THE STORY OF MY FATHER

“I write to help someone struggling with life and its issues by sharing how I scaled some mountains, how I went around others and how I cope whilst still facing others.”

My father was an intelligent man, full of wit and humour. I remember him being a principled guy who lived life loving his family. I have no doubt he loved me and my siblings.

One of my favourite characteristics about my dad was that he wasn’t one to take himself too seriously, he believed in simplicity of life and a great desire to esteem others. He had another side to him though, a mischievous side; he wasn’t one to be afraid of having a laugh at someone else’s expense! I remember laughing at the countless stories about how certain behaviours in individuals tickled him.  I refer to my dad as “was” because he has since passed. I blog about this extensively but for now I wanted to share my journey, a journey I have come to learn is a journey of countless people, I am just one of a number giving it a voice.

My reality was this; my father had a mental health illness. I can’t remember when I first realised this, but for as long as I could remember it was just that way. His relatives said my mother did it – those of African heritage will understand the gravity of that statement. Why do that to someone who you would share your bed with for the rest of your life and was your bread winner? I am sure collectively we can agree on the ridiculousness of this statement.

My father’s mental illness was a key in my formative years in shaping who I thought I was. I was ashamed of a situation that was not of my choosing and existed in fear of being judged by a prejudiced society. I accepted a label because of this, until I realised I was bigger than the labels that people put on me. I never knew I could write, certainly knew I could talk! But in using my words wisely I found my voice.

I write not just to tell my story about growing up with a father with what the “champions” are now calling “Low Mental Hygiene.” Funny how they keep changing the label, when the challenges and consequent effects of those with Mental Health issues and their loved ones probably remain the same.

I write to help someone struggling with life and its issues by sharing how I scaled some mountains, how I went around others and how I cope whilst still facing others.

I whispered my truth to myself in order to have the courage to free someone else

Walking my journey, I learnt that there will always be chatter in life; you have to accept that, what you don’t have to accept is the finality of that chatter in your life. You’ve got to be careful not to allow people’s voices over you to become fact. I was much more than society’s opinion, a daughter of whom they called a mad man. I had to ensure that I refocused my bearing and stop swaying to a foreign beat. I realise now I was blessed to be different and I have learnt to see the uniqueness in that. My uniqueness has given me a voice to speak out in order that someone else may stand up and say, “I am ok!”

In all my challenges I missed the reality that through my faith, my God was in the midst of it all. He was there through it all even though it felt at times like I was isolated and quite alone, He was there.

How do I know that He was there? Because I made it through it all to this point in my life where I can write and share my heart.

I have faced, fought and overcame many hurts from many quarters across the journey. We all have, you can’t be alive today without experiencing some kind of emotional pain. The lesson for me was this; the hurt itself was probably insignificant compared to what I did with that hurt.

It can either destroy you or grow you

So I drowned out the voices speaking to me from my internal struggles as well those coming from the mouths of many. Before I overcame, the chatter attempted to drown me.  I dared to stand up, dared to speak out, dared to be different. My mountain drove me higher, it taught me how to sing and redefine the music my past had defined for me.

I had a future, but as long as my driving was in rear view, I couldn’t move forward

Forgiving those that hurt me was the key I used to get myself unstuck because holding on to unforgivness erodes and depletes you. Unforgiveness will hurt your ability to focus and will negatively impact every other relationship you have.

Every day we choose to hold on to the pain is another day everybody around us will have to live and feel the consequences of that decision.

I couldn’t keep blaming the past for how I kept viewing myself. I had a future, but as long as my driving was in rear view, I couldn’t move forward.

Forgiveness doesn’t display weakness; it reveals strength and wisdom, wisdom to understand we all make mistakes.

People will always have an opinion, it’s their right. But you’ve got to remember that it’s your right not to adopt it. It’s your right to say I hear you but I don’t need to accept it nor respect it!

I dare you to scale that mountain!

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6 thoughts on “THE STORY OF MY FATHER

  1. Wow, thanks for sharing Leah. I’m going through issues with my dad’s health and it does offer some comfort to read about someone’s struggles. I hope that one day I too will be able to share, at the moment I’m still trying to comprehend the situation.

  2. “I write to help someone struggling with life and its issues by sharing how I scaled some mountains, how I went around others and how I cope whilst still facing others.” Bravo!

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