Hard Girl

Dear Hard Girl,

I’m super excited to start this journey with you. For me, this column is about bonding with my kind for a common purpose. I see this space as an opportunity to agree with as many women all over the world; to love, to learn and to share. I’d like to invite you to be a part of this journey. Feel free to share your comments and your suggestions about any subject or topic I write about.

Today, I share with you a story on violence in relationships. I know a lot of ladies think it is cool to stay with their men even if they treat them bad. Many of you will howl at that last sentence but abuses go on in relationships daily and I don’t see or hear ladies walk out of as many abusive relationships. Loyalty is hard girl stuff but we must learn where to draw the lines between being stupid and being faithful.

The power to stop an abuse does not lie with the perpetrator but with the victim. Until the victim demonstrates her power to walk out and end things, she remains in danger of repeated abuse.

***

“Forgive? Is that the name you intend to give our child?”Adelaide painfully mocked him. “Oh, you thought I didn’t know? Where was forgiveness when you wrecked my life? Where was forgiveness when I pleaded with you to let me go?!” She ranted with spittle cruising comfortably on her not-wedded-yet husband’s left cheek. He wiped it off as if he was tearing the skin off his face.

He lifted his bacteria infested hands to strike her but stopped. He convulsed like a drug addict who had been taken off the substance. He held his fist clenched and vein-drawn right arm with his left hand to prevent it from doing something it had pleasurably done a better part their four-year-old of relationship.

“I’m sorry”, he said.

With a single gaze into his eyes, Adelaide melted. Her heart went out to him just like the other countless times he apologized.

She shrugged the feeling off quickly. Today, he would not fool her again. She was tired of him and all his abuse. She was not ready to bear it anymore. She chuckled softly and looked away.

Adelaide Ansah; not-wedded-yet wife, soon-to-be mother, business analyst and an usher in church…

Adelaide met her “husband”, Jehoshaphat Another-Day-Has-Come Korku Edzikunu aka J.A.K.E, a few years ago in the line of duty. She was attracted to his intellect, eloquence and of course, his charm. He knew what he wanted and went for it without any fear. Their business relationship turned into an amorous one quite quickly. Who would let go of this fine specimen of a man? Dude had everything, and more, a woman could ask for in a man.

All advice and plea from her family and friends to take her time with their relationship only incensed her to go further with fine boy Jake. She was so blinded by her love for him that she did not see Jake for the wolf that he was.

While they went out, Adelaide performed wifely duties to perfection; all of them exactly how she saw her mother do them. It seemed not enough so she moved in with him permanently. Well, she may have moved because Jake accused her of slowing down the relationship and asked (Oops! The actual word is commanded) her to move in with him.

It was all rosy until a few months later. She realized something was off. He no longer doted on her like he used to. It felt like she had been robbed off his affection and attention while no one looked on. He attributed it to stress that came with the promotion he was given the first day he promised to marry her – that was two years ago. Given no reason to doubt, she believed him.

Jake was a jealous man. She thought it was cute until he began to question her about who she talked to and accused her of flirting. He was jealous because she spent with others, or because he wasn’t the last person she spoke to some days. What made this more unnerving was when he called her excessively during the day; dropped by unexpectedly, not to check on her, but to ascertain her whereabouts. He sometimes refused to let her go to work, or asked friends to watch her as if she was a criminal on parole.

Next were the silent treatments. These were given in alternate day doses. Later, it increased to every single day. Everything went further downhill after the cut in communication. How he turned from a gentleman to a beast, she’s yet to fathom. It started with a knee-jerk slap when he found out she didn’t add cassava dough to his favorite Akple, one afternoon. He apologized. Things returned to ‘normal’ for a week. Then ‘normal’ took a break… the abuse increased linearly and then exponentially.

To outsiders, they could bet their last depreciating cedi that Nogokpo had a hand in this. Had he bewitched her into staying with him? No one knew. To her, her love would one day do the magic. He made her feel like it was her fault he battered her mercilessly, she felt the same too.

The once vibrant, agile and ever efficient lady had been replaced by a sulking, melancholic one. When coworkers tried to help her, he successfully blackened them to her, drumming it into her head that they were jealous of what they had. She lost her family, friends and identity.

Then, she lost her baby. She told them she fell down the stairs, he told them she slipped on the bathroom floor – the worst lie she had told in her life. Adelaide could not bear the pain of losing her foetus and worse, telling lies about how it died. That was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. She lost her mind, literally.

She blamed herself for all that happened. She wondered how and when she got here. Why she of all people lied on this hospital bed, half human-half vegetable.

It dawned on her that she’d messed up. She realized it was time for a change; to die at the hands of a man would be stupid of her. She made a decision. She was leaving him for good this time round.

All the months of slipping in and out of sanity taught her that her life was more important. She realized she had to love herself first before she loved any other person. She came to the realization that it is not normal for a man to lay hands on a woman and vice versa. She realized she’d neglected her first love, Christ. She realized she didn’t involve Him in the decision-making. It is funny how insanity put her on the path of becoming a sane person.

She looked at Jehoshaphat who was playing with his phone beside her bed and had not noticed that she was awake. One look at him and all the cruel things he did to her filled her mind again. She knew that until she let go of the hurt – until she forgave him like Christ forgave her, her life would forever be in shambles. She wanted the shackles of hurt to free her.

Finally, with her lips quivering, she called him. “Jake, I forgive you. I forgive myself too.”

Sensing a glimmer of hope, Jehoshaphat smiled. She had forgiven him like always. His complacency with her mood swings made him nearly miss the words she uttered next.

“…But, it’s over between us. I am sorry I gave myself to you on a silver platter. I have forgiven you – yes, but I can no longer be in this toxic relationship. It’s not going to be easy but with Christ, nothing is impossible. He’ll repair and fix me anew. You need help, I recommend you see a shrink. I wish you all the best in your life. Goodbye. And oh, you need a change of name.”

With all the strength she could gather, she stood up and left the dumbfounded Jake wondering what had just happened.

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