When the word battles comes to mind, the least picture I have is beauty. Blood, sweat, tears, fear, uncertainty and a host of other emotions comes to mind. I had only heard of battles till I had to fight myself, unprepared.

Life as I knew it was a bed of roses, a playground if we are speaking extremes, I explored every opportunity to be like the child I was, going against instructions to jump around in the rain, riding my bicycle till mum practically dragged me indoors by my ears, a few spanks here and there but I slept on those roses.

11 years old, Death came knocking and woke me up. The first battle I fought were the tears that formed in my eyes when my dad pulled me into his embrace and whispered

 

“Somethings just happen in life, mama is dead and had gone to be with the Lord”

I knew the word death, I heard it on tv, I just didn’t know it will happen to my grandmother or “mama” as we called her. I had grown fond of her over the years, She took care of me when my mother needed to go back to school right after she gave birth to me. I walked into her room, only to find the bed neatly laid, she really wasn’t coming back. I cried when no one was looking, hid my hurt because I thought no one will understand why the 11 years old granddaughter had more tears that her mother. I didn’t understand the cycle of life, my young mind couldn’t comprehend it, no one explained it to me I didn’t fight this battle, I didn’t know I was supposed to so, I just accepted it.

The thorn in these roses started to show up as I was shipped to boarding school in another state far away from home, I had been nicknamed “Thunder” quickly, a nickname I got from saying the wrong answer in a native language class, I was made fun of everyday of the school year by different classmates and being really petit there was so much I could do, then I started getting home sick which became an escape from the snide comments and creative jokes my classmates could pull off on any given day. I didn’t fight the tears anymore, not like I didn’t want to, I didn’t know how to. I gave in, tossed here, tossed there everyday by whoever had the best joke. Then, one day an angel in form of a friend resumed into the boarding school after a spending a year coming into school from her parents house. She was alot bigger than I was and I watched how she stood up for herself and won’t let anyone  toss her around, I dare say she invoked abit of fear in people that tried to mess with her.

I watched from afar and I wanted that, I took steps and got close to her. Quickly, we bonded, she became very protective of me, considering my size, stood up for me when needed. I took mental notes and determined not to let anyone intimidate me. Having her by my side gave me a certain level of confidence. The confidence grew and gradually instead of taking refuge in the hostel dispensary I got the courage to start saying

 

“Don’t call me that”

 

I got the confidence to walk tall after being made fun of with a thicker skin, knowing that people who constantly bullied others were just exhibiting an inner insecurity that they felt and I realised that I wasn’t exactly the one with the issues. One day at a time, I put up a fight, other days at those times I overcame.

I got into senior high school a more confident version of myself, it felt great to be able to stand up for myself and not have anyone toss me around anymore, that part was done but school work started getting more difficult and was beginning to lose focus, grade were dropping drastically I didn’t know how to catch myself. The jolt I needed was on the way, little did I know

 

“To repeat grade Jss 2*”

 

clearly written on the dotted lines of my yearly academic report. My parents didn’t hide their disappointment in anyway and I lost the battle with tears once again letting it flow freely. I spent the holiday pinching myself hoping I would wake up from the bad dream only this dream didn’t seem to end.

 

The look I got from my mother haunted me to better grade the coming year. They weren’t convinced. I had ruined it once and it felt like they expected a repeat performance. They got a surprise till I graduated high school.

When i entered into the University it became a campaign to get my parents approval and get affirmations for a job well done, so I put in more efforts to get even better grades and as every year went by with better grade that were some not “good enough”, resentment grew.

A year before I graduated university, my mother pulled up a chair next to me, she told me how much growth she noticed in my academics and how wrong she was about me and for the first time in years she acknowledged my efforts.

I smiles, because prior to that I had read in the Bible “I will give you beauty for ashes” and I had learned to forgive and let go of deep hurts regardless of the circumstances that caused them. I stopped seeking affirmations and saw the beauty in every battle not because I won or lost in the individual context but for every battle there was a degree of preparation for the next battle but I didn’t realise till I looked back.
In conclusion, I will say this; When battle comes to mind see beauty not because there are no blood, sweat, tears, fears or uncertainties but for every battle we face we are beautified by virtue of the lessons learnt.

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Written by Arike