Excerpt From the Book I’ll Never Write

Last week we fought. Over what? We both fail to agree on the cause. Maybe I was being too dismissive and maybe you were being too passionate. Or maybe we were both just being stubborn.

We lay in bed for days and none of us said a thing. Each of us too proud, to truly hear what the other was saying in that very loud silence.

I cannot speak for you but for my part my pride wouldn’t let me say, “I want you,” so instead I spoke to my pillow, apologizing yet again for the dampness I left on it, when my head was being too stubborn.

The violence of our silence was unbearable and lingered for days seeping into the walls of our bedroom. The air was heavy with the smell of our egos instead of the scent of lovemaking, even the planets and stars from the pretty light you bought couldn’t dilute it.

My mind, a loud traitorous Judas which doesn’t know how to mind it’s own business took me back to when you sent me flowers at my apartment before I moved in with you.

It remembered the countless times you have crossed state lines to get to me because you were worried.

It remembered that ours was a love to span dimensions and universes. The kind of love that love songs are written about.

And then it started to wonder how the universe ever thought someone as unworthy as I am, ever deserved someone with a halo as blinding as yours. It must be a cosmic joke because all my cold heart ever gave to people, was frostbite.

So I buried myself in anything and everything that drowned out your essence from my brain, after all it’s the pretense that kept me going. But your face, a handsome combination of lines created by both worry and laughter kept showing up in my thoughts. Your voice blared through my earphones when I tried to listen to my music on shuffle because of the audios you send serenading me. And every night we would go to bed, each on their side with our backs to each other and an invisible Berlin wall between us. But in the mornings I woke up with your body too close to mine, your warm skin tempting mine, our limbs sometimes entwined. You haunted me.

As I lay next to you during the four day cold-war, I tossed, I turned but mostly I yearned for you. The curse of the mind is that it is deeply thoughtful when you want it shut off and sleep. It overthinks, over-suggests, over-remembers and over-wonders. This time, mine took me to the ghosts of my dead relationships. WTF! I didn’t want to think about that. I wanted to sleep & ignore the sexy beast lying right next to me! So brain of mine can you please reconfigure and find where the sleep drive is, can you do that? Thank you very much!

My brain being the boss of me didn’t even bother to respond. It just kept doing as it pleased and took me on a long stroll down memory lane specifically, the fights. The ones where I was told some harsh truths about myself that I refused to hear. So I did something I had never done before. I finally listened to the voices from the past and one chorus rung true,

People are different, Vanessa. They react differently to situations. You can’t always have them react how you want to. You can’t always have it your way.”

It dawned on me that you had said the very same thing to me. Me thinking I was self-aware had made me blind to the fact that you learn about other parts of yourself, from those around you. It’s tough coming to terms with my failures and unkindness but I must do it if we are to stand a chance.

When the fight was over you said that if I had kissed you, you would have kissed me back. But you give me too much credit my beloved. You credit me with maturity and an ability to govern my own pride. Oh how I wish I could! Lord knows I am imperfect.

See my love, I am an emotionally bundled mess who only ever learnt to use and be used. I only ever visited in love, I never stayed in it. I tested love, examined it and interviewed with it. Never learning that love does not care to be auditioned and if you try to evaluate it, it flees the scene.

That was until the day love decided no more! It said enough! It decided it had finally had enough of my teasing and so it exacted a revenge. It gave me you. A total opposite of everything I ever thought I wanted. A man, white, formidable, not a hardcore liberal and 100% manly, not even a little bit metro-sexual. I screamed to the heavens that I most certainly did not order this item on my menu of potential mates. But the heavens stayed silent. I fought hard against the current that was your spirit calling to  mine. I childishly played sabotage with our relationship. I texted exes, I flirted with strangers, I ignored texts from you, I went out and lied to you, I broke-up with you & blocked your number. But like Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia trial, my fate was already sealed. I was in love with you whether I knew it or not and all my struggling did, was pull me in deeper. I had avoided it for so long, this fathomless and unfathomable falling in love; shoes on,  hand out ready to take back the little piece of my heart I had rented out, always ready to run. Like I said, I visited and never put up roots.

It hurts to say but I know that there’s a part of you that wonders if I really love you as much as you love me, especially those times when I am indifferent and dismissive. Unfortunately the trouble with love is, fear and indifference look alike when you’re on the outside.

“Are you afraid or do you just not love me, Vanessa?” 

Yes, I am very afraid but it is only because I love you so much. I crave you as a necessity not just a delicacy. Soul and body together I realize I love you and it terrifies me because this version of love, tells me I haven’t been in love before. I feel it, it has always been you, it will always be you and it leaves me vulnerable on all fronts and the coward in me cowers. For my heart to beat for another, for it to let you take as much room as you do inside of it, that is courage in itself. The bravest thing I have done in my life by far is loving you. With you I lost myself, then somehow found more of myself I swear.”

You think I am an onion. Too many layers with some made to bring tears in your eyes. But my love what you fail to understand is, I am just cowardly. I cannot lie anymore. There are parts of me I have hidden so long from myself , so how can I let you see! I say you are asking too much, I ask you to let some things rest. But now I am asking too much, because it isn’t in your blood to leave a stone unturned. And once again, I feel undeserving of you.

You deserve someone who makes more of an effort to appreciate your effort. Someone who delights in the beauty of your spirit and cocoons you in a gentle mist of love. Someone who creates a fire beneath your skin to make you glow so others can exclaim that you look different. Someone who believes in you. Someone good. Someone decent.

And then just when I am about to give up on myself completely, you hold me and whisper,

That someone is you.”

And just like that, all is well.

Now let’s make love my love. The twins did ask us to go to the baby store and get them a baby brother. Let’s not disappoint them.

Becoming

Let life happen to you. Believe me, life is in the right. Always,” Rainer Maria Milke.

Life changes us. It humbles us. Takes us on journeys we never expected to take and puts us in situations so challenging that it causes a metamorphosis within us whether we want to or not.

A year ago I moved to the United States of America and like those who cross the vast seas to come to the land of dreams, I was full of naivete and very impressionable. In my head the dream was very straight-forward; study, find a job and earn top dollar because at the end of the day earning even one dollar is worth way more back home. I’d prove everyone wrong, I’d stay faithful to my relationship no matter the distance and I’d be a bad-ass. Cliche much? I think so yes.

Life had other ideas.

My background was one of a girl who had never not had her mother to fall back on. A girl so sheltered from life that she was left exposed and unprepared for it. Moving to America, exposed that vulnerability. With the arrogance of a mountain and the ignorance of a babe, I was cast into a very fast-paced world. No preparation, no favors.

Having close family here wasn’t a saving grace. I hadn’t talked to my family here in over a decade and even when I was leaving my home Uganda, my mother was worried about it. We both knew staying with the family here was always going to be temporary and our only hope was I wouldn’t get thrown out in the winter. In my mother’s eyes I saw fear, I saw hesitation, I saw regret because her little girl wasn’t fully prepared for the big bad world she was going to be thrust into. But she had to let me go.

That airport scene was really chaotic. My mom was there, so were two of my cousins who were from the village and had come with me because they had never been to the airport (we have only one in my country), one of my best friends was there, Bernie and so was my partner at the time. I was running late and only said quick goodbyes as I promised my mom to arrive safely and my partner that we’d see each other again and we’d make this long distance thing work. Never once knowing that the flight I was about to get on, would end my relationship and see me shed the last remnants of my childishness.

With my relationship, well that unfurled pretty quickly. I am a terrible communicator who doesn’t respond to texts immediately and in this case the time difference wasn’t on our side either. I’d be on, ‘Good morning’ and the other person was on ‘Good night’ not to mention I now had a job which meant I didn’t spend as much time on my phone as I had before. Soon there was a lot of fighting, jealousy, feeling neglected and I purposefully started to refuse to open texts or pick their calls because all we ever did was fight and I was tired of it. Soon we ended it. I think on my part, I was inundated with the deluge of everything else that was going on that the breakup wasn’t really felt.

Clarity being the child of hindsight, I know now that I should have been honest with my ex. You see days before my flight was to take off, I knew our relationship wouldn’t survive it. I had slept next to this person whispering to them promises of forever when my whole body knew that once I was on the other side of the departures, that was it for us. I don’t mean to sound callous, I just feel like the main reason I made lots of promises was to run away from that which I knew was inevitable. I was trying to convince myself more than I was them. I promised & promised but no promise can withstand the harshness of foreboding.

In the transit lounge, cold & alone, I felt a pain and guilt so deep I hunched over in my chair. I knew. But still even after I touched down, I tried to maintain the illusion with texts and phonecalls and those dreaded promises yet again. Maybe if I had been honest, it could have at least ended civilly and a friendship maintained because now, we don’t even talk anymore.

But I digress. Back to my new life in the new world.

I had never worked a day in my life and now my first job was in very developed country. Different accents, different expectations, their way of life vastly dissimilar to the one back home, their systems work very differently and you have to catch up very fast or fall out. It was a case of if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen!

How I missed my mother in those moments! How I missed my best friends! With no one to turn to, I threw myself in the workforce. An immigrant even though legal, it’s tough living in a country where everyday the news is full of immigrant deportations and incarcerations. Having to look over one’s shoulder day in day out wasn’t something I was used to. Trading in my piece of mind for the almighty dollar. The American dream does come at a steep price.

I would give a detailed description of all that I went through but I hesitate to. I am reluctant to blog about moments in my life when life brought me to my knees and I cried so much to a point of being cried out. Forgive me, but I would like to preserve some of my dignity.

I realise now that foundation was too weak and I needed a stronger one. I had to be broken in order to be reassembled. Life didn’t ask, it didn’t warn. It just hit and like a tornado, it hit hard. I had two options, to bend like a strong reed before stronger forces and survive the aftermath or be as unbending as a hard oak and perish in the storm. I chose to swallow my pride, be strong and bend. Strong endures, hard breaks.

Picking up the broken pieces of myself, I remember thanking the universe that I didn’t have to do it alone because I don’t think I would have been able to. In this land of George Washington, I found new friends who have since become family. Boundless kindness and benevolence from strangers you have only known a few months is a divinity much more pure than virginity. A new home, a new life, being able to laugh again and somewhere to belong. Like a glow stick, I had to be broken so that my light could start to shine.

As a result I am tougher now, more resilient with a firm resolution to make it in America. To be successful in career, in love and life as a whole. The girl my mother put on a flight a year ago was a mere embryo helpless and clueless. She became a caterpillar and molted into something with a thicker skin but that process is still happening. I am still molting. A self-aware work-in-progress hoping to find inner-peace as a chrysalis and soon burst forth a beautiful butterfly. I am working very hard towards it. My name means butterfly. And a butterfly I shall be. For those of you that don’t know me, allow me to please introduce myself.

Hi, my name is Vanessa and I am becoming.

Opposite-Sex Best Friends & Relationships 

Happy new year & I hope it’s going great for you. Mine is awesome. I haven’t posted in a while so I wanted to get back into the fray with something so conspicuous & contradictory but instead found myself penning something more (if I’m not kidding myself) relatable. That one opposite sex best friend of your mate & their constant interference in your relationship. I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about.

Now we all love our best friends. They play a very vital role in our lives to boost our sense of belonging & purpose, to improve our self worth, to support & comfort us during tough times, to make us laugh, take us dancing, share experiences & understand us on a deeper level that not even our families can sometimes. But we all know where to draw the line. So what happens when the person sleeping next to you does not have a line? When they act unfiltered around their best friend on the regular? When they are so shortsighted so as to toy in the riskiest of manners with a very close opposite sex friend? Ever heard of stories that sound like this:

My husband is always texting his female co-worker & when I insist that it’s too often, he claims it’s just work & I should stop being jealous & paranoid. But he’s always smiling when he’s texting her.”

“My wife is usually on the phone with her old friend from school & she tells  me they are just friends but she acts very personal on the phone with him.”

There is one thing that’s for certain between both scenarios. The mate  with the opposite sex friendship is very much aware of their actions & how their partner feels about the situation but chooses to disregard their partner’s feelings in favour of the thrill or ego boost that the friendship gives to them.

I’m of the view that people of different genders can be best friends & stand fully in support of such friendships but I believe when either or both of these people have romantic partners in their lives, the friendship needs to be checked to make certain that it’s not breaching the boundaries of the relationship. A lot of times people expect to behave the same way that they did with their friends when they were single & assume that their mates should adjust to this way of life instead of them adjusting their friendship to balance out both equations. That my friends, is a very common but wrong analogy.

Raise your hand if your partner has a close friend of a different gender & please allow me to ask you a few questions.

Does it bother you that they talk more than four times a day? That the first call in the morning & last one in the night is from him/her? Do you find their closeness suspect? Does he/she sashay through the door & moves all over the house like they live there? Does she (in case it’s a female) send inappropriate pictures to your partner in the guise that she’s breast-feeding & oops she can’t help but have her naked bossom in the picture or maybe to ask your mate what he thinks of her outfit? That he/she assumes that just because they are best friends, he/she automatically knows your partner better than you hence your opinion matters little?  That he/she has the audacity to inject themselves in things that are none of their business? That he/she buys them intimate clothing? That he/she enters sacred parts of the house like the bedroom without ceremony? That they share too many private jokes? That even things which are yours to know first i.e. your partner’s victories, future plans, potential health risks are first passed by them for approval before you get to know? That your mate blatantly encourages infractions by them against you yet chastises your retaliatory efforts?  That you are expected to tolerate such behaviour from the both of them but if you did something similar you are immediately considered the Antichrist? Are you comfortable with their regular basis meetings to discuss what’s going on in their lives including yourself? That they both overstep the liberty you leave them to enjoy by taking for granted that you will always put up with their behaviour?

If it bothers you, then you’re not alone in this. There are plenty of people feeling the same way you do, afraid to voice it lest they be accused of envy or insecurity. Honestly!  You’re not weak or insecure. You are cautious & intuitive. Don’t allow them to call you otherwise.

So what are the signs to indicate that an opposite sex best friend relationship is a breach on the territory of your romantic relationship?

There are many red flags to indicate lack of boundaries & the easiest to spot is when an opposite sex best friend meets the very many emotional needs of your partner. When this happens, its highly likely that it will encroach onto the territory of your romantic love life. If your mate’s best friend meets their most important emotional needs of affection (expresses concern over every little thing, cares about every miniature detail of their lives), intimacy( lends an ear to incessant conversations about personal problems, romantic problems & socio-economic problems every other day), companionship (spending time together, having hobbies & peers in common), honesty & openness (revealing personal feelings like past history, current situation & future plans), physical  attractiveness or admiration (expressions of respect, value & appreciation); then I suggest you drop everything you’re doing right now, have some quiet time & think long & hard. This is especially important if the friend does a better job in any of these areas than the mate.

Sex was not included. Noticed that, did you? This is because your mate is very much aware that something of that calibre is off limits. That’s why they feel comfortable enough to hurl in your face vehement denials of them never having been physically intimate whenever you pick up the guts to voice your disapproval. They feel safe in their security blanket of never having crossed that line & God forbid you bring it up again because you get labelled insecure or crazy & paranoid. But don’t get lulled into a false sense of security for it is these apparently innocuous non-sexual relationships that often slip under the radar unnoticed which turn into full blown emotional or physical affairs.

It is a well known fact that many opposite sex relationships involve people that if circumstances were different, would be potential sexual partners. Indeed many opposite gender friendships are maintained because of a simmering attraction. One or both of these people are keeping their ‘friend’ on the back burner in the event that their current relationship falls apart. This is especially true of men. Men more often than not befriend women whom they have some sort of physical attraction to.

The nature of such friendships is that they are private, personal & bilateral. They are private in such a way that they are very one on one & information often kept secret between the two parties. Matter of fact when you’re within hearing distance then it’s whispered or they remove themselves from your vicinity. They are personal in the sense that personal information is revealed especially problems faced accompanied by a willingness to help when needed. And they are bilateral in such a manner that both parties actively participate in this gross over-sharing & prove that they both have what it takes to help support each other whether emotionally, financially, morally or however.

It goes without saying that if one mate in the relationship has such an intimate relationship with their opposite sex best friend, the other mate will undoubtedly feel uneasy to put it lightly.  The respectful course of action if you have any regard for your partner would be to modify the friendship or end it altogether, depending on what the two partners agree upon. Any opposite sex friendship especially one so intimate as a best friend should be carefully evaluated because of the risks involved. A close connection with someone who meets so many emotional needs is dangerous. Do not take unnecessary chances with your relationship.

Meryl Streep very recently said, “Disrespect invites disrespect.”

Wise words.Being overly critical of your partner to your best friend denies your romantic love life the respect it needs by giving power to your other relationship. Your friend will likely take it as an invitation to play a more significant role in your life eg. that of an attack dog. That it’s okay for them treat & speak to your mate in any careless manner because you have invited them to with your blatant disrespect for familiarity, breeds contempt.  A relationship is between you & the person you are with therefore the best person to talk to about the problems in your relationship is the person you are in a relationship with. Stop letting outsiders plant their opinion in something that they are not involved in.

Relationships typically go through up’s & down’s. When you’re going through an up, things are going great & the opposite gender friendship may be harmless at such a time even though it may still be an irritation to the other mate. It’s however a whole other story when you’re going through rough patch. It can be a conflict, sexual dry spell, jadedness or just old fashioned boredom. When this happens, most of us turn to the liquor, exercise, television, work or our best friend for a shoulder to cry on. So picture it if they are opposite sex persons. Before you know it you’re both comforting each other, asking each other what to do, sharing intimate details of your relationship & communicating more frequently & intimately. As this happens, the dynamics in your romantic relationship suffer even more. And why not? Three is a crowd after all.

The mate with the opposite sex close friend will start to leave the room to communicate with their friend, meet them clandestinely while leaving their partner in a state of anger, anxiety & hurt. When asked if they think what they are doing is right, they become outright indignant, belligerent & will try to flip the situation around so that the hurt party must go on the defensive trying to desperately explain- to no avail- why the friendship is being conducted wrongly & how it’s affecting the relationship. Often, the explanation falls flat & all that is left is for them to be accused of jealousy & paranoia ignoring the fact that such a friendship in & of itself is a betrayal because when you commit to an exclusive relationship, your partner expects you to make them your lover, closest intimate confidante & priority.

If you have an opposite sex best friend & are unsure whether you have breached the boundary, I’ll make it easy for you with a pop quiz.

  • Is your partner unaware of your friendship?
  • Is he/she disapproving of how it’s conducted?
  • Would you let him/her sit in on one of your uncensored intimate conversations?
  • Do you delete some of the conversations you have with your friend to conceal them from your partner?
  • Would you be uncomfortable if your partner had the same relationship with someone of the opposite sex?
  • Are you physically & (or) emotionally attracted to your friend?
  • Have you ever compared your mate to your friend?
  • Have you ever fantasized about your friend?
  • Do you & your friend share highly personal details about your lives or complain about your relationships to each other?
  • Do you feel compelled to hide or shade over the truth eg.”I had lunch with some friends.” When in fact you had lunch with that one person.

If any or more of your answers was”Yes,” then your friendship could be a real threat to your relationship & it might be in the interest of your love life to re-evaluate it. Not all close opposite sex friendships are dangerous but it’s in your favour to err on the side of caution. It’s advisable to confer with your partner about the nature of your opposite sex friendship often in order to avoid misunderstandings because a totally innocent friendship, if not kept in check, can cause irreparable damage to a relationship.

Spending time with friends is one thing but if there are elements of that friendship that threaten your relationship, then something is wrong.

Ensure that your partner is 100% on board with your close interaction with your friend & is completely comfortable with it. Do not share with another person what you haven’t yet shared to your mate. Honour your partner’s wishes by drawing boundaries. Keep in mind that if you have to hide it, whisper it or delete it, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Address unresolved issues in your relationship in a timely, calm, open manner & avoid complaining to your friends about your partner. Never ever make your mate feel inadequate because you are telling them without words, that they’ll never be enough. Protect your relationship in the long term.

And for you out there being called insecure when in actual sense you are not, trust your instincts. Intuition is not insecurity & it rarely lies. It takes a strong person to stick by their values so do not compromise yourself just to help someone step all over you. Stand by the vision you have of your relationship & remember that he/she has to choose you over compromise, over excuses, over busy, over temptation, over hesitation, over waiting, over indecision & over friendship. He/she must choose you over & over again.

For Caroline

“When it comes to sexual assault nobody says, ‘Hey men shouldn’t drink.’ It’s always about women changing their behaviour & dressing differently. Why can’t we hold men accountable for their behaviour?” Jon Stewart.

I thought she was going to die. The way she sobbed, I was sure she was going to weep herself to death. I’ve been to funerals but never have I ever seen grief so deep that even her whole body, not just her eyes, wept too. Curled in a fetal position as if to shield herself from more harm, sobs racked her body & it was painful to witness. Hi

Her name is Caroline (not actual name) & she’d been raped by her brother’s boss.

I was going to post something totally different today, then this happened & I felt obligated to put my original post on hold, write this quickly & post it because something needs to be said. Someone has to stand up for this girl because it certainly isn’t going to be those that should i.e. police & friends who seemed to be so mired within rape culture that they fumbled the entire interview considerably.

The female detective was the biggest culprit. She was so clumsy in her enquiry I wondered how she had ever achieved her rank. She kept asking Caroline why she had taken so much alcohol at the office party that her brother, Arthur (not real name) had invited her to & why she had opted to wear such a revealing dress. She would throw out careless remarks such as, “Ekibi abawala enaku zino mwambala bubi atte ne munywa nyo kyoka omusajja bwabakwata nemwekabya.” Which translated in English means the problem with girls nowadays is we dress up so provocatively & drink too much then throw tantrums when men sexually assault us.

Adding insult to injury was one of Arthur’s (Caroline’s brother) friends who kept insinuating that this was so unlike their boss. That he must have been too inebriated with alcohol to behave so out of character. The cherry on top was when the incompetent detective started nodding her head to what this fool was saying & together they actually had the guts to ask Caroline if this couldn’t be handled through mediation, instead of criminal procedure. This country!

Rape culture at its finest. Blaming the victim for being drunk & dressing provocatively while at the same time defending the attacker saying he was drunk. Nice. Might as well have said boys will be boys.

The pervasiveness of sexual assault by media, social ideas, institutional tolerance & culture that normalise, trivialise & mitigate sexual assault to blame the victim is what rape culture is all about. Victims are doubted, shamed & harassed which explains why only about a third of rape cases is ever reported.

The scope at which society is so warped that it’s got its priorities backwards especially when it comes to protecting the female body, is staggering. As girls, we are raised to be wary of men,to avoid walking alone in lonely places especially in the dark, to dress in such a way that we don’t arouse men’s massive sexual appetites, not to let them touch us in a certain way et cetera et cetera. And I get it. They are trying to look out for us in this very unsafe world. Gotta respect that.

My problem comes in when boys are not raised with the same attitude. To understand that no means no & forcing your unwanted attentions on an unwilling female is not just frowned upon, but found repulsive.

Honestly if you would instruct your daughter about caution then you would surely teach your son about consent. In the long run, this would make the world a safer place for girls than any caution ever could. Teaching girls to be careful not to get a sexually assaulted yet failing to teach boys not to rape is gross negligence on society’s part. Is masculinity so fragile & delicate that we deem it more important to train girls to reject boys politely than it is to train boys to accept rejection with dignity?

Dress codes are one of the things perpetuating rape culture the most. Telling women that they were asking for it by the tightness of their top or the length of the slit on the side of their dress is bogus. Months old babies get defiled all the time & so do Arab women wearing burqas which cover their entire body, were they asking for it too? I’ll have you know that rape by definition cannot be asked for. It’s defined as unlawful sexual activity, usually sexual intercourse, carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will, usually of a female or with an underage person or person incapable of valid consent.

So how in the world is a woman asking for it just because you find her skirt too revealing? It’s a thing of power & violence so quit telling boys that the length of a girl’s skirt is to blame for his lack self control. Our clothes do not determine our consent. Clothes do not come into this. Hell if they did, I’ve watched the old Christian movies & those men that crucified Jesus had skirts so short, they would make Rihanna proud. Yet somehow women managed not to rape them. Like I said, clothes have no bearing here.

We need to raise our sons with the understanding that: Stop OR Turning away OR I don’t want to OR Shoving you away OR Leave me alone OR I’m not ready OR I don’t feel like it OR Being drunk/ drugged OR Get away OR Screaming OR Don’t OR Crying; are all indications of lack of consent. Also if you make me afraid to say no i.e. you are my superior, lecturer, boss, I owe you, I need a favour from you, you threaten me; it’s not consent. Our boys need to learn from a very early age that only a sober, firm, uninfluenced “Yes” is consent.

Stop victim shaming, blaming & finding excuses for men. Let’s apportion blame where it lies. At the feet of the rapists. Women don’t get raped because they were drunk or took drugs or not careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them. Rape is only the woman’s fault when she’s the rapist.

Caroline should know that it was not her fault. That she didn’t deserve it. And that they are those of us among her friends that will be here to support her get through this. It was ugly, traumatic & God only knows what else. I am deeply sorry it happened to you & I pray the scars he left on your soul don’t define you eternally.

I stand with you Caroline & with all the other victims out there who may or may not have come forward. For all the Carolines out there, this is for you.

Old Habits Die Hard

 I was talking to one of my best friends the other day and we were gossiping about everything (translation: our other friends who weren’t there) and  nothing (Kim K & Taylor Swift’s Famousgate) when she just randomly, in the middle of the conversation, drops the bombshell to end all bombshells.

“I am taking Luther back.”

“Which Luther?”

“Luther Luther.”

“Sheila no, you cannot be serious! Why?”

“I have my reasons.”

I looked at this beautiful intelligent woman and mentally shook my head. Taking back a man that had not only cheated on her multiple times but publicly humiliated her as well as emotionally & psychologically abused her! Yeah, that made sense. I didn’t even know they were on speaking terms again! You think you know someone. Oh well.

The heart is a fickle thing.  Selena Gomez did say it wants what it wants & she would know, wouldn’t she? She took Justin Bieber back many more times than Michael Jackson had plastic surgery.

Therein lies the age old question though.

Why is it so easy to fall back into old habits? Why do we do this dance ad nauseum? Even when we know it’s not good for anybody: not for you, not for him or anybody you else involved? Why do we take them back only for everything to implode even worse than before? Why do we search for happiness from the very people that stole it to begin with? What makes us give so much power to the people that hurt us over & over again? How do we not recognise a lost cause when we see one acting, quacking & walking like one?

I can only guess at this because even though I am a perennial victim of giving second, third, fourth & fifth chances; I am still as clueless as a football player on a basketball court. Notwithstanding my ignorance, here are my three guesses.

My first guess; stupidity. When it comes to the game of love, we are all a little stupid. Matter of fact, we are idiots. We can barely see straight through the haze of euphoric blindness that enshrouds us.  It’s a utopia of sorts. So when we get a rude awakening that snaps us out of our land of roses, ice cream & rainbows; it’s tantamount to a blow to the head. Or to hit nearer the mark, a blow to the heart. It’s painful, shameful & unbelievable.

We wake-up, cry, yell, deny, accuse, ask how-why-&-where, insult, regret, cry some more & at some point not far down the road, we take them back. Even when the excuse they give is up there with the ‘dog ate my homework.’ Now tell me that is not stupidity personifed.

For my second guess, I am going with a selective memory. They say; follow your heart & your head but when in doubt, follow the head. What they don’t tell you, is that the head too can be fooled. With absence making the heart grow fonder, you start missing your ex & whenever you think of him you see only the times that made you smile. You disregard the bad & ugly in favour of the good.

That one time he said you have a Beyoncé smile and that other one when he whispered, “I love you,” for the very first time. These memories stick out like a fair-skinned person in South Sudan and you find yourself  sometimes smiling at nothing. Why do these memories remain clearer than the dark ones? Probably because the human mind chooses to cling to the good more than the bad in order to retain its sanity. You’d be better off asking an expert though,  I am after all just an average black girl.

Finally, the Messiah complex. We convince ourselves that we can save them. We tell ourselves it’s not their fault. That they would love us as much as we do them if they could. If only the previous girl hadn’t been so cold or had they been raised right or had they better friends or had their job not been so demanding et cetera et cetera. The list goes on.

We make these excuses, convince ourselves & eventually we take them back tolerating all they inflict upon us in the hope that we can mend them. Ripping ourselves into pieces to keep others whole. How sad.

If I were a fancy psychologist I’d have an even fancier explanation for this. But I am not. So I’ll keep it simple.

The time for being the good woman he crawls back to when he’s done playing around is long past. Refuse to be the help: the one that cleans up & picks up the pieces when he’s made a mess of himself. Do not let the words, “I miss you,” be the password to your panties. Have some pride.

And keep in mind that old habits die hard but they do die.