“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust”
It has been 20 years.. I sat down last night to write but could not so I decided to add the pictures first. As I added each photo, I started reflecting on the last 20 years and open the floodgate of tears. Mind you, I have seen these phots, however, looking at them once more reminded me of how hard and long not only physically but also emotionally it took to be here. It has been a rough road, one I thought I would never make it through. What haunts me now are the what ifs. What if it had never happened? Would it have been a less damaging 20 years? argh! May 8th, 1998 will be a date seared into my memory for the obvious reason however, each year on this day, I get to celebrate because God placed in me a joyful noice within the turmoil.
The past 20 years I have walked around with brokenness and pain. A burden that has lead me towards suicidal thoughts, depression, low self-esteem, insecurities and abuse. To make it 20 years later, I do ask God, what was the purpose? A great fear of mine during my journey is for it not to being aligned with my purpose. Some of my memories of the past 20 years have not been my fondest but I am 85% sure that I had to walk through somethings to learn otherthangs! The other 15% wonders if I could not have learned whatever God wanted to reveal to me from other testimonies. However, God slowly revealed to me that my testimony was built during those tailor-made experiences for which now I have the authority to speak on. Nobody else’s testimony was going to reveal God intimately to me in a way that was only mine. This has been hard to accept because the journey was hell on earth. It has taken me decades of blaming God to now realizing that he did not let the accident happen to punish me. He was not trying to teach me a cruel lesson. When I was 13, a aunt told me that God burned me because he knew that I would be “ho-ish” so I should be glad that the burns were preventing me from being pretty. It was like she affirmed what I had thought all along, that he did this on purpose. This lie took root in me and has taken decades to believe different.
There are many more lies and memories I have had to break off steaming from the aftermath of the accident. It was easy to believe the lies the devil had waiting for me because I was susceptible. Self-esteem issues and self hate, these might be my top two. I have had approximately 20 surgical procedures or more on my face over the course of the 13 years I have been in America. Ever since I was 7, improving my quality of life surgeries slowly morphed into making me look beautiful again so to fit into society, so I could get a good job, be attractive enough to get married, to be “one of the girls”… I played along for the longest time because I thought the surgeries were going to fix everything. Boy did I rely on looking different to make me feel different about myself. But you know what? That feeling only came once and it was fleeting because in my heart and mind, I did not see the difference. I was waiting for that one procedure to radically change the game but it fell short each time. I started looking inside, in my heart and mind, what did I believe about myself? All the shitty lies spoken over me by people and the devil took root on how I looked at who I was created to be. Breaking free of those thoughts meant believing in God’s words and that’s when I realized that my beauty is personal. It cannot be affirmed by plastic surgery nor the words people say.
Just a few quirky memories from the past 20 years: it took me just about 3 years ago not to go into hysterics when I see IV needless, I randomly remember the smell of burning flesh- not cool, the smell of oxygen right before surgery makes me sick, and sometimes I smell that antiseptic odor of hospitals. These are just random things I live with everyday. My parents, God bless their hearts did not talk with me about the aftermath, the psychological trauma. I don’t think they knew what to say and it is not something I grew up knowing about in Nigeria. The Nigerian community I grew up to know and many communities out here do not necessarily open their arms in regards to mental health. It is seen as a sign of weakness or we just need to pray about it. Yes, please pray but also go get professional help if you need it. In the next few, my surgeries will be winding down. The hospital has been a second home for me. I have grown up with doctors that have treated me haha! I have been there long enough to have the nurses kids graduate high school, college and get married! I don’t know how to feel about the next phase with my surgery journey, do I go for more? we shall see. I could write more but I am drained and I need to go celebrate! If anything the last 20 years has taught me, it is that I don’t have to know God’s plans but as I look back, I realize he has been with me, and his ways will always be good! Cheers to the next 20, I will be celebrating with ice-cream today, possibly crying but celebrating because I have got joy! xo