detrimental to recharging? Being in love with someone who drains you even more. Angry men of color will turn the humanity I’ve accepted into a shell.
I’ve spent the past ten days reflecting, and crying, and aching. The pain is becoming dulled, the tears becoming less heavy, finishing more quickly. I stopped crying today and went to greet my sister and her mother on the street. I hugged my father when I came home. I allowed myself to chat with my own mother. Wished some people happy birthdays. Reconnected with other friends, gave time to other guys.
It hit me that if I was in a supportive love, one in which we simultaneously grew, charged each other’s batteries, trusted and supported each other, we could do so much more sustainable good for the world.
That’s what I want. That’s what I need. I wouldn’t have to explode and give out. I could just emanate.
A silly part of me holds out hope that someday, this love will evolve into that. The realistic side of me knows this will not happen any time soon.
So in the meantime, come find me, love. Please. I need you, and I’m waiting for you. Help me to grow.