Tag Archives: SUICIDE

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN NAIROBI: A SURVIVOR’S STORY

I can’t believe I’m finally ready to write this post.

Shit. Fucking hell.

Here goes.

I was at a funeral last Friday. Another one.

Christ, I’ve seen so many families cry this year. Remember my January posts, this one, this one, and this one?

And, this post I wrote about my friend’s passing?

It’s like every month of this year, someone around me died or lost someone they loved.

The month of May was not spared the touch of death either.

My favourite cousin’s father died this month after a short illness, and our whole extended family traveled upcountry on Friday last week to pay our last respects and lay him to rest.

The funeral service was packed, we couldn’t even get inside the church to listen to the sermon. So many of us had to stand outside and listen to the proceedings from the blaring speakers.

He was a pastor, and you could tell that he had impacted a great number of lives while he was still amongst us. It was truly humbling to see that many people come to pay their last respects to a wonderful man.

My baby brother and I were outside during the service, busy chatting with the wife to one of my other cousins. We were just catching up, making jokes. We’d missed her after months of not being together.

And then, out of the blue, with the conversation between my brother, my cousin’s wife, and I getting funnier and louder, I saw him.

He had just walked into the compound, and he was probably looking for a familiar face when our eyes met.

My heart froze. I just looked at him, into his eyes, willing him, nay, daring him, not to come and say hallo.

He quickly looked away as he walked past us, but, I kept my eyes on him for five more seconds.

I was transfixed. I didn’t want to be the first to look away because a part of me wanted to show him I wasn’t scared any more.

Another part was just trying to comprehend if this really was the man that I remembered from so many years ago.

The other part was just trying to mess with his head. ‘Boy, I see you! Run!’

But, I needed to look away because every extra second was becoming unbearable for the little girl inside.

I was a bit frazzled after that, and I remember telling my brother that I was going outside to look for another family member.

Anything to ensure that I don’t come into any contact with this individual.

I think my baby brother understood immediately because as I started to walk away, he followed suit, leaving my cousin’s wife standing there confused by the abrupt end to our engrossing conversation.

Sorry, T!😥😥😪😪😫😫

She probably thought we were so rude. I did feel slightly guilty for dragging my brother along when I was the one with the problem.

Hope she didn’t think ill of my brother. He was just being a loyal sibling and friend.

For good reason too. He’s the only witness to what I am about to tell you.

Our history with this man I was avoiding now dates back twenty years ago.

Our birth mother had just passed away, and we were living with our aunty, Wahu, and her husband (mum and dad as we now refer to them) in their huge house.

At the time, dad’s ailing grandfather was also staying with them. He was a mean old man, but my brother and I (mostly me because I was the cheeky one) always found a way to make him laugh.

Owing to his age, and his deteriorating health, he needed a constant caregiver. We too needed a minder because we were still young, and our adopted parents had full time jobs.

Their youngest son, Sam, had just joined med school, so he wasn’t available to look after the three of us.

That’s when mum made the fateful decision to hire extra help from upcountry. One of dad’s relatives was struggling with school fees for his young kids, so mum decided to hire their eldest son in the hopes that he could use part of his earnings to educate his younger siblings.

He was a teenager when he came to work for the family. I think he was in his late teens at that time.

It worked out well for the first few weeks, if I remember correctly. My grandfather was happy with the arrangement because this was someone he knew, someone he could trust, and definitely someone he could order around (my granddad loved ordering everyone around).

My mum was happy because now there was someone to take care of the old man, my baby brother and I, the house and the yard.

Everyone was seemingly covered, and life became manageable again for my adoptive parents.

But, things weren’t so rosy if you peeked below the surface.

After he had acclamatized to his new surroundings, the nightmare began.

My mind has successfully blocked out most memories from this time, but this is what I do remember;

– the taste of his mouth from him forcefully kissing me whenever he’d find me alone in some part of the house

– screaming myself hoarse and wondering why no one could hear me everytime he’d pin me on my back and mess with my privates until it hurt (usually happened on Saturday mornings- we were home from school, and the house was usually empty)

– how painful it was to take a piss after he’d touch me down there

– my baby brother’s confused and scared look when he’d heard me screaming one time from our room only to run and find me pinned to my back, kicking and screaming, with the houseboy forcibly fondling me (He stopped when he noticed my brother was at the door)

– him twisting my wrists painfully or squeezing my hands everytime that I tried to resist him, or I refused to do as he said (like touch him down there, I was not a fan)

– I remember endlessly kicking him, punching him, scratching him, trying to get him away from me, and he would be smiling and laughing all the while as he held both my hands together tight with his one hand, use his free hand to abuse me, and use his lower body to keep my legs still.

To stop me from screaming, he would be suffocating me with his mouth (his idea of kissing)

– I remember how tired I would feel after every encounter, and how sore my wrists, my hands, my arms, my privates, and my legs would feel. My head would also ache from the screaming and the crying

– I also remember how stupidly defiant I was. I would insult and berate him (with the little English and Swahili I could master back then) after every episode knowing full well he was going to come after me again.

I would fight, and I think that’s where my violent streak comes from (Don’t worry, I’m much calmer now).

This is just the gist of the abuse that probably started in 1999/2000 and ended in 2001, to the best of my recollection.

There was never any penetration. Not that I can remember. I don’t think my mind would have been able to block that out.

I never told my mum. I never told my elder brother. I never told my best friend. I never told a soul until now as I narrate to you what I went through.

I don’t know what, if anything, my baby brother remembers but he must know something. We talk about everything else in our past except those two years this man was living with us.

If I remember correctly, the man left as soon as or slightly before my grandfather died. I was in class five, quiet, withdrawn, and yet highly attention-seeking when I was out of his reach. I think I just wanted someone to ask me what’s wrong.

No one ever did.

When it hit me that he wasn’t in our lives anymore, it’s like I awoke from a deep sleep.

I remember I started making friends in school. I began to actually focus on schoolwork and getting better grades. Like better grades to a point that I started receiving academic awards in class 6 and beyond.

Before that, my grades were sucky, and I would get into my fair share of trouble with my class teachers, Mrs Okumu (class 3) and Mr Nyambu (class 4).

I was exhibiting behavioural issues at this time that no one really latched onto.

But, now that he was gone, I was a whole new girl. Making friends became easier. My studies became easier. I was finally able to flourish.

I pushed the memories of that time down so deep, and for years, I couldn’t allow myself to think about it.

Then I started writing this blog, and I began to see how events in my childhood had almost messed me up completely.

And, I began to realise the power and the healing that comes from writing about them, not so much for people to read, but for me to acknowledge my pain, and to be open and naked enough to show others where the wounds were.

It was easier to talk about my mother’s suicide, my father’s abandoning us, my dalliance with depression, drugs, and sex in my previous posts than it was talking about the sexual abuse.

But, I knew one day, I’d have to. It’s part of the journey in shaping my own narrative devoid of the horrific things that happened to me, to us, when my brother and I were kids.

Yap, that’s it!

In memory of the little girl I was before this, and in solidarity with the millions of children abused in our country, Kenya.

💜♥️💖💜♥️💖💜♥️💖💜♥️💖

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ANOTHER MONTH, ANOTHER PAINFUL LOSS

Hallo awesome people,

I’m back.

With something I would like to share. It’s a bit heavy but here goes…

A friend died by suicide on the 17th of March, and it was such a devastating loss for everyone involved.

I’ve hang out with him just a couple of times after moving back home, and each time was an absolute pleasure.

The last time we hang out, it was in his father’s car at our local grocery shop. I was sitting at the back, his favourite female in the entire world was sitting at the passenger seat, while he, obviously, was on the driver’s seat.

As we waited for the attendants to load the items that were on the list into the car, we talked, laughed, and made fun of each other, and our other mutual friends.

We didn’t have a care in the world at that point, at least that’s what it seemed like. Everyone was okay, everyone was happy.

I left the two in the car as I had a short errand to run for my mum in town.

That was the last time I saw him alive. 5th March 2019.

Before this, he had graciously accepted my invitation to our church’s Valentine’s dinner back in February.

He came, and obviously, he was the life of the party.

Here he was, trying to explain what he looked for in an ideal partner.

Before this, he had been playing with an adorable three year old princess, distracting the speakers with how much fun they were having together.

He tried his best to tone it down, but the little girl was having too much fun, and he just got sucked into it completely.

You should have heard the child giggle as they played on the grass. It was the cutest thing ever!

On the afternoon of 15th February, he, along with our two mutual friends, and Sammy, had come to help me with the preparations for the dinner that would be held that evening.

The conversations were endless, and again, everyone seemed okay. Each of us seemed happy and content just being there with one another.

And now, he is no more! He’s gone, and by his own hand, nonetheless.

It just goes to show that we never really know the extent of the darkness that lies beneath our glowing smiles and hearty laughs.

And, it’s no one’s fault.

It isn’t our fault- despite the fact that we were his friends, and could have caught a glimpse of this darkness once or twice, but couldn’t do anything more for him than just laugh with him, and make everything seem okay, albeit for just a couple of minutes.

It isn’t his family’s fault either – I know they tried to show him love and support the best way they knew how. I’m sure they went above and beyond for him, and somehow, it still wasn’t enough.

Sometimes, love is simply not enough.

You can love somebody so much, with every being in your body, but still be incapable of saving them from what is eating them from the inside.

Sometimes, love isn’t enough.

Sometimes the darkness overpowers your will to go one more day.

Sometimes the thread that holds you to your loved ones becomes too miniscule compared to the monster growing inside you.

To quiet the voices, to drown the pain, you choose to do the one thing that would crush your loved ones’ hearts.

But, at least, finally you get your peace. And, eventually, you hope, that they’ll find peace in knowing that you are finally resting.

I am in no way condoning his decision, it hurts, and I can’t possibly imagine what his family is going through.

But, every time I put myself in his shoes, or in my own mother’s shoes, I can see how the battle can become overwhelming, and no amount of talk, love, or support can stop the disease, this darkness, from taking over.

Recently, (literally two days ago), we were ranked the sixth most depressed nation in the world.

That means hundreds of thousands of us are depressed, and our suicide rates are skyrocketing especially amongst our young men.

I think the best thing we can do is to be on the lookout for the earliest signs of depression in our family members, and act upon it immediately.

We need to help people fight their demons way earlier on before the disease spreads farther, and our love, support, and listening ears can’t do much to help.

It’s like cancer – early detection is the only way we can circumvent the effects of the disease.

And, depression is a disease. A serious one, and I’m tired of people my parents’ age not understanding this point, and behaving as if all those that are depressed are a bunch of entitled brats!

Some people are born predisposed to depression.

Others fall into it because of the poisonous societal conditions we’ve managed to create over the years, and seem unwilling to change at least for the sake of our collective mental health.

Right now, I’m at peace because my friend is in peace. He was so young, but somehow the disease had progressed to a point nothing we could do or say would have changed the path he chose to find that peace.

But, I know that in order to stop such a tragedy from happening again, I need to be extra ALERT and pick up on the earliest, smallest signs of depression exhibited by the people around me.

My conversations and interactions will be more meaningful, more insightful. It’s going to be me listening more rather than talking, and allowing my loved ones to be as free as possible around me.

I hope that somehow this helps, and I hope that you too, dear reader, get to do the same for your loved ones.

Anyway,

Goodbye until the next time I have something to tell you.

Kisses 💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖

DEPRESSION, SEX, AND DRUGS

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.

So frustrating!

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?

BREAKING THE CYCLE: THE GENESIS OF THIS TRAUMA-RIDDEN LIFE

Trauma. That is life summed up in one word for many of us.

A series of unending torturous events whose effects touch on every aspect of our lives from the moment they happen to the moment we die. They define us; our thoughts, our impulses, our ADDICTIONS, our biases. They break us. They turn us into something we were never meant to be.

They shape how we respond to the world we find ourselves in. They kill us from the inside, and before we know it we’ve messed up; we’ve hurt the ones that love us-the ones that never hurt us; we’ve missed out on life because we were so fixated on these bad things that happened to us. Many of us never learn how to deal with these events. Majority of us never get over it.

The worst thing about these traumatic events other than the way they cause the victims to self-harm is that that pain is passed down. Studies have shown that the fear, the pain, and anxiety we experience during a traumatic event is stored in our memories and gets encoded into our DNA. This genetic material is passed down to the next generation, and this is how irrational fears, anxieties, and phobias develop in people. In short, trauma-related stress, fear and anxiety can be inherited just like many of the disorders we suffer.

I am chicken-shit scared of heights and speed. And domestic animals, for goodness sake! Domestic animals. My ancestors must have experienced some pretty nasty things in their lives. Poor them. They must have been short. I feel like they were short. Could that be my DNA linked to their DNA talking? Science is so cool!

Trauma.

Some of us never learn to move past it regardless of what we try. The experience becomes a permanent shadow; an ever-present, over-bearing guest in your body, in your mind, in your soul. You want to run away from it, you want to escape, but it’s futile to resist. It chokes you and you know you have nowhere to run. Nowhere. You’re just an empty shell, going through the motions of daily life.

You’re broken, and the voices keep telling you you are. They keep getting louder, and there are no more places to hide within yourself. You can’t escape this, and everyone else feels like they are a million miles away. You’re scared to look into people’s eyes because you don’t want them to see inside. To see the horror you’re living through.

You’re embarrassed because you’re broken. You’re embarrassed to be this broken.

Suicide becomes so alluring every time you think about it. Finally, you and those voices are on the same page. They want you to disappear as much as you do. You’re giving up, they’re getting stronger. You’re exhausted, and you do not have it in you to fight anymore.

It becomes easier thinking about it. It gives you some relief thinking that all of this could be over in an instant. You spend months gathering the courage to go through with it. The voices are constantly taunting you, and your spirit calmly resigns to the fate that they are right. You’re useless, you’re pointless, you keep making mistakes. These voices aren’t lying, and you know it, and they know it. It’s just a matter of time.

The day comes. You didn’t plan it to be this day, but something throws you over the edge today. It’s finally too much and your spirit begs you to go through with it.

The shop. A bunch of Piritons, about 12 of them. You hold on to them as you walk back home. You’re heart is not even racing. Your mind is made up. There’s peace inside for the first time in a long time.

1st pill. 2nd pill. 3rd pill. Nothing is going through your head. Nothing! But there are tears. No wailing. Just tears flowing down your cheeks.

8th pill. No more tears to cry now. You’re tired, you’re drowsy. It’s done. You sleep.

But, I woke up. Fuck it, I woke up! This was just a couple of years ago, about five. Something in me refused to die that day. I don’t know what. What I do know is that I have been awake ever since.

My biological mother never woke up. I don’t how many she took. No one ever told me.

She left a note. I know some details of it, I never got to read it. I don’t need a note to know what she was thinking.

I write these words because I know what she was going through. I’ve lived it. It’s inscribed in me, in my memory, in the way I see my world.

I finally understand how it was to have been in her mind especially those few months before THE EVENT.

When she took those pills, when she went to sleep, and never woke up, she probably didn’t know that she was opening the door for us to do the same thing.

Her trauma was the beginning of my trauma. I don’t want my trauma to lead to my kids’ trauma. I want to break this cycle, and I feel that I started breaking it the day I woke back up.

Trauma! What a bitch!