Call me Joan.
Our organization occupied floors five and six inside of the high-rise downtown. I worked in the grit and grime department that actually worked—with the paper to back it up. Our other floor made sure we came to work, so they could get paid and maintain their plush lifestyles. Yep, slavery. They didn’t even want us eating in the kitchen upstairs. But, brought their bougie arses down for our departments potlucks.
Every so often, I rode the elevator with my distant coworker from the upper floor. A young buttoned-up Japanese guy that held his briefcase firmly, in the corner, by the control panel. He’d turn and nod in acknowledgment but never actually spoke. I saw passed his Garibaldi and spectacles and looked straight into his eyes. He was hiding something.
I decided to turn up the charm next time, whenever that was. I can’t remember the conversation, but he smiled. The most beautiful, gleaming smile one would ever imagine. I knew it! “I’m sorry, but I have to say this, you have a gorgeous smile.” His eyes turned to ground. “Thank you,” he replied. Nothing more wonderful than a humbly sweet man. If only he was five inches taller…I mean, if I had my priorities together. Sometimes, we get in our own way.
A great author by the name of Arthur C. Goddard said “Shallow souls produce shallow minds; shallow minds produce shallow desires; shallow desires vanish with the passing of time.”
Some years ago, doesn’t matter how long. I thought I found the perfect guy, whom I’ll call Doyle. I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was a real life version of my shallow desires.
Doyle was tall, personable, and worked smart. What turned me on was his ability to communicate. He was a talker. Just rows and rows of teeth. Something that most people don’t know is, I have a smile fetish. Great dental work is sexy. It is literally the second thing I notice looking at the male species.
I don’t care about your car, watch, or any other extension of your ‘manhood.’ Your teeth tells me everything I need to know. You take pride in self-care. You’re confident, charming, and seek the extraordinary.
Everything was going great between me and Mr. Doyle. If I had to compare his personality to my favorite type of jeans, it would be STF raw denim with the built-in sag. I just want the appeal…you can keep the thug.
You heard and felt his resonance before he even stepped in the room. A biological phenomenon—to say the least. Everybody gravitated towards him. Probably for the same reasons I did.
We’d sit and talk for hours before work, after work, even during work. I was a fool, and he knew it. If you want a recipe for disaster, here it is: Loneliness and disposable income. Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?
It’s in my nature to be generous. Throw like into the mix, and you pretty much get desperation.
It wasn’t only Doyle. I overextended myself and resources to everyone. I thought what I had to offer people defined me. Really, nobody cared about who I was, they only wanted what I could offer. I remembered everyone’s birthdays, favorite colors, foods, and pet-peeves. I catered to wants and met needs. All that was normal to me. When you’re in a close relationship with people, you behave like you care. You treat people like they’re important. Right? Or, maybe that was me simply surviving the office. When my birthday rolled around, I had to send out a reminder. By the time I pulled back, it was too late. I was damaged and depleted.
People are funny.
The moment you put someone on your radar, EVERYBODY wants a piece of that person. In the process of us talking, Doyle got promoted to supervisor. Prior to this, the general consensus was that he was a no good bum. But, his physicality and personality won over the right people. Seeing the odds stacked-up against him, I helped in any way I could. Writing and editing memos. Handling client issues. We became a think-tank within our department as he transitioned into his new role. All of a sudden, everybody is kissing his butt, including my work-wife. She was the one that put me on to everyone in the office. And in the end, was the one to take me down.
Apparently, during that time, she was experiencing a gut-wrenching break-up. I never noticed because…I didn’t care. She made it very clear that her life outside of work was private. That set the tone of our relationship. I never challenged it beeeeecuuuz…I. Didn’t. Care. Girly crap didn’t faze me then.
Having spent much of my life around my dad, some, not all, of my behaviors ran similar to his—like not talking after work. Needing time to decompress. If you asked me a question, you’re liable to get an answer in two, maybe three days. That’s how he communicated. He’d listen, grunt, sigh, and then walk away. Not in disregard, but to process. I knew to wait for an answer. It usually came after I forgot or attempted to resolve the problem on my own. To protect his ego, I pretended to still need his help. Depending on his response to my already taken action, I was either getting confirmation or correction.
If you think about it, God’s the same way—minus the grunting and walking. However, I can neither confirm nor deny that statement.
So, her boyfriend of five years, up and moved to Texas without telling her. Never came back and didn’t call. I surmise, playing hard to get in a long-term committed relationship is probably not the best idea. He proposed twice. She rejected him twice—not ready to settle down. The second time he tossed the ring out the window on the freeway.
Clearly distressed, she turned and said “Aren’t you going to ask me what’s wrong?!”
First off, I think I’m in love. Second, I can’t drive this van and think I’m in love at the same time. Do you want me to crash? Just askin’…
“Um, what’s wrong with what?” I asked.
“You haven’t noticed me depressed for like two weeks?”
No, cause I’ve been in love for like two weeks…
“I honestly haven’t noticed anything,” I said convincingly.
“What?! You haven’t noticed I’ve been crying?!”
“Huh? What? No, you seemed absolutely fine.”
“Are you serious? Oh my god Mari, my boyfriend left me!”
Do I even need to say it? Do I even need to say it?
Misery loves company. She couldn’t stand to see me devoting my attention to Doyle. I DEVOTED MY ATTENTION TO HIM, while he was on the lookout for the next best thing—my work-wife. She never wanted him. She didn’t want him wanting me. She wanted me to know that if she wanted Doyle, she could have him. And, if it came down to her or me, Doyle would choose her. And, he did.
Obviously, I was too much work, so he played into her game and vice-versa. Characteristically, they were the same person: Shallow, selfish, conceded, and immature.
He stood me up for dates. Reasons being: He had to do laundry or some random activity with his aunt.
They flaunted their bromance around the office.
Bro·mance: A close but nonsexual relationship between two men.
I don’t know what else to call it; it was stupid.
By that time, the entire office knew what was going on. Humiliated is not a strong enough word to describe my state of being. A web was forming around me. I had a backstabber for a partner. Doyle was the supervisor, so any reaction towards her behavior, sparked retaliation. I couldn’t break free.
One day, my other supervisor called me into his office for a meeting. Doyle was sitting in the corner behind the desk. My supervisor asked if I knew why I was being called into the office. I said “No.”
“Your work-wife came to us afraid that you might beat her up in the van.”
My jaw dropped to the concrete floor. Tears filled my eyes. Double-crossed, sabotaged and made out to be a monster to cover up their sneaking around. And Doyle, back pressed against the cold wall cosigning the bulls*@! I never lunged or even threatened her. I did ignore her as much as possible because I couldn’t walk away.
I broke down in anguish. Doyle extended his arm from the back of room to hand me a Kleenex. The audacity! To make matters worse, they sent me home for a few days—snatching the last ounce of dignity I had left.
I called my mother in agony because I just bought my house and thought I was getting fired. Not knowing what else to do, I prayed for answers and waited.
Three days later, I arose from the dead—reborn—but still needing redemption. I used what I knew to fight back: Narcissists need attention to stay fueled. I fought back, by completely retreating from the situation. Thus, giving them all the space they desired to be in “love,” without me being their source for attention.
I waved my white flag and ended my work marriage by requesting a new partner. That one move, forced them to have to justify whatever they were and keep milking it for attention or end it, which they did. The coworkers were too busy making a run at our title to focus on their drama.
A few vulnerable moments of oversharing led to the death of a dynasty. Oh well. I showed them. I took my greatness right into my next marriage, which was undeniably sucky. Butt-hurt, my-ex said “Why did you do that we could’ve worked it out?”
How? Tell me how?
You lied, tarnished my reputation, and compromised my job. Not to mention, never wanted to see me happy.
Am I surprised? Most humans are self-serving and want nothing more than to see you fail. Unless, they have a stake in your success.
She and I created a flawless system of productivity where the work performed itself. We were the dynamic duo that raised the standard of performance in our program. See, neither one of them gained prominence until I came along. But, for a brief moment, had me thinking I was the weak link.
I sat quietly at my desk and watched the woman in the loft across the street climb into the window and dangle her feet five stories above ground. Everybody’s crazy, I thought. Peggy crept up beside me and whispered “Now, tell me something Alamar (don’t ask), I know you not sitting up here depressed over that Negro. Some people ain’t shit, and ain’t never gon’ be shit.”
After God and Peggy tore the veil of obscurity from my eyes, the truth finally sank in. Nevermind, his two baby mama’s, broke down Cadillac, gang-affiliation, and substance abuse. How could I be so blind?
I blinked myself out of my stupor and smiled. God always sends somebody to remind you of the situations you’re not equipped to handle. He used my ex work-wife to create that wedge between Doyle and I. I’ve must’ve lost every bit of my mind thinking he was the one.
No doubt God interfered with my free-will. Makes me wonder if there are only a select group in this world that He ordained soul-mates to. Or, do most people just settle on making things work with their choice?
My ex work-wife went to work on the upper floor and Doyle ran his games on other women in the office. But, not before making one last attempt at me, by bringing up the past to the new secretary to get her fired up over him. I curbed that nonsense. Game over.
Four years have passed since I’ve seen or heard from the coworkers. We’ve all since matured, forgiven, and moved on. As much as I would like to hold a grudge, I simply can’t. I emerged unscathed from a situation that seemed to bury me alive.
I shall end this story with a quote: “God is within her; she will not be toppled.” -Psalms 46:5