First of New beginnings

As I was walking along the streets of Nairobi, a lady stopped me and asked, ‘Are you Brenda Sharp?’ I nodded. ‘I know you from Facebook! Thank you very much for your lessons on letting go. You came at a critical moment when I was battling leaving my abusive relationship. I am now at that point where I am asking myself, where do I go from here?’ This question challenged me. I realized I had a task ahead of me to continue the conversation I had started. So on this month of May we will continue the conversation, this time on new beginnings.

Indeed this is a weighty question. We must always ask ourselves what is next for us? Through asking we engage our minds in creating valuable adaptive solutions for us.
Before we continue, I have exciting news! Wadada is back and I am super excited. Wadada is a music space created by a group of ‘woke’ friends who play reggae and dub music with positive conscious messages. Learn more about them here https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/lifestyle/article/2001311588/umojah-s-sound-musical-bite. I knew of Wadada through my friend Wasuna and even though I was not a fan of reggae then he made me very curious to be part of the experience. Wadada came at an opportune moment when I was just taking a break from politics. I was exhausted and broke. Sharing this with you takes me down memory lane.

It’s early 2016, I have been sent for a reporting meeting to Dadaab refugee camp. I had been suffering vicarious trauma and as a result was burned out. The more I talked with my therapist the more I realized there was this push in me to quit the job. I had taken a police vehicle, with two police officers seated up front – one of them the driver – and two officers and I behind. I was the only woman and somehow I felt safer as a woman but unsafe on this path. The vehicle as you can guess is going at extreme speeds for safety. I watch children on the way asking for water and one police officer throws a bottle through the metal openings on the cruiser. We ram into rocks and ruts but nothing stops the man from driving at those speeds. The ride is a roller-coaster of hard bumps and jumps and at some point I’m nauseated. Stories of attacks and kidnappings keep replaying in my head, sometimes with me as the victim. I try and concentrate on this dry land where nothing grows this shrubby thorny tree. Emaciated people peek from the meager shade the tree throws and deep within you know how the enemy hides among the innocent. I ask myself questions, why would I, Brenda be here? Why shouldn’t I, the daughter of Kapngatip just go home to Chepkunyuk and the serenity pluck tea in that lush green, making 200 shillings a day and be content rather than live in this constant fear of an impending attack. I know I can eat and survive even in the small garden where the gods in their infinite grace have seeded wild foods such as Chepkerta and mushrooms. More and more I was convinced. By the time I was in Dadaab I had made a decision. I was done and leaving.

I called my dad, sobbing, wondering why I had to keep this life up. I told him that I was quitting. He tried to convince me that I should persevere for a little while but he realized that I wouldn’t budge. I took a shower and began penning down my resignation letter. I only had one month now and I would leave. That one month opened the doors to my creativity. I chose Sharp perceptions as a name and started thinking of the skills I had and how I was going to make a living from them. Thankfully I had gained so much from Frank Covey’s leadership training that it gave me the confidence in what I had. That was a moment of which I had the courage to let go.
Fast forward. I come home, it is easy at first then it gets hard. Apparently asking people to pay you to listen to their problems is quite the uphill task unlike at the NGO where clients were there and my skill was all I needed. Now I need more than my therapeutic skills. I also need marketing. I decide to get into politics and it makes things worse, it makes me realize the damaged systems and the trauma of the people.
I realize I cannot help if I cannot find an economic function to my skills. Letting go is not an easy journey as you already know and one has to be prepared for the pain and to truthfully face the self. One morning I wake up to major mood swings, I am on my periods and broke. Dead broke. I cannot afford pads. My ego is full to the brim and I cannot imagine myself asking for a coin from anyone not even my supportive partner. I am regretting why I quit my job and blame myself for all the ills that were befalling me. I have been experiencing a bout of depression, I am stuck in that bedroom waiting for my fate to find me. My feeding was horrible and nights were sleepless if anything they were moments when all the troubles came to mind. I asked myself why I was so ashamed of asking. It is in that moment that I started cutting my dreadlocks one by one thinking of selling just feeling the shame in my very being. I posted this picture on a private FB group where I have created a very respectable image of myself. I pour out my heart and I just want to feel this shame wholly, if it kills then let it get to its end. I wanted to feel all the shame, I just wanted to let go this burden of trying to hold myself so highly when I did not deserve nor belong. It is in this moment that I saw the truth in “problem shared is halfed”.
I started receiving money from strangers, 10,000, 15,000, 5,000, 1000….. I was so rich that day. I got back into the mitumba business. I paid off debts and saved some amount to invest in myself. It is here that the idea of the Alchemist was born. I took a challenge; that I would go to the Alchemist order an orange drink then say hello to at least one stranger. I took a self-challenge to get better because if I am to sell anything, I have to go out and sell myself. I would go out meet people I do not know and interact with a new world.
That was going to earn me an uber ride back home and if I do not then I would use a matatu. The deal was that I would leave when they close. The wealth of experiences, the strangers I met, the businesses I sealed. All it needed was me getting out there and presenting to the world who I was. I healed big time through the music and dance. Two people stuck with and somehow shaped my path. Next week I share more of the people I met.
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The state is misogyny on abortion laws

I’ve been bleeding for Eleven days now. My skin hasturned pale and it is slowly turning into a crisis. There was an option given at the hospital. If the bleeding exceeds a week, come back for review. Going for review meant talking with that woman. She would say, “nyinyi wasichana wadogo, mnashindwa kufunga miguu. Si mtumie condom kama hamwezi vumilia?” She does not care how the pregnancy happened, she just knows it’s my fault. But this crisis must be resolved. Luckily, it was a male doctor. He brought back some of my self-esteem when he said that my organ is clean and quite well taken care of. Something the woman did not even notice. A painful process of evacuation of remnants, amidst prayer and bargaining with God to keep me alive despite my sins of fornication and now murder.

The next weeks were spent every morning in church. Prayer after prayer over the consequences of my actions. School performance dropped and through thinking about my crimes, I realized I needed to change my line of study from what I was doing to what I truly loved.

Sitting in that group with women sharing my experiences, I asked, who among you has ever had an abortion. They all raised their hand, ALL the nine ladies. Some started crying. I was shocked because for a long time I thought I was a careless person to have trusted that man and not taken the precautions that I needed to. One lady asked, what difference would we have made, what should we have done. Maybe that way we can reach our young sisters and daughters.

I had met Christian in University politics. We were deeply engaged in the system. He was a medical student and had won chairmanship. My boyfriend had been away for eight months now. I was starting to feel the effects of a long distance relationship. Christian participated in sports, as a Rugby player. He was well built. He was an intellectual – the common thread that ran through my lovers.

After six months of seeing each other with me playing hard to get, I gave in to the emotions. I was an open minded girl. I carried condoms with me and insisted on their use. To the best of my knowledge, we used them all through.

Then I started feeling different, something in me had changed. I discussed it with Christian and he said I was pregnant. So I looked at him with this disbelieving face, how can I be pregnant? we had not had unprotected sex. He off-handedly said that he didn’t know who I had been sleeping with besides him. I was emraged by the insinuation when he was the only man I was seeing. I told him that I would take the test. if I was pregnant then the relationship was over for it would mean betrayal. Of course to me this wasn’t possible. We got to the chemist, I peed on the test and true enough, I was pregnant.

I got to my room angry, frustrated and pained, betrayed by the man I trusted. I did everything right but I now was pregnant. How do I tell anyone about this when we all know that we should be responsible. I was there talking to girls and women about responsibility and now here I am pregnant. What would the church say? who would marry me with a child? my mother will kill me! These thoughts raced through my mind and I realized I was alone. I had blocked Christian on all my access channels, blocked and deleted his number and any attempts he made to reach me were futile. A girl I knew told me that I could have a safe abortion at a clinic. She took me there. I explained myself to the doctor and he sent me to the nurse who really made it her mission to guilt trip me.

What could I have done differently, really? I think nothing. I have done what I could then and didn’t have to live with the guilt anymore.

The conversation on abortion cannot be held without sex education. Sex conversations are a taboo and people think that having them is like teaching children to have sex. A proposal was made that condoms be introduced in schools and the number of influential people against it were many. It is not just in teens but even adults find it a challenge to have these conversation about birth control and sex. Sex is at the core of family union, yet it is viewed with fear and shame. And you wonder why shame and fear are the only ways we know how to parent.

By decriminalizing abortion, you allow for sex education and introduction of birth control lessons. You allow for safe health care. It is for these pretence that we have Mugo Wairimu and many back street doctors undertaking unsafe and abusive handling of clients as they are the only source of hope for the women.

The state continues to discriminate and punish women by denying them this access. The role of parenting is not just about carrying pregnancy to term and giving birth, it is the emotional, physical, psychological and material concerns. If the government insists on having abortion criminal, then they should give an allow

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From Repression & depression to revelation and elevation now!

It is a few months after my graduation. It has been exciting to complete. The only dream I ever had was to have a good education join the University and of course happiness and wealth shall follow me, or so they told me. The truth was however very far from this.

I have just got a place to stay in Zimmerman. The Thika Highway many young people will tell you is a highway of discovering that we need to let go what we hold for a moment. For the past few weeks I have not been eating well. I have not made a penny and so all I have is wheat flour. My meals are pancake and strong tea. All without sugars. I spent most of the nights fighting with mosquitoes and most of the days crying about my problems. This slowly morphs into lack of appetite and days go without me eating. I am on this mattress all the time and it has been about a week since I last stepped out. My mind is filled with thoughts. Most confirming to me how unfortunate I am to have been born, how lacking is in my nature and everything that goes to show that I was responsible for my misfortunes.

There is a different thought that has mutated from this negativity. I, a lot of times wish I could just have something detach my head so I could stop these thoughts. I wish I had a gun and I could shoot my brain off this awareness of my helplessness. I wish I could stop my mind just for a moment so it ceases to exist. The whole village had gathered when I joined university. They all had advises. What stuck with me was that I needed to come back and help them. Here was I good for nothing wallowing in my useless education.

After several days of not eating not sleeping, a friend invites me for dinner. I didn’t even think I had any friends any longer. As was my nature in my ability to say no, I just accepted this offer. I dress without even caring how I look. My hair is shabby, I am crossing the drainage just outside my house, the niff hits me and it reminds me how stinky my life really is. Two men on the side, a strong smell of cheap alcohol and weed comes from them. I know they are in the same situation as I am or how else would they allow themselves to be drunk at this hour.

At my friend’s, he asks me how I really am. Somehow this provokes a stream of tears down my face. It has been very difficult to respond to this question lately without lying with the normal fine answer. I tell him that I need a job and then I can’t stop crying. He takes me to his house thereafter. I spend most of the night reading a book as I do not want to engage him and bring out the filth in my life. He leaves me in his house as he goes to work in the morning. I decide to wash dishes. It is in this small activity that I am awakened to the realization of my state of mind. I spend so much time washing the knife. Most of this time I am in my head contemplating how difficult it is to successfully kill self with a knife. I am wondering what other options could just help me shut my mind down and fully so I am not awake to this state of agony. The activity of washing dishes, is very helpful somehow as these thoughts on my mind undergo a different process. Through this activity I realize the role of my actions towards addressing my situation.

Moving from the moment of repression to active processing of my situation was the awakening that these few months of my depression had led me to. Depression had taken me away from awareness of my self, my abilities and just the moment of breathing and being alive. It had turned this into work that keeping myself alive was the most tedious thing.

Now that I look back, I am happy I went through this moment. I stand here today talking about mental health because my experiences led me to understanding what the truly valuable things in life are. It was not my education that was valuable, not a job, not money, what truly is valuable is being self aware, living in happiness and spreading the love and joy. Somehow through this everything is brought into perspective.

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Photo taken at the banks of Tana River- Garissa County

The brain is a very powerful organ that has the power alleviate us from our suffering. I remember when I was young and I would here quotes like the, ‘you can only make yourself happy’ and indeed at that time I didn’t understand it. To put this into perspective, 81% of people with depression who were put under placebos responded as though they were on antidepressants. That says a lot about what believing in that drug had on the healing process as the brain was producing chemicals that acted as antidepressants for these individuals. The mind is what the brain does. Your senses all bring information into this processor we call the brain. The brain processes this and reacts with an appropriate response. The brain will use the existing database from memories known and unknown to us and the system runs itself. Now the brain listens and takes instructions from all these sensory organs then computes. If you send sensory information based on your thoughts it will respond as though they are real. If you send thoughts of being attacked by a lion for instance, with the emotion of fright and all perceptions around this, the brain will indeed respond to protect you as though it is an actual attack. A lot of times we are sending signals based on our past experiences rather than present realities. We think of that low moment growing up, the poverty, the lacking, the conflicts and then get stuck on that thought and emotion. The brain does its job, computes constantly and puts you in a state of freeze as it would when you were a child to protect you from that harm you could not battle against.

Well when we talk of the freeze response, it is one of the stress responses the others being flight and fight. When a danger signal is sent, the brain prepares the body to fight or run away from the danger. In other instances it prepares it to play dead. It is a survival mechanism learned over the centuries of our existence as a species. During the freeze response, the body slows and shuts down or rather kills several internal processes except a few vital ones to keep one alive. While these responses are fundamental in times of danger, if we get stuck on them because of our thoughts from past experiences and not actual danger, the body at some point becomes incapable of self sustaining.

We now have many of us stuck on these responses. We are paralysed from addressing our situations as we are either stuck with the negative emotions of the past or worries of the future. To recover from these patterns and heal our minds, we need to bring ourselves to this moment. We will learn to exist in the thought and emotions of what we want to create and challenge ourselves when we go back to those patterns of our histories that are not relevant to our currentsituations. For some it takes journeys of self discovery, for some it takes life changing experiences and for some it requires support of loved ones or a therapist who can work with them in replacing these patterns learned over the years. What remains true is that eventually in whatever approach one seeks this process, the solution is within, in self awareness. During this mental awareness month, let us remember the endowments that we hold as humans, of self awareness, of imagination, of independent will and of conscience. Let us use them for our enlightenment, empowerment, for our awakening, for inner peace and for peaceful coexistence with others.

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Detached attachment

That night in that small room, old clothes were arranged into a makeshift bed for us, my two siblings besides me snoring. My eyes were wide open, i couldn’t sleep. I was tired. I think I was was about six. I had seen more than I had heard. The fights between mum and dad. Sometimes I wanted to take dad’s side. Mum complained  about his drinking and the women, yet when he was drunk I felt closer to him, I believed mummy was the one at fault. It didn’t help that she was the disciplinarian. She beat me for every small mistake whether I’d done it or not. Often, I felt that she took out her frustration from my dad on me. This particular night, I had just given them a lecture. I was tired of hearing them. I demanded that they make up and if they didn’t, I was going to leave. It seemed to me that my being born was the cause of my mother’s suffering – that she had married my dad because she had become pregnant. I didn’t know where to go to but I knew I had to get away.

The next morning, they were civil to each other but something had changed between me and my mother. We developed a close friendship and often, she would confide in me. I listened, eager to help, and even gave advice. Sometimes I would intervene with my dad and being the girl that I was he definitely listened. I didn’t realize how insidiously I had lost my childhood. I didn’t have many friends. I did not play much and I spent most of my time trying to relieve my mother of her burden. I would do the house chores and take care of my little siblings. And above all I listened patiently.

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Photo taken by by Dagitari Wawira

I grew up knowing I wanted to marry and have a family of my own, like the perfect poster child. My family would be different. It would be nothing like what my mother and father had. But their relationship had made me wary. I feared giving my heart. Slowly, I had come to believe that all men were like my father and opening my heart up to a man was opening it up for heartbreak. When I met my first love, it was in the most unexpected of circumstances. I dialed a wrong number and he just kept talking. We got to meet. On that first meeting – we arranged to meet at a local hotel – he lied about where he was seated and how he was dressed. I sat there waiting only to be joined by someone completely different. That should have been the first red flag but this treachery excited me. Later on, he would often call me monkey. I’d laugh if off rather than being offended. The relationship had been founded on mistrust and curiosity. I would pretend not to want him then turn around and obsessively get close to him. I would torment myself when he was away, calling him over and over. He would ignore the calls which would highten my anxiety. At midnight he would knock on my door and all would be forgotten.

Somehow I was getting into the patterns of my mother. This relationship reminded me of a feeling in childhood. I was eight years old. Uncle Paul had come visiting. He stayed with us, sleeping in the little hut that was also sometimes a store when we had produce. He played with me often. One evening he called me to his hut. I got in and he closed the door behind me. He asked me to undress as he undressed. I could see his huge inflamed mahhood. It is a blurred memory that keeps creeps up on me every time I am with my lover. He began playing with it, rubbing it on my genitals. He asked me to make sounds like it was Christmas food I was enjoying. To tell him that it is sweet and i like it. He made the sounds too and then he peed on me. Now I learn that it was ejaculant. He warned me not to tell anyone as lightning will strike me. I shut up about the whole incident that I even forgot about it or so I thought until I got into this relationship.

I realize now that I have attachment issues. I have learned now that attachment is not just about closeness to a person but the deep connection that binds. It is the way we connect with fellow humans by the habits, lessons, and histories we share. It is that parent child connection from birth. There are four kinds of attachment, a secure attachment, an anxious, disorganized and an avoidant attachment styles. Secure attachment leads to healthy interactions. What I had was an insecure attachment. Insecure attachment are often by care givers and parents who are mis-attuned, distant or intrusive. Because of my relationship with my parents, Uncle Paul visiting and other relationships, I developed avoidant patterns of attachment in my relationships. The incest experience with uncle Paul was had left a wound. I now learn that taking care of my mother’s needs exposed me to premature maturity . I now know that her disregard of my needs and feelings, her discouraging me from crying when I was younger only distanced me from myself. As a result as a child and as I grew up I learned not to seek for care or emotional support from others.

My journeys of healing have led me to meditation. Now I learn that the healing path to attachment is to detach. I learn that it is a continuous journey. This was the painful lesson from that Meditation class. The guide continued, “Focus on the breath. Thoughts will come and go. Just let them but don’t hold to any of them. Feelings will come and go, just let them. Do not hold on to any.” It sounded easy until I experienced the true meaning of relativity of time, five minutes stretched on for what felt like an hour and thirty minutes was like a lifetime. I thought I was going crazy until the guru said “you will realize that the mind cannot keep still. There is so much. It has always been this way but today you gave it a minute and experienced it. It is a muscle the more you exercise it, the more you perfect it. Just keep trying even if it is just for five breaths.”

In this month of April, as I explore attachment and unhealthy attachment patterns, hope is not lost. We can develop Earned Secure Attachment at any age. It takes work of self-awareness with intentions of self-care.

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Be Sharp 😉

I am reminded so much of some things I saw as a young girl. So my uncle William loved to play with dogs a lot. And he would dangle with stuff in his hands. The dog would try reaching it but William was good with keeping them reaching and longing. They never got what he had in his hands but he would lead them to the tea plantations. For some reason that longing made them catch ‘Kipsigaa’ a small animal that ate chicken. By then William would be back to his stuff and the dogs would find him gone. Sometimes they found nothing and they would go searching for uncle William something they were always successful at.
Then there are those people you can never do good by. They give unreachable expectations and no matter what you do, you can never please them. They are always setting standards and determining the reach. Then we find ourselves being led by the desire to reach those standards good by them. Sometimes they give us so much energy that we end up getting things done and even when we come back to check they are nowhere.
This story is for you who relies on likes, views, feedback and many of other of society standards and approval. You who has left others to determine your fate. Awaken that desire in you, awaken the teacher, the critic, the mother, the wise one. Awaken you for the ego plays with you like my uncle William plays with the dog. Just like him its standards are unreachable. But YOU, that you outside society’s standards can experience the here and now and set out to live. Be Sharp

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March making money

I thought I had hit the Jackpot when we started having conversations with him

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This photo was taken during the epilepsy Afrofashion event where funds were being raised to support medication for Children living with epilepsy

I am told he drives a Wrangler. May be we could go swimming sometime! he said . Deep within I was afraid that this is the moment when my faults were going to all come out and I lose the opportunity. To be fair I have been swimming for the last ten years now. But I have never gone beyond the shallow end. I cannot bring my head out of the water unless I am standing. But that is not the only fear I have. I fear that I might be better than you or get some limelight.

This I recognize is rooted somewhere in the ASKA, my Primary school. I should say that it is responsible for all my senses of perfection and imperfection. Did I tell you about this time we were caned so badly for not getting to the full mark. That even if you had a 98% you were going to get two strokes for missing the perfect 100% mark. However, there was this one time that I was congratulated. The only time I did well I suppose. I had beaten the boys in a test. Mr Kurgat had just finished reading out the results. I am happy but in fear. Then one of the teachers goes, ” Josiah and Hillary, you are beaten by a girl? How do you let her beat you.” Goes ahead to show the rest how they are not men. with subtle congratulatory messages to me. They earned enough beatings for it. Sadly I watched them as they were beaten. After that, there was some enmity. Boys looked at me and other girls so badly as though we were the cause of their suffering while I started to get a few favours from teachers. A message was imprinted in my mind as I have now come to discover that I am undeserving of the position that would place me on a higher level than a man. And so I tried to fail so that I could suffer for all the suffering they had gone through. The rest is history.

It is not just school that enhanced this notion. My dad was the son of an alcoholic man who was a figure of authority in the whole village. In our extended home the biggest virtue is fear. And so my dad found solace in his suffering and he tried to pass it down to us. It was so toxic that everytime he paid for our school fee, he showed how he had suffered his way through. He actually would bring the suffering to himself by not eating which would give him ulcer pains just to show us his suffering. I have heard people promote this even in my interaction on how they suffered and so others should suffer. The imprint that stuck with me was that I am indebted. That I need to pay for all the things that I have received. I need to suffer for all the sufferings that others have gone through for me.

This suffering mentality is not just my own. It is a general perception in our country. During the campaigns the divide was generally based on suffering. And so we are stuck in the situation of victim-hood even when patterns of our experiences have changed. That we still beat our children and say how we were beaten too as children. It is the perception that drives most of the #Feminism movement

In this month of March, I share with you this story because it is my story of money. As a result of these imprints formed from my experiences, my relationship with money has been maladaptive. I have missed many opportunities because of the believe that opportunities are not for me. I have poor patterns of impassivity because the underlying principle from the imprints is the concept of lack, scarcity, incapability, helplessness. Young people today battle a lot as a result of the imprints that were created from their experiences. They are either hoarding money, carelessly spending or inabilities to take or evaluate risks. There is more reaction to fears while missing out on the opportunities that this moment in time brings.

Maybe you are listening to my rants and relating with your own experiences. You probably wondering what then, how can I overcome these patterns. Mindfulness is a powerful tool. Mindfulness is awareness. Carl Jung said that awareness is half healing. The toxic patterns of our upbringing can only be addressed when we become aware and mindful. Mindfulness is a mastery, it is a skill we learn through practice. And so I ask you to take a moment now, be aware of your breath. Your breathing in and out. Be aware of your sensations. Be aware of your thoughts. Every of our feelings are results of body sensations. The money problems we face are magnified by the beliefs we formed from our experiences.

The patterns of psychological effects presented in money affects people’s spending, saving and investing. Brad Klontz identifies three symptoms of money disorders. The first he identifies as Money Avoidance. This is usually manifested in under-spending and overspending. People with this disorder will get into financial denial which involves minimizing problems or avoiding looking at bank statements. It may also manifest in financial rejection where such people battle with a lot of guilt when money is accrued. The second he calls it money worshiping disorder. People with this disorder will have behaviors of hoarding or impulsive buying. The third is relational money disorder. This comes with financial infidelity, someone will build up lies to partner and significant others over spending, what they own or money they have. Financial enabling is the other form of relational money disorder where people with it will want to give others money even when they do not afford or do not have the money.

To overcome these patterns, it is important to understand the beliefs we hold of money and unlearn the patterns we have acquired while replacing them with skills in money management and investing.

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Is it Valentine’s yet?

 

_MGL0137Bless me father for I have sinned. It is three months since my last confession and I have accused myself of adultery…. Followed by a sob. I am dying of guilt. Barry is the handsome boy from my village that I have been having an eye on. To be fair I was not looking at him until he decided to state that I was beautiful. I was trying to get close to him. He is in the University the dream that I currently hold so dear and close to my heart is being there too. We are down close to the river, we have been walking long enough but I do not even remember a bit of what was our conversation. What I know for a fact is that it was a bliss I did not want to ever end. I remember noticing that I was drawing maps on the ground. I remember noticing that I had cut the pieces of the leaves that I had picked and had nothing on my hands. Then it hit me the stories my mother said to me. Of stupid girls drawing maps, getting lost in the lies of a man. I was not a stupid girl I was not going to be one then not when I was about to join the University. I ran from there and went home. The next day was school and I need the confession so bad. I had sinned, to think of enjoying a good time with a man. During Assembly Sr Ann Josphine reminded us of girls who were with the boys during holidays. That a pregnancy test would be taken and I felt that was me they were speaking to. Even with all the biology and science I understood I still for some weird reason thought that Barry might have impregnated me.

What mum and dad had was definitely not love. I did not know what it was. I knew that men were out to use me. Until I got to college, I met the sweetest men. They took care of me like a little sister but more than that they treated me to lunches, chocolates and good times without asking for the sex. In my mind I was always waiting for it. And so, so many girls are like me in this sense that loving is so hard that somewhere behind our minds is just a thought that someone wants to use you and so in every relationship is a defense, a fight or flight or freeze. Yet it is not just the women, the man has a different idea. An idea of a never ending bliss. Only to meet an endless battle of defensive unreachable bliss.

Another evening twelve years later. My walk came a little late today. Walking on the neighborhoods of Syokimau this time. No leaves, no dusty path just tarmac. No man but myself. The streets are already lit. Most now have double lambs. There are claims that they are electric powered but I wish to assume that they are solar. The governor here used to work as a government spokesman. He is quite good looking and I am not sure whether he was liked for his good looks or for the interventions that he did. Well I must give him credit for giving his county at least where I stay some good looks.

One of the light bulbs is dead. There is a large shadow underneath looking closely, I see three souls. A smell of marijuana, before I can figure enough I see a woman between two men. He is trying to get a kiss but I gather she has missed to kiss the right man. War has erupted, she has become victim and she is now oozing blood it seems. She has clearly learned the art of escape and before I know it she is walking besides me asking for my protection trembling . I am shocked, at the turn of events I am not sure whether to protect her or to mistrust her. I see the blood and I decide to hand her my sweater I am quite sweaty anyway after this long walk. Smell of tobacco at the tobacco industry and before we move many steps is the MEDs Company. Shouting matatu touts in buses are saying Nation and it is made clear to me that she and I are part of a place they call a nation.

Bea is my name, I tell her and she responds with Sarah. Near the Astrol petrol station is a chemist where I ask that she gets her wound sorted. The bar next is convenient and we sit to have a conversation. She is telling me about her love life. That Jeremy the man she was with is the only man who has ever loved her. She is now flowing with tears as she tells me about her parents.

They never spent a moment together. Until her last breath she had submitted to him as the bible had instructed. She died two months ago from stroke complications she just got shortly apparently from treatment. May she rest in peace because her living was not worth a breath?

We all called her by her name Theresa. When she was married into my dad’s family she took care of everyone. My father was a first born. My dad treated her as a slave, she cooked, tilled and gave birth. She was not even allowed to go to his room. To date I wonder how they managed to get children. We knew of my dad’s love affairs. In one of the nights he had come home drunk with a woman we all knew of. They held hands and danced side by side in the living room while they headed to his room. He did not have even a single respect for Theresa. She had fallen ill shortly thereafter we had suspected was because of the shame she felt. He could not take her to hospital he ignored her, her fever was at 39 but even with that he did not care. A neighbor passed by and that is how she got to be treated. When she was back she still submitted to her husband. Ensured he had the best meal, had his warm bathing water, his clothes cleaned and ironed, the farm tilled and my grandparents well taken care of. I swore that I would never do the same to myself. Jeremy is a good man but now, look at me. She breaks into tears again

February is the month of love and while we talk of flowers, chocolates or car keys on the Valentine’s Day sometimes we do not even understand what love is. We think it is what we give others when we lose ourselves while getting into patterns that deny us the opportunity to achieve our full potential.

We need to teach ourselves love especially if our growing up taught us something completely different, I tell her. You cannot claim to love others if you cannot love yourself. Self-love starts with self-care. Self-care is caring for the needs of the body, spirit, heart and mind without harming self. Engaging in drugs carelessly as you do Sarah and in an abusive relationship is not self-love. But we have to teach ourselves that means understanding the abusive patterns that we grew up with how they have shaped us and replacing our belief systems. It is taking a walk, eating right being a patient with self. I realize it is me I am speaking to again. It is a repair of my past and understanding of love.

Sometimes there is colonization to blame, sometimes there is government to blame. Sometimes there is our parents, patriarchy, feminism and all even our own selves. Our own failures, poor choices and unending woes. But In reality, we as human have come a long way.  A long generation from discovery of fire to discovery social relationships. The first motivation was and IS survival, to breed to the next generation. We have done is it so well that we have now moved from just recreation to creating human like creatures like robots and softwares.  That we are able to communicate in such characters, smile with each other, cry with and journey with others. That we have come this far is not so bad. It just mean that we have done really well with love, and still on the ride. Sometimes part of the species dying out others reborn but we cannot self-hate yet. We can only self-love as we extend it to others of our kind and more. We can only forgive ourselves for faults we have committed and those we think we have committed.

Our bodies are all we have, our brains our biggest bet. It is beyond the amygdala the home of feelings, instincts and randomness. There is a whole little part in the brain, the Gspot called the prefrontal cortex that allows us to learn and replace regressive patterns in our belief. Let us learn to love again with self care.

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