Why I Stopped “Ask Ciiku”

I honestly thought that being an agony aunt was a very good idea. I remember having a conversation with Frankie about the idea. It felt like something I could be good at.

And in another sense, when I started it, I needed something good to happen. I was having a tense time and it was something I felt I was good at. And for a bit, it felt that way.

And then it became a lot, too much actually. It became an anxiety enducing endeavour. I received questions that were beyond, I got others that were just copied from other websites, I got trolls and then I realised it wasn’t serving me. And so I stopped. And it was the best decision.

I think the worst side effect thingy that came from all this is that I became the agony aunt for my “in real life” friends. People came to me only when they had issues. I was carrying people’s problems and it has become something I am undoing until today.

Because, if I am keeping it real, I don’t want to be that friend that people only come to when they have issues. And only then. Can you imagine? Having friends who only talk to you when they are asking about issues and only then? It is sad. And in part I created the environment.

Will I ever do “Ask Ciiku” again? Probably. But I’m not sure when.

Ask Ciiku: I feel like I am making a mistake

Hey there.

I’m just confused really I feel like I’m making the biggest mistake of my life and I feel trapped. I am 23, no job, pregnant by someone I’ve known for less than a year, he’s an alcoholic and not as supportive. I find myself just crying for hours on end . I just don’t know how to get myself out of this mess.

M

Dear M,

I think first of all, that at times like these especially, you have to trust yourself. Trust in your ability to make good decisions about you and your life. And even more so, the only person you can control in this situation is yourself. Yes, it may seem like you are between a rock and a hard place and still, you are in control of some aspects of your life.

I do hope that you have some sort of support system in place and perhaps that is the first place you could turn to. Not for them to tell you what to do, because in the end, that is up to you – but for them to offer comfort. I do hope such people exist for you.

I have to ask, when you look at your future, what do you see? And I mean in the things that you have some semblance of control over.

I hope you are able to make room for yourself and do what you feel is best given the circumstances. Again, I repeat, trust yourself.

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: Should I End the Friendship?

Dear Ciiku,

I’ll try and keep this as short as I can. The issue is a friend who dumps me whenever they feel like only to come back when they feel like they need me. We met in campus a few years ago and some strange trick of fate, we became quite close. There were people who were amazed at our friendship, we seemed totally in-congruent, but the connection was deeply genuine. We have grown together over time and changed as it is expected. My issue started about a year and a half ago, there was a disagreement and we had our biggest fight yet. I knew we would work it out since it was what we did. We had a tense period and slowly warmed up to each other then my friend withdrew affection and became cold and distant. I accepted my role in out squabble and apologised but that didn’t seem enough. I have many friends but with this particular friend the bond is quite strong and so I felt hurt at this turn of events. I also understand that some times people are going through their own things and they react differently, I encourage having a broad support system but this hurt. Let me know what’s happening for the sake of courtesy. This behaviour has become a habit now, my friend can be very good for some time, texting the whole day some days then going silent, coming back to me after the fun, the heartbreak. I have adjusted to this and now I understand that this is the friend wants to be in their life and we talked about it but they brushed it off. I’m tired of feeling like a substitute, someone who is remembered when nothing else is in sight. It’s not fair as I have put a lot into being a good friend. Should I end the friendship?

GK

Dear GK,

Before I go into a long post about what I am thinking etc, I have to tell you, you seem to know what it is you need to do and that is, to end the friendship.

I have to say with your letter, a lot of what is currently holding this friendship is the memory of what it was. For example you say that the connection WAS deeply genuine. And maybe for you, holding onto these memories helps in some way, ease the pain you feel when your friend is not being your friend.

I want to let you know that whatever it is you are feeling is a sign and symptom of an unhealthy relationship. And the fact that you have had discussion about it and yet you are still find yourself in this place where you know that the friendship might indeed have ran its course. If you see that you have communicated your issues and what it is you are feeling is that you are not being heard or that you are a “substitute”….. then you know what you deserve. You have experienced what a good friendship looks like and therefore it makes sense that you can discern that you are not in a good place. The truth is that you will likely not go back to the place that you once were with this friend. And while friendships change and morph, if you feel this doesn’t work for you, it is understandable if you let the friendship end. And I am truly sorry about this.

Remember GK that with friendship, like any other relationship, you deserve love, kindness, to be treated with respect and love. Things have obviously changed and the only person you can control in this situation is you. Be good to you.

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: Where do I find purpose?

Dear Ciiku,

For a long time I thought things were going well, life was moving slowly, but with some sense of direction until the earth beneath my feet gave in about a year and a half ago. I’m just floating, or sinking, not sure. I lack purpose. I grew up in a middle class family and went to private school before joining a national school, clearing at the turn of the century. Y2K generation. Despite passing KCSE, I chose not to go to uni here and went for undergrad in the States. School was fun and I had a great experience both in and out of class. I have never regretted my major and the skills I picked up are useful and constantly refined. I got a job while studying and that was a learning experience I am grateful for, I continued with the job after graduation before moving to the UK for Masters. During this period I travelled a lot and the fellowship opened up the world beyond words. I came back soon after that and worked at a multinational for 3 years before moving to South Africa for a job. I had my friends and family and things seemed to be pretty good. There was some restructuring and my contract wasn’t renewed and I came back home with some chums and assured of a job in less than 3 months. In the meantime I started a small company running out of a car my folks had bought as a gift. I was overqualified for a few jobs I interviewed for and the prospect of employment wasn’t as alluring as before. I invested in my Ka-Biashara but that took time before picking up traction. The period since coming back has been a spiral into questioning what the fuck I’m doing with my life. I acknowledge the privileges afforded me. My days are now jumbled together as the business keeps making losses and I am not sure what the use is. There are days I just want to shout at the world, cry, and get over with life. The money I made won’t last long long and my folks are not an option. I have read almost everything I can find on purpose, religion, self-help, philosophy, psychology, All and still there is this huge void in my life. Nothing at all makes sense. My mum thinks getting married and having a family might help but I am sure marriage is not in my plan, not now at least. With the new year, it got exponentially harder. People were setting out goals and excited and I just couldn’t feel it but also questioning why I felt some feelings resembling guilt. I do want to have purpose, to stop feeling so hollow. I have set goals before that were as successful as never having been written down. It’s exhausting. Not sure how much longer I can hold on. Set up an appointment with a therapist before the end of the year and the sense of judgement I felt didn’t encourage a second appointment. I’m still looking. How do I live a full life? Where do I find my purpose?

Q

Hi Q,

These are questions that for millenia have been debated and philosophied. I am not even sure I know where to begin without seeming to be writing empty platitudes. What is the purpose of life? What is fullness of life? I understand, more than you know, how it is to have done all these things and yet find yourself asking how you ended up at this point of despair.

The fact is there are things beyond your control, the economy etc but you can be you, find you – whoever that is. You can become the you that you need to be to make it in this world. Because this world is A LOT. And most often, we aren’t equipped to deal with it. Especially if you look up and around and realise that what society wants from you is not what you want for yourself. So I feel you, I feel what you are going through and whatever it is I am telling you, I have also told myself and continue to ask myself.

I think of note is to find out what it is you want and how you view life. What examples have you seen that show that life has been lived in full? If you were to listen to your inner voice, what would it tell you about what you need to do? I ask this because you definitely seem to know that you cannot find purpose in what your parents tell you to or in the insidious nature of capitalism. I think you also realise that no one can tell you where to find purpose or even how to live a life worthy of living. That can only come from looking inwards, in spending time with yourself. And that’s the thing you can control here.

I pose to you: What is it that brings perspective? What is it that you can do that makes you feel like you have some semblance of control? Aside from what socialisation tells us is a full life, what does it really and truly mean to you? Furthermore, how does it look like? Do you know? What are your priorities? What can

I am truly sorry that your experience with a therapist was terrible. I hope that you give it another chance, with another therapist. Also, Be kind to yourself Q. Even at moments when you feel inadequate, show yourself compassion. And I know this might not mean much but you are not alone in this, we are all making it up as we go along. I do hope you find clarity, peace of mind, courage in the face of all the unknown and ultimately fulfillment.

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I feel empty

I think I might have bottled up issues that usually come up in my relationships especially the current one. Things can be good then all of a sudden my insecurities and anxiety flare up. I have been assaulted thrice by 3 guys I trusted. Sharing this with anyone is difficult as people I have share this with don’t take it as a big issue. So much so that I tend to lie a lot in the relationship as a defense mechanism. I feel like I have demonised my partner so much so that I worry I may be the toxic one. I nit pick every word, phrase, facial expression just to figure out if I have done wrong in any way. I’m also afraid of being in an emotionally abusive relationship so I keep questioning if I am in one. Conflicts or having difficult discussions with him or just anyone else for that matter scare me coz I keep questioning if this is a normal part of a relationship or I am being manipulated/gaslighted. I feel safe in my perfect world, anything that changes it even a tiny bit throws me off guard. All this thoughts have left me drained emotionally. I feel like I’m a walking shell, with no soul. I feel empty. Today I started thinking how it would feel if I slept and never woke up for a week…this thought scared me. Would you suggest therapy? Please recommend a practice/ therapy that could help me. One that is not based on christianity coz I’ve tried praying, its not working.

Mina

Hi Mina,

I am very sorry that people you trusted assaulted you. For what you went through and continue to go through, I do believe that you need a therapist. I support your stance and would suggest you look at this page where I have listed some resources. As I have said before, looking/finding for a therapist is like conducting an interview, you would have to find one who is suitably fit for you. In short, yes, I definitely think that you need to find a therapist. It may not be easy but take heart. I do not personally know any therapist but if I do, I will update it on the page listed above.

I must say, in feeling empty, you cannot pour anything into a relationship. Any and all relationships thrive on a myriad factors of which I am sure you know. And of most important is to return to yourself, be good for yourself, understand yourself. Such that when you are in a relationship, you are not doubting every second and every word. From your letter, I can tell that you know yourself enough to know that perhaps being in a relationship might not be the thing you need right now. That working on your healing is the priority now.

May you find your way back to you.

Ciiku



Ask Ciiku: I lost my baby

Hi Ciiku,

Around mid-June I got back test results for some stomach issues I had gone to get checked– I was pregnant. My boyfriend and I were elated even though we weren’t expecting the news, we are slated to be married next month, I chose well this time. Before Jamhuri Day I felt slightly sick but it passed after a few hours. A few days later it got worse and I was rushed to hospital. I lost my baby. I’ve had a network of friends and family support me, my boyfriend has been by my side the whole time, just as shattered. Among the reasons the doctor gave was my weight, which hadn’t been an issue before. It hurts to think that I was partly responsible for the miscarriage. I have always been body positive but this betrayal by my body, taking away a life I was waiting to usher and love. It hurts so much. I’m going for therapy but I just need a friendly voice to be honest and help me make sense of this. You are a person I think of as kind and wise. Please help.

Tee

Hi Tee,

I am so sorry about your loss, what you went through and what you continue to go through. I cannot even say that I  understand what it is that you are going through, the pain, the questions.

I am glad you are going for therapy. It definitely is what you must do for yourself. I don’t think there is a way to make sense of this. I would be pretending if I said that I could help you make sense of this. I don’t think I honestly can.

Your letter reminded me of a letter that Cheryl Strayed of Dear Sugar responded to and I hope that the words she offered provide you with some form of comfort.

I am truly sorry.

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: Am I a Coward?

Hi Ciiku,

My partner says I’m a coward and I took great offense. Perhaps you can help me see whether it’s true or not. I tend respond “late” to things people say or do to me that I find uncomfortable or offensive. Meaning, if someone offends me I won’t let them know they’re offending me the moment it happens. I’ll sort of brush it off, think about it later. Then when I’m satisfied in my mind that it was an offense, I’ll go back to the person days, weeks, or even months later to let them know that I was offended by what they said or did. Sometimes I can get pretty emotive. At times I let offenses slide.

So a few months back, my partner did something that I repeatedly asked them not to do because I didn’t like it (sexual). One time after I had expressed this, they did it again. While they were at it I just lay there feeling disgusted. As usual, I didn’t express my displeasure while it was happening. I told them much later, a few days later. They wondered why I didn’t speak up. I TOLD HIM,REPEATEDLY THAT I DIDN’T WANT OR LIKE IT BEFORE IT HAPPENED! We got into a very heated argument. I told them that if they kept disregarding my feelings I wouldn’t put up with it any longer and that I’d “raze them to the ground” . That led them to say that I’m all talk and I wouldn’t do anything about it because I’m all talk. They believed I couldn’t do anything about it because I don’t speak up the moment my boundaries are crossed. And for that reason I’m a coward. I was, and still am deeply hurt by those words.

Am I indeed a coward? Or were they just coming at me from a place of anger. Or guilt. How can I learn how to respond IMMEDIATELY I’m offended by someone? Of all things to be in life, I certainly don’t want to be a coward. Please help. I’ll appreciate your insight.

Concerned

Hi Concerned,

First of all, I am very sorry for what continues to happen to you. Your partner does not respect you, does not seem kind and for all intents and purposes you did not consent to what your partner did.

A definition:

Sexual consent is an agreement to participate in a sexual activity.

Consenting and asking for consent are all about setting your personal boundaries and respecting those of your partner — and checking in if things aren’t clear. Both people must agree to sex — every single time — for it to be consensual.

via: Planned Parenthood

Based on what you have written to me, you indicated that you were uncomfortable with a certain act which you made clear to your partner. At that point, your partner being aware of what you have said, should not have done it. So the fact that you mentioned it days later shouldn’t even be the issue here. You had already said you don’t them to do it. That should have sufficed and their refusal to respect this is absolutely worrying and wrong. Even you having to tell them repeatedly about something you are uncomfortable with is a red flag to me.

To then come round and state that you are a coward and that they know you will do nothing about it when you tell them you will leave is not only a red flag but is outright manipulative. Please read this post on gaslighting.

Let me also mention that there is no need to justify their behaviour as
“coming at me from a place of anger. Or guilt. “ If anything you are justified in being the angry party here.

Do you feel like you are being treated with kindness? Are you affirmed in this relationship? Are you understood? Especially when your wishes are not being listened to? What does an ideal partner look like to you? How would this ideal partner be in this particular situation?

In reference to your question about being a coward? Do you avoid confrontation? If so, do you know why? I know it is easy to dismiss this as your personality, but like much else, personality is learned. And therefore how you react is a product of something learned. I think you need to spend some time alone thinking about why this is the case. Therefore in deciding to react immediately, it means unlearning how you have been. It has to start with stepping out of the box, and with time, it will become easier. Take that first step.

I wish you the best.

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I want a clearly defined relationship

Hi Ciiku,

I’ve been seeing this guy for about 3 months now and everything has been going great. I recently brought up that I would like to initiate a relationship in the near future thinking we are on the same page, when he revealed that he isn’t sure of what he wants, generally, and by extension, whether he wants to be with me. What makes this incredibly confusing is that he says he loves me, and expects that we be exclusive. On the one hand his actions are affirming and make me feel secure in what we have at the moment- up until this moment he had not given me any reason to doubt his intentions/ actions. On the other hand it feels like he is comfortable with things as they are and doesn’t intend on moving things along but wants to keep me at arm’s length. (I want a clearly defined relationship and not this hanging-in-the-balance business, he knows that) Am I being irrational for feeling all this discomfort and anxiety around his inability to declare *any* kind of intention for us/me? He says he needs time and this would be perfectly okay for me if he had any idea of what he wanted, but he doesn’t and it bothers me. Should I give him the benefit of doubt and give him the time he requires to think this through? Is 3 months too fast too soon or should I give us more time?

Help!

Anon.

Dear Anon,

Before I give you my thoughts on the entire situation, I have to mention that 3 months isn’t too fast or too slow. Different people deal differently with defining relationships and what matters is that the two people in the relationship are on the same page regarding whether they want to define what they have and what they see for the future of the relationships. Some even one day is enough.

Secondly, I think feeling uncomfortable is quite a valid response in this situation.

I am curious and therefore I must ask: Did he explicitly say that he doesn’t want to be with you? Because you say “when he revealed that he isn’t sure of what he wants, generally, and by extension, whether he wants to be with me.” I want to understand whether this was a conclusion you made based on what he said. Because if it is something he explicitly said, then what you must do is obvious.

Have you ever had the conversation of why you are in the relationship? Beyond the fact that you have positive vibes for each other and attraction? Because it is an important conversation to have. Being on the same page regarding why you are in a relationship and having a conversation about it reduces room for unrealistic expectations, hurt and the like.

Time could give the fellow an idea of what he wants. One would hope that in that time, he chooses your relationship. But a couple of things: you seem to believe that he doesn’t know what he wants. Why is that? Do you genuinely believe to know his answer to this question you are asking? And secondly, if you give him time and he says he doesn’t want a relationship, what do you do? What if in three months he wants to define the relationship?

There is no one way to look at this thing Anon. You have to have a meeting with yourself and decide what it is you want. Trust yourself.

You also must continue to have these conversations with your partner without filling in any blanks for yourself. I firmly believe that better decisions can be this way.

Go where you are wanted.

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I Don’t Want Children

Dear Ciiku,

There’s been something tugging at me for the past couple of weeks that has been further triggered by a post on a popular blog. First, I have issues with the post… but, gai, anyway.

Five years ago I met a guy who from the beginning was unlike anyone I knew, he is kind, thoughtful, and above all else, he comes through. When we started dating I was unsure about having kids but as we went on, I became resolute in my decision not to have children. He has been supportive and we agreed that companionship was more important and focused on growing together in love.

Over the past year there have been instances when he has asked if I was sure about my decision. My answer remains the same. I get there is pressure from both our families, not to mention the fact his best friend and younger brother became dads a few weeks apart. I never thought this would get to this point but I have noticed a change, he seems withdrawn. I brought it up and he agreed that not having kids is affecting him and how he views himself. I keep being coaxed into having just one child, but I don’t want that. All of this is taking a toll on me, I can feel myself fraying and don’t know how much longer I can stand it. This is a wholesome relationship, it refreshes and nourishes me, I don’t want that to change, I just want my decision to be accepted and for us to be how we have been, but… but, it seems harder by the day. Please talk me through this.

Xeno

Dear Xeno,

I am so sorry you are going though this.

I will try my best to talk you through this.

Culture has dictated how people live their lives. Back in the day romantic relationships were not about “love” as they are today (even though we cannot even agree on what love means). People had many children because of the high mortality rate etc etc. As the world changes, so did how people live their lives. More than anything, at the time when women became able to make decisions and not have them made, culture had a major shift.

When someone is resolute in a decision that breaks away from the cultural norm, people always assume that at some point the person will change their mind. Because most often than not, people maintain the status quo and even those who rebel, somewhere down the line, they revert to the status quo. In other instances, people think that because one isn’t following the socially acceptable ways of doing/living life, then you are judging their decisions to do so.

Deciding not to have a child isn’t an easy decision to make and I sometimes find it offensive when people make it seem like it is an easy position to make. This is further compounded by the fact that in this part of the world, there is social capital attached to still following the norm (the norm being “get married and have kids”). Decisions need to be respected.

The thing is, when some people see others around them doing certain things, they become swayed, they second guess themselves or they change their mind. And that’s fine. But that should never become an expectation that you too must change your mine. And this works both ways, if he has decided that children is something he wants then perhaps the thing that isn’t working is the relationship. Is it a wholesome relationship if you do not want the same things? Change is something that humans most times don’t do well with. However, I must implore you to remain authentic.

In all this, it is important to remain connected to yourself, to remain true to yourself. If this means that two years from now you change your mind and want kids, then all well and good. It is your decision to make. And not one done under duress or as an ultimatum or because other people are doing it. But because you want it, or you want to.

I wish you clarity of thought and peace of mind. I’m sure this is not an easy place to be.

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: Where I saw this on a daily newspaper


I was reading the paper this past Saturday and came across this which I posted on my IG stories:

This type of thinking is the reason people suffer in silence. This type of thinking is why you hear that people have left their homes and haven’t told anyone.

What does this person mean by “bear the sacrifice that comes with the union“. Is that sacrifice eternal unhappiness?

Also, how did the letter insinuate that the mother probes too much? If anything the mother says “My daughter keeps telling me…” If a mother is not someone a daughter can come to when she feels unhappy then who else?

Face the fact that your beloved daughter chose to marry this man, she may not be happy – and she may be facing so much in her relationship right now, but she chose him” – This makes marriage sound like a death sentence. You can infer from this advice that the person is saying that no matter what happens in a marriage you made a decision and you are BOUND TO IT FOREVER.

This response is irresponsible in my opinion. I really hope the mother who wrote this letter does not take anything said here and actually does the opposite. I hope she is there for her daughter. That she provides a space where the daughter can come to when she makes the decision to leave her marriage. That she tells her daughter that she can leave the marriage. That she continues to listen to her daughter.