Dedication: Dedicated to my Mom. one of the strongest Women I have come across my entire life. she is more than a warrior.

One thing I have come to realize is that there is only one me and I am awesome and wonderful even if I don’t see it. Life can be painful sometimes especially if you are dealing with some childhood traumas. Sometimes everything is dark and painful. Other times the clouds hover and I just want to stay and stare. Ever felt like you are drowning in your own thoughts? Ever been afraid to think? Ever felt like it hurts to wake up in the morning? This has been my feeling for the longest time. I don’t really remember when I never felt like this. Most times I have felt like the weakest human alive.

I grew up in a very violent household. My parents fought on many occasions. I always wondered why my home was different but one thing that never crossed my mind was how badly this situation was going to affect my life. On numerous occasions, my Father would beat my Mother and throw her out in the middle of the night. Sometimes we would also be asked to follow her and all she would do was get us all together and knock on a neighbor’s house asking for shelter for the night. I remember one night after my Mom served my Dad dinner, he threw the food back at her. Luckily she ducked it just in time and the plate hit the wall. This was one of the luckiest nights of her life as if that plate got her eye then she would be blind today. The spot where that plate hit got some damage that stayed for the longest time. I have thousands of incidents and examples I can give but for now let me leave it at that as some are too painful to replay. All I know is that the violence I lived through in my childhood is unexplainable.

One thing I keep asking myself is why she stayed but I am pretty sure she had her own reasons though that reason or her choice to stay sadly informed my childhood. The violence might have happened to my Mom directly but it subsequently affected me deeply and it’s something I am still dealing with todate in my adulthood. My parents created an environment of fear that denied or robbed us an opportunity to bond as siblings. We were too busy living in fear of the next blow. As I grew older and developed my passion for women and girls empowerment, I realized my mom stayed in this violent marriage because of her children and also because she was not educated and depended entirely on my dad. She was not empowered and lived in a society/community full of shame, silence and stigma surrounding domestic violence.

Despite all these, I have stayed positive and strong even on my weakest days. I have managed to put a smile both on my face and on other people’s faces. One thing I have always wished for though is for the pain to go away but sadly the pain will always be part of our journey. All I have tried to do is find ways of coping with it. The struggle that I have always had is to admit that my emotions, feelings and thoughts are not in my control. I try to suppress a lot of my emotions and feelings. I know I am not broken but I am different. I experience or have experienced things differently. I am trying to give myself space to learn how to navigate life in my own shoes as no one can ever understand what or how you feel except you. I will be okay and will always try to show up for myself. Even if I have to show up for a friend who is also struggling, I need to remember to take care of myself first as I cannot pour from an empty vessel.

I know I am strong but that doesn’t deny the fact that for many years I felt alone and lonely. Depression is one of the hardest things I have had to deal with but one thing I know for sure is that IT IS OKAY not to be OKAY. There is nothing wrong in asking for help or telling your story. Maybe just maybe one day I will get help from a professional THERAPIST but for now I continue focusing on the positive and reminding myself that there can only be one me in this world and that’s ME! So I have to put myself first and make sure my mental health is in check at all times. I have chosen happiness over bitterness. I have chosen to look at my childhood trauma as a path to the strong, powerful and empowered woman I am today. This is a long journey but I will take it one step at a time.

Story shared by...

Nelly Lukale

I am Nelly Lukale from Kenya. a strong champion for the rights of women and girls working towards a world where every young woman and girl is empowered and can live sustainably. I am also the founder of Hope in Action Health and Hygiene Network @hianetwork a community based organization that works to encourage leadership and empowerment through advocacy on menstrual health, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health awareness, mental health awareness among others.