LIFE

Chapter 2: The Power of Honesty

If I was to ask you at this moment, ‘How honest would you say you are?’ How long would it take you to assess your honesty with yourself?

One important lesson I learned last year is the power honesty with self. Naturally, we try to ensure we are honest in all our daily interactions and activities be it; with partners, at school or at work. What we fail to acknowledge is the foundation of all this is honesty with self.

Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson the hard way. I always assumed that I was honest with myself, I didn’t really think much about it though until late October. I was at a point in my life where everything felt like it was falling apart, and to some degree it was. Nothing seemed to make sense and no matter what I tried to do, I was unable to figure anything out. I was stuck, and so I decided to disappear. It wasn’t 3 days in, when someone I recently became friends with looked for me, and it was in the middle of conversation that they mentioned (without realising it) truths about me that I had been denying for some time.  Seeing those truths written out plainly, not only hurt severely, but also made me feel exposed and vulnerable. I didn’t realise it at the time, but that would be the start of my healing process.

I  chose to stay ‘hidden’ for a while to reflect on the conversation as well as figure out the way forward. It wasn’t easy to acknowledge those truths, but what I found even harder was searching deeper within myself, for the rest. It was a strange process that involved lots of tears, denial and finally acceptance.

For me, 2019 was a very intense year. So many things happened, to me and to those around me, that had a negative impact on both my physical as well as mental health. This I was only able to realise when I started intentionally being honest with myself. I can genuinely say that I have began to heal and reconnect with parts of me that I thought were long gone. It’s not easy though, because I still catch myself in a lie sometimes. The difference is that I now actively work on it instead of burying it.

Being honest with myself has allowed me: to let go of the hurt I felt last year, to stop or change habits that are not supporting the kind of life I want to live (or at least has helped in identifying them), to let go of relationships that aren’t reciprocal or beneficial to me. Most importantly, being honest has allowed me to fall in love with myself a little deeper than I did before.

 

‘I can tell myself the truth about myself and still love me’ – Dr Thema on the Homecoming Podcast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LIFE

Chapter 1: Taking Stock

‘LIFE VS ME’

‘This is the most anticipated annual match. Having won 21 years, life was fed up and humiliated. He came ready to take me down with all he had. I was quick to claim victory in 2018, because just before the final whistle, life gave it one last try. Coming to me with all he had, he knocked me over. The first round of 2019, began with me on the floor; shocked and confused though it wasn’t long before I managed to get back on my feet. For a while, it felt as though I may have found my balance, but it was all an illusion; as if the previous blow had given me a mild concussion. Everything was going on as it should but nothing seemed to make sense. My instability was all life needed, he came at me filled with rage and threw out the uppercut that saw me knocked out for a good number of months after.’

This journey we’re on is like a boxing match; we have to fight to keep going. We have to give it our all to see the next round which will always be, to some extent, harder than the last. But with every round we complete, we learn a new move and that alone makes us better.

To say this year broke me would be an understatement; this year nearly killed me. Looking back, it would be so easy for me to say that I see is darkness. Big dark clouds, thunder and heavy rain. Its so easy for me to say I am completely fed up of this year because nothing good came out of it; that I am waiting for 2020 to start my clean slate. It would be so easy for me to do that, but I won’t.

Looking back, this year has had some pretty good moments. I challenged myself by taking part in Face of Kenya, despite my stage fright, and managed to bag second place while meeting amazing people along the way. I made new friends because I chose to attend house parties more and by myself (which forced me to interact). Most importantly, I reconnected with my inner self through brutal honesty about my personal flaws and shortcomings.There’s definitely more good things that happened but I don’t want to bore you. Long story short, I learnt that every bad or perceived bad situation has a silver lining if we just look close enough. For me these moments were blessings in disguise.

So, instead of hating myself for all the sleepless nights, all the failed projects, for falling out of love with everything, I am thankful for all those moments because they led me to where I am today; a stronger version of who I was when this year began.

I am no longer waiting for new years or Christmas, for birthdays or anniversaries, I no longer long for special moments to celebrate myself and enjoy this life. With all these lessons I am taking each day as it comes and looking out for the good moments because there will always be some.

If you’ve read this, find time to reflect on the past year and be brutally honest. Identify  your best moments and celebrate yourself, also identify where you could have done better and try be better starting now. Promise yourself you’ll stop waiting for tomorrow or for good days to enjoy life because what if… tomorrow never comes?

 

 

 

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LIFE

HOW TO LOVE YOURSELF

AZAWENA

The first thing to understand is that love is an action, not a feeling. And to love yourself should come hand in hand with tangible actions and not just pretty words. And because of this, true self love is difficult. It requires active dedication everyday, working towards the most beneficial long term goals. In order to do this, we all have to create a relationship with ourselves based on growth and accountability. The most important relationship I will ever have is with myself. And that is true for everyone. The body I reside in will be the most important thing I will ever have to take care of. The mind through which I process life is the most essential component I need to safeguard. Fundamentally, we all know this and we act according to what we feel will bring the most advantage to us. No one ever purposefully sets out…

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LIFE

Judgmental tendencies

RYAN GEKONGE

Always be aware when you are being judgmental. Sometimes it comes inadvertently. You may not realize it, but the person you’re inadvertently judging may feel it. Most may choose not to tell you. As much as possible, try not to criticize people of their opinions and life choices. Not everyone will agree with you but if you feel like you need to correct someone, do it passionately without the judgemental tone.

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LIFE

THE SECRET TO LIVING

‘ In a world filled with endless possibilities, why do I find myself clinging tightly to that which is familiar?’

It is a well known fact that the life we live is unpredictable. One second you’re doing well financially, the next you’re struggling to out food on the table. One second you’re here, the next… Why don’t we then choose to live fully?

A year ago today, I received devastating news, death had once more knocked on my family’s door and claimed a member of the clan. The victim this time? Uncle Dick (God rest his soul). To say I didn’t see it coming would be a lie, but it still shocked me. He was my favourite uncle because, despite not having much to his name, he knew the secret to life; Savour the small moments because at the end of it all, they are the big moments. His way of doing this way subtle, but it worked. He would always take time to talk to his nieces and nephews at family events, even if it was only for 5 minutes.

In this last year, not a single month has passed that I haven’t thought about him and as my heart ached, I inevitably found myself thinking about this experience we call life. How despite knowing that every day above ground is a gift, we tend to live as though tomorrow is promised; like we are immortal. Watching once in a life time opportunities pass us by because ‘ tomorrow, next year, next month.’

My 22 years on this earth has taught me that the confines of your comfort zone is the most dangerous place to exist. In it you’re not exactly comfortable but to settle is better than exerting oneself or attempting to expand the boundaries of your knowledge. It is a place where you merely exist; a constant cycle of repeated actions. Within this space you fail to develop adaptability. This means that you will be unable to get back up when life pushes you over… and life will push you over.

To live, you need to allow your curiosity to force you out of your comfort zone making sure you have an open mind tagging along. 5 years ago if anyone had asked me what I wanted in life, my answer was simple: ‘To go to the University of Nairobi’s (UON) Dental School.’ I had always known I was walking down the wrong path but I chose to keep going, hoping it would amount to something all because I was afraid of venturing out to the unknown.

Its quite clear that I am not a dental student at UON, all thanks to a B+ grade in Biology. I remember being so upset which led me to do something uncomfortable; packing up and moving to the United Kingdom to study. 3 years later and that single decision has allowed me to enjoy life more than I previously did. I’ve made new friends and reconnected with old ones, I started this blog, travelled to Fiji solo on a volunteer expedition and most recently had the chance to take part in the Face of Kenya UK event which gave me the platform to speak from my heart and make a difference in someone’s life. Looking back, the only thing I do regret is not savouring the moments with my family and friends, Instead I would lock myself in all day studying.

I cannot finish this without saying how hard it is to step out of what is familiar to you. However, it is only the first step that’s hardest after you realise that it was worth it. You will fall down any times along the way, but its only by getting things wrong that you truly learn and experience life.

So what will you choose to do? Stay where you are or go out and live your best life.

 

This post was the piece I recently read for the talent section of Face of Kenya UK 2019. I dedicate it to Uncle Dick who may have gone to rest with the ancestors but will forever be alive in our hearts.

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LIFE

RECLAIMING MY POWER.

I never imagined I’d ever be counted as a statistic. Its one of those stories you hear about, happening to other people… never you; But one day you find yourself a victim and your life completely changed. 6 months later, you finally accept that its happened, but vow never to forget.

…THIS IS MY STORY…

Every time I think about it, I realise that he had it all planned out; pre-meditated on his actions and all that was remaining was for me to follow the script. The script to a play I never auditioned for.

Every time I think about it, I realise that in his eyes, I was (am) just a body, no soul. To him, I was an object designed especially for his pleasure; to be subsequently to be disposed of. 

I get shivers, every time I think about it. It could have happened differently, I could have been killed that night. I am thankful to be alive.

Its hard , not to hate every inch of myself, every time I think about it. Looking at myself in the mirror and not recognising the reflection looking back. Its hard to shut off the voices inside and outside your mind, telling you that its your fault… ‘you should have been more careful

Every time I think about it.

Its been 6 months of thinking about it. 6 long months of fighting with myself and my emotions. Of finding myself in a dark and what seemed like endless hole. Realising that time is standing still and passing me by simultaneously.

Sexual Assault: A term used to describe criminal acts that are sexual in nature e.g unwanted touching or kissing, groping or  forcing the victim to touch the perpetrator in sexual ways.

Rape: Sex without consent. Including oral sex.

I was sexually assaulted just as 2018 was coming to a close, by someone I knew. We were never really friends, but I knew him. What I thought was an innocent interaction, resulted in me losing a big part of myself.

He knew his intentions of the night. He had it all planned out. . He didn’t account for his lead actress not following the script. We met in a public place but that didn’t stop him.

His plan? To get me drunk and take me home.

His mistake? I wasn’t in a drinking mood and paced myself as he gulped down his drinks.

There was something about the way he downed the drinks that made me anxious then, after some time, he said it ‘ I don’t like this place, too noisy. Come to my apartment its close by. I can buy Champagne on the way and I can make you my special cocktail

There it was his intention.

I said no. Why would I go to his house from the restaurant, yet I have my own place to stay?

He bought shots, of the deadliest alcohol they had. 63% abv. He had 4 of them, all at once. I had two, paced. He then switched up, ‘ You know I love you‘ I laughed at the joke, except when I looked up, he had a serious look. ‘ I’m serious, I’ve always loved you, but you broke my heart this year’ Again I failed to follow the script because I just laughed and ignored his comments. It must have infuriated him.

About half an hour later, as I excused myself to go to the washroom, he grabbed my bag before I could and began walking out with my phone, my keys and my wallet. ‘Come you can use the bathroom at my place its close by…‘ He had the higher bargaining power, I saw no other choice.

Five minutes later, in his apartment (which I’ve come to find out was never his), I asked to use the washroom. I returned to the living room, picked my bag and looked for my phone to call an Uber… it wasn’t there… he had set the ball in motion. He had picked it out of my bag and hidden it. He said it was in the bedroom (which I hadn’t entered yet) then tried to manipulate me into thinking that I had put it there myself… silly boy! He misjudged my level of drunkenness.

If there was ever a moment that I knew I was in danger, that was it. As I was trying to call an uber, he burst out crying, taking me by surprise. My kind heart and curiosity let me down, because I wanted to know why he was crying.

*sob* you know I love you, *heavy sob* I truly loved you and you hurt me. I even bought your friends drinks and have been nice to them to get your attention’ ‘I love you’

Next thing I know, I was on the bed, his lips were all over my neck and he was trying to kiss me as well. I screamed ‘NO! STOP IT‘ many times, shocked that this was happening. I tried pushing him off but he is quite heavy. I was about to give up.. thinking that it would be easier to let it get over quickly… but somehow, I was still resisting and screaming ‘No‘ even though I knew that no one could hear me. ‘I would never hurt you, I love you. I would never hurt you, I love you’ he repeated over and over as though those words were to comfort me.

I don’t know if it was fear of what was about to happen, but something came over me and I shoved him, got off the bed picked my things and began screaming at him… you know what he did? He blocked the door and began crying ‘I would never hurt you, I love you’ He still had the audacity to keep going. ‘Don’t go I’m sorry‘ He made as if to hug me, and I took the opportunity to push him to the floor and make my way out… he still followed me, begging for us to ‘talk about it‘, all the way to the taxi…

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Or so I thought, that was just the beginning of what was to be the hardest 6 months of my life so far. I was fortunate enough to have a friend act as my sense in the moment and convince me to report the incident. Had I not done so, I’m sure the secret would have made me worse off than I was.

The thing is, this experience is such a lonely one. The only true home you have on this earth (the body) has been violated. Emotions are all over the place, but you have to keep it together. An ongoing police case and the voices of people around you don’t make it any better. ‘ He didn’t know what he was doing and now that I’ve explained it to him, he’s sorry‘ The words of my assaulter’s friend, trying to convince me to drop the case and settle the issue without police involvement. Does it make it worse that this was a fellow woman?

It doesn’t end there, even those you’d assume would support you, end up victim blaming and try cover it up as advice. ‘You shouldn’t have been there’ and‘ Sometimes the victim needs to hear the truth’ These same people when unfortunately made to imagine the women close to them as a victim, suddenly become soft… ‘Oh that’s different‘ they’d say… Is it because only those that they love can be a victim?… I hadn’t explained the whole story because I didn’t see the need to beg for support.

I sat in the pit of loneliness for a while, deciding that it is best I keep everything to myself and very few trusted people. Hoping that I would experience the healing that they say ‘comes with time‘ On the outside, everything seemed fine, on the inside was a mess. The world kept going, as it should, despite my life being turned around. It was my job to keep up. I still attended classes and tried my best to keep up social interactions but it was hard. Imagine being physically present but the sights, sounds and even smells around you seem to be coming from a distant.

Anxiety crept up on me. I was scared of leaving the house, least I bump into him or his friends. When I did, my brain played tricks on me because I kept seeing people who looked exactly like those I was hoping to avoid. This kept going, until I actually saw him… twice! The first time he didn’t see me but the second, outside the library he did, and looked me straight in my eye… but I had to keep going.

Insomnia became my friend, fuelled by the thoughts that would not stop racing around my head. I envied my youngest self because she would sleep through anything, yet at hat moment, the slightest noise would wake me. My memory got tampered with, I could barely remember the simplest things and it was a struggle to pay attention when someone was talking to me. Worse, my speech was slightly impaired. I noticed how hard it became to speak without stammering, or to speak and remember words. I no longer knew myself and quite frankly was slowly losing the will to do so.

Nothing made sense anymore. Nothing was interesting and so I began giving up. The signs were there, the way I spoke, ate, dressed. I became increasingly irritable at the smallest things, the end of the month being the worst, my body felt 10 times heavier than it actually is. The simplest thing like getting out of bed became a chore, I completely hated this body that became a chore to carry around.

For 6 months, I slowly lost interest in everything even things I enjoyed seemed like punishment. All this went on until recently when I decided it was enough. He had taken too much away from me and so despite losing a big part of myself, I decided to reclaim my power not only for myself, but for those who may be afraid to speak up due to fear or those who sadly have been silenced forever.

This is a social issue that is avoided regularly because it has to do with sex. An act which has been labelled as shameful. How long will we refuse to speak about it despite the rising number of cases being reported? How long will we allow the victims to punish themselves because law enforcers decide its not an important enough case to get involved in? Unfortunately, the more we keep silent about it, the more we allow it and only when it happens to someone you love will you realise how serious an issue is. Question is though, will anyone be willing to help even then?

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