How Adrienne Rich Helped Me Forgive My Ex.

My ex contacted me a month ago. For many of my long time readers, ya’ll know that I had a torrid affair with Filthy. When you are? a#blackgirlfromthefuture and you ride with your partner, thirteen hours, while being sick, to meet and kick it with his family who is White, that’s Love on both ends.

Well, he contacted me via email a month ago taumbout congratulations on completing your first year of grad school.

We ain’t spoke since last year when the relationship ended. So, I was like ummmmm….why is the first point of contact an email? However, I found out from a mutual friend that he was considering calling but he hesitated.

The petty part of me was like the fuck?

The adult part of me was like, well, he doing what he could do at the time, I should go ahead and just let him live.

Last Sunday, looking for an earring underneath my dresser, I found a book,? “On Lies, Secrets, and Silence” by Adrienne Rich, that he gave me last August. I guess it fell back there when I moved. He didn’t give me books. He let me hold them, all the time. But his books were his books, and I get that as a scholar. You be needing to go back to your copy to refer to notes in margins and what not and to clarify quotes.

In finding and re-reading this book I realized that I could not be tight with him over our recent communications. Reading this book and understanding that that he gave it to me. This man Loved me. In fact, I think he gave me the copy that he got from a garage sell.? A first edition copy. #ummhmm. #Love.

There are three sections that really get at why this book is special to me.

The first is:

Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence grappling, with hard work….It means insisting that those to whom you give your friendship and love are able to respect your mind. ~from Claiming an Education

The second is:

Women and men do not receive an equal education because outside of the classroom women are not perceived as sovereign beings but as prey…. the capacity to think independently, to take intellectual risks, to assert ourselves mentally is inseparable from our physical way of being in the world, our feelings of personal integrity. If it is dangerous for me to walk home late of an evening from the library because I am a woman and I can be raped then, how self possessed, how exuberant can I feel as I sit and work at the library? How much of my working energy is drained by by the subliminal knowledge that as a woman, I test my physical right to exist every time I go out alone. ~from Taking Women Students Seriously

This line killed it for me, “because outside of the classroom women are not perceived as sovereign beings but as prey.”

The third? is:

I think of myself as a teacher of language: that is, as someone for whom language has implied freedom, who is trying to aide others in freeing themselves through the written word, and above all through learning to write it for themselves. I cannot know what it is they need to free, or what words they need to write; I can only try with them to get an approximation of the story that they want to tell. ~from Teaching Language in Open Admissions

“I cannot know what it is they need to free” #ummhmm. Her pedagogy weighs a ton.

Rereading this book, I realized that I was tripping because the communication didn’t happen the way that I preferred.

HA! Thats life.

More than anything, this book helped me to make sense of this last year of school, of my process of claiming my education and my voice in the classroom, on THIS blog and publicly, in real time on Twitter.

How can I be tight with a person who helped me do that? #Ummhmm.

When its time for us to chat we will. Until then. God bless him. Change me. #ummhmm.

Besides resentment and Love can’t live in the same heart, and if? I’m tight with him I am impacting my ability to see new Love awesomeness on the horizon.

I felt vulnerable writing this. But I posted it anyways.


You forgive anyone lately?

Why or why not?

You know Adrienne Rich’s work?

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  1. says

    that’s wisdom!

    Rich’s passages brought tears to my eyes.

    I’m trying to forgive my father for not being the father I want — he didn’t do anything horrible to me but i feel like he didn’t fight for me or stick up for me in certain situations. I’ve unfairly compared him to my mother who has let me be who I am and would spend her last dollars on a book for me to read as a teenage bookworm and who didn’t blink when taking out loans in her name to pay for my expensive liberal arts education and let me store all my stuff in her basement while I ran off to East Asia to see the world.

    Forgiveness is hard work like being free. It aint for the weak-hearted.


  2. arieswym says

    I’ve heard of Adrienne Rich but never read her, but I gonna pick up this collection of essays based off the second section above.

    “…the capacity to think independently, to take intellectual risks, to assert ourselves mentally”

    That passage definitely got me thinking about the ability to just be as a female student. The same inequalities that manifest outside the classroom are present in the classroom and are often enhanced in situations where there are few women students, such as in an undergrad engineering class.

  3. Renina says

    The same inequalities that manifest outside the classroom are present in the classroom and are often enhanced in situations where there are few women students

    There it is!

  4. says

    First, thanks so much for sharing this story. Helps put lots of personal things for me in perspective. Things Dont work out how you want it , but it always seems to work out…

    This book sounds amazing, and I will be scooping it soon.

  5. Renina says

    @dcbuppie Thank you for stopping by and for sharing.

    Thank you for your KIND words. They go really far. I had six passages to use, but I chose these. I could do an entire page of quotables from this book. I hope you enjoy it.


  6. BP says

    I’m so proud of you ‘nina bear!!!! I must read this book.

    I love “resentment and love can’t live in the same place!” so powerful and true!! 🙂

    I work really hard to forgive folks. But I also give myself time to do just that. I been reading (very slowly) Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s changed my perspective on love and fear.

    Love u sis!!

  7. manaen says

    Deep emotional hurt and injury take time to heal. Some counsel I like is to “keep a place in your heart for forgiveness, and when it comes, welcome it in.”

  8. Renina says

    Girrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl. You know this was a hard one to write. But so true, so I did it anyways.

    #softheart. I try.
    How have you been?

    I still remember and have the video you sent me on forgiveness. #Ummhmm.

  9. Very54 says

    The whole story brought tears to my eyes.
    It was honest, beautiful and simple.
    I like to think I have forgotten my ex but reading you made me realize I haven’t.
    And unlike you holding on to my hurt made me “unable to see Love awesomeness on the horizon’. I just didn’t realize it. until now.

    And you are right love and resentment cannot live in the same heart.
    So thank you to Adrienne Rich (I’ll have to google her), to your ex and to you.

    I feel vulnerable writing this as well… 😉


  10. says

    Hey Love,

    Glad you enjoyed it. I had no idea how powerful that book was until I re read it. Honestly I got put on to Adrienne Rich when I was 18. #BlackgirlshavehadaVERYprivilaged academic life.