This is a very good question. As a child I was very thin and frail as I was finicky with food, having a passion for eating mainly milk and eggs. Great in protein but not much fat. Hence I was a target for bullies, which was rife between 8 and 13 years old. Bullying me became so bad, my older sister had to come to my primary school to sort out a ring leader and, from that moment, they left me alone. But it was very traumatic sometimes as I loved school, and their actions prevented me from both enjoying my school days and even attending classes, sometimes.
I was very quiet and introspective because my father made it very clear that he didn't want girls (who would only amount to nothing) while boys did the trick for him. It meant that for me and my sister, we might as well not have been there. He starved us of love, affection and care, and barely wanted to give anything towards our upkeep after he left home, which made it extra difficult for our mother. Basic things for school and life were denied us which meant we experienced a level of poverty which was incredible, often having nothing to eat some days. This knowledge that I was subconsciously rejected did little good for my self-esteem and though I was a phenomenal reader, from four years old, my actual achievement and motivation during early childhood were very low. However, what my father lacked in encouragement and love, my mother made up for in abundance.
Not surprisingly, I was also very sickly too, particularly with asthma and nosebleeds. I was always having nosebleeds when I was asleep and it became very debilitating for me, especially when I sometimes found it difficult to stop them. The asthma dogged me for many years too, as I was always wheezing, coughing and allergic to things. Sometimes the coughing was quite distressing, making it difficult to breathe. I think up until I was about 13 years old I simply coasted along feeling sorry for myself, introverted and full of both emotional and physical pain which I couldn't discuss with anyone. I had been sexually abused by a stepfather from 9 years old to 11, and subjected to physical abuse by my Mom when she was in terrible moods or we caught her on the wrong day. So I was getting it from both sides with no one to confide in.
Then one day I was at the back of the classroom daydreaming and feeling sorry for myself, as I usually do, to escape from my humdrum life of perceived rejection, when I heard something familiar. It was an essay I had written about a girl having a great dream she thought was real until she woke up to "hearing the pattering of the rain on the window pane", the only words I remembered from it. The teacher was actually reading MY essay and it was the first time I had been praised publicly for something I had done. It had a dramatic effect on my behaviour from then on and influenced me getting a scholarship to a convent school soon afterwards. It also cemented my love of the printed word and gave me a new optimism in my life. The rest, as they say, is history.
I can say I am nothing like the child I was then as I am far more extroverted and more self loving. In fact, if my younger self met my older self now the two wouldn't recognise one another! :o)
©Elaine Sihera (Ms Cyprah)
Emotional Health Adviser
"Respect and love begin with the self. If we have none, how can we give away any?"