Bless 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.