People have a whole lot of theories about abusive relationships. I used to have a few presumptions myself. I used to wonder why a woman would continue to wake up each morning beside the type who prefers to use vulnerable women as boxing bout rehearsals. But I guess life has taught me that, in a world where people believe the only colours that matter are black and white, the shades of grey which exist in between hold all the cards.
My father was not the neglectful type; but he wasn’t the pampering sort either. I grew up with my own twisted perceptions about men and relationships and that kind of shielded me from unnecessary youthful heartbreaks. My mother always advised me not to rush into any commitment; at the right time, I would find the one. And the one I found, not the fairy tale version but I found him.
Kobe was not a bad guy. At least I don’t think he is. He was just as flawed as everyone else. He was manly in all facets and I loved that about him; perhaps that’s why I couldn’t let go of him. I wouldn’t call him a control freak; but he liked to in charge of everything; another trait I found admirable. As long as I complied which boosted his ego, all was well.
It all started when he was laid off from work; then subsequently his self esteem along with his self control. I knew how hard it was for him to lose the one thing that meant so much to him so I did my best not to get on his bad side. It worked until the point where the mere sound of my footsteps irritated the hell out of him.
It started with loud tones which quickly graduated to angry shouts and yelling most of which were uncalled for. I decided to take them in good stride and accommodate his bad moods but when I had had enough of it, I retaliated with shrieks of my own. In the end, no one really heard what the other had said and we both went to bed with our hearts nearly bursting of rage.
When it first happened, my body froze. When I looked at him, I could see the same shock registered on his face. He had hit me and we both couldn’t believe it. I blinked and that was the cue for tears to flow. He immediately and profusely apologized which I accepted. I blamed myself for the outcome because what I had said was bruising. He promised it would never happen again which I believed. How naive I was.
I realized a little too late that taking the blame for his actions was actually fueling this new displacement habit. It graduated from being an occasional event to a regular treat. I knew I had to get out but a part of me wanted to stay. I don’t know if it was because of the way he took care of me after each beating that got me stuck with him. I have never been a lover of pain but at that time, the pleasure after the pain seemed worth it.
I couldn’t tell anyone of the hell I was going through because I knew what they would say and I didn’t want to be told that so I endured it. Praying and hoping that this dark phase would fade away when he eventually found another job, I resigned to become his displacement ball.
This went on till I couldn’t take it anymore. Instead of finding the courage to walk out, I was looking for reasons to stay. If only I could get pregnant, I wondered, maybe his softer side which had gone on probation would resurface and we could live out our happily-ever-after.
So I got pregnant and instead of him rejoicing over it, he got angry that I was planning to trap him when I sensed that he wanted to leave me. Was he going through some PTSD I didn’t realize before?
I signed my death warrant when I went out of my way to ask a friend for a job opportunity for him. Apparently, it was a blow to his ego that I had fought his battle. I found myself in a hospital ward when I became conscious. I was told he had run away and a warrant had been sent out for his arrest. I was still brooding over this when I was informed that I had also lost the baby.
I was sad that I had lost the one thing that would bind us forever and I was heartbroken that he had left me. I knew I should be grateful of being alive after that horrible beating but a part of me felt that I’d rather be dead than live without Kobe. I look back to reminisce on how my parents lived; they quarreled but never did my father lift his hand against my mother. I admired their relationship and I wanted that for myself.
But I didn’t get that and I was ready to live with it. I remember calling women in violent relationships senseless but here I was. I knew there was no sense in missing him but I did. After everything my mama taught me, I still ended up here with no intention to leave him if he hadn’t.
I can’t believe that I’m the one who stayed.