My mama always said that the beauty of a woman lies in her strength. Not in her hair, not in her hips, not by the number of men who follow her around; but in her strength. A woman’s perseverance and endurance for all the things that life throws at her is just but one of the qualities that makes a woman’s soul golden – and mama said that despite what comes at you, always remember that you’re stronger than you think.
Or so I thought…
Here’s a snippet of my love story. A tale that made me not only hold onto the precious words my mama told me but also rethink all I knew about love and strength.
I was once in love with the most amazing man who I thought was my world. He wasn’t Prince Charming or anything but he was there for me. He made me laugh, and smile and he also made me appreciate the little thing in life. I was 21 and I’d fallen madly and naively in love with this guy! Yeah, 21. My parents were obviously against it, they couldn’t believe that their little girl had even made the decision to go on with traditional ceremonies, let alone moving in with this guy!
Our first year was beautiful, we shared laughter and tears and amazing moments together; from him taking his time to pick me up from work to choosing to wait for me at the bus stop (can you imagine a man doing that for you, especially in Nairobi?)
Normally, it took me an hour from the office to our loving home and if I was going to be late, I had to tell him in advance. My best friend then (we were in the same college) was married to a wealthy man and had the habit of throwing parties for no reason and with her birthday coming up, she needed my help to merge ideas on where and how she would hold the party so we decided to meet up and plan it. I told the Mr about the meet-up 2 days in advance to avoid the inconvenience of him waiting for me at the stage and everything was set.
Once we met with my best friend, time flew by! I had previously told the Mr that I would be done around 8 PM but we hadn’t even started catching up by then – you know how girls get when they decide to sit down and talk, so I sent him a text and told him we were not done and he replied with an ‘ok.’
Things were easy and we went on with dinner with my best friend till 10 pm, finished up and caught a cab to the house. On the way, I decided to call him and tell him that ideas were finally done but I was caught with this response: ‘What the hell makes you think, you can be out of my house past 8 PM?
Time suddenly stood still. My legs grew cold and my mouth dried up. I didn’t know what to say.
He continued: “If you want to whore with your friends who date white men, you won’t do it from my house! Your clothes will be outside; pick them and go live with your so-called best friend.”
That was the beginning of all hell breaking loose!
The love of my life, the man who I cherished was kicking me out in the middle of the night and as if I thought that wasn’t enough, he kept screaming at me on the phone then his line went dead.
This was it. This was what being drowned in the water felt like.
I got home and told the cab guy to wait at the gate as I pick my stuff and I got to the door to find everything I own outside stuffed in polythene bags. My skirt suits, heels, blouses, you name it! I didn’t even bother getting in the house. I picked up my stuff and as I was walking away, Mr called out my name.
“Where the hell do you think you are going?”
“But you said…”
“I know what I said!! Get your ass in the house!”
“I need to pay the cab driver for…”
“Get in the fucking house!”
I walked to the house with the polythene bags in one hand and my handbag in the other. The first thing I did was text my bestie. “Pay the cab I’ll refund you tomorrow.”
As soon as I hit send, my phone was slapped out of my hand to the wall.
Hell. Broke. Loose
He slapped my face and kicked me to the floor. I was scared for my life, but it was past 10 pm with nowhere to go and a broken phone so I picked myself back up and cried myself to sleep. He got out of bed before me the next morning and made breakfast, meanwhile, the right side of my face felt numb and my eye felt sore. My eye was also bloodshot red and could barely open.
I needed to get water in the kitchen and I found him there. I couldn’t move; the fear I had towards him was so evident.
He walked towards me and I took a few steps back. “I won’t hurt you, I promise! I’m so sorry I did this to you. Please forgive me, babe.”
He hugged me and I started crying again. I even promised to stop seeing my friend, I just couldn’t risk being hit again. I also didn’t leave the house for 2 days just to be safe.
The beatings continued for another 3 years. Busted lip here. Swollen face there. I tried seeking help from women the age of my mother and all they said was, “hang in there, it will get better.”
But it only kept getting worse.
The beatings became more and over the tiniest of issues, even my love for football was a threat to me getting deathly blows. Anytime he said, ‘shut your smart mouth!’ I knew punches were coming. He beat me up any chance he got.
I quit my job and stopped going to school. I couldn’t lie to my workmates and friends anymore. I never told my family either.
We both joined the TV industry and things were looking up. The beatings were on and off.
Then I got pregnant and life went back to normal.
Or so I thought…
He didn’t lay a finger on me since I got pregnant. He even rubbed my back and my feet on difficult days and was right there when I was in labour. It was back to perfect love. I even stopped writing to concentrate on the baby. Then my baby turned 2 months and everything went back to hell.
He started cheating on me and every time I confronted him he would say, “it is none of your business.”
But it was my business. I loved him terribly and I just had to find out the truth so I went through his phone. I took his phone, switched it on and the first text that came in read, ‘Thanks for today; the sex was amazing. I miss you already!’
I was beyond broken. I was exhausted.
I even called the woman and told her, ‘I’m coming to you woman to woman,’ but she didn’t care.
My daughter was 3 months now and about to get baptized. As the custom was, the church needed money as a thank-you gift. I asked the Mr for it and he said he’d have it by baptism day.
Baptism day came and he disappeared that morning. I only had Kshs 3,000 in my account. I went to a Pesa Point and withdrew 2,000 and put it in the envelope and left for church. As we sat in the middle of the service, he walked in and sat behind us. The service continued, and my little girl was baptized; he even recorded the service and everything felt perfect for a while.
Going back to our house which literally had nothing to eat at the time, I was at a crossroads. There wasn’t enough money for my baby so I decided to send him a text and told him to buy food but he didn’t reply. Later in the night, he came back to the house.
“What’s that nonsense you are sending me of not having food? Do I look like a hotel?” At that moment, the devil in him woke up again. He threw me, my face hit the wall and he continued to kick me until I was on the floor. I was bleeding from my mouth but he didn’t stop. He left me on the floor. His little brother came and found me on the floor. He called his mum.
The mum couldn’t understand what the hell was going on. She told him, “You don’t beat a woman no matter what! Go buy food, come cook for her. I’ll sit here and wait.”
That was my turning point. My moment of no return. I needed to leave him. I needed to be happy. I went through a struggle as I tried to pick myself up. I had nowhere to go and I had my baby with me. I kept asking the people I knew for jobs and one of those ‘I’ll call you later’ texts materialized into a PR job. In August, I moved back home and found peace.
There was push and pulls for almost a year with his family and I still loved him even though he continued cheating on me with the woman from before but my mind was made up. My baby and I deserved peace and love and none of that would be achieved under his wing.
It was hard to get my life back together. One year was a year of the great depression and I drank a lot and cried. I was self-destructive and I didn’t care, I did anything to numb the pain. The next year was a year of acceptance and self-love. It was hard because I looked for my friends but most of them had moved on with their lives and we couldn’t reconnect. I found new friends and created strong bonds. I got friends who called me out on my BS and I kept them.
I don’t know what I would have done without the support of my family. When I was going through depression and denial they were my anchor, they made sure I didn’t go under. They raised my child. They made sure I was taking care of myself, and making sure I ate because it was a struggle to eat at that time. They would check up on me to make sure I was ok.
I did Mizizi (a bible study at Mavuno) when I was still in pain and it helped me in the journey to find myself again. My Mizizi group would call me, go on road trips with me, listen and just show me love. They helped me a lot and I owe them big time.
The one thing I decided never to do was go back. I was also keen not to repeat the same mistakes. He kept coming back, asking for another chance. He still comes back wanting to get back together, but that is one bridge I burnt and I am not going back. He is allowed to see our child but beyond that, we do not talk.
Looking back at what my mama said, every woman has been blessed with the gift of strength but in the case of domestic violence it’s wiser to walk away. It might not be easy especially since we as ladies don’t know how to give up on love and family. Many times women are pressed to stay even when there is abuse, to try and work it out. But I don’t know where my angel and I would be if I decided to stay and fight for our family. It takes strength to walk away and stay away, life is too short to be a punching bag.
The singlehood series is a collection of real-life stories and opinions from different people. It looks at the current world of dating around the world and the experiences that people have gone through.