Saturday, January 28, 2012

Letter from the Other Woman III

(This is the final part of a three-part story. You can read the first part here , and the second part here ).

In spite of my growing jealousy, I’d panic every time he would mention that you two were having problems because I didn’t want you two to break up.

Then it would mean that I’d have to decide whether I wanted to be with him for real. And I didn’t want to be with him. By now, I was sure.

Whilst I wish I could say it was because I didn’t want to be a home-wrecker, which I didn’t, it was more because his being with me showed his home was wreck-able.

And I didn’t want to become another ‘If he cheated with you, he’ll cheat on you’ statistic. Yes, I’m ashamed to say my ambition had been reduced to not becoming a statistic… when I was already one.

Did the shame make a difference? No. There I was counseling Paul back into your arms whenever he was in a place where it seemed he would break up with you… whilst he was in my arms.

There was I temporarily withdrawing and breaking off communication with him whenever I felt he was getting too attached to me during one of your rough patches, only to run right back when it ended.

Once in a very long while, my near-dead conscience would draw from the last vestiges of its strength and reprimand me. But by now, it was so weak that a roll of my eyes returned it to its comatose state.

It fought valiantly. It just never won. It kicked and screamed when it noticed the time I spent talking with, thinking about, planning for and being with Paul exceeded the time I spent on everything else.

It reminded me that an idol was anything you put before God. I wasn’t even praying much anymore. I listened for a short while, and then gave it a generous dose of Valium.

What is the point of telling you all this now? Forgive my rambling. Poor man’s therapy, they say. But then again, being the psychologist, you know this more than I.

Yesterday, at 19:47 GMT, Paul got down on his knees and asked me to be his wife. He said he had asked you for a divorce and your response had been a resigned “ok”.

He said that your recent miscarriage had made him realize that if a child came into the picture, he would be stuck with you forever and it was me he wanted a forever with.

He said it was the worst acquiescence he had ever obtained and that the loud thud of a broken woman throwing in a towel heavy with her hot tears was not a very pleasant sound.

He said, “The worst part was that I couldn’t even hold her as her frail frame racked with sobs. All I could think was, stop crying so I can go to Gifty”.

He looked at me expectantly and I saw his heart sink from his eyes to the bottom of his stomach when he saw the horrified look on my face.

My comatose conscience miraculously leaped back to life and filled me with remorse deeper than I ever imagined a human could feel. I’d become the woman I said I’d never be; the home-wrecker.

The engagement ring, supposed to be one of the things a girl looks forward to most, slapped me like a glass of ice-cold water poured into one’s face at 4:00am on a cold Harmattan morning.

I sank deeper into the sofa. Good thing I wasn’t standing. Someway, somehow, I found the strength to pick up the ring, put it back in the box, and send him home.

I didn’t see that coming. I guess I should have known when he stopped talking your problems over with me. When he stopped getting angry at things you did.

Or maybe when he told me he loved me and instead of the usual “get away!” I found myself saying “I love you too” and he smiled as if he’d won the biggest ‘try-your-luck’ balloon.

Or perhaps even when he was in that recent car-accident and his siblings and close friends were calling me, not you, to ask how he was doing… but I didn’t.

I had received a transfer letter earlier in the day. I was re-locating to Brussels in three months. I told him I had a surprise when he came over and he said he had one too. His surprise was obviously bigger.

I never thought I’d be the other woman. I read my bible and prayed since I was a little girl. I still blush when a kissing scene comes on and I am not watching the movie alone. I’m no Delilah.

I had the Cinderella dream once upon a time and whilst I realized I’d let go of my happily-ever-after dreams when I turned 17, I never intended to take yours away… and certainly not this way.

I hear Paul never made it home last night. A drunk driver hit him, they said. The one time I decided to do right by you and Paul… and this is how it ends.

So whilst I’m the last person you’d want to hear from, I needed to confess my pending man-slaughter (I may as well have put a gun to his head if he dies) …and to explain the request for divorce …

… and why Paul insists on holding on to an engagement ring as he fights for his life in the ICU.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Letter from the Other Woman II

(This is the second part of a story. You can read the first part here ).

I met Paul at a particularly low point in my life. I had just ‘broken up’ with the love of my life who claimed he loved me to bits but wasn’t good enough to date me. (Yeah, right!)

Of course, kind courtesy of ‘He’s just not that into you’, we all know it’s one of the oldest lines in the ‘Douchebaggery for Dummies’ manual.

I wasn’t looking for a relationship and I wasn’t looking for a fling either. I’m not that kind of girl, you see. Yet that first night, drunk on excitement and cheap wine, we kissed.

I apologized the next time we spoke, telling him I had a boyfriend and so we couldn’t go anywhere although I was sure he was a wonderful chap.

He also apologized and told me he also had a girlfriend so we could never go anywhere. This was you, by the way. It should have been the end of our story. Sadly, it wasn’t.

Many a boy/girl dreams of that friendship which defies all latent and overt sexual tension and remains a platonic, life-long friendship. We found we both had that dream.

Of course we could have been using it as an excuse to stay in touch, chasing the thrill of playing with fire and escaping unscathed. I don’t know. I am not the one with a PhD in psychology. You are.

Paul and I had this amazing conversational chemistry that I hardly find with others. Our phone networks definitely benefited from our virtual time together.

We could talk for four hours without a lull in conversation and resume two hours later groggy from sleep with a good morning text and text back and forth all day. O, the folly of youth! (Wistful smile)

And so I kept him around, for the witty conversation and friendship, or so I told myself. The lies we tell ourselves so we can sleep at night!

Every lady knows that the guy who can make you laugh more than anyone else in the world has your heart. I found our senses of humour were 97% compatible. Enough said.

And so the friendship deteriorated into friendship plus casual make-out sessions where you would disappear and all thoughts of the future would disappear too, for we insisted we didn’t want one together.

Time would however betray our lie. For as many who have tried to divorce biology from psychology have found, the heart, head and hormones rarely stay in their boxes when we separate them.

Whilst I convinced myself that I didn’t care that whenever we were together, he’d have to leave if you called, I found myself getting jealous whenever he left to be with you.

I found myself getting annoyed with him and myself whenever he would pick a call and end it with a smile on his face and it wasn’t you he had been talking to.

I guess I had accepted the hierarchy and that you came before me; but refused to share second place with anyone else. The depths to which I had sunk! I was jealously guarding my second-best position. (Stay Tuned) 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Letter from the Other Woman I

Dear Chrysta,

You do not know me but I know you very well. For whilst he cannot talk to you about me because you do not know I exist, I know you do and so he does.

I know when you have a bad day and when you get a promotion or raise. I even know when your PMS causes you to snap at him and throw him out of the house.

No, he does not come to stay with me. He calls but I turn him away. Nature has played this cruel joke on us where our cycles are perfectly synchronized. God has a sense of humor and the joke’s on us (him).

Oh, where did my manners go? There they are! I guess I should introduce myself. In case you haven’t already guessed, I am the other woman in Paul’s life. Or am I one of them? You never know these days.

I am not your average ‘other woman’. I am not trying to steal your husband nor get back at my father. I am neither a sex fiend nor exceptionally good in bed. He says you’re much better.

In fact, many a time, he comes to me complaining how you tired him out in bed, his half-hearted complaints belied by the fact that he is usually grinning like a Cheshire cat. You’re doing it right there.

My name is Gifty and like the name suggests, I am both gifted and a gift. Lead soprano singer in the choir, Sunday school teacher, CFA, and ladies wing vice-president are a few of the titles I can claim.

Over the weekend, I volunteer at a school for special needs children. They love me. Everybody does, including your husband but we will come to that.

If you are shaking your head whilst going through my profile and asking incredulously “…and other woman?” you are right. It does not fit in the picture.

But like I found out from my childhood obsession with picture puzzles lasting well into my teens, sometimes, not every piece fits... (To be continued)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Breaking Her Own Heart

Tears stuck behind her eyelids, Anna blinks, trying to get rid of the foreign material in her eyes. Foreign because tears that wouldn't fall aren't tears; God knows what they were. She lifts her head high and shakes her head, sniffing back more 'tears'.

She refused to cry, for there was no one but herself to blame for the pain. How would she explain her tears? "I took a knife, stuck it in my own chest and twisted it like a screwdriver?" For that was the naked truth.

She had broken her heart all by herself. Her head and heart had both said no and yet she had gone ahead and fallen anyway, fallen upon the sharp knife which now wrenched her gut, called it love when it was pure, unadulterated lust.

But through it all, she smiled. For she had broken a heart she thought she no longer had. And the excrutiating pain at least meant it was still there. Its magnitude showed the insurmountable joy she could one day feel

And so she smiled through the 'tears' that  would not fall. They'd fall when joy arrived. They'd fall as tears of joy. (Or so she hoped prayed)