When she was 8, she felt like a basket . Her happiness as a child was escaping from the holes and she did not know how to stop it .

She could not tell her mother or any other person around her how she was feeling. In Nigeria any illness that could not be treated with “Paracetamol” was not the be talked about. Only hours of deliverance and a bottle of anointing oil was the other option and she did not have the energy to close her eyes for so long and pretend that she could feel something leaving her.

In that same year , she fought for herself for the first time . She could not tell the exact time it happened but she knew it was dark and hot . She knew she kicked him so hard on the groin and ran out .She knew she wasn’t breathing but her heart was pounding. That night she couldn’t sleep, fear crawled into her stomach and lay there.

The days that followed the night were long and miserable. Making eye contact with people was making herself naked , what if they saw how she wanted her old life back, where she didn’t have to guard herself , how her heart jumped into her mouth when they got too close. She wanted to tell her mother but she feared she would chop his genitals off and use it to make pepper soup for him , the type her father liked on a cold day . She was too young, she didn’t want that amount of blood on her hands.

There were days when she sat on the brown couch with her posture obdurately crooked and watched her mother cry out for help while her father made her bleed . Those days fear found its way to her neck and chocked her.

She looked at herself and realised she looked exactly like the naughty boys in her class. Flash chested and thin , but with lazy eyes . Most days she did not know what triggered her. So tender at 9 yet so fraught with tension.  Sometimes she felt like her whole body was covered with fuel and the little spark from a lighter could set her on fire . The lighter came often in for of people telling her how skinny and ugly she was. Telling her how men liked flesh not bones . To her men were nothing but dogs who came to devour when it was dark and hot . It made her body crawl that they wanted her to be something she was not  just to please men. Anger found its way in too and lay side by side with fear.

She rested her fear, her anger , her unhappiness and her sense of worthlessness on the shoulders of people. She did not know why she had to suffer alone , so she decided to make other people feel a fraction of what she was feeling . It did not work . She became too much , laughing too loud all the time .She didn’t want them to see her as little , to see that she was silently screaming and felt like she was being eaten up. When she was 13 she got sick , this time she felt like a burning market.  When she was 14 she wanted to die.

I’m writing this for anyone who knows how it feels  to wake up in the morning and wish he hadn’t . I’m writing this for anyone who knows how it feels to be “ugly” in the society .  You are like birds that are blue and lovely, melodious and admired . You got hit by a wall. One day you’ll get up again to sing your sweetest songs.

I always thought happy people were fakers , I forgot what happiness felt like so I thought it wasn’t real. I couldn’t even imagine a life in which I was happy at every passing moment .I was never diagnosed so I didn’t not know if I was depressed . But I knew what I felt was terrible and if I didn’t conquer it it was going to eat me alive.

You know what truly aches ? Having so much pain inside you and not being able to pour it out. But I realised pain is like water , it finds a way to push through any seal. There is no way to stop it, it overcomes you. You have to let yourself sink inside of it before you can learn how to swim to the surface.

As I grew older I began to realise certain things , being a Christian had its benefits -happiness was one . So I asked Him one day for this.

I talked to someone about this and I begun my journey into self acceptance and happiness.

“I am beautiful ” is what I tell myself everyday. It’s sort of my mantra . When I started seeing myself as beautiful and accepting not twisting into something people wanted me to be , the world saw me as that too. I realised I didn’t have to make anybody like me , it really didn’t change anything , I  didn’t get money and my hair didn’t grow longer cause of it.

I read  lot and prayed a lot during this period . I talked to someone and I realised when I did , something was leaving my chest .  I read a lot and focused on it and stopped dwelling on the negative (especially the ones I couldn’t control , like my past experiences) . I learned to forgive because forgiving does not erase the bitter. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for a better future.

I find myself giving love and happiness now, in the little way I can because I have it in me. I am healing everyday and God is restoring.

 Fold the worst events of your life into a narrative of triumph” – ANDREW SOLOMON

(Inspired by her growing up as a child with emotional pain)

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2 thoughts on “#ConfabFridays – Code Of Silence by Ibifubara Betty Davies


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