I was 22, on the floor of my apartment, having a front-of-the-altar type of mental breakdown. I finally recognized the pain that I had been hiding for all of these years. The feeling of being unloved.
As a survivor of childhood emotional abuse, I know how much abuse and trauma from your past can affect your every decision. I was constantly looking for love without knowing it.
At the age of 5, I immigrated from Nairobi, Kenya, to Dallas, Texas. My extended family was torn apart, and my parents and I were uprooted to a new world. The very foundations of the world I had grown to love was shattered. This caused a lot of confusion and resentment amidst the culture shock of moving to a new country.
I wanted so desperately to fit in and to not be made fun of that I began to do everything in my power to assimilate. I purposely forgot three languages that I could fluently speak so that I could be proud to say I only knew English. I turned on my culture, and lived my adolescence through the experience of internalized racism.
As a teenager, anxiety and depression was constant and overwhelming, but in most cases I was unaware that I even had these conditions. It was when my maternal grandmother, whom I was closest to, passed when I was 16 that I truly began to realize the extent of my depression.
By the time I was in college, I had been continuing to hide parts of myself. Not only was I embarrassed by my heritage, but I had no idea how to believe in my own strengths and talents. I was so convinced that my natural skills in art, history, literature, sociology, etc. were “useless” because they “wouldn’t be able to provide for me.”
At every chance I had, I undermined myself. I didn’t know it at the time – but this lack of belief in myself was completely intertwined in my feelings of being unloved.
After suffering through hundreds of panic attacks, multiple serious bouts of depression, a constant stream of anxiety-ridden thoughts, and even trying antidepressants by just the age of 20, I knew that a better way had to be out there.
During my time after high school and in college, the pain that I carried with me manifested in the use of multiple substances. I was never completely addicted to one particular drug, but I knew that I was meant for so much more than the life that I was living.
I finally realized that I needed to heal. I needed to process all of the pain I had been through. I needed to break free of my addictions, my stories of self-doubt, and I had to completely put myself together again.
It was on this journey that I discovered NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), Art Therapy, and a variety of spiritual leaders that gave me the tools to discover who I am and how to believe in myself.
I learned to trust.
Not only myself, but the universe. The world around me. I rebuilt a story that my world is friendly, accepting, supportive, and loving. I reconnected with many old friends, made plenty of new ones, and created a life for myself that better than I could have imagined.
I know how difficult it can be to deal with addictions, to feel like every single decision is a struggle. I understand the immense heartwork that it takes to put trauma and betrayal in your past. But this is your life. And you deserve to be completely in love with it.