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I Matter

Single isn’t a curse. Now, I put my life first — and you should too!

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

As I’ve ventured out in the world and learn a few lessons or two, there’s one particular inspiration I’d like to pass on to other women . . .

YOU MATTER!

Abuse from a significant other is serious and it comes in a lot of forms. Domestic violence is a punishable crime and when in doubt it’s best to get out. Love yourself first!

Allow me to share a reflextion of a time when my life was more complicated — all because I didn’t love myself more . . .

I heard his keys rattling in the doorknob before my fiance walked through the front door. He’d been out all day and night in my car, doing God knows what. It was midnight when he came back home.

I pulled back the covers and stepped out of bed. I wanted to question him about where he’d been, but I knew that would start a fight. My plan was to take it easy on him. I let out a deep breath before opening the bedroom door and stepping into the living room.

“Hello.” I replied, plainly.

He said nothing to me. Instead, he moved over to the love sofa and plopped down on it as if he’d had a long day.

I remembered how much I had to stay on him about finding a job in order for him to contribute to something in the household. I had to drag him to the furniture store and force him to rent that sofa where he was sitting. Once he got a job he wasn’t interested in keeping it. He said they worked him too hard. So instead of keeping it, he blamed me for losing it.

I worked at the shelter a few blocks down the way on a secluded street. The job paid the bare minimum of eight dollars an hour. I mostly had to make sure there was nothing too crazy going on in there. I had to do the intakes, interfere in catty arguments, and clean up after grown-ups and their kids. However, the job was challenging in other ways. It was hard to listen to the stories and see the faces of women who were mistreated and abused.

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

My fiance and I had moved to Grants, New Mexico where his parents lived and he’d tried to convince me that life would be easier for us living here. I’d pack up everything I could easily maneuver and moved into a motel with him until I could get us an apartment.

The town was so small that it had once been a train station. The culture in New Mexico was also new to me. There were only about three percent of black people who lived in the state. The population consisted of mostly Native Americans, Mexican Americans and white people.

With the money I earned from working at the shelter, I’d moved us into the apartments next door to the motel where we lived in a crystal meth complex. Our next-door neighbor was one of the biggest users. My boyfriend would talk to him anytime he was outside smoking a cigarette.

We’d been together four years already and I began to believe that our first two years were as good as it would ever be. It didn’t seem like our love was growing any stronger. We weren’t moving any closer to any kind of engagement and we couldn’t afford another mouth to feed either. We couldn’t even equally take care of each other and I was miserable.

“Where you been all day?” I questioned him.

“The store.” He replied.

“Did you bring me back anything?” I asked him.

“No!” he shouted. “I don’t give a damn about you!”

Immediately, I spun around, heated in the moment. Part of me wanted to go back into the bedroom, yet the anger inside of me had to be released. I was so sick of him disrespecting me. I’d had it! I pushed the 50-inch television off the TV stand onto the floor and it hit the coffee table. He’d only gotten that television through a loan.

Photo by Reafon Gates from Pexels

He jumped up from his seat and snatched me by my t-shirt. He was livid. He swung me around toward the longer couch and body slammed me onto it. He used his forearm to hold me down by my neck and he put half of his upper body weight on me. I couldn’t breath. I began flailing and kicking because I couldn’t breathe, let alone lift myself from the couch. I was fighting for MY LIFE and it was a hell of a fight because I was using up all of my energy without gaining any oxygen. I couldn’t move my neck or my upper torso, but I could move my arms and legs fairly well. I lifted my legs to kicked him everywhere they could reach. I scratched up his face and slapped it as hard as I could.

After nearly three minutes, he finally raised off of me on his own. I quickly gasped for air and sat up straight on the couch. He lay on the ground almost as out of breath as I was. We only looked at each other without words. He looked like a nightmare. I’d tore open his hot pink face with deep scratches that were beginning to swell. He suddenly jumped up and ran out the front door. I could hear him banging on the neighbor’s door. I sat on the couch, still trying to catch my breath. I was stuck in the moment and my mind began to boggle me down.

I knew I should’ve never let the situation get out of hand. I should’ve already left him. Yet, whenever I tried he’d beg me to get back with him. That also meant he’d stalk me whenever he felt the need. He’d continuously call me, he’d call my job and my mother, ask people I knew of my whereabouts, show up at where ever I moved, steal from me when he found me, and peg my social media accounts. It was to the point that I only stayed with him because it was harder to get out of the relationship and get any kind of protection after I escaped him. He’d purposely taken me away from everyone I knew and I’d followed along with him majority of the time. That was the only way to keep him from harassing me. He forced me to provide things for him such as housing and anything else I could provide with the little bit of money I had. I believed he pressure me to be with him, only so he could use me for his personal needs and livelihood.

Ten to fifteen minutes passed while I set alone in the living room. I heard them coming up the apartment stairs. Then I heard him outside telling his side of the story and giving them this whole spiel about how his father is white and he’s a preacher.

“It doesn’t matter!” I heard the police officer yell at him. “You’re still black!”

I remained on the couch, quietly trying to gather the thoughts that were racing through my head. I was trying to keep calm about what’d just happened.

Two police officers entered the living room.

“What happened?” one of them asked me.

“He choked me.” I told them.

“If he would’ve done that, you’d have red marks all over your neck.” The same one explained.

“You’re under arrest for domestic violence.” The other policemen replied, as he made his way over to me.

I got up out of my seat and hurried over to the kitchen counter to grab my car keys. I asked the police if I could grab my purse in the bedroom and they told me ‘no’ while they hand cuffed me. They said I had to take it up in small claims court.

They escorted me out of the apartment while he smirked at me on my way out the door. I watched the red and blue turret lights on the top of the police car and I thought about the value of my own life as I was escorted down the stairs. I thought about how much my life mattered and what it would be like if this pattern continued. Black lives matter wasn’t just about men getting shot. My problems with society were often ignored and I knew the world thought I was to blame for most of the injustice I endured. I wasn’t getting shot, but I was definitely getting disrespected and abused. Any other time, I was only an object for a man’s sexual pleasures.

MY LIFE MATTERS TOO

Yet and still, I was dismissed and made to believe I wasn’t good enough. A culture without respect seemed to be progressing by the generations. I wasn’t willing to be anybody’s bitch or whore (like they call us in the rap songs) in hopes that I would try so hard to gain respect and validation. MY LIFE MATTERS TOO and I wasn’t about to lose it to someone who had more power than me. That’s why I was willing to fight for it.

Photo by Mateus Souza from Pexels

How much worth do you honestly have, if your value is placed underneath others?

It seemed that I was furthest away from the idea of the American dream than anybody. I thought about what it meant to be inferior or a subordinate, only secondary to a man. I didn’t think I was worth very much as a black woman, especially because I’d rather fight back than cry and beg for my life. I shouldn’t have to feel inferior to anyone! I had the right to live without oppression. After that night, I wondered if my perception would change. Would I be wrong to start placing myself first and loving myself more than anyone ever loved me? It took a while, but I began to learn that I need to matter to me most of all.

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