- Time to start recognising my self-worth
In my desperate attempt to figure out why I find myself in a state of mental health despair I started thinking about my childhood and what could possibly and even subconsciously provide me with some reasons why. I come from a very loving home, where my parents gave me the best life possible and every chance to succeed. Neither of them finished primary school because they had to go work on farms to provide financial support to their parents and siblings. Growing up in a country riddled with racial discrimination and segregation my parents had no chance of a good solid education especially living in rural parts of the country I once called my home. Racial oppression robbed them not only of the ability to get an education and build a great future but also robbed them of their dignity. They were judged on their colour and the texture of their hair. There was no light of reason. I was born during the time when opposition of the politically motivated regime of racial segregation and oppression gained momentum, became more and more forceful and the struggle for freedom highlighted the racial oppression in the country I once called home. Growing up in that era and raising a child was hard for my parents but they shielded me from it all. I had friends from across the racial spectrum and never quite realised as a child the magnitude of it all. I was safe within my bubble of butterflies and castles and my great love for tennis. I heard the stories about the regime my parents told and I may even have seen things but I don’t remember anything significant from that regime that would’ve affected me at all. In spite of the challenges my parents faced they ensured that I was educated and I became the first in my family to graduate from university.
It was a great life, but not without its challenges for me. Being on the paler side with hair that goes naturally blonde in the sun I found myself being oppressed not by a regime but some members of my extended family. I remember being called very derogatory names by cousins and second cousins which as a child I found so hurtful. I always tried to be positive and polite and for the most part ignored it all. But after years of hearing those comments, listening to them calling me names I now realise how much their actions and words affected me. At one point it became physical. I remember a cousin deliberately setting my long hair on fire, an aunt hitting me whenever she felt like it. (Luckily I didn’t see much of them for the majority of my childhood)It was the most painful experience as a child and looking back now I realise that’s when I started isolating myself from the majority of my extended family. Isolation became my defence mechanism. When I was away from them I blossomed into the most magnificent little flower. I became a bubbly happy child, but when they appeared I found myself isolated again. This was my life my entire childhood and it was all I’ve ever known. So when I found myself living in a new country,learning a new culture I felt so out of place. I struggled to feel at home and fit in because the emotional and physical oppression was my normal. I now had to find a new normal. I struggled for a few years to fit in and find my place and for the most part I found the people most welcoming and accepting. For years I had kept the pain inside, smiling through it all and ensuring no one ever knew how much the actions of my family hurt me and now in my new country I started to experience a sense of freedom I have never felt before. Looking back today I realise that I need to let go of that pain. I need to accept it as part of my history. It doesn’t define who I am but speaks volumes of those who have treated me so unjustly as a child. My parents did their best and gave me the best possible life they could and for that I am so grateful. Looking back now I realise it was never my fault. I am not to blame for the actions of others. I was an innocent child subjected to racial, emotional and at point physical abuse and oppression by some members of my own family. Today I realise it was not my fault. I am not responsible for the actions of others. I am worth so much more and therefore their actions will not define me. I am a strong woman. I am worth more than all the diamonds on this planet and it’s time I start believing it. I will continue living my life, my anxiety and depression is a part of me, but I know that because of my mental health struggles I view the world differently and that puts me at an advantage.