In my last blog, I wrote about the loss of my daughters' dad. I want to take a moment to write about my relationship with him. I met him when I was 16. He was 5 years older than me, and I really looked up to him. We both grew up in the hood but meeting him, I felt we both had the same beliefs of wanting more for ourselves than what the ghetto had to offer us. I remember specifically talking about drugs when we were learning about one another and how we both didn't agree with them and the violence associated with it. In the ghetto, drug and violence came as a pair. They were the deadly duo. I just remember having deep conversations with him of how we deserved more in our lives than the environment around us.
Like I said, I was 16 when I met him and my first daughter, Saveina, was barely one. Levee was a really kind man. He treated my first like she was his own. Up until his death, he still claimed her as his own. I've been blessed in that way, meeting men who have been wonderful to my girls and Levee was one of them. Fast forward, to a few years later and two more daughters along the way, we were able to buy our first home. By this time, I was 19 and managed to work through the paperwork to finalize financial obligation of becoming a homeowner. I did the research, Levee made the payments. My American dream with my little family started to come into fruition. At this time, I was going to school and working part-time while Levee worked a full-time job. He made enough to support us, and we both came to the decision that I would stop working and focus more on the girls. Things were starting to fall into place.
Back then, there was this underground lotto system. Basically, you'd find a dealer who would accept your money (a dollar being the minimum and the max was at the dealer's discretion) and you'd pick three numbers. You would then play your three numbers based on the California Daily Three Lottery. For each dollar you bet, I believe the return was around $650? So if you bet $2, you'd win $1300 if you matched the daily three numbers for that day. Long story short, Levee bet around $50 and his return was over 30 grand. Along with his run of luck, Levee's long time friend who was in prison was being released. That's when everything changed.
I don't want to get into the nitty gritty details of what transpired in the course of our relationship at that time but what I will say is that when the money came in and the friend got out, drugs and violence crept into our relationship. I had no clue about the drugs but when I was pregnant with my third daughter, I was fully aware of the violence. It wasn't until after I gave birth when I realized drugs were a possible factor to the destruction of my family. I had to take my kids and leave that situation. In my family history, the deadly duo were definitely involved. One of my uncles came home so high one night, told his kids they were going to play a game of hide and seek, and once my cousins (around 4 and 2 yrs old) started hiding, my uncle began seeking...he was looking for his wife. That night, he ended up shooting her in the head along with himself. She survived. He died. And my cousins were hiding behind the couch. I did not want to live a life playing hide and seek with drugs and violence.
The kids and I moved back in with my grandmother. At this point, I had nothing. No job, no education, nor money. I had quit working to take care of my girls and Levee was the breadwinner of the family. Here's another turning point in my life. I reached out to Levee a couple of weeks after leaving him, asking him to buy food and diapers for the girls since I didn't have any money coming in yet. I figured if I asked him to buy the things the girls needed, he'd trust where his money went verses him thinking it was for me. Here is what he said to me, "If you don't want to be with me, you and the girls can all starve." That bruised and hurt me deeper than any of his kicks and punches ever could. I held on to that comment with every bitter ounce I had in me. I made a promise to myself that day, I would never depend on ANYONE again nor would I ever forgive him.
BUT it is because of that statement, I am where I am supposed to be today. I am strong and successful spiritually and mentally. After our separation, Levee soon checked into rehab and cleaned himself up. I never really forgave him but he always tried his best to be super kind and sweet to me. I knew the guilt of how he treated me ate him up inside. I knew this but instead of letting go and forgiving him, I held on. I held on with every bitter ounce of my soul. Even when I was in a healthy relationship with a man who helped me raise my kids for eight years. Even when I was moving on successfully in the world. I never allowed myself to drop my guard and forgive him. Even when Levee was trying his hardest to gain my trust and respect again. I never let go. I was so hurt by everything he did, I wanted to punish him. I knew what he wanted most from me was my forgiveness. After almost two decades, I held on to that wound as tightly as I could. I didn't talk shit about him to my girls or keep them away from him. I always felt that relationship he had with his kids were just that...with his kids. My relationship with him was separate. It was just between me and him, and I made sure to make that relationship between us as unpleasant as possible. I was even nicer to his current girlfriend than I was to him. Even when Levee extended a warm welcome to my then boyfriend, I despised him.
His sisters and mom would always tell me how much Levee still loved me. But I could not stand him. I didn't care to hear his sisters tell me how he admired my strength and role as a mom. I just didn't care. He could've said a million "I'm sorry" at the top of his lungs and it would've fell on deaf ears. My eyes were blind, my ears were deaf, and my heart was cold when it came to Levee. I was mean. Some of you may be saying that with all the crap he put me through, he deserved it. I, for one, never believed in that eye for an eye BS. I always felt people made mistakes small and large, and it is in our loving duty to forgive. I've had lots of fucked up shit (worse shit) happen to me but I was always able to find forgiveness in my heart towards them. Levee was just a different story. Perhaps because his words at that time affected my kids? Who knows.
It wasn't until Levee's death, I felt an overwhelming sense of regret for not forgiving him when he still walked this earth. It has been almost two decades since those words came out of his mouth, and I held on to them. I made his words linger regardless of his efforts towards peace between us. I always knew after rehab, Levee was a changed man. He went back to being a goofy good guy I once knew him as. Even though I knew this, I didn't want to accept it. It was easier for me to continue believing he was a monster until that fateful day he became an angel in heaven. It took me a few weeks to cry and pray. I know not to blame myself and live in regret. It's not easy to forgive people who have hurt us down to our soul. I understand. But I also understand, that if we want to grow and learn to lead with love, then we must come full circle and learn to let go of what hurt us. People can always change. I believe that. Levee has and I have. I will always continue to change, if I know what's best for me. I didn't forgive him when he was here but I forgive him now. I admit, I took his life for granted and for that I am so sorry. But I also know to let go of the regret of not saying it sooner and that's just how simple it is. No need to beat myself up over lost time. No need to regret what should've, could've, would've happened if he were still here. I know he hears me, and I know we both tried our best. And with that, I will end this blog with an apology, forgiveness, and gratitude. Levee has taught me the act of forgiveness and that an apology will never expire and for that I will forever be grateful to him. Buddha bless.
A little about me...
I'm learning how to look at everything with love, even if it seems impossible, like rush hour traffic. I want to share my journey of self-love so that others may want to emulate and pass it on into the universe. Ohh...and sometimes people call me Suzie.