2018 was a hard year, a year I had initially conceived to be a year for me and my victories, instead it turned into a year of turmoil. I had decided in 2017 that I was going to quit my job and pursue my artistic side but instead I made decisions that did not advance me, I made decisions for others not myself- always putting others first which meant I betrayed myself. I also realised I have suffered from narcissistic abuse in my childhood and how it has contributed to my behaviours. I can be extremely disciplined but also, I can be compulsive- this is a surface issue. The real issue is I could not make decisions without putting others first and this caused me to lose everything I worked hard for, it caused me to lose my sanity. Not only did I realise that I suffered from narcissistic abuse but that I had surrounded myself with narcissists. I only realised this in the latter part of the year and I’m still recovering- trying to cut the wires which are so deeply connected in my brain and hinder my growth. Realising that I grew up in a dysfunctional way has me breaking all illusions leaving me vulnerable and possibly feeling like I’m going insane. Nothing is real- nothing ever was. I’m going through a rebirth where I am both mother and child. These are the lessons that I take from 2018:
1. Put yourself first always.
Once I had decided to quit my job, catastrophic events took place and I burdened myself with decisions that were not in line with my highest good. I had the preconception that if I put others first then I put myself first but it is not so. I learnt the hard way.
2. No matter how much effort you put into something if it is not aligned with your joy, you will not achieve it.
I had decided that 2018 would be the year for my and artistic pursuits but then I turned around and pursued a post graduate degree that was not inline with my artistic pursuits. I realise now that for the longest time I have been driven by fear. Fear that my artistic pursuits would not be fruitful, fear that others would think it stupid to invest in pursuing art, fear that I could not defend why words, dancing, acting and writing give me unsurmountable joy. I forced myself to enjoy the sensible course I had selected but it was unsuccessful. I could have finished it successfully but at the last minute I admitted to myself that I was in pain and would no longer be my own sadistic torturer.
3. Know thyself
You really need to know yourself. Integrity is paramount in surviving this life. When you know yourself it will be difficult to betray yourself.
4. The greatest love is inside of me
Whenever I felt happy without others feeling happy, I felt guilty. My happiness has for the longest time depended on others around me being happy, if my family was not happy, I could not be happy. For example, I was in Cape Town when my grandmother was really sick and every single day, I felt guilty for enjoying life while she was in pain in Soweto. A lot of times I sacrificed time and money for family when nobody asked me to; I thought well if my family us happy then I’ll be even happier but this is not so. It is impossible because I am here on this earth for me and only me but I was never taught this. This point links up with point number three.
5. Only my joy matters
If I am not happy, if I am not pursuing my joy- why am I even existing? For the longest time I had the misconception that joy can only be attained through strife and only sometimes, which is absurd. Why must joy be Christmas, something that comes once a year? Life is meant to be lived joyfully.
6. Give and take mentality is a greedy mentality
I thought I was the sweetest person, the most loving but I learned painfully that the “give and take” mentality is one of greed. If someone gives something they should do so purely out of their heart not because they expect something back. For the longest time I did this but somewhere, somehow I started to focus on the lack in my life. I started being driven by the fear that maybe I’m not lovable and so gave more and more, and the more I gave the less I received. This point also links up to point number four. If I had understood, if I knew truly in my bone and cells that I was love and that I was enough, fear would not have got a grip of me. Also I grew up with a narcissistic parent constantly reminding me of how much they did for me and so always felt indebted to them. I always felt I had to give to get love. I felt love was a favour.
7. Never be afraid to be alone
I have never felt alone as I have in 2018- it hurt so badly, so badly and I needed to feel the pain of loneliness because I believe this is my lesson on earth, running away from this pain only led me to it. I needed to settle in this pain which I believe I had been running away from since birth. I survived. I still feel lonely, I won’t lie, I feel despair that I have never felt but it is the time to be here with my pain, with my wounded self by myself. People love you when you’re happy but I needed to concede to the fact that I was not happy and people don’t like it when you’re happy- I had to learn unconditional presence with myself. I had to learn unconditional love with myself.
8. Look to yourself
At times when you feel like calling a friend or relative for advice, look to yourself. Have conversations with yourself, they don’t need to lead anywhere.
9. You’re your own authority
Whenever I got an idea, I would immediately look for people to ask for advice but each and every time I did so I lost. Trust yourself.
10. Learn to heal yourself
I hate it when doctors ask you what’s wrong with you and you have to tell them the symptoms because I expect them to immediately know what’s wrong with me. I expect too much from them, but you can’t expect too much from yourself, at times you not only know where it hurts but why it hurts. The issue is we are so afraid of being in pain, we’d rather someone else diagnose us. Learn to heal yourself, stop fighting the feeling of pain and settle into it.
11. Know your wants
If you know what you want you will stop basing decisions on what you don’t want. This is crucial because what you want is much more achievable than what you don’t want. I want chocolate cake because I want chocolate cake not because I don’t want the other hundreds of flavours, my life then becomes easier because if I walk into a bakery and there’s no chocolate cake I walk out and go where I’ll be able to find chocolate cake. If I’m offered Black Forest cake and I take it, I will not be satisfied no matter how much of it I eat because I’ll be settling and it’s not what I want. You have to know what you want, what you want comes effortlessly without thought, whatever you want does not require a defence and what you want will always satisfy you. Know your wants and why they are your wants.
12. Don’t live for the applause
I consider myself an artist, a writer; the applause is validation, seeking it is a lifelong pursuit. So what happens when there is no applause, do I exist? Do I still deserve the title of writer? In today’s world controversy, likes and retweets are markers of the quality of one’s craft. The applause has shifted from the vibration of admiration and affection to that of void attention in the form of comments, likes, shares, retweets, open letters and opinion pieces in response to one’s writing. In chasing the applause, I chase emptiness, what matters at the end of the day should be, am I happy with my product, am I happy with my piece, am I happy with the decisions I have made and how they have affected me? Chasing the applause is chasing the noise, the noise is effervescent, chasing the applause stunts one; the only applause you should chase is your own after delighting in your own work.
13. Plan your life for yourself not others
For the longest time I thought if I could fix others and their problems, I’d be much happier. For example, if I renovate or change my grandmother’s deteriorating house I’d be happier, if I slow down the achievement of my own goals for the advancement of a sibling then God would reward me for my self-sacrificing but this is not so. God, I believe, wants you to be as selfish as possible (not at the expense of others). God wants you to practice radical self-love, this is how you learn to love others but also this how you exercise the God in you. This is how you accelerate your growth and achievements in your life.
14. No one will love you out of your pain
I entered into a loving relationship in the middle of the year but it ended pretty quickly. We were both loving, both wounded, both vulnerable and both with our defences up. Healing your pain is your homework, you can only be loved at the capacity at which you love yourself. When you enter into a relationship without first looking and healing your pain you become subconsciously toxic- the last thing you want to become you become. I advise that you sit with your pain before strapping it onto your back and taking it with you into a relationship.
15. Don’t feel guilty for what comes effortlessly
Be it money, your gift, your friends, your wonderful family, your ability to pass without studying, your ability to attract lucrative opportunities- never feel guilty, in doing so you doubt your power and your path, you doubt your worth, you become indignant and ungrateful. You start being resentful about your gift and life, all in all you tell the universe that you’re not worthy or deserving and you will attract experiences that treat you as such. You are not a “bad” person because you have it “good” and you should not feel that you cannot enjoy your life because your life came effortlessly.
16. Humble yourself
If you do not learn the act of humbling yourself, the universe will humble you in unbelievable ways. Also, you are where you are by chance.
17. Don’t wait for permission
This links up with point number nine. Start with your project, whatever it is, don’t wait for others you perceive as better than you to give you permission to start. Start with the fear and doubt holding onto your legs, you will shake them off as you go along on your journey.
18. Be gentle with yourself
We can be our own worst critics- be gentle with yourself. This does not mean be lazy or complacent but be gentle, this life is too short.