A few days ago I overheard a friend of mine being tongue-slapped by a relative of hers about the state of her ‘naked’ fingers and why at age twenty-nine there were still no symptoms of a man in her life in sight. I went home that evening and bragged to my sister;
“You know what I love about my life right now?”
She said, “What?”
“That nobody can ever dare ask me when am getting married!” I said excitedly. And believe me in that moment I felt like that was something to celebrate.
You see in my head I was thinking;
I have been married already so I bet people around me aren’t in such a hurry to see me married off again…and the good part is, I don’t yet have the heart to even consider remarrying! I am in no rush, I still have a few more years on my eggs, and I have absolutely no desire to be attached to someone till death do us part.
So there I was basking in the glory of being a divorced woman and not having to be subjected to the one question that women my age are faced with every day of their single life when it suddenly struck me:
I am not just divorced, I am also single!
Ooooh, the horror!
Ever since my divorce came through, I always referred to myself as a divorcee, never a single woman. The sudden realization that I was single again awakened such great fear in me that I started panicking over the state of my heart and my future. Being single naturally meant that I had to start considering opening up my heart to dating and worse, possibly thinking about getting remarried in future.
It meant sooner or later I would have to start worrying about;
Will he call me? Should I call him first? Is he thinking about me? Will he text? Should I text first? What should I reply? Does he like me? Is this love?
Oh. My. Poor. Little. Dear. Heart.
I had been with one man for close to eight years, three of which were spent married. That’s literally eight long years of being off the market! How the hell was I supposed to deal with the new reality of being ‘available’ after such a long time? What am I supposed to do? How do people these days date? What do they do?
As a married woman I knew I had to look hot and sexy for my man but I was also aware that he was already bagged so whether I looked hot enough or not, whether I chewed loudly or not, whether I puffed or not on a date, or whether I burped or not, we would still end up in the same bed!
Such comfort…such security.
But now??? Mayo ine……….nachula.
I have to go through the hustle of getting to know someone new all over again??
Someone please, calm my ageing ovaries down, am losing my mind here.
Am telling you I can feel the menopause creeping right through my veins just thinking about this…and I am only twenty-eight years old.
The realization that I was single opened a whole cane of worms that I wasn’t yet ready to address. I was already struggling with finding a place to fit in; I couldn’t be found with the married women because I wasn’t married any more, I couldn’t confidently hang out with the single ladies because a huge part of me still felt married which naturally made me feel out of place (and it also didn’t help that the recurring theme amongst the single ladies was their future prospective spouses…marriage, marriage, dating, dating, children and oh my God marriage again!), and still, I couldn’t hang out with the divorced folks because if they weren’t already remarried, they were divorcees who wanted to talk about nothing except the resentment they still harboured for their nefarious ex-spouses.
I was in a maze; anxious, lonely and confused.
Of course I had to confront the one question I had been ignoring all along; am I ready to start dating again?
The ink on my divorce papers is probably still as freshly scented as it was the day it was signed so I basked a little in the idea of not having to answer that question under the guise of; it’s not time yet, OR, am not ready yet, OR, it’s too soon.
And then morning would come and I would still find myself trying to pick a category to fit myself into; not married, single but mentally married, not used to being divorced…and lost.
Deeper and deeper I got swallowed in this helpless love maze.
Days went by and the confusion lingered when I was suddenly confronted with a situation that required me to confront my status in life…and that status was that I was not a married woman, and that not only was I a divorcee, but I was also single.
I felt like I was back at square one in my love life. And it sucked.
Unfortunately, it was around this time that a male figure entered my life. He came like the wind, or like a thief in the night, unannounced. He was everything I wouldn’t look for in a man…because he was younger than me and I do not date or even consider guys younger than me. I am more of an Alex (think An Untimely Love anyone? LOL…I know those that read my stories know what am talking about, a vintage kind of taste in men is what I have.)
But Michael came along (that’s what I’ve decided to call him) and he sent my already messed up life on fire. I was initially drawn to him because of his spiritual maturity. I remember looking at him the first time we met and thinking; dame that boy is deep! I want to be deep in my faith like him yoh. I was still very new in my walk with Christ so anyone that appeared more Bible knowledgeable than me was someone worth respecting.
A smile to die for and an adventurous heart…he was like the little brother I always wished to have…(yes I have an actual little brother but he’s like from Jupiter and Michael was like heaven on a spoon). Months went by and we became close friends. He was still just my little brother…still the boy a few years (or is it?) younger than me, nothing more. And I bet you all this while he was looking at me and thinking, “Oh this old lady is so cool and friendly!”
Weeks went by and one late night I get a call from Michael.
“I’m outside your gate,” he tells me.
“You’re outside my gate?” I asked, looking at the time on my phone. It was a few minutes passed 11 p.m.
“You are here at my house?” I asked for the umpteenth time, sitting up straight in my bed.
I could hear him chuckling in the background. “Yes, check for the lights through your window.” He says and so I get up from my bed, roll the curtain to the side and there by my gate I see lights shining through.
“You are actually here!” I screamed. “What are you doing here? It’s almost midnight!”
Michael laughs and says; “Because I missed you. I wanted to see you.”
I quickly put on some decent clothes and went out to get the gate. I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw that he had come with a close friend of his but the shock on my face was so loud it probably spooked the enzymes out of his friend!
What the hell are these people doing at my house at this ungodly hour? I kept thinking to myself as I ushered them inside.
Michael was busy smiling surreptitiously and acting all cool, his friend too! I had never before had friends (male friends, or even female friends) visit my house at such an ‘ungodly’ hour and yet here where these two guys innocently walking into my house as if it was 11 in the morning.
The two gentlemen looked so comfortable in my house and after thirty minutes passed it didn’t look like they would be leaving any time soon so I offered them food. Naturally that meant they would still be in my house passed midnight because it would take more than forty minutes for the meal to be ready.
“What did you come to do at my house?” I later sent a text to Michael after they had left my house and he repeated his casual response; just visiting.
His response was so casual that I started to question myself, and him as well:
who the hell visits a single woman at such an hour? Is he that naïve or is he just playing careless? Why would he take such a casual approach to everything, did he think of me as a wall and not as a woman at all? What’s his deal? What does he want from me?
I was very disturbed and I made my feelings known to him.
“I am sorry for causing such confusion,” he said. “I really didn’t think it was such a big deal coming to your house at that hour.”
You didn’t think it was a big deal!? Like, how? I thought to myself.
But then I quickly remembered he was four years younger than me so obviously it was expected that he be a little immature in his approach to things. I let him off the hook.
But then he appeared late at my door for a second time…and a third time again, I think.
I got mad pissed!
“Do you think am not a woman!?” I snapped. “Why do you keep showing up at my door in the middle of the night and saying careless stuff to me and expect me to not question your motives?”
This was a guy I talked to about everything, well, almost everything and I thought we were great friends but I also thought visiting me late at night was crossing the boundaries but he didn’t seem to think it such a big deal…which of course didn’t mean I could understand. I could no longer understand his way of thinking.
In time I had grown to depend on him and when he kept randomly showing up at my door, I started fearing for my heart. Apart from the fact that he was younger than me, everything else about him was attractive.
Well, time went by and it became clear to the both of us that a certain boundary had already been crossed and we could no longer think of ourselves as just friends. For me that realization came in a melodramatic kind of way:
Sunday afternoon, the sky was dark and the land upon which my feet hit as I stepped out of my weekend Chinese class at the Confucius Institute at the University of Zambia was wet from the sobs of the heavenly skies.
It had been raining for the past three hours or so and it didn’t seem like it would stop raining any time soon.
My heart was pounding and I could barely make out the thoughts running amok in my head but my state had nothing to do with the fact that I had just sprinted to the car in my three inch white heels to keep from getting soaked in the rains. I had just spent the past two hours in class looking at my phone like a sixteen year old riding high on gonadotropin as I anxiously waited for class to be over so I could keep my appointment with Michael.
But I was no teenager. I was a twenty-eight year old fully-fledged woman going through emotions I thought had died inside me.
It was exciting. It was exhilarating!
For the first time after what felt like forever, I found myself awakening to emotions I thought were long dead and buried within me. I was excited, heart racing and smiling to myself as I drove in the direction away from home to see Michael. As I got closer to his place, I dialled his number and anxiously waited for him to pick up.
He did not pick up the call.
Suddenly, a strange wave of emotions went through my body and I hit the brakes. “I just saw him online a few minutes ago so why isn’t he picking up my call?” I wondered to myself.
Any other person, the normal thing to do would have been to call again because who knows, he might have left his phone for a few seconds to attend to something and missed my call. But this was me we are dealing with. For some reason, my mind had trained itself to think and expect the worst in all situations, even the ones that might obviously call for an optimistic outlook. What was wrong with me?
I was cold, wet and hungry after a sixteen hour fast so you can imagine the state of my mind. But still, my heart longed to see the one person that had made me feel like a woman after a very long time. His gentle attentive nature had somehow gotten to me and I got curious about him. He was a man I had not expected to set my sights on and even though I was not in any position to define the parameters of our ‘relationship,’ I knew that out of every other man I had encountered the past few months, he was the only one that peeked my interest.
And yet, because he had not answered my call, I turned the car around and drove straight home as if I was running away from an oncoming storm.
It took Michael a few more minutes to contact me because he naturally expected that I would call him back.
“I’m sorry I missed your call Nisha, my phone was still on silent after church so I didn’t hear it ring.” Michael explained to me a few minutes later. But I was not interested in hearing his explanation.
During that short drive, like an epiphany, reality had hit me:
My heart might skip a beat or two over a man but my mind is not in any position to pursue anything with anybody.
“Hurt people hurt people.” I once heard someone say.
I realized in that moment that I was still struggling with a lot of thing mentally and because of the damaged nature of my heart, I had taken a simple incident of a missed phone call to mean totally something else!
I made a U-turn that evening not because I thought Michael was up to no good so he couldn’t attend to my call. I turned away because I realized that rather than giving Michael the benefit of a doubt the very first time my call couldn’t go through, negative thoughts had crossed my mind.
And I had liked the fact that he didn’t pick up my call!
It was like that long awaited bomb I had been waiting to see explode had finally gone off and a part of me couldn’t help celebrating my unfortunate victory.
I desperately wanted Michael to fail me so that I could walk away from our budding friendship like a boss and I embraced the first opportunity that presented itself.
He was not even my boyfriend so he owed me no loyalty. He was simply someone I was getting to know a little more than just a friend.
It was the thought of how quickly and welcoming my mind was to thinking negatively about someone that froze me to the core. Indeed, I had no business making an innocent guy pay the price for sins another man had committed against me. In that moment I realized; this is always going to be the case.
That missed phone call forced me to confront something I had been running away from ever since my divorce became final;
I had changed.
God might have given me the strength to go through possibly the hardest point of my life but that didn’t mean the fight was over. I still had a long way to go before healing took place.
You see, I had been so desperate to come to a state of complete healing that I thought putting my energies into a new man was what I needed to keep me from thinking about the man that had hurt me so bad.
But I was far from being healed completely. I still had a lot of dead skin to get rid of before I could even consider opening up my heart to someone.
I was no longer capable of looking at a man the same way as I did eight years ago. I had been robbed off of that innocent and trusting nature not so long ago and I was left to pick up the pieces all on my own.
Every man I encountered be they good looking or God-fearing, I was always quick to overlook their good points and I went searching deeper and deeper for that dark part of their lives they didn’t want the world to know about. And every time I discovered that dark part of them, I would jump in victory like Serene Williams at Wimbledon.
No matter how much I prayed or fasted, I still needed to confront my demons. It was not like the Holy Spirit was going to mysteriously erase them away. I had been damaged emotionally and I was not lucky enough to have amnesia.
I was naïve enough at some point to think that just because God had seen me through the divorce, life was not going to be very difficult after. However, no sooner had I opted to find comfort in that belief than I was awakened to the pain of transitioning into singleness after divorce.
The divorce is one process, and the transitioning is another whole process, and for some it lasts years and years!
I had reached a point in my life where I measured every man against he that had broken me. No one could ever earn my trust because I couldn’t risk giving it to anybody in the first place.
After taking that U-turn from Michael’s place, all I’ve done ever since is run away from anyone that tries to get close to me, including Michael himself.
Not because I think they’re not good enough, but because I am saving them from ‘the me that could hurt them from my injured state of being.’
It is not time yet for me.
But I am getting there.
And I am in no rush.
I know that I shouldn’t expect my heart to heal so quickly but that I should take deliberate steps to achieve that. I also know that jumping into a relationship won’t cure me of the hurt and loneliness I feel sometimes. However, just because I know the state of my heart and what I ought to do does not mean the work is done.
The issue is that a process has to take place; from identification of issues to dealing with issues…to understanding it won’t happen overnight…to accepting reality…and after some time, healing.
And before you bring it up, I already went through counselling, thank you very much. haha
A few days ago someone advised that I buy a book called ‘Changes that Heal’ and attend some of the meetings organised by my church and that’s on my agenda so hey, am gonna get there soon!
But if you think my life is more orderly now, boy do I have a lot more stories for you! The transitioning from Married to Divorced…and then to realising am single again has been quiet adventurous.
I am still a work in progress and this is only the beginning of my chronicles as a newly divorced woman.
Most importantly, there is a very important relationship I am trying to grow right now before I can grow emotionally with any man and that’s with a man that laid his life down for me so that my sins might be forgiven and I could get to live a brand new life, forever!
In some other news, I have decided to be very optimistic about life and my encounters with people from now on. Ernest Hemingway once said:
The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
Very wise words.
I intend to use the baggage from my past as manure to nourish my brand new life so……….
Wish me the best!