Relationships column: What goes around really comes around

For The Baltimore Sun
"If my ex-boyfriend is reading this, I apologize for everything I did."

It has been brought to my attention that my articles cast me in a bitter light.

Instead of being the truthful columnist I aim to be, I apparently spew hatred and resentment toward men.

While I believed I was documenting my own experiences, great and not-so-great, others viewed my accounts as one-sided and character-bashing.

I never thought I'd have to explain that my intentions were never to demean people who were once important to me.

Readers have to realize, though, that writing my life in 700 words or so causes me to relive hurt and confusion, so excuse me if my emotions intercede. I want to be fair, and I'm not being biased, bitter or broken in admitting that I, Zahara Johnson, am not perfect.

I've lied and cheated. I've knowingly deceived and carelessly inflicted pain. I've acted in ways similar to the conniving people I've written about. In confessing my faults, one time period comes to mind.

Shortly before my freshman year of college ended, I met and began dating a sweet and respectful guy. He was my best friend and confidant. I even commonly referred to him as my road dog.

Through my toughest college days, he and his family were supportive of me when my loved ones were hundreds of miles away.

He provided everything for me and I, the spoiled brat that I was, appreciated none of it. I'd bark orders and demand anything under the sun. But no matter how outlandish my requests were, he did them out of love for me.

At times I felt bad about my bossiness, but getting my way always erased my conscience. It's no secret that I took advantage of his kindness and calmness.

I did what I wanted, when I wanted, with very little regard for his feelings or opinions about it.

I was so oblivious to how much agony he'd suffered that when he finally reached his breaking point and called me out on my antics, I looked him square in his bulging, tired eyes and laughed.

While I chuckled at his despair, I watched his chest swell with fury.

He couldn't possibly be serious, I thought. I was beautiful, educated and, quite frankly, he was fortunate to have me. I stayed with him for a bit longer, but felt that I was ready for something more thrilling.

So I broke up with him for somebody new. This new guy was an intriguing bad boy and there was never a dull moment. I was blinded by the promise of a stronger man who could take control yet be gentle and charismatic at the same time.

My dreams came crashing down when this new man's alluring facade crumbled.

The new guy was everything but what he promised to be. In fact, he was the exact opposite of my ex. My new guy never kept his word. My ex always did. My new man asked for so much from me while my ex asked for so little.

The same things I did to my ex were done to me, only amplified — and there was nobody to blame but myself.

Treating my ex like crap and subsequently leaving him for half-a-man has been one of my greatest mistakes.

There's not a day goes by that I'm not left wondering how he is and if he's ever fully healed from the tumult of being with me.

I, Zahara Johnson, am not perfect.

I have hurt those closest to me by telling and living lies that only made matters worse. I've broken hearts and haven't cared about the consequences.

It wasn't until I felt the same pain I dished out that I realized how terrible I'd been.

So, if my ex-boyfriend Kenny is reading this, I apologize for everything I did. You were my rock during college and without you and your love, my obstacles would have been far greater.

I wish you the absolute best life has to offer because you deserve it all.

Zahara Johnson's column appears regularly in b.

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