August 31

August 31

I haven’t been here since August 31. I haven’t been here since close to two months now. I haven’t been here since my heart, soul, body, and mind tried to kill me; on 31st August. I haven’t been here since I thought my life was coming to an end, and windows of my soul had already started closing.

I haven’t been here since August 31, yet, somehow, I am still breathing. My limbs are still moving. I am still waking up every morning with a star in my eyes, even though the questions and voices in my head have not yet cleared. I am still living through days, happily, content, even though my skin is still etched with fading signs of, “What if?”

I haven’t been here since August 31, and even I cannot wrap my head around the fact that I have been able to live this long without writing. Without filling these pages with the darkness in my head. Without staying up late in the night, typing, because it is the only way I summon sleep.

I haven’t been here since August 31, yet, somehow, it didn’t occur to me that it had been that long. Because, somehow, I have been blind to everyone who kept on asking whether I still write on Thursdays. Instead, I have been focused on one day at a time; breathing, looking, feeling, accepting, loving, growing, laughing.

I have been looking at my life during the past month and a half, and wondering why I was even afraid in the first place. Why I was scared. Why some things looked and felt impossible. Why I had not tried this living earlier enough. Why these bold steps seemed so minute, so diminished, so unfulfilling, so close to nothing, before I took them.

By August 31, it had been two months since I finally left a romantic relationship that had lasted for years. Abusive as it was. Emotionally draining as it was. A relationship that took my everything; my self esteem, my voice, my visions and dreams, my emotions, my brilliance. A relationship that stripped me of everything I thought was the centre of my existence, and everyday, tried to show me that I was nothing. That I was living inside my head. I was overestimated. A relationship that shed my skin, and replaced it with an old, ugly, rugged blanket. A relationship that made me question myself: Is this who I truly am? Do these things I try to do even make sense? A relationship that questioned my mental health. A relationship that almost made me stop writing…

Yet, I continued to stay, and let the relationship continue trampling on my soul, for years. Holding on to hope that brighter days would come. Shrinking myself, so the other person could be seen. Limiting my voice. Discarding my beliefs. Talking about my achievements in hushed tones. Letting my dreams and visions stay within my chest. Hoping for miracles to happen; too afraid to let go of this thing I though we had built for years.

Man, my heart ripped off my chest the day I finally decided to walk out. I lost breath in between my crying. I rolled on the floor. I almost pulled out my hair. I decluttered my house. I scrubbed my skin until it bruised. Yet, the pain still stayed.

I didn’t eat properly for days. My friends were in and out of my house for days. I spent more time on my friends’ couches than in my own house. I didn’t laugh for days. My life lost meaning, and for a moment, I desperately wished I could write about this. But every time I tried, the tears in my ears lunged me back against the wall.

So I spent every day silent. Talking to only those who are friends of my heart. Listening only to the silence in my head. Praying, hard, for the thumping of my heart to stop. Staying awake on most nights, wondering when, and if my heart would ever stop racing. Whether I would ever find myself, again, in the midst of all those chaos.

By August 31, it had just been two weeks since I lost one of my jobs. Two weeks since I woke up one morning and the company was ‘unfortunately closing down operations, and declaring everyone redundant.’  Two weeks since I read that email notification, slumped back to bed, waited for the tears, but they never came. Had my heart become this hard? This immovable? This unshaken? This resigning to be emotionless?

By August 31, my body was crippling under the weight of all these emotions I was trying to keep within myself. So, quietly, I let go of all my social media, and retreated into the corners of my house, for two weeks. 

Of course, I didn’t know that just a month after August 31, I would sit in my other employer’s office and listen as the HR questions me about my social media absence. As she berates my mental health. As she rubbishes my anxiety as ‘peer pressure’. As she demands that I put the company first before my mental health. As she threatens to lay me off, and find a replacement in two days. Still, I waited for my heart to shatter, in vain. I sat there in silence, the voices in my head quiet, as if this was normalcy.

Of course, I din’t know that a month after August 31, I would pack my bags and go to Watamu. Alone. Seeking happiness, alone. Finding joy, alone. Rewriting my self back to life, alone. Rediscovering the magic in sunrises and sunsets, alone. Losing myself in my poetry, alone, and beginning to finally see the brilliance in me that I had so long ignored.

Of course, I didn’t know that a month after August 31, faraway in Watamu, I would talk to Pheiffer for two hours. Then to Asha for another two hours. And these two would fill my heart with softness. Belief. Magic. Reassurance. Love. Kindness. Light. That these two would birth a new spirit in me within hours.

I didn’t know that a month and a half after August 31, I would get back here, alone, in my house. My heart not racing anymore. My spirit is free. My happiness is back to the fore. I am writing more than I have ever written before. I am reading great books. My heart has grown back to letting me feel all emotions around me. I am saying my NOs with authority, and accepting all happiness that comes to me, without fear holding me back. Without thinking that this, someday, will also leave me. 

Of course, I didn’t know that a month and a half after August 31, everything good would have come back to me, tenfold.

(If you’d like to read what I wrote on August 31, click here)

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Meet Eunniah Mbabazi
Eunniah Mbabazi is an Electrical and Electronic Engineer with a deep passion for books and literature. She has authored Breaking Down (a collection of short stories), If My Bones Could Speak (a poetry collection), The Unbirthed Souls (a collection of short stories), and My Heart Sings, Sometimes (a poetry collection). She has also co-authored Kas Kazi (a novel) and When a Stranger Called (an anthology of short stories).

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