Image by TGLM

My style has always been something I thought I would never compromise for love.

So how did I end up putting away my bamboo earrings, jelly platforms and neon spandex crop tops because my boyfriend told me he preferred a woman dressed conservatively?

I don't know exactly when I started chipping away at myself, perhaps it was the time he ran his fingers through my signature look, a fluffed out afro that bounces every time I move my head, and wondered aloud how it would look straightened?

Or maybe it was the side comments he would make about an outfit I had painstakingly prepared. He always played it down, insisting it was just a joke, but the last thing I wanted was for the man I love to crack on me when I was trying to look good for him.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have and will always dress for myself first.

I love fashion, and I love how boldly I express myself with it, and one thing that remains unchallenged, is that my style is undeniable. My 25 thousand plus instagram followers can attest to that salient fact, but still...I wanted my man to only have great things to say about me after spending damn near 2 hours getting ready!

If I sound frustrated, please understand why, this is not my first rodeo with controlling men. In some way or the other, I've had men in my life suggest to me changes that would make myself more palatable to them. And every time I have encountered “this type” of man, i have been unrelenting in asserting who I was.

It has been the only way I have survived years of being the only daughter in a family full of sons.

My parents and brothers have always treated my individuality like a phase I would grow out of (jokes on them), insisting that they know what is best for me over myself. Trust me, nothing has been more unattractive than the idea of continuing that in a relationship I chose for myself.

Which brings me back to my reality and my despair, knowing that I can no longer pretend that my relationship is as healthy as I would love it to be.

I often wish I was less stubborn, less selfish with how much I loved me, but in the same breath, I am thankful that I am.

Even when I try to bury my self love underneath excuses and justifications, it always cries out to me.

It never lies to me, it is blunt and loud and keeps me up at night.

Just one more day, I keep begging, let me just have one more day to pretend that being with this man is not as toxic for me as it feels. But my self love is just too loud, it's practically overbearing in its intensity.

I should never be with someone who makes me doubt myself.

How many more things will he try to fix on me?

As much as I love him, I love me way more.

I see in his eyes his determination to “make me perfect”, but I know he came to me, because I already was.

I also know that his current dissatisfaction has little to do with my imperfections, and everything to do with his need to control how much I love myself.

I will not allow that.

A short story by Doreen Caven.

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