• Sarah D. PANDIA

Becoming Me

Updated: May 13, 2021

"The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” - Coco Chanel

It took me a very long time to get where I am today. 37 years to be exact. But here I am, and that’s what’s most important, right? I’m sure that many people go their entire lives without knowing who they really are, and even less knowing their true self. But I won’t allow myself to be that person - I can say that I am there, or at the very least, on the right path and heading in the right direction.

Before I really get down into it, let me get things straight. It isn’t easy for me to sit down and write this. You know, there are tons of obstacles and hurdles to work through before realizing what your life is really all about. My journey was a long and hard one. Today though, I am completely comfortable when it comes to putting my truth out there, without the slightest fear of what people will think of it… or of me. This is my truth. My story. And I am the only one who can tell it to the world.

I grew up in a very unstable environment and endured a lot of adversity.

On one hand, my father was diagnosed bipolar, treated and institutionalized in multiple psychiatric facilities several times over the course of his life. He equally had an alcohol addiction that caused him two consecutive strokes, eventually leading to his progressive invalidity and premature death. I can only describe him as overly emotional, self-destructive, constantly swinging from periods of euphoria and high motivation, to anger, aggressiveness, or sadness. On the other hand, I have a narcissistic mother - albeit, a creative and gifted artist, but emotionally unavailable. My parents, having themselves suffered traumatic events, endured narcissistic parents, and inherited lousy parenting skills, I’ve come to accept and understand that they both did the best they could.

That said though, I unfortunately endured physical and emotional abuse and neglect, I was sexually molested by a stranger at age 7 and raped by a family relative at 15. At a certain point, domestic aggression and violence had become the norm in my home. As my father’s mental illness declined and became impossible to live with, my parents eventually separated and got divorced. Quite frankly, most of the worst years of my teenage life surrounded these repetitive episodes. I lived in a small Haitian society where social pressure and stigma weighed on anything the community subjectively considered “wrong” or “bad”. Moreover, in a country where 95% of the population is black and poor, racism and bullying are hardships I suffered for years. I was relentlessly bullied by snobbish kids at school for being too white and too poor, and bullied by kids on the streets for being too white and thus privileged. As the adversity only continued piling up, I acted out as a promiscuous teenager and that’s when guilt, shame and fear pretty much sealed the core emotions that dictated my behavior from then on.

The icing on the cake is, since birth and up until now, I’ve changed countries 13 times and moved from home to home a total of 34 times, experiencing “riches to rags” lifestyles too. Needless to say, I’ve learned to thrive in both unstable and challenging environments. I just didn’t know any better. The pattern stayed with me until I welcomed my first child into this world and the realization hit me: I couldn’t keep it up. As much as travel allowed me, and still allows me to discover myself, the home-hopping pattern had also become the root-cause of my long-life debilitating anxiety and OCD. Traveling has been and will always be an essential part of me. After all, I’ve visited over 40 countries, but I’ve come to learn that it’s the whole not having a stable home part that really affects me the most.

In the midst of it all, I somehow still managed to become a successful, career-driven, self-made international business executive. But my career path was tainted by a toxic environment, working with psychopaths and narcissists for about a decade.

If that wasn’t already enough, my motherhood was marked by three consecutive miscarriages and a stillbirth. It was in this stage of my life that I really hit rock bottom. Anxiety, OCD and depression reached their peak as I battled infertility. No medical causes were ever found, and not knowing why, is something I’ve had to come to terms with. These were undoubtedly the hardest and most painful times of my existence. I knew I had to do something for myself and when I found out I was pregnant for the fifth time, I decided to seek the help of a mental health professional because I knew, deep down in my core that I wouldn’t survive another loss. My son’s birth felt, and still feels like an unbelievable miracle to me. I can’t express the amount of gratitude, happiness and empowerment he has brought to my life.

Psychotherapy helped me recall repressed memories, make sense of my traumatic past, and understand that I had no sense of self. Whatsoever. Seeing as I had never known or felt unconditional love from my parents, my emotional needs had never been met, and I was never validated as a person. Over time, I had simply become a people pleaser, an empty shell, a chameleon fitting everywhere and anywhere, living for and through other people’s eyes. I didn’t know who I was or even what I was really passionate about. I denied myself for so long and just went along living the life my parents had settled with for themselves - a life that gave me neither purpose nor fulfilment. This whole time, I had been living in a vicious circle where I self-sacrificed and put my needs last, without ever feeling entitled nor worthy of anyone’s love.

This isn’t a sob story. And I’m not trying to win anyone’s pity by victimizing myself. To the contrary, if anything, it took me several decades to gain this latter awareness, to shed the shame, guilt and fear of accepting my past, to process my traumas and to ultimately evolve into my authentic self. I was in survival mode throughout my childhood, in warrior mode throughout my teen years, and felt being strong and in control during my adulthood was the only way to maintain a certain sense of dignity. In other words, recognizing my flaws and tumultuous history was a harsh reality-check and an extremely agonizing process for me. Becoming your true self isn’t easy, it takes a great amount of courage, patience and determination. I’m not even totally there yet. It’s a constant work in progress. Now, however, at least I have the tools to keep working my way forward and I know I’m on the right path.

What follows is my way of acknowledging my place in this world, and more importantly, that I am worthy of love. As much as this may seem obvious to certain people, it was never obvious to me.

My name is Sarah, I’m 37 years old, of Haitian-French descent, my husband is Romanian, we have a 3-year-old son, and we currently live in the United Kingdom. I’m a creative entrepreneur, a blogger, an aspiring writer and a public speaker. I call myself a creative entrepreneur.

Today, I know better. I know that I’m not a spoiled, privileged, entitled white bitch. I’m not a mad nor mean woman. I’m not a bad mother. I was never a difficult child. I’m not stupid, I’m not a failure. I was never a slut, either. I’m not wrong about my feelings, my desires, nor my instincts, and whichever mood or state I find myself in. I’m not overweight, nor ugly or disgusting. I’m beautiful, natural and voluptuous. I’m not bipolar or narcissistic: I inherited narcissistic traits, but I’m not my parents. I’m not poor, I don’t want to be rich and I’m honestly just fine with being somewhere in the middle. I don’t talk too much, or maybe I do, but either way, it’s okay for me to speak my mind and tough shit if people don’t always agree with me. I make mistakes, contradict myself and change my mind about things. And that’s okay, too. All this is part of my evolution.

My skin is white, but I am of mixed-race and I have black ancestry coursing through my veins. I’m multicultural, polyglot, autodidact, smart, cultivated, intellectual and multipotential. I’m proud of the person I have become and the things I have accomplished. I’m an idealist, and an agnostic, I’m hypersensitive, but I’m creative, talented, curious, open-minded and opinionated. I advocate equality for all - I strongly believe in the need to empower girls and women in particular. I care about children who have no homes nor parents, go figure. I worry about the environment as well as animal extinction. Obviously, child abuse and neglect, bullying, or any form of abuse make me sick to my stomach. I condemn racism. I’m sensitive to mental health issues, and I clearly relate to infertility. I’m kind, honest, generous, outgoing, vulnerable, strong and affectionate.

I enjoy singing, dancing, writing, reading, flying, riding, sailing, traveling, dining and socializing. I love interior design, cinema, psychology, pets and I’m passionate about so much more. I’m adventurous, I enjoy entrepreneurship and working on new projects. I love my husband, I’m a nurturing mother, and I want to be a safe, loving and a stable epicenter for my children. I want to adopt, and I want another biological child, too. I know now that I want to settle down for good and completely free myself from the thought of ever having to move again. I am determined to make my life work in just one place. Work or holiday travel can still be part of the equation, up to a certain extent of course, but I want to establish a home that will last for generations, one where my children and grandchildren will know they’re forever welcome to come back to whenever they want or feel the need to. For the sake of my child, I choose to fight to the end of the mental illness cycle and its destructive effects.

Identity is complex. Each person is made up of a multitude of components. I’m not perfect. Far from it, in fact. I’m a lot. I’m all of the above, and more. I’m good enough. I’m human and unique. My past made me who I am today. Yes, it is a part of me, but it doesn’t define my present nor my future. The only way of being my true self is by accepting myself, loving myself, standing up for myself, expressing myself and doing more of what is good and right for me. As long as I’m not hurting, abusing or neglecting anyone, it’s my right to care less about what people think of me, and live for myself.

I want to make a difference, and I want my voice to be heard. I want to share my story because I feel I have overcome so many hardships that I would like my experience to help and inspire others who might be struggling with a few of the same issues I have faced.

With all that I am, I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read my truth.

Sarah The Digital GypSea

United Kingdom, February 2021


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