ABNORMALLY NORMAL

I have a painfully incurable trait at replying to people’s messages on Whatsapp. That explains many unopened messages wishing me a better new year or something to that effect. I have progressed downwards in my lack of etiquette especially after I went public with the divorce. I saw a friend’s message a few days ago. He wrote, ”you did not deserve what you went through.” That message got me thinking. Did I not deserve it? Who would I rather have had to feel the pain of half baked dreams and aspirations? If God gave me a chance to choose ,who would I single out as the most befitting mortal to be torn to pieces by what they once called the zenith of self actualization?

I have come to the conclusion that I do not wish it on anyone. I also know that nobody deserves pain. Maybe we do because we are smart asses who play with fate but when all is said and done,we want to be happy.

A broken marriage is the last thing anyone wants to associate with;especially an African woman. We know that we should leave. That alone is the most interesting thing about abusive relationships. The victim knows that they should leave. However the fear of leaving overcomes the fear of staying. One day however,when the fear of dying will overcome the fear of staying,they will leave.

When you grow up believing in everyone else but yourself,you become conditioned to believe you are a terrible person. You believe that any person,man or woman who will love you will be doing you a favor. I became so detached with my femininity that I thought my husband was doing me great charity by staying with me.

I would even apologize for things that were just not my fault. If he never loved me I took that as a cue to work on myself. Domesticate myself to fit in.I took the pressure from our families to make the marriage work.

I was doing everything to keep the ship afloat. That included taking counseling to work on my anger issues. Before marriage, I kept asking why victims stay with their abusers. I have learnt over time that the greatest prison is in our minds. The abuser perfects the art of manipulation that the victim learns that there is no other man or woman better in the world than the man they are with. He breaks your self esteem. He throws away your confidence. He snuffs out any candles of hope within your soul. He freezes your voice under the heat of this breath. Eventually you stumble in the dark,blind and with a cold voice stuck in your throat. Your tune he took and snapped the strings that played your heart’s music. It becomes an icy world.

The problem is that this mess becomes your new normal.Interestingly others see it but you just can’t.

I remember Jozef his friend telling me that he was the worst I could marry but because love,I told my husband that his friend was not wishing him well.I did not take Jozef’s words seriously even after finding a message from my dear husband telling Jozef, ”…wacha kunichomea kwa Cate I also don’t tell Halima (Jozef’s wife) about your escapades.”

No sooner had I walked out than Jozef texted me, ”Cate I told you so”

Needless to say, Jozef remains blocked in all social media and mainstream media channels. Ha ha, you should not remind me the obvious.I know it is petty but I speak petty fluently.

I tried to change.I tried to speak softer,closed my mouth more,became more homely.I even tried to be less volatile but I could feel him traveling away from me in his dreams. I removed the jewels from my crown for him to be able to carry. Even then,it was too much for him.

One day,I got tired of trying to make my sparkly star-shaped self into society’s square holes. I chose to embrace the glorious mess that I was and shine like a morning star.

There is a direct relationship between how you see yourself and the men you end up with. Or women for that matter. Playboys are attracted to mommy types. We become infatuated with each other’s broken souls. As I begged him to ,”please stop doing this to me” I knew what I needed was closure.

I demanded closure as if life is put together as neatly as a novel but it is not. Life is a messy sentence, ending too early or in the middle. But we have to love it,poor grammar and typos,it is a beautiful thing—life.

I had a deep-seated Savior Syndrome. I wanted to save people and especially men. This is a sad character I have seen in many career women. Furthermore,people who grew up in untold hardships and have done everything to be where they are today more often than not invest in men with half a brain.

How to not do it is to realize early enough that you are vulnerable. I wish I had taken stock of the men I ever dated. I could have seen a worrying trend and sought help to break the chain. I saw it later in life and I can confidently say I am now one notch less sad.

A day in the life of a Matatu tout in the Eastlands of Nairobi is full of shouting, name calling and running battles with cops. It is chaotic to you and I who do not work as touts but it is very normal for the Matatu industry. See,when Jogoo road is as spiky clean and clear as spring waters, the tout and driver are very cautious and attribute it to police ‘operation.’

That is the kind of life I led in my short stint at marriage. It was chaotic through and through but I loved it. It may be abnormal but it was my normal. The signs are there. The writing on the wall is candid but well, we are stubborn little girls. Just like one stumbles looking for light in a pitch black pit ,so do victims. Society expects you to know it all and have a marriage that is working. Society makes all the rules and like a good girl, you must conform. I conformed until my back bent. I could no longer do it.

It does not mean the chatter has died down. If anything, it has only begun. Sometimes when i have too much time to do nothing, I tell myself that had I had power, I could turn back the hand of time and call off the wedding.

People, it has been three years, do you think you would still be talking about me? I doubt it. There have been other perfect scandals in our nation worth your bile-coated tongues.

Our community will never be kind to women. It has never been and never will be. As an African lady, you are screwed if you do and screwed if you don’t. If a man is irresponsible and a total mess, they all blame it on you. If you make wise investments and the man appears to succeed,they claim the man is very hard working. Quintessential patriarchy.

Child, if you stay in an abusive relationship they suggest you leave but if you do they label you a home wrecker. If you give birth before marriage they call you a whore and if you give birth in marriage then walk out they call you  a lazy single mother. If you have a beautiful marriage they say mtaachana tu.When you do not achana,they employ tactics to make sure that you and your marriage are blown into smithereens.

We have mutated into a sad group of people in a dark corner waiting to celebrate people’s misfortunes at life.We attack people whose journey’s we do not understand.We do this behind our keypads dressed in torn underwear while eating cat food.

It makes us feel a little more successful if we succeed at bringing each other down.We feel justified if evil befalls those we deem higher on whatever SI unit of success we use. We abhor those that have guts to show society the longest finger. We hate those who are able to know they deserve better and better they look for. How dare they challenge our comfort bubble of mediocrity?

That is when I start laughing and smiling as if I own the universe.Why because when you suddenly raise your standards,the universe will meet you there.This universe has an uncanny ability to adjust.

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