In many occasions, we would meet people in town who didn’t know I was my mother’s daughter and after an exchange of greetings, they’d ask her: “Who is this?” When my mother mentioned that I was her daughter, they’d be engulfed in shock and tell me I was bigger than my mother. God knows how those remarks, so easily spoken, escorted me to many nights of tears and days of sorrow. I also recall a day when I decided to take a walk in the streets of Turfloop and I passed two young women who looked at me like they were looking at an alieness; they said: “yoh, bonang!”(meaning ‘look!’) And they laughed enjoyably. Those words and those laughs gave me a new revelation at the time: I was a comedian who didn’t have to say a word; all I had to do was reveal myself (body) and the world was already drowning in laughter.
Sometimes even the people whom you expect to offer you a helping hand in your downfall, are those who instead, kick you considering you’re already down. You see, being overweight was the best tour guide to people’s characters; my weight, somehow had the skill to charm people’s true colours out of their hiding places. Because of experiences such as those, you get to know who truly loves you and who not. I was once asked by a pastor what I was eating that was making me so fat, and what made it more embarrassing was that there were people around me who heard him utter those words. That was another flame a golden stone such as I had to endure.
There were other instances where a certain person in my neighbourhood would catch me passing by on my way home, from buying bread at the spaza; she’d say: “Aowa Lebo, I’m sure now you’re a few sizes bigger than me, what size do you wear?” She’d use those words to kill me and bury me with laughter afterwards. That was another injury I experienced but it was mine, so yes, I had to take it.
That was a season in my life where a lot of people came offering me gifts: insults, mockery, humiliation and the likes. And even though they weren’t pleasant gifts, today I am grateful for them because had it not been for them, I wouldn’t be who I am today and I wouldn’t have achieved what I’ve achieved. So yes, I am evidence that your enemies are there to promote you and I know there are many of you who were pierced by similar thorns in your paths. Sometimes it’s because of these experiences that we hate and reject people; we end up even wishing the worst for them because of how they invested their lives in hurting our feelings. God knows I wish it wasn’t that way but its reality and forgiveness sometimes happens to be a battle I still struggle to win. I’ve won in some cases but I strive to win the remaining battles with all that I am.
There was a fellow I grew up with, who constantly mocked me about my weight and always went hunting for weapons to remind me that I wasn’t pleasant and at that, he never failed. From then on, I held a huge grudge against him and hatred, in its homelessness, knocked at my door. I pitied it and opened my heart to it. And whenever his name was mentioned, the hate would begin singing loudly in the hallways of my soul. So after I lost weight, I wanted him to be my special guest as the hate performed a show for him because I wanted him to feel the pain I felt. But little did I know that unforgiveness and hatred were family members of folly – they were damaging me and not the other person. And as much as I thought I had forgiven him, I was very wrong because many times we think we have forgiven a person until we see them again! Then it all goes south.
The same thing accompanied me in my other friendships. It’s either they undermined me, made me feel small or just never saw in me a puzzle piece that matched their whole puzzle set. I have memories of bitterness shining through my window and that influenced my outlook on life. When the sun shines, it brings forth a bright day and in my case, bitterness had taken the place of the sun. When it shone, it shone nothing but darkness and it was all because of unforgiveness. Until someday, my mother told me that speaking what you feel to the particular people who hurt you is necessary in order to find peace. That’s when I took the decision to speak to some people who I felt deeply hurt by, about what exactly they did that offended me. This was not an act to make them feel bad but it was all because I wanted to make peace, not just between us but within myself. Trust me, it indeed paved the way for healing to reach me because many times we speak much about what people have done to us and we fly in skies of pain and resentfulness when the person who hurt us is having the time of their lives, not knowing that they exist in our galleries of resentfulness.
I guess some of us have to walk up a few staircases, sometimes one, in order to reach forgiveness – it’s a process. I don’t know how others do it but usually, time has to actively wait for me to forgive and as painful as it may be, it sometimes is very necessary to know every emotion that every step is associated with in the process of forgiveness.
Wow. I can’t believe that when I look back, I see that every experience was a piece of character made to build the tower that I am today. I am learning to love myself in even the areas that people don’t find pleasing. I am a product of the fact that hard or rather smart work pays off because all that emotional turmoil, the puddles of sweat that oozed from my body during exercise sessions, the change of diet and the unlearning I had to do was very difficult but it was worth it. Ever heard of the saying “Easy come, easy go?” Indeed, when you plant a tree, you will need to do everything required for it to begin to grow fruit. And until that happens, patience has to be invited to the party because it will not happen overnight. God wants us to grow gradually so that at the other end of the experience, we are not swift but strong.
Coming to think of it, some of the experiences I’ve tasted have left a bitter taste in my mouth. Even today, I still am victim to some struggles. I know you are somewhere on the other end of this blog post and if you’ve passed the same avenues as I; I’d like you to know that you are not a miscalculation of existence, nor are you a harsh consequence to your parents. You are a beautiful piece of embroidery on the face of earth, a necessary sentence in a meaningful story. I cannot say why you are the plant you are, the soil you were planted in and how you were watered but you alone can be you. There’s nobody you than the you that you are! Never doubt yourself because of other people’s perceptions of you; doubt your doubts instead. You have a responsibility to choose what you want to believe about yourself. If you thought you were the only one who knew this experience and had no friend to hug you and understand, this blog post was written for exactly that. It was carved and designed to be your friend and to hug you with every word within itself. If nobody ever told you you were beautiful and special, I’d like to take the onus: Young girl, even though sometimes you’re never the D they mention when they say it’s as easy as ‘ABC’, you are still a letter the alphabet would be incomplete without.
Until we meet again, a happy new year to you. This year, remember that not everybody likes the sun but it chooses to shine anyway – learn from it.