Updated: May 16, 2021
Dear Africana Woman,
Happy New Year Sis. I am so proud of you for making it through an epically *&$$#% year that no one will ever forget. But you did it, you are still here and still alive. The night before New Year’s Eve I went to bed crying. Who am I kidding, it was a straight up funeral, that I tekad for myself. I cried and cried and cried until I fell asleep in a foetal position. Thing is if I am totally honest with myself and you, the Truth is I am Broke, I am in Debt and I am Scared. Yet the Truth also is I am in this predicament not because of 2020, Covid-19, the economy, nor my gender etcetera etcetera. I am sitting in this pit because of ME. I did this, I set myself up way before 2020 to be in this hole. I did this.
Let me explain.
I will start with why I am scared. Yesterday, I officially closed my cake business. It literally died and I was mourning the loss. Whilst I am so proud of all the achievements I have made with KM by Design, I have changed and I can no longer support pumping people with sugar, especially as I am a vegetarian and would really love to get all of this sugar out of my house. I do not support the ridiculousness of huge weddings and I can no longer be part of the foolishness. Whilst this business has served me and my family well by bringing in great revenue, this last year has been such a battle. It’s like with every cake that I make, a piece of me dies inside. I am tired and I cannot do it anymore. The business had to go. So even though I know that this is the right thing for me, I am stepping into the unknown. Listen I know how to make money with cakes but now I am starting anew into unfamiliar territory and that is scary.
If you remember about a month ago I was robbed. What actually happened at that time was that I was triggered by the memory of the last time I was robbed. And I went down a bit of a rabbit hole and locked myself up for 3 days in the house. You see the last time I was robbed, it was late at night, I was walking to catch a cab and find a hotel. Then three men stole my bag which had a ton of cash a number of other valuables. As I stumbled around in shock trying to figure out what to do next, two other men grabbed me and raped me on the street. They held a knife to my neck and threatened to kill me. The kicker here is the three original robbers walked passed me being raped and I remember looking at them thinking, “Help me” but they didn’t. They walked by. Eventually I found myself at a police post at the hospital reporting the case and a male officer decided I did not look raped enough, he wanted to examine me. Then my mind flashes to arriving at the police station and walking into a busy room, there the ‘detective’ assigned to my case loudly announces, “Oh you are the one that was raped” Thing is this horror was not the only time that I have experienced trauma at the hands of men. From the father who abandoned me, to the entanglements that were straight up abusive in various forms. Last month it hit me that I have been living in perpetual fear. I have set my life up from choices based on fear. For example I can never walk on a street, in fact exercising in Lusaka is not an option, y’all know I love my walks as my choice of exercise. But when I get to Lusaka that stops completely. Or the fact that I bounce between two highly protected spaces. I wake up early in the morning, drive to work, and right after work, drive straight home. When I get home, I immediately bolt the doors and lock up. Not much happens in between, save from a bit of shopping here and there. So in the three days that I had locked myself up in the house, I was not sure if I would come out again. Essentially, I had come face to face with my demons. It was like I hadn’t realised I was as fragile as glass and them someone had hit me with a hammer. I was shattered into a thousand pieces. On Day 3 I sat there and picked up all the pieces and stuck them together with gluetak. I pushed the memories down and fired my therapist. Basically, I had so much on my plate and did not have the bandwidth to deal with all of that without having a psychotic break. So I pretended it never happened and still have not dealt with it. I just know it exists.
Remember I also said I am broke. Yeah 2020 has been a challenging year. I have taken a salary cut but to be honest I still make a lot of money in comparison to the average Zambian yet I am broke. I think the whole year was a come to Jesus moment where I had to own my behaviours, my choices, my habits and my complete lack of boundaries. Girl when I tell you I had NO boundaries on anything. They say how you do one thing is how you do all things right. I had no boundaries on my money, my relationships, my work, my faith, Everything! For years I have been living beyond my means and saying a prayer for God to perform a miracle every month. I would literally tell myself, “Fika ee solva kuntanshi (it will sort itself out in the future), you only live once. God will work it out” HMMMMMMM don’t laugh this is a true story. But here is the even stranger part, as I mentioned before I am not big on personal extravagance, so I was giving my money away by spending it on crazy expensive things. I would host parties just so as people would like me. Thing is these are people who have never to this date invited me to their homes. One time I bought international airline tickets for two people to come to Zambia and then when I went to their home country for a month, they couldn’t be bothered to see me let alone call. I was paying school fees that were way to high for me, because I felt guilty. Yah! Mwandi the list of my poor choices goes on forever. The point is when March 2020 hit and I literally had no cash because my money was tied up in school fees, I had no savings, no emergency fund, and no one to turn to. In that moment I understood what it means to break out in a cold sweat. My heart was beating so hard, it was like time stood still and the only thing I could hear was the quick pace of my heart. I knew without a doubt 2020 did not do this to me, I did this, I made bad choices on how to spend my money, and the only way out of it was to change my behaviour.
The first thing I did was put a boundary on my faith, by giving tithe. Do you know how hard it is to receive a K50 and thats the only money you have and then have to take out the first 10%? So I went to my church and asked for their bank account details. This means as soon as I receive any payment, I immediately send the tithe to them. I tithe what comes into my business, I tithe my other sources of income, like clock work.
Then I put a boundary on people. The problem is that I had promoted people to my inner circle without their consent or awareness. So I had to demote a ton of people in my mind and heart. They could no longer have access to me. To be honest, my inner circle is still an empty room. But this year I have met some incredible women that very likely could be welcomed in the inner circle. Word of caution, when you start putting up boundaries for people, they will test how strong those boundaries are. Listen 2020 has brought out every entanglement from the woodwork. Sliding into my DMs talking about, “Hey. I missed you.” After 4 years!? Get out of here. You is bored, that’s all it is. I won’t lie I very rudely shut down these conversations, not leaving any room for ambiguity. WE are NOT friends, DO NOT contact me. BLOCKED. Here is another thing the people pleaser in me used to do; I was the person who always did the calling first, reaching out first & always and mobilising the group. You know the reliable one. I stopped that. I think some people think I am mad at them. The truth is I am communicating regularly with people who are reciprocal. They call me, I call them the next time. They send me a message when they think of me or something reminds them of me, and vice versa. Basically a normal conversation. And not me desperately seeking attention like a puppy.
Then more recently I started climbing out of my hole of Debt. I think I spent more time this year coming to terms with my behaviour and then thinking of a strategy to get out of this mess. It took me most of the year to just sit down and write down my debt because I was scared. Scared about how much it was, scared about what had to change and go to get out of debt …. I was ashamed of what people would say and embarrassed that even though I make so much money I was in self inflicted crisis. Last year I have experienced having no food in my house for 5 days. At work they would ask me if I was eating lunch and I would say, “I’m on a diet” of air lol. I drive to work with my tank on E. I don’t know if we are in the same WhatsApp group where I am looking at the hand which is sitting on the top of the E line, and I say, I still have gas I can make it, so I say a pray that I am able to roll into the office. Mind you I live 7 minutes from work. So I sat down and consolidated my debt. My debt is $8866.60. I know if you are in the Diaspora you are like gurl sit down, that is nothing. Well in our local currency it is about K190, 206.30 (I could easily buy multiple plots of land with this, to give you context) What is this debt? Loans on consumer items and default payments. What am I going to do about it? Well I have decided to follow the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps. Have you listened to Uncle Dave before? He a little crazy and has no chill, but I need it. So I am doing it. Why? I want financial security in retirement, I do not ever want to be destitute jumping around from house to house in my senior years. I do not want to inflict black tax on my one and only son. I want to have my own home, with the means of paying my monthly expenses and to do that I will become an every day millionaire. I remember watching my Grandmother bounce around from home to home, jumping ship every time she out stayed her welcome (read between the lines) Either the hosts were the problem or she was the problem, I am not judging. My point is I thought there has to be a better way to retire. Plus no one likes me enough anyway, I will end up on the street if I do not do something now, and change.
Here are a couple of things that I have done so far; I am changing the cycle for when I pay my annual road tax and insurance. I have always had it end in December then get stressed out by everything else that is going on from bi