I went on a date recently with a fellow South African; one would have thought the cultural similarity would bring people together, one would have thought!
His story was one of woe, a story where he was the victim, a victim of ‘entrapment’ and lies and deceit. He told me how his second wife fell pregnant and whilst he did not love her, he did the noble thing of taking on his responsibility and marrying her because that is what South Africans did unlike the Belgians. His marriage, as it was clearly wrong for him- ended. It ended after having a further 2 children. His anger and bitterness towards his ex-wife made him rather unlikeable, so much so, that I was relieved to be free of his presence. He seemed to carry a poison about him that contaminated the way he saw the world and the way he saw people.
It made me realise that I too have been a poisonous vessel. The story I told people made me the victim too, my husband had an affair, it was all his fault. I have carried that angry bitterness too.
I wondered if my ex-husband told a similar story; I fell pregnant, he was forced to marry me. He never loved me, life took over so to keep me happy or conform to society we had another child. I wonder if that is the truth he told others just like the South African man I met.
And yet this man managed to anger me because it made me wonder if my ex ever loved me. It made me sad too because if his truth, is the truth my ex-husband holds, it makes a mockery out of our 18 years together. It means I have never truly experienced the love of a man.
The truth lies somewhere and sadly my ex-husband and I hurt each other too much for me to ever ask him the question, “did he marry me because he loved me or because of our child?”
And for my children’s sake I try to hold the belief that he married me because he loved me.
The story I now tell the men I meet is that life beat us, we did well given our circumstances. There were good times but it got too hard.
And I hope my truth now does not make me a victim or bitter or poisonous but rather more respectful to the man I once was so in love with.