Strength From Pain

Stereotypically speaking, I shouldn’t be who I am. A friend of mine told me this weekend I had all the makings of a THOT: Teen Mom, absentee Dad, a love for Baltimore Club Hits that include the word “freak” and some other vulgarities.

But I’m not a stereotype. Not in that way at least. Last week, I went to support some kids in a poetry show for a program I used to work for. A friend of mine joined me. We had a great time and were both touched by the poem based on the Daddy Issues of a 6th grader.

We talked during the reception, to former colleagues and people we never met. At the end of the night one of those former colleagues walked us to my car before heading to his own. When I dropped my friend off to the train station she referenced this colleague and said “You’re a better woman than I am. After the relationship yall had, I don’t see how you can be so platonic with him.” I simply responded. “That was four years ago.”

Remember when I said I wasn’t a stereotype?

Well, according to an article by The Atlantic the CDC reports the average age Americans lose their virginities is at age 17. I was among that 12.3% of women still a virgin between ages 20 and 24. That is until I met this colleague. I’ve written about that experience before on Dealing With Daddy Issues as well as Sex and the Sisters, but never really about how I got past it.


For some reason my friends, and people who only know me on the surface seem to see me as some kind of Wonder Woman. Seriously, I just got off the phone with a woman who straight out her face told me “I’ve heard your story and how you get things done. You have this courage and tenacity. Not like some folk who just always second guess themselves.” In my head I had to ask what story of mine she had heard and was I the one telling it?

I truly think people underestimate how many times I look in the mirror and think “I CAN’T DO THIS” And that was the second person today alone! Earlier, a woman I was meeting for the first time I said “You’re the type of person who likes to finish what they start.” If only she had seen me crying last Saturday when I realized how close I was to finishing Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes because I wasn’t ready for it to end. I don’t know what they see that I don’t, but I do know, that in the case of my former colleague and our situationship, I found the strength to walk away because it felt familiar to me.

Before being intimate with this individual, literally, like hours before, I old another young lady “I couldn’t do it.” Insinuating my lack of ability to “CAN” when it came to his flirtatious behavior and air of arrogance. Afterward though I felt I had gotten to know him differently, and I liked being up under him, not sexually just in proximity.

I’m a person who likes puzzles and patterns. I was the kid who used to skip through Hudson Mall ONLY on the gray tiles. I’ve grown to notice patterns much sooner than those around me, and sooner than I was prepared for, my interactions with him, my former colleague, replicated a pattern I had experienced before.


It was like my relationship with Buddha right before my teenage years. It felt good, then it felt lonely. I never quite knew where I fit in. Like Buddha, he seemed comfortable with how things were, but I had never been one to enjoy not knowing, not understanding. And one day I woke up realizing I had been holding on to empty words, unsupported by his actions. I was that 12-year-old girl waiting on the steps for Buddha to come pick me up for the weekend. Being simultaneously NUMB and disappointed that this anticipation yielded the same results.

The good news was it had only been about six weeks of my life with this former colleague as opposed to 12 years of disappointment from Buddha. I learned how to get up from the table when love is no longer being served, for breakfast, instead of waiting to see if the menu would change by lunch.

I still have feelings for that former colleague, not all negative ones either. I just learned how to be strong enough to enjoy his company without subjecting myself to the pain of loving him.


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