Where The Answers Lie

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The world seemed to move at such a hurried pace. Both young and old walked by busily, taking long strides. Angry drivers honked their horns in a bid to get the drivers before them moving. I sat and watched through the thick, transparent glass as the world went on, not paying mind to who might be left behind.

My hands were plastered tightly on my lower abdomen, sweat had started to gather like little rain drops on my forehead, and I could feel my temperature rising.

I could tell eyes were glued on me, but my pain was too grave, too severe to bother about the stares of others. I couldn’t even care that my boss stood there, fed up at my frequent breaks at work. He was quite a considerate fellow, but work had to go on, and I was paid to serve customers.

I’ve suffered from chronic functional abdominal pain since I was thirteen years old. The doctors could never give a plausible reason as to why I had to go through it, nothing was also said about the pain ever going. Just that I had to try to be happy, I had to try to live normally, but there was nothing normal about missing out on hangouts, parties, school activities because my nemesis decided to raise it’s ugly head.

At 16, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression disorder. That didn’t surprise anyone, as I spent most days moping, carrying on a weight I should never have carried alone, placing my hands on walls and railings to support my trembling, anxious heart. Anti-depressants and pain relievers had become staples in my life. My doctor complained that I may be abusing them, and even though I knew he was right, he didn’t know the half of what I went through many times a week.

I turned 19 last year, and that day, I sat on my bed bawling for no particular reason. Soon, I shot glances at the card my oldest and only friend, Zaire, had placed on my lamp stand. After looking on and away for minutes, I took hold of it, dailed the number, and booked an appointment. I didn’t believe in therapy, it was more Zaire’s thing, but I wanted to try, I wanted to feel better. My mental weakness was not helping the pain, and as I grew older it deteriorated even more, which in turn worsened the abdominal pains.

The therapist was warm, young, with soft features. I loved that she was young, I had always repelled against speaking to the older people, they just didn’t get it. 

A few minutes into the session, and the warmth I had felt was replaced with a slight contempt. I started to feel a sweltering heat I didn’t quite understand. She spoke like she had always known me, like she could see through me, she made me feel bare, vulnerable, all the things I hated to feel.

We spoke about my new addiction to smoking. I told her I believed it helped me and how I had come to balance it with my medication. She said it was psychological. She said the pain really went on it’s own, but believing it was what made the pain go away, encouraged me to keep smoking and so I decided to stick with that belief.

At that point, I decided I was done. I ran out the door feeling naked. The way she punctured easily, through every sepulchral space in my being made my problems, my feelings, feel small, trivial. She made my pain seem exaggerated. I decided that therapy was not for me, it only ate up money I could have saved.

Next, my parents forced me to anger management classes after I had screamed at my mother to be quiet, over her constant nagging that I picked a jamb form, and sat in for college. I didn’t see the use. In secondary school, I could barely sit through the day without feeling like my muscles might tear off. I manoeuvered my way out of class on the first day, because again, I didn’t find comfort in that option.

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                              *

Still holding on to my abdomen, I started to feel the pain ease out. As I turned to look through the window, I caught a glimpse of two girls about my age. One plopped on the roadside slab, laughing hysterically, the other leaned slightly on it, holding the shoulder of her friend, laughing the same way. They made me smile. I couldn’t relate to laughing in that manner. I can’t remember the last time I laughed that way; the belly-laugh. 

Zaire laughed the same way. Zaire laughed at everything. She rolled on the floor at what I simply chuckled at. Sometimes I envied her joy, her happy spirit, her ability to smile through everything. I, on the other hand, marinated in my problems, I let it rule me. 

Then, I remembered…Zaire! 

We had planned to meet up. Before I could dial her number, I saw her outside my work place, she came in and waited for me for about an hour. When I was done, I took off my apron and walked to her. We were both going to church. 

For years, Zaire had invited me to her church, but I always declined. My mum was the only one who went to church at home. We could all decide, and so, I just never went. 

Zaire looked at me with a smile “Maybe you might find comfort in this option”. I smiled back, and we both left. I hoped she was right.


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