I grew up knowing that all the people who live in Somalia are starving. If your household was anything like ours then you know of the “incentive” some mothers would use to ensure that their kids finish their carrots, pumpkins or other eeky veggies. (To this day I still cannot stomach cooked carrots, pumpkin or french beans)! When this incentive failed (which it inevitably did), she would threaten us with a severe beating and we would have to sit at the table till every single morsel was off the plate. Luckily we had cats and the felines quickly learnt whose feet to sit at under the table for discreet food drops when mum wasn’t watching. I always used to wonder though, what did eating my carrots have to do with starving Somali people? Like, if perhaps I didn’t finish my food, could it then be shipped off to feed one of them?
When did the rain start beating us? Yes I know. It’s one of those weird metaphors typically heard in our local corporate lingo. I heard one of my colleagues say it last week as we were trying to establish the root cause of yet another typical work complaint. Then for some strange reason, it popped back into my head a couple of days ago. I was pondering my current life situation which is one word. Overwhelmed. I’m basically waist deep in search of answers, which is more or less where I left things in my last post.
It’s OK to not be OK. Yes I said it. It’s OK to fall apart. To have no clue where you are going or what the heck you are doing. To not know whether you’re moving forward, backward or just oscillating around the same point for goodness knows how long. To constantly grasp at straws in the hope that one of them will be the one that saves you from drowning. Yes, all this is OK. Why you ask? Because at least then you are conscious and self-aware of just how far you fall short of your own expectations. Which probably means you will eventually do something about it.
“Addiction!” The second time I heard that word was while sitting in a chair in a little room as a therapist described my own life back to me. She followed it up with “Depression!” Another big word she used to describe my situation. I wanted to argue. But I was also the one who told her only minutes ago that I had been feeling tired with the whole “living” business. I did not get to argue. I did not want to actually die. But I knew I needed help. Positive thoughts were not going to keep me going for too long. I could feel it. So I reached out in secret and, as with all things secret, I paid for it myself. By this time I was very good at keeping secrets. And I had a part time job as a writer. So, I could afford it.
Have you ever had someone look at you with a pity? I have had people look at me with pity. A face that is one part judgmental and two parts charity. A look that will make you realize just how low you really are. A look, today, I only give to street kids. It’s the same look. I know. I give it to street kids and simultaneously feel horrible for doing it. But what is one to do? Help? How? One cannot help when they cannot even fathom the scale of how deep the problem is. The people who gave me this look saw that I needed help. But how? Where to even start? Should they remove me from the household? Pay my school fees? Pay for counselling? Clothes? Food? This very train of thought is becoming too much of a responsibility. “Is he being physically abused?” No. “He’s fine.”
A good friend of mine asked me to guest post him and I will be featuring his story in a 3-part series. In his own words, he has suffered it in silence for long enough and hopes that telling it will help someone out who could be going through a similar situation. Let me tell you about my smile. It’s not a particularly pretty smile. I have chipped teeth. Several of them. Others have decided that they will pose like Instagram models by turning a little to the side so that you can see their curves properly. It may look sexy in my mouth, and to one or two randy dentists, but to the rest of the world, it’s just crooked. Then there is the yellow. I brush my teeth until they feel like porcelain when my tongue glides over them. But I can never quite get the yellow out. I sometimes consider whitening them but, I am not one to make changes to things which work perfectly fine. After all, I can smile.