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We met when I was 14. He was cool. I knew he had some shit with him and I wanted to find out, so I did.

His birthday was nine days after mine and he was from up north. He had a little brother that was a year younger than him. I thought they were twins.

He was 16. Trapped day and night. Got kicked out of school and was sent away. I was unaware of all this as it was happening because we met via MySpace and had only spoke on the phone, even though he lived 15 minutes from me.

He called me all the time. I answered. We argued. He was an asshole but he was special to me. I was flattered by the attention because I had never got as much after my father passed away. I could tell he just needed to talk so I listened. And even though we would bicker about dumb shit we would always end up laughing at some point. That was bae. He asked me for pictures. Always wanted to know where I was at and what I was doing. Always asking about my day. Leaving me cute messages. We were each other’s escape.

Sometimes months would pass and I wouldn’t hear from him. I’d get to thinking he eventually forgot about me but I would hear from him again. At one point I told myself never to answer the phone again if he called because I felt as if he was playing me. I didn’t know he was going through hell.

Secretly I already loved him but I wasn’t going to say it. I didn’t want to scare him away. We were young and I knew he was doing his thing no matter what our title was and I could do nothing but respect it. I knew his type.

We carried on our little fling for 2 years before I seen him in person. We were already saying “I love you” now. This was 2009. After finally meeting him, we did not go a day without speaking. It was magic. We were both sprung.

That whole summer was ours. He took my virginity that July and had me completely open. I could do nothing else but think about him. When I could finesse a ride out of my mom or sister to go see him, I would give him head every visit for almost an hour straight and he loved it. I was young but I was so sure about him. He made me feel good. He made me feel important. Everything about me was beautiful to him and he was everything to me. I can honestly say I was in love at the age of 16.

We carried on. Broke up and got back together a few times but the feelings never changed. We got older. He introduced me to shit I thought I’d never see and I lived for it. He was a true nigga in the streets but he opened up to me. I fell in love with his heart and he only shared it with me. He’d been through a lot already being just 18. I knew he endured much pain from a young age and I felt for him. He was tough though. He was strong and I admired that about him. I wanted to be like him. He made up a lot for what I lacked. He completed me.

At the end of 2010 I got pregnant. I didn’t know for sure until I was 3 months. A week exactly before my 18th birthday I finally took a test and it was positive. He was ready. I was scared. I thought about getting an abortion but couldn’t go through with it – especially after he told me he was opposed to it. With him sticking by me, I knew then that I couldn’t lose. This was real. We talked about our future. Our family. We began picking out names and he came up with the best one. He took me to the doctor. Took me to eat. Held me. He had my back through it all and we had a healthy baby boy that September of 2011.

I think it was after I had our child is when things began to change. We would have a lot more disagreements. Starting small then getting bigger. We were getting older. Responsibilities changed and I was stressed. I didn’t know what I was doing. I began to feel overwhelmed but I never said anything because I didn’t want to come off weak. I started second guessing myself. Lost my confidence, lost all desire to do the things that I liked to do. I focused all my energy on him and our baby. Nothing else. We were parents now.

When he told me I was changing I didn’t understand what he was saying. I didn’t listen. I failed to self reflect because I felt as if HE was the one who was tripping. Neither one of us was perfect but in these moments I would never take full responsibility for what I was actually doing and instead I blamed him.

I remember this one argument in particular. Our son was about 2 years old and it was summer time. I don’t know what we were arguing about but I remember it getting bad. Like, horrible. Yelling and screaming…waving our hands in each other’s faces, calling each other names. It was fucked up and it only got worse. As bad as one could imagine. This became regular. So regular that it was happening almost every week.

What changed? I never found out until I started looking within. Really looking within myself and leaving him out of it. Yes we both participated in the arguments. We both said some shit we’ll probably need some time to get over. Did some things that hurt and confused the other. Pointed fingers. Put our hands on each other. The worst of the worst.

Shit happens. As many times as these arguments have happened and problems arose, we still found a way. We talked about it and we worked it out almost immediately. We both apologized and silently forgave each other. We said our “I love you’s” and woke up in each other’s arms. Meant it every time.

I was always so wrapped up in my own emotions that I would never listen to understand, I would listen to respond. He began to think I wanted to argue when in reality I couldn’t find a healthy way to express myself. I was always getting angry and losing my temper. He got tired of the apologies and I don’t blame him. You can say sorry 100 times but it doesn’t really mean anything when nothing changes. Like I said, I cannot take full blame for how everything turned out but I know when you love someone and really love them all the way, you acknowledge that the part you played, whatever it was. You make it work no matter what. You put in the effort and you give your all, that’s how I was taught. That’s love.

I didn’t want to love before I met him. I was cold after my dad died and I didn’t want shit to do with anybody. I was angry. He made me forget. He suffered a lot of loss too so he understood me. We connected on a level I would have never imagined and I thank him for that. He was the one that inspired me to love but I hurt him. Even though he hurt me too, I know nothing can amount to the pain you feel when you think your significant other changed, or turned their back on you. The pain you feel when you no longer think you can even talk to that person without it ending in argument. That pain where it’s like your life with that person turned into everything you said you didn’t want it to be. And for that I am truly sorry.

As many times as he could’ve given up on me, he didn’t. He could’ve walked away a million times. He could’ve up and left me for someone else. He could’ve done anything. But he stayed. He believed in me.

I didn’t expect that from him. For him to love me in my ugliest form. He gave me a lot of hope for my future, though. These days if you’re not benefiting from your significant other in some way, they have nothing to offer. Nobody has real values anymore and everyone is in their current situation temporarily, continuously looking for the next best thing. Instead of looking for good character and morals, every one goes after the ideas and images of what they think a relationship is supposed to be, instead of what they truly want, which is to be loved. We turned out differently.

I think true love inspires you to love. For me, it revealed everything I needed to know about myself. It taught me to see the best and the worst in a person while still being able to give them your all. It doesn’t judge you. It’s patient. It hurts, but only when you resist it. It’s a teacher. It’s never perfect but when you find it, you’ll know it’s for you. Love is unconditional. It’s nothing physical. It’s nothing material. It’s not what someone is or isn’t doing for you. It is not tangible.

They say love is our natural state. I think that’s why when you fall for real or have real love for someone, it is nearly impossible to stop because it is who we really are. I knew for a while that I loved him but I didn’t think it would get as strong and deep as it did, but I am grateful because it is a beautiful thing. I wouldn’t have learned as much as I did if I didn’t take a chance on him or if he ever gave up on me. I always thought I was blessed and he was an angel.

I know in this generation it’s damn near forbidden to express any type of love or feelings for anyone other than yourself, that’s why I decided to share so much of me. I’m not scared or ashamed to be completely open and I think that’s how everyone should be in every area of their lives, especially when you love somebody. “I love you” could be all they need to hear and you could be everything they need.