Trigger warning: Drugs, violence, and gang activity
When we met, I didn’t know who he was. I just thought he was this goofy, kind-hearted ginger that I worked with that made me laugh. I was wrong.
I had heard them all joke around about the fact that he had been in jail before, but I didn’t ask why until we were finally alone in the break room together. He looked at me and said, “I was arrested for gang activity.” Being from a small town with zero chances of being caught up in a gang situation, I was naive to what “gang activity” meant.
He wasn’t too keen on the idea of telling me quite yet, which I understood. Frankly, I didn’t even know if I wanted to know in the first place, so I let it be at that. I was nervous, yet very intrigued by this person. He was such a mystery to me and I wanted more.
I have always been really interested in true crime, particularly documentaries on the mafia from back in the early 1900s, but never did I think I would meet someone in a gang, let alone be involved with them romantically.
Time passed and soon our awkward flirting at work turned into meet ups in the parking lot after my shift ended. We were so into each other. I loved it. There was nothing more exciting than to go to work and be with someone that made you feel all giddy inside. It definitely made the days go by quicker.
One day, after we had already been hanging out for a few hours, I decided it was time to see if he would explain a little more about what happened and why he was arrested for gang activity.
His demeanor changed instantly when I asked. He went from joking around about a giant sweatshirt to being serious and almost intimidating. He closed the open window to his little apartment, fearful of the children who were playing below to hear him, which honestly made me regret even asking the question in the first place. He stepped away from me and said, “I have hurt a lot of people. One nearly died because of me. The cops surrounded me and I was arrested. I wasn’t there for long, but I’ve been in the gang since I was 15 years old.”
Hurt a lot of people how? I wondered, because I was honestly so shook that I didn’t think I could even answer, but then he proceeded to explain some more.
“Snitches get stitches” is always something we joke about when someone knows something you’ve done. This, however, was the real deal. I was getting information from someone who had been involved with dangerous crimes, who had run from the law, had a warrant out for his arrest, sold illegal drugs, and had just been released from jail four months before I met him.
What was it about him that intrigued me so much? He didn’t scare me. It was so hard for me to believe that he had done the things he had done and was still such an active member of his gang. He always treated me like a princess and made me feel so beautiful and good. He told me that I was the first person to ever make him feel like he was worth more than just useless garbage. That I made him see the light for the first time. But maybe I took pity on him; maybe I felt good that someone needed me so desperately to make them feel good about themselves when I myself was struggling with my own issues.
I just remember the way he would look at me. He saw me like I was a goddess, and I loved that. But it wasn’t long before lust turned into loneliness and I realized what dating a gang member was really like.
I had to be a secret. His gang couldn’t know about me because I knew too much information about them and what they had done, where they were, and where they had been. His “meetings” really interrupted our relationship and our time together. We would have to rent hotel rooms just to have some time alone where no one could find us, only paying with cash, and when his phone would buzz and they told him it was time to go out, there was no saying no.
It was a life I had never lived before. Suddenly, my small town, safe life that I was so comfortable with turned into drugs, alcohol, and constantly looking over my shoulder to see who may be watching me. I always thought I could fly under the radar, but I was naive to the fact of how gang members find out everything if you are somehow associated with them.
Let’s keep this straight: I was never in the gang, I was just associated with them, which was scary enough at times.
It wasn’t long into the relationship that I started using drugs myself. I think I was caught up in the carefree lifestyle that he led. Even though I knew how bad it was, it was like I couldn’t help myself from trying it. I drank too. Heavily. So much that it became a problem in itself. I was hanging out with the wrong people, neglecting my normal life, and drinking myself to sleep every night. He had so many issues and I was so good at turning them into “Oh, he’s had a rough life.”
I wasn’t afraid to be with him—at first, anyways. It wasn’t until someone in his gang caught wind of me and to give threats to him for being with me. I wasn’t part of the gang, meaning I couldn’t be with one of their members. I knew better, so why was I here? I received the call around midnight. I was alone, passed out because I was so high—what a low time in my life—and he was pissed on the other end of the call.
“What the fuck did you tell people?” he demanded over the phone. I was so out of it, I had just woken up to a phone call, still actively high from my evening activities and thoroughly confused as to what was going on. “Excuse me?” I choked out angrily, although I was terrified, even in my current state of mind.
Someone had sent him “screenshots” of our texts and he accused me of sending them out to someone in the gang. I didn’t know anyone in the gang, and even if I did, why would I jeopardize so much for nothing? They wanted to kill me.
I have always heard on the shows I watch that gangs always know where you are. If you have information on them, they will always know your whereabouts in case you slip up. That is true. They do.
It wasn’t long before someone had found out where I lived. For two weeks, someone would come to my apartment and try to come in around midnight. They would jiggle my doorknob and whistle outside my door, slowly whistling to the tune of a song I could not make out.
I called the cops one morning at 4 a.m. because that person was back at my door. The cops came and my management team from my complex had someone stationed outside my apartment from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night for a week for my protection.
I was terrified.
Eventually it stopped happening. No one came to my apartment that wasn’t invited after that. But I didn’t learn my lesson.
I am not someone you would look at and think was involved with anything of this manner. I was drinking heavily every night, staying up late, searching for drugs and hanging out with gang members and drug dealers. I was so angry all the time. Little things would set me off and make me want to find a distraction to ease my mind. The cycle continued.
One of our last times out together was at a shitty motel that he paid for in all cash on a blistering hot July day. The motel was so gross and you could hear people talking about drugs in the room next door. I didn’t know at the time, but I got pregnant that night in that dirty motel room with the broken table and tweaker neighbors.
We found out at six weeks and I became an even bigger mess. I will say despite everything he has done in his life, he did step up and protect me here and be there for me. But we had just called it off before finding out. The threats on my life were getting worse and we feared that at any moment, something terrible and irreversible could happen.
He did mention the baby to his friends, though. I was fearful of this. They explained how beating my stomach with a baseball bat and pushing me down the stairs would take care of the problem like it did for them with their baby mamas when they weren’t ready for a child. I was disgusted with that comment. How could someone who loved me and “protected” me even think someone like that was a funny comment?
For those who wondered, I didn’t have the baby. I didn’t get an abortion, and he didn’t beat me senseless—I miscarried and was devastated. I had lost my first baby, someone I thought cared for me, and I was lost. I was doing drugs, drinking a lot, and always finding ways to destroy my life slowly.
It was my fault, I knew it.
We ended things because he knew I would never willingly join the gang, but it was too late. I was already affiliated with a dangerous, large gang in the metro area where I live. I will forever know this information about them, know what I myself have done while being with a gang member, and for the longest time, was fearful something would happen to me like his gang had threatened.
Bad boys are not worth it.
You deserve to be with someone who will protect you and keep you out of harm’s way. Charm means nothing when your life depends on it.