I was so disturbed that at school, I was a shadow of myself. I was experiencing things that I couldn’t confide in anyone because I was ashamed of my life. I was taught never to trust anyone, and that phrase remained etched in me. I began to hate the life that was offered to me. I didn’t like my home, I didn’t like my family structure. I didn’t like myself. I started not only to withdraw little by little, but above all to lose myself.

Outside, I had to appear as the person I desired to be, pretending to be happy and confident. I became the champion of pretense, putting my head forward and my heart far behind. I forbade myself from getting attached to anyone, because getting attached to someone inevitably meant putting myself in a situation of suffering. Yet, behind my strong and fatal woman facade, hid a fragile heart that needed to be protected from all external threats. I must never fall in love because inevitably, I ran the risk of suffering. Oh! This involuntary shell earned me praise, appreciation, admiration.

All my life, I took great care to adopt compliant behaviors, to blend into the background, to seek to please others. I learned to adopt behaviors that respect the codes of my environment. Like a chameleon, I could take on the attitude of the person I wanted to represent and, without much difficulty, deceive people. The multiple trials led me to put my heart far away to preserve it from any additional suffering, and that made me strong. I didn’t have the love sorrows that my friends could have, and situations no longer shook me. Normal, I wasn’t attached to anything. I didn’t rely on anyone, and people treated me as the person I made them believe I was.

I believe deep down, I was afraid that another disappointment would finish me off, me who was considered a strong woman. Putting aside your feelings gives you the impression of being stronger and in control. The truth is, it weakens you, isolates you, prevents you from loving and receiving love in return.

Strangely, this resolution brought me a lot of success. I was the one girls came to see when they had love troubles. I made fun of them. “How can you shed a tear for a man? How? What is so extraordinary about him to give him the right to steal your heart? Look at the state you’re in?” My assurance and detachment, my conviction and my words always ended up lifting them up. I had a new reputation, Jessy the femme fatale! I could be interested in a boy, but rules 1, 2, and 3 were indisputable: “NEVER fall in love, because if one day I were to fall in love, I would be in a position of weakness.” So, I had many suitors. It even seemed like my character attracted them.

It was a time when I loved going out, partying, inventing a life far from my reality. It was in the posh neighborhoods of Paris that I went to nightclubs, with my friends from a certain social class. Only my sisters and a few cousins knew my reality. I dated boys from good families, very cultured, intelligent, handsome. They never came into my universe. We had outings in nice places in Paris, and I pretended. There was no question of calling each other too much or seeing each other more than three times a week, because then it started to annoy me. I didn’t want too much attachment.

So I became a kind of challenge or puzzle for them. “How can you resist me so much, me, a handsome and intelligent man who can be with any woman he wants? If your heart hasn’t fallen yet, it’s only a matter of time, because no girl resists me!” Another golden rule I had: “My body is the most precious thing to me, and it’s out of the question to treat it carelessly. If one day I fell in love and got married, then I could offer myself to someone.” So I had a certain ease in dating a boy, but when it came to going further, it was another story.

Behind my appearance of a “wise” girl, hid a great emotional dependent. I couldn’t help but seduce. I loved my body too much to the point of becoming proud of it. I dressed in a sexy way and adopted provocative attitudes to attract attention. I made men believe that I was an experienced woman, although the reality was quite different. Out of provocation, I repeatedly put myself in dangerous situations that could have been fatal for me.

This seduction spirit led me to seduce even married men, and when that succeeded, I moved on to another victim! Despite my “dream body,” I was actually very unhappy with myself. Thankfully, God delivered me from this bad spirit a few years later.

In the end, I met this young boy during a summer job, handsome in appearance with whom I had exchanged words. He was going on vacation for two months to Congo. I didn’t think that upon his return, he would communicate with me again. Anyway, he wouldn’t lack girls. To my surprise, he called me back. We exchanged for several weeks. I had completely forgotten what he looked like, and he might have too. Something strange had happened, I had become attached to his voice and it was easy to talk to him without being on my guard. He was a very authentic and endearing person.

I felt he trusted me because he didn’t hesitate to ask me for advice on his academic path, for which he was disoriented, or to talk to me about his personal life, etc. I could talk to him every day without getting tired and be myself. He was the kind of person for whom the value of friendship was important. Everyone would want to be friends with such a person. I never cared about seeing him, so used was I to talking to my mysterious stranger. – “Hey, since it’s been a while, when are we going to see each other? – Oh yeah, that’s true, we should see each other.”

In fact, I was afraid. Everything was so beautiful that seeing each other would surely spoil the magic. We met at Chatelet les Halles (in Paris) a few days later. I didn’t know how to dress. I started to panic. “Jessy, be careful not to get too attached.” Too late! At Chatelet, there were so many people, and a boy was waiting in front of the meeting place. “He’s too handsome, I don’t think it’s him.” (…)

This text is an extract from the book “What Is Your Story?” written by JESSY MAMBOU.

We invite you to read the following article “Modern slavery”.

A Closing Heart

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