Dinma was applying ointment on her face- in the bedroom- when she heard Chike’s car drive into the compound. Minutes later, she heard him open the children’s door to check on them. They were already sleeping but he always checked on them- no matter how late he got back home. He walked into the bedroom door with bags from her favorite boutique.
He kissed a spot on her face she had not covered with ointment and excitedly handed her one of the bags.
“Try these on. I want to see them on you.”
A huge smile took up her entire face. “What are we celebrating? It’s not yet my birthday.”
Dinma looked into the bag, there were three dresses in it. It didn’t matter that she was bone tired and didn’t want to take off her nightie. Her lips were in danger of splitting from her very wide grin. She pulled them out and regarded each dress. The finishing on them was amazing. He regularly bought her stuff from Nurse Sheri’s sister’s boutique- Mindy Boutique. It was a first class boutique with quality stuff. She noticed the other shopping bags in his hands and knew without a doubt that he also got something for the kids. She planted a kiss on his lips in gratitude.
“Go ahead and try them on. We can return anyone that doesn’t fit you.”
She wriggled out of her night gown and tried on the first dress. It was a blue, off shoulder, floor length dress. It was beautiful and she felt like a princess in it. Dragging her gaze away from her image, she saw Chike regarding her with speculation.
“What? What’s wrong? You don’t like it?” Her eyes rounded, eager to please him.
He spun her around and took some steps backwards to get a better look at her- a frown on his face.
“The dress itself is lovely but I don’t think …..” He gesticulated while trying to come up with an appropriate statement. “…the dress is ….your neck is looking too thin in the dress.” He said finally. “I don’t like how your collar bone is sticking out.”
Dinma, suddenly self-conscious, reached for her neck. Chike smiled and placed his fingers in her sunken collar bone. “It’s my fault, I shouldn’t have bought you an off-shoulder dress.”
The muscles on her cheek ticked involuntarily as she tried to hold up her smile.
“You should return the dress.” He said as he spun her around again to unzip the gown.
The second dress was a beautiful, red flared gown that fell slightly above her knees. It had lace trimmings at the neck line and a big bow at the shoulder. Not pausing to form her own opinion on the dress, she quickly looked at Chike to find out what he thought about it.
“Hmmm…. This is good. Yes, it’s good.”
Dinma caught his eyes and smiled.
“Your neck is still standing out though but this thing,” he touched the bow, “will take attention away from your neck.” Once again, he stepped back to admire the full package. “Don’t wear heels with this dress. You may look too tall and gangly, if you do.”
She hastily took off the dress and wiggled into the third, her now robotic smile struggling to remain in place.
“It’s nice but looks too drab.” He gave her a once over and quickly unzipped the dress. “I saw a lady try on a similar dress at the boutique and she looked stunning. I don’t know why this one looks like a funeral attire on you.” He kissed her neck to take the sting out of his words. “My wife is gorgeous, it’s the dress that is wrong for you. But on a more serious note, you are becoming too skiny.” He touched her collar bone again, then helped her out of the dress.
Three years earlier.
“Is that what you are wearing?” Chike asked, frowning slightly when Dinma walked into the living room.
“What’s wrong with it?” She looked down at the dress.
Their very good friend from the university was getting married and they were running late. Dinma’s cousin, Esther, was going to watch 4-year old Ezinne and 7-month old Nnamdi till they got back.
“You look, I dunno…..fat…. in that dress.” He switched off the television set. “I can see the bulge in your stomach and those love handles on your back are very unflattering.”
“Chike, I have had two kids. Nnamdi is not even one yet. I’m pretty sure it will be understandable that I am not as slim as when we newly wedded.”
His facial expression was still contorted in a frown. She sighed and dropped her purse on the table. “If you want me to change to something else; I will.”
“No there is no time for that. Just use a shawl to cover up yourself.” He picked his car keys. “I can’t wait for you to start the dressing process over again.”
“The weather is extremely hot, a shawl will be very uncomfortable for me.”
“Then STAY HOME. You won’t go with me dressed like a sumo wrestler. I don’t need you embarrassing me in public.”
“Would you prefer if I act like I don’t know you when we get there? Look, it’s not a hard task. The ball is in your court; either get a shawl to cover up those unflattering parts or stay at home. The choice is yours.”
She hurriedly got a shawl and draped it over her dress.
The tension in the car was thick enough to cut with a knife. It didn’t help that the car AC hadn’t completely evaporated the sweat pouring down her face- now she felt like a pig. She pulled down the shawl, making sure to cover her stomach from Chike’s scrutiny.
“It’s not like you are FAT fat. It’s just that most of your clothes don’t fit like before. I’m just worried that if you go shopping for your current size, you may not bother losing that baby weight again around your stomach. You really should sign up at a gy….”
“I have put on the shawl, CAN WE PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT MY WEIGHT?” She yelled. “You make it sound like I got fat by sitting in front of a TV, eating junk food everyday. Try having two kids and tell me how that goes.”
“You are easily offended…too sensitive.” He revved the engine and sped down the express. “What’s wrong with what I said? If I were getting out of shape, I would expect you to tell me too. We are supposed to have each other’s best interests at heart. How would you feel if start growing a beer belly? It won’t be fair to you because I know how you hate that.”
Dinma remained unresponsive, turned the AC flip in her direction and dug out her lip gloss from her bag to complete her makeup process. From the corner of her eyes, she saw Chike steal glances at her as she applied the lip gloss.
“So you are trying to completely disarm me, right?” He said, a smile in his voice. “You know I love that shade on you and I always find you irresistible when you wear it.” His words failed to put a smile on her face as it usually did.
“Honey, come on. Don’t be mad at me na.” He turned his attention back to driving as he tried to maneuver through a very bumpy road.
Dinma put her lip gloss back in her makeup bag; a lone tear slipped down her cheek.
“So which ones do you want to keep?” Chike startled her out of her reverie.
She looked at the three gowns before her but for the life of her could not figure out which one to pick. She really liked the long blue gown but Chike had a differing view on it; the red one was too frou-frou for her tastes. She also liked the chic, black gown. It had a classic elegance to it.
Turning her attention to him, she said “I’ll keep only the red dress. I can return the other two next week.”
The smile on his face confirmed she had indeed made the right choice.
DO YOU KNOW?
-that emotional abuse is a silent destroyer? It’s not as easy to pin-point as physical abuse.
-It’s sometimes so hidden that both the perpetrator and victim may not even be aware it is happening.
_emotional abuse can be found in many aspects of relationships: between lovers; parents to children; children to parents; friend to friend; boss to employee; colleagues; among family member.
Are you in an emotionally abusive relationship OR are you an abuser (sometimes abusers are not even aware of their abusive tendencies.) Click this link to read 30 SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE–http://liveboldandbloom.com/11/relationships/signs-of-emotional-abuse
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