Language| A Bridge or A Hurdle?

Photo By Andrew Neel on Unsplash.com

A TELE-COUNSELING SESSION WITH A CLIENT. IT’S THE FIRST SESSION AND THE CLIENT CHOSE TO DO IT ON PHONE RATHER THAN ON ZOOM.

And what brings you here today?

Well, I am concerned about my job. It’s a real warzone.

What about your job are you concerned with?

Well, I’m not sure. It’s my boss and it could be, umm, me perhaps…

Would you please shed more light on what is going on at work?

AND THIS IS WHERE I SHOULD HAVE JUST ASKED “WHAT HAPPENED?”

Well, I feel like my boss is stonewalling me yet I feel I am getting the short end of the stick…

When I try to shine a spotlight on the issue I feel like I just leave a bitter taste in his mouth.

My boss is the king of the castle and we, his loyal subjects are only there to do his bidding. A few customers are feeling the whiff that something’s wrong and yet I have to turn a blind eye coz if I say anything, it would not only be a huge red flag but a sign that there’s plenty wrong at the castle.

Now, I don’t know what to do without raising eyebrows and the thing is my workmates seem to be taking sides with my boss? I feel like throwing in the towel. Perhaps it’s time to hang up my boots and call it a day.

What are you colleagues saying or doing?

Well, I am not sure it just that everything is being played under the surface at the moment and I do not really want to open a Pandora’s box to find that it’s a can of worms. So, I can’t say for sure what they think. Besides everyone is at their own little corner doing their own thing. I am here covering my ass.

Have you talked to your boss about your concerns?

And say what? That he is undermining me whilst taking all the credit for the leads I have created in the business and won’t let me take my annual leave for the last three years nor talk to the customers directly about the performance of the funds we have invested on their behalf. Mark you, Chris we are talking about 50 million USD worth of investments.  If I told him what I thought, I would just get fired.

I wish I had taped you so that you could hear yourself speak. Yes, I feel there you have an issue to do with your workplace and more specifically with your boss. However, if you’ll allow me I think what you have here, is a communication problem and perhaps a communication breakdown.

A CHUCKLE

No need to be so dramatic. I just clearly explained to what’s going on.

Well, you did and yet you didn’t. If you’d heard yourself speak, you would hear all the idiomatic expressions and the truth of what the issue is came out in what you did NOT think you could tell your boss. And yet the result seems headed in the same direction. The longer you don’t tell him what you think and feel, the more you ponder on the idea of tendering your resignation or taking an early retirement. And if you tell him, you say he could terminate your employment. Either way you get to leave your current employment.

Are there any other options you could think of?

You came highly recommended, and here you are judging me. I think let’s just stop there and I will look for another therapist.

Thank you for your time and for having considered to let me work with you. I wish you well. Truly.

Yeah Right. Whatever!

More Snippets of Everyday Life

He asked that we bet on the BBINanzenz

“Ok,” laughing quietly to myself that betting about this thing is proof of its nanzenz…

How much are you willing to bet? He asks.

My life. I’m putting my life on the line.

Come on. I won’t come to kill you when we win this thing. Put money down.

You won’t have to, I reckon. My life as I know it, will be over anyway. Besides, what price could I place on my own head as a Kenyan?

Let me call you right back. I have a call coming in. Again LQTM, that this should be a Kenyan proverb…

I’m yet to hear from him wondering how much he was will willing to bet…

Nanzenz!

i am tired

 

they said

 

i shouldn’t

 

have thrown the baby out with the bathwater…

 

but the baby, i said

 

was…

 

stillborn

 

 

 

 

they said

 

the icing on the cake

 

was scrumptious

 

but the cake, i said…

 

was…

 

…a mud cake

 

 

 

 

they said

look away

the emperor is naked   

but looking away, I said…

is…

not blindness

 

 

i am tired, tired, very tired

…of…

…bathing dead babies

…eating bad cake

and

…neck pains caused by naked emperors   

OMG! Christianity, not Christ, is the culprit

JoyfulNewsletter.com
©Dennis Daniel (Brother Blooper)

I got into a church a non-christian in 2009, got “saved” twice in that time and I eventually left it, I suspect, as a non-christian in 2018. I had come full circle and gotten to a place, though somewhat familiar, felt like I was getting there for the first time.

Never mind, that I had gotten saved several times before where the main driver of the decision was fear of being left out, or the fear of not belonging or ultimately, the threat of going to hell. Never once, in the context of christianity, have I made that decision to get saved because I desired a deep and meaningful experience of God, or I discerned a loving call from God.

Never. Once.

I struggled to leave church this time around because there had been really good and meaningful times that included a wedding and the opportunity to be of service to my fellows.

Before I decided to ditch the church organization, we were frequently getting to the church services later and later despite living only 15 minutes away. The last time we attended a service, we arrived with about half an hour to spare. I, later that afternoon, sat my family down and shared my personal struggle.

“Son, one of the reasons we have been going to church is so that you can make it to the young adults’ service. I did not want you to blame me for not showing and leading you to church. Going there with 30 minutes left is disrespectful and dishonest. The least I can do is share my truth with you. Church is not working for me. And I will understand if you want to keep going. I will be happy to drop you on time and also come for you when you are done. That I am willing to do.”

“Sweetheart. I am not going back to that church. I am not sure what the complete issue is and I want to find out. And no, I am not willing to look for another church. This struggle has gone on long enough for me to understand the issue is not out there but in here [pointing to my heart] and I want to know what it is. I am willing to take the risks and time in finding out.”

“Curtis, I was concerned about who’d conduct the service when I die, and I thought of you. You’re there!”

Never mind that Curtis, the realest man of God I ever met, is older than me, yet, all of a sudden, he has no permission to die before me.

I was choosing to leave at a time when I couldn’t reconcile the bullying, mannerless and irresponsible behavior of men of god in my circle and the appeals that they were making to us on the need to have healthy christian beliefs. Their cruelty, indecency and insensitivity were often followed by the instruction to touch not the anointed and forgive them where they were wrong. 

I acknowledged my unresolved dilemmas, and despite a plea by a professor to read the bible for myself, I stopped reading it altogether. I just couldn’t shed off the filters that seemed permanently stuck to my face. I couldn’t see anything good or loving of this god of the bible. I saw an insecure and disempowered god who seemed to need validation from his creation. Either I or this god needed some growing up to do.

Yes, I kept asking why was I taking all this stuff so seriously and worse, so personally?

Was it my codependent personality that seeks to see the good in everyone, and in missing it, dismissing them entirely?

Was it my lonely, hurting self who was desperate for healing, validation and acknowledgement?

I recently attended a Church conference primarily because my crush was presenting a paper. The conference was convened to discuss the place of the church in a post-COVID19 reality.

I listened to the keynote speaker at the conference and I couldn’t believe my ears when he was talking about the violence and abuse by the church. An African man. Here was a man I hadn’t heard of before laying out my trauma in the open. It wasn’t me after all. He talked about whether the African church as I knew it, was suited for Africans. 

He talked about the need for the African church to rearticulate the place of Christ and the church in post-COVID19 Africa. He asserts that the post-COVID 19 African church needs to rethink its function as a life-giving instrument in Africa, a social equalizer of Africans, and the need to redeem its moral authority and release Christ from the shackles of consumerism and capitalism.

For a moment, that kacodependent little child wanted to step out and ask the good professor to come out and play with me because he was now my new best friend. But I have had some growing up to do, and could now take the message without the messenger. I felt so liberated and light. I was enlightened. Yes, I may read what more this good prof has had to say. And I pray I don’t get weighed down by the need to like, or, God forbid, worship him.

I am also listening to another man who dechristianizes christianity so well and continually reminds us that Christ isn’t Jesus’ second name; it is a consciousness.

Back to the conference, I listened to the keen rebuttals by Bible scholars and clergy and in the presence of the new insight, that it was not my fault and that I was ok, I healed a little bit.

Even the voice of a senior university administrator who hadn’t listened to the keynote speech accusing Africans of arrogance and needing to come with brokenness (whilst thinking he was speaking in English) was not enough to dull my new found freedom. I almost got annoyed by the familiarity of that messaging.

Getting a resentment now would have been like being released from prison, hang out in its vicinity hoping for a chance to be thrown a #GetBackHereRightNow key. But I was free. I could rise up, walk, and enjoy the sunshine.

It is my take that people in authority, who really are in service to those they lead, should not accuse those they serve of arrogance. It was simply arrogant, actually.

If these servant leaders have issues about the behaviour of the people they lead, they can come and see me for referrals or counseling.

Though I am now sufficiently open-minded to inquire what it means to be a Christian, I am still not going back to church nor reading the bible as holy scripture for the moment.  The seeking continues. The PTSD was and is real.

The shed weight has made it much easier to keep walking and doing good and understanding more. We possibly shall meet, God willing, in that postCOVID19 space. With new stories of care, compassion, courage. of Christ.

Oh. And on that death thing…I have since let it go after I came to terms with the fact that funerals are for the living.

“So, Curtis, ummm. No, it’s alright. Let me shut up.”

NO BRAINERS REQUIRE LOTS OF THOUGHT

I once took a lady friend home. I had bought her alcoholic drinks and I was on soda all evening. We left town at around midnight. I lived on the opposite side of town to where she lived. She insisted that it was too late to go her place, where she lived with her mum.

We got to my place.

On this one, you’ll have to take my word for what happened.

We did not have sex and not for want of trying on my part. Let’s just say she said she could only have sex with her husband. I was not her husband nor did I have plans to be one that night or anytime in the near future.

So, no, we did not have sex or anything else for that matter. We slept.

Some may think I need an award for not forcing myself on her.

Thing is, I don’t need an award – and no one else does for that matter – for doing what I am supposed to do in the first place without thinking. I, as a man, needed to understand what masculine privilege really signified. This meant thinking and understanding and naming what that privilege looks like.

This memory was triggered by a Facebook post by one Mwende Kyalo reacting to some screenshots where a lady is asking a man that she’s been washing clothes for, cooking, cleaning and having sex with, what they are and the man tells her they are just friends. and the icing is when he tells her, that he didn’t ask her to do any of that.

Mwende’s response: But that’s the thing. He didn’t have to ask her. Society already did that for him. Her mum already did that for him. The community that man lives in and the values they hold already did that for him. They raised her to not have to be asked. To do it without being asked.

In thinking about Mwende Kyalo’s response I recalled how I felt smug about not having had sex with N. and it hit me that doing the right thing should be the old, new and everyday normal. In fact, I now see, I failed the test because, she said no to sex which I felt entitled to simply because I was a guy and she was at my place, in my bed.

Money, Land, Food and Sex

About a year into my alcoholic recovery journey, I made a declaration whose import has only come to pass, and continues to unfold as I try to live it out: I swore that as long as I am alive and sober, I will not fight for money, land, food or sex.

I made this declaration because I believed that all these things are available in abundance. The popular narrative is that they are scarce.

What has happened is that I have been severally tested. And several times I have failed. I still believe, that money, land, food and sex are abundant and fighting for them as if they are scarce is a waste of time, foolish and the ego’s attempt at playing God.

It’s only in the last few years I have gotten to understand and appreciate what privilege is. And I believe privilege ought to be contextualized for it to be tackled. At a personal development seminar, I was introduced to the concept of agreements which best illustrated contextualized privilege. The seminar leader called up two people and asked us what the societal expectations or perceptions – and I loosely interpret those societal and call them privileges.

The facilitator, an American, called up a Kenyan African man and a Kenyan African woman and though I can’t quite remember the exact question he asked the crowd, it was along the lines of who of the two, when placed together is seen as being more privileged: we shouted, “the man.”

He placed a Kenyan African man and a white man and we said the white man.

In a risqué gesture he placed a Kikuyu man and a Luo man; “the Kikuyu man” was the comeback.

A tricky one was when he placed an African man and white woman and for the first time there was a bit of uncertainty but the vote went to… the white woman.

This was an interesting, albeit uncomfortable exercise. Uncomfortable because what he was portraying was our unacknowledged or unspoken perceptions which we often relate to as the truth.

One participant asked what the point of the exercise and the course leader reckoned those are the agreements with which we approach life. They could well be assumptions or stereotypes. The point here is not the exercise but the way we treat privilege. Or don’t. We make assumptions using sweeping statements such as Men are that way. Or masculine privilege is blah blah blah…

What my privilege look(ed) like

Being in a committed relationship, aka my marriage, I have sought to discover myself, the good the bad and the awesome, in the context of my marriage. You see, for the years, I was single, I sought to ‘find myself’ in the context of my singlehood. For instance, I doubt I would have written My Side of the Street the way I wrote it were I in a committed relationship. That book could only be written single. There was a certain privilege I had living alone in Salem where I could pen and clutter the house with my journal pages where I laid bare my most private thoughts – at the time I wrote at least three pages a day. I eventually burned several of them. What was left, I put in the book. The rest went to creating a new consciousness of doing life as a man.

Anyway, in my marriage and specifically Wandia I have had the space to interrogate what masculine privilege. Often when the phrase is mentioned, it has a negative connotation. Now, it is not. As cheap and clichéic as it sounds, it is what it is.

Listening to Oyunga Pala describe what it takes for a man to go jogging and for a woman to do the same beautifully illustrated what privilege looks like and how blind we are to it. For guys, when they want to go jogging, they put on their running outfit, leave the house and run. A woman, on the other hand, has to figure out the route of her run, the safety precautions she has to take, the length of the actual run, and even what to wear. For guys, it’s a no brainer, Oyunga says in a program on telly.

I have several times let the fuel tank get to near empty before going for a refill and it would get Wandia irritated when she had to take the car on her own. I never quite understood what the issue was given that the petrol station is not far from where we live. I was a slow learner. She helped me understand that having a car with fuel was not about just having a car with fuel. For her, it meant if there an empty tank would not be the reason for failure to get out of a dicey situation. I should have known better but I guess I forgot the lesson that I was taught in early recovery: that if I found myself in a slippery situation where the risk of drinking again arose, I should always have the resources to run first and explain later.

I’ll leave this hanging here for now -seemingly incomplete- so that you can establish for yourself what your privilege means to you or what you make it mean.

I need to give my brain some rest…

Adolescence is…

Turbulence by Da Vinci

Adolescence is…

Last week we had our first class of Adolescence and adolescent therapy of the Semester.

The lecturer asked us to recount our own adolescent experiences in two minutes and to share what was missing given what we know now.

It was a moving experience listening to others’ stories which ranged from those who had a relatively stable and secure adolescence to those whose adolescent experience was dysfunctional and traumatic.

I don’t miss that period of my life. It was confusing, violent and I daresay the appearance of alcohol ‘saved’ my life. Alcohol served as a distraction from what I thought was my normal. I couldn’t ask anyone if what I was dealing with could be sorted. I was told acne was a normal part of growing into manhood. I hated the acne and Cleartone Cream, from London, New York and Paris, was not helping to quash it. Perhaps not putting Nairobi in the mix did me in.

What alcohol quietened was the internal raging storm. However, as dependence is wont to do, I now needed more of it to get the same quiet. But I couldn’t and hence I got violent and very very noisy when all I wanted was a bit of quiet.

What was missing, as I shared in class last week, was that everyone, in the name of helping me, came with questions to sort out their discomfort. My maths teacher’s concern was why I was failing his subject. My tutor asked me why I did not heed his advice to select history and literature; he wondered why I would pick chemistry and physics that I had done so poorly in and was bound to fail later in my ‘O’ Levels. Which actually happened. I got a 9 in both and helped Strathmore come second in Kenya in 1987 KCEs.

The school priest told me, though a former classmate disputes this, that wet dreams were sinful. Honestly, that’s the way I remember it being told. I didn’t even know what was happening and there were no explanations then. Besides, at home, I was an only dude in an all-female household. No one to ask there. The psychiatrist also told me that I was inviting curses through my violent and delinquent behavior.

Additionally, my extended family members asked why I reigned terror on the immediate family when I really should’ve been eternally grateful for all the sacrifices my mum had made to afford us a decent lifestyle.

At the risk of sounding like I still blame others, I shared that what was missing is that I don’t once recall being asked what was going on with me or even what I really wanted. Not once.

I do understand the why of it now.

Later as a parent,  and despite being in recovery a long while at one point in 2013/14, I drove my then newly teenage son to desperation when I tried to assert my authority with violence and shaming strategies. I sought therapy mainly because I was scared by my behavior and attitude towards my son.   (I will talk about my counseling experience in another post). I embarked on a long trust rebuilding journey. Working on restoring that relationship with my son has been a hard one.

Recently, we had a breakdown at home with my son aka HRH. I consulted my father in law, the closest I have ever come to calling another man dad (also story for another day) and he suggested that instead of instructing and directing HRH on what to do, that we ask him what he really wanted from us and what he wanted us to know about him.

The result was nothing short of miraculous. HRH named what he would be responsible for and asked us to also do the same. We have a negotiated structure with clear boundaries. And it seems too simple to be true. It’s working.

In my sessions with clients, I am now frequently asking them to state what they want. And to allow wonder to have a say. It is not easy because most of the clients say they do not feel they have permission to say what they want. More so, stating what they want does not necessarily mean they will get it. So, they ask what the point is. I can’t tell them the answer, because again the answer is not the point. The process of naming what they want seems like some sort of initiation process into one’s own grown-up self.

I think a state of being that allows us to state what we want in a space of integrity, love and freedom will lead us to create more of integrity, love and freedom in our relationships. It really is about causing the miraculous because as I read somewhere, miracles are accidents and our job is to be as accident-prone as possible.

Mine is to create the blackspots.

Hurt people hurt people; loved people love people

Cleansing by Chris Lyimo

addiction and violence…

…violence in addiction…

in therapy, the counselor told me that there are only three options to dealing with violent behavior…

    1.  treatment
    2.  incarceration
    3.  treatment and incarceration

Although I was already in recovery a decade, Alice’s straightforward statement still felt like a punch in my stomach…

That I had not been jailed, was really but for the grace of God. I broke down in that room at not only the new sense of freedom but mainly at the deep realization of how lucky I had been.  I should have gone to jail.

A few years ago, a girl I was dating expressed her concern about what to do should she ever feel unsafe with me. Could I guarantee her safety? she asked.

She had been advised that once a person is violent, they’ll always be violent.

Alice’s voice echoed in my mind. Treatment. Incarceration. Treatment & Incarceration.

The hopelessness of the sentiment she was sharing, in all its sincerity or the fact that I could not truly give a guarantee that I wouldn’t be violent, led to a deathly silence.

I felt that I would only be assuring her to make her feel better now. Yet, I was left with the question of whether a non-violent future was truly truly within my control. Often, the need -yet needless need – for control and power over another is the premise for intimate partner violence.

I freaked out because I could not confidently assure myself let alone her.

“If ever you feel even an inkling of being unsafe, however, minuscule, this what you should do…”

“Run!”

“Just run!”

“You do not need any proof or justification. Run first and perhaps talk later.”

We later broke up. But it got me thinking. Why was I so shaken?

More therapy beckoned. And that’s where I faced that question head-on.

I yearned a space where I would never excuse the need for violence. Letting go of the need for control and power over another person seemed like a good place to start.

My father in law, in a pretty awkward premarital counseling session with my then betrothed ;-), asked me what I’d do if I ever found my wife in bed with another man. As awkward as it was, I quickly said that I would be disappointed, leave the room and the house.

Disappointed, not angry.

“Good answer,” he said.

That was one of the strangest “huh?” moments in my adult life.

I have my recovery from alcoholism to thank for the development of this attitude. I had since accepted that there would be absolutely no reason or need, so help me God, to ever desire or take a drink again, a day at a time.  It has worked thus far without the need to worry or swear off about having a drink in the future.

Similarly, the vow I made to Wandia on 30th July 2015, cannot be left there on that glorious Thursday five years ago. I actualize it every day. In word and in deed. It is not a trap. It is an opportunity to usher in a fresh start each day. After all, even the vow I made was certainly bigger than me.

It was a promise I cannot keep on my own. I need help. I choose help.

In the bigness of the promise, I also made it my business that I was 100% responsible for her safety in our marriage. Now, my job is to work at fulfilling that responsibility. It means being better, doing better. Which also means calling out the violence in the men with whom I walk in the recovery process.

Is it easy? No.

Is it simple? Yes.

I have often wondered whether I have gained enough responsibility to speak out against IPV or DV. Where do I start, I often wonder, without coming across as gloating or excusing it? Do I have the courage to speak up when it is seemingly being glorified or glamorized?

But how will they know that healing is real or even possible if I shut up?

I also continually ask myself whether I have earned the grace to forgive myself and seek forgiveness from those I hurt. I am intellectually aware that grace is freely given and it is ever sufficient as taught in the manual of ‘How to be an Arsenal Fan.’

In the faonabírítí, however, it still sometimes feels that I need to do some more jail time.

The freedom is such that the guarantee becomes a destination and the joy of the journey is the discovery we make in our fresh air moments, in our loudspeaker moments and in our intimate moments.

The answers, like yarns of wool, continue unravelling to knit a tapestry of life experiences; the good, the bad, and the growing ones.

At the end, wherever, and whenever that is, we’ll turn back and say, “we did good.”

#HurtPeopleHurtOthers

#LovedPeopleLoveOthers

#GivingUpTheRightToBeRight

#EvenWhenIamRight

#HeresToMyThemePoem

#IWentShoppingForAHappyEnding

#ICouldntFindOne

#SoIBoughtANewBeginning

A Scene from Choices, Choices

an assignment previously submitted for a creative writing class

 
Setting:

The setting is the counseling room of the Laikipia Oaks Addiction Treatment Centre. A high-cost rehabilitation centre based on the outskirts of Nanyuki.

We are in an elegantly furnished counseling room with potted plants, plaid yellow sofas with a regal well-varnished office desk and large office chair. The room is laid with lush beige wall-to-wall carpet and two large photos: one of Mount Kenya and the other of the Railway line with the Aberdares in the background.

At Rise:

Mark’s father, Hon. Bwana Mkuu is pacing vigorously and is violently angry. In the room, there is Michelle, a counselor, with an open file on her laps. She sits facing a weeping Mrs Elena Mkuu, elegantly dressed, looking at the floor sitting at the edge of the chair, with her hands crossed at her knees as she holds a handkerchief. Next to her is 21-year-old Makena in long braids, a red trench coat over a brilliant white blouse and fitting blue jeans that disappear into black knee-length leather boots. She has on her earphones and chats on her phone throughout the scene. Mark, 25, dreadlocked, is also seated with a defiant look on his face, elbows on the arms of the chair and fingers locked across his belly, in a grey hoodie, jeans and brand new sneakers looking straight out of the window with tightly pursed lips and a clenched jaw.

BWANA MKUU

I don’t believe this! Do you know what your drug use has cost me? All of us? Do you even care?

MICHELLE

Mark, I was telling your father you are not ready to leave…

Michelle speaks in a soft voice

MARK

You guys just want to milk money off my Father! Do you know that’s my inheritance? I am not staying!

Bwana Mkuu stops and looks at Mark in disbelief and disgust

BWANA MKUU

What? What? What the f…! What bloody inheritance are you bloody talking about?

Lunges at Mark who quickly stands and lifts his fists to defend himself. His father stops in shock at his son’s sheer audacity.

BWANA MKUU

Oh, now you want to hit me? Eh-eh!

ELENA MKUU

Baba Mark please. Mark, kaa chini please. Michelle, please please what do we do?

Elena gestures helplessly and tries to implore Makena’s support who just rolls her eyes and turns away

MARK

I have said, and I am going to say this again. I am never ever going to drink or take heroin again. Never. I am done! This is my fucking sixth time in rehab… why can’t you guys take my word for it?

BWANA MKUU

With his arms in the air and yelling


But, but, but that’s what you said the last five times and God know how many more times in between. What’s so different this time that we have to believe you? What are you putting on the table? In fact, just give me a minute.

Bwana Mkuu gets out of the room, slamming the door behind him and for a few seconds, the room is silent. He comes back with a large brown envelope and a bottle of Vodka

BWANA MKUU

So, you say you are serious about never drinking again? Ok, let’s see how serious you are!

Hon Mkuu removes wads of One Thousand Shilling notes from the envelope and bangs them on the coffee table in the middle of the room together with a bottle of Vodka. Makena is startled by the ongoing drama and looks up, as she removes the earphones from her ears, for the first time with a wide-eyed baffled gaze.

BWANA MKUU

That [pointing at the cash] is a million bob. And, and, and here is what I am putting on the bloody table against your word. Now, listen to me very very clearly because I will only say this once.

Loosens his tie comes and stands close to Mark who is an inch taller than him.

You say you will never drink again? Here is the truth. I do not believe you. And because I do not believe you one bit I am going to make you an offer I am likely to regret.

Points to the table while staring directly at Mark

This is my offer. You stay here at Laikipia whatchamacallit and complete the remaining ONLY three and a half weeks that Michelle says you need to do. Or you take that million shillings on the table and get out of my life!

Mark moves towards the table

No, no, young man. Wait a minute. I am not done with my offer. You see that bottle…

Bwana Mkuu takes the bottle, opens it and puts it down again and approaches Mark up close to his face and pointing to the bottle on the table...

...You must drink that if you want the million bob. All. Of. It.

ELENA MKUU

Baba Mark, what is this now?

BWANA MKUU

He wants me to take him at his word… there is my offer. You come home after three weeks here or leave now, with a million bob having finished that bottle HERE!

Mark seems confused and does not know what to do

MAKENA

seeming interested in the proceedings for the first time

Please, no. Mark, please don’t do it. Pleeeaaaase.

Makena attempts to hug her brother, but Mark pushes her away. He sits down at the very edge of the sofa. He bites his lip, nervously scratches his head and picks his nose as he fixes his gaze on the money and the booze. He is confused and quiet. And the room is quiet and for a few moments, everyone is still. He stands and there is a gasp from his mum and his sister. He sits down. They exhale. He stands again walks around the room in utter frustration.

MARK

Michelle, what do I do?

MICHELLE

Sorry, but this is your decision to make.

Mark sits down again. Places his hands over his head never keeping his eyes from the table. He stands again. And remembers all the dramas of his drinking. The police, the muggings, the HIV positive diagnosis, the dropping out of college? Three times you have done that?

NARRATOR

You remember how just five months ago, you were brought here by the police after a deal with the OCS? You don’t even remember who infected you with HIV. You remember the kid you killed while speeding at your girlfriend’s Estate. If it wasn’t for your father…

Marks vigorously shakes his head to ward off those memories. He looks at everybody intensely. He begins to weep whilst shaking uncontrollably and with one quick sweep he takes the bottles throws the lid off, gobbles down the contents, grabs the money and puts the wads under his hoodies and walks out, slamming the door behind him.

End of Scene

Choices, Choices - imgflip.com

 

 

 

Jesus. This one’s on you!

I am on anti-depressants.

Again.

The first time – 17 years ago – when I got them, I was asked why I was depressed…

…yet, I had no wife.

I felt guilty for getting depression rather than malaria, shingles or HIV or whatever conditions single people are meant to get.

As if there are better conditions…

Anyway, I was on the meds for another six or so years until I could no longer afford them…

…or until Gabriel prayed for me or both.

So, you can imagine my shyness at not sharing about the depression this time round especially because I am now married.

Yet…

This is not about my marriage. It is especially because of my marriage that I am talking about it.

You know why I am depressed?

It’s Jesus.

Yes, you heard me right. Jesus got me here.

The sense of shame and the sadness, oh, the sadness of it all.

All I wanted was to leave Jesus alone. And for him (with a small h, sue me) and for him to leave me alone.

I once did a guided meditation in therapy where I imagined myself lying on the beach. In a pair of black shorts. I woke up from a nap, the warm ocean breeze kissed my cheeks like only a crush would, with a fluttering heart, I stood up – in the meditation – flung my towel over my shoulder and walked back to my hotel.

Something told me to take the route via the cliff. I climbed the stairway etched into the cliff and some places the stones were placed to match the cliff texture. I got to the top and there was a gazebo to my right – still in my meditation- and in it, a solitary figure sat illuminating shimmering light.

How does he look? Alice asked me

Just like in the pictures and the movies. He’s white, filmstar brushed hair, blue eyes, thin lipsticked smile and a manicured beard with a flowing off-white linen robe!

Are you sure? Is Jesus really white?

Well, this is the Jesus I want to speak to. He is the famous One. He is the REAL Jesus, right?

Ok. Please go ahead! What is it that you would want to ask him? That burning question?

“Hey Jesus. What makes you such a big deal?

“I don’t know. You guys do! You’re the ones who said I was.”

She switched off the music and gently got me to come back to the room, opened my eyes and back to my reality.

I did not want to process what just happened, because I was going to leave the safest place on earth at that moment. I could not live with what I had just experienced because IT. FELT. SO. REAL.

That was in 2009.

In 2010. I found Jesus in Church.

A story for another day…

Then, especially in 2017 and 2018, I saw big deal makers of Jesus behaving really badly and you know what these deal makers are called?

Men of God.

And you know what…

These men of God are the most ungodly people and they are schizophrenic.

When a man of God is doing good works, he is anointed. I am sure you also know what you are not supposed to do to men of God… “Touch thee not blah blah blah”

And when they mess up, and boy did they mess up, then they are only human…

And people who were meant to be in Kamiti only later got to show us the finger like Maradona did during the World Cup as Nigeria was bundled out by the Argentinian team with minutes to spare. That was painful.

I got crazy when I was only supposed to take everything to God in prayer and forgive them…

My heart broke, my belief system shattered and I got depressed because I was so confused, frustrated by these hateful, exclusivist and abusive, self-righteous, heaven-bound Christians…

So, in my sadness and loneliness, I got more and more depressed, and when another therapist told me we couldn’t continue working together until I saw a shrink for a possible prescription, I was relieved.

Tremendously.

It wasn’t me who was nuts. Yet. It was.

But I had my culprit and it wasn’t me. It certainly wasn’t my wife or my marriage.

It was Jesus. It is Jesus!

I got the meds. My mind quietened, the sadness lifted, COVID happened and I was confronted with a decision.

Not about Jesus, but his church, the institution. Not the ‘but who is the church? isn’t it you and me?’ kinda church. It doesn’t exist anyway.

I was at a crossroads in this disruption and I saw the institution sharing shallow messages designed not to provide hope, but to remain relevant.

Either I rejoin it with its flaws, warts and men of God.

Or

I choose another path. Taken by many others, fewer others.

In a dream, I visited the same gazebo.

He was there.

“What should I do?”

He smiled, stood up, placed his hand over my shoulder, removed the white mask, and in a gentle, soft voice…

“Come, let’s take a walk.”

Beach Black Man Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

Milestones | Celebrate them, let them go and keep moving

 

It has been a heady graduation weekend for me. The ceremony. The podium experience as I received my BA degree in Counseling and Psychology. Fellowship with family and friends. Posting of photos. The euphoria of it all. Yet, I need to close this now. I have been told before that today’s breakthroughs are tomorrow’s ego trips. Yet, I also acknowledge, as my resident tutor 😉 has taught me, that milestones ought to be celebrated. The key thing is not to remain there.

So, today, we move on.

Graduation day was more than a milestone for me. It was an acknowledgement of a past in the present and gateway to a hopeful future. My past is a blend of beautiful, sad, painful, mundane memories. On Saturday, I bowed in deep gratitude and in awe of the grace of God. I chose to suspend, not forget, but suspend the pains of the journey on the day.  Those memories go beyond my Daystar experience. It has been my whole life quest.

The awards, Dean’s and Vice-Chancellor’s, were a pleasant surprise. A really pleasant surprise. The most beautiful realization is the freedom of living a day at a time during my stay at Daystar which was not geared towards obtaining awards or recognition. I am a shy guy. I momentarily battled with the idea of having to receive the awards during the graduation ceremony. I recalled how I once dropped out of a walking race (It was a thing then) when I realized I was lying second with a lap to go. I saw myself on the podium receiving the silver medal. I panicked and dropped out of the race.

Being with family and friends on Saturday and sharing intimately, though in a small way, about what it has been like completing a 4-year bachelor’s degree in a span of almost 30 years (I was in USIU in 1990) was humbling. And this was not in a space of regret or wishing it could have been different. I am grateful for the abundant grace, my loving wife and several lecturers who let me express myself in class beyond the course outline requirements. My classroom experience was a healing journey toward the promise of not regretting the past nor wishing to shut the door on it. I dedicate my honors listing to these lecturers. And those hugs from some of my teachers after stepping off the podium on Saturday were just the life-giving affirmation that I can do the next thing…whatever that is.

I yearn for people seeing themselves as whole beings regardless of the circumstances of their lives. Nowhere has this yearning been fed than as a class rep of several classes. Being a class rep has been my truest call to ministry and class WhatsApp groups have been my pulpit.  I have truly cherished and grown from the experience. To my fellow students, thank you. I may have been over 20 years older than a majority of you but you helped me in several ways: in how to study, how to parent my son including giving me lessons on how pocket money is dispensed, and how not to talk about his dating life. To you, for letting me meddle in your lives, do I dedicate the VC’s Award.

To our new VC, Prof Laban Peter Ayiro, I was skeptical about change coming to Daystar. You have only been around for only four months and I am tempted kuingia box of trusting that change is really possible.  I even penned an article about my skepticism. You have talked of caring as a value. You have listened to us when we have risked to speak up. Keep katiaring us and creating the space for healing and thriving to take place. Please.

I am coming back because I am inspired by the promise of a transformed Daystar.

To my sweetheart, you let me be me. You expressed concerns where you needed to and you provided extra tuition for classes that were not even your preserve. During the crisis, we battled individually, yet together. It was the one time I felt so helpless in our marriage. The woundedness was real. And then Saturday happened. And a lot more in the recent past. It was a kind of affirmation that if you are going through something, keep going. I love you loads.

To my son, who got all the mushaino I promised not to wear at my graduation, you have been the SI Unit of my growth as a father – in role, identity and authority. You have kept me going and in one instance, I chose not to cheat in a CAT because I was afraid of what you would think if you found out. It was not about honesty, integrity or anything like that. You have been my wing-man bila you knowing. You’ve taught me what unconditional forgiveness and reconciliation looks like. It’s sometimes a brutally slow process. I’ll keep the mushaino to keep remembering.

To my family, this is testament of God’s faithfulness. You had several questions for me and I did not always have answers for you. The ultimate answer was and is to keep moving. It will all make sense eventually. Maybe. But we keep moving.

To my fellow road trippers on the recovery journey, you helped birth this dream of going back to school through your promise to love me until I learn to love myself. In 2001, I think, I shared the desire to go back to school. It was certainly not straightforward. Several false starts later, here we are before we are halfway through, I believe.

Here’s to more miracles, a day at a time.

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