The Power of overcoming

Dedication: To my beloved mother and all who's overcome so much but kept fighting.

The gripping story of life doesn’t come together sometimes. I thee am a traveling soul searching for the identity I am to hold. The one stolen from me. I may be in a better place now, but I will never forget what it feels like to be exhausted no matter how much I sleep, have a panic attack in the middle of the night, or be defeated by the weight of my own and others’ expectations. They say I am one of a kind, an exceptional bean created by God to love and save; I say, why cannot I be a human first? I tell myself, I plant seeds; Now I feel I am kidding myself. I face the worst demons in the world. Lose my soul looking, but always reach an empty shell. Sometimes life gets hard to the point you look around and see no reason to go on living. You feel lost, confused, disappointed and angry. One tragedy happens after the other, and on and on. You spend every day of your life wondering and worrying about what life will throw at you next. I am here to say that you are not alone. There’s HOPE. I hope my story serves as a reminder that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Mostly, no matter what, you will be ok.

I was born three months too early. The doctor said I would not survive. They said I was not going to live to see my first birthday. They told my parents to start preparing for my funeral. But because of God’s will and my mother’s amazing love, I lived to see my first year and second birthday. I didn’t start walking not until I was 3 yrs. My biological dad passed away when I was 2 years old, and my older brother died as well 4 months later. When I was 4 years old, my mom remarried, to a man who turned out to be abusive both to my mom and me. He beat my mom up every day for hours, and made me watch as it happened. Three years later, my mom got pregnant and had a first child with him. After he had his first biological child, he did not want anything to do with me. He would beat me up, and when my mother tried to stop him, he beat her up instead. With my health issue, my sickness worsened, and ended up being hospitalized for 5 months again. It was hard for my mom. She felt like giving up on me from time to time, but her beliefs in the power of prayers gave her more strength to hold on and be still. It took a lot of courage for my mom to fight through it all. She told me she would doubt God many times, but she came to grow more in Christ day by day because of it. She knew and believed that the only way for me to survive my sickness + abuse from my stepdad was through miracle.

Six months after being sent home from hospital, my step dad beat me up, causing me to faint. When I woke up at the hospital, the doctor said the only way to survive was for me to get another surgery done. This is something my mother could not afford, and my stepfather wasn’t going to help. After all, all he wanted was for me gone. Due to lack of money, my mom’s family encouraged her to take me to a witch doctor. Something that was common in African villages back then. They performed a ritual over my body, which helped for a while.

When I was 9 years old, my beloved grandma passed away. She was the only person apart from my Mama who was always there for me. Few months after my grandma’s funeral, my stepdad got a business offer in another country. He was gone weeks to months at time. During his work trip, he started another evil doing of his own; sleeping around with other women. His drinking worsened overtime.. Every time he returned, he called my Mama names, and beat her up. One night he came home drunk, and burned our house down while we were in it. My step sister’s fingers were burned badly and my mother’s legs. Every time my Mama tried to leave him, he threatened to kill her and me, then take his children away with him. Three months after my 10th birthday, my Mama started getting sick.

My Mama learned he was womanizing when it was too late; the day she was diagnosed with HIV. The HIV sake in her fast, and was sent to hospital. My life couldn’t get any worse! I started to face more challenges the day my mom went to hospital. Day by day, she got worse and worse. I watched her body parts change, to the point her body was all bones from head to toes. It was far more painful than anything I’ve ever experienced before. The worst was watching my Mama in pain, feeling hopeless to save her. Even though she was sick, she still managed to teach me all the things I needed to survive once she was gone. During her hospitalization, she requested I withdraw from school and visit her at the hospital every other day. During those moments, she taught me so much, in which I came to live on her every word day by day. Mostly, she taught me to be a woman of faith, even in times of trials. She taught me to love everyone without finding fault; especially the ones I hit most. She taught me the meaning of giving and forgiveness. She made me promise to work hard and find a bigger purpose, something greater to believe in. When I was 12, she passed away.

After her death, the chance to mourn her was taken away from me. Everything was taken away from me by my aunts and uncles. I didn’t have any family that cared for me anymore. All my friends and my parents’ friends walked away from me. My stepdad, aunts and uncles didn’t barely noticed my pain. Instead, they started treating me badly; more like a slave.

There were times I needed advice or someone to talk to, but not one was willing to talk to me. I felt more lonely and scared than I ever did before. I was scared, heartbroken, and lost. During those moments of darkness, I ran from one home to another, one church to another, seeking help, but no one helped me. Even the church members. They all kicked me away. I was blamed for my parents’ death for reasons I could not understand. My step dad’s family wanted to clear their son’s name. They told everyone in the village that I was an abomination child. The reason my step dad mistreated my mom was, ME. Every house I passed by threw rocks or sticks of wood on me, telling me I was an evil child. I couldn’t possibly understand the hatred I got from everyone or why everyone thought of a 12 years old girl as an evil child. I started getting angry with God, myself and everyone. Mostly, my parents for leaving me alone. I stopped going to church or reading the bible. I didn’t see a purpose to living anymore. On my 13th birthday, I came to accept the fact that I had neither family nor friends, for the thought of thinking of them as family was too painful and too much to bail. I continued doubting God. I can say that Doubt is the enemy of faith because the more I was doubting God the more I was losing myself and all my faith. I would always ask God, “why me.

As my Mama required of me on her passing day, I started to pray, asking God for rescue, but nothing. My innocent child mind was no more. I felt scared, alone, and terrified of the unknown.

When I was 14, I was sent to America with aunts and uncles. They continued to abuse me in the US. They called the cops on me and made false accusations so I could get arrested. They threw me out of the house for days or weeks, beat me up with stick wood more than 5x a day, and turned everyone against me. I was physically abuse, emotionally abused, neglected and faced sexual harassment. I can’t remember how many times in my teenage years I slept on the street or at one of my mentors’ homes.

Living in new land, where I could not speak nor advocate for myself felt like another living hell. Learning a new culture, language while still mourning the loss of my Mama was a challenge.

At age 16, I discovered I had a talent for soccer then decided to join. It was the only place I felt safe for the first time since age 12. I felt like I belonged. My aunt and uncles found out, and demanded I quit the soccer team. Stating “my responsibility is to become more of a lady and prepare for marriage”. Referring to range marriage. I was only allowed to go to school, come back home, cook, clean and do their laundry, nothing else. However, I am my father’s daughter.. stubborn. I knew the consequences of going against their order, but I simply could not stop myself. After years of pain, I had found something that made me feel like a human. They threw me out of their house at age 17 stating I was ungrateful and deserve everything coming my way. After they kicked me out, I didn’t have anywhere else to go. Although the last place I wanted to return to was their home, my options were limited. So, I tried to go back to them, but they refused to take me in.

That moment, I wanted to run somewhere far away. A place where no one knew me. I moved away, lived on college campus as I took some classes. All my life I’ve had almost everyone tell me I was useless, stupid, never going to amount to anything. For a long time, I believed that and didn’t see myself being successful in anything, let alone college. At the same time, there was a part that wanted to work hard to prove everyone wrong. Growing up, I watched my Mama face hardship everyday. However, she never once gave up on fighting for herself. Fighting for her dreams. I admired her strength, and wanted to be just like her.

Now, I was in a place where no one knew me, away from my abusers, but I couldn’t move forward no matter how hard I tried. I was still carrying so much anger toward my family, friends and many others. A nightmare started when I began to see my family everywhere I went. Although they were a thousand miles away. I started hearing voices whether awake or asleep.

My professor recommended I see a school counselor. I come from a culture that does not believe in mental health. I believed having mental health issues was a weakness that needed to be fixed and buried. So I tried to do just that. After failing my first year of college, and being on suicide watch that whole year, I knew I had to do something. I decided to take a trip overseas, working with women and children struggling from aids. A lot happened on that fateful trip. Through my interactions there, I found healing and purpose. I returned home, pursuing my bachelor of Child, Adult & Family Services. Continued on with MSW.

This life is tough for us all. When you don’t see a purpose to go on. Sometimes life gets so tough to the point you look around, and see no reason to go on living. You feel lost, confused, disappointed and angry. One tragedy happens after the other, and on and on. You spend every single day of your life wondering and worrying about what’s gonna throw at you next. I’m here to say, you are not alone. Generally, this life can be unfair to us all. Even unfair to some more than the others.

One thing I learned throughout my life is that before you can live, a part of you have to die. You have to let go of what should have been, how you should have acted and what you wished you would have done differently. You have to accept the fact that you can’t change the past experiences or the opinions of others or outcome from their choices or yours. For when you finally recognize that truth then you will understand the true meaning of yourself and others. Moreover, from this point you will finally be free. Sometimes all we need to do is to have confidence and trust in ourselves, for as soon as we trust ourselves we will know how to live with great faith.

Story shared by...

Epiphany Ntaki

I currently work as a clinical therapist. In transition of switching to middle school/high school therapist. I am passionate about fitness and health. I coach multiple classes.