Tag Archive | pain

The Grief That Lies Beneath Part 1


“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die…A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 2,4

11 November 2012, a day that I am far from forgetting. It started off like any other Sunday morning, rushed around the house getting ready for church and tried not to be late once again. I was happy and excited about a new outfit that I was wearing; black and white floral knee-length dress, pale blue cardigan teamed with peach and pale blue wedges and matching bag. I remember all too well because I had found the shoes and bag the day before and I was all too excited to wear an outfit so bright and perfectly coordinated to church. For the first time in about ten months I was wearing make up to church. I had decided earlier in the year to stop after I was moved to tears the one day and looked like a hot mess! I don’t know whether it was the new outfit that inspired me to try again, but for some reason I did on that day. I met my mom and aunt in the kitchen as I was walking out and they complimented me on how pretty I looked. I giggled and did a little twirl at my mom’s request before grabbing my bag and heading out the door. I thought of going to say bye to my gran but thought against it because I was scared to wake her up. Well that’s what I told myself but when I thought about it later, I just wanted to avoid getting into any argument about me going to church. I have wished virtually everyday in the past five and a half months that I would have gone in to see her, had I known….

Much of what happened from the time I left home at about 7:30am till the middle of the second service at 11:30 remains a blur. I just remember my one friend saying she hasn’t seen me this happy and relaxed in a long time. I also remember another telling me about how he senses that I am coming into a season of great blessing in my life but just as God starts to shower me with blessings, I step away from underneath the downpour. To this day I have never been able to decipher that message and it doesn’t help that he didn’t want to explain it to me either. For reasons that only made sense afterwards, I was a bit agitated that day and I kept my phone on during church which was out of character. In the middle of the service I felt it vibrate, I reached into my bag for it and I froze when I read my cousin’s BBM message: “Gran is gone.” With as much composure as I could muster, I showed my phone to my friend sitting next to me and started gathering my things and walking out trying not to cause too much disruption. It wasn’t until I was outside waiting for a friend to drive me home that I started crying. I cried all the way home and my heart felt like it was being ripped out of my chest. I was hit by guilt of not being home with her harder than grief that she was gone.

When I made it home I was greeted at the gate by our helper who told me to stop crying, my gran’s not dead they’ve just taken her to the hospital. Somehow I didn’t believe her but I tried my best to stop crying and I went into my room and I called my other cousin to ask him what’s going on and he said no they’ve taken my gran to the hospital with my mom and aunt. I distinctly remember asking if she was alive and him saying yes. I asked which hospital and told him I was on my way to them. I was barely out of the gate when he called me back to tell me to go back home, my gran was gone. A fresh batch of tears flooded my face from nowhere and I didn’t stop crying until my mom, aunt and cousin eventually came home from the hospital, their screams and cries said all I needed to know and confirmed that yes, this was very real, my last surviving grandparent was finally gone.

In the hours that followed I kept crying and searching for clues of what I had missed. I was devastated as I recalled my last conversation with her on Friday night. I had come home from work and walked into the room to find her sitting up on the bed, looking well and in high spirits. I was pleasantly surprised and I said to her: “Wow you look so much better!” and we had a little laugh about it. Little did I know that those would be my last conversation with her! Saturday I was out shopping and hanging out with my friends and when I got home I walked into the room to check on her she was sleeping. I took a nap and by the time I woke up again the rest of my family was sleeping so thought it best not to check up on her lest I woke her up.

I’ve tried to process her death and make sense of why I am consumed with grief, why when I think I am out of the woods then it hits me all over again. It doesn’t make sense because my three grandparents all passed away when I was old enough to understand what was going so she wasn’t the first grandparent I had lost. Death was nothing new to me because just a month before on October 10, my cousin who was just two months older than me passed away after a very short illness. Her death shouldn’t have been a surprise to me because for starters, as so many people were kind enough to point out, she was in her 80s and therefore old and expected to die. Secondly she had been ill for a few months and had been living with us for about three months leading up to her death. As I sit here remembering all the times my heart would jump to my throat if my mother phoned me while I was at work or when I tip toed into her room in the mornings before I went to work or the evenings when I came back, I realise that I had known that her time was near. Why did it hurt so badly then when it finally happened? Why does it still hurt so badly then as if it was a sudden death that no one could have foreseen?

I feel I am long way from recovering and healing from the loss of my gran but I am somewhat consoled when I look back at how far I have come and have made a few discoveries on I have struggled more with this loss than any other loss. Firstly, the grief and regret of not saying good-bye to her and realising that I will never get a chance to do that still has a very firm grip on my heart. Secondly, I am still carrying the burden of words said to and about me leading up to and after her death.

For some reason it is easier for me to believe that I would feel much better had I been home that Sunday and not been at church rather than to accept that I was exactly where I should have been and that my Father who knows me better than I know myself knew that I wasn’t strong enough to see her life end like that. I will always remember my gran as a woman of great strength and courage. My grandfather passed away when I was eight years old and so she spent the last twenty years of her life on her own. Although my mom and aunt helped her out here and there, she always wanted to remain independent and she sewed and sold what she sewed to supplement her pension money and provide for herself. She never wanted to feel like a burden on anyone and was always strong and full of so much wisdom. To me she was a shining example of a Psalm 31 woman. So how could a force like that be gone so easily?

Truth be told looking back she really did put up a fight. From my mother’s accounts and her speech at both the wake and funeral, I came to realise just how much pain my gran had been in in those final months. So maybe I was just never meant to see her in her weakened state so that I always remembered her for the strong woman she was? Maybe God knew I was not strong enough and so shielded me from it all? Was that how my family had justified in their minds them not telling me that they had been up since 3am with my grandmother and that she was in a bad state when I left for church that morning? Is that how they had justified not calling me to tell me what happened and tell me to come home and yet others called? And still, despite all this, my mother was still able to say to me just hours after her death that I should have been at home, I shouldn’t have left that morning and it is those words that have imprisoned for months, unable to find absolution no matter how much I rationalised, prayed or talked about it.

Among Memories and Pieces of My Broken Heart


“You see the smile that’s on my mouth, it’s hiding the words that don’t come out. All of the friends who think I’m blessed, they don’t know I’m in this mess…”  ~ The Story, Brandi Carlile

Some people walk into and then out of your lives again before you even have time to acknowledge their presence. Others walk out and leave a lingering, haunting presence; the kind you cannot shake no matter how badly you want them to be erased from your memory. Memory, I believe is nature’s way of torturing broken hearts; much like my own. I resemble a lost soul that is tortured and caught in limbo between two worlds. I have been left behind in the graveyard where unburied pieces of my broken heart lay scattered. I have nothing to keep me company except old memories which threaten to swallow me whole. I know turning back is not an option, so I try to pick up the pieces as I move forward but when I look around me I am disappointed by just how little I have achieved. I want to cry or even shout out for help but then I realise my voice just won’t come out. So here I sit, among memories and pieces of my broken heart; unable to cry and unable to feel and unrecognisable to myself.

Seven weeks ago my life made sense. Seven weeks ago my life was filled with hope and promise. The harsh Scottish winter was finally giving way to the promise of spring and with it bringing me some much-needed light in what felt like the longest winter in my life. I was finally starting to feel a bit at home in this country, with its unfamiliar and oftentimes temperamental weather. I was finding my place at work and not hating it as much. Most of all my heart didn’t hurt as much from the pain caused by the one who’d disappeared out of my life with no explanation and without a trace. Looking back I ask myself whether I was just being naive for thinking I deserved the little bit of sunshine that I was starting to see peering from behind dark clouds that always seemed to hang close to me.

May 3,2011 will be etched in my brain forever. I will forever remember it as the day one misunderstanding sent a carefully spun web of lies and deceit crashing down. I will forever remember it as the day I discovered that the house I once thought was solid enough to withstand being separated by thousands of miles not only had cracks in the foundation, but was built on quicksand.

If you had asked me before this day to describe myself in as many words as I could think of, I would have come up with an impressive list ranging from determined, resilient to overly sensitive and somewhat aggressive. Gullible, unperceptive, stupid and home wrecker would not have made their way onto that list. But ever since discovering that I spent almost two years loving a man who had no intention of ever telling me that I was his filthy secret he had no intention of airing out, those are the new words I use to describe myself.

Day after day I replay separate segments of my relationship with him and I keep on asking the same question, over and over again, “HOW DID I MISS THIS? Did I learn nothing from the previous relationship that ended in a similar fashion?” As much as I am filled with hundreds of questions for him, I will never ask them because I know he has no intention of ever being honest with me. If he did would I have found out six months later from someone else that he was engaged? If he had cared at all for my well-being would he have started any form of relationship with me knowing his intentions. What kind of supposedly God-fearing man walks into your life, claims to understand your situation and that you are fragile and vows to look after your interests and to try never hurt you, knowing…knowing….knowing he grinds away your heart with every calculated step and action?

How does one get over this? I have been trying to figure this out every day for the 49 days and I don’t seem to be any closer to an answer. Instead I am still utterly humiliated, angry, baffled, depressed and filled with more hatred than I can bear to admit. My heart has become so hardened; I refuse to let more than a handful of people in anymore. Once trusted confidants might as well be strangers that I have just met. Strangers are kept on a simple one strike system, after all it was giving someone the benefit of doubt, multiple chances and wavering boundaries that got me into this mess. My mind will not let me feel anything for longer than a fleeting moment. All the while I smile,never acknowledging the hollow pain in the cavity where my heart once rested. And where is he while all this is happening? He is living his life, planning his wedding, buying baby clothes and preparing for the imminent arrival of his bundle of joy. Completely oblivious to the pain he impregnated my life with. And what is to become of my joy?

With this experience, my once clear vision has failed me to the point that I cannot see beyond the horizon. Whilst I have faith that God will heal my heart and make me whole once more, I do not think I can ever love another quite the same way again. My friendships will never be as innocent and doubt-free. Acquaintances will never be welcomed with the same openness and enthusiasm. My intuition and discernment failed me and now I don’t know if will ever be able to completely trust myself again let alone trust another man enough to want to build a life with them.

I lost the part of me that I treasured most that day, leaving me so debilitated by pain I have to wonder who the empty shell that stares back at me is every time I walk past a mirror. Sometimes I pray for God to allow me to cry but my tears are held captive behind an impenetrable wall I am not allowed through. Consequently I spend many sleepless nights and countless hours silently watching the memories float one by one in remarkable clarity and detail in front of my eyes. I let them play on and silently pray that they will wear themselves out and someday I will wake up and find myself free from their captivity. Until then I sit here, just me and these persistent, unwanted memories trying to make sense of it all, trying very hard to assemble the scattered pieces of my broken heart.

Unpaid Dues


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4: 16 – 18

For the past few weeks I have been struggling to write, I have worked on two posts and abandoned them halfway because they just didn’t feel right or I just didn’t know what to say anymore. I have spent more time reflecting on my life these past two months than I have possibly in my entire life and it all boils down to me asking God, “Have I not paid my dues yet? I thought Edinburgh was about me getting a well deserved fresh start, one that is debt free?” For weeks I have gone back and forth with differing versions of these questions and I have not found a satisfactory answer. Well, until now that is.

I came to Edinburgh eager to learn, eager to gain valuable experience that would catapult my career when I eventually returned home. My stay here was supposed to be about building my relationship with God, serving Him and furthering His kingdom. Edinburgh was supposed to be the city where I finally found my happiness, where I was settled in my career, love life and finances. I didn’t care that I was forgoing a third of the salary I was worth at home. I didn’t care that I was giving up the title that I had earned after paying my dues through my five years of university, three years of training and two qualifying board exams to my name. I’d paid my dues and was ready for the next level. I’d worked hard to get to that point in my life and went through so much, had my decisions questioned by friends, colleagues and sadly family. Scotland was supposed to be the answer to my prayers, I was on the verge of my breakthrough. Life was about to get a whole lot better, easier and happier. So I thought.

It’s been three months, seven days and nine hours since I left the comfort of South African soil. It will be a month and ten days till I set foot on that soil again. I wonder though, do I have the strength and heart to get back on a plane and leave my home and come back here? Can I move on from the three months and particularly the last two? Will I able to see past the pain, the frustration, the self-doubt and the heartbreak that I have felt in the past two months? To be honest the answer to that question, which I ask myself more than twenty times in any given day, is probably not. Undoubtedly this  could be the answer to the question why I haven’t booked my flights home. Put simply, I still do not know with unwavering certainty whether I am buying a return or a one way ticket.

So what’s changed while I have been here? What is driving me away from the beauty of Edinburgh, with its picture-perfect old buildings, cobblestone streets, breathtaking views of the castle and city’s travel connectivity to Europe? It isn’t the strangeness of celebrating my birthday in the dead of winter when twenty-five of my past birthdays were in the glorious summer sun. It isn’t the bitter cold that had me wearing thermals, at least three layers of clothes, a scarf, thermal gloves and ear-muffs when I first arrived because in about a month that had been stripped down to just three layers when outside and two for indoors. It hasn’t been the loneliness and pain of being away from my family and my closest friends because firstly, I lived 1300km away from my family for five years and secondly thanks to BBM, Facebook, Skype and other technology, I speak to my at least two of my closest family members and friends every single day.  What has broken my spirit is this feeling that I am not supposed to be going through what I’m going through because I have already paid my dues.

Plans I made, expectations I had and visions of my life here, couldn’t be further from what I am experiencing now.  My heart really cannot understand why God, in all His mercy and love, would demand that I continue to pay a debt that I think I settled a long time ago. Surely after two major heart breaks and investing eight years in relationships that left me in devastation, I had earned more than the deafening silence that I come home to and the anguish of loneliness and longing for a companion? Surely with a total of eight years of training I had earned the right to not be made to feel like I don’t know what I am doing and not to be treated in a manner reminiscent of my second year of articles? It would certainly bother me less if I’d been put back a year, but two? Really? Does being part of one of approximately 26 000 professionals in South Africa with my title really buy me the ridiculous hours, the numerous nights crying out of sheer frustration of what I still needed to get through? Seeing as how hard I work for my money, how hard I worked in school and university so that I can get the scholarship to see me through university so that I can study and pass and become the professional I am today, do I now owe a debt to everyone else around me? Is it not enough that I am still paying off my debts incurred when I was still earning barely enough to get by? When will God look at me and say that I have paid my dues, I have endured enough it is time to lighten the load? I do not even ask that it be removed completely. I just ask for it to be a little lighter.

Today as I was entered my flat, it finally hit me….you can never say you have fully paid your dues and have earned the right to not go through a particular problem. Suffering in whatever way or form is part of the human experience and I don’t think it will end while we are on this earth. I am always in awe when I think of what Jesus was going through the last few hours before the crucifixion. What greater pain can there be than knowing you are about to die, a very painful and humiliating death? I cannot even start to comprehend what it must have taken for Him to finally say in Matthew 26:38, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…” What I find completely humbling and very admirable is that minutes later in Matthew 26:39 He says to God, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” In as much as Jesus had the authority and ability to not go through the crucifixion and to be raised to heaven to be with His Father, He submitted Himself to His Father’s will and endured through and paid the ultimate debt for all of us.

I often have to remind myself that the Bible is not a multiple choice book, where you can pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe and more importantly what to obey and what not to obey.  Therefore I need to obey 2 Corinthians 4:17 and realise that not only are my problems light and momentary but they are doing the very important job of “achieving eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” I have often said in my posts that I would love to be like the two servants in the Parable of Talents in Matthew 25: 14-28 who pleased their master and used what they had been entrusted with wisely. To one day go home and have God say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness” would be the ultimate eternal glory.

I now realise that I am very far from paying my dues and that I need to submit to God’s will as painful, hard and confusing as it might be at times. I never made the decision to come here alone. I consulted heavily with God and in my heart, when I wade past the confusion and frustration I still know that I am where He wants me to be. For that reason, though my vision may be blurred by tears and my heart riddled with many confusing emotions, I am going to focus my gaze on Him and being His good and faithful servant. That is a debt that is due, not to Him but to myself and will remain unpaid till the day I appear before Him to give an account of my life.

The Evolution of Pain


“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”                                             ~ James 1 : 2 – 4

Pain has been such an integral part of my life, I cannot seem to remember a time where I felt safe and immune from it. It’s been battle after battle and not surprisingly I am still dealing with scars, not just physical ones but emotional ones as well. For quite a while I was quite happy to put everything into little boxes and stow them safely in places where the world could not see. This strategy worked well until the cupboard hiding the boxes flung open in April 2006 and my life as I had known it came to a standstill.That was my very first encounter with despair and heartache so bad it brought me to my knees and left me feeling like I had no other viable option but to end my life.I sometimes wonder whether knowing what I now know would have made any difference. Would I have chosen differently? Would I have been comforted by the knowledge that as my pain has evolved, so have I?

I sometimes long for the pain of my childhood though back then all I wished for was for it to end. I long for it because it was mostly physical and much like most physical ailments, I knew it could be healed and it would go away. Apart from a few scars on my arms and legs, which are completely painless until I look at them and remember why they are there, the pain did go away. What I did not know then and what led to the box cupboard filling up while I was not looking, was the evolution of the physical pain into emotional pain.

My parents left impressions of the worst kind in my life, those that are imprinted on the very fabric of your soul. As much as I do not hate either one of them and as much as I try not to hold any grudges, I am always reminded of just how much they affected my life. For starters, I do not trust people or ever feel completely safe because I was never brought up in a safe nurturing environment. Sadly even though I am 25 and even though it has been over ten years since my mother laid a hand on me, I often find myself flinching and stepping away slowly when she is angry with me. Quite honestly, I am terrified of both my parents and that is something that I have realised will remain with me for the rest of my life. What has been most affected by my turbulent childhood is my relationship with God. As someone who does not have a healthy parent-child relationship template to work with, it is pretty hard for me to understand some of the concepts taught in the Bible. I am grateful though that God has been patient with me and He continues to work in me one step at a time. I cannot say He never granted my heartfelt pleas for the beatings to stop because they mostly did when my parents got divorced when I was 12. The pain I knew then is nothing compared to the pain I know now.

I remember reading somewhere that God uses pain and hurts to prepare us for our ministry in life. Looking back at how I have  grown through what I have gone through, I cannot help but tremble in fear of what is to come. I do not believe that it is over. Neither do I believe that God has reached the highest level in the pain scale. I know this because Romans 8:29 talks about how we are called to be like his Son and I have read many Bible scriptures that talk about the pain Christ had to endure and what I imagine He still endures as our intercessor. If Jesus could be brought to a place where even He could groan in pain for His cup of suffering to be taken from Him, if I am to be conformed into the image of Him, what makes me think I will stop going through pain?

One thing that I am now sure of is that there was a point to it all and that point is applicable to my life today as well. The most monumental event in my life was the birth of my daughter when I was only 15, yes 15. For some who actually know me personally will be surprised to learn of her existence. The truth is, she is one of the many boxes that I stored in that overflowing cupboard and it is going to take a little while longer for me to be able to write a whole blog about her but I can assure you that I will. As much as I have had to endure a lot of physical and emotional pain to be her mom and most of it was what seemed like senseless pain, I would not be who I am today without her in my life. In as much as I feel I was not given much of an option in deciding whether to bring her into the world, I now know that she is a necessary part of my evolution.

Each day I am learning to persevere a little more than the day before and the more I do that the more the Holy Spirit works in me. I am not the same person I was ten years ago, a year ago, a month ago or even a week ago for that matter. What is wonderful is that all my experiences have shaped me for the better. God’s grace has given me beautiful testimonies about just how far I have come, the most significant for me being; try as I may, I do not have a bitter, twisted heart. Somehow it continues to overflow with love. Somehow with all the pain it’s had to take in, my heart can still exude love. I therefore know that my pain is a necessary concomitant to my evolution. If I did not experience it how else would I achieve the dictionary meaning for the word? How else would I experience, “the gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form”?

Someday I will


The hardest part of any pain is actually being in the depth of it and not feeling like it will ever get better. I have spent over 30 hours of this weekend sleeping just so I don’t have to think of you. I don’t hate you, really I don’t…I’m just not as over you as I would like to be.

They say God never wastes a hurt, that all your pain is preparing you for your purpose in life. Someday, one day I will come to appreciate this but that day is just not today. Today I just want to cry when I think of you. Today I just want to know why you’ve left my world without so much as a goodbye. Today I would like to know why God thinks it’s fair for me to go through such heartbreak twice in two years. First the one I’d loved for six years walks out on our relationship because he was “tired and just doesn’t want to be in the relationship anymore.” Now you here you are, gone…without a trace.

Was I wrong to love you in the first place? Is this my punishment for turning a friendship into a romantic relationship? Somehow I feel that I was disobedient. Somehow I feel that God had not wanted me to be with you at that point in time. If this is the case then why then did it feel so right? Why then is every moment I’ve spent with you etched in my heart and painted vividly with yellows, oranges, pinks and some bright blues? Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a season and time for every matter under the sun.” Was it just never the time for us? Ironic though how you were the one that once quoted this scripture to me. Why did you not add, “oh honey, this scripture applies to us too.”

I have so many questions I want to ask you. Not least of all being, why did you turn what was a beautiful friendship into a relationship knowing that you would not take care of me like you did as my friend? Was it just greed on your part? Was it that you just couldn’t bear the thought of someone else loving me? You knew the kind of pain that I had recently gone through and you said it yourself that you had never wanted to hurt me. Why did you then?

I will not be melodramatic and say that  I will never love another the way I have loved you because that would probably be a lie. I will not tear a page from a story book and say I have never loved another as much as I love you because guess what? I have loved so many others and I continue to love others each and every day. I guess that’s the beauty of a human heart, even when it feels like it is so weary that it will just never function the same again, it just surprises you because it just keeps pumping blood and supplying life to your whole body and as much as you are an unwilling participant, you find yourself doing exactly what you swore you’d never do again….loving another.

While for me the other is by no means another man, I love so many things even as I profess deep heartache. I love my friends, I love my siblings, I love the God who created me. I love Him because like Psalm 139:16 says, ” Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book all my days were recorded, even those which were purposed before they had come into being.” How wonderful is that knowledge that even before I had left my mother’s womb, the Lord knew the kind of pain that I would be in on this very day…25 years 8 months after my birth. Should He have stopped it? The immature Christian in me, shouts YES before I can even finish typing the question. Let me be real for one moment, I got myself into this situation! I was the one seeking a relationship, I am hurting today because of the very choices I made.

I cannot go a single day thinking of you. As cruel as it may sound I wish I had never met you. Though yes that would deprive me of the life’s lesson’s I was supposed to have learnt through my encounter with you, still in my defiance I say, “I wish I had never met you!” Let’s reverse time to that fateful Saturday morning when I was sitting in a lecture and I turned around and there you were walking into the back of the room wearing your rugby jersey and blue jeans. Then we would have no need to erase all the encounters that followed, all of which I could recall on request. If there was any justice in this world, I would be able to erase the day you officially stepped into my life as my boyfriend. Blot it out of existence! I think that is the only way I could feel like my heart could resume its normal pace.

After all’s been said and done, I love you. I don’t understand why but I just do. I wish I could say I didn’t but then what would be the point in lying? Because of this overwhelming pain I feel I am incapable of reaching any point where I feel happy. I take my antidepressants like I’m supposed to and even that doesn’t help keep me out of this pit of despair that I am in. Sure I smile on que when I am around people. Yes I crack jokes. On a good day you might just find me actually putting in a good couple of hours of work. But does that change the fact that sometimes it hurts so bad I feel physical pain in my chest? Does it change the fact that every time my phone makes a sound I still wish it was you? No it doesn’t! As pathetic as it is…I love you and I won’t stop loving you today but someday I will!