THREE THINGS I LOVE ABOUT MYSELF
The love of our parents is essential in the beginning of our lives to build a strong sense of self. Tamia tells us about her loss and pain and how only through self-love could she begin finding the antidote to the challenges in her life.
Tamia Delilly (16), from Bonteheuwel, was the first child of a young couple.
“My mom was 19 and my dad 23 when I was born. I am guessing they both were too young to fully understand the responsibility of having a child. We stayed with my dad’s family. Both my grandparents were around and they took the responsibility to care for me. My dad worked and mom stayed at home.
“I grew close to my grandmother because she was like a mother to me. I recall my mom not being around often and there were a lot of arguments between my parents. My mom used to go out to party and disappear for few days. No one would know where she was. I later found out that she was also using drugs.
“Her behaviour made me feel that she did not want me or love me and that hurt. I would look to my dad to find in him what I was unable to get from her. I do remember a few occasions when she was around and sang songs to send me to sleep. I longed to have a relationship with her and that made be sad.”
When Tamia turned six years old, she experienced a huge loss.
“My dad came to pick me up at school in the middle of the day and told me we were going to visit my mom at the hospital. I knew she was hospitalised because I had overheard people talking, but I did not know why. My dad gave me a chocolate bar to eat. We were driving and after some time he stopped the car on the side of the road and told me ‘your mom has passed away.’ I remember looking at the chocolate in my hands and not knowing what to feel or say.
“When we arrived at the hospital my mom was lying down in bed. I remember thinking they must have made a mistake, she is sleeping. I went to her side and shoock her arm, she did not move. This was when I started crying.
“The last time I saw her was on her funeral day. I went to the church but not to the cemetery. I think my family wanted to protect me. However, not seeing her being buried or even knowing where her grave was (my family have refused to tell me this all my life) left me with a big emptiness inside. I began feeling something was missing within myself and I didn’t know what.”
Tamia later found out that her mom had been pregnant and she had died due to complications with her pregnancy. The loss of her mother strengthened the bond she had with her father.
“I continue having a normal life at home and I became closer with my dad. I stayed with him in his bedroom, I remember I would only fall asleep in his arms and I would ask him to wake me before he left for work. I think I was afraid he would also die.
“In the same year of losing my mom, I was sitting drawing at home one night and my dad arrived with a woman. He introduced her as auntie Natasha. I said hi and continued drawing. Auntie Natasha began to visit and stay in the house regularly. I would get angry, leave them alone and go to sleep in the room with my grandmother. I was afraid that my relationship with my dad would change and I would lose him.
Tamia’s dad and auntie Natasha got married soon after.
“I felt disappointed with the marriage, even more so when they told me that they were going on their honey moon and I could not go. I was told they needed to have privacy. Our bond started to deteriorate and I became closer to my granny.
“Auntie’s Natasha family were not very nice with me at first and she was tough on me too. A year after they got married they had a child called Leah. They both worked, so I would baby-sit my little sister and we grew closer. My granny and Leah became my core family and the only people I felt truly close to.
“I became a quiet and sensitive person, I closed up. I did not want people to know about me or my feelings. I had few friends and never shared my emotions with them. When I was eight in Grade 3, I started to be bullied at school. I think they could sense I was broken and my self-worth was non-existent. During breaks they would push me around and call me names. These incidents occurred almost every day.
“I tried to stay in class during breaks but they would find me there. So, my strategy was to convince some of my peers to play hide and seek during breaks. If we did, I would remain hiding for the full break, unfortunately this didn’t always work.
“I would wake up each morning not wanting to go to school. My grandmother would be my motivation. She would tell me that I couldn’t allow those kids to determine my future and she would encourage me to get ready and go to school. Almost every day we would go through the same ritual, she was an anchor for me. Throughout primary school and even in high school, I reported some of the incidents to teachers but they were never able to stop my peers. They would scold them but the bullying would continue.
Tamia suffered another big loss in her life when she was 14.
“My grandmother died, it was such a big loss for me. She played the role of a mother, father and friend. She was the only person that throughout my life had showed me nothing more than love.
“I withdrew from the world and locked myself in the bedroom that I used to share with my granny. I wanted to feel her presence. I read books, listened to music and started hurting myself. I felt such a pain and emptiness inside that I needed something to numb it.
“During this period, the bullying at school got worse and I thought about ending my life. I just wanted to die. I was in the kitchen with a knife at my chest when my father walked in. I stopped and ran to my room.
“I started to cut myself with that same kitchen knife, I cut the skin on my arms and the top of my thighs. It didn’t hurt too much, so I moved to a razor. I did it every day, the pain was sharper. Every time I cut myself it was as if the physical pain would free some of my emotional pain. I felt worthless, I felt that everyone would be happy if I just die. But time can help in any situation and with it I slowly began to cope with life.”
Tamia says that she stopped cutting herself after two years. She began seeing a therapist in her school and that helped her. She also started calling auntie Natasha ‘mom’ and their relationship improved. Unfortunately, Tamia hasn’t found a solution for her bullying but she is working on it. She also hasn’t given up on one day developing a warmer relationship with her dad.
In conclusion Tamia says, “I have started appreciating myself. My body is God’s temple and I should not hurt myself or allow anyone else to. I began forgiving myself for what I have done and also I have forgiven others. I realised that in life nothing is permanent, things and people will come and go but I am the only constant in my life. Every day I look in` the mirror and say three things I love about myself … I am aware that when I master my journey of self-love, all the rest will fall into place.”
Tamia is a Leaders’ Quest participant.