4 November 2018
My Story Part 17 – Searching for the light
God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light… [24: 35 Chapter ‘The Light’ verse 35]
In part 16 I relived my emotional turmoil as an imperfect parent and wife. It was not the imperfection in itself that disturbed me as much as its the depth and intensity. Everything in my life was defined by my fears and misgivings and when I returned from Haj, they seemed to surface with a vengeance, forcing me to take a deeper look. My introspection went to a different level and I began looking at Shafiq with more sympathy if not empathy, my unrealistic expectations of him dropping somewhat if not substantially. The roller coaster was a little less turbulent. However, every time I experienced unexpected pressure I’d feel myself flaring up again. The cycle of these episodes occurred less frequently though. I expected the drop in the pace to be noticed and found myself feeling afflicted when Shafiq would focus on the fight and seemed ignored the fact that it had been months since we had had one. I guess he wanted the fights to go away and it probably became irrelevant that we had not had one for a while. Perhaps he didn’t trust that I had become ‘better’ at handling conflict and just expected the worst. In any event I had not given him any reason to feel otherwise, yet I expected some acknowledgement of my efforts. Why was acknowledgement so important to me? It seemed to be a strong need that followed me my entire life. Was I equating the need for acknowledgement with love? Perhaps I didn’t get it in my formative years and continued to search for it my whole life. Perhaps acknowledgement became the sub-text of my language of love? I felt like I was not receiving this from Shafiq. Should I have been?
At some point I had been experiencing physical dis-ease with the effects of various historical injuries I sustained during my sporting years and was looking for ‘healers’ in any shape, form or size, since customary medicine had reached its limitation for me. A young lady I had just met, noticing my pain, referred to me to a Chinese acupressure healer. He knew information about me that he could have no way of knowing, for example that I had married an Arab. In addition to the rather painful treatment he gave me he also fed me a large dose of my own medicine to which I initially did not take kindly. On a subsequent visit though, I decided to give him a hearing instead of just resisting him. Perhaps he would lead me to some answers. This man saw something in me and the appreciation of being acknowledged in this way, touched me in a way that awakened something in me in a way that I cannot explain. He ‘saw’ me. He described me and seemed to appreciate all sides to me without judgement but through pure appreciation. He held the mirror up to me and forced me to look beyond my distaste of what I saw. He exposed the way I pushed my husband away, the way I rejected my dear mother, the way I didn’t ‘see’ my children. I offered him some of my own intuitive wisdoms about himself and he accepted them, often probing me for more. I developed an intense friendship with him and he pushed me towards healing my relationship with my husband and family. It was as if I was on a journey of healing.
A couple of years later, I was introduced to a wise old man, who originally hailed from Israel which offended by political sensibilities. He and his family run a centre called Insight Training Centre in Centurion, Gauteng the province I hailed from. They run unconventional consciousness raising courses in a set of three called Turning Point, Joyspring and the Mile. I was introduced through a work colleague and it sounded like mental boot-camp, which strangely appealed to me and I allowed my instinct to lead me to the next step in my personal development and healing. My first session left me doubting whether I was doing the right thing, but I persisted and when I had done the few days of Turning Point I could not stop and went on to do the next session of Joyspring and the final leg of The Mile a few months later. I swore an oath of secrecy on the experiences and methodologies used so as not to diminish the effectiveness for anyone who wished to subscribe to the experience. They have been described by some as cultish and outlandish, by people who had quit before they completed the experience. I endured the idiosyncrasies and alternate world I was thrust into and I had many life-changing experiences. Although I didn’t relate to all the concepts, I realised that God had led me to the most unexpected and unconventional sources to continue my education about His laws and the nature of existence. I received knowledge from a person from a background that I reject, yet ironically, he helped me understand aspects of my own religion, scriptures and the manner of the Prophet (pbuh) that I follow, much more clearly. Was God showing me that the exclusiveness we have as Muslims, Christians Jews or anything else is but an illusion, that we create to make ourselves feel superior to others. The things I had been taught so superficially, assumed a depth and subtlety. Suddenly, many of my father’s teachings crystallised and I understood aspects of his brilliance and spiritualism that had escaped me before.
It was as if my mind had opened and my soul engulfed the invitation towards the light of the Divine. It occurred to me that I had never looked at the language of love of my husband, my mother my own children. I had always given them what I thought they needed, never bothering to find out what they wanted. How they felt and how they would have wanted me to be as a mother, wife, daughter. I never sought to understand their languages of love, what made them cry or laugh or feel loved, yet I made myself believe that I was always doing what was best for them. I was blind to my own arrogance.
When I left the Turning Point experience, with the wise old man and his team in April 2017, where I dropped so much of my baggage, I experienced a miracle that came with that release. My son had been resisting the idea of studying engineering despite the fact that his psychometric test revealed a penchant for that discipline. He was fighting me on every suggestion I made, and I was exasperated. The day I returned from Turning Point, my son told me that he had decided on his path. He wanted to do a gap year and apply for engineering – aeronautical or BSC astronomy which he would pursue when he returned. Without any prompting from me he decided to pursue studies. I found that I was delighted to support him in whichever path he chose. I would gladly support his need for a gap year if he so chose. Whether he went to university or not, I felt released of the need to force him to do what I thought was best, when in fact I have no clue what that is. I was reminded of other members of my family who never studied but are living well. They found their paths in their own way. I asked him when he made his breakthrough. I discovered that he felt a release of pressure and things fell into place in his mind, about the same time I was experiencing my epiphany at Turning Point 1500km away. In that moment I realised that the power of my energy as a mother could stifle or release my children, no matter where I was in the world. My daughter who had experienced subtle bullying at her previous school by what I call a ‘Gucci gang’, got the lead part in Romeo and Juliette in grade 6 and I was happy because it made her happy. My younger genius son may be addicted to play station, but he has a self-awareness and strength of mind to work his way through the difficulties of always living in the shadow of his older brother. He has insights beyond his years and will have much to offer the world if I just let him work it out himself. I must let them go and detach more and more as they grow up. It is my choice. If I love my children selfishly and without trust, I impede them. If I release them and trust our Creator with their well-being, I may give them a real chance to discover themselves and their purpose in this world.
A person who did energy healing on me one day told me that I needed to visit a Nordic country to seek knowledge. I inwardly sneered sceptically, thinking about how improbable if not impossible that was. The day I returned from Turning Point, I received an e-mail informing me that I was to go to Sweden for a conference on marine spatial panning, as I was drafting the first South African bill on the subject. My learnings on that trip no doubt went way beyond marine spatial planning and those insights are for another time. As my mind opened, so did the world and God’s offerings.
My most extreme evolution has been in my relationship with my husband, companion, friend and esteemed father of my children. A merciful epiphany overcame me when I changed the direction of my focus. I looked at the same situation, the same man from a different angle. I stopped looking to him to make me feel worthy. I stopped needing him to be the perfect companion, to yield to my specific needs in the way I wanted. I stopped doing things for him in the hope that he would fulfil these emotional needs that I had. If I did anything for him, it was because I wanted to be of service him and not because I expected him to be eternally grateful. I stopped looking for validation and self-worth from my husband. I realised that no person is physically capable of giving validation and self-worth to another person. If I didn’t find that in myself, any affirmations from anyone else would not be enough. I had to realise my own self-worth. When I acknowledged my own talents, strengths beauty and flaws with less judgement to myself, I knew I could do the same for my husband. I had to consciously change the way I labelled my experiences, myself and the people around me. If someone cuts me off on the road, I have to change my instinctive “asshole” response a thought that they are probably distracted or in a hurry to be somewhere and not thinking clearly. The love and kindness from my Creator were suddenly evident in everything. Suddenly all my misgivings about myself became futile. It exposed how ungrateful and blameworthy I was towards Him who brought onto this planet and guided me through the wilderness of my existence unfailingly. Every mistake I made I blamed on someone. Ultimately, I was blaming God. When I truly saw that I had designed my own failures and that He was showing me all along the beauty and truth in every situation, I realised my self-loathing was destroying me and others around me. He is blamed for all not doing anything about the evils in the world. He didn’t cause them. We did. Humanity did. Perhaps He didn’t put us here to fix our messes, but to allow us to discover that we are the source of and the answer to our own problems. He gives us guides and tools and it is our choice to use to them or not. He didn’t cause me to be molested as a child, a human being made that choice. Even though I was a child, I had a choice as an adult to react to the experience, and I chose to let it poison my view of the world. I Became aggressive, judgemental, self-critical, defensive and a control freak. I chose to see myself as a victim rather than a victor who had overcome and gained from an experience that made me grow. Only when I was ready to claim responsibility over my life and my actions was I able to forgive and love myself and forgive the man who had made that poor choice when I was a child. I could forgive, because I knew that He forgives me. I could love myself, because He created me and loves me. If I cannot forgive and love myself, how would I ever be able to forgive and love anyone else. When I made strides towards this self-acceptance and validation through my love and appreciation of the favours from my Creator, I was able to show love, appreciation and forgiveness towards my husband. Only then was I ready to give to him with purity of heart. I no longer yearned for validation from him. I no longer felt a fear of not being loved. I no longer felt the need to own him, control his thoughts and behaviour or dictate how he should live his life. I was finally able to let go of my fears of loss and unleash my love to him without wanting payback. Without feeling resentment and hurt over irrelevant things because I felt insecure. Without expecting quid pro quo. Only when I realised this, was I released. Released from the prison of my own fears and self-loathing which I projected onto my husband. To my wonderment, he suddenly became the husband I wanted him to be. I was able to appreciate the completeness and beauty of the man I had been privileged to marry. I had to look again at his strengths, weaknesses, eccentricities and beauty, and accept the totality of his existence in as much as I accepted my own. I love. I must extend this experience to my relationships with all the other people in my life. My children, family, friends and colleagues, with humanity at large. My service is boundless as long as I am alive. Humanity is in need. It is not an easy road. I have not perfected the forgiveness and self-acceptance, but I continue to strive. The struggle to maintain balance continues day by day. Moment by moment. I also must manage regression from time to time when I slide into old habits and find my way back again. Is this not the nature of the struggle of our existence? To constantly strive, accept that we err but make efforts to correct them and evolve to a higher consciousness of existence. To think one has arrived is a misnomer. What occurred to me is that this is a constant struggle to reach a higher level of consciousness and the path is not smooth. It is jagged. It stops and starts and sometimes veers sideways, but we must continue to strive towards balance. This is the incessant and profound ‘Jihaad’, (translated means struggle or effort), which embodies the purpose of existence. It has sadly been misplaced with mis-emphasis towards war and bloodshed.
My relationships with my loved ones have changed for the better not because they met my expectations, but because I committed to meet theirs. I could only do so for a purpose higher than myself. My service to humanity is aligned with my service to God. His expectations of how I should treat His creation guide me, and even though I don’t always get it right, I understand that my purpose is who I am. If I stop striving to meet it I fail myself, as God is beyond anyone’s success or failure and needs nothing from me.
These days my emotional reactions are vastly different from the ranting, raving angry storm I used to be. I noticed that when I struggle with something, when I am feeling tender during my cycle or during a hormonal flux, or if I was hurt by something or someone, I tend towards softer emotions. I cry with sadness at what I cannot improve in myself, or at a hurt I am feeling. My vulnerability and true nature that I suppressed for so long is exposed, and I am ok with that. Perhaps I am swinging to the opposite side of the pendulum, and in the natural pattern I need to gravitate back towards the centre. I experienced extreme highs and extreme lows, but my desired state is that of balance – the middle road. This is a state that I actively work towards, not just hoping that it will magically descend on me. It means that I have to consciously strive to achieve the balanced response in every situation, every challenge, every relationship. When I feel myself slipping into old habits, it does not last long because I don’t allow it to. In every moment of difficulty, I seek to remember to call on my Creator, even if it be to ask Him to help me be of service to Him, since I am often too weak to serve properly. I found my purpose and it is essentially who I am. My strengths must serve the world. Each of us have special talents and which we should share with the world. I always sought to trust, have faith, be grateful and be righteous but I still felt like something was missing. After my Haj, I was shown a path beyond. Each of us have talents, the things we were born to do. I have started using some of mine to reach other human beings through exposing my own truths. By using words and speech and my very being to uplift myself and anyone else I can in the process. I was terrorised and oppressed growing up. I seek to stop others from being terrorised, by encouraging myself and others to manifest who we truly are, pushing past our fears and insecurities and terrors. I have begun manifesting my purpose with my family and with the world through my words, actions, and writing. Unbeknown to many, I have suffered many trials and tribulations in this process and have not been deterred in my pursuit. I know I am on the path I am meant to be when I find that no matter how challenging the obstacles I find myself unable to stop. Ever since I commenced this path which I hope will open and develop further, the void has been filled. I no longer feel like there is something missing. My need for acknowledgement has lost its edge and lingers with dullness on the periphery of my consciousness, no longer taking centre stage. I continue to strive to bring the best side of my character forward, live with trust, gratitude and love for God in service to Him through my devotion and service to humanity in a way that is most Divinely pleasing.
The words of my favourite poet come to mind, ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.’ – William Shakespeare
It seemed impossible for me to have come even to this point in my life, if I look back. How was did it happen? The answer lies not with the people I met along the way or the courses I attended. They were the blessed catalysts for my growth. The key for me was in truly wanting to find my truth and actively seeking the Divine light. Sincere intention (mine manifested in prayer), followed by action and effort, opened the door for me. Patience, perseverance and trust in the Divine are the bags I packed for the journey. Gratitude is the cloak that covers my weary body. My journey continues…
I will continue with my stories sharing current challenges and experiences of which there are many.
I leave with those thoughts today. All my love Radia💙