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Today I am speaking with a lady called Keleigh who is 35 from South London. She is an Accounts Manager for a Media Firm in London.
In her mid-twenties at the time, Keleigh began dating a relative of her best friend. Initially the relationship started off well but it did cause friction between her and her friend.
Not wanting to cause any further damage to a friendship that she clearly valued, Keleigh began keeping the relationship private from her friend and subsequently their family.
What followed could legitimately be described as a turbulent relationship.
During the ten-year period of their relationship, her partner fathered one child and had also been having relationships with other women running concurrently.
Although it’s taken nearly a decade, Keleigh has walked away from the situation and is currently on a journey of self-discovery and rebuilding her self-esteem.
How would you describe yourself as a person?
Insecurity is something I had never really suffered from as a child or teenager. I saw my friends and people around me going through it, but I was always quite confident during those years. I would always say to myself ‘I am great!’. Not in a conceited way, but I just always felt okay within myself.
I had always thought that I would meet the man of my dreams in college at 17, get married and have children. That is how I’d always pictured my life, although that wasn’t the household I grew up in. Even so I was always very sure about what I wanted and how my future would look.
I even wanted nine children because I wanted to be like Katherine Jackson!
Growing up I spent a brief spell in a single parent household until my mum met my stepdad, so prior to then I never knew any married people really.
How would describe your relationships prior to meeting your ex-partner
My first relationship was with a guy who I met in College.
In hindsight, I would say he was my only real relationship and he treated me like a queen. He was a good guy and he was also my friend. We grew apart for various reasons; I went off to University and we were just not making enough time for each other. Eventually I challenged him about it and I think he took offence to how I delivered it. I wasn’t rude or obtuse but unfortunately the relationship ended from there. My only regret is that I lost a very good friend. It was a very honest, healthy and sharing relationship. We were both welcomed into each other’s homes and we both had good relationships with each other mothers.
After a few years I met a guy who was about 7-8 years older. We dated although he explicitly stated that I was not his type. He was into Columbian or very fair skinned women. He once told me that I’d be perfect if I was light-skinned! Luckily, I never took offence and just brushed that comment off.
Despite that random comment we were very intertwined with each other and above all he was my homie. We shared a passion for Hip Hop music and just really connected.
Although it looked like a relationship it wasn’t really. He was in love and in a relationship with a very ‘toxic’ Columbian woman at the time.
I don’t know how I ended up at 19 in a situation like that but I guess I just wanted some excitement and didn’t want a relationship per say.
I then started dating this ‘fine’ Trinidadian guy, we went out a few times but it was never really going anywhere.
After that, I dated a guy for nearly a year who I loved. We would call or message every day until one day he said he’d call me next week. After the breakdown of this relationship, I would say that this is when my confidence had started to dip. He had started to see someone whilst we were together and now is married and has a child with that woman.
What did you do to recover from this relationship? Was there a grieving period?
There was no grieving period because I met someone else. That’s what I did all the time, there was always someone else. I never gave myself breathing space and I did this from my very first relationship to this very day.
I also dated another guy before I met my ex, who I thought, was the love of my life.
How did you meet Mr Situationship?
I met him through my best friend, he is her cousin. My friend and I are very close, so I had met him around the time when I was 17. I was always welcomed at family dinners and functions so I would see him around, although he never really peaked my interest at that time. He had said to my friend a few times that he liked me, but nothing really came of it. As far as I was aware, he had been dating someone and already had a child.
When I was around 24 years old he was still harassing my friend for my number, so I flippantly told her to give it to him. It was never my intention to be with him, but we got talking and went on a date.
He came across as quite shy and I remember asking him if he was scared of me? He said that he was single and before I knew it we were dating and out pretty much all of the time.
Our blossoming relationship became an issue with my friend and she was very against us dating. Her stance on the situation changed me and as a result I kept the relationship underground. I would creep in and out of his family home just so it wouldn’t get back to my friend that we were still dating. We were only a few months in at this point.
Following on from this, when did things begin to take a turn for the worst?
I took him away to Miami as he hadn’t been away for eight years or so. When we returned he dropped me home, but returned not too long afterwards.
He looked like he was going to be sick. It seemed like he wanted to tell me something but he never did. A few weeks or a month later, I found out (through my step dad’s family, whom he is related to) that he was expecting with the mother of his first child. My mother confronted him and he vehemently denied the accusation. Years later I found out that she had miscarried the child, hence why he felt able to deny it.
Following that situation, I noticed that his behaviour began to change and he became cagey. He also wasn’t making much of an effort anymore, but as I really liked him I still kept trying. I would notice a few things that could signify that he was potentially disloyal, but as I still had some of my confidence at this time I didn’t really take much notice. I was the best thing for him and I would tell him so.
We went out for Valentine’s Day and I explicitly asked him whether he saw a future with me. His response was that he didn’t know and that I needed a ‘David Beckham’ type of guy. At that point I should’ve walked away, I was so upset that I wanted to cry, but was determined that I wouldn’t.
I was very distraught following that revelation and asked him what had changed. He asked whether I had noticed how his mother and aunts would act around me. In truth, I had noticed that they seemed a little bit ‘off’ but tried not to take much notice. He put this down to my friend not being happy about our relationship.
I later found out that he was in another relationship publicly, and I was looking like the flighty bit on the side who doesn’t know any boundaries or respect.
This all worked in his favour because I had still been sneaking in and out of the house at this point. I honestly did not know how it got to this point, but I was in love and thought this was just a rough patch.
When did you eventually come to learn that he was in another relationship?
A picture of him and this girl at a club came up on my Facebook feed and their closeness made me uncomfortable. I asked him about her and he said she was ‘just friend’. This girl had previously commented on a picture once before about spilling tea on him in the morning. All his cousins liked her comment and I was dumbfounded as to why everyone seemed to know who this girl was.
Why was she allowed to know his family and be around him, but I the girlfriend still had to remain hidden away?
That was a big red flag but at the time I just didn’t see it. As far as I was concerned if you’re sleeping with me there would be no need for you to sleep with anyone else. I never knew about the whole ‘sleeping around’ thing, I never knew that life.
At this point my friend was not aware we were still together. His name just never came up between us.
She was friends with this girl on Facebook, along with all his other family. I honestly couldn’t understand why our relationship was being kept in the dark and this ‘friend’ gleamed in the family limelight.
He had admitted that he had slept with her once back in the day, but currently she was just his friend and helped him out with ‘business’ when required.
Eventually, I got a message from this ‘friend’ to ask whether anything was going on between us. I told her that we had been in a relationship for two years and that I’d be curious to hear how long they had been together. She never responded to my message and apparently kicked off with him. I think at this point they had been together for a year. He still denied having any involvement with her and couldn’t understand why she was saying these things.
He did eventually admit that he had been seeing this girl and that he was……. happy.
I later found out that he had still also been sleeping with the child of his mother.
How did this make you feel?
It killed me, it was the biggest humiliation I had ever felt in my life!
My business was out there and I felt like shit. Everyone thought that I was creeping around with this woman’s man!!
I thought he was down because of his uncle’s death and I was trying to build him back up.
All of this time he was being wicked to me. He could have cut me loose from the time he decided that he liked her better than me.
I was broken.
At one stage I was in bed for a week. It was the embarrassment that made me feel really low because I was being painted out to be someone that I wasn’t. He killed my reputation and character.
So, how did you end up back in a relationship with him?
I became aware that they were in a tumultuous relationship and he said they had broken up.
I always got back with him on the basis that he was no longer seeing anyone else, but I now know that he never really broke up with anyone.
I then came to learn that the girl was pregnant with his child.
Our relationship was a vicious circle of breakups to makeups and this continued for near enough eight more years.
You saw the red flags and he’s now having a child with his ‘girlfriend’. What was it within you that kept you going back to this man?
I had invested in this man, I was his cheerleader. I had supported him, cared for him and loved him through all of his bullshit. The bottom line is that I wanted my return. I have not been through hell for you to just walk away and for me to get nothing back.
There were times when things would be ‘good’ (or appear to be) for a year and I would feel like things were now getting somewhere.
He then dangled the ‘let’s have a baby’ carrot in front of me. Sometimes I felt like I wanted it, but other times it frightened me to death.
He would make out that it was his family that was ultimately responsible for us not being together publicly.
I know that people will look at my situation and think that I’m stupid or that I almost expect empathy from them.
I am not looking for empathy and I stayed in the relationship on the basis that I would get my return. It isn’t all monetary but I would book hotels and holidays that we would never end up going to.
He gave nothing back essentially.
Following an operation I had last year, his only concern was whether I could ‘bend’ in order to partake in sex with him again. There were no flowers, cards or any real concern for my wellbeing.
All he had was that same look he had when he came to tell me that his child’s mother was pregnant. I knew whatever it was would be coming to hurt me. That’s when I decided to end it.
What have you learnt?
I don’t want to be in a relationship at this present time. I’m not ready for a relationship and I just want to spend some time loving myself.
I’d lost love and respect for myself.
I felt like I had to lose myself in this mess in order for me to like myself again.
I would almost fight with myself because I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get away from a situation that wasn’t for me or that remotely served me. It wasn’t healthy, conducive and it gave me nothing.
I’m on a journey to reclaim myself and my self-esteem.
It’s a long road but I will get there.
Closing Thoughts :
Speaking from personal experience and with the many women I have come across in my time, there seems to be a trend of a lack of self value and self love. The actual twist in this narrative raises the question; do the men in these scenarios even value or love themselves?
I did a poll on Instagram and out of all the respondents, 86% said that they had never entered into a ‘situationship’ that worked out.
We probably don’t even recognise this type of relationship until we’re in too deep.
With everyday that you compromise your happiness for the sake of someone else (that is not prepared to commit) you will undoubtedly lose a bit of your essence. You run the risk of becoming a shadow of your former self and eradicating that very thing that attracted them to you in the first place.
The bible says ‘What good is it to gain the world and forfeit your soul’.
I now ask you, what good is it to get involved in a mediocre relationship that doesn’t serve you and kills your spirit?
We must endeavour to approach all things with love, but love of self has to come first.
If you don’t love yourself, no one can truly love you back.
Tune into tonights podcast at 8pm on Soundcloud.
Take care of yourself.