Love and Affliction

Image by LK and BntAl3nabi via Flickr
It took me a long time to figure out that my love wasn’t potent enough to be an antidote to that disease. In fact, even if the cure for that disease could have been detected within my love, the years spent responding to misdiagnosed symptoms proved to be fatal.

The time spent improperly responding to the byproducts of that disease only amplified the rate in which it destroyed his vital internal systems. Consequently, by the time a proper diagnosis was determined, the disease was full blown. At that point, a quarantine was required as a means for self-preservation.

No matter how hard I tried, I could not love that man back to health. I tried with everything that was in me. And when I ran out of strength, I borrowed some from praying friends and tried again. When that reserve ran low, I operated on fumes. My love was tenacious. My love ran deep. His disease ran deeper.

I didn’t immediately recognize it for what it was. That mental brokenness that plagued him was so severe I can only label it a disease. It was inside of him. It attacked his immune system. What else was a man left to fight with once his self-esteem has been destroyed, his pride shattered, and self-worth severely fractured? Somewhere between the consistent police brutality that eventually became labeled as just “dumb cop shit,” and the repetitive cycle of criminal recidivism, he contracted the disease. It spread faster whenever he would apply for a job and was turned down. It became more pervasive as his dreams of being a provider began to diminish.

What else was a man left to fight with once his self-esteem has been destroyed, his pride shattered, and self-worth severely fractured?

This disease came with no shortage of symptoms. I just didn’t fully understand them. I perceived his lack of motivation for seeking “meaningful employment” as laziness. I responded with what I assumed was adequate treatment; I provided physical assistance. I searched job sites, completed his resume and even emailed recruiters on his behalf. I responded to the superficial needs as best as I could. Yet I didn’t realize that it wasn’t a job he was avoiding. It was the notion that he could receive one more rejection. One more blow that he no longer had the ability to withstand.

Anger, the most frequently occurring symptom, was more complex. The anger would manifest in the form of verbal slander about women. Given my proximity to him, I was the easiest target. This symptom was particularly confusing to me. I suspect it confused him too. He seemed to never know if he regarded the black woman as a queen, or with the same level of contempt he held for the “white people that were trying to break him.” He was gracious with the word queen during conversations with black women. Yet almost any conversation about his inability to contribute financially ended with some version of “black women turn against their men, don’t know how to support a king, and let the white men at work cause them to forget their place. It’s because of all the women in my life I keep failing.”

Once again, I responded with an improper treatment. I allowed myself to shrink for fear that he couldn’t handle my individual advancement. I intentionally made the decision to delay some of my goals until they could be better received by him. I deduced this would occur when he started to excel professionally. I was wrong.
The emotional strain of trying to figure out the perfect concoction in response to the symptoms almost broke me. I was frail and fearful of contamination. A quarantine was in order, so I did what was necessary and left.

It took time, prayer and distance for me to heal. I needed about a year to heal from what I contracted during my intimacy with the afflicted. Another year was required to recognize and heal from the previously contracted brokenness I was carrying that attracted me to him. While my love may have been incapable of healing him, when redirected towards myself, I found that it was exactly what I needed to heal me.

By Shanita Hubbard

Shanita Hubbard is a mom, writer, traveler, speaker and social justice advocate. Her background includes juvenile justice reform, grant writing and national consulting. However, she is most proud the title "Mom of a dope black girl".