A song played in the background the first time we met and I never heard it again since then. It was a very sad song but it triggered an emotion I cannot begin to explain to you. But I can tell you the shattering moments Darren and I shared after that. All I ask is for you to please recognize unhappiness, even when it’s hidden deep within what we perceive as love.
“Let me take care of you,” Darren whispered into my ear and those words became my undoing.
I want you to imagine meeting someone and just knowing that they are meant to be in your life, that they could possibly make you complete. He became mine and I became his, his property. And for so long, I reveled in it. Darren was sweet, devilishly handsome. I was young and I couldn’t believe my luck. The sex was mind-blowing, fire surged through me every time he touched me. He would do the naughtiest things to me and I loved every electrifying part of it. I began to love Darren dangerously.
I lost myself in him, and soon, Darren became possessive. I would cancel plans for him without a second thought. My friends instinctively guessed what would take me years to figure out. The first time my best friend saw a bruise, I begged him to understand. Darren would never hurt me intentionally, I explained. He promised to change, said he was really sorry. I believed him. But a month after the first time, Darren read a text on my phone; a friend had confessed his feelings to me and it was sweet. Darren didn’t think so. He attacked me. I was frightened but I fought back. I woke up the next day at a hospital. He cried when he apologized this time. He told me he’d only gotten so violent because I’d fought back.
“He loves me,” I told myself as I forgave him again.
But his angry outbursts never stopped. They only got more controlled. But I stopped having friends.
I want you to imagine being so in love with someone that their flaws become nothing. Darren introduced me to his new girlfriend, Chisom, in the third year of our relationship. I feigned a smile and hugged her. Chisom was beautiful but Darren said her beauty couldn’t compare to mine. I tried to walk away when she suddenly became a priority over me. I reminded him that girlfriends had not been part of the deal when he said he wanted to take care of me. But Darren had me under a spell. He spun a yarn of reasons why it was necessary; it would aid his political career and keep his parents happy.
“No one trusts a single man, Alex!” he yelled, ordering me to find a way to live with it.
They got married after a year and I pretended to find a way to live with it.
Darren was always in control, and the truth is I let him. His way worked. I sold out my first book because of him, and the second was an even bigger bestseller. My success was all because of him, Darren usually reminded me. His wife, Chisom, had probably figured out what we were to each other, but she didn’t seem to care. She would invite me to places with her, introducing me to newer circles at his behest. She was the perfect politician’s wife, always ready with her plastic smiles. I could tell that she hated me.
My editor was calling and I focused on work, wrapped up and disconnected as I tried to write my third book.
One evening, Darren let himself into my home with the keys he insisted on having. He had access to everything in my life and for the longest time, I didn’t mind it. I heard noises in the house and walked out of my room to find Darren stalking toward me. I saw the familiar glint of insanity in his eyes and recoiled when he reached for me. He kissed me, his mouth brutally crushing against mine, alcohol reeking off of him.
“I’ve missed you, Alex…” he breathed against my face.
“I’ve missed you too… Are you okay?” I tried to speak but he kept interrupting me with little kisses.
The kissing became more passionate and eventually we went back into my room. I was in no mood for sex. I wanted to talk instead. Darren pushed me to the bed and I tried to stop him.
“Darren, stop. Darren – stop!”
But my pleas seemed to rile him up and he became the beast I always knew he was. He hit me across the face and I shuddered in disbelief. This again?!
“You’re mine!” he spat at me as he got rougher.
I fought back. I resisted. But the more I fought, the more he seemed to enjoy himself. He hit me over and over again as he struggled to ravage me. I bit and kicked him anywhere I could. I was begging and fighting but he was much stronger than I am.
“I’ll never forgive you!” I screamed with agony through my tears and he huffed on top of me, taking forcefully what had always been lovingly his. He laughed cruelly, never stopping. This one violation broke me and I finally lay there, still, as he used my body as he liked.
When he was done, Darren pulled off, rolled over on the bed and fell asleep. The next morning, he said he’d really missed me and said what happened was my fault, for staying away from him for so long. And incredibly, I found myself forgiving him. I loved him. I couldn’t live without him.
It has been five months now, since the man I loved raped me. I walk into a restaurant after being mauled by excited fans. Here is another thing I owe Darren – the joys of being a beloved author. The strum of guitar glides over me as I walk in. A man’s haunting voice begins the melody of a song that sounds so familiar. The sad chorus weaves its way into my consciousness and I remember it.
It is the same song that played the very first time I met Darren. All those years ago and I finally hear the song again. The years since the last time I heard the song flash before my eyes and I see my broken self, a shell of who I used to be. A rousing sensation courses through me and I find myself suddenly feeling awake.
And I realize without a doubt that I am done with Darren.
Just like that – a song becomes the beginning and the end.
A tear seeps from my eye and stains my cheek.
And someone’s whisper drifts to my ear from beside me.
“Let me take care of you.”
“What?” I respond, not looking, my voice almost inaudible.
“I said, are you okay?” the man says again and I blink my universe back into focus.
I turn my head. A very good-looking man is smiling at me, his countenance kind and charming, like he is sure of himself, of me. “Hi, you seemed a little off there. I was wondering if you’d let me buy you a drink or something.”
He seems sweet. He is really handsome. My knees get weak as I feel him close to me, steadying me.
“I’m Dotun. What’s your name?” He’s still smiling. He probably knows the effect he has on people. His self assurance is familiar, this setting – the music, the man – reminding me of another time in the past.
“No, thank you.” I smile as I walk away from him, knowing that it won’t be easy but I’d be walking away from Darren just as fast too. I am finally awake.
We remain in unhappy circumstances because we think it’s all we know, but we are strong. To you fellow sufferer, I say: Take a breath and appreciate your self-worth. All I ask is for you to please recognize unhappiness, even when it’s hidden deep within what we perceive as love.
Written by Abrams