If I’m being honest with myself, I know I’m no different than anyone else. And that means, I have baggage. We all go through circumstances in life that we sometimes can’t get over. Maybe it’s to keep the reminders of disappointment as warning signs as we sail from one relationship to the next. Either way, I’d be kidding myself to think anyone else wouldn’t have baggage. After all, I did say I’m not different than anyone else right? With that notion comes sacrifice. Just how much would one be willing to put up with when it comes to another man’s unresolved issues.
You guys remember Malcolm, right? I wrote about him again in the article called “Profiled While Dating”; if you want to know more about him (Click Here). In my 20s, he was the quintessential moth to my flame. He was everything I thought I needed and everything I wasn’t willing to sacrifice. He sold drugs and that was a hard reality for me at the time. There’s nothing alluring about that lifestyle—at all!
It was a night when the rain pounded against my window like bullets shattering glass. I called Malcolm for four times and the phone went straight to voicemail. I started to tremble in fear. He was making a run from Maryland and I knew he’d get pulled over. Driving 15 miles per hour over the speed limit in the pouring rain had become something he was foolishly good at. Then, there is a knock at the door. You’d think it was the cops coming to seek me out for interrogation. “Open the door, nigga!”, he yelled. As I unlocked each barrier, my heart exploded in throbbing syncopation with his. I could feel nerves on the other side of the door. He drags in a case and pops open the trunk. My heart sank. “How much?”, I ask. “150”, he replies. I had no idea how to respond. How do you tell a man to be something else other than what he knows to be? I couldn’t find the strength. It wasn’t because I didn’t know; it was because I accepted who I was with.
(one week later…)
After coming back from Aruba, I decided to stop by his place on the way home. It was a typical sunny, Spring day. All I needed to know is he was safe and sound. Indeed he was—just as handsome and home grown as I left him. “Say baby…you had a call from some nigga…I think his name was Rob.”, Malcolm advised. “Rob who?”, I responded. “I guess what we really need to talk about is how many ‘Robs’ do you know?” he chuckled. I replied in the most sarcastic tone I could, “I know just as many Robs as you know all the asses you’ve fucked.” We both laughed. He grabs me by the waist, brings me in, and kisses my neck. He was so romantic. Rob ended up being a friend of mine who was concerned he had not heard from me. He called my phone over 20 times because he was afraid I was in danger by association. “Nigga, you ain’t gone hear from him! Don’t call this phone again!” is what Malcolm exclaimed to Rob. Wait! Now, this possessive thing was new for me. In fact, his possessiveness was also the worst kind. After I found out about what Malcolm said to Rob, of course I inquired about it. But even more bizarre, I found it—funny. Why was I not prepared to deal with a secret and cunning maneuver of his attempt to undermine my access to friends? Yet I knew it was an unsafe relationship to be in. It was another warning sign I’d labeled as baggage. Everyone has baggage, right?
But let’s really call this what it was—desperation. Was I so desperate that I was willing to sacrifice my life, safety, or even freedom to help, rehab, or love a person to their highest potential? Was I not worth enough to examine and prioritize my own sanity? Nah. I wasn’t. Maybe because I saw those things as baggage, I wasn’t willing to escape from an unhealthy relationship. The funny thing is—on the outside looking in, everyone else can sometimes see things we aren’t prepared to deal with. Rob was my observer. Even the friends we have in our lives can be more than helpful at times. But through it all, I’ve learned a few things about the baggage we all bring into relationships. Sometimes, we will accept things about our partners that will put us in a precarious position. But if you love someone—truly love them—putting someone’s life at risk is not romantic. Nor is being possessive, insecure, jealous, or even not being supportive enough. We both failed each other as we both had no idea that although baggage is the weight we bring in a relationship, it isn’t supposed to stunt your growth. We both decided to break up shortly thereafter. But more importantly, the other lesson we learned is saying “I do” to the right partner’s baggage. And in order to say “I do” to the right person, sometimes requires setting yourself free in the process.