I was a barely 17 year old freshman. He was 25 in his final year getting his second degree. It was love like I had never felt before. This was not a teenage crush like the previous ones. The butterflies were not just in my stomach…they were in my head…as in the boy just dey make me kolo . He knew I was a virgin and wanted to keep it that way. I was his baby, to be pampered and protected. He made me feel like I was the only girl in the world. He took me home to his parents and they all loved me. He was my standard by which I measured all men who approached me and everyone else fell way short. It was bliss. We would have cute little babies that looked just like him and grow old together happily ever after. My first and only true love. Nothing would ever tear us apart I promised myself.
But alas my boo had another boo. The omnipresent ex. She’s just my ex, he said and I believed him of course. Why should my angel, my hero, my knight in shinning amour lie to me? I was his baby. The stories kept coming back to me and I asked and got the same answer, ‘ we are just friends’ till I got a threat that there was a plan to beat me up because I was dating her man. An elderly friend (because anyone in their mid twenties at that age is elderly to you) sat me down on my 18th birthday and broke the news to me. My life was shattered. He might as well have put a bullet through my heart. Not one tear did I shed. (I think I have issues! I cry watching romantic TV but break my heart, and not a tear.)
I went through the motions of living in school, but flunked a few papers and spaced out during conversations, but I held it together. Inside, I was a chaotic mess, absentmindedly walking in front of cars, staring at cooking food till it burned and smoke filled the kitchen but outside I put up a front. No man would ever make me cry I told myself.
He begged, he pleaded, he promised, his mum begged, his siblings begged. I still believe him, I believed he was telling the truth. I believed she was just some desperate ex who didn’t want to let go, but I discovered a strength I never knew I had, every fibre of my being wanted him back. Still, I would not be shaken. As young and naive as I was, I knew what I had to do. I didn’t really understand why I was doing what I did, but all I knew was the pain of being second place was way more than the joy of keeping my man. Sometimes, I look back at that 18 year old Asake and draw from her strength.
This was the story I told my friend who found out her husband was cheating. She stopped talking to me. I knew he was cheating. Her circle of friends knew he was cheating. She knew he was cheating, but she chose to stay. I smiled to myself every time I saw her loved up posts on Instagram. Her faux surprised posts about how he bought her this and that when she was the one who paid for the items. Keeping up appearances was more important. She kept inviting me to her church to join her fasting and prayer sessions. I knew what she was fasting for. I realized no one could tell her what to do until she made that choice herself. She needed to make that decision. When sh*t finally hit the roof, it was catastrophic and public. We were at dinner at another mutual friend’s 30th birthday – a girls night out kinda thing, dude walked in girl in tow. It was the same girl I had seen him with at other events. There was a moment of stunned silence and then bedlam.
What will Oga say for himself? ‘But you know, Sola.’ Then, he walked away. We were left to pick up the pieces and someone’s birthday was ruined.
Not for me though, I sat back down and ate my filet mignon au poivre in peppercorn cognac sauce and half of someone else’s Parmesan crusted chicken breast in chardonnay butter sauce. I ordered a doggy bag for Sola’s Seafood dish of Shrimps, mussels, clams and scallops and took it home with a bottle of white wine. We paid 12k each for this ish abeg!
Everyone started talking about what a douchebag Oga is, how could he do this? Don’t worry Sola, you will be alright. Call me a horrible friend, but try as I could, I couldn’t conjure an ounce of sympathy.
I felt sorry, yes. Sorry that it had to come to this public disgrace. I felt sorry for her pain. She had been carrying it around for so long. It must be exhausting keeping up appearances constantly. I felt sorry, but I wasn’t sorry. She was seated beside me in tears and I was rubbing her back with one hand, while I scooped food into my mouth with the other between murmurs of ‘pele’, ‘you will be fine’. Am I a horrible person?
Truth is a hard thing to swallow, but this food was going down a treat.
I thought of being the voice of dissent, but decided to hold my peace for it would achieve nothing. She wasn’t ready to listen to me 3 months ago. She probably wasn’t ready now. I didn’t understand how for some women, the joy of being a Mrs and looking happy and in love to people who frankly don’t give a sh*t about you on social media was more than the pain of living with a cheating partner. But I understood it was her choice to remain – just as it was my choice to leave someone I suspected (I never even caught him red handed) of cheating.
Few days later, Sola and hubby are in Jamaica, having the time of their lives. Privately she calls me to curse out her husband but still she is posting philosophical memes on Instagram and I’m still here smiling to myself.
We need to stop painting cheating men as villains. A lot of the time, the women who marry these men see the signs clearly, bright as day. They are delusional, thinking he will change, thinking if I become better he will be better, I’m not praying and fasting enough, I’m not skinny enough. I am not enough. The truth is, you will never be enough. He’s rich. He takes care of me. He apologized. He’s sorry. And so they remain and make a career out of their pain. Just like a leopard cannot hide it’s spots, cheats cannot hide their bad habits.
A man who cheats on you over and over again has shown you plain and simple that he is CHOOSING his self gratification over your pain. He made that CHOICE. You have the power to make yours.
He is replaceable. You are not. He chose himself. You need to CHOOSE yourself and make a CHOICE based on what is best for YOU. Do not come and say he made me do this he made me do that. Own your decisions and own your life.
If you are more concerned about keeping up appearances and decide to stay know that you are sanctioning his infidelity just like in the case of Sola.
He knows he can get away with it, so why would he stop? What makes you think you can change him? No human being is responsible for your happiness. You are.
By choosing to remain in that relationship and doing everything you feel is best to keep him, you have made his choice to keep cheating easy and no amount of 70 days prayer and fasting is going to change that.
You are not God, you cannot fix a broken human. A cheat will make you feel you are not enough. He will eat away at your self esteem. He has no self control. He is inherently selfish. Some of them are emotional abusers.
If you decide to stay, don’t make him the villain when sh*t hits the roof.
He made his choice to cheat. You made your choice to stay.
Photo Credit: Bryan Creely | Dreamstime.com