“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
When I was in college, I moved in with a boyfriend for a while until I could afford my own apartment. It was the first time we had been around each other on a constant, daily basis and it was weird being privy to all of his personal stuff. But instead of giving him privacy, I snooped through all his things while he was at work. One day, I found a court summons that stated he was to show up for a child support hearing in the next few weeks. Child support? As far as I knew, my boyfriend had no children. When he came home that night, I met him at the door with my hand on my hip. “What’s this?” I asked angrily. His explanation was that a “crazy girl” had accused him of being the father of her baby, but it was all untrue. And he was going to “fight it.”
I didn’t believe him.
So what did my little 19 year old self do? I decided to go to the source. I knew the woman’s name and her address must have been on the court paperwork I found. One day while my boyfriend was at work, I drove over to her house. It was a 30-minute drive from where we lived and the whole way over, my mind was racing. What would I say? What would she say? I had all this anger boiling up within me about this situation and I didn’t know where to put it. What was I gonna do, beat the girl up? I’d never been in a fight in my entire life.
Right before I got out of the car, I decided that all I really wanted was the truth. I wanted to see the baby for myself. I felt like if I saw the baby and it looked like my boyfriend, there was no way he’d be able to win me back with his lies.
I rang the doorbell. Apparently, the woman lived at home with her parents and the baby. It was a nice house and she was a nice person. I told her who I was and instead of cussing me out for being on her doorstep, she invited me in. We talked for a few minutes, woman to woman, without the drama. She told me the whole timeline of their relationship, over a year prior to when I hooked up with him. Then, she brought out the baby. I immediately recognized my boyfriend in her little boy’s eyes, nose, ears. This was most definitely his child. As my grandmother would say, it was almost as if his daddy had spit him out!
I knew. And she knew I knew. I thanked her for her time and walked back to my car.
I felt humiliated.
Not just for being the silly stereotype of the angry black chick going to confront the “other woman” about her man, but for not going with my gut in the first place. The moment I stood in front of my boyfriend that night, waving the court summons in his face, I knew it was true. And when he gave me that always-lame excuse about her being “crazy,” I knew he was lying. At my core, I even knew that things were quickly going downhill in our relationship. So why did I have to go over to this woman’s house, interrupting her good life?
I didn’t trust myself.
I didn’t realize at the time that I was already the source of truth, that it was important to value my own intuition. And it took me a long time to learn that lesson. Even after that relationship, I became obsessed with checking every boyfriend’s phone. I would read all the text messages and emails. I found out a few men were married. I found more undisclosed children. But I also “found” things when there was actually nothing to find.
Finally, I decided to apply a very simple rule to all of my relationships. If I feel the need to go snooping, I probably shouldn’t be with this person. A relationship based on mistrust is not the kind of relationship I want to have. And that includes my relationship with myself.
Do you find it difficult to trust your gut? Have you ever been in a relationship where you knew you were being lied to, but you just didn’t want to admit it?