Yesterday I picked up Toke Makinwa's 'On Becoming' and found it hard to drop, not because it's the best written book out there but for its compelling nature. I literally had to force myself because I had to be up at 5am to get ready for thanksgiving service today. At first when I saw that she had published a book, it didn't strike a cord with me, didn't even give it a second thought till my last book club meeting last Sunday. A member suggested it as our next read and I asked why, she gave her reasons and immediately my curiousity was peaked.
A friend sent me her copy and I eventually started last night instead of going for Jamrock. My heart went out to her and I couldn't understand all the negativity that was going her way over the book, I guess we all respond differently. Two things come to mind when I think of this book, Maya Angelou's quote
"When people show you who they are, believe them the first time"
The second is "I didn't know my own strength" by Whitney Houston. First heard it on Being Mary Jane (my spirit animal) and fell in love with the song. So here goes my opinion of Toke's book.
Woman to woman, it would be hypocritical of me to insult her for going back to Maje every single time he came running. There are too may of us that stayed when we should have left because we shared our hearts with someone who never deserved it in the first place. In a group of 10 women, there would probably be one or two who have found themselves in a dysfunctional relationship, I had mine for 2 years but someone may not have had theirs. Did I wish she got out sooner? Of course, she gave that man 12 good years of her life and he hurt her so much.
Were the signs there? oh yes, clearly. And this is where she has been attacked a lot with people saying she brought it upon herself but you know what, until you find yourself in that position you can't be sure of what your reaction would be. If you had told me I would have been a mumu for Beau and done half the things I did for him, I would have slapped you for thinking I was an insecure girl but I did it and I lost myself in the process but it made me stronger. After all, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. For a romantic like Toke, I believe she loved him with all she had and so walking away from this man she had given her heart and body to was not going to be the easiest decision. Though some of you don't like to hear this part, I'm going to say it nonetheless. When sex is involved, a soul tie is created and this was the first man she had sex with and I can tell you from experience that it makes it all the more harder to leave that person.
When she wrote,
"In Nigeria, it is almost a taboo to speak of the ills in your marriage. Everyone wears a smile to hide the pain. Sharing is a sign of weakness, and the people you share with might very well abuse the information or take advantage of you"
My heart broke a little. Isn't that the sad truth? There are too many unhappy people walking these streets with you and I who feel they can't talk about the pain they are going through especially with our parents. Yet Toke did a brave thing to pen her story and I hear people shaming her for it, even if it was for capital gain, how that one concern you? Don't you realise that her story is a sad reality? You may be strong at walking away and not taking nonsense from the opposite sex but best believe there are women out there who make excuses everyday and take in more than is necessary. Please don't fault them for that, it is your job and responsibility especially as a child of God to watch out for them. The Bible says, Love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8). And it also warns us not to take pride in our own strengths less we fall into temptation (1 Cor. 10:12). While your weakness might not be a man/woman, watch yourself because something exists out there that pushes your mumu button.
"It's easy to be smart and sensible - objective - with other people's troubles. But what advice could I give myself now?"
Truth be told, I was shocked that Toke found herself in a mess like this, seeing as she was a relationship expert whose vlogs I had once enjoyed but the truth is, it's easier to solve other people's problems than your own.
"All the signs had been there, like a neon at night. But I prayed them away and convinced myself that every last argument, every humiliation, every betrayal would be the last one. One hurdle and we'd get the happiness we deserved."Sound familiar? Like an addict making excuses for that bad habit they can't seem to break but every woman has a breaking point. I'm glad it's over for her, at least I pray it is. But don't keep making excuses for that man who isn't inconveniencing himself for you like you are.
"Nigerian women have mastered the game of shame. Society shames us, the media shames us, our families shame us, and then we go ahead to heap whatever shame is left on ourselves"
Don't suffer in silence, reach out to someone trustworthy and look out for your mental well being. I appreciate Toke baring it all and writing her story, like her friend said, sharing her story will liberate a lot of women out there. It truly is a reality for some but I pray they find the strength to break free. Jesus did not die for you for another son of Adam to be tormenting you in this already heard life. And may this be a caution to the rest of us thinking of getting married not to ignore the signs we ask God to show us. God doesn't shout, if He speaks, make sure you're paying attention. He's not going to come and physically remove you from a physically/emotionally abusive relationship, it's up to you to make that decision for yourself. And no matter how hard it may seem, just take the first step and walk away and everyday after that put one foot in front of the other and keep moving on. One day you'd look back and realise you've come so far and surely God would be there every step of the way.
One more thing, all men are not scum, some are but not all. May God deliver us from the ones who want to help the devil start his tormenting work on earth. If you ever get the book, read Chapter 11, it's powerful, even if it's the only chapter you read.
I really loved the quotes that began every chapter and for that I'm getting a personal copy for myself LOL.
I'f leave on this last note as this is already a lengthy read,
"Self-love is important. Love yourself enough to put you first"