By MICHELLE BOND
Many years ago, I met a man who seemed normal, but was actually the devil. Well, not literally the devil. He was more like the guy the devil would turn to when he needed to be amused or inspired. This escaped me when we met and I fell in love with him. I thought, Yes! This is who I wish to create a child with.
I should have seen the red flags—there were plenty. I can see them clearly now, but the thing about red flags is that they wave quietly, like a soft whisper. Red flags should come with loud horns or a Justin Bieber CD—you know, something that makes the soul shudder and ache. But no, they just wave back and forth like a gentle tropical breeze, caressing the illusion of happy and cloaking poor judgment.
When I was pregnant, my son’s DNA provider promised me that he would stop being verbally and physically abusive. I should have known he was lying when he also promised me world peace and a moon-walking Unicorn. Domestic abusers don’t stop the violence because their women are pregnan; in all-too-many cases, they increase it. But I believed every word he said. It was easier to believe and accept this fantasy instead of facing the life I had created for myself.
I clung to denial as if it were my security blanket and avoided reality during my entire pregnancy. He was the local Karaoke King, and charmed both men and women each night. They figured since he had a sweet and sensational voice that meant he had a soul. In public we looked like any other couple. It was easy; we both had our scripts and knew our lines well. His role was to play the devoted soon-to-be father, doting over me and my every need, collecting kudos and pats on the back from his karaoke fans. My role was to smile and nod and pretend that the person on the stage was the same person I was going home with. There was no need to explain any scratches or bruises as they were well hidden. He knew how to land his fists and I knew how to dress accordingly.
The day my son was born I said that I wanted to stay with my mom for a few days, as I knew nothing at all about taking care of a newborn infant. This was enough to create an explosion in the hospital. Yelling at me through grinding teeth, he repeatedly hit my arm where the IV went in. Needless to say, when my son and I left the hospital, we went to our apartment and not my parent’s home.
I spent the first night with my new baby alone, with no one to help me and with no food in the house. The proud father spent the night out collecting “congratulations” from his Karaoke fans.
I fear that my inability to forgive him is because I do not forgive myself. While I love my son with the totality of my heart, I know deep down that this man should not have been my son’s father. I feel such shame for inviting this monster into my life.
My son should be here. His life has purpose. But I regret allowing this man the platform to say the word “father.” Every time he does, the word should slide down his throat like a razor.
My boyfriend who has been my best friend for close to 17 years was listening to me vent one day. Instead of joining me in my hate-fest, he told me that I need to forgive this bama. He told me, “The hate that you have for this person is not hurting or affecting him, as he has moved on with his life.” And the more hate you have only binds your own love. It holds you back from being who you are trying to be.
Love always seems to be the answer. I know that had this man at any point been there for my son, I would’ve had the strength to stop poking needles in my DNA-Voodoo Doll. I remember telling him, “Don’t worry about the child support. Do what you can. Just be there for the baby.” He chose to provide neither child support nor presence for my son. He chose to not be a man. Love, huh?
As I write this, I am reminded of this quote: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.” — The Buddha
I am hopeful that one day I’ll write a follow up article to share the wonders and power of love. But for today, I will embrace the hot coal and endure the pain.
Michelle Bond is a writer. A mother. A Flower Child. All of these things… not necessarily in that order. She’s written for Today’s Black Woman and regional publications. Visit her at CoffeeBreakDMV.