I was only about 8 years old when I noticed trouble at home. My father hated me – I wonder if he still does. I kept wondering what I had done to make my daddy hate me. He hated the sight of my mum and I. I felt terrible every time it was night time and his drunk songs were echoing the whole compound. If we were lucky, he’d come when we had eaten already. But to be honest, he almost always came in just when my mum had started cooking. He would then chase us out of the house. Put out the fire by pouring the already boiling water onto the firewood. And just like that, we would have to Survive.
The rest of the time we spent in that home. I heard him say terrible things about me to my mom. He didn’t think I deserved anything. My fault – I was a girl.
My mother eventually gave up on her marriage and left. She got fed up with the threats. She had two lives to protect. So she packed and we left.
African traditionalists made it obvious that boys were an asset in a family and thus made it hard for us that would be born non-boys in such settings. However, things have shifted now to strike a balance in gender. But still, my childhood was taken from me for that same reason and I won’t forget that.
As I grew older, I began to have flashbacks of my childhood. I could see my mum crying hiding in a corner of our house. I began to have nightmares of myself being chased by my father with a belt. He’d beat me mercilessly. I’d wake up covered in sweat – I know it was probably from the heat but it was the fear. The anxiety – sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, a choking sensation, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, fear of losing my mind. I became hypermaniac in nature. I would be laughing with you one minute all excited about life and the next thing you know is, you’ve not seen me for days because I’m probably indoors so depressed to meet the world.
My intensified nightmares that couldn’t let me sleep through the night horrified me, and I spiraled into my own suicidal depression. If my father didn’t want anything to do with me, maybe I didn’t deserve to live. I felt completely worthless. And my self-loathing made me feel like a burden to this world. I wanted to die. Like now now. If only I’d just make a wish and wake up in Heaven. That would be so easy.
I wrote my very first suicide note and addressed it to my mum when I was about 11 years old. I knew she would be a mess when I died. I reminded her to be strong because I was at peace with myself and that I knew my father would probably be happier now. But I didn’t follow through with my plans _ something I’m forever grateful for. I have so much to tell my younger self. That was the first of several notes that I would draft meticulously but never use.
My preceding attempts all included self harm and trying to starve myself. I also thought about Rat & Rat _God forbid. I knew I couldn’t ever be a boy. But all I ever wanted was to be accepted. I wanted to be loved for the
girl child I was. At least get my dad’s love. To be acknowledged by him.
As I joined college and struggled with my studies, the depression and suicidal thoughts were very much close to me. I became sensitive than ever. It was during my time in college amidst fighting depression that I developed chronic pain, got diagnosed with PCOS, endometriosis, severe back pains and managed to officially fall out with my step father. It was official One lifetime, two fathers, still a worthless being. Now the problem must have been Me for sure. How did I repeat the pattern? How did I get here?
I lost all hope in myself. Now I was prepared for one last attempt. I was sure I would follow my suicidal script this time. I wanted to lock myself up in my room and consume poison. The only trick was to get to buy the bottle. But which one was the most effective? How would I confront the girl at the counter with my super stressed face and fake smile I wore? I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. Not even my own mum. I wanted to die with everything that had happened to me. I failed to follow through for the million-th time.
Now that I’m handling my depression better and learning to live with my chronic pain, I’d like to apologize to the little troubled girl in my younger self. I wasn’t sure I’d see today. I’m sorry I put you through all that roller-coaster of emotions.
I’d like you to know that now that I’m older, I totally understand what you feel. I understand every thought that is going through your mind. It’s not your fault that you’re going through all that. I promise it won’t always be that way. It will get better. I understand that now.
When you feel bad, sad and happy all at once, when you want to hit someone so bad, so hopeless, just have some rest. It’s all temporary. It’ll pass. They will judge you now, but you will feel better. I promise.
Cut the cruel, passive and aggressive people out of your life _even if they’re family. Your mental health matters more than a toxic relationship. Trust me, they’ll crawl back into your life when things are better. Don’t feel guilty.
Finally, in as much as you hate sharing your problems with people, Get help. Get therapy. Join support groups. Read books. Take what works for you and leave the rest. You’re going to be Okay.