My dear Jil, I keep telling you to leave this past alone, to get away from it as fast and as much as you can. If you don’t leave the pain of the past where it belongs, you’ll damage your marriage and your future. You won’t be able to relate well with your husband, and you’ll punish him for the sins of your father. Lots of marriages have broken up not because of present tense but of past participle. And you’re in a losing position here. The man that conditioned your worldview is long gone! You’re fighting a dead man. How can you win? Continue reading
Dear Jil, the late Arch Bishop Benson Idahosa was a most interesting man. He had all these anecdotes, some so hilarious; but they were nuggets of wisdom. He famously illustrated a piece of wisdom with the story of two Volkswagen Beetles. You have a flat tyre, you drive a Beetle. Your neighbor has an extra tyre, he drives a Beetle. Why pray for tyre, he asked! The lessons are myriad, the simplest being the unnecessary spiritualization of commonsensical situations. And the unnecessary complication of otherwise linear decisions. Now, what I’m going to say to you is going to rub some religious folks the wrong way, but that’s okay.
My dear Jack, everybody has a past. Our periods of reckoning may differ but everyone has a past. A past we don’t consider a past is still a past. And the past stretches all the way back – farther than we ever want to acknowledge, or imagine. It stretches all the way back into our family history. At least that’s what society calls a past. Society insists you’re an agent of your family history.
The reason we never see the horizon of our past is not because it stretches so far out. It’s because of the nature of memories. Memories can be sanctimonious, hypocritical and self righteous, which is an irony considering memories are treacherous. Another thing about memories is that they’re prejudiced, jaundiced and discriminatory. Memories are discriminatory against full truths. They embrace half truths. We can even say memories are racist. They maintain prejudice against truths of certain colouration. And they choose what they want to remember and discard all else into life’s recycle bin. So be careful about pointing fingers at someone’s past. Your memory might just be playing a trick on you about yours.
Now, here’s what I don’t get. You wanted to know about your fiancée’s past… You weren’t requesting for benign details – the type of stuff that will populate a bio. No. By past you meant her sexual history – how many men she’s slept with and all that tasteless details of her life. Truth is, you wanted to voyeur on her coition history – obtain sexual titillation from privileged access to buried puerility. Such privileged data you believed will make you closer. You’re sharing secrets in secret after all. Just two of you.
Because you persisted and insisted, and wanting to be honest and sincere she told you the whole truth. And now you can’t handle it. You can’t handle the truth you ordered. If she didn’t tell you the truth and at some point you discover an undisclosed fact, you’ll accuse her of concealment. And knowing the way we think as men you’ll infer all sorts of things, doubting other truths she’s told you. You’ll project and contend you can’t trust her again. You’ll be afraid of being cuckolded. Every time she walks out of the room to answer a call your mind will wonder. Whereas she walked out not to disturb you. Sometimes we ask for what we can’t handle. If you can’t handle the truth don’t place an order for it. If you must insist on being Mungo Park or Christopher Columbus, making a voyage of discovery into the past, be sure to have the stomach for exploration. There’s something called mal de mer – sea sickness. Yes, in her past she’s slept with more men than you’d wanted to accommodate.Â In fact, you’ll prefer her to be a virgin. But she’s not. You can’t erase that fact. Can’t do time travel to alter her past. If you erase the past you won’t have the present. That’s the paradox of life. We’re products of history.
At some point you’ll have to decide if virginity is what you want, or a beautiful marriage. The woman you’re judging is not the woman you fell in love with. By your account she’s a wonderful woman. Yes, she was sexually effervescent growing up but you can’t have her without accepting her past. I’m not trying to excuse her past. That’s a misnomer. There’s nothing to excuse. It’s just what it is. You’re either going to keep judging Mary Magdalene on account of her past, or you’re going to accept her for the godly and wonderful woman she became. It’s up to you.
Now, if you decide not to go ahead with the wedding, that’s okay. It’s your appanage and prerogative. And no one can judge you on that. What you can’t handle, you can’t handle. But I’ve seen life, and I can tell you a lot about life. When you meet that woman, you just know she’s the one. She’ll pass effortlessly all your secret tests. She’ll hurdle your clandestine exams without being aware. Your values will sync, your character inclinations too even if personalities differ. There’ll be this peace inside you. And that peace will keep returning however you subject your decision to doubt. You will know that you know that you know that this woman loves you. You’ll know she genuinely cares about you. She’ll be identified with you, so naturally. No contrivances, no manipulation, no wanting to become. She just is. You’ll look at her and wonder what manner of being she is, and why you’re so blessed. The things that concern you are her concern. She’ll want to be with you, give up things for you. You’ll feel at home with her. You’ll just be yourself with her. She’ll be a comfort to you – your sea of forgetfulness – a mellifluous drowning of the harsh realities of life. When you meet your woman you will know. And nothing else will matter.
If this woman gives you the above listed consolations I’d say be careful about losing her. Your virginity test may well be a technical disqualification of certain happiness. Everyone has a past. I’ll say go away – take two days or three days off to examine things, to arrive at a conclusion. It’s important you’re convinced about your matrimonial decision. Without that conviction life will send her minions after you – Fear and Doubt. They’ll always lurk outside your door. Without that conviction, if there’s a delay in conception you’ll blame it on her past, rightly or wrongly. If your decision is adverse, without conviction you will have regrets in the future about not marrying her. You’ll always wonder what could have been. Life has ways of recasting probabilities in dark shades of regret.
If you do decide to go on with the wedding however, then set your face like a flint and love her for who you know. There’s more to life than the past.
Your mentor, LA.
© Leke Alder 2014
Let me pretend this morning to understand where you’re at…that I know your pain. I pretend because no one can ever feel what you feel. No one can know the hurt. Such pain is individualised. Too many people theorise prescriptions about getting over hurt and pain. They’ve never been hurt in a relationship. I do understand how holding on to the pain can seem so natural. The pain actually keeps coming back at you, on its own.