Becoming Mindfulness vulnerability

Breaking Free from Biases: A Journey of Self, Forgiveness and Growth

When we say ‘forgiveness,’ we often forget that forgiveness should start from within. For us to forgive another, we must first forgive ourselves.

We don’t realise how much bitterness and resentment we hold within ourselves until we face a similar situation. Over time, this bitterness grows into fear, walls, and biases, making it challenging to embrace a different path. But to move on, we must first forgive ourselves.

To forgive ourselves, we must first acknowledge what happened. Sometimes, these mistakes are not ours to bear; however, because of the expectations we place on ourselves to be perfect, we fail to see past the current situation. We say to ourselves, ‘never again,’ and shut ourselves off. Because we never confronted the first situation, we may find history repeating itself as this bitterness grows deep and imprints itself into our hearts, creating burdens we need to release.

Years later, we become a product of our traumas, unaware that we hold these biases unless someone calls them to our attention.

Some years ago, my friend called my attention to a prejudice I held so tightly that I didn’t even realise it was there.

What are the beliefs we hold as truths that are actually prejudices?

Just because I’ve had similar experiences with people of a certain gender in the past doesn’t mean every individual of that gender will act the same way in the future.

What happens with biases is that when we hold on to them so tightly, we close ourselves off from a part of the world. In my case, any man driving a car who stops me on the road must want something more. I couldn’t believe I held on so tightly to this mindset, thinking it was the absolute truth. I even mentioned this to my sister on our walk.

How long had I closed myself from love, friendship, or connection because of this bias?

I wept when I finally faced the truth I had been trying so hard to avoid because I felt so guilty that I had to talk to my friend about it. I let myself cry for all the hurt I’d been holding onto; for not loving myself enough to realize that I needed to forgive myself, and for being rude to a stranger whose only crime was stopping me on the road to ask for my friendship.

What follows from here is love, lessons, forgiveness, and self-compassion; love and forgiveness that comes from within; lessons learned from the incident; and a promise to be more open-minded. In this experience, we remember to be kind to ourselves as we work on moving forward.

‘We are a product of our traumas,’ my friend, Biodun, says. ‘Our traumas shape us and make us who we are.’

Imagine we give ourselves time, love, and care to forgive ourselves, learn from our situations, and move forward. Imagine we acknowledge that it is not our fault that these traumas happened to us. And imagine we write the future with so much love bursting through us as a byproduct of the lessons we learned and the love we allowed ourselves to feel and produce when we didn’t let that incident define us. We become love, telling love stories with kindness, passion, and sincerity towards others we meet on our way.


What pain is teaching me about time


I had never really thought about this until I came through from my unconsciousness with blinding pain. ‘Where is my stomach?’, my boyfriend said I’d mumbled to nobody in particular in the mumbo jumbo slurred speech of someone who was still under the influence of anaesthesia.

Where was my stomach indeed?

Shalvah had read out every nonsense I’d said in the post-op room to me, and we’d laughed about it, but the more I think about it, the more I realize something new from that experience – my experience. 

I was getting to know more of myself through my wounds, through my scars, through my pain.

Before this operation, right before I had the excruciating pain from my hernia – when my outie was still really big, I think. I’d thought of my belly button as a scar. A scar that I thought came from the carelessness of the nurses who helped deliver me.

My belly button gave me my nickname in secondary school – ‘big dodo’, which translates to ‘big navel.’ I hated that nickname and felt embarrassed that I’d cover it up by wearing oversized T-Shirts, skirts up until my navel, and girdles that held my belly button in place and made it less obvious that I had a ‘scar.’

It wasn’t until late 2019 that I decided not to give a care about people’s thoughts regarding my outie. I was going to embrace my scar and see it as a part of me. I was going to show it off. And yes, I did show it off on my Instagram stories, photos of me in my workout suit, flanking my outie belly button until I felt the worst pain shoot through the insides of my stomach. No, this should be fine, I’d thought. It wasn’t the first time I was having abdominal pain.

But this was a different kind of pain. This pain did not stop. It choked me, and at a point, I thought I could not breathe. Was this an aftermath of covid? I booked a Bolt ride to the hospital, and one look at my belly button, the doctor confirmed my fears. ‘It’s an umbilical hernia. We need to take it out.’

Lying in the hospital bed, I’d wondered about pain, about scars, about time. This year has dealt me some numbers. 

Right from the call I got on January 4th, 2021 that I tested positive to Covid-19, to moving to the isolation ward to spending 14+ days with other covid positive patients, to losing my sense of smell and regaining it shortly after, and coming home to having the worst fever and losing my sense of smell again and wondering if this was it. 

There were a lot of questions. 

Was I ever going to get better? 

Was I ever going to see the outside world again?

Was I going to die? I mean, I’m not different from others who lost their lives to this deadly virus. What was going to happen to me, I thought as I downed the drugs recommended for me. 

When I think about pain, I think about my trips to the toilet at the isolation centre with my perfume, spraying it close to my nostrils, and willing myself to smell again. 

When I think about pain, I think about the pills I took during covid and the side effects I got from taking them. I think about the muscle aches I endured and the numbness that took hold of the left part of my body for over a week.

I think about the constant pressure on my left chest and the nights that I stayed awake wondering if I was about to have a stroke or a heart attack or if I was having a pulmonary embolism. Yes, I Googled my symptoms. 

I think about my early morning trips to UCH Ibadan, scared about the long queue and screaming at a doctor that I found strolling that I had an emergency and needed medical attention fast! I was having a heart attack, I said to him. I walked into the emergency quarters and had a chest x-ray and an ECG. Everything looked normal on paper, but what was this pain? What was wrong with me? 

I think about how shortly after I’d tested negative to Covid-19, I’d developed another cough, the worst, and wondered if this was it again. I think about the number of antibiotics I had taken before the sputum test results that showed I had streptococcus pyogenes and, I wonder if I’d somehow cursed this year and brought this entire ordeal upon myself.

I had thought so much about time and death. I used to be a part of a group that comes together every last Sunday of the month to discuss death, and you would think that this would have made me ready to be unafraid of death.

But, I have anxiety just by thinking about the thought of dying. I lost my mum when I was fifteen, and I am not entirely sure if I’d completely gotten over her death. My grandmother and great grandmother died around the same time last year, and my dad’s elder brother died last December.

I am not unafraid of death. I fear pain the same way that I fear the thought of getting sick.

I am scared. 

My stomach hurts so bad I think it’s about to split into two, and my right arm is swollen and painful that I wonder if I’m having a DVT

My thoughts about time have shifted a bit from ‘with all the time we have,’ to never existent. Please, hear me out. I spent almost 18 days at the isolation centre, and those days didn’t feel any different to me. It felt like I was living the same day over and over again. 

Mike Quigley wrote, ‘Once you’ve stared death in the face, every day is a good day.’ These days, I am intrigued by time, and I think a lot about the question, ‘What is the time?’

Does time matter when we can’t do those things we used to do because of ill health, or God forbid when we are staring death right in the face? 

Then, the question, ‘What time is it?’ wouldn’t matter again, because, then, time becomes one long string of never-ending nows. 

I’m still trying to figure out time and why we say we don’t have enough of it. In my theory, time doesn’t exist, and yesterday is the mind as it remembers, and tomorrow is the mind as it anticipates – I’m not sure whose philosophy this is again. 

If this is true, I wonder if the mind ever survives time.