“Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed. ”
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
I was born in Portugal and my early childhood was a normal one. Then, in one emotional moment, my mother took her own life when I was just five years old, leaving me to fight a lifetime of confusing feelings, behavior patterns and actions, all alone. To say that it was the most traumatic experience in my life, would be to state the obvious. My mother’s absence in my early, formative years left a deep impact on my psyche and on all that has unfolded in my life since then. My father too, left soon after, and I was brought up by my grandparents. Although they did their best to give me a normal, happy childhood, a child knows and misses instinctively the comforting touch and connection of a mother and for that reassuring presence to be wiped out without as much as an apology or an explanation is something a child never really gets over.
My mother, in that one moment, took not only her own life, but also my spirit with her. The deep void she left in my life led me to indulge in all sorts of self-destructive behavior. My life gradually became an exhibit of repetitive patterns of trying to find love and comfort from emotionally unavailable people. It wasn’t really something I did deliberately- it’s just that I didn’t know any better. Perhaps, it was what came most naturally to me as the one lesson that I had subconsciously learnt from my mother’s suicide and my father walking out on me later, was that it was natural to be let down and left alone by people you love.
What neither my grandparents nor I could understand then, was that my actions were a consequence of the low self-esteem that had resulted from the feelings of abandonment I felt in the absence of my parents. The love a child has for herself is often the reflection of what she sees in her parent’s eyes. Having loving parents makes a child confident and ensures that the child grows up with enough self-respect to make sensible choices about who they will allow into their lives when they are adults. My choices in relationships during my teenage years and later, as an adult, were always affected by the lack of self-love I had felt as a child. And it was this lack of self-respect that would make me get involved in relationships with people who didn’t value me as a person and didn’t treat me well at all.
However, along with all the other trials that I faced in my life, I also realized that I had been blessed with the rare gifts of sensitivity, empathy, kindness and an inner strength born out of the difficult experiences I went through. I understood that I had a choice- to either let everything that had happened to me control my actions for the rest of my life and sink completely or to use my gifts and strength to fight all the blows that life was going to deal me with, and swim right through to the shore!
The deepest happiness I now gain is from acts of kindness- by using my experiences and the strength and wisdom I have gained from them- to help people when they are in situations they don’t believe they can ever get out of. I have spent a lot of time in my life gaining this understanding and awareness and am now in a bright, happy place full of love and laughter.
I do, however, find myself wishing that I had not been alone during the times when things were most difficult for me and it is this very feeling that has influenced my passion to ensure that no one should have to deal with tough, spirit breaking experiences in life without having someone to guide them through such times.
I believe that all of us are here for a reason. Some of us have understood our purpose in life while others are still struggling to gain this understanding. I feel blessed because what I truly shine at is healing people, holding their hand through the journey of life and helping them realize their inner potential.