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P33ish083: Perspective - When A Man Throws You In A Fight

I'm bald, so picture me pulling a stool in from in-between my legs and taking off my wig as I sit down to get real, and vulnerable, right here.

A video was making the rounds today on Twitter, of a married woman who ran into her husband's side chic at the mall and of course proceeded to lose her composure. According to the gist, the woman had on repeated occassions warned the lady to leave her husband alone. Everyone's been blaming the wife. I also thought a scene at the mall, featuring "husband snatcher" chants, was a tad bit too uncool, because only snatchables get snatched. But then you know what they say about judging a situation from the outside: it's easy.

Would I dirty fight my man's side in public? No, I wouldn't. I'm too tiny and I mean, what if she decides to fight me back? Lmao!

But for real, I couldn't now. And it's not because of some maturity or any such thing; it is simply because I would not (want to) know of her existence; that is an ignorance I would now gladly embrace, unless of course he makes it a point for me to know, which would require that he flaunts her in my face, which of course would only mean one thing. And I would go. I would not fight, I would not make a scene, I would most definitely not be accosting anybody's daughter at the mall, or any of its machine-mediated equivalents. Not ever again. Because if there is anything that I have learnt from being tossed in that kind of situation, it's that a man who has thrown you into a competition is a prize that you will not win. Because you can't: you will not last that long. Simple.

I still have moments that come at me out of the blue when I remember the first time, two years ago, that I found out my partner (now ex) had been sneaking around and I still wonder to myself, madly, "why did I not leave? I should have left." It points to something weak inside of me that I do not like to look at, but I have since gotten better at not letting it stop me. Point is, when a partner has opened his doors to an affair and you find out, that knowledge changes you; it upsets something at your core. And no, it's not even a matter of letting it change you unless you got some sneakiness of your own going on the side too: it will affect you; how much it does of course depends on frequency, and seriousness.

I remember stumbling on that first text on my ex's phone--no, I hadn't gone looking, I'd just walked up to talk about something and he'd been on a text--and, because we'd had something we'd been dealing with, I just took the phone right out of his hands, went to the girl's name on his contacts list, and clicked on their SMS (because I am a weirdo who thinks that traditional text messaging is more 'serious' than instant messaging), and what do I find: a thread of texts back and forth, dating longer than I've known the man so...ding ding!

The feeling I'd had in the moment when I read "I love you" would always stay with me because I'd never felt myself walk out of my own body until then and it was cold. It didn't matter that the confession had been hers and it'd been the last text on the thread, it only mattered that it had gotten said and that didn't sound like something you randomly said to the friend who occasionally gave you financial support in school--which was the text that had piqued my interest in the first place.

I lost it. I went through all his text messages and found another thread with another female but it'd been way older. I came back to this WhatsApp one that had taken me to the contacts and the SMS apps in the first place and I don't know how many minutes I had hovered on that reply box, contemplating on what to type in response or if I even should. But I wanted to pinch him so bad, put him at odds with her maybe; I mean, it was midnight, and if a girl was replying to my text from my boyfriend's phone at midnight, we definitely gon' have a problem. Ah, God. It was a test, that moment.

But I was thirty-three, with a son and a tidy life that preceded this man, I thought; should I really be texting a twenty-something year old back at past midnight to leave my boyfriend alone? That was it: that anticipated shame, and it was what stopped me. Because it wasn't someone on the other side of that phone who had opened me to this kind of ridicule; it was this man, right here, with whom I had chosen to pitch my tent: it was he who has done this to me. And then of course there was the thought of, what if I do all that (text back), and all this (fight him), and he still goes back to her and apologizes for my crazy and comes up with some mental diagnosis in my name just to get her to forgive him? What then? I mean, I wouldn't know, would I? Ahhh, it was crazy. And the change--the utter witchcrafty insanity--that that single pivotal moment birthed in me. I will constantly have to re-forgive myself for.

And him.

Christ, how I hate to remember; I just hate all its reminders, 'cause I still struggle with convincing myself that I am not everything that that June 30th night made of me. Some days, it just jumps at me and make me fresh mad. That night, and everything I did after thinking it could fix it. Until it was I who became unfixable.

I mean, I thought we'd been mature about it, 'cause we had The Talk. What was it, an affair or a fling or another relationship I didn't know about? Who is she? Do you love her? When was the last time? Where had it happened? Do you want to leave, go be with her? He'd answered all my questions, of course: it was just sex; she is an ex; he didn't love her anymore, he is just weak; last time was two months ago, and he had travelled to her school to meet her; she had just buzzed tonight to ask for assistance; he didn't want to be with her, they were over. There had been tears. There was a "start over again," and I feel like a fool now but God, I was in love with that man. And I, and this is a curse, understood--still do--how people make these kinds of mistakes. I understand all of it. I don't make those kinds of mistakes, and this is not even a brag; I just think there's an age for it, and maybe I also think that many men are always in the age for it, unless we want to play ourselves with political correctness. Most hetero men cheat.

But then again, if you are a 'serious' person, you are a serious person: your loyalty is about you, not your partner; it is your personal discipline, a choice that you make--to respect your body, and their faith in you. So you would rather leave than hurt them in that one way that no one ever fully recovers from: they'd just always wonder now. And so I don't do it, I do not even get closer than "hi, what's up" and everything up-and-up with another male when I'm seriously with someone and it is my choice; it's how I choose to keep your place with me safe. And clean.

What I hadn't banked on, however, was my man not cutting ties with this person after that night/morning we'd had. He would still talk with this person, and it bite; Lord, how it bite. And especially how it seemed that this person was his go-to after every of our misunderstandings--which naturally became more, and worse, after that night--and I don't remember how many times I cried and begged and pleaded and asked how he would feel if I had a "Femi" to go resort to/with while we disagreed. "It makes our fights worse and last longer and it makes it harder for me to forget and let go, do you not see? Why would you not stop talking to her?" I would plead. Because now he had a distraction that I knew about for when things weren't smooth between us, and I was the ninny who had to go beg him back from his private human resort every time we had issues. It fucked with me, especially when he lost his guilt and flipped it right round to make it about me trying to pick his friends and decide who he could and could not talk to. I mean, I knew there was something in there that screamed disrespect, but I was in love, and I was weak, and I loved having this man, I loved the 'safe-place' feeling that being with him gave me; I didn't want to lose him, I didn't want him gone. But my faith was already contaminated; and my safe place was getting compromised, repeatedly; now I didn't feel so safe anymore. Now I wasn't so sure. Now I had doubts. Now I was curious.

Enter snooping for beginners.

You see, I rated myself higher--nay, classier--than snooping, I swear I did. Plus there's this thing they say about always finding what you're looking for--especially when it's negative. I was afraid. "What if I find something? What if they're still hooking up? What if there's someone else? What if he's planning a permanent life with someone else and I'm just here being okay accepting the basics? What if I'm just another game?" What if. What if! "Would I stay? Would I break up with him? Would he leave and never come back? Should I tell Ify? Or maybe Sola?" I was still so in love with him. I loved loving him. And I was sincere in my head about not letting that one night ruin all we could be. But God, I was losing my my mind. I needed something. I just had to know.

And so I would wait until buddy went to sleep, sneak into the sitting room, put his phone on silent, ensure his data was off, and proceed to read through his chats. I would go to WhatsApp. And then SMS. His call log. And his Twitter DMs. I would see chats, with girls, that ran into 3 o'clock in the morning and those that began at 7, and I would read the different yet similar content, the dreaded "have you eaten" bits, note where he could have mentioned he had someone he shared a house with but didn't, and I would read more. And this would just fuck me up the more. And I did this every other night. And just lose another chip of my mind. And with it a chunk of my self worth. "He wouldn't even tell anyone about me," I'd think. "Maybe he doesn't like being with me; maybe he regrets being with me," and I'd think this every time I looked at the girls' pictures: I don't look like any of them. "Maybe he's just with me for now, maybe these are the kind of girls he really wants to be with; maybe I'm ugly. Or maybe I don't have the kind of things he needs. Or the quality of education he's proud of." Maybe. Maybe!! The thoughts would hit and hit.

And I couldn't escape them.

It was a mental situation, that time. It got to a point that I literally now had a list of names and handles in my head that I just went straight to when I got hold of his phone; and after every read I'd become more needy of reassurance. And he'd give it: he gave it freely those first months, and then of course I'd get smacked with guilt and confess to having seen this-and-that on his phone, and he'd talk away my fears, and I'd tell myself I needed to believe him. I'd even lay off his phone for a few days or a week. But I always went back, now it was becoming more of a habit. At some point, though, I really stopped.

Until one day.

I don't even know what I'd been doing at the window (and our bedroom window overlooked the front door) and then I saw him standing there, on his phone, for more than was normal because I mean, you were just coming from work. Of course my triggers started firing, and I knew in my gut he had to be on one of those conversations. That night, I broke my fast again: I went through his phone; then I noticed one of the chats had been cleared and if I hadn't read a conversation with that handle before, I would have thought it'd only begun that day. This was where my snooping advanced, lol; so now I just called fukkit and turned on his data, and let new messages enter as I read.

Twitter was the first and last place I gave in to the "text back" urge. Because I remember that every night now, this particular girl's chat always seemed to have begun on that same day. I saw red. So on this particular night, I turned on his data and of course new messages entered, this lawyer girl's own with 'em too; and it of course was a response to something he must have said before clearing the chat for that day. I replied, talking as if dude was still the one texting her back and she kept answering. I of course took it to the point where I was like, "I couldn't sleep, had to take care of my lady cause she had mentrual pains; she has those so bad." I am laughing now, but I wasn't laughing then. I think the "my lady" part had been so out of cue that she stalled and I could practically feel it. And because I didn't want to be the one who read whatever she had to say about not knowing about no lady, I just blew my cover and went, "I know I probably don't sound like him well enough anyway, this is "lady" and he is sleeping now but I'm sure he'd buzz you first thing when he wakes up; I just needed to see why he always cleared this particular chat before coming in every night. And oh, you're really pretty." And I turned the data off. He can get his replies in the morning.

My parting words obviously made it criminal for le dude to clear the chat now, I guess. Because I went back the following night and what I read made me decide to never look through his phone again. Ma'am had been hurt, of course. She'd gone, "so your lady texted me back earlier. I really don't like all this kind of shit, I don't like being {...}" And his response had been, "She did, huh? I'm sorry, we were just going through a phase {...}" And she went, "so you were using me to get through a phase with your girl?"

I felt bad right there. Because our "phase" had been his mom's disapproval of me and us trying to not drift apart while we thought of the best way out of our murky situation. And he'd been sourcing for distractions, lol. It needs no telling what that did to my already high pile of questions. And each time a chat from his "Femi" popped up on his locked screen? Oh Spirits, I honestly don't know who that weak girl was. It was pathetic. And crazy. Because I was--am--this cut-and-dry person with every other relationship in my life except this one. And I always had surefire fixes for everyone's relationship issues but this one that was mine. And every time some neighbor admired my "mature" relationship and how strong we were going or my friend complimented me on how we were 'goals', it just made me swallow more embarrassing shit, because now I just couldn't. People looked up to us. We were happy; at least I was. And when he wasn't occupied with his 'Twitter hunnies' like my friend would later refer to them, he was a badass lover. And friend. And he gave the best motivations. So I couldn't risk unsolicited insults on this person who made me feel such nice things. Sometimes I still can't talk about our nitty-gritties, I can only channel the feelings in my art; and he is gone for good now.

Lopsided loyalty really does fuck you up. And you don't even get to have a say in how badly.

A friend was recently talking to me about how she'd found out about her man cheating on her--with an ex and yes that made me shout "what the fuck is it with men and their exes?"--and how she had hated the woman she'd become after that discovery because now she did all the things she naturally wouldn't do, things she never used to do: yell, scream, cuss, snoop; repeat. It had been the first time that had happened too: the cheating, and I was happy she chose to speak out about it because I wish I hadn't been too ashamed to speak about mine to an outsider. So I had only one piece of advice for my girl, thanks to experience: "you said you love being his safe place and that he is yours. So if you're not going to leave, then you need to find the energy to forgive and help him put this mistake behind you both instead of hurting--and hurting him--by repeatedly living in the feeling that this unfaithfulness has stirred up in you. Don't let this get toxic, don't get crazy on him, don't switch places with him by becoming the one who hurts him now because you're too weak to control yourself; if you're sure it's love and you really do not want to leave, then keep it healthy; make it possible for him to get you both past this."

Because I know everything about loving the one who's hurt you the most, you see.

So yes, it is possible to still be in love and want to stay after an indiscretion; but only if you can handle it. And especially if it won't become a pattern of cheat-cry-beg-repeat. That will just outright nut your case.

See, the ugly truth about a partner stepping out and contaminating the safety/sanctity of your relationship is that it unsettles all your natural behavioral patterns and you would not be able to rein it in. You'll just gradually become this person you never ever imagined and sometimes it's so terrible that even you don't recognize yourself. It is crazy, especially because--and this happens more often than not--this person that you have become, because of what your partner has done but it won't matter now, is the person that would run said partner out, and smack dab into arms you had hoped to yank him back from. And he'd have good reasons, and he'd ruin your reputation with expert explanation. And it'd be you who's the bad guy.

Months after my ex left: yes, he left me, not the other way round. No, don't pity me now, I'm off the edge; and I guess someone had to do it anyway seeing as I didn't love or respect my own self enough to walk away and believe for better, but hey: consider me schooled. So what was I saying? Yes, months after he left, he said plenty stuff to me, all of them designed to wipe the floor with me but no matter now; I've taken the pain like a champ. Because I let that happen too: I left a window open because despite it all, I still didn't know what to do with myself outside of this man, so I left the door open, let things happen, to the point where it all got toxic again, and then that was almost becoming a pattern, the constant push-and-pull and halfway connection that always ended up triggering something nasty. I was trying to be the bigger person, take the higher road; it came right round to bite me in the face, though. Hard. But I was warned, I was just too weak.

What will always stand out in my memory, however, is something from one of his last series of venom: "you were so toxic, I have stories for days on your toxic behaviors but you hid it all under the guise of 'I cheated on you', even though it all happened before I committed to you or became serious with our relationship."

Translation: after I found out about his misdemeanor, I became a person he couldn't recognize or continue to live with anymore. And I accepted.

But he had more, "and do you even remember how we even had a relationship? You gave me an ultimatum, and I had to let go of my previous lifestyle to commit to you."

Translation: I knew the kind he was, and I wouldn't get with him unless he gave it all up and cleaned up his act. And so it was all my fault. Maybe I was right, maybe I did force the relationship. So maybe I deserved to be sneaked around on.

And then the trump card, "whatever apology you think is owed you for cheating with 'Femi' is actually owed to (insert name of the other female from before with the way older SMS thread) because she was the one I'd been with when I started spending time with you. It was she I left to be with you, so it was she I cheated on with 'Femi', not you." And that just hushed me right up.

And then of course the rest of it just proceeded to bathe me in a rain of shame. I really ought to delete that email because it is so full of painful shameful reminders, but then I guess I need to keep that particular memento. Especially for the part where, "none of those things happened, no chats got deleted; it's all in your head."

Ah, that gets me. And you know what the pathetic thing is? I apologized for it: all of it. Because I was so tired. Ah, God, I was tired.

So I just accepted all my sins. Against my own self. Because it was on me. I chose him. And I chose wrong. Fought wrong too. And I hate it, even though I have found some peace with it and have even tried to not have any fences up, the reminders are still too strong, and every time someone talked to me about dealing with something similar, I get fresh reminded. And mad. And it just altogether sucks.

I remember how I stopped talking to my friend about all things related to him. I'd been like, "it's been months, and I still love him. I miss him, and I don't know what to do."

And girl went, "how can a man do all that to you--say all that to you, and you're still loving him? If you want us to go beg him to come back, I'll do it for you. But he will hurt you again, and worse and you will become that person again and I would not be willing to help you."

And so I said never again: to fighting in the name of love or being confessed to or (Jesus please now) finding out whether he's cheating. Because that knowledge changes you, and if you can't or will not leave, then that's just wasted knowledge--and mental energy, because only one of two things can happen with that knowledge swimming in your head: you make a fool of your own self and in that one move become the one who gets blamed; or you turn into a toxic 'witch' from whom he must now flee for dear life. And nobody cares who you were or how you never were one for fights or drama before all this happened, all everyone sees is this person that you have become.

So what's the point, really? Especially if you're the main, or the wife, because we both know that all you're getting is just the shitty guilty sorry and some leftover sex; after the side has gotten the explanation that paints you the nutcase, plus a hefty compensation. Because na you dey house. And like my friend says many times, "if you find out he's cheating, what then? Because it's pointless if you find out, after you go looking, and you still stay. So why snoop?"

And I say why fight?

If you're still gonna go back home to him and accept his watery apology anyway, why make a scene?


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