So, I’m going to get a bit personal than usual and carry you into a dark space that exists in my head.
I’m not looking for suggestions or answers to my problem because I have a fair idea of what I’ll be told. I just feel like talking.
This one starts with an ex of many years ago. We started out great. It looked like blue skies all the way. I legit thought I had found my last bus stop. Unfortunately, the blue skies were a backdrop hiding a storm and the bus stop would just be an accident scene with me as the victim.
Most times, I think I’m doing fine. Then something happens and I am 19 or 20 years old and feeling like something is wrong with me again. Because for the later part of that relationship, I was made to feel like something was wrong with me.
Umm… Maybe I’ll need to tell the story so we can have a better scope of what happened. It’d just be a sort of summary and I can’t say the sequence of events are accurate. But you’ll get the gist of it.
I met him while seeing someone else and left the someone else for him because he seemed legit. And for many months, I was happy. We stayed in the same room in one of the university halls, and this was because almost every night, he’d ask me to stay back instead of going back to my room. We’d cuddle at night, never minding that the room only had curtains for demarcations. When I played video games, he’d try to grab my attention by kissing me and I’d be too engrossed and he’d go to a corner to pout and threaten to break the laptop. He’d want me to follow him everywhere and he painted wonderful worlds with his words. Naïve, stupid me believed them.
He unfortunately was very scared of being outed and I think that after the high of infatuation died down, that fear began to take over. He’d accuse me of trying to out him over silly reasons like me singing a Lady Gaga song while walking down the hall.
I understood him though. Homophobia is real and he was an executive in his department. So, a lot of people knew him and stuff. The fear was getting on the high side though. One time, in a bid to not let him take a T-shirt of mine, I told him it made him look gay and he immediately took it off. The T-shirt suited him perfectly.
Then ASUU went on a six-month strike and I had to go home. Before leaving, we had decided we would make things kind of open. But when it actually came down to me fucking someone else, I realised that I couldn’t. I told him and asked that we revise the decision to be open. But he said that when he gets horny, he would need to fuck.
This upset me a lot because there I was, too in love to be able to be with someone else, and he didn’t feel the same way. So, we reached a compromise. I would travel to Ibadan from Ogun State to see him and he could come too from time to time. And it worked. I was always happy to see him and he seemed happy to see me too, and we would fuck and it’d almost always be great. Except for the time I had hemorrhoids.
One day, when I’d snuck off to Ibadan as usual, I was laying on his bed and for no reason I can remember, I started to cry. I think that would be the first time it would ever happen to me. I’d be fine, and then my mood would suddenly go left. I’ve realised now that it’s because negative emotions have built up in my mind and it’d take a small trigger for it to all cascade down. He was perplexed. He let me cry on his chest. I wish I could remember what caused it. Maybe I got the irrational fear he’d leave me. Maybe it was something else not related to him. But I kind of feel like he thought I might be a little crazy. I know I felt like I was crazy.
He made a new friend before the strike began. A Lebanese named Liban, and they talked a lot. I thought it was cute. He talked about him a lot and I still considered it cute. Liban was prone to cutting himself and was emotionally volatile, from all I heard from my ex. I felt it was good for my ex to talk to him. People like that need friends, right?
The strike ended. I was back in his room with him, and though we’d had a few issues, I was happy to be back with him. One day, I was going through his phone (it was something we were allowed to do) and was reading through his convo with Liban, when I saw Liban say “I love you” to him. He responded with “I love you too.” To be honest, this didn’t seem like a threat to me. I reasoned that he was simply trying to spare Liban any hurt feelings. Besides Liban was in Lebanon.
However, the message that followed stopped me short. He’d typed: “And that scares me.”
My ex hadn’t been the most faithful guy. But I’d always found a way to move past it. But this one was too much. I confronted him. I wanted an explanation. I think he could have told me bullshit and I’d have eaten it up and say that it tasted like chicken. Instead he said we needed to stop going through each other’s phones and change passwords.
And so, mistrust developed. And I think this was also when things went downhill. I feel like I’m struggling to remember past this point. My memories are a little more jumbled here and I keep hitting a wall. I just know that it began to feel like my love became a toxic thing. Like I was too clingy and too sensitive and too much of everything that wasn’t good. He complained about why I always had to sleep in his room every night, that didn’t I have my own room. He was the one who used to ask me to stay back till I basically moved in with him – and suddenly, I was invading his space??? He’d get angry with me over things like me not carrying a stove well or peeling an egg properly. When he came back to the room at night, he’d ask me if I didn’t have anywhere to be apart from there.
I desperately tried to hold on. Fuck. He used to love me and I loved him, and I could vividly remember how he loved me. So, why was he treating me like this, like there was something wrong with me.
I stayed. I was 19 or 20 with no proper guidance to know I had entered abusive and toxic territory. No one to really talk to because relationships, as far as my fellow gays knew it then, were just things to pass the time. But I had never really felt like that and he was the first person to give me a glimpse of something I never knew I could have. And now that I knew it was possible, I wanted it even more and I wanted it with him. So, I stayed and hoped the former love I knew would come back to me.
The day it ended is still clear to me. And it’s the clincher to this whole thing. I went to his room. I was begging him for us to get back to the way things were. I was crying. I felt lost and confused, like my co-pilot had jumped ship in the middle of a storm. I really wanted us to work. I swear, to this day, I’d have gone to the end of the world and back just for him.
But he told me no and not in the kindest words. He said my tears were irritating him. He said he regretted telling me he loves me. He said he was scared of telling someone else he loves them because if my love is the way love is, then he wants no part of it.
Those words felt like bricks heaping on me. I still get a sinking sensation when I remember them.
And so, that’s how it ended. The relationship. I tried to get over him. I even did hypnotherapy on myself. It sort of worked, but not for long. I’d wake up with a feeling of intense fear. Sleeping on my allocated bed in my room felt strange to me. Thankfully, I had exams, so I used those to distract myself, even though I just wanted to lie down and sleep with the hope that each time I wake up, I wouldn’t hurt as much as before I slept.
Years have gone by. I have forgiven him. I’m a bit wiser, thankfully. But I wasn’t strong enough to go through all that without my share of scars.
And a consistent issue I have is feeling like there is something wrong with me. He’s not just the cause of it. My mother’s own is there too. You can’t hear these words from people you love greatly without them affecting you, I think.
Many times, I’m fine. For long periods of time, I’m alright. But something happens and I am back to being that stupid twenty-year-old who feels like he turns what he touches toxic. I’d feel like something is wrong with me. I’m too much of a thing or too little of something else, and I operate with that knowledge till misery becomes permanent company.
In the end, I think it makes me careful with the people I let into my life, especially for relationships. I believe in bettering each other, but I also believe it is important to accept people first. Lucky for me, after that ex, I’ve met people who did not ask me to change. Of course, bad behaviour would cause friction but there was never really any asking.
Especially my last relationship. It felt like a safe space.
But now, I’m in new waters and I have a boyfriend who thinks I can do better in some aspects. And I believe him. But when he asks me to, I feel a lot of dread. Like someone is trying to change me and they are doing that because they think something is wrong with me.
By and large, relationships have a way of either making you a much better person or fucking you up after you leave them. I know I’m a better person, but I know I’m kind of fucked up somewhere in there.
Written by IBK
For more of IBK’s entries, visit his journal on Medium.