Vulnerability, yes that, will save your life…lessons from Spain Part 1

What stands between  us and the awesome people that we could be, are the things that happened to us in childhood or somewhere in our journey through life. The ghosts of the childhood rape are what stands between her and the passionate loving relationship that she could have… the abuse and constant humiliation robbed him of any shred of masculinity… s/he is a great musician/orator/coder but he would not put that work out there for the rest of the world because the first time s/he tried, someone with God given duty to support him/her trashed it. These are scars that are still bleeding years after they happened. They are festering and robbing our souls of the limitless possibilities that life holds

These are scars that are still bleeding years after they happened. They are festering and robbing our souls of the limitless possibilities that life holds

Just like us all, you have all found ways to “accommodate” the mediocrity and shame that come with being wounded. You become comfortable with the very things you loathe. Plastic shallow conversations with those close to you. A job that gives you only money but does not employ all that brilliance within you. You defend and cling on to dysfunction, because that is familiar.You know the structure of dysfunction. It can only get worse, and you can predict that. But love, gentleness, peace, abundance…that you are not quite sure of. Will it always be there? Will mother nature see you fit for those blessings or she will take it away immediately she gave it? To have that kind of loving give-and-take relationship you would need to take these walls down but will s/he stay or run as they curse your bruised pus-loaded wounds that you never even participated in creating and have been unable to heal on your own? No, you cannot take that risk. So you open the window of the cage just to admire and smell the fresh air of love, creativity and then, as brief as the opening was, you retreat to that mediocre laden bastardy that drains you of the awesomeness with which you were created. The real you would help that depressed friend of yours out of suicide. The real you would write Pulitzer-worthy articles or grammy-league movies and music. But nobody will never know, will we?

So at 3 in the morning, when you are done putting a face for the world, you think: “My kind of person is Peter, I can talk to him about that silly painting I saw in the exhibition and how it reminds of the Greek culture” …. but I cannot do that. I wish my spouse can tell me about her/his fears, judgement and all those horrifying things that run through their heads and not cringe when I share mine as well”. You wish there was somebody who would be in touch with the child in you—because that is where your life oozes from because it is really you— and for that person not to make comparisons between the king the world knows during the day and the child that comes to life when the cameras retreat into oblivion.

Pathology of pain

You are a rare breed because this much pretense would have killed anybody’s true self but not yours. The fire in you has not been extinguished. You want to BE. Otherwise,  you would not be disregarding your own bleeding wounds to attend to another human being who you sense is hurting. Behind that strong combative face is an empath, a highly sensitive person who feels a wounded spirit from a mile away or even in a smile. You know the pathology of pain. You and your soul have traveled this road—maybe millions of years before this lifetime— and you have found coping mechanisms. When you see someone who is just about to go down that road, you will offer your non-judgmental ears. You will make it safe for them to break down about whatever they are going through and let them soil your shoulder with their mucus. You will stand before the public arrows to protect them because you know… damn you know.  This empathy is a strategy as it is part of your DNA. You developed one part of your life to perfection—a job, an art or acquire material things— that nobody would ignore you because you are so good at these areas that the person that you are beyond them are irrelevant. People trust you with their issues because they see strength in these gifts of yours.

Let me share my personal experience with you. I have this wild artistic personality that, quite frankly I cannot describe in one word: I know a little more than a little about music—I have even recorded an album and was a worship leader in a 1,500plus-congregation for the four years I was in college; I design clothes, and even registered a clothesline; I write…a lot, about everything and from the feedback, my writing is not that bad, so much that I have won awards for it;  I am those girls who can analyse movies about sci-fi and show you some link it has to religion in the 14th century and pop culture …blame it on reading books and spending a substantial part of my teenage in a convent where I preferred staying in the library than working in the farm(I always had homework when Sister Magdalene sent me to the farm ahahahaha); I like Do-it-Yourself stuff such that my house even has my own made curtains, table mats… I even designed and participated in making my own bed! I have made friends founded on those subjects—music, textiles, books, journalism— but there is always a great dissolution in the few people who interact with me when I take off the mask of tailoring, journalism and music away.


I never noticed this until I looked at my photos of a trip I was privileged to have to Spain recently. I was just looking at the pictures in my Instagram and some that I had not uploaded today. The pictures of me in public, were me in a combative-ish mode… like me holding a sword and alluding to Joan of Arc or adding some seriousness to a simple picture with words like “science journalism”.

Then there were those pictures that were taken of me away from the public. This is where I could see the child in me resurface. The pictures of me near a plate of food— I do not know why I am still slim I swear— were happier, and around people whose vibration and energy make me feel …safe

The selfie I took of my forehead that I knocked on the door as I pretended I superstar Gaby Moreno singing Fuiste tú rather loudly to Ricardo Arjona … Yeah, I also gave up on my sanity too. The picture where I was laughing till you could see my molar was me standing on stones just outside out my hotel, and playing in the rain…at night (No, we shall not upload those because I have a job to maintain). I love nature (cats, dogs, any animals, and rivers, trees) and it is where I feel happiest, doing silly things, like rolling on the grass or something.

The question is, now that we have established that we need to open the wounded child part of us, how will we do it and with whom? Because doing it wrong could actually turn the wounds fatal.

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The power of a vulnerable woman

How have you all been? One of these days I am going to dedicate a day when I will meet those of you, virtually or in person, who email to remind me I have not posted a thing on the blog. You do not know how much affirmation comes to a writer from such emails. I appreciate the intimate conversations that I have had with a few of you on email. This means we are bound by chords of humanity which allow us to foster these fulfilling connections over technology. We all cry, laugh, face uncertainty, and sometimes the solutions in walking through these issues come from listening to the experiences of one another. I love you all for that. I do. I promise you that none of you will lose your dignity in my hands, and in this space, when you open up to me about your own versions of what you go through.I got you.

One day, I cannot remember when, it dawned on me that every one of us has ghosts we are confronting. The demons could manifest with the name divorce on it, self esteem issues, abuse, financial woes, disease… just look at yourself or those around you and fill in the blank. Since then, I have become more compassionate towards even the people that attack me viciously. That is why it is hardly surprising that there is a point when we look at our lives and feel stuck. Have you ever felt like that? All your friends seem to be prospering, marrying and raising families, climbing the professional ladder, as you remain frozen at being broke and alone.  You know you are capable of so much more but what you are getting out of life is far cry from all the efforts you are pouring into it. Your partner does not seem to realise how you are giving your all for them. Your children, friends and family take you for granted. The business is incurring losses. You are not as productive at work despite you raking your mind to come up with innovative ideas. You cannot find anything that you can pat yourself in the back for. I have been here. So many times that I figured a way of dealing with it. I would like to share some of my experiences with you in a two part series.

Admit that all is not okay… that you are not okay

A few days ago, I travelled to some remote part south of the African continent. In the evening, with nothing on except my bathrobe, I stood over the balcony to slow down my brain activity. I walked through the day’s activities and the stories I would file for this trip. After some time, I noticed my cheeks were wet with tears and I was also smiling. My body was responding to the chilly wind blowing over it I could feel my pores shut furiously to protect me from the cold. Instead of pulling the robe over me, I let my body bask in the glory of the second stimuli…the African smell of the thirsty soil getting nourished by the rain. It baffled me why I was smiling so broadly and crying at so inconsequential a phenomenon. Then it dawned on me. I had not felt this way in a loooong time…with nothing, but so connected and alive to the universe and myself. I desperately wanted to hang on to that feeling. Oh how it deeply contrasted the abysmal emptiness that had accompanied me  for the last one year glued to routine: waking up, going to work; relationships are held together by obligation. I said “This is not okay. I am not okay”.

I needed to realize that all was not well. Otherwise, I was not going to deal with the root cause of whatever was blocking me from doing the exploits that I am gifted for. Until you acknowledge that there is a problem, you will hide behind excuses and blame everything that is external for whatever is making you this unhappy. You would think more money would fix it, or sex, or partying or drugs. Accepting that there was a problem and that only I could fix it was a huge step towards awakening that fire that makes me a warm open and receptive person. This acknowledgment will allow me to tap into my creativity and write those articles that fire up debate for the good of my country. I will be able to write songs that would heal or touch whoever listens to them. I will be capable of designing clothes that will sell and inspire beauty in the women that wear them.

Me wearing a Verah Okeyo PICTURE/Lameck Ododo
I will be capable of designing clothes that will sell and inspire beauty in the women who wear them. Me wearing a Verah Okeyo trouser. PICTURE/Lameck Ododo of Odo Gallery

Allow yourself to be vulnerable

My friend Sandra always complains at how I never shed a tear in the saddest of situations. I don’t. Some of us face life with this attitude of strength. We never need anyone. Nobody is capable of making us cry or knock us off our emotional balance. We have our shit together and when you come to our lives, we let you know that it would not matter when you leave because we will be okay anyway. I can understand that. We are conditioned to respond to pain from the circumstances around us. The first time I showed weakness, I was stripped of my dignity. From that moment on I have never allowed to be at a spot where I would need pity or help. I kept saying: “I do not need you”, “Do not worry about it, I got this” statements that are ever so incongruent to what I feel because sometimes I am overcome with worry and fear I need someone to tell me “Everything will be okay”. So I have learnt that when you are not vulnerable, you are not accessible.

When you are not vulnerable you are inaccessible PHOTO/Lameck Ododo of Odo Gallery
When you are not vulnerable you are inaccessible PHOTO/Lameck Ododo of Odo Gallery

You miss out on relationships and the connection you desire. Why? People connect to what you are when you do not have make-up or whatever it is that you use to hide the you that you are sure is not desirable. They cannot find that soft, receptive you because you are always in combat mode with your walls high. The moment someone manages to get closer, you attack him or her so viciously they are left hurting and bleeding. You want a partner who will stick around and be your strength when you are terrified of childbirth or a friend who knows how poorly you process death and grief? We want passionate, loyal and devoted affection from our family, friends, lovers and even colleagues but we are not able to allow the vulnerability that comes with that to take place. How else will they know you need a hand when you are trying so hard to be wonder woman? Vulnerability is not a weakness, and if you are hurt while at it, tell yourself that is a good sign because it means that you are capable of caring about someone else other than yourself.

Next week, and I pray time will allow it, we will continue with this conversation. But I would like to hear how you cope with being (un)vulnerable

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