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Are we comfortably numb in our denial? ‘Time to speak up on ABUSE!

Connecting with “The Total Woman Movement” – A Refuge of Comfort in Brokenness.

I once attended a sorority party about 2000 miles away from my college in 1992. Our Destination: University of Calabar! Excitement mode activated! Trust me, I had carefully packed away my popular orange halter-neck dress, with matching brown lace up mules, and my hairstyle? Aha! I’d travelled all the way to Onne villa (outside Port Harcourt) just to patronize the best hair braider in the whole of Rivers state! Phew! Such youthful exuberance! Silly painful vanity!abuse 7

Halfway through the journey, I began to feel feverish and tired! Oh no! It can’t be happening to me… I was aching all over, ah!  It must be M-a-l-a-r-i-a! Oh great! How can this be happening to me? I had so prepared for this day! This wasn’t in the plan!

My temperature was spiking, this fever has no respect for my opinion! In fact, ‘it has come to stay like a desperate housewife! My travelling team was terrified! “How can it be (I was getting helpless).

Anyway, without much ado, as if that fever was a red flag, the party was cancelled due to serious vigilante watch as opposing rival confraternities were in the midst of a serious war. We all spent the night off campus, in a rented hostel.abuse 3

Six other girls and I shared 2 adjacent rooms. It was a night I will never forget. Amongst being confined inside our rooms, noises of gunshots blasting throughout the night, as we became more frightened we looked to each other for support.

In the middle of nowhere, we became each other’s trusted companion, well, we had no choice but to wait and see what the morning brings forth.abuse 4

The fear and helplessness we felt that night brought back horrific memories of abusive pasts, stories of years of abusive upbringing, relationships and stolen childhood. Storylines that 7 beautiful, intelligent and oh-so-cool girls have never dared to talk about!

Tales that have been buried for years with those clicking fancy bangles, baggy Pepe jeans, colorful trendy t-shirts, shining pink lip gloss and fake make-believe smiles! oh boy! Did we vent!

“Ah, I was molested by my neighbor when I was 10!“I couldn’t tell anyone”

I was raped by my uncle when I was 12, I’d wanted to commit suicide”

“ I was never touched, but told constantly that I was ugly and a weakling”  

“ My mother’s boyfriend was very aggressive, he would beat me up and rape me, I couldn’t tell anyone, I was too frightened

I was betrayed by a senior in school, she raped me, I can’t trust anyone anymore”

 “I watched my father beat up my mother for years”He told us he loved us, but couldn’t stop hurting us” “His anger was uncontrollable”

I was raped inside my house” “I was ganged raped and molested at a party on campus” 

and on and on and on…we all talked into the early hours of the next day…sleep eluding our consciousness…and we were never the same after that day…forsaking the beauty that material things have managed to conceal, our hearts were on fire!abuse 6

Party forgotten and ignored, we had released everything no one had ever inquired of us… or the story our culture forbids by acceptance or utterance! we released the dark secrets that harbors lingering pain! ‘the substance of our current day frustrations and rejections…’stories we could not confess to priests during penance…or even during deliverance…’stories that family traditions sweeps under the carpet as generation to come wallow in confusion…’these were stories hidden in misery and denial…but, we had to travel all the way out of town, be confided into a hostel with bullets flying outside our windows….just for those stories to surface. We all had closure after confiding and crying out about it and promised to seek help after. The burden is now shared, not to be chastised or reprimanded, but to begin healing and moving forward.

Ok…that was 24 years ago! I have lived past those stories, but currently still living amongst those who are unable to talk about their story…’Abuse stories or even use their experiences to help raise awareness and help someone going through it.

What’s your Abuse story? Broken dreams or failed relationship? Or what’s that Abusive storyline you played a part in? years ago, that is still lingering and haunting you presently? You know why it’s still trailing after you. But to get closure to it, someone else somewhere right now is going through the same ABUSE you encountered…and the circle is continual UNTIL you Seek help, Campaign against it! Create a platform for awareness!abuse 1

Let’s celebrate a season of closure and recovery…’like when a heavy burden has just been off-loaded from our shoulders. A sense of commitment and togetherness…like ‘Wow! I am not alone! I thought I was the only one!

Since that day, I have learned to respect and look at those ladies differently with respect and courage, for speaking up about their abusive past. And today, I am hoping our stories could save a life or two!  Or is it still happening?

So, if you are reading this, ask yourself…’Does my fragrance (that beautiful perfect-picture image, I carry with me effortlessly) have fragments (stains, shame, sorrow, abusive stories)? Am I really truthful to myself? Am I still hiding behind the veil of pretense and still hoping that one day I would wake up and say “It never happened”Ah! If you are reading this and have ever encountered any form of abuse (sexual, verbal, physical or emotional) – don’t let it define you. When we talk about some of our stories, it helps someone else going through it or someone who’s gone through it and still struggling with acceptance of the shame of the aftermath.abuse 5

Our fragrance did have fragments! And it was time to break it open, not to ridicule each other or laugh at each other but a time of total submission, after all, we were all skeptical we’ll make it out of that place, alive. But we did, and now, there’s a story to be told to help uplift someone going through something similar…our Alabaster Jar just got cracked, and the spill is totally healing and comforting, what do you think?

Are we even aware of the comfort in our brokenness? Do we know that refuge from our circumstances and contentment in the midst of mishaps is found in the center of our surrender. Or is it in our brokenness?

If that is true, then why are so many women still living lives with little or no joy based on their past? I’m afraid that we have bought the lies of the enemy (the abuser), allowing him/her to steal our joy. Discouragement, weariness, disillusionment, shattered dreams, and unrealized goals are some of his/her favorite weapons, but the truth is that the enemy can only use what we allow him/her to use, “Our destructive abused past”

It is time for us to reclaim surrendered ground. Do you sometimes think you are fighting the same old battles you have been fighting for so many years? I do. Clinging to familiar pain because we find our identity there. Consumed with our own agenda, while  our joy is buried under a mountain of self loathing.abuse 2

Today, there’s HOPE! There’s a better tomorrow and it can be brighter than the past, the abusive past! Join the movement that comforts the abused today. The Total Woman Movement. Come as you are (BROKEN) learn how to release your inner fragrance (STORY) and let the scents relieve your life’s dents. (HEALING).

For more information about this movement, please visit www.totalwomanmovement.com

Yours in HOPE as I share Gloria Estefan’s “Coming Out Of The Dark”

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dangerously living in a fool’s paradise.

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It’s a beautiful, sunny day and you are going outside to take a walk and enjoy the brush of the heat on your skin. You change your mind, head back inside. Suddenly, you remember that you forgot to take your cell phone with you. But, you want to spend quality time with yourself un-interrupted, like meditate as you stroll around the neighborhood. You don’t want to be reminded of that heart ache you’ve been trying to bury, or that disturbing message you’d received that got you twisted and confused.  The back lash from the grapevine!

Instead, you go back inside, grab a bottle of water and sacrificially bury your cell phone inside the kitchen closet and walk out of the door; chin up, chest out, feeling proud of your little courage. You are certainly on a roll! Phew!

Wait-a-minute! ’Congratulations! Awesome bravery…but, for how long?

I remember in 1995 when the song “Gangsta Paradise by Coolio was just coolio 3released. Every house party in Port Harcourt then played it like they dined and wined with Coolio himself! I didn’t understand the content of the lyrics much, but we all just hummed to the chorus and showed off our hot steps.

Apparently, until much later when I sat down to watch the movie it featured in: “Dangerous Minds” Starring Michelle Pfeiffer as retired U.S. Marine Lou Anne Johnson, who took up a teaching position at Carlmont High School in Belmont, California, in 1989, where most of her students were African-American and Latino teenagers from East Palo Alto, a poverty-stricken, racially segregated, economically deprived city at the opposite end of the school district., the film was released to a mixture of mostly negative critical reception, but became a surprise box office success in the summer of 1995, leading to the creation of a short-lived television series.

At the end of the year, the teacher announces to the class that she will not continue teaching at the school, which prompts an unbridled display of emotion from the students who refuse to let her leave. Overwhelmed, she decides to stay. Hmm!  Yeah…’stay back with the same students who had wickedly crawled up her skin into misery! Who does that?

So, our life is filled with twisters – indecisions, contemplating over lifelong struggles, overcrowded schedules, impossiblecoolio 2 demands from friends and families, unrealistic expectations, emotional bankruptcy, and physical exhaustion. During those turbulent times, how did you handle it?

Growing up, I would run and hide under my blanket or just bury myself in a good book and block the world out until the storm passes over! But now, my blanket is consciously pulled off by my 3 wonderful children reminding me that  (1) Homework needs to be reviewed (2) Dinner needs to be served! (3) Mom! life goes onjust step out of that blanket and get-it-together!

So, I have come to two realizations; first, there will always be another storm and second, what I must do is learn how to prepare for storms before they hit or deal with the storm and move forward!

As we approach the end of the year, let’s think back to the past months and review the reasons why we have been stagnant, stuck or suppressed? any reasons why we just need to bury some hatchets and start afresh?  Have we embraced solitude after a storm?

‘Are we sincerely seeking God’s face for direction? how about how brave Michelle Pfeiffer was in the movie as she dealt with challenges that made her stronger and daring even at the face of death? Or Coolio’s heart rendering concerns on how we live our lives in false declaration?  ‘are we still in tune with personal goals to do better? Are we addicted to social praise? Craving for recognition or acceptance by a confused world itself?

Why do we still always end up hurting each other, with our bashful words and resentful attitude? Even as we portray such magnitude of holiness, while our personal mirror sees us as Pharisees? ‘Aren’t we still living in that hooded paradise? Hopefully, by the time we begin the countdown, our hearts will take us to places our emotions dare to thread; so that our mind, body and soul will be renewed for 2016.

Yours in HOPE as I share one of my favorite Coolio’s music/Dangerous Minds soundtrack: “Gangsta Paradise”

Yinka.

 

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Going down memory lane… ‘AIESEC UniPort!

aiesec 1AIESEC is an international non-governmental not for profit organization that provides young people with cross-cultural global internship, volunteer opportunities and leadership development experiences on campus. With a focus to empower young people so they can make a positive impact on society.

AIESEC, originally a French acronym for “Association internationale des étudiants en sciences économiques et commerciales”.  Members come from a variety of college majors, not necessarily from an area related to economic or commerce. AIESEC is the global youth network impacting the world through leadership development experiences. AIESEC has been facilitating youth leadership activities as well as international internships & volunteer experiences for over 65 years, developing a global learning environment across 124 countries & territories.

During my school days at The University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State I became an active AIESEC member. At first, I’d reluctantly joined the Karate club (instructed by Ike) who later became a close pal and was nick named “Ike-Kia” (behind him) ‘between my friends and I because all we could remember after the painful kicking practice was the term “KIA”. It was fun while it lasted, but wasn’t enough to keep us busy. So, we all turned to AIESEC where I was nick named, Aiesecer Gansy or Yarinya (Fulani girl).

What we do: We seek to learn from the different ways of life and opinions represented in our multicultural environment. Basically, we’ll hold meetings after lectures in the evening to discuss empowerment, leadership roles and advancement in our chosen career path towards the future. We had trainings in social skills development and building corporate relationship. More like a platform of connection and readiness for the corporate world. We conducted several hands on training and seminars all around other Federal universities and also outside the country.

One of the fun and memorable aspect of AIESEC: Travelling (adventure), Exchange program (connecting) and development of great social skills. Everyone becomes a companion keeper to each other and vice versa with other Aiesecers throughout the country. There’s always a venture to elevate each other through the process of empowerment, enrichment and a stand-by support team work.

I still hold beautiful memories of seminars and conferences at University of Benin, University of Calabar, UNN etc. and best of all in Cameroun. The drive always long and dusty, but with a bus filled with passionate and youthful zeal to see the world, embrace the opportunity and accomplish the great works ahead, we were all determined. You cannot be an introvert or a shy one in AIESEC. You cannot be condescending or arrogant during a presentation. AIESEC is all about your inner capabilities. Being all you can. Being a natural.

So, over the weekend, I had a great pleasure of connecting with my over 17-years-university-days-fellow Uniport and Enugu Aiesec Alumni from all over the world! Thanks to Uniport Local Chapter President (1996) Emeka Isiji – Aiesecer Ecg who created a chat room in what’s app and has received over almost 1000 text responds with pictures of before and after!

To my home AAs: Emeka, Prince Nwolisa and Daisy, Oakman, Gerry, Gen-gen, Lipsy, S & B, Poser, Suleiman, Muyiwa, Nnazzy, Nero, Paulo, Rita, Zainab, Uzo, PYT and more…I salute! O men!

Also to acknowledge Aiesec Alumni from Enugu (our brotherly city) Thanks to – AA Iroko (Henry) and LCP AA Alex! ( AA Iroko, you still look good with or without make up! smiles) whose unbelievable but humorous recall of how their “horrible” stay in ALUU (near Uniport) for a Regional Training Seminar event of almost 17 years has left them with post-traumatic stress and has created a forum of discussion, laughter and entertainment in the chat room. Hmm, Uniport LC, please answer to that! It’s almost 17years now!  Also, Salute to AA Tukor, AA Isi-ukwu, AA Undiga, AA braddy, AA 4cup, AA Afomzy etc.

Again, a big salute to all the Aiesec Alumni in the chat room, thanks for re-inventing our wonderful college days with pictures of empowering meetings, educational trainings on public speaking and developing social skills. Thanks for those days we had to dress formal and prepare our presentation before going into SHELL or WILLBROS to discuss partnership, or when we have to stay longer in a meeting all because a mandate has not been met! Thanks for the seminar that almost didn’t hold, as we were ordered by military men at the border of Cross River state and Cameroun.

Thanks to Aiesecer Rothmans/Nonso and Tinuke for caring for me as I traveled into Cameroun with that very mind-blowing malaria fever! And best of all, thanks for the genuine brotherly and sisterly love showered on each other. Especially between Uniport and Enugu LC.

So… Any AIESECer in the house? ‘AIESECer o men !  ‘Make some noise!

“Osi na nature” = everything from nature! (Drum rolls for group dynamics).

3 hearty salute (gbosas) to our dear brother who’s gone to be with the Lord:

RIP: AA Humpty, may your gentle soul continue to rest in perfect peace.

 

Yinka.

Uniport Aiesec Alumni

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