I published this article about a week ago, but I took it down after only one day. I did that because in this story I talk about the man I love cheating on me, emotionally abusing me, giving me an STD while I was pregnant, me growing to hate myself… Literally every embarrassment a woman can face. And the only reason I am publishing it now is because I have found myself inspired after reading stories of how bravely Carrie Fisher owned her own issues throughout her life. I don’t know if I’m that brave. But I can try. I’ve recently found myself helping people with similar struggles to find their voice, and it kinda seems phony as hell for me to hide the very reason why I even have credibility to discuss this. I’m not a medical professional working in the mental health field. I’m just a lil musician who struggles with mental health issues, just like many of you. And I’m at a place in my healing where I am ready to begin the process of explaining why.
I remember the exact moment when I realized something was seriously wrong with the man I loved. I was standing in his living room, 5 months pregnant, and his ex-girlfriend was screaming and crying, beating on the door of his apartment. She had only learned a few hours earlier that he’d started a relationship with me and gotten me pregnant while they were still together. I didn’t know this until he moved me from Chicago into their former home in San Diego. I hadn’t been to his home prior. He’d told me he had a male roommate and I thought nothing of it. Since I had a very busy career in music and was always traveling, he’d visited my apartment in Chicago or stayed with me in LA when I was there on business. We were in constant communication. He was taking tons of pics of us together. He’d taken me to my uncle’s memorial service and met a bunch of my family members. His mom had knit me a giant purple quilt. And during a time when he ghosted me after an argument and I dumped him, ready to let go, he’d even begged my best friend to talk me into taking him back. I was deeply in love with Bryant, and before meeting him I didn’t even want to be a mom. My man has always wanted kids, though, so that he could be the father to his children that his dad never was for him. He’d only kicked his ex-girlfriend out of their home 3 weeks prior to moving me in, telling me he’d gotten a new job and a new apartment so that he could take care of me and the baby.
I probably would have never learned his secret if he’d done a better job of cleaning up the evidence. I didn’t learn the truth from him. I had to find out from her.
After learning that she had been cheated on and thrown away like trash, his ex was distraught. Outraged. That night, she’d stood outside his home banging on the door, demanding he face her like a man. He stood beside me on the other side of the door, looking like a dear caught in headlights. My heart was beating a mile a minute as our son seemed to be doing backflips in my belly. My stomach hurt and I couldn’t understand why. His ex-girlfriend was ringing his doorbell over and over, and for some reason it sounded extremely loud to me, echoing in my head. It had only been one day since I’d had a mental break, at the moment when I found out what he’d done. He’d lied all the way until I contacted her and found out the truth for myself and it left me so rattled that I found myself raging and breaking things just to release my anger. Now, after she’d tried to fight me and even called the cops to try to have them remove me from the home she used to occupy, her anger turned to pure, undeniable hurt. She banged on the door telling him how awful he was, and all I could do was turn to him and say “She’s right.”
Bryant dragged me away from the door as I yelled to her “I’m sorry, Bria. I didn’t know.” The pain in her voice as she yelled for him to face her was unmistakeable. He’d hurt her bad. I was in tears, sobbing and not knowing what to do next. He urged me to calm down and think of the baby. I snatched my arm away from him, looked at the door, and asked “Are you going to do this to me?” He hugged me and said “No.” I would think of that moment often over the next year and a half, because what he did to me was worse.
Bryant pulled me into the bathroom, and then went back into his living room to tinker with his doorbell until it was disabled. Only the sound of her fists beating on the door and yelling remained. “Do you wanna take a shower? You need to calm down.” He said. He undressed me and I caught my reflection in the mirror, and I couldn’t help but compare my penguin shaped preggo body to the beautiful, tall, slim girl banging on his front door. I really was big as a house.
I felt like trash. I cried in the shower with him, my head laying on his chest, as he apologized over and over. After the shower I demanded to see his phone. I wanted to know everything. This is when I learned that immediately after moving his ex out, he’d started sleeping with a chick from his job. He’d been keeping screenshots of their texts in his phone, with the girl begging him to leave his pregnant girlfriend so that she could have him all to herself. And he was actually responding to her as if he was considering it. That undid me. In that moment I flashed back to the memory of my first boyfriend knocking on my door after school when I was 12, and me opening it only to find he’d brought a bunch of guys with him and set me up to be gang raped. My whole life since my rape, (with the exception of one jerk,) I’d had boyfriends who loved me and treated me really great. Bryant had inadvertently unbottled feelings of being unsafe that I didn’t even know I had. It even unearthed memories of being molested when I was a child. I felt so weird and dizzy, sitting there looking at his phone in horror. The breaking point was when I saw that on the evening I’d had my 20 week prenatal check up, which was also the day Bryant’s father died, when he’d told me that he needed time to himself, it was actually because he was spending the night with the girl from his job.
In that moment I blacked out. As tiny as I am, with a big pregnant belly, I hit him. I broke things. I spazzed. I cried and screamed and spit in his face. I felt like a trapped animal. And he stood there in front of me, taking it. Crying. Apologizing. Begging me to stay. “I have a problem.” He said. “Please don’t leave me. Please. I’ll go to therapy. You can go with me if you want. I’ll get help. Just please don’t leave me.” I screamed at the top of my lungs “Who are you?!?” Honestly, I wanted to run. But I didn’t have any place to go. I wasn’t close to my family at the time and was scared to tell them, afraid of what my brother would do to Bryant if he found out. So I did nothing but cry and freak out. The next day, while he was at work, the girl from his job was knocking on his door, crying, telling me all the details and uncovering more lies, demanding he return the things she left in his apartment during their 3 week involvement. The foggy feeling in my brain was so bad, I had not eaten in over 24 hours and couldn’t think straight. Again, he apologized, and he paid for a hotel so that I could get a break from it all. We layed on the hotel bed with his hand on my belly, watching youtube videos on his phone about the development of babies during pregnancy.
In the days following, I began to find out all kinds of scary things about the man I loved, including the fact that he had a bunch of active profiles on dating sites, proclaiming himself to be single, childless, and looking for a relationship. I told him the truth, that I felt trapped and disappointed beyond words. He told me he was ashamed. He said he’d given it all up the day I moved in. He said I was his family. He promised to never leave me. He begged me to let him earn back my trust.
A week later I learned he’d given me an STD while I was pregnant. That was it. My mind was gone. I was broken. I spent the next two weeks laying in my bed, barely able to eat. Cycling through the hurtful events over and over.
About a month later I lost my son. The stress was too much. I never got to meet him.
Bryant is a deeply flawed man. But he wanted our son. In the days following my discovery of what he’d done, he did everything in his power to redeem himself. He’d even began buying items for the baby’s nursery, customizing it in the jungle motif I wanted. Losing the baby hit him hard. My postpartum depression hit him harder. After giving birth to a dead baby boy, I became emotionally unstable. I clung to Bryant, not knowing what else to do. I cried at the drop of a hat, I started arguments with him, I went days without eating, I cycled between having insomnia and sleeping too much… I was a far cry from the talented, fun chick who’d been featured in Billboard less than a year prior.
Initially, Bryant held on to me and did his best to be the strong one. But as the weeks passed, and my postpartum remained, I watched in horror as whatever the hell was wrong with my sweet man that had made him be so two-faced before we lost our baby turned him into someone so callous and harsh that lying, ghosting, the silent treatment, gaslighting, and other forms of emotional abuse became the norm in our relationship. It remained a constant part of our lives for almost two years.
I want to talk about the actual events that led me to attempt suicide, but I can’t. Not yet. I can barely even discuss it in therapy. I really shouldn’t still be here. There are some things that I still can’t believe happened. Stuff nobody would believe if I didn’t have pictures. I never thought Bryant could do anything more painful than what he did during my first pregnancy. But I was wrong. Now that I’m in recovery and the fog in my brained has lifted, I’m shocked that I still love him. And I can’t believe he hurt me as bad as he did, over and over, all the while telling me I was doing it to myself.
I have to skip this part.. Moving ahead…
After I became suicidal, Bryant lost all respect for me. I was suddenly the reason for every problem in our relationship, the reason why he never apologized, the reason why he never said “I love you” anymore, the reason why he wanted to leave me, the reason why he cheated again. It’s a long story. I can’t even begin to explain how bad it was. In his efforts to move on from the loss of our son, my dude abandoned me. He only stepped up and did the right thing when my best friend went to him and demanded he not leave her with the job of caring for an unstable, grieving woman on her own. He stayed, sort of. He was there physically, but emotionally he was nowhere to be found. He never hugged me. He slept on the couch every night. He hated talking to me, and when he did it went terribly.
One day, when my self-esteem was at it’s lowest, I asked him “Aren’t you still proud of me?” And his response was “Proud of what?”
I felt like trash. It was like he was doing me a favor by staying with me. I would look in the mirror several times a week and wonder when I became so ugly. I’d stare at old pictures and think “Of course he doesn’t want me. He fell in love with HER, not this depressed lump of flesh that I am.” So I started overcompensating, doing everything I could to just see a drop of love. I gave up everything that was important to me, including my art and my music, and focused on him. My self-respect was gone. I began to initiate sex with Bryant because it was the only way to have any intimate interaction with him at all. I soon became pregnant again.
To his credit, when he learned I was pregnant again, Bryant really did his best to be a stand up guy. He began to smile again. He became witty and funny again. He cooked for me, took me on dates, took tons of photos of me, and went out of his way to plan me into his future.
He spent most of his free time with me and even suggested that we start a couple’s page on Facebook and Tumblr, documenting how real couples tackle real issues and grow from them. Our images and videos were a big hit, some of them even went viral. He was under a lot of pressure, caring for a depressed pregnant woman, but he never talked about his stress at all. I really do believe Bryant wanted to be a good man, but he never got therapy to get to the root of why he treats his intimate partners so terribly. The invalidation of my feelings, the insensitivity, the lack of consideration for my needs, the habit of punishing me by withholding affection, and the outright cruelty that became the norm during my postpartum after our first pregnancy still reared it’s head often during my second one. The loss of the pregnancy in April of 2016 hit him hard, too. He was so nervous that I’d become suicidal again that he became extremely stern and intolerant of my feelings. Tough love became the only love he showed me at all.
On the day I checked myself into the psychiatric hospital, 3 months after losing the second pregnancy, Bryant had been ghosting me for nearly a week. He was in California in our home and I was in Chicago in my un-furnished apartment, packing the rest of my belongings to move them to Cali. Him ignoring me was too much. My mom has cancer and the pressures of that, my recent miscarriage, and my relationship issues had broken me down to the point where I felt suicidal again. I reached out to a loved one and told the truth: I was alone, I had a plan, and I was not safe. He convinced me to go the the hospital and arranged transportation for me. I got to the hospital and my sister showed up immediately. I had to call a mutual friend to tell her boyfriend to tell Bryant I was being hospitalized so he would call me before I was admitted. When he finally called, I informed him that they were about to take my phone and I didn’t know how long I’d be gone. I told him I was scared and asked him to tell me he loved me, to give any words of encouragement. Instead, he argued with me and said when I get out I better send him my credit report.
I am not exaggerating. As I was being admitted to the hospital, the father of my babies demanded to see my credit report.
He did not call me once during the time I was in treatment.
During my month of treatment, both inpatient and outpatient, I learned what emotional abuse was, and I finally accepted that it was happening to me. But I was convinced he wasn’t doing it on purpose. Not my Bryant. No way.
Bryant became really dedicated to moving on with his life after I was hospitalized. And he decided that moving on meant pursuing a career in photography… specifically, taking pictures of women. One would think that after all the issues we’d faced with lying, cheating, and him giving me an std while I was pregnant with his first son, he would have discussed this career path with me first., to make sure I was secure. But nah. He kinda sprung it on me. He’d even gone as far as dressing one of his “models” in a hat he’d bought to take photos of me while I was pregnant. I found out after one of my fans who follows him on Instagram pointed it out to me.
My decision to no longer tolerate emotional abuse led to me cussing him out (more than once) and refusing to come home to California until he got therapy. He insisted he didn’t need therapy, that he was handling his issues on his own. When I told him I was uncomfortable with a woman he’d become close to, a “Christian fitness” chick who talks about the lord as often as she posts thirst trap pics, he started spending more time with her, and even began taking half naked photos of her. One day, after I’d reached my limit, I told him, quite calmly, that if this is what he wanted to do with his life, I would be fine with ending our relationship and going our separate ways. He insisted that wasn’t what he wanted and asked for “a REAL new shot” to prove he’d grown as a person. My mom got involved, and during a 3 hour long conversation he promised us he’d stop interacting with the girl socially and make her a total non-factor for me while we were working on our relationship. Then one day, while we were getting along and things were good, he posted a picture of the girl’s daughter on his Instagram. And when I calmly asked why he’d do something like that knowing it would upset me, he got irate and hung up the phone. That was it for me. I am no longer mentally unstable so my tolerance for nonsense is gone. He apologized and tried to call the following day, but it was too late.
I’d given him a shot to show me he’d grown and he gave me undeniable proof that he didn’t respect me and was hurting me on purpose.
So I had to cut him off. It’s been about a month since I’ve spoken to Bryant. He texted with my best friend a few days ago, saying he loves me and he doesn’t know how to get me to forgive the past, but if Bryant had done anything more than make the same excuses he always makes she would have told me. She didn’t even relay the discussion. Because nothing has changed. Bryant’s cousin uses a quote on her Instagram that offers the best advice: Changed behavior is the best apology.
I never went home. My wardrobe, my computer, my dog, and my son’s cremated ashes are still there. Coincidentally, the “Christian fitness” girl I mentioned recently got beaten up by her baby daddy’s girlfriend. It appears her lack of respect for relationships and boundaries manifested in a Christmas ass whooping. I’m not happy it happened to her. It’s sad. She’s so generic and contrived, attention is her only validation. So of course she doesn’t respect boundaries with men. She has a daughter, and I can only hope she doesn’t teach her baby girl to be the same way.
I struggle with telling my story, for two reasons. One, because Bryant acknowledges that he has a problem. I know how it feels to be vilified for having a mental health issue and I don’t want to do that to him. But Bryant has been refusing to get treatment for his issues since he first admitted he needed help on that sad day in February of 2015. And honestly, what encouragement do men really get to treat behavioral issues? In a society that excuses away psychologically violent behavior with sayings like “men will be men,” what reassurance do men have that it’s not some weakery to go to therapy? I would be lying if I said my man didn’t attempt to be there for me through my depression, and even through my recovery. I saw his sweet side, I even occasionally saw his love. But what Bryant never did was fix the thing within himself that made him believe it’s ok to hurt people.
The other reason I struggle with talking about what I have been through is because I still love Bryant. Deeply. With the entirety of my heart. I remember screaming more than once, during one of our many arguments, “Bryant, please don’t make me have to leave you!” Although I have distanced myself, I still can’t bring myself to call my childrens’ father my “ex.” I still refer to him as my man. My flawed, hurting, broken man who refuses to get treatment for the monster that lives inside of him. I believe that there is also a good guy within him, fighting to live, if only he would allow it. I have made peace with the fact that he will never really understand how deeply he’s hurt me until he’s had therapy. And he’ll never understand the magnitude of the fact that I still love him until I no longer do.
The stigma around mental health issues colored not only the way my man treated me during my depression and recovery, but also the way I saw myself. I kept silent about what I’ve been through for almost 2 years because I was too ashamed to tell. I’m not anymore. I have been doing advocacy for mental health issues since August, a month after I was released from the psychiatric hospital. It’s not easy, because I am still in treatment for depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. But I push myself to speak up. Because if nobody talks about the pain that untreated mental health issues brings to people’s lives, then nothing will ever change. I do what I do to help women with postpartum no longer be misunderstood, to help people with depression no longer feel the need to hide their illness, and to help men who need therapy to avoid pushing away good women.
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