Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blessing in Disguise

When I was growing up, there were way too many street children in my town and country as a whole. I tried so hard to share with them whenever I could. This I learned from my dear mum. It was not enough though, and it really broke my heart whenever it rained... I just didn't know how they would survive. Where did they come from? Some actually had parents who had neglected them for one reason or another. Few were orphans...  Others, their parents could not afford to take them to school. The rest were just rebellious. We saw them everyday and everywhere, that they became a part of the society and were accepted as just street boys. This in so many ways affected the way people viewed pregnancy and babies. Pregnancy out of wedlock was frowned upon. While you were still in school it was a shame. Just after high school, you were the talk of the town. My personal opinion back then, was that you were finished! It was associated with so many negative things. Unwanted pregnancy was also the cause of so many street kids. It's what your mum in your teenage years would be preventing you from, through curfews and examples of girls who had failed miserably. So I spent my whole life trying not to get pregnant till I get married. Things didn't go as planned.

 I had just been separated about 5 months, when I started feeling sick... so I went to the hospital, but the doctor just gave me a sick leave. I was not satisfied, so I went back again. When I saw the nurse was not going to that direction, I took the liberty of suggesting a pregnancy test. As usual, they asked me to go for a blood test. That was gonna take way too much time, and  I was in a hurry. After the blood test I rushed to the nearby pharmacy and bought a test kit. I had a meeting with my boyfriend later on, so I decided to use the bathroom in the mall, so that I could give him the news. I took the test and put the kit in my bag. It was really slow... I kept looking during my short trip to the other side of town, but nothing yet. Finally, I got to me destination and sat in the car where he was waiting. We decided to shake it a little bit, and slowly the lines were showing. I was pregnant? I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, but one thing for sure, my marriage was officially over and there was no turning back. And as for me, I was finished! It's not like I had not made my decision, cause I was already seeing someone else... It was that, I was not married to this person and I had not been divorced.

My boyfriend however was celebrating! He was going to have champagne and pray it was a boy. That caught me by surprise! Babies from where I come from were unwelcome, if you were not married. They were mostly seen as a burden. There was school fees to think about, and all the expenses that come with bringing up a child. I had seen so many men abandon this responsibility, especially when there was no commitment like a marriage. My natural reaction was negative... and all this questions flooded my mind. I had been a good girl thus far... how could this have happened? The timing was so wrong.  What were people going to say? At this point though, my boyfriends reaction was all that mattered. I knew if he was on my side like that, I didn't have to worry about the outside world... right? I called my mum and the rest of my family, and they were so happy they were screaming on the phone. That gave me a lot of comfort and confidence. Everyone so far was on my side. Now... my friends had no idea that I was even dating this guy.

The morning to evening sickness got worse by the day. By this time, I was busy trying to stay away from everyone who knew me. My phone was mostly off and whenever I spoke with someone I pretended everything was fine. I never mentioned where I was or whether I was pregnant. I thought my friends would reject me. I was ashamed... I was scared of facing my pastor who had helped me through my hard times. My conversations were brief if I had any. I became too sick to go to work, and I would only get a few days at a time from my doctor. This continued for a month, till my summer holidays started. By this time I was not eating anything... just water and a few nuts. That was crazy. I thought it would never pass. I felt better at some point and decided to go to my home country for month. The decision was so random that I surprised my boyfriend too. I had to go. I had gone through too much in a short period of time, I needed some unconditional love. I was sickly but knowing my family would be waiting on the other side was all that mattered. My journey was difficult but the airline crew gave me so much love and blankets to take home.

I enjoyed my holiday to the max. It was so much fun to be with my family. I even forgot I was sick. There is nothing like unconditional love. We all need to bath in it when we're running low on love. It replenishes. It's amazing how small our world becomes when we're out here. Now, I could see what my mum was seeing. She would say, "Forget it, you're not the first and certainly not the last, if it's not working let it go" I could now see my life from outside, and also from where she was sitting. It was so small. It was as simple as that... let it go.  She was right.

I got so much strength and I was able to make decisions.  I wanted to live on my own, but who was I doing it for? I didn't want to be judged. My mum told me it didn't make a difference whether I moved in now or later, cause I was pregnant anyway. My family and friends showered me and my unborn with so much love, that I started embracing it. His father would call me every other day to check up on me. It was awesome. I was given priority whenever people found out I was expecting. There was favor everywhere. My mums pastor was pure awesomeness... he's so open minded cause he knew what I was going through and had been praying for me. He opened the door to my speaking career by arranging a seminar for me once he knew what my dream was. So many great things were happening. My time was running out though. I had to come back to my reality.

When I got here, the sickness became even worse for sometime. Then slowly I started feeling better as I approached 5 months. By this time, I had only been to work for a week. I stayed home till about 6 months. I had some good and bad days but I could now eat. My diet consisted of avocados, mangos, broccoli , maize and beans. My boyfriend was awesome and supportive all the way. He would be very sad though to find me lying in the same position all day. I only rose up to vomit then I would go back to bed. My confidence in the house was soaring but outside there was judgement. I had gathered the strength to tell my friends by now, and they were all so happy for me. What a reaction?... I was so relieved. My mentor is the only one I was able to share with right in the beginning and the first thing she asked me was, "can I be grandma"? The way people reacted to the news was always the opposite of what I expected. I was now in love with this baby.

This baby came to heal, strengthen and  to help me move forward with my life. I truly had no choice. Even if I was to go back, I was pregnant with someone else. He was a blessing in disguise. I only realized this, when I woke up one morning and noticed since I embraced my situation back home, all I thought about was the future. My past hurts didn't matter anymore. I was blank... no fear, no pain from the past. I was healed. God works in ways we cannot see. The timing was wrong for me, but not for him. I would have wanted to look good for sometime. To probably prove to people it was not my fault, but now it looked like my fault. I was now the bad guy. In fact, he found out and used it against me. Everything he put me through didn't matter anymore. I was now pregnant. They hurled insults at me. He called my mum and everyone else to inform them that I was pregnant. Telling my mum I should have at least waited till the divorce was final. Now he had a voice. I was too gracious to answer... I let him enjoy the show, cause soon it would not matter. He would remain bitter but I was free. Free from hatred, resentment, anger and blame.

I have never felt so much peace in my life. So much love for anything. I was blessed with a beautiful baby boy. My world is complete. I found love and a supportive family with my boyfriend. It was something I would have been ashamed of before, but having been through a huge wedding with nothing to show for it, I have come to embrace my 'come we stay' till further notice. If you ever want to move on, pretend you're pregnant cause that way... there is no turning back. After all I went through with the pregnancy, I have one question. How are all this precious children abandoned and living on their own. Where does a woman find the strength to give birth and abandon a baby? My dream of one day building a school and a home for orphans will come true.. and I hope more of us will come together and change one life, or two...... in other parts of the world because this is not only a Nairobi problem, its a universal problem.

“A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.” 
 Carl Sandburg

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Master and the Slave

I had battled with the decision to leave for months, my first attempt came in December. I had found a temporary place, and I needed to make a decision fast. That evening, things seemed to be looking up and my then husband was making an effort to be nice, which he only managed for a maximum of two days. By the end of that week my dose of happiness and hope to restore my marriage was running low. I decided to leave... before I could do that however, I was reminded that Christmas was approaching and I certainly didn't want to spend it alone. I called the woman who had offered me a place and gave her all the excuses in the world. Besides, this is family time for you and I wouldn't want to be a distraction. The real issue here was, I had expressed my struggles and someone had found a solution faster than I expected, and now I was filled with fear and questions of what if...I knew deep down this was the right choice, but I was afraid to leave my comfort zone. I imagined how challenging it would be for me to connect to my work place from my new found home. My comfort was more important than my happiness. I promised myself I would move after Christmas. Christmas as we all know it, is a time of giving and possibly mending and reconciling broken relationships. We spoke for the first time after months of being just room mates. We exchanged presents in what seemed to me as 'lets pretend'. Let's pretend we are a family, and everything is Ok. It appeared like an unspoken let's start all over again. There was a glimpse of hope there for a moment.

Christmas went by, new year was all right... I never called the house lady.  I was afraid... What were people going to say? Was I even ready to move? After new year, the cold treatment continued. We spoke here and there, mostly on sundays when he needed to soften my heart, so I would go to church with him. I Went for counseling, It was not helping. I shared with friends, acquaintances and anyone who was willing to lend an ear. I spent most of my time looking for answers. I googled...  I could not find any... I only drew conclusions from my observation. It wasn't enough, I needed to make him speak. He never answered any questions and in turn I got tired of asking. We lived like room mates for what seemed like an eternity. I could not pretend anymore. I used to admire other women's rings. To me, it was a symbol of contentment, success, true love, happiness and all the beautiful things I imagined about marriage. Mine was beautiful to others, but it had become a symbol of bitterness and failure in my life. I was ashamed of what I was going through, and what people would think. 

I took classes, sewing, entrepreneur and language. This was meant to distract me from the reality of what was going on in my life. It didn't go very well though. I quit my sewing class. The women there were happily sewing clothes for their kids while talking passionately about their husbands. I wanted to contribute, but I knew my comments would betray me big time, and there was a woman who knew me. My entrepreneurial class was even more challenging... it was in finnish. I would be flipping through the dictionary the entire evening and come out with about three words or five when it was good. I sat in those classes looking pale and tired... I remember a classmate I knew receiving a phone call from her husband, telling her what he had prepared for dinner. Mine didn't even know where i'd been all day. I quit that one too.... It was a finnish version of what I had done in school. I felt lighter and ready to tackle my challenges head on. I was so disappointed one morning to find out I got so carried away with wanting to do stuff to look important, that I had forgotten to check the info properly. I got a bill from the school. I thought it was free, and I had used it only to kill time and a place to hide from my misery. Didn't know it was going to cost me.... 

Love is something else... when it's not right, there is a constant reminder of that everywhere you go. No matter how much you run from your reality, someone somewhere somehow, will remind you of it. There was the women with the nice rings. The newly wed immigrants who had their perfect lives. The couples holding hands on the metro, the friend who's hurrying home to cook for her caring husband. The friend who gets phone calls every hour from her boyfriend. I felt alone, and there was no escaping what I was going through. My international phone bill was huge. I was calling my mum daily for comfort. We would talk endlessly trying to figure out... As women, we do not necessarily want solutions. We just talk. My mum would tell me in the end to forget... that even her who had a come we stay marriage, had a better life. I would imagine the wedding and all the people involved, and my efforts to make the right decisions would be paralyzed by the fear of the unknown. I made another decision to leave... then there was a good sunday, and I changed my mind. Then there was another period of silence and the cold treatment started all over again.  Like I mentioned earlier, we only had a maximum of two good days each time we had a breakthrough.  I made another decision to leave and  each time he agreed to let me go. 

I left for a week, I needed a break. He never bothered to call or check where I was. After the week was over, I returned home and no questions were asked. Two weeks went by, and still no word from him. I made my decision again to leave. When I expressed this to the person who was helping me find an apartment, she told me that I had to be sure this time, since I had cancelled so many times before. I was sure. We set a date and I packed a few clothes expecting that when he doesn't find me home, he will come looking for me, and then that way, we might set some ground rules, and even try to make this work. My intentions were to make him talk and realize we had a problem. It  was natural for him to go for months without talking, but for me it was not Ok. I settled in my new home in March. I waited and waited until about two months and three weeks. He never called, and never bothered to find out where I was. I called him but as usual he never picked up. We spoke later that evening but he told me he had no time but when he does find time we will meet. Talk about feeling important. Unfortunately I knew he was just playing big, cause I had lived with him and I knew his schedule. It was basically full of avoiding reality and hiding from the truth. Going to work late and coming home while I was asleep, watching television till 3 am in the morning and showing up to church events and bible studies on time. Nothing else mattered.

He finally found time, but unfortunately I was down with fever and the only option for us was to meet at my new place. My stay would be expiring in a week and I needed to know where I was going after that. He sat down and I immediately broke rule #1 Thou shall not ask questions. I asked him if he had thought of how we could restore our non existence relationship...I only found out the underlined later. He rose up, picked up his bag, and responded with "did I come here for you to ask questions,I thought you had a solution" well, this is someone I had not seen for almost three months, he didn't even care in whose house I was living, and now, he was getting ready to leave because I asked the obvious..... I was furious. I had never seen such arrogance and pride in my life. I was not going to go through this even when I was a way from him. I realized he had plans for me, to put in a box where I shall never speak again. I would be his slave and he would be my master and whatever he says goes. I locked the door and told him he would not leave till he spoke.... I wrestled with him, trying to show him how much it hurt.  Slapping him was the only way I could express how much pain I was in. A slap doesn't talk though... He told me when I get tired, I may open the door for him to leave because he was not going to speak. And we sat there for about two hours in silence...

I sent a message to a friend of his. She was dismissed as soon as she entered  because he was embarrassed, he told her he was capable of handling the situation. Long story... he was now aware that there was a third party and so he suggested we could talk the following day. I went to his place as promised. I had spoken to my mum earlier and she told me she was praying for me, so I was in a surprising good mood. I felt so powerful for some reason. When I got there, everything became so clear. I asked for duct tape so I would not interrupt... but he declined. I sat there listening, and it dawned on me.... This guy does not talk because he probably has nothing smart to say about the real life. He was good at what he did at work, but that's not what he was or who he was. I knew him as the church guy, he was good there, but again that's not who he was. He was clueless like all of us. He was an engineer and God fearing to me. I had given him way too much credit. I had trusted him with my life. I had overestimated him. He started by saying things like  "being like Abigail in the bible, who was an obedient and humble woman" who probably in his opinion never spoke out when she was oppressed and so on. I listened in amazement to what he had to say... His 1920's ideas of marriage. To conclude, he told me not to rush I could think about it for as long as I wanted, and he left. I stopped him on his tracks and told him I had an answer right there, and it was I would never be Abigail, and the person he described would never be me. What did it for me was " You should not talk to your husband the way you talk to your friends" So I knew I had a master and I was the slave. Another day in his kingdom and I will be lost forever. My dreams were half dead. I no longer knew who I was. I told him I would not be coming back later that night and we should go separate ways. He agreed and told me he respected my decision. 

My next challenge was to find a place to live. I still battled in my mind with the thoughts of divorce. I never wanted to be a part of the statistics. I thought some marriages should be divorce proof, especially in the church. At the end of the day we are human. We can be God fearing, successful in our careers, but we're still capable of making bad decisions. My ex is not a bad person, he just wasn't right for me. My values are different. I love freedom, to be able to dream and pursue my dreams. To be with someone and yet feel like I have my life. I found that freedom, and I thank God for it. Whenever I'm struggling in any area of my life, I never rest till I find out why. Most of the time, it's because I'm not supposed to be there. Just like our God given gifts... if you're not operating in them... you struggle.