Yep. Christians are not exempted from bad life experiences

Before I say how story books, Disney movies and everything I watched where evil triumphs all was partly a sham, I’d like us to be clear. Life can be painfully hard.

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I think there is a watered down Christian narrative we follow. I am not talking about prosperity gospel; there are renowned preachers I watch and ask God if he’ll allow them entrance into heaven. And then I remind myself not to be judgmental toad. I am talking about the sunshine and happy rays perspective presented.

“Follow God and all will be well!”

You’d think that the first people to get the Holy Spirit on earth would get a pass and not be boiled in hot oil, hang upside down or beheaded. But please, tell me more about how fabulous the Christian life is!

I won’t lie. It is fabulous. You’d think I was mocking the process the entire time. No, life can be quite rubbish, but the reason why most people are not articulate about it is because the truth will make you run. If people had told me the path to self-awareness and closeness to the Holy Spirit was this hard, I would have done one of two things. I would have said no thanks. Otherwise I would have done something I wish I could have done; braced myself.

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I have a tattoo; feel free to throw scripture that makes you believe I am going to hell. Please, especially because should your husband die and you have no children, you DON’T have to get yourself a kinsman redeemer. That refers to you having to marry and give birth by your husband’s male relative. I’m sorry; who did you think Boaz was? LOL!

Where was I? My bad; I have a tattoo. There were two things I was upset about. The first was the symbolism. The second was how I had not anticipated the extent of pain. I hoped that my younger brother had said how painful it would be. Like on a scale of one to ten. I thought it was a 6 at most. For me it was an eight but there is something about the lack of knowing what’s coming that throws me off and has me calling my ancestors. Never mind I have sensitive skin. I currently have a bruise on my hip I’m like “what pillow hit you?”

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If you are reading this and you are ish ish about your relationship with God but you are considering this, I urge you to go the other way. “But Wambaire! You should bring-“ You know that life with Christ is worth more than anything on the planet. However, if you think that getting to a healthy place in both your soul and spirit (no, those are not synonymous; they are dealt with separately) will be easy, this is not for you.

You will hit rock bottom with the top of your head. You will have a bad marriage, a child with terminal illness. You will end up in hospital on life support, you will have people betray you. You will have no friends and you will be lonely.

But God- He’s so worth it. If you don’t believe me though, you keep doing you. You and I will have the same experiences (who thought a suicidal Christian was a thing?) but I’m here fighting mosquitoes and at peace that I am in the best head space I have been all my life.

My point is; beware.

Cheers.

Don’t scratch the scab

I can’t pinpoint when the change happened, but as with everything, it was probably a bit at a time. The river that is my life eventually wore down a bolder in the way and proceeded to flow freely. It could be the wakeup call after being at the underside of rock bottom and swearing not to go back there. It could be that I am healing. It could be many things, but even that I won’t fuss about.

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When I don’t get my way, I merely move on. Before it was an entire struggle; an inner dialogue of why they did not respond to my text. It was wondering what about my company would have people overlook me entirely. It was a pity-party of how I was a loner and no one cared. Now, it’s a shrug and we look for something else to do. It’s like noticing you’re out of coffee and opt for tea. Not the same effect but satisfies the itch.

That is one of the many examples of healing I’ve seen.

And it is weird.

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Sabotage; our dear old friend

I noticed as humans we have the capacity to seek out drama. Before you blame everyone around you, check your boundaries. You just could be the one allowing drama. In a sense, I was a low key crazy-maker. I would poke at something to see how it reacts. It was more out of boredom than malice. Or honestly put, it was the idea that most people work off from; it’s better if someone yelled at you than them giving you the silent treatment. Effects of neglect in childhood; and yes, we are all broken and busted. It’s part of the human experience.

Even as I come into my own and love myself and company more, I’m finding that I’m kinda bored. I find the stillness and the peace weird. It is like having on a super gorgeous outfit that fits perfectly and still feel uncomfortable. Stop touching it, it’s fine!

If this doesn’t make sense, that’s quite alright- shelf it for when it does. If it does it’s likely you are healing and lack of turmoil, pain, anger and frustration and the kind is strange. Before you slide into his or her DM looking for closure or whatever other foolish reason you conjure up, go see about the tension in Cameroon between the French and English speakers. There are a thousand different things to do other than go looking for disappointment.

They haven’t changed. By the way. In case you were wondering.

So what’s the lesson?

There is stillness and peace in healing. It also feels like a lot of nothing happening. However, rest. You’ll need it when it’s time to face the world anew. It’s boring but necessary, so don’t ruin it.

Note to self.

For when you’re so stuck, that your stuck is stuck.

I found humor in my journey, along with the awareness that I am crazy and a lot to handle. I think I had been too modest about my ability to go off on people like a firecracker when I found them to be displaying “bad manners” LOL!

Therapy has been a big help, certainly something I will advocate for the rest of my life. Why? Because those who meet me in the future have a lot less to handle. Ha! However, until my session last week I had not understood the source of my stuckness.

Now that I have, boy am I letting it rip!

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I was the type of person to continue texting and calling a guy who treated me anyhow because I liked them. I was the type to hold on to friends that had no business being my friend because I always got the short end of the stick. I was the type not to set boundaries with my folks and as a result, I, the grass, suffered. I was the type to not know how to handle my emotions, so I found solace at the bottom of a bottle of something hard. Saying “no” was impossible as well.

I am perhaps still all these things to a degree. I believe in supernatural turnarounds, but it just might take me practice to become completely unstuck because it’s been years of this crap.

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When you don’t know better, you cannot be and do better.

That is my understanding of unsticking my stuckness. For years I have been pursuing justice I will never get for the wrongs done to me from when I was a child. For years I let the anger eat me up, leaving me stuck in patterns that had me questioning my sanity. In hindsight, I remained in trash relationships because I wanted THEM to see what THEY were doing wrong so they can apologize, change and treat me better.

Yea… no.

Courtesy: Seek Logo

There is a release in understanding our history. The theory of psychoanalysis in therapy speaks on unearthing forgotten things of the past to explain our present selves. But only a small number of us ever will.

(Here is what they don’t tell you about the process: It is as painful as you can imagine. Only worse. The emotional pain gets so bad you can feel it in your elbow LOL! But think of it as exercise; there’s a price to pay to get healthy.)

If you noticed you have been doing, thinking or saying some dumb things for years and can’t seem to get unstuck, venture to the past. Forget the facts, and sit in the emotions of the little child that you were. Cry, wail, say how angry you are.

So no, you weren’t born this way; the world just landed your soul a blow at birth; that’s why it is deformed and bleeding.

Yes, life sucks, but keep swimming.

Learning to walk depression “alone”

Before you raise your eyebrows, hear me out.

I cannot take full credit for the recovery I’ve had thus far. I have God, friends, a therapist, my parents etc. who have helped me along. However, there are journeys you have to walk alone.

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The first few years of life significantly shape your life. Sigmund Freud on his theory of psychoanalysis talks extensively about this, but there are some places he appeared to have missed the point entirely. He was convinced that everyone, like him, fights with feelings of attraction for their parents. In his case, he was sexually attracted to his mother. He had plenty of demons, including battling illnesses, brought about mental health.

It is the likes of Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav Jung, Freud’s students, and Eric Ericson who took the theory a step further. Eric broke it down to the stages of life; it is more of the experiences we refer to now, including the phases of finding one’s identity and self-actualization. There are other theories that I am yet to read that counseling psychologists use, but I found this one in particular helpful.

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My mom worked for the first six+ months of my life. That meant house helps, and if the horrors we’ve heard are to go by, my dad once rushed me to the hospital suffering from dehydration. I was a fantastic sleeper, and somewhere along the way, I learned to suck my finger to soothe myself. In those early months and years, I learned to be my support system. Imagine waking up, crying for attention for hours, and yet no one comes. I seem to have resulted to silence. Cry, if no one comes, suck my finger and move on.

This is the story of many people who didn’t have the best of caretakers when their parents were out hustling. I think it was soon after the incident with me that my mother opted to quit her job and stay at home for a while. My elder brother had my mother’s sisters present, so he was alright. My younger brother had a stay-home mother; she quit her job a few months before he was born.

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I learned to figure my things out, and while that worked as a child to save me tears, it is not the best approach now. There are pros and cons to it though. In the past year, I have learned to ask for help. Before I would act out and hope someone would take notice and do something. Now I know to speak and ask for what I need. Asking my dad to find me a therapist for me was a milestone.


However-


No one around me extensively understands depression and suicide; just one person and because they have their fight to fight, I cannot burden them. Others have a general idea, but nothing about a deep hole, a cloud and the loss of hope. If you are in a similar situation, I am sure you are very aware of how lonely that makes you feel. I’ve had to rely on those self-soothing methods I learned as a kid, only they haven’t always been healthy- sucking my finger earned me braces 10 years in.

If you are in this dark space, you might not want to hear this, but you are your best friend and hope of getting through. You have to give yourself what you need actively. How easy is that? It is not; it is still something I struggle with. Taking myself for a pedicure two days ago was an internal struggle. Am I wasting money? Should your broke self not be saving? Finally, I realized that I was in a low space; staying in my room would have made me feel worse. However, pretty feet would cheer me up. What is better?

You too have to give yourself what you need. Buy that candle, go by street food, stay in bed all day watching comedy. Do small actions that lift your mood. Your family, friends, partner and pretty much everyone will not be there for you round the clock. Learn to be there for yourself when they are not present.

You are a better ally to yourself than the voices are telling you.

We are wired for love; send some your way beloved.

Positive affirmations to combat depression: Your Character Vs. Your Identity

Working definitions

Character: the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

Identity: the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.

Thanks Google.

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Living in your head, I think, is one of the primary causes of depression. The opposite is not avoiding deep reflection. The opposite is a balance between understanding oneself and still being present. If you’re like me, you will spend HOURS in your mind. And Google.

Here is what my mind has churned out over the years; these are accurate and not merely some way to beat up my self-esteem.

  • I have anger issues
  • I am still looking at my mustard seed-sized self-esteem like- “bloom baby, bloom!”
  • Erm… What are boundaries?
  • Cut me, I gut you

You get my point.

I was in a state of one of these episodes but I caught myself this time.

Sure, these are all things currently coming off, but who does God say I am?

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If you have grown up in a Christian setting, that question is rather out of flavor. However, may I offer a different perspective?

There is who God says we are- the head and not the tail, co-heirs with Christ, His beloved… these are all things we’ve heard, and know.

Now, if Jesus came and sat on your bed, and being a Friend, what would he tell you? If you said you are ____ (insert a shortcoming), what would he say?

What I think we’ve done is used scripture to band-aid our pains. I could sit here and say that I am the righteousness of God in Christ, but if I still feel dirty for what I said, did or thought, what use is that? His truth remains, but my posture is what makes it hard for me to accept it.

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Suggested way forward?

Let me use the thought that sparked this post. I was reading an article on co-dependency. The article talked about how it’s generational and something we learn from observations. As I was sitting in the truth of my actions (and marinading in it being a solid cause-but one of the many-reasons behind my many failed relationships), a different thought *hello there Holy Spirit!* came to mind.

“Sure, this is your present character, but who does God say you are?”

After the initial biblical affirmations, I realize that my identity is not co-dependent. My identity is in Christ; I am Christ-like. Everything else is an add-on that is unnecessary and can be shake off. I don’t know about you, but that makes working my issues through so much easier.

I am not changing my identity from being codependent to being Codependent No More, because, identity wise, that’s not who I am.

They are thoughts turned words, turned actions, turned habit, turned character and are now shaping my destiny. But they are not who I am. The work to remaining true to my identity is the same- I need tools to learn how to NOT be codependent. The difference is it’s no longer this thing attached to my essence; it’s a passing cloud. Gloomy, and makes me feel sad, but nonetheless, a passing cloud.

To new way of looking at things in 2019,

Cheers.

Oh look! You made it to 2019!

Well hello my beloveds!

After my previous post I’d like to insist that therapy works. I am not a ray of sunshine, but we are pushing through. What sticks with me and something A Course in Miracles insists upon, is that you ought to accept that your thoughts are a singular narrative. There is more than one way of looking at things. The answers won’t walk in with trumpets and your celebrity crush in tow with a placard, but it’ll come- eventually. They always come in a delightful manner, and it is in seeing things differently that you know a miracle has occurred.

One Shahisa Mutali asked in November for tips and tricks surviving hard days on a comment on this post. I can mostly talk about what not to do. And that is drink. Apart from the hangover, aching esophagus and guilt from the abuse to your body, alcohol is not your friend when depressed. That’s one. Another thing is not to remain in your head for too long. I work from home and the silence is not entirely helpful. I’m learning to watch movies, YouTube until the dark cloud passes, treat myself- basically do anything not to think when I’m down. Because the voices in my mind get dark VERY fast.

What has also helped is having a spiritual practice. It helps me to know even when it’s hard, I’m not by myself in the struggle. Belief in God doesn’t automatically mean that the depression will lift and you’ll be bright eyed like nothing happen. Nope. Things will still be trash, but the awareness of a Higher Power gives you hope that’s crucial to survival. Quite literally. 😅

Of quiet days and nature

No seriously…
Which brings me to, “what do normal people think about?” I was explaining to a friend that mental health is the mind working against itself. It’s hard because there is no tangible evidence as to where it hurts. It’s just your emotions are in turmoil, you can’t shut your thoughts up and you still have to shower. Like why? 😂

What do normal people think about anyway? Comment below, it’ll be super helpful tihihihihi!

Moving forward

I realize that exercise is something I have to take up to fight off what’s left of the cloud. Or at least shirk it down to a manageable size. I’m considering signing up for a gym membership because jogging… And I need someone up my butt torturing me with weights and other things to remain committed. Yep. I am officially those January-new-beginning we-gotta-get-that-body people.

Other aspect I wanna take up are- I was gonna say meditation and mindfulness. Yea. Not there yet. Taking myself for lunches and movies sounds more solid. 😂

Your journey is probably different, but remember to do things that a loving friend would do for you, but for yourself. Nothing kicks self-loathing harder than doing nice loving things for yourself. If you’re in the pits, start small. Get a shower gel you’ve always liked. Buy that snack you crave and reminds you of childhood.

Fill your well. People around you can try and help, but only you’ll get it right. There’s more in you than you think. You just need to remember to be willing to look at things differently. Be kind to yourself, you’re still breathing- and that’s a pretty huge deal beloved.

Smile. You made it to 2019.

Happy New Year to you, warrior.

Things fall apart and quiet seasons

Joseph and Moses

Somewhere in the corner of my mind, I found it humorous that I can relate to these two characters in the bible. When you have a big mouth and are out here looking like you want to save the world, the Lord will humble you so hard. By the time you’re getting back up, He’s the only person you will give credit to.

I don’t take this platform lightly, that’s why I will take days, weeks and months before I post something. I am of the opinion that if it’s not my life, I have no business writing about it. In the space I am in, things are falling apart (they probably already have, there’s the odd rock sliding down the debris) and there’s now a silence. Joseph in a pit. Moses in the wilderness.

I might need to take issue with my high school (International School of Uganda) for using holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and an existentialist book as part of our set books. When I think back, there’s a phrase that comes to mind that the atomic bomb survivors talk about- the silence that followed the bombing.

People, these were my set books.

When I was meant to be focusing on who was bulling me, why I was in a rubbish relationship and why I couldn’t get above my average-ness-ness, I had a set book about people’s aches in pages to read, understand and analyze.

But again; the silence that followed.

Before the tears, agony, fear and all expressions of despair, there is a silence. It is almost like you’re listening to see if you’re still alive before you can assess the carnage. If you’ve seen footage of war survivors before the tears come, grieving what they’ve lost, there is a moment of silence; a moment of taking it in.

The mourning for what you’ve lost in your life is eventual but take stock first so that you know what you’re truly crying for.

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I had a moment last evening with friends where I called Christians who plaster scripture over things stupid aka “having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense”. It’s especially for those who throw scripture at you with the aim of conviction, only to bring judgment. Remember Job’s friends? I’ve done it, foolishly so, for a while, but after seeing how the only result it yields is a rift, I’ve come to follow Christ cue. Have you noticed how you feel no judgment over his interactions with sinners?

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If everything has crumbled all around you, take time to make an assessment. You won’t know what to rebuild if you don’t know what’s in rabbles.

Cheers my friends.