Confession is good for the soul, and today, once and for all, I’m admitting it. I’m in an abusive relationship. One where I’m taken for a fool, lied to, and my spirit is broken daily. And, yes, I’ve tried to leave. But, I can’t.
Now, don’t go judging me before you try to understand what I’m saying. This is not a relationship you can just walk out of at the drop of a hat. We’re not just committed to each other. We’re practically married. And, marriage makes a huge difference. It means I’ve invested time, energy, blood, sweat, tears – – – and more tears into making it work.
My motto has always been, ‘Made in Jamaica by Jamaicans’. My navel string is planted under a coconut tree in Hanover. My roots are tied to a little place called Cambridge in St. James. I am in love with a city called Kingston. A city I’ve made my home. How does one just pack up and leave — home?
I’ve tried counselling. I’ve gone to the club – – – tried to dance my stress away. But, when I leave, I still have to face reality. I still have to cope with the fact that I am drained mentally, physically, and financially. I’ve tried drowning my sorrows in alcohol, but that does not help either. Believe me, having a few thousand dollars to your name when the next pay cheque is three weeks away can make you sober up very quickly. And, now that I’m sober, I know the voices in my head are not a result of drunkenness.
They’re saying, ‘Get out. Escape while you can. Put on the boots of Bolt and run! They keep telling me my relationship won’t last. They say, ‘You live in a place where the dollar is sliding daily. You live in a place where your health care makes you sick. You live in a place where people sit still while the government sells our natural resources, but riot for Kartel, Zeeks and Dudus. You live in a place where one politician’s phone bill is higher than some people’s pay for a year. Face it. That’s a relationship in deep, deep trouble.
But, I can’t leave. I’m in love. You don’t give up on love. You stay. You fight for it. And don’t tell me even the mosquitoes are migrating. Stop trying to change my mind!!!
Yes, JPS charged me an exorbitant fee for light bill when I was away studying and every single appliance in my house was plugged out. Yes, there’s a possibility that I may die waiting at the hospital for health care. Yes, my house may burn to the ground even if the fire truck gets there on time because it is usually without water and yes, my monthly bills are higher than what I earn. But dammit, didn’t you hear me? I said I’m in love!!!
You wouldn’t understand. This place has hurt me badly, but sometimes — sometimes it loves me so tenderly, I forget. I forget the governance problem, the lack of jobs problem, the crime problem, the hungry belly problem, the no money but pure bills problem. I forget. And, like a tourist, I become blinded by the beauty of white sandy beaches in Montego Bay and sunset in Negril.
I become blinded by Hellshire after it has served me a huge platter of fried fish, bammy and festival. I become blinded by our athletes blazing the tracks Olympics time and letting the world know we’re a force to be reckoned with. I become blinded by Christmas. A time when family and friends come together to talk and laugh and eat and play dominoes and hold a vibe and simply chill. And like a tourist, I smile and I say, ‘Jamaica, no problem mon’. This is paradise. Paradise which may give you a fairy tale beginning, and a nightmare end, but still paradise. It is the land of my birth. And, I’m trying to hang in there, instead of hanging myself. I am trying not to leave.
By Keisha Brissette
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