By Wendy Fidelis.
“Life’s a bitch and then you die” – Nas, 1994.
You know @Babenextdoor on social media? That’s me. I create art with strong beautiful colors because that’s how I see the world or at least that’s the way I believe it should be. I wasn’t always a creative, this was a purpose I found a few years ago when life had dug its nails in me till it left marks. Beginning the New Year with a story this intimate is scary but cathartic. Everyone has a story, some just put on stronger facades than others. This is me peeling off the mask with hopes that someone out there knows that life may bend you but you don’t have to let it break you.
At the age of 15, I left home for college. For those of you who have tried a number of times to get into the university, just like you I made several attempts. After waiting for what seemed like forever, the universe heard my prayers and I was finally able to enroll in a one year program as an easy way to grant me access to study petroleum engineering. That was the picture I painted in my head, I thought things would align themselves now that I had found a path to walk on. That year, life took a turn for the worst. There was no money to continue funding my education and after searching for help and finding none, I had to drop out of school. Keeping my head above water was hard as you can imagine but I found something beautiful in contemporary dance. Moving my body in a way that felt as natural as breathing was a way to ease my pain and make me feel like I was part of something bigger than myself. At the time, I had no value and self worth was a foreign concept to me. Contemporary dance felt like home and for a while, it was enough. I also found menial jobs at few high schools and with the income it provided I was able to survive.
Growing up, we were taught to pick our friends wisely. That life lesson seemed easy to follow until I got raped at the age of 16 by someone I called a friend. Let’s pause here for a minute and let that sink in. I do not consider myself a victim but at the time, I felt betrayed. Unable to tell anyone, I suffocated on the inside feeling like I failed myself and my entire existence. A woman’s virginity is hers to keep and to have mine forcefully taken away broke me completely. I thought after this life would have mercy on me but apparently it was not done with me yet. I got robbed a couple of times, seen and been in the midst of gunfights. It was a miracle that every time I left unscathed.
In 2017, I met a boy and he was a welcomed breath of fresh air. He made me happy and because that was something new to me, I embraced it. We dated for a year and a few months. Someone once said you never see a broken heart coming, truer words have never been spoken. The relationship ended for personal reasons and I was completely distraught. Around the time, I began to explore the science of makeup. It became a full time job and whatever income I made from beautifying others was put back into creating a brand even when I could not afford to feed myself. Work became my escape from reality. While still dealing with a broken heart, in December 2018, I became homeless. I took on the literal meaning of “there are broken hearts on the streets”. Along with everything I had lost, I also lost every atom of self worth and confidence I had in myself. While bouncing around from place to place, I found comfort in food. I gained weight which only added to my insecurities. Life just seemed to be treating me unfairly without giving me a reason. It took six months to heal from the love I had lost. After a while, God smiled on me and I found accommodation. I was finally able to make enough money to afford an apartment of my own.
After taking a sabbatical from the dating scene, I decided to try again. This time I had no expectations, I just wanted to have fun. If you guessed that I played myself for the second time, you win this round. A relationship that lasted three months took seven months to get over because it brought back a lot of sad memories from my previous relationship. If your question is “Wendy are you okay?” My answer is no, I am still not okay. I am grateful for the blessings in my life but I am no longer ignoring the trials I have faced. I became a workaholic as a means to survive and control my surroundings. So far, work has been great and that’s the part of me people get to see. The part of me that is hidden still tries to understand what happiness feels like because it’s been such a tease. It seduces me and in that same breathe it goes away leaving me depressed and unhappy. These stories as common as there may seem should not only matter to those who have experienced it. It may be words you read today but this is my reality.
Whatever you are going through no matter how painful it may seem, I came out on the other side and you can too. Just keep swimming, refuse to drown. I am a beautiful work in progress. My story does not hinder me, it inspires me to do more, to lead and pave the way for others to embrace who they are, scars and all.
Life’s a bitch and then you die? I’ll say life is a bitch but I survived.
Catch up with Wendy Fidelis on Instagram @babenextdoor
Edited by Theayamba. Follow @Ayamba.theblog on Instagram.