Never Let Yourself Go

Growing up, I was raised by my parents while surrounded by grandparents, siblings, and community members. Before I knew it, I was expected to be capable of making life-changing decisions. But this came so suddenly, like a thunderstorm, because I still had the desire to feel loved by my parents like a child and have that sense of belonging.

Because of that deepest hunger in my heart, I started looking for things to fill up my empty space. I began using whatever was available around you. I was a surrounded by community where sexual promiscuity was the norm. I actively participated in it and lost my virginity to my first boyfriend, who impregnated me at the age of 12 years old. He was eight years older than me, and that set a trend of my future relationships being with older men.

Little did I know that what I needed was not sex, but that deeper love. I needed to know that I was beautiful, I was created in the image and likeness of the creator of the universe, I was not a mistake, and that all the days of my life were predestined and ordained before me. I needed to know that I was exceptional and wonderfully made to be the head, not a tail. But later, I would come to realize that the One who created you loves you unconditionally and needs to give you that eternal everlasting love that nothing on this Earth can satisfy or give you.

My pregnancy widened the already existing gap between me and my father. I had to write a letter of apology to him and request a second chance to make things right, especially about my studies. Somehow, he believed in me and gave me a second chance to go back to school. At the same time, my longing for love grew deeper and deeper as I grew up to the extent that I agreed to be married by age 17 years. However, this didn’t satisfy my need, either.

Despite being a mother, wife, and daughter-in-law, I made it to university. However, the void kept growing every day. Then I started to be unfaithful to my husband, and our relationship started to fade away until we got separated four years later. The desire and longing never left me—it chased me daily.

Before I knew it, I was already in another relationship—this time, with a man old enough to be my father. Somehow, I felt safer around him than my previous partner, despite the fact that this man was twice my age. My conscious mind told me that because he was old and the same age as my father, he would take care of me, but this didn’t satisfy my need, either. Instead, I was a victim of abuse: sexual, physical, and emotional.

My life started to be a mess—worse than it was before. The abusive life continued for the next three years. Though I managed to get out of that relationship, I was deeply wounded and pregnant with my second-born. Just like any victim of domestic abuse, I went back a few months later, hoping that things would be better. Little did I know that I was putting my life and my son’s life in danger.

I found out that the man was cheating on me while I was pregnant and had impregnated the other woman. I felt like a failure and stupid, but that gave me the courage to get out of the relationship for good. The man kept chasing me, even at work. Then I decided to get a protection order against him, but that didn’t stop him from chasing me. Within 24 hours of serving him a protection order, I woke up with my car burned to ashes,. Though he was the main suspect, there was no evidence that it was him. He was arrested, but the case was dismissed due to lack of evidence.

Little did I know that it was the beginning of my new chapter of life, and that the old had gone. God was about to do a new thing in my life. I was one step closer to finding myself again. I got a new job in Johannesburg, and that was the path to my new journey. Everything changed about me: how I think, how I dress, how I speak, and how I see life. I felt free to do anything. I started to feel alive and know who I am.

Looking back, I now realize that with each and every hurt my heart felt, part of me was taken away until I felt hopeless. In all these things, I chose to forgive everyone, and most importantly, myself. Now that I have found myself, I don’t want to let go of myself again. Daily, I choose to know myself more deeply and catch up on all the years I lost myself. It took me years and years to find myself, and I know that I must never settle for less. So may the longest journey be the shortest journey in your life. Find yourself and never let go of yourself again.

About the Author | Glenrose Manale

Glenrose Manale is an extraordinary woman with an extraordinary passion for making a difference in people’s lives. Glenrose is a qualified registered dietitian in South Africa, currently working as an executive sales representative in the pharmaceutical industry. She has traveled the world and has also been an assistant lecturer at University of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela University, and University of Limpopo.

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