As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.
This is Mekia's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.
So, let me tell you the story about how I found out my ex-husband was down-low...
It was a normal Wednesday evening and I was on deadline. I needed to get my work done for my online classes, and somehow my laptop disappeared—to this day I don't know how. I decided I'd use my ex-husbands laptop to complete my assignments, which he guarded like Buckingham Palace. On the off-chance that I asked to use it, I'd be met with:
“Um, well, I'm using it right now."
“Oh, sorry, babe I left it at work, I don't have it on me today."
An excuse always seemed to follow. Something wasn't right.
I let this go on for a little while, or at least until my instincts got the best of me.
Then one day, there his laptop was, sitting in our bedroom. I grabbed it and began to go through it like a madman. There has to be a reason he is so secretive about this computer. I opened it up, flipped through a few folders, and boom. There it was: a folder with our good family friend—male—posing in a bra. He was also wearing a wig, lipstick, lashes; an entire look. I continued to scroll, and the pictures got even worse. There were pictures of our family friend holding another man's penis, his penis, so on and so on. It wasn't my husband's penis in the pictures, but for me, that didn't matter—they were still in there.
But wait, this guy is married! And he has a child! Why does my husband have these pictures of him?!
Completely frozen, in my mind, I knew exactly why.
So, I guess you can say that I got the answer I was looking for...
We met in high school. I was born into a military family so we moved around a lot. Most of my stay has been between New Orleans, Southern Georgia, and Atlanta. I spent a lot of time in the country, the youngest of 12.
Our school had a music building that housed the chorus and band department. I was in the chorus, and my ex-husband was in a band so we would cross paths often. I had a friend who was also in the band so I would be in their class just to pass time during the day. As we started to share day-to-day experiences, we learned that he lived about two blocks from my grandmother, which of course we thought was pretty cool. After he graduated (he is older), we spoke via Facebook and eventually exchanged numbers. It started as a simple crush and it blossomed from there. I saw a more mature and serious side outside of high school, which made me like him romantically. I was young, and he was fresh out of high school, so the relationship started slow and progressed as we learned more about each other.
We dated for three years and decided to get married.
And our married life was great at first. We had lots of good times—bad ones too—but we were like best friends.
But then, I started to notice behavior changes. You see, I never thought anything of some of the signs that now, in hindsight, I should have absolutely paid attention to (ex: all of his friends were gay, he became extremely guarded, he wouldn't walk ten steps without making sure he had his phone, etc).
My breaking point came on a trip to South Carolina for a wedding that I actually had to invite myself to. I found the invitation in the couch and after my suspicions, I told him I would be attending with him. And y'all, he was pissed. We arrive to the wedding location and at this point, I had taken note of all his behavior changes mentioned above. Well, suddenly, he had to run outside to the car for something, and he left his phone. I grabbed it and decided to take the journey down the rabbit hole again.
I saw that he was texting an unknown number, which of course, I searched through first. They were exchanging multiple penis pics, engaging in inappropriate conversations about what they would do to each other, how, what they each like sexually—you know, just really raunchy, rogue stuff. I put the unknown number in my phone, called, and a guy answered. After a bit of small talk, I blatantly asked, "Are you sleeping with my husband?"
"No," he said. "I know him, but I have been talking to a girl from this phone number."
A girl?! This is my husband's number, this is his phone.
“OK, well, do you have any pictures, can you send me a picture of who you've been speaking with from this number?" I asked. He agrees. We hang up, and I wait on the picture. Shortly afterwards, it comes through and I open the message.
And ladies, there I was. Everything he described. My pictures. My nudes.
I didn't know what sick shit my ex-husband was into, or what was going on, but I decided right then and there, I wasn't going to sit around and find out. It was time to go.
I. Was. Done.
I shared the news with only one of my siblings. A lot of my family found out about my body being exposed, and the mental abuse when I posted my YouTube video. My parents didn't know anything was going on until we were actually going to court for a domestic abuse case (yeah, that was another component to this train-wreck relationship). That's also when our divorce process began. But for the most part, no one ever suspected my ex-husband was gay.
Or at least, they've never expressed so to me.
Because of the popularity of my YouTube video, I've gotten lots of ridicule online and in my personal life, and you know, I can't say that I blame anyone for the constant questioning of “how did you not know?" And to put it simply, no one has lived my life and no one experienced what I have with my ex-husband. Being manipulated and mentally and physically abused is a thing many people can't escape. But I did, guys. I did. And most of all, uncovering who he truly was did not happen at once. And to this day, the people who knew about his lifestyle protected it but thinking that he was just playing or that it was a phase, which was even more hurtful to me.
My advice to anyone who feels that they may be in a similar situation: get confirmation if you feel like you need it, but don't stay and don't wait. Keep in mind a confident straight man will never give you an inkling of him liking the same sex. A man who needs a partner of the same sex will never be fully satisfied with you. Women deserve to be loved, reassured, wanted, and refueled. Women need to feel safe and if he doesn't give you that feeling, he's not the one, my girl. If he's given you an idea that he may be a part of that lifestyle and you are not in support of it, leave.
A lying man becomes angry when questioned too much, a red flag that I blamed myself for. So, never blame yourself, just remove yourself. Remember that moving on with your health and joy is the end goal, and it doesn't take an uncertain man to do it.
Today, I am in a much better place. I have a beautiful son with and amazing man that I adore. I find myself giving advice to other women about their relationships, and how to communicate their feelings, as I'm always asked for advice. Somehow, I've been placed on a platform to help women in the same situations, which fed my spirit—support is out there and we should never be afraid to get it.
Ultimately, I've learned that I'm stronger than I ever knew I was. I overcame the hardest part of my life, and I've been rewarded ten times over with my amazing family now.
Have I forgiven my ex-husband? Absolutely.
I had to. I had to forgive him in order to allow happiness to find me. I actually last saw him at our alma mater—the very place that we met. And I couldn't have cared less. That's when I realized, that I had set myself free.
And ladies, that is a level of peace that we must learn to immerse ourselves in; a peace that no one can take from us.
Featured image by Shutterstock
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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Featured image by Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images