‘Your Past Does Not Define You’ Guest Post By Awande Mabaso


Being a survivor of some crime is not something to be ashamed of but to feel proud of as it shows your strength that nothing could break you into pieces. Women worldwide face issues related to gender inequality and discrimination. Men often dominate them thinking them inferior to themselves as they are generally not as strong physically as men are. I used to think women are dominated and discriminated only in India but since I started blogging about motivational stories of women, I came in touch with so many women living in developed countries having equal access to education and all other opportunities who survived abusive relationships, rapes, domestic violence and many such heart-breaking crimes which I thought happen only in developing countries. Here is a guest post by

29-year-old Awande Mabaso who is a Pastry Chef and Chocolatier by profession currently settled in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. In this post-Awande has openly written about her being a survivor and not feeling weak or ashamed of because of what happened to her. She encourages all women to speak up to heal mentally and emotionally. Read her post and get inspired!

We have all been through something. We all have a story to tell. Even when those stories may seem similar, they are never the same. However, there are times when there is an overwhelming amount of shame, like some dark cloud over us, because of our pasts.

Hi, my name Awande. I am a sexual abuse and rape survivor, mental illness warrior and recovering from binge eating disorder. This was not something I would have ever openly admitted to. Why? I didn’t want people to ever think that this is all I was. For a period in my life, that is all I thought I was. Someone who had been terribly taken advantage of more than once in my life; battling mental illness and battling to take control of my comfort eating habits. These things do not define me, but they are a part of my story that I am still writing.

What many people struggle with when they have been through any kind trauma, is not making it the pinnacle of their lives and to rely on it as an escape from bad habits. This is not to take away from the trauma that anyone (even myself) has gone through. Not in the slightest. Even though we have gone through experiences, they do not have to be who we choose to be in the future. Our actions that came after the trauma (I call them survival tactics) should not define us. We did what we needed in order to feel better- to survive. We get so caught up in the past and the things that happened to us and the things we have done as a result, that we cannot seem to see that at some point we can take back our pen, change the story and write it to better use.

When I was in therapy (I am currently between therapists) I learned that we fear the unknown. We know our trauma and not what is outside of it. We know our anguish- there is a chance our loved ones are aware of it too. There is a strange kind of comfort we find from it. Without it, who are we? What do we do, and where do we go from there? It is always scary to leave “the devil you know” and jump into territory that isn’t guaranteed to be good at all. Because it is all we know! But through learning to deal with trauma in a safe space, and learning to move through what has happened, we start to take back our power and create an image of ourselves that is healthier, happier and more aware of who we are outside of the things that have happened to us.

This is not an easy process. You must start at the beginning- relive the trauma in order to start living outside of it. Let’s repeat that: You must relive the trauma to start living outside of the trauma. How else do you know what it is you need to work through? It requires more emotional and mental work than you have ever done physically in your life. The first step is believing that you are brave enough to do it. The next step is believing you are strong enough to do it. The last step is believing you are worthy enough to do it.  

Your inner voice will try to stop you. It WILL scream at you to stop. The trauma and the actions after, is where you have found comfort, but has that comfort ever lasted long enough to make you feel good about yourself? Especially if the actions after your trauma (survival tactics), have made you do things that you feel ashamed about admitting to doing in order to feel that comfort. That comfort is temporary, and depending on what you have done, risky.

All it took for me to seek help, was my mother constantly telling me to find a therapist. She knew I couldn’t talk to her the way I needed to. To find the right therapist is difficult and worth it. It can be a hit or miss situation. I became aware that there is no value to therapy without being honest. I had to be honest in order to know how to heal. Here is a person who must listen to you, without judgment, and start to help you put the pieces back together.

At some point, the inner voice changes. It takes on a new persona of wanting to be better and seeing that there is more to life outside of carrying shame and feeding into that shame. Some battles are harder to fight, for me it has been over-eating. Food keeps us alive, and I can’t stop eating it, but I must learn to listen to my emotions enough to not want to overly indulge in it.

You won’t forget what has happened to you, but you don’t have to let it define you either. You can start to build positively on that story. I have been shown that you can live a better and happier life outside of your past. It only depends on how much you think you deserve to. And you really do. I want to add that you need to forgive yourself. Forgiveness is hard, but I believe it starts with yourself, no one else.

But through this process (that I am still on) I have a new motto: I am brave, I am strong, I am worthy. Some days it is difficult to believe this, but I know if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this piece. It is so important for people to look outside of themselves and start living a life that they deserve. It important that you know that that life is not impossible. It is also important to know that you are brave, you are strong, and you are worthy.

Join me on that process on Instagram: @powerfulbodymind or on my website www.powerfulbodymind.co.za.

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