Confessions of an Orphan: Scars Don’t Make You Weak

Published on 17th May 2017

People deal with tough situations and grief in many different ways. Some bury their pain deep inside their hearts and carry on with life as if nothing ever happened whilst others wear their pain on the surface like a long veil of despair and anguish. Whatever your case may be, having emotional scars does not make you weak.

I’m going to be 100% honest with you and say that despite my seemingly tough exterior, there are still a multitude of scars which affect me in many ways. I don’t exactly pretend that they aren’t there, but at a first glance it’s hard for people to even imagine that they are. They are effortlessly concealed with layers of smiles, optimism and determination. Today, I want to remove the concealer and share 2 of my worst scars with you:

#1 I break down whenever anyone raises their voice at me

When my parents died, I was quickly labeled by my maternal family as the witch who took away her parents. My first terrifying experience was when a family member brought me to an exorcist to “get rid of my demons”. I was only 11 years old and I was so confused. I was sent to a dark, small room where a priest yelled at me as if I were some monster. After that, my life was pretty much shaken and the people around me seemed to find pleasure in shouting at me: “You stupid little girl!” “You will never amount to anything” “You bloody witch”… Although I am an adult now, I still break down when anyone raises their voice at me. It isn’t a daily occurrence, but it’s something I really struggle with.

#2 I still wish I could run to Daddy or Mummy when I need help

I had a very special relationship with my parents for the first 10 years of my life. They sacrificed so much for my sisters and me, and the vibe at home was indescribable. When I was bullied in school because of my dark skin, my parents always knew what to say to make me feel better. As I grow older, there are so many hurdles I face and I sometimes wish I could pick up the phone and call my parents for help. It’s hard not to know who to discuss certain things with, things a mother teaches her daughter in particular. It is very difficult not having them around, and I find myself learning through trial and error. I taught myself about feminine hygiene, I taught myself how to cook, I taught myself how to deal with peer pressure… I am still teaching myself many things, and sometimes I wish I could have my parents around for their wisdom and advice.

It’s okay to be fragile from time to time and to let out a tear or two. This doesn’t make you weak. After all, scars are different in origin and size. Some take longer to heal than others whilst others stay with you for the rest of your life. At the end of the day, you have to learn how to live with those scars and turn them into a source of strength and inspiration. Everyone goes through tough times. Some take them as challenges, whilst others take them as opportunities. I choose to take every challenge as an opportunity to learn, to better myself and as one step closer to my next goal.

Remember: You have to power to decide whether your scars will make you weak or strong – THE CHOICE IS YOURS.

By Stella Mpisi

Stella Mpisi is a Congolese-born (Democratic Republic of Congo) South African author, writer, colourism activist and lover of the African continent.

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