About Pain and Heartbreak

Heartbreak sucks.

Anyone who’s ever heard the love of their life say, “We’re done!” will understand how it feels to have your chest caved in with a bludgeon.

It’s not just the rejection that crushes you.

You’ll fight memories and old habits, many of which you formed together.

You will wear out your soul while reliving the moment he/she rejected you, a thousand times each day.

It’ll hurt so much you will sometimes wish for death on yourself, and later on, you’ll wish it on the leaving party who is causing you so much pain.

The pain is intense and it has no remorse.

While dealing with the pains of heartbreak, people repress feelings. In a bid to escape the pain, they stifle themselves and shut the emotions in and out.

True, some people feel things deeply, much deeper than others. And negative, painful feelings have a way of weighing us down, even dangerously so. But something I learned from watching Inside Out, Pixar’s incredibly moving animation, was that sorrow is as much a part of life as joy. (If you’re yet to see Inside Out, you should fix that right away).

You can’t wish or pray sorrow away. Recite all the motivational quotes from now till Aristotle’s grave turns over, sorrow will continue to be a part of our human existence.

Knowing that sorrow is part of our journey will stop you from panicking when it shows up. You’ll take it in stride.

I used to hate sorrow. It sapped my energy and made me unable to think straight. I’d shut down, convince myself it wasn’t such a big deal and that was the end of it. I’d struggle with the pain for about three days, and each time the thoughts showed up, I’d nix them right in the bud.

It worked.

I felt better. At least, I thought I did. I went back to getting work done.

But these things found other ways of expressing themselves.  More painful and devastating ways.

Perhaps more importantly, repression changes you in ways you didn’t bargain for. You lose a part of you.

You become hard. You lose your wonder, your quest for adventure and love.

Love eventually becomes transactional – nothing goes for nothing. It seems wiser and safer to be economical with love. You don’t realize you just settled on an even more twisted version of Machiavelli’s theory – the end justifying the means.

But is this the end you wanted? Deprived of love, the selfless, rapturous kind that storytellers and musicians have spun tales and ballads about. You become the centre of your own universe, your focus is you, your feelings, your wants, your plans, you you you.

You’re bankrupt.

Love has left you. And it didn’t leave a forwarding address.

So yeah, repression works, granting you short term benefits but in the long run, it leaves you worse off.

So instead of repression, try embracing the pain.

Sit down and have a good cry. Stress eat. Load up your playlist and play all the love songs, imagining how right or wrong the singers were. Look at the stars and yell at God. Reach towards your friends’ shoulder and soak it with tears.

Let pain find expression. The heart knows how to heal itself and will tell you when it’s ready.

It’s hard, I know. It hurts, I know that too.

But I also know that it’s all part of what makes love worth it eventually.

 

Photo Credit: MaleCodependence

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Dealing with Insecurities

Insecurities.

We all have them.

From the day Adam discovered his ass was bare and ran into the bush to become an emergency tailor, we’ve all relentlessly tried to cover up our inadequacies.

Whether it is a superiority/inferiority complex, impostor syndrome, outsider syndrome, fear (in all its spectrums) or a cocktail of all of them, we all carry our unique brand of insecurity.

Some of us are privileged to know the insecurities ailing us.

We know it, but we’re helpless to fix it. There’s something broken inside us, and we’ll be damned if anyone finds out about it. So we’ll try hard to overcompensate.

For others, they’re oblivious of the inadequacy plaguing them.

Ignorance may be bliss for these folks but not for the rest of us who are their friends and family – we see their insecurities, and we’re left trying to manoeuvre our way around them on eggshells. This gets exhausting pretty quick (mainly because we have our own insecurities to manage, dammit!).

At the root of all our insecurity problems is the question, what will people think when they find out this about me? The answers we give to ourselves informs our actions.

This is why we hide. This is why we put on a show. This is why we wear masks.

So yeah, I have insecurities.

It seems I’ve acquired even more in adulthood than I did in my prior years.

I won’t say I’m an expert on dealing with them (even though there’s a case to be made concerning the fact that you’re probably the best expert on your personal brand of insecurity).

They say you bear these insecurities till you’re old and grey. If you’re lucky, you’ll start figuring it out when you’re closer to the grave. I’ve met a lot of elderly people who obviously don’t care what people think about them anymore. I guess there’s something about imminent death that makes people say, “Screw it! No time for bullshit.”

We all have to figure out what will make us say, “Screw it! No time for bullshit” before we’re old and grey.

That would be a great lifehack.

How I Crushed My Biggest Writing Project to Date


So I began this ghostwriting project for a client early January this year. It was a real growing experience for me. For one, it was the first time I would handle a book of that magnitude, both in terms of subject matter as well as calibre of client.

The client was a part of the previous political regime and the book focused on policy, youth development and the African narrative. It was a big picture book, with a lot of new terms and concepts, a lot of history, a lot of case studies.

I began talks with his team in early January. A week or so after I had taken the job and contracts had been signed, the man dropped a big bomb on me:

He told me he’s been trying to write this book since 2012. And somehow the project always falls apart.

Yeah, that did wonders for my self confidence. 

Anyways, I prayed asking God to make me a solution to this man’s problem. Rather than become another statistic, another failed attempt to write this book, let me be the one to take the project across the finish line.

It wasn’t easy. Sometimes I’d glance at the interview logs I had done, the notes I had taken (enough to fill 2 notepads), and then the blank pages in front of me waiting to be filled.

It often felt like I had bitten off more than I could chew.

After several false starts and four sleepless months, several back and forths with the editors, FINALLY, the book launched on October 2, 2017!

It was a really emotional experience for me seeing the book in my client’s hand.

I felt like a surrogate mom and a midwife at the same time.

I guess ghostwriting is a bit of both.

I’m still reeling from the euphoria! And I’m eager for even bigger challenges .

The last thing I’ll say is, my writing tutors were right – there’s no project that can’t be crushed. It may take time, but Goliaths will fall if you keep lobbing stones at them.

I guess I’m writing this as a reminder to myself, and to all of us who face frequent episodes of self doubt – Keep going.

Dealing With My Messiah complex, and a Farewell to a Friend

Messiah Complex – (also known as the Savior Complex) is a state of mind in which an individual holds a belief that he or she is destined to become a savior.

For a long time, I’ve had a fascination with broken people.

Addicts, sick people, the depressed, the confused, the abused, the oppressed, the depressed, the alienated, those who struggle with a sense of self worth, those who struggle with thoughts of condemnation. If you check my browsing history, you would think I have suffered from every considerable mental illness and addiction you can imagine.

In case you’re wondering why, here’s the science behind it (yeah I also Googled extensively what it means to suffer from a messiah complex. See the pattern?):

The messiah complex is a psychological construct which makes a person feel the need to save other people. This person has a strong tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them, often sacrificing their own needs for these people.

On the surface, it looks and sounds noble.

The do-gooder with a heart of gold, saving the world one person at a time, one problem at a time. A modern day superhero, saving folks for no reward whatsoever, many times not even a thank you.

The problem with this habit is:

1. You will get taken for granted, alot.
I dont even want to go into this too much. I’ve had people call me, ask for a favour, and practically yell at me about an hour later just because I was running a little late delivering on the favour.
Shame and pain will not allow me to dig up some more extreme situations I’ve experienced.

2. Secondly, its not really noble.
It’s not. You’re not really doing it because you are that altruistic (at least I wasn’t). I just wanted to be a nice person. I wanted to be useful. So, I end up giving and giving until it hurts, and if it doesn’t hurt it feels like I’m not doing enough.

Today, I can say that people with this Messiah complex are also broken people.

We really are.

Nobody is created to solve the problem of every single person they run into. Even worse, nobody can handle the guilt that comes from not being able to solve everyone’s problems.

I have realised this for a while now. And I have been gradually working up the courage to turn down requests. Man, you don’t know how much of an addict you are till you start trying to break a habit.

It has been uncomfortable saying no. Sometimes, the strongest urge to overcome is calling the person back afterwards to apologise and render the help requested.

I know, I know

But mentally, I have burned that bridge.

I am not the solution to anyone’s problem.

And I am not a messiah.

The world has had one already.

It doesn’t need another

[Curtain call]

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Warning: Sad news (and feels) ahead

People react differently to the news of a celebrity passing. Personally, I’ve only been emotional twice.

First time, it was Michael Jackson. And I was with the second biggest MJ fan I know – my dad.

I remember that Thursday afternoon in 2009 like it was yesterday. I was visiting my dad in the hospital where he was admitted. I remember the news coming in on the TV and we both sat silently for almost 20 minutes afterwards. There were no words, just the occasional sighing and shuffling of feet.

The second time was on Friday when I heard about Chester’s death.

The news of Chester Bennington’s passing hit me hard.

I was surprised at how emotional the news made me. I haven’t listened to Linkin Park in years and I wouldn’t call myself their biggest fan.

Maybe it was the fact that depression claimed another one. Maybe it was my “fanboyism” seeping out after many years. But I fell silent for a while and the guy occupied my thoughts.

Linkin Park got me through my undergrad days. As a kid growing up feeling like an alien everyday – misunderstood, ignored, occasionally depressed, angry, wanting to fight, wanting to break something – Chester’s voice always brought me relatable words. Soothing words.

Anyone who loved/s Linkin Park will always have a soft spot for that voice (just as fans of Evanescence will always have a soft spot for Amy Lee).

I still remember the long walks I took with my trusty old Discman (remember those?) and I would load it with my songs from all their albums – My December, In the End, Krwlng, Breaking the Habit, Somewhere I Belong.

But my favorite was always P5hng me Awy.

This song.

THIS SONG!

There are too many things that rock about this song, Chester’s voice tops the list. Also, the fact that the jam starts with a very simple tune/beat and then a new intrument/sound is added every 18 seconds all the way till the end….

This was/is my jam.

Thanks for the memories Chester!

 

Photo Credit: Film Jackets

How I learned not to overwork (the hard way)

Time to ‘fess up.

I’ve been running on autopilot for a while, working my ass off, sleeping little and eating like a junkie.

Working for 3 different startups eventually takes a toll on you, even if you’re Ibukun Taiwo (good genes be damned).

And so, on Wednesday night, my body called for a strike effective immediately. Headaches turned to fever, turned to vomiting, turned to loss of appetite. I practically did not want to be in my body and my body showed me the feeling was mutual.

Everything job-related took a halt. And I burdened my innocent family with nursing me back to health. Honestly, I just wanted to get better so I could get back to working. But God had other plans.

Relegated to a bed all day for 3 days,  I got the chance to “think about my life”. And I obviously wasn’t heading the way I wanted. My addiction to work wasn’t doing wonders for my health obviously, nor for my relationships especially with God. So right there on the bed, I started making adjustments, canceling appointments, engagements etc. Found the time to connect with a few people over the weekend, went for a retreat, taught a bible study.

I’m grateful for pitstops like these, even though it doesn’t have to be something life threatening to get you to pause.

Work can be invigorating and empowering but ultimately it rings hollow. Even if it is something you “love to do”.

Next time, when you need to channel some energy into something, don’t let work be your first refuge.