She would often be abused while living with her grandmother and was "forced to hush and even smile about it."
That was one of the feelings Oprah Winfrey remembers experiencing most while growing up as a little girl in rural Mississippi, where she lived the first six years of her life with her grandmother. Long before she became one of the most recognizable faces across the planet, Oprah lived a traumatic life where she felt unwanted as a child and was made to feel like a burden or just an "extra mouth to feed."
"The most pervasive feeling I remember from my own childhood is loneliness," writes the media mogul in her new book, What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, according to the Daily Mail.
"My mother and father were together only once, underneath an old oak tree. Nine months after that singular encounter, I arrived," shared Oprah, who went on to talk about regularly being abused by her grandmother for the first few years of her life.
"As a young girl, I was 'whupped' regularly. At the time it was an accepted practice of punishment to discipline a child. My grandmother, Hattie Mae, embraced it," Oprah wrote. "But even at three years old I knew what I was experiencing was wrong. I was beaten for the slightest reasons. Spilled water, a broken glass, the inability to keep quiet or still. My grandmother's home was a place where children were seen and not heard."
"The long-term impact of being whupped — then forced to hush and even smile about it — turned me into a world-class people pleaser for most of my life," added the talk show host. After six difficult years under her grandmother's roof, things did not get any better when she was sent off to live with her mother, Vernita Lee, in Milwaukee.
"When I went to live with my mother at six years old, I did not feel welcome. The night I arrived in Milwaukee, the woman my mother was boarding with, Ms. Miller, took one look at me and said, 'She'll have to sleep on the porch,'" Oprah recalled.
"All right" was the response given by her cold and distant mother, who had "no time for nurturing."
"As I watched my mother close the house door to go to the bed where I thought I'd sleep, I was consumed with a terrified sense of loneliness that brought me to tears," Oprah shared. "I imagined a robber snatching me from the porch or somehow breaking through the windows and choking me. That first night, I got on my knees and prayed to God to send angels to protect me. HE did. And that was my first lesson in learning other people (even your mother) can disappoint you, but God doesn't."
Sharing little bits of her book on social media, Oprah has revealed how the trauma she experienced in her past has impacted her as an adult in different ways. "Most of the struggles I endured as a child resulted in trauma that would define many relationships, interactions, and decisions in my life," she wrote on Instagram.
She also added in an Instagram post that she hopes her book will allow others, who have experienced trauma, to heal from what they have been through.
"Although I experienced abuse and trauma as a child, my brain found ways to adapt," she wrote. "This is where hope lives for all of us—in the unique adaptability of our miraculous brains. I hope that with our book #WhatHappenedToYou, you begin to find the tools to build a renewed sense of personal self-worth and ultimately recalibrate your responses to circumstances, situations, and relationships."
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