Bad Love


“I don’t even know why we started dating.” Leila tells me.

“Why?” I ask?

She tells me that he wasn’t even her type. Like looking at him now, she wouldn’t date him. He wouldn’t even cross her mind as someone that she’d date. But she was a first year student in campus and there’s something about first years and dating. It is like they are let off the leash and are in this mad rush to date anyone that says hi to them.

“It’s sort of peer pressure,” she says “everyone around me was dating so it was kinda hard for me to not date as well.”

Campus was far from home, about 300 kilometers away. She had spent most of her life away from home, in boarding schools since her primary school days so there was nothing new, she’d gotten used to it. The only thing that changed now was the fact that she had loads of freedom.

She didn’t like to live in campus, she preferred off campus. So she found a hostel to rent. She loved the off campus life. The guy, let’s call him Mr. Douchebag lived in campus. He was a man of the people so he needed to live where the people were. He also had political ambitions; he wanted to vie for the Secretary General seat in the students’ union.

Douche looked like a serious kind of guy. The kind of guys who, on the outside, look like they have everything figured out. But looks are often deceiving. Leila would soon understand why the old men full of wisdom would say that not all that glitters is gold. In a few months of dating, Douche moved from his in campus room and to a hostel room near Leila’s hostel. He, all of a sudden, didn’t like being in campus. The visits became more frequent now that they were closer. There is many a night that she would spend the weekend in his room and vice versa. It was turning out to be one of those dream campus relationships.

Their love blossomed and it seemed that things were only going to get better with time but Douche started acting weird.

“I remember that he would come to my place and carry something to his room. I didn’t understand what he was doing but before long, most of my things were in his room.” Leila says.

“Did you ask why he was doing this?” I ponder loudly.

“I didn’t ask. I wasn’t thinking of it then. I was really naïve.” Explains Leila.

Douche then told her that he had a bit of a challenge making his rent payments. He asked her to help him out at least until he got back onto his feet. She obliged. After all, what is love if you can’t help your man out when he’s struggling? What she didn’t realize was that it wasn’t a short-term thing; she was in it for the long haul.

Leila was now paying rent for two hostel rooms but she didn’t think much about it. She was in love and love can make you do all manner of things. Douche kept moving her things to his place and with time almost all her things were now in his room, which she was paying for.

“What followed after was a bit more shocking. It jilted me,” She says. “He said that I should move into his room. His logic was that there was no need to pay rent for two rooms. He said that he just wanted me to be comfortable.”

She didn’t want to move in with him. She loved her room. She preferred her room. She loved her space. But he had most of her stuff so her hands were tied. She had to move in. Her moving in was the worst decision of her life yet. Living with Douche exposed his ugly side.

“He was overly possessive. He didn’t want me talking to anyone, even to my girlfriends. He also became abusive physically, verbally and sexually.” A teary Leila tells me.

She tells me that there is nothing conceivable where abuse is concerned that Douche didn’t do to her. All this while threatening her that he would kill her if she ever uttered a word of it to anyone. They were classmates and this gave him the opportunity to monitor her closely.

“I could hardly talk to anyone in class without him intervening. He ensured that I wasn’t ever alone with anyone. We would walk to class together and leave together. We would go for parties together, we did everything together. I had become his possession, he would never let me out of his sight, not once.” Leila narrates.

I sat and wondered how such a confident, beautiful young woman would let a man control her life to this level. I couldn’t figure it out.

“Why did you tolerate it though? Do you think it has anything to do with your family background?” I ask.

“I don’t think it had anything to do with my family, no! I think I just stayed because everyone expected us to be together,” Leila says. “See we were the perfect campus couple. You should have seen us dressed in matching attire and walk together hand in hand allover campus. It was everything a freshman wanted in a relationship.”

To the public, Leila and Douche looked like the best couple ever but in private, Leila was enduring abuse on a daily basis. She tells me that she didn’t understand this guy. One minute he would be beating on her or forcing himself on her, the next minute, he would be calling her all manner of sweet names. It is like he had split personalities.

“One time Douche walked into the room and found me chatting away on my phone. He didn’t even ask with whom I was chatting with. He just snatched my phone from my hand and threw it violently to the floor breaking it into pieces. I had to ask my friend from Nairobi to send me a phone because I didn’t want my family to get worried when they couldn’t reach me on phone.” Leila narrates.

“How did you handle all this?” I ask Leila.

“The abuse and violence led me to clubbing and excessive drinking. I would club and drink to numb my pain. I became depressed.” She says.

Leila was a first year student, sucked into a toxic relationship that she didn’t know how to get out of. She showed me photos of days Douche had beaten her up and given her black eyes yet she didn’t leave him.

“Where was I going to leave and go Mwendwa? The guy had taken everything I owned and taken control of my life. I was now his captive. He would show me public display of affection when we went out and beat me up when we got back into the room.” She says.

So Leila went out clubbing one day. She was drinking herself into a stupor when this guy noticed her and started talking to her. He asked her how she was; she said she was just fine. He told her that she wasn’t fine; she ignored him and told him that she was fine. She didn’t want to talk about it. But he pestered her. He refused to be ignored.

“He kept insisting on me not being fine until I broke down. I told him everything. I told him everything about Douche. For once I didn’t care what he would do to me. I was done. I didn’t care that he’d beat me up, I just didn’t care anymore.” Leila says.

True to her expectations, she did get a beating, but she decided that that would be the last time that he’d ever lay a finger on him. She packed up her few clothes and left the room. She found refuge in a friend’s room for a while before she found a place of her own. She had finally broken free.

But Douche still had her stuff, all of it.

“I got a few of my male friends to go and get my things. We went to Douche’s place but when we got there, he became dramatic. It was like I was his wife. I couldn’t take his drama, I decided that he could keep the stuff.” Leila tells me.

She got out of it with scars, a broken heart and a bucket full of lessons but at least she got out. I ask her what her most salient lesson from this toxic relationship was?

She composes herself as though ready to deliver a closing argument before a grand jury.

“I learnt that my own happiness is way more important than anything else. It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks of you, as long as you are not happy, it’s useless. Ignore everyone else’s thoughts and expectations as long as they stand in the way of your happiness,” Leila pauses, a blank stare on her face.

“Mwendwa, there are people who are stuck in relationships because they wonder what people will say if they break up. People value other people’s opinions more than they value their own happiness. I learnt to put myself first and everyone else after. It’s not selfishness, it’s wisdom.”

Love yourself enough to know when it is time to get out. No matter how many people are cheering you on, never take poison to please people. The wise man knows when it is time for them to leave.

There’s love and then there’s toxicity, know the difference.

  1. I think some of these stories should be published on campus vibe publication…itaokolea wengi…Thank you for this one

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