Birthday bliss after blues in Kenya and America

I'm finally happy after reluctant sex debut, abortion and lesbianism

In Summary

• On my 28th birthday, I'm taking stock of a life lived with drama but without regrets

Depiction of an abused woman
Depiction of an abused woman

When I was 12 years old, I sat on the floor of my mother’s kitchen with some scissors in hand, ready to kill myself. Today, I turn 28.

I’ve thought long and hard about how I want my life to look like. It’s been a crazy couple of years for me.

When I was 19, I enrolled in university. I remember when I first went to campus. My parents, who are so loving and supportive but so freaking controlling, had hired someone to watch me and report back to them. What was she doing? Who was she hanging out with?

I later came to realise that their snitch was some Luhya guy I had met and who had tried to hit on me. He looked like one of those people who did a four-year course in eight years. You know the ones.

I didn’t pay any attention to him after my parents left. He had helped us move through the lines, get set up in those prison dorms and apparently made a promise to my father to be my keeper. Snitch.

When I was 20, I lost my virginity to a Muslim boy. I remember that day so well. I was dressed in a tiny little black dress with a blazer because body dysmorphia was very much dysmorphing me.

He had broken up with me because I wouldn’t have sex with him and so I thought having sex with him was the answer. Sex with him was very strange because I didn’t know when it started or when it ended. I just knew that I had had sex — I think.

When I was 21, I was sexually assaulted by his friend. I thought he was my friend. The first time it happened, he had tried to kiss me in the club when I was drunk. My friend had stopped him and a couple days later, he tried to come again.

This time I was alone in my room, and he came in and all I remember is him, chasing me around the room naked. We were friends until I graduated. He didn’t stop. He was never violent but always very forceful. I never told anyone because what were they going to do? I would go for long periods without seeing him, but he would reappear and I knew I had to be ready. I fought the first time, the rest I just let it happen so he could finish and leave.

When I was 23, I got pregnant. I had a panic attack because I didn’t want kids. I wasn’t going to be the girl that goes to campus and comes back with a child. I visited Marie Stopes and they were too expensive. I had a friend who was a nursing student and together, we made sure I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I have never regretted this decision nor felt bad about what I did. I don’t want kids.

When I was 25, I fell in love with a girl for the first time. It was chaotic but wonderful. What they say about lesbian lovers is true; we were ready to move in two weeks later.

The first time she told me she loved me was at Moi Avenue. We had been fighting about the fact that I felt she didn’t have enough time for me. She felt like I didn’t understand how hard it was to juggle law school, work and a relationship. We broke up and she told me she loved me. Lol, I still remember us crying and deciding to give it one more try.

When I was 26, I started my Master’s degree. I was doing great, maintaining a 4.0 GPA while struggling with mental health and friendships falling apart. Halfway through, I crumbled and found myself in a psych ward. I got an F that semester and had to redo everything. Still, I graduated with a 3.8GPA.

When I was 27, I was working as a caregiver in Washington. The day I got an email offering me my current position, one of my patients was having stomach issues, so I was literally in the middle of cleaning up shit. I was going to be a whole director, leading a department. I was so scared and didn’t know what to expect.

Today, I am 28 and just gave my students their final exam. This has been the easiest job I’ve ever done. It came to me so naturally and everything just flowed. I have about 20 graduates who will say that at one point in their lives, I made a difference.

There are a host of challenges ahead of me. Still, I find myself not hopeful but certain that I’m going to ace life. At 28, I’m the most confident, most aware, most rich, most evolved version of myself.

I’m finally the girl I needed as a child to feel safe. It’s the best gift I could have given myself. I’m happy and proud of all the versions of myself there have been, but I’m so excited to see which adventures this version takes me on.

Cheers to life!

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