Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here. This is Zikoko’s What She Said.
The subject of today’s What She Said is a 19-year-old who blames her dad’s ill-treatment for her attraction to older men. She talks about finding out he was cheating, growing up very poor, and her dad’s financial abuse.
Tell me a memory from your childhood
When I was six, I found out my dad was cheating on my mum. I was going through his phone when I found out he was talking to a lot of women and sending them money. I ran to show my mum and she told me not to tell him I saw it. There were other times he cheated, but she never seemed bothered by it. He would send these women money but told us he had no money. I didn’t go to school in my JSS 1 third term and JSS 2 first term and my siblings also missed 2 years of school simply because we were doing badly financially — and it was all his fault.
He had come into millions of naira and lied to us that he hadn’t been paid for his contract. When the thing he used the money to do backfired, he convinced my mum to sell her land and then went behind her back to collect the money. The buyers gave him the money because he was the head of the house. My mum, not wanting any fight, gave them the papers. We sold her car and went to the state he was in. That’s when we found out everything. We were piss poor for the two years that followed. So poor that we were using ₦500 to feed a family of six daily. We’re in a better place financially, but he’s still an occasional asshole.
Damn, that must have hurt.
He doesn’t do anything for the family except give us money that is not enough for us to survive. He gives my mum ₦10,000 every month to feed five people and it’s from that same money she manages to buy some stuff for my siblings. He only recently started giving me and my siblings 1 or 2k here and there because we got into a huge fight last year.
What caused the fight?
I had gone to Lagos to write post UTME and he didn’t give us enough money. He was supposed to send more on the way back, but he didn’t so my mum and I had to stop in Ibadan because that’s how far the money carried us. She called someone she used to talk to when we lived in Ibadan and begged the person to let us stay the night. The next day, my dad sent money. When we got home, he was unusually silent. Then he said I was covering for my mum who went to see her boyfriend in Ibadan.
Ah? What did your mum say?
Nothing. My mum is a stay-at-home wife and suffers from financial abuse. She doesn’t come from a well to do family and her parents are dead. Her siblings are too busy trying to survive to pay attention to one another. We’ve never lived in one place for too long, so she doesn’t have any friends. I’m basically her only friend, so all she does is endure. She can’t just leave with four children.
Sometimes if we do something my dad doesn’t like, he blocks us everywhere and doesn’t send us money. This year, my mum wanted to attend the burial of a family member and my dad didn’t let her go. He didn’t give her money the weeks leading up to event. Why? Because a family friend was going to be there, and he’s convinced the man is my mum’s ex. When she confronted him about it, he called her siblings and was insulting them for putting ideas in her head and said he’d return her to them. After that, he sent her a very insulting message and blocked all of us for about two weeks. The blocking is easy for him to do because we don’t live in the same house. We haven’t lived together for most of my life.
Watching all the things my dad did to my mum really affected my relationship with him. Plus, it’s not like he treats me any better. This year, he brought up schooling abroad. Given the fact that I had dropped out because of some issues with school, I wasn’t in a place to refuse but I genuinely didn’t believe him. He’s too selfish to make such a commitment. My mum, however, told me to go along with it. Everything was going fine and I actually started to believe it’d happen. I fixed my bank issues, got my NIN done, renewed my passport, wrote an exam, and even started the application process for the school. Then one day he came home and said he changed his mind. He didn’t give me any concrete reason, just that the country I planned on going to gave him bad vibes.
There are countries with worse vibes than Nigeria?
According to him, this one was. He said we should try another country and in the middle of that, he sent a message to my mum about how he couldn’t afford it and how I’m ungrateful. It was so strange because I was on my own when he mentioned travelling abroad. It was later when I went with him to meet the travel agent I found out the real reason.
He and his agent were talking in Yoruba and he doesn’t know I understand Yoruba. The two of them discussed the potential of me becoming wayward abroad and how it’d be better for me to go when I’m older so if anything happened, I’d be able to get married.
Omo. I am so sorry.
It’s okay. It’s strange how we used to be pretty close when I was younger. Now I hate him, but I also don’t. Maybe it is some sort of Stockholm syndrome. I only like older men now because I keep looking for home outside. I keep searching for what he didn’t give me. I am very relationship hungry, but I don’t know how they work because I haven’t really had a proper model to look at . I’ve been alone a lot of my life. I feel like a burden and it leads to me shutting down a lot. I am tired of him and having to deal with all of it all.
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