Stunted Growth, Rendered Flightless… For a Time

This is Part ONE of this story…

The day before I turned 18, I got my first tattoo. This really rough graffiti-like drawing my friend did of my name. I got it tatted on the right side of my stomach. No, I did not get my name tattooed onto my body in fear of one day forgetting it. But it is definitely a constant reminder of who I was, and who I always wanted to be– me.  Back then I was headstrong and outspoken; the leader of several organizations/clubs in school. I was actively involved in my church, I sang everywhere with different choirs, and my best friend all over the state of NY.  Guys referred to me as “church girl” and none of them were really knocking down my door to date me. Everyone knew me, and I had a lot of friends, but I think it was more because I was so involved with everything that it was kind of hard not to. I wasn’t the pretty girl that all of the guys wanted to date. I guess I was the friend of those girls, rolling in the same circles but doing my own thing. I knew who I was and the plans I had for my future. Get good grades in high school, attend an HBCU for undergrad and then move onto law school immediately. Be married by 25 and have my first child at 27. That was my plan. That’s who Tiffany was supposed to be.

Around the time I got my first tattoo I was involved with this guy. He took me to get it. Got me the hook up on the price and his boy let me get it even though I was one day shy of being 18. He was only a year older than me but he seemed SO “worldly” in my 17-year-old eyes. He knew everyone, knew famous people. And I think I just felt special that he would be so closely involved with me. He changed the way I dressed, my vocabulary gained several colloquial terms, and my truck gained several thousand miles in that first year of ownership from driving him and his friends all over the state of NY. One would think that he had me dick whipped, but contrary to what everyone thought, we were just friends. We weren’t having sex,. We weren’t kissing. None of that. But that boy definitely made me believe I loved him and I needed him and that if I wasn’t with him, no one else would want me. To him, I was ugly because I didn’t have light-skin, long hair and double D’s, but I was lucky because he loved me anyway. I was his “best friend”. When I was with him I started to lose myself, becoming who I thought he wanted me to be in order to be worthy of remaining in his circle. His friends became my friends and my friends started to look at me funny. I was still doing all of the activities I’d been involved with before meeting him, but every other second of my life became consumed with his life.

I remember one time I was in the mall with him, he was supposed to be helping me to find a pair of jeans or something… because in my mind I couldn’t even buy my own clothes without a stamp approval from him.  I needed to look cool enough. Back then I had a two-way pager (remember those?). I had a small Talkabout and he had a bigger Timeport (I think?) with a color screen. I was in the dressing room and my pager went off. I read the message and it’s from him. “ Yo Jay. Dame”, he always misspells the word damn, smh “I hate walking around with Tiff. She’s so ugly! We in the mall, people think she’s my girl and shit” My heart sank. I think I just stood there for a few minutes not knowing what to do. He obviously meant to send that to his friend and accidentally sent the message to me. I finally got myself together, holding in my tears, my heart racing. I left the jeans in the dressing room and walked out. I found him and just said “let’s go”. He says “What’s wrong? You not getting the jeans?”, “ nope. Let’s just go”.  “Yo what’s wrong with you??” Then I lost it!  Well “losing it” for me back then was much different for me then than it is now. I addressed him about the page in a hushed but angry voice. I’ve never been one for public scenes. He goes off on me! Imagine that! Trying to convince me that he knew he sent it to me, and that it was a joke. I’m not a complete fool! I wasn’t buying it. Really, as I reflect on this, I don’t know why I didn’t just leave him in the mall. I drove us there. I drove us everywhere!

Every day he would make sure to tell me how opposite of beautiful I was, but also that he loved me and I know I love him too. When I cut my hair he ridiculed it because he only liked long hair… pretty much the only thing I had going for me in his eyes.  Then we started having sex. Everyone already thought we were doing it, no matter how much I disputed it. I lost myself even more. I desperately wanted to keep him.  We did it everywhere. To this day when someone asks me where the wildest place I’ve ever had sex is, my top 3 answers are still experiences I had with him. ::shaking my head::

He would borrow my car while I was at school or at work. When he picked me up the tank would be on E and it would be obvious there had been girls in my car. One day he actually had the nerve to pick me up with the chicks (yes, plural) still in my car, and his friend in the back seat with them. I noticed he was talking in vague language. Somewhere during the car ride, it became apparent to me that one of the girls was his newest “girl friend”… and she fit his description of his “type”. Why didn’t I say anything? I just shut up and sat up front listening to their light back and forth banter as he drove the 5 of us in MY car to take them home.  I have no idea why I let him disrespect me so much. Maybe I thought no one else wanted me anyway, so this is what I had to do.

I was giving him money. Sometimes he would pay me back, but usually he wouldn’t. He used to throw parties and I used to help him with that, promoting it. He was a self-proclaimed “baller”. Word, he had stacks sometimes, but he never spent any of it on me, but when he didn’t have it I was there riding for him and catching the slack when something needed to be paid. His first car, it was me who helped him with his down payment.  And when the girls were saying it wasn’t cool enough for him, I helped him get his next one a couple of months later.

About that time I started being resentful. But I never stopped being in his shadow.  I remember the night the shit started to hit the fan. It was summer time. I made a date with this dude who I knew he had some small beef with. He was chilling at our usual spot and I got dressed up for my date, and went to the spot to drop some money off for him and when he saw what I had on he asked me where I was going and with who. And I told him. Even though he was fucking around, he made me remind him whose I was. I told him I loved him and I left for my date. The dude and I went to the midnight showing of Goldmember on 42nd Street. Before we were even halfway through the movie my cell phone started going off. It was my mother telling me I needed to come home NOW. I was at the movies! She didn’t care, I had been out and coming in late too much and I needed to get my ass off the streets and come home. Really, this guy had me “losing my mind” according to my mother. I’m sure she thought I was doing drugs or something. I wasn’t acting like myself. I was out all times of night with him. So on this night when I actually wasn’t even with him, she’d had enough. Instead of telling my date we had to go, I did the smart thing and just turned off my phone.

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4 Comments

  1. Wow. Great read.

  2. Omg I think I’m in the clueless friends group you sorta mentioned because I remember vague details. I think I was dealing with my own self-esteem issues in high school to notice it was a problem. Sucks that he was spending good fountainhead money though lol.

    Ok part 2 let’s go!!

  3. Good posting, some guys can be true jerks!! Experiences similar to this makes us stronger and wiser. Tiff, you are beautiful, don’t let any1 tell u differently!!

  4. First off WOW!!! I’m sure so many girls can relate to this. We have all been lost in that one bad relationship at least once in our lives. I can’t … no I can believe the things that he did and said. So glad you seemed to have bounced back to the TRUE TIFFANY!!!… (don’t take this the wrong way) But since Bio at MSU I always thought that you were beautiful (I have no problem acknowledging true beauty)!!!

    I can’t wait to read the second part


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