The universe is full of a myriad of forces, most of them unknown. Humans are a small part of these forces, so we have little or no control over how they shape our lives.
My name is Shamsideen Nofisat. I’m 24 years old. I wear a size 8. Three years ago, I wore a size 20.
Recently when I posted a throwback picture from three years ago, most of the new friends I made while serving couldn’t believe that was me. I got a lot of how did you do it? What did you use? questions, and when I told them I basically did nothing I’d never tried in the past, most didn’t believe, and some accused me of keeping my weight-loss “secret”.
I always work on not letting people project their opinions onto me. But it is recently I realised that the reason I constantly and consciously try to work on that is because letting people’s words affect me has become my subconscious reaction to my external environment. Due to this flaw of mine, I started telling people what they want to hear. It’s a diet. I starved myself. I walked long miles.
It all really bothered me to the point of irritation, and made me look inward about the weight-loss comments. I got scared. What if I’m unwell? but I know I feel well because I don’t have any health issues. The situation made me sit and brood for days, because I know I starved myself in the past and went on diets; how come I lost all that weight without even trying hard to? Then it finally clicked.
My whole life, I’d always disassociated from my environment. I did things but never felt them. I saw things but didn’t want them. It was a way of life I’d grown accustomed to. I knew I had to travel back in time in my head to know the “how and why” of my situation.
The first thing I learned was that I have no real memories of my teenage years. I only have snapshots of a few events. I read about it, and found that we lose memories when we deal with trauma, especially trauma not grieved. It was at that point I got the epiphany; I’m the last of eight children of my mother, hence she used to dote on me. She was my world, everything started and ended with her. I had friends and a semblance of relationship with my siblings, but my mother was always at the centre of everything, she was the dot that connected every facet of my life. When I lost her, I didn’t allow myself to grieve nor cry, some people blamed it on the fact that I was just ”nine years old.” Dad said I was really “brave.” He still takes pride in it till date. Looking back at that point in my life, I saw the locked grief always hovering above my head, how I lived among my family still feeling like a stranger, because I struggled to connect with anyone.
I clung to my immediate sibling hoping get a semblance of the bond I used to share with my mom. We got real close and I started to get comfortable in my skin again. But months after that, I lost her also. I was completely and utterly drained, and didn’t even try to process my loss when she died. I didn’t shed a tear, not when she was buried, not even when I saw her resting place for the first time.
These events brought about a potent and powerful shift in my life, a shift I didn’t realize when or how it happened, a shift I didn’t even recognise. When a person goes through a trauma such as the loss of a loved one, the impact of the trauma and how we are able to process it, plus the support we receive in dealing with that trauma, is very important. Because it determines the body and mind’s response to that trauma. In my case, my response was to disconnect—be emotionally detached from people and things in order to escape the psychological impact of loss when processed. I started hating getting close to people because of my fear of losing them, I never let people love me. My relationship with my siblings could be likened to a mosquito buzzing in the ear of a person on the other side of a sound proof glass: I could see it, but woouldn’t be bothered by it. I lived my life like this into my young adult years, not even aware of the wrongness of it all.
After I graduated from the university and I travelled to Edo State for my orientation program, I had an epiphany about a lack of fire in me. I suddenly realized that I wanted to feel more, participate rather than observe. It isn’t much for regular folks, but for the first time in my life, I was part of the present and I revelled in it.
My redeployment to Abuja was the major shift in my life, I made a conscious decision to be happy, do more, feel more, be more, to at least try and see if it hurts. Well, it did, when I chose to bond with the wrong person fighting his own demons. And a few other times. But at least I felt something! I felt so many emotions that were exclusively mine, a notable one my laughter. I used to imitate people’s laughter because I’d never really laughed from the heart. The day I laughed with my whole heart when I was in Abuja, I stopped and processed it. Then I cried. I cried for my mother. I cried for my sister. I cried for all the love I’d shunned, all the extended hands of friendship I’d scorned, and for all the time I didn’t allow myself to simply feel.
When my soul recognized this shift, my heart became lighter and I laughed more. Then it connected to my body and I started losing all the weight I’d gained through years of emotional and psychological depression, I fully embraced my love for books, learned to articulate my feelings and make a conscious effort to work on how to deal with my emotions.
I realized I gained all the weight because I was neglectful of my feelings and what makes me happy, and I realized “looking good” was one of those things. On account of this, I started to exercise my body a lot, got on strict diet and firm calories discipline. So that’s it, y’all, Yes, I lost a ton of weight, but it wasn’t only through starving or dieting. It was that, coupled with finding myself and healing my soul. But, most importantly, it was through God.