This is a story of a woman named Destiny, who thought she knew exactly what she wanted, only to discover that she really didn’t know herself at all. She takes us on a journey as she struggles to find peace in the midst of a lot of bad choices and decisions. Her journey has many ups and downs, but through it all she finds not only herself; she discovers that her mistakes do not define her.
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I should have known
It's New Year's Eve of 1994, and he is tripping once again. He is acting like a straight fool, and he has got to go! And of course, I have to take him home since I drove him to this party. How dare he pull me off the dance floor, telling me it's time to go?! This is my girl's party, and I invited him! Clearly he has had too much to drink. Well, I'm not the one; I've got a plan. I'm going to drop him off at his house and then come right back to this party. Ain't no man gonna tell me what I can or can't do!
As soon as we get in the car and we start going at it. "What do you mean I'm a B*****! Are you kidding me!? I can be your B****!" I say to him in shock. "This is over! We are done! I don't need your sorry a**!" I added, as we pulled off in my '84 Chevy.
As we were driving, I asked myself, "Now, why did you say all that, Destiny? You know he's crazy!" No sooner than I had that thought, he went crazy banging on the dashboard of the car. Screaming about how I'm not leaving him and how we were meant to be together. I start yelling at him to get out of my car, and he threatens to pull my car out of gear while I am driving. He has clearly had too much to drink. What's my next move? I thought silently. I got it. I am going to drive him to the police station. Yes, that's what I will do; and I dare him to act crazy. Yeah, that's the plan. It won't be long; it will only take about 10 minutes.
Silence plagued the car. I guess since I was so busy devising a plan, I didn't have time to argue back with him. He began to calm down and started apologizing; talking about how much he loves me, and how I sometimes drove him crazy. As he was talking, the police station was getting closer and closer. It got so close that we drove past it before I could act. I chickened out. He had calmed down; I figured it was only a few more minutes before I would be at his place. I decided to just drop him off and be on my way. As I pulled up to the house, he just sat there. ... I told him that I did not think this was going to work. He pleaded with me, but I insisted that we needed a break.
The next thing I knew, he began to bang on my dashboard; punching it over and over again. He even broke the rearview mirror; it hung there, dangling from the front window. I yelled at him to stop and get out. Then all of a sudden, before I even had time to think about what was happening, he grabbed me and pulled me over to his side of the car. My head was laid on his lap, and his grip was tight. I knew this was not good. He began to cry and tell me how much he loved me and how he was not letting me go (figuratively and literally speaking). His grip was so tight that a vision began flashing before me. I instantly saw my name on the headlines of our town paper; "Girl found dead in a car at the hands of her boyfriend." I didn't know what to do, so I sat there quietly, letting him speak. Although this was already a bad situation, I knew it had the potential to get worse. He continued to apologize and I pretended to care. I told him I understood and I forgave him. I told him how I wanted our relationship to work. I told him whatever he wanted to hear. He wanted me to come in the house with him, so I told him I would. When he felt confident that I would come, he released me and began to open the car door; but as soon as he got out, I locked the doors and drove off.
As I pressed on the gas, my heart was racing. I remember looking in my broken rearview mirror, afraid that he was going to jump on the trunk or do something crazy, like in a horror movie. Even when I was blocks away, it felt like he was still behind me; chasing me. At this point, I was too shaken up and afraid to drive home. I thought for sure he would come there. So I went back to the party and told my friends what happened. They took me to the bathroom and helped me pull myself together. My leather jacket was ripped, my make-up was running. They warned me to leave him, and I had every intent on doing so. That is until ... I found out I was pregnant. I couldn't believe it. We had been together almost a year, and now I was pregnant. A few days after finding out, I asked myself "What was I going to do? How did I end up here?" How could I let it get to this point you ask? Well, let's start from the beginning ...
The year of 1992 was a great one. I finished my senior year at Michael J Hopkins High School, and I had been accepted into Ramsey University; I was excited! The prom was right around the corner, and all of my friends were getting ready for the big event. Even though my date was not confirmed, I was happy to be going. I met this guy named Shawn through a friend. I thought he was very cool; he was 6'4, dark chocolate with a low fade and the perfect dimples- one on each cheek. He was the complete opposite of me. What's the saying that every good girl wants a bad boy? Well, he was mine By age 16, he had gotten kicked out of school, had two kids and a juvenile record. The perfect guy, right?! The thing that attracted me to him the most was that everywhere we went, he knew someone. We could be walking downtown, and at least five people would be like "Shawn wassup?" Everywhere we went, he was like a superstar and I was his super girl. All I knew was that everyone knew this guy. What I loved about it was that meant everyone knew me. I guess I was kind of like his charm and I did not mind at all. He had a car, although he did not have a valid driver's license. And when he would come to get me, you could hear his music playing a block away. He was the bad guy on the block. The guy that every mother hopes and prays her daughter does not bring home. Of course, he was supposed to be my date to the prom, and I could not wait to show him off. But by the time we were ready to get fitted for the tuxedoes, he was in jail again. Although he was not officially my boyfriend, I thought it would have been cool to take him to the prom.
Now, don't get me wrong, he wanted to be my boyfriend and we tried it for a minute, but once I found out he had two babies (twins), I decided not to try and have a serious relationship with him. He tried one of those "I'm not sure if the babies are mine, but she is pregnant" lines. Well, the babies were his and his kids' mother was crazy; I really wanted to be with someone who was going to give me, Destiny all of their attention. I did not want to compete with his kids, and I didn't want to be bothered with the drama. I did, however, want him to escort me to the prom. He was the "man" or so I thought. So, we never ended up going to the prom together. By the time prom came, his sons were born and it was all just too messy for me. I took a mutual friend and we still had a great time.
During senior year, I had some great friends. In middle school, though, I had a lot of difficult relationships with friends. I knew a lot of backstabbers and people who I now understand were just trying to find their own way and figure out who they were. My high school years were different because I was very confrontational. I had sorted through the bad seeds and picked a really good bunch of girlfriends. None of them smoked, drank, or used drugs. We were all virgins and we all valued each other's friendships. All of us were going to different colleges, so we really wanted to enjoy our senior year. Time flew so quickly. Before I knew it, prom, graduation, and the summer had come and gone. I was preparing for my first year in college. Ramsey University was two hours away from my home in Philly. I really wanted to get away from home, but I did not want to go too far. It was just my mom and me, and I needed to be able to hop on a train to get home if I needed to.
College was one of my most interesting experiences in my life. I was finally away from home and on my own (or so I thought). The truth is that I had found a little bit of freedom and did not know what to do with myself. I entered college at the age of 17, a virgin, who had led a pretty sheltered life. Aside from pageants and church activities, I really did not participate in other activities. I think I went to one or two parties, now all of a sudden, I had the responsibility of juggling my classes and social life at the same time. Of course, my social life won the battle. As a freshman, I was at almost every party, and I was always drinking at those parties. My girlfriends and I had an understanding that the goal was to get drunk. If you could still feel your tongue, you had not drunk enough. Drinking helped me relax; I could be uninhibited — which I soon discovered was not such a great thing.
When I realized that most professors did not take attendance and gave out a syllabus at the beginning of the course, outlining all the homework and test dates, I rarely found myself in class. I thought I would be able to discipline myself enough to do the work on my own. Why did I need to be in class? I knew how to read. I could go over the material myself and hand in my assignments when they were due.
Fitting in with my new found friends was very important to me. I finally had the opportunity to be who I wanted to be, to appear as the cool girl. So I felt like I could not tell them that I was a virgin. How silly was that? I had to pretend to be an experienced woman. I had to make it seem as if I knew how to handle men. From the way I dressed to the way I talked, I was always flirting, attempting to entice every man I thought was attractive and even those that I just wanted to desire me. As a result, I began to fill obligated to live up to the false image I had created of myself. After parties, my girlfriends and I would be invited to spend the nights over guy's houses. At first, we would just be hanging out, talking, and playing games, but that soon changed. Soon, the sleepovers on the living room floor turned into invitations to the bedroom. What was I going to say? If I said no, I thought I would seem inexperienced. If I said yes, what was I going to do when I got in the room? That's where the liquor came in.
The guys we hung out with were mostly seniors. They were seniors that made a point of seeking out the new freshman (fresh meat) that they could manipulate. This was what they did. Well, I fell hook, line, and sinker. I found myself in a bedroom with one of the most popular guys on campus. What was I going to do now? I could not just leave! I had to make it seem as if I knew what I was doing. I made sure my tongue was numb and waited to see what his next move would be. He came over and things became physical quickly. I don't know who I thought I was fooling, certainly not him. The minute we began to have sex, I felt such excruciating pain. The room was pitch black and I literally saw stars. I remember thinking to myself: "What the Hell am I doing! This does not feel the way I imagined!" All I kept wondering was when it'll be over. As soon as he was done, I went to the bathroom and saw that there was some blood. There is no way he could not have known — he just took my virginity. Or should I say that I just gave it to him? I prayed he would not ask me about it, and he didn't. When he was done, we just laid there and talked. I think I dated him for a few more days if you want to call it that and then it was over. He had moved on to his next prey (freshman) and then began the cycle of the fly-by-night relationships.
Now, I don't want you to think I just slept with everyone I met. That was not the case. I did sleep with quite a few of them, but it was because I had difficulty determining when it was okay to sleep with someone. I was always taught to wait for marriage. So, when I decided not to wait, I could not figure out what boundaries to set. And I was not about to ask those folks that had always told me to wait. All I knew was what I saw on TV. Was I supposed to sleep with them when they asked? Or did I owe them something for taking me out? Did I have a responsibility to make the night complete? Was I required to share myself with them if I was in their room late at night? How do I say no? I did not have a clue. So, every time I found myself in someone's room, I also found myself sleeping with them. It took me about five times to realize this was not the smartest thing. I'd wake up in the morning feeling dirty, and the relationships never lasted. I realized that the guys were benefiting more from this than I was. Eventually, I refrained from going to anyone's room. I had to begin to think about the risks involved. This could not be good. At times, I was so drunk that I could not even remember if we had used a condom. I had to do something different. But was it already too late?
That was when I met this guy named Malik. I met him right around the time when I had decided to stay out the rooms of the guys I was interested in. So, that allowed us to actually talk and get to know each other. He talked some sense into me. He was honest with me about the reputation I had formed for myself as being easy. And I had no clue. I had only been in school for a couple of months, and I already had a reputation. He also told me that since I had slept with so many popular people, there was no way he could make me a steady girlfriend. Even though he did tell me the truth, he was still sleeping with me. I tried hard to win him over, to convince him that I was worth committing to. Unfortunately, nothing changed, and I found myself in the same predicament. We continued our relationship for almost a year, but he stayed true to what he said. He never asked me to be his girlfriend.
Because of his honesty, our relationship caused me to think about how I was living my life. For the first time, I asked myself what I was actually settling for. I knew I needed to slow down, and I knew I needed a change. I had to rethink who was really benefiting from this "experienced women" facade. It certainly was not me. I realized that all of the friends I was trying to impress ended up not being my friends at all. I was on my own, the same way I was when I first arrived at school. I had to do what was best for me. If I did not care about me, then who would? I remained good friends with Malik for the rest of the school year; he was a junior at the time working on his medical degree. I went home for that summer and returned to school with a new attitude. I was not going to try and impress others. I was going to apply myself, focusing on my education, and I definitely was not messing around with the men folks. I had a plan, but I was still immature and foolish, desperately wanting someone to love me. As much as my mind wanted to stay focused on other things, my heart was still empty.
I was able to get an on-campus apartment with a few of my friends that I knew I could trust. We had all kind of gone through the same experiences as a freshman. We figured we were a year older and a year wiser. Together, we could help each other. Although we did not party as much, we still did party and drink. And having an apartment meant fewer rules than in a dorm. All of us had different schedules and worked at different places. We would almost always miss each other. I ended up hooking up with my friend Malik, who still did not want to commit to me but I wanted a companion. I soon decided that he was wasting my time. Although he was honest about where our relationship was going (which was nowhere), he was still a selfish man. And he was willing to take advantage of all our relationship offered.
Once that relationship ended, another began. It seemed that men were everywhere, each one with their own agenda. It became time-consuming for me. I really needed to take a break. I was not sleeping with them, but the whole process of filtering through the liars and keepers was just exhausting. My break lasted for a whole month. Eventually, I was worn down by a guy named Sam that I kept running into. I attempted to play hard to get, but he was very persistent. We had gone to high school together, and I had always had a crush on him. He was older than me, and it felt good to know that he had noticed me back in high school too. On our first date, he told me to bring an overnight bag. I thought he was kidding, but he wasn't. I told him I had no intentions of staying the night with him. He just laughed; I should have known then. He took me to his apartment which was almost an hour away. We watched a movie and walked around the city. He was very spontaneous and easy to talk to, I liked that. Before I knew it, I was staying overnight. I was gone the whole weekend. Everything was happening so fast; I never really had time to think about how my actions would impact me later.
Excerpted from "Second Chances"
Copyright © 2017 Latisha Gray.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
My Childhood, ix,
Chapter One: I should have known, 1,
Chapter Two: 1992, 4,
Chapter Three: 1995, 14,
Chapter Four: The Time Bomb, 19,
Chapter Five: Things Get Worse, 24,
Chapter Six: A Sucker for "Love", 29,
Chapter Seven: 1999, 33,
Chapter Eight: "Some things never change", 37,
Chapter Nine "A Month Later", 41,
Chapter Ten: "A New Attitude", 44,
Chapter Eleven: 2000, 50,
Chapter Twelve: "And still some things never change", 57,
Chapter Thirteen: "Late nights", 64,
Chapter Fourteen: "When it's over, it's over", 69,
Chapter Fifteen: "When will you change?", 74,
Chapter Sixteen: "A new found freedom", 80,
Chapter Seventeen: "The Divorce is final", 83,
Chapter Eighteen: "Life After Divorce", 86,
Chapter Nineteen: "A New Love", 91,
Chapter Twenty: "A faithful God", 93,