What She Said: I Don’t Know How To Be Alone

July 31, 2019

Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here. 

According to Greek legend, when humans were first created, man and woman were fused into one being with four arms, four legs and a single head made up of two faces. One day as humans tend to do, we pissed the gods off and Zeus decided to punish us by splitting us in half. Cursing us to spend the rest of our lives roaming the earth looking for our other halves, our soulmates.

If anyone could find this any more relatable it’s the woman in this week’s story, who despite all of her romantic failings, pursues love as relentlessly as she did when she met her first love at 14.

Could you introduce yourself again, I thought that was interesting 

Hi. My name is Kemi* and I’m addicted to love. (Laughs). This is where you share your own addiction with me by the way. 

It’s dollars. I also have a weakness for pound sterling.

(Laughs) Seriously I and my fellow love addicts legit need an AA class. So we could also get 12 step programs to stop us from going back to men who take us fi idiat. 

Preach sis.

What’s your earliest memory of being in a relationship? 

JSS2… no JSS3 actually, I just remembered we went on that long Junior WAEC break after we started dating. We were in the same class and we dated until we graduated from secondary school. There were a couple of breaks in between but we were always the ‘it’ couple in school, across all the sets. Is it sad that I finished secondary school 9 years ago and till date that’s my longest and probably most stable relationship? 

No. E dey happen 

Why did you guys split up? 

Distance actually, he was going to uni abroad, my parents had insisted I go and slum it out in Ife and that was how it ended. We are still pretty cordial, but he has relocated there and lives there now. I know he has been in a pretty serious relationship for a couple of years now. 

Puppy love or not, four years is a long time, do you ever think about what could have been? 

I used to, in my first year of Uni when I was nursing my ‘heartbreak’. I was heartbroken because upon all the forever love we were doing in secondary school, baba didn’t even form ‘let’s try long-distance’ or ‘I’ll wait for you’. He just did ‘peace, e go be’ People always look back at their teenage relationships and the heartbreaks that followed and laugh. Even though it doesn’t hurt anymore I’ve still not found what’s funny about my own. 

What came next? 

Nothing, till my second year of uni. I think a part of me was still waiting for Dami*. I clearly didn’t have focus in life. It’s not as if I even have focus in life now, but I was even less focused then. Anyway my year 2 love was this bobo in my class I used to form study partner with. One day, revision for a test… or was it group assignment we were doing? Something school-related sha, turned into kiss and hug. 

How long did the both of you date?

So here’s the thing about that. See ehn, men are scum. We started fooling around pretty regularly and doing other couple things. I can’t even remember what brought it up, maybe we were gisting and I referred to him as my boyfriend. He sha went ‘oh when did we agree to date?’ He said he wasn’t ready for that and he didn’t want to date anyone till final year to avoid distractions. I cut him off sharply after that, I was so upset. That was when I still had sense. 

What do you mean? 

Man, things just went downhill from there. The same person who cut off someone’s son because he wasn’t ready to be serious, ended up being the same person to stay with a cheater and give excuses for him.

Relationship number what was this? 

Chill I can’t do that math now, but we started dating in final year. It continued into NYSC and ended with NYSC. So it lasted about two years. I regret letting it run for that long, but if I’m being fair, stray penis aside he wasn’t the worst boyfriend in the world. 

When did the cheating happen?

If I’m being completely honest with myself, probably right from the very beginning. All the signs were there. Dodgy phone calls and texts, seeing other women’s things in his room, having several ‘female BFFs’. I never actually caught him cheating, he was the one who came clean to me. I think at that point he was tired of the relationship and wanted it to end. Instead of freeing the relationship at that point, I formed hopeless romantic and forgave him. I told him we could work through it, he agreed and just kept on cheating. 

So how did it end?

He ended things. He said he cared too much about me to keep hurting me. I remember when he came clean about the supposed first time he cheated. It was after we both went to (NYSC) camp and came back. I went to camp in Abuja, and he stayed here in Lagos. I even ended up redeploying to Lagos because of him. He told me that he met a babe in camp and he doesn’t know how it happened, but they had sex a couple of times. After his confession and my refusal to release him from the bondage that was obviously our relationship, he became more brazen with the cheating, more disconnected from me. I still stayed, playing long-suffering wife waiting for her husband to return home from war until he left me. 

How much did it hurt?

It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. All of the crying and wallowing I did, was mostly just because I was terrified at the thought of being alone. He was scum, but he was my scum, I know I sound like all those foolish brainwashed women, but it’s not like that. I don’t know how to explain it. We were ‘guys guys’. We’d talk every day, see every other day. We were a very disgusting, heavy-on-the-PDA kind of couple. All of that shit mo love e gan*. He’d constantly surprise me with lunch or gifts. He just knew how to play the boyfriend role very well. I stayed because I didn’t want that to stop, more than because I wanted him.

*I really love it

And you felt this way from the very beginning of the relationship?

A part of me did. Despite all of my foolishness and all of the foolish decisions I make on a daily basis, my greatest attribute is that I’m very self-aware. I’ll recognise a fuckboy the instant I meet one. And I’ll get involved with him knowing right off the bat that it’ll to end badly. But that won’t stop me from diving headfirst into a relationship or situationship with him. Sometimes those 2 minutes where he acts like the sweetest guy in the world before he shows his true colours is worth the stress.

How many relationships have you been in?

Ok chill let me count. Plus situationships? 

Ok let’s add those.

(12 minutes later) 16. I honestly thought it’d be more, the experiences I’ve had feel like I’ve been with a lot more men. It’s only after you get out of it that you realise it only lasted two or three months. I’ve had a lot of those. Apart from my secondary school love and the cheater, everything else I’ve been in has only lasted a couple of months. It never feels like that though because your head is in the clouds and you share so much of your life with the person in such a short time that after three weeks, it feels like you’ve known them forever and then three weeks after that everything will just pafuka

When was the last time you were truly alone? 

I can’t remember. As one is ending the talking stage of one is starting. By societal standards, I’m significantly more than average looking 

Says the drop-dead gorgeous woman 

Laughs. Thank you! Yeah, so because of that, there are always men just constantly lurking. The longest time I’ve been alone was in my first year of uni. But since then I can’t remember ever truly being alone. 

Is this because you need to fend off men with a bat?

(Laughs). These Nigerian men ehn, sometimes you actually need to. But it’s also because I don’t know how to be alone. It terrifies me. I want unlimited access to a warm body and cuddles and dates. The gifts are nice too. I’ve always had generous lovers. I used to think it was a flaw especially when someone’s son decides to play me like Booboo the fool and I’m hurting. I’d cry to my friends about needing to learn how to be enough for myself. I don’t think that anymore. I don’t have esteem issues or anything like that. I know I’m a ‘strong independent woman who don’t need no man’, I just want one. 

*name changed

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