The ideas for this post have rolled around in my head for a few days. Between all the posts on social media about sexual harassment and abuse, my heart was torn thinking about my own scars.
In the past couple of months, I have felt and sensed my own personal milestones come by. When I left my son’s father, my son’s birthday, and now the last time I saw my son. I know that the emotional scars haven’t quite healed because I can still feel the pains of anxiety and depression. While I was abroad I didn’t really get a chance to mourn or feel anything. I was going between anger and sadness over what my mind was trying to understand what was happening in my life. Did things really happen or were they just thoughts my mind was replaying over and over. Why was I easily startled by the single noise that triggered by bumps of vehicles driving by?
I should enjoy life and all that it is bringing to me. From the food I eat to the beverage that I pick from the local Starbucks. I am lucky that my family wants to see me grow into a person who is confident and enjoying life. Not worrying about whether I could pay for something that I know I could.
A few years before I was married I had applied and was hired to my first full-time job with benefits. I remember (and my mom reminds me when the depression fog comes around) that I was making a very good wage that I not only could take care of myself and shared my prosperity with others in need. She would remind me how even with a small wage I was always wanting to help others or even give back to my parents who helped me for so long. She would smile and mention the jewelry I would find for her at the local stores. “That is the kind of person you are, Molly.” she would smile and say.
Even when I was abroad and living on the kindness of my family and friends that was what I did. I was giving to the mother of twin girls who couldn’t breastfeed enough milk for them. It would bring tears to my eyes thinking of my son who I couldn’t breastfeed because the stress would affect my hormones. Then there was the boy who needed shoes so he could go to school. I mean how could I let someone else not go to school. Especially when his family couldn’t afford for him to have shoes or clothes at that.
The hardest part of my healing is realizing that I am a good person… actually I am one of the few good people in the world (according to many people who know me). The mental scars keep me from remembering that. The abuse I felt was economical (saying I couldn’t balance a checkbook or even a pay off a credit card at the time), verbal (insulting my intelligence or that my mother resembled King Kong), and worst of all emotional (withdrawing affection when I didn’t do things to the way he wanted them like cleaning or folding clothes). I am a very affectionate person. Giving me a hug used to be the best way of letting me know that you care. After I was told multiple times that I was supposed to stay on my side of the bed (in fact there were pillows dividing us) or couch. Everything inside of me felt like I didn’t deserve love or anything towards the fact.
These days I find it difficult to look someone in the eye especially if it’s a man. I would constantly argue with my father about little things especially if I couldn’t do something right. “You can’t do anything right!” the thoughts would chant in my mind. “You can’t clean or even take care of yourself!” Many times, I get verbally defensive arguing about how much I am trying. Other times I get quiet and sad wondering how long it will take for me to understand some basic instructions. “Your way is wrong it has to be this way!” would constantly ring in my head.
Pretty soon I will get depressed and wonder if anyone really cared enough to give me a chance or look at my achievements versus my challenges. “It’s not you. It is just not the right fit.” Became something I have heard in the last few months. I was a quick learner that just couldn’t grasp “it” when I was under pressure.
It was while I was abroad that I went back to my reading and writing corner of my healing cocoon. I knew that it was one thing that I knew that I could do. Yes, I couldn’t go online as much to publish it. But I knew that someday when I would get the chance to return to America I would do whatever it took to dream big and self-publish my work on my blog. I felt like Starting Over 2013 would be my second chance at making it big. Many times, I heard that my blog was a waste of time and that I shouldn’t use my energy writing to a world that might not listen or take my words seriously. Every time that thought would come to me I would get upset because I knew of the millions of people who were suffering silently the same way I did. If I hurt someone out there was hurting even more. Since I have come back I have read about young children as young as 5 dying from self-harm even suicide because someone bullied them. I would get so upset because I thought of my son who would be about the same age. I feared that perhaps this could be happening to him and I wouldn’t even know it.
To this day I don’t even hear much about him. Around in 2016, I decided to not write or communicate with his father because of the lack of internet connection in the area that I was in. It brought me to tears to think that my son was upset that he didn’t get his visit because I couldn’t even connect on the internet. I remember receiving the email. I wanted to write him and say it wasn’t my fault. In fact, when people would ask me if I had heard from him I would turn my head away mentioning that I was not able. People in Holeta would hear my hurtful questions about when the network would be working. Was this normal? I wasn’t normal for a mother to not speak or email her son.
Yes, a reader that was also the reason I didn’t get to blog as much as I wanted. Oh, the creative juices were there. It’s just the connection to the internet was not there. Since I have come back I have been told not to share as much. Not to mention things in case his father would read them. It was like the cloak of silence was being put on me. Now, when I see other people saying their own story my thoughts would pound in my head. “Why won’t you say something, Molly.” So, I write, blog, tweet, and share when I feel it’s alright.
The last straw in my mind was this week when the “woman’s blackout” was displayed online. That night two separate people messaged me on Facebook messenger with the announcement. I didn’t know if they meant it or just were spreading the word. The thing was that it was several hours after the fact. The next day I went on my profile and wrote about how it made me felt. I made it for my friends only to know. I wasn’t ready for the world to see it. Nobody knew the truth. I hinted at it many times or briefly spoke about my situation. I mean who would believe that an Ethiopian American woman would go through this. Towards the end of my stay in Ethiopia, I felt comfortable enough to share with some people my story. Some of them looked at me like it was hard to believe. Okay being a pastor’s daughter didn’t help the situation at all. I mean how many people my age would return back to their native land and live with their family? Not many if you think about it. Many people knew that I had a son. A few asked where he was. I would mention that he was with his father in America. I mean what was I supposed to say his father didn’t want him to travel with me because I was from another country. That is only half of the reason.
It has been a few weeks since I began this post. I took the time to think over things through and figure out why I wanted to write this in the first place. One of the reasons I began this blog was to help me as I was dealing with life after leaving my son’s father. It began as a way of writing out my thoughts especially as I was getting ready for my divorce hearing. It was not an easy decision to leave him. One thing I have always wanted to say is that a wound is a wound no matter what kind it is.
Verbal wounds can leave a person feeling like they are nothing. They can rob a person of their confidence and self-esteem. Emotional wounds are just the same. It leaves a person afraid of everything and everyone. When you don’t get a hug because something you did was not to a person’s liking it can affect you in many ways. I was told normal people don’t get compliments or positive reinforcement. I can’t explain how much that hurt me. It made me feel like I couldn’t do anything right.
To this day when people hear my story, they look at me in awe. “You are so strong!” I tend to look away because I don’t feel strong. I just did what I had to do to survive. As I get ready to publish this my hope is that I can help someone who might be going through a similar situation. I want to give hope and shed a light on this subject. It took me most of 2017 to get the courage to say I need help. Yes, it is a scary thing to talk about. The hardest part is not looking somebody in the eye. When you are afraid and hurt just looking someone in the eye is the hardest thing you can do. Trusting that they won’t hurt you is the next hardest thing.