My son Xavier always did like the blues. Over a week ago, he wrote a song one night, and these words greeted me on my computer monitor the following morning:
"You shouldn't leave the one you love,
for the one you like..."
I suspected a breakup was gonna go down a few days earlier. That's when his girlfriend told me on the phone that her baby's daddy was trying to do right. He got out of jail a few weeks ago and already got a job through a relative. He gave her a deadline of Sunday to make up her mind - to choose him or Xavier. He offered marriage in the future as a carrot on the stick.
"Whatcha gonna do?", I asked her.
"I'm thinking about it," she said.
No she wasn't, or she wouldn't have told me. She already made up her mind, although I'm not certain she was fully conscious of this.
When you really love someone, staying with them should be a no brainer. When you're desperately looking for security, you weigh the pros and cons.
I didn't say this to her, nor mention our conversation to him. They'd figure it out on their own without my meddling. For the sake of his sanity, I did advise her how to break the news to her if she decided to cut him loose:
"Don't make it personal," I said. "Tell him you're thinking of your baby's security. If you tell some shit that you've decided you love your ex the most, he'll go insane. Trust me, it's not a pretty sight and you don't wanna go there."
Like many young women, she'd already had a taste of this in her previous relationships, and from her baby's daddy who called her at least a dozen times a day when he got out of jail a few weeks ago. Each time he was begging for another chance.
I understand that. I'll call him Angelo, and he had been locked up for about a year and a half on a convenience store robbery. Luckily, at 17, he had still been a juvie when busted or he'd have gotten more time. It helped that he had been sitting in the car rather than a more active participant when his dumb-azzed friend got that idea.
Angelo is 19 now. They're all 19 - a number which is indivisible by nothing except one. One, as in me only, me first, or as in, the loneliest number.
I hate prime numbers, and I was crazy as shit too at that age. I wonder if it's something about it that it's a bridge to adulthood, but you still have a lot childlike ways in how you think. These ways lends itself to fucking you up royally as an adult. Makes sense, since the brain isn't fully developed until age 21. No wonder folks weren't considered grown until 21 when I was coming along.
Xavier spent all day that Friday with her and came home very late. He had an I'm so chill vibe and a big-azz hickey on his neck. Gave me a big hug and smiled as he walked to his room.
Hmmm, I thought, maybe she chose him.
Nope. He didn't realize he'd had one of those I'll fuck you good one last time dates.
On the Saturday before last, I heard the quiet whispering on the phone when she began breaking the news to him. He didn't tell me, but I could tell since he moped for the rest of the weekend.
I thought he was taking it well until I read these words:
Ma I'm so sorry I didn't mean to be mean
but I think death would be easy for me
I hope you understand I know you had plans
For me becoming a man
Don't be sad my fucking ex won't care when I'm gone
I don't see no point in going on.
I hate suicide letters. Xavier has never handled rejection well, from his early traumas of being bounced around in foster care to his previous two love relationships gone bad.
I ran into his room. He lay still in his bed. I walked over to him and touched his back, feeling relieved that it was warm, and more relieved when woke up suddenly and gave me his evil why the fuck you wake me up? look.
"I was just checking you're still alive. I read your song."
His face showed he suddenly remembered his night of untold misery. His head dropped back down on his pillow. He closed his eyes to close off the day. I patted him on his back and left, satisfied that at least for now, he fought off the demons of rejection and suicidality.
I swear, if you're young and think it's a bitch to get ditched, wait until you see it happen in your teenagers and young adult children.
Xavier was lucky it happened early in their relationship rather than later, although I won't be telling him this no time soon. What if she waited a year or so and then traded him up for man who can be good provider for her? Realistically, unless he does a little more leg work to get a skill and a good job, he has a long way to go before he can provide for himself, much less a family.
And by the way, thanks to my readers who gave a number of good suggestions and leads for him. Once place gave him a second interview.
Last week, I was feelin' for his ex-girl, Stephanie, too.
I've been around the block enough times to figure her baby's daddy is into a dick competition with my son, and that once she returns to him, he might return to his old track record of taking her for granted and do her wrong again.
This would be too bad, because that baby needs a father - preferably his own - and she needs a they lived happily ever after ending, but had a bad feeling about this. I genuinely like her and understand what it's like to be dirt poor with a seven month old child and a dismal future.
Choosing security over love is the logical thing to do, especially when the heart comes in second due to economic necessity. Damn but relationships can be so hard.
I'm wanting to die
'cause you said I didn't try
I wasn't enough
'cause I don't have all the stuff
Xavier is partly wrong. He is 'enough' as a human being, and I know their lovin' was good because I can hear all the fun and noise and their earth move when I sit in my the living room on many a day and night. Their chasing each other around, their laughter, oohs and ahhs remind me of my own youth. I could tell she really loved him whenever they were together, but her fear of endless poverty made her talk herself out of love.
I ain't mad at her. I understand.
How can I face her
My heart is gone
I fucked up being me
I see no point in going on
I've wondered if three love losses in row will leave him bitter and heartless, which is suggested in his lyrics, my heart is gone. This is always a danger when love fails us. I think he is unconscious of this possibility.
Whose Gonna Save My Soul, by Gnarls Barkley, is an awesome music video and probably the best I've ever seen of what people go through psychologically and emotionally when dumped. I bookmarked it twice on YouTube but they keep deleting it. If you can find this unique vid, it's worth a look.
Lately I've been entertaining the idea that the old ways may have been correct: couples - both the males and females - should remain virgins until marriage, and marry young, before they get jaded.
Of course, we can't turn back the clock. Our entire, materialistic, hedonistic society is jaded, and our hearts are casualties of it. Some of us do find love - often at the most inconvenient times - and the ones who keep it do so because they are decisive enough to grab onto it when they get it.
Xavier laid in bed quietly for three days straight. Nigga wasn't even getting up to answer the phone or go out and hit a jay. I checked on him every six hours to make sure he wasn't dead, and in the evenings, bring him a meal.
The old saying, don't fall on your sword, applies here. His sister Casie and I hid his daggers from his former gangbang days so he won't turn one on himself.
Some of you may wonder why I tolerate them in my home. He's one of those hyper-masculine males who loves weapons. Taking away his is like taking dinner away from a tiger - you get clawed every time. Been through it, and he only buys more.
"Kick him out," some of you say.
I couldn't do that in good conscience. Desperate people do desperate things. Don't evah forget that. You cannot throw a young male on a street with nowhere to go and not expect shit to happen. He'd be broke and return to the Bloods. Drug deals and robberies, if it got that bad, go bad all the time, and if someone got hurt or killed, I couldn't live with the blood of the innocent of my hands. Nor do I want to see his young azz locked up for 5 to 20 or life.
Parents kick out their kids to the street all the time. There is good tough love, but much of the time, it's a parent saying fuck it in a socially irresponsible way while in the heat of anger, then they call it tough love to justify it.
We made a pact when he was 16 and 17. I'd keep is phallic symbols locked up - which is what knives, swords and missiles are, for most part -
- and he could take them out and play with them. When he was done, I'd put them away.
After he went through rehab the month he turned 18, followed by several months living in a half-way house in another city to cut ties with the menace to society homeboyz, he began to grow up. That was a good tough love example and for him, experience. He lived on his own awhile with the 2nd love of his life, and worked jobs when he could.
That affair crashed and burned his azz hard last year. My lil' man-child had shown some positive changes, but at the same time, he couldn't afford to live on his own and love had given him the blues, so I let him move back home. I don't regret it; maybe at 21 he'll be ready to leave the nest again.
I figured he'd settle down after all this, 'cause either God or the devil spared him too many times and must surely have a plan for him. He has enough good in him that I have to trust that it's the Creator who has allowed him to live on borrowed time, because by all accounts and medical records, Xavier should have died at birth.
Thus, I started leaving them out again, at least until ten days ago. He hasn't even noticed they're missing. That's a good sign.
When you began reading this article, you thought of hard rocks love as something adults go through. For many of us, it begins at birth. His did in foster care for the first three years of his life. Falling in love as a teenager rekindles early life feelings and memories that makes love harder.
My son was was frankly nuts during mid-adolescence, as some of you know from my previous articles. Thus, over the past few days, I worried he might might make a new lethal suicidal attempt like the he did when the past two serious love affairs bit the dust.
In the worst one, he plunged a three inch knife into his stomach in front of his girlfriend's house after she and his mother asked him to leave, that the affair was over. He was spared - it missed every vital organ. Now that's crazy as shit, but in some folks, when love equals life, then it's loss equals death.
He got baptized later, and yeah, that's him in the pic.
"I know I'm still gonna have problems," he said. "But something is different. I knew it when the preacher was talking to me before I got baptized. Satan was scared - I could feel it. He's still around, but he don't live in me no more."
Whether you believe in God or the devil, or simply good and evil, committing suicide is the one the greatest acts of evil a healthy person can do to themselves.
The problem is, when some of us lose love or whatever it is that we cherish, it doesn't appear this way. Suicide simply seems like an exit to unbearable emotional pain.
Statistically, women threaten suicide the most when love hits the rocks. Their method of choice is usually overdosing on a prescription or over the counter medication. Men, on the other hand, are most successful, and generally use the most lethal methods of doing it.
Last week, I asked Xavier if he needed to go to the hospital. He hasn't needed this is over two years, since he was 17.
"No," he answered. "I'm past all that. Just leave me be. I'll be okay."
I noticed that whenever I ran out to the store and returned, and checked the history of websites visited, sure enough, he was logging his MySpace and email. He didn't want to talk about it beyond leaving a hint of his feelings in the way of his song on the monitor.
I wondered how Stephanie was handling all this. She's a beautiful young woman of 19, full of life and with great potential, but torn between three males - her child's father, her lover Xavier, and her infant son.
Things changed last Wednesday morning. I checked on him before I ran out to the store, and he seemed okay. I couldn't have been gone for more than half an hour and when I returned, I assumed he was still in bed. Three hours later, there was a knock at the door.
She greeted me with a big smile and I hugged her. "I think he's asleep," I said.
"No I'm not," Xavier said. He stepped from the shadows of the hallway behind her, smiling. He snuck out while I was gone and had picked up from somewhere and brought her back. They came in.
"Are you two going together again?", I asked.
"Not exactly," she said. "I guess you could say we're friends with benefits."
Hmmm, I thought, now ain't that interesting. The minute Xavier left the room, I asked her what's up with her and her baby's daddy.
"I'm seeing Angelo too, but as a friend," she said. "Both of them are trying to drive me crazy and want to force me to into choosing between them. I'm going to take my time."
"Good luck with that," I said sincerely.
I imagine some of you might wonder why I ain't mad at her since one of the two young men she's playing is my son. Maybe it's because my parents interfered with my love life way too much when I was young, and the part is I spent so many years as a mental health professional that I think like one without even trying. Or maybe I've learned this bit of wisdom:
The water seeks it's own level.
We can always learn from nature. Water rises to a certain point and no higher. The storms of life or events that bring about drought may come and go, but the streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans in the real word or our hearts and minds recede back to where it's most comfortable.
Thus, grown folks have to make their own decisions about their values and lifestyle, for better or worse, when it comes to matters of the heart. This includes my son, his sorta girlfriend, and her baby's daddy.
Since Xavier hasn't made a suicide attempt over this Shakespearean drama of sorts, I give him the respect that his three days of grieving in bed, instead of actually trying to commit suicide as he pondered in his song, is a sign that he's growing up and seeking his level.
If he's willing to accept part of her pie instead of all it, who am to interfere? He will learn on his own if this arrangement works for him or not, and will decide accordingly.
I also give Stephanie the respect that she's trying to figure out what works for her. Her baby's father has tried to talk her out of her love and relationship with Xavier, and convince her that he loves her more.
He probably does love her, although given his pre-jail history of being sometimey, as I said, he may also be in an unconscious dick competition. This could be good for their relationship, because sometimes people appreciate a loved one more if they have to fight to win them over. There's a perversity in human nature that we don't appreciate that which comes to easily.
If she loves them both, now that's a bitch. Been there and done that myself. Maybe she's not sure if she really loves either. She shouldn't wait too long if she really wants either because she might end up losing both.
Case in point. She and Xavier were running around and making out like rabbits in love last Wednesday and she spent the night.
Things were quiet on Thursday night. Xavier didn't have a damn thing to do and she was gone again. On Friday evening, my nosey ass asked him if he plans.
"No," he said with disgust, "not yet."
"What about you and Stephanie? How y'all doing?"
He sucked his teeth. "Fuck her if she ain't got time for me. There plenty bitches out there who want to get with me. I ain't losing my damn mind over her."
Nigga did what most men do. Got his ass dressed and went out. I didn't see him again until Monday.
Meanwhile Stephanie did what the ladies often do: notice that the game works both ways. She may have been partying with Angelo on Friday, but she called Xavier on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. This tells me he wasn't answering her calls on his cell phone.
"Is Xavier home?"
"No," I'd say each time, "but I'll tell him you called."
Heh-heh. I love watching the drama when it ain't life and death. Xavier finally wandered home Monday night. He looked as happy as as successful tomcat.
"Where ya been?", I asked.
"Hanging out with Jamal."
I leaned back in my chair and smiled. My son and I read each other very well. He smiled back. We didn't need to say shit else about his weekend.
Jamal's a whore and a party animal. I know they had a good time, and I have no question that my otherwise loyal and monogamous son got his revenge on Stephanie by fucking around.
"Stephanie called a few times," I said casually.
He raised an eyebrow and smiled that I got that bitch just where a want her smile. I'm laughing now as I think about this.
Stephanie was back over the next day and stayed the night. They were running around, laughing and have a grand time.
Will their love survive? Who the fuck knows. They're 19.
As a therapist whose done individual and couples counseling, and as someone who occasionally listens to the blues, I can tell you they ain't no different than folks who get stuck in playing this game of choosing the one you like over the one you love, be they 19, 29, 31, 47 or 59.
Now you can hate prime numbers too.
Heh-heh. It's a metaphor. Get it?