Tag Archives: Dating

Of birthdays and milestones: Part 1

In slightly over a week I turn a year older. Yaaay! Funny thing is I’m feeling excited, but mostly anxious about it. Excited, because birthdays are that one day in our lives, when we annually celebrate the anniversary of our births and for most people it’s a day that’s arguably characterised by festivities, big or small; and anxious because nowadays birthdays to me, don’t just mean cake and fun.

When I was growing up, I waited for my birthdays eagerly. All I had to worry about was whether I’d get a new dress or not; mom had made it a tradition to buy my sisters and I dresses to celebrate our birthdays. I remember this one time I fell and sprained my ankle on the eve of my birthday… just hours to my big day. Thankfully, the special treatment I received for being the ‘birthday girl’ far outshined every ounce of pain I felt.

As birthdays come and go, I feel I’ve reached a point where, each year sort of signals an evaluation point. See, thing is, when I was a child, I had dreams…so many dreams, which were always introduced by the phrase, “When I grow up I want to/I will… and to be honest, it was fun. The sky, as they say, was the limit. All I had to do was dream it… the rest I would leave to God, and only time would tell whether those dreams would materialize.

Some dreams as I’m realizing, fell by the way side; for one reason or another, they are unattainable. My childhood sweetheart for instance; this far I’ve come, I don’t quite remember loving a guy as much as I did him. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been in a relationship I would term ‘serious’ per se. For an entire decade, he’s the only guy my heart beat for…even on a dull day, thoughts of him would give me that warm, fuzzy feeling and the dark clouds would scud away.

His mom adored me, and she was hopeful I’d be married to her son someday. That’s the beauty of childhood. All dreams are valid. At the time we were around eight years old since he’s only one week older than me. As we grew up though, we started forging out our own different paths and a year after we finished high school, my sister invited him for lunch one afternoon when she bumped into him on her way to school.

At the time we had moved to a different neighbourhood so we didn’t see each other much; not to mention all the adventurous spirits brought to life by teenage hood. It’s usually a time of trying out new things…actually come to think of it, it’s like shopping; trying out all things to see which fit better. It’s all about self-discovery. Therefore, we had not gotten an opportunity to sort of synchronise our dreams.

That afternoon, when he came over for lunch we talked a lot, and somehow it felt we were going to rekindle things. The chemistry between us was intense. However, the next time he came over it was unannounced; and after spending some time together that day it dawned on me, we were never going to be an item again. He had changed, and I had changed as well. Simply put, we were incompatible.

That evening as I saw him off, all the fire that had burned in my heart for years died abruptly. It was then I realized I needed to move on. Interestingly, we have never ended our relationship formally. So just like that, a dream I had held onto for ten whole years went up in smoke. That, is just one of the many beautiful dreams I had as a child that with time proved unfeasible.

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Who’s more important?

Who’s more important? One’s sibling or a partner/spouse? A child or a spouse? A child or a sibling? One’s child or parent? This is a question so many would shrug off, but in a way, it’s a quagmire people find themselves in more often than not. No one will blatantly put someone in such a situation where they have to pick between loved ones, except in few cases where some people have the guts to go issuing such ultimatums.

Earlier today, my sisters and I were talking about the different relationships we humans are privileged to have. Filial relations between one and their parents, fraternal relations between siblings, parental relations between one and their children, romantic relations between one and their lover… of these, one can’t be asked which of those relations is most important because as it, each one is unique; different from the other.

For instance, I know the emotional satisfaction I derive from bonding with my sisters is so different from what I feel when I bond with my parents… and what I feel for a guy I’m involved with is a whole different story. So in my humble opinion, it would be inhuman to make one pick who they love most.

In a funny twist of events, mom came home in the evening and was telling us about a troubling conversation she had with a friend. As it turns out, the friend took her sister’s child in because she (the sister) got married to another guy, who said he wasn’t going to take care of another man’s child. Subsequently, the sister left her baby girl with her biological dad.

abandoned-child

Unfortunately, the girl’s dad died shortly after and life took a turn for the worst for her as she wasn’t getting proper treatment from the dad’s family. Moved by the girl’s predicament, mom’s friend (the girl’s aunt) took her in and now she is her legal guardian.

Since the girl wasn’t taken to school until recently when her aunt took custody of her, she’s around fifteen but only has the wits of a nine year old. It will be roughly five years before she joins high school; and that is, if she’s brave enough to stand disparaging remarks from her relatively younger classmates.

That story had me thinking; if I had a child with a guy, and then after breaking up with him, I got into another relationship where the guy insists that if I want to be with him I would have to abandon my child, would I submit to such a misguided ultimatum?

Not so far from home, I have a cousin who got a baby when she was only fifteen. Given that she was very young then, her parents helped her take care of her daughter. Unfortunately, a few years down the line, she met another guy, fell in love with him…

However, when they decided to move in together, she couldn’t take her child with her.  Her baby girl, who’s a teenager now, has been living with her grandparents all through. Her mom got another child with her new man… This was also the case with mom’s friend’s niece; her mom got more children with the new husband. They even relocated to another country so she has never met her siblings; worse still, there’s a very high possibility she doesn’t remember her own mother.

Such scenarios make me wonder, what does that imply for the children who are left behind by their parents as they forge new paths with other partners? My cousin’s daughter for instance; she has a sister whom she doesn’t interact much with and a mother she barely sees, all because her mom got into another relationship with a man who wasn’t her dad.

I’m cognisant of the fact that to some extent, this could be to the girl’s advantage. For instance, this might shield her from any form of abuse from the mom’s husband, who could maltreat her because she’s not his biological daughter. However, I can’t also ignore that a child who’s separated from his/her parent for such inadmissible reasons may have a very difficult life because they will always try to comprehend why their parent chose to abandon them.

The way I see it, no one should be made to choose between people they love. It’s unfair to ask a mother to ‘trade in’ her child for a new lover. This could be psychologically traumatising for both mother and child. Furthermore, I am of the opinion that anyone who claims to love someone will accept them and their children.

Personally, I wouldn’t believe a guy who said they loved me to the moon and back, but couldn’t accept my child because he/she is another man’s child. How does one reject my own flesh and blood, and still purport to love me? That doesn’t make any sense if you ask me. It’s unfair to say the least, to the innocent child.

In all fairness, where I’m at, I can’t pretend to know what parents who have encountered such mind-boggling issues go through; however, I can say with certainty, that people who give their partners such unfair ultimatums are driven by their own egoistic desires. They refuse to empathise with a blameless child, who will be unfairly separated from their family, and a mother (or father), who has to come to terms with abandoning their child.

Love presents itself in various forms, and each type is different from the other. We shouldn’t make anyone choose. It just ain’t right, in my humble opinion.

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.

Letter to my husband: Part 3

Why do battered women stay with their abusers? There could be very many answers to that. But I know one woman’s reasons. My mom’s. Most of the time she and dad fought, she would vow to leave. However, when everything had calmed down, she would take back what she’d said in a moment of heart-wrenching anguish. “I want you to have a good life,” she would tell us forlornly. “And right now I can’t afford your school fees. Only your dad can.”

She made it clear that if she left, she wouldn’t leave us behind; but therein lay the problem. She was jobless and finding one wasn’t easy. She never left. But that didn’t do anything to keep my nightmares at bay. In the dead of the night, when everyone was asleep, I’d be haunted by dreams of her leaving. Crying, I would wrap my arms around her leg, pulling her so she wouldn’t leave. Then I’d wake up to realize it had just been a bad dream.

As a child, the nightmare plagued me even in my waking hours. I was always anxious that one day dad would do something so dreadful that would finally push mom to leave. With all that worrying going on, I eventually developed an anxiety disorder when I was thirteen. I’d fall sick often and though at first it was difficult to diagnose, one doctor eventually told me it was anxiety. My life was never the same again. Everything made me anxious and panic attacks became a common occurrence.

By the time I was finishing high school, the anxiety was slowly morphing into depression and ever since, I fall in and out of depression with ease. Dad has never changed and the situation in the house is pretty much the same. Once I’d considered running away from home, but I thought against it, realizing I would only bring myself more harm because I didn’t have a backup plan. I figured maybe I would end up homeless, with a child I couldn’t take care of. Stomaching the violence at home felt like the lesser evil.

I have thought an awful lot about this man I call my father. He’s done outrageous things, but somehow, I can’t bring myself to hate him. Sometimes, when things get too intense I say it my head. I even tell my sisters what I feel. But I constantly ask God to help me, so there never comes a day when I shout, “I hate you so much,” to his face. I would be lying if I said we didn’t have some good moments in the past, but those ones have slipped into the background as they’ve been overshadowed by all the bad memories.

I have watched the relationship my parents have and honestly, there is nothing about it that makes me want to be in a relationship. The last time I tried explaining that to a guy who I liked and who was so interested in me, it didn’t go down too well. Everytime we talked, I had the feeling he was going to ask me if I was raped or something.

See that’s the thing. It’s difficult explaining this life I have lived to anyone because if I don’t delve into the details, it’s just another shallow story about a girl who grew up in family plagued by domestic violence. Normally, instead of talking I just clam up completely until I’m confident the issue won’t come up again.

That guy for instance, couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to be in a relationship with him simply because I had grown up watching my parents fight. I don’t blame him though. I never gave him a detailed account because again, it’s not easy telling it. Digging deep into a past that has turned me, into this damaged woman I fear I am, isn’t something I relish.

Letter to my husband: Part 1

My beloved husband,

I hope this letter finds you well.

This past few days I’ve been thinking a lot; about everything. The life I have lived so far, and the life I hope to have in future. I contemplated seeking a professional’s help so I can put all this into perspective, but turns out I did good just on my own. As I find writing very therapeutic, I figured I could write to you because my final discoveries wouldn’t be of any use if I didn’t share them with you. So here goes:

Every little girl has a dream; an idea of the kind of man she would wish to spend forever with. Most wish their shining knight will be the life version of Barbie’s Ken, or one of those charming men from the numerous fairy tales. After reading too many of those stories and watching movies of them, they hope for grand weddings. In most cases, the average girl’s ideal husband is Mr tall, dark and handsome, as the cliché goes. Well, I can’t fault them because I was one of those girls.

However, as I’m growing up, I’m slowly realizing the stories we read in books are so different from real life happenings. When writers are writing the books, they omit some very crucial details, for fear of planting bad seeds in infantile minds. I’ve read some original versions of these fairy tales children love so much, and honestly they are a bit depressing. So I understand why.

Some of those omissions are the fact that Mr tall, dark and handsome may be an alcoholic, a pathological liar, a wife beater, or a serial killer, or a paedophile… I could only think of so many nasty things. Point is, young girls look at the physical attributes of their potential husbands/partners, but now I know that is myopia at its best; and how do I know that, you ask?

It’s simple; my father is a very handsome man (and I say this with absolute filial love), he is tall and dark and earns a six figure salary. In my books that’s the perfect definition of prince charming. Sadly, I have never known a more miserable woman than my mother. Everytime I look at her I sympathize with her; I wonder if this is the happily-ever-after she signed up for. Judging by the high levels of misery she’s enshrouded in, I doubt she ever contemplated the life she is living now. No one in their right mind would.

Love, they say, conquers all; but guess what, sometimes love could sink someone. Ask my mother. She will give you a litany of the suffering and privation she’s put up with in the name of love. I will say it from my perspective though.

Growing up, my two sisters and I went hungry a lot. Most of the times we survived on one meal a day. That’s not a big deal though, because I know there are people who don’t eat at all. Problem is, while we were going without food, my father was club hopping, spending whatever money he had on booze and roasted meat.

My baby sister, who was a little young at the time when we started realizing what was happening, would tell mom, “He smells of meat and beer.” She was around four years old. When walking on the streets, her tiny hand in mom’s, she would see a man loading shopping bags in the trunk of his car then she would look up at mom and ask, “Mom, can’t we get another dad?”

I understood why she asked that. We envied the lives normal families had. A life where the father would lovingly teach his kids how to ride bikes, buy them small gifts for small achievements… I know this could sound like we hoped for too much, but it was only because we were aware our father could afford it.

Mom wanted for us to have this life, but she’d been rendered financially helpless when she quit her job. When she got pregnant with me, she was working as a chef in a five-star hotel, and when she went on maternity leave, she never went back. Dad had requested her to become a housewife and gullibly she had accepted.

That however, (in my opinion) was one of the worst mistakes of her life; because ever since, she was subjected to his mercy. He only bought food when he deemed it fit, which was rare, so mom had to run some small businesses that didn’t flourish so she could feed us. She suffered so much, and we struggled a lot, but somehow we managed. It was hard.

Then in the midst of all that came violence. Mom’s tall, dark and handsome man, became an incorrigible wife beater. Sometimes I would go to school crying because shortly before I left home I would witness him hitting her.

Ever since I was small, I understood the importance of keeping the family’s dirty laundry away from the public’s eye, so I never told anyone. Except this one time; it was too much to hold in, so I talked to my class teacher. I was eight then, but the teacher didn’t do much; just the usual pep talk to help me get through the day. In the late afternoon I went back home after school, to my warring parents.

My dilemma…

A couple of weeks ago I had a phone conversation with this guy I really like. He was calling to ask me out but since I have my reservations about us dating, I felt I needed to explain why I was opposed to it.

“I told you I hate being lied to?” I asked, referring to a conversation we’d had two days before then.

“Yes.”

“In the spirit of honesty, I feel I owe you some truth.”

“What truth?” He asked, his voice so calm, ready to hear me out.

I wasn’t sure how he was going to take it, but I knew I had to say it anyway. “I’m in a dilemma…” I started, my fingers crossed, praying that whatever I was about to say wouldn’t upset him. “Remember the other night, when you told me, that when you decide to get married you will think of me?”

“Yeah…”

“I’ve been thinking about that a lot,” I continued.

“You’ve been thinking about it? So you took me seriously?” He asked light-heartedly. “I’m humbled that you take me serious enough to even think about it.”

At the time, all I just wanted was to say what was troubling me so I could just get it out of my system. I wanted us to be on the same page, so he wouldn’t feel like I was leading him on or anything of the sort. “There’s something personal I need to tell you. Don’t judge.”

He laughed nervously, anticipation getting the better of him. “Of course I won’t judge.”

“The thought of getting married terrifies me.”

Honestly I don’t remember much of the immediate conversation after that but what I gladly noted was that he wasn’t pissed… Instead he calmly told me whatever he’d said was not cast in stone and it’s not like anyone was holding a gun to anyone’s head. In short, the proposal wasn’t final and there was more than enough room to make adjustments as we go along.

After that very unusual revelation, he sought to find out why I was scared of getting married; you know, trying to understand my background and what could have led to my startling stance on matters marriage.

Again, I found myself in another quagmire; the pain of having to narrate my ever traumatizing past to someone who could potentially be my better half. I tried to find the words to explain to him how my childhood experiences have contributed to this very disturbing notion I have of getting hitched to anyone.

Since I’d hinted at something, I knew I had to shed some light somehow; unfortunately words failed me. First I made him understand that I’m not really used to talking about myself, leave alone divulging information that could paint my family in very bad light. I further explained that normally I just let the matter slide without offering any explanation.

The difference in this case was this is a guy I actually like, and the nicest guy I’ve met in my life so far. I didn’t want to hurt him in any way, or even give him the slightest feeling that I was rejecting him. Ergo, I knew either way I had to find suitable words to describe the painful pictures from my past, no matter how hard it felt.

My chest rose and I exhaled loudly as I tried to find those elusive words… “God help me!” I sighed. “Do I have to?”

“Yes.”

“You’re not making this any easy,” I complained, hoping he would just let it go.

“I just want to understand you.”

After more sighs, I attempted to elucidate… “I can’t tell you much for now, but in a nutshell, I had a damaging childhood. I’ve watched my parents and the life they lead is not something I’m in a hurry to get into.”

“Are they your biological parents?” He asked, in his very calm, reassuring voice.

“Yeah, they’re my birth parents.”

“Are they separated?” He asked, concern in his voice.

“No. But it’s been pretty bad.”

“So your mom is not happy?”

“Basically.”

The rest of the conversation was him trying to get the truth out of me. He even went to an extent of telling me some pretty personal stuff-his background and all-just so I would find the courage to confide in him. But as it turns out, I didn’t reveal much anyway. One thing I made clear though is that we would be done the instant he proposed marriage and it felt very comforting to know he understood me, even though I had left so much unsaid.

I have known this guy for only three months, and so far he’s been nothing but good to me. He’s kind, understanding, generous, patient, very chivalrous… he’s just everything I would ever want in a husband…

let go of the past

However, there’s just one major hurdle. The instant he mentioned marriage, mom’s painful marital life sprung to mind and all my defences went up. I started seeing younger versions of my sisters and I crying, watching helplessly as dad rained blows on her, and we feared he would kill her… I remembered the many nights we slept hungry because mom didn’t have a job, while dad wasted his money in bars.

The irony of it all is that while in my life dad is the worst man I’ve known (relationshipwise), this guy (if his very good personality isn’t just a charade) is the best man I’ve met so far. Now the worst part is that the fear of reliving mom’s pain-filled life won’t let me have the peace of mind I need to be in a meaningful relationship.

So far we’re only friends, and lately he’s been asking me out a lot. Light-heartedly, he says I’m difficult, but I also feel he’s stubborn; he won’t take any no from me and in any case, he seems so ready to do whatever it is he feels will make me happy-except let me go.

Everyone’s doing it

everyone's doing it

Sometimes I get the impression many people engage in coitus for all the wrong reasons. Some teenagers/ young kids do it because their friends are doing it and they wouldn’t want to feel like the odd ones out; married people, who partake of ‘side dishes’, on the other hand feel like it’s legal to cheat on their spouses because everyone else is doing it.

From a religious point of view, sex is considered good only if one is in a union which has been solemnized before God. This basically means that all the ‘romping’ done with someone who one is not married to is considered a transgression; and the worst kind for that matter.

St. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians says the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The minute we decide to sully that temple by fornicating (biblical description of premarital sex) and adultery (extra-marital affairs), we chase the Holy Spirit away as He can’t dwell in an unholy place.

Of all the sins committed, this kind of sinning, basically referred to as immorality is the worst of all, because unlike all the other sins done outside the body, this one is done inside the body and violates the sanctity of the body.

My priest this past Sunday was saying during the homily, “When couples come to me for counselling because their marriages are falling apart as a result of one of the spouses cheating, one of the reasons they give for it is ‘Fr., everyone’s doing it’.”

He paused momentarily before continuing, “Everyone’s doing it? My foot! So you decide you want to go to hell because everyone else is? And when your marriage is collapsing, you don’t go to everyone for help, why? And who is everyone?” He seemed pretty agitated if you ask me…and for good reason, in my opinion.

Sex has become meaningless. Once upon a time it used to be treated as the ultimate expression of love, but nowadays if a student wants good grades in school they will trade in some favours with the professors; if someone wants to get a permanent job after interning, they sleep with the honcho…sex has been reduced to a mere currency.

I don’t mean to be a party pooper but really, when someone is sleeping around with ‘everyone’, where does that leave God? Nowadays parents are even afraid to instil in their children the same values their parents did; they’re afraid of telling them sex before marriage is wrong.

It doesn’t matter if everyone’s doing it. The same God who outlawed fornication and adultery thousands of years ago is the same one, who still reigns today, and who still maintains it’s wrong. So it doesn’t matter if we dupe ourselves into believing that because everyone’s doing it, it’s ok.

God has wiped out cities in the past. That should tell us something; it doesn’t matter if we sin as a community, or as individuals. Once He starts punishing us, He doesn’t spare anyone; and there would be no hole deep enough for one to crawl into to escape His wrath. He is Omniscient.

If you’re doing something, don’t do it because everyone’s doing it; do it for a valid reason; a reason you could justifiably defend if anyone asked.