Adele Onyango

A month after I turned 23, my mother died after a 10 year battle with cancer. It was not a death we were prepared for. I mean we had spoken the day before she died – we spoke everyday. That Saturday morning, I woke up ready to go for my first ever yoga class. I was leaving my room when my sister met me at the stairs with her phone in her hand. She was shaking her head and just kept saying “mummy”. I have never experienced such loneliness as I did at that very moment and the next year to come.

My mum’s absence forced me to sit down and get to know this being called “self”. It was a very scary journey at the beginning. My fear of being alone and getting to know myself even drove me to an emotionally abusive relationship just a month after mummy’s burial. A year into the relationship, it came to a violent end and once again I had to face the fact that I needed to be by myself and get to know myself. So the journey begun.

I started being kind to myself – taking myself on dates, watching what I ate, pampering myself and most importantly spending a lot of time by myself. I started shedding off friendships that tried to interrupt this journey. The fear phase lasted a couple of months. When I turned 25 though, I consciously decided to gift myself with self love. I went back to the love I got from my mum and figured if she saw someone worthy of unending love, I’d better find that person she saw when she looked at me.

It takes a conscious and deliberate effort to know and love yourself. We are conditioned not to. So you are fighting everything that you knew to be true and everything you are fed by society and media daily. I fought to know myself, own myself and love myself. Suddenly my friends went from 30 to only 6 (3 of whom are my sisters so it’s not like they have a choice). Suddenly I reduced my alcohol intake because of the damage it would do to this self that I love and treasure. Suddenly I was more driven in my career because I knew for a fact that this self was destined to be great if she wanted it bad enough. Suddenly I was ALIVE.

For 23 years I had been existing. Not conscious. Not alive. And it took death to breath life into me. Out of tragedy, I rose. To live and to be this self that I keep falling in love with over and over again.

Adelle Onyango


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