Whose fault, is it? Who’s to blame? The one who demands it or the one who obliges? I don’t know and that’s why am writing this piece. It’s based on a true story, and I hope it blesses and makes a difference.
Her name is Temi (Real name withheld) and here she narrates her story:
They say I was born beautiful, and I thought so too. From an early age, as soon as I could understand the words pretty, I relished it. Called Beauty, here and beauty, there. All this was well and good until I turned 16, got admission into the university, and there I got my first body-shaming experience.
It was on the day of the welcome party for new students, the realization dawned on me that I wasn’t as beautiful as they made me think. I, Temi, beautiful, full-figured, admired by most, that’s how I was described, but it didn’t matter how many times I got complimented in the past, the words hit me hard. I don’t know why, but it did. He was tall, dark, had a wonderful smile, but I wouldn’t say he was handsome, rather, the kind of guy a young naïve woman would not mind being validated by.
He walks up to me, stops, stands there for a while, looking me up and down, grinning, then he puts his left hand on my face, strokes it in a downward gesture and, says “Hmmm, honey, you would have been perfect but for your thin hips and a flat bottom. But don’t worry, you are still young, am sure you’ll grow into it, until then I’ll keep you on ice.” And with that, he did a chuckling laugh and walked off. I was dumbfounded. That’s not what I was expecting to hear. I had always been complimented and loved and got all the attention I craved. And now this? I found myself shaking so badly and feeling a bit giddy. All I could hear over and over in my head were those cruel words body shaming me. I couldn’t stand to be at the party anymore. So, with blood draining from my face, I staggered to the door. I heard Gbemi my new roommate calling me back and asking me where I was going, but I ignored her, all I could think of was the sound of his voice, and the ugly comments made by a guy I thought would validate me, but instead I was humiliated.
That nasty comment sealed my faith. It turned my life upside down. I couldn’t understand the terrible, decapitating effect it had on me. His words stabbed me like a dagger. I was imperfect, my hips were too narrow, and my bottom was flat. That single nasty comment was all it took to derail years of praise and admiration that had built up my self-esteem. Looking back, I realized I must have been so messed up to believe I needed a fine-looking guy to validate me. Before that day, I thought I had the perfect figure, but I had just been thrown off my high horse and realized I would never be the same.
The truth is I didn’t even realize the depth of its effect on me until it engulfed me in self-pity. Overnight I disliked my body, became shy, withdrawn, and slowly lost confidence in myself. I remember a few weeks later a few of us were discussing something about boys and relationships and I open my mouth and I am shocked by the negative comment that comes out, “I don’t look good, I don’t think anyone would want to date me?” As I said it, all eyes were on me and Gbemi my roommate exclaimed, “What? Stop saying that, why are you making fun, you know you are the prettiest among all of us?” I didn’t argue with her, I knew they wouldn’t understand. I was ugly and they were trying to make me feel better, just like everyone was. What did I expect? My new friends were doing it and so did my family. My family has always seen me as the pet of the house, that last child who was allowed to get away with anything. The fragile one, whom no one wanted to upset. I guess they must have thought, “Why not tell her she’s beautiful, even though she’s not, just to make her feel better and boost her ego”.………. Now I was knocked down to earth, I couldn’t stand my body. The guy body shamming me wasn’t even as bad as I felt every day. My mind kept telling me I was ugly, and this made me want to hide my body. The transformation was drastic, I discarded all my tight-fitting clothes and replaced them with baggy pants and t-shirts. I no longer took any interest in my appearance. What’s the point, I thought to myself. People only like admiring beautiful things and I was not one of them.
A few months later, in those baggy clothes, I went back home for my first visit to see the family. As I walked into our living room, I could see the shock on their faces at my new appearance, but they didn’t ask me why the sudden change in appearance, instead they complimented my looks and called me beautiful. That’s when I knew I was right all along. How could anyone look at me now and call me beautiful? My hair was unkempt, I didn’t have on make-up, and I looked frumpy in the oversized baggy clothes I had on. Their comments convinced me the compliments given now and in the past were just to make me feel good about myself, but they didn’t see me as beautiful.
Well, I had news for them, I was wiser now and their flattery was no longer working. I didn’t care what they thought, I was covering up a body I hated because they had lied to me that it was perfect when it wasn’t. They had lost their right to compliment me, I didn’t care anymore. My older brother tried to ask about my sudden change in appearance, but after one scornful look from me, he backed away.
From then onwards, my life slowly dragged on like that for four years until the day of graduation. 1st class, economics, which wasn’t a surprise, as I spent my 4 years in university, doing 2 things, reading and reading. I didn’t socialize, hated myself and I guess in return hated everyone else. This supports the saying, “you can only give what you have.” Looking back to those years am not sure how I got through them, I don’t particularly remember much, except one thing that stood out was a boy called Daniel.
Thinking back to that time, the first time I saw Daniel, I immediately felt he was lovely. At first, I didn’t notice him, but he was hard to miss after he accidentally spilled his Coca-Cola all over my white trainers. I was sitting as usual in the quadrangle, minding my own business, waiting for my next class, when suddenly I heard a thud, looked up and there he was, this skinny tall guy holding his hands on his head looking all terrified. That’s when I realized he had just spilled the contents of his coke can all over my new white trainers. I was mortified and about to scream his head off, when he went on his knees and began to gesticulate saying “My fair lady, am begging you please, your humble servant is so clumsy, please oblige me the honour of washing your fine white trainers to restore them to their glory.” He didn’t even mind all the attention he was attracting, he just remained on his knees waiting for me to say something. But I couldn’t get upset, I just busted out laughing and we became instant friends.
Yes, I had sworn myself to male friends’ celibacy, but you must understand Daniel was not like other boys on campus, he was a proper gentleman. In the mornings he walked me from the hostels to lectures and back. He carried my books, sat beside me in the library, and sometimes we went for lunch in the cafeteria, or he will go to town and get me lunch or dinner. All through he was my study partner, confidant, companion, and the fact are, he acted more like a big brother than a friend. That was all, he never asked me out, was never inappropriate, but instead always nice and polite and to top it all he gave me a listening ear.
Daniel and I continued this way for 4 years right up until the day of graduation. Once we picked up our certificates from the administrative office, we walked side by side towards the car park, where our relations and friends were waiting to take pictures with us. As we turned the last bend, he came close to me, took both my hands in his, and gave me a peck on the cheek. I was taken aback, but didn’t say anything. As he stared at me, I could have sworn I saw tears in his eyes, but they quickly disappeared. He then smiled at me and said, “Temi my love, the world is waiting for you, go conquer.” And with that, he let go of my hands and before I could respond to what he said, he walked away from me, got into his family car and they drove away.
Fortunately, Daniel’s words weren’t lost on me, he said, “go conquer” and conquer I did, within 3 weeks of finishing my youth service, I got a job at the largest bank. But as soon as I started work things became weird and I began to feel out of place. First, it was the dress code, my baggy pants and t-shirts had no place in the bank. I had to swop them for baggy suits, and they hung on me like rags on a stick. I didn’t care at first because I dug myself into work, but soon, I couldn’t help but notice how young ladies like me got a lot of attention and I didn’t. At university it wasn’t very obvious because I had kept to myself, but here in the bank, we were in each other’s face, in a confined space every single day, their activities were hard to miss. The obvious ones were first, for my probation period I was relegated behind a desk, checking and osculating between the stock room and the Mailroom. While the other ladies were immediately given chauffeur driven cars and sent out to bring in clients or made to work on the customer service desk.
Secondly, as if that wasn’t bad enough, I watched as the girls blossomed and metamorphosed from caterpillars into beautiful butterflies, while I remained the same boring caterpillar. This only made me feel worse about myself, I felt like everyone was conspiring against me. I again began to crave their validation, but it wasn’t forthcoming and that made me feel worse. But there was one little silver lining, I loved my job, it was interesting and well paid, I even had a nice 1-bedroom apartment and a car to show for it. So at least I had the work thing going well for me, but I didn’t like myself at all.
My frustration about the goings-on in the office didn’t end there. Every Monday morning as I walked pasted the girls, I listened to them catch up on weekend trips, parties, and outings I never got invited to. I didn’t understand why, and I didn’t care, or so I thought, until one Friday evening, about 14 months after I started working at the bank when my immediate boss called me into his office. His name was Mr. Igwe, an elderly man, nice, one of those really strong Christian brothers who respected themselves. Anyway, as I sat down in front of his desk he went straight to the point, “Sister Temi, what happened to you?” he said and paused to see my reaction. Of course, I was taken aback because he had never been that direct to me. So curiously I ask, “Sir, what do you mean?” looking straight into my eyes smiling, He replies, “Since you started work here, I have watched and noticed that you are smart, beautiful but very aloof. You keep to yourself, walk around in oversize clothes, and don’t socialize with anyone, who did this to you?” Wow, that took me by surprise, and I thought, where did this come from? What I didn’t know at the time was that Mr. Igwe was a church counsellor and had made up his mind something wasn’t right with me. I sat there staring at him for a few seconds not sure what to say, but he answered for me anyway, “Look Temi, I strongly believe someone hurt you a while back and my money is on a guy and since then you have given up on yourself, refused to heal or let go of the hurt and its turned you into something else. Don’t be surprised, I am a trained counsellor, and I can tell these things…”
He was about to go on, when I interrupted and raised my voice, “Sir, I beg your pardon, don’t let me disrespect you, you don’t know me and just because I work here, doesn’t give you the right to psychoanalyze me, excuse me.” And with that, I kissed my teeth and walked out of his office in anger. Although I couldn’t quite place where my anger was directed, at him for daring to point out the obvious or at myself for feeling the way I do. As I walked away All I could hear him say was, “Take it or leave it, you better forgive the guy, or you will continue to be miserable.” That was a low blow, who did he think he was? How dear he? This man was the only one I respected around the office because he bothered to ask me how I was doing every single day.
The truth is, although I felt irritated and upset with his comments, it gave me pause. Got me thinking about what he said, was I unforgiving and that’s why I hate myself? or is it something else. But the question remained, Exactly Who do I forgive? My family who built up my hopes and told me I was the prettiest girl in the world or, the boy who body shammed me in university and pushed me to hate myself or maybe myself, who decided that I was ugly and began to dislike me? honestly, I wasn’t sure.
After the incident a few weeks went by Mr. Igwe and I went back to official business, he never mentioned it again and I tried to focus on work. But it wasn’t easy as my thoughts still lingered on what he had said. Thinking about its night and day I gradually began to see his point. What if my decision not to forget that body shamming incident is making me hate myself and preventing me from being noticed. What if Mr. Igwe is right about me having to forgive and forget? And in my mind, I was thinking, maybe it’s time to test his theory and see if things would get better. I struggled with the decision to forgive and forget, no matter how much I tried it still lingered on, and besides I wasn’t even sure I could make it work.
But a few months later, after torturing myself and procrastinating about giving it a try I suddenly decided I couldn’t take the torture any longer, I needed validation and realized I wasn’t going to get it unless I acted on what Mr. Igwe had suggested. So, I went online, typed in the words ‘I hate myself, and started to read up on related articles. And to my surprise, I discovered that I was suffering from low self-esteem, and one of the first steps to a cure was changing my appearance to look good to regain self-confidence.
At the time, I took the word ‘appearance’ at face value and felt it meant the way I dressed, so for that, I decided to solicit the help of my neighbour Agatha. Now Agatha was about my age, worked at a high-priced law firm as an office manager, and like me drove a new car but the difference, she always dressed to kill. The first time we spoke was when she came to borrow a cup of rice. That evening, she knocked on my door half-naked, although she had on bum shorts and a spaghetti top, I felt she was exposing too much flesh. With me standing at the open door, she smiled and said, “Hi Neighbor, we haven’t been introduced, am Agatha, I live next door, do you happen to have some rice you can spare?” And as I gazed at the beautiful girl, grinning from cheek to cheek, holding a cup, how could I refuse her? That day I gave her the last cup of rice I had. And from then we became ‘sort of friends. I say ‘sort of’ because she wanted to be close, but I didn’t. She made several attempts to invite me out, but I always gave an excuse, “Am busy or tired or working late, etc., but that girl never gave up trying. So, when I told her I needed to change my wardrobe and didn’t know where to start from, she was elated.
That weekend we spent it shopping, Agatha called it a successful rebranding Temi exercise and she was right, I honestly could never have imagined how much a change in appearance would affect my life until that Monday when I walked into the office compound. The first thing that shocked me was the no of guys that smiled and said: “Hello”, even the gateman referred to me as “auntie” instead of “madam”, before that day people hardly noticed me. But it wasn’t until I was about to go in through the staff entrance and the security guide said, “Sorry auntie, this entrance is for staff only,” that I also realized I was unrecognizable. I recall that morning when Agatha was putting finishing touches to my makeup and she handed me the mirror, I took one look at my face and yelled, oh my gosh Agatha, what have you done to me? I could not believe the transformation, even I didn’t even recognize myself, my face was made up gorgeously, trimmed eyebrows, highlighted cheekbones, and an amazing foundation that covered all blemishes. In addition to hair weave 22 inches long, false eyelashes, and a lovely tight fitting office dress with 6-inch heels to compliment. Agatha just kept smiling as she looked me up and down, “Honey if I may say so myself, my work is flawless, rebranding successful, you look drop-dead gorgeous.” And she nailed it because that week, you won’t believe it, but I made more new friends in a week than I had for the last few years of my life. I felt a lot better; I loved the new me and noticed the inferiority complex I felt disappeared, and I noticed that made me friendlier. Validations came from the left and right and once again, I felt on top of the world, just like I did when I was younger. Not just that, I also got invited by new office friends to 2 outings, 3 lunch dates, a diner, and the best of all Mr. Igwe called me into his office that week and offered me a transfer to the team that went out to get clients for the bank.
After my rebranding, I became obsessed with my appearance, it was as if I had been locked in a cage all my life and I was discovering freedom for the first time. I couldn’t stop buying clothes, shoes, bags, makeup, day and night creams, and face lifters, name it, I wanted it all. I saw how people treated me now compared to before and I didn’t want it to stop. I could see the better I looked, the more accolades and validation I got. I loved and craved the attention; I was happy and noticed gradually I became more confident especially around guys. They came in their droves, asking me out all the time, I dated and dismissed guys after a few dates. Why stay with one permanently, when I could have them all. The rich, not so rich, young, old, they all came after me, it was surreal.
Notwithstanding, I continued to work hard and thrived, as my newfound appearance made it possible to convince new customers to deposit their funds in our bank. Soon the bank management noticed, and promotions came my way and before you could say, Jack Robinson, I was promoted to deputy head of corporate affairs and transferred to the head office. It was there I became insatiable, my quest to look the best and stand out, led me to purchase the latest designer bags, expensive clothes, shoes, gold, etc. I spent so much on myself it was unbelievable but thankfully promotions came with more money and dating rich men had its benefits. But surprisingly as simple as he had disappeared, Daniel came back into my life.
That day I had gone to meet with a customer arranged by the head of corporate affairs. All I knew I was meeting the CEO of a large firm with deep pockets who need a large loan for a project. I arrived right on time and was led into a large palatial office and asked to wait for the CEO. About 10 minutes later, the office door opens, and in walks this handsome imposing man and as he walks towards me, he says, “So sorry to keep you waiting miss.” At first, I wasn’t even concentrating on his face, but as soon as I heard the voice it jolted me, it was unmistakably familiar, I could never forget that voice and face, it was Daniel, underneath the well-kept beard and dark sunglasses, was my only friend from university, it had been 6 years or a bit more. He noticed my reaction and removed his sunglasses and stared at me curiously, I realized he didn’t recognize me. So, I smiled and said, “It’s me Temi”.
By now, he too was wondering why this strange lady was grinning and acting all excited. He had to move closer, look me over properly, then he yelled, “Oh my gosh, it’s you, Temi what happened? You look so different.” I was so happy to see him and didn’t realize how much I missed him until that minute, so pretending I was offended by his question, I raised my eyebrows and asked, Different? He just totally ignored my pretend frown and busted out laughing, “in a very good way my love, in a very good way”. At that point there was nothing else to do, we jumped in each other arms and hugged for a few seconds, then we let go and hugged some more. That day we went out to lunch and spent 4 hours catching up on all those years since graduation. Anyway, to cut the long story short, we began a romantic relationship and 5 months later we were married.
A year later, still waxing strong, I discovered I was pregnant. Daniel and I were elated, we celebrated by going on a long weekend to Dubai. When we returned, I went back to work and so did he. The trouble began when I ended the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy. The first thing I noticed was my facial features, my nose started to get big, my boobs, thighs, everywhere I didn’t expect it too, I had always felt my stomach would take all the weight, and once the baby was born all will go back to normal like in the movies. I couldn’t take it.
I started getting moody, yelling unnecessarily, and got irritated a lot, so I decided it was time to do something about the weight gain. I stopped eating solid food, took too many liquids and energy boosters, when Daniel found out he freaked. Having told me how bad it was for the baby, I promised to change, but I didn’t. Daniel didn’t find out until one afternoon I was coming back from my regular weekend walks, and I fainted. Thankfully he was there to rush me to the hospital and in his dismay the doctor diagnosed malnutrition. “Malnutrition, “Daniel Yelled, “Temi, what have you done? Are you trying to kill yourself and our child? …” and he went on and on until finally, he compelled the doctor to keep me on bed rest until I had the child. After delivery, I was huge, I hated the way I looked, my face was all swollen and puffy, none of my clothes fit, and neither did my shoes. I had to get those same baggy clothes I discarded a long time ago. My self-esteem deflated and I unintentionally took it out on the baby, refused to bond with the child. The doctor diagnosed me as having postpartum depression and reassured Daniel it was only a temporary phase, but it wasn’t.
Six months after the baby came, I still wasn’t any better, I obsessed over my body, took all the slimming pills recommended online and in fashion magazines. Herbs, foreign liquids name it, I was obsessed. Spent the whole day exercising, and spent so much money on importing slimming shakes, drugs, patches etc. Soon my whole diet consisted of diet pills and shakes, and that came with fainting a few times. Daniel began to complain, he was scared for me and tired of whom I had become. We hardly made love, hardly spoke, if I wasn’t researching online, I was at work or the gym. No time for him or the baby. I had taken a year off work because I couldn’t face my colleagues looking all frumpy. He expressed his concerns to me over and over again, begged me to quit, stop, and promised to help me. He even said he loved me the way I was, but I ignored him and said he couldn’t understand. I needed to look the way I did, I need others to validate me, I couldn’t take the looks I got at the gym, supermarket, and all. The snare remarks about my weight and the big fat tummy.
Daniel didn’t know what else to do, so he had to get two nannies to take care of the baby, I wasn’t interested, I just wanted my figure back. Two years later, although back to work and my old size, I was still on the same path, I told Daniel I couldn’t stop, or else all the weight would come back. He was at his wit’s end and finally had enough, he left me. After all that I should have been devastated, but I wasn’t. My mother moved in with me and everything went the way I felt it should. After all, my obsessing and efforts paid off, I got back to my desired weight, my clothes fit again, and my self-confidence returned.
This went on for some years and then I met Chuks. With him, it was love at first sight. We were at a company function, his table was next to mine, our eyes met and bam, I was besotted. One thing led to another we ended up making love and I found out I was pregnant again. Oh my gosh, the day I found out was so sad, I didn’t realize how far I was gone until I got to the abortion clinic and the doctor told me I was too far gone, and abortion could be dangerous. How come I didn’t put on weight or have morning sickness like in the past, I enquired. The doctor said probably because of my slimming diet and rigorous exercise regime. As I walked out of his office I sat in my car and cried so hard, in anger I called Chuks, ranted and raved, and asked him never to come near me again. Four months later, I had my son and my belly fat refused to go down, I was back in the first place, not as fat but the tummy size was the same and I couldn’t take it. This time my mother was there to help, she took the baby off me and that gave me time to work on getting back to normal, which I achieved faster than before.
Having my mother watch my kids gave me all the freedom in the world. No husband to go home to, no children to worry about, my social life got wilder and wilder. Agatha was still my best friend and we hung out together with men. Going to parties, traveling, outings, and in turn, these men spoilt us with money and gifts. All the men liked us and were nice but there was one particular one I had a crush on, Chief Albert.
He was wealthy, smooth, dapper, and very good looking. The way he talked, dressed and behaved, melted my heart every time we were around him, I wanted him for myself and realized I would do everything to get him. Throughout our time with them, he was always with a woman on his arm, and I noticed they had a particular figure, a small waist, and a huge bottom. So, I didn’t make a move because I didn’t have the sort of figure he liked and wasn’t sure of my chances until one evening Agatha appeared in my house having shrunk from a size 12 to a size 8. Oh my gosh, I hadn’t seen her in 2 weeks she told me she was traveling and seeing her now, I couldn’t believe anyone could look that different in just 3 weeks until she revealed to me what she did.
After she was done narrating it to me, I knew I had to do the same, it only made sense, she had a wonderful hour-glass shape and got it done right here in Nigeria. She told me all the ladies who had done the same in the hospital and looking at pictures of them I could see what the difference was. As if to prove my point Agatha and I went to a party and that night one of the richest men in the country invited her to Monte Carlo, flying on his private jet. The next week she was back with 25,000 dollars in her account and a key to an apartment in Victoria Island, she was now the official mistress of a billionaire. Wow, what the right figure could do for a woman, I had to do it and so she took me to the cosmetic surgeon.
The first consultancy was to discuss what I wanted to be done, how he works, and watch videos of before and after pictures of women who had gone through different procedures at the hospital. Breast enlargements, hip and bum enlargements, liposuction, tummy tuck, nose jobs, etc., he even did waist reconstruction by removing a rib to redefine the waist area making it much smaller, increasing the hip and creating an hourglass figure, that’s what Agatha had done and that’s what I wanted.
The second consultation was to discuss the process, risk, and all. After pointing out the risk, of which one was death, documents were given to me to sign and asked to come back in a few days, when I was sure I wanted to go through with the surgery. I knew I should have confided in my mother or at least my sisters but I couldn’t. For some reason, I knew what I was about to do wasn’t right, but I couldn’t bring myself to admitting that. After all, Agatha and so many others had done it and they were enjoying the benefits, I wanted that too. And besides, I wanted Chief Albert and Chief Albert I must have, nothing was going to interrupt that. So, 4 days later I took the signed forms back to the doctor and the surgery was fixed for a week later.
The night before the surgery I had a dream, I was on an elevated platform looking down at my two children, I had on a pure white wedding dress, and they were tugging at my train asking me not to leave them at the bottom. I kept reassuring them I would be down in a minute, but they didn’t want to hear that, they kept tugging at the dress and calling out to me. I just ignored them and kept walking down the raised platform and then I woke up. As soon as I did my heart was racing, I ran to my children’s room they were sound asleep and I just brushed it off as an ordinary dream, little did I know it wasn’t.
The morning of the operation, I kissed my children goodbye, reeled out instructions to their driver and my mum, and told them I was going for a work trip and would be back in a few days and I went straight to check myself into the hospital for my cosmetic elective surgery. I was in perfect health, my blood pressure was better than normal and after the nurse took my vitals, the surgeon came in to tell me one more time what the procedure will entail. “Nothing to worry about Temi, this operation will be in two phases. First, we open you up, extract fat from your stomach, and inject it into your hips and bum. After that your ribs will be removed, more fat extracted, and you will get the waistline you always dream of. Nothing to worry about we’ve done this procedure a million times “. As he ended his speech, a wave of excitement came over me thinking of what I would look like when he was done, at the same time a wave of fear went over me but I dismissed it as they wheeled me into the operation theatre and the anaesthesiologist came in and asked me to count backward from 100 and I was out.
The next thing I woke up 5 hours later and it hurt like mad. The nurse gave me an injection to norm the pain and went to call the doctor and he came in beaming from cheek to cheek, “Congratulations Temi, your operation was successful, we will give you some meds and you should be free to go home in a couple of days”. Hmm, I was relieved, thank God, Chief Albert was mine, and all I need is to get some more clothes to fit my new figure. 3 days later I was discharged, I got home went to bed and when I woke up, I wasn’t feeling well. I had a bit of fever and a headache, so I took some pain killers and anti-malaria drugs but 2 days later it got worse, I knew something was wrong. My mother was beside herself with worry, I still hadn’t told anyone I just had major cosmetic surgery, so they had no idea what was wrong with me. At some point, that evening I couldn’t speak at length without getting out of breath nor could I breathe properly, and my heartbeat was racing, so I called a taxi and rushed back into the hospital.
As soon as the doctor saw me, he knew something wasn’t right, the look in his eyes said it all. He ordered an immediate x-ray and to our horror, the results revealed I had a perforation in my intestines. And as the doctor reeled the news out to me, tears rolled down my eyes, “Temi, am so sorry to say but there have been some complications and we would have to perform another surgery”. Oh my gosh, what’s wrong with me, I tried to scream but I couldn’t, it was too painful, I whispered, please help me, I was in so much pain, by now all my body was aching so badly, my tummy hurt, my back, my joints. It was as if someone had set a fire inside of me, I couldn’t control it anymore, I was rolling and holding onto my stomach, the nurse came in and gave me some morphine to norm the pain just before I passed out. I guess the doctor got scared and called my next of kin on the consent form I had signed and that was Agatha. By the time she came over and saw my condition, she too got really scared to sign the consent forms on my behalf and she called my estranged Sisters and brother. She had to let him know, this was no longer something we covered up, as the doctor had explained to her that my life was hanging in the balance if I didn’t have another surgery to repair the hole in my intestines.
Yes, I do have a sibling, but we had been estranged for a while because of my insistent quest for perfection, all that was no longer relevant, as soon as Agatha called them and told them the situation, they came rushing over, looking all confused. The doctor explained my procedure and the complications, He said I would have to be moved to another hospital for the second operation because he wasn’t capable to do it. I was awake now and noticed my brother could not believe what he was hearing, this was supposed to be a first-class hospital, how could the doctor say he couldn’t do the operation and he didn’t have the facilities to do it. He was confused, he didn’t even understand what I needed cosmetic surgery for to enlarge my already big bottom, I heard him ask Agatha what I was thinking, I knew he was disappointed, he didn’t say it out but from his expression, I could read his mind. The worst thing the doctor said he had to sign a waiver before the 2nd operation could be done, even though the doctor caused the perforation, the family still had to say they agree to have it done and if anything happened it wasn’t the hospital’s fault.
At this point, my brother like Agatha was too scared to sign any documents, especially in my condition, what if the unthinkable happens? How will he explain he decided on his own, this was beyond him, for these he had to call and inform other family members and so the whole family found out what I had done? Calls began to come into my phone, none asked me why I did it, and they just prayed and said everything would be okay. One relation said he would send his doctor to access my situation and give a second opinion. By now I had slipped in and out of consciousness a few times and the doctor was getting agitated. That evening my brother got the family’s consent to sign the waiver forms and I was finally wheeled into an ambulance, for an onward journey to the location of the next operation.
That same night I was operated upon, it took 3 hours but sadly when they were done it was too late and I slipped into a coma. The doctors gave all sorts of excuses, this was a procedure they had successfully done 100’s of times, they couldn’t explain how and why my intestines got a hole in it, but they did, and it wasn’t discovered on time. So, toxics had gotten into my bloodstream and by the time he got in there to fix the holes, I had an infection, SEPSIS. And even when the holes were fixed, it was too late. The sepsis had already spread and began to break down my vital organs, all they could do now was keep me comfortable. It wasn’t a matter of if but of when.
As for me, I could feel my soul leaving my body, Agatha, my brother, now gathered sisters, uncles, and aunts who found out from my brother, just stood there looking from the doctor to me, sobbing and trying not to make it obvious. The second doctor came to do an assessment and give a second opinion, he said I had a 20% chance of survival, but I knew it was more like a 2% chance, he was just being polite.
What else could anyone do but watch me waste away? there was nothing else to do as I slipped in and out of a coma and for the first time, I couldn’t understand what made me take this drastic decision. At that point, I wish I could get a do-over, I wish I never allowed those harsh words to define me, I wish I just loved myself, had some self-esteem and ignored everyone else, and listened to Daniel.
At that moment I would have given anything to turn back the hands of time. As my life drained out of me, there was nothing my regret could do, I thought of my 2 children and the pain I felt was worse than the physical pains from my botched operation, why Temi? Why?, where is the man I was doing this for,? where were the friends who encouraged me to go for it? where was the pride, the ego, the vanity? all had left me behind and I had to bear the cross on my own, my poor children, they didn’t deserve this, my aged mother, how would she look after my children?
They who went on holidays every summer, went to a private school, wore the best clothes, and got driven back and forth in a Mercedes Benz jeep. What’s going to become of them? I realized I didn’t just ruin my life, I ruined my children’s lives, my mother’s life, my Siblings. All because of vanity I did this unnatural dangerous operation? Who was going to cry for me now, who will care, won’t that all say, “She brought this on herself?” What legacy am I leaving for my children? O dear God, am so sorry, why wasn’t I content with the way you made me, I was beautiful, well endowed, perfect the way you wanted me to be if only I had said no. I had a good job, was healthy, and have 2 wonderful healthy kids. Yes, I didn’t have a man to call my own, but the father of my first child Daniel was always there for me. He had forgiven me, and we were friends now, he even just suggested I relocate to America with the two children, and next week we had an appointment at the embassy for Visas.
I remember friends envied my figure, for a mother of two, they always said “I wish I was like you, you look amazing “. So why didn’t I see it, why did I hate myself? I wanted fat taken from my stomach to enhance my hips. Smaller waist and bigger hips, why you ask? well for a man I wanted to get. He wasn’t even mine yet, but I was damn sure my new figure would disarm him, and he would have been mine.
I can’t believe I did this to get a man, the man doesn’t even know I exist, oh my gosh, vanity upon vanity, I made a terrible, terminal mistake. I would shout it to the high heavens if I could. This pressure of society, how a woman should look, what men want, those demands, all not worth killing yourself over. Any man who does not like the way you are and wants you to change, doesn’t love you, he loves the idea of you and soon another idea will take your place.
If you have to have surgery to alter the way you look to get a man then you have a serious self-worth, self-esteem, inferiority complex problem and you need help. Please it’s not worth risking your life to provide the perfect picture. Look at me now on the day I was buried, I watched as friends and foes cried, seemingly sad to see me go, I knew those who were genuine, only a hand full, I could hear most of them murmur, “what was she thinking?” “How could she?”, “she brought this on herself”, “what a waste”, “Shame on her” “Just for vanity, greedy girl “etc. and they were right. Wasn’t it a waste, in my prime, my whole life ahead of me, and what do I do with it, I gamble it away because of my insecurities, my low self-esteem, my greed, my covetousness, And Now am 6 feet under, eaten by worms and that’s where it landed me, all in a quest to portray the perfect picture …….
Image from freepik.