I was born into an Igbo family of five; first child and daughter out of two. My dad fell ill for what felt like eternity- 12  years. It was the worst growth phase a child could have. He was away from home almost every time and my mum had to become my dad and my dad’s family didn’t make it any better. My mum got very busy and I had to grow up faster than I should have. I was a child that had to take care of two other children. It was hell, if not worse.

I was growing too fast; not the way teachers told parents with a smile that made you understand you were positively different. It was fast growth that was burdening. I was exposed to hate that flourished in my dad’s family and only got a fraction of love that should have been apportioned to me. I grew mature, older, motherly but empty: my feelings were without any depth. I became withdrawn. Thankfully, I didn’t lose my dad because I had him around but I felt I lost him. When he started getting better,  I was already used to him not being there- so while I was thankful, I was still empty. I didn’t have many friends, I pushed people away. I felt I could survive, I had already learnt to live without my daddy, what else could be worse?

Maybe God was driving me to the light that was at the end of this tunnel or maybe it was luck. The same way people ask if our life is pre-planned by some almighty director and producer or just solely a turnout of events caused by decisions we take or decide not to take. Whatever it was, it did save me.

My church organised a weekend retreat far away from home and for some reason I was around that same weekend and I only went because my siblings were going. I was already a second mummy and I loved my ‘children’.lol. This retreat was life changing. I found Jesus, not in that voice born-agains use. No, I had found love. I never felt this happy, filled and satisfied. I craved for moments with Him. I had found Love and He taught me to love and open up myself. It felt too easy and beautiful too and I savored every moment of it.

As I began to adjust into circle of friends, I found it hard again. I felt they were all better and I would always be a shadow. I wanted more and because I couldn’t find myself, I became withdrawn again. History was repeating itself. I compared myself with everybody around me and I didn’t think I was any good. I was an adolescent now, I didn’t have that body, that long hair, that beautiful flawless skin. My mum said I had beautiful dentition and legs but that wasn’t enough. I wanted more and more. The more I wanted, the less I became. I became ill, worse than that cancerous woman on the bed or that man with stroke on a wheel chair. I was depressed, angry and empty again.

The beautiful thing is that He never let me go even when I pushed Him out. He loved me and loved every part of me. He thought my eyesight was the best ever and my body was a sign of His perfection and slowly I went back to my first love and there He was,  waiting for me like He always does. He told me I was beautiful and perfect. I had Him and it meant I had everything. I was healed and thankful.

Okolie Chideraa

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