Growing up in a dysfunctional home, you never really know how far it goes to affect your health, mentally and emotionally until much later. It’s even worse when you have to grow up with an emotionally absent mother, Yeah Mama wasn’t there when I needed her the most. Looking back at my childhood, I see a little girl who loved her daddy so much that she couldn’t bear to see him leave the house without her. Big sister and I would usually wait outside the gate waiting for daddy to get home, we didn’t care if that was going to take hours, and we would rather stand at the gate looking out for daddy’s car rather than stay a minute with mama.
Mama-Mama was nice to a fault, giving and very sacrificial. Mama made sure we had extra cash during our boarding school years. Whenever I fell ill, I wanted no one else but my mama, I still practice the same till date. However, mama could switch it up real fast on us, I remember wondering if she was bipolar. One minute, I am thanking God for touching her heart and making her care for me the way I have always wanted her to. The next minute she switches to threats and abuse.
But daddy, oh I remember daddy being the first to wake up in the mornings. His feet moving fast along the corridor, heating up water for us to shower, making breakfast, ironing our school uniforms, setting the table and dropping us off at school. After school, daddy made sure we had lunch, siesta and completed our homework. By now, you should have guessed why I loved my daddy so much. The truth is, I was left with no choice as he was always present. School functions, PTA meetings, and visiting days, It was always daddy.
Big sis and I were eventually shipped off to boarding school when daddy couldn’t keep up, I mean he had a job, a demanding one at that. But he made sure to visit us in school at least two times a week (my school mates can actually testify, everyone knew my dad in school). One time, daddy twisted his back while bending down to give my kid sis a bath, this would eventually land him at Igbobi orthopaedic hospital where he stayed for several months.
During gist time with friends back in secondary school, everyone would talk about their parents and narrate beautiful stories of the bond that exists between a mother and child. I remember that was the beginning of my insecurities. I couldn’t relate to those stories and the more I heard them the more different it made me feel. So I would just tell stories about daddy and I remember always being asked, “Why are you always talking about your dad only?” I can’t remember what my answer usually was, but this I know, I never let anyone in on the real reasons.
As I write this, I have shed a number of tears, I fought a lot of inner battle to pen this down. As transparent as I have tried to be in the last two years, talking about my childhood and family struggle has been one thing that I have kept sacred. I have feared how you would perceive this, I have feared being vulnerable and exposing myself to attacks.
For so many years, I thought I was alone in this, until I met Doreen whom I later found out had a troubling childhood herself. This is how I know that there are a lot of “us” out there who needs help. I can write this now only because I have worked through my mental health issues but there are some others who are still suffering like I did for over twenty years. For more than twenty years, I lived with what they call “Perfectly Hidden Depression”. The description simply is;
I hear this form of depression is even more dangerous because the person concerned is unaware of his or her mental state.
This is not the whole story. I don’t really think I can capture the totality of my childhood struggles even if I wrote a book… (Chuckles) but I promise to share bits of my mental health journey through series of blog posts. Please note that my intention is not to entertain you with my pain or get you to pity me. However, I hope this post makes you aware of mental health issues and how it affects those closest to us. I hope this awakens you to be more empathetic towards others because people are fighting real battles and not everyone is strong enough to fight this on their own. More importantly I hope this makes you aware of your own mental state and lead you to unravel issues that you have long buried. Please do whatever you need to do to take care of your mental health; cry if need be, do talk to someone, get a therapist! Finally, I really hope this sparks a deep, honest conversation about mental health disorders. I look forward to hearing your stories.
In series of blog posts to come, you would see how not dealing with my childhood issues set me on a destructive pattern, a pattern that would eventually lead to an epic melt down. So stay tuned for more…. (thank goodness, I am no longer crying)
I wonder what you would do differently after reading this. I would love to know, so how about we start in the comment section below?
Until next time on the Small town girl Blog
Peace and Love,