I was going through my wedding photos and I came across my solo photo. I looked heavenly. Sleeveless gown bedecked with fake silver pearls on the bosom. Cinderella waist out-flowing to meet the short train of the gown made me a sight for sore eyes. My smile caught the sun rays and it made my eyes shimmer with astounding glory. Then the eyes. Wide open with glee. Fake lashes giving more diameter to my lenses. A photo so beautiful it breaks my heart again and again. It was highlighted with black as deep as the pit in abyss. I still feel it sometimes.
There is divorce when you are in your forties with a few babies and a cat, then there is divorce when you are in your twenties, no babies and definitely no cats. Not because you do not like cats but because you really do not care about pets. You have no home plant either. You take care of everyone but pets and humourless house plants. You do not hate them. You just feel nothing for them and that makes people think you are a monster. Maybe you are.
It confuses people. Not the lack of pets you Wiseman, the divorce. It flabbergasted me for a while. Not a while; more than just a while. I hid the fact that I was ever married. Divorce in my world, represented sad women narrating their gory life histories over cups of morose coffee. Women with motivational quotes all bordering on men being four -legged animals. I would hate to be identified with that clout of misery.
When I went for the Divorce care Counselling, the first words I ever uttered were, ‘ I do not want to be here.’ I meant it. Who wants to be in a class of grown ups sobbing about the unfairness of life, not me! I was mistaken.
See, I always had my life figured out—or so I thought. At 26, I knew I wanted to have my first born. I even had a name for her because God help me, it was going to be a girl. Looking back I think that was pretty naïve. I am not famous for my brilliance though.
At 26, I walked down the aisle with who I believed was my life partner. When I tell my best friend that I wanted to run away the same day I walked down the aisle, he laughs his lungs out. He feels I am the most melodramatic girl he has ever met. That is a coveted title I humbly accept. That , friends of God, is a crown I wear with as much pride as Aladdin’s genie at the three wishes.
I walked up the aisle (surely the opposite of walking down the aisle is walking up,no?) an year and a suicidal ideation later with nothing but the pieces of my broken heart. If I listen hard enough, I can still hear my heart shatter on the cold concrete floor. If I stay still enough, legs closed in the famous Lotus posture, inhaling a concoction of brutalist fumes from elderly candles, I will hear the veins of my heart burst open. If I stay without blinking for thirty seconds, muscles of my eyes trained on a big black circle, I will see the trickle of hot blood from the heart that hung on shards of glass.
I do not want to go into the details of the events that led to the famous fallout. Partly because it is depressing and majorly because the outlines are clear but they fade at the edges leaving blurs and smudges, after that, everything is dark. Darkness is one struggle I choose not to have.
A legally divorced, gorgeous (I just complimented myself go hang) and baby-less lady in her twenties attracts all sorts of mysteries around you. It started with speculations that lack of a baby was the reason why that union collapsed. It morphed into many theories which I gave up refuting. There is nothing that screams GUILTY as attempts to deny a story. So I let it go on. The noise was however too much and I had to excuse myself for a while. It served the purpose of allowing my former partner to spin his web of lies in my absence. I never bothered correct him.
What was even more infuriating was his dismissal of the court proceedings. He chose not to attend or contest the divorce or even face me in court. He chose lies, more lies and even more lies told to willing and listening ears. It broke me into smithereens.
That helped not because men generally assume I am in some sort of emotional limbo. Women on the other hand assume I am living in denial. When I tell girls in the twenties like myself that I look forward to love and marriage, they shudder with awe. Men on the other hand keep assuming I am desperate to get laid.
I encounter men who ,much to my chagrin, imply that coming to my house is a cute way to start a friendship. I will never understand that concept. It takes a man a few days of infatuation to suggest I need him in my house. The idea of a woman having her wits about her and still be single is foreign to many. There is one who actually told me I am at the age where I should read signs and interpret them wisely because the years are moving and soon I may not have a baby. Soon, went on the Great Seer and Interpreter of Women’s Ovarian Cycles, I will get too old to get married. I should, he summarised his speech, lower my standards and get on with him as he is available and learn to love him on the way. I was galled. Miffed. Stupefied and in a catatonic stupor as he spewed his version of wisdom.
The problem with this type of thinking is one. I have been there, done that. I know how grave getting into a union for the sake of it is to me as a person. I know how dangerous it is. I have lived and held it. The poison has coursed through my blood and hit every vital organ. I have known pain from such a myopic perception.
Such notion come from men who are used to treating women wrong and women letting them get away with it. We are so used to being mishandled as women that we consider it our normal. Chaotic relationships have become our new way of living and we do not expect anything more.
Men on the other hand have gotten used to the idea that they are God’s gift to women and so women should keel backwards and let them pass. Unquestioned, unchallenged, masterpiece. I was so damaged that I thought everything he did against me I deserved. I was so hurt and broken in ways I can barely outline that I felt he was doing me a favour by loving and staying with me.
Time however, taught me the beauty of damaged people—they know they can survive. I did.
I have met ladies who have been separated 0r divorced and they all felt a certain closeness with me. Because someone understood them or their stories. We however almost always fall out with them. #TeamPhoenix, when one undergoes untold pain and subsequent loss of a marriage, fear grips them to hellish extremes. That coupled with anxiety makes for a beautifully bitter woman. Bitter with men, bitter with society, bitter with self.
Separation and divorce makes one nurse feelings of anger and hatred which will make you sing the men are dogs chorus for the rest of your spartan living. I refused to be that woman.
I refused to be the girl who tells others how unforgiving marriage is. I was unsupported, unloved, abused and misused and my love disused. That is the truth. However how I interpret my truth is a struggle. I chose to make a lovely struggle.
I make deliberate efforts every single day to view marriage as a beautiful story. I have enough reasons not to. Believe me I do. I strive to view love as a butterfly that won’t leave my tummy. This is my way of doing it. If this makes me unreal then I am as guilty as charged. I am not blind to abusive relationships. I am as woke as woke can be. However I refused to let my past define my future. That would be giving him too much power over me and last I checked, dude wasn’t worth squat.
Peace with myself, happiness with myself is the thing I never gave myself for 26 years. It took four wrong years for me to realise how utterly selfish I have been to myself. Now that a couple of years have passed, I look back with appreciation of my short stint at marriage. I do not think I would have known myself as I do today had I not been thrown against the rocks of my turbulent marriage episode.
I however wish I did not have to undergo such a calamitous moment for me to appreciate myself. It was unnecessary and an overkill. But I did and it will always be my choice how I deal with that. I have loved me in ways that I can not explain. That sounds like a line from the motivational speakers club. Ha ha.
No, I do not say so to pep talk myself. I mean it. I have learnt my blind spots and in certain flashbacks I wonder how that son of my former mother in law dealt with my emotional volatility. Well, he did not.
Self- love is the ability to realise that you suck at most things in life and actually doing something about it. It is the looking of self through Rose-tinted spectacles and yet see the logs of wood that impede your sight.
In the Divorce Care program, I met men who had undergone hell and that may have opened my eyes into the fact that people are people and their being nice or nasty is not related to their gender.
By the time I was done with 12 weeks of counselling, I was able to say yes, I was once married and yes, I look forward to marriage again in future. I was able to forgive all my mistakes and those of my former partner. I was able to say with a finality that the marriage should not even have happened in the first place. I made peace with that. It was just a glamorous waste of everyone’s time. Oh, but people love a good waste of time, don’t they? That coupled with a beautiful wedding gown and classy photos is a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon isn’t it? Yes I am laughing…
I will not sit down and perpetuate fear of love. If anything love does take away fear. That does not mean I am desperate for a man. I was at 26 and it landed me in a place I was not supposed to be. I was and it made me make stupid decisions which I have had to seek help to accept and live with.
That is how I confidently say no to the few that imagine coming to my house is a thing. I still believe proper men exist. Chivalrous even. Men who respect women. Men unthreatened by strong women. Men capable of being men without leaning on anything else. Men able to make peace with their demons and still smile and laugh from the belly. It may make me simplistic in my opinion but well, it is my opinion.
I say a few more Nos to anyone and everyone hell-bent on psychoanalysing me. Hell-bent on explaining my past, explaining my present and definitely out to make me feel under pressure. Love, I have learnt, includes a mutual friendship and understanding. It is not self seeking. It is the small things we choose to do or not do that define a marriage.
Therefore if you see me smiling like the moon gazes at me every night, let me for I have learnt what it is to lose a smile. Let me because I have known days when the tears never dry. I have felt pain in my heart in more ways than one. My story has been distorted to fit the other person’s narrative. I have watched as friends and enemies talked about me as if I was not in the room. Oh I have felt it all. The betrayal and disrespect. I have held it in my trembling hands.
God though, held my hand through my murky waters. He made me get away from toxic situations and let me go many miles away from those that wished me harm. He said I am His daughter and He has my life figured out . All I needed to do was follow Him. I have experienced that peace that surpasses human understanding. I have experienced calm in a storm.
As for now, I remain the villain and superhero in my post divorce period.