The Other Woman

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This article was conceived in Lagos traffic. There’s nothing new about Lagos traffic; it’s where talents are developed and lost, and majority of the population waste away, slowly, daily, unknowingly.

The Other Woman, Chinma Eke Blog

So, there I was in home-bound, distracting myself with twitter when I stumbled on an article about the late Princess Diana, and since no article on Princess Diana can be complete without a mention of Camilla Parker Bowles, I also did a quick google search on Camilla. I had always been curious about her and it beat looking out at the sea of cars and wondering why we aren’t yet closer to our destination. I had always thought of Camilla as ‘the other woman’, I bet that’s how most of the world sees her. I think I read somewhere there was a time she was the most hated woman on earth! That evening I tried to read up on the woman for whom Prince Charles was willing to give up the throne, I tried to keep an open mind regardless of my views. I’ve always had this feeling this is not the life she would have chosen, it couldn’t have been easy being the world’s most hated mistress.

I’m staunchly #teammarriage or perhaps #teammonogamy I don’t care if the love is written in the stars by the gods, if they are married; leave them alone! It doesn’t matter if they are reasonable in the marriage, you shouldn’t date them until they decide they want out of the marriage. However, the same me loves the series- Scandal, as a matter of fact I loved it better when Fitz and Mellie were married and Olivia was the other woman. Olivia had gumption, she was the strong ‘single’ lady who could make or break the American presidency; while Mellie, though no push-over was constrained by the ‘Mrs.’ title, I think the script writers didn’t do her character justice.

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Either way and inspite of my love for Olivia Pope, I’m still #teammonogamy! I believe marriage is a binding contract and like all contracts should be adhered to with all parties abiding by its terms. At any time either of the parties chooses or needs to walk away all they have to do is notify the other party, have a conversation and observe the terms and conditions of disengagement. Like an employment contract; it’s unethical to be in full term employment with ABC industries and at the same time employed by XYZ industries. The moment you get the employment with XYZ you must leave ABC. Clean break!

Then I thought of the side hustle, most people have one and it does not actively interfere with their day job. Could the relationship with the mistress be termed ‘the side hustle’? Let’s not go down that lane because then we have to think of the sequence of activities that have to take place for *Chike to move to XYZ. He must apply, attend interviews, negotiate with XYZ, while still at ABC! Now liken that to a marriage, the application and interview process is already termed cheating in my mind. For me, the moment you see the XYZ ad and decide to apply; please let’s have a conversation and agree to part amicably. I cannot come and be thinking you are still on my team while you are testing the waters outside. But then, how can you resign when you aren’t sure you will get the new job or that the terms they will offer will be favorable? Also, you could see an opportunity that doesn’t require your full-time attention and allows you to merge it with your day job successfully without either suffering. There are even cases where the boss and colleagues know of the side hustle and even patronize you- lol, I can’t liken that one to a relationship o! It’s mind boggling; very French!

So, I tried to have this conversation with my friend to be sure I haven’t fallen off the #teammarriage wagon by beginning to understand what drives ‘the side hustle’.  She made matters worse by trying to rationalize why people look outside and the economic importance of ‘the other woman’. She cited the 2014 rom-com: The Other Woman. She was of the opinion that Leslie Mann’s character- Kate didn’t have that extra pizzaz a fine young upwardly mobile man’s wife should have and even her biological children will have cheated on her! In her opinion, it wasn’t all bad; Carly and Amber took off a lot of pressure for Kate, her husband came home happy not snappy, etc. I need new friends!  

The other woman

We did distil that thought though, Kate probably wasn’t like that before marriage, she most likely had the ‘extra’, enough to get herself to the alter. Whatever happened after the vows, in the movie she said she gave up a lot for her husband, but we all saw how it turned out. But why are we like that; very promising before marriage or before we are offered a job but quick to get complacent once we’ve settled in be it at our job, in a relationship, everywhere (happens with the best of us). You know, when that happens; we leave room for another to shine just by standing beside our lack-lustre form be it the other woman or a colleague.

Another argument is that it’s not always about the other woman being better, it just might be that: the heart wants what the heart wants! Lol that could be it right? That might explain why Prince Charles knowing he couldn’t marry Camilla at the time never stopped longing for her even after marrying Princess Diana. If is do say so myself, those two have proved their affection wasn’t just a fluke by having been together these long. (I can’t believe I am understanding their relationship! Where’s my #teammarriage hat)?

I refuse to attempt to understand what drives or fuels ‘the other woman’, it could be love, greed, the wife’s inadequacies or plain old curiosity. Neither can I fathom living with that arrangement, no matter how hard I try (I’m too selfish to understand the concept of sharing in the context of marriage). I was once tempted, guy was tempting for days, we gelled, within a day of meeting him it was like we had known each other forever; finished off each other’s sentences, had the same tastes; well except on the tiny issue of monogamy. And it was on that point I stood to say; not today devil!  (be like me, where’s my white hat?) It doesn’t matter if the African society is traditionally polygamous and we actively or passively share depending on our religious inclination or the choices of our partners. I’m firmly #teammarriage!

So, here are my questions; for what reasons can we justify the existence of ‘the other woman’, have you ever found yourself knowingly or unknowingly as ‘the other woman’ or if you are #teammonogamy like me but admire Olivia Pope or any other mistress, how do you cope with the double standards?

xoxo chinma

Images Credit: Google Images

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Breaking the Silence: The End & A Beggining

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‘I’m not going to get into how you never see anything wrong with your actions, I’m not going to get into how much you’ve hurt me. But you have and try as I have I can’t get past it. This thing of ours is unlike anything I have ever known; it’s been two years and I can’t get used to it. I don’t want to be friends with you anymore; it hurts too much! Don’t ever contact me; if you do I will block you. Have a good evening.’

Adaeze edited and reread the text. It might not look like much but her heart was in those words. She really needed to pass the message to Chike that they were done for good.

A few hours later he responded. ‘Wow, many words! No worries, I will honor your request. If you want it like this so be it.’

**

Adaeze’s philosophy to breakups had always been; it’s not over until the ex tries to make a comeback and you refuse to go back, avoid Okafor’s law and all…. Then it really is over.

Adaeze tried to move on in spite of the pain of the broken dream and dashed hope. She threw herself into work, life; there was just something about living and not existing, especially when you are living on your own terms and not on the whims and caprices of another in the name of being ‘girl-friend’.

She could go out with her girls without having to check with Chike on convenience or if he would have preferred that they do something else.

The up-side to being in a relationship is it provides for companionship, the downside- is its restrictiveness. When you’re in a relationship you become a part of a pair (as it should be). The downside comes when the relationship is over. Then you find you don’t know who you are anymore. Everything reminds you of your ex; movies watched together, places visited together, you could just be in the middle of a conversation and you say a word that had double entendre and just like that you are back in pity party land.

Adaeze gave herself time to mourn her relationship. She knew she needed to heal. Beyond Chike she knew she needed to get rid of the daddy issues she had. This constant search for a father figure in her relationships needed to end lest she do herself in by settling for a crappy relationship or worse; a crappy marriage.

Linda was a rock through this trying times for Adaeze. Adaeze had always admired Linda’s relationship. Linda had been seeing Tayo Fayemi for about three years at the time and they were the classic ‘point of contact couple’. They rarely had any fights of note, got along famously, were so in sync, could finish off each other’s sentences, and were good old friends. They were getting married the next year. ‘Daeze was sure they were going to do the ‘I’m marrying my best friend’ lol! They were an inspiration and a heartache; the classic Yoruba and Ibo union, their relationship surviving against all odds. They were also a heartache, could drive a sister to envy! Lol!

Adaeze threw herself into helping Linda plan her upcoming wedding. Between work, church and the upcoming wedding, she was kept very busy. Too busy to think about a guy! Lol! At the time, the last thing she needed was a guy distracting her, she just wanted to be alone to ‘find’ herself.

It was a busy Saturday, she was backing out of Sofresh neighborhood market, a parfait in one hand, her phone wedged between her ear and shoulder, her handbag and a shopping bag in the other hand. She bumped into a warm body and spun around so very quickly almost spilling the contents of her cup on the person she bumped into.

“I’m so sorry!” She apologised. “Babes, lemme call you back.” She said into the phone and dropped both the shopping bag on the floor with her handbag on it. She retrieved her phone from her shoulder. “I’m sorry she apologised again. “Hope I didn’t stain you.” She examined his shirt, and well; got a good look at him. He was tall, but not so much; say 5’ 9”, dark and of average build. Adaeze took in the smile, sunglasses and the white ‘Yoruba demon’ attire (as she had come to think of the popular male traditional shirt and trousers) and her defenses rose.

“No you didn’t.” He replied, giving her an appreciative look.

Duh! She could see that for herself. His cocky attitude was putting her off already, she was immediately irritated. Besides, she knew she didn’t look her best, she had been shopping and running errands all day, was in a plain top and leggings, her hair was unmade and she wasn’t wearing any makeup. What was he appreciating?

“Sorry I bumped into you.” She bent to retrieve her hand and shopping bag. She made to walk around him.

“Not so fast beauty. My name is Mofe” He extended his hand in a handshake.

“Nice to meet you Mofe.” She replied with a plastic smile. She raised both hands in an indication that her hands were full.

He followed her out of Sofresh. “Where are you headed?” He asked walking with her.

She pointed to the waiting cab.

He walked with her to the car and extended his phone to her when she got in. “May I have your number?” He asked in perfect politeness.

She looked at him, her perfect smile in place, set to decline. And then she thought……… ’wharrevva

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Breaking the Silence: The Situationship

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……….After taking the call, Adaeze’s mom called herself and her siblings and broke the news to them; their father was dead.

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Then the drama began, we all know in Igbo land an African man cannot die a natural death; someone has to be responsible for it.

His family came with the drama; they alleged his wife and children abandoned him and contributed to his death.

It didn’t matter that he had abandoned them as children and didn’t contribute a dime to their upkeep or education. He was their father and that meant they owed him the duty of care.

It didn’t matter that they were mourning the death of a father they never had, all of that didn’t matter; in Africa it rarely does.

It was in times like this Adaeze asked herself if all the pre-wedding fact finding actually makes sense. Because if with all the fact finding people still end up married into horrible families; what’s the point?

Then came the sympathy and the sympathisers, it felt awkward, almost hypocritical.

The period was a difficult one for all involved, the antics of the father’s people didn’t make it any easier. Mrs. Chukwuemeka had to relieve the pain of the separation all over again; accusations flew all over mainly centered on abandonment. Mr. Chukwuemeka’s people were having a field day.

Then came the story peddlers with their false story telling; they said Mrs. Chukwuemeka abandoned her husband because he lost his job and could no longer cater for his family.

In a world where history is written by the loudest voice there also is the belief in silence being golden. Why do we hush our children when they attempt to express themselves, why do we perpetuate the culture of repression with only a few speaking up, and them carrying the day eventually? It’s in every aspect of our culture, we glorify the silence of the multitude and praise or envy the outspoken few. Lol. Some of the most loved and hated celebrities come to mind.

**********

You know that feeling of being surrounded by people yet alone? Adaeze felt it deeply at this time.

Chike; her boyfriend (or so she thought) was the first person she called to share the news with. He didn’t answer his call at the time; no surprise there, Chike had an annoying phone habit; he was always on the phone but never with his phone when you needed to reach him. So she sent him a whatsapp message. He called hours later. Asked all the questions, said all the needed things and killed it with; “Let me see if I can come?”

That saddened Adaeze. It was a Saturday, what was he doing asides hanging with friends? Could he not see she needed him?

He sent a message later; he couldn’t make it!

Absence makes the heart fonder is a big lie! A more accurate maxim is; nature hates vacuum, or out of sight is out of mind! The next day she was on her way from church when he sent a message asking what time she would be home. She replied with an ‘I don’t know’ for at that point she was upset already. What was he coming to do; to comfort her? If her comfort was dependent on him she would probably be in perpetual mourning.

He called. She ignored the first call, he called back. She repeated the same thing her message said.

‘I’m trying to find time to come and you are being difficult. Just tell me when you will be home?’ He had said clearly exasperated.

Not wanting to get into an argument with him at the time, she ended the call.

He sent a message; ‘Don’t ever end the call on me again.’

Lol! She was done, and this time for good. How Chike could make this difficult time she was in about himself was beyond her. He was always doing that. She had known him for two years and in those two years he had never been there for her. Theirs was the classic situationship where he took all she could give but gave little or nothing.

Birthdays, other joyful moments; he always made excuses. Traffic, something came up, illness, all this were excuses he used to avoid being there for her. Whereas the reverse was the case with her. She was there for him when he sneezed, every event, occasion during their two years; if she knew about it, she would be there. And it wasn’t just her praising herself, he had also attested to it.

She remembered how they met, it was through a joint venture their companies had. In reality, she has been the one to chat him up. Maybe that was where the issue lay. It’s no secret most guys can’t handle being propositioned. Maybe that was why he had never valued her or their relationship. Theirs was a relationship that had never been defined. They weren’t even friends with benefits for they was nothing to benefit from it. They were more or less sexual partners or in a ‘situationship’ for lack of a better word. Well, whatever the case; she was done. Really truly done. For two years she couldn’t think of a 3 month stretch when they were together, but there were stretches that long where they were apart.

What she couldn’t understand was why he didn’t want to let her go. He had said to her severally that she annoyed him but every time she tried to break it off, he refused. This wasn’t the first time she had tried to end the relationship but he always refused. Well. She was done, he just didn’t know it yet.

*********

He came by 3 weeks later. He came with a mutual friend. She ignored him. Ain’t no time for rubbish. It was a Saturday and her family was home so that helped to mask her ignoring him. Adaeze didn’t care though! A week later he sent a message asking if her ignoring him when he came to her house was good. And I’m her mind she was like; ‘I hope this young man is ok’?

Like really he couldn’t see anything wrong with his actions? That must be done serious shit. She ignored the message. It was a whatsapp message so he will be able to tell it had been read but she wasn’t going to respond to it. 2 weeks later he sent another message that he was in the neighborhood and could he stop by?

‘Okay.’ She had responded.

If only he had left it at that. If only he hadn’t tried to push by asking if she will talk to him this time if he came to her house. For that was when she snapped!

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The Ones We Let Get Away and The Ones We Get Away From

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When Olamide dragged Dbanj into his rant against Don Jazzy/ the organisers of the Headies awards, it sparked off an interesting conversation between myself and a friend. This friend went on to analyse Mavin’s ‘Oga Titus’ track as a diss track towards Dbanj; I had no idea (LASTMA! I know, and I have no idea if this is true…if it was what the Mavins intended in recording that track, or if this was just a figment of my friends’ hyperactive imagination). We got into the Don Jazzy/Mavin (or Movits) vs. Dbanj post Mohits discussion. I am of the opinion that Dbanj hasn’t fared very badly post Mohits. Yes, the hits might not be there anymore but the endorsements are mouthwatering. My friend pointed out that as a musician (or entertainer as Dbanj refers to himself), you are only as good as your last hit, and in a few years Dbanj will fade and lose his endorsements if he continues without hits. I had to agree, because I can’t sing a line of Dbanj’s post Mohits release tracks, and same goes for a few people I know. We might never know what went wrong in that relationship, probably; only Don Jazzy and Dbanj know those details, but that’s not what this article is about.

That discussion got me thinking about the ones we let get away and the ones we’ve gotten away from. At the time of the separation, there probably was ‘something or somebody that looked like a better deal (Kanye in this instance)’, and we couldn’t wait to get on the ride only to realize that it’s a one chance ride headed nowhere!

We’ve all made those life changing decisions; that relationship we ditched for a person or people we’ve perceived as being better than our present, and this transcends opposite sex relationships; we’ve abandoned friends of the same sex for others we feel are better suited to our current needs or would help in actualizing our needs. Even in our careers, we’ve abandoned a job or career path in favor of one which looks better, only to discover a short while later that it’s all a lie.

I’m of the opinion that if the grass on the other side looks greener, it’s because people on the other side are standing knee-deep in manure. Someone on the other side is tending lovingly to the grass for it to thrive. So what we ought to do rather than abandon our yard for another (and perhaps not be able to take the stench of manure), is to work on our side of the fence and nurture our grass lovingly (in relating this to human relationships, this doesn’t go for abusive relationships; in that case; you need to get out yesterday).
Let’s also talk about the moments we’ve hesitated, and something went wrong, or perhaps not the way we would have wanted it to. We all know the idle hand is the devil’s work tool, it’s no secret nature hates vacuum; so the moment there’s a vacuum anywhere, you can count on mischief to fill it. Using the movie ‘The Perfect Guy’ as an example; I’m of the opinion that had Morris Chestnut’s character- Dave not created a vacuum in Leah’s life (played by Sanna Lathan), she wouldn’t have been open to Carter (Micheal Ealy), who turned out to be everything but ‘The Perfect Guy’. Dave’s delay in seizing the day ended up costing him his life.

It’s a classic that at the beginning of the year, we are all fired up about the ‘new year, new me’ thing, with our resolutions all on fleek; cut out time wasters in my life, ditch that bad habit and pick up yoga, study for that professional exam, get a better job, etc!

The list is endless; but in the midst of all this ‘new me’ decisions, how do we keep from making the ones that will define us negatively forever? I’m all for second chances, but they are some decisions you just cannot return from.
So, how do we know the right choices to make, when to keep playing, hold, fold and walk away? The safest thing to do might probably be to hold on, and see how it goes, but, some relationships are toxic, headed nowhere and are classic time wasters. Not all relationships are meant to last forever, some relationships are just meant for a duration and you move on (and no that doesn’t equal using people).

Also, there are some relationships we quit with the hope of a better future only to realise that we were the ones holding that other person down (yes, we can also be pulling down spirits to others!) From the example of Don Jazzy and Dbanj; most people probably expected Dbanj to fare better, he was leaving local behind and going international, but the reverse has been the case. The one left behind went on to thrive; Don Jazzy found his voice (how many of us remember those days when Don Jazzy didn’t speak in public and Dbanj was his mouth piece? Now Don Jazzy sings!), signed on more artistes and by all accounts is doing well for himself, Dbanj…I don’t know how well he is doing as an artiste.

So, fellow Bellanaijarians, share your stories on the ones you let get away, the ones you got away from and the moments you hesitated; in our interpersonal relationships, friendships, career, and in all spheres of life. Did you fare better, did you regret your actions and how did you self-correct?

Also, we could share stories of the ones we left behind who went on to fare better and how it made us feel. Have a great week!

*Article originally published on bellanaija.com

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Ms Psyche: What’s Your Dealbreaker?

Holla beautiful people, how are you, how has your week been? I bet this full work week feels endless after the hols of last weekend, I bet we all wish we had three working days in a week, always.

Anyways, back to the matter (oops! almost typed ‘open and close’), this week we are discussing the topic: What’s your deal breaker? And, the role of tolerance in a relationship.

Everyone has a deal breaker, you know, those things you just cannot and will not take, even on your best day. Things like; squeezing toothpaste from the middle instead of the bottom, tardiness, etiquette, manners, etc, down to the physical and superficial; height, complexion, looks, physical features, etc. To more serious issues such as violence or the threat of it, infidelity, abuse of any sort. We all have issues that we just can’t abide, and standards which our partner(s) must meet.

The physical deal breakers tend to form a standard which our prospective partner must meet before the relationship can take off. We all have qualities we seek in a partner, the female in her teens and early twenties wants TDH (Tall, dark and handsome), or TDRH (Tall, Dark, Rich and Handsome), and the joke is that in their thirties, females are less choosy. The young man also wants Slim, svelte, curvy, etc, etc. Let me digress and ask ‘if your parents were this picky, will you be here?’ Some of us also blame our less than perfect attributes on our parents.

Ok, you’ve found your prince or princess, and are already in the relationship (or marriage), and months or years down the road, you discover some characteristics you just cannot live with, or can’t make peace with. There are incidences of decades old couple who suddenly divorce, and it begs the question; what happened, or what did they see which they couldn’t take anymore? I mean, they’ve endured this long, why not see it through.

So, I enquired on Nairaland, and majority of the responses cited Abuse; physical and emotional, with infidelity coming a second close.

That we all have deal breakers is a given, the question here is: “What’s the role of Tolerance, and forgiveness when we determine our deal breakers?”
What will your partner of considerable time do, that will lead you to pack up the relationship? Infidelity, Abuse, or the spark just isn’t there anymore, and causes you to notice all his/her faults? Or do you consider the time you’ve invested in the relationship or marriage and decide to ‘endure or manage’?

What’s your deal breaker, what act will snap the camel’s back?

I love hearing from you, next week we analyse a mail.
Remain Sane.
XX
Ms Psyche.