Chapter 9: Life carries on
Last time I saw you
We had just split in two.
You were looking at me.
I was looking at you.
You had a way so familiar,
But I could not recognize,
Cause you had blood on your face;
I had blood in my eyes.
But I could swear by your expression
That the pain down in your soul
Was the same as the one down in mine. — Stephen Trask
Oladehinde spent his days languishing in the arms of melancholy. He felt like a cursed man. How could he disappoint the one he had so longed for? And do it over email no less. He was disgusted at his own cowardice. He decided he needed to see Ibilola one last time, perhaps when he was with her in person, she would see the depths of sorrow in his eyes and understand that this wasn’t something he wanted to do. Perhaps she would sense that he needed to strengthen his spirit first before he could be of use to her.
Ibilola was completely beside herself with grief. She couldn’t quite believe what was happening. Oladehinde was leaving her, the other part of her was leaving. It felt like she was been sawed in two. She locked herself inside her closet, got into a fetal position, and cried as she rocked back and forth for hours. Her housekeeper was so distraught by this behavior that he didn’t know what to do. Who should he call? Her best friend? A psychiatrist? Who!
After a full 10 hours grieving in the closet, Ibilola finally emerged. She looked absolutely awful. Her eyes were blood shot and swollen. Her philtrum was raw from all the wiping of mucus dripping out of her nose. She said some incoherent words and collapsed unto her bed. By the next day, her girls had come over to her apartment and started slowly rubbing her back, coaxing her like a baby to at least eat a little something. Some of them were clearly irritated because they couldn’t believe that she would even deign to date, let alone allow a married man to get that much access into her soul. Others were carried away with the romantic tale of her love affair.
With their help, she finally gathered herself, or perhaps they bundled her into the shower, somehow she found herself seated in her living room, in fresh clothes, hair combed out, with a pot of green tea. She was finally emerging from the fog. She felt at once ashamed of herself for loosing it like that. But as quickly as the thought came into her mind, just as quickly she banished it, remembering that she was human and not above heartbreak. Yes her heart was completely broken. She still couldn’t wrap her head around it.
She knew she was playing a risky game, but all the signs were there. She never once felt like she was making a mistake. Most importantly she felt a profound assurance and peace in her spirit when she was with him. She knew that it was written and it was meant to be. That was why she was flummoxed.
They had fused together at such a soul level that it felt like they were actually one being living its experience in two bodies. The spiritual dimension of their relationship was why the two had gone foolhardy into it. They felt a deep spiritual magnetism that pulled them to each other beyond rationality.
It seemed like she was plagued with echoes of Oladehinde everywhere she turned. She would open a magazine to distract herself, only to find echoes of him in the magazine, it could be a shoe ad, a picture of a vineyard, a tropical landscape, an article about Bosnia, anything at all, it seemed to her his essence lingered everywhere.
She constantly woke up to thoughts of him, fell asleep to thoughts of him, his essence was this looming presence in her life, but he was gone. He had ghosted. Her mind had fallen in love with his soul, his spirit, and stubbornly refused to let go.
Their relationship had re-calibrated her whole life. She wondered around like a woman whose lover had just died. Sometimes she would accidentally click on an article and there would be his face, staring right back at her. She was so raw that she could hardly function. Sometimes she would be in a meeting and a wave of grief would wash over her almost to her undoing.
Constance felt like her 20something+ years with Dee was a delusion. The pain of the recognition of finally knowing that her husband was not in love with her was almost too strong to accept. She knew he cared about her deeply, but he wrestled with joining his soul with hers. He wrestled with the reality of caring deeply for her, while knowing deep in his soul that he wasn’t in love with her. Ah, as cliched as it sounded, she knew he had finally found the one in Ibilola.
That truth was devastating. She couldn’t quite recover from it. How can you love someone, devote yourself to their wellbeing, desire to be a “good husband” and yet not be in love with them? But the truth was that the deep spiritual affinity that is the core ingredient, the thing responsible for the light that we are attracted to when we see those families in the street, that thing, that life giving force, was just not there.
It was a hard truth to accept. Accepting that you have devoted 20something+ years of your life, made major sacrifices, got cast out of many folk’s good graces, putting yourself last for the greater good of the family, all that was for nought. That was a hard truth to embrace which was why she couldn’t let go.
It was too traumatic to admit to herself that she had FAILED. That she had bet on the wrong horse. And even worse, if she admitted that her marriage was over, then came the even harder questions? Why did she devote herself to someone who was kind but wasn’t in love with her? Why on earth?
NOPE, she wasn’t going there. She did nothing wrong. You got married, you did your duty, you allowed your husband to make love to you, you bore him kids, you bought a house or two or three-whatever, you traveled, he bought you gifts, you ran the homes, and paid obeisance to him. That was life. And that was what she was raised to do. The idea of equality in a relationship, or the radical idea of being emotionally naked, being vulnerable, growing personally and so on was completely alien to what she knew.
In spite of her pain, Constance functioned pretty damn well, but she was no where near where she should be. Her sorrow had become her constant companion. She waited for the day when she did not have to think about the life she had dreamed of having; the one where she stayed happily married, the one she was promised in fairy tales.
Sometimes she felt like a ghost. She felt like her body and brain went through the necessary motions to continue being a part of humanity. When her birthday rolled around, she celebrated not because you felt like it, or even wanted to, she did it because that is what humans do. When actually to her, her birthday was just another day, just another meaningless 24 hours.
Happiness and joy had been absent from her life for so long that celebrations did not trigger a sense of giddiness they used to. It was particularly alienating for her to recognize that people around her were busy planning their birthdays, weeks ahead. Recognizing this took her to a time when she used to care. Now she did something so that when those that remember asked,
“Wasn’t it your birthday?”
“Oh yes it was! Look at the beautiful bracelet my husband got me.”
She celebrated her birthday so she could have something to say. She became an expert at life as performance. That was what Blige women after all were great at.
Constance and Dehinde were finally confronted with the questions they had been too afraid to ask themselves. For Ibilola, she was just despondent but determined to survive. All three were undone and each in their own unique way, completely heart broken.
Don’t forget to read the last chapter: Chp 10