Here’s a conversation between old classmates from a sitcom I watched a few years ago.
“You stole my boyfriend! You stole the life I could have had! I had a good thing going and you just came in, offering what I couldn’t give him, and you took him away from me!!!”
“Yes, I did, and I took the AIDS he should have given to you as well!!!” And then there was silence.
Hindsight is an amazing gift. That moment when you realise how close you came to making a huge mess of things – priceless. In some cases, you might even want to thank the person who took the bullet for you. I spend some of my leisure time watching romcoms, and it was on one such occasion that I heard the phrase ‘…the one who got away’. I thought about those words when the film ended and laughed as I recalled two scenarios from my past where that phrase played out.
The first was with my first ‘proper’ relationship. As a teenager, I used to beg God in my prayers for the privilege of just one boyfriend who would later become my husband. I didn’t want to kiss too many frogs to find prince charming. For this reason, it took ages to commit to a relationship. People would come around, we would talk for a short while, but when it came to making things official – I would bail out. So when I met a guy I didn’t want to bail out on, I was excited! We were very different but that was part of the attraction. We had a good year and I thought things were heading in the right direction, until his mother came to town. She didn’t approve, and he ended it. He actually gave me the whole “…its not you, its me” nonsense. I was upset for two reasons: firstly, I really did like this dark knight and secondly, who in God’s name did his mother think they were for me to be disqualified from being her daughter-in-law? Thank God it was the end of the school year, so I could go home and cry as much as I wanted – in the privacy of my room of course.
Fast forward ten years; I’m married, he is married, and we meet at a wedding. I sensed this ex would be there, but I was past the hurt and pain, so I genuinely wanted to see how he was getting on. It was a mini reunion of the clan and I eventually got to him, but he seemed a little on edge, almost like he was still in the same place I left him ten years ago. I moved on to catch up with other friends and he joins us later with a young man. “Hey guys, meet my son” he says. Thank God I wasn’t the only person who was shocked because that would have hurt more than I can explain. While I was still trying to compose myself, one of my girlfriends fired the questions we were all itching to ask. “Which son? From where? How old are you? Who is your Mother?” We were all waiting for the answers. Turns out he was 13yrs old. I did the maths and looked at my ex. He wasn’t looking at me. He had a son before he ever spoke to me, and in our one year relationship it never came up?! And I was the one who they said was not good enough!!! I looked towards his wife and I felt sorry for her; but then I thought, that could have been me. If all the female friends (can’t vouch for the guys), who had known my ex for more than twenty years, did not know of this child’s existence, what else would he have comfortably kept from me? I went home thanking God for my escape – I really was the one who got away – from my perspective anyway.
The second scenario still makes me laugh till date. It was another break-up which I didn’t see coming. Boyfriend number 2 had a way with words and he loved to be heard. A shorter relationship compared to the first but having learnt from my errors, I felt I was on the right path this time. He broke things off suddenly (during my exams) because I shared a dream I had. Don’t worry, it wasn’t the one of a big wedding followed by five children, haha. It was a very weird dream and I didn’t understand the dream fully, so I shared it with him.
As I spoke, his eyes widened, and he looked a little scared. The long and short of the story dream was that God had shown me something which this man was trying to hide from me. So he ended the relationship because he couldn’t trust God not to tell me more things. This time there was no crying as I had too much to focus on, plus I didn’t really want to be with someone who couldn’t be honest about his weaknesses. Six weeks later, he called to say let us get back together. I said we would have to start from the very beginning as trust had been broken. It wouldn’t be wise to just pick up where we left off. He didn’t accept my terms as he was ready to propose! We went our separate ways. He got very bitter and sent hurtful text messages. I was genuinely okay with our separation as some relationships work out and some don’t. Even when God has led you to the person, that person also needs to follow God’s leading as there is no ‘by force’ in the matter. The few times I picked his calls, I would always regret it as he was very insulting. He kept checking on me via email and even sent me a picture when he got engaged, but the tone of the accompanying email was insulting. I didn’t reply. He mailed again after his wedding and I still get the odd email every now and again eight years on – he says he is just checking on me. I say, ‘good riddance!’, another great escape.
In this new year, I have witnessed another form of breaking up, which I had never really considered before. A situation where the relationship is great, there’s no falsehood, no issue we can’t tackle together, and then a sudden earthquake. The wind is knocked out from you, and in a moment, everything changes…. the break-up caused by death. I call this a breakup as the one left behind is usually very broken and confused initially. An Uncle of mine found himself in this situation recently. He had woken up with his wife, and they decided to have a lie-in for a couple more hours. He woke up later and she was cold beside him. There was no warning, no cough, no nothing! Just silence. Where do you begin? She oversaw his medication, most of his passwords, she even handled the money in the house, they had been together for almost 40yrs! They had become one. How do you live on from that? Everyone around you is grieving with you and for you, but they all go to their homes eventually, and the person will still have that chasm that can’t be filled. I have made a conscious effort to avoid burials, but I allow myself to attend the ‘Service of Songs’. An exhortation was given during such a service recently and the Pastor said ‘… we will be saying our final farewells tomorrow at the burial service…”. I imagined it as a person relocating to another country. You know the person is not dying, but there is a good chance you will never see that person again while on the earth. When the deceased is a Christian, even though we won’t see them or hear their voice anymore, we have the blessed assurance that we will meet again, hence the ‘Adieus’.
No breakups are particularly easy, but whether you are experiencing the great escape or the adieus, entrust your heart to God. He made it, and He knows best what to do with it.
Ps: Farewell Aunty Folu and Mummy Taiwo
Until next time…