Why do we hurt the people we love?

Date: December 9, 2010
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I used to have four girlfriends at the same time when I was between the ages of 22 and 24. I thought this was “cool”. I now realise that I was fooling myself because it was abuse to these ladies I claimed to be in love with. It is impossible to love four women at the same time, because each and every one is going to try to give me the best she has and also each and every one deserved the best from me. It will never be possible for anyone to give four partners equal attention.

I decided to choose one lady out of these four because I felt she was the best and I loved her from the bottom of my heart. However, there was something I was hiding from her: I was a criminal. I used to steal and sometimes even commit armed robbery. Then, in 1990, I was sentenced to five years imprisonment and it was only then that she learned that I was a criminal.

I confessed all to her then and we made an agreement that she will wait for me because she loved me and supported me. I spent the entire year of 1990 behind bars and in December of that year I was charged for another crime I had committed. I was afraid to tell her about this charge and I kept it to myself.

On 19 March 1991 they sentenced me to another five years. I was falling apart. The first thing that came into my mind was my girlfriend, how was I going to tell her? My five years had turned to 10 years. In the end I did not tell her. Yet somehow I felt I was abusing her.

Rumours reached her that I was serving 10 years in prison and not five years. When she came to visit me, the first thing she asked me was about this. As much as I loved her, I lied again to her and assured her that was a lie. I was scared that I would lose her. I guess my selfishness took over. I really loved her and losing her was not an option.

Five years later, while I was in prison still serving my sentence, I was charged at Krugersdorp and I was moved to Krugersdorp prison, this time I was sentenced to seven years, which added up to 17 years in total. I then decided to tell my girlfriend the whole truth. I truly did not want to lose her, but I felt I was not being reasonable. I wanted to be brave and tell her the truth.

While I was in prison at that time I also joined a group of thugs called the Big Five. I was well respected there. We did all sorts of bad things while in prison. We abused other inmates. We were even selling drugs in the cells. I have done so many wrong things that I am not proud of: I gave up on life.

Meanwhile my girlfriend stopped visiting me. I tried to be strong and not think about her. I would sometimes try to get hold of her, but without any luck. I felt rejected but I did not blame her. She had tried to be supportive but I kept lying to her and made her believe everything I said. After some time she started writing letters to me demanding to know why I had lied to her.
She reiterated that she was tired of all the lies I told her and that she did not want to see me again as I had betrayed her. In fact she decided to move on because should she could not wait for someone who lied and betrayed her.

I tried to be strong and accept the situation but I became aggressive and when I spoke to people, I became harsh. Sometimes, when I saw people talking or laughing, I would think they were talking about me or laughing at me. I sometimes felt like fighting with them for no apparent reason. I was starting to be angry with myself. I felt helpless.

I sometimes wonder why we hurt the people we love.

I came out of jail after 17 years of imprisonment. It was hard to adjust to the outside world. But I managed very well, with the faith I had in God. I am now working as a motivational speaker. I encourage people not to be criminals. God has been great to me, he has showed me love. I appreciate every single day he gives me. I learned that crime does not pay and instead it will make you suffer.

This article is part of a special series on the 16 Days of Activism for the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service that offers fresh views on everyday news. For more information on the 16 Days Campaign go to www.genderlinks.org.za


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