Editor’s Note: This month, that is February 2021, FII and The Minor Project are looking for article submissions on the topic of Narrating Violence and Trauma from Childhood to highlight the ways we in our childhoods, experience various forms of brutality from our adults, mentors, peers and even their institutions that may lead to a sustained memory of difficult experiences and mental health issues. The Minor Project is a digital platform for public dialogue to promote discourse on ending violence, abuse and exploitation of children by Leher, a child rights organisation, whose focus is on building communities that care and act for the safety and protection of children. If you’d like to share your article, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trigger warning: child sexual abuse
Isn’t childhood the best part of our lives? When we are chasing butterflies, daydreaming about life, following the trails, stumbling our path, blowing the air bubbles up in the sky, gorging the sweet little candies in our mouth and vying to grow old and adult. Well then adulting happens, but it hurts the most when all your childhood dreams are shattered due to a horrific incident, which changes the course of your life forever.
All this while believed that you had finally moved on in your life. Naturally assuming that all your horrible memories are now shelved, locked somewhere in the deep corners of your mind. But, today as I rest inside a 25 year old body, let me tell you that the pain inside, still very much remains and gnaws my childhood tender heart. Sometimes, even today I find it difficult to express my emotions and sentiments and grieve over my own loss. That is why my body even today reacts to certain situations differently irrespective of the emotions that I feel or experience. There are still moments in my life where I have sudden outbursts of such repressed emotions.
Growing up, I had a zillion of such experiences which silenced me for a lifetime. I have always felt like a fish out of the water, an outsider, who does not belong anywhere. Since my childhood I have always longed for a space that is acceptable, welcoming and encouraging for me. Somewhere I could be myself or a place where I could feel accepted like I belong somewhere, anywhere.
This might be because of the two most traumatising experiences of my childhood that I am going to narrate below or it might be because of my identity. Sometimes, in our lives our personal narratives and trajectories shape the part that we play in our histories and our identities are also an integral part of that system.
Here, I just want to appeal to everyone to not doubt my parents’ upbringing or intentions for making me think like this. I think I had a very privileged childhood born with all the luxuries that my parents could afford. But you see, both my parents were working professionals. They did their best to give us a secure childhood.
The very first time I felt shaken in my childhood was when I was molested by one of our distant relative, who frequently visited our home and whom I had grown very fond of in my childhood. That incident literally changed my perception about my body and personality. I was too ashamed to admit and disgusted to believe it. This incident changed my perspective about myself to such an extent, that for a really long time I blamed myself for the entire situation and here my issues with self-esteem began.
I became quite reclusive after the incident. It changed my personality completely. I became withdrawn, socially anxious and nervous all the time. It became difficult for me to trust anybody after this incident. I was an outgoing kid and I liked mingling with people. But this incident changed my behaviour with people as I was scared to be vulnerable, open and natural with people, I was and am still skeptical about my body issues, vulnerability and intimacy. As I have already mentioned before, my body even today finds it difficult to react and process to certain situations; incongruence to my emotions.
Well if this horrific incident wasn’t enough to blur my childhood life, there was another incident which aided my low self-esteem issues. But this very incident was strong enough to expose my weaknesses and vulnerabilities to the world. As I grew to be a reclusive, socially withdrawn kid who was now too timid to go out, face challenges and make friends with anyone. I was easily picked up by people in my school to bully me. As I was already in the vulnerable and fragile stage to stand up for my rights and concerns. This incident literally altered my life decisions and directions. I was scared to make friends with people and I mostly connected and hung out with those people who were equally suffering from low self-esteem issues.
Now, here I would like to share a few instances of my childhood during my school days which aided to humiliation and equally traumatising behavior. I think I was bullied mostly, not only for my physical appearances or personality and behavioural choices but basically for the place that I came from.
My school was in the heart of the city, mostly attended by the children of the so- called upper middle class and middle class families. In my early life, I could not emphasise more on how much pain and anger I had to subside for myself and for my sanity because I was a great grandchild of a so-called immigrant who has no sense of belongingness in the region. Someone who is not an indigenous to this land and people. For someone who speaks a different language and has a different identity all together. I was exposed to such blatant casual racism and stereotypical discrimination from people who are just as same age as mine. But guess what? Children are emulative beings.
The subtle sense of racism that is implanted in them at this young age is actually fed to them by the preceding generations and the venom continues to spread along with the younger generation if we continue to poison our young minds like that. Trust me! today even if I’m writing this. I’m writing this not to make these other kids accountable for their behaviour or actions. But to help myself in order to move on in my respective life. I still have residues of some unpleasant behaviour that I encountered, and I don’t want any other child to feel the same, at least that too in their growing age. I still believe that I am still a fish out of the water, longing for a place to belong.
Krittika is a graduate in Sociology and Social Anthropology from TISS Guwahati. She likes to have a conversation with everyone with a cup of coffee with respect and inclusivity served at the table. She is an ally and an educator, who believes arts can bring a change in the face of education. She does not pretend to know it all! She is still exploring and discovering new things everyday.You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.
Featured Image Source: Feminism In India