Is this how people drown?

I wasn’t a good swimmer. So I took a life jacket. And made sure to maintain company in case of anything. I also made sure to check every once in a while, that we were not that far from the beach.

Then I let myself be. I floated, I swam against the currents, I let my body be carried by the waves, I let the sun toast one side of my body before turning for the other side to have its fair share of the tan. We laughed. Split into many smaller groups. Rejoined. Split again. And off we were. Into the ocean. Safe. Happy. Joyous. Content.

This went on for two or so hours. Time stopped being of importance (hehe). We didn’t even go back to the beach for a break. I don’t remember being thirsty. We had talked enough. We weren’t tired. Not when waves were doing most of the swimming for us. We drifted. Lazy content seals in the water. Even took a picture or two.

There was no plan really. We just were. Safe and happy to swim the 8-4-4 system away. We were now officially out of school. We didn’t know what next. The only guaranteed next step was our graduation,a month away. The rest of our life was just beginning. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, some would get married, some would get jobs immediately, some would fly out, while the majority would hustle.

But at that moment, none of those things mattered. We were not worried. Not because we knew worrying has never added a strand of hair onto anyone’s head, but because either way we had no control over what would happen next in our lives. We had played our cards, now it would be life’s turn.

And so it was in the midst of all the above, that I found myself brushing shoulders with death. Fighting a tag of war with the grim reaper.

It was approaching 6pm in the evening. Since around noon, water starts coming back to the beach. We all knew that, precisely why most people swim in the afternoon. What we didn’t know, is that, the waves’ intensity increases as time goes by. Such that by night time, hotels near the beaches have to have some sort of wall( mostly made of sacks full of sand) to prevent the waves from crushing into their property.

Our group had been thinning out. But we hadn’t noticed it. Out of around 15 people, we were left 3. How it happened, none of us can tell. But we weren’t alarmed either.

Until a swimmer native to the coast brought along two of our colleagues, he had found them further away from where we were. Apparently, we had drifted off from what he would consider safe, even for excellent swimmers like him. He pointed out that the waves had increased greatly in strength ( something we had noticed but hadn’t thought it dangerous), and from where we were, they were pushing us to a creek. And once there, since there is no beach, its only a wall, the waves would crash us onto the walls. It would only take 2 waves for death to occur.

We panicked. But he was like there was still time. We could still get onto a near by beach in a few minutes if we started swimming towards it then. And with that he left us behind.

Apparently, without knowing it, we had swam away from the white sandy beaches. The waves we had been happily drifting with, had pushed us to the east. Now ahead of us, was a wall. Not a beach as we all thought. Meaning we couldn’t just swim to that place. Now we had to swim against the waves to reach the nearby beach.

And its like once we realized how much danger we were in, everything became worse. The waves started acting with vengeance on our poor swimming skills. The two ladies who had joined us started crying. Time started a marathon against us.

I don’t remember what I was thinking at that point exactly.

When you are drowning, you don’t remember who to blame or what could have been done to prevent this disaster or what went wrong where.

All I could think of at that point was how to survive. How to not die in the middle of a seemingly safe ocean swim. All my eyes could see at that point, was the nearest beach. And how not so near it was. I don’t even remember thinking about the waves. Except start to figure out ways of how to swim to avoid them taking me back 5 metres for every 1m I swam ahead.

The more effort i put, the less progress I seemed to be making. Others were fairing worse. Only one of us seemed to be making progress.

Drowning. We were drowning. In my head, I had always assumed that drowning meant drinking lots of water and sinking inside a body of water.

I had never realised that you could be breathing, seeing, floating, but still drowning. The waves would take us under for a few seconds, but we were breathing above water. Our lungs hadn’t collapsed. Our ears were full of water yes, but not enough to not hear. Yet we were drowning. Unless we got saved, we were facing imminent death with each passing wave. And the waves seemed to be going faster than time.

An year down the line, I find myself drowning, again. Just not in an ocean. And just like last time, I am breathing, I can hear, I can see, but yet I am drowning.

I had not noticed it happening. I do remember that two months ago I stopped enjoying reading. Something my soul derives immense pleasure in. I do remember noticing my enthusiasm for life wane. I do remember noticing that my anxiety levels had gone a notch higher. I also do remember feeling like cancelling on meeting my friends. Or turning up and my mind struggling to be present.

But just like that water incident, I saw no danger in those alarms. They are alarms yes, and there is a reason why they act as signals of how I’m doing internally, but how could I say I was drowning, yet I was breathing? How could I see death, yet the last time I checked, I saw some beach somewhere, never mind that, that was a really long time ago?

I think the worst moment of it all, is that moment when it hits you how bad it is. How close you are to losing it all. At that point, you don’t get paralysed. But there is this chilled wind that grips your inside. This clarity of thought that propels you forward even when the body wants to initiate a freeze response.

The shock that comes with that realisation of danger. That some seconds ago, I thought I was happy, safe and content. Now I know that I am in danger and I realise how hard it is to be safe given the current circumstances.

That shock. On Friday I walked from someone’s house. I felt so many things. Raw. Poked. Opened up. But what stood out from the rest, was shocked. I felt as if my insides had been turned inside out. And its not just about not liking what i saw there, I was shook by what I saw. Not of the things themselves, but of my inability to have figured that that’s how badly we were doing. That we had been drowning. I wasn’t shocked because I was drowning. I was shook that I didn’t know that I was drowning.

What comes next is help. Getting to a safe place within time. Fighting from death. But for now, I float around, breathing, seeing, hearing, and wondering… Is this how people drown?

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When I tell you I am alive..

When i tell you I am alive, it does not mean what you think. Or maybe it does. But let me try and explain to you why that is the most befitting answer to your question.

I am alive. Bare minimum you say? You can only say that when you haven’t been in my shoes. Or rather, in my mind. I’ve died many times in this life. And just like in real life situations, in all those times I never saw it coming. Death crept into my soul when I was looking the other way.

It seeped into my days when I woke up and took white tea instead of black. It followed me when I dressed and chose what I could find. It got into my steps and made me tired after every few steps. Yet I never saw it coming. Nor felt it taking up space in me.

But I saw it. When it has made a home out of me already. I saw it in my nails that are overgrown and untidy. I saw it in my reluctance to read my favorite authors. I saw it in the way I spend money. Until finally I became it.

So when I tell you I am alive, its an achievement. Its an accomplishment. Its a break of my world record. Because it means I’m looking death in the eye and inviting him to a duel. it means for the umpteenth time in this life, I’m rising from the ashes. That I’m leaving the graveyard.

When I tell you I am alive, know that that’s all that matters now. And that’s enough. To breath in the cold crisp air of this forest, to walk alone amid trees that have stood the test of time and to allow my thoughts to flow through me.

It means I’m resetting the button for the a thousandth time. Knowing that this time too death shall come. It shall creep in when I’m watching things I don’t even like, it shall slither in during conversations that touch the unhealed places in me, it shall announce itself once again, once it has a home in me. And I shall rise once again from its grip.

Maybe that is my portion in life.

So when I tell you I am alive, imagine a new born, being coerced to come out of her mother’s womb. That child who knows that this world is no one’s mother. And even if it is, sometimes mothers break their children’s hearts. But the child comes out anyway.

I am not asking you to start a bonfire to celebrate my rebirth. That would be lovely, but some things require solitude. I am asking you to keep your eyes open, your inner heart eyes that is, and behold my glory.

For I am. And that is the greatest honor of being alive.

Digging up the soul.

Functional. Functionality.

Its hard to remember when I wasn’t being functional. Everything about me has always been about getting by that moment in life with the least baggage as I can. And I’ve lived like that for so long. Written about pain for too long. Been sad for as long as I can remember.

I’ve always dressed for functional purposes. Never for beauty. Always enough money as I would need, never more or less. Eaten what I can afford. Dreamt of things I can have. Even my goals have always been realistic. Or do I say basic?

I’ve always prepared for the worst. And the worst has been my visitor a bit too regularly. Always prevented my heart from getting hurt. Which didn’t work most of the times. I’ve always been on stand by for life’s tantrums. Even my clothes. Most stay packed. And life has handed me its tantrums quite generously.

Till now. I’m restructuring. My playlist is no longer functional. I’m bringing back that little girl who loved all Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s songs. Who sang along to Sean Paul’s new hits. Who enjoyed just taking a ride on her bike for the sake of it. Who joined all trips to Tsavo regardless of the strangers in the bus. Who dressed as she wished to the protests of her mother. Who wanted and dreamt beyond her means.

And its hard. Bringing her back that is. Its a lonely process. Digging, dusting off a soul has got to be one of the most vulnerable things to do. It hurts in a sweet way. Its like a sour fruit that one can’t just say no to.

Fear. I’ve always been afraid of the wind. It has no grounding. No sense of direction. And this process feels much like the wind. I have no idea what will become of me. Being functional, as I’ve always been, requires me to check all my parts and ensure they are at least working. Now, i’m required to worry about nothing. And enjoy Ali Kiba’s song if that’s the one playing. Look up Jaymo’s silliness and allow my mind to go wild as I go through Joy Isi Bewaji’s page.

And as I listen to an old classic whose title I assume is Listen To Your Heart, i’m filled with tears in my heart. Tears that won’t spill. It has nothing to do with the song. More with my heart. And how for years I’ve listened to everyone but my heart. And I didn’t even know it.

I found myself missing a friend I’ve had for the longest time today. I guess I needed permission to be who i’m becoming. From someone who knew me when I was still wide eyed. Man, moving on afraid is easier said than done. Coz its a cycle. I get into this point where I feel extra vulnerable and need assurance that its going to be okay. I rarely reach out and if I do, I won’t come straight with what I wanted. Years of putting other people’s need before mine taught me that. While at times I just want to be the center of attention. Anyway, being as resilient as I am, I usually trudge on, while still afraid and scared. And the results are usually breathtaking to say the least.

I’m afraid of sleeping nowadays. I want to savour these happy moments a bit longer. I guess I always assume closing my eyes will make them disappear. At some point, i’ll have to get used to this. To life. To its changing nature. And to my awesome nature.

For now, I drink coffee in the wee hours of the morning and enjoy good music. Alone. And this feels like heaven.

I call it the universe.

I realise that you might have lots of questions from my last post. Its okay. You can ask them if you are courageous enough to. Let me answer the few I’ve gotten so far.

Are you now an atheist?

No. I believe in God. I believe God exists. I’m a scientist by profession. A traveller by choice. A reader by birth. And all those things have showed me that there is a higher power than me and you. Kwanza when you realise how grand our universe is. And the fact that our universe isn’t the only one around. Surely, all this must have come from somewhere. I came from somewhere. My soul that is.

So no, I’m not an atheist. I’m just not sure whether I’m a Christian either. Like I’m at a point where I want to consciously find God for myself. Is He or she found in the bible? The Koran? Philosophical works? I don’t know. I’ll find out for myself. I’m at that point where I want to hold the things I believed to be true accountable, are they really true after all? I want to learn new things about myself and my spirituality. I won’t limit myself to one specific way of finding God. Not when God is bigger than all our universes combined.

What is the universe? Or what do I mean when I say, “the universe”.

I first encountered this when I watched The secret some years ago, and read The Alchemist last year. Those two proved that what I thought existed wasn’t only in my mind. They gave a name to a phenomenon I had experienced over and over again.

When I was going to buy this phone, I wanted a tecno camon 9 or 10. I didn’t even know whether they existed . But my roommate had a tecno canon 7 or something like that and I loved it. So I got my money and went to Safaricom shop, straight to the tecno desk. I asked for the latest version of the tecno camon series. Whatever I wanted wasn’t there. But they had this one. I wanted a phone that would take good pictures of nature. I didn’t know much about phone cameras. But I knew what I wanted from the bottom part of my soul. I bought the phone I got. A step sister of the tecno camon 10(or x, that how they refer to 10 in the technical world ). And over and over again my choice has been validated. I’ve seen 4 photographers with my kind of phone. They didn’t buy it because they didn’t have money to buy iphones or the latest Samsung’s. This phone does truly do justice to nature pics. Selfies nazo hapana. Its too detailed for face photography. Did I get what I wanted? Yes. Did I know it at the time I was buying, no? Do you sincerely think its a coincidence that I got what my heart really wanted?

There is this person whom though we are not so close, we’ve been friends for years. And every single time I miss them, they call the next day. Like I can stay for weeks without thinking about them, but on the day I do, be rest assured they’ll call the next day. Like it has happened that way for years now.

But the most common occurrence is with my thoughts. There are times I could be thinking about making a certain decision. And maybe dilly dallying about it. Then I open social media and find over 5 different people talking about that thing I was refusing to think about. Do you sincerely believe that its a coincidence, that on the day i’m hesitant about a certain thing, is when the strangers I’ve never met talk about that thing?

I could go on and on.

But I can only witness what I’ve gone through. Not what you swear by as the truth.

Over a hundred times I’ve gotten signs and signals from the most unexpected quarters pertaining something I was thinking about or a decision I was to make. And that’s what I refer to when I say the universe.

Its not a religion. At least the last time I checked it wasn’t.

Its that thing that when I miss a certain song, I get into a matatu that is playing the exact song. Or when i need to hear some words, some stranger says them to me, or when I desire eggs in the morning and then forget about it, in the evening I get to eat eggs, or when want to go to a specific place, an opportunity that I had never noticed before comes up to go to that exact place.

I don’t know what you call it. Or if you’ve even experienced it. But for me, I call it the universe.

God and me.

I would love to write about my relationship with God. Or its inexistence. Or how it came to be. Just to be undone in an year.

I’m trying to think of that moment when I stopped believing. My break was actually not with the church initially. My issues with the church have always been there for as long as I can remember. What we had, me and the church that is, was a failing but active relationship.

It sounds cheesy, but I broke up with God when my last boyfriend broke up with me.

My friend was joking that she can’t believe in the universe or God after me telling her how much they had given me the go ahead signs for that relationship, just for it to crumble. Meaning they were wrong. Or what were those signs I saw and believed in, she wondered?

You see, this is isn’t about that relationship. Though I hope to talk about it someday. Its about God and that relationship.

I had been told over a hundred times before that if I put my heart into God, my trust in Him, my hope in his everlasting love, then God would take care of me. Then I would be like a planted tree besides a river. Then I wouldn’t lack, and if I did God would give me peace that surpassed all understanding.

I was told to not trust my heart, because the heart of a man according to the Bible, lies or deceives. I was told to bring all my decisions to God. To consult Him. But above that, to wait for instructions and guidance from Him.

I tried. I really did. Trusting anyone is really hard for me. But I cultivated it in me to trust God. It took a while. But I can confidently say that 2017 was the year I trusted God most. I trusted Him to have my back. To lead me to greener pastures. To make me lie beside still waters. To be my fortress and shield. And actively while at it.

And it really felt good to trust God. There is this peace that flows from the heart when you know He got you. Its like a child with her parents around. She is carefree. She knows that whatever happens, her parents are there to watch over her. I believe this is the reason religious people seem so oblivious. When you think someone has your back, whether its true or not doesn’t really matter, what matters is that your mind thinks its true, keeping you at rest compared to someone else who they know they are all they’ve got. Themselves.

So I liked this guy in church. But for a while I ignored it, from what I had observed, men in church have this unique characteristics in them that make them almost boring to date.

So I forgot all about this man till later when circumstances brought us in the same vicinity for a while, so we got talking. And he was pretty interesting. We started talking. And talking. And spending a lot of time together. It was obvious to us that something was brewing between us.

So what did Mercy do? She prayed about it. Honestly. I believed that God would give me the right direction to go. To step back a bit and just be friends, or plunge ahead and see where this goes. God had spoken to me before. In various ways. So I wasn’t doubting whether or not He would answer me. He would. And with every cell in me I knew I would go ahead with whatever decision He chose. Like I had never trusted God before as much. Or depended on Him to make any life altering decision for me.

So me and God were good. We were talking. We were growing closer. I was reading His word more. I was entirely at His mercies. If He said jump, the next second he would have to look for me up in the skies. I was committed to him. Like a soldier to a country. And like a son to a father.

I dated the handsome guy. Me and God were still really doing well. Excessively well if I may add. At some point I started even getting scared. God would reveal stuff to me in the most unexpected manner. It sounds weird, but sometimes in my sleep, God would visit. Just to hang out. Or I would be looking at something and I start getting lessons from it.

My relationship went through ups and downs. Quite normal. Not to be unexpected. I knew God had approved it. Our channels of communication were clear, which never happened if we weren’t good. Plus I had trusted Him from the beginning. With all my heart. Willing to drop everything in case God said so.

Until we broke up. A few weeks later.

I was heartbroken yes. But what hurt beyond explanation wasn’t being let down by a man, that happens. Its pretty normal.

For three days straight I was in a daze. What just happened there? Si we had talked about this with God? Si He was supposed to warn me of potholes ahead? Si I was told to not trust my heart and instead trust Him? And hadn’t I just done exactly that? I had done everything I was told to do. But still.

God had broken my heart.

That was the most intense pain I’ve ever felt. Yaani it was pain so intense, that it took me days to feel it. Have you ever observed small kids when they are hit or fall? If the pain is slight, they’ll start crying immediately. Like you’ll hear the sound out of their mouths immediately. But if the fall was exceedingly painful, they open their mouths but no sound comes for some seconds. The more the silence before the noise, the more it hurts.

I did everything right. Like I can swear on God himself.

Then people started telling me that God knows best. Maybe it wasn’t in God’s plan. God has better plans for my future. God knows best. God . God. God.

What I knew for sure, was that if that’s how God loves me, then I would be better off without that love.

Because as cruel as I can be when stretched beyond every limit possible, I knew that I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain upon a living soul. Even if I hate you with a fury. I just can’t. Yet I’m only human. So these people were telling me that this God who loved me so much to give his son for me, was okay with me going through all that pain when he could have stopped it? Does that sound like love to you? And if it does, what kind of love was that?

All I knew, is that whatever kind of love that was, that watches as the person you supposedly love gets raped, ripped apart, broken, crushed beyond repair, while they still call you a fortress, I didn’t want it. If anything, I would run away from it. Inhumane doesn’t even begin to describe that kind of love.

You see, had I broken up with God due to some theological teachings I heard , then maybe there would be a chance of us getting back together.

But I tested God. I did what I was supposed to do. He failed miserably on His end of the bargain. He didn’t provide the fortress, green pastures or still waters.

All I know, is that my heart, is clearly safer with me.

Will I and God get back together?

Maybe. Or maybe not.

But if we do, I know it won’t be on the same terms as before. Not based on the ” I’m evil, He’s holy ” model. Because I come from somewhere. And if whoever created me, saw it fit for me to be this way, then who is another deity to call me a sinner from birth?

But I wouldn’t discourage a believer from their faith. Hold on there brethren. If claiming and owning it in Jesus name, makes you sleep better at night, then by all means sister. Claim it and own it. If knowing His grace is sufficient for you removes all guilt from your soul, my brother stand strong. If knowing you are so loved till the son of God died for you, assures you of your ticket to heaven, then hold it a little more tightly.

I’m not wise. I don’t know much about heaven or hell. Or sins and holiness. Or souls and spirits. Or virgin Marys and miracles. Or even earth and its creator. Or the universe and its sustainer.

But what I do know for sure, is that I only have me to live for. And that on my last moments, I won’t be thinking about that pastor or my mother and if I lived right by them, i’ll have myself to answer to. Did I give myself the best that I could at any given moment in my life?

I so want that answer to be yes. And if leaving an abusive relationship with God is what it takes at this point in life, then that’s exactly what i’ll do.

I’m giving myself the permission to grieve. About my relationship with God for the last 15yrs. The good times we had. The ups and down. The lessons learnt. And the scars gotten. The baggage from that relationship that I carry to date.

One of my issues with God was his luck kind of working. Where He would bless you today then allow you to lack tomorrow. Maybe it wasn’t God. Maybe it was life that’s just like that. But at that point, I thought it was God.

I want a love that chooses me all the time. Not some of the time. I want sure ground, not a hit and miss.

I want to be wanted as I am. Not to bend, crawl, give you my mind, and still tell me that I am not enough. I am tired of that love.

And I allow my heart to cry. For all those times it sought love from a supposed God, and instead got rules to follow. For all those times I needed words of comfort, and I got told instead how its because I doubted or sijui what I did wrong.

My beginnings usually start from a negative point. Where I get over the baggage I carry, then now start from zero. Its not easy.

But as I love saying, the universe has aligned itself. I’m getting signs from left right and center, that I’m on the right path.

I hope one day i’ll tell you about the Universe, and what I mean by it.

But for now, let me enjoy this peace that has come over my spirit, as I let myself be.

Birthed anew.

I don’t know how to capture this. I’ve tried of thinking of several ways of explaining this but every perfect opening has failed me. I’ve tried to convince myself to postpone writing this, but I know issa lie. I only write when in the thick of things.

And this thick of things is really hard to describe.

You see, 2 days ago, I was on a start of a long journey with tears in my eyes. And today, i’m in the last leg of the journey with tears in my eyes. How I explain the difference between those two tears is not easy. But telling you how it came to be is even harder.

NamLolwe healed me. You can just go ahead and google what Namlolwe is. But that doesn’t really cut it, does it? How does a place heal you? I’ll tell you how.

This is the most intense place I’ve ever been. When I don’t have the energy to deal with anything life throws at me. And life at that specific moment chose to throw all it could on my way. Terrible times I tell you.

I’ve said this again, that the goodness of being at the bottom pit, is that there is no other way out except up. Only problem is, where to get that energy to start going up.

So I travelled. Despite every cell in me refusing to. I just wanted to drink some pain killers for my headache and curl myself in bed the whole day. I didn’t think I had the energy to survive a day full of humans and travel to one of my best destinations in my country. I felt as if I should have travelled when i’m in a better place. But plans are plans. So whether I enjoyed the trip or didn’t, I was already on the way there.

But unlike other trips, I came purposely to find myself. Good scenery would just be a bonus. I had lost myself. Somewhere along the way. And whoever I had become was dying with every breathe she took.

So I thought, i questioned stuff, questioned every statement I made. I allowed myself to be. And for the first time this year, I slept within minutes of closing my eyes, lulled by the sound of the Lake’s waves and the loud sound of birds. I observed the human beings we went with and turned my head upside down trying to figure out what is similar or different about them in comparison to me.

I took a boat ride while my mind took a ride into itself. We threw down foundations I had always stood on. We dug new ones that we hope will hold water. And if they don’t, its okay, we’ll just destroy and rebuild. We allowed the therapeutic magic of new places and water to wash us. To remove the scub that the bottom pit leaves on a person.

And that’s how coming back, watching the smallest yet most beautiful sunset, we knew that we were back. I’m alive. And willing to live. With a desire to live. Needing to live, wanting to live and eager to live. Two days ago, this place i’m in right now was like a dream. And its in line with that, that we decided to forge new ways of living. Ways that encourage life to bud. Thoughts that heal and encourage. Music that pushes you one step ahead instead of the ones we had that romanticized pain and hell.

And looking that sunset, with tears of gladness in my eyes, I knew that this trip, would be a major landmark in my life. That one day, when someone drew a map of my life, they would say, that walking on an island of legends, while stepping on the cradle of mankind ,birthed me anew.

But still…

I see you. Spiraling downwards. Trying your best to find something to hold onto. Nothing. Trying to assure yourself that this time it won’t be bad. Nothing, for even you you know that its going to be worse than you imagine.

You wish there is something you could do about this hurtling down that your whole being is undergoing. But you know that even though wishes at times do come true, it isn’t always at your beck and call.

You. You wish people lived life with more than themselves. Because you are not enough for yourself. You have fallen short too many times in a bid to help yourself. Some people seem to have their lives together by themselves, yours always seems undone. Its like you were made beautifully weak.

Its the beautiful ones that die. They said. But for once you don’t want death. What’s the use of it to you anyway? Dead people hear nothing, tell nothing, see nothing, experience nothing.

You want life. But what they didn’t tell you, is that its easier to want death, than to want life.

You want to live. Its such a simple need. Yet you don’t have it. You are not alive. Well, technically you are. But your soul is on a deathbed. Neither dead nor alive.

You mourn for it. You cry for it when a fly steps on you. You weep for it when a call isn’t picked up. You wail for it when the song that you can’t even relate to ends with such beautiful violin. You wipe your tears when anyone speaks a good word over your life.

But tears don’t reawaken souls. They don’t heal souls. They can’t call your name and bring you back to life.

So you live. A life with no life in it. You laugh at savage jokes. You do what needs to be done. You robot yourself out of your days. But still…