The older I grow the more I realize the ineffable weight women in my family and around me carry. I grew up thinking “my mother had it together” only to learn later that there was a girl in her needing love, affection, healing, care, and, and, and. That’s unfortunately the case with majority of women across the globe. We have so much love and care for others in our hearts and fail to give that love and care to ourselves.

By the hurdles, obstacles and all that we overcome you know that women are strong. We are powerful more than we know. I recently discovered that one of the secrets to me being all I’m meant to be is in self-love and self-care. That’s where I get refueled and recharged from whatever blows life may throw my way. 

I had the privilege of learning from Sbahle Nzuza’s story, an Accountant as well as a Massage Therapist who grew up in a family of five being her parents and 2 siblings, a brother and a sister. A few years back she started “Healing Sessions” after she went for her first massage. It felt so good “magical” that she thought she wanted to make people feel the way she felt. The session brought back memories of unresolved issues in her life, even the tiniest details that she still needed healing from.

Sbahle had to grow up before her time due to emotional incest, also known as covert incest, a dynamic that occurs in parenting where the parent seeks emotional support through their child that should be sought through an adult relationship. Besides her mother confiding in her, there were times where she witnessed her parents fighting in front of her and her siblings. I can just imagine young Sbahle carrying her mother’s pain without even knowing what to do with it. How much more for the mother then? Fact that she confided in her daughter shows that she could not handle it anymore. 

Sbahle unfortunately lost her Mom in 2013 from “Brain Aneurism, which is a bulge or ballooning in a blood vessel in the brain. It often looks like a berry hanging on a stem. A brain aneurysm can leak or rupture, causing bleeding into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).”  After years of her passing, she did some research on the cause of her Mom’s death and found that the root cause is stress. There are a lot of things that bothered her to an extent that her daughter can’t remember her being fully happy. This was a beautiful woman with so much to offer and so much to get from life but never did because of all the blows life had given her. As a mother she’d share only in part and not in full trying to protect her child and that led to her having stress which later turned into a disease that’s would take her life.

Sbahle learnt through her “Massage course” that there are so many things our bodies can draw from our lives; all the emotions that we hold back that we’re supposed to speak out and let go of in our minds and souls. When we hold on to them they destroy us. She draws inspiration and strength from her late Mom’s life. In her own words, “in life, it’s very important to speak about the issues we’re faced with without having to hide behind our personalities.” After her Mom’s passing she started believing in herself and developed a strong character when she realized that there was no one to support her like he Mom did. She finds joy and fulfillment in seeing her clients shed off their weight because she knows what it’s like to be in that position.

Many well-meaning parents tend to overshare what’s going on in their personal lives with their kids — whether it’s by telling them about their most recent conflict at work or complaining about issues at home with their partner. But according to psychologists, continuously confiding in your child can be damaging to their long-term emotional well-being. And while an isolated incident of rehashing a bad day at work won’t cause harm, regularly discussing adult problems the way you would with a peer, forces children into inappropriate parenting roles similar to that of proxy therapists or surrogate spouses.

I’ve leant so much from Sbahle’s story and know without a doubt that self-care and self-love should be high up on my list. This month we’re celebrating 16 Days of Activism against Gender based violence. Let’s look around us and help the next woman or child heal.

Be an activist against GBV in your homes, communities, work and positions. Let us challenge cultures and practices that perpetuate gender inequalities and consequent abuse of women and children at personal and societal level.

One thing about women is that we are nurturers, but the sad thing is that we neglect our own well-being and want to nurture everyone and everything else around us. Take care of yourself – spirit, soul and body.

Much love : Nkateko Tikva Magadzi

By Nkateko

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