Being The other woman

By Drum Digital
17 December 2014

Surviving an abusive relationship has taught Lindi Mashaba* that self-love is the most important kind of love

ONE SUNDAY my friends and I were enjoying a meal like we always do. My cousin had invited some friends over and I couldn’t help but notice this handsome man,  who was clearly overconfident. He knew how to make his presence felt; there was no way I could not have noticed him.

When he started talking to me, I was so impressed with his listening skills, along with all the achievements he had made, especially because he was so young. More than anything, I was impressed that he was single!

Two weeks later, we started dating. He was incredibly ambitious and always motivated me to do better. We’d spend days in each other’s company. At times, I felt I was dating greatness. And then the trouble started . . .

According to his Facebook profile, he was in a relationship with a woman he had studied with. When I enquired about his status, he removed it. I was thrilled by this gesture as this confirmed that he was done with his ex. However, he wasn’t ready

to announce to the world that we were in a relationship. I understood, largely because I thought it was too soon to publicly replace her with me. Did I mention that he was a qualified lawyer and I was merely a student struggling to complete my law degree?

One Thursday afternoon his ex-girlfriend’s mom called him. I couldn’t understand why so I sent a friend of mine a Please Call Me in the hopes that my boyfriend would want to know who was calling me. In that way, I could ask what the mother wanted. My plan to make him jealous worked all too well. I got such a beating! That was the first time he’d hit me, and not the last. Suddenly our relationship soured. All we would do was fight and make up. I loved him so much that I saw nothing wrong with our relationship, even though we fought in front of friends and when we were alone.

I had become isolated too, choosing him over my pals. I desperately wanted to be Mrs Smith* and I lost myself in the process. I wanted to be perfect because he often compared me to his flawless ex, so I went to all sorts of extremes so that he could consider me to be wife material.

Then December came, and he went home. He didn’t return my SMSes or my calls. On one occasion he told me to stop phoning so much. I was broken, sad and felt unloved. I missed being with him. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that the ex was back. Eventually he told me

to accept the fact that she would always be a part of his life.

I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t picture myself as the other woman and realised I needed to break free. Being with him (and her) made me feel less important

– wasn’t I beautiful enough for him?

After sobbing for days, I tried to figure out who I was and where I was going. Now when I look in the mirror I see the beauty that was hidden by all the comparisons to other people. I realised that I’m imperfectly perfect.

I decided to live my life without him. And I chose to live for me, not in the shadow of someone else. Since then, this quote has stuck with me: “People come into our lives for a purpose, they’re meant to be part of our journey, but not all of them will stay”.

As I move forward, I wake up every day and acknowledge the beauty that God has installed in me; he gave me a heart of gold.

If I was able to love my ex that much then I’ll be able to love someone else – someone who loves me in the way I want to be loved. My life has become more meaningful as I’ve learnt to appreciate me. I’m happy and I can only hope he is too . . .

*Not her real name

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