You Don’t Grow Out Of Your Childhood, You Grow With It.
So I’m about to start therapy..
I’d like to think I’m a typical girl with typical problems, like they say, life happens to all of us, it is in the way we respond to it that sets each one of us apart from each other.
Life happened to me between the ages of 6-10 and throughout my teenage hood, I’ve tried so hard to bury it that I can’t even remember the exact age, or maybe I don’t want to.
It took a number of failed/odd/distant relationships between lovers, friends and family for unexplainable reasons to realize that I needed to have “the talk” with myself, that I am in my head a little too much that I fail to be in the relationships, that I am so comfortable in my head that nothing outside of it could ever be good enough.
I am 20 odd something years old, my 30s are creeping up. I grew up in a Christian (don’t touch, don’t say, don’t even think) and traditional (typical black parents) home. A full, warm and fun house, we did everything together, had favorite TV shows and loved gambling with cards together, my mom is the biggest mafia I’ve ever known when it comes to playing cards, tricks for days. One day however, over the years, I realized that all this had ended, it just stopped. I noticed as well that I was also pulling away, the older I got the more my childhood creeped up on me, at first I didn’t realize that’s what it was but over time I started to notice my behaviors and wondered how and why and answers to that made me resent my family. I started feeling like I was owed protection and caring of thereafter. It took me realizing that my parents didn’t know any better either and how they’ve tried overall to be anything and everything to us wherever else they could, even though they perhaps failed me here.
So my mom had my oldest brother at a young age and trusted extended family to take care of him in the rurals whilst she hustled in the big bad Jozi. Extended family however was not too kind to my brother and he ran from home quite a few times to find solace in the streets, I don’t know what happened in the streets, I just know the person he eventually came back as, came back and moved in with the rest of the family after our mother married my dad and started building a home in Jozi.
He was probably between the ages of 14-16 and raging with sex hormones, and I was at the receiving end. Maybe if I was born and grew up in front of him things would have been different, I don’t know. I told my sister who told my parents and they did what they thought would be best at the time, which was physically punishing my brother and me lightly for not speaking up immediately..
Years later, we’re older and I’ve forgiven and thought I could forget but see, you don’t forget, you can’t erase experiences. It’s the trying to forget that has actually harmed me, because thing is, we are products of our past, present and future ambitions, I believe, all of those shape how we look at and tackle life. Between 6-10 it was the molestation, not more than 3 times though, I think.. During my teenage hood it was my parents’ marriage, when my mom grew tired of the abuse she was receiving from her in laws and how my dad was a spectator during the whole time instead of fighting for her, it was the age old, “my family doesn’t like my wife” tale and my mom had had it, so they bickered every night for what felt like forever, that I deliberately went to varsity in another province to escape their toxic relationship.
What I’m getting at is that, all of this happened and not once did I ever confront this and how it affected me, I just kept it moving and little did I know that the manner in which I was moving was heavily influenced by all this. I became sexually active at an older age compared to most of my peers, I would easily claim it was because of church and the fear of my parents but honestly.. It was because I wasn’t going to bleed at the first encounter like the other girls do because it wouldn’t have been my first time, yet I can’t share my first time.
I felt like I would have to explain myself when I eventually do it, that it would be obvious how it wasn’t my first time and I just wasn’t ready. Felt like I’ll never be ready and when I did find the courage at 24 years, I needed to get the dreadful second first time over and done with quickly, and I basically went through a period of no strings attached after that, they were very distant with very little if any feeling.
Growing up I was warned that every girl gets very attached to the first guy they sleep with because it is such a sacred event that he takes a piece of your soul along with your virginity, I didn’t experience this attachment and not one guy from the few I’ve had sexual encounters with do I feel any deeper connection with.
The thing about caring something you consider a deep dark secret is that, you are always very careful not to draw attention to yourself, lest somebody observes closely and pick it up. There’s this shame and stigma around molestation/rape that somehow gets carried by the victims, I can’t explain why or how this was my shame, as aware as I am that it shouldn’t, it wasn’t my fault, I did not entice my brother (who was a stranger at the time) in any way but somehow, I was so scared. I felt so guilty and it seemed easier to tell my sister eventually instead of my parents and it has been my shame since and completely affected how I approach relationships of all kind.
So I’m tired of carrying some else’s shame and instinctively responding in a manner that is contrary to how I actually want to respond because I can’t it. So I’m about start therapy and I look forward to it.