It is quite a change for a 7-year old who grew up having the run of the farm. Everywhere was safe. A huge playground.Divorce changes things.
Town and a mother who worked all day and came home at night bone-weary was all new. Suddenly all we had was a local schoolboy who had to make sure we do our homework after school. We knew nobody else….So going “home” for the first weekend with dad I looked forward to the familiarity of my room and my bed. My lovely sunny room with my own bed and the wisteria outside the window with the turtle doves.
My bed was gone, my room was empty.
I had to sleep in the lounge. Now anyone who knows how old stone houses was constructed around the central room, with a room added on for every extra child, will understand that this cavern in the middle of the house never saw sunlight. And was accessible from all sides. No safety.
I had to sleep there.
Next to the radio which my dad left on all night. He kept his personal demons away by leaving that radio on all night. And I was not allowed to switch it off.
I did not have a room anymore.
But I had the silky smooth voices of the all night presenters on Springbok Radio. And the endless stream of Viceroy, Bols Brandy, Smirnoff and Carling Black Label advertisements. Once my father’s drinking buddies stopped drinking and smoking and finally left the place I was to sleep in, I still had them.
The silky smooth voice presenter and the never ending stream of ads. In the room smelling of alcohol and smoke and stale men.
I can still hear them…
Even though you are only seven, you know by now that it was alcohol. It was all about alcohol. You know this because you remember the day you went to the room at the back which was your father’s office. The one with the stacks of papers which your mother was not allowed to clean or move or touch. The room where he kept the alcohol.
You remember the day you took the bottles and emptied them all down the drain. You knew those bottles were the reason for the fights late at night, when he finally came home.
And you emptied them. But it did not stop. You thought for you he would stop. Because you knew he loved you. After all.
But you could not stop him. And you knew you did not matter. After all.
But there you are. All of seven years old with the smell of alcohol and smoke still in the room. This place where you are now sleeping. And your night is filled with alcohol ads from the stereo next to your bed.
And your life has changed forever.
Yes, there is more. I will keep writing and keep sharing. Because I know that there is someone out there who will not feel alone anymore when they read this. But for today, this is enough. Because the day when you realize that you do not matter after all is the day you start giving away pieces of yourself.
That was my day.
Your Story CAN Become Just Your Story
We all have a story. we all have defining moments. we all have pivotal people. If we are lucky we have saving people too. The ones who tell you that you do matter. Who sees you.
There is not much we can do about our story. It just is how it is. But we can change the meaning we assigned to it long ago.
We can re-parent ourselves by loving and accepting ourselves. We can decide that we do matter after all.
Yes, I matter!
We can apply kindness and acceptance to ourselves. We can find our voice. We can find out that we are also worth wants and needs. Like everyone else. We can understand that our story involved other people with human frailties, and we somehow just have to move on from the limiting lessons our experiences taught us, by focusing on the strengths we acquired as part of the process.
I refuse to remain an accidental, unintended casualty of other people’s wars. My story does not define me anymore. It is just my story.
I celebrate the strengths I learned from adversity. I celebrate who I have become in spite of my story.
Do I choose to let my story define me?
I matter to me.
And that is the place to start.
Here is the link to Arthie Moore’s very powerful, very moving story:
She overcame, she became stronger, and the work she does today in transforming the world we live in is a testament to that:
Although this is a long read, it is in the end inspirational and worth your time. If Arthie could overcome, we all can. And thrive!