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Aunty Bella: Miss. Desperately Trying to Escape a Toxic Family



Aunty Bella is our  agony aunt column on BellaNaija. We launched this column in the early days of BN and periodically feature issues sent in by BN readers.

We hope the BN family can offer insightful advice.


Hello guys. This is a bit long, please bare with me.

How do I restart my life? I am a 30 year old female. May 2018 will make it a year that I have been in Nigeria since I got back from the UK. I have a degree and masters in Accounting. I am ACCA part qualified. I have applied to over 700 jobs. No luck. My account balance at the moment is N10,980.

I never wanted to go to the UK. It was all my dad’s idea. Even when I had job opportunities he made me forego them for my postgraduate studies. He was management level staff with a first generation bank and he had highly placed friends and a strong network before he retired. Along the line, he married a younger woman (4th wife) who has been a liability to him and he abruptly stopped sending me any money. Unfortunately I was diagnosed with a chronic illness and I had a couple of surgical procedures. I had to combine this with studying and working in a warehouse. I almost ran mad. For the first time in my life, I needed to see a psychiatrist. I scraped a few hundred pounds before coming and I used it for businesses that made huge net losses. I can bake, I sold clothes, I sold food at tradeshows. All losses.

My dad’s new wife is vile. A divorcee with 2 kids. She’s very razz and local. My dad went and caught HIV a few years back and he’s at the mercy of this woman. She turned me to her housegirl. Even when her kids (18 and 23) are around I will cook and wash plate for all of them. She will wake me up to go and buy matches. She’s a housewife who has an OND. She does nothing. Nada. TV from morning to night. She told me that I don’t sound like somebody who studied in the UK, that she was expecting me to return with an accent. This woman can’t say one sentence without bullets. Let me tell you how vile she is: one time my dad fell terribly ill due to some antiretroviral ish. She called my sister and I to tell us that if we don’t get married now that he is alive, our wedding will be boring because his highly placed friends won’t attend.

My dad is the bread winner of his extended family. He’s answerable to no one. Around August last year, I had malaria with a cold. She didn’t add my food when she made breakfast. I (intentionally) went and ate my father’s food that she kept for him and that’s how my own father told me to leave the house. I have a male cousin who was nice enough to accommodate me and I have been with him for some months now.

You may be asking if I have siblings. How about my mother? They think I am entitled. I have never asked for 1 naira from them since I got back so I am confused. My mum is verbally abusive. She once told me that if I die, she won’t miss me. It was for something very trivial oh. She’s difficult to live with and has recently started displaying serious Munchausen syndrome, which has complicated this wahala a lot more. I have learned to live with it but I try to stay away from her as much as I can. Too much negativity. She’s a chronic complainer. We went for her brother’s burial recently and she was complaining about the meat they gave her. She complained about about how they put stew on her efo riro. She complained that they gave her tea with caffeine. People that were mourning oh. Anyway, She has been nice enough to send me 10k every month. She retired well and I am the last born of her own 3 children. Her pension is 200k. She has a business and rental properties. I have never asked for more. She will even give me money to go and deposit for her relatives. My older sister is gainfully employed. I won’t go into details because honestly I’m not feeling entitled to anything. She works with a multinational oil company. She told me that I have longerthroat, I should have been contented with the little food at home. I don’t expect her to give me anything but at least little emotional support na, abi?. She said I’m doing as if I am the only person suffering. I wrote a professional exam recently and failed. I sold my gold to pay for that exam. She called recently to ask how the results were. I told her I didn’t pass. Her reply was that I don’t feel sober and sad for someone who just failed an exam. She also called my mum to tell her I failed an exam and I was not sad when I told her I failed. Something I paid for myself and oh, in case you’re wondering, I was not asking her for money.

Bellanaijarians, how do I restart my life? My father doesn’t know where I am. Except if my sister told him. I want to cut off my family. I have stopped picking phone calls, I will go cold turkey soon. My eldest brother is autistic. He’s the only one I like in that house. My dad stopped paying his fees long ago. That he’s wasting his money. I tried to learn client side programming languages, my laptop has packed up. Suicide has crossed my mind several times. I know ways that I can lower my blood pressure till my heart stops. I have researched suicide methods. My cousin I stay with is a widower who is in debt from his late wife’s illness and funeral costs. I am just grateful he gave me a roof over my head. I can’t ask him for anything again. This is a cry for help! My life is a huge mess. I want a job. Internship, graduate roles, whatever is available. I went to my cousin’s tailor to ask how much he charges for an apprenticeship. N30,000. My head is full of disgusting nonsense and terrible things. Should I start exercising? I heard it helps with depression. Are you a therapist in Abuja who can give me pro bono sessions? Do you have a vacancy at your place of work? How do I restart my whole life?

Photo Credit: Dreamstime


  1. Ivy

    February 14, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Hello Poster, take heart. You said you can bake, right? Put together a business plan for baking. Start with what it will cost you to start a muffin or cupcake business. From this, people may be able to invest.

    • Cos I say so

      April 13, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      She has done it

  2. cleo

    February 14, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Tears came to my eyes when i read your message, i wish i am in Abj just to hold you and tell you it will be alright. Why not think about something to sell with the little money your mum gives. For example before i got my present job i lost my first and was equally writing a professional exams with no savings , so i asked my dad for N14,000 which i used to purchase perfume sample box. I visited government offices and other good companies to show them samples of my perfumes , so when they place order , some pay in advance and others dont, i buy the perfumes from the company and deliver it to the customers , i also charge them delivery fee. Maybe after sometime you can incorporate other items before you secure a job, It will help you to meet new people and also take you out of the house. Dissuade credit purchase at all cost . You never can tell where your blessings may come from. Dont be sad, You are the only solution to your problems, i know it is hard but you need to stand up and start moving, never stop.

    • Poster

      February 14, 2018 at 8:29 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Cleo

  3. Hadiza

    February 14, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    Hello Bella, please can i get the contact of this girl . I really want to help. please direct me to her. Thank you

  4. MrsO

    February 14, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Seems 9ja isn’t favouring you. Why not return to the UK ?? (if you got papers)

    • Bebe

      February 14, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      With which money ? The 10k in her account ?

    • None of Your Business

      February 14, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      Did you read her story? She only has 10k in her account. How can she afford an air ticket?

  5. youareasurvivor

    February 14, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Toxic families… tufiakwa i had to take matters into my own hand and moved out at the end of the month i am always broke but i have my peace and sanity. i cannot come and be an emotionally unstable adult having kids and doing the same to them God forbid. take everyday as it comes whilst you eagerly plan how to rescue yourself . when you do please do not look back because they might drag you back down, coming from someone who escaped YOU WILL BE JUST FINE … big hugsxxx

  6. Favored

    February 14, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Poster, pls send me an email at [email protected] or look me up on SM @ulojac

  7. connie

    February 14, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Poster update your post by adding your contact. email address or phone number so people who want to help with job or other means will be sble to reach you.
    I have an uncle in abuja who may be able to give you a job.

    • Rer

      February 14, 2018 at 7:43 pm

      Hello Connie, please can you tag me along? I need a job too. Abeg..

    • Jobseeker

      February 15, 2018 at 1:27 pm

      Research Chemist, in Lagos. I’m looking for a job Biko.
      Dear Poster I wish you well, most times when everything seems to be crumbling down that’s when grace walks in…I wish you strength and guidance. You can rebuild your inner circle gradually.. I really wish i can help, can we donate money, don’t have much as am also seeking for a job…drop an account if it’s possible. God s grace to you.

  8. Weezy

    February 14, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Dear poster. Please respond with an email address. If you want to hide identity it is very easy to open a random Gmail account. Please respond.

  9. Odufa

    February 14, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    This is what I tried to avoid that made me stay back in Jos after nysc, at least I can clothe, feed myself, pay my rent. God will see you through dear. No problem lasts forever.

  10. Ada

    February 14, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Dear poster,
    I know life is hard and your story touched me deeply but I have just one thing to say. Since you had been in the UK for quite a while, why don’t you go back there?
    Yes, money is the problem but with whatever you find now, even if it’s a small job or an internship, save up and leave.
    I’m not saying this because I think Yankee is better than naija but your family is really toxic. Having them around you even when you’re buoyant will certainly drive you mad.
    I wish I could talk to your older sister, what kind of an older sister is she? How doesn’t she have your back? So, you failed an exam…and what now happen? You were obviously stressed and studying effectively might have been difficult.
    I really hope you find something to do but take my advice. Save money, book a flight ticket and run. Start your life afresh far far far away from your family.
    May God be with you.

    • Poster

      February 14, 2018 at 9:38 pm

      Hello Ada, you and MrsO made the same suggestion but unfortunately I don’t have any visa at the moment, that will make it legal for me to go back to the UK. Also, I can’t afford a flight ticket. Thanks for your advice and especially for your empathy.

  11. Midday Cana

    February 14, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    Can you post your bank account # online or something so people can send you a little money. I really feel for you and honestly your story is heart-breaking. I see that you are decent human being and I will remember you in my prayers to God and he will hear us. Hang in there hope springs eternal!

  12. Yvonne

    February 14, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Poster am so sorry, I truly hope God sends you a helper.

    BNers please any recommendations for endocrinologist in abuja. Please I would like for my mum to start seeing one and I don’t live in Nigeria. Google doesn’t really help with search since Naija is more word of mouth. Please I need recommendations. Help a sister help her mother .. Daalu

  13. Bowl

    February 15, 2018 at 6:58 am

    @Yvonne, all federal teaching hospitals have endocrinologist. If she stays in Lagos , Abuja, Enugu , Portharcourt, Nnewi, she can assess private facilities. Cedacres Abuja is a particularly good private facility

  14. The real dee

    February 15, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Poster, I pray helpers come your way in Jesus name. In the meantime, please sort out the spiritual aspect too, your father’s 4th wife may be attacking you spiritually, go into intense prayers and fasting against powers working against your progress. But in order to pray more targeted prayers, seek God and ask that he shows you the secret of this situation, there’s something going on. When you’ve received that revelation, start your battle in prayers, I assure you, you’ll come back and testify. If you need spiritual help, prayerfully seek a church where you’ll find one.

  15. Flowers

    February 15, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    Hello Poster,
    I think what you need to do first is getting your sanity intact and taking yourself back to a place were you can think properly of the way forward. I will advise that you address the depression first before taking further actions as whatever you do will still be affected by your state of mind. Good way to start, wake up very early in the morning 5am, hydrate with 2 glasses of water, 20 minute exercise, 20 min yoga and 20 min meditation. Healing yourself internally draws good energy around you, gives you the ability to think proper and enable you to know the next course of action. Get a diary and write down your daily thoughts as well as gratitude and affirmation. Take care of yourself with the little you have and eat well. During the day take 2-3 hours to apply for jobs, take a break and at night take 1-2 hours to write down different business ideas and what it will take to execute them. This will give you a clear direction. As for your family, what you need to do is stay away for a while because your sanity is yours and you need to keep it intact. Life happens and I believe this is a phase that will pass. Everyone has to go through some form of difficulties in their life time, you just have to be strong for yourself. Suicide is not the solution I promise you, you’ve come along way educating and grooming yourself why would you want to throw all that away. I believe you’ve laid a good foundation for yourself your just need to be patient to cross through the bumpy ride. Read some intellectual books, attend networking events and make friends with people that you believe can help you. Lastly you may not believe in this but I will urge you to research on the *Law of attraction* this might help to lift your spirit. If it works for me it can definitely work for you if you believe. I wish you all the best and I believe something great will happen in your life soon. Stay alive and keep a healthy thought. You will smile in the end. Kisses

    • Jobseeker

      February 15, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      Sound advice…

  16. Me

    February 15, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    Dear poster, first and foremost big hugs to you. You are special, you are loved and you are not alone. And you will fulfill your purpose on this earth in Jesus name, Amen.

    One resource that has helped me immensely is, the daily article and podcasts uplift my spirit every single time.

  17. fireonwings

    February 27, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    How do we send in something to Aunty Bella?

  18. Simi

    March 16, 2018 at 1:58 pm


  19. Pro Bono Therapist

    May 6, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Hello. I can refer you to a pro Bono therapist in Abuja if you still need one. You’d be fine.

  20. Ozi

    June 5, 2018 at 11:40 am

    Everything good will come.

    See the storm? It passes…ALWAYS!

  21. Miss good fortune

    October 27, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    This makes sad reading truly. I encourage you to firstly count your blessings things such as being alive, a roof over your head, a caring cousin, perhaps 1 or 2 good friends, your opportunity to live in and experience the UK etc. Some things seem so obvious and simplistic but trust me you will be in awe how good you have some things and it will be one step away from all the negativity that seems bent on overwhelming you.
    As for your family, forgive and begin the process of allowing yourself to heal. Forgiveness is not an acceptance or pass of someone else’s behavior or attitude towards you, forgiveness is simply letting go of any malice, hurt,hatred and pain that is in your heart against someone who has been cruel or mean to you. It doesn’t mean allowing them back into your life (some peoples toxicity needs to be kept at double arms length) it simply means you bear no Ill feelings or Ill will towards the perpetrator. It is essential you forgive whether or not someone apologises or not because fact is some people will not apologise or change their behavior or treatment of you but you have to ask yourself for how long will I ALLOW it to continue to hurt me?? Forever? No, our time on earth is limited and finite so that’s a ‘luxury’ we don’t have.
    You can decide who you nurture a close relationship with and who to just acknowledge.
    As concerns your career I would recommend you read a book called ‘no fears no excuses’ by Larry Smith. It is a brilliant read written for professionals whether young or old whether on a set career path,looking to change careers, stuck or unable to find a job. Its so amazing it will definitely open your mind up to all the possibilities you were oblivious to as concerns your career.
    Go girl,you got this!! Throwing in the towel is always easier but its the fight that makes the duel we do with life that much more interesting and worthwhile. No giving in no giving up..hugs and kisses..

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