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Being in a committed relationship with another person can bring great joy or sorrow. Inevitably, the question emerges: What am I willing to compromise to keep this relationship?
'Facing Our Skeletons' is a tale of Stella, a modern woman seeking fulfillment through her relationships with men. Author Carmel S. Victor chronicles Stella's dealings with three men-Kevin, Michael, and Dev-and the troubles and heartaches she finds with them as she seeks the perfect match. During these trials, Stella comes into contact with other women who have their own struggles to find a man who is faithful, respectful, and considerate of them as independent women. As time goes on, Stella discovers that the peace she seeks cannot be found in the arms of another, but through healthy relationships with God, her family, and those around her. This is a tale of one woman's disappointments and how she turned them into triumphs.
The Man Of Her Dreams
At this moment, Stella couldn’t help but look back at her relationship pattern. She thought about her very first relationship. She was eighteen, he was twenty-four.
Her thoughts took her back to high school, when she gave the boys the run-around. She had no plans of giving any of them her attention. She preferred someone sophisticated, who would stimulate her mind. Being mature for her age, she believed only a sophisticated man could please her.
Stella was the youngest of three children. Her parents divorced when She was eight years old. Soon after, Stella’s mother and siblings moved from their home in the north. She grew tired of living up north in the cold weather. Her father remained. He preferred the climate of the north to that of the south.
At the age of twelve, Stella decided to live with her mother. She loved her father, but she longed for her mother. Stella never had a close relationship with her father. He was always gone and never spent quality time with his children. Due to his authoritative behavior, the children were afraid of him. The only friends he allowed them to have were those of family
friends who occasionally came to play with them. He never permitted his children to spend time at their friends’ homes.
She considered her mother old-fashioned, lacking understanding of the emotional support young teenage girls need while dating. The fact is, Stella’s mother preferred her to date after completing college.
When Stella met Kevin, she felt relieved, relieved that she had finally met the man of her dreams. Kevin was her first love, the man she considered to be her future husband, the man who was going to be the father of her children, the man who was going to take her away from it all.
Stella and Kevin met at a birthday party to which Stella’s cousin invited her. Stella’s cousin and the host, Kevin’s cousin, were close friends.
Stella spotted Kevin sitting by himself across from her. He appeared to be a respectable young man from a respectable family. He was tall, dark, and handsome-just what Stella liked. She felt the need to have him.
Besides, she thought, what could possibly be wrong with him? He has to be a good catch, coming from a stable family.
The moment their eyes met, Stella felt it was love at first site. She glanced at him in a flirtatious way. It wasn’t long before Kevin approached her and introduced himself. The minute the two became acquainted, they kissed. They danced all night long and then exchanged phone numbers.
They began dating soon after.
For Stella, the relationship was ecstatic. Kevin called her daily, and Wherever one was, there was the other. Neither one of them would go anywhere without the other or without notifying the other. Kevin invested most
of his money in her. She invested whatever she had in him as well. The relationship was promising and well-balanced.
Eighteen months after they started going steady, the happy couple was engaged. For the most part, Stella felt fulfilled. She and Kevin did everything together. They trusted each other. They were always there for each other. She lived through him. They were soul mates.
Two months later, Stella found out she was pregnant. She was happy to be carrying Kevin’s baby and couldn’t wait to tell him about it. The thought of getting an abortion never crossed her mind, despite the pressure from a few acquaintances to abort her pregnancy. They told her she was too young and should consider. Because her relationship was secure and she had no reason to doubt Kevin, Stella remained convinced that she was making the right decision.
Stella decided to hide the beginning of her pregnancy from her mother since her mother warned her against the possibility of getting pregnant at such a young age, when she had such a bright future ahead of her, filled with possibilities. Stella didn’t feel the same way. She felt she was old enough to make her own decisions, being that she was twenty years old. She argued with her mother that if she had to learn, she would learn on her own, and she wanted the chance to make her own mistakes. Stella didn’t realize that a mother's instinct is to protect her children from danger unforeseen to them but foreseen to her. Her experiences allowed her to do so.
Stella told her father about the pregnancy before informing her mother. Surprisingly, her father was very supportive and wished her all the blessings. He always trusted that Stella was able to make safe decisions for herself. Even though he did not believe she was making a good choice, he was willing to
support her decision. This would be Stella's parents' first grandchild.
When Stella informed her mother about the pregnancy, her mother was very disappointed. However, despite her disappointment, she decided to support Stella. She was afraid that Stella would have more babies and eventually drop out of school. Therefore, she encouraged Stella to continue to live
with her, at least until she graduated from college, instead of moving into her own apartment with Kevin. After all, Stella was a very independent twenty-year-old. She had graduated from high school with honors, and she was already in her junior year of college. She had managed to obtain financial aid for college along with a well-paying full-time job.
Also, Kevin had a well-paying full-time job. Upon graduating from high school, he began attending college sporadically. Stella encouraged him to continue his education, which he did on a part-time basis.
Stella was convinced that she was making the right decision by having Kevin's baby. After all, she and Kevin were going to be together forever. At least, she thought so.
One night while Stella was two months pregnant, Kevin decided to go out dancing, as they had from the time they met.
"Babe," he asked her, "how about we go dancing tonight?"
"No honey, I'm sorry. I'm not feeling too well tonight. Why don’t you go with the boys and have a good time?"
"Babe you know I'm not going anywhere without you. Come on. Please?" Kevin begged.
“Sweetie, I'm really sorry, but I'll have to take a rain check tonight. Go ahead without me and have a good time. I'm having bad stomach cramps."
After calling a few of his friends to invite them to meet him at the club, Kevin reluctantly left to go dancing. Stella believed that she did the right thing by not being selfish enough to ask him to stay with her. It was a decision that she would live to regret.
A dream crumbles
Ever since that night, Stella noticed a change in Kevin's behavior. She began to feel that Kevin was becoming emotionally distant, which led her to feel uncomfortable. She had that gut feeling we call women's intuition- that hunch, that uneasiness, those little butterflies that swirl in our stomach when we begin to doubt our man's faithfulness.
Meanwhile, Stella continued residing with her mother. She enjoyed Kevin's visits, although they began to lessen along with his phone calls. Kevin knew exactly how to make Stella's mother fond of him with his polite and respectable ways. Consequently, everyone in Stella's family liked Kevin, since
he had a pleasant personality.
On the other hand, Stella continued to notice the shift in Kevin's behavior. Many times when they went shopping together he would show interest in purchasing clothes that were not even Stella's size, but smaller.
Whenever she questioned, he would admit, "I was just thinking about buying it for someone."
In spite of her uneasiness, Stella decided not to question him anymore. She was in denial that he wanted to purchase the items for someone else. Simultaneously, she wanted to be open-minded to the thought that he wanted to find out if she liked the items and then purchase them for her.
What's the point anyway? she thought. Too late now. I'm six months pregnant. I don’t feel like starting any trouble. Maybe if I keep treating him nice, I'll get his attention back. Stella was afraid that she might open a Pandora's
Moreover, whenever she hinted her concerns to Kevin, he always denied everything and reassured her of his love for her. Stella wanted to believe him; thus, she forced herself to believe him. She did not want to face the venom that was infiltrating their relationship. She though, if only she tried to be a good woman to her man, she would get him back.
So they continued their relationship as their love and trust deteriorated. Kevin continued to pacify Stella's disappointment over their deteriorating relationship.
The tension between them reached a climax when Kendra came knocking at Stella's door. That occurrence altered Stella's life forever.
"Who is it?" asked Stella as she opened her apartment door.
There stood an innocent-looking young girl. She was pretty, slim, bright-eyed, medium height, with peach colored skin. She appeared to be about Stella's age.
"Hi, are you Stella?"
"Yes. Can I help you?" asked a perplexed Stella.
"Can I come in, please?"
"Who are you?"
"My name is Kendra. I am not here to look for trouble. I just want to talk to you, woman to woman."
When Stella heard that, she became curious to find out where the conversation was headed, even though she was somewhat apprehensive.
Somewhere in the back of her head she suspected it would involve Kevin.
"Okay. Come in, but let’s make it quick. I don't intend to have a long discussion with you."
Stella decided to remain cautious about the encounter. After all, she had no way of knowing what Kendra's true intentions were, regardless of what she said.
She was aware of how manipulative women can be when they want to protect their own interests.
Kendra followed Stella into the living room. Just to be polite, Stella offered her a seat.
"You seem to be a very nice person," Kendra said. "I just found out that you are Kevin's fiancée and I feel bad about the way he's been treating you by being with other women. I don’t think you deserve that."
Stella tried to figure out where Kendra was coming from, so she allowed her to continue.
"I am only here to ask you to tell your fiancé to leave me alone. We had been going steady for several months now. I found out he was engaged to you, so I decided to break it off. But he won't leave me alone. I don't think you deserve to be treated like this. I found out that you were pregnant. I myself am three months pregnant with his baby."
That was the blow! The technical knockout made Stella feel as if she had landed in the darkness. Her suspicions were confirmed.
A few months ago, she heard about Kendra from a good source, an older woman and close family friend who warned her that her man might be seeing another woman. Therefore, she decided to ignore those warnings and to keep them from her mother. However, deep inside she knew that they were not just rumors. She knew that she might be sharing Kevin's love
with another woman. But that didn’t matter to her. She yearned to have Kevin's baby.
After listening to Kendra's sympathetic woman-to-woman words, Stella decided that she was not going to put her head down in front of any woman. For all she knew, Kendra might be trying to manipulate the situation in attempt to keep Kevin all to herself. Stella felt that she was smarter than that.
"Well, I heard everything that you were saying, but Kevin is my fiancé and I love him. He's going to have to make his own decision."
Right at that moment the bell rang.
Ding! Dong! Ding! Dong!
Stella's mother came out of her bedroom and opened the door. At the time, she had no clue about what was going on. After Stella's mother opened the door, Kevin walked in. Somehow he had a suspicion that Kendra might have gone to speak to Stella. He appeared very nervous upon noticing
Kendra in Stella's presence.
“What’s going on here?” he asked in a tone low enough for Stella’s mother not to hear.
Stella’s mother was smarter than that. She sensed something awkward brewing in her living room.
"Kendra, what are you doing here?" asked a nervous Kevin.
Stella couldn't tell if Kevin's nervousness came from fear of losing Kendra or fear of losing her. That was when Stella decided to enlighten her mother as to the situation.
After hearing the entire story, Stella's mother was appalled and disappointed that her sweet Kevin would ever do such a thing. She called him to the side and demanded that he declared openly once and for all who he real-
ly loved and with whom he was going to stay.
Kevin didn't seem to have a hard time answering her. She actually did not expect him to, thinking he would obviously choose her daughter.
Unfortunately, his heart wrenching words were: "I love Stella, but I love Kendra too."
By then Kendra had decided to leave. She went home. Things were getting too messy for her in someone else's territory.
Meanwhile, Kevin remained confused and undecided, even in the presence of the woman that he had promised to love forever. At no time did he assert his love for her, in spite of her emotional pleas to him.
Tears flowed from Stella's innocent eyes. This was a nightmare in which her world collapsed. She needed Kevin to reassure her, to awaken her, to let her know that she was the one for him.
Minutes later, Kevin walked out of the house still undecided. He made to mention of his destination. Both Stella and her mother, however, had an idea of where he might have gone.
A short time later, Stella's phone rang.