His name was Edward, and he was a young successful professional.
I’d known him for years, even when he was pursuing his degree, but now he was grown, mid-thirties, single, handsome…
And he pursued me.
He pursued me when I was married.
He pursued me when I was separated.
And he pursued me when I was divorced.
Because he wanted.
He didn’t want ::me::.
He would send messages.
I would say no.
He would send photos.
And I would tap, “delete”.
Even though I was lonely.
When I was married,
When I was separated,
And when I was divorced.
~ ~ ~
His name was Abel.
He was my age.
I saw him often at work, and he asked me out.
He had almond-shaped eyes, the color of honey when you hold a jar of the sweetness up to the sunlight.
His mouth, perfectly shaped.
Rounded shoulders – broad.
He was taller than I was, but just enough,
And he wanted.
“I’m talking to somebody, searching things out.”, I told him.
“Oh? When was the last time you two went out?”, he wanted to know.
“It’s been a couple of months. Our schedules are crazy.”
He scoffed. “Girl, you’re available. You just don’t know it.”, and I felt like a woman running a marathon who’d just been tripped.
My hands felt scraped,
My knees felt bloody,
I could see, in my imagination, dirt and grass embedded in my previously pristine perspective.
It took me a minute to recover and I thought, “This is how Eve felt when the serpent whispered, “Are you sure….?””.
And that’s how it began.
Though this one tested my values and resolve.
I did not know it at the time, but I was facing a trial.
There was temptation, for he was handsome, and often near me.
If we worked in different areas of the building, he’d come find me. Talk about my hair, my appearance…
There was reluctance, for I had my focus on a more beautiful soul, whom I was beginning to miss more and more.
And then there was irritation mixed with flattery, for he was relentless in his pursuit – but it wore a disguise.
It was really a subtle attack.
Abel did not hesitate to speak about the man I cared for, whom he’d never met.
He didn’t hesitate to judge, even while inviting me into a physically fulfilling “relationship” with himself.
“Why would you deny yourself the attention of one man who apparently wants you, only to wait for someone whose heart is not necessarily yours?”
But I knew the answer.
He would regularly ask me, “Have you seen him, yet?”, and I would say no.
He would shake his head.
“Why do you turn me down for someone who is probably seeing someone else by now?”
“He ain’t into you.”
I would respond, “If you knew him you would understand. He is not a common man.”.
But I began to doubt myself.
My appeal, my desirability, other things.
Abel was manipulative and assertive.
There were promises to fulfill the longings of a healthy woman.
“Girl, you know I’d take care of you.
You wouldn’t go days without being kissed…”.
But I don’t live for temporal pleasure.
And I’m not made of the ingredients that allow me to date one man while I love another.
I just couldn’t be with Abel.
I didn’t want a man like that.
I wanted the good man.
The man whose soul was full of magical mystical wonders, whose heart was made of fidelity and honor.
I wanted the man who lived to fortify the things that matter most in this big world and in his smaller personal one.
While Abel pulled at legitimate needs to be held by strong arms, (for single women are deprived of human contact) he would insult me.
He placed my “old-fashioned values” and my devotion to a good man in his own narrow-minded category that he labeled, “The Wrong Choice”.
After many weeks, he left me alone and I was glad.
But he was angry.
His demeanor became hard and cold, rivaling the warm sensuality with which he used to approach me.
The stark contrast was a shock.
It shocked me like it would shock one’s nervous system if they walked out of a sauna and fell directly into a snowbank.
But I was glad to be exposed to it.
It showed me how he would “punish” a girl in a relationship with him if he didn’t get his way,
and that confirmed my intuition regarding his character.
I passed the test.
~ ~ ~
He also worked with me.
I saw him every day.
He and I are eleven years apart.
He is older. Wiser. Nice smile.
And again with the broad shoulders.
(I am beginning to think I might have a thing for shoulders.)
One Monday he asked me what I did the day before.
“Oh, nothing. I stayed at home.”
He said, “Well, how about the next time you’re doing nothing, and I’m doing nothing, we both find something to do together?”
I blushed and put my head down.
He continued, “Why don’t you think about that and tell me what you think?”
I was flattered but had no answer.
Students were around.
I walked away with them.
After a couple of conversations that took place over a month’s time, I learned that when a man makes a suggestion like that, he isn’t necessarily thinking about the same thing as you.
I thought, “The museum. The movies. The new Aquarium. It would be nice to have someone to see those things with.”
He thought, “Sex.”
Devon wanted an exclusive relationship and he wanted physical intimacy to begin immediately.
I can’t do that.
I tell him,
“We are practically strangers, Devon. You know very little about me. You don’t know my children’s names, you don’t even know my middle name.
I’m not the kind of person that lives that way.
But we can be friends.
Friends is good.”
He wouldn’t have it.
“Why not take this thing and run with it?
Why not give us a chance?”
– Now he’s freaking me out. There is no “us”.-
He’s not thrilled.
~ ~ ~
These incidents taught me many things.
Here is one.
I’ve learned that women in our society surrender their bodies before men win their hearts and men have come to expect these actions so much, that when a woman says no, some can respond in anger – as if they’re being wrongfully deprived of something that already belongs to them –
like access to a public drinking fountain.
I do not condemn the men judgmentally.
I do not condemn the women.
How could I?
I understand hunger.
I understand thirst.
I understand weeks, months, even years, of being deprived of basic touch.
People need to be held.
In my case, my body was mistreated by other men in years past, so it is easy for me to ignore its wailing while I nurture and protect what I deem valuable.
I choose to wait.
It doesn’t mean I don’t wish things were different.
It certainly doesn’t mean that it is easy.
It just means I can only yield when love for a noble man resides deeply my heart.
It would be a betrayal, a self-betrayal, to allow any other entity access to what is mine and mine alone, to protect and to give – as a gift – to the man who has proven himself trustworthy of what God himself designed as the means through which two people become the most intimate of partners while they walk in His will on this planet.
The young man who comes and goes like the seasons,
The man who is my age who now loathes me,
And the older man who ignores my need for respect while pressuring me to meet his need for physical attention,
all three men have things in common.
Intelligence of varying degrees.
Promises of temporal fulfillment.
Inability to respect.
And unfair expectations.
I lie down at night
Feeling solitude in powerful ways,
Longing for a long masculine frame to lie next to mine and radiate body heat while I listen to the slow rhythmic breathing of slumber.
I think of the good man and wonder how he’s doing.
A voice that is not a voice silently whispers a suggestion.
“Just one phone call, honey.
Just one phone call, and one of those men would satisfy your every desire.”
And a tear slides down the side of my face, followed by another, and another as my heart breaks within me.
No they wouldn’t.
They wouldn’t satisfy my desire to be respected,
and they wouldn’t satisfy the desire in me to trust,
and they wouldn’t satisfy my desire to be loved for my soul before my skills in the bedroom were discovered.
They wouldn’t truly love me.
They only want to use me.”
“A woman of strength and honor does not yield to men she does not love,
Just because the man she waits for is not present.”
I choose to be true to my soul.
I choose to be good to my heart.
I choose to be good to my body,
even though my body continues to disagree.
Then I sleep.
For it is over.
Another battle waged and won.
Another skirmish is behind me.
Another struggle for integrity,
and it didn’t slip out of my grasp.
I was good to my body,
I was good to my self.
I had choices to make.
And I chose wisely.
I can rest.
I am at peace.
I did not fail.
I was true to me.