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Dear Ben,

I was in a darker place when I found you. A week before I spoke to you, I had the most difficult breakup of my life. A guy I dated for five years left me without a reason. I did all I could but he said no. He told me: “It’s not about you. It’s about me. You’re a cool girl that every man would be proud to have but currently, my life is in bad shape. I need to be alone and put it back on track before I can think of a relationship.” I wanted to stay and wait for him but he said no he wanted to go solo.

This letter should have been written to him and not you. He was the one I dated the longest. He was the one whose knife cut me the deepest but I’m writing this letter to you because of the situation you put both of us through.

The day I came to you crying, I knew you were matured enough to help me heal. Yeah, I had other friends I could have run to. There was Fiifi. Though intelligent, he hardly listens and was always quick to judge, that’s why I didn’t run to him. I could have gone to Edem but even when I was in a relationship, Edem tried all he could to sleep with me. I didn’t want to give him an opportunity to take advantage of me. He wasn’t the only one who wanted to have his way with me. Virtually all the male friends I kept at some point wanted to undress me. I loved them. I enjoyed their company. I opened up to them in a way I didn’t do with my female friends. But these guys always had a game plan to put me in their bed.

That was the reason I avoided all of them when the problem came. I chose you because you were married and felt safe in your presence because I trusted you wouldn’t cheat on your wife. I saw you both in church every Sunday and you even became my relationship goal. The way you respected her presence and how you watched her with adoring eyes couldn’t be overlooked. The two of you looked perfect in my eyes, that’s why I run to you. I wanted you to help me identify your kind when I saw one. So that day when I said, “I need your help,” I needed you to teach me the ways of men and how I could spot the genuine from the preying ones. My heart was hurting and needed someone matured like you to help me heal.

And indeed you did your best to help calm my broken heart. You said: “That’s how God works. It doesn’t matter how many years you stay with a guy, if it’s not God’s will, it won’t lead to marriage.” Again, you told me not to rush into another relationship until I’m healed. You said I shouldn’t be bitter but instead use the opportunity as a learning curve. You said a lot of motivational stuff to me which latter landed on my social media status. You were kind and you were considerate. I judged your heart and realised it was in the right place.

Days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months. Finally, I was healed of all the pains that silly boy took me through. When he later wanted to come back into my life, I told you about it and you said: “When they realise their absence couldn’t kill you, they come back to kill you with their presence.” I wrote that on my Whatsapp and Facebook status. A lot of my friends found it motivational. They shared and commented on it. I said in my heart: “Every woman needs a Benjamin who will tell them this kind of truth.” You were my pride and role model. I needed me some man like you and I never stop telling you that.

So what happened? What changed?

That late night when you sent me a message that you couldn’t sleep so I should tell you something, I was surprised but I played along. I knew you meant no malice and my heart was pure when I started singing you that silly lullaby for you to sleep. I asked about your wife and you said: “That woman doesn’t care about me. All she cares about was herself.” That was the first time you spoke ill about your wife. I took it lightly but you continued saying all the things that didn’t make her a good wife. I said to myself: “Why is Ben telling me all that?” You went on and on and you ended by saying: “If only I knew I will find someone like you, I should have waited.”

Ding Dong!…there goes the warning bell.

You were turning into something I thought you wouldn’t. “Find someone like me…?” How? Why? What changed? I should have run that day but I felt I owed you too much to be such ungrateful. So I stayed while you kept coming at me every day with new words trying to make me your side chick. Let me say it again…I should have run that day. Yeah, I should have but I don’t know why I kept sticking around you for you to tell me all those naughty things you told me. The mind knows the truth but the heart–my stupid heart always has a way of making the truth look like a lie. While my mind said no, my heart said: “Just try him, remember he’s the kind of man you’ve always wanted.” So I said yes to you that night when you were in my room. I must admit, I never expected you to be that good with your tongue and caresses. You put all the guys I’ve ever dated in shame with the way you handled me that night.

So I kept coming. I kept wanting more. You kept giving it to me and you kept being motivational with your ways and words. And then the worse happened! I got pregnant for you. The first thing you said to me when I told you about the pregnancy was: “You know we can’t keep it, right?” I said: “Yeah I know. We can’t.” Then you hang up on me. I called again and again but you didn’t pick. You sent me a message: “My wife is here, so I can’t talk.” I responded: “Then let’s chat.” You responded, “I’m busy right now, let’s talk tomorrow.”

I called tomorrow. I called the day after tomorrow. I called again the following day. You didn’t respond. I sent a text, you read it and left it unanswered. “Ah, why is this guy trying to avoid me?” But I knew where to find you so on Sunday, I sat in front of the church, so whenever you come to the altar, you’ll see me. If you’re a church elder, it doesn’t mean you should run from your responsibilities. I saw how uneasy you felt whenever we made eye contact. I knew you were getting the message. After church, I run to you to talk, but you gave me the I’m busy excuse. I waited until I saw you standing there with your wife. I walked in and asked if I could talk to you for a minute. You were lucky to oblige. If you gave me that I’m busy excuse again, your wife would have known about us right there but you obliged and walked away with me.

“Why are you not talking to me? Anyway, I need money for what you said I should do.”

“I’ll send you money tomorrow. Is that all you need?”

“No. When I call you, pick or the next moment you’ll hear me knocking at your door.”

I must admit, I was only puffing hot air. I didn’t have the courage to do that but I thought such threat will make you understand how dangerous I could be. When the money came, I went to the hospital and did it. That should have been the end of the story but no. The doctor who did work on me that day made a mistake. A huge one that caused me to bleed for days. I was always in pain but you were in the house enjoying your wife and the comfort of her smiles. I went back to the hospital and asked to see the doctor who worked on me. That was when I learned he wasn’t qualified for the work that he did on me. I was broken and scared. I thought I was going to die but the other doctor assured me things could be corrected. He worked on me and a few days later the bleeding stopped.

I called several times to let you know the complications and the pain I was going through but you never picked my call. The physical pain was unbearable but the emotional pain was worse. The guilt. The fear for my life. Why I allowed myself to be deceived. All of these came together to cause me emotional pain bigger than physical pain. I remember one night, I felt like ending it all just to stop the pain but instead, I cried until I fell asleep.

You didn’t know any of these and I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to you about it because both of us are working hard to bury our shame and pretend nothing happened. Today, I looked at myself and said: “Boy I was stupid.” The mistake of the first doctor, the pain I went through are Karma’s warning to me and I’ve taken it. Never would I repeat such a mistake. A man who wears a ring is forbidden fruit for me. Kissing him is like drinking from a poisoned chalice. You won’t die immediately but slowly death will catch up with you.

But listen to me. Maybe you haven’t received your punishment yet and I’m not going to say you’ll be punished for what you did to me but listen, if that’s what you go around doing to innocent women, then believe me, your day of reckoning will come and it would be uglier than what I went through. Mend your ways and seek forgiveness.

—Alice, Ghana