Divorcing "The Man in the Bottle"

Onnie Mary Moyo Phuthe, Botswana, 2009

The Characters:
Narrator — Onnie Mary Moyo Phuthe
Husband — Onthusitse Edison Phute (OEP)
Ex-husband — ARV (The Man in the Bottle)

In 2001 I was very successful in my job. I was a hard productive worker. Then I became a sick worker. I went for an HIV test. Ever since HIV showed up at the Entrance of Earth, without an HIV test, disease could not be singled out until HIV was ruled out. The entrance of HIV in the lives of people is a devastating one. Emotionally its pulls down the body through the mind and bashes it around like a bird trying to eat a worm. Unfortunately the worm in this context is me, and the bird is HIV.

In 2001 I got tested. In the same year; I got two marriage proposals from two guys. In order of appearance, one was Anti Retroviral Therapy (ARV). The other was Onthusitse Edison Phuthe (OEP). They both had three names but they were different in a big way.

ARV was a rough guy, he really did not ask for my hand politely, he just dragged me to the altar and married me. This was a marriage of convenience and a forceful marriage. The wedding bands were HAART without a heart. This guy and his relatives (that is, the doctors and the pharmaceuticals) threatened me every day. At the altar they said if I do not become devoutly loyal to ARV, there is no chance of reconciliation. I will just end, without him, and end up dead.

In the beginning, my loyalty was religious and I did not disappoint my aggressive husband ARV. I honored all the vows I took; unfortunately ARV did not honor any of his vows. Of all the years of my marriage to ARV, there has always been pain and suffering, I looked good and happy but inside my bloodstream there were loud screams. A doctor with a stethoscope would blast his/her ear drum from the screams heard within. As a young girl I never dreamt of such a harsh marriage.

ARV and I were married for 8 years. I used to go to his relatives (the doctors and nurses) to report the abuse in the relationship, and they would say this is the kind of marriage that you must persevere in. Perseverance in your marriage to ARV is key to the success of your marriage, Onnie. I would reply that I can't even sleep, I am in pain, because of all the pains, I can't even work, I can't visit my parents or mingle with friends. My marriage to ARV has really made my life worse than what a prisoner would feel in a congested prison.

I realized that the relatives of this guy ARV were on his side 100% and they were not prepared to listen to my side of the story. They felt that ARV can't be wrong; he is from a prestigious family (the Pharmaceutical Family).

I had to take action for my own life. I went to see his parents for the last time and told them, showed them what ARV was doing in the relationship, and still they said, "It's a lifetime commitment, your marriage shall end only when you die, remember ARV is an immortal man, he does not die, ever, as long as you live, you shall be his wife." I did not like that statement by his relatives.

Three months ago, I woke up early, and since he was "The Man In The Bottle," I just ignored him calling and calling. To date, I have never answered his calls. I see him every day, we share the same room, but because he depended on me for everything, he can not do anything without me. I have finally divorced ARV. The relatives even came to my house to ask for him and I said I am never discussing him, nor getting back together with him again, I am done. ARV was so powerful in the marriage that Onthusitse Edison Phuthe (OEP) only enjoyed about 5% of the marriage from the time we married. He was genuinely in love with me and was not forceful. He has always had to clean up behind ARV, since ARV is the bossy type.

Finally now my patient husband and I are happily married, we sleep and wake in the morning, we make plans together and I can remember them. Though by the time I decided to end my marriage to ARV, I was penniless, jobless, we are very happy that I still have my life and we share this life with our children. ARV marriage was not a marriage of love, it was a marriage of deception, opportunism, abuse, and ultimately the end result was going to be death.

I am now able to walk freely distances I could not walk. Sit on a chair, which I could not do, cook at the stove without standing on pillows to cushion my feet, go to town and come back with the groceries, walk the earth with out saying oh the earth is too hard, grow my own vegetable garden, care for it, and have a pleasant bath in the evening to unwind for the day. Did you know that when I was still married to ARV he did not even let me brush my teeth with a manual tooth-brush, I had to use a battery operated one.

He used to own me at 8 am and 8 pm specifically to ensure that I swallow him. If he was not in my blood stream his relatives would shout. Now I am free and finally married to the man I love, the one who does not oppress me.

I am sure he has already received the divorce certificate that says he is not qualified to be anybody's husband and even his sisters can not be wives to anyone. I made sure my court ordered that for the abuse he put me through all the years.

We are picking up all the broken pieces, mending. My own heart, it was not broken but it was shattered by the abuse. A heart breaks from losing love; mine was shattered by being abused for 8 years, physical and emotional.

We bought a new book, and we shall start writing our lives without ARV and happiness is ahead for our family for the first time. I know what marriage is. I nearly died married but not knowing marriage and its meaning. This divorce from ARV was the greatest gift I have ever given myself.

For those who are still in the same kind of marriage I was in, remember, a divorce from ARV is the best thing you can do for yourself.

I respect myself for my strong value of persistence and my husband deserves this compliment too. Do it for yourself too.