8th March was International Women’s Day, and I had no idea until the late afternoon when I logged onto social media.

I read posts about inspiring women who are trailblazing and doing amazing things in their respective fields, and women who contributing to their communities and making waves. The posts were beautiful to read, and warmed my heart. And then I felt it.

I’d like say it was a thud, but it wasn’t. It was a truck striking a space between my belly and my chest, so the vibration hit them simultaneously. I thought I’d handled it in the past — dealt with it and waved it goodbye with a white handkerchief of peace. But this feeling let me know in a very real way that I’d thought wrong.

She rose and stood tall, and the smirk she wore made my belly flop. She hadn’t changed much, except her voice had a scratchiness that grated my nerves.

“I told you,” she said. “You’re not cut out for this motherhood thing. It’s too much for you. And the poor darlings are going to end up needing therapy when they’re adults.”

I felt like cracking open my shriveling heart, step into it, and curl up deep in a vessel. I felt like affirming her words because my children had heard more growls, more grunts, and far fewer words of endearment than usual. I felt like handing back the reflection of the woman I’d seen that week because I didn’t like her, nor did I want to see her blinking back at me.

Yet, despite the sharp tone, the short words, the “Come here!”, “Didn’t you hear me?”, “Now!” that I’d dished out to my children, I knew and know I’m better, and I can and do do better. I knew she wanted to capitalise on my actions so I’d smear them onto my skin as labels of who and what I am, but I chose differently.

“You’re wrong,” I told her. “I can do this, and therapy is great for growth, anyway.”

As I share this with you, I feel relieved that I held up the stop sign to Inner Mean Girl before she led me back to that dark place of past failures and their consequences.

I know with certainty that I’m more than my past poor choices. And I know with certainty that you are, too.

LaYinka Sanni is an ex-editor and college lecturer who is now a certified practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) — an approach centered around communication and rewiring the brain to achieve positive change. Under 'Evolve & Emerge', LaYinka assists Muslim women to work towards living with intentional purpose as their authentic self.

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