A journey into my womanhood, in four parts.

Part II

By Charmaine Adetola Shaw

January 2023

Thumbnail illustration by Carole Maillard

Thumbnail illustration by Carole Maillard



“To build something again that has been damaged or destroyed”

“The scars I bare are tales of the journeys I have travelled
They do not define me but I wear them with pride

Every lesson
Every mistake
Every regret

Etched into my soul
I will never forget them and for that perhaps I am somewhat thankful

For they serve as reminders of how far I’ve come
And how strong I have grown”

Have you ever lost yourself so detrimentally you don’t even recognise your reflection or your thoughts? Your mind taking you beyond its horizon and to depths that, unless you have previously reached, you cannot imagine. For how can you explain what it truly means to be lost, unless you are a lost soul yourself.

I, myself, have been lost a number of times in my lifetime.

In life, I have been dealt what we may call a “sh—t hand”. Twists of fate so unfortunate I didn’t know, at the time, if I’d survive.

However, one thing I have realised about myself is the strength and power of my resilience and my ability to rebuild myself from the ground up. As I stated in Rediscovering one of my biggest flaws is my stubbornness. Although, my stubbornness has also saved my life more than I care to admit. Whether you call it my over active moral compass, a flight or fight system on overdrive, or a side effect from my Virgo Sun. One thing I can tell you for sure, is I will not let the actions of people and things beyond my control consume me to the point of my complete demise, I wouldn’t give them the pleasure or satisfaction.

I have always been one to place so much emphasis on the opinions of others on my own life. When, truly, who’s opinions and ideals should I care about other than my own and by extension those closest to me; those who’s mind-set and opinions I honour and appreciate.

This is one of the thoughts that usually ‘catapults’ me out of my depressive episode when I’m down on life (more akin to unenthusiastically grunting whilst completing menial tasks). It also reminds me, that even if I don’t believe it to be true consistently, I must be loved. For these people that are so dear to me have stood by me through everything, and for that I will forever be grateful.

It is these thoughts that have enabled me to rebuild myself time and time again. I always try to remind myself that it is okay to be ‘knocked down’ as long as I learn something on the way back up. As this is the natural state of the ebb and flow of life, a series of ongoing lessons to push you towards your highest self.

Whilst I try to write on this situation somewhat lightly, this lightness should not be taken as the task itself being seen as easy. Because one thing anyone any sufferer of mental illness can tell you is that it is so very far from that. No one would describe dragging yourself from your own personal hell to the Earth’s surface as easy. Which is what rebuilding myself from my lowest feels like each time. But, with each pass of time: it gets easier, I feel my strength build, I see myself grow and live with my own personal power – “if I can survive that, I can survive anything”.

With all this heaviness, I hope not to discourage anyone. On my good days (perhaps even on my bad days, if I’d believe it) I am described as a bright and strong soul. This, to me, is a clear indicator that even with the weight of the world on your shoulders you can emit a blinding light.

If you take anything away from this.

Know you are smarter than you know, and stronger than you believe.

There are those that care for you, whether you chose to believe it or not.

Don’t let the monsters win.

And f— what most people think.  

You can find more of Charmaine’s work here.