Being the Other Woman: Tales of a Disorientated Hopeless Romantic

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“It’s scary to think how you were all the wrong things for me yet you felt like home…”

—Upile Chisala

“Why do you keep coming back even though you know we can never be together?” I asked intently, determined to get to the bottom of the confusion.

“Being with you, talking to you…it gives me so much peace…the kind of peace and freedom I get when I’m driving 240km/h on the road… You’ve given me something that I’ve never experienced with anyone else,” he answered, as though he too not quite understanding the effect that I have on him.

I dug further, as if searching for a painful truth, while also trying to figure out why he would choose the toxicity of his current relationship instead of the peace that exists between us. “Can’t you create that peace and freedom with your girlfriend? Maybe then letting go of me, of us would be easier and staying where your loyalties lie would not be so difficult…because the reality is that she’s the one you keep choosing, every day she’s the woman that you wake up and choose to love…not me. So why am I still here? What am I hoping for and trusting in?”

“Katlego, it’s not so simple. I never believed it is possible to fall in love with two women. I’ve never been here before. And everything I’ve told you about how I feel is true. I was never selling you dreams like you always say. But what I have with you, I don’t think I want it with my girlfriend…” he anxiously explained.

It all began with a wave on Facebook after many years of having lost touch. He waved, and I found myself being a character in a plot I dared to never rehearse for. I never imagined a day would come when I become the other woman, fighting and striving for a man to choose me over someone else… Begging for the crumbs of the chunks of love that he already gives to another woman, chunks he has been consistently giving for a good five years.

And in my naive idealism, there’s a part of me that hoped (and even thought) that someone would walk away from a relationship that they’ve worked on for so long…

But I did. Which explains all the lingering, the endless cycle of coming and going because of the constant bickering between my heart and mind. I can’t even tell you how I willingly opened myself, my heart, to a man I knew very well was never mine to love. But I did, anyway. And it was breathtaking. But one’s breath can only be taken away for so long until they end up suffocating.

It has been difficult to accept that what I had with Mr. Taken was not sustainable. To remember that my heart was/is far too big to go on small, stolen doses of love and affection. And it never made sense, why I was into this mister. I knew I had to run from him but instead, the faster my heart collided into him.

“Should I let go of you? Forget about you?” I asked him as I held in my hand his clenched up hand which hesitated to hold mine. A symbol of how he could never embrace me in the way I embraced him.

“It kills me to say this, but yes, you should. I don’t want to string you along. You deserve more than what I can give you. Me being around could be blocking from your life a great guy who will give you all that you’ve ever wanted and all the love you are worthy of,” he eventually said after a long silence between my question and his response.

And he was right… He was so right. I had to walk away. I was holding on so tightly to an emotionally unavailable guy who did not have the capacity to give to me that which I deserved. I held on to nothing that was seemingly wrapped around in everything that I longed for.

In between our back and forths, I wrote him this:

What hurts is that when all of this (our relationship) crumbles you have something/someone to go back to. I have nothing. You are the only guy in my life that I’ve somehow come to prioritize in such a short span of time and I’m only an option to you. I have no backup for when things don’t work out with you. I’ll only have myself to mend my heart and pick up the pieces. You have [your girlfriend]. And that in itself already creates a great imbalance in our relationship because one of us has it all while the other has the short end of the stick.

I can’t be content with that sort of setup… 

And I guess sometimes you have to beat your own heart into submission because sometimes the heart wants things that may feel good momentarily but create a messy wreck out of it in the long run.

Yesterday was day one of the second attempt at being without him, of deliberately walking away. I felt so sick in the morning, so nauseated. The emptiness. Not having, above all, my friend who was one of my best friends in primary school…it was heart-wrenching…to have that silence that reminds you that someone who had become so deeply intertwined into your daily routine is no longer around…it broke me. It hit me because every morning on my way to work he would call and we would have a conversation that lasted for the entire duration of my bus commute till I got to the office.

But I had to resist all the strong urges to salvage his numbers and unblock him on all my social networks. So, instead, I played all the songs we enjoyed together, all the songs we said we should remember each other with…as if we knew that a dreaded day would come when all that we are/were vanishes and all that would be left is the lingering dust of memories. So, I played every song that was the background music to the simple but special moments we had together. Because even though he could no longer be the sweet melody to my days, his favourite songs could be the interlude to what we created and I could attempt to ease the pain of the loss that is to follow.

I think reminding myself that I had been holding on to nothing has been making turning my back possible. I even had to go back on one of the old episodes from my favourite series, Scandal by Shonda Rhimes and note down a very important truth. The main character, Olivia Pope, who happens to also find herself in a similar scenario to mine (the irony right?), says the following poignant words about being with someone who is already committed to someone else:

You have nothing. You have a pile of secrets and lies, and you’re calling it love. And in the meantime, you’re letting your whole life pass you by while they raise children and celebrate anniversaries and grow old together. You’re frozen in time. You’re holding your breath. You’re a statue waiting for something that’s never going to happen. Living for stolen moments in hotel hallways and coat closets, you keep telling yourself they all add up to something real, because in your mind they have to, but they don’t. They won’t. They never will. Because stolen moments aren’t a life. So you have nothing. You have no one.

You see, my downfall is that my heart wants everything that it should not want. And writing about this? It hurts. It hurts so much because this is a part of my life that is only known by a few close individuals because lately, I realized that my romantic life brings me so much shame…and heavy disappointment. Not so much disappointment from the men I’ve fallen for but disappointment from my own idealism. I mean, I’m one of the greatest advocates and supporters of anything and everything concerning love and romance. I’ve always dreamt for myself a full, fulfilling, wholesome and lasting love defined by fierce loyalty and surrender. I could always see, almost feel and vividly imagine the kind of love I wanted for myself.

Mara dololo. My life, my romantic life, far resembles all that I dreamt up for myself…and it’s a terrifying reality that leaves me in all kinds of disillusionment and disorientation. It has worn and worked on my heart. Do I even still remember what I want? Believe myself worthy of everything that I’ve ever wished for myself in love and romance even if presently everything contradicts it?

And I’m here thinking to myself… Why do I want the things that I can’t have? To want and need love so much… Because sometimes I wish I didn’t…be this lover of love who sinks her claws so deeply into those she falls for without ever making sure they are ready to meet me at the level which I’m willing to love them…


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  • Sanele
    Jan 17, 2018

    Eish Katz it’s tough in the department of love. I hope you heal from that experience and find someone who will value you.

  • Khanyisile
    Jan 17, 2018

    Hey Kat,

    Thank you for this beautiful post, i relate so much to it and i thank God that i finally let go of him, the sad thing is that we know hes not the one, its not what we what we want and we deserve so much better than them but we still hold on and believe their lies.
    He would tell me of how much he loves me, how much hes at peace when hes with me and all of that, id forgive him and he’d stick around for a week or two and then go back to the chosen one, the loved one. i was just his back-up plan for when things were bad for him.

    I got fed up, i had had enough, i deserved so much better. its not easy, its very painful, you are still going to cry, but it will pass.
    I cannot believe the peace i have in my life right now and all the pain is gone and i’m moving on with my life.
    Also finding new hobbies helped me a lot.

    Love you, take care.

    • Katlego Llale
      Jan 18, 2018

      Hello Khanyi,

      Thank you so much for this comment and sharing your wisdom through your own experience.

      I must say that I am really proud of you and your courage and strength to let go of the relationship. And you are so right about being a back up because truth is that is exactly what we are, being a back up and escape when things are not going so well in their relationships with their chosen ones and none of us should ever settle for that.

      But may you find a love that will make you priority, a love that you will not have to compete for or be a convenient option for.

      All my love <3

  • Phindile
    Jan 19, 2018

    Hey Kat

    The way i can relate to this!! There is nothing as painful as being the other woman. I’ve worn the hat a few times in my life.

    Its never easy walking away. Its literally a constant battle between false hope and valuing yourself enough to accept the reality.

    I pray God enables you to keep going and not to give in to those false hope stirring moments. May the love your are longing for find you.


    • Katlego Llale
      Jan 23, 2018

      Hello Phindi♥️,

      Thank you for for just affirming my experience and reminding me that I’m not the only one.

      I know that battle you speak of but I believe that it can be won.

      Thank you for the wishes, may the same find you too. 🌼

      Much love,

For Adults Who Feel Like Toddlers
Being the Other Woman: Tales of a Disorientated Hopeless Romantic