The urban dictionary describes somebodiness as a “deep belief in your own dignity and worth. In your own somebody, your own self or somebodiness. To always feel like you count and matter and are worth it. A word to describe the constant feeling that your life is of ultimate significance.”
I had never heard that word until January this year, and even then, I thought it was coined by my cousin, Tony. So why have I opened with it? Because it struck me hard when I heard it.
As a teenager, I thought it was really profound to say I wanted to leave big footprints in the sands of time. Poetic, yes? I thought so. What I was really trying to say was that I wanted to be someone who made a difference to the world... except back then I thought the world was huge and I had to fill it up with my brilliance.
I recall exactly where I was when I realised that I wasn’t brilliant and the world wasn’t, in fact, waiting for me. I was standing in a field in a college in Port Harcourt, having just been rescued from a gang of teenage boys bent on revenge for some perceived slight on their masculinity (I think I told one of them to get lost when he tried to get his freak on with me). His response was to rock up with his group of friends and gang-rape me (because when is it not a good idea to rape a girl who rejects you?). Thankfully, a mutual friend happened upon us as they closed in on me, and was my knight in shining armour that night. He said I was his girlfriend, and thanks to some guy code, they left me alone.
”You’re lucky,” the leader spat at me. “We would have shown you who’s boss here...”
Then to one of the other guys “Foolish girl, she thinks she’s big enough to handle us...” and they walked off into the darkness slapping each other on the back and congratulating themselves for scaring me silly. Promising that the next time, I wouldn’t be so lucky. I had to watch my back.
In the moments after they dispersed and as my knees gave way, I had one overwhelming thought, and it wasn’t “thank God” (although I did think that). No. It was the overwhelming consciousness of how small I was, and how in that moment (like many other moments) it didn’t matter what I told myself or how brave I thought I was. I was not enough to stop that group of boys from harming me. Not strong enough, brave enough, intelligent enough... and if I couldn’t make a difference to myself, how on earth would I make a difference to anyone else? I stood there that night and gathered the shreds of my dignity, my inner critic kicked in and became the voice I heard each time life knocked me back. Her voice was sometimes seductive, always harsh, often looping - “You’re not enough”.
We've all heard that tiny voice in the back of our minds that plays off our greatest anxieties, giving its dialogue an addictive quality. Call it by whatever name, the result is the same. It beats you down until you feel like nobody. It’s the devil. It’s your demons. Your abuser.
How did I get back up? One day at a time. Recognising that world domination remains in my grasp now that I’ve redefined what the world looks like (yeah, apparently you can do that!). Recognising that I could choose to ignore my inner critic, or teach her to change the narrative. Setting boundaries for myself, respecting my boundaries and insisting on others respecting my boundaries. Reminding myself that no matter what happens, I am enough. I don’t need to be ‘all that’ all of the time... just sometimes is enough 😊. As a Christian, the most important part of my recovery is reminding myself of what God says about me, and choosing to believe it. A little more each day. One day at a time.