Updated: Apr 20, 2022
Did you know– In order for a caterpillar to become a butterfly, the caterpillar has to fall apart completely, decompose down to its very essence and devoid of any shape or consciousness?
It literally dies. There’s nothing left of it. Yet, the butterfly puts itself together from this liquid essence through a process called:
As I sit here thinking to myself, I wonder why God dealt me this hand in life.
No mother, no father,
just a little girl lost.
The night that she left my brothers and I, was the last time that I would see my mother for months.
She stepped out stating she was going to pay the electric bill.
I remember her looking back at me as I stood on the steps– she walked towards the door. With a sternness in her eyes, she instructed me to not open the door for anyone and went about her way.
The next morning when I woke up, my brothers (2 years old, and 18 months old) and I were still home alone.
I was 4 years old.
It was raining. Our house was big and we were alone. I was scared. I remember looking out of the window awaiting my mother’s return. I fell asleep on the couch because I did not sleep well the night before.
I woke up out of my sleep startled and scared of a loud knock on the door:
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
“Is anyone home?”
I ran to open the door and found four policemen standing at the bottom of the steps. One officer was black and the others, white.
Black officer, “Hey sweetie, where is your mother?”
Rubbing my eyes, still trying to gather myself, I said with a trembling voice, “I don’t know. She said she was going to pay the electric bill.”
White officer, “Are you here alone?”
Still very much confused, I feared getting the beating of my life– I had clearly defied her instructions and opened the door for strangers.
With my head bowed looking at my bare feet I answered, “No, I am with my brothers.”
Black officer, “Can you show me around your house?”
With a brief hesitation, I answered, “Yes.”
I remember showing two of the officers around upstairs as the other two looked around downstairs. My two little brothers played in the middle room, as I conducted the tour as if I were on an episode of MTV Cribs.
The white officer asked me to find some clothes for my little brothers to put on because they were..
both completely naked.
I showed them the closet in the hallway in which our clothes normally were, however, on this particular day there were no clothes in the closet, just a large black trash bag filled with dirty pieces of laundry. Eventually, the officers found something for my brothers to put on.
The officer asked if I had family that lived close by. So, I guided them to my aunt Pat’s house a few blocks away. It was as if I was taking them on an adventure. I watched eagerly, from the backseat of the patrol car, with my brothers as the white officer knocked on my aunt Pat’s door. After a few knocks and no answer, the officer returned to the passenger seat of the car. I hung my head sadly.
Disappointed and confused.
At this point, my brothers and I had been with these officers for what seemed like forever. However, in real time it was more like an hour. I was tired and hungry. I began to cry.
I cried for my mother.
I wanted my mother, little did I know, she would not come to my rescue.
My aunt was not home. What was going to happen next? Both officers attempted to comfort me to no avail.
White Officer, “Did you and your brothers eat this morning?”
As tears rolled down my chubby cheeks,
I struggled to catch my breath.
I responded, “No, we don’t have any food.”
White Officer, “Let’s go get you guys something to eat.
I continued to cry silently. Taking deep breaths in and out.
I had pancakes, sausage and orange juice. My brothers had the same. After breakfast, the officers took us to a large building. A place I had never seen before. This was the day that my brothers and I became Wards of the State. That big building of the Department of Human Services.
The friendly white officer kneeled down to me, hugged me and told me everything was going to be ok. That would be the last time I would ever see him.
We were now state property.
“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.”
– Judith Lewis Herman
(Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence-From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
I hate bugs. I hate the heat. I hate going to my grandmother’s house each summer. It felt like complete torture each time I went there.
I skipped a few parts huh?
After being placed in the Foster Care system at the age of four, my maternal aunt would later gain custody of my two brothers and I.
What I would later find out, is that the police were contacted by an unidentified caller to my home that day, because my brothers were outside playing naked in the rain. This led to our placement in Foster Care.
My maternal aunt took us in without hesitation.
She did not have any children of her own, just a big house with three bedrooms.
During the summer months, she would send my two brothers and I to South Carolina to spend the summer with my maternal grandmother and older brother. My older brother and I were 4 years apart.
I hated spending the summers in South Carolina.
I missed my aunt so much. I cried every time she would leave us and counted down the days until her return.
My grandmother was mean.
It felt more like prison than a summer vacation. We cleaned often, were not allowed to play outside, and were forced to eat foods we did not like. If we were too loud in the house she would bring out the re-enforcer, which was a washer machine hose that she had cut down enough to hold to beat us with.
I learned very quickly to stay on her “good side.”
I would rub her feet with alcohol upon her rest. Her house reeked of mothballs.
I hate the smell of mothballs
to this day.
My older brother did what most older brothers do. He would play games with us, toss us around and take us on walks around what the locals called “The Hut.”
Until one night, our relationship changed.
My grandmother had a two-bedroom single floor home. I slept in the bedroom with her. My two young brothers slept in the bedroom with my oldest brother. His room had two beds.
I remember begging my grandmother to allow me to stay up a little longer with my brothers to watch television. She agreed. As my grandmother slept the night away snoring loud enough to wake up anyone, my two younger brothers who were about 7 and 8 at this time, were laying on their bed in my older brother’s room watching television. I sat on the bedroom floor.
In my long night gown, which my grandmother hand-made, I quietly got up to use the restroom.
As I went to wash my hands there was a quiet knock on the bathroom door.
It was my oldest brother.
I yelled out “be right out” and continued washing my hands.
He said, “Najiyyah! Open the door before I tell grand-mom and you get a beating.”
With very little hesitation and the fear of God in my heart for my grandmother, I obeyed.
He came into the bathroom, locked the door behind him.
The sexual abuse began
I didn’t understand at that time what was going on. I was 9 years old.
Confused and scared.
He told me to turn around and face the bathroom tub. With his back against the door, he lifted my nightgown, pulled down my underwear, and rubbed his penis between my butt cheeks.
He began to moan. His penis was hard.
I had never felt anything like this before– naturally, it was weird to me.
Is this what brothers and sisters do? His other hand reached down to touch my vagina.
I begged him to stop.
He instructed me to shut up, otherwise, he would tell grand-mom and I would get a beating. The sexual abuse would continue for two years, each time I was sent to my grandmother’s for the summer.
My menstrual cycle was the only thing that ended the abuse– this was when my aunt stopped sending us down south for the summer.
I am thankful the suicide attempts did not succeed.
Sexual trauma, failed suicide attempts, domestic violence, abandonment and feelings of shame followed me throughout my life until I began therapy. For years due to all I had experienced, I suffered psychologically, physically, and emotionally. I felt as though I was constantly at war with my mind and emotions. The internal war I was experiencing became so overwhelming to the point that I attempted to end the mental and emotional turmoil by taking my own life.
My Self-Esteem– suffered for years due to my sexual trauma amongst other things. I never felt beautiful. I struggled with my weight. How I viewed myself and the world around me would forever be changed due to my experiences or so I once thought.
I struggled with intimacy and dating for years. I would use sex as a form of empowerment and as a weapon. I would have sex with my partners and completely disassociate.
No feelings. No thoughts.
Just an act, and I felt that as long as I gave sex freely to my partners, they couldn’t take it and that was my power.
I am no longer the victim.
It’s been a year since I began my healing journey.
For so long, I held onto self-limiting beliefs about myself and my abilities. I was scared to talk about all that I had experienced. It was all kept tucked far away, until I became aware that I was spiraling out of control emotionally and mentally. It felt as though I was spiritually, emotionally, and mentally dying.
I began therapy on three different occasions, before I finally committed to the process of healing. I struggled, initially, because the past was fighting who I am destined to become.
Though this journey has had its fair share of challenges, highs and lows, it has been the most transformative experience of my life.
Today, I am stronger.
TOB BLOG | A Writers Path for Healing |
Najiyyah Cheeseboro, holding a MSW with 14 years of experience in the field of Social Services, is a Self-Love Educator, Author, Facilitator, and Transformational Speaker. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 12-year-old daughter named Makayla.
Her purpose in life is to help women transform their lives and empower them to heal and love themselves.
“I believe that once the little girl is healed, the woman will show herself. From a caterpillar to a butterfly.”
– Najiyyah Cheeseboro