Written by Gemiene Mueni
Sweet Therapy: A Healing Journey Following a Friend’s Betrayal
I remember it like it was yesterday a year later. “The body recalls. Stuffed until a person awakens them with an event—a sound, a sight, a touch, a phrase.” That is really true for me in so many ways.
It was a party, a celebration among friends, and he was someone I trusted, loved, and cared for—a friend. Suddenly, I was in a fight for my life. Pinned against the wall and gasping for air. All I can remember is that I couldn’t move, blurry vision, a slight headache, shortness of breath, and a tingling sensation in my entire body. I realised I had a brief moment of opportunity to do something. So I fought as hard as my hands could reach, and I got out of there as fast as my legs could remember. For months, my mind shielded me from acknowledging that night. ”He’s my friend. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t have.” I kept saying it to myself.
I was embarrassed—maybe it was me. I felt protective of what had once been our friendship. I felt lonely since I didn’t want anyone to see me. Babies were my Achilles’ heel; I felt I possessed the tainted touch and could channel it through them. There was always a part of me that was in pain. Even on my better days, I could sense this grief looming over me like a shadow. I frequently woke up in the middle of the night, sad, following nightmares of being back there and flashbacks multiple times a week, unable to go to certain locations or see specific people because the memories upset me so strongly.
And in those instances, when those flashes of this memory spring up, we repress them. No, we’re not victims. No, we’re not statistics. No, we’re not “one of them.” We’re “normal”—just smile, carry on, and stay silent.
For several months, my mind shielded me, and I felt okay. I was out there living, smiling, and doing things. It was mind over matter. I could push myself regardless of how my body felt, and that’s what I did. It took me maybe two months to talk about any of it, and when I finally did, I was met with pep talks and positive affirmations, which I appreciated. One response stood out: It’s okay to feel this way right now. It became a lifeline. I could finally breathe. I needed to know that it was okay to feel, rather than bury my emotions and pretend they didn’t exist.
Those words brought back memories of a love I knew and felt. It was love that summoned me home. I told someone because I was afraid that my sadness would bring me down. For the first time in a long time, I was optimistic about the next day, and that was enough. Hope bore my hobby in baking. I was yearning for anything that might allow me to feel things other than what had transpired. So I took charge of what I could cook for myself: breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and everything in between.
Measuring and weighing things methodically, preheating the oven ritually, or remembering to buy eggs. The small movements and the muscle memory of whisking soothed me. Baking connects you to how you’re feeling and what your body wants and needs, and then transforms the feelings of taste and texture into pure joy. I was lonely but not alone, but it took me a long time to realize that company does not cure loneliness; I needed to learn to be my friend first and then feed her. I had no idea how essential baking would be in getting me here between then and now. One person became two, and after over a year, I’ve found myself getting back into a routine of cooking for folks I care about. Today’s treats were produced with great care. Because that extra affection helped me in a pinch. Baking comes close to what love means to me right now.
My note to you, survivor or victim, I want to start by saying that I believe you and that I am so sorry that someone did, has, and is hurting you. The anguish, anger, numbness, or literally any other emotion you are feeling right now is valid, and you have the right to express all of it or none of it at all. Processing something that was deeply hurtful can take some time, and it is so important to let yourself take all the time you need to heal and just do whatever feels right, take care of yourself, and prioritise your well-being. The healing process isn’t going to be linear, and that’s okay. Just know that there are resources and people who want to help you through this, and you are, and never will be, alone in this. This pain may be one of the worst things to happen to you, but I promise that you will not feel like this forever, and you can make it through. Again, I am so sorry that this has happened to you. You deserve all of the love, happiness, and peace.
In a world marked by violence against women and girls, this year’s #16DaysOfActivism theme, ‘UNiTE! Invest to Prevent,’ calls for collective action. #NoExcuse urges a radical shift from indifference to concrete ACTION, offering a lifeline to silent sufferers. It promises that investing in prevention strategies means investing in a future of respect and equality. It’s time to confront uncomfortable truths, challenge norms, and dedicate resources to prevention. Can we change the narrative for future generations? #NoExcuse is a rallying call for a world where women and girls can thrive without fear and where investment in their safety is non-negotiable.