The Too Good Woman By Lenina Rassool

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It’s been four years since my divorce, almost five since the cataclysmic event that led to the end of my marriage. And since then, I’ve shared stories with so many women who have been burned and betrayed in hundreds of different ways by various types of men. At point of departures, I’ve heard of women being called too fat, too ugly, too stupid, too crazy, too lazy, too morsig, too…too…too everything.

My ex’s narrative was a bit different. I was, and I quote, ‘too good’. Oh, and apparently it was ‘too easy to make me happy’ too. Now I don’t know about yah’ll, but in an age where every man’s second worst fear (after false rape accusations, of course) is a gold digger – you’d think this would be a dream! Alas, it was not to be. And they say women like bad boys.

 

The thing is, with every story I hear, once you remove all the angry, nasty (read narcissistic) insults, what emerges from these failed and traumatic experiences is the presence of a #TooGoodWoman. Women who cooked, cleaned and (if you were more domesticated than me) ironed their partners shirts. Women who drove men around, women who relentlessly searched job ads, created CVs and coached for job interviews, studies and…rehab.

Women who bought clothes and jewellery and booked weekends away.

Women who (if you were anything like me) painstakingly removed the peas from the curry because he did not eat them, even though everyone else did.

Women who sacrificed their own plans and friends and favourite places to accommodate their men’s favourite things.

Women who smiled too much, who cried too little, who said ‘Don’t worry about it’, ‘it wasn’t that important,’ and the famous ‘it’s okay’.

Loving women. Self-sacrificing women. Servant women.

Now yes, you may come back and say, so what, you didn’t ask for all that (although yes, you did, most of the time anyway). And you may say we never complained about it (of course we didn’t, that would take away from our too goodness). You may say, it’s our own fault for accepting and enabling this taking behavior. And yes, you may be right.

But four years on, stronger, healthier and a lot more selfish, here’s what I think. There is NO SUCH THING as a #TooGoodWoman.

I want to say, ‘How Dare You Shame Me for doing good things for other people?’ Yes, you are just ‘other people’ now. And I should have said, ‘Too Good? Why thank you for that compliment’, and then walked off taking my Too Goodness somewhere else.

Instead, I wallowed in #TooGoodness. I condemned it. I called it stupid, naive, easily duped and cheated. I called it dom and versinne and shameful. I took my Too Goodness and tucked it away deep inside and started laying in bed, missing deadlines for work (see – I’m not perfect!) and downloading pirated movies (see – pffft – I can break the law!) and eating too much junk food or nothing at all (hah – good people are healthy! Not me…I’ll just starve myself thin.)

And then I did some other bad things, like give up great jobs because, ironically, not so good people don’t deserve good things. Or decline amazing opportunities because not so good people can’t manage such big projects.

All the while maintaining a modicum of normality, health and occasional happiness. Because God forbid you get depressed or fall apart. Oh no, you have to maintain a perfect balance on the spectrum of too good and not good at all, or else, well, you lose everything and then you’re just plain ol’ No Good.

It’s been four years since my divorce, almost five since the cataclysmic event that led to the end of said marriage. And finally, I am reclaiming my #TooGoodWoman. These days, I’m good at writing proposals, looking people in the eye, accepting opportunities and applying my mind to solving at least some of the world’s problems.

I’ve grown oh so too good at nestling my pain and indecision and, yes, naivety, gently in the palm of my heart and whispering, ‘it’s okay, you got this, you’re too good, remember!’

So ladies, my sisters, hear me now. You were never too fat, too ugly, too stupid, too crazy, too lazy. You were just #TooGood for him. And that’s a good thing.

Lenina Rassool is a storyteller, a journalist and producer of The Womxn Show on Cape Town TV.

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