I was raised in a home where some things were never talked about. Nobody had the time to tell me how to handle a relationship. I cannot blame my parents. They come from an era where people did not play games when it came to relationships. My mom met my dad when she was in high school and got married as soon as she was done with school. My dad took her to college when she had given birth to our third born, who was to be our last born, but then a fourth one made an unexpected entrance later. For them, the nonsense of dating and getting engaged for ten years as someone decides whether they wanted to get married or not, did not exist. They were very practical with the idea of love. As a woman, I was essentially prepared for what to do when you meet a man; wash, cook, wake up in the morning and set hot water for bathing. Respect your man. Do not ask questions. Persevere. And all the good things good women do. No one ever told me to never play wife before you have been made wife, because once you begin dating and do all the above, you will be a wife.
This is what I practiced when I got into a relationship. Gave it what I thought was my all. There are a lot of things and pressure that comes with relationships and mine was no different. Being young did not help in any way either. No matter how much we tried, we kept drawing apart and before I knew it, a 5-year-old relationship ended. Just like that.
I don’t think there is a point in my life where I have been angry like that time. I kept thinking of the sacrifices I made, of the energy I gave the relationship and I could not understand why it ended. As my age mates were out having fun, I stayed in the house playing wife. Wasn’t I supposed to be rewarded with a happy family? Ama did God want me to raise my son alone? Did God want people to laugh at me? Was that the reward He could best come up with after the many nights and days I spent on my knees praying for my family? The amount of anger and hatred in me totally changed the person that I used to be.
I remember one day after many nights of going to sleep, after praying that I wake up dead, crying and weeping shamelessly, refusing to eat or talk to anyone and sending endless texts to my ex abusing and begging him to come back, I woke up and said to myself: “Fuck being a good girl. Fuck being religious and depending on God. As a matter of fucks, fuck everyone. From today it will all be about me and my happiness. I will do whatever makes me happy and deal ruthlessly with anyone and anything that tries to come in my way”.
I lived by that mantra for four years. I was even more resolute about my decision when just a few weeks after my break up, my house was broken into and everything was stolen. I moved to a new place, thanks to a job transfer, and I decided to let alcohol make me forget my loneliness and the anger. It started with the normal girly drinks, Redds and her ilk, then I slowly graduated to whiskey. Because I mostly went to the bar alone, I would sit at the bar counter. Out of curiosity, I would ask for shots of the drinks on the counter and gradually fell in love with whiskey. I would drink, go home at the wee hours of the morning, take a cold shower, and then head for the couch. Sometimes I would just sit and stare at nothing in particular. Other times I would take a nap as I waited to go to work. A number of times I found tears tricking down my face. I was sad without alcohol to the point such that I would rush to a nearby bar during my lunch breaks to take shots of Malibu.
My anger led me into a lot of fights especially when high. I could write a whole book on those dramas. Many times when visiting home ,my mother commented on how I was always angry and that I got ticked by the pettiest stuff…which pissed me off even more.
After paying my bills and sending money home for my son’s upkeep, the rest of my money was spent in the bar or buying new shoes and handbags. I remember my old bed caved in one night, and it was horrible because my son was around for the holidays. I did not buy a new bed. Instead, I just got angrier. It actually took me a whole year after the incident for me to buy new furniture to make my house look decent.
My relationship with God was nonexistent. A number of times I tried to pray but I could not even start. All I did when I went to church was daydream. I tried to have relationships but most of them died before they even started because I honestly did not care; plus only a mad man would be okay with my drinking and drama, so most of them were as casual as it can get. From past experience, I knew all relationships end so I always started preparing for the end as soon as I got into one. Betrayal was part of life and I had to learn to survive. It didn’t matter if I had to lie, be mean and ruthless and also had to betray. Such is life.
One day about a year ago, I started getting really sick. I started getting really bad asthma attacks frequently and just as there were signs of getting better, my left knee started being painful and it had to be operated on. I was basically grounded from all the partying and drinking and crazy insomnia kicked in. In the midst of all the pain, I asked myself what would be said of me if I die, because at some point I honestly thought I was going to die. I wondered whether life would have been much easier had I simply forgiven my ex and myself after the break up, instead of carrying too much anger around. Would I be a better mother to my son if I hadn’t held on to all that bitterness?
The I remembered how just a day before the break up, I had asked God to take away anything that was not giving me peace. I remembered how much I had learned in the four years and asked myself honestly if I would have been happy had I stayed in the relationship. It then hit me that God answers prayers. It may not be how we want it but He is faithful. I embarked on a journey of making things right with Him and I also learned that God is always there, just waiting for you to acknowledge Him. I have prayed for forgiveness for myself, from my son and everyone I hurt because of my selfishness. I genuinely forgave everyone who hurt me and asked for peace.
Let me tell you, anger and bitterness is a burden I would never wish on anyone. My own mother recently said that I laugh more these days. It was in the middle of all these that I also learned of God’s sense of humour. As I prayed releasing and forgiving everyone and anything of the past, I prayed for a good, God fearing man, one who would love me and my son unconditionally and help me with my relationship with God. Do you know who He sent my way? My ex. Yep, you heard that right. At first it felt like a sick practical joke with an incredibly painful punchline. The one person who sent me down a rabbit hole is the same person who got me out of it. It is insane, I know. What happened was, after I had my knee surgery, I thought it wise to let him know before anyone else, and also the story to tell my son because I didn’t want to scare him. Shock on me, he came to visit. It was a very cordial and normal meeting at first. But then after that, he kept checking in on me and how I was doing. Our son’s graduation was just around the corner too. He offered to drive me to the graduation because my leg was still in pain. We got talking and simply never stopped. We even involved parents and since then it has been a day at a time.
It is one thing to say you have forgiven someone you have been angry at for so long, but is is a completely different thing to actually forgive and love that person. Hardest thing, yet very fulfilling.
Staying away from alcohol has been the biggest challenge yet. It takes a lot of restraint to not walk in a bar when things don’t go my way, or when fear and doubt grips me (I have a lot of these moments). But the thought of how far I have come keeps me sane.
I want a Nancy who forgives easily, who is a good mother, sibling, daughter and friend. I want a me that is calm in all situations. I pray that my relationship with God only gets better and that if anything happens in my life, let the change that happens be positive.My experience has made me tolerant. I understand the fact that everyone is going through something and understanding people rather than being judgmental, is the best thing to do.
Everyone craves for the perfect story but that is not how life is.