THE HOSPITAL OF HEARTS

She did not know what made her more sad

I am a good girl. I know that is what most bad girls say but believe you me on the one-to-ten scale of badness, I rank between 4.5 and 6.That is grand. A few people have talked about it too. Even written about it.Okay, not anything publish-able but I wish I could show you my text messages from a few years ago. Oh, I keep them for reference. Because people no longer tell me cute things about myself.Meanies.

Having fed myself with that positive outlook of who I am, I walked out of a marriage. It was a typical day. The wind blew, dogs barked and Kiambu constituents still sung #KabaKabogo and Chelsea was still the best football club in the English premier League.

Because it was a quintessential Kenyan day, I envisioned my husband fighting for me. I dreamt of beautifully crafted apologies. I looked forward to a “ let’s meet and talk about this.” Is this where I sing ndivyo sivyo by Professor Jay?

A day became two. Before that could give birth to a third, he sent a message in the most magnificent sarcastic manner.

“Seems like you left. Send me a thousand bob to sort something here”

Yes. That simple. I was gone with everything to my name but my dear hubby wanted some cash. Because I had become his Mother Teresa wanna-be, I quickly applied for a KCB-MPESA loan and sent the money. I also started the conversation of why I left. I must have missed the part where nobody asked.

Our relationship was wrought with so many irreconcilable differences that I excused and explained his disinterest in his wife. When I look back I laugh because he lost interest in me as soon as he put a ring to my finger. Stark reality I had to face. Probably I needed to breathe.

After a few more days of him not talking to me and me praying that he does, he talked.Goodness!You should have seen me hop from my mattress on the floor in a studio apartment in the outskirts of Thika town to my phone which lay on the old wooden floor charging.

The message was however to ask for more money. He called me so many sweet things and said how he’d never know what to do without me.By the way why do people like that line? Can’t y’all see it is a joke? That notwithstanding, our sick relationship of I-am-broke-send-me-money-I-love-you continued for a few more weeks. If I had no cash I would get gas lighted and told how horrible I was for leaving.

If I dared tell him exactly why I left he would dismiss it by telling me he was broke and needed to be busy looking for money not listening to my petty things. He would remind me I am his wife and that was enough for me to know I was important to him. I thought I was going mad.

Why I sent cash despite sinking deeper and deeper in debts? Because I wanted his attention. His birdy, fleeting attention. I had no idea I was actually helping raise his child with another girl.

I thrive in open communication and it was hard to mother this thirty something old boy. It was challenging to have an adult conversation. Not once did he address the elephant in the room.  I wanted was him to say he knew what was wrong and was willing to discuss it finally. But he couldn’t. He was socially sick and I was his hospital. The hospital.

I had tried so many times to sit his fine bum down and discuss our glaring differences. I remember this evening I was dog-tired from a 72-hour shift. It was a boring Sunday just like any other day since I said I DID. I had been at school on Thursday, working at night, Friday at school, work at night and Saturday at work in another place.

I am a nurse and nurses must eat. That may or may not involve crazy shifts in the name of some extra coin. Why I had to do that? Story for another day.

Where were we?

So I asked him to meet at our favorite (turns out it was his favorite) place along Kiambu road. Now here is a knackered girl who’d want nothing besides sleeping but she’s such a dedicated Proverbs 31 girl that she feels her marriage should come first. Remember my story of seeking counseling? He is the reason I sought help. I wanted to be a better wife for him. I wanted to solve my anger issues and murderous rage. I really wanted to be better, or so I thought. We were to meet at 4 p.m. since he had gone to church.

Dude was a wonderful youth leader or something like that in his, sorry, our church. I was this close to becoming a pastor’s wife. Never mind we met at a not so Jesus-friendly place.

Long story short, he showed up at 1037pm drunk and smelling like he had been marinated in a tub of exotic perfume. In another world, I could have asked for the contacts of the girls. For the perfume’s sake you know. I love smelling like midsummer afternoon. The lucky angels had even left me a few lipstick smudges on his tweed jacket as evidence. Girls can be so thoughtful!

After a few more days of hoping and waiting. After a few more sunrises of fearful premonitions, I made the mistake of telling him we needed to discuss our marriage. I sent an unnecessary paragraph complete with references arguing my point of why I wanted us to work things out but I first needed him to realize what was ailing us. After a daylong pensive wait, he replied.

Wait for it….

“Send me fare and I will come.”

My countrymen and women, daughters and sons of my forefathers, you people of the clan that I come from, how did we get here? It suddenly became crystal clear, all the jigsaw puzzle pieces finally fit!

He never loved me or wanted me and he was very elated that I left. My world couldn’t have been more calamitous. Me leaving was a blessing in disguise. All the horrors he took me through in the short time we were together was geared towards this moment. This was the hilt of mission accomplishment. This, friends of God, was betrayal on steroids.

I suddenly snapped and told him it was fine if he did not think we were important. Just like the sick narcissist he was, he asked me if he thought I was unimportant when he took me down the aisle.Man, I felt gas-lighted and a little hateful towards myself. He was not going to discuss the marriage and I had two options; either go back and persevere because happy are the meek because they will inherit the earth; or realize my value as a person and gently close the door. I slammed it shut though.

I am not famous for sticking to the plans I make.

That was the most trying period of my dramatic life. I hated myself. I ate, then starved myself, then ate. I worked too like crazy until I got afraid I could drop down dead. There are days I shut myself in the tiny house on my occasional one day off and cried myself to sleep, then cried to wake up then cried to fall asleep and the cycle continued.

I wanted to know what was wrong with me.I remembered my hours of counseling and the pieces of wood in my eyes started dropping one after the other. No longer could he manipulate me to going back. He had tried it.He was actually VERY good at guilt-tripping me.My therapists could not understand why I stood him. Why I even replied to his messages.

This is where I tell you that I have no idea. That is as motivational as I will get on this one.

I neglected myself too. Wasn’t it for my job, I did not think I had a reason to wake up every morning.

I prayed for death too. I wanted to die but I knew if I tried suicide for the third time, it might actually go through and I could die. Maybe because I had learnt new and quicker medications to stop a heart in school. By the way who thought taking me to nursing school was a brilliant idea? I will be back…

Maybe, but maybe because just like a child who can’t really blow out one candle on his birthday cake, there was a flicker of hope in me that refused to be snuffed out. This solitary star that looked as if it was to be swallowed up by the sulky clouds but it defiantly maintained its shine. Refusing to leave, Daring the clouds to do their worst. One of my friends lived in Thika town and knew the hell I was going through. I remember many dark dawns and even darker twilights where she would bang on my door to make sure I was at least out of bed.

Evenings she would come and sit on my microscopic couch and simply look at me until I was brave enough to get out of my makeshift bed

Yet he still sent text messages, yet I still replied with apologies. I have no idea what I kept apologizing for. I badly wanted to go back on some days.

That is what I like telling people, a victim of abuse has no idea why they get attached to their abusers. I no longer ask why people don’t just walk out of abusive relationships. I do not ask. I mean, you may expect me to be strong having undergone counseling and stuff but I was a beautiful mess of wet tissues.

That was a whole paragraph of motivational speech. I swear I am getting good at this.Hehe.

If there is a time I needed a friend, it was that time. I took up another hobby too. Writing. I wrote sunshine-filled posts on Facebook while balancing another rivulet of tears. I cracked jokes. I sent friend requests, I encouraged people. I listened to strangers. I held peoples’ hands. I became the Empress of rainbows and light. Yet I wanted the pain to stop so so bad. I longed for days without tears. Yet in my darkness, I became a light. That sentence is cute. Go ahead, quote me.Ha ha.

There is nothing as hurtful as building then watch what you build crumble right in front of your eyes as if hit by a Tsunami.

I realized I was not a great girl. But I was good. I was not perfect. But I was enough. Enough for me. Enough to heal me. Enough to be strong again. Enough to say goodbye. Enough for the surprises the future held and most significantly, enough to withstand the shame of a marriage that ended as soon as it begun. I wasn’t as good as I thought. I just became good at feeling bad.

When I did, I filed for divorce and even then, I had to face the magistrate all by myself because my loving husband couldn’t be bothered with such trivialities. But he could afford a few insults to keep me going. I had to relive the horrors of my few months to the court as I shook and trembled from the ice inside my soul. Every ground for divorce, a hot knife into my chest.

 Time, they say makes you forget the pain. No, time makes you forget something else—love. Time obscures what love is and what it is not. Time makes you tired of small talk. Time makes you focused as if you are a man on an impossible mission. Time, friends is not a healer of wounds, it reopens healing ones. But like the phoenix that we are, we stare at the open wounds and know that scar tissue will form again if we wrap it up. We get afraid and do it anyway. We are scared but do something anyway.