Ask anyone who knew me in campus or two years after that about the kind of girl I was, and they will probably tell you a myriad of stories, all of them revolving around my drinking and smoking.
This is despite how sweet and innocent looking I was. Exhibit A:
My habits were not only bad, they were excessive. I tend to be a slave to routine, and unfortunately, those days, alcohol and cigarettes were a big part of my daily life.
Whenever I look back at how I used to live my life a few years ago, I see that my habits were extremely unbecoming of a woman with a forehead such as mine (I’d like to believe that there is a code of ethics that girls with HUGE foreheads have to live by; such facial features are a gift that come with their own set of rules and morals).
But that is the girl I was back then.
A heavy smoker, an alcoholic, and a depressed little girl trying to hide herself and her forehead from the world.
Of course, with the excessive alcohol intake came the many sexual escapades, some of which were a pretty risky undertaking.
There was A LOT of sex! A LOT!
And there was also the RA (rheumatoid arthritis), most likely triggered by my excessive smoking.
Even that didn’t stop me from engaging in these harmful activities. In fact, the pain from the RA fueled my drinking and smoking because they helped me forget about the pain and also the shock of having such a condition at such an early age.
Yes, I was using drugs and sex as a way to cope with things, and I had been doing it for years without realising it.
It’s like I wanted my life to end, but I was too scared to go through with it the quick way (although, I did try once and it failed miserably. It’s crazy; after a failed suicide attempt, shouldn’t you get like an epiphany or something, that leaves you wanting to live your life better?)
The epiphany never came in my case.
And so, I chose the slowest, most painful, most accessible, yet most concealed way of ending my existence.
The drinking. The smoking. The sex.
No one knew that I was on a mission. I don’t think even I knew I was on a mission.
On the surface, I thought I was doing it because I liked it; but, on further introspection now, I can see that I was doing it to cope.
Unfortunately, I had no clue what it was that I needed to cope with, which fueled my frustration further.
So, even though I promised myself not to kill myself, I found relief in engaging in such risky activities because they had the potential to do the job for me.
There was something wrong inside; but I didn’t know what was wrong, I didn’t even know how to find out what was wrong.
And so, the drinking, and the smoking, and the indiscriminate sexual activity continued.
But even the most well laid out plans can backfire, and my deep conscious’ attempt at ending this seemingly miserable life through drugs and sex, wasn’t working.
I was as wreckless as I could be, risking my life in ways that you can only imagine, and not even a scratch (okay, maybe apart from the RA, which came and went as it pleased- it wasn’t doing its job fast enough, and I wanted results).
I was tired. I was bored. Nothing was working, and so, I became recluse.
The more I spent time alone, listening to my thoughts, the more I became aware of the sadness that had engulfed me mentally and emotionally.
I had never known I was sad. I had never known how sick sadness was making me mentally.
The sadness was emanating from wounds in my past (mostly childhood) that had never healed; grief that I had never properly processed; anguish and pain that I had never acknowledged.
Bad things had happened to me, and I buried these memories so deep making them virtually non-existent.
But they didn’t go away, and I continued piling memory after memory, pain after pain.
Introspection led me to start reliving these memories instead of running away from them.
It felt like an endless horror movie each time I did these mental exercises, but they helped me gain a better perspective of my experiences. They helped me validate all of the anger and all of the pain that I felt I wasn’t allowed to feel.
For the longest time I had believed I wasn’t allowed to mourn the death of my mother, abandonment by my father, or the loss of my innocence at such an early age; they happened, and there was nothing I could do to change it, but to just move on like everyone else, and forget.
But that wasn’t right. The girl inside needed to be heard, needed her pain to be acknowledged, needed her vulnerability to be seen.
No one else could do this. No one else but me.
Bearing witness to the pain inside helped me heal. The inner me could now trust herself to be open, and I am a beautiful sight.
I learnt to love the wounds and the scars and the damage inside, and to accept them as a part of who I am.
I learnt to authentically love myself despite of how messed up I was, despite all of the miserable choices I had made.
I also learnt that there was so much more to me than my trauma.
I learnt that I am obsessed with routines, and I absolutely THRIVE when there’s a routine in place.
I learnt that I love to be alone. I love being left to my own devices for long stretches of time. I find it so refreshing.
I love to hear the sound of my laughter. It makes me laugh more.
I love to eat (alone), and to cook for myself. I find immense pleasure in spending time by myself doing normal, simple things.
I love to read. Economics is a great turn on for me.
I learnt to look deeper past people’s actions in an attempt to make sense of why they do what they do. This little nugget helped me come to terms with my mum’s suicide, and my dad’s leaving.
And, of course, I learnt more about my sexuality. What I like, what I don’t like; who I like it with, and who I don’t like it with. I’m still at the sex-without-commitment stage because I’m really into variety and I LOVE my own space. But now this is no-risk sex. It’s clean, it’s fun; no alcohol or drugs . My physical needs are met, and that, for me, is a top priority.
Maybe in time, I will learn how to share myself emotionally and mentally with someone. But, I am not there yet.
I also learnt that there are people whose regular presence in my life has been a boost to my mental health.
Wahu, my adopted mummy is number one on this list. She is my rock. We are INSEPARABLE!!
My best friend John is also on this list. And so are my nephews and niece, Justin, Jude, Aiden, and Jasmine, plus my annoying brothers.
I have learnt to follow my intuition, my own voice, and the more I do, the more I end up exactly where I want to be. Fulfilled!
Most importantly, I have learnt to value myself. To appreciate myself even when no one else does. To feel beautiful inside and also to acknowledge and appreciate how physically attractive I am.
And to learn and love people… just the way they are…
Have an awesome rest of the week, won’t you?