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I read the words, “I love you!” As my phone glowed in the darkness of my grandmothers guest room. It was the wildest summer of my life. I mean, when you're engaged to your teenage sweetheart. It should be right? I imagined many night looking up at the moon through the Venetian blinds with my two-year-old and infant daughters, that this was the point of my life where I’d finally get love right. I’d finally avoid the treacherous middle passage of emotions that single motherhood brings and I had a way out.
It seems I kept on ignoring that gut feeling, the feeling that said that he didn’t love me and that he was holding back lies. It was something about the hesitation. Of course, he lived halfway across the country and long distance relationships could be a strain, but there was more distance there than I could ever impinge. My intuition was telling me so, I just wasn’t prepared to face reality.
In our generation many women couldn’t handle a man that had some sexually fluid experiences in the past. They would automatically take it as a sign of weakness and check the man off the list with a quickness, but I’ve always been different, trusting to a fault and this was about to make the biggest example out of me.
We never had a wedding. We just made everything official and I rode halfway across the country to meet him after months of being away from each other. When we got in arms reach that’s what it literally was! Arms reach! He hugged for what seemed like hours and never reached down to kiss me and I thought well. Maybe a hug is sacred enough. On our wedding night, he was too tired to touch me. I tried to give him a massage; too tired to do that either.
As the months passed I thought maybe I wasn’t a good wife. Many times, when I’d try to initiate anything he’d scream at me that I was sex-crazed and that’s all I thought about. He was a business manager and spent much of his day and night busiest himself and most time would just retreat downstairs to sleep on the couch. Sometimes I’d sneak down there with him and sleep right at his feet just to be near him.
He was a bit older than me and whenever he’d see another man even joke with me or smile, he’d get insecure and tail on me for hours later that night. I wondered, “If you don’t want me than nobody else can give me any attention?” My periods began to feel like miscarriages, blood soaked through my clothes and I felt like I was dying. Something was wrong and stress was the only culprit.
I was heart-broken and I didn’t even touch myself. I’d start bawling because I didn’t even love myself anymore. Here I was was halfway across the country with a man who didn’t even love me. I gave up a flourishing job, house and car to be with my husband who barely even kissed me good night. I had to ask, it was very rushed, affection-less.
I began, determined to figure out and after a few months I found a secret Twitter full of gay friends and with a very suspicious direct message, from a guy, flirtatious even. I thought, “How could be do this to me!” But, because I thought when he came back home from out of town I might kill him, I had to bury it deep. So deep that for some reason that I greeted him with a smile and dinner the next time I saw him.
Tony, I’ll call him, was tall and slender, light-brown skinned and handsome. I had remembered him always complaining about his knees and it never occurred to me why until a friend told me years ago that it resulted from years of being on them. Everything started clicking, but I let it go. Just to lay in the bed with him and smell his cologne; I would breathe it in and think, “One day he’ll snap out of it and make love to me.”
One day ran into the next until almost a year passed and Tony jumped in the shower before work. He left his phone this time which he rarely ever did and I glanced to see that he locked it—what he had just started to do.
The screen lit up briefly with a message that read, “I really miss you,” and my mind started racing. I knew I didn’t have long, but I quickly replied.
“How long has this been going on? Do you know that he is married with children?” I hated myself in that moment because I then found out that he wasn’t lying to just me.
“I’m so sorry! I had no idea!” The screen quickly went dark and I copied the number down. I was determined to see if I could get any more information to bring peace of mind, because I was feeling homicidal.
Tony walked in, slowly donning a white tee and basketball shorts. I loved to fold his white tees and shorts, but they looked strange on him in that moment. I was folding a basket of shirts and I wanted to throw them at him.
I asked “Who is Ramirez?” I’m with a most terrible look on my face. He smoothly said, “Oh! Just an old coworker from MetalMart.
“Really! You're going to lie to my face?” I snarled right above a whisper.
“Call him and tell him it’s over!” I demanded. I couldn’t even look at him and I replay this scene over and over in my mind. I should have bolted out of the room and never looked back.
But, I stayed for another few months before I finally got the divorce. He was my weakness and he played the victim over and over. Even after we agreed to try to work it out I knew that I never wanted him to touch me. He was living a lie and if I didn’t leave, the resentment would take me over.
I think of how many women are married to a man who is on the down low and is so afraid to come out that they live a lie. I loved Tony so much that I could no longer live it with him. I loved him unconditionally. He just didn’t love me.
Everyone should be free to be who they are and not have fear of being shamed. Why do we live in a world that would make someone lie about who they love?
After the divorce, he came out. All during the marriage I’d stay up many nights pouring life into Tony because a lot of times I knew for certain he was almost suicidal and he didn’t have any true friends that knew he was gay.
I still love him and maybe there’s a reason why I’d binge-watch Will and Grace as a little girl.
Tony. Wherever you are, I’ll always have a place in my heart for you. I’m happy you finally decided to live your truth.