Not feeling loved will cause you to look for love in all the wrong places. Around the age of 15 ½, I got involved with a replica of my father – a fine, bow-legged, muscular quarterback of the football team. He was raised in the projects, had only one redeeming quality. He was charismatic – most thugs are, including my father. For the sake of this book, we will call him Christopher. I adored Christopher and hated him at the same time. He was a mean bastard, but he was great in bed. He was unfaithful, but I was determined that I would make him mine and mine alone. It was his sexual prowess that kept me coming back. I equated the sexual act to love as many girls do. But I think I took it too far. See, in my mind, I knew he was not the one for me. I knew that I deserved better, but if my momma could tolerate my dad in the name of “love,” then I could handle Christopher. He would grow to love me as much as I loved him. I mean, why wouldn’t he? I gave him all the sex a teenage boy could ever want. I fed him when he was hungry; I clothed him during the holidays. I was faithful and accommodating. Why not love me?

I spent two years wishing, hoping he would one day love me until that day after Christmas when I saw him at my best friends’ house bringing her gifts. That bastard had been sleeping with my best friend!! I have never felt so devalued in my life. To this day, I have not felt that kind of pain since. That day was not only bittersweet but eye-opening as well. Not eye-opening to the ratchetness that is Christopher, but eye-opening to the pain my dad put my mother through.

After seeing Christopher enter my best friends’ home, I went to my mom in tears. I sobbed like a newborn baby, and she held me as such. I could tell by her warmth and the strength of her hugs; she understood and has felt my pain. At that moment, I knew that she and I had to be more to each other than we had been previously. I was determined to make that happen. My dad, on the other hand, was not compassionate at all. He laughed his devilish laugh and said, “boys will be boys.” That short statement, those four little words, changed my entire outlook on who my father was. How could he be so callous with my heart? How could he be okay with someone breaking my heart?

The pain didn’t end with Christopher and my dad. It carried over into other parts of my family as well. See, Christopher was and still is my cousin’s best friend. So, when I learned that my cousin, and his family, knew of this deception, I was even more crushed. Why didn’t they tell me? How could they be friends with someone that would hurt me like this? Who can I trust in this world? Who can I share my life, thoughts, fears, and concerns with? Not family. But my earthly father, even in his ugliness, taught me that there was one person I could always depend on – God. So, I prayed. I cried. I prayed some more. I prayed for the pain to go away. I prayed that I wouldn’t have to see Christopher and that girl together. I asked why he was bringing her gifts and balloons and only gave me sexually transmitted diseases. Why me?

I spent my entire senior year of high school watching him “court” her from my den window, still wondering why he didn’t do those things for me—wondering why God hasn’t answered my prayer. Why hasn’t my heavenly father told me yes to happiness? Then, during the senior beach trip, Christopher discovered that my so-called best friend was cheating on him. Funny how the tables will turn. I was told that he was heartbroken, crushed, even devastated. “This is my chance to get him back,” I thought. So, being my desperate, stupid self, I offered myself to him to ease his pain. How desperate is that? I knew how it looked, but I couldn’t help myself. I was raised to keep trying even during humiliation and disrespect. I was taught that their needs meant more than my own. I was taught that I was not worthy.

I wasn’t taught this lesson only by my mother and father but my grandmother. See, my grandmother believed that the man’s wants came before everyone else’s. I remember Sunday dinners at my grandmother’s house, and her husband’s plate had to be fixed before anyone else’s. Once his plate was set, it was the boys, the kids, and lastly, the wives. I hated the feeling of them being superior to me, but that is all I knew. That’s what I was taught.

I danced the desperation dance with Christopher up until my junior year in college. I know you are probably thinking that I am some sort of new fool for dealing with this man-whore for so long, but I wasn’t as stupid as most people assumed. While I was away at college, I had my share of entanglements. I even fell in love with one of them, but Christopher was my first love, I lost my virginity to him, so it wasn’t easy to let him go. It wasn’t until Thomas came into my life that I could release myself from the hold that Christopher had on me.

Thomas was and still is a beautiful spirit. He was attentive, patient, he listened when I spoke, and he did not judge me. He loved me just as much as I loved him. For twenty weeks, Thomas and I were inseparable. We traveled together, ate together, and spent most nights having long, meaningful conversations. In November 1993, things took an awful turn with Thomas, and me and that turn changed my relationship with Christopher forever. The week of Thanksgiving, Thomas and I traveled to spend time with my family. It was a visit full of tension because my father did not like the thought of Thomas, much less his presence, so needless to say, my earthly father and I did not interact very much. Having Thomas with me made it easy to be home, easy to ignore my father, and harder to stay away from Christopher. See, Thomas was my unborn son by Christopher. Carrying him around inside me was my greatest joy at that point. As we traveled from Orangeburg to Spartanburg, I was able to tell Thomas about his family, both mine and Christopher’s. I was able to tell him my dreams, fears, hopes, and disappointments. He was not only my child but the only person that I could trust.

As I stated earlier, it was tough for me to stay away from Christopher with his son growing inside me. While I was home for the holiday, Christopher and I spent a lot of intimate time together. On Sunday, before I was to leave for school, I remember feeling ill while at Christopher’s house. I told him that I needed to leave to rest before getting on the road the following day. I went home, packed my suitcase, and went to bed. Around 1:00 am, my life was transformed forever. I went into labor at 20 weeks. I remember knocking on my parent’s bedroom door and telling my mother that I needed to go to the hospital. She asked my earthly father if he would get up and go with us. He said, “No.” My heart contracted with the pain of hearing that just as much as my abdomen was contracting with labor pains. While waiting for my mom to get ready, I called Christopher and told him that I was going to the hospital.