Strong Women Don’t Quit! They Stay.

“Stop it Craig! You’re hurting me!” I said as I tried to defend myself. What is he holding this time round, a sharp object. My husband had done this a number of times but he’s never brought a kitchen knife. I literally freaked out because I didn’t know what that man was planning to do. He had just come from work, he was carrying a gift box and roses besides his briefcase. I was happy to see him back home, I had already dressed up because we were to go for a dinner date. As usual I went and hugged him, took the briefcase, removed his coat and shoes then ushered him in.

He acted so different on that day, I thought that maybe he wasn’t in good moods or it was just pressure from work. “Who is Mike and for how long have you been having an affair? ” Before I even uttered a word I was on the floor.He gave me the note attached to the rose flowers and ordered me to read aloud. “You’ll forever be my sweetheart, I love you,” from Mike. He gave me the gift box and asked me to unwrap it. Inside was a perfume and a necklace. The moment I saw the perfume I clearly knew who had sent the gift, but I was shocked coz we didn’t have an affair at the moment. I was absent minded for a minute. Craig had left the room and came back carrying something in his right hand. He fixed me to the wall and looked at me closely. “If I can’t have you then no one else will.” He was carrying a kitchen knife, I had never been that terrified. I pleaded for mercy, he dropped the knife and let go of me. I tried to explain amidst sobs that I really had nothing to do with Mike and that he was my ex lover. Ever since I met Craig, I had never even talked to him.

During my days as a young girl, I had never thought that I could some day stay in an abusive relationship. Craig was convinced by my explanation because he knew I am an honest person. He went down on his knees, “I am so sorry my wife, I knew you could never do this but I don’t know what came over me. Please forgive me.” From the expression on his face he was sincerely sorry. I had made up my mind to leave though it wasn’t the first time. I had always packed my stuff and failed to leave or even when I left I could come back after a week or two. “I am a strong woman,” I kept telling myself each time so I had to stay. Okay, what defines a strong woman? They say she never quits ,she perseveres for the sake of love and her children.I packed a few clothes and some essentials in a medium sized suitcase. “What about my babies?” I asked myself. They were upstairs with the house help, she locked them up in the bedroom so they didn’t witness the scenario. Jimmy was three and Tonia was five.

I was undecided whether to bid them goodbye or not because I didn’t want them to see me in the condition that I was in. I made up my mind to go, they were sitting on the bed, close to one another holding their hands. They hugged me so tight. “Mummy, you’ll be alright, please take us with you, don’t leave us behind.” said Tonia. That statement pierced my heart. That’s how I didn’t leave.I had caught my husband cheating twice and I forgave him because I’m a strong woman, they say strong women don’t quit. This same man almost killed me for just suspecting that I was cheating on him, he actually found out that I wasn’t. There’s a time I went home after a thorough beating. Craig had come home drunk, he was jovial and kept smiling. His phone was ringing, he hesitated to pick the call but due to persistence he really had to. I already knew something was wrong somewhere because I could clearly see lipstick marks on his shirt. “Hello darling, I miss you already ,” a soft voice spoke on the other end. “I’ll call you right back,” is all Craig said before hanging up. The moment I asked who had called and why there were lipstick marks on his shirt, he hit me so hard, that’s all I can remember. It’s like I became unconscious, I woke up in a hospital room. He was sitting on a chair just beside the bed. I stared at him, tears rolled down my cheeks, I just remembered that he had hit me, I already knew why I was in hospital. He looked guilty and sorry. “My dear husband, when did the rain start beating us?” I asked myself. “I’m happy to see you open your eyes Rita, you’re the love of my life, if I was to marry again, I’d still choose you. Please forgive me.” A nurse suddenly came in, she asked how I was feeling and said I’d get discharged in the evening, she then left.

I was back home, I was planning to leave the following day to go to my parents home though I didn’t want him to find out. The moment I set my eyes on mama, I began to cry, she definitely knew something was wrong with me. We were seated at the backyard, I was pouring out my heart, she was listening. “Mama, I can’t take it anymore, I want to quit,” that was my last sentence. She talked to me for about an hour and her last sentence was, “Rita my daughter, strong women never quit, your children need their dad.” That evening mama and I went for a nature walk, we had lots of fun, I forgot all my problems. The next day I went back to my home in the evening. My kids were happy to see me back. Craig came back from work a little bit early. He asked me to prepare because he had booked a flight for the two of us and that we’d be away for three days. That was his way of apologising, each and every time he hurt me he apologised in a nice way till I got convinced that he was really sorry. There’s a time he even bought me my dream car.

The next day we were up so early to get ready, we were to fly to Simba island, I was so excited because I really wanted to be away for a while in a different environment. My whole experience in the island was amazing, we had really good time. My husband and I had lengthy discussions and we decided to get in touch with with a marriage counselor. I tried by all means to make our marriage work, I even prayed and fasted for this son of a woman to change but nothing happened, but I wasn’t just going to give up, I kept pressing on.I was an almost perfect wife but I didn’t really understand why my husband was just messing up our marriage. We started having marriage counseling sessions and I got to learn that my husband had an abusive dad who used to beat up his mum, as a result he thought that that’s how a man should deal with his frustrations. This man surely needed to heal from his childhood experiences and reconcile with his past. After six months of counseling I saw light at the end of the tunnel. For all that while he didn’t lay his hands on me, that was his turning point.

I am writing this seated in my office as I wait to see my clients in the afternoon. I am a marriage counselor, I deal with those who have domestic violence issues. I’ve been married for twenty years now and the last time my husband hit me was fourteen years ago. After months of marriage counseling and years of praying, everything turned around, we’re a happy family now with five kids. Okay, the truth of the matter is; No woman or man deserves to be battered by the spouse. It’s not like people should comfortably stay in such kind of marriages but you get to also know that divorce is not the best option. That’s just one of the phrases I frequently tell my clients. If you’re a victim of domestic violence, don’t keep it to yourself, share with trusted people around you and if need be, seek counseling. I remember I used to shy away from talking to people around me about what I was going through, the more I kept silent, the more I felt hurt. There’s a time I decided to share with a friend and she suggested about counseling sessions and even referred me to a counselor. She even opened up and told me that she was once a victim and the counseling sessions really helped them. Let’s join hands together to fight domestic violence, yes, both you and I have a role to play.

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Look! He’s trying to take my life…

Hey you sister, you’ve been lying in that bed for the past twenty four hours. Don’t you get tired? Get up! For how long are you still going to allow him take over your life? Tell me… So you won’t eat because you’re trying to convince yourself that you’ve lost appetite. You haven’t lost appetite babygirl, stop assuming. Don’t tell me you’re tolerating this thief, the thief of all joy.

Look! He’s knocking every door and whenever the door is opened to him he jumps in. You did a great mistake, you couldn’t have opened the door but still you can push him out. He’s such a liar! He has made you believe that life is no longer worth living and you’re beginning to compromise. Don’t be deceived girl, do you remember two years ago you were in the same situation, when you felt like you would never find a solution but it all came to pass. Even this shall come to pass believe me, it will come to an end but what you do in the meantime matters a lot.

Why do you have all those pills by your bedside? You’ve been contemplating for all that while. That is enough explanation as to why you’re not ready for it. You’ve allowed him to convince you that all shall be well when you’re no more. I’m surprised how you’re easily giving in to his lies. “I think I need to go home and rest in eternal peace,” you say to yourself. Well, have you finished your assignment? Have you fulfilled your purpose? Definitely your answer to these questions is No… How then are you going to account for that! You have no idea, right!

What makes you think that going home is the best decision? Come back to your senses girl. Right now you feel like you’re all alone and that nobody really cares about you, you’re wrong. There are people out there who love you and really care for you. You’re too busy to realize because all you can see around you are four walls. Would you please think outside the four walls even for a minute. I hope you realize that there’s more to life. This is just part of the story of your life. Who is going to tell your story when you’re gone? You have to live to tell it. I’m sure it’s going to be an inspiration to one, two or more people.

I dare you to get out of that bed and go on your knees, say a word of prayer, take a glass of water and then take a shower. Dress up and go outside just to get a glimpse of the beauty outside. You could go ahead and visit a park or just a cool place where you can enjoy nature. Walk around, look at the beautiful trees, breathe the fresh air, listen to the birds. Find a place to sit, you could tune in to some soft music in a low volume. Take out your journal/notebook and pen, think about your life, the people who love you, those who believe in you and those who look up to you. Write something, you’re just making a memory, you’re writing a part of the story of your life. Have this in your mind always, “You’re beautiful, you’re loved, you’re a queen, you’re strong, you’re a warrior, an empress, an overcomer, a conqueror, a winner, you’re happy, you’re blessed.” Never allow him to tell you the opposite.

If you’ve ever had an experience with him(depression) that led to suicidal thoughts and you’re reading this, I celebrate you, you’re a hero.

Self Worth Vs Net Worth

“Your net worth is determined by your self worth ,” so they say. No it’s a big lie. Your self worth is far much valuable but the vice versa is what it world has taught us to believe. Nowadays who you are is determined by your social status, the number of followers you have on the social media platforms, the number of likes you get for your posts, the car you drive and so on. It’s a society whereby the first class always have a say and are perceived to have a high self worth.

The struggle is real. With the mentality that the upcoming generation have, they do whatever it takes to try to fit in. ‘Fake it till you make it,’ is the slogan that goes around. Yes they do it, faking lives they don’t live normally, just so they have pictures to update their social media platforms. Somebody would literally show off a borrowed or hired car to look ‘cool. ‘ Everybody wants to look like they have a posh lifestyle.

In this twenty first century… You’ve all heard this before being mentioned by somebody. We’re living at a time where self worth doesn’t really matter, it has lost value to net worth . Ladies are barely dressed in the streets, it’s no longer an issue, in fact it’s viewed as ‘cool ‘ by many.

Come on my dear brothers and sisters, why struggle to live a life that is not yours? Be yourself, live your life, do what makes you happy. Don’t let your actions be determined by social media or what the world has trained you to believe. We have to understand that people are not equal , one could be a billionaire or have a million followers on Instagram ,it’s okay. If you have only a hundred followers, it’s still okay. This doesn’t mean you’re less a human being ,you’re just doing fine, don’t struggle so much to imitate the other person’s lifestyle to look like him/her. Meanwhile it’s still self worth over net worth.

Till Death Do Us Part

“…I will love you till death do us part. ” She says as tears of joy roll down her cheeks. She tries to withhold her tears but the emotions are even much stronger. She looks directly into his watery eyes at the moment. Wow! He looks more handsome than he’s ever been before. He stares into her eyes… What a jewel! Would this day ever come to pass? It’s a dream come true.

He speaks out his vows. That deep voice of his can never go unnoticed. “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen”. The ring slowly goes down her finger. Pure silver and little diamond decorations, it’s sparkling and looking so beautiful, complemented by her long fingers and almond shaped nails. And now May the groom kiss the bride. She shyly looks down and then straight into his eyes…

The applause from the congregation . She has mixed feelings, leaving her parents for her newly wedded husband. She’s officially taken and acquires a new tittle Mrs… She imagines how it feels waking up to the same face everyday. They say marriage is not a bed of roses, this makes her think even more. She’s even going to be part of a new family and she really has to fit in perfectly just like the jig saw .

He smiles broadly. This is truly an achievement, he couldn’t believe he had done it. Yes he had! She had a charming smile that revealed her perfect dental formular, leave alone the bewitching gap between her teeth. It’s indeed an answered prayer, he has the real definition of a Proverbs 31 woman for a wife. ‘Happily ever after ‘ is what everyone expects.

Myself

My name is Jackqueline Atieno Okumu. I’m a Luo by birth but Kenyan by nature. I love writing, cooking, sleeping,  swimming, reading and travelling. I also love nature because of it’s appealing beauty. I fear heights, darkness and snakes. I won’t say I’m antisocial but I really don’t like mingling or interacting with many people.

What most people don’t know about me is that I’m so talkative. I really don’t like attention and I like to keep a low profile. I’m kinda shy but I would never want people to realize. I’m strongly in love with the rich African culture…

To be continued…