BEAUTIFUL SCARS

Why could he not say something more thought-provoking? But magic is simple if you look at it.If you stare at blankness, eventually it speaks to you. Not in words, but in the absence of words. That is magic.

I have been here you know. Sitting by the shores of Forest River wondering where these tiny ripples are coming from. I do that quite often when I need silence. Come to the river I mean. It is the thing I do. Lately I have been in an emotional upheaval. Hitting low lows. The flowing water carries with it solace for puttering souls.

I have also been stalking people on Facebook. Handsome people. I can even draw their Facebook Family trees. I like staring at their photos and then pretending I have not seen them. We are all silent stalkers stop rolling your eyes at me.But we won’t all admit it.Closeted stalkers. Facebook is a community of saints and archangels. I have no idea why I tell myself I need some silence yet carry my phone with me to the River. You tell me.Why do I do that? This gadget makes enough noise to awaken the dead.

Take the trainees’ conference I attended the other day. We were supposed to interact with each other. But the conference room was illuminated by hundreds of small expensive boxes and orchestrated by the thousands of tiny fingers tapping away. Global village without the village part. Just global.

There is a group I belong to on Facebook. Through it I keep myself informed. Especially now that my TV divorced me.Just the other day one of the group Administrators was heralded to court by some famous politician. She was said to be heading a Cartel. I think that makes me a member of a cartel. You should be very afraid child…

It turned out to be hot air. No cartel. Just some quintessential political hyperbole. And unnecessarily disturbing another person’s life because they sort of expose things that are politically incorrect. That and laughter. That group makes you laugh. It hosts half the Kenyan middle class. We feel very accomplished to belong. Keyboard warriors. Sponsors of interesting hashtags on Twirra.What else can a human being ask?

In the process I read a post from one of the admins.It has to do with grown-ups opening up about the scars inflicted upon them growing up through defilement. I shudder. I try to ignore it.

The posts keep coming. People keep getting encouraged to share anonymously. They write. I read. I read again. I cry. I do not comment. I read again, I cry some more. Then now I want to get away from this river and go to another river. My safe place needs safety.

I see it now.Like specks off my blurry eyes,i see it.I have wrapped it long enough, let me tattoo it now. With a pen dipped in red ink. Blood-red.

***

I always knew I was terrible at adulting.Being an adult was no fun at all. I would have wished to go back to my childhood if only it wasn’t shaped in fear and decorated in doubt. I longed to be a teenager in high school.That is the safest I had ever felt.High school.I love my former high school. It is in the heart of Soweto slums next to the sewer-full Nairobi River in Kayole.Folks joke that our school looks like Vasco Da Gama’s pillar. I want to beat them and burn their houses.That and eat their avocados.And lick their yogurt boxes.Hate mongers.

***

I cannot remember how it started. But I remember how it made me feel—helpless. He was my father’s brother. Let us call him Daudi.I was a curious little girl. I loved knowing things. That plus reading. I made everyone proud. A girl bringing home prizes every school closing day to her poor family is a prized possession. We were so poor that the poor in our village called us poor.

I recall him picking me up from my granny’s kitchen, with ashes on my feet and take me to his house. He did that frequently from my class four through class eight. What I always recall with clarity is this day where he made me choose between his penis and his finger. I chose his finger as he jerked himself off. I was in so much pain. I was in class four then.

I told mum one day that I was having pain on passing urine .She told me it was because I had not bathed. Honestly I hated bathing as a kid. My elder sister used to tease that I have large feet because I do not wash them. That girl is a pretty little liar. And I love her. I never reported these episodes to anyone. It went on until I finished my class eight course. He terrified me.I hated how he’d time and again do ‘bad manners’ to me.

My mum, before you all start blaming her, was very busy in other people’s Shambas trying to get some money for our next meal. Dad was away in the big city looking for menial jobs to support us. That plus Daudi had connections with the police. He used to brew chang’aa and he was doing very well.I think I started hating poverty from those episodes. I swore to get educated and get a career so that nobody has to take advantage of me.

Funny because I still got taken advantage of even with a career and a brain. Ha ha.This time by the son of my former mother in law. I think life has a way of showing you its tallest finger. His late wife saved me without knowing. When they got married, he could no longer use me.I could conveniently hide by kwenda kutafuta kuni na akina Julia so that by the time I get home, his wife is also home.

Mum tells me I was a difficult child. I was very stubborn too and I started wetting my bed. My elder sister could soak in my urine from head to toe. Yes there was only one rickety bed which we shared. That girl has seen it all from me.Sometimes I tell her that that was payback for making fun of my feet. We laugh so hard at these memories. I wet my bed all through high school and it was okay because it was a day school and nobody could guess what was happening.

After class eight we came to Soweto to join my dad and that saved me from constant molestation from his brother. I met great teachers. Teachers from the slums that taught me to love myself. Teachers that saw the flowers in me and made sure that I was aware of them. Teachers that I love and respect so much up to now. They do not know my story so relax. They will be as shocked as you are.Ha ha.

Then came nursing school. I became a time bomb. My classmates liked my stellar performance but were afraid of me because I could easily get mad and tell you off. In impeccable English. I was socially isolated in a sea of friends. Extraordinarily good with the patients. A hurting nurse who was everything a patient could need.

Apart from anger, my early twenties were woven in a web of sexual innuendos. After willfully having sex at 19, I started using it against men. I had to use sex to control men. I became Seductress-In-Chief-Of-The-Army-Of-Hell.

I am the type of girl you can’t immediately notice in a crowd. I do not stand out. But I do if you get to talk to me.And men love talking. I had this deep desire to turn a man on then leave him without sleeping with him.

My first boyfriend (the at 19 guy) told me, ”Cate one day I will kill you for what you do to me then leave me hanging.”Sex was a way for me to take back what was taken from me—control.

I also started targeting alpha males. Men who are deemed unavailable. By the way all men are available as far as sex goes child. Thank you for coming to my TED talk. I despised men who were after me.Genuinely interested guys did not meet my erotic standards. Let me paint this for you.

Let us say you are the boss at the company and you somehow showed interest in me.I would use you to get to your boss and his boss because those were the crème de la crème. Remember I am not sleeping with them. Just dangling the carrot and running for my life. It made me feel very good to see a man burning with desire for me.To see him coiling his tail humbly in my presence. Mission accomplished? Next please!

Then the aftereffect…Feeling so so sorry for all men and their ilk. So sorry for their apparent lack of control. But I would do it.Again and again and again. I was bleeding on those that did not cut me.Because my wound was still open.

How I escaped all these unscathed is a mystery to me.Years later, a counselor would tell me I was unconsciously putting myself at risk. I believe her.

Let us fast forward this story.

***

I knew I had a problem and sought help from many sources. Evangelists, men of God, my dear Catholic Church Priest. All thought I was either faking it or was possessed. I mean, I was happy wasn’t I? The life of the party. Ever smiling girl. Made from daffodils and sunlight. How could this be true? A famous lady pastor told me to join her church and I will be delivered. I did not. Another told me to plant a seed and I laughed at him. He no longer talks to me.One of the pastors started getting flirtatious and I blocked him on all channels. I was convinced that I would never get out of this pit.

Late 2017 I almost killed my then husband. I had found him cheating on me for the millionth time and I was going to kill him. The knife was well on his throat and I wanted him stone dead. He sustained the knife marks for some time before the skin regenerated over them. I somehow did not kill him. I dropped the knife. He took it and hid it.I remember texting him a week later asking him where the knife was since I was making a meal in the kitchen and could not get the knife. If he talks about me being a wanna-be-murderer as he does, I understand where he is coming from. That is part of the reason why we are safely out of each other’s lives now, yes?

Givens Mideva started a group of people who have been affected by sexual abuse. She was in the company of Njeri Wa Migwi,and others I may not be able to mention on this post. Survivors Anonymous-Kenya we became. Our first meeting was at Norwich Union house in Nairobi. I hope it is called that way. I wanted to be a better wife to my then husband. I wanted to change and if a group therapy could help, I had nothing to lose. So the journey begun.

I met many ladies who had been through unspoken horrors in the hands of men. True sisterhood manifested itself to me in those sessions. I felt lighter.Safe.Understood.Cared for and for once, I wanted to get better. I really wanted to get better. I realized kumbe I am not the only one. Therapists Margaret Mbuthi and Grace Kariuki took us through more than ten sessions. I was broken. I kept breaking. I broke some more. I blamed myself, my parents, my family, and my husband, everyone in this world but especially God. How could he let me go through so much unspoken pain? Wasn’t I Christian enough?

In one of the months I attempted suicide. This was actually a second attempt. The first one was when I was dating my dear ex-husband. Then I hated myself some more for failing. I had one job –to die and I couldn’t even get it right!

Madam Grace called it peeling the layers of an onion. It made my eyes water. We cried more than we spoke in those meetings. Then the transformation begun and I reconciled with my unhappy child. I went into myself and gave her candy and a hug. Okay that is a lie but it sounds so therapeutic. I healed her. I healed my inner child and I knew that finally, finally I would be alright.

I am no longer afraid of becoming a mother. Yes I hated the idea of being a mum. Because I did not want to have to spend my life in jail if anyone messed with my child. I used to live in my past. I have always been very protective of my siblings but God has helped me to let go and let Him. I keep off extended family gatherings. I will try to attend one soon.

I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

One day in a December, after months of talking to a friend I will call Ian and his other friend Stella, I went back home to face my monster. My parents were aware that I was going to Kirinyaga county but did not know what I was upto.See, Ian had made me accept that I needed to cut myself loose even after counseling.That I needed to physically close the door to my misery. Stella too. They both held my hand and before that date I had been postponing the meeting for several months.

“Daudi, you used me and stole my childhood and I came today to say I hate you. I have hated you for so long and I have hated men for you. However, I have come to bring that hatred to you. That pain is yours and not mine. So here I am in the presence of these two God-fearing people and I say, I set myself free from you.” I tearfully concluded.

 Try saying the above paragraph in Kikuyu or your mother tongue for that matter. Those are the most painful words I have ever had to utter

Turns out he had been looking for words or means to talk to me about it.He was very sorry but to be honest I do not care about his repentance. All I care for is that I stopped my years of agony. That pain I have carried for years, that pain I have used against other people, that pain I have allowed to blind me to my God-given purpose on earth, that pain is rightfully with whom it belongs—Calvin.

Ian and Stella do not discuss with me what happened that day. I know they silently understand me.I have found love in the strangest places. Those two have been my angels. Ian especially. He has made me appreciate that men are not bad. Some are. Just as women aren’t all evil. Some are. His friendship and Stella’s has made me not become a bitter motivational speaker. I also do not judge people. I listen. I am able to set limits too without being nasty.

Ian is married thank you for asking. Stella too. Thank you for your concern.

*** I won’t tell you that pain makes you learn. That is a lie I will never understand no matter how many times motivational speakers use it.We do not need pain to learn anything. Pleasure can do. And

chocolate. Lots of yummylicious bars of unhealthy calories. Pain is pain and do not try to make sense of a senseless thing. It is however a process. With stages. Be willing to go through them. Your light is near.

Many great things started happening all at once and now I had to choose. I chose freedom. Some impossible doors opened like floodgates of heaven. My smile radiated from my heart. I no longer try to please anybody. I started living for me. I filed for divorce too just in case you are wondering.That I will tell you some other time.

Right now I feel tired and my river is having more ripples from the shimmering rain that has just started falling. I need to get back to the house. I will pray tonight. I will pray for all those people sharing on Buyers’ Beware Page. I will ask God to send them a Givens, who will hug them when it hurts.

I will ask God if it’s possible for adults to leave children alone. I will beg Him to heal the child inside every broken adult. Then I will ask Him to protect our children from adults.

But before praying I’ll be on Facebook again. Looking for more handsome profiles to stalk. It is a hobby go sue me.

9 thoughts on “BEAUTIFUL SCARS

  1. Cate, love your boldness…the ability to share your feelings and emotional journey through life. So liberating..such an eye opener. You inspire me…you make understand myself even more…and I thank God for the many people he has sent your way plus those two friends. Ian and Stella. God bless you big

    Like

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