Another is week is here and we are starting a new month for real. Wow, the 9th month in this 2018 which just started like yesterday? And yet, I have so much to tell about this year, one which my spirit revealed to me was my year of Grace. Ah, it’s been Amazing Grace how sweet the sound…all along. Thank God really that I blog so much and have all my records as I progress – cause sometimes it could feel surreal what has happened or is planned by faith you know…
One of these plans, is to join a panel of 10 amazing storytellers to share my story of what I did when “Shit happened”, and I was near checking out altogether from this life.
You could watch the Ted X by the amazing founder and host Ms Beatrice Achaleke – my boss lol, where she talked about what she did when “shit happened” in her own life. Needless to say Beatrice is my heroine, have worked with her from my most tender age and we are related by much more than blood. Here is the introductory post I did of her several years ago hahaha.
After ‘Shit happened’to Beatrice, this her current signature
Globuntu in practice – who is in my team?Only she can come up with such a sweet scheme
Now therefore, anyone who believes like Iyanla Vanzart once asserted that:
“When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.”
Will rush to book one of the few remaining early bird tickets before they are all picked up…click right here and sign-up cause am so excited to get to tell my story on this beautiful platform offered by the Globuntu Academy for Happy Minds. I will forever be grateful to and for Beatrice.
Imagine that dinning table over 25 years ago; imagine it has 9 chairs as it did and still does; imagine a teen me sitting on that exact chair with one empty chair between our new step mom and I (the chair after her was empty as you can even see now lol). At one head of the table was Grand Pere, and dad was at the head nearest the door. On the other side of the table sat Grand Mere and my two siblings with whom I was in the same secondary school.
Dad had come on the eve to collect us for summer holidays, and he had brought his new wife to ‘introduce’ her to us, or more appropriately to his family. I think we children didn’t have a choice.
Ok now, let me spare you details of his reception nor my trashing at our school because I dared collect some snacks he’d brought, nor how we holed up in the back boot of his Pajero at the time, so as to give ourselves maximum distance with ‘step mom’. I was following orders.
When we arrived Dschang from Fontem where we went to secondary school, there was a reception planned and the table had been laid out. Sweet drinks had been bought, pork chops, chicken drums oh my; I was sure excited and looking forward to enjoy myself some especially after all the tough life in boarding school.
But hmm, step mom effect activated…total silence… Dare open your mouth you this talkative Ayo… The dinning table was no longer where we all converged to communion with each other…indeed that was the end of sitting together on a dining table…
I was the only one who could seemingly sit on the same side as her. But that was as far as I could go. Eyes were on me, and peeps thrown in her direction. If she touched something, no one of us was to touch same…unspoken rule but one after all…
And dear all; that is how, what came to be my last visit at a home I had so grown to love and had so many childhood memories of, ended with near tears…
At that time, we lived in the city of Yaounde like 6 hours away by car from Dschang, and you can sureimagine how miserable that journey was. How can I forget how the chatterbox me couldn’t even breathe aloud, forget about asking to go pee? Not even one stop to buy any suya as usual. Dad gave up trying to strike any conversation and I stifled my tears.
I am no longer that scared 13 year old but a full circle 39 years. But when I entered that home and saw that dinning table, I sat down unconsciously on that same chair and all the flashbacks made me bent on writing this down to release same, deal and heal, and sharing same with us all. Life has happened to all the parties of that era, and we are each striving and thriving in their own corners…well that’s my case for sure…
Life probably throws us all sorts of tomatoes on our way, what we do with them is up to us…how we are affected and how we move on and maybe help others with our experiences dealing with both fresh and rotten tomatoes is equally left to us… When I talked about this with dad recently and he said to let go, I told him blogging about it would be the best closure… The timeline from when mum left and step mom moving in was like 6 months and I have blogged already at the massive change in our lives and feeding and all thereafter… I sometimes felt my turning teen and some were stolen from me… maybe that’s why I have no problem being a teen again?
Anyways, back to the Area girl in Dschang in 2018… I have come to go there twice and the second time was to say farewell to my MC, ha another Dschang Saga…argh life
I love the very cold city of Dschang, it’s got lots of personal and historical meaning…
The last time I visited Dschang (not go through it), was over 2 decades ago. The post I wrote yesterday about my real relationship with MC tells more on what’s so special about that city to me.
So, I got there via night bus and spent the first day resting, doing chores at home, reconnecting and cheering dad up some. He is what we can call an IDP in his own country due to a civil and political strife going on in the English speaking regions of the country.
Washing dishes, one of my favs
My PA, love at first sight
Laundry is another big fav
My assistants and teachers lol
Cooking in Granny’s firewood kitchen, those were vip beds in those yesteryears lol
Enjoying me some warm tea
On my way to the village market to reconnect
The next day a Saturday, was reserved for sightseeing once I was done with basic chores including cooking for dad who is on a diabetics diet.
I then visit the mamiwata falls in a nearby village, and the museum of civilization (Musee des Civilsations) and then return home tired to rest some before returning to my own city of Douala the very next day. It was a soul trip and I even got to go back with holiday makers I hadn’t really planned but loved having them anyway lol
In my next post, I will talk about the dinning table and the step mom effect. It’s all for closure o.
This weekend (her burial was yesterday); indeed since June 9th when My MC died, I have gone through a roller coaster of sorts with different emotions, some like pain and grief, plummeting so deep and others like sadness, staying there and keeping me alert and contemplative at the whole point of living.
Some even in my close family circles can’t understand why I should feel so deep and get involved so personal. I decided to just blog about it and get this clear and closed once and for all.
My father had lost his both parents by the age of 8, with his mother dying when he the last was barely 2. By age 12, he found himself in the town of Dschang in the Western Region of Cameroon, that is a 45 or so km from our village of Fontem found geographically in the South West Region. Dschang is French speaking whereas Fontem is English speaking. That was no hindrance for this determined orphan whose family couldn’t afford the 20.000 frs (20 £) school fees required for Sasse College where he had been admitted (one out of 5 only from Fontem). He decided to migrate on his own to Dschang and do all it took to work for his upkeep, master that French language and culture in no time, and pay his fees in one of the public schools which cost 1500frs at the time.
One day as fate and faith will have it, MC’s dad who was Divisional Delegate for Education at the time, visited the school dad was, overlooked into dad’s neat book, marveled at his meticulous handwriting and admired the way his hand shot up to answer questions or ask same. He decided that day he was going to adopt dad and sent a note to dad’s family to that effect. Dad told me he didn’t even send the note, he was ready to move in with one I fondly called ‘Grand pere’ the very next day lol.
My dad clearly owes just so much to this Angel, his family and all. Dad was taken in as a first child, and the couple later on had 8 children with MC being the 7th. Although nearly 2 years older, as I said I didn’t know nor could be bothered.
MC and I did stuffs teens (mischief ones especially) do, including talking about and exploring our sexuality. If that isn’t profound what is? When her dad my ‘Grand Pere’ died in July 2009, I was so heavily pregnant with Gaby I wasn’t even allowed to go into his room at the hospital to bid him farewell. He had insisted dad come in all the way from Fontem to Douala to see him and dad had picked me up on arrival so we go see him together. Shortly after dad arrived, ‘Grand Pere’ I was told looked at dad, nodded, touched his hand and then drew his last breathe.
I didn’t attend his burial either, Gaby was just a week old. Now, before this all, the last time I had gone to Dschang was when I was around 15 years. Life’s twists and turns came and we all went to town and life continued to happen. Keeping in touch was henceforth by phone etc.
An Area Girl around
Dad and I at Grand Pere’s
Praying on Grand Pere’s tomb
3 weeks before MC died, Dad was in Dschang and I decided to go check on him. It was you can tell a soulful home coming. I still have to write about the visit. I prayed for MC on ‘Grand Pere’s’ grave but I guess the dice had been cast – she had endured too much already and couldn’t even talk… Am so glad I reached out to her that weekend with all the love I had and could show in my modest way…
The above should make it clear once and for all why I felt the grief so deep. It was like going to mourn for both ‘Grand Pere’, MC and her two other siblings gone ahead some years earlier at different intervals.
The good news is that, I found healing and closure right there at the burial – so glad I braved it to go. I did stuff I liked like washing the dishes (which is a huge thing at gatherings like this – hence really appreciated) and that was so self soothing, and then I went and spent an hour with MC where she was laid (3,45 am – 4,45 am). I prayed, meditated, read scripture passages on meditation, and listened in silence to MC remind me that life ain’t to be lived in the past participle (as she loved saying). The meditation was also on spot from James Allen: “Who can mend a broken Vase by weeping over it”?.
And so for closure, it is well with my soul. I equally traveled back home safely, and although I haven’t slept properly for 3 straight days, am grateful for the sleep in shifts in the night bus and at the wake. I will make it up gradually… The weekend before was equally partially spent at another burial, the only sibling to a dear school mate…arg life…
It is important in my modest opinion to deal and heal in every circumstance and to do it the way which works best for you. It is therapeutic to Feel your Feelings, Face your Fears and embrace the journey with fortitude and gratitude.
On this note, I cherish MC’s spirit of exuberance and love, I celebrate our memories and am filled with gratitude for knowing her thanks to the largesse of her Angel of a dad who made of my dad the man he is today… Cousin or not, whatever label it is, MC was a soul sister…
Be inspired and motivated us all, happy Sunday everyone
P.s: a brief of my timeline on return home, to inspire and motivate
6 am arrive home
7-9.30 am sleep
10.12.30 pm clean up and cook
3.30 pm – 4.15pm session with client
4.30 – 6 pm power walk for welcome home. I feel so great and know I’ll have a very good and peaceful sleep
When you say I don’t know me anymore, I will say I can imagine how you feel…
When you say my mind is murky, I will say I can imagine how you feel…
When you say you can’t take it no more, I will say I can imagine how you feel…
When you say you had a miscarriage, I will say I can imagine how you feel…
When you say you just buried a child, I will say I can imagine how you feel…
When you say those kids drive me nuts, I will say I can imagine how you feel…
When you say I am having a divorce, I will say I can imagine how you feel…
When you say I left and lost everything, I will say I can imagine how you feel…
When you say I was abused and raped, I will say I can imagine how you feel…
When you say I want my life back, I will say I can imagine how you feel…
When you say I really need help, I will say I can imagine how you feel…
When you say am making progress, I will say I can imagine how you feel…
When you say thank you we did it, I will say thank you too we really did…
P.s: Excitedly looking forward to starting a new chapter of my life as a professional life coach and CBT therapist. One of my life coaches told me I had an impressive toolbox of personal experiences. I sure do and am grateful for those… I say the serenity prayer now more than ever…I see where all this is heading to…My long term goal with all this is to open ‘Marie’s Healing Home for inner peace’
This year, World Mental Health Day was celebrated on tuesday October 10th under the theme Mental Health at the Workplace.
Over at the Gbm Foundation for Epilepsy and Mental Wellbeing, we raised awareness both online and through traditional media. In my capacity as Country Director, I shared my personal essay of mental health as related to me then while I was working in a multinational telecommunications company. You can read that post right here.
If I were to answer the above question today, I’ll say for me such a workplace is one where everybody feels safe addressing their mental health challenges. And you gentle readers and followers, what would be a mentally healthy workplace for you?
Hello World, this is the first of what I hope to often do: Profile & Interview and help promote New memoir authors! Why Memoirs? Because that’s the genre I write and it’s still a ‘shy’ genre especially, in my corner of the globe – Africa. My first author to be interviewed and profiled happens to be a dear friend and sister in Christ. I fell in love with the first of her blog posts I stumbled across – yes on the very night I was fumbling around trying to start my own blog! Her post titled «Am I a blogger or a …?» almost made me give up before I even started; and to think she’d been into blogging a good while? But then, that post ended on a note of so much hope – yes she was – yes I could become one too if I wanted and kept at it with faith.
This is what I have also gathered from reading her maiden but oh so soul searching memoir: shared from deep within her soul and titled just that. Without much ado, I’ll interview her for your reading pleasure and let her tell us more about herself and her journey to become this published author today. It ain’t easy I can tell, been there and still go through there, but she will agree it’s worth ever step of the journey…
Note: The post is way longer than my usual posts, I didn’t want to leave any area out and didn’t want to do a P1 & P2… I think whoever reads through the end will love it.
1) The Profile
Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit about your Childhood:
My name is June Whittle. I was born in Jamaica and relocated to the UK to join my parents when I was a teenager. It was tough leaving my grandmother (who raised me) and my sisters behind. I had to readjust to the climate – it was very cold – and the way of life. The culture in Jamaica was very different to that in the UK. Jamaicans are bubbly, carefree, happy-go-lucky people. I was used to sunshine, loud car horns, a variety of colours, fresh home grown food and other cultural activities. The day I arrived in the UK, it was grey, quiet and everyone looked moody. I was sad.
Anyway, I continued with my education in the UK, started relationships, (some were abusive) worked in various fields and gave birth to my daughters. I became a mature student in 2007 and went to university to complete a PGCE teacher training course to become a teacher. Afterwards, I taught in further education colleges and met some wonderful people along the way. In 2012 God told me to quit my teaching job and write books. I gave up teaching in 2013, stepped out in faith and started a freelance writing career.
About your Memoir, how did you come up with the title?
Well, I knew I wanted to write about my life, but coming up with a title was hard. Then one day “Deep Within my Soul” popped into my head. I knew straight away it was the right title for my book. You could call it divine inspiration.
2) The Soul Journey
I heard Oprah Winfrey say Love doesn’t hurt; what’s your take on that?
Love is a beautiful thing. It’s not meant to hurt, but it does hurt if you end up with the wrong person. I believe it depends on what we mean by love. Although my partners and I thought we loved each other, it was a dysfunctional kind of love because we didn’t love ourselves. Therefore, our love wasn’t whole. It’s hard to give 100% of what you haven’t got. So, instead of the joys of love, I mostly experienced the pains of love.
Did the love in your relationships hurt from the start or something happened down the road?
In the beginning, it was absolutely wonderful. When you first meet a man or woman you go through the honeymoon period where everything is beautiful. During that period, they can’t do anything wrong. In other words, you don’t see their faults because you’re on cloud nine and consumed by the love feelings. That’s how it was for me too. But, after a few months (when the honeymoon period wears off) he started to look at other women and became obsessed with them. That’s when he started cheating and our relationship changed. From then on problems crept in.
Can you tell who was to blame and what you felt about all this then?
I think he was to blame for the fact that he couldn’t keep himself away from other women. But I also blame myself because I was shy, naïve, insecure and didn’t know how to satisfy him. Looking back now, I see myself as very immature and I didn’t know anything about relationships. However, some people might say that’s no excuse for him to cheat on me. He took it far, and chatted up my friends in front of me. This led to verbal and physical abuse, plus lack of trust and many heartaches.
I read a lot of poems about Love in your memoir, and yet you were going through so much pain! So how did you find it writing about love while living pain?
Although I was hurting, the only way for me to find peace in my heart was to write about the love I yearned for. I wrote a lot of poems about my broken heart. Those poems came from deep within my soul. I suppose I was trying to touch their hearts with my words, although I didn’t show them the poems. It’s like I was living in a make-belief world. I knew what I wanted, I couldn’t get it so, I created my own world where I was safe to write what I wanted. Writing poems kept me sane. It was my lifeline as I poured out my painful feelings on the pages in my notepad.
Do you think there is an ideal time frame to wait before moving from one abusive relationship into another relationship we hope not to turn out as sour?
It’s extremely important to heal from an abusive relationship before going into another relationship. Otherwise, you will carry the toxic junk with you. The toxic junk is a combination of anger, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness and sometimes hate. When you carry those negative things in your heart, sooner or later they will surface and mess up your new relationship.
Imagine buying an old car that hasn’t been serviced or taken care of. It’s got lots of faults but you can’t see them. Eventually, the car will start to give you problems. On the other hand, if you buy a well looked after serviced car, it’s less likely to break down on you. Plus, you will get a smooth drive and it will last you longer than the one that wasn’t maintained properly. Likewise, not servicing your heart, mind and soul after an abusive relationship will have disastrous consequences on a new relationship.
What’s forgiveness got to do with healing?
Forgiveness and healing go hand-in-hand. It’s difficult to heal properly if you hold unforgiveness in your heart. Unforgiveness is like a chain around your heart. It squeezes it tight and tighter till it drains your emotional and physical energy. As long as it’s living in you, real healing cannot take place. This includes healing of sicknesses as well as your mind.
A friend did a project with some primary school children recently about forgiveness. She gave them a heavy rucksack each, to carry on their backs. Some said they didn’t mind as the rucksacks were quite light. However, after carrying them on their backs for a while, they became heavy and weighted the children down, causing them to feel uncomfortable and unable to walk properly. That’s what unforgiveness does. It drags you down and affects all areas of your life. Nonetheless, when you forgive, you let go of all toxins and your body will feel light and live again. Painful memories may linger, but will no longer be a problem. That’s when you know that healing has taken place.
3) The Writing
Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)?
No. Although this is my first memoir, I didn’t base it on style, presentation or content of other writers. This is mostly because mine has poems so it’s different to other memoirs I read. I went with my gut feelings when writing. But, formatted it correctly to meet the requirements for uploading to Kindle for the eBook, and Create Space for the paperback. I followed their guidelines.
Did you have a writing mentor?
No, I’ve never had a writing mentor. I took two creative writing courses, many years ago and a copywriting course in 2012. That helped develop my writing skills, along with reading books about writing.
Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your memoir and why?
It was the first chapter where I summarized a little about my story. While writing, old painful memories came back and made me tearful and sad. I also felt negative emotions such as anger, resentment and unforgiveness. I was surprised because I thought I had dealt with those emotions. Clearly, they were still alive in my heart. I wrote about it in chapter 11 – “Finding Hope, my Testimony of Healing”. It’s amazing how we can fool ourselves into thinking we’ve done something, when we haven’t.
How did you deal with that?
Well, first I talked to God about it and asked Him to take away those feelings. I felt better afterwards. However, I still had more work to do in that area. So, I repented and prayed from my heart to forgive my abusers for deep healing to take place.
Which was your favourite poem and why?
It’s False Love. It was one of the hardest poems to write because it was written out of an extremely painful experience. Nevertheless, it was my favourite because that poem started off my writing experiences. From that poem, other poems followed which helped the healing process of writing to release toxic emotions.
I read two real life excerpts in your memoir, was this to add to the veracity of abuse as a phenomenon or to show the resilience of the human spirit?
Those real life excerpts were to demonstrate the power of forgiveness. The abuse these two women suffered were extreme, although diverse. The first example was a vicious form of domestic abuse. The second example was of a teenager being raped by her uncle plus other cruel types of abuse. However, both women decided to forgive their abusers for the sake of their mental health, peace in their lives and more.
Did you learn anything from writing your memoir and what was it?
While writing, I did research about forgiveness and discovered there is a connection between unforgiveness and sickness such as cancer, arthritis, heart problems and other stress related illness. I also learnt that extra healing was taking place for me as I was writing my memoir. By the time I finished the last chapter, I felt free of any excess burdens that may have been clinging to my heart.
How long did it take you to write and get the memoir published?
It took me nearly one year to write because I kept starting and stopping. I changed my mind a few times because I was nervous about telling my story to the world. But my daughters and close friends encouraged me to do it. Also, because God told me to write it in the first place, I didn’t want to disobey Him. The self-publishing process took me nearly a week. The technical formatting part of it was rather challenging.
4) The Message
Do you have any advice for other memoir writers?
Yes, I think if your story can help others from the lessons you learnt, you should share it. Life is full of pitfalls, some good and some good. There are many lessons along the way. However, not everyone learns from their experiences. But those who learn have gold nuggets to share with others in the form of memoirs. If you can help even a handful of people struggling with the issues you came out of, it’s worth writing your stories. Your story can change another person’s life for the better. Another word of advice, make sure you have supportive people around you. It’s important to get as much encouragement as possible to boost your confidence while you write.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want to give you the information you need to add value to your lives. My blogs and memoir are not just about me. They are to inspire, encourage, educate and motivate you. I love when you contact me by email or leave comments on my blogs advising me what I can do for you in future blog posts. Or, how you take away something positive from my writing. This is always my aim. Feedback is extremely important to me. So, please, always tell me whether I’m providing value or not.
Any other writing projects, blogging etc?
I plan to open up my two blogs, Miraculous Ladies and Arise Single Christian Mummies for guest blogging in 2017. It’s time I share my platforms with other aspiring or professional writers out there. I also intend to hold workshops related to my memoir. I included writing prompts in the last chapter. I want to take it further and hold small groups or one-to-one workshops to help women write away toxic emotions that’s keeping them captive. In addition, “Deep Within my Soul” is book one of a series of inspirational memoirs based on exclusive and beneficial relationship life-lessons.
I truly wish it were not so easier said than done. I however think the emphasis is in striving to release them and not to look back. To care about our mental wellbeing and do something as soon as we can so the weight of those bags not ruin our bones. Of keeping faith in hope, of accepting our limitations mindful of the need to release all of them bags quick before we collapse. Of forgiving ourselves above all, and of releasing the bags as we can; as we move on…
Happy sunday to all, peace and love and healing all the way
mum, author, mental health advocate, therapist, inspires & motivates with personal experiences