You literally know you have gone too far in breaking someone, when children pick up on it and try to use same tactic as you have, because they have seen it work time and time again.
Lola had been getting her two children ready for school when one of their bowls of cereal, poured and the next thing was, “Oh mommy, you are too clumsy.” Even before she could gather her thoughts to tell her five year old daughter not to talk like that to her, her son shushed her and told her off.
She still mumbled stuff under her breath, but the damage had already been done…at least to Lola’s mind. Lola got her daughter another bowl of cereal, they finished their meal, got their lunch bags, just as the school bus honked.
Merely by rote, she saw them off to the bus, waved good morning and goodbye to the ever smiling school bus driver and the female teacher with him that day. She turned back, hugged herself against the chilly morning; head bowed and went back inside to start the rest of her day.
But that day was no ordinary day; it was supposed to be a definitive day. A make or break it day, and there she was going about it as though everything was well and alright in her world. She was numb again, not knowing what to feel and how to react appropriately.
Just the night before, her husband had confessed to yet another case of infidelity, the second in six months, and she was just numb. Vivid pictures of what she could do flashed through her mind, but so many other vivid realities held her back.
She thought about storming their bedroom to wake her still sleeping husband in a dramatic way, she thought about destroying his beloved items and let the noise of them wake him up. She thought about walking out the door and never coming back. She thought about making a big drama out of her leaving and seeing if he would beg her to stay. So many scenarios played in her head.
She also thought about the reality of the fact that she hadn’t worked a day in seven years. She thought about the explanation she would have to give her inquisitive children. She thought about what she would do, how she would take care of her children, where she would live. She thought about who would take them in. She wondered if she would be able to keep the children in the fashion they have been used to. She thought about if they would survive.
And she stayed.
Just as she had done six months earlier.
You see, Lola had changed. Life, marriage, motherhood changed her a lot. Even beyond recognition for some people, who had known the fire cracker that she was. In her hey days, Lola wore her hair Anita Baker style, and it was always tinted fire red. It was her trademark look and a perfect fit for her personality. So, it was a total mystery that she would fall for a man like her husband. He was too gentle, he simply lacked gumption.
Several years down the line, the roles were swapped. Lola had lost her fire, her husband just found his, but he was still the one for her. If she still had to choose from a thousand men, the man who appealed to her most, he was still the one, and that was what made his infidelity hurt so much.
In hurting so much, her sense of self-worth was battered. It was in shreds. He blamed her denying him sex for his infidelity, which was with a lady he had met on the Internet. Apparently, Facebook served a lot of purpose asides from connecting friends. You could get hook-ups too.
The worst damage was done, when she started blaming herself for his infidelity. Lola started to accept that she was unloveable, why else would her husband cheat on her twice in six months. She must be unattractive, or why else would he accept her reasons for not wanting sex, and jump on the next available lady.
Lola accepted the message that had somewhat been passed along, that she was no good at relationships, hence her husband’s infidelity.
Even all of these weren’t enough to break her, until her children started picking up on how she felt and how Dad treated Mom, and started doing exactly the same, especially her younger child, who is a typical daddy’s girl. At her worst, Lola became a shadow of herself. She hid from life and people. She left her house solely to see the kids off to school, welcome them back home at the door, grocery shopping once a week, and the rest of her life, she spent in doors.
Meanwhile, her husband was as free as a bird. Having confessed to his affairs and begged for her forgiveness, he had moved on. It was as though the affairs never happened. He became more solicitous, spent more time at home, but it just made one thing clear, there was a huge gaping hole between them.
While Lola’s husband was open, Lola internalised her pain, insecurities and lived with the flashbacks of the confessions, and suspected every move of her husband’s.
But one day, Lola snapped.
She left her marriage about a year after the infidelity confessions, when she went for a gynaecological exam and the results came out with all sorts of “joys.” Meanwhile, her husband refused to be investigated, much less get treated. It was a very glaring choice, her life or her marriage. She chose her life.
That was how Lola left a marriage of ten years, with her two children and tears in her eyes. But she soon regained her fire cracker and can-do spirit.
Five years down the line, Lola looks nothing like what she had been through. Her children are older and well trained. All the thoughts that held her captive back then fell like a pack of cards, when she decided to take a step in the right direction for her sanity and sense of self worth.
Nowadays, she doesn’t blame herself for other people’s actions. It’s a case of their actions, their blame, and their consequences to bear.
Out of those five years, the last three had seen Lola’s husband beg her to reconsider their marriage, but her favourite answer has always been, “once bitten, twice shy.”
Food for thought.
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