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BLOG: SHIT NOBODY TOLD ME

Women are powerful all on their own, but when they come together to share their experiences they find strength in numbers. Shit Nobody Told Me is a way for women to share with the world all of the things life has taught them about being a woman and how they have survived, overcome, and moved forward through adversity.

In this blog we will be covering:

Family

Beauty & Confidence

Love & Sex

Abuse & Assault 

Self-Love

Career

Religion & Spirituality 

Race & Culture

 

Please submit your story in the form of a Word document to jaymie@bushwickshop.com or click the email icon below.

Anonymous submissions are accepted. Contributors can request a non-disclosure form prior to sending story. Submission of any story is accepting the terms of the project and agreeing to the profits being used for funding the Bushwick Gives grant. 

BE PREPARED FOR THE BALL

Jaymie Leslie

The year was 1998. Lauryn Hill released Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Hip-Hop was at it’s Golden Age. Later that year, Outkast would be releasing Aquemini and Mos Def & Talib Kweli would be debuting their first album as a hip-hop duo, Black Star.

Lainney was 9 years old and in fourth grade. Lauryn Hill’s “That Thing” was the first Hip-Hop song she memorized word for word. “Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem, babygirl. Respect is just a minimum,” she would sing along with her friends during recess. When she came home, she’d play The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album, admiring the album art and reading the lyrics from cover to cover. Hip-Hop began to be a part of her personality, she realized how much it spoke to her because of the lyrics and rhythm. Hip-Hop turned life lessons into songs. It turned something ugly like struggle, into a work of art, and she knew it was something special.

 

Fast forward, Lainney is 19 and signs up for a Facebook account shortly after being accepted to UC Irvine. She heard great things about the social network and wanted to have a head start making new friends. She was often shy around her peers at school and found it easier to make new friends online. Lainney added everyone in the UC Irvine network and began to spend hours talking to them after she got home from school. When she began her first day on campus everyone in the orientation class knew who she was. This was the first time she began to realize the power of social media.

 

In college, Lainney had no idea what she wanted to do. She considered being a journalist because she loved the power of words, but her parents didn’t feel like it would be  a good career for her to make a living. It didn’t make sense for her to spend $20,000/year when she was still figuring out her passions, and in her second year at UC Irvine she decided to drop out. Her mom encouraged her to try nursing. Being Filipina, she felt it was right of passage to become a nurse. Her parents sacrificed a lot to give her opportunities she had and she decided to give it a try. She booked a one-way ticket to the Philippines and stayed there for a year to become an L.V.N. It was a good move, because she realized how strong she was independently. That if she can move to another country for a whole year and make new friends and thrive, she can do anything she put her heart into. Her heart was happy after graduation, but something was missing and in the back of her mind she was still thinking about music.

 

When she came back from the Philippines she began to seriously question her path in life.

“Why would I do something that doesn’t make me happy? Am I really going to let money dictate how I live my life?” She asked herself. Lainney told her sister how she felt, and her sister gave her the confidence she needed: “You don’t need to do something if you don’t want to do it. Listen to your heart, this is your life.” Music had always helped her through the toughest parts in her life, but she didn’t think it could become a career. Afterall, she didn’t want to disappoint her parents, they worked too hard for her to follow a silly dream. She weighed the options in her mind. Sure, nursing would be a good career, but she wouldn’t be happy. She’d be able to pay the bills and be stable, but she would be unfulfilled.

 

We'll flashback to 2009. An 18 year old Lainney was a freshman at college and she made friends with her roommates in the 201 hall, they called themselves “201 Legends” because their resident advisor mentioned to them that Mesa Hall, the building they lived in, was where legends were made. Past aluminis went on to build businesses, win awards, etc. Lainney and her friends often hosted Hip-Hop dance parties in their hall. These themed dance parties got intense: there were Caution Tape areas for dance-offs, disco lights and everyone always had a good time. Their parties was known as one of the best parties on campus. If Lainney wasn’t on the dance floor, it wasn’t a party. The drive and creativity are there, but they just seem like distractions.

 

In 2012, Lainney moved to Los Angeles with her sister. Browsing Facebook, she came across a posting for Duck Down Records, a hip-hop record label that had artists including Talib Kweli, KRS-One and B-Real of Cypress Hill. They were looking for an LA Rep, someone who could attend local hip-hop shows and represent the record label and collect e-mails for their newsletter. She e-mailed them on a whim and surprisingly, they hit her back up. From Talib Kweli, Pete Rock to 9th Wonder, she covered all the shows. Making contacts and building new friendships in the hip-hop industry, she began to realize that yes, you can have a career in music. She wasn’t sure where in hip-hop she’d find herself, but Lainney made a promise to herself: She would try.

 

One night during Rock the Bells, she saw one of her favorite rappers, Nas, perform “One Mic”. He rapped, “All I need is one mic, one try, one breathe, I’m one man.” She was in the front row, surrounded by the crowd, and hearing every echo of that lyric made her heart feel alive. This was it. This was her element. It was as if Nas was talking right to her: “You have one life. Make the most of it.”

 

Lainney came home to send over 100 resumes to the top PR agencies. She didn’t hear back from one. With Nas’s lyrics still in her mind, she realized she had to do something different to make herself stand out. She put her personality in her cover letter and quoted Nas’s “One Mic”, using his lyrics as an analogy to what she wanted to do with her career: to go further, make noise and hustle. She heard back from one of the top agencies she applied for and ended up getting the opportunity to work with some of the most successful brands in the world. She learned about social media, branding, marketing and the importance of personality and building meaningful relationships.

 

Lainney realized she can go further, she began to believe in herself more. In 2013, she made one of the best investments she could of made for herself. She went to Miami to cover the first-ever Revolt Music Conference. This was Diddy’s music conference with Revolt TV, and the speakers included the leading music industry professionals. Randomly, she met Roslynn Cobarrubias. Lainney had read about Roslynn through her research reading Billboard’s Top 30 Music Industry Professionals Under 30.  Roslynn was a legend in her eyes and most importantly, she was Filipino just like Lainney. Lainney never saw any brown female like her dominate the music industry the way Roslynn did, and from her example, she realized this: It’s possible.

 

In 2015, Lainney co-founded Dizon Dreams with her sister. Dizon Dreams is a social media and events agency that specializes in hip-hop parties and marketing for music and emerging brands. Their first client was the iconic Hip-Hop group, The Pharcyde, a referral from Roslynn. The rest they say, is history.

 

I share this story with you to make you realize, success is not a straight line. You will doubt yourself, you will be confused. It is a part of the journey. The most important thing you have to do is to listen to your heart. Your heart will always tell you the truth. If it’s been done before, you’re capable of doing it as well. Save time for your future self: Believe in yourself NOW. You can dictate your future with your actions. Put yourself in the best possible position you can to succeed, whether that be at something crazy like having a career in hip-hop and social media or something simple like paying the bills on time. Don’t give up no matter how shitty things get, because the ball might just bounce your way one day and if you're not there to catch it, you'll regret it for the rest of your life.

 

Be prepared for the ball. You’re ready to play.

 

Laineny Dizon, 28

Los Angeles, CA.

Co-Founder, Dizon Dreams 

AS A WOMAN

Jaymie Leslie

In the wake of the revelations regarding Harvey Weinstein's history as a sexual predator I think it's important to share our experiences around this very serious issue. This dialogue is not only important, it is vital to gaining support in the fight against rape culture in our society. With the waves of activism, feminism, etc. I notice that important discussions on how to keep women safe are silenced. Mentioned, but never actually explored is the idea that boys need to be taught that women are much more than the things they can be objectified for. 

So, I am going to begin the conversation by sharing my scarier experiences of harassment and sexual assault. I encourage you ladies to join the conversation, share your experiences and contribute your ideas about how we can keep women safe and raise our children to be the generation that ends rape culture. 

HAND IN THE DARK: 

It was my 21st birthday celebration in Las Vegas and I was on my way to the ladies room. It was my first time in Tryst and I made a wrong turn. As I was making my way through the dark club I suddenly felt an entire hand between my legs and fingers rubbing my vagina through my underwear. 

MAN IN THE MASK:

It was Halloween the next year and I was standing on Hollywood Boulevard waiting to order street food. The next thing I knew, a man in a devil mask was so close to my face that I felt the rubber on my nose. He quickly rubbed his hands on my breasts and ran away. 

LATE NIGHT CREEP:

One night on my way home from work I was walking from the train station to my house when I heard very loud moaning. I looked over to where the noise was coming from and saw a very large, muscular built man. He was sitting in the back seat of his SUV with all the lights on, all the windows down, sound system tuned all the way up, with porn playing on the headrest televisions. He was also completely naked and masturbating. 

NAKED & UNINVITED:

After a unbelievably long night of helping me with an extremely intoxicated acquaintance, a person I thought was a complete gentleman needed a place to crash. Out of gratitude for his help I offered my couch, gave him a blanket, and went to my room for much needed rest. In my sleep I felt very warm from what I knew was body heat. Then I dreamt that I was being massaged. Then I realized neither of those feelings were my dream... I hopped up to find the man I had offered my couch to took it upon himself to migrate to my room and was completely naked in my bed. 

None of these advances were invited. In no case did it matter what I was wearing. In no case did it matter where I was. In no case was any of what I experienced appropriate or excusable. 

In every case was a person who felt that I was not deserving of their respect. In every case was a person who believed women are disposable. In every case the most sacred parts of my sexuality were violated. There are other incidents, but I'm not ready to share those. 

As a woman I have had a difficult time allowing people to get physically close to me. I don't like to be touched at all. People brushing up against me, standing too close to me, or even just asking too many questions makes me shut down and entirely uncomfortable. A direct result of what happened to me in Vegas was that I never let men dance with me if I was not facing them with an entire body of space between us. I'm not even the type of chick who dances with her homegirls. Whenever my girlfriends have danced with me I've fallen apart inside because I relive that violation. It takes a moment to shake myself back into the present.

People often ask me if I have regrets, and to be honest if I could erase some things I would erase the things that others have done to me.

Ladies, take heart and tolerate nothing less than the respect you want. Be alert. Be unafraid to speak out. You could save a life and preserve innocence.

Gentlemen, be examples. Respect every woman the way you would your grandmother. Confirm consent verbally. Be patient with broken hearts, they're connected to broken minds. 

All, let's teach our children to be kind about appearances and respectful of boundaries. That women are not objects for the world to feel entitled to. That brains are beauty. That respect is to be given and expected. Don't ever let chivalry die. 

Xo, 

Jaymie 

To the Young Queens

Jaymie Leslie

Young Queens-

From a young age I always heard my parents tot that I could and do anything I wanted to be. And in some ways I believed this until life hit. But what I wish I was told is that I can do anything I want and be anything I want through everything; through rejection, though heartbreak, through a bad grade, through lost games, through a college rejection or failed job interview. I wish I had known that pushing through, coming through the other side of hard times with literal or figurative bruises that I could and should not let life and its hardships jade me or change me or stop me from doing anything and everything I want and want to be.

Lastly I wish someone told me you have to work to be happy. That most people are not just “happy”. That you HAVE to focus on your mental wellness and wellbeing. You have to take care of you, because if you don’t do it today you will have to at some point. Life is more fun, more enjoyable, more happy when we do the work to make it so!

So young queens, I wish you the best in life. I don’t wish it easy for you because difficulties build character, what this means is that difficulties will make you you, they will help shape your values and believes and passions. You can make lemonade out of lemons, but something you have to squeeze hard, but oh it will be delicious.

Life is what you make it!

With Love,

L.Carson

Founder-Black Girls Smile Inc.

A Fucking Warrior

Jaymie Leslie

Growing up, nobody told me how intense life could and would be. How growing up would be a roller coaster of emotions. Unbuckled, fast and bumpy. Nobody ever told me that I would suffer from depression, that self-esteem would be an issue, or that I would struggle with loving myself for a very long time. Nobody ever told me that heart break would hurt so fucking badly. And that self-harm would feel like the biggest sigh of relief and escape from my reality. Pain and hurt would become my norm. Worst of all, it became my drug of choice. But nobody ever told me. Nobody ever told me, how life in your 20's would be some of the worst and best years of your life. Most importantly, nobody told me that everything was going to be okay, and that I would eventually become a fucking warrior.

 

I grew up with the darkest hole living inside of my small frame. Confusion was an understatement. I always knew something was wrong with me. The main question that would non-stop break dance in my already clutter filled mind was, "wtf is this black shit living inside of me?" - dimming my shine and making me feel like jumping out of my skin. Who knew that jumping out of my skin would feel like the best form of escape from this shit I called, myself.

 

Instead, I lived with darkness for what felt like forever. I lived a double life, that I soon found out was a diagnosis of functional depression with a sprinkle of anxiety to top it all off.

 

Here's how it went: smiles, smiles, smiles, smiles, smiles, fun, happy, fun, happy... and so on. But by night time, everyone would fall asleep and my mask would come off. I would close my door that didn't even have a lock, so I would push my dresser in front of it to keep it shut. 4'11, 93lbs, and strength I never knew I had. I'd then go under my mattress, pull out my knives, a sketchbook, my notepad and let the flood gates open. Streams of salty warm tears, self-loathe risen and my dark hole expanded to immensity. My creativity would spew everywhere. I never knew which to do first. Poetry threw up on my notepad pages as if I were holding in word vomit all day. My pencil would make its way to my sketchbook, creating something dark, and my knife eventually made its way to my skin. I poured out in many ways; blood and tears.

 

Hating yourself is never fun. Hating yourself and looking like the happiest girl on the planet, is even worse. Seeking love from others when you can't even find it in yourself, is rough. I'd give my all and always met myself at a dead end. I never felt reciprocation from others. Maybe that's why heartbreak hurt so god damn much? I was already too broken. Scarred up from the outside in. But the bad days that felt like forever, soon and eventually, went away. When I got tired of living a double life and having my four walls and notebook be the only ones that new my truth. When I got so sick of being addicted to pain, and when happiness felt so uncomfortable and foreign to me. That's when I knew that I was so fucked up. Living in a lie. Living in secrecy.

 

Then there's recovery. There's trying to stay clean and strong and then relapsing over and over. But there is also success. Almost 2 years of freedom. The keys to my recovery were therapy, self-love and self-awareness. These all became the essentials to living and being a healthier me. After finding the love I gave to others, inside of myself, I realized I had a gift. A gift to love and give to others with out expectations. But also, the gift of strength, perseverance, resilience, and the gift to love my self unconditionally, scarred up and flawed.

 

 

I still remember screaming how much I hated myself into my pillow at night. I also remember the first time I told myself I loved myself. Both times I cried.

 

I now know, at the age of 26, what it's like to love yourself. To finally feel comfort in my own skin. I've shrunken my dark hole, and although it is always there, it knows it's place. I am proud of how far I have come in life. I am proud that I have freed myself from my own dark chains.

I love myself. And now, I want people to love themselves too. The best kind of love comes from yourself.

 

It's not going to be easy. But this is the shit that nobody told me.

 

 

Love and light xx

 

AMS.

Ashley Soto, 26 

New York, NY  

Soul Searcher  

God (Love) Allows

Jaymie Leslie

I felt for a VERY long time that no matter what I did life would humble me; even when I thought there was nothing left to take. But I have realized that no matter my circumstances, because I have God in my heart, I will always have more to lose. 

I have always felt disconnected. Being misunderstood is my own fault because I don't let people into my thoughts on purpose. Still, my confidence persists because I know nothing is about me or my ability. 

I am open to good things, but only when I know they've come from God. Life taught me to pray about it before walking through open doors. Not every opportunity is mine and standing in someone else's blessing will having you feeling so lost. That discretion has offended people to the point of maliciousness that made me question my ability to forgive. 

When I felt the weakest, I focused on being Love. That created a battle I never expected. What I thought would allow me to see people in a more gentle way really just magnified their faults. This when I realized that unconditional Love is a MF. I began to vividly see people as the spirits they carry. Spirits of gossip, jealousy, arrogance, and even prejudice. I saw spirits who are the type of person who is only happy for others when the success or the blessing is less than when compared to their own. The feeling of being able to see the worst in others has made me feel so heavy at times. So again, just when I thought there was nothing left to take away, God showed me that this time I have to conduct the purge. 

I have to allow the things, people, conversations, and situations that don't glorify Love (God) to fall away. Right now I'm in a place where I understand why God allows us to stray from Him. Because the deeper I have rooted myself in Love the further those spirits are from me, and the more violently they manifest themselves. They fight to stay relevant. The most interesting part is that someone very close to me is barely beginning to understand a part of my personality that has existed since my childhood. Where I was misunderstood by everyone around me (including them) for so long, they're finally beginning to understand. And here I am... embarking on a whole new plateau of my level of engagement with people and going through the learning experience of recognizing spirits. So now it's really a new chapter of them "not getting it" and I'm okay with that. Like I said, I understand why Love allows distance. 

So with all these thoughts that seem like tangents... let me tie it all together for you. 

 

God (Love) Allows: 

  • Loss of blessings because they were not intended for you specifically.
  • Failure because you thought it was about YOUR ability when it should've been about God's gift to you.
  • People to remove themselves from your life otherwise their spirits will only serve to weaken your soul.
  • You to see people for who they truly are. While love is blind unconditional Love knows all. 
  • You to see yourself for who you truly are so that you are responsible for your own purging because YOU are in control of the level of God in your life.

 

I hope these words resonate with one of you. I hope it helps you make sense of your situation past or present. 

 

Xo, 

Jaymie

Daddy Issues

Jaymie Leslie

1997 - I was eight years-old when my father told me I wasn’t his daughter. It had to be around ten o’clock at night when he came into my room drunk, crying his eyes out. When he sat on my bed I remember this very strange, potent smell filling the room. I remember pulling the covers over my nose, I hated it so much. Later in life I’d find out it was whiskey. Maybe that’s why I don’t drink. My parents were in the middle of a bad divorce and it was mine and my sister’s last night with him. When he came into my room I remember feeling so happy. I was such a daddy’s girl, I loved him so much. He laid next to me like he always did before putting me to sleep, only this time he was crying. I remember asking him, “Daddy, why are you crying?” and I remember him sobbing out, “You’re not my daughter.” I don’t remember anything after that.

 

1999 - I was 10 years-old when my mother pulled me into my tia’s bedroom crying, shaking. She sat me down on my tia’s bed and said, “Hija, I have to tell you something.”…She said, “Gustavo is not your real father.” I felt deaf, like I was having this outer body experience just watching myself on the bed in silence while she cried. I didn’t comprehend what that really meant and remained untouched by that day for years until I was 19 years-old, lying naked in a bed with a man I didn’t want while he sloppily fucked me till tears ran down my face, my thoughts reverting back to that irreversible day in my tia’s bedroom. I remember feeling like I didn’t know who I was, like I didn’t belong to me, I belonged to the men who I let use me. That night I found out they call those “daddy issues,” you know, using sex as a means to conquer a love I never knew I lacked growing up a young woman. And here’s the thing, no one told me using sex to fill that void meant losing pieces of myself. No one told me growing up not knowing that side of me would land me on multiple beds with my legs open desperate for love. No one told me love was not sex. No one told me, so I had to learn the hard way.

 

2001 - I was 12 years-old when my mother tracked down my biological father. I was in my room when she called me into hers to tell me. She said, “Hija, I found Alberto.”

Silence. “I also have his phone number.”  More silence.  “Would you like to call him?” Anxiety.

I can’t really explain what was going on in my head, I mean, I was only 12 years-old, it was all so sudden and on a lot of levels I still had no idea what it all meant. But I remember wanting to runaway. I’ve always been good at that. But she didn’t let me. So, what did she do? She called him. And what happened? He and I spoke. I don’t remember the conversation at all, not even the “Hello” and “Good-bye,” but I remember scratching my thigh with a quarter until I drew blood, praying the conversation would end. And it did. But not for long.

 

A few months later my mother told me Alberto was coming to visit me. I remember almost having a heart attack. I was in one of those dreams where you’re trying to run, but you can’t, so you scream out for help, but no one hears you. I was lost and all I could think was…what about…my father Gustavo? What about him? Did he know? Was he mad at me? I remember crying my eyes out because I didn’t want him to hate me; I wanted him to know he was my dad, and I loved him. But I was only 12. I didn’t know what to do. And then we met. I don’t talk about it often because it’s not something I care to relive, but for all healing and evolving purposes I will.

 

I knew the second I saw him I didn’t like him. Even at such a young age, my intuition was strong, and the more I was around him, the more those feelings were justified. He was pushy, persistent, extremely, uncomfortably affectionate; he wanted me to call him “papa” almost immediately; he wanted me to open up to him like he wasn’t a stranger, have a sleepover—I mean, he was just too much for my 12 year-old self. And to top it all off, my mother made him do a paternity test which, of course, came out a positive match, but after it was all said and done, he disappeared. He just…went on with his life like I didn’t exist. I remember feeling so conflicted about it. I didn’t feel bad about my own sentiment towards him, but I remember taking his abandonment personal. Why come just to leave? Why say and want all those things from me when your intention was never to stay? And then I questioned myself. Was I not lovable? Did I do something wrong? And then I thought, why do I care if I didn’t even like his company? Why be so affected if I didn’t even want any of that to begin with? But no matter how long I suppressed his memory, those questions never left my mind, and as years went on they were no longer limited to just him. They ended up being the most common, conflicting questions I’d never figure out with both men and myself.

 

2001 - That same year I lost my virginity. He was 16 years-old, charming and the first guy I ever liked. It was around that age my body started changing. I had gotten by period earlier that year, my breasts were coming in and I was suddenly getting attention from boys. He (I won’t reveal his name) was my best friend’s cousin. He was older, cooler, and just fun to be around, but he never paid any attention to me—I was a kid. He was always nice, but like I said, he never paid me much attention until his 16th birthday. His family was having a little get together at his house and I was invited. I wanted to look nice, so I decided to wear a dress to dinner. I’ll never forget that dress—I got it at the Body Shop. It was sleeveless with a white collar, baby blue, white and tan stripes. I was still a little chubbier than a lot of the girls my age so when I wore it I got all sorts of disapproving, critical attention, but I loved it and felt so pretty in it. Any way, I got to his house around 6:30 pm, feeling as normal as any other day. I knocked on his door expecting my friend to answer, but instead he did and it was…different. His eyes widened, his mouth dropped a little. It was as if it was the first time he really saw me. He’d normally call me Channel, but that night he started calling me Chanelle. I was suddenly this woman in his eyes and it felt good.

 

            From that night on it was always us. Whether it was at his family functions, chillin’ outside, out and about, or simply riding in the car, we were always side-by-side. And then we had our first kiss. At the movies. We went to see The Mummy Returns. It happened during the part where Evelyn fights Anck-Su-Namun during one of her flashbacks. He placed his left hand on my right thigh and I just remember being so nervous. When I turned to him he kissed me. No warnings, no words; a kiss. Two weeks later I gave him my virginity.

 

            I know I was young, but for some reason I felt like that’s what I had to do in order for him to care and love me. The attention he gave me made me yearn for more. Unfortunately for me, losing my virginity wasn’t as special as I thought it would be. A few minutes before we had sex I told him I loved him. I can’t even tell you why I said that, but I guess it doesn’t matter because he never said it back. And I knew what I was doing was wrong—I felt it in the most innocent part of my innocent heart. I felt awkward, it felt forced and I knew after it was over, so were we. And I was right. I was a 12 year-old girl hypnotized by a kiss and sweet nothings from the first guy who really showed her any attention, and ended up giving away the most sacred thing about her to him. And that’s usually how it went. I think that was the beginning of what’d I think love was: one-sided, overly romanticized moments with men who didn’t love me.

 

2005 - I was 16 years old when I got with Larry. Ugh, Larry. He was my first love, my first heartbreak—my everything. Our first time having sex was life changing. It was everything I’d ever wanted it to be and more, and all it took was one time for us to be equally hooked on each other. As you can imagine, I fell blindly and idiotically in love with him. And I say that literally. He started cheating on me three months into our relationship. We were together for about four years. Yes, he cheated on me throughout the entire relationship; yes, I stayed, and you know how I got over each betrayal? Sex and lies. He’d cheat on me, I’d cry, say I was done, but he’d beg me to stay, tell me I was the one, he loved me, so, of course, I stayed. Then we’d make up and repeat the same disastrous cycle for the next several years. Our behavior and relationship became such a normality in my life I didn’t believe anything else existed—I didn’t believe in better. And I was no better either. Towards the end of our relationship I started doing the same things back. Yes, I cheated, too. It’s so crazy saying it out loud—I CHEATED—but I did and I was good at it. I’d make men fall in love with me like a siren, and once I got what I wanted, I left them for what I knew. I know it’s twisted, it sounds evil, but I loved the game and needed the drama to survive. My mother used to call me a masochist and she was right. I was definitely queen masochist. In retrospect, maybe my behavior was just a terrible cry for attention or help, I just didn’t know I needed it. Until June.

 

2006 - Crazy

2007 - Empty

2008 - Emptier

 

2008 - I was 19 years-old when I met June. Actually, I’d met him a few years prior through my sister, but we never had any real interaction until I saw him again at my friend’s Halloween party. He was nice, outgoing and had one of those laughs that made you laugh, too—he was cool. But as the night went on I could tell he was slowly becoming interested in me. He gave me a lot of attention, singled me out during group conversations, inched his way closer to me, but it was the way he looked at me that said it all. I didn’t really think too much into it because I was already dating someone else, but when things ended between us, I guess June found out and the rest is regretful history.

 

I was lying in bed, sulking when he texted me. Things had just ended with Dale, and I was feeling really low. I knew things with us weren’t going anywhere because he was still in love with his ex, but I desperately convinced myself it could. And when I finally faced the music, I’d become so upset with myself for once again over-romanticizing something that wasn’t real that I just needed to feel wanted again. So, when June hit me up it’d become the perfect opportunity to keep my ego leveled. Just to see another’s man name pop up on my screen made me feel like I was winning, but deep inside I felt like such a loser. Small talk turned into flirting which eventually turned into questions like “When can I see you?” and “Do you want to come over and chill?” I initially declined his invitation because it was almost 10 PM, but he didn’t take no for an answer. He was persistent, kind of desperate, and even though I didn’t feel right about it, I just kept thinking should I? Something in me was telling me to stay my ass at home, but the attention he was giving me made me feel better. It was all so superficial, I know, so, I said okay.

 

When I got to his house I knew I should’ve turned around and gone back home, but if I’m being honest, I was desperate, too. As you can imagine, he was so happy to see me. His face was giddy and he kept saying “Yo, I can’t believe you actually came,” which made me want to go home even more. And then he started showing out in front of his roommate, trying too hard to be funny—just doing too much. And to top it off, he kept bragging about how great of a writer he was. He even pulled out at least two journals of his poetry to prove it—and performed one for me! I didn’t like either. After his…performance I told him I was ready to go home; it was late, I was tired, but he asked me to stay a little longer, so I stayed. I shouldn’t have stayed.

 

When his roommate went to sleep he asked me into his bedroom. That should’ve been it for me, but he said he wanted to talk and “get to know each other.” I thought maybe this could go somewhere if I let up a little bit—maybe he really was into me, so, I went for it. And to my surprise he really did want to talk…about himself. He talked about his family, his friends, his aspirations. He even got a little emotional when talking about the dysfunctions in his life like his relationship with his mother. He seemed borderline depressed and he spoke in ways that hinted how alone he felt. It made me ease up a tiny bit because I deeply related to that. Come to think of it, maybe that was his plan: to be vulnerable enough to get me where he wanted me. I don’t want to overanalyze it now because it’s over, but it was all so pathetic on my end. I know I didn’t get many words out to tell him I understood him, but I also know I tried being his friend. As you can already guess, he ignored the curve because the next thing you know he was asking me to stay the night. I was so skeptical, so alarmed, but I didn’t know how to say no. I was definitely hesitant, and I know he felt it because he quickly started telling me sweet nothings, inching closer to me, and then finally kissing me. I pulled back from his kiss because, even though I connected with him on some level, I didn’t want him—I knew I didn’t want him, but I gave in. And (sigh) it was the worst kiss of my life. Seriously, the worst kiss/er in the world, but I didn’t stop it—I didn’t know how to say no when I was always saying yes, and this was no different.

 

In a blink of an eye he was inside of me, grunting like a pig—thinking about it makes me feel disgusting, but like that day in my tia’s bedroom, I remember having an outer body experience. I remember watching myself lying on that bed with my legs in the air, staring at the ceiling so utterly ashamed at myself, my choices, crying, wondering how I got to that point in my young life. I don’t think he noticed my tears—at least I hope he didn’t, but even if he did, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of what I allowed which is the saddest part. I allowed that to happen and it was too late. So, I watched myself quietly cry into a pillow until it was over.

 

The next morning I woke up praying it was all a bad dream. It wasn’t (lol). He was laying right next to me looking worse than the night before. Maybe that’s my way of projecting how I feel/felt about myself onto him, but lord knows everything about that situation was gross. I didn’t stay long, though. My mind woke me up at 6 AM and made sure I was out of there by 6:20. He walked me to my car, I guess to be a gentleman, but I wish he hadn’t. Our good-bye was so awkward. I didn’t want to kiss him, so I gave him one of those side hugs women give guys in the friend-zone. I don’t think he noticed…or cared because he got what he wanted any way: me. And as he made his way back into his apartment, I made my way back to reality with more tears leading me home.

 

2017 - I’m 27 years-old and in the happiest, healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in, both with myself and a man who loves me almost as much as I love myself. It took some time and one last heart break to get to where I am now, but I’m finally here. Hi and hello. I used to be so ashamed to think, let alone talk, about my past, but after that night with June, and rummaging through years of suppressed feelings, thinking, and evolution, I remember thanking my God for everything. I can’t really explain it, but it was exactly what I needed to be set free of myself in order to find myself. And I did. I found Me. All of Me. And even without the love of a man or father or that piece of myself I still don’t know, I still have Me. And no one will ever take Me away from myself ever again.

Chanelle Garzon, 27

Virgo, Writer, Lover, Believer