A thought for the day
I am an absolute movie junkie! I have a huge love of films, especially off beat or arty ones that are enriched with culture, life lessons, colour, humour, drama… and especially ones with which my own life resonates … and I hit a home run last night with ‘ The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’.
If a movie is bright and colourful and depicts a different culture then consider me already hooked – and this was one of those movie moments last night!
Add to it that our home already smelt like a spice bazaar (a curry pot was bubbling away on the stove) and I already felt deliriously transported! My family is actually hilarious, I’m not sure if our ‘bio-diversity’ comes from living in a country where eleven official languages are spoken and is aptly named the Rainbow Nation, but whatever the reason may be, my family sure has a love of all cultures! We absolutely love anything Mediterranean (bring on the olives and garlicy tzatziki and oh boy, any form of curry puts us on an all time high! Maybe our love of things Indian comes from a ten year sojourn in Durban. By age two, I could apparently manage a curry that would leave most adults gasping for relief! Ha!
The Best Exotic Marigold hotel is a movie about British retirees who travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm each retiree in unexpected ways. To see how each character reacts and deals with the less than ideal situations reminded me so of how people deal with life. We often expect it to be a bed of roses with a white picket fence but very often it is the exact opposite!
So often something totally unexpected gets thrown our way and we experience something that we hadn’t ever anticipated or envisioned! I for one, have not had a life I had expected and I certainly did not plan for all the obstacles and challenges I have endured. Quite frankly, it’s been hard, but I still wouldn’t want my life any other way. I wouldn’t give up the spiciness of my own ‘Marigold Hotel’ experience’ for boring white picket fences! Yes, a life of white picket fences and everything going your way, and God giving you everything you want when you want it sounds great and easy, but how on earth would you build ANY character or depth?! I sometimes look at those people (yes, we all know THOSE people) whose lives just seem marvellous, all the time, 24/7 amazingness… and I think to myself, wow… Good for you, it looks great… but how do you know how to rely on God when everything is just peaches and silver linings?! How else do you learn to appreciate things when you have always had them? When things don’t go your way, that’s when the refining of your character only starts to happen!
So when you feel like your life should have just been so much easier and only had white pickets fences, just think how bland and boring that would actually be?! Life doesn’t always go the way we had it planned. Things don’t happen when we want them too. People don’t do what we want them to do. Instead of agonising over this, rather embrace it. Embrace having your life in the care of the master creator. The same creator who created the milky way, has your life in His hands. He will do a much better job of sorting stuff out then you will! Yes, it’s not all peachy, but we need the spice in order to appreciate the sweetness! There is a greater purpose and plan going on, and during those hard moments you may not know what it is, but there IS.
I listened to a song this week that ties it up perfectly for me, it’s a song by Josh Garrels, called Farther along. In it he sings,
So much more to life than we’ve been told
It’s full of beauty that will unfold
I have digressed so back to the movie- The movie focuses on old age but also on how precious time is, irrespective of your age. This is such an important factor to grasp about life. Such a biggie, actually! Time is precious! Life on earth can all end in a blink of an eye (I so narrowly missed this happening during the hijack trauma) but it can also begin in a blink of an eye! No matter how old or young you are, the worth you place on time and life I feel will ultimately either cause you to appreciate it and deem it precious and embrace it or squander it and just exist. Here are some quotes from the movie.
Evelyn: Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected.
Muriel: Most things don’t. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff
“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing.”
“All we know about the future is that it will be different.”
“Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right then it’s not the end.”
My hope for you is that you remember that we don’t just have valley experiences, but mountain top experiences too!
That when you are in the valley, you allow God to use the not so ideal circumstances to build and refine your character and learn from them. I truly believe that He uses everything for our Good. He is a good God who wants to take us to the mountain top places!
My hope for you, is that you experience the rich and aromatic spices of life!
If all else fails, and life hands you hot spices, make a curry:)
We all have our little quirks and idiosyncrasies that make us unique. We also all have those little things that make us want to go apoplectic with anger and for someone who has been through a trauma, we also have those things that trigger us. I call this Trigger unHappy! According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word Trigger means the following.
1 a: a piece (as a lever) connected with a catch or detent as a means of releasing it; especially: the part of the action moved by the finger to fire a gun b: a similar movable part by which a mechanism is actuated <trigger of a spray gun>
2 : something that acts like a mechanical trigger in initiating a process or reaction
What are the mechanical triggers in initiating my emotive reactions?
I have been asked quite a few times of late to explain what my triggers are. I think people around me want to know to either show care or avoid triggering me.
Apart from the obvious don’t wave a gun in my face ones…. I thought I’d take some time and actually write them down and share them. In doing so, I am hoping to make you more aware and to perhaps give you perspective into the lives of others, who like me, are dealing with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
What defines a trigger you might ask? It is when something happens, that evokes a memory or emotion in you that leaves you feeling unsettled, vulnerable, unsafe, uneasy or emotional.
All my triggers depend on how I am feeling before something happens.
The sight of guns, even toys guns or pictures of guns or gun scenes in movies give me the heebie jeebies. (self explanatory as when I was attacked a cold metal gun was held against my head!
Any extremely loud or sudden noises. Anything that could sound like a gunshot and that includes balloons popping! Helium balloons are a nightmare!!!
When someone does something unexpected eg shouts or hits something near me or gives me a fright.
When someone knocks on my car window.
When someone greets or approaches me from the back.
In place where I feel vulnerable, like sitting alone in a car, walking alone to my car, walking alone to or from somewhere.
The Nigerian accent.
The Rink Street FNB (where they took my money from my bank account)
The beach at night.
When someone greets me or surprise me from the back – NEVER put your hands over my eyes as I am likely to karate kick you across the planet!
If someone jokingly says they will sit in the boot. (I was tied up and put in the boot of a car).
Fast and erratic driving and a revving car engine (my kidnappers drove wildly with the engine roaring)
When I feel alone or isolated.
When I am forced to do something I don’t want to do.
A group of men walking towards me
The fauna and flora of the beach (I have often been back to the beach but the
vegetation next to the beach is hard to look at)
Clear tape. I am referring to the thick tape people use to tape up boxes when they are moving. Even just the sound of it being unraveled distresses me as it is loud and obtuse. (It was used to tightly tape my mouth closed, and tied my hands and feet together).
Aggressive and erratic behaviour
The sound of a woman in distress
Red and black checked shirts. (I was wearing a red and black shirt so the association goes along with it)
When I am disregarded or feel powerless in decisions.
The dark and when I can’t find my glasses and phone (my glasses were knocked off during the attack and I couldn’t see clearly and it was dark and my phone was taken).
The Nordhoek area. I don’t wish to ever drive past there again, unless I absolutely have to. So the area where the little light house is in Marine Drive is my cut off turnaround point.
Extremely large groups of people. I find this so overwhelming and tiring. With PTSD you have heightened senses. So your mind is constantly surveying things for danger without you even realising. This gets VERY tiring, So to make it easier for myself where possible, I sit facing the entrance, never with my back to it.
When I go to a restaurant I prefer to sit facing the entrance. It helps to know this because I am then less drained at the end of the evening and have a more relaxed and enjoyable time.
I think it is so important to know what triggers you so that you can better prepare or deal with things, thus resulting in a healing process.
I have done so much healing and growing.I honestly marvel at how God has helped me heal so much in such a short space of time. Often things will trigger me in different ways, but I know myself well and often know what is going to upset me so I try to not put myself in those situations, but if I have no control over it, I try and have a safe person with me.
A safe person is someone I trust and deem safe to help me if I am not feeling strong. So often my friends will be asked, ‘hey could you please be my safe person at the party tonight or at church tomorrow’.
So what does being a ‘safe person’ entail you may wonder?
A safe person is someone who is prepared to instantly remove me from the scene and escort me home or just step aside with me until I feel more settled and contained. Someone who is also prepared to speak on my behalf when I am not feeling up to it. A safe person is someone whom I trust to do what is best for me, even at their own expense or inconvenience!
I have victory over many things, for example, my attackers were African men. And I have made a point of not turning bitter or racist to the whole society of African men. I have made a point of not letting this set on my heart. There are a group of African waiters at Vovo Telo who have helped me so much in this area. They are SO kind, friendly and caring towards me and often offer hugs and have even asked my mom how much labola she wants for me?! ahahahaha. So I refuse to generalise things and people.
I refuse to regard ALL men as bad because that is not true! I think this is such an amazing point for me to have reached as I know so many women who haven’t been through a fraction of what I have, and yet they are such men bashers – so saddening!
I also refuse to let this abuse at the hands of men darken my views on all men. There are many wholesome, kind and morally strong men out there.
What I went through was a huge knock on my life, Even my virginity was ‘technically’ taken from me. But I refuse to see it that way and I refuse to let anything more be robbed from me. I am pure in Gods eyes! My friends often laugh and marvel at how I still want to get married and have a wonderful husband after all I have been through.
Yes, I do believe that God has the most amazing man for me! I honestly am so excited for that! I think it will be such a slap in the devil’s proverbial face!
Even though my ‘trigger list’ is long, I have not let it stop me from doing life!! I continue to step forward, onwards and upwards (sometimes a little shakily) I even drive alone at night again! Wow, this is a biggie and I am so proud of myself! Maybe, just maybe, one day I will feel safe enough to drive (with my husband, of course) past the lighthouse in Marine Drive!!! And just maybe you will be able to bring balloons to the celebration party!!! I will definitely write a blog post about it!
So if you or someone you care about has triggers (we all do – trauma or no trauma) make an effort to find out what they are and make an effort to not trigger them! Remember to show them kindness and grace when they do.
I always laugh when my mom and dad say that although they have known and loved and cherished each other for thirty years – they speak each others love languages well (see my previous post) they also happen to know each others weaknesses and frailties only too well and that on any given day they could use this knowledge to derail or break the other one down within minutes if they chose to do so – but they don’t because you make a conscious choice not to do so when you choose to show someone grace and love! I love the scripture that says, ‘love covers, knowledge puffs ups’.
When you love someone, cover their triggers don’t push them and puff up when you are right.
This has been a very vulnerable post for me as I am exposing my struggles and challenge areas but I really hope that by sharing these vulnerabilities that both you and I are helped and that together we can help someone else, who in turn will help someone else!
The past weekend was a toughy for me. A door that I had really hoped would open career wise didn’t and I felt disappointed, rejected, lonely and somewhat sorry for myself (Just being honest here – if people actually attended Pity Parties, I would have had one in grand style!)
I suspect that the strain of this year with all of it’s challenges and obstacles being navigated together with all the growth and maturing occuring (which is great but sometimes so difficult and painful) all just culminated into one big mush, which left me feeling less than the awesome and incredible‘designer original’ that I spoke about in my previous post!!! Getting sick again for the umpteenth time this year also didn’t help! It’s become a bit of a joke how often my immune system takes an unscheduled holiday! (Note to self, maybe it is me that needs a holiday? Mmmmh, the Greek Isles beckon!)
So when one is in this place of being ‘emotionally challenged’ there is nothing nicer then when someone comes along and speaks straight into your heart, in just the language it understands. I dont know about you. but my heart understands and needs love. It doesn’t accept anything less!
This reminded me of an amazing book called, The 5 Love languages, by Gary Chapman. WOW. It doesn’t get more spot on then this book. (Please do read this book if you haven’t already done so). In it, he describes how everyone is different (yes, I know you may be thinking duh, but read on). We all show and express love in different ways. And similarly we all also receive love in different ways. We each have our preferences!
The 5 love languages are – Acts of Service, Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time and Physical Touch.
You may be wondering what my preference of ‘Love Language’ is so I will tell you… My ‘language’ of preference when receiving love is Physical Touch (this doesn’t however give you permission to pinch me on the rear Italian style, without my consent of course) followed by Acts of Service as a close second and you won’t go wrong either if you throw some Words of Affirmation into the mix! A girl likes to hear some positive and encouraging things!
Just like I am able to speak English well, I speak an average Afrikaans and a smattering of French my first choice when communicating is English! Similarly we all have a preference when it comes to ‘Love Languages’.
My love language when giving and showing love is usually expressed by giving Gifts and by sharing Quality Time (with a bit of words of affirmation thrown in there too). I delight in surprising someone with a little something that I have specially selected that is all beautifully wrapped! I also give of myself generously by spending quality time with people.
As mentioned earlier, this past weekend was a trying time for me, with what seemed like EVERYTHING going wrong and nothing working out the way I thought and hoped that it would. Cue, amazing friends, speaking my love languages…
I was totally bowled over by how, when I was down, God sent some really amazing people on my path to use as vessels of Love. If it wasn’t a friend surprisingly popping a gift into my post box. (it was such fun skipping along to find out what had been left in the box for me – even if it had been a rock, the joy of the surprise thought was just what my heart needed – yay much! Just in case you were wondering, it wasn’t a pet rock but a wonderful pamper treat) to two friends popping over one evening armed with plenty of chic flicks, popcorn and filter coffee, followed by yet another friend poppng around for tea with a tray ladened with yummy home baked cake pops! Wow!
I’m not sure how, but even the barista at my favourite coffee shop clearly picked up I needed some loving. After giving me the biggest hug, (and just about knocking over everything on the counter in the process whilst being watched by ALL the patrons) he proceeded to declare his undying love to me, via a cappuccino:) how special is that?
These things just meant so much to my heart, and helped me feel less alone.
So I encourage you to take the effort and find out what ‘languages’ those around you speak, and speak it to them. The more loved one feels, the more love one can give. The more love one is shown, the more healing can take place! I am testimony to it.
I am thinking of writing to Gary Chapman and suggesting he add another love language. I cannot believe he could have missed it. The Love anguage of Coffee and Cupcakes. I mean come one?!
Lots of love (in all of its language forms)