Lessons from hits and misses in my love life

I believe in miracles. I really do, because nothing else can explain how I made it through my 20s and 30s. Nothing, but the grace of God, and the indulgence of the universe. I was a wild child. I thought I knew it all while in fact I knew very little. My mind was bursting with other people’s ideas, but I hadn’t quite figured out how to apply them to my own life.

If one had tested me on my theories of everything, I would have passed with flying colours. But in the real world, those theories were worthless. They were untried and completely impractical. The connection between my mind and heart was unformed; I was like a fully-equipped, fully-stocked factory that couldn’t run because the operators hadn’t learned how to operate the machines. My emotional quotient (EQ) output was nil.

So, I fumbled and bumbled through the motions of living, groping around in the darkness of my baby consciousness, and bouncing from one strange experience to the next. It wasn’t all bad, though. Some of it was bad and funny. Like the nights I would drive to this guy’s house circa 2am and knock on the gate for up to an hour. Note, as I was knocking, I was calling him and he’s wasn’t picking. Eventually, he’d switch off his phone, but I was not one to be deterred. Without even a hint of shame, I would climb over the gate, play nice with the guard dogs, and proceed to knock on the door of the SQ where he lived.

A nightmare

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I’d spend another half an hour rapping my knuckles on the door, while he remained silent, perfecting the art of wilful non-responsiveness. Eventually, his sister, who lived in the main house, would have mercy on me. She’d let me in and give me a bed to sleep in. In the morning, her idiot brother would amble leisurely into the house for breakfast, find me drinking juice and eating dry toast, and say, ‘Haiya, kwani what time did you fika?’

My eyes would roll so far back in my head I’d have to shake it to bring them back around again. But two, three days later, I would take myself to his gate again and the same scene would play out like a nightmare. I don’t know what finally convinced me to hit the stop button, but one day I just wasn’t that into him anymore. I’m certain that the only emotion he felt towards me was relief when I finally walked away.

Then there was this other guy who refused to accept the monogamy principle. It was as if he had a nervous tick that would trip him up, after which he would land conveniently in some other woman’s bed. Women were snacks he consumed guilt-free as if having multiple partners was well within the order of nature.

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Hit redial

He was rabidly polyamorous, but he would often forget or neglect to obtain the consent of all the parties involved. You would think they would have, but those bad-boy antics didn’t faze me in the slightest. I still asked to be added to the Wozzap group.

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Thing is, he was not very good at picking up his phone or responding to text messages. So, I would literally put him on speed dial and hit redial repeatedly for long stretches of time. The phone would ring and ring and ring with no answer. Disgruntled, I’d then send a barrage of texts that started off conciliatory but quickly turned to wrath. In the end, I would delete his number in a fit of rage. Twenty, maybe thirty minutes later, I would want to call again, but because I hadn’t crammed the number I was stuck. So, what would I do? I’d call Safaricom and ask the service representative to read out the last number I dialled from my phone, and the speed-dial game would begin again.

If you had judged me by my behaviour you would have thought I was raised by apes. Truth is, I had sisters and cousins who showed me how functioning relationships work. I paid them no mind and ended up on the path of dysfunction. I’m happy to report that I came to the end of that dusty road. Happy, but sad.  Last week, one of the women who truly modelled what true love looks like lost her soulmate, her best friend, and her confidant of 28 years. She and her children must now continue the journey alone. I think about her loss and marvel at the recklessness and stupidity of my youth. I thought life lasts forever. It does not. Fare thee well, John Makyo Lwande. 

Ms Masiga is Peace and Security Editor, The Conversation Africa

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Julie Masiga