I grew up believing that there are honour and dignity in suffering in silence and in covering certain traumas to protect those that you love. But after spending 21 days at a mental health facility I don’t know how much of this narrative I still believe. I also don’t know if I have the capacity to change it, but through sharing my story and lending my voice to the world I hope to, at the very least, inspire women to find their most authentic voices, and most importantly, when they do find it to not be afraid of it in spite of the cracks and “imperfection” there.
Having lost everything that I held dear to my heart – my relationship, my family, my home, my comfort, my finances, my health, my dignity, my values, my mind – my need for external validation and love has completely diminished and as a result I don’t care much about being judged. I have come to learn that “people’s perceptions of me are a reflection of them, and my reaction to them is an awareness of me”. I’ve had to be deeply hurt by people whom I loved, and I have hurt them in return to get to the place I am in now – an awareness of self, a recognition, and appreciation of the gifts that God has planted on the inside of me and an acceptance of everything that I’ve had to endure that continues to mould me into the woman I was called to be.
Almost four years ago, I learned that the man who’s seed I was carrying had given me HIV – a month after finding out that he was legally married to someone else – and I have carried this “secret” for years. But like the locusts on the book of Exodus, it has covered the face of my being like the ground of Egypt and devoured whatever little hope I had left after the hail my life had been. I’ve fallen in and out of love with myself a hundred times. I’ve meditated on these words to the point where they became my daily bread – you are not good enough and no one will ever love you. And when I felt too afraid to deal with the pain of it all, I plastered a smile on my face and chose to masquerade, until one day it all fell apart. I have cursed God seven times seventy while cutting open the veins on my wrists. I begged him to enlighten what was dark in me, to strengthen what was weak in me, mend what was broken in me, bind what was bruised in me and heal what was sick in me – then cursed Him even more for not following through.
What is the point?
I have asked this question many times and I am still praying that an answer comes to all of us seeking for one. But after surviving a number of suicide attempts what I can tell you is that there has to be a reason why. For if we are as useless and unworthy as we have somehow convinced ourselves that we are, then why does God waste His time breathing life into our lungs every day? I’ve been given a second chance – and a third and a fourth……and maybe this is my last. I don’t know about you but I refuse to die below what God has called me to do because of fear and my unbelief.
The truth is you’re not always going to be a good person and people are going to hurt you. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes, they will pile up within you and it will be in your nature to grip at them until your hands are bruised. But we have to learn to let them go and choose to accept the narrative that our mistakes and our stories are not meant to define us, they are only meant to help us define ourselves. I’ve lived with shame for a very long time and I do not endorse it.
You are more than what happened to you.
God. My son. Art. Love. Faith. Happiness. You can follow Aviwe on Instagram