Rules

As a child I followed rules without question. As a teen I remember telling a school mate that rules were meant to be broken, but I rarely broke any school regulations. As an adult in the workplace I questioned things that didn’t make sense. Sometimes there were ways around certain things however, some things just can’t be changed. They are steeped in tradition, bureaucracy and politics. It’s how it was always done, and always will be.

Every relationship including marriage has boundaries. Some are unspoken, others are born of discussion and implemented. For the most part they are healthy and help promote positivity. The dictum in abusive relationships are always one-sided and final. They can’t be negotiated or changed. They are unfair and oppressive. They take away your freedoms and silence your voice.

I wanted to visit my folks who lived on the way home. I was just about to ask that he let me out of the car before turning off the main road when he ‘gave permission’ to me to visit them. The problem was that if I took it upon myself to say I wanted to go see them, it would lead to an argument, but somehow it was ok for him to make the suggestion. I was annoyed with myself that I hadn’t said something earlier.

“I will see them some other time”.

“But you have not seen them for a long time, it’s time you pay them a visit”.

“I’m aware of that, but here’s the thing. I never tell you when you should visit your mum. Never. It’s up to you when you do. I will visit my parents when I choose to do so. I don’t need your permission to visit my own parents!”

I remember an occasion when he suddenly announced that our Pastor was coming to see us and I had ten minutes to make myself presentable. Mr Impatient informed me that he had invited the Pastor to come since we were having issues. I  was surprised that he had taken this step but also embarrassed, we had hardly been married more than a month. Ultimately though I knew it would be good for us to have some counselling. Fast forward a few months and I called our Pastor asking him to come visit again. I had tried to call Mr Impatient first but he was out of range. I reasoned that he wouldn’t mind since he had done it before. The pastor was available. When I eventually got Mr Impatient on the phone, he point blank told me that I had no right to call the minister and that he didn’t want the man at his home. I  reminded him that he had done the very same thing months before. What was the difference? He couldn’t give an answer and merely restated his opinion on the matter. I had no other choice than to cancel the appointment with our Pastor.

We had promised that in accordance with the good advice of the bible, ‘Don’t go to bed angry’ (Ephesians 4:26), that we would resolve any problems before going to bed, never letting them fester till the next morning. However, there were numerous times when he slept in the spare room. No amount of pleading or bargaining would change his mind to leave the room. I tried to do the same on at least 2 occasions. I didn’t think he would care or even bother with me. The first time I returned to our bedroom of my own free will because it felt like another argument was about to erupt. The second time I didn’t care. I was at my wits end and needed some solitude. He kept coming to warn me of the errors of my ways. He didn’t apologise, didn’t ask that we have a conversation, didn’t ask how I felt. He simply wanted to flex his verbal muscles. The final time he came into the room he pulled the sheet I was covering with and said that if I knew what was good for me I’d find myself in our bedroom very soon. The unspoken threat was ominous.

The narcissist has one set of rules for themselves and another set for everyone else. Their aim is to always be in control and have the upper hand. They intimidate the victim into submission. They accomplish this regime because whether or not they recognise it or even admit it, the victim fears them. God never created any of us His children to live in fear. No relationship especially marriage should be built on anxiety or unease. It is a recipe for sure disaster. The only way to avoid it is to walk away from it.

For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

The Message Bible

Red flags Vs flaws

https://images.app.goo.gl/xsxqyKLuyztT3XtA6

Generally speaking, most people recognise and accept that humanity is imperfect. We live in a world marred by sin which affects every facet of our lives; the way we perceive others, how we relate to others, our behaviour, our goals, our very lifestyle. The list is truly endless, but we are all here and have to live the best we can with our imperfect selves on an imperfect earth.

As an ex-victim of an emotionally abusive marriage and reflecting back on that relationship, I misunderstood the red flags and viewed them as flaws. When you think about it, many people are living with a partner whose flaws they recognise and accept but their relationships would never be labelled as abusive. They are just regular folks trying to get on with life with their best friend.

Red flags and flaws have never been interchangeable. They are not synonyms and should never be understood as such either.
What is a flaw? What is a red flag? How do we distinguish between the two? The Cambridge dictionary states:

‘A flaw in someone’s character is an undesirable quality that they have.’

The Cambridge Dictionary

In his article ’10-character flaws that can derail good people’ Dr Brunner lists 10-character flaws; enviousness, defensiveness, aloofness, volatility, eccentricity, entitlement, unreliable character, people pleaser, unscrupulous and making destructive comments. I would never be-grudge Dr Brunner or his colleagues who compiled this list, but a number of these so-called flaws are actually toxic behaviours. I guess sometimes you just gotta go with the thoughts and musing of regular people!

Not everyone is a social butterfly, they clam up when they are around other people. They are good communicators within their sphere but wouldn’t know how to communicate with less familiar people. There are individuals who just don’t want to or know how to plan things even if it is important. Their so-called plans seem to always fall apart due to lack of foresight and planning in advance. Many don’t know how to handle money; they over spend on trivial things while bills etc remain unpaid. In some relationships, one may have mood swings (non-violent) which last the entire day. Not knowing how to deal with the emotions of others is another character flaw which can cause issues within a relationship. It can be frustrating to be with
someone who may not be very proactive when it comes to important things. Not being affectionate enough, being disorganised, being too laid back are all common character flaws. These are everyday things which any person would find annoying but in the scheme of things and because of unconditional love and the acceptance that neither you or your partner are perfect, these are undesirable qualities that can be lived with. They will irritate, agitate, displease, exasperate, peeve and vex you, but they will not in and of themselves necessarily harm you.

Toxic behaviours are hard to spot because (1) they come in many different (and often highly attractive packages), (2) the people who deploy them are very good at it and (3) we’re going in with an open heart – not a suspicious one.

There are many red flags to indicate a toxic relationship, and it’s probably easier to spot once you’ve been in one, but this is one time where not learning from a mistake is a much better option. There will be flashes of anger that they find hard to let go of or they get angry for the least offence. Their reaction somehow seems extreme when you evaluate the situation. The emotional display seems way out of proportion. The whole point of dating is to get to know each other. The exchange of
information and asking of questions as well as shared experiences are all part of the process. A toxic person seeks to dig deep, sometimes prematurely. It appears to all intents and purposes that the individual is merely showing an interest. However, their aim is to look for your vulnerabilities and I
can guarantee they will use it against you when the opportunity rises. They may have a general lack of respect for others. They may look down on certain people which will show in their mannerisms for example janitors, waitress or shop workers. A toxic individual may manipulate you into changing your plans or even expect you too just to accommodate them.

Toxic traits will purposefully put you ill at ease and will leave you with a gut feeling that something is wrong, you just can’t identify the issue. Over time you will feel worthless, undervalued and even broken. The negative outweighs anything and everything positive about the relationship . . .
assuming there is anything positive left at all. It will feel as if you do all the giving and they do all the taking. There is unbalance and a lack of empathy and compromise. In and of themselves, these traits will harm you. Know the difference between the normal character flaws which we all have and those destructive toxic traits.

Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious—
don’t get infected. Proverbs 22: 24 & 25 (The Message Bible)


References:
https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/character-flaw
https://www.doctorbrunner.com/10-character-flaws-that-can-derail-even-good-people/
https://www.elitedaily.com/p/10-peoples-biggest-flaws-in-relationships-that-their-partners-have￾learned-to-accept-8093654
https://medium.com/on-the-couch/7-relationship-red-flags-youll-notice-but-dismiss-ebc6c9ad9c12

Watch “Christina Perri – A Thousand Years [Official Music Video]” on YouTube

When the film ‘Twilight’ was released in 2008, I wanted to see it, though the whole vampire scenario wasn’t exactly my type of thing. There was something enticing and curious about it.

When the third part ‘Breaking Dawn’ was released in 2012, the cable company refreshed our memories by playing the previous films which brought us up to speed. My sister’s and I watched with copious amounts of popcorn. I really dig sci-fi films. I can probably tell you the social norms and rules of all things sci-fi based. So it was interesting how the rules of vampirism were changed to accommodate Twilight. The romantic development of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan though fictional in existence is believable in essence. There are many couples thriving in relationships born out of adversity and they are rock solid. This isn’t to say that they are free of issues, but they fight through the complications of life together, their foundation is concrete.

The song ‘Stand by your man’ comes to mind when I think of Bella. She knew what Edward was, but she chose to love him anyway. The bond between them grows, and as Bella puts it, they were stronger together. When I met Mr Impatient I saw his flaws. We are all imperfect, we all have deficiencies, but there is a very big difference between flaws and red flags but that’s for another blog. He was perfect enough for me. In my mind’s eye, he and I would battle together against the world. I knew of his abusive childhood and could see how far he had come despite the odds he’d had to face in his life. I believed he could and would achieve much more. I could foresee how transformed he would be with complete healing. I stood by him and with him as he stumbled and I wasn’t deterred by the downs in our relationship.

Not being too musically inclined, when we decided to marry he asked me what song I wanted to walk down the aisle to. I smiled at him and explained that I wanted him to understand the ‘why’ before presenting the ‘What’. With popcorn in tow (naturally!), we watched all the episodes of Twilight. When I played the song it was a done deal.

Heart beats fast

Colors and promises

How to be brave?

How can I love when I’m afraid to fall?

But watching you stand alone

All of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow

A Thousand Years by Christina Perri

How could I abandon a man that I had grown to love just because his childhood wasn’t as beautiful as mine, just because he was scarred by it? Doesn’t he deserve a second chance? If I continued to show him unconditional love, he would proceed to recognise it, know it, feel it and reciprocate. I believed that he was the last man I would ever date.

I have died every day waiting for you

Darling, don’t be afraid

I have loved you for a thousand years

I’ll love you for a thousand more

A Thousand Years by Christina Perri

He showed me that he accepted me unconditionally, flaws and all. He had no reservations about who I was. As far as I was concerned, I had waited all my life for this one man. A handful of people who met him had their reservations about him but I dismissed their fears. After I left him I realised that many were sceptical of him but had said nothing to me. I will never blame them for their silence because the outcome would have been the same; I was going to marry him and we were going to make it work.

It would have been better to wait another thousand years than to have married him, but such is life. We live and learn. Some mistakes like mine are very costly. However, the beauty God can give you for your ashes is priceless.

   . . . and to comfort all who mourn,

To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,

    give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, Isaiah 61:3

The Message Bible

HIV+

It was time to face reality, but this would be a reality that could change my life forever. I knew that he had moved on and had started a new family. Based on my calculations, this new affiliation commenced before I had even left him. It followed that he had been cheating whilst we were married. The question was how many women and for how long? Betrayal is the perfect bomb to any relationship. It blows the union apart leaving it in shreds. God would have it that I had at least started to move on emotionally when I was given the information about his infidelity.

It was time to do some blood work. It was a heavy load that I’d been carrying for a while; suppose I had a sexually transmitted infection? Suppose I had HIV or Aids? I didn’t want to be a woman living with either of them, or anything else for that matter. My bestie whom I shall name Jada was a medical professional. I picked up the phone and called her. Jada wears many hats. She often only needs to wear her friendship hat when we speak. Occasionally she wears her medical hat. She switches between hats so effortlessly and always knows which one to wear and how to wear it. Everyone needs a ‘Jada’ in their life! We agreed to do the routine tests with my doctor and the Aids test at her office.

Now the anxiety kicked in. If I had an infection which could be treated with a dose of medication I could live with that. Suppose I had one that would mean treatment for life? I had never been on long term meds for anything. I’m not even sure I’ve even managed to take multivitamins for a month without forgetting a day here and there. How was this going to affect a future relationship? My head was noisy with clashing questions.

The day of my appointment came. I remember feeling melancholy. I don’t drink alcohol but I felt extremely sober. We embraced and then I sat down. I found it hard to concentrate on what Jada was saying that day. I know that’s because of the storm that was brewing within. I remember just one thing she said; “With testing comes responsibility.” Yeah responsibility. Responsibility to myself to keep up with my meds, responsibility to inform any future suitors. Do I tell them from day one or after they propose? How do I tell my folks? My friends? My cousins, some of whom were baying for his blood for what he had put me through. RESPONSIBILITY. After the consultation I walked across to the clinic and waited my turn for the blood test. As I sat my mind went blank, and though the place was noisy with people all waiting for various services, I blocked out Every. Single. Sound.

I climbed the stairs of the portacabin and took a seat. I was still uneasy and barely holding it together. The nurses were trying to make me feel comfortable by making chit chat but it wasn’t working. I began to feel nauseous and light headed. I could barely breath. Then they came. The tears came. The nurses gave me tissue and tried to console me. They said I was in the right place and doing the right thing. But I shouldn’t of had to be here at all.

I sat on the outside until my results were handed to me in a sealed envelope. Patients were expected to return to the main office where they would be given the outcome of their test. I considered opening the envelope but was I ready to see that my results might be positive? Suppose I passed out in the street? What then? I walked back to Jada’s office. It felt like there were more steps to climb than I remembered. I handed her the envelope and sat down. She carefully opened it, browsed it and lay it to one side. She was talking to me again, wearing the professional hat but I heard nothing. I slipped away in my mind, back to the cacophony of endless questions.

“Byooti, are you ready for your results?” I nodded.

“They are negative.” I slumped in my chair and wept. All I could manage to say was “Thank you God!” For the second time that day I was given tissue. The tension slipped away, I was suddenly starving since I had been unable to even think about breakfast that morning much less eat it. I was jubilant.

Jada put her friendship hat on. “I knew you would be negative.”

“Jada, how can you be so sure? If he did it once, I’ve no idea how many times or how many women he slept with. I don’t know what he picked up out there and brought back to me.”

“I just know that God had you covered Byooti.”

I smiled at her faith. Mine had skipped on down the road. I went in search of a much needed breakfast.

Even when the way goes through

    Death Valley,

I’m not afraid

    when you walk at my side.

Your trusty shepherd’s crook

    makes me feel secure, Psalm 23:4.

The Message Bible

The Time Master.

He was always trying to control time. He didn’t care about being late. I don’t like being tardy. I don’t like others wasting my time, I appreciate it even less when others waste mine.

I remember the first few weeks of driving to work with him. He always dropped me off on time. However, at some point he started to complain about how he hated being stuck in traffic and how he preferred to leave home a little later, that way he could drive straight through into town without encountering the usual hotspot. I pointed out that that would mean we would always be late. He countered that he could start work at any time he wanted. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have his flexi-Time. One morning I was so late that my supervisor had a word with me about the issue. When I suggested to Mr Impatient that I would take the bus, it resulted in an argument.

One evening while he was out, I changed all the clocks in the house so that they were all fifteen minutes early. I was actually impressed with my ‘out of the box’ plan! The next morning, he came into the bedroom with a very unamused look on his face. “What’s wrong with all the clocks in the house? Did you change their time?” I took a deep breath and admitted what I had done. When he asked me why, I explained that I was always late for work and the other day I was so late that my supervisor spoke to me about it. I was never late before we met. Thereafter, we were not late everyday, but we were not consistently early either. Control.

When I was elected to be head of music , I told my worship leaders that I expected them to be at church on time. My then husband always knew when it was my turn to lead worship because I always reminded him in the week, the night before and in the morning. One of two things would happen. Either we had an argument or we arrived at church late. Control.

If we went out on the weekend it was only after he would make the suggestion that we go to a particular place. If we took a drive around the island it was because he fancied it. When we ate out it was because he made the choice for himself. Our time was centred around him and his needs.

If your ideas and suggestions are consistently negated or ignored, it could be that your partner simply isn’t listening or hearing you. Chances are it is a more profound issue. This behaviour of ignoring actually reflects your non-importance to your partner. It’s as simple as that. You are no longer valued by them. Yet God values you so much that He sent His one and only Son to redeem you. He loves hearing you. The value He places on you is immeasurable. Let that sink in!

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 The Message Bible

Blessings in disguise.

I love music, always have and always will. It’s often the first thing I turn to when I’m distressed and feeling stunted. There are certain songs that remind me that regardless of my current storm, God isn’t done with me yet. He’s teaching me a lesson about something; maybe for myself or to encourage someone else I will meet in the future. He decides that at that particular moment in time, I need some refining in the fire of life. My faith needs space to deepen. He wants me to walk closer to Him.

It was time for bed but I was restless. My emotional pain was still quite raw. Even though I kept busy during my days, at night the gloom of my life replayed itself over and over again. A WhatsApp message came through from a friend of mine from church. She had sent me a link. I saw ‘Laura’s Story’ and shook my head. I didn’t want to hear anyone’s story, I was trying to weather my own narrative. For me, It wasn’t such a great time to hear someone else’s tragedy.

However, when my nightly quota of tears was spent, I picked up my phone and clicked on the link. I recognised the song immediately because she had sung it in church once ages ago, but I was unfamiliar with the lyrics. I concentrated as Laura sang. It was such a simple melody; beautiful yet filled with past pain.

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops? what if your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near? What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?’

Blessings; Song by Laura Story (2011).

Yes, I was in a very dark place. This obscurity that had become my friend was like a security blanket wrapped protectively around me. I couldn’t see any light, only darkness. Now here was Laura Story implying that my pain was a blessing in disguise? What Would have happened if I had stayed with my husband? His behaviour would have gotten progressively more controlling. He would have continued to put pressure on me to withdraw from my family and friends. His mood swings would have put me on a delinquent emotional rollercoaster . . . permanently. It would have been a life of survival . . . barely.

God devised and planned my exodus. I just had to show up and play my part. I had escaped and it was a blessing in disguise.

God, pick up the pieces. Put me back together again. You are my praise! Jeremiah 17:14

The Message Bible.

Trip to the theatre

I had bought the tickets and knew the show would be a good one, after all I seen them perform many times before. I was excited!

We were lying in bed conversing about stuff. Out of nowhere came a snide comment. I don’t remember what the comment was but I was determined not to be drawn in. I wanted to go to the show and I didn’t want his mood to spoil that. I quickly hopped off the bed. I grabbed some clothes that needed ironing as I left the bedroom. I set up the ironing board and proceeded to press the clothes.

“What are you doing?” He asked.

“Well unless you want to wear ruffled clothes, I figured I may as well iron our clothes now.”

“But why right now? We were talking.”

“Listen, I’m not sure what’s going on with you, but it feels as if we are going to get into an argument about nothing. I don’t want that, and I don’t want our evening to be spoiled.” He headed back to the bedroom.

A little later we sat down to eat supper so that we could dress and head out to town. There it was again, a cutting remark. I excused myself from the table and went to the bedroom. I didn’t want to be in his company any longer. I decided that I wasn’t going to the theatre with him. The question was, why was he behaving like this? Is it possible he wanted to take someone else? Well that wasn’t about to happen! The tickets had been on the dressing table all week. I took mine and was wondering where to hide it. I had to be quick because there was always the chance that he would follow me to the bedroom and take it away if he figured out that I was trying to hide it. I picked up the book I was presently reading and plumped my pillow behind my back. I placed the ticket under my pillow and smiled at my ingenuity.

“Aren’t you getting ready? We shouldn’t be late.”

“No. I’m not going.” I said without even looking up from my book.

“Why not?”

I looked up then, meeting his gaze. “I will not go where I’m not wanted.”

“So you won’t need your ticket. Where have you put it?” I looked at him without answering then resumed reading.

“So how is your friend who just had her baby? You’ve not been to see her yet? What did she have?”

Anna was recently married and had given birth to her first child. It was my intention to visit her in the upcoming Christmas holiday.

“Yeah, should have gone to see her alreaďy but I’ll go in the holiday. She had a girl. I’m really happy for them.”

He walked over to me and bent down, leaning in towards me. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was in ‘nasty’ mode, I would expect that he was going to kiss me.

“How does it feel knowing your friend who just got married gave her husband a baby and you can’t give your husband a baby yet?”

I struggled trying to think of something equally hurtful to say. My hands which were holding the book, were yearning to make contact with the side of his face. However, I was sitting and he was at a vantage point over me. How would that scenario end? I used slow deep breathes to quell the detonating enragement within. His remark sliced my heart. I could barely breath. He bent down to whisper in my ear again. Please God, no more words. I can’t take another blow right now! He slowly straightened without saying a word. I fought the tears, I would not let him see my anguish, not today. I gritted my teeth to stop the tears coming.

I heard the car pull away. I slumped to my side and wailed. How could another human being be so intentionally afflictive? It felt as if he had killed me and walked away with no remorse. I couldn’t bear it. I gathered up enough clothes for a week and headed for my parent’s home. I needed to retreat for a while, I needed refuge.

Toxic people are callous because they have never learned to care about how they treat others. Insulting others is like drinking a cool glass of water to them. It just gives them a feeling of deep satisfaction. They are not happy unless they are hurting others, especially those who love them. Their sole aim is to inflict misery.

If you are in an abusive relationship, your days of being a punch bag (physical or emotional) are not over. They won’t be until you get away. If there is a way out don’t hang around waiting and hoping they will change. They won’t change, they don’t change. You know this to be true because from the beginning until this day have things really changed in your relationship? Is it a healthy one? Everyone deserves to be loved, and more importantly so do you.

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love . . . 1 John 4: 7&8

The Message Bible

Love is . . .

1 Corinthians 13 is the embodiment of love. It applies to every human relationship; romantic or otherwise. It forms the basis for the parent-child, sibling to sibling, friend to friend, relative to relative, workplace and stranger relationships. It governs every human interaction that we will ever encounter on earth.

Jesus said:

A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 13:34 & 35 KJV

Toxic people are fabulous at showering their victims with love (Love bombing). However, at some point the cracks begin to show. What seems like ‘he / she is merely voicing their concerns’ soon becomes ‘he / is trying to control every aspect of my life’. It’s subtle and seems harmless, but it slowly poisons you. The clip below explains it well.

Loving people may unintentionally hurt or harm someone they love. We are all human beings and we make mistakes. An emotionally healthy person will recognise if they have caused hurt and seek to rectify the situation. The emotionally unhealthy individual will deliberately cause the same hurts over and over again with no conscience or regard to the supposed object of their love. If you try to correct them, they will often state that you the victim are overly sensitive. They justify every hurtful remark.

God is love. You and I all deserve to be treated in a loving way. If your relationship makes you cry more than you smile or laugh, then perhaps you are not being loved at all.

And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Colossians 3:14 The Message Bible

The Wedding Dress

I love my culture. I say that with no apology! Independence is a celebration which encompasses all the senses. The music causes the tapping of feet as it sails past the ears, the aroma of breadfruits roasting instigates the involuntary stimulation of the salivary glands. The taste buds are never disappointed as they savour codfish simmered in coconut milk. The array of Madras clothes worn in beautiful diversity creates rainbows of colour everywhere. It is my favourite time of year. Not being a very traditional individual, I determined at a young age that I would never marry in white, but rather Madras would be my fabric of choice.

Surprisingly, Mr Impatient wasn’t adverse to this long held concept of mine. Since his aunt lived in the neighbouring island which was also reputed to have a wide range of Madras, we decided to shop there for the fabric. The plan was to buy enough to make a matching waistcoat and tie for him also.   Armed with a range of pictures of Madras wedding dresses we set out to purchase the textiles needed for our big day. Now is also a good time to confess that contrary to popular opinion that females love to shop, I find it a necessary chore. After entering a few shops I was ready to return to his aunt’s home or at the very least desist from the agenda for that day.

As soon as I saw it, I adored it. It was a perfect blend of colours. I excitedly went in search of a shop assistant to find out how much fabric I would need for my chosen style. Mr Impatient asked me if I was satisfied with my choice. Sure I was! His face however was a picture of doubt.

“You don’t like it?” I asked incredulously.

“No.”

“Why not? What’s wrong with it?”

“I don’t think it suits you.”

The shop assistant draped some of  the cloth in front me and said it was a perfect compliment to my skin tone. He still looked sceptical. He made some other nonsensical arguments against the Madras, then ended with saying that it was too bright and that he would look ‘dull’ in comparison standing next to me. I peered into his face trying to read his motives and understand his perspective. I deduced that he was reluctant to have me, his future bride look too beautiful on the big day and that he wouldn’t get enough attention. So when I answered I deliberately made myself speak in monotone.

“Specifically speaking this is our day, and a bride is entitled to be the centre of attention even if she doesn’t mean to be. Secondly, we will both be wearing the same fabric. We’ve been in numerous shops, but this fabric right here is the only one I’ve come across that I really like.”

“What about the black and white Madras we saw earlier? I liked it. In fact you liked it too.”

“Yes, it’s just okay, nothing to get excited about. It’s not very vibrant and it’s very forgettable. I don’t want to marry in it.”

I looked up into his face and could see that he wasn’t going to change his mind. I was disappointed because “you can choose any cloth you like babes” was conditional. I turned to the shop assistant and thanked her for her help and walked out of the shop. He took my hand and said “That shop where we saw the black and white Madras is this way.” 

“I’m not buying it.”

“What?”

“I said I’m not buying it. You said I could choose any Madras I want. I found something I really liked and then you went back on your word.”

“So what will you do?”

“Well I’m done shopping. But I guarantee you that I won’t be caught dead in that Madras on our wedding day. Either I buy that Madras (pointing to the shop we just left) or we go back home empty handed.”

I could tell by the look on his face that he didn’t believe me, so I  started walking in the opposite direction. My eyes welled up as I felt my hand being taken again. Mr Impatient saw my tears and wiped them away with his hands.

“You really like it?”

“Yes I do. It’s really beautiful”.

“Then let’s go back and buy it. I’m sorry.”

Over time I came to experience that Mr Impatient was not a man of his word. He couldn’t be taken at his word in the things that would benefit us as a couple. He wasn’t a man of integrity. In seeking a life partner it is so important that they are someone who knows how to keep their word to God and to you.

Just say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong. Matthew 5:37

The Message Bible

If you would like to share your experience of abuse, please send me an email at byootifulashes@gmail.com!

The Accident

Due to the previous tropical storm, a number of bridges had been swept away by raging rivers. As a result there were many temporary bypass roads to enable motorists to get around the island unhindered. When we arrived at my parent’s home from work that day, they explained that there seemed to be an issue with the water. They didn’t have anymore drinking water and were in desperate need of some. Water was a habitual issue in their area, however it was unlikely that I had the same issue given that I lived further away. My dad asked my then boyfriend aka Mr Impatient. He smiled and seemed happy to grant the favour. We took their empty bottles so that we could fill them at my place. A short time after we left their home a very heated argument exploded. He felt he was being used as an errand boy, and that my folks shouldn’t be depending on me to help them out of the situation. It had gotten so ugly that I remember demanding that he stop the car so that I could get off. I also remember that for the first time since living on the island that I wasn’t exactly sure of where I was. So I couldn’t decide if I should walk back to my parents or walk to my place. I was truly disoriented. I decided that I’d prefer to move in the opposite direction of where we had been heading and walk back to my parents home. I was furious and I knew my adrenalin would take me wherever I needed to get to.

I must digress. Firstly; what you get whilst dating is what you’ll get in marriage. Secondly; when married folk tell you that marriage doesn’t change people, please believe. We had so many arguments about nothing and everything. I always put it down to his insecurities which stemmed from his abusive childhood. I figured that once he understood who I was that he wouldn’t feel insecure and that he would be more comfortable and stable and confident in us as a couple. I wrongly thought that once he really came to know the kind of woman I was, that he would accept that I wasn’t going to play with his heart or emotions, and that I was there for the long haul.

What you get whilst dating is exactly what you get when you marry. After we got married the arguing over arbitrary petty issues intensified and he always doubted my loyalty to him and our marriage. He did change after we married, but that was in the sense that he no longer hid or held back the true nature of his ugly abusive side from me. Marriage doesn’t change people, the ugly part of them that you glimpsed during courtship doesn’t magically cure itself or disappear. If anything it intensifies. Pray and choose wisely.

He kept shouting out my name and asking me to return to the car but I just kept walking. When I didn’t respond to him, he got out of the car and started apologizing profusely. I kept walking. I heard him walk away from me and was relieved that at least I would have peace and quiet. I heard the engine start but instead of driving away he reversed the car so that he could catch up with me. Very quietly he said “Byooti, I’m sorry. Please get in the car”. I complied and got back into the car and we continued the journey.

We filled the water bottles that we had brought with us and headed back to my parents home. By now all was calm. I remember that as he drive I was explaining something to him, I don’t remember what, but I had turned myself in the seat so that I could face him. As he drove I anticipated him turning right because the bridge that we had to cross was out and we would have to use the bypass. I frowned as I spoke because we were not slowing down and I knew we were near the bridge. Before I even turned to check our location I screamed “Mr Impatient, the bridge!” I spun round in my seat and placed my hand on the dashboard to brace for impact. As my eyes turned forward to face our direction of travel, I saw where the bridge gave way before I saw the barriers placed in front of it. I felt him slam the brakes. We jolted, he slammed them again. We hit the concrete cone and the car came to a stop. We sat in silence for a few seconds. I was immensely consoled that I had not died. Just then another vehicle arrived and realised what had happened. They were going in our direction and offered us a lift. I sat and listened as Mr Impatient made small talk with the driver. I was unable to process what had just happened. I was tired and numb. All I really wanted was my bed. I didn’t want to be conscious, I didn’t want to think.

It was a few days before I allowed my mind to process what had happened that evening. He had felt put out by helping me acquire water for my family and he took his frustration out on me, hence the argument on the way to my place. If you’re dating and your so-called beloved takes issue when you have to support your family in some way,  do yourself favour and move on. Someone who understands family interconnectedness will not stand in your way of helping your own family. Now I’m not talking about the parasite family where you are depended on to do everything for them when they can easily support themself in your absence or the type of family that maliciously tries to stand between you and your significant other. If this person you love so much becomes annoyed or angry when you take a call from your family or begrudges you when you do the odd errand this is a very big red flag. Walk away.

I concluded that though I was calm and had put the dispute behind me, he was still holding on to his anger from earlier. We had driven that route many times before and after it was damaged. During daylight and at night. He hid it well, but he was so consumed that he was blinded by his anger. Literally. Do you know what’s worse? While God would probably expect me to forgive him, the worse bit is that I excused and accepted his behaviour and I remained in a relationship with him. In any relationship there is bound to be disagreements and arguing. The important thing to note is how the individual behaves towards you while they are angry. Do they walk away, blow off steam then come back and have a rational conversation? Do they apologise even if they are not in the wrong? Do they throw and break things in rage? Do they give the silent treatment for days on end? Part of being successfully married is knowing how and what to do when there is conflict because conflict should always be resolved amiably; and never let the sun go down on your wrath.

Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick tempered person stockpiles stupidity. Proverbs 14:29

The Message Bible