TRIGGER WARNING: Abuse.
Editor’s note: In 2014, Ezinne* met Esther* and they dated for about three years before Esther got married. In this As Told To, Ezinne talks about the relationship they had and how they are both married to other people now.
When people can explain their childhood with one word, it’s always strange to me. My childhood was a potpourri. It was fun sometimes and boring at other times. But it was also painful.
I started growing breasts at 7. It was during this time one of my uncles started fingering me. I eventually told my mum about it and she confronted him, but I think that incident put a beacon on me that attracted abusers. As a child, I was pretty, and so everyone wanted me on their bridal train. I remember the grooms or the groomsmen at those weddings touching me inappropriately. I remember one groom asking me if I have ever seen a penis before. I was 8. I thought all of this was normal. It was as if older men couldn’t see me and leave me alone.
I knew I liked girls before all the abuse started. We had a neighbour who had a daughter I liked. Amaka* and I would go to our backyard to kiss and touch each other. It was the most pleasurable thing ever, but she and her family moved when I was 8.
I was admitted to an all-girls secondary school shortly after. I met other girls who liked girls there. I had a school mother who also doubled as my girlfriend. She would come to my house after school and during weekends to spend time with me. One Saturday, my mum caught us kissing. She didn’t say anything to me even after my girlfriend left. By the next Monday, I was enrolled at a mixed school.
It was at this school that I realised something was wrong with me. For one, a lot of my classmates didn’t know anything about sex. I was about 12 during this time. Whenever we were gisting and I shared my experiences about kissing, they looked shocked at how far I had gone. Most of my female friends had not seen a penis before. They always had questions for me. I was open to answering their questions, but I knew something wasn’t right.
Throughout secondary school, I stayed away from being with girls because of the incident at my former school, but in my first year at university, I met Tobi*. I met her through a friend. One day, Tobi invited me to her party, and we hung out. Towards the end of the party, we ended up in the bathroom and made out. I asked her in between kisses how she knew I liked girls, and she said I looked like I did. We dated for a few months, but we grew apart almost as fast as we started dating.
I met another girl shortly after. She was in my faculty, but in a different department. She loved to draw. I found her fascinating, but our romance was short-lived. In my second semester, I realised I had a crush on my roommate, Esther*. We had always been cordial and I didn’t want to ruin that, so I didn’t do anything about it till the second semester.
It started like play. We would call each other “my wife”. We started taking evening walks together and spending more time together after classes. One day, I told her I wanted to kiss her and she asked, “What is stopping you?” When I told her I liked her, she said she knew and was waiting for me to open my eyes. We dated for the rest of the time I was in university.
It was the best relationship I have ever been in. She was so sweet to me. We were very much in each other’s lives. We knew each other’s parents, siblings and extended family. We did everything together — bathing, eating, going to the movies, etc. The only thing we didn’t do together was school because we were in different departments. Our friends became mutuals, and they all knew we were dating. However, she had a boyfriend.
It wasn’t a big deal because I had a boyfriend when I started dating her too, but I wasn’t serious with him so we broke up early in my relationship with Esther. I didn’t mind her boyfriend either because he made our relationship less real. I loved her with every fibre of my being, but sometimes I would remember that the bible calls us sinners and I would panic. In those moments, I wouldn’t want to be with her anymore.
Before her, being with women was passive — I didn’t have to keep with the women I was intimate with and our relationships were short-lived, but with her, I was fully committed. In fact, I wanted to marry her. At the time, to me, it meant coming out and living openly as a gay woman even though I am bisexual. I thought about my family, my faith, and felt overwhelmed..
We were in our third year and still roommates when I broke up with her. I tried not to talk to her as often as I used to. I stopped spending time with her. Within a week, she started flirting with this stud. Omo, my chest started doing gbim gbim. I didn’t even know I was capable of jealousy. I would see them together, and it would be as if I had forgotten how to breathe. I didn’t know when I texted her. “Ejo, baby mi, please come back.” She teases me about it often. The other babe was heartbroken sha. She told Esther that she had been waiting for our break up so it was extra funny the day she walked in on me and Esther kissing. She said, “I knew it” and walked out of the room.
In our final year, her boyfriend proposed to her. I was excited for her. He made her happy and I loved seeing her happy. I think we spent more time together during this time than we ever had. We also had the most sex — in the kitchen, in hotels, in bathrooms.
On her wedding day, in her wedding dress, she looked so beautiful. For a few seconds, I wished she was getting married to me. I think I cried, but is it wild that I was also really happy for her?
The first time we had sex after the wedding wasn’t planned. We hadn’t talked about whether or not we were indeed broken up as she was now married. We still hung out, and we were at the movies that day. I was holding her hand when she kissed my cheek. Next thing, we were kissing, and I was touching her breasts. The cinema was empty, so we had sex. I could see that she felt bad when we were going home, and I felt bad because her husband is also my friend.
Three months later, we had sex again. This time, we planned it. We were texting, and she said she missed me. I knew what she meant, so we picked a date and a venue. The sex that day was explosive, but we both felt guilty. We talked about it and decided it was best to end our relationship as sexual partners. She didn’t want to be that wife that cheated; I didn’t want anything that would make her feel bad about being with me. I cried so much that day.
I met my husband shortly after. He is a sweet guy and he cares so much about me. The best thing is that he accepted me as I am. I told him everything about me — my sexuality, the abuse, my sexcapades. He was the first guy I told about my sexuality who wasn’t thinking about a threesome. He was exactly what I needed at the time.
He proposed to me six months after we started dating. I didn’t give him an answer because I wanted to be sure I wasn’t just saying yes. I have lived a wild life. Him? Not so much. He loves listening to my stories. He would laugh with me at the funny incidents and cry with me for the sad ones.
We got married shortly after. Esther was happy for me. She thinks he is a great guy and he likes her too, but I haven’t told him about her. Maybe because telling him puts a definite end to me and her. But at the same time, I know we are over as lovers. We still do video calls every other day.
What we felt for each other hasn’t evaporated. It’s there and we both know it, but we are living with our choices.
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