#FuckGrandGestures: Offsets Public Campaign to Get Cardi B Back is Dangerous. Stop Applauding It.
At 24, I was living my #BestLife in San Francisco. I had found a tiny studio on the main strip with bars and restaurants, and surrounded by people having a good time. Far from the “can’t even say good morning” vibe in DC, I was extremely popular here, and I couldn't walk down the street without meeting some guy who wanted to talk to me or take me out on a date. (This was before right before dating apps were cool, so guys had to try in real life and were more attentive when they are now IMO.)
I was definitely in that “post-serious relationship” phase of my life, where you have a hoe-tation of guys --one for every night or so that takes you out and treats you right (or at least entertains you) until you find a reason why he shouldn't be around. And trust, it had me feeling myself.
It was all fun and games for awhile, until one night, when I decided to get a tattoo by this 6’3” half-Chilean, half-white dude with all the tattoos. I wasn’t even paying attention to him until he was finished and asked me out. I was dumbfounded but very excited, because, well: 6’3” plus tattoos, or what I thought was oh-so-hot at the time. We went on a date and he literally spoiled me and quickly made sure I had no time for any other dude in my life.
Looking back, I could yell at myself for that young and dumb stereotype, but I was thrilled to have a serious relationship with someone who seemed so into me. Six months into the relationship, my lease was over and it was time to decide if I was going to stay or move out. My job at the time I was in Oakland and the commute was getting exhausting, so I decided to start looking for a place closer to work. Cue the groans, but that was when my boyfriend suggested we move in together.
It didn't take much convincing. It would be an upgrade, for sure, but also it was exciting to think about living with someone who was everything I thought I needed. As it turns out, he wasn't.
He became super obsessed with me, texting me an obscene amount of times every day. He would make an effort to pick me up after work, which I thought was romantic but was actually his way of making sure I wasn't seeing anyone else. One time, he tricked me into meeting his mom, despite my clear disinterest. What I thought would be a fun road-trip turned into a drive to his mom’s house. Not that I have anything against moms, but like, didn’t I say “no”? He also started encouraging me to not hang out with my friends and wouldn’t make any effort to hang out with me and my friends. And if we were with his friends, he was super protective --acting like I was the hottest thing in the world and everybody wanted me. All the time, despite the flags, I thought it was just a sign of how much he loved me.
One night, we tried to host a cute housewarming party, but that quickly went downhill. After he was extremely rude to my sister who was in town, I told him it was time to break up. We had been drinking at our housewarming party, and I guess that stirred something in him, because he just looked at me and said, “If you leave me I will kill myself.” This wasn’t the first time he said it, so feeling manipulated, I ignored it and nonchalantly said, “Well, I guess that's what's going to happen because this is done. As soon as I finished my sentence, he broke a beer bottle and cut his wrist, enough that blood started to flow heavily from his hand. It was the scariest thing I’d ever seen and I immediately forgot to protect myself, and instead shifted the blame to me for not taking him seriously and for wanting to break up. My inner caretaker overwhelmed me, and I began cleaning the wound, making him raise his arms and wrapping them tightly to stop the bleeding. He just started crying and apologizing and saying that he loved me so much and he never wanted to lose me. I said everything would be okay. But I didn't sleep for several nights.
What happened next was a series unfortunate events that everyone interpreted differently. Determined to win me back, he dialed up the crazy. I got the regular gifts like flowers on my doorstep, flowers at work, “I'm sorry” letters and poems -- all things I could care less about. At that point, I was no longer scared, just angry.
But then he started a public campaign to get me back. He was a tattoo and a graffiti artist and sure enough I was walking home one day and saw my name tagged all over my street: on the floor, on stop signs. As I got closer to my house: the electric box on the corner said, “I'm sorry Doris. I love you, please take me back.” Of course, I thought it was kind of cute (in the way that society romanticizes stalker behavior) and took pictures as proof to my friends. Everybody thought it was cute, too, and also a sign of how much he loved me. (We were all 25 LOL!) Even his friends started texting me and telling me how much he cares for me, how miserable he was, and how he would never hurt himself again so his cutting was just a sign of how much he cared. The message was clear: I was the one who fucked up and I needed to take him back. The grand finale was when he painted a giant mural nearby (yup, a whole damn wall for me) with a giant red heart that had my name written down the side. Everybody lost their shit -- his friends, my friends. I even flew home and my sister had told the hairdresser and they were all telling me how romantic that gesture was, pure telenovela status, and how lucky I was to have someone like that on my life. So I caved. I took him back and I accepted that it was a drunken night of craziness and high emotions. It.was.so.fucked.up.
Of course this second honeymoon didn't last very long and nothing was ever the same. I think he knew this and we finally broke up a few weeks later when I decided to go to my friend's house for the weekend. Halfway through my stay he got upset, saying I shouldn't be staying anywhere but our house and that I should come home right now. I refused, as we already discussed this, but also I knew it was his way of controlling every situation and I was tired of it. Over the phone, he gave me an ultimatum: come home now or we're breaking up. Well, he set himself up because it was the perfect out. I came home after the weekend and he was gone; his stuff was gone. I immediately change the locks and ended up blocking his number after a few unpleasant texts. In the back of my head, I knew I was lucky. Of course it was painful and sad knowing that I had made such a big mistake, but this was the best case scenario and I came out of it relatively unscathed.
If you get anything from my story, it’s that we need to stop applauding abuse men who chase after ex-partners after they’ve “reformed.” Take the Cardi-Offset situation. If we’re going to say we value the lives of women and respect their privacy and autonomy, then we need to put a halt to encouraging Offset’s public displays of affection. The fact is that Offset has been caught cheating on her several times in the past year. Whether it was him sleeping with other girls or trying to set up threesomes with Instagram models, we know he was disrespectful to their relationship and marriage. Cardi dedicated an entire album, “Invasion of Privacy” to letting him know this was his last chance! She admitted to his shadiness and infidelity, and her struggle to forgive and move on. Unfortunately it seems he didn't get the message, so the onus is on him. While I agree with her latest post to leave him alone, I don't agree with the internet romanticizing a potential abuser because he has the money and time for performative acts of love. Offset’s public campaign to get Cardi B back is just another stop in the cycle of unhealthy abusive relationships and we need to learn and teach our young people that this is not ok.
Sometimes, that’s where it ends while others are not so lucky.