I have told the story about how I sought for love from other women, to feel things that were different from the turbulent feelings I had for my former longtime girlfriend, Ivy.

And every time I tried to pursue other love interests, something shitty happened. And the most annoying part is that, I’d find myself running back to Ivy, who would comfort me. We’re more sisters than lovers now, and I seek out her comfort from all the shitty things that happen every time I try to find love elsewhere. She may be getting married soon, but she is familiar and I use her to heal me.

But I do want to be loved again. I want to love again.

And so, this need caused me to go after some other destruction in human form.

For the purpose of this story, I will call her Laurel.

I had just embarked on my NYSC, and it was a sunny day in camp that day. Instead of letting us into the hostel after OBS, the hostel mistress asked us to stay outside until the number of girls awaiting entry had become sizeable before she would let us in. I was among the girls waiting for more girls to come. I was with some other girls chatting.

Then I saw her, a lone figure, standing quite apart from the rest of us. She had a striking appearance, short-cropped hair with tattoos sketched here and there on her body. I watched her for some time before walking over to her. She looked at me as I came to stop before her, her expression guarded, as though she was already on the defensive from an imagined attack from me.

“Hi, I’m Dev,” I told her pleasantly. “What’s your name?”

She looked surprised, like she couldn’t believe I was speaking to her. She stared at me for sometime before replying.

“I’m Laurel,” she said.

When we were finally let into the hostel, I stalked her until she entered her dormitory. The next day, I went in search of her but she wasn’t around. I went to see her three times and she still wasn’t around. Then, I went out and in the Mami Market, I saw her. I felt a sharp tug of excitement in my heart when I beheld her, and I hurried over to her. I didn’t waste time after the exchange of pleasantries before asking for her number.

“Why do you want my number?” she asked, her eyes narrowed at me.

She followed that up with more questions. Did I know her from somewhere? What did I want with her? Did I not see how weird it was to just stop her and ask for her number?

She told me she didn’t like to be noticed, but it was impossible not to notice Laurel.

I must have said everything right in response to her queries, because she eventually gave me her number, and then walked away.

I waited for nearly a week before I called her. When I identified myself, she suddenly seemed eager to hear what I wanted to say to her. She told me she’d been expecting my call and she’d worried that she’d made a mistake when I didn’t call her all this time. She really wanted to know what I wanted from her.

And just like that, after that phone call, we became friends very quickly. She started coming to my corner frequently, so comfortable with me that she’d spread out on my bed as we talked.

As fast as we were becoming friends was how fast I was falling for Laurel. She was beautiful. She had tattoos all over her body, of eagles, rainbows and dragons. She had a very low-cut hair, nose piercing and always wore a leg chain. She was not active on any social media. She was a writer, a blogger and a painter. She danced ballet.

And she self-harmed too. When she told me this, I felt like I’d found a kindred spirit in her. I used to self-harm as well, and I thought I could be her healing from that. She was living out her craziness while I kept mine bottled up inside because of my awareness of my family and friends. I knew she was sick and dangerous, but I didn’t mind. I was falling for her and I wanted to protect her and help her.

One night, she came to my corner crying. She said people were looking at her and laughing because of the patterns that were drawn all over her body. I held her and consoled her. We talked for a long time, and that was the day she finally let me in. She told me about the times she was raped, and about her diagnosis after it was determined that she couldn’t handle any negative emotion without blacking out or self-destructing. She told me about her health challenges, her medications and some bad psychotic breakdowns she had suffered in the past. She opened up and let me see her demons, and it made my heart ache for her.

After that, we lay on my bed, quiet in the intensity of those shared moments. When the lights went off, Laurel immediately went for my lips. Kissing her was what I’d longed for since I befriended her, but I hadn’t wanted to cross any line, so I never made any move. And now, here she was, kissing me, an act I reciprocated with much ardor. That night marked a new turn in our “relationship”: a more intimate turn.

Laurel was a handful. She was opening up to me more and more, letting me know that she identified as nonbinary. She told me that her pronouns were “they” and “them”. Every time I called them “babe”, they would get worked up. I made this mistake a few times, but I tried to learn. They said they couldn’t be in any relationship, which was fine by me because I didn’t know what the future would hold for us beyond camp. I really didn’t want any commitment that would turn out to be long distance. So, we stayed friends. I didn’t demand anything from them. I just wanted to be with them, to give what I could to make them happy.

My agony started the day after we left camp. I’d gone to see Laurel in their hotel, and we made out. Like always, making out with them was something fierce. Laurel was rough, biting, gnawing at my lips as if they want to draw blood. I often left each make-out session with bruises and hickeys. This was somebody who knew pain and operated intimacy from a place of hurt. I understood this and I did my best to accommodate this.

I would have given up anything to stay with Laurel, but they never wanted me to stay.

After making out, we bathed and then lay on the bed, cuddling and touching, and then I said something I imagine was my ultimate mistake.

I said, “Laurel, now that you have me, please stop self-harming. I don’t want to see fresh cuts on your body, not now and not ever. Whenever you feel down or lonely, just call me.”

Seconds after uttering these words, I knew I’d said the wrong thing. I felt their withdrawal. I immediately felt contrite, and even though they didn’t say anything, I could feel it, the distance, and I started begging them to forgive me for what I said.

Anxious to do something to right my wrong, I went out to buy food for them, because earlier, they’d said they were hungry. When I came back, Laurel’s transformation to someone different was complete. It was as though I’d come back to a stranger, to the person I first met in camp, who had their walls up to ward off any breaches into their personal space. They were moody, smoking blunt after blunt without speaking to me. They even looked at the food I brought with disgust. I was scared. I was afraid I’d lost them. I started crying. I begged.

But the Laurel I’d gotten to know was gone.

Something was off, and I couldn’t fix it. I was frantic because that day, Monday, was all the time we had. Laurel’s flight back home was booked for the next day and mine was for Wednesday. I was in despair, but that sadness was somewhat lifted when it was time for me to return to my hotel, and they escorted me outside to where my uber was waiting. And they hugged me and whispered in my ear, “I love you.”

Tears pricked my eyes and I whispered back desperately, “I love you too.”

Their flight was for 11:30 AM the next day, and when I asked if I should come over before they check out of the hotel, they said no.

The next day, they were gone.

A couple days later, as I was settling back home ahead of my return trip to my PPA, I got a text from Laurel. It read: “I am so glad that I lived long enough to have met you, but I was a fool for trusting you. After letting you in, what you said to me was very unkind. Don’t ever reach out to me again. And whatever happens to me, whatever you hear has happened to me, that shouldn’t be your concern. I have lived a hard life, but the good parts of it are all thanks to someone like you. Goodbye, Dev.”

This was a suicide note. This read like a suicide note to me.

I was immediately frantic. I began calling them, repeatedly. They didn’t answer any of my calls or texts. After ignoring my attempts to reach them for a few days, it seemed as though they blocked me.

I was devastated. It felt awful. I had never experienced this type of feeling before, not even when Ivy started misbehaving with me. And I couldn’t even walk away or seek Ivy to help me heal. Instead, I wallowed in the pain, because it connected me to Laurel. For days, I called. I called. And I called. I am still calling.

Several weeks have passed now, and I am starting to feel numb about the whole thing. I still hope to at least talk to Laurel, even though they never want to see me. I want to know how they are, to hear their voice one more time. That is, if they are even still alive. Oh God, I desperately hope they are alive, conquering their pain by choosing to live.

Written by Deviant

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  1. Mandy
    October 11, 09:27 Reply

    God, this hit me really hard. The struggle to find love… Which brings me to my comment. Deviant, you do know that Laurel isn’t the only person that needs help, right? You really need to focus on yourself, because you have to interrogate this compulsion that makes you search for love so intensely, you put yourself in the path of people who are ultimately no good for you. I know the sermon about self love is cliché, but you really need to work on loving yourself so much that you recognise the BS you won’t take. Until you realise that you shouldn’t be expending all this energy on people who will only end up bringing you down emotionally and psychologically.

    Love is not supposed to be hard or feel stressful. I forgot where I saw this quote, but I read somewhere that people in romantic relationships imagine that suffering is a prerequisite for being loved the way we deserve to be loved. In other words, if it’s safe and easy, we think something is wrong. The movies and songs have conditioned us to think that love must be long-suffering and hard. But it shouldn’t be so. It doesn’t have to be so. You don’t have to be in pain to know you are loving someone or that someone is loving you. When it gets stressful, Deviant, check out! You owe yourself that mental balance.

    As for Laurel, she may have committed suicide. She may be alive. But that should no longer be your concern. Heck, she has even absolved you. So, get the healing you deserve, move on, and focus on a life that is open to better love.

    I wish you all the best.

  2. Haiku
    October 11, 11:39 Reply

    I always believe that no one should enter a relationship as the ‘healer’ or ‘rescuer’ of the other party, whichever the challenges they might be into. It always end in premium tears. I wish people could shift the energy they put in ‘desperate pursuit of love’ to themselves first.

  3. Delle
    October 11, 11:51 Reply

    Everything Mandy said

    But mehn, this story gave me the chills.

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