Hello David, Please hide my identity.

I am not ashamed of my story, but for the simple reason that I am yet to confront my mother and some siblings to aid my healing process.

Talking about the business of stolen voices, this is mine. It was my mother who tore me down and stole my voice. I do not know why she picked on me so bad, but she did. When other children were running to their mothers to report bullies, I was being bullied by the woman who should have protected me. If I had a dollar for every time my mother called me ugly, I’d be a billionaire. In my primary school days, I was made a girl’s prefect, and her reaction was, “how can you stand in front of all those children looking like that?” and when I asked, “looking like what?” She said “go see your ugly face in the mirror.”

She would tell me stuff like, “pray, someone will eventually marry you.” The physical abuse was equally brutal and relentless. And yes she is my biological mother. She made me suicidal by the time I was in high school.

I won’t bother you with too much detail, because it will take over the actual point I want to make. Long story short: she chipped away at my self-confidence little by little over so long a period that she eventually succeeded in killing my self-esteem. I became a shell of myself and even my academics, which had been my saving grace all my life, began to suffer too. I finally made it to college where I started dating.

David, I didn’t know it then but I know now that I craved the validation I didn’t get from the womb that birthed me, so much so that I used relationships as emotional crutches. I was extremely accommodating, dumbed down my intelligent and enquiring mind just so I could have a man. No. Strike that. So I could have a boy. And by attracting what I was exuding, I got into abusive relationship after abusive relationship. Think about any disrespectful thing a guy would say to his girlfriend, I’ve heard it all; “you’re ugly, you’re a fool, what is the essence of dating you if I can’t get whatever I want, you’re poor, I don’t like poor girls, you’re fat…”

Dave the list is endless.

But I stayed and took the abuse because that’s all I knew. I had come to equate love with disrespect and abuse. I graduated college with honors and got a really great job at one of the finest financial institutions in Ghana at the time. I was my own person, had my own money and place, my boss and colleagues liked and respected me. Life appeared great on the outside, but inside, I was broken and drowning. And thus my string of “men who don’t deserve me” continued. I got involved with a guy whose abuse became the last straw that snapped me out of it. He lied about his career, education, everything. He’d pick unnecessary fights so he could scream in my face and leave me covered in his saliva. I began to have suicidal thoughts again. Then one day, he said he was tired and wanted a break up. I readily agreed. Then he began to profusely apologize, which solidified my resolve to leave. He begged, threatened, cried and promised to change.

I left.

I left because I was exhausted: mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I left because, for some reason known only to God, the light switch that had been put out by my mother and immediate family suddenly came back on. I left because I knew if I stayed, he would drag me deeper and deeper into the dark recesses of my already darkened mind. I left because his abuse and my accepting demeanor reminded me too much of the parents I never wanted to be like; an abusive bully and his submissive, covert narcissistic wife. So I left and vowed to do better.

And for the first time in my young adult life, I was single for more than six months. I went to church, didn’t even know what to pray about because unlike now, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I sat in an empty chapel and cried.

I joined a gym to reclaim something I had loved as a child but had given up on, like everything else in my life: the adrenaline rush after a strenuous physical activity. As God would have it, the instructor was a clinical psychologist, he loved my dedication and drive and we eventually became friends. I opened up to him in bits and pieces and he helped me acknowledge I had trauma from childhood emotional and physical abuse as well as all the others I suffered in relationships. He helped me lose 30 pounds but I have no idea how much the invisible baggage weighed that he helped me shed.

I went on an evening walk one day and on my way back, a gentleman with the most beautiful smile approached me and said, “I saw you go that way, and I’ve been waiting to walk you back home.” He has been walking me home since then. He knows my story, knows the things I’ve done while in survival mode, and yet he’s still holding my hand, walking me home. We’ve been married ten years with four amazing children. I have never been this peaceful and happy my entire life! He purposely relocated our family to help me leave the reminders of my trauma behind. He helped me find my voice. He helped me pick up my writing hobby and make a business out of it. He doesn’t see the ugly my mother saw, even when I point it to him. Dave, we attract what we exude.

Why am I telling you all this? I want to encourage my sisters to pause, do some deep, deep introspection when they see aspects of their lives going awry. Emotional and spiritual wounds manifest ugly physical patterns. Please pause and ask yourself questions: e.g. why did I choose this man who clearly does not deserve me and why I am holding on so tight to the pain he’s dishing me? Ask questions, return to yourself, to that woman you know deep within that you are, and you will find yourself in bloom, like a lotus flower, even if you meet yourself in a muddy pond, bloom from there.

And then I also want to speak on how we raise and condition our daughters for failure and turn our righteous selves around to point fingers at them. Stop conditioning girls with that nonsensical idea that their apex in life is marriage. Stop telling them to learn to cook so she can feed a husband, tell her she needs to learn to cook so she can eat well when she leaves home! Teach your daughters they are enough by themselves and if no one invites them to their table, they should set up their own! And for goodness sake, do not vent your frustrations borne out of bad marriages you choose to keep on them, they did not send you!

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