Found myself online looking for definitions of trauma. Definitions of non-physical type of trauma. One source stated that trauma is a response to a deeply disturbing or distressing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope and causes feelings of helplessness. A different platform also described trauma as an emotional response to a terrible event. Why would I be online doing this, you ask? Because my therapist has been calling me out on my bullshit. But what does trauma have to do with it, you may be curious to know? Because things that I thought were a natural part of my being, are actually learned responses borne out of helplessness to deeply distressing situations.

For some reason, the universe has deemed it fit for me to delve deeper into the emotional traumas I have been lugging around. They appear as invisible scars that I wear and not always know when they are showing. They show up in how I relate to others, how I perceive myself and how I read into others actions especially if those actions are directed toward me. It was revelatory how unaware I was of them.

Well, the way things seem to work where the universe and I are concerned is for me to learn through experience. Really, there is nothing she just hands over to me on a silver platter. There always has to be a personal learning curve if she is the one dishing out the lesson.

There’s a specific incident from my childhood that is as clear as day in my mind. 13 or 14 is just about the age I was when it happened. I was in high school either in Form 1 or Form 2. This incident took place on one of the days I was home for mid term. A Sunday afternoon to be specific. Because that was the day I was to report back to school. Before  5pm or I would be sent back home, or given a punishment that usually involved manual labour within the school compound. 

So, Sunday afternoon. We went to church that day, my mum took us. The plan was for her to come back and make me chapati and a few other snacks before I go back to school. Special High 5! to all my people who went to boarding school. Home food consumed on your dormitory bed was like striking gold! It didn’t matter that there was no microwave, you would eat it as is. Better yet if your chapatis can last up to two days after you get back to school. Oh, the little comforts. 

For context, I grew up in a polygamous family and all resources were shared among all family members. Whether it was equal sharing, that is a conversation for another day. I remember getting ready, packing my bag and getting into my school uniform. Easy peasy. I remember getting downstairs, going into the kitchen. I remember walking into the kitchen and sensing shit was about to go down.

My mum and my other mum were both in the kitchen. My mum, preparing my back to school package, my other mum cooking for visitors. Which visitors, you ask? My other mum’s Chama members were being hosted at our place that afternoon. Usually this was not an issue, not in my books anyway, until you realise there’s only one kitchen, one source of fire and two chefs with competing priorities.

Without getting into too much detail, what started as a verbal exchange between my two mums escalated into something equivalent to WW3. Two people I call mum. Two people whom I am a daughter to. Two people I care for and love equally. Two people who are now entangled in a physical fight. Who do I rescue? Who do I defend? Whose side do I take?Therein lay my dilemma. The fight had to be halted or somebody’s mother would end up very hurt. 

Maybe it was adrenaline, or logic or raw emotion, but I ended up having to get between my two mums and pulling someone aside for their own protection. That split second decision turned out to be a defining moment of how my relationship with one of my mums evolved. It was at that moment, with that simple action, the battle lines had been drawn. Tha moment for them meant I had chosen this mum over them. And they made it clear after that incident that I had made the wrong choice. 

My relationship with one of my mums after that was never the same. And for the rest of her life thereafter I spent it trying to make it up to her. Trying to prove that I love her just as much. Making sure that I never did any wrong in her eyes. Constantly trying to reassure her that I will grow up to be the best version of person they wanted me to be. It became a constant thing to monitor any possible worst case scenario and make sure that I did not offend her in any way. This dance was again, then repeated with my other mother. 

I do not carry this incident as a negative burden. I never did. It came up in one of my therapy sessions. And I do not blame either of my mums for how this was handled. They were of a different era, a different time period where gentle parenting did not exist. So I will not be a cry baby over how the situation was handled. I have made my peace with it. And I lover my mothers unconditionally. 

Why then am I sharing this way too personal story?

Fast forward to the present day and how I have been handling myself in a majority of my relationships. Of course with the guidance of my therapist and several angry, teary sessions later. I came to the dark realisation that I am a people pleaser. Dark realisation because it is not my mission on this earth to be a people pleaser. I am trying to live my most authentic life. That does not always jive with pleasing people.

More often than not, I will be the bringer of peace. Because I will make the compromise if it means it stems an argument. I will likely say yes even to things that make me uncomfortable just because that is easier than disappointing the other person. In other words I will constantly disappoint myself. I will be an active team player, let it never be said that I do not pull my weight, even if it comes at the expense of me burning the midnight oil. For goodness sake, I will even tell a lie and live with it, if it means I spare you the ugly truth. I became the person who would do everything in her power to  And this is not just for romantic relationships. I realised that this was a habit I carried into my friendships too.

If someone had asked me before if I suffered any emotional trauma from my past , I would have responded with a strong NO!. Therapy this season has me uncovering shit I did not even think existed in my mind or body. Yes body. Because the other thing trauma does to a person, is that we carry emotional baggage even in the physical form. That kink in your neck may not be just because you used the wrong pillow or you slept on your arm too long  and is causing the numbness. Our bodies physically hold on to shit we are not dealing with.Isnt therapy wonderful? 

A lot of the  recent things I have been sifting through with my therapist have been diggin up nuggets like the one I have shared from my past. And in my own way, I have been having very unhealthy coping mechanisms that have given rise to new bad behaviour.

What is the moral of this story, please, if you can, go to therapy.Take care of yourself before you can care for others.

The End.

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