Tue | Dec 6, 2016

Reflection & relief

Published:Monday | October 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM

After four years as a single mother devoting her life to her four children, Yanique Quest has decided to re-enter the dating world. Join us each week as we chronicle her dating journey in 'Yanique's Quest'.

"All men are dogs." That was what I heard when I walked into a conversation in my office on Monday. It's not a statement that was new to me, but I always felt you had some amazing men out there as well as some nowhere-near-amazing ones.

I told my colleague to stop generalising, but she continued. "Yanique, they are all dogs. The difference is that some are German shepherds, some are poodles, some are bulldogs, Boston terrier, Labrador retriever and you have the mongrels. All dogs Yanique, but still dogs."

She then began to explain that all men cheated and lied, they just do it differently. She used Andrew as an example. He seemed genuine with all the makings of a great man, but he neglected to mention that he was married. "Now he didn't dog you out like the mongrel that would have said 'Yow babes, mi married enuh but mi wife nuh haffi know'. He just made a concerted effort to deceive." I pondered what she said for a minute, and she had merit in her explanation. I didn't like using a dog to represent Andrew, but she had made a valid point. I sat and listened to the rest of the discussion and I could feel the anger and disappointment in the room. So many women had been deceived and hurt by men that they had trusted, and even though some had moved on, it was obvious that those experiences had changed them in some way.

My Downward spiral

I started thinking about my ex. Truth be told, I had been thinking about him a lot over the last month or so. They say time heals all wounds, but I couldn't deny that the entire experience had me harbouring my own distrust of men. I have seen women crumble after the break-up of a long-term relationship, and I always said that could never be me. But I can honestly say I nearly did.

What we fail to realise is that it's not the man that causes the breakdown. It's the thought that you spent so many years building a life with someone, not realising that they had other plans, or didn't value the relationship the way you did. This is what affected me and took me down to a measly 98 pounds.

That was a scary time in my life, and I scared a lot of people who cared about me. I was worried about my kids, what people would think, what I may have done wrong, and the one that hurt the most - what made this girl better than me that he would jeopardise our family for her?

For months the latter question drove me crazy. I was a beautiful, amazing, educated, compassionate, driven, ambitious and loving woman, but that didn't seem enough. I looked at the girl that he had cheated with and thought - she had nothing over me - at least nothing I could see, but she seemed to do something for him. She did enough for him that he made a choice to continue his relationship with her even after I had my suspicions. She did enough for him to have unprotected sex and a child with her. You can never imagine the effect the whole experience had on me.

When we broke up after I discovered she was pregnant, I cried for days. I had no appetite, I didn't want to go to work and I didn't want to leave my house. My children were with my mother and I wasn't even taking their calls. I didn't want them to know what was happening and I didn't want them to see me like that. I couldn't believe that this was happening to me. I was literally going out my mind. I made some embarrassing phone calls to him that even now I can't believe. I kept asking him why, and the answer was always the same - he was sorry. I wasn't sure how I was going to get over it.

smile and pretend

When my mother brought the children home, I smiled and pretended that I was okay while silently wishing she would leave so I could go back to bed. And I did exactly that, and continued my mourning.

You know the saying "Out of the mouth of babes"? Well, one night I was in my room crying my heart out when my daughter crawled into my bed and hugged me. I hadn't heard her enter, and when she hugged me I started crying even more because I felt like I had failed her and her brothers. She wiped my tears and started singing to me like I did when they were crying. She stopped singing and kissed my cheek and said "Mommy, I love you. Don't cry, everything is okay."

Now my daughter had no understanding of what was happening, but the comfort and reassurance that she brought me that night was what gave me the strength to fight and move on.

That night, I realised that I hadn't failed them. But I would fail them if I continued on this downward spiral. They were the most important things to me, and I had to make this transition easy on them. I wasn't immediately cured, and I won't say that I never cried again because I did. I cried many nights after that, but I kept my focus on them and taking care of them. I have been called many names in my life by many people. Some were good and some definitely not. But the best name I have been called is Mommy. So, Tajanae, thanks for the hugs, kisses and reassurance you gave me that night. A child's love is definitely the purest and I will always treasure it.