The Road I’m On

Inspired by When the Detour Becomes Your New Road by Vaneetha Rendall.

My life has certainly taken a detour this past year. I never would have chosen the road I’m on, but for better or worse, here I am. There’s certainly been a lot of grace in everything that’s happened, but there sure has been a lot of anguish as well. I was reflecting on that as I was on the train home yesterday evening. It’s been an usually rough week, and when the battery of my iPod died I started to pray the rosary. It was Friday, so I was praying the Sorrowful Mysteries, and I started to contemplate Christ’s words about taking up our crosses and following Him. A friend of mine recently said something about how each of our crosses is just the right size for us to carry, because our cross was made specifically for us – that if we all got to put our crosses in a big pile then pick the one we wanted, we would choose our own, because it’s the one we’d best be able to carry. And the one that brings us closest to Christ if we allow it to.

As I sat there on the train I was reflecting on that – how, as much as I would never have chosen the path I’m on, somehow good seems to be coming out of it, even in the midst of the moments of trial. That doesn’t mean a happily-ever-after where everything somehow magically works out. Rather, I can see that I’m growing stronger and better able to carry my cross; I’m learning to see and appreciate the beauty of Christian friendship and community, and to appreciate the gift of the other, in spite of people’s faults and failings; I‘m realising that I have choice to love and trust others, even when I’m not feeling loving or trusting – that the risk of hurt or rejection, or even betrayal, is a lesser evil than a life of loneliness through shutting people out. And slowly, a little at a time, I’m learning to accept, work though and let go of some of the more painful experiences in my life. My prayers do seem to be having an effect – not necessarily through convincing God to change His plans or my circumstances, but rather through Him working to bring about change and growth in me.

1 Peter 1:6-9

There is cause for rejoicing here. You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials; but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendour or fire-tried gold, may by its genuineness lead to praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ appears. Although you have never seen him, you love him, and without seeing you now believe in him and rejoice in inexpressible joy touched with glory because you are achieving faith’s goal, your salvation.

This last year hasn’t been an easy one. In fact it’s been the hardest of my life, and I’ve had some difficult years in the past. This time last year I was in the middle of one of the toughest, most shattering, and most heartbreaking experiences of my life.  And the circumstances have meant that there are very few people with whom I can open up about what happened, and fewer still who I can ever hope could in any way understand. Forget detours – it sometimes feels like my life has undergone a head-on collision with a semi-trailer. And yet this is the road I’m on. I’ve long since realised that this isn’t a detour – that there’s no going back to the way things were or changing some of the things that have happened. Like it or not, this is this is the road I’m on and these are my circumstances. No-one else can carry this cross for me, although they can help me bear the weight if I allow them to.

In the words of Vaneetha Rendall, whose article inspired this post:

“I cannot cling to the past. I cannot get back on the old road and put everything back the way it was. Some things will get better over time. Some prayers will be miraculously answered. Some dreams will come true.

But the old road is gone.

…This new road that I am on, bumpy and twisty as it may be, is the path that God has chosen for me. It is the best road. The only one worth taking.”

This is the road I’m on, and as lonely and difficult as it can be at times I have to keep moving forward.  I have to trust that God is working through everything, and keep looking for the beauty in my circumstances. And there is beauty. Just as water is never so sweet and refreshing as it is for the parched wanderer who stumbles across a spring in the desert, so too are all the daily blessings, simple joys and small pleasures so much more worthwhile and of such greater value after having endured the trials in our lives.

Every day and in every moment I can choose to accept my path and to keep walking it; to trust that the Lord is leading me, and to beg Him to carry me in those moments when I feel too weak or too overcome with grief or helplessness to push on. And every day, if I open my eyes and look around, there are those small reminders that I do not have to walk this road alone. I may not have chosen this road, but I can see the ways in which it’s leading me closer to Him.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking back control

It has now been three months – 12 weeks precisely – since I walked away from the most toxic situation of my life. Three months since I walked away from a community I used to be part of, people I thought I had strong connections to, and in particular, someone who I once had so much respect and admiration for, who turned out to be a very different person to what I imagined them to be. Just last night that person tried contacting me again, and it was the first time that I didn’t experience a major bout of anxiety or panic upon seeing the message they had sent me. Slowly but surely I am taking back control of my life.

On more than one occasion I’ve been struck by that line from the old Jim Henson film, The Labyrinth. It’s funny, since I’ve only seen it once or twice, and that would have to be a decade ago now, but I keep remembering the words of the protagonist to the Goblin King at the end of the film: “You have no power over me.” With that realisation and assertion, she is able to break the spell and regain control. Likewise, I have been reminding myself that this person I was so messily entangled with only has power over me if I allow them to.

Things are still going to take time, and I’m sure I’ll continue to have my ups and downs as time goes on, but for now I’m feeling positive. I’m starting to feel a little more settled, and finding my feet again, and I’m a lot more hopeful about the future. There are still a lot of unanswered questions that I will have to deal with in time, like how much to tell people or who to open up to about things, but I guess I just need to try to take those things as they come.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Persevering through the fog

I wish I knew where to begin with explaining everything. I’m starting to feel more and more like it will be therapeutic in a way to continue with this blog in some way as a way of expressing and coming to terms with things. Not that many people at all read my blog, but at least it’s some kind of outlet. Maybe it’s because it feels so suffocating sometimes knowing how much has had to be left unsaid – how there are few people I can talk openly to about everything that’s happened, and even fewer who have any chance of understanding. And then I’m still coming to terms with everything myself. Things are getting easier and life is getting better, but I’m still having my moments of feeling completely overwhelmed or paralysed by memories or triggers of different kinds. I know it’s going to take time, but I wonder if I’m ever going to be able to completely move on from everything that’s happened. Everything seems like a struggle at times, especially spiritually. I need to remember what I heard in a homily last weekend, about how God causes our faith to sprout and grow once seeds are planted, even when we can’t see or feel anything and don’t understand what’s happening, how or why. I just need to pray as best I can and persevere through the fog, and trust that He is somehow working through all of this.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Another new beginning…

She is running a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction
She is trying, but the canyon’s ever widening
In the depths of her cold heart.
So she sets out on another misadventure just to find
She’s another two years older, and she’s three more steps behind…

After a long time away from this blog I return, two years older, and seemingly several steps behind where I was, and where I thought I would be. The last few years have been difficult ones, and I write this sitting on a mattress on the floor of my apartment, my belongings boxed up once again, not quite sure where I will be living in the not-too-distant future.

I have learnt some very difficult lessons, particularly over the past few months, and especially in the past few weeks. I have cried, and I have felt numb beyond tears. I have had my heart broken and my trust shattered. I’ve questioned my own sanity at times, because it’s surely more logical to assume that I must be going crazy, rather than that someone I trusted has been playing mind games with me, right?

I’ve learnt that, despite their flaws, or the difficult relationships we’ve had in the past, my family will always be there for me, and that my true friends aren’t necessarily the ones I spend the most time with, but the ones who’ll come through for me in a moment of crisis. I’ve learnt to see more of my own brokenness, and reached the point where all I can do is hope and trust in God’s mercy, because there is nothing I can do to fix things on my own.

I have just turned 25, but I feel about 40.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but still I’m not sure how things got to where they are. My parents, friends, and even my counsellor, tell me that I am a good and normal person who’s allowed myself to be manipulated by others, and taken advantage of. I even had a stranger warn me after Mass one day about some of the people I’ve been involved with. And yet still I wonder if all the things I’ve been told about myself are true – that I’m selfish, self-centred, prideful, spoilt, difficult, hypersensitive, manipulative, arrogant, unethical, unreasonable, self-pitying, and that I have too many issues because of my past. I have cried, I have fallen, I have picked myself up to start again, I have apologised and tried to make amends, and yet even then I have been told that I’m insincere, that my apologies are empty, that I’m not trying hard enough, or I’ve had yet more of my flaws pointed out to me. And then I’ve been told that it’s all for my own good, and out of love for me.

I have a lot of soul-searching to do over the coming weeks and months. I need to take a lot of things to prayer, and to counselling, and try to start rebuilding my life. I ask that you pray for me, and for anyone else at a crossroad in their life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Kerala Getaway

Hey everybody,

 

I have a lot to catch you up on, mostly due to my lack of internet access and a computer, so I’m going to rewind for now to two weeks ago when we had our 4-day weekend to Kochi, Kerala.

 

Part of the Globe program involves a 4-day long weekend in which we’re free to travel, do some sightseeing or just chill and catch up on sleep. A few Globers decided to head over to Goa, and one Glober went to visit family in Sri Lanka, but the majority decided to head off on a road-trip to the south-west-ish part of India.

 

Our adventures started on Thursday afternoon after our Plus class with the kids we’ve been working with. We all made our way to Hennur Cross and then commenced negotiating with rickshaw drivers to take us to the bus depot where we were to board for our nine-hour bus journey. My rickshaw ended up with four of us crammed in, which we’ve done plenty of times before (our record has been 8 people in a single rickshaw, including the driver) but after a one-and-a-half-hour journey it was getting pretty uncomfortable, especially since we also had our luggage for the next few days. After stopping for petrol and getting directions a few times we finally ended up at the “bus depot” – we were basically on the side of the road in the middle of an 8 or 10 lane freeway! Eventually the bus arrived and we claimed our seats at the back of the bus. It was so weird climbing aboard and realising that for once we weren’t the only Westerners in the vicinity. There was a Bollywood movie playing and we all watched that for a bit as one by one we drifted off to sleep.

 

The bus ride was going pretty well until we had a rather unpleasant sudden wakening. Tegan, one of my roomies from Kannur (though thankfully not in the same row as me on the bus) had neglected to tell anyone that she’d had a bit of an upset stomach all day, and a little after midnight she promptly emptied her stomach contents right into poor Lee-Anne’s lap! The stench was terrible and there was a mess everywhere, but thankfully one of the Globers, Elana, is a flight attendant, so she was able to deal with everything like a pro. A tip for the future – talcum powder covers up the smell of vomit amazingly!

 

Despite it being a nine hour bus ride and there being no toilet on the bus there were no scheduled toilet stops but Elana managed to convince the bus driver to pull over so Tegan and Elana could change out of their soiled clothing. We were stopped next to a parked truck and I was sitting there innocently looking out the window when people getting off the bus just stopped with their backs to it, dropped their strides and squatted! that was definitely a you’re-not-in-Kansas-anymore moment – I mean, there was a perfectly good truck right there they could have gone behind… I needed to use the bathroom, but not that desparately! (I later found out that there was a toilet block but that it was disgusting and smelled even worse than the vomit).

 

Eventually we all drifted back to sleep and awoke at 5am on arriving at our disembarking point in Kerala. The Kerala rickshaws were so spacious compared to what we were used to in Bangalore – you could fit four people plus luggage quite comfortably! More importantly we were very relieved to have access to a bathroom after it having been about 13 hours since we’d left our villages in Bangalore! After a slight delay with checking in due to a blackout and a problem with our booking we made our way to this great Western-style breakfast place called Kashis, which had been recommended by Lonely Planet.

 

The rest of the day was spent looking around, shopping, negotiating at the markets and making plans for the next day. Half the group decided to hire a houseboat and the other half decided to hire a driver and go on some tours. It was so hot in Kerala, although it was at the same time as the record highs in Sydney, so we couldn’t really complain too much. There were lots of stalls and shops but things were a lot more pricey than in Bangalore because Kochi is much more of a touristy area. Eventually we all met up for dinner before heading back to the hostel we were staying at and making our way to bed.

 

Myself and the rest of my group were up bright and early the next morning at 6, ready to be picked up by our driver at 6:30. I was super excited because we were off to do the one thing I really wanted to do in India – see elephants!

 

Our driver took us to a river near the elephant training camp where the trainers bring down the elephants and bathe them each morning. Surprisingly the experience doesn’t cost anything, unless you choose to tip the elephant trainers, and even then they don’t actually ask for money, they just take it if you offer it to them. Amazingly, not only did we get to see the elephants, we actually got to wade into the river and help wash them! One of the coolest. Moments. Ever. It was all so surreal, and I couldn’t wait to get back to Australia and tell all my friends from uni about it (My fellow biology majors will definitely appreciate any cool animal stories I bring back J ). I did have some mixed feelings as I wondered how well the animals are treated but they seemed pretty healthy. I had one of those India moments when I was taking photos of some of the other girls in the group as they had their turn with the elephant we got to wash and it started to stand up. It was pretty amazing to be standing there, face-to-face with that beautiful mammal, with nothing but a few meters separating us. Sure, it did occur to me that if it had decided to charge I was directly between it and anything else, but I wasn’t going to let that ruin the moment for me 😉

 

After leaving the elephants our driver took us to a nearby B&B where we got served a traditional Kerala breakfast for only 100 Rs each (about AU$2). The family were so lovely and the meal was delicious! We had masala tea and these rice pancake things dipped in a kind of curry (as a side note, I should mention that I’m a pro at eating with just my right hand now). We also had these little bananas that you roll in this sweet, crumbly coating.

 

The only awkward moment was after breakfast when I went to use the bathroom (don’t worry – this isn’t a gross story). I should start by explaining that toilet paper is a luxury item in India. It’s not uncommon for there to be no toilet paper, but toilets usually have a spray nozzle next to them for the same purpose. That wasn’t the issue here. The next snag was when I went to flush the toilet, and it didn’t want to flush. That’s also not uncommon. Usually there’s just a tap and a bucket of water and you flush the toilet manually by pouring water into it. This bathroom didn’t have a bucket though. Slight problem. Never fear, though – I’m an Army brat and a former Girl Guide – there’s more than a little ingenuity up my sleeve! Toilet won’t flush. No bucket. No problem, thought I – I’ll just flush the toilet by spraying water into it from the spray nozzle. That’s where the real problem started. My plan worked brilliantly for about the first 1.5 seconds. At that point the nozzle suddenly flew off the end of the hose and water started spraying everywhere! I quickly turned the water off at the tap and surveyed the damage. I was partially soaked and the bathroom floor was soaked, and there wasn’t even a hand towel that I could use to mop up some of the water that had gone everywhere. I stood there for a moment weighing up my options while one of the other ladies in the group knocked on the door and asked if I was going to be long because she needed the bathroom. Nope, I was out of ideas – I had no option but to very sheepishly walk out and explain my predicament to the rest of the group between bursts of laughter (I could definitely see the funny side of it!) On the bright side, I had managed to successfully flush the toilet, even if the bathroom was a little worse for wear as a result…

 

After breakfast we got back in the car and headed off to our next destination, a waterfall which is a big tourist attraction for the locals, although not so much so for foreigners. It was a lovely drive through rubber and banana plantations, although the road was a bit rough. At one point we were crossing a bridge and we drove past a film set. We asked our driver to stop so we could get out and have a look, and they stopped filming because everyone was so distracted by the fact that a random car-full of white women had just pulled up. They were filming a commercial, and the girl starring in it (who had been flown in from Mumbai) sat there waving at us, while the director and a few others came over to say hi and shake our hands. We only stayed for a few minutes and then headed off again because we realised we were being too much of a distraction but it was a cool experience.

 

In the car we were making jokes about how you know you’re popular when you turn up at a film set and they stop filming because even the director wants to meet you. Little did we know that our day was about to get even crazier!

 

I’ll leave it there for now since this is already quite a long post, but there’s more to come later!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment