Trigger warning: Sexual assault, child abuse
Gardening, for some people, is quite relaxing. Being in nature, hearing the birds chirping away, the sun shining. For me, it’s always been something more.
Whenever I am watering my gardens or weeding, I remember a time when I felt incredibly conflicted. I was a teenager on the verge of graduating high school and my abuser had just built a home. He’d had surgery and I’d been asked, somewhat forced, to give him a hand with his garden.
I remember feeling resentment and anger at being made to feel that I have no choice – again. I didn’t want to help with his garden, not after what he had done to me and my body for so many years.
But another part of me felt sorry for him. He was in pain, along with his recently other diagnosed medical condition.
The anger I felt did not last long. I was now helping the prepare the garden for the man who sexually abused me.
This is not the only memory that comes to mind when I do my own gardening. I think of my childhood self, nothing older than 10 years old, weeding my Auntie and Uncle’s garden because I just wanted to help them. Because knowing that I had something good for someone else, made me feel happy.
The thing is about anger is it can eat away at you. Cause unnecessary poison to an otherwise healthy and happy life.
The first time a male’s body part touched me it was without my consent. I was not even 8 years old.
The first time I was kissed I tried to pull away and I was held down.
I can’t stand the sight of Vaseline because it was used in penetrating me from behind when I was only 11 years old.
My abuser told me he loved me as he hurt me and I cried and begged for him to stop.
My first experience of oral sex was done against my will, with coercive threats, bribery and in my primary school uniform.
My first experience of watching movies in bed were simultaneously done with touching no ever child should ever be subjected to.
Every single one of these memories are as clear as day. I have lived with each and every one of them for almost 30 years.
But if my abuser were, for whatever reason, in need of my help, I would not hesitate in helping him.
Because if I had lived with anger all those 30 years, I would not be alive today.
Today I was weeding my garden and I remembered him and how I once helped him with his garden and how I felt genuine compassion for the fact that he’d undergone surgery that day. Despite what he had done to me for so many years and without a soul knowing, I could not help but care. I could not help but still empathise.
When people hurt you, you have a choice. You have a choice how you react and whether that hurt changes you for the better or worse.
Whenever I do my gardening, I smile not because of the nature, the birds or the sun. I smile because I could have let what he did to me define me and change me for the worse.
But I didn’t.
I still have just as much love for my children, if not, more. I love my partner more than I ever thought I could love any man. And I love and support my friends constantly.
Don’t let anger poison you. Give yourself the happiness you deserve.