• As Told To Veronica Wells-Puoane

Why I Left: God Told Me To Run!

African American woman, toxic relationships, marriage, african american woman thinking, no sugar no cream mag
Mike Von, Unsplash

I was with him since I was 15. We’re from a small town in Louisiana and we met when I was in the ninth grade. By the time I was in the 10th grade, I got pregnant with my first child. So we just stayed together. And you know teenage love, it was toxic from the beginning. We tried to make it work and it got worse and worse.

As teenagers, there was cheating, talking to other people. I don’t know myself. He don’t know who he is. Then there was college, fraternities, sororities, we went through all of that.

We were together ten years before we got married. He felt like he was ready and I knew I was ready but he wasn’t all that ready because he was still doing what he wanted to do.

And of course, I’m not putting anything all on him. We were in a relationship and I had the mentality of, ‘If you can do it to me, I can do it you.’ But of course I was in my teenage years and my early twenties.

We moved to Shreveport, which is an hour north of where we’re from. So it was like a start over. But when I moved to Shreveport with him, I learned he had another girl pregnant. (1)

At the time, I thought well because I cheated, this was his “get back.” He got me back.

That’s how that started.

After that, we got married in 2009.

He got me back.

NSNC: You got married after he got someone else pregnant?

Yes…I’m telling you I’m a work in progress. That ain’t the cake.

I got married in 2009. Everything was perfect to me. We got pregnant. We wanted to try for a girl (after the son they had when they were in high school.) I thought two kids and I’ll be done. Perfect. By our one year anniversary, I was pregnant with our second son.

I had our son in June 2010. In March of 2011, I found out he had another son the same age as my son. (2)

My son was born June 2010, another child was born in August of 2010.

Being a newlywed and scared, I stayed. I wanted to talk through it. You know I’m a Southern girl. I just felt like. ‘Okay, you made this mistake.’ But I’m not going to lie, it was so—oh God, it broke me. I just reverted back to that old person. He didn’t want to talk about it, none of that. And what he wasn’t giving me—I went and had an affair. It was only about sex. I don’t know why I did it. I’m better than that and I learned from it.

Of course, he found out and he got another girl pregnant. (3) Our marriage was on the rocks for 2-3 years and all along, I’m thinking this is my fault because I cheated.

NSNC: So, this is the third baby he’s had in addition to the children he has with you?

Yes, one was before we got married. I do count him as my stepson. I have a relationship with him. I know it’s weird but I just felt like we weren’t married…

I’m going to be honest, I stayed because of my kids. I come from a household where my parents were divorced. I wanted to give my kids something that I didn’t have. We both worked hard. We both have careers and we built a life for our kids. So momma was suffering for her kids, that’s what I told myself.

We built our dream home. I had a career in banking. I wasn’t making a lot of money but I made enough to do what I wanted to do because of course, he was the breadwinner. I never had to worry about anything financially so that’s why I stayed.

And another baby was born in my marriage. (4)

NSNC: So, we’re at 4.

Yes. I was numb at this point. But I was preparing myself because I was like this is on you. What are you going to do? He said, I think we should separate and let all of this come out. And Veronica, I’m not lying to you, I heard God say, ‘Run!’

So I agreed to the separation and I left. And it’s been a year. I started therapy in September of 2019 and I was literally going three times a month. I was going once a week. It’s been a blessing.

I heard God say, ‘Run!’

NSNC: There were so many different instances of him cheating. Did you always know?

Yes, I accepted it. He had a pattern. I know it’s weird for me to say he was never disrespectful. But it was never anybody calling my house, showing up to my house. The women that he had, he controlled them. I was never bothered. The only reason I found out about these kids is because he told me. I wouldn’t know about these kids unless he told me.

But he had a pattern on the weekends. Fridays were our date night. Saturdays we hung around the house, did whatever, got in the pool. I always got this anxious feeling around 7-10 pm because he would get up and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to go to the casino.’ I’ve never been the type of woman to question anything because I believe it was Toni Braxton who said, ‘What are you going to do when you get that information? Are you going to leave?’ I knew I wasn’t going to leave so I never went looking for anything. I knew it but I never asked.

NSNC: When you left, you didn’t make an announcement, you just left?

It was an agreement. He said we should separate. He said, ‘I’ll pay your rent for a year.’ The deal was we would separate for a year and get back together. I let him think that and I thought that too. You have to realize, being in a relationship for 20 years, letting someone do this to you, I was mentally abused. Never physical, never physical. But mentally abused.

I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll give it a year.’ But I heard God say run and I ran and I’m not going back, ever. My divorce [was] final on November 2, 2020.

I know it’s weird but he’s my family. He’s my kids’ dad. He’s a wonderful dad, great dad, provider. He just wasn’t a good husband to me. And I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t a good wife to him during certain times. And when he couldn’t forgive…If I could forgive humans having whole humans, I felt like him not forgiving me and holding it over my head, it justified what he was doing. It gave him solace. That was his ammo.

NSNC: How did the mental abuse play out?

I was never told I’m pretty. He said, ‘I don’t tell you you’re pretty or compliment your outfit because I know that will go to your head.’ Or he’d say, ‘You’re the reason I do this.’ You did this and you did that. He’d say, ‘You stay on social media. You stay on your phone.’ Things like that. He was controlling.

I knew I wasn’t going to leave so I never went looking for anything.

NSNC: While all this was going on, did friends and family know or were all of the children kept between the two of you?

They didn’t know. They knew only about one. So when this last one came, I was done. My family accepted his first son. They bought him Christmas gifts. They accepted him because that was before our marriage. I told my cousins. But I didn’t tell a lot of family my business because Ima be there. The deal was, you keep that shit away from me, my family and my boys and we’ll be good. It can’t affect us.

My best friend knew. She’d say, ‘If you’re going to be there, it’s going to be some stuff you got to take.’ And this last one, when I told her, I was just numb.

I found out about this last child, January 10, 2019. And it was for a white girl, Veronica.

NSNC: Stop! Gurl, no!

And it’s a baby girl. I don’t have a girl. All of that anger and stuff. Anyway, we went to celebrate our ten-year anniversary February 14 of that same year. I couldn’t cancel!

NSNC: Do you think the fact that nobody knew was what allowed you to stay for so long?