Tales of a maladjusted adult pt 5

I haven’t been able to put anything down on paper for a good minute. Some people suffer from writer’s block – I wish that was my issue. I have acute writer’s schizophrenia. Spare sentences and loose thoughts have been running amok in the mind. I’m permanently tuned in to every station and quite frankly it’s been overwhelming. 

I’ve spent the last few months in the throws of deep self restructuring. Neither the first or last time this has or will happen, but the nature of this crisis was particular. It wasn’t the standard “you can do better” affair. I spend so much time criticizing myself I forget that there are things I’m good at. I focus on one flaw with such intensity the rest of me melts away. I have isolated myself, forbidden myself any close ties and all for what? To stay safe, to not have to deal with the reflections of the parts of me I think are ugly.

Alone.

I don’t fear my own company, I quite like it actually but in the midst of life and all it entails I had forgotten how to live with me. I didn’t take care of me. I’ve finally forced myself to look at all of it. To admit that I secretly resent my abilities, my thoughts, constantly preoccupy myself with how what I am will be received. My own success terrifies me. I’m afraid of responsibility even though I keep finding myself in positions that require just that, afraid that someone will actually listen to me, think I have “the answers” and turn to me for direction – I don’t know where the hell I’m going. This is all unchartered territory.

I was unable to fully open up to those closest to me as if I was impossible to love, unworthy of it really. I was too ashamed to ask for help from those I fully knew would draw blood for me. I refused to admit that I was in pain. I might get to a point where I am as strong as I want to be but I’ve let myself ebb and flow so aimlessly through the currents of life that I’m grabbing on to this raft for dear life. It’s like shedding old skin, cleansed through fire and baptized by water. I have accepted what I refused to look at and turns out I’m in love with it, with what it isn’t, with what it can be. I welcome the struggle, the occasion existential loneliness, but I will not dwell on the downsides of truly allowing myself to live, feeling like I have a right to exist in my entirety, a right to take up space, to shine. Because why not me?

I love not lying about who I am, what I love, the weight I shoulder. I can’t pretend not to be who I am whether I think I deserve to be or not. I can only accept all that will inevitably come from developing this self. If there is something to be said why not through my mouth? If there is something to be done why not by my hands? I’ve finally re-allowed myself to be in the company of others, reconnected myself with the intensity of feeling I once feared. I do want to give but people take too much. I had to insulate myself and find me, recenter my own desires, my own wants, my own goals, completely separate from any expectation. Let my cup overflow.

It’s frustrating to wear a mask. I wore it for so long I never bothered to find out who was behind it. As long as everything looked fine on the outside I just kept on moving. Sporadic achievements, loving friends and family, all of whom I kept at arm’s length selectively revealing parts of myself under duress. Never too much, always enough to keep up appearances. I lost myself in years of ‘I’m OK’ and ‘everything is alright’. It wasn’t. I wasn’t. I was always afraid. Of saying the wrong thing, of pushing the wrong buttons, of being rejected. I’m not as carefree as I would love to pretend I am. I can hide from the world but I can’t hide from me. I broke the mask and I can’t put it back together and frankly I don’t care to. For better or for worse I’m stuck in this meat suit and I do love it, all that it entails. I’m a mess and I’m proud. I take risks, I push myself to the extreme, I fall on my ass, but I do good.

I do good.

Space and Place

1.

BSL: international day
This is just a costume. I’m a fraud. the mask is slipping and I think the others are catching on.

Just the other day Tunde played a bunch of anthems on Encarta. I walk into the computer lab and he starts playing one I can’t recognize. I don’t know why but my eyes fall on his screen and I see a Cameroonian flag. Small imperceptible glance. As if he could sense my ignorance he asks smugly if I know what anthem is playing as he quickly minimizes the page to keep any hint out of sight. “Of course I know my own anthem” I reply with such indignation I am shocked at my own lie. I spend the next two days learning every word.
In french.

National anthems known in chronological order:

France
Ivory coast
Nigeria
United kingdom
Ghana
Cameroon

2.

When people find out I speak french and I tell them I come from Cameroon, they assume I’m francophone. I’m actually north west (anglophone) and I speak french because I was born and raised in Ivory coast.

3.

Going to primary school: we were not Ivorian and most of the Cameroonians we knew went to english schools. All were born in Cameroon so in a sense we were the odd ones out. Cameroonian by blood, was that enough?

4.

“Aleh (how are you)?”

“Don kein (I’m fine thank you).” success, 1 experience point.

”Luwien yeh?

“Don kein.”

They laugh at me, I didn’t understand. They asked where my mother was. I am not from here. I will never forget what that question means. Luwien yeh? is your mother here? Luwein yeh? is your mother here? Luwein yeh? is your mother here?

5.

World cup in Canada. cars are passing. I see many flags, Argentina, France, Nigeria, Ghana. Who here is even from here?

6.

IB results come in, 6 in French and in English. Not good. Excellent. What can I say in Kedjom? Ma kefi nyam : I want to eat meat.

7.

‘What’s your name?’ Sally. ‘No what’s your name name?’ Sally. ‘Is that your first name.’ Yep. ‘Do you have any other names?’ yes, Wuwihbwen. ‘how do you spell that?’ It doesn’t matter, the spelling doesn’t correlate with the pronunciation. I know its meaning: man is not God. It might as well be empty. I say my name over and over and over again till it doesn’t mean anything anymore. Just sounds strung together by some unknown ancestor. My own name has to be subtitled. I am the audience.

8.

World cup team support in order:

Cameroun
Ivory coast
Select colonizers
Brazil

9.

Sharing rooms with Maki with a clear line demarcating our sides. Somehow I’m always cleaning up our room. Everything in its place. Everything has a place. Clothes closeted, books tabled, toys and assorted things boxed. Nothing can be out of place.

10.

I wish I was a twin. I’d have an anchor. I would look at their face and know. Know I belonged. There is a root. There is a home. I am not alone. I am not alone. I belong to something. I belong to someone. I am a point of reference.

 

11.

Kedjom funeral – I can’t feel – I don’t know this person enough – if at all to feel. But I know Mum, she is my bridge so I take her hand and she leads.

I am from nowhere. I am from everywhere. I am a bridge too. Where do I lead to?

Tales of a maladjusted adult pt 2

How to break the spell, how to pluck yourself out of this endless cycle of sleeping, eating, being, not being, wanting to be, being afraid to never be. You would think one would be pushed into action with such dissatisfaction but it only seemed to fuel the tepid fire of self-destruction. Mine is a slow and painful death. A tenacious rot eating away at the foundations of a life half built. I might be more like my uncle Alphonse than I care to admit. Till this day his house in the village stands unfinished. Roofless rooms, doorless frames: a homeless house. No fraction could quantify its level of completion. Is that what my life is amounting to? An endless pile of fractioned sentences, fractioned thoughts, fractioned wants, fractioned wills? He only completed our own family house because my mother (bless her brand of crazy) moved us all into the fraction-complete building, still pregnant with Alphonse (named after the same uncle – the similarities ended there). A fraction of a life in a fraction of a home. A fitting abode of sorts. If only I took more after the woman. I stubbornly cling to my mediocrity, the fear of failure dragging me down like cement shoes in a sea of stagnancy. A writer. How can I call myself that when I barely put pen to paper? I think about it though. Oh that I do a lot of. I think. About not writing, about writing more, what to write about, how to make my words tap-dance, endless click clacking on blank pages. What am I scared of? That people will see me? That my words might reveal some unexplored truth? I am looking for something, anything, a lifeline (going down swinging) pouring over books, articles, tweets, binge-watching television. I’m not finding it. Whose voice am I looking for? Mine? Can I even hear myself? Will I recognize that “I”?