Reflections on pain

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There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. –C.G. Jung

lotus

 

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Opportunity that comes with depression

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opportunity that comes with depression

 

This is a perfect description of what of my life is like living with depression. It is something I have to manage all the time, but it isn’t all bad. In fact I’m experiencing some of the most beautiful times of my life right now. I feel connected. I know who I am. I am healing. And when I feel pain and uncertainty and fear – and this happens very often – that’s okay. I allow myself to go there and experience it. I’m learning amazing things about myself. I appreciate my life and the opportunity to have another go at it. ❤

Give yourself time

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dandelionI saw this quote yesterday and I’m not sure where it comes from originally, but I think it is such a true statement if you are grieving and dealing with loss. So often I find myself thinking that the process is taking too long – will it ever end? Shouldn’t I be over this by now? Is it really that bad? Yes – it is that bad. And it is okay to take your time. It takes as long as it takes.

Give yourself time to be sad, frustrated, and angry. Give yourself time to heal, accept, and to grow. Time doesn’t erase anything, but it can provide you with enough space to be able to breathe again. And then one day you wake up and your heart has a little bit of sunshine in it. And day by day people offer you pieces of their hearts to help remake your own. Allow yourself to be where you are at, to feel what you are feeling, and to experience everything that means. And during this process, look and listen for that glimmer of hope. It is there, I promise. And it is waiting for you to see it. Because one of the most beautiful things about humans is their capacity to heal, grow, and survive. Facing it. That is how you get through.

I really like this part: And then one day you wake up and your heart has a little bit of sunshine in it. ❤ I like those days. And I starting to experience more of them.

Because one of the most beautiful things about humans is their capacity to heal, grow, and survive. That’s true.

Flying ants and summer evenings

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Karoo door, Hanover, Northern Cape - South Africa.  I too

Karoo door, Hanover, Northern Cape – South Africa.
I took this photo last year December on a road trip through the Karoo. I love doors. To me they symbolise closure, the possibility of new beginnings, expectation and safety. I think something I’m learning is to not be too hasty to close the door on grief. I have to properly grieve what I’ve lost in my life – the absence of a proper childhood, a mother and a father. I have to mourn what I never had. I’m not going to close the door on this too quickly – I have to grieve so I can find constructive ways to move forward and build a life filled with happy memories. 

One of the things I like to write about is memory. I have a handful of beautiful memories from my childhood that I hold on too so tightly – my childhood years were filled with so much trauma and fear and that’s why the good memories are so important to me. One of earliest good memories – I must have been about 6 or 7 years old – is of catching flying ants under a lamp pole in the street with my nanny, Rosina. Random I suppose, but it was such are carefree and happy moment.

It was a hot balmy evening and we walked down to the lamp pole at the corner of the street. Rosina held my hand and told me I mustn’t walk in the middle of the road. I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and slops. She showed me how to catch the flying ants that were attracted to the light. I was jumping up towards them, grabbed them in my hand, and stuffed them in a plastic container.

We were out there for a long time. I was concentrating on my task but I was also listening to Rosina talking to her friends who were also catching ants. I didn’t understand what they were saying. They were speaking sotho.

I remember feeling free and child-like that evening. I was having fun.

Then we went back to the house, removed the wings and fried the ants in butter (I know, sounds quite hectic now that I think of it). In traditional African culture it is a common practice to fry flying ants in butter – it is very nutritious and tasty.

Decades later I don’t really know why this is such a prominent memory. I read something that said memories are the architecture of our identity – and I think there’s truth in that. Some days the bad memories still knock me down and this is why the good ones are so precious to me. I have beautiful memories of Rosina. She tried her best to shelter me from my parents when they were fighting – I remember she would always take me to her room and I would lie on her bed and watch TV. I would stay there for hours. She was a safe refuge.

 

From the mud of adversity grows the lotus of joy

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My lotus flower mandala tattoo, November 2013

My lotus flower mandala tattoo, November 2013

The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud. – Buddhist proverb

This is the first time I’ve ever uploaded a picture of my tattoo on a social media platform. But I wanted to share it with you now. I guess it has always been a sacred thing for me – I decided to get it at a turning point in my life and the lotus/mandala symbol is very significant to me.  In Buddhism, the bud of the lotus symbolizes potential. The lotus flower represents an awakening, spiritual growth, and enlightenment. And that why I wanted a lotus – to me it signifies renewal, rebirth, strength and resilience. A spiritual and emotional awakening.

Here’s a short summary about the story of the lotus (taken from http://www.withanopenheart.org)

The lotus flower is a beautiful flower that can be found all over the world. But the start of this flower’s life is not as beautiful is one might image. It’s unlike many other flowers. When the lotus first begins to sprout, it is under water, making its home in lakes and ponds in areas where the water remains fairly still on the surface. But underneath the surface, the lotus is surrounded by mud and muck and by fish, by insects, and simply dirty, rough conditions.

Despite these conditions, the lotus flower maintains strength, and pushes aside each of these dirty obstacles as it makes its way to clearer surfaces. At this time, the lotus is still just a stem with only a few leaves, and a small flower pod. But in time, the stem continues to grow, and the pod slowly surfaces above the water, into the clean air, finally freeing itself from the harsh life conditions below. It is then that the lotus slowly opens each beautiful petal to the sun, basking in the worldly beauty surrounding it. The lotus flower is ready to take on the world.

And my life has (and still is) like this. I don’t really think I’m ready to take on the world. I’m still confronted by so many harsh things and difficult decisions. I’m feeling the pain of so much loss and grief at the moment.

But eventually, as Carolyn Marsden so beautiful puts it, “from the mud of adversity grows the lotus of joy.” The lotus opens slowly to reveal each beautiful petal to the sun. Mother earth is extraordinary. I find comfort and hope in how the lotus manages to push through the mud.