In your twenty-three years on this earth, you hadn’t once let your guard down – at least not when it came to men.
Your mother made it her duty to preach to you that men are simply bad people. They never have the right intentions, and they will always leave you broken. You wondered if that included the five sons she raised and the husband to whom she had been married for 30 years.
Even though you didn’t pay attention to her warnings, there was a part of you that believed her. At least to an extent. Kind of like when you keep seeing an advert and it becomes subconsciously imprinted in your mind.
It wasn’t that you had never been involved with a man. No, you had, and not once or twice. But you just never allowed them to hurt you. You were always there for a good time and never a long time. Once the good time was over, you left. It was simple.
When your best friend got her heart broken the first time, you didn’t take her seriously. You watched as she wailed loudly, had constant panic attacks, and even became withdrawn from other people. You just couldn’t understand how she could let a human being do that to her. It had never been you, and it would never be you. Except, your mother also preached to you to never say never. But you didn’t pay attention to that, either.
For years you listened to heartbreak songs from Adele and Ed Sheeran, but it never occurred to you even once that, “Hey, maybe a heartbreak is actually that deep and intense.”
Then one day, Mr. Right came along. Mr. Right was not your type, and you knew that from the jump. He was the furthest thing from your type, and you just weren’t interested in him. In fact, you weren’t scared to admit it. But, at the time, he was fun to hang around. So, you kept him around. Or rather, he stayed around. You told him out rightly that you weren’t interested in him, but still, he waited patiently. It was as though he knew that one day you would give in.
One day, you did give in. After taking him round in circles for over a year, you finally said yes to being his girlfriend. He had flown you out to Zanzibar and proposed by the beach in the most romantic way. It felt like a marriage proposal, with the sunset and a hundred red roses. It was almost like Travis Baker’s proposal to Kourtney Kardashian, except with fewer roses. You had to remind yourself that it wasn’t just a dream.
Everything was perfect, and you wished it could stay that way forever. He promised you that he would love you forever, but someone should have warned you that ‘forever’ means 8 months in boy language.
It was blissful at first. The constant reassurance, the gifts, the quality time…You didn’t even know what your love language was. You couldn’t figure it out, because you received all of them. It was perfect, and you grew to be attracted to the man who you once found unattractive.
Then one day, you found out that ‘Mr. Right’ wasn’t the right one for you. He was fooling you all along. You were casually in his living room playing music on his laptop. He had left to run an errand, but you had always been comfortable in his home. In fact, by the second month of knowing you, he had given you his house keys. He had even given you a wardrobe where you could keep your clothes and you felt like a wife.
You had never been one to snoop around, but on this day, you found out that his WhatsApp Web was still connected to the laptop. You tried to fight temptation but it got the better of you, and, just like they say, you always find what you go looking for.
It wasn’t just one girl. They were about six, including one of your closest friends. He had been inviting them for a sleepover and thanking others for coming over.
There was one girl who had forgotten her necklace in his house – The same necklace he had claimed to have gotten you as a gift when you asked him about it. The same rusty necklace that looked like it had been worn since Kenya got independence. The same rusty necklace which looked like it could be used in a science class to show students how rust is formed.
How could you have been so stupid?
You froze for a second, not knowing what to do, what to say, where to go, or who to talk to. Instinctively, you picked up your phone and car keys and dashed out of his house. You didn’t look back, not even to close the door behind you.
When you got home, you sat down on the floor of your bedroom and wailed. Your mother found you lying there helplessly. You were hugging your legs, and your head was tucked between your thighs.
“You were right, mum, you were right,” you told her, and she instantly knew what you were talking about.
It had now been six months, and you still couldn’t let go of him. It was like a curse. You knew he was cheating. It was obvious. He had all sorts of excuses, like the time when a girl slept at his house and he claimed she was her cousin. Or the time you found lingerie in the back seat of his car and he claimed his friends had been fooling around in there that weekend. You just couldn’t get yourself to leave.
You had been to therapy, but that was never enough. Your mum had warned you that you were driving yourself into the pits. What she didn’t know, or rather refused to admit, was that you were already in the pits. You needed to drive yourself out of it.
You had tried everything, even gone back to church. Maybe this was a punishment from God, and if you went back, he would forgive you. But that didn’t work, either.
Then one day, like a miracle, you left. You blocked him everywhere, including Gmail. Every week, you gave yourself a pat on the back for making it through. And before you knew it, you hadn’t talked to him for two years.
You were now twenty-five years old and the past was nothing but a memory. It was disgusting to think that you allowed another human being to have that much power over you. You would do everything in your power to never be that involved with a man again.
Then came Prince Charming, who ticked all your boxes. He was funny, mature, rich, and respectful. But you couldn’t move past the fact that Mr. Right had all these attributes too, at the start.
The problem with men, you thought, is that they are never straightforward. A man will chase you for six months just to sleep with you when he could have just stated his intentions from the jump, and you would accept or refuse. Men really have a lot of time to waste, and you would never be there to find out their true intentions.
Prince Charming was actually the right one for you, but you weren’t willing to find out. You had mastered the game, and it dictated that you date at least three guys simultaneously. That way, if any of them cheated, you still had two at your beck and call.
So just like you found Mr. Right cheating, Prince Charming found you. He walked in on you with the guy who you claimed was your gay best friend.
You didn’t bother to chase after him or even apologise. He was paying for Mr. Right’s sins, and someday, another girl would be paying for your sins, too.
After all, the game is the game. Right?
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