Liam was calm – unexpected of a man whose house had just been trashed by a woman he was never serious about. Nelly stood by the door as he walked around assessing the damage as his friends walked in.
“Good for you, girl. We have always told him to stop playing with women,” one said.
Nelly chuckled but the feeling of being dazed quickly returned and then she felt every bit of pain, humiliation and embarrassment there was in that moment. Then she noticed Liam’s huge television set sitting pretty in a corner of the living room. Where was it when the hurricane hit? She would have enjoyed smashing it into pieces.
Liam then told his friends to leave and chased the other woman out of the house. It could have been her moment of victory – the moment when Liam finally realised he wanted a relationship with her – but as the other woman shook like a leaf and ran out crying, Nelly felt sorry for her and wished none of this had happened.
Liam: So you just went through the house breaking stuff?
Nelly: Yes, I did. Had my 15 seconds of fame.
Liam: You scared my friends. You scared me. You broke my stuff.
Nelly: Is that what you care about? Stuff can be replaced. Trust can’t.
Nelly: Why didn’t you just tell me the truth? She said you told her I pursued you. You said you guys were just friends. You have been lying to me this whole time.
Liam: I think the best thing is for all three of us to have a conversation.
Nelly: There is no universe in which that happens.
Liam: I think we should both take some time to recover from this and then talk.
“Even after all that drama, when he said that, I softened up for a second believing I had caught a glimpse of maturity in him. I still wasn’t ready to give up. What I didn’t realise was that he just didn’t like me as much as I liked or loved him and that this was never going to change. In all fairness, he had told me several times that he could not give me what I wanted,” Nelly says.
On the advice of a mutual friend who also attended the party at his house, where all hell broke loose, Liam drove Nelly home. She sat next to him in the car, put on her earphones and listened to one of her anthems on repeat mode, her head resting on the window, her glance deep in darkness – in the aftermath of what has just transpired. The mutual friend and another man, Liam’s best friend, tried to lighten the mood but neither of them took part in the conversations. He dropped her off near the gate to her house, at a distance safe enough to say he was glad to be rid of her. They did not say anything to each other.
Nelly could not afford to get pregnant so a few minutes later, she called her best friend and told her what had happened and then waited for her to ask her to go and buy emergency contraceptives.
“I didn’t cry at the time but I was very confused. I knew what I had to do but it was almost as if I could no longer trust myself with anything so I needed my best friend to tell me what to do,” she says.
“I bought my first emergency contraceptive pills from a Muslim on a Sunday morning but as I faced that round of humiliation, I vowed it would be the first and last time.”
Liam called later that day.
‘I’m sorry’ is all he said.
Come Monday, Nelly would face him in the office, and then every other day after that. It was going to get rough.
For weeks, Liam hid from Nelly whereas she avoided eye contact with him. Deep down she wished they would talk about everything and start over. For weeks she cried in the washroom and then washed her face and returned to her desk, where she put on her headphones and listened to Eminem, shutting down the rest of the company. She couldn’t tell you how she managed to work flawlessly. Sometimes she wondered if he patched things up with the other woman, or women.
Liam seemed fine and Nelly hated him for it.
Times does heal all wounds
With time, however, Nelly’s playlists changed to match the five stages of grief as she fought for sanity. She bumped into Liam sometimes. The first time he said hello, she responded, only the words didn’t come out so he didn’t hear them. She waved the next time and after a while, she managed a ‘hi’ or ‘hello’. It was hard, so hard that she often went to the church across the road from the office and cried or said a few words that only God could understand, so hard that the priest at the church befriended her and even shared his own story of infidelity by his wife.
Nelly eventually left the company and Liam behind, and realised there was never need for closure. She also realised, most importantly, that even though she loved Liam every way she knew how, it was a toxic love because she had not dealt with her abandonment issues.
“I struggled with the idea that we could not be friends but in the end I accepted that and the fact that demons that had only been sleeping were now wide awake and needed to be taken out. I focused on that,” she says.
Liam still crosses Nelly’s mind. On these days, she prays for him and herself. Wishing him the best and genuinely caring for him is how she knows she is over him. The reminder is always good.
The top 10 lessons Nelly learned from all this?
1. Oftentimes, what you see is what you get. Don’t make any assumptions and when you ask your significant other key questions, make sure you get the answers.
2. Take seriously the opinions of people in your circles. They are on the outside looking in – their eyes are not as veiled as yours so they can see a lot that you cannot.
3. But even as you listen to others, make your own decisions because you are the one who will live with the consequences.
4. No relationship is worth it if its nature leaves you compromising or forgetting about your values and if it pulls you away from God or negatively affects your spirituality.
5. Never ever ignore red flags
6. Have at least one accountability partner who understands your values and what governs you when it comes to relationships, so you can stay on the straight and narrow and do things right, whatever ‘right’ means to you.
7. Do not tolerate ill treatment because what you permit really does teach people how to treat you.
8. Never apologise when you are not wrong or just to maintain the status quo, and if the relationship does not work, let it be known that you are moving on, and then do that.
9. Please listen and act accordingly when the people you are interested in having relationships with say they are not ready, are unavailable, cannot give you what you desire or deserve, just want to be friends, only want to ‘see how things go’ … In other words, “Never let a man (or woman) tell you twice that he (or she) doesn’t want you.”
10. Every cloud does have a silver lining – there is always something to learn in each experience, so always dig deep and see what a relationship brings out in you, and why and whether you need to make changes for the better. It’s simply a part of growing up.