Well actually, it was yesterday morning at 7.00 a.m. See, I’d like to have a certain … operation. And because of my … delicate age … my OB/GYN has to get permisision from a shrink. The idea came to me years ago. I must have been 12 or 13, having a philosophical discussion with my mum when she said, ‘Just have as many kids as you want, then tie your tubes.’ I can’t remember what the discussion was about, but I imagine it involved population explosions and polygamy.

Anyway, two years ago, I walked into a doctor’s office and asked for a BTL. I’m not sure what the B stands for (I’ll Google it when I’m done), but the TL is for Tubal Ligation. As I told my shrink yesterday, I have one child, I lost one child, I’ve done my duty to the world. After a lengthy chat and analysis, he declared me psychologically stable *insert evil laughter* so early next year, I’m getting myself sterilized.

I actually wanted my tubes tied as soon as I had my first baby. But I was only 21, and it was a Catholic Hospital, so they were having none of it. Two years ago, after a lengthy debate with my doctor, I talked her into it. Unfortunately, the operation was beyond my budget, so she gave me arm implants and we agreed to wait two years while I saved up. I finally have enough to get it done, so it’s on … or rather … it’s off.

But I digress. This is about my early morning visit to the shrink. It wasn’t what I expected. For one thing, he didn’t make me sit on the couch. I didn’t even realize he had a couch until we were done. He asked a lot of questions, mostly about my family, and seemed unusually interested in what we all do for a living. He asked about my mum, dad, and brothers’ occupations, but didn’t ask about mine, which I thought was a little weird. Maybe he’d seen it on my forms. He didn’t ask about my dreams, or my childhood, though we did talk about the rape and depression. Considering how often I worry about my sanity, it’s nice to meet a shrink who thinks I’m normal.

The visit to the psychiatrist got me thinking though, and the thought thread followed a conversation I had with a good friend the night before. We were talking about my confusion regarding relationships. See, I think I’m happy on my own. I have a good life, great job, supportive family, awesome friends, and a wonderful baby girl. (She’s almost ten, but she’ll always be a baby to me.) Yet I seem unusually listless and unsettled. Also, I seem to be making an awful lot of effort to get coupled, especially considering I don’t even believe in marriage.

My friend pointed out that for someone who’s such a hopeless romantic, I spend a lot of time projecting the image that I don’t need a man. I explained that I don’t do it consciously, but she insisted, so I gave it a little thought. Well, okay, a lot of thought. I concluded that I’m so afraid to be alone that I desperately need to convince myself otherwise. It’s easier not to want anyone than to have someone reject you. Or hurt you.  Or leave you. Sort of like the insecure bully who picks on everyone else.

See, in my eyes, my mother is the perfect woman, and the perfect wife. She’s hot, smart, pretty, stylish, and worldly. She speaks French and vernacular with equal fluency, cooks, cleans, drives, swims, and has a solid career. She’s the perfect host and can make anything from Dutch cookies to traditional vegetables. She is the absolute package and I could never measure up.

All my life, I’ve watched my mum and wondered why all her gorgeous genes didn’t come down to me. I know we look a lot a like, but even when people mistake me for her, I still don’t recognise that beauty in myself. Which, incidentally, is the second half of the equation. I know, on a rational, logical, mental level that I’m a good-looking woman. Yet somehow, I just don’t feel particularly attractive.

Also, despite all my mother’s perfection, she lost the man she loved, so I really don’t have a hope in hell. I have this preconceived notion that any man I catch will leave, and my love life has been a study in self fulfilling prophesies. So the only way to keep my heart from getting broken – again – is to convince myself I don’t have one. The trouble comes when all the rest of me wants a relationship and my mind is screaming black power power to the independent female.

I suppose it’s my latest identity crisis. I’ve been having them since I was a teenager, dressing in baggy jeans and pretending to be a tomboy when I so obviously wasn’t, and struggling with my urges to go girly. I finally reached a happy middle ground after my make-over – jeans, boots, make-up, and a few feminine outfits that I can pull out when required. I also restarted my exercise regime. I’m hoping to shed all those extra kilos at the waist.

See, I allegedly have an apple-shape, which means that while I mostly look well proportioned, my weight tends to bulge around the middle. So when I say I want to lose weight, I get everything from shocked stares to prayer offers. The truth is, even though it doesn’t show, I weigh almost 80 kilos, which is not at all healthy for my height. So I’ve decided to do something about it. Again.

I’ve tried to shed these excess kilos lots of times. It’s hard because I love food and hate exercise, and because every time I give up, I end gaining more weight instead. The first time I went on a ‘diet’ I was trying to shed the 5 excess kilos I’d gained while working in Tanzania. I tried again when I was 10 kg overweight, and even joined a gym. But now that I’ve gained 20 kilos, and it’s about time I let them go.

Each time I went on a weight loss programme, I promised myself I wouldn’t be one of those girls, the ones that walk into a restaurant and buy a plate of salad. I mean, really, salad?!? But today I have a lunch date with a long lost friend. I haven’t seen her in ages, and we have a lot of catching up to do. Over rabbit food. Sigh. The things we do for love (and weight loss).

Why am I ordering salad? Well, I’m using something called the 4 Day Diet, which is basically four days at a time for as long as you need to. I’m pushing for six months. Today is a fruits and vegetable day, hence the salad. I might end up ordering some soup – without the bread of course. I’ll find out when I get there.

Lately, I’m getting spiritual, praying a lot and meditating, so it bugs that I’m concerned about my physical appearance. Plus, if I don’t want a guy, why do I care about how I look? Well, the prolonged shrink-inspired thinking made a few things very clear. One, I don’t like myself very much, and I hide it by being confident and vain. Some people call me arrogant, even though I’m rather self-deprecating around those who know me well, and it annoys them, because they think I’m fishing for compliments. And yes, I realise I’m over-thinking this. It’s what I do.

I also don’t find myself attractive, so I transformed my whole wardrobe and I’m now shifting my body. I imagine I’m unlove-able, and that anyone that loves me will leave me once they realize how awful I really am. So I try to make myself more want-able, and when anyone gets close, I push them away before they get epiphanies and leave.

I dated a guy once who said when a man wants an easy lay, he’ll pick a girl who’s either (mentally) blonde or emotionally damaged. I’ve had a string of ‘one-hit-wonders’ and always assumed the problem was me. Now I realize I’m attracting that kind of person because it’s the only thing I think I deserve. Self-fulfilling prophesy. I make stupid relationship decisions because I crave attention so badly that I latch onto it, even when it comes from the wrong quarters. In fact, I especially ‘enjoy’ inappropriate attention, because it proves me right, affirming that it’s the only kind I can get.

And if anyone else shows any interest, I automatically get paranoid, or worse, I don’t notice it at all because I don’t think it’s possible. It’s like seeing a pink elephant crossing the road, then assuming you must be drunk, even though all you’ve had is coffee. Your first assumption isn’t that the elephant has spray paint – it’s that your coffee has been spiked.

In theory, the solution to all these problems is to convince myself I’m worthy of affection. For me that begins with getting the physique and wardrobe that make me happy. All the self-help books tell you that’s the wrong way to do it. They say you should love yourself as you are, not change into who you want to be, but I don’t quite know how to do that.

A lot of people will dismiss a blog post like this one. They’ll call it a blatant cry for attention (though they’ll use descriptions that are way more graphic than that.) All I know is there are a LOT of beautiful women who think they’re ugly and hurt themselves because of it. The world is full of gifted, talented, amazing people who think they’re crap. That’s why so many artist[e]s, movie stars, and success stories kill themselves. Nobody sees themselves the same way that the rest of the world does. It’s just that the average person is better at hiding their insecurities, that’s all.

Sometimes I wonder what world I belong to. I’m low enough to know the pain of hunger, because there were nights when I had nothing to eat, yet I’m high enough to order pizza for me and my daughter once a month on Terrific Tuesday. I’m simple enough to have leftover ugali and sukuma for breakfast, but ‘middle-class’ enough to consider taking lessons in Tai-chi. I’m Kenyan enough to happily shop at Toi Market, but ambitious enough to have dream car that costs 15 million.

I’m ‘ghetto’ enough to eat at Karumaindos but bougie enough to recognise capoera, caesar’s salads, and dutch dating. Maybe I’m just a series of identity crises wrapped in a cuddly bundle of plus-sized awesomeness. Also, lolcats make me very, very happy. I do know a few things though. I’m grateful for my beautiful daughter and the endless blessings in this life. I’m thankful that I can finally accept the friends and family who love me. I’m honoured to be a dreamer, and a writer. And I’m glad that as strange and unfamiliar as it all seems, and as lost, confused, and depressed as I sometimes feel, my vision of myself is getting better and better.


134 thoughts on “So I saw the shrink today…

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