Everything Is Yours, Everything Is Not Yours
Clemantine Wamariya

Thank you for sharing your story. This is not just a story for me, but its a part of my life that I rarely discuss. When I was 13 my mother, 2 brothers (5&7) and aunt were murdered by my uncle- who was subsequently sentenced to death by hanging.

I also wrote to Oprah to ask her help get an interview with my uncle when he was on death row because my father wouldn’t organise a visit for me. She never responded and after reading your account- I am glad she didn’t. Thank you for helping me settle that.

Our stories are not the same, but I think they are points of similarity. We had no control over what happened, but we had to survive. I have felt like there is a part of my memory which is completely gone, perhaps I will buy the Sebald books too to try and trace some kinds of roots. I often wonder who I would have been if this never happened. Would I be more of a hugger? would I be less afraid of commitment? I would probably be better at making my bed and ironing.

Is it wrong to say I am grateful for the event, because now I get to life with nothing to lose. I have lost everything, so there is very little to fear. I am an entrepreneur of the worst kind- the “burn all ships” kind. I am also a lawyer- look momma I made it.

Guilt. Thanks for discussing that. I did feel guilt- but it quickly dissipated into shame. That was hard to shake. Like why did I feel shame? I didnt do anything wrong. I don’t/didn’t want to be associated with that story of my life so I tried/ am trying to make the other parts of it much better so they eclipse that portion.

I am trying to get brave enough to start sharing my story and finding my voice, but I dont think I can handle the responses as you mentioned. The disinterested, the curious, the insensitive, the bored, the pity. The few times I have spoken about it, leave me drained by what people put out when they hear it. No response is ever good enough though. I dont know what I am looking for.

Anyway, thank you for sharing and shedding some light on what happens to a child who goes through a traumatic experience in youth. Then the struggle of trying to reconcile everything to build a life you are proud of.I think you are doing a great job, well done!

I pray that we all heal- whatever that looks like for each of us.

Send my love to Claire.

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