Category Archives: Lesson learned

Letter to my husband: Part 4

Experience has taught me a few things. One of them being that there’ll be at least one person who judges someone for some misfortune that befell them; and personally, I’m not big on sob stories. In any case, I avoid circumstances that will make people want to pity me…or think I’m weird. In light of that I figured I couldn’t tell every guy I attempt dating the issues that cause me anguish. I also figured on the same note that if I explained this to anyone, it would be my husband. The man I hope to share my life with.

Looking at the events that have happened in my life, this doesn’t even get close to putting it all into perspective. All I know is that after living for more than two decades, witnessing domestic violence, I came out of it relatively wiser; but damaged.

Wiser because now I know many things I didn’t know before; things they’ll never teach in school. For starters, I know what I want in a relationship. I know the qualities I seek in a man; and money and looks aren’t it. If those two counted for anything, my mom would be the happiest woman on earth; but we already established she’s not.

And damaged because, of the things that cause me anxiety, relationships top the list. I have met some men, who would possibly have made wonderful husbands, but the instant they started exhibiting traits that reminded me of my father, I cut loose before it got too real. Such, is the extent of my ‘damaged-ness’.

I could pay a professional shrink tonnes of money for them to tell me what’s wrong with me and how I could make things better, but as I said, I already figured myself out. Relationships are a hard limit for me. Mom’s miserable life makes me dread the sheer thought of vowing to spend the rest of my life tied to someone, because truth is, it’s not easy getting out when things start going downhill.

Unlike the younger, naïve version of me who hoped to be swept of her feet by a tall, dark and handsome guy, now I know what I want; or what I don’t want.

I don’t want a man who will take me for granted. I need someone who will love and cherish me for me, without hoping to turn me into something I’m not for his own convenience. I realized, if mom had her own money from the beginning, her fights with dad wouldn’t have been too frequent. They fought a lot because she was dependent on him; and he was too tight-fisted. I would love to have a career, and for it not to be affected by our family life.

I don’t want a man, who wouldn’t be moved by our children’s grief, when they’re hungry, or crying because he is abusing me. I would want a man who wouldn’t eat or go on a binge-drinking spree when our kids can’t sleep because they are too hungry.

I would want a man who smiles at least, when his daughter tells him she’s graduating magna cum laude, or seem moved in the least when another one tells him she’s done working on her novel. Sometimes people think it’s all about money, when all one needs is just a simple hug. I would want a man who can spare a thought for our children; how his actions affect them.

I don’t want a man who will fill our children’s heads with sad Christmas and New Year’s day memories, because he just couldn’t help throwing punches at me; and on the same note, I would want a man who respects my mother, because were it not for her love and sacrifice, I wouldn’t be there to be his for the taking in the first place.

I wouldn’t want a man, who makes our children develop anxiety disorders and some other stress related illnesses like depression and peptic ulcers because they are afraid he will kill me when they’re in school.

And when eventually we decide to get married, I would be happy to have just a small wedding with just us, our witnesses and the priest.

So, unlike my younger self, I’m not interested in looks and money. All I want is someone with whom I can spend a happy forever with; someone who will give our children the happiness I didn’t have growing up; the lack of which has caused me so much anxiety.

I don’t have any children yet, but when I get them, I hope to raise them in a love-filled home, so they won’t dread marriages and relationships like I do. Truth is, if I had to choose, I would opt for a life of utter solitude, rather than live the miserable life my mom has lived. It’s not one I would wish, even on my worst enemy.

All I want is happiness…and love…and some peace of mind.

My beloved husband-to-be, if you can give me that, then I too will go out of my way to make you the happiest man on earth.

Shoddy first date: Part 3

online dating 3

He excused himself and left with the package he had with him, while I found my way to the nearest couch, leaving the door wide open in case I needed to make a quick exit. For the few minutes he was gone, I pondered over my actions. If anything happened to me, God-forbid-I figured I would be entirely to blame for my poor judgement.

Trying to keep myself occupied lest I started panicking, I went through his collection of music CDs appreciating his choice of songs. Other than the fact that I was already pissed for having let myself get tricked into going to his house, and was already over cautious, waiting for just about anything to happen, I acknowledged he had a good taste in clothes, music, interior decor…if we became more than online acquaintances, we would have very little to argue about.

“Feel free sweetie, this is your home now,” he pacified me when he walked in. He took his jacket off, exposing his muscled chest that was only covered in a black fitting t-shirt. Then he stretched out his arms, taking my hands in his and he pulled me up to my feet. Releasing one of my hands, he reached for the remote and switched the TV on, bringing the room to life as soft music played.

He put his arms around my waist and I curved mine round his neck and slowly we swayed to the tuneful music.

“So did you think about my proposal?” He asked me.

“What proposal?” I asked in reply.

“To marry me.”

“But you hardly know me.”

“I feel I know you enough to want you to be my wife.”

“I still feel we don’t know each other well,” I said firmly.

I had already crossed very many lines on our first date. I was in his living room, in his arms, discussing marriage, and even though he didn’t seem like he had any intentions of hurting me, I felt we weren’t following the ‘proper procedure’. We had hit the ground running, instead of taking time to get the basics.

“Come with me,” he said, urging me to follow him to a room I supposed was his bedroom. “I left in a hurry. I didn’t get time to make my bed.”

“No,” I refused, breaking free from his embrace.

“Just come,” he begged, almost sweetly, “you’re just going to help me. I promise you nothing will happen.”

“No!” Finally, angry me surfaced. At that point I didn’t even care about first impressions anymore. I just couldn’t take more of it. “This is definitely not going according to plan. You showed up late, tricked me into coming to your house, we haven’t had lunch and it’s way past lunch time, and now you want to sleep with me? This doesn’t feel like a first date anymore.”

It was already past three and I didn’t feel like we were making any progress. I always doubted he was celibate as he claimed to be and even after he asked me to marry him, I felt he was only looking for a woman he could legally sleep with as he also claimed to be saved. That had me feeling he hadn’t put much thought into the proposal. It didn’t matter if it was me, or any other woman he picked from the streets, so long as it was a woman; someone who could relieve his carnal urges. That thought alone had me infuriated.

In his defence, he said he was so aroused, and the more I listened to him speak the more I was convinced I had unknowingly availed myself for a booty call. “I am not sleeping with you,” I told him crossly.

“Then why did you come here?” He retorted. “I left another girl so I could come meet you.”

“We both know you deceived me into coming here. Even if I was to sleep with you, it definitely wouldn’t be today. Not after we just met.”

“What kind of men do you go out with?” He bit back in his diva tone that hurt me in ways so unimaginable.

“You don’t know me, I don’t know you. That’s why.”

“I know you,” he maintained.

“Fine then, you know me. So what’s my real name?”

Feeling cornered, he slumped himself on the couch, rubbing his forehead frantically. “What’s my name?” I repeated, although I knew I had never told him my real name. I just wanted to drive a point home; that we didn’t know each other well enough to be engaging in coitus. “You don’t know my name, and you still want to sleep with me.”

Hurt, and knowing there was nothing he could say to make it better, I grabbed my bag and left. Months of talking and chatting online had ended within three hours of our meeting. I had hoped he would be different from all the messed up dating stories I had heard of before, but that encounter only convinced me more, that online dating never really amounts to anything serious.

First thing I did after I left his house, I logged into FB and unfriended and blocked him, hoping I would never hear from him or see him again. He didn’t call or text me that day or the next but weeks later he called and I refused to pick up. I’ve never talked to him ever since.

When I look back, I always count my blessings. I left a stranger’s house unharmed. I know I agreed to go with him because I was hopeful he was a genuine guy. Talking with him constantly had put me under the impression he was trustworthy, sweet, caring, charming; but in all honesty, I know that was a very foolish mistake I made. I shouldn’t have been so gullible.

 

The Fourth Commandment

the fourth commandment

Back in the day, when God used to communicate with His people through prophets, He gave Moses the laws inscribed on stone, commonly known as the Ten Commandments. On the top of Mount Sinai, He came down on a cloud of smoke in fire and spoke in thunder as He gave the laws. In my own understanding, the commandments are subject to people’s varying interpretations and as a result, people decipher them differently.

The commandment I particularly want to delve into at this point is the fourth commandment: Respect your father and mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you (Exodus 20:12). Notice He didn’t ask parents to respect their children? That’s how many people interpret it. But then, based on my own understanding, that brings me to another verse in the Bible: (Colossians 3: 21) Parents, do not irritate your children, or they will become discouraged.

That’s the thing about respect; it’s a two way thing. One can’t expect to disrespect someone and still expect that same person to respect them. As I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, I am not a mother yet, so most of my posts are written from a daughter’s perspective. Growing up, I had some dreadful moments where I just felt small; not by size, but because I felt my opinion on some issues wasn’t taken seriously. I often felt it was the, ‘I’m big, you’re small; I’m right you’re wrong’ patronizing attitude parents have towards their kids at times.

Maybe I’ll understand it when I get my own children, but until now I still don’t get it. In my opinion, everyone deserves respect. It doesn’t matter if it’s a homeless person, or a small baby. And being older doesn’t automatically mean one’s right. Sometimes parents feel like they’ve been around longer and for that they know how things work, but truth is sometimes children see things clearly, better than adults and for that they should also be heard. They may not always be right, but giving them a chance to share their opinion makes them feel valued and respected.

During one of my dark pubescent phases, I argued with my parents about everything; at some point I even contemplated running away from home, until a quick look into the future showed me I would screw up the rest of my life if I carried on with my plan. I decided that would be a foolish move so I scratched it. However, the misunderstandings didn’t stop there; they continued because the root cause hadn’t been addressed. It’s during that time that I suffered from some stress-related illnesses; depression and all.

At some point I got tired of all the fighting, and just decided to stop arguing, even if every part of me was itching to say something. I don’t feel my parents changed at all; they still look at things the same way they did back then. Sometimes I feel I grew up; that’s why I lost the urge to always fight back.

The other day my big sister was having a tête-à tête with dad. She asked him to look back and picture himself at the age she is now, and to remember how he wanted to be treated at the time. That, she told him, would help him know how to treat us. It would stop him from treating us like kids, just because he’s older than us.

When all’s said and done, I believe parents should also respect their children. Just because they’re younger than them doesn’t mean they’re indisputably wrong. And if a parent wants their child (ren) to respect them, the best thing would be to show them how; by respecting them back. Foster mutual parent-child (ren) respect because if it’s one-sided it won’t last long; it won’t be long before the child gets tired of always being the one to give.

Something I learnt when I was still a kid was that one doesn’t ask for respect, they earn it. It just happens that sometimes grown- ups do some shoddy things yet expect kids to still accord them the respect they deserve as adults. It doesn’t work like that. If parents or adults want children to respect them, they must carry themselves in a respectable manner.

However one chooses to look at it, God did ask children to respect their parents, but the same parents have a duty to help their kids live by that fourth commandment.

Kids have never failed to imitate.

Kids have never failed to imitate

Kids might not be so good at following instructions, but they have- for ages- been good at copy pasting what they hear or see. The other day, some kids were discussing one of their friends’ houses that they had recently visited, and one asked, “Have you been to their house? It’s so empty; you could play football in it”. Now any adult will tell you that not even the darkest kid will independently conceive such a statement in their minds; and if they did, it would mostly be based on something they had previously overheard.

One might try to argue that nowadays kids are so ‘digital’; they seem to know everything, thanks to technology.  That to some extent would be correct, but of importance here is the fact that when a baby is growing up, one of the major factors that shape them into who/what they grow into would be the environment they’re brought up in. The age of the kids on focus here would also be of massive importance; based on my sheer knowledge, none of them was above six.

With that in mind, how would one expect a kid to grow up if s/he often hears his parents/grownups around  him criticizing other people, what they have and what not…? To some, this concept might seem alien, but not to me. I’ve been un/lucky enough (depending on how you choose to look at it) to be caught in an extremely uncomfortable moment where I, or my family rather, was the topic of such a distasteful conversation…

A few years ago, my family was to meet up with my extended (paternal) kin at one of my uncles’ place since we all lived in different parts of the city so we could travel together to the countryside to visit my paternal grandma. At the time there was some sought of tension between my mom and her in-laws; the beef runs way back, before I was even conceived but I don’t wanna delve into that at the moment. It’s for that precise reason that my mom had opted to sit out of any family get-togethers, to avoid any altercations that could inflict more wounds on the already existing ones.

My dad, the gentleman he is (when he wants to be…) couldn’t leave mom alone; he also chose to remain behind, to keep her company when my sisters and I were gone. Ergo, we made arrangements to have our uncle (the host) pick us up because we were not so familiar with the place; we had only been there once before.

My uncle, whom we’re not so close with, came to pick us up. He was alone. He came into our house, which he’d never been into before, to help us carry our luggage. In case you’re wondering, we have a very strained relationship with our paternal relatives. I’ve mentioned that in some previous posts. In my own understanding, I have over time attributed it to the fact that dad married mom against his family’s wishes; apparently dad’s family is affluent, whereas mom’s family isn’t so endowed.

In all honesty I thought that kind of prejudice only happens in telenovelas: rich hunk falls head over heels in love with a beautiful girl from a very humble background; his family objects vehemently, branding the innocent girl a social climber, and subsequently they all conspire to make the girl’s life a living nightmare…Smh!

A few minutes later we were on the road, headed to my uncle’s. On the way we stopped at a mall, where his wife had been shopping, to pick her up. Under different circumstances, we would have jumped at the idea of meeting our aunt especially after such a long time, but at that moment it only meant we would have a pretty hellish ride.

As we had envisaged, the ride was quite unpleasant; and it had nothing to do with the car’s upholstery or bumpy roads. It was all my aunt’s doing. See, in a nutshell, she’s very outspoken and if you ask me, she doesn’t really give a rat’s ass whose toes she steps on. I remember her asking my uncle in hushed murmurs, how our house looked. That didn’t catch me off guard because I knew she was capable of that and more but I was disappointed because I thought she would have the decency to ask that discretely, preferably in our absence. Then again, maybe she thought we didn’t hear.

“It’s big,” my uncle replied reluctantly. I bet he too felt uneasy about his wife’s indiscretion.

Hungry for information, she went ahead to ask- in her own words- what the house was ‘filled’ with since it was really big. The blatant derision in her voice irked me. At that time, I didn’t know how to react; I was torn between bursting into a fit of laughter at such barbarism, and cutting in the conversation just to express my outrage; but I knew better. I don’t recall my uncle answering her; I guessed he didn’t want to partake in such unmitigated savagery. I respected him for that.

Now in reference to James A. Baldwin’s quote, I try to imagine what would have happened had my sisters and I been at an impressionable age? If we weren’t the ones on the receiving end. We would have possibly repeated my aunt’s scathing words later, when mingling with other kids, just like my neighbours’ kids had.

In my opinion, if you want to know how people refer to others behind closed doors, just listen to their kids or see how they act while in the midst of other kids… They’ve never failed to imitate. My take here may be deemed uninformed, but if my cousins (my aunt’s children) are anything to go by, then I know I’m right…

Negative competition

When I was a kid, the main reason I loved celebrating birthdays, Easter and Christmas was because we (my sisters and I) always got new clothes, and most of the time they were matching Cinderella dresses. Mom always bought us the dresses that were in vogue at that time, and as we grew up it became a little tradition. The best part was when it came to attending mass on Christmas day, because then we’d get to wear our cute ‘princessy’ dresses. In that light, my least favourite Christmas was year 2000’s because we didn’t get new clothes; mom didn’t have a job and dad wasn’t willing to part with his money.

Given the circumstances, we were so disappointed; we refused to attend mass. It felt weird not wearing new clothes to church. Mom was so strict when it came to matters church, but I guess that day she understood our frustrations so she didn’t force us to go. In my family, Christmas has always been treated like an extended family affair so most of the time we hold our annual get-togethers around that time. That Christmas was being celebrated at one of my uncles’ place. Dad went alone.

Seeing as we didn’t attend mass that day, one of our second class cousins, who lived nearby passed by our place. Maybe the frustrations of not having new dresses made us myopic, because I remember feeling like she had only come to see what kind of clothes we had.

It sounds foolish when I think about it now, but we made that deduction based on three facts: firstly, their house was a thirty minutes’ walk away from ours. Secondly, she brought us an old black card with a wine bottle on the front page and it wasn’t even enveloped. It didn’t seem like a Christmas card and given that I’ve never seen it since then, I’m assuming we threw it away that same day. Thirdly, we weren’t really that close. The relationship we had with them was a very unhealthy one; it was more of a competition; seeing who went to the best schools, who lived in a fancier house, who got a boyfriend first (we were still very young but that was also an issue), seeing whose parents drove the best cars, who got the best grades in school…

Based on that, it was difficult to believe she’d walked all the way just to bring an old card; but maybe we were just being paranoid… the only good thing about that day was that one of our aunts-she was estranged from her husband at the time so she also didn’t attend the get-together- brought my sisters and I some cute knickers.

As I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, the things-habit wise- we pick up as kids stay with us longer. In that respect, I’ve always detested any form of competition I deem negative; with my cousins for instance. The madness stopped when we moved to different parts of the city. I don’t think the competitiveness stopped, on their part atleast, because even when we meet one can still feel the tension; the only thing is that distance brought some sanity.

When I was a kid, the relationship we had with the rest of the family didn’t feel any different and as I grew up I started appreciating the distance. We only met up when it was inevitable. For the better part of our preteen and early teenage years we still were linked by the mere fact that somehow my sisters, female cousins and I all went to the same boarding school. So even if we lived far from each other we’d still meet in school.

Slowly, I started hating anything that felt like a competition, because if whatever I had/did wasn’t the best, I’d lie so I wouldn’t feel so bad about it. I didn’t like the person I was becoming. Luckily we went to different high schools and seeing as we were old enough to make our own choices we (my sisters and I) avoided any unnecessary meetings. Sometimes distancing oneself from negative influence is the best solution.

Someone who reads my posts regularly might think I hate my extended paternal family. Truth is I don’t hate them. I just don’t like the person I am when I’m with them. Our relationship hasn’t changed. It has always felt like a competition, and looking back at the life I had as a kid, I know I wouldn’t want to go back to that. If I have to constantly tell lies or lash out at someone because they make it their business to pry into my life, making me feel bad about what I don’t have or what I have, just because they’re not okay with it, I would rather sever all ties with them than do something I might regret for the rest of my life, in an attempt to always top the charts.

second chances

Weight Issues

weight issues

The last time I met up with some of my relatives from my paternal side a few weeks ago at my uncle’s birthday, I had a hard time bonding with some of them because whatever came out of their mouths was infelicitous as usual. One of my cousins approached me asking, “Where’s the baby?”

I was in the kitchen when she came up to me. With an eyebrow arched I was like, “Seriously? What the F…?” Only I was courteous enough not to say it out loud. Lifting my head up I smiled at her, “Why do you ask?” I already knew why she was asking that-another one of my cousins had asked that same question earlier-but I just wanted to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.

“Well, you’ve put on so much weight,” she explained, “the last time I saw you, you looked like a stick.” Such polite words you have there cousin, I thought. I would be lying if I said those words didn’t irritate me, but knowing she was just being herself- failing to be courteous and all-I calmly reminded her the last time we’d met was about three years ago. My sisters and I had deliberately skipped all family functions; it takes so much energy pretending one’s happy when they’re not, putting up with crap when one feels like they would explode. We didn’t have the grace to turn the other cheek, so we avoided attending the functions entirely.

Like I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, this ‘funny’ relationship we have with them dates back to when my parents were dating; dad’s family was rich, mom’s was poor, so we automatically earned the ‘poor cousins tag’. Even when God bridged that gap the tag still remained. Initially I used to feel bugged by it, but as I grew up I realized judging people based on what they have/don’t have, or where they stand socially is just tacky.

“There’s no baby, it’s all food,” I added, straight-faced. I let it pass without making a fuss.

I wouldn’t take any offence if I thought she only asked that in jest, because honestly some people have a ‘painful’ sense of humour, but I could tell, it was actually sarky.

That’s one of the reasons I hate attending any family get-togethers; from my paternal side especially, because it’s like every one of the members has been gifted in offending others, and we (my sisters and I) always have to play it cool; taking it all stoically. With my cousin for instance, I was so tempted to give her a piece of my mind, but I didn’t see the point. I didn’t want to be the better villain. It’s something I’m trying to overcome, given the circumstances-my ‘violent’ childhood. I chose to take the high road.

The last time I saw my cousin and the rest of the family, I really had lost too much weight; the job I had at the time was too strenuous; it was actually one of the reasons that made me opt to quit. I remember one of my uncles asking me why I looked that scrawny. “If it’s the job that’s taking such a toll on you, just quit,” he’d told me. I understood his concern.

Now three years later, a few of them found it an issue that I looked bigger than the previous time. One thing I’ve learnt in life is that it’s practically impossible to please everyone. If I decided to dance to their tunes, I’d lose myself, suffering from eating disorders because I’m either too big or too small for their liking; just not the right size. Good thing is, I couldn’t be happier with how I look, and to me, that’s all that matters; how I feel.

 

 

 

Life happens when you’re busy planning life

making plans

‘Life happens when you’re busy planning life.’

The first time I heard this statement, my mind went back to a date I never had with a guy I really liked about two years ago. Naturally, I’m one of those people who don’t just do things on impulse. If I’m hooking up with some girlfriends, I’ll have to plan for it. If it’s an appointment I have with my hair dresser, I’ll have to plan for it. If I’m going shopping, I’ll have to plan for it. Spontaneity isn’t a word I’m too conversant with.

I really can’t say it’s a good thing. Some might argue it’s good to always plan for things in advance-I thought so too, but not anymore. Through experience, I learnt that sometimes it’s actually good to do things on impulse. The problem with some things is that if you actually sit down to plan when you’ll do them, they’ll never happen.

Two years ago, I met this guy when I was at work. He worked for a popular radio station. After talking for a while we just clicked, and he asked me out. I didn’t even think twice about it; I definitely wanted to spend more time with him. You know, there are those people who are so easy to like; he was one of them. The problem however rose when we started setting the time for our date. Somehow our schedules collided. When I was free he wasn’t, and when he was, I wasn’t.

He suggested we should just leave the possibilities open so if he was free he’d call me up to ask if I could avail myself. That proved difficult because at times he’d call when I was tied up with something. I had to explain to him that I had my activities all planned out (It sounds boring I know, trust me). He on the other hand told me he was an in-the-moment kinda guy. Whatever he did, he did when he felt like. He made it clear that he wasn’t really into planning and all. At the time I was like, “What? Planning makes things easy.”

He dropped by my workplace, and we managed to set an actual date. We agreed to hook up later that evening. Everything was going on fine, until I sprained my ankle. I wanted to ignore it but the pain was too much. I just rang him to cancel; there was no way I was going on a first date with him limping.

It was around Christmas. Later that week my family and I travelled out of town for a couple of days. When we came back the Christmas festivities had relatively cooled off. I’d asked my boss to give me a few days extra and the understanding man he was, he had agreed, so I reported back to work later than everyone else. It was almost time to usher in the New Year. Soon, everything went back to normal, the holiday spirit died down, waiting for another twelve months so it could resurrect.

There was too much work to be done and even, though I’d thought December was a busy month, January proved worse, not because there was too much work to be done, but because generally, the month feels like a Monday; a mundane, lethargy-inflicting day, after an exciting weekend. The connection we’d fostered the first few days faded away. I got tired of all the rescheduling, and I imagined he felt the same way too.

The relationship we would possibly have had ended before it had begun. I could tell he was a fun guy to be with, but it just didn’t happen. Maybe if I hadn’t been too keen on planning, if I just lived for the moment, I would be telling an entirely different story. Maybe I made wrong deductions, but given that to date we’ve never hooked up, I concluded that sometimes it’s actually good to just do things on impulse.

From a Christian’s perspective I could decide to look at it from the, ‘God didn’t want us to go on that date perspective’, but normally I feel my ‘planning’ got in the way. So I do agree, that life actually happens when we’re busy planning it. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, so if one gets the opportunity to do something today, they should just grab the chance. Maybe I’m wrong… maybe I’m not…

 

Lord, protect me from my friends

“Lord, protect me from my friends, because I know who my enemies are.”

This is a prayer I see people post a lot on social media. It makes so much sense. We all know who our enemies are, but with all the beautiful masks our ‘friends’ hide behind, it becomes difficult to tell the real friends from the fake ones; most of the people we regard as friends are just wolves masquerading as sheep (pardon me for the expression; I just thought it perfectly describes frenemies).

Naturally, friends come in different sizes and colours; it just becomes difficult to tell who’s real and who’s not. Some friends will only stick around when everything’s okay, but the instant things start going downhill, they start vanishing one by one, as if by magic. At the end of the day one finds themselves alone, without a shoulder to lean on.

It’s during these low moments in our lives that we get to really know who our real friends are…that’s what I used to think, until I realized there’s another bunch of friends, who delight at other people’s woes. They seem helpful when one is going through that dark phase. If one is hungry, they’ll be more than happy to offer them food. We love them more, because they stood by us when everything had gone awry, when everyone else ditched us.

Again, it becomes difficult to tell the fake from the real friends, because some of these friends who stay with us during the storm disappear as soon as it abates. I never understood it as a child; I thought everyone who sticks around during tough times automatically passes the true friend test. It’s only now, when I’m all grown that it’s all starting to look different from what I’d perceived earlier.

Apparently, not all friends delight at one’s success; it sounds somewhat evil when I say it, but it’s as true as the sky is blue. These are those friends who only like it when they are helping with temporary things, but hate it when someone finds a long term solution to their problem. They’ll be so quick to let one hitch a ride with them, but when one buys their own car they vanish, and when one bumps into them occasionally on the streets they’ll be in a foul mood, even though they try to hide it behind a plastic smile.

They just like to see someone dependent on them; I guess knowing someone is entirely at their mercy gives them some false feeling of power…so they know if they want to hurt/frustrate you they’ll just withhold the aid.

Then there are those friends who act all sweet and loving in one’s presence, but the minute they get out of one’s sight they spread all kinds of malicious gossip. They will snatch one’s boyfriend; go behind them so one loses that promotion at work.

The worst thing about these fake friends- frenemies if you rather- is that we allow them into our inner circles, so they know us inside out; they know our Achilles’ heels, so it becomes easy for them to carry out whatever evil schemes they have up their sleeves.

As a kid, I was really trusting; I thought people who were good to me were my friends, but in these few years I’ve lived, relatively speaking, I’ve gotten my fair share of fake friends, who’ve turned me into a real skeptic. I’ve learned to be wary. I know they could show their fangs anytime.So even though I smile at them, at the back of my head I know I should be on my guard.

When it comes to the business of making friends, I know not everyone who smiles at me is my friend, and not everyone who scowls at me is my enemy; it could just be because they’re offended by something I did. I know that sometimes the people we consider our closest friends could be our greatest enemies. It’s just that time reveals them when the damage has been done, unfortunately.

fake friends

Making Choices

making choices

In my recent posts, I have been writing about domestic violence. It’s a topic I rarely delve into, because it takes me back to a past I try so hard to forget; but then some issues can only be ignored for so long. Many people blame their parents or someone close to them for their shortcomings. Personally, I have more than enough things I blame my parents for. Sometimes I feel if it wasn’t for my relatively damaged past, I would be a much happier person than I am today. When I sink into my occasional depressions, I feel my past contributed a lot.

I’m not the only one; I know people who despise the lives they lead because it’s not what they would have chosen under normal circumstances, and were only led to make the choices they made by undesirable state of affairs.

Nonetheless, life doesn’t always have to take the course someone else carved out. The good thing in life is that each one has the right to make their own choices. One doesn’t have to turn out damaged because they met/lived with an equally damaged person.

Studies show that many perpetrators of abuse were themselves abused at one point; dealing with the trauma turned them into abusers. But slowly I’m learning one can lead a totally ‘clean’ life; one that’s not marred by a horrendous past. The one thing which determines the path one takes is their willingness to change. If one desires it, it will happen gradually. It could be difficult at first, but with determination, nothing is impossible.

Miss Independent

miss independent

Ne-yo loves Miss Independent; apparently I love her too. My damaged past has taught me a lesson or two concerning independence. For starters-I don’t mean to step on any toes-but I feel the only reason most men ask their wives to stay home, is so that they can control them. Some cite love and concern, but honestly, I feel there’s more to it than meets the eye. Again, I apologize if my opinion appears skewed. It’s just that the ‘culprits’ I know personally haven’t convinced me otherwise.

My dad for instance; when I was about nine, he asked mom to quit her job; he said he would take care of her. At first mom was reluctant; she wasn’t sure that was what she wanted…but dad could be charming at times; when he’s not fighting he could be really sweet. Mom fell for his charms; she went ahead to hand in her resignation letter.

I have reason to believe those few years she stayed out of work are her worst to date. It’s like by giving up her job, she had also given up her freedom. She was at dad’s mercy. He had the last say in everything, even when it came to basic necessities such as food. If she wanted anything, she would have to consult dad. She had willingly, handed him the reins of power…I don’t fault her really; she trusted him, but apparently he took her for granted.

If mom was alone, things would have been easier I know; but she had three little mouths to feed. Even with the struggle, she had to take care of us. I think it’s at that time when their run-ins intensified because mom wasn’t satisfied with the treatment dad was giving her, and dad wasn’t willing to make it better.

One night dad came home past midnight, drunk. He hadn’t been giving mom any money for replenishing our food supplies. We couldn’t sleep; it was difficult to fall asleep hungry. We stayed up; hoping dad would be kind enough to bring us some fast food. The minutes ticked away, and as the clock struck midnight, we knew this would be one of those nights we went to bed hungry.

Finally he came home, reeking of alcohol and roasted meat. Obviously he was full. Mom asked him why he was being so unfeeling. She was hurt. We hadn’t eaten, and dad was doing that on purpose, because he knew she didn’t have money at the time. Mockingly, he threw money on the table. He didn’t seem bothered by the dejected looks on our faces.

Mom snapped, “You’re giving me money? At this time? What do you want me to do with it? Slice it up in their plates and feed it to them or what?” She was hurt, angry, and frustrated. In his drunkenness dad snapped too and they started fighting. We went to bed ravenous with our eyes red and puffy from all the crying, and our hearts heavy.

The next morning mom used that same money to buy us breakfast. I watched miserably as she struggled to cater to our needs; it was just humiliating. She had to suck up to him so she could get money for whatever she needed. I noticed everytime she needed money, dad wouldn’t give it to her without a fight.

Mom got tired of the vicious cycle and she started looking for a job. But as it turned out, it wasn’t a very simple task. It took longer than she had anticipated and all the while she had to endure his torturous deeds. She contemplated leaving him, but then she figured if she left we would suffer the consequences because he was still the one paying our school fee. So she put up with him, with all the frustration.

Mom, determined to get her life back on track, started her own business with the little money she had been saving up. It was difficult because dad was against it, but she pressed on. It didn’t bring her enough income, so she closed up and continued looking for another job.

It wasn’t until mom found a job that I saw her truly happy. She had gone through so much humiliation; I always opt to block those memories out of my head because they’re just so many and extremely heartbreaking. Sometimes it’s just easier pretending it didn’t happen.

When she went back to work, her fights with dad reduced remarkably; she didn’t need anything from him. She was independent.

A few months ago he was asking her to quit her job; but this time, it was different. He asked her to quit her job so she could take care of him, so that she-in his own words-could serve him. I impenitently laughed in his face. “Seriously?” I asked, then I started laughing again. Honestly it wasn’t funny in a rib-tickling way, but I found it ludicrous. He was clearly offended-that’s what I was hoping to achieve (I hate myself for that, but it’s the least I could do to let him know what I felt. He rarely lets us speak our minds). I doubt mom would ever fall for that again. No one in their right mind would forget the humiliation she went through.

I learned that it doesn’t matter how much one’s partner has; if it’s not mine, then I’d rather do without it. There’s just something about having money that one has worked for; it’s liberating. I love miss independent; the freedom; the peace of mind…

Oh there’s something about

Kinda woman that can do for herself

I look at her and it makes me proud…