Dusk: Damilola

Recently, I’ve been going over my journey this year and I can’t stop marveling at how much I’ve grown. Oh, did I mention how excruciatingly painful that growth was? It hurt so bad that I didn’t even realize it was growth at the time. When I started off this year, I was reeling from the aftermath of losing my mom in 2016, so I had no goals or resolution. I just wanted to rest. To breathe. To understand why she had to be taken from me. And to reach a place of acceptance. At that time I was in a relationship with this guy I met on twitter. We’d been talking for months via DMs and I’d turned down his requests to meet me because I felt he was a lot older than I am and I didn’t want to be involved in one of those twitter scandals that happened when two people fell out.


When I finally agreed to meet him in December of 2015, I didn’t think it’d go down as one of the biggest mistakes I’d ever make. I fell in love with him too fast. He was charming, good-looking and we connected so well, I told myself it had to be love – except it wasn’t. I left school a couple of times and made the 2 hour journey to Lagos to spend weekends with him. There was really nothing I wouldn’t do for him. I projected a lot of my good qualities on him and blindly refused to acknowledge how abusive he became during the course of the relationship. I remember feeling so alone and unappreciated in the relationship and every time I brought it up, he’d find a way to change the topic of discussion or tell me I was too sensitive. He flirted a lot on twitter. He was never accountable for anything and every time I complained, he’d accuse me of trying to sabotage the relationship with my constant nagging. He acted single all the time and it killed me to see him flirt and entertain numerous girls.


When my mother died in July of 2016, I was devastated. My whole world came crashing down. I clung to him for dear life. But he only starved me of the affection and solace I needed to bear the blow of losing my mom. I’d imagined he’d be a soft landing-place for me to grieve and process my pain but I was wrong. My emotions were never acknowledged and I had to hide my grief for a long time. Fast forward to February this year, I knew I had to leave the relationship. I’d become a shadow of myself and I cried all the time. He became more cruel and insensitive to my feelings. After speaking to a few friends about it, I took my phone one night and broke it off. “It’s over, now I can finally breathe,” I told myself. But I was wrong, it was the beginning of a long and brutal journey. I remember feeling so worthless & hopeless – my emotions hadn’t been validated and I hadn’t been anyone’s priority for a long time. I stopped going to class because I couldn’t concentrate on school work anymore. The weight loss that followed was terrible. I slim-fitted my clothes all the time because they just wouldn’t fit.


My heart beat took on a fast and painful pace, so painful that the left side of my body would sometimes turn red and inflamed. I constantly thought about suicide. Somehow, I blamed myself for my mother’s death because I’d been blamed for almost everything in the relationship, so it was normal for me to take blame for things that weren’t even my fault. The plan was to slash my wrists, lay down and finally be at peace but each time I stared at the blade, I thought about my dad and what killing myself would do to him. My ex-lover casually dropped into my life in the weeks that followed, as though he wanted to make things right with me. He blew hot and cold and took me on yet another emotional roller-coaster. He didn’t say he wanted me, and he didn’t say otherwise either.  He just waltzed in and out of my life at will. I’d later find out that he’d been cheating on me during the course of our relationship and when I confronted him, he outright denied it and told me I had no proof.


One night, on my way from a friend’s room, I slumped and blacked out. An ambulance was called and I was rushed to the hospital. I was diagnosed with depression a few days later & referred to the teaching hospital for expert management. After months of therapy, medication, talk sessions with a clinical psychologist who’d later become a very close friend of mine, I can finally say I’m on the shores of recovery. While in therapy, I learned about narcissistic abuse, delayed grief & the importance of self-love. Many of these lessons, I had to learn myself via connecting on the internet with people who’ve had similar experiences. Apparently, I didn’t grieve the loss of my mom properly because I’d been so preoccupied with fighting to keep a man interested in me, a man who didn’t care about my mental health and who constantly cut me down with his words and who gave me the silent treatment, gas-lit and abused me. It was interpersonal violence.


My experience this year has helped me learn a great deal about myself & how strong I truly am. I began to attend classes regularly and gained most of my weight back. I realized I hadn’t been there for my siblings because I was so lost in my own pain. So I made a move to change that, and it’s been great! In the midst of it all I met a beautiful soul. Her wisdom and compassion helped me through intermittent breakdowns during the course of my treatment. I’m still on medication and still have to see my doctor from time to time, but the recovery has been great. The last two months of this year has been particularly awesome. My healing is starting to taste sweet and I now dance a lot.


My newfound strength and positive aura has spread through to my family and everyone is starting to comment on my radiance. What I realized is that I’m valuable to myself and to the people in my life. I’ve come to really understand my worth and it’s a surprise I ever felt worthless and not enough. That experience is my reminder to be careful of who I let into my life, my mind and who I let into my soul. When I made the decision to only think good thoughts and take on positive confessions, I began to experience life in a different realm. My perspective on matters shifted and I simply chose to look on the bright side of every situation. I’m so excited about 2018 because it’s graduation year!


Life can only get better from this point and I can’t wait to see what other experiences life has for me.


Damilola Makanjuola

A firework, a dancing flame

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