Updated: May 21
Well, well……where do I start? How do I tell you my story? What parts of my story do I tell, and which ones do I leave out? Which challenges do I share, and which ones do I leave tucked behind my smile, in the depth of my heart?
If you saw me at a restaurant and you were checking me out, you would never know what it’s taken to stay sane. So let me tell you, I have tried it all.
I have slept around as much as I can. I made bets about it, and I become extremely focused on conquering those on my target path. It was an escape route. I enjoyed the thrill, the chasing, the moment of conquer. Ticking the box gave me some dopamine. You see, this I could control. This I could manage; I could call the shots. I had control of this part of my life and full access to the outcomes. I decided when, where and how. I took lead. I decided who came into my life, how long they stayed, and I left when I wanted. When I was bored and done, they did not leave me.
I grew up having everything I wanted. Life was good. My parents were in love and dad had magical hands. I saw his business grow, I had evidence of what thriving was all about. It was like sitting in a class where you see things happening instead of being told about how they happen.
The onset of post-election violence was the end of life as we knew it.
Dad’s businesses begun to crumble one by one. We no longer had everything we wanted. He could no longer afford to pay my school fees, which meant I had to cook a story on why this cool kid could not stay in that prestigious university. As a young adult, we are not taught how to say my parents cannot afford to have me in university. This is also the time when I was becoming a “star” and appearances mattered and had to be maintained at all costs. So, I dropped out of campus and went AWOL on everyone.
Next, we moved out of what had been a beautiful home and had to start life all over again.
I began to see the fissures of my parent’s love. The pressure of not being able to make ends meet drained the joy off their faces as things became harder by the day.
Dad and I became a street hawkers, selling fruits from a wheelbarrow cart. But even this was not enough.
Have you ever had to sell your own clothes just so you could have a meal? Mum did it for us.
One day, dad got tired of pushing the wheelbarrow and so he left. The man who had been the pillar of our home, the man who had provided for years, the man who had made a name as a thriving businessman, could not bear the fact that his hands no longer had magic. Everything he had tried to do for his family did not seem to work. And so, like in the days of our forefathers, he left to seek better pastures for us. He figured that another town would provide better opportunities for him, for us. And so he went without a word, without a dime, with nothing, and began life all over again.
While there, he found someone to comfort his heart and our family was never the same again.
Watching dad break, loose everything he had, start life again from scratch, fall sick and eventually die is not easy. He died a few years after mum. He died having come back home. I nursed him and continue to live with the images and memories of his frail body withering in my presence. I made desperate prayers, I asked God to restore him, to heal him. I wanted him to be the man I once knew. I wanted him to live so he could see the changing fortunes of his children. I wanted him to live so he could one day hold his grandchildren. I wanted him to live so he could enjoy my paycheck, just like I had enjoyed his, many years ago. I was desperate for his healing so he could find redemption.
But as a firstborn, to whom do you talk? Who do you tell about these desperate fears and prayers that you have? I had to be the strong one, I had to show up even when I was breaking inside. So, I did what I have always done, pack my emotions and get into action. Do what needs to get done, be functional.
It is what I did when mum died. I sprang into action and singlehandedly facilitated her burial. I will never forget that chilly day at the airport and how my friends kept asking that I at least view her body so I could say goodbye. I did not . I buried her without seeing her. I was scared I would break. It had been years since she left the country since I had physically seen her. She left so she could do better for us, so she could start afresh. And she did, she did start over. She found work and she was happy. And then suddenly, with no notice, she was ill and just like that, she left.
So now am an orphan, I have no one to run to but myself and God. It has been a roller-coaster, transitioning from one tragedy to another. Things working out and then things going down. I have never unpacked these things; I have stored them, and I worry that one day they might consume me and shred me. My sleeping around was triggered by the fact that I needed an outlet and even though I no longer do that, I still need an outlet. I need to cry; I need to find closure. I never once shed a tear when mum and dad died. I still have not. My mind and heart are in hibernation. I feel like when I let loose, I may not be able to pick myself up again; yet I must be strong for my spouse, my siblings and my family.
This series has allowed me to open my heart. It has allowed me to sit with myself. It has allowed me to hear my heart and have a look into the emotional well that has been bubbling inside. You see, I am the one who makes people happy, I am the storyteller who tells all stories except mine. I am the one who makes people laugh, but my soul has been sad.
And so, I figured why not you tell. Just so you know, it has not been easy.