It started when my after my mother passed away; the mistreating, the beatings, the emotional abuses I received from my aunt; my very own mother’s younger sister. The one person I should have been looking up to in times of hardships and pain. As I write this story my heart is still burdened by all the events that took place after I lost my mother.
My mother passed away when I was still in grade six. It was the most painful thing I’ve ever had to go through. I would spend most of my days locked up in my bedroom, asking myself how life was going to be without her. It was when I had to go to high school that I realised how terrible life was without her.
I was staying with my grandfather and one of the five aunts I had. For the first few days of school opening I stayed home because I had no one to apply for me at high school. You can imagine the kind of pain it brought to my heart when I thought of mom. She would always say to me, “I want you to go to the most well respected high school in town. Go show them how intelligent and determined you are my child. I believe in you and I know you will make me proud, just like your brother did.”
By the time it was time for me to go to high school my brother was at boarding school and couldn’t help me in any way since we both relied on my mother on everything. At last my grandfather found me space in one of the local high schools. It was a far cry from what me and my mother had in mind but it was better than staying at home.
The hardest part about being at high school was not looking as neat and beautiful – like all the other children. Life was hard at home. At times I would get home to find that there was no soap to wash my school uniform. Sometimes I even had to go to bed hungry. It was only after my grandfather got payed his old age grant that we were able to eat a decent meal at home. My aunt, who stayed with us, only supported herself and her children.
I would find myself having to sneak to her bedroom in order to steal food. At times she would catch me and beat me up like I was not even her older sister’s daughter. I then developed this stealing behaviour; I figured rather I eat and be beaten than die of starvation. It got to a point where none of my relatives wanted me at their houses because the only way I knew how to survive was to steal.
I would watch all my friends at school, who looked neat and had the entire school uniform, with sad eyes. I only had one shirt, a skirt, one pair of white socks and an old pair of shoes. The socks were starting to turn yellow; I would sometimes wear them twice without washing them. I was seen as the black sheep in our family.
Being the know thief hurt me because even when I didn’t steal anything I would be the first suspect whenever something went missing. My relationship with my aunt got worse as I grew up. I couldn’t understand how a woman, who was a young sister to my mother, could hate me the way she did. She would find me watching TV and switch it off. She would find me placing my clothes on the washing line and she would remove them for no apparent reason.
Once my brother was able to work, he would send me money and I would be able to buy food and cosmetics for myself. I thought she would be happy that I had stopped stealing from her but then I would find my food and cosmetics in the bin. She constantly waited for me to make a simple mistake so she could use it against me. For days I would cry myself to sleep, asking myself where all this hatred she had towards me came from?
My grandfather was too old to defend me. My brother was in Gauteng and he couldn’t see the kind of lifestyle I was exposed to. My father stayed with his wife and children and none of my family relatives would listen to me when I told them about the kind of life I lived at home. For years I grew up with this anger inside me. I was angry at myself and at my mom for leaving me when she promised to be there for me every step of the way. She promised to be there on my first day of high school, on my graduation day and on every special occasion.
I was mad at the world, everybody lived so lavishly and happily while I had to keep up with being beaten up and emotionally abused. I was angry at God: why allow all this to happen to me? When will it come to an end? I would keep asking myself. The anger I carried inside me made me lose control and respect. At school I started disrespecting my teachers. In my mind I thought that no one loved me and that they all saw me as nothing; just as my aunt did.
I started acting however I wanted, which started affecting my school work. I had no one to guide me, to protect me from the cruelties of life. In that manner I started looking for love in all the wrong places. I got involved with a senior guy who was five years older than I was. Our relationship ended after I realised that he didn’t love me as he had claimed. The sad part was that I had already slept with him by the time I realised that. That didn’t stop me from involving myself with people who only wanted to use me.
I was blind then because I was lonely for love and affection; something I didn’t get at home. I dreaded my life at home to a point where I started staying over at friends’ places. When I thought of the way my aunt would look at me, the way she would react, the kind of things she would say whenever I was around, I felt pain like no other take in my mind body and soul.
For months I crashed at friends’ places until my grandfather passed away. That’s when I knew I just had to face my demons and go home.
The tension between me and my aunt grew till I was a young woman. It was when I failed my matric that I realised just how much she hated me. Everybody who chose to listen was told about my failure. Even when I got older she would say things that she knew very well would hurt me. She would always have something negative to say whenever I was around, constantly comparing me to my cousins who were blessed enough to pass their matric.
Even today, I am a twenty-five-year old woman with two children and things between me and her haven’t changed. She would act awkwardly towards my children when they enter her backrooms, but make it a point to treat other children of the relatives warmly whenever they are around. As an adult, I still have dreams about how she would beat me up or throw my things in the bin and I would wake up with tears.
Up to now I still ask myself how come my very own aunt could have so much hatred towards me. On the other hand I thank her for the way she treated me when I was still young; depriving me food and always being negative. It didn’t kill me but instead it made me stronger. Her treatment taught me responsibility. It taught me how life can be so harsh and cruel. I still have this pain I carry within me whenever I think of her. Nevertheless, I do believe one day she would be able to forgive me for whatever it is I have done to her because I still ask myself what it is.
My dear brothers and sisters, I would like to advise you never to let anyone’s hatred towards you pull you down. See it as a way of life that’s shaping you to be stronger than you were before. If I wasn’t as strong, I would have long committed suicide. But God helped me through all the loneliness and pain. It is only now that I get to understand the verse: “I can never leave you nor forsake you.”
I believe that I’m healed and I’m over it now as today I am able to share this story with everyone without shedding a tear.
Tell us what you think: Do you believe that harships are meant to build us?