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It’s not a literal house but the intangible things I had built around me as walls surround and make a house. Friends, acquaintances, work, and other activities that kept me occupied. I didn’t realise that in the process I had lost myself. On further reflection, I realise I had lost myself already a long time prior to my house burning down, the things I built around me were there to make it seem like I had some normalcy, as if I had my life together, it helped me pretend I was okay psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. 

Friends/acquaintances:

I remember seeing an old progress report back in my parent’s home as I was tidying up documents. It was from when I was in pre-school (my mom has kept all our progress reports, certificates and awards from school activities ever since we started going to school). My teacher had written that I was a reserved child who made one friend at a time. To this day this has remained relevant, I don’t have many people I can turn to and the last year of turmoil has taught me I have no friends, I have no-one in my corner to back me up, I only have myself and God. Right at the peak, when I needed the most support the friend I thought I could trust ghosted on me. Disappeared into thin air to resurface two months later with an apology message. Five years of investing in a friendship, five years of sharing lives, of trusting, of always making sure I was in their corner went up in flames. I should have never have let my guard down, I should have never let anyone in, I should have never cried out when I needed the most support. I have forgiven but I doubt I will ever allow him access into my life ever again. I have learnt, I don’t need to be burnt over and over again regarding friendships. Deep down I want new friends, ones that aren’t flakey, ones that will stand by me, ones that will at least match the energy I give into friendships, I am one of those individuals who give more than they will ever get back and I made peace with that burdensome as it is, it is one of my greatest weaknesses that I can have as a strength.

Work:

I worked for two years of my life in a startup, I have nothing to show for it except the skills I enhanced and gained.

I was fortunate enough to have supportive parents through the bulk of my tenure with this startup, I could have exploited the opportunity but my parents live in Zimbabwe (the country’s economy is non-existent), it would have been unfair for me even though I was working to still be needing money from them. I barely made ends meet, I adjusted to going on one meal a day or nothing, most of the money I made went to rent and transport. Every month it was constant stressing on whether I would have enough money to keep a roof over my head; if I would be able to have a meal every day; whether I would even be able to make it to a workplace that had slowly eaten away my soul and the passion I had at the start of my contract. My anxiety went through the roof every time I thought of having to go to work particularly after a weekend. I spent Sunday evenings drugged off Adco-dol (I also used to take it to numb me when it was particularly hard to get myself through the workday) to calm the headache that came along with a sudden surge in anxiety, running a fever in bed. Monday mornings I cried my way out of bed and through showering, it took my whole being to even get me out the door. I had a breakdown at the bus station one day when I had to go to work, fortunately, I was usually one of the first individuals to make it to the office so no-one I worked with noticed the red eyes when I walked in, by the time the others trickled in, my eyes had cleared. I would wake up during the nights in cold sweats crying out to God to take me out, to give me new opportunities.  In as much as unemployment is really the pits, I am grateful to the universe for allowing that particular wall of the house to burn down, I needed it to burn down.

Other activities:

Last year I made the decision to go back to studying part-time. Obtaining a Master’s degree is an ultimate dream for me, as it is a pathway to where I see my career heading over the next 10 years. I had to drop out a quarter of the way through as I was unable to study towards a degree while I was working despite my studies being part-time. I was already backed into a tight corner with work, already depressed, on the brink of suicide, anxiety through the roof. My course coordinators quickly noticed I wasn’t performing as I was supposed to, they had more faith in my abilities than I did at that stage and got me into therapy on the school’s payroll. Therapy didn’t work out as the assigned counsellor thought I needed to see a psychiatrist first before going back to her, I was ready despite my reservations to try out being medicated to have some functionality but I didn’t have the money to pay for such services. In hindsight, I’m glad that wall of my house burned down when it did. I am only really concerned about future references to further my education if push comes to shove and I have to ask for references even though I dropped out too soon to be given any.

Without a house:

I don’t have a place I can call home at the moment, I’m staying with an aunt and uncle who took me in despite hardly knowing me. I now don’t have to worry about whether I will have a meal every day like I did when I was actually working. I have no money to my name, the money that has somehow landed in my bank accounts has been from my parents just sending me something to get by through this pandemic, church members from a church I used to attend who rallied together when they knew how badly the situation had turned for me to ensure I had something ( I can never not always cry when I think of this, people I had no connection to anymore came together to ensure I wasn’t going to land on the street in a foreign country), and from articles I have written for potential recurring clients. I am not where I should have been, but I’m grateful that my walls burned down taking with them the stress I had to endure that came with maintaining the house. The stress only made my depression and anxiety worse off than it already was, now my demons don’t have as much control as they did then.

I can see the stars:

Roofless, I can see the stars and moon shining in all their glory. For the first time in 13 months, I can see the sky clearly, I can appreciate how the stars shine and how the moonlight bathes everything it touches in an ethereal glow. I’m grateful for the wall of friendship burnt down, it has taught me to rely on no-one but myself and God again. I’m grateful for the wall of employment burnt down, while I never worked for this company for the money it could give me, I gained new skills, my mind was opened regarding entrepreneurship, in as much as this is invaluable in its own regard, I was giving loyalty where it wasn’t appreciated the way it was supposed to, I had developed a Stockholm’s syndrome of sorts to a place that ate my soul. It has taught me to detect similar work situations in future and avoid them, it has ignited an idea for my own entrepreneurship ventures. It has taught me to never compromise regarding my career again. I’m grateful for the wall of various activities that kept me occupied being burnt down. It has made me realise a dream delayed is not a dream denied and allowed me to refocus on where I want to go with my career in psychology. It has allowed me room to re-ignite my passion for the initial career path I had in mind and start working on building that foundation. 

Lying down on what was the shaky foundation of my burnt house, I have realised that my house needed to burn down to not only gain a clear view of the sky but to give me a second chance to rebuild my house on a more solid foundation. I have God, I have myself and between us, we can rebuild a stronger foundation and thrive. We can have a house with more rooms for all the people’s lives I would like to impact, we will have more rooms to let people who are in similar situations to mine come in, share, get inspired and get back on their feet. We will have more room for the purpose I have to fulfil on this Earth. The potential, the opportunities I have is the sky, endless, mysterious and full of possibilities.I can see the moonlit sky in all its beauty unobstructed.   

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I prefer the picture of a moonlit sky compared to a sun-filled sky. I’m not a ray of sunshine. The past 13 months have been dark, I’m comfortable with the cover of night, it helps me to never forget. There is a beauty and tranquillity I find in the moonlit sky that I don’t find as much in one where the sun is shining brightly. For many people a sky full of sun reflects something happier for me the moon and stars are a sanctuary, they reflect me, they reflect the real me. 

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