The harsh sound of a doorbell ringing followed by gentle but firm knocking woke me up. I looked at my wristwatch, it was 2:15 am. Something told me to ignore it totally and pretend I was asleep, but the other voice prevailed. I got up, looked into the peephole and there was Steve. As though offering me a last chance at resisting temptation, the first voice told me once more to tiptoe back to bed but the other voice said to me, “Oreoluwa, maybe Steve just wants to discuss work. Moreover, there is no way he hasn’t heard you. He would know you are ignoring him, thereby making things even more awkward between you tomorrow morning”. Sadly, the latter voice prevailed on me and I opened the door.
Steve wasted no time whatsoever. He grabbed me by my waist and held me in a tight embrace. It would be silly of me to say it was unexpected- I stood there frozen with my two hands by my side, my fists clenched, like a soldier at attention. We stood at the door for what seemed like forever. Slowly, his hands found their way to my face and with his fingers, he cupped my chin as I looked into his eyes. At that moment, my knees almost gave way and I found myself tiptoeing, encouraging him to do more than just stare into my soul with his piercing eyes.
“This is wrong”, I whispered but too weak to do anything about it as my heart raced uncontrollably. He leaned in and I felt his warm lips on mine, his tongue teasing my lips apart. I was no longer courting danger. I was right there in the field of play with it and sadly, it was winning this battle.
One by one, my clothes fell on my feet till I was left with my mismatched bra and panties. Steve’s expert hands were all over my body as though confused as to what exactly to focus on. Finally, as his left hand decided to move to my bra, my phone rang. That didn’t stop Steve who kissed me harder as though willing the phone to quit its persistent shrills. At that point, it was as though cold water was poured all over my brains and I woke up from a reverie or a bad dream. My bra was off at this point and I frantically looked around for a piece of clothing to cover myself.
Steve rubbed his head and then covered his face with both hands as though in shame. “I’m really sorry” he said and walked out the door. As I lay on the floor and wept myself to sleep curled up in a ball. I woke up three hours after feeling worse than I did when I drifted to sleep. I felt dirty. I felt desecrated. I felt cheap. I felt like a slut. I looked into the mirror and said to myself, “Oreoluwa, you are officially one of them”. I skipped breakfast and met with Steve and the man from last night. Steve told jokes and looked so chirpy. It was as if yesterday’s events were a figment of my imagination. He was as normal with me as always and I almost convinced myself that I had dreamed it all up. Until his hands lingered on my shoulder as he let me enter the car first.
It was a good thing I got half the day off work. I went home and showered again with an extra drop of disinfectant in the bucket. Femi had left for work by then and I was grateful no one saw me take the walk of shame as I got home.
For weeks after the episode, I prayed to God for forgiveness and cried out to Him to wash me clean. But no matter how much I prayed, I was so certain nemesis was going to catch up with me in a big way and that I was going pay for my sins. Some days, I would wish and pray Femi had also cheated on me so that we could be even but deep within me, I knew he had too much integrity to have towed that line.
Interestingly, even Steve appeared to either be overcome with guilt or irritated at me for not having played ball because he became extremely professional with me. He was never mean or harsh, never! But he was not throwing me any undeserved favours anymore. I no longer got invited to seat at tables where I had not earned that right. I was no longer put on every deal and I saw more of my peers when I looked around the meetings that I was a part of. I became normal. It was then I realized that I certainly was not the only superstar in my set. I guess I now understand why people assume that anyone randomly flying high must have done something unprintable to get there.
At home, I became humble with Femi. I would respond gently to him. I would check on him and everything he said was law. I put him back on the driver’s seat in our marriage and worked hard to be a good wife to him. Things got better between us, in fact, things became excellent. We forgave each other and vowed to be better and never give the devil a chance in our marriage any more. We were loving on each other and my face became his default Display Picture on every social media platform he was on. Despite this, my mind, heart and spirit were at war within me. I felt like a deceiver and that the forgiveness I got from him was not true as he didn’t know the full extent of what he was being asked to forgive. And so, one Sunday afternoon, after one of those sermons that make you want to stand up in church, walk up to the Pastor, take the Mic and right there confess all your iniquities, I told Femi I had something to tell him. We had just come back home from our usual brunch at Sarriles and he was in a very good mood. I knelt before him, held his hands in mine and told him that I had mistakenly kissed my boss on one of my official assignments, it happened once and it never repeated itself.
Femi was quiet. I begged him to say something. I wanted him to scream at me in anger. But he never did. With a single tear flowing from his right eye, he said to me in a very low tone, “You need to tell me exactly what happened between the two of you, do not leave out any detail”. As painful at is was, I began to recount the tale of Abeokuta and when I was done, I was almost sure I saw Femi heave a sigh. Confirming my observation, he said, “I had known something happened but I wasn’t sure and I had feared the worst. I however was determined not to ask you about it. It is okay, I forgive you. Thank God it was not more than that”. He gave me a brief side hug as he helped me to my feet, patted my back and went to sleep.
I could not believe my luck. I felt like laughing out loud in relief! Wow, that was easy, I told myself. I should have told him the very next day!!! But another part of me, clearly the more discerning one, said to me, if it is too good to be true, then it possibly is. And sure enough, it was…
Lessons: As I said earlier, if it feels like it is bad, stay well away from it. I broke my marriage vows and I utterly regret it. Unless you area hardened person, cheating never really feels good and the guilt plagues you indefinitely and the feeling of regret gnaws at you each time you see your accomplice and your spouse who is a victim.
On many occasions, I regretted confessing to Femi. I initially felt so much relief after unburdening my heart to him but over time, I questioned the wisdom in even telling him in the first place. I felt I told him not for his benefit but for the selfish purpose of making myself feel better and reducing the heavy feeling of guilt within me. Later, after much thought and counsel, I have found that indeed, it was a good thing that I told him but I should definitely not have assumed he would be fine just because my cheating did not culminate in actual sexual intercourse with Steve.
The truth is that I crossed the line. I let another man see parts of me that I had vowed to reserve for my spouse alone and this is naturally going to be difficult for any husband, especially a faithful one, to handle, accept, forgive and forget. Femi, in the coming months showed me that despite all the love for Christ and Christianity and Bible reading, he is human after all.
For the next couple of weeks, I watched as Femi struggled with the bombshell I flung at him and somehow, I knew exactly when he decided that he was not ready to forgive and forget just yet. He became dismissive. He became aloof. He was never rude but I knew that quick action was required in order to save my marriage and that is how I was introduced to the counsellor in Opebi, Mrs Lara Bamidele, also a senior pastor in a friend’s church. It was in her office I learned a number of lessons on marriage. One major one I learned is this: going for marriage counselling shouldn’t only be for those going through issues. So much could have been averted had I found someone to talk to early. She spoke of so many couples who just come for what she calls “routine check up”. She asks them a few questions and from there, she is able to lead them into opening up and nipping issues in the bud.
In relation to Femi’s reaction, she advised me that it was best not to expect quick forgiveness from him and instead allow him have all the time he needs to accept it and let it go. I also had to invest time in my marriage. Her advice always seemed so simple, something any inexperienced person could say.
My first assignment was to wake up and pray alone in the morning before inviting Femi to join me. The next task was to ensure that Femi and I have at least an aggregate of 10 hours of alone time each week. We could spend the time talking, praying, any but just us two. Being at a party together didn’t count. What mattered was the aloneness and the communication. This appeared simple at first but turned out not so easy because of our conflicting work schedules but I learned how to manage my time, over time as a lot depended on me as the one trying to make amends.
During our conversations, we had to address what drove me to do what I did, repeatedly. Sometimes, I felt furious that he would make me relay the episode over and over as if to catch me in a lie but I had to keep remembering that it was not going to be a walk in the park to get him to forgive me. Despite all the fasting, prayers, cries, Femi struggled for a very very long time and I cannot in all honesty declare that he is completely over it but we are at least making effort.
Trust you are all doing great! I would like to veer off from the topic and just thank God for my mom who God healed miraculously. I have never seen my mom ill for longer than 2 days. Prior to this episode, the last time she slept in a hospital was in 1986 and that was my doing! But about 3/4 weeks ago, what began as malaria turned out to be far more frightening requiring visits to all manners of consultants in fields I only hear of on Grey’s Anatomy. I had to keep googling to keep up with the words and terms being flung around.
She stayed at 3 different hospitals unable to walk, eat and talk properly. My ever bubbly mom was being aided to perform the most basic of tasks and it was literally the singular most traumatising experience of my life! BUT JEHOVAH RAPHA turned up and changed the story around. My mom is doing great now! I cannot thank God enough for His mercies upon my family.
I pray that anyone going through illness, whether on their body or of that of a loved one, receives total healing in Jesus’ name. Our parents are our treasures. I pray that we will not need sickness to realise how precious they are to us. Take care of them, love them, call them, be there for them. Don’t have a big burial ceremony when you were not even there for them in life. Just thought to share this with you all.
More lessons from Ore coming up!!!
Have a beautiful evening.