Healing Again

Editor-in-chief’s note: When people go through a painful experience which leaves them feeling incapacitated without the aid of a strong support system, a strong need may appear. In order to kill their pain, they may seek out how to translate their emotional pain into a physical one. This story is the true life story of a student who was heartbroken and doubted whether she was strong enough to heal.

I met my Ex during the COVID-19 lockdown in the latter months of 2020. I was a freshman at the university and he was in his third year, at different universities but within the same state. We officially met for the first time one cool evening, I was returning home from the place where I learnt catering. He walked up to me, smiled and asked for my name. Prior to our official meeting, I’d seen him around in my street and said hello a couple of times. We kicked it off from there, chatted for a while and he asked for my number which I gave him. I was learning catering at the time, which I had begun before gaining admission into the university. After we met and exchanged numbers, I saw him more frequently because I would find him waiting for me when I close from the training at the end of the day. He would walk me home almost every day, we would talk about the silliest things, laugh over flimsy things and the smallest jokes; I became fond of him in no time because he was so understanding and easy to talk to. When he asked me to be his girlfriend, I didn’t have to think about it because I felt we connected so well. He was the highlight of my life at that time and I grew to love him so much that I would lose myself to him.

As most love stories go sour, ours began very early - too early for the connection I thought we had. He slowly changed, he became less attentive to me compared to how he was when we started out. I had always been open and shared all I had with him and he hadn’t been reciprocating but I didn’t notice early because I was love drunk. School resumed, our love thrived and it became my thing to visit him in his hostel and spend time together where he stayed outside his school.

Valentine’s day approached, I wanted to go all out, and I did. So I suggested that we should exchange gifts and he agreed. I remembered his love for designer sneakers and out of my naivety and love for him, I broke the bank to get him three new designer sneakers. He was so thrilled when I got to his hostel and gave him the gifts. He professed his undying love for me endlessly and that set my mind at ease some bits. While I was with him, he kept calling a dispatch rider who never came, he was supposed to deliver my valentine’s gift. He became so angry and started threatening that he would have the dispatcher arrested and all sorts. I had to calm him and tell him the gifts didn’t really matter, at least, not more than he mattered, because I had him, his love and that was all I needed. I went home empty-handed but filled with the reassurance that his love for me was more than enough. He never mentioned the gift again and we never talked about it.

One school day, he invited me over and I told him I was busy and couldn’t make it down to his. Fatefully, I finished school works early and went over (without putting a call through that I was coming). The first thing that should have ticked the approaching show off was that he was in shock to see me; it was obvious and he became anxious but I didn’t leave. He was unsettled and went about pacing in the room and acting strangely; his phone kept ringing and he kept going out to pick up the calls. I could tell something was fishy. I got the shock of my life when he came back with a lady and told me to leave because he wanted to take the girl out to celebrate her birthday. I laughed at first, it felt like a joke but when he didn’t flinch, it dawned on me and it felt like a dream. I couldn’t ask him any questions as my brain was already a mess. I picked up my bag and went home. I cried myself to sleep that night. I waited for his call — to apologize, to explain things — but it never came.

Prior to this time, out of curiosity and misgivings, I had gone through his phone and saw the different girls he had asked out, how he had cheated with more than one girl while putting up a facade of faithfulness and commitment to me. I had got an inkling that he didn’t love me anymore and he was using me but my head couldn’t wrap around these facts. It was a hard pill to swallow. Days after, when the pain was too much for me to bear, I resorted to cutting myself on my thighs. I would watch myself bleed and hurt deeply from the pain. All I wanted was for the pain in my heart to become bearable. Some weeks later, he showed up at my house with his mother to beg me. I couldn’t think of what he has told her, why she came with him, why they were begging me to take him back but I could tell that he was wrong for me. However, I feared no one would love me again. I didn’t think I was worthy of love and I accepted him back.

Taking a dive into my family life, my stepmother dealt a big blow to my mental health, she made me feel like I was worthless and told me to my face that I was bad luck and could amount to nothing. My ex was the only corner I felt a bit of love and I held on to the little light of hope he had to offer. My siblings and Dad were oblivious to what was going on with me. I was in my struggle alone. We got back together only for him and his friends to dupe me.

We got back together and everything seemed to return to normal, how we supposed it was. At a time, he said he did some business with his friends but it collapsed and they had to pay back the investors or they would be arrested. This was a business idea he told me nothing about from the beginning but I knew I had to come through for him for his part when he became withdrawn and a shadow of himself. I had to go all out to help him with paying his debt of a hundred thousand naira after he begged and promised he would pay me back. Months later, when he started acting strange and avoiding my calls, I had to piece the puzzle together, ask questions and I discovered the business never happened. He and his friends never owed anybody. It was a lie. Everything from the valentine’s day issue had been a plot by him and his friends to deceive me. We eventually broke up.

I found myself in a dark hole, it was like I didn’t exist. I had no one to talk to or cry to. I would cry for hours, day and night and cut myself when I was alone. The cutting became a norm after a while. I don’t remember how I fully started out, but I grew used to inflicting self-injury. I didn’t care that I was putting myself through so much pain; I just wanted to make the pain in my head, and my heart feels lesser. As one cut healed, I would make another with a blade. I did not wear shorts or dresses that stopped above the knees, so no one noticed or knew my scars. I was almost caught once, the plaster must have left the cut because my dad notice a bloodstain on my dress, I lied that I was on my period and excused myself to clean up. My late mom was my safe space and she was gone. I missed her a whole lot and knew she would not be happy with what I had done with myself. Then, I decided to get help.

I knew I needed help and I went ahead with it. It was hard to put myself out for healing but I knew what my mind was capable of. I was already at the point where I had suicidal thoughts and I knew it could get worse and I’d probably kill myself. I paid for counselling sessions with an online therapist, he was very helpful and we became friends over time. I was able to pull out of the dark space with time. I went back to school and made new friends who I am grateful for. Being active and engrossed with school work has helped to keep me sane. I still have serious trust issues with people but I am learning to heal. I am learning to love myself and care for my mental health; even though I have left the dark hole, I am not ready to get into the dating circle yet, my only goal is to survive each day by loving myself more, loving myself enough.

Written by Yewande Ajetumobi, a fourth year student of the Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos. Yewande is an intermediate front-end developer and an ardent reader. When she is not coding, she is probably doing some digging into some mythology or watching classic movies. She loves Tom Cruise. She loves books, especially the smell of old books. She enjoys conversations with people and her empathetic nature makes her driven to engrave stories on paper for all to travel through and feel as they go through the journey.

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Asido Campus Network

Asido Campus Network

Asido Campus Network is a student led mental health promoting club and the youth arm of the Asido Foundation dedicated in ensuring optimal mental health