Eight years ago, I was a fresh student at the university. That was where I met a guy named Mike. Mike wasn’t a student. He was working with his uncle. The money from the business was good, so he saw no need to pursue higher education. I liked him right from the start and I saw a future in him.

After months of being friends, he finally proposed to me. I said yes to him. When it comes to love the heart acts differently. When it comes to the man you love, you act differently too. You don’t play hard to get because what’s the point? I knew all along that I wanted to be with him so when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped for it.

When it comes to love the heart acts differently.

Everything was new. New things are beautiful. Beautiful things bring excitement so we were always happy. My happiness also came from the fact that he was my first ever boyfriend. I had a heart that was capable of love but I took my time looking to give it away to someone who was worthy of who I’d grown to become. It was the reason I waited for that long. In a conversation with him, I said, “You’re my first. I’ve never given myself to anybody until you came along. Everything here is brand new. I’ve never done it before. I hope you get what I’m saying?”

Of course, he got it. He wasn’t a kid so he knew what I was saying. His response was, “It’s okay. We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. I will wait until you are ready.” True to his words, he never pressured me to do it. He never put my back against the wall and asked if I was ready to be taken. He was a perfect gentleman. He took his time with me and I loved him very much for that.

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On weekends when I had no lectures, I dedicated all day to him. We went on a date. Once in a while, he’ll surprise me with a gift. I’m not the kind of girl who sits back and receive without giving anything back so whenever he gave me something, I tried to give him something bigger than he gave me. It was like a sport; he brings a handkerchief and I give him a whole cloth. He serves me on a platter and I give him golden cutlery in return. Things were that comfortable between us except for one bottleneck. All the while we were playing lovey-dovey, I knew just one friend of his. I didn’t know a relative, a sister, or a brother. It was only him and that boy that I knew.

He once visited me in church so I used the opportunity to introduce him to my family. I expected him to do the same but for so long he wasn’t picking the clue. I asked him, “When will I meet someone from your family?” His answer was; “Relax. Everything comes with time.” I figured he needed more time before he introduces me to his people. I didn’t push him. I didn’t force my way through. I relied on time to bring the day when I will meet his family.

And then one evening I had a call from a lady. She introduced herself as Mike’s sister. A light flickered in my mind. I said in my head, “Oh wow, at long last the day is here. The day I get to speak to Mike’s kindred. The lady asked a lot of questions about us and I gleefully answered. “Who are you?” What are you to my brother? How far have you gone with him? Is he a good person?” Those lines of questions. I answered her in honesty and in all the happiness I could muster. Later that evening, Mike called and was very angry about something. “Why did you talk to that lady? Why were you giving her all those answers?” I said in my head, “Oh, you’re angry because I spoke to someone from your family?” His anger didn’t bother me. I had spoken to a family member and that was all I cared about.

One Saturday morning when tempers had calmed, he called me. He said, “Meet me in town right now.” I didn’t ask where and I didn’t ask why. I knew what he meant so I jumped up, dressed up, and set off to meet him in town. We entered a unisex boutique when I got there. He led me to the shirts aisle and said, “Choose the best shirt in your opinion and let’s see.” I picked my favorite on the rack. He bought two of them—one in his size and the other in my size. I thought to myself, “He wants us to wear matching outfits? Wow, that’s romantic.” The next aisle we went to was the sneaker’s section. Again, he asked me to choose what I thought was beautiful. I did and he bought two pairs—one in my size and the other in his size. At that moment I couldn’t stand there without asking any questions so I asked, “What is this all about?” He just looked at me and smiled.

I didn’t even realize I was crying until I saw teardrops on my phone’s screen.

We left the boutique and went to campus together. He left me on campus without giving me any of those things we bought. We spoke every day but he never mentioned the stuff we bought and what he planned to do with them. A week or two later, I was on Facebook when I came across his post. It was a picture of him next to a very beautiful girl. I didn’t think anything at the first sight. I mean it could be his sister or even a cousin. On a second look, something else caught my attention. The dress they were wearing. It looked the same as the dress I went to buy with him at the boutique. The outfits I thought were his and mine. He was matching outfits with a girl who wasn’t me.

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If what I was looking at wasn’t enough to prove anything, the comment section had all the gist I needed to know who the lady was. One said, “You two look beautiful together.” Another one said, “Your girl always glows when you two are together.” The rest of the commenters were wishing the lady a happy birthday.

Slowly the meaning of what I was seeing dawned on me. He went with me, his girlfriend, to buy a birthday present for his other girlfriend. Does it even make sense? Who does that? I didn’t even realize I was crying until I saw teardrops on my phone’s screen. I needed answers so I called his phone.

I called him twice but he didn’t answer my calls. Hours later, he called back. I was still crying. He said, “Serwaah, I can explain.”

He was dating the lady before I came into the picture. Things were terrible between them so they split up, giving each other the space to think things over. Then I came into the frame to fill the gap he was experiencing. Along the line, they rekindled their love story just in time before the lady’s birthday. I was there to do the work so he chose me to go shopping and buy the things that were meant for their come back. How crazy does that sound? If I did something wrong and he punished me that way I would have understood him. Nothing wrong was said or done but I got treated the way he did.

Everything started to make sense. The lady who called and told me was she was Mike’s sister. She wasn’t really Mike’s sister. That lady was the same lady he wore the matching outfit with. The girl called to verify what she had heard about me. That also makes me understand Mike’s anger that day. It wasn’t a wave of empty anger. It was because I gave answers to a girl he was still looking forward to making up with. I was the pawn in their game of chess but eventually, they won while I coiled in my bed listening to the sound of my heart breaking.

I became disillusioned. Matters of love didn’t excite me any longer. He came with an apology but it didn’t fix what was broken. I let him go so I could mend properly.

Everything comes out of something; babies from the womb and trees from the ground. Chicken from the egg and honey from the bee. Out of my heartbreak grew total insecurity towards men. I am always overthinking and overanalyzing things. I don’t trust anything any man tells me anymore.

I’ve been in two relationships since Mike. They both broke up with me before things got serious. They both called me clingy and questioned my trust issues. The last guy said, “It would be difficult for you to find someone who will put up with your insecurities.” I wasn’t born with insecurities. I learned it from their kind and now I’m the one suffering a series of relationship break down.

–Joy, Silent Beads