taking time out

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I loved my grandmother. She understood me – all of me.

When my mom came down on me with sharp stinging words, she was the one that gave me a reassuring pat on the leg. When the dark clouds of my mom’s depression engulfed our home and I heard Strauss Waltzes coming down the driveway, she was the one I could escape to.

She hugged me tight. She taught me sacred words when my mom pulled me out of peace. She taught me to “just keep quiet…” I think her blind acceptance created my alternative universe. Her love showed me that I was normal. She taught me to accept my authentic self.

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ouma bettie and me

The authentic self is the you that can be found at your absolute core. It is the part of you not defined by your job, function or role. It is the composite of all your skills, talents and wisdom. It is all of the things that are uniquely yours and need expression, rather than what you believe you are supposed to be and do. (Dr. Phil)

I created a fictional self, to try and win the acceptance of my mom. I slipped into a role that I believed my family would understand and above all that they would like. But I felt incomplete, as if there was a big hole in my soul. I constantly felt drained, without energy to pursue the life I believed that God intended for me. I also set a pattern that would continue for almost thirty-five years…“just keep quiet…”

The fictional self sends you false information about who you are and what you should be doing with your life. It blocks the information you need in order to maintain the connection with your authentic identity. Relying on information from the fictional self means you’re putting your trust in a broken compass. (Dr. Phil)

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Mom and me

I remember having a fight with my mom about some trivial matter the same evening my soon to be husband proposed marriage to me. I got married at the age of twenty and I stayed married for eighteen years. Some would think it is a feat but I know it was because his job as a pilot took him away from home half of the time. I learned to survive severe emotional duress by oscillating between my authentic self (in his absence) and my fictional self (in his presence).

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me and dad

I woke up the morning of 9 August 1999 with a broken heart. I was completely unable to find my authentic self. I felt like I’d lost the battle, my fictional self cried out in victory. Everything that had meaning in my life was crushed by self-criticism and judgement. I had to self-examine, I realised that I used my quasi existence as an excuse and a safety zone.

My ego kept me captive, thinking that if I continued on this specific path I would be liked, I would not be laughed at, I would not be hurt, or if I wait long enough maybe I would be able to abandon my truth altogether. I stumbled across a dead end. I had to let go of old memories, old habits and old coping mechanisms to create space for a new life that I was choosing that day.

Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives – to experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it. (Judy Blume)

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy. (Dale Carnegie)

The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. (Nelson Mandela)

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I felt like a trapeze artist; letting go of the familiar and stretching to grab onto my own personal truth, buried in the depths of my heart.

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object. (Milan Kundera)

Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape. (Charles Dickens)

Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him. (Augustine of Hippo)

I had to find the little girl that used to visit her grandmother. I had to find something that I believed about myself when no-one was watching. I had to drop the social mask, live my personal truth and become less vulnerable to what other people were thinking or saying about me. When others are controlling how we are feeling about ourselves, we are powerless. I needed a kick-start to propel me into movement.

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Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realise that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvellously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes think that it is easier to just follow someone else. It is safer to abdicate our own responsibility and to pursue the ideologies of someone else’s belief system. The alternative also seems easier; to become stagnant and to create an attachment to whatever happened in the past.

But, if we endeavour to find our own truth, we have to step out of the bounds others perceive as ‘normal’. We have to step into a state of mind where we allow for a greater understanding of our world and how we relate to it. If we want change, we need to be critical of our own beliefs. I got lost in the turmoil of listening to many voices; I needed silence to find myself.

If you are alone, you belong entirely to yourself. If you are accompanied by even one companion you belong only half to yourself or even less in proportion to the thoughtlessness of his conduct, and if you have more than one companion you will fall more deeply into the same plight. (Leonardo da Vinci)

Every truth has two sides; it is as well to look at both, before we commit ourselves to either. (Aesop)

I found it hard to communicate my feelings, to formulate my real perceptions and to establish healthy boundaries. I started writing in my journals to practise the art of expression. I remember the lack of words, the fear of being found out. I remember times when tears fell onto empty pages like raindrops to the earth.

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I keep myself accountable with my writing and even to this day I have to remind myself often when doubt settles, that people are present in my life through choice. If my authentic self irritates another person, that person is free to leave. If my facebook status updates bother you; you are free to unfriend me.

The act of journaling gave me the chance for self-expression that I didn’t have anywhere else in my life. I could explore things I wasn’t able to explore otherwise, say things I wasn’t allowed to say, wish for things I wasn’t allowed to wish for, and just be myself. (Hannah Braime)

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral. (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

When we are broken in the right place – we grow back. (Maria)

I had to learn to listen to my heart and to trust the content of my heart. If we allow our minds to carry us away to all the past conditionings and beliefs, we literally miss out on the communication of our hearts. Our hearts contain wisdom, love, gratitude, compassion and real appreciation. When I exposed my fears and hurts to God’s love and compassion, true healing began. When the walls fell, God gave me energy and hope to continue the work.

My grandmother saw an innocent, uncomplicated version of me. She ministered to my hungry heart by focussing on the mundane. We planted daisies, we played the piano, she crocheted roses for my hair and she pretended that she couldn’t read her Bible…that she needed my help.

She directed me to God without saying it once.

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My journey led me to ask: “what is it that God wants from me?”

God is looking for men and women “after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). I cannot be fictional before God. My life needs to be in harmony with God. If I am a woman after God’s heart, I am sensitive to spiritual things “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)

What is God looking for? He is looking for men and women whose hearts are His completely. That means there are no locked closets. Nothing’s been swept under the rugs. That means that when you do wrong, you admit it and come to terms with it. You long to please Him in your actions. You care deeply about the motivations behind your actions. God is not looking for magnificent specimens of humanity. He’s looking for deeply spiritual, genuinely humble, honest-to-the-core servants who have integrity. (Charles R. Swindoll)

I understand the discord that I experienced on that fateful morning in August. I know that you can keep up pretences for a long time, but I bear testimony to the fact that my authentic self overcame the lies.

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I often think of the gift of acceptance that my grandmother gave me, especially when I make spectacular mistakes. For the longest time, I wished that I could have a conversation with her, to thank her. I know today that her advice kept me safe, kept me sane. I know her advice enabled me to endure a toxic marriage.

But I would not give the same advice to you today.
I would encourage you to find your truth. Don’t keep quiet.

imageLook into your own heart, discover what it is that gives you pain and then refuse under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else. (Karen Armstrong)

Go out and find help for your dysfunctional situation. Identify the discord in your heart. Be honest about your toxic relationships. Speak out.

Put me on trial, LORD, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.  (Psalm 26:2 NLT)

Do not act on fear. “Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go.” (Mooji).
Go out and live your life.
Be authentic.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who know great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. (Theodore Roosevelt)

Be brave. Listen to your heart, it speaks loud and clear. It beckons you to follow…

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Next month

Girls, you’ve gotta know when it’s time to turn the page. (Tori Amos)
Don’t walk in my head with your dirty feet. (Leo Buscaglia)
A mistake repeated more than once is a decision. (Paul Coelho)

One response to “taking time out”

  1. So beautifully written Liza. I hope that one day my grandchildren can say the same of me, and as I journey through life with them that I too may lead them to have a personal relationship with the Lord and that I may impart wisdom and spiritual truths as they go forward into the unknown path of life…

    Liked by 1 person

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