Emotional abuse is crippling. It robs a person of their self-esteem, their ability to think rationally, their confidence, their independence and autonomy and much worse, it robs them of their belief in themselves.#estarsense inspired by Wise Quotes from success.com
As a woman of a certain age, and from a judgemental-holier-than-thou culture, I was delighted when two years ago I met the perfect man. I was with one of my girlfriends, sipping cocktails at an exclusively trendy bar in London, when someone sent us an expensive bottle of champagne. I didn’t think I liked Champagne until I tasted that one. It was divine, unlike the cheap version I was accustomed to.
“Who sent it?” my friend asked the waiter.
He pointed towards a table where two mature-young and rich looking men sat. They raised their glasses towards us and mouthed cheers. We smiled. We were both single and desperately searching. It takes real men of substance to be confident enough to send alcohol to a table with women if statistics of sexual inappropriateness reports were anything to go by. Most men are wary and often fearful of women.
“Thank them for us,” I said, trying not to look smitten, for all we knew they could have been axe murderers escaped from prison, but their charming appearance said otherwise. As we enjoyed our chitchat and the expensive bubbly, one of the gentlemen walked up to us. He was dressed like a casual James Bond and spoke elegantly in a highly polished English that would make the Queen proud. He was perfectly symmetrical – if God had created a prototype for men, he was it! And that placed him high on the list of eligibility, so it was with mixed delight and anxiety when he’d asked for my phone number. I gave it to him and decided the chips may fall where they may.
Three days later, he called. I was thrilled but tried not to portray it in my voice, and he asked me out on a date. I agreed. I mean, I had nothing to lose. I am a woman who’s been described as past ‘her prime’ and past ‘sell-by-date’, therefore, there was no room for games in my life. I’d rather find out sooner than later if he was a waste of space. I was already under immense pressure from conditioned expectations.
My posh boyfriend, as I described him to friends, was a prominent businessman and generous to a fault. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. For the first year, he showered me with gifts and trips and introduced me to his immediate family and friends. As a woman of a certain age (yeah), I did my due diligence and checked him out – his financial and criminal standing. He was clean and upstanding, but there was a nagging thing at the back of my mind that I couldn’t put to rest. Certain behaviours about him raised red flags, but I wasn’t about to let little nuisances spoil my chance of eternal happiness. No one is perfect, right? Right!
However, I also needed things to move a little faster. I wanted a proposal or a promise that the relationship was real and for the long haul. When I suggested we visit my family, he was reluctant. “Let’s make that our next trip!” I agreed. He had met a few of my friends, and some approved. I knew my family would approve too. When the time came to make good on his promise, some work-related emergency came up. We had to postpone. Suspiciously though, in less than 2 weeks of this postponement, he whisked us off to the Alps!! I’d never even skied before, but I was willing to learn because I was about to become a permanent member of this elite. I didn’t ask questions or show the hurt in my heart.
Over time I realised his way of dealing with issues was to gift me stuff or take me on holidays, so we never really talked about anything unless it was things to do with him. I didn’t sweat the small stuff, I figured once we were married things would get better. I was wrong. I was so wrong.
His behaviour became increasingly worrisome for me. For example, he’d throw comments that undermined and chipped away at my confidence, “you’d look more beautiful if you wore wigs! Or minier skirts! Or more make-up!” Or a thousand other things.
“I thought you liked my natural hair!” I’d protest.
“I do but variety is sexy,” he said. That night I ordered a selection of wigs. All my life I had never worn wigs or even toyed with the idea, but I had to keep my man happy. I’d noticed how women looked at him seductively even in my presence, I could only imagine what happened in my absence. If fake hair was the secret to keep his eyes on me, so be it. For now, everything was about keeping him happy.
A few weeks later and donning a fake wig, I met my friend for drinks. Her jaw was on the floor when she saw me. “Aint you the woman who swore she’d never be caught dead wearing fake hair!!!” “People change and I think I look better,” I said defiantly. If she was sceptical, she didn’t let on, “it looks good,” she said. I hadn’t had a boyfriend in so long, I’d forgotten how to behave with one or how to treat him. Many before him had slipped away because my independence threatened their idea of masculinity; I was determined to be meek and feminine for this one.
When COVID decided to be part and parcel of our lives, we were still unmarried but dating. I’m not sure if we were in love anymore. We enjoyed each other’s company, especially in bed and then nothing. We were also living together. For me, that was the first real sign that we were destined to be together forever. However, in hindsight, the way he asked me to move in with him was not really a proper ask, it was a mere suggestion and I ran with it.
“It makes economic sense to live under one roof, don’t you think?” he’d said/asked. He lived in a whole house, I lived in a poxy flat. He owned his house, I rented my flat. He lived in an affluent area, I lived in some neighbourhood ruled by gangs. There was no question who was moving in with who, and besides it was his suggestion. I was elated as I sold or tossed everything I owned. I only moved in with my clothes, most of which he’d bought. I was moving up in life, I thought. I cut off friends too – those who showed any signs of doubt, those who said he made them uncomfortable and those who said he was controlling. After the final count, I had fewer friends, but they say, as you grow and mature your circle of friends gets smaller.
My one remaining friend thought I had it all, that I was the luckiest woman on earth. Her loyalty had blinded her too. The truth was, I’d learned to mask the emotional pain – no amount of shoes or bags would take the pain, every pair of shoes, every bag represented an apology from him about something. Most days I vacillated between suicide and homicide and a constant battle raged in my mind. I was riddled with episodes of anxiety and depression. The thing is people don’t see emotional pain or anguish, and those close to you sometimes don’t want to see it. A broken arm is fixable, but a broken mind is not as straight forward. I became an expert at pretending and saying what people wanted to hear.
When the country went into lockdown the first time, I wasn’t worried. I was in love and living in luxury. We’d been living together, and everything was blissful, only we weren’t spending as much time together, he worked a lot until lockdown which forced us to work from home. It was during this time that my doubts about spending the rest of my life with him were compounded. He was mean and verbally abusive. At one point he slapped me, but it was my fault – I pushed him too far. He apologised immediately and went to a great deal to order a scrumptious dinner and bouquets of flowers for me. Then he gave me money to send to my family, “it must be difficult for them at this time,” he said as he handed the cash. How can I leave such a thoughtful man? I must do better to please him. I must….
When the lockdown ended, I had no job. I was made redundant. When I told him I half expected him to break up with me and or kick me out. He did neither. If anything, he looked happy, “I can afford to support us both, COVID or no COVID!” he kissed my forehead. I wasn’t too worried either because I’d saved a lot since moving in with him. However, there was a storm brewing in the abyss of my mind. My independence that I dampened to please him had turned into servitude. I lived in a state of heightened and perpetual stress. I couldn’t just leave, and I couldn’t annoy him incase he made me leave. I’d be homeless.
One night, not so long ago, an argument erupted, and he spat with so much venom, how he could easily kill me and get away with it because he had connections. All my connections had been severed. If he killed me no one would look for me because I cut everyone out and we were in yet another lockdown. Then the storm finally broke.
I got scared and did the unthinkable. The whole thing was like a nightmare. I am, now, sitting next to his body, with the knife still in his heart, contemplating what to tell the police. Who made me a monster? Or was I a monster all along? Should I blame the whole thing on COVID? I could simply leave. I don’t know what to do.
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Post edited by Wanja @wgathu