Trigger Warning: A trauma post.
There are crimes in life that are so reprehensible and appalling, that justice can’t ever truly be achieved. It’s made worse when there is no attempt at justice because of the systems in place. Systems that are created to protect those in power at the expense of those powerless.
If you read some of my previous posts, you will know that I didn’t have an age until I was six years old. My adoptive parents tracked down my bio-mother and she had a 3-year-old child, my sister. That is the only time reference I have. My teenage mother left me with my great-aunt Taté who looked after me until I was perhaps three. Whenever I could I’d ask about meeting my bio-dad, until my bio-mum caved in. From my Trauma post, you’ll recall that he kidnapped me. What I didn’t have the strength to discuss was that I was raped as a child. Whenever my bio-mother found me, I’d be moved. I used to try to run away and so they’d move me at night so I couldn’t see where we were going. I recall being in the back of vans trying to calculate how many left or right turns it’d taken. At each new place I stayed I had to adapt quickly and try to figure out how safe I was. Would I just get beaten with sticks for not doing my chores correctly, would I get raped, would I have people around that I could trust, was it a matter of being wrong no matter what I did?
My favourite place that I stayed at was a farm- there I was able to just be a person, not a burden. I used to herd the cows and spend lazy days watching over them, sling shooting at snakes from the trees with others. My chores were functional and practical such as collecting the eggs from the chickens, cooking and cleaning. I was safe there. I was happy and I could voice my opinion without getting into trouble. They were a fair and lovely family. One day having come back from shepherding the cows, I was told to go into the yard as they wanted me to redo the chores of the morning, saying it hadn’t been good enough. I sulked. I huffed and sat in the courtyard where we kept the chickens, refusing to do something I’d already done. I sat there scratching at the dusty floor with a stick annoyed that this household who’d been the best so far had decided to be horrible and unreasonable. Every time I tried to go into the main house I was ushered back out into the courtyard. Why? Because my bio-mum had found me again. She was inside and I was being kept away from her. When she left, she went to the side of the house, where the gate was. She called my name and I ran to her. She tried to open the gate to get me, but was held back. As I was about to reach the gate, I was picked up and taken inside. That night I was moved onto a new place, to face new dangers. They took me when I was sleeping so I couldn’t see where I was going or where I had come from.
I’m so proud of my younger self when she decided to trust the muzungu’s who became my adoptive family. Despite being terrified that they would eat me since white people were cannibals, my gut told me that they were safe. My little five year old self took the bravest decision possible based on the traumas imposed on me at the hands of my bio-dad. I’d love to say that the rest is history, what a happy ending it’s been. We all know that’s a lie.
It’s the after-effects of trauma and what has happened to me that makes it impossible for there ever to be justice. It is the shame that stayed. The physical and mental impact. The triggers that I tried to ignore, compartmentalising each terrible emotion into a box never to be opened again. But that’s not healthy, and everything comes out in one way or another. The body keeps score as it were (great book by the way) and I couldn’t ever be free until I addressed my life. When I mention shame, it is that I felt broken. That because of everything that had happened to me I was unworthy and faulty, especially in my teenage years when the emphasis on virginal purity was pushed onto what it is to be a wanted future wife. It was shame and disgust that reared its ugly head when operation Yew tree came to light. I was forced to relive the rapes that I’d locked away at the back of my mind. I’d go to the bathroom, have a mini panic attack before composing myself enough to head up a meeting with whichever c-suit client I was selling to. I carried eye drops and make-up with me everywhere I went to hide the hell I was running away from. As I progressed in my career, I was always haunted, paranoid in fact that they’d find out that I was damaged.
I had an ugly past that no matter how hard I tried to run away from it, to pull myself out from the devastating effects, would not be put to rest until I addressed it. So this is my biggest fear- that people won’t see past the damage imposed on me. That I will always be that girl whose father kidnapped her, who was abused and that that is all I am. That all I could ever be is a victim. This is so untrue.
I am not a victim, far from it. I am a woman who has always found the resources needed to ensure my own survival to thrive. I have managed to have a wonderful therapist who has worked with me to get me to this point that I can’t be ashamed of other people’s actions imposed on me. I took the time out to address my mental health issues, to heal and to put my fears to rest. I am so proud of how courageous I am, and how despite the many many trials along the way, I continue forward to achieve success. I look back and can’t believe how many places I’ve travelled to, how I won a $35m client for one of my employers, or that I’ve been a key note speaker or that I wrote a book about vampires, or that I lost weight from being obese, or that I’ve managed to keep a few plants alive.
I will not hide my past any longer for it has shaped me into the strong woman I am today. I shall let you into a little secret- I’m freakin’ awesome!
If there is anything to be learnt from this post, is that you are not alone in your strife. Everyone has problems they face, but we can’t heal alone, nor can we heal if we hide our experiences. Be your authentic self and seize the opportunities at hand. Don’t hide yourself because you too are beautiful. As cheesy as it sounds, we are stronger together.
If you are looking to understand further the effects of childhood trauma on your physical health I’d suggest looking at the TED talk by an amazing paediatrician Nadine Burke Harris
If you yourself have suffered from childhood trauma and are looking to understand the effects it has on you, may I suggest you check out the following book: The Body Keeps Score & obviously never take the word of a stranger online so please see the review here from The New Scientist
If you enjoy fantasy & horror books, and want to see my fiction writing, please buy my book – Vampire Emily