So it’s motherfucking Spring bitches and as I do every Spring, I celebrated the occasion by pulling a Hotline Bling: wearing less and going out more.
One of these outings included a brunch with some friends over the weekend. While I was sipping on my Shirley Temple, one of my girlfriends told me how her boyfriend decided that he wanted to limit the amount of time they spent together. Of course, we all had the same reaction: dump him, leave him, kick his A-S-S to the C-U-R-B! (I don’t know why I’m acting like my friends are sassy Black women from the ’80s but I’m feeling that vibe right now). Anyway, as we attempted to yelled some sense into my friend, she simply shrank into herself and firmly whispered: “you don’t know what he’s been through.”
It was then that my heart sank. Because I understood what she was going through.
Back When I Watered His Garden
For about three years I was attached to a man who had been through hell and back. His mother died at a young age, his father wasn’t in his life, and he was in and out of jail. This man was the living definition of “a hard ass life.” This hard ass life made him almost emotionally impenetrable. But for some reason, I was able to see past his tough exterior and to his deep core. I saw through his pain and to his fear: I saw his love. He had a kind and beautiful soul.
Over the three years of our tumultuous “relationship” (relationship is in quotation marks because he refused to put a label on it) I helped him grow and take steps to break down the cement that encapsulated his warm heart. He went from calling once a month to once a week, from quick fucks to passionate love making, from telling me his day was “fine” to painting the most elaborate tales of his day. It was beautiful. I was so proud.
I watched him find his smile, thinking that that was enough for me.
So what if he never got me anything for my birthday? So what if he told me he’d never commit to me? So what is he refused to tell me he loved me, no matter how many times I cried those three words to him?
I was so obsessed with his growth and his progress and his gains that I forgot about me. Yes, this man lived a traumatic life that rendered him nearly incapable of loving and trusting another human being the way they deserved, but it was not my place to play the guinea pig. I am not a therapist. I was not getting paid for this. Yet I allowed myself to be sucked dry as I breathed life into this other human being.
Loving him almost cost me my life and I didn’t even realize it until it was almost too late.
But thank God I did. And as I sat at that brunch spot sipping on my Shirley Temple, I stared deep into the eyes of my friend and saw the same pain that lived in my own eyes for so long.
I think that some people in this world are empathizers: we look at someone and completely understand everything that they are going through and then feel like it’s our job to save them. Well I’m here to tell you it’s not your fucking job: unless you are a therapist getting paid mad bank, it is not your fucking job to save anyone.
Stop treating people or relationships like projects.
Stop watering someone else’s garden thinking that one day they will grow to water yours back.
Do you know what happens when you water a garden? They become pretty little flowers that give your sweaty, dirty ass allergies. That’s what happens. You’re left tired, aching, and with no one to support you.
Now this is not to say don’t ever help someone you love through a difficult time, not at all. This is to say don’t forget about YOU. Don’t forget that in any relationship there are two people growing together to become a we. Not two people working towards the growth of one person. That’s not fair and it’s not your job. Does someone with a severely fucked up past deserve love? Hell the fuck yes.
But so do you: and if they are not in a place to provide you with the love you deserve, then stop settling for anything less. Love yourself enough to let that person go.
SLIGHT DISCLAIMER: Now, it took me three years to hear that message so I honestly wouldn’t feel right ending this without saying this: YES you have to love yourself enough to let that person go, but also love yourself enough to forgive yourself if you aren’t quite there yet.