I Didn’t Know Much by Nwokedi Kenechukwu

Photo Source: Instagram @therealkaycee_ 

I didn’t know much, but I knew this was funny: The man who cheated on me a few days after we began a relationship sent me a one-thousand word breakup text beginning with a Maya Angelou quote – you know, the slightly annoying one about “people showing you who they are the first time”. I chuckled. The irony. 

I didn’t know much, but I knew this was strange: The night I received that text, I was on the phone with my best friend who I fell out with over anxieties about how our friendship would function outside a controlled environment. I told her I fucked some of the boys in our program and was too ashamed to tell her about it at the time. She laughed and called me an easy whore and I felt a torrent of warmth wash over me. Losing love isn’t hard when you can find it in unexpected places. 

I didn’t know much, but I knew this was pathetic: I pretended to like the things he liked—Christian worship music, Nicki Minaj’s sophomore album, not showering after sex—so he’d affirm my value and see me as indispensable. I want reparations and an Academy award for how well I pretended to like that fucking album. I was slowly and constantly losing parts of myself, like chips of stone chiseled off a marble block, to a man whose final instinct was to hurt me before he left me. 

I didn’t know much, but I knew this was true: People talk about how violent men are. How morally bankrupt they’re willing to be because it’s easier than imagining an alternative for themselves. No one talks about how incredibly stupid they are. When I say stupid, I don’t mean in the way of logic and reasoning—although there’s certainly an argument to be made there. When I say stupid, I’m speaking of a kind of warped psyche–a complete inability to see beyond themselves. 

I didn’t know much, but I knew this was absurd: The text he sent me–which explicitly stated that he hated me, never wanted to speak to me again, and was blocking me on every social platform–began with a “hey! How’s it going?” 

I didn’t know much, but I knew this was treacherous: An undefined relationship is breeding ground for resentment. Against my better judgment, I furthered a relationship I knew was destined to crash and burn because I thought I couldn’t do better. That I’d never do better. And so I let him fuck Achebe and Seun and Machie and Dayo and Casey and Yinka and convinced myself I was fine with it. I fucked other people too with the hope that I could fill whatever void was inside me. Worse than that, I let him. I let him. I let him. 

I didn’t know much, but I knew this was vindictive: When I was leaving his apartment for the last time, I wished he cried for me as I cried for him. I wished he cried a river so deep he would’ve drowned in it. 

I didn’t know much, but I knew this was laughable: That he thought he was the injured party. That the demise of our relationship was because of my inability to reciprocate his love and not his willingness to be emotionally naive and reckless. See, I’m a better actor than I give myself credit for. So it was easy to convince him that I was content and happy with him going out on dates with people, fucking them, and forging emotional bonds with them while calling what we had his “priority”. I was comfortable sitting on the sidelines, rejecting men who wanted me in more ways than one. 

I didn’t know much, but I knew this was a stroke of luck: He bought so many books he never could finish and I didn’t stop him because I knew I’d end up reading them. 

I didn’t know much but I knew this was aggravating: I couldn’t access any of the numerous playlists he usually sent to me on Spotify because he blocked me before I could remove them from my library. Now the playlists are on full display, leering at me, almost mocking me— bitter digital reminders of a non-existent thing. 

I didn’t know much, but I knew this was typical: He was considerably affluent. I earned the average salary of a junior engineer in a middling tech firm and his version of love required that I spend just as much on him as he did on me. It’s particularly funny because it’s just the boring, honest fact of the matter: it almost always comes down to money, doesn’t it?  

I didn’t know much, but I knew this was disgusting: He thought I’d be fine with him flirting on the phone with his various sexual conquests while I was within earshot, battling tears and my upchuck reflex. Then he tried to play off the phone call as platonic by explaining how “pure sex” was the goal; like that was supposed to make it hurt less– wash, rinse, repeat. 

I didn’t know much, but I knew this was presumptuous: My ability to convince him that I was willing to “love” him in all the ways he wanted me to. He genuinely thought he had the upper hand so much so that he believed ending the breakup text with “I’m blocking you everywhere. Good luck!” was supposed to be some form of a nail in my emotional coffin. He thought I couldn’t hate him just as much as he hated me. He thought I’d try to “change his mind” about any decisions he had already made–I was supposed to beg and cry and plead with him to stay because I’d done it once before. To him, being casually cruel to me was a way to rationalize being “honest”. He thought he still had the power to wound. 

I didn’t know much, but I knew this was satisfying: It was his prerogative to wholeheartedly believe his version of events and it was my prerogative to believe mine. This simple fact wasn’t going to kill me. The first time he called me, not only to break up with me but to project his emotional insecurities onto me, should’ve been the last time I ever spoke to him. But I convinced myself I’d be better with him in my life than out of it. Delusions are peaceful, comfortable. Feelings are unreliable.

I didn’t know this much, but I knew this was progress: That he wished me “happiness and the very best in life” and I wished him nothing at all. 

My name’s Nwokedi Kenechukwu. I’m a Nigerian writer, part-time cloud engineer, and wanna-be pop culture historian constantly reading, watching, re-reading, and rewatching. I live in Lagos, Nigeria. 

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