Turning my obstacles into stepping stones

Drawing: Yue Minjun
Drawing: Yue Minjun

By Lihle

I know we sometimes let our parents down.
But would you admit when your parents let you down? Would you confront them?

Sure, they bought you clothes and food but there was a time when you needed them to tell you how much they love(d) you.  There was a time you longed for a hug and they were not there. Do you tell them about the time you wished they saw the pain you were in? The times you were angry and just needed someone to ask you what was wrong but no one did?

You were just a little girl.
Surely they should have known when you were hurting? They’re your parents, so they should notice when your attitude suddenly changes . A five year old little girl surely shows signs of rape? So you have to ask yourself whether they found out but decided to let it go? Did they keep it a secret just to ‘protect you’ or maybe to protect the family name? Did they know why you became so violent all of sudden?  Should I be angry at them ( what if they did not see or notice what happened) or I should be angry at myself for not telling them?

When the anger burns for a long time it somehow becomes your comfort zone. You get comfortable in your pain, so scared to let go because you’re not sure what will be left.

I was starting to live my life. Growing up to be a teenager and becoming more independent – as independent as possible. I taught myself never to rely on anyone. I fought my own battles and made my own money. I even refused to ask for lunch money and I was only 13 years old… and then I was raped again.

I was never a virgin. I never knew what it was like to decide for yourself when you want to lose your virginity.

I became quite violent so they took me to an anger management class. Still no one asked why I was angry. They just taught me how to deal with and control my anger. I became a loner. I kept things to myself.The anger built up inside to the extent that I wanted to kill someone.  One day I was walking home with my friend when some guys approached us wanting phones and money at first we tried to fight them, however we were outnumbered so we ran into a house. Fortunately there was a bread knife on the table which I took without thinking and proceeded to run back to the gang. I stabbed one of them. I stabbed him three times before my friend wrestled the knife from me. I had blacked out and did not even know that I had stabbed someone until I saw his blood on my hands. I almost killed a human being because I was scared.  In my eyes I became worthless. I told myself “no one cares so why should I?”

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Drawing: Yue Minjun

Food became my drug.

I started eating to the point of blacking out. I would then sleep and pretend all was well. In 2003 I was 19 years old and in matric because I had failed my grade 8 – I was a troubled child. At this point I thought I had put the past behind me. I was doing well at school. My mother’s health was not good because she suffered from hypertension but I was not going to let that get in the way. I was determined. I was offered scholarships and life was great. That June I went to vacation school in Stellenbosch when I came back I met a guy I was in school with who got arrested for stealing when I was in grade 9 and he was a big shot now at the age of 26. I didn’t care for people like him so I passed with a brief “hi”. There was nothing I was going to say to him as he was friends with the person had who raped me. This guy heard that I was friends with a white chick so he asked me what the deal was with me and that chick and I told him that it was none of his business.  We were between two houses and he drew a knife and he told me “I know you’re sleeping with that woman”. I tried to deny it but he insisted so I retorted ‘so what! I am sleeping with her.’ Those words began the torture.

He took me to his room at gun point and said he had always wanted to know what his friend talked about when he had said I was a virgin. At that moment I told myself “this is not going to happen for the third time” so I turned around and hit him, HARD. He fell to the ground. He looked at me and I looked back at him knowing that this time I was not going to make it. Just as I was about to give up fighting someone knocked on his door… It was his mother, I screamed, he opened the door and let me go. I ran like a mad woman.  Knowing full well that I was his enemy, he made sure that I did not forget this fact.

It was late one Saturday ,as I returned from my study group, that I met him again.

That day I told him to kill me because he was never going to sleep with me let alone rape me. I gave him the choice and he let me go.  My mother’s health deteriorated and my exams were fast approaching.  I became a robot with no emotions. This time around I was neither angry nor happy. I became numb. I didn’t care about anything. Sure, I took care of my mother. I made sure she had food and that her clothes were clean but I forgot about me and my studies.

The exams came and I told myself I was not going to write them instead I would care for my mother. A teacher convinced me to make an attempt and although I did not do my best I passed with exemption so I got accepted at the Peninsula Technikon for Electrical Engineering. However my mother was still sick. On the 8th of February 2004 she passed away and she was buried on the 28th.  Throughout that time I didn’t shed a tear. I had to be strong for everyone else. On the 9th of May I broke down. I was alone. I cried so hard and after that I did what I do best, I pretended I was fine even though I still had questions.

In 2004 I do not remember the month exactly, but I became sick. When I went to the doctor I was told I was pregnant which was very confusing because to my knowledge I hadn’t had sex with anyone.  I bought a bottle of wine and finished it off with the pills my mother had left behind. I fell asleep. I slept for three days and when I awoke the last of those pills were gone with the other tablets my mother left behind. Again I was alone although I didn’t care.

I ate and slept for a whole month.

I dropped out of school. I spoke to no one. I hated myself and everything I represented. I was a mess. An unloved lonely mess. My girlfriend found out that I had dropped out so she returned to South Africa from Kenya, I was angered by her concern.  She was meant to hate me like everyone else did. She had no right to tell me she loved me no matter what. She was supposed to be angry with me for falling pregnant.  Despite all this it was through Alex’s help; her being there financially, physically and emotionally that I became alive again.

I then found out how I got pregnant. My so-called boyfriend had drugged me then raped me while I was passed out. He made me pregnant because he thought that if we had a child together then I would continue to have sex with him and eventually marry him. All this even though I had told him that I was in love with someone else and I could never love a snake like him. On the 18th of December 2004 I gave birth to a beautiful healthy little boy and for some time I forgot about the heartaches, the pains, and the sexual assault. For the first time in my life I had hope and believed that everything was going to be ok. Alex was still there. She was my strength, I mean damn she bought clothes and gave me money so that I could go back on my feet.

Now I wish my parents had shared this experience with me, I wish they had given me hope, love and showed me how to love. As a woman, yes I made mistakes. Yes I have been through a lot. I am still dealing with depression, anxiety and panic attacks.  This is something I am living with.  I sometimes have this sharp pain in my heart and I still wish I could speak to someone about my life but for now this paper will be my therapy. It will be the person I speak to about all I have been through.

Marija-02

3 comments

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It takes a lot of guts to stop running and start facing and dealing and this is a fine example of pure bravery! May this be the first of many steps you take. Love & light

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U not alone the pain the self hate the steaming hot tears that are my only reminder to feeling pain the reminder that I too am human. I’m 23 now was reped at 16 after that day I don’t remember being a normal teen I don’t even remember my child hood every man that’s come to contact with me seems to smell that I’m an easy target iv had 3 close calls since that day my innocence got taken so now I live every day hoping I don’t become a victim once again.

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This post brang me to tears and I want you to know your defiantly not alone,I have kept a wall up for so long thinking no one could ever relate but today I find that is not true….Thank you for being an inspiration to me and I will try to be more open In my entries..

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