Reality Strikes

My heart sank.  A silent cold filled my chest.  I stopped breathing as it became clear that the purple blue smudge on David’s neck was a love bite.  I let my breath out slowly, I was not going to mention it; I hated conflict and fear of losing David sat quietly in my heart.

I’d met him in my first year of college.  Laughter rang out and my eyes turned to the sound, and, leaning against the silver glitter of a bike stand, was a cute brown skinned young man.  There was a slight dent in his cheek and the sun skipped off white and unusually straight teeth.  He had that twinkle in the eyes; I smiled. I wanted to be included in the warmth.

I turned to my friend Maxine. “Hey, Max, do you know him?”  “Yes,” she said, “but Denise I think he’s sleeping with a guy.  I’ve seen him with Tim and you know Tim!”  I knew Tim yes, but looking at David I decided he couldn’t be gay.

A few months later, David and I were an item.  I made it happen.  Like many college students, we were living together by the end of the year.  David’s personality reminded me of my mother; she and I rarely fought. David didn’t push me to be a “woman.”  He loved to cook; I hated it.  He was good with laundry and he allowed me to be a partner. For four years, we were inseparable.  I slept like a baby once David was wrapped behind me each night.  David was heading to medical school and I admired him.

One day on campus, I noticed a young man following David around the campus.  David was his tutor.  The guy was openly gay. Heat burned inside anytime he passed by.  I never showed it.

Some weeks later, there was the love bite.

I silently worried.  I forced myself into denial.  But, the inner conflict took its toll.  Yet, I continued planning a future with David.  By the time I moved to Philadelphia to join him as he attended medical school, my insides boiled with various degrees of jealousy, resentment and anger. Every sign of tiredness, forgetfulness or complacency was interpreted as his unhappiness.  As a way of avoiding the pain of what I assumed was rejection, I started dreaming of France.  I’d always loved languages and French was a favorite.  I wanted a way to leave without pain.

By the time Robert, another medical student, walked into my life, I was ready for attention.

I was unhappy.  Robert gave me all the attention I craved.  I became an addict.  He made me feel attractive.  Even though it was clear that Robert was a lady’s man, I was caught up in a feeling of wonderful lust.  I started comparing the two men.  David’s indifference lived like a hot brick in my chest.  I was convinced that he longed for what I could not give him.

After a few months, I felt I was bold enough to walk out and move on.  Emboldened by my unresolved suspicion and the inner turmoil I thought of as strength, I walked into the apartment one night, and without explanation, I told David that I’d found an apartment and I was moving.  I saw the shock on David’s face.  My pain relished it.  But, I was unprepared for my inner crash.

David’s tears and protests caught me unaware.  A love that once helped me breathe, tore at my heart like claws.  The face etched into my skin like a tattoo mirrored the pain in my mind, but fear of the future trumped.  I ran.

The first night alone was dark and sleepless.  An essential piece was missing.  I was an amputee.  My soul was in pieces.   My body screamed.   Insomnia crept into my life.  Each night I longed for the peaceful comfort of David’s arms.

As the nights passed, I sank lower into depression.




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