I believe that we are guided by the Universal spirit, call it God, or Infinite Intelligence, to be who we truly are. Even in the hardest times of our lives or when we are held back by circumstances beyond our control. Even when we try to repeatedly deny a part of ourselves that we want to keep tucked away, the universe will still find ways to bring it to the surface and reveal it to you.
I had come to realise early on in life that I had a great deal of strength and courage, often beyond my years. The type of courage that even when put to the test and the consequences were harsh was very evident. When I was 6, my mother and my siblings and I moved into my paternal grandfather’s house. I shared this house with 12 other children and 7 adults. As children in the house, there were no toys of any kind. There was no evidence that children lived there, except our physical presence. There were no colourful walls, no pretty doona covers, no books, no tv. My existence in the house was sleep, school, sexual and physical abuse and constant chores. Everything I did was monitored and if not done correctly was met with severe punishment; beatings, missing meals and isolation.
Under complete control, with eyes always on me, I still found ways to ‘rebel’ against what I hated or disagreed with. Despite knowing the consequences I would still protest, or find a way out of punishment by cleverly covering it up.
On one such occasion, I was asked to rake the leaves outside on a particularly windy day. Knowing the difficulty of the job I stormed out and stomped each foot to the ground in protest at having to do such a futile job. As I threw the rake down each time trying to collect the leaves and stop the wind from catching them, I felt myself getting angrier and angrier. Not knowing that there were eyes on me, within minutes, one of the ladies grabbed me from behind and dragged me into the house. I was immediately ordered to remove my clothes to receive a beating.
I instantly let out a roaring NO! and ran away from the adult. I ran down the stairs and was grabbed again and pulled back up. With each opportunity I ran, screaming NO NO NO. But in the end there was no use. As I grew tired, I was throw to the ground ad repeatedly belted with a thin leather belt until I went numb and the adult had tired herself out.
Did I learn my lesson? No. Did I learn to just shut up and conform to the rigid rules and do what I was told. Definitely not.
On another occasion after Sunday church the children were instructed that there was going to be no lunch and that we were fasting instead. Food was already scarce in this house, so I valued my meals. I constantly felt hungry and didn’t want to go without. When the adults told us we had a choice to fast, I immediately voiced my choice, that I didn’t want to fast. Not realising that there wasn’t really a choice. Every other child around me had ‘agreed’ to fast except me. After hours of isolation and hours of being lectured to, I eventually gave in and fasted also.
Or there was the time when I had put too much shampoo in my hair and the consequence was to go without dinner and to sit in isolation until 8 o’clock before I could come down to watch TV, which was an extremely rare event. Knowing how much I wanted to watch TV, I closely followed the time, watching the clock slowly tick away every second. Deciding it was taking too long. I looked around to see if anyone was watching, grabbed my stool and placed it below the clock and stood up and changed the time to 8’ o clock. I then ran down to the TV room and bravely proclaimed that the time was up. No one thought to check the time and I was allowed to stay and watch TV.
There have been many more examples where I took courage when I believed there was no other alternative, despite the consequences or the outcomes I faced in speaking out or protesting against something I didn’t believe in.
Speaking out against both perpetrators who abused me was one of my most defining moments of courage. Despite knowing full well that my family would not believe me. Despite knowing full well that I would receive absolutely no support and would be completely abandoned to deal with the aftermath all on my own, I still spoke out. Because I had the courage to do so. Courage that defies logic, that defies reasoning. I had the courage to stand alone. That to me, reveals a part of me that is innate. That to me is a sign from the universe that it is who I am. To embrace that part of me, that for a long time I questioned whether I truly was courageous. To celebrate my courage and share it with those who need a little bit of inspiration to reveal their own courage.
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