Scars of Solitude

It was on a Friday evening when I got myself a razor and decided I needed red marks on my hands. At first, it was painful, but when I started to cry my heart out, the pain became less and less, and I continued to cut myself. I felt relieved that I could feel my pain physically instead of it eating me up.

Little did I know that would be my new norm. Anytime I was going through depression, rejection, or stress, I would run to my razor. We had formed a bond that could not be broken. It had become my new best friend and something I could rely on during my low times.

I was still in highschool when I started self-harm. If not for the razor, since I was doing homescience, I could burn myself with an iron while ironing my sample or hurt myself each time I machine stitched my sample.

It now became a concern to my friends since I was always in a sweater or found it awkward to remove a sweater. My marks were easily noticeable. Some said it was peer pressure or I just craved attention; maybe it was true. Since if I talked, we would be repeating the same issues over and over again. My school mum broke down when it dawned on her that I was engaging in that act. I was the one who was afraid to reach out and address what I was going through. I thought my friends wouldn’t understand, and they would see my issues as petty.

I remember this one Sunday when my then-bestie came and found me without a sweater with the marks all over my hand, and we talked. I opened up, and to my shock, she was also self-harming.

I was a bit concerned that it flash backed me to a time I met a friend in the homescience room. She had cuts all over her hands, and hers were both vertical and horizontal. She tried to cover them, but I had already seen. She shared her story and told me several girls that were self-harming, and it was true. We were using it as a way of coping, and the majority of them didn’t want to share their story with someone who hasn’t self-harmed because they wouldn’t understand.

But her story made me feel as if I didn’t have any problems in life, and my issues could be solved.

We went home for the holiday, and I was going to form four the next term. I used to wear my sweater and wouldn’t remove it no matter the weather. My mum noticed and immediately knew something was a miss since she knew I wore sweaters during the cold weather only. This one time I was chilling outside when a neighbor saw my marks and got curious which also raised my mom’s eyebrows.

I went back to our house, and my mum came in furiously. The first thing she told me was ‘umekuwa wa illuminati kazi ni kujitoa damu,‘ and I knew my mum would beat the shit out of me if I didn’t say the truth. I explained everything in black and white.

I started crying and went to sit next to her. She also joined me in crying. It was a very painful moment seeing my mum cry. I told her how depressing school was for me, how the diet affected me and the cateress didn’t want to know if I had an issue not unless I had a letter from a hospital. She called ‘my alleged dad’  whom helped in settling this dust – we talked and agreed I won’t self-harm again, and  that they would take care of my diet.

I was happy because at the time I had ulcers so bread, beans, and ndegu used to affect me. She made sure I was never eating bread again, and I was taken to the special diet table. To me, that was one problem solved, two remaining; Girls and academics.

We went back to school, and I didn’t self-harm for a while until the results of our exams came out. I had failed terribly and instantly knew I had let myself down. Worse still, my mum wouldn’t feel good about the results.

I resorted back to my habit, this time with a blunt object. It did more harm than I could ever imagine. My hand was swollen, and I couldn’t do anything with my left arm. I called my mum and told her everything, since she was the only person I called my whole high school period. I asked if she could pay for extra classes and she agreed. She was so understanding and gentle to me. She didn’t want me to lack anything or say I failed because I didn’t have resources.

One common phenomenon in a girl’s school is lesbianism. Sometimes you just find yourself as one not because you wanted but circumstances forced you to be. I was one, something now I’m not proud of saying. But I didn’t do those things people used to do, mine was simple small talks, cuddles, and hugs.

Lesbianism affected my mental and physical health in high school. Fighting with girls for girls, being the talk of the school, betrayal from friends, constant cases, kidogo nipewe expulsion in form three because of lesbians. Around that time, I used to self-harm a lot with the machine stitch because it was exhausting.

Girls were always on my neck. My class teacher was nice and understanding, something I came to realize when I was finishing school. She always had my back and talked to the administration on my behalf and promised them I would change. I didn’t, but I went quiet – no friends, just one or two, avoiding conflicts with people, and focusing on my studies because I was failing terribly.

Fast forward to after I had finished high school, I had gone for nine months without self harming until one fateful Friday morning when I was told by a friend that my mum had passed away.

I got confused because my family weren’t communicating. My mum’s phone was off for the first time since I was born – she had never missed any of my calls even if she was busy she would call later. Well, this one was different.

That Thursday that she passed everything was normal, but people kept calling to ask how I was and how I was fairing with University life. At first, I thought it was normal until the day I came back to my senses those were just hypocrites trying to figure out if I had known my mum was no more.

I went to a secluded place with a razor. The aim wasn’t to self-harm but to commit suicide. I didn’t feel any pain, all I was thinking was my mum. Why she left, maybe even it was a lie. I recalled our last call which was on Wednesday night. She was okay though she had hinted that she was sick and had medicine.

I knew my mum was good at secrets and suffering alone, but I didn’t know she would hide all those from me. I was the best thing in her life, and she was my person, we went through heaven and hell together. Maybe if she told me she was sick, I would have been sick and worried about her and not concentrate on my studies. Of course, that is true. But I would have been there for her during her last moments, I would have held on and be strong for us.

I was shattered, knowing I would never recover from that. Blood oozed from my hand, yet I felt numb, devoid of pain. All I longed for was my mom. A friend came and escorted me to the health unit, where they stitched my cuts. The doctor checked in on me, but little did he know the turmoil within.

They contacted my aunt, who assured she was coming for me, and a counselor was sent to talk to me. The counselor, a woman, made an effort to comprehend, though she was visibly upset. The news of my mother’s passing reached me via text. When she asked about my origin, I mentioned Nakuru, affirming my Catholicism.

Confirming on her phone, she discovered my mother’s photo in the church group, indicating she had passed away a day prior, around ten in the morning. A whole day had passed, and no one bothered to inform me. The details of mourning and burial are stories for another day, but during that time, I starved myself for two weeks, my weight dropping to about 28kg. Food held no taste, and hunger eluded me entirely.

Self harming became part of me, we were now conjoined together each time I miss my mum my razor or a lighter would be there to help me ease the pain. I fell in love with red marks on my body. Therapy couldn’t help because to me, no one would ever understand what my mum’s death did to me.

It changed me and my whole life, I was used to calls and texts daily from her to none. No one to call or ask me how my day was. People who promised to be there for me had vanished. I realized I was all alone and it would be like that until my last breath. It’s tough losing the only parent you’ve known your whole life and to me she went too early, we had dreams we were to achieve together.

Luckily I met someone who found me still grieving for my mum. He knew how I felt and understood my pain more than anyone else. He knew how tough it was especially given my age. He made a vow to be there for me always and walk with me throughout the journey.

I still self harmed and that made him mad but he had made peace with it after hearing my past. I couldn’t recover from self harm, it was part of me. At times I felt guilty that I self harm and hid it from him but I was protecting him from my emotional damage. I didn’t want to ruin us.

I was also doing drugs and alcohol when we met but agreed if we dated I wouldn’t do that. It was tough for me given that those were my solace. I tried so hard but I gave in twice to velo and alcohol, something I regret ever doing. I had done damage to myself and betrayed our relationship.

I lost something that would have been beautiful and worth keeping. He helped me heal but I never noticed, I was always happy with him and he was my person but I was too weak to say no to alcohol. I messed up big time.

I still self harmed when he left but that was the last time I was doing it. I made peace with the reality that I was a mess and needed help.

I am still going for therapy sessions, started reading books and listening to podcasts. Each time I feel low I go outside for a walk and listen to music or cry my heart out but not cutting myself or doing drugs and alcohol.

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