A Time Writing Healed An Emotional Trauma.
Writing your feelings out, especially those that would break someone else if you were to voice them is cathartic and a great way to release the hurt
I was on a bus with my two younger brothers heading home to the village from the city.
My village is an eight-hour bus drive and this was at night, so I had a lot of time with just me and my thoughts.
My brothers were asleep. So were most of the other passengers. My soul decided this would be the best time for a soul search about a few issues that had been causing me so much stress.
I was in my early twenties and I was tired of the multi-senseless-with-no-plan dating. I mean, on one end, I’m like all for dating as much as you can in your early twenties.
However, mine had a twist to it. I was multi-dating because I did not want to commit.
And no, it wasn’t just the “I don’t want to commit because I’m too young.” That was part of it, but, I also had a fear. A fear that up until that time, that night in the bus, I had not given too much thought to.
A fear of abandonment.
You see, my parents retired and left for the village when I was 13.
While that was the natural progression for them because we are 7 and by the time I came along… it’s a whole thing. Anyways, that’s the choice they made and because of school, it was decided it was smarter for me to stay behind with my older siblings.
Wait, what? They won’t have time to spend with me let alone time to spoil me. LOL. I was going to be left to my own devices. Did they really have to go?
My teenage mind did not comprehend. And since I obviously was not as evolved in my thinking, I made it all about me and decided my parents did not love or care about me and that is why they were abandoning me.
Do you see why language and context matters in life? If you label something the wrong way, you may end up suffering unnecessarily. But I digress.
So here are the two people who I loved the most and who I thought loved me the most but they were abandoning me? Make it make sense?
But, since I could only process the moment as a teen and I did not have the language to explain what I was feeling, my brain decided we were being abandoned and that was that.
And I convinced myself that if my parents could abandon me aka not love me, why would I ever expect anyone else to love me and/or stay?
So, I multi-dated as a defence mechanism to keep me from getting attached to just one person and avoid the pain of when they would leave. Oh, if there was one thing I was sure about is that yes, they would leave.
I was not ready to put myself in that situation.
So, I would end things as soon as they started to get too serious.
Hit the road Jack, and don’t you come back no more.
I, however, got tired of it. Because even if you don’t commit 100%, you still give a part of yourself in the relationships/situations you entertain. It always costs you something.
And yes, I wanted to love. Like the love that stays and grows and blossoms. I am after all, a hopeless romantic.
I was tired and I needed to stop running.
I needed answers.
So I said a prayer that went something like,
Lord, I am tired of the start-stop relationships. I am tired of the running. I need you to show me why I am afraid of committing so I can heal whatever I need to heal and open myself up to love.
And because I believe God knows when we are ready for revelations, I heard a soft voice say,
Go back to when you were 13 and your parents left.
When I tell you tears started streaming down my face as my brain made the connections.
At that moment, if someone asked me, I might have said I hated my parents for leaving me.
I was mad at them.
And while the silence of the bus had been good for me to soul-search, now the silence was too loud for me to let myself break down.
I’d have to save the tears for when we got home, to the village.
And home we did get.
After the hellos, I excused myself and went into one of my brother’s houses. It’s a whole thing in some African cultures where the boys after reaching a certain age, have to build temporal houses called simba, in my tribe, as they were deemed men and therefore needed their space.
Yup. You live and you learn something new every day. This is your new thing.
Anyways, I had just read a psychology book about the power of writing letters to someone who’s hurt you and then tearing it or burning it up to release yourself of the hurt.
So, I had to write my mum and dad an honest letter.
And in this letter, I had to show up for my 13-year-old. And that meant holding my parents accountable because I was the child. It was their duty to care about all of me, including my emotions.
It was difficult, casting them as villains because they are my parents and I love them a lot. But, I needed to do this if I was to move on in a healthy direction.
And write I did. With tears streaming down my face. Weeping for my 13-year-old self and the missed opportunities courtesy of this trauma I did not even know about.
I let it all out on that piece of paper.
Then I cut it into the tiniest of pieces and with every tearing, it felt like the venom was leaving me. By the time I went to dispose of the pieces, I was already feeling a whole lot lighter.
I spent some more time with just myself and when I went back to my parents’ house, I think I said the words “I love you” to them for the first time.
Now, being African parents from a particular generation, they did not even know what to do with that or how to respond. They looked so cute.
I was happy to release that hurt and excited to see how this healing journey would impact my future relationships.
Impact it did because it was after this that I had my first serious relationship that could have ended in marriage but the timing was not right.
But, I was happy to finally get to experience the beauty and warmth of being in a committed, respectful, loving and caring relationship.
And yes, I still write letters to people when I need to and I encourage others to do the same. The catharsis of it all should be like the 8th wonder of the world or something.
Writing truly is one of my saving graces. I would be such a lost person without the art of writing.
p.s. this was in response to this writing prompt.