1

Unforgettable

Men’s feelings are detonating all around me. In the past week three men have randomly and unexpectedly told me they have never stopped loving me.

I went home for six days because my mom was being honored as the former Alumni Director, a position she held for nearly 12 years. It was also my alma mater’s homecoming so running into my old work was inevitable. Friday night was a bust because the one party that was popping had a ridiculously long line. I don’t do lines. Agenda was dead but at least I’d get to catch up on all the southern music that I never get to hear in NYC. (NYC DJs, please go to down south clubs to learn what songs to play at a party. Please.) Within five minutes we had drinks sent to us (and more offered) by different dudes. The beauty of southern men. I’d noticed an old flame spitting his best game to the bottle waitress. He denied it but he was clearly intrigued. Eventually he saw me and it was a scene. Him ushering me over to his section where his squad had ordered bottle service. A long hug. Him whispering in my ear. Me giggling in my royal blue pants jumpsuit, dancing as I walked. “That’s the Bené I know,” he quipped.

For over 30 minutes he rattled off his feelings along with questions. He wanted to know why he’d never been able to “get me.” We’d talked when I was in college. It never went anywhere. No kissing, no sleepovers, not much of anything other than phone calls. But here we were in the club talking over “What’s A Goon to a Goblin.” It was flirty banter at first. Then he got serious. “I love you, Bené. I’ve never stopped loving you. I’m in love with you.” You don’t even know me. Then I noticed the wedding ring on his left finger. That wasn’t there when I’d seen him at a different club last year during the holidays.

“Is that a wedding ring?”

“Yeah. I got married four months ago. I’m not gonna lie to you. I’ve never lied to you. That doesn’t change that I love you. Can we please go get something to eat after this?”

He knew the answer was going to always be no. It was no last year when he wasn’t married. It was definitely no now.

*******

That same night my first love told my homegirl he was coming to meet her at the same club we were at. “Ummm, Bené is with me,” she texted him. “Good. I want to see her.”  The bouncer wouldn’t let him in with his hat so we never saw each other. A few days after I got back to BK I FB messaged him a one sentence question. Instead of answering my question he typed his number. I took that as a yes to my question because if it was no he would’ve said that, right? We sent a couple short exchanges back and forth before all of his feelings came out.

I will always care deeply for you Bené. I honestly think of you daily. I visit your website periodically just to feel close to you. No matter what happened between us I have always respected the fact that I know you genuinely showed me LOVE in the way you show someone your purest form of LOVE…and I did not nurture it in the manner it deserved…That is one of my few regrets…

The message was much longer, but that was the gist. I didn’t understand. We’d not been together since I was 17. We’ve had few real conversations in the past 13 years. Where was all this coming from?

*******

There’s another ex with much of the same sentiment. We were awful for each other. He cheated. We’d tussle. Disrespect was the norm. He’d call me a bitch, I’d call him a ho. He did some damn near unforgivable shit. We were wild and toxic and in love. And yes, I consider dysfunctional love, love. In July of 2014 he started sending me FB messages with soliloquies about how sorry he is, how I am the one, how his mom still asks for me, how he’ll drive to NYC just to see me, how he just wishes he knew then what he knows now. His exact words in the first message he sent was, “I hate that I messed up with u! I still love u no matter how many chicks I b with! I think about u all the time. Plz talk to me. I wish u the best. I care about u so much!!! We had bad times but I don’t think about them times I just only [think about] the good times. Can u plz write sumthing back plz!!!???????”

For years I had him blocked on my personal FB page so he’d just send messages to my author FB page. I’d ignore. Eventually I’d respond with a simple, “I hope you’re well.” I’d get 26 messages in return. I don’t hate the dude. I just have no interest in really talking to him. I thought ending my ignore method would ease his curiosity and he’d give up. Not at all. He’s messaged me as recent as September 28 and I’m pretty sure he has a girlfriend. It’s been five years and two relationships later since I’ve seen or spoken to him.

Having men pour their hearts out to you — whether in the club or on FB — is supremely strange.

I’m a firm believer of: “If you’re a halfway decent woman, he’ll come back. They always come back.” I’ve said this since I started dating in my late teens. It’s not exactly surprising that most of my exes have tried to come back or that men I used to date still want a chance. The ones who never had me still want that achievement. The ones who did, well, I can’t quite figure out what their deal is. But it makes me wonder why men don’t come to these conclusions sooner. Why the apologies take a decade. Why can’t they get it together when they still have you.

Let any of them tell it way back when, I would’ve been described with some unpleasant adjectives. “I can’t win for losing with you” or “you don’t trust me” are phrases I’ve heard from probably all my exes but one. And they weren’t necessarily wrong for feeling that way, but if I was all those things, why all the confessions years later? Why the daily thoughts of me? Why all the reassurance that I was/am a good woman? (Of course I am!) Why not feel like good riddance to her?

Part of me doesn’t understand having feelings for someone 10+ years later because I’ve never gone back to an ex. When I’m done I’m done. It may take a while for me to get there but there’s never any coming back once I’ve reached the point of you-no-longer-exist-to-me. There is not one man that I still have feelings for or still love. I’m a firm believer in moving forward in life — with everything — not backward. So the idea of harboring feelings for someone for a decade is unimaginable to me. Which leads me to the theory that men don’t take the time to heal after a breakup so they never truly get over certain exes. Men tend to trade the tears, depression and weight gain/loss for hoeing. While women usually mourn breakups, self-reflect and better themselves before moving on to the next man, men find something new to get up under. Fast. Hence why when women are finally done, we’re done. And why men are still confessing feelings decades later.

Of course this theory is only anecdotal. I don’t know that any of this means anything. Or that I even have a point. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good to know men I once loved still have fond feelings of me when I was often Public Enemy No. 1 while we were together. To admit that they messed up and didn’t nurture the love I gave is very mature thing to do. It’s appreciated. And if I’m being really real it’s validating in a ego-driven way. It’s nice to be unforgettable.