Contemporary Creative Nonfiction Inspirational

   Many people don't believe that negative words directed at a person can have long lasting repercussions on the person who was addressed; sometimes those words also haunt the speaker and also have an effect on them as well. A few years ago, whenever I recollected the heart-wrenching conversation that ensued between my 'mum' and the effects it had on me later on in life, it brought tears to my eyes. Today, however, whenever, the memories of yesteryears present themselves as images in my mind, I laugh out loud and remind myself that I am an overcomer. Therefore I am telling my story in the hope that someone who is in a similar situation that I was in, will overcome too.

Letting out hidden skeletons in one's cupboard isn't an easy thing but sometimes, to gain some amount of freedom it is necessary to do so.

My 'mom' had had a turbulent childhood. She had come from a very wealthy home and had gone on to marry into wealth. In both instances, everyone was at her beck and call. However, the most important thing she had wished to receive from her parents as well as her husband had been real love, not one that was 'bought'. That was a mirage. Her parents were worshipped by members of the community for their generous lifestyle. Mom was always told how fortunate she was to have such wonderful parents. Her husband was also praised for his good nature so she had to put up appearances because who would have believed she was in a loveless marriage. Remember, possession of material things is no substitute for love. However, it got to a point where she could bear it no longer; she confided in someone she considered a friend, but turned out to be her foe. 

In order to escape her miserable life, on one cold, dark night, she made away with her 12-week old baby and headed for her parents' home. At least, that was what she told the maid. She never made it to her parents' home.

She was found the next morning with a stab wound in her chest. Her baby was nowhere to be found.

The next day it made the headlines in all of the major newspaper

'Mr. Arkins' Wife Murdered in Cold Blood; Her Baby is Nowhere to be Found!'

Despite the investigations that were conducted, the murderer was never found because he left no traces in his path. 

Apparently, my mum had had a lover and they had planned to elope. My father had known about the plans and it was he who had carried out the gruesome murder. The baby had been left crying by its mother; that baby was me. Fortunately, mum's lover saw what happened and quickly picked up the child and left the country for England. My father was a very influential person therefore if 'Dad' had remained in the country, he would have been found and killed just like my mum.

'Dad' couldn't bear the fact that his lover had died because of him.

He vowed to take care of me single handedly till such a time I could defend myself. 

At age ten, I entered Junior High School. Life was fun with a loving but no-nonsense dad. He simply doted on me.

Finally, when I turned thirteen, he called me and we had a real father-to-daughter talk.

He told me he believed l could defend myself, therefore, he was now ready to find love and he wanted my approval. He said he would give me time to think about it. Initially, I wasn't keen because that meant I would have to share my daddy's love with someone other than my mum. According to dad, Mum had been a wonderful person and I was her replica. That was all he ever said about my mum but I could tell he had really loved her.

After a few days of thinking, I gave 'Dad' the go-ahead. He was grateful to me.

After a year, Dad brought a lady home and introduced her to me, saying he had found his missing rib. She seemed pleasant so I opened my heart to her. In six months time, they got wedded. Initially, Mum was nice but it seemed 'Dad's' love and continual devotion to me, coupled with the fact that, she had been told that she could never give birth, turned her into a monster in no time. In 'Dad's presence, she was an angel, but when he was away, she turned into the devil's advocate.

One morning, just a day after I turned eighteen, 'Dad' had to attend to an emergency situation outside the country. He left me in the care of Mum.

All hell broke loose. I would just like you, for a second, to imagine the mental torture I went through at her hands. However, nothing was more painful than the bitter truth about biological mum that she spewed out that day.  

Before Dad married her, he had opened up to 'mum' about his past, as well as my birth. He felt it was very necessary to do so since he wanted transparency to be one of the hallmarks of his marriage. That was the information she used to break me emotionally, thus sending me onto the pathway of alcohol, hard drugs and worst of all, prostitution, in order to survive.

She started by saying, 'Nothing good can come out of a prostitute's daughter?' At that moment, my heart broke into a thousand pieces. That line alone did the magic. She let out all the skeletons that had been carefully hidden in the cupboard for eighteen years. Indeed, she executed her plan to perfection.

I raced to my room and remained there the whole day while I reflected on my life. Tears flowed like the River Nile. Well, in all of it, Dad had displayed unselfish loved for me.

Fortunately, l had completed college a month back and had started to search for a job.

That night, I took a piece of paper and express my profound gratitude to my dad and told him I wanted to explore the world and gain some independence. I apologised for leaving him that way.

You won't believe that Mum tore the letter and never mentioned to Dad what transpired that day.

With my savings, I was able to survive without a job for three months

Eventually, I received a well-paying job. I settled down and became engrossed in my new life but I must say, I missed dad terribly. Funnily, I still knew what was happening with his life. When he didn't hear from me, his whole world fell apart. Eventually, Mum broke up with him because he became a shadow of himself. Come to think of it, she suffered a greater loss from her actions than I did. This teaches us a great lesson here: selfishness and spitefulness always end in a loss.

I met the love of my life when I was twenty years old.

He was everything I wanted in a husband. Though, I noticed some red flags, I ignored them. After all, it is often said that, 'Love conquers all'.

We married and in less than two months, the mental torture began. It was like a replay of what my real mum had passed through.

'Oh no, not again,' I muttered to myself after enduring enough. The part that broke the camel's back was when my husband repeated a similar statement t the one mum had years ago after an argument. 

"Jacky, just look at yourself. Do you think any good can come out of you with this kind of attitude?"

Beginning that day, suicidal thoughts run through my mind daily. In order to suppress the thoughts of being useless, I started taking alcohol, then graduated to drugs. Life was tough and meaningless so in other words, all they had said about me had come true. 

Jobless, and desperate to maintain my drug habit, I engaged in prostitution; yes, that was how low I sunk.

 On a good day, when I was sober, I told myself I was destined to be great, but all I had to do was turn over a new leaf. I would then promise myself that, that day would be my start on the road to recovery. However, on the days I was swallowed up in alcohol and drugs and self-pity, all I said was, 'Nothing good would ever come out of me." That lifestyle went on for three years. Within those years, there was a sincere desire to be liberated, but the shadows from my past seemed to have taken over my willpower.

On one particular night, after I had paraded myself for customers, a flashy car passed by me, but as if by intuition or design, the driver reversed and said, 'Hi, Sweetheart!'

Confused, I looked around and said, 'Are you referring to me?'

'Yes, Sweetheart, there is no one else around, is there?'

For a moment, I tried to peer through the window to see who the driver was. For once in a very very long time, l let out a laugh.

'Oh, you have reminded me of my Dad. He used to called me 'Sweeetheart'. Immediately I had finished saying that, tears welled up in my eyes and I began to cry.

The gentleman quickly got out of his car and gently led me to the passenger's seat. He waited patiently as I cried. It must have seemed like eternity but in those few minutes I shed those tears, something was stirred up in me; it was as if a heavy load had been lifted off my shoulders.

'Sweetheart, are you done shedding tears. Whatever made you cry like that has a solution. There is nothing in this life that can't be solved. A problem half shared is half solved. 

I'm Jake and you are...?'

 'Jacqueline'. Pleased to meet you'

'I am delighted to meet you too. Tell me, what are you doing out at this time of the night?'

'It is a long tale.'

It doesn't matter how long it is, I can wait. I would love to hear it.


'Yeah, really. Let's go to my favourite restaurant and grab a bite, if that is okay with you?'

'I'm okay with that'

The restaurant was close by so within minutes, we got there.

Fortunately that day, my choice of clothes was fairly decent so l comfortably walked into the restaurant with him. He ordered some fruit juice, two plates of fried rice with shrimp sauce and dessert. The food was eaten in silence. While taking our drinks, Jake said, I'm all ears now.'

I recounted the events of my past to him and how I had ended up on alcohol, drugs and prostitution. Never in my life had I seen a man weep like the way Jake did. I sensed he had felt my pain and it made me feel worthy once again because someone cared.

Finally he said, Let's start by seeing if we can trace your dad. Then we will take it from there.

But for tonight, let me take you to a shelter reserved for young ladies with similar issues as yours. You might not feel comfortable coming home with me.'

'You are right about that,' I responded.

'Jake, thanks so much.'

At the shelter, Jake went through my registration process with me and ensured I had comfortably settled in before he left. In addition, he gave me some money to keep on me, just in case I needed anything.

'I believe in you, Jackie. I will see you tomorrow.'

The only words I could utter were, 'Thank you!'

After l had taken a warm bath, I felt really good and smelt good too. I changed and hopped into bed. I must have fallen asleep immediately my head hit the pillow.

The next day, I was awakened by a bell that went off at 6:00am.

An announcement was made reminding all the girls to be ready for breakfast and their first morning session by 7:00. 

'What session was that?' I muttered to myself.

Just then, there was a knock on my door. 

Hi, I am Linda, welcome to Madison Shelter For Young Women. Since you are new here, let me brief you on what goes on here.

After I was taken through the activities for the day, Linda handed me a note from Jake.

He promised to see me in the afternoon. He told me that if I needed anything, I should tell Linda and she would make it available for me.

I thanked her and quickly went to freshen up in order to be early for breakfast

Our first session was interesting. All new members were welcomed and encouraged to share their story, if they wanted to. I was more than ready to do so because I realised pouring out my heart to Jake yesterday had started my healing process.

Afterwards, we were motivated by the testimony of others who had overcome various kinds of challenges similar to ours. Some of those former addicts were permanent workers there while others were volunteers. After lunch, we had our second session which involved individual counselling by trained personnel.

Late in the afternoon, Jake came around. He picked me up and drove me home to meet his family: his wife and three teenage children.

After much interaction and supper, good byes were said and Jake drove me back to the shelter. Jake made me live at the shelter because over there, I would have access to counselling and the appropriate medical attention I needed

 However, after a month the weekends were spent with Jake and his family. Unknown to me, Jake used the bit of information I had given him to find my dad. He hired a private detective to find my dad. He hoped against hope that the man would still be alive. After three months of investigation, dad was located.

According to Jake, when my dad heard I was alive, he insisted he wanted to see me right away, but that wouldn't have been possible because it was a four-hour journey by plane.

The necessary arrangements were made and during at the weekend, Dad came around. We were having lunch when we heard the door bell ring.

Jake said, 'Jackie, kindly see who is at the door.'


When I opened the door, l stood transfixed.

'Dad, is that really you?'

'Sweetheart, it's me.'

Dad wrapped his arms around me as tears rolled down our cheeks. 

'It's alright, Sweetheart, everything is going to be okay.'

When Dad had settled, he told me how life had never been the same without me. He took to the bottle, but one day he decided that he had to part ways with it because it had not made his life better. During that period, he and Mum, parted ways. Not long after that, she suffered a stroke. Recently, she was diagnosed of cancer. She wrote to me asking for forgiveness because of the evil she did to you. When I asked her what transpired between the two of you, all she said was, she had been the reason why I left home. She also pleaded that if I ever came home, I should let her know.

'Are you ready to face her?' asked Dad.

'I believe I am more than ready to do so. Dealing with my past has brought healing to me. I believe it would do the same for her.

'Now that's my girl, said Dad with so much pride.

Jake cut in.

 'Dad, you sure did a good job of making a wonderful person out of Jackie. I will make the necessary arrangements for the two of you to go and visit her next weekend. In the meantime, Dad will be our guest for the week. 

On Friday, we made the trip home. Mum had been moved to a hospice since she had no one to take care of her. Dad made a call to Mum informing her of his intention to visit that weekend. However, he didn't tell her he was bringing me along.

Dad and I visited Mum at the hospice. 

When Mum saw me, she broke down in tears and pleaded for forgiveness. Dad told her I had already given him a run-down of what transpired that day, so there wasn't any need for her to retell it.

Now, Jackie, I can die in peace knowing I have your total forgiveness. Also, I no longer carry this burden on my shoulders. We spent some time with her and promised to visit her some other time. That never happened because two months later, we received a call from her lawyers informing us about her death and the contents of her will. She had left every single penny to her beloved daughter me, Jacqueline.

The news was received with joy and sadness. We attended her burial a week later. With the help of the staff of the shelter, a renewed sense of self-worth as well as my new 'family' and divine intervention from God, I walked out of the shelter, six months from the day I met Jake, totally free from drugs and alcohol.

It wasn't an easy road to tread, but at the end of it all, so many valuable lessons were learnt. For example, I mustn't allow people's opinions about me to eat me up. In addition, I must believe in myself and always think positively. Then again, family goes beyond those we are biologically related to. When you are troubled and in despair, reach out to someone because there is always a human angel close by. However, the most valuable lesson learnt is, every problem has a solution.

Finally, I'm glad to announce to you that as I conclude my book, I'm getting married next week Saturday to a wonderful counsellor I met at the shelter and no, he wasn't one of my counsellors.

September 01, 2022 23:10

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