It was 2013. I watched my friends fall in love and thrive in their happy relationships, and pretended that my situation was the same. However, I was in a soul-sucking, toxic relationship.
I met him in 2009 while he lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico and I in Philadelphia. We clicked on a platonic level; he quickly became my best friend. At the time, he had a newborn daughter and his sister had just been killed in a car accident. Soon after he landed in prison. Still, I wanted to be there for him and continued to correspond with him via letters and collect calls from prison.
A year after forming a friendship and keeping in contact, I went through a breakup. My best friend then admitted that he had been in love with me since the day we met. “I would never hurt you if you were mine,” he reassured. But I didn’t have feelings for him. Persistent, he asked for a chance. Should I? I thought. Wait, WTF am I thinking? I hesitated. Here I am, a successful and independent woman and I am considering trading in my freedom for someone who belongs to the NMDOC.
Yes, I took the plunge. After all, he was my best friend and he would never hurt me.
Within six months, there were red flags everywhere.
- Exhibit A. His baby mama posted on Facebook that she was making dinner with her “mother in law,” as in, his mom! I realized that I had never met or talked to anyone in his family, ever.
- Exhibit B. He began asking for money for his commissary. He always needed something, and we know what that means: opportunist!
- Exhibit C. Every time I wanted to visit him, he had an excuse as to why I couldn’t come.
- And some more! He made me feel like I was insecure and insane. He always uttered the perfect lines. Everything that was wrong in our relationship was my fault, and I felt like I went the extra mile to prove I loved him.
The final breaking point arrived two years into our relationship. He had a conjugal visit with the mother of his child – the woman he claimed he never spoke to. I literally broke down and lost my mind. I cried for a week straight. Here I am walking around with this guy’s name tattooed on my wrist and his “street” name on my ring finger, and our relationship was a lie. FUCK!
Did I leave him? Of course not. I wanted to believe that the man who had my back through thick and thin had not betrayed me. He had wiped every tear and made me laugh through my dating woes when we were just friends. I loved him. We built a foundation, I thought. Our relationship had to be real! Now I know he was just manipulating me.
This story is hard to tell; it’s embarrassing. Now, after a few years, two tattoo cover ups and a lot of self-reflection, I realize he was never my friend. I also have to take accountability. I saw the signs, yet I ignored them. I was actually addicted to the drama – the highs and lows that came with this intense relationship. I loved being his ride or die, like I was a character from Straight Out of Compton.
Yes, he was a predator waiting for the right time to jump on his prey, but in a warped way I loved the toxicity of it all.