Ladybrille® Blogazine


Thursday, July 19, 2007

My Greatest Life Challenge is Confronting Childhood Pain

The African loft has a cyber essay competition on your "greatest life challenge." The topic struck a chord with me. But, I had major apprehensions about sharing myself with the world wide web. Then, I received a phone call on Wednesday night. It was from yet another friend who was going through the exact issues I was battling. She became number seven [7] on my list of girlfriends with these issues. After her phone call, I knew I had to share my greatest life challenge. There is a hole in the soul of lots of our women, African women included. As women, it is important we begin holding hands and uplifting each other as we go through these issues. You should never feel alone because you are NOT alone.

My greatest life challenge is not the fact that I know what it means to be poor, have experienced financial hardships, health issues, deaths of friend[s], relatives or that I grew up in a single mother home in a very harsh society. The above are by no means a walk in the park. However, they definitely pale in comparison to what I believe has to be my greatest life challenge to date – confronting childhood pain and embracing the process of self discovery.
"I don't know how I got here," I cried to the woman sitting next to and facing me. "I used to be so strong," I continued wiping the tears that were running down my cheeks and threatening to take over my entire face. It was Christmas eve 2006 and I was in Ghana, West Africa, for journalism work. She stopped to compliment me on my "beauty" and the fashion items I bought at Ghana's local arts and crafts market. It was suppose to be a fashion talk but it turned into a crying session. She listened as I narrated some of the painful memories from childhood and how I, at 28 years old, had only begun to confront these issues. She consoled and cried with me. She knew where I was coming from because she had gone through similar experiences. I, for the first time, was allowing myself to let it all out. You see crying had always been a MAJOR sign of weakness for me. I just never cried. There were more tears to come. [Laughing] I said to her, "you are like my own Oprah." She laughed as we both wiped the tears off our eyes. "I was supposed to give this book to Bola Atta, Editor-in-Chief for True Love Magazine, West Africa," she said. "Bola is not here so I will give this book to you because I believe you were meant to have it," she added as she autographed away. The book was "My Sacred Spaces" and the author was South Africa's Thami Ngubeni, actress/columnist/radio host/businesswoman. Earlier this year, Thami got a visit from Oprah. On May 2nd, 2007, she became the Editor of O, Oprah Magazine, South Africa edition.

The journey towards the extremely difficult challenge of getting to know me all started on July 4th, 2005. On that day, a stranger walked into my life. I was unprepared for him. He was an unwanted visitor. It was only suppose to be a business introduction but it catapulted into a romance. What was so striking about this individual was that his energy was so powerful. He penetrated places I was convinced I had placed a HUGE lid over, sealed and tightened very well, never to be accessed. In fact, the place had been sealed for so long, it had become a dungeon. Needless to say, his entrance into my life was the beginning of a BIG battle between having a healthy adult relationship versus fighting the inner demons of my childhood. For the first time in my life, somehow, someone managed to get in there. How? I honestly do not know. Shutting men out of my life who sought close relationships had always been so easy. . . I'm not so sure I can do this. It is still painful. . . deep breath. Pause. Whew!

When I was younger, I saw and heard of women that were beautiful, accomplished and intelligent but when it came to interpersonal affairs, they were a mess. Isn't it ironic? I became one of "those" women.

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months and everything was fine till of course the inevitable obstacles in a relationship start rearing their head. On the outside, I was slender and beautiful. On the inside, I was obese. I carried a whopping 400pounds of emotional fat. It was so heavy it dragged me down. Sadly, however, I had reached a point where I did not even know I was obese. Meeting this young man, his spiritual energy/force connected with mine. While I felt the warm fuzzy feelings that go with being in love, I also felt a lot of intense anger and resentment towards him.
Without doing or saying anything really, he evoked painful memories of my past. I began to deal with childhood feelings of abandonment, loneliness, rejection, anger, confusion and a lot more emotions that I did not even know existed. I believed strongly that I was undeserving of love. It was safe to shut the men that dared to get close, out. It just made things easy. I could coast. Afterall, I do not need a man to do anything for me. Right? Right. I focused more on his flaws, his issues, the fact that I sensed and honestly hoped he would leave so I could say, "see, all men are dogs." I pushed, pushed and pushed hoping he would leave. I could not shake the mixed emotions of resentment, anger, compassion and love that I felt towards him. I said things that are just not okay to repeat anywhere. I became the person I never wanted to become.
It got to a point where I reached an all time low. I never even thought or understood the word "depression." Depression happened to other people. It was stuff the blonde hair blue eye "air heads" on television went through. Oh yes I understood it intellectually but emotionally, it had nothing to do with me; especially being an African woman. "This is not the person I met. Where is the person I met? I don't even know you," he once said to me. Ladies, especially those going through these issues, how irritating is it for you to hear that? The many times I wanted to tell him, "hell that makes two of us! I am still trying to find her and figure it out!"
Instead, I gave so many explanations, on numerous occassions, because I myself had no idea what was happening to me. I could not explain my actions--things I did and said. I knew my emotions at the end of the day had nothing to do with him. He just symbolized and threatened my safety. His presence in my life caused an earth shattering effect and the tight lid actually burst open and of course out came all that mess that I thought was under control--my false sense of emotional security. A security/confidence anchored in anger. Be careful when your security/confidence is anchored in anger because when you stop being angry, then you must look YOU in the mirror. "You've flipped into this really hateful person repeatedly, every time so far you come back calmer weeks or months later and I think, "[okay], we're over whatever conflict [a]nd then you just erupt," he said to me on numerous occasions. "Bottom line is I'm incapable of telling when you're being sincere or not. I don't know what you *really* want, especially when you are lashing out."
I was very sincere. What I really wanted was to be free from the demons that tormented me and told me lies about me. I traveled through the journey alone and later had two friends going through similar issues. At a later point when I was just emotionally, psychologically, mentally and spiritually drained, God sent light and I recalled that I had two close friends that went through similar experiences. At the time, I was not where they were and could not understand them. I called them and apologized. I confided in them and asked for their prayers and support. I highly recommend seeking therapy or counseling or a circle of sisterhood/women who "get" you.
Anyway, to make the long story short, I have been able to lose 140pounds of emotional fat. I am technically not obese although I have about 100 pounds left to lose before I fall into an emotionally healthy weight category. It has really been just me and God duking it out. Each time I shed pounds of emotional weight, I notice it happens when I let go and let God. I am learning forgiveness. I have forgiven those who caused my pain. I am loving myself even more each day and finding inner peace. It feels good to be ME. The young man and I are no longer on speaking terms. Needless to say, it hurts. But, I believe it is a good thing because there is a big relief that comes from not being reminded of your childhood past and the painful past you created with someone; because you used the person as a punching bag instead of confronting the person[s] that caused your issues.
So, there we go, a snippet of my greatest life challenge, so far. What is your greatest life challenge? Head on to African Loft and write away. I am dying to read your entries. Feel free to also leave your comments. Thanks to the many e-mails I have received from you all. Some are unsure if they should comment on the blog. Whatever makes you feel comfortable. You can also comment on the blog anonymously.

Have a brilliant day!


Anonymous said...

this is so touching, no one knows what someone else has been through.

But through all tough times GOD pulls us out.

stay blessed:)

your friend naijagal

Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing this LB. This is an incredible story...I hope you have shed most of those extra weights by now. Be well.

Linda Ikeji said...

forget the past and embrace the future.there's just so much that remembering pain takes away from us, one is to God and see how's going to make u totally 4get it. be blessed said...

@naijagal-thank you.
@caretaker small by small. . .
@Linda true talk.

Shelly said...

Dear Ladybrille,
I stumbled upon your essay after googling "confronting family rejection." I have been hurting and experiencing the same recurring anger just as you have. I don't know now whether to confront my mom and my sister or whether to just try to move on. I've been trying to move on for a lot of years, make progress, and then I'm back at square one. I want to erase these shadows that keep mucking up my otherwise beautiful life. said...

Shelly, I am glad you stumbled on the post.Childhoood pain has a funny way of reminding us of the people who should have loved us but did not. However, a way to stump on the pain and the past is to remember those who loved and still continue to love us, whether neighbors, friends other family members e.t.c. There is nothing you can say or do that will change the way your mom or sister acted towards you. Hopefully they have changed. If they have not, accept that it is what it is and now create a BRIGHT future by moving on. You can and should let them know how their past affected you BUT honestly, when you heal and forgive them, you might not even engage in the past because you will not feel a need to. Get involved in counseling ASAP. Do NOT do it all by yourself. Most importantly, PRAY & I'll pray that God gives you the courage to overcome the past so you can move on with the future. BTW, it is okay that you have recurring anger, I found that it was part of the process of healing. Dealing and seeking therapy doesn't mean it goes away right away. Don't frustrate yourself agonizing about why you still feel recurring anger or relapses. At some point, you will find inner peace if you diligently work towards that and embrace the process.I recently just found mine and it is a good place to be.

You are loved, if by nobody, certainly by GOD. Everything, I mean everything will be okay. Stay strong, stay blessed, stay encouraged.

Shelly said...

Thank you. I will pray for you too. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

wow!!! i stumbled across this post while looking for another one of your posts. THANK YOU SOO MUCH for sharing...i am dealing with the exact same thing in my life as i write. it is as if i am reading my own story and i thank you for being brave enough to share yours. it gives me so much hope that i am not alone and things will get better. you are in my prayers and i hope you will keep me in yours.

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