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The Demons We Run Away From

The Demons We Run Away From

The first time I had sex I was 20. With 5 years’ experience in masturbation. I got an STI. She manipulated me into sleeping with her. With mandazi. Yes, mandazi. I was a nervous wreck in that bed. Called me a coward for not ejaculating inside her. It hurt. But I was used to insults by then from people of authority. My dad mostly. And this was a 24 year old ravishing seductress who had been with men in Kibera for commercial sex. She wanted what she wanted.

Kampala kissed me with new found freedom. Far away from the violence at home into a new world interacting with East Africans. Naïve, rebellious, and heavy with years of bottled pain, I thought finally I could do what I wanted with my time. You can get lost in Kampala if you don’t know yourself. The city swallows you. Your name disappears. Your whole existence. I had so much sex I lost faith in it. If you lust for something so much and you get it without a proper plan you end up wasting it. Lust is not a bad thing. It’s how you manage it I think.

My romantic relationships were science experiments those days. This is what being damaged means. You don’t know it until you break your head. Girls were tombs which I enjoyed leaving my decayed pieces of carcass. For the fun of it. Like a renegade with a black ass and fine poetry.

I tend to think something must have happened to me by the way I was initiated into sex. Perhaps my coping mechanism was having it heedlessly. My poems were full of it. My eyes and my voice. Everything was about sex appeal and desirability. Which wasn’t bad. But my intentions were unhealthy. They were still mixed with my camouflaged innocence and purity of soul. The danger of living this way is you objectify your own existence thinking you’re sexually liberated. That seed grows into a monster.

I spent sleepless nights on 2go chatting with strangers looking to get laid at 23. For most of my 20s, sex was my way of dealing with the ravages of a tumultuous post adolescence and the confusion of self-identity. We are not taught to face our demons. Everyone around us runs away from theirs so our first instinct is to do the same with ours because people learn from what they see. It took me about a decade to face myself; to even think of sex healthily.

I started learning about sexual reproductive health at 28. This was shortly before plunging into full blown depression. It was dangerous because I almost relapsed into my old sexual habits. The thing about depression is it creeps like a snake, by the time you hear the first hiss you’re already in its trap.

People shy from talking about sexual addiction for fear of judgment. But I figured how would we heal without truth? Without opening our spaces and dirty secrets to fellow humans who, out of our and their silence, think they are alone in their stresses and suffering? How else do we see each other for who we really are if we keep getting afraid coming out of our shells yet pretend to pursue freedom of mind and soul? It’s a lie we have accepted for long enough that silence protects us.

I wish you healing then. You grappling with an undesirable habit eating your body. You ashamed of telling the people around you that you need help. You dying of self-criticism for the mistakes your pain helped you commit. The people you suffocated may not forgive you. But I hope you get a chance to start with yourself.

I hope even, that you experience beauty beyond your wildest imagination – worlds apart from your devastations. I hope you smile more often. That you connect with people you won’t struggle to communicate with. That you thrive above reasonable margins. That you shock your ancestors and abusers with your tremendous overcoming. That you dance often to your own music; which you have ignored for many years because you danced to other people’s compositions.

I hope your medication does not weigh you down. I hope your body becomes lighter to the chagrin of your lasting trauma. May you laugh with yourself. May you find some sunshine waiting for you at the shores of your innermost sensations.
You are an honorable person to be here. It is possible to make this moment count.

Onyango Otieno

Onyango Otieno is a cultural designer ardent in maximizing the power of storytelling for healing and connection. Onyango believes in the potent spirit of humanity collectively creating safe spaces for interaction, development, business and movement, for a more cohesive world.

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