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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Studying, Not Fuckin ...

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

August 28, 2012

This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

I remember my first semester at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. I thought that I was hot shit! For Real... For Real. By then I had been out of Mama's house for two years. You couldn't tell my ass a shit. I had already been in love, hurt beyond anything I could imagine and I thought I was seasoned.

No one could run a game on me, so I thought. My relationship right before college had lasted 2 years. For sure he was my first love, a bad boy, who was 10 years older than me. Lawd, did I love that man. For sure he started me on the path of bad boys. Good Lawd, there is nothing like a bad boy. They keep shit exciting, but lawd, lawd, when it's bad, it's bad. There is no in between with bad boys and I seem to never learn my lesson. I will pass the nice guy up in a heartbeat for that man that makes my toes curl. *SMDH*

But my love affair with bad boys is a whole other topic. My first love was a bad boy who taught me the ropes and at 19 I thought that I was one bad ass! That first semester at SIU-C I thought that I was the shit. That first week I met a senior. He was 6'2, the color of dark chocolate with a deep sexy voice, good lawd, he was fine. Our eyes met in that orientation room and it was on.

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That week before classes started, I spent every day with him. How lucky could a girl get, so I thought. He was so sweet to me. Each day we would hook-up, he would show me the campus and we would have dinner. Now, I ain't even gonna lie. This was the 80's and pregnancy was all I had to worry about, so I thought. So yes, we did that thang, sure did.

Now let me be honest again, the sex was ok. For sure he was not the man I had grown accustomed to in the last two years. A bad boy in bed he was not, but he would do. I wasn't at school to fuck anyway, I was there to learn. I had decided that I didn't need the lovin to be extra good, cause I just might not get any work done. But I was still in that phase where I was lookin for someone to love me. Yep, he would do, so I thought. No one wants to be alone and I thought how lucky am I to have found someone that first week.

That first week before classes we were thicker than thieves. Then classes began and I didn't see him every day, but we sure talked at least once a day. Then that second week of school I saw him less and less and talked less. His excuse was always school. One day he said, "Come on baby, give me a break. I have so much work to do. I can't let anything interfere with graduating in January."

It sounded reasonable. It really did. So I got over myself and started to buckle down with my studies. By that fourth week of school, I saw baby boy less and less and less, but he made sure he tapped that thang once a week. I had already decided that I was over the fuckin anyway, once a week was cool with me, but I did want a boyfriend. Someone I could grow with. Someone who in time would love me and we could then make a life together.

Here I was 19, looking for a lifelong partner, when I should have been trying to develop myself. Use education as a way to uplift me from my circumstance. Mama had put me out my senior year of high school and I've been putting bread on my table ever since. If ever anyone needed an education, I sure did.

Back then I should have been spending my energy on what my future would look like, about me, for me. But instead, I started studying less and worrying about him more and more.

Now let's be for real, there are only so many times that you can call a man and not get a call back without it starting to beat away at your self-worth.

But back in the day, I didn't know any better and I suffered through the no return calls. I had to learn, that there is no point in tracking him down. If he wants to be with you he will. You will NEVER have to ask, "When am I going to see you?" If he wants to be with you, there will be NO doubt! He will show up anyway he can.

I had to learn that. It was a rough and long lesson, but I got it! I don't chase NO men. Bullshit ain't nothing, if you want me, you know where to find me. But back then, I was young and all I really knew was that I didn't want to be alone.

The time spent with him was less and less and less and less and less. But for sure, his non fucking ass made his way over to my dorm to get his once a week fuck and my stupid ass, spread my legs to hold on to a man I didn't even really have. It had become a nasty cycle and I couldn't see an end. I didn't like how it made me feel, but the feeling of being alone made me hold onto nothing.

Then one day it all came crumbling down. I saw him walking on campus holding hands with a girl. I was too embarrassed to confront him right then and there, but for sure we had that show down. He dismissed me with a simple explanation. "She's been my girlfriend for the last three years. Everyone knows we are together, I thought you knew too."

What the fuck could I say? Really, I had accepted whatever he had given. I had learned a hard lesson, that you can't blame someone for how you allow them to treat you. Looking back, I'm sure that I should have been studying and not fucking. But the books got lost in the desire to be loved. It took years to learn that self-love, should always be the first love and once you understand your self-worth you will never allow someone chip away at it.

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Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.

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