Banishing The Dark Cloud

papatowai_sunrise

If this was a personal conversation I’d take a deep breath and warn you that I’m about to relate something that’s initially distressing. Its the story of my journey from a dark place to a place of light and colour, of new understandings, of hope and transformation.

By sharing some of my story I hope to encourage anyone who’s struggling. You’re not alone and please don’t give up hope.


When you’ve struggled with some quite momentous things in life you can’t adequately describe them in a simple post. There are psychological aspects that you can’t get to grips with, confusing contradictions in behaviour of yourself and others, you start off in black-and-white and move into many shades of grey. You try to form some kind of understanding but its like jelly slipping through your fingers.


Tragedy

The family tragedy happened a few years before I was born. My parents had gone out and left their four children at home. There were two teenage boys and two little sisters about 4 and 7 years old. As a result of what happened that evening by the time I was born there were no sisters and my eldest brother was in a mental institution. My dad on his return had been fortunate to survive uninjured.


Life Goes On

My mum believed she’d have another daughter and I came along when she was 42. Mum was a warm, loving, kind lady and I guess she was the reason that our family stayed together. My eldest brother re-entered society when I was still little and my parents and I attended his wedding when I was 6 or 7. Both of my brothers married and had children. They were good to me and I stayed with them sometimes in the school holidays.


Complexities

My parents were christian and my dad was very active in church life. He had very strict expectations and a complex personality. Outwardly confident, hugely practical and an engaging public speaker, he was also surprisingly sensitive and easily hurt. He was the head of the house and a “I’m your father and you’ll do as I say” type. On the other hand he loved his family and helped all of us in various ways and was generous. The tension between his kind, loving side and the strict disciplinarian side was psychologically difficult to handle and he infuriated and frustrated me many times. When I visited my brothers I found they had similar issues, things relating to the past and ongoing disappointments as well. At home I occasionally saw that Dad had his own hurts. The family usually had Christmas together and shared other visits so family ties stayed intact.


Conflicting Emotions

One thing my parents got right was that they never hid from me what had happened. I’m thankful for this. I knew about it from the time I was a little kid. For the most part I could relegate it to the past and not think about it too much. I felt under enormous pressure to be well-behaved and not upset my parents, and in my teenage years found it difficult to control my anger at my father’s unnecessary level of strictness. I understood that he loved me though, and I loved my dad.


A Bolt From The Blue

Things can happen out of the blue and knock you for six. A few years ago after the deaths of my parents my eldest brother wrote a book about what happened. An old friend who’d read the book contacted me asking me about my father as she’d thought he was a nice man. I assured her that although strict he was a loving father. She recommended that I read the book but I haven’t. I didn’t feel strong enough to cope with that.


Confusion

For a few years after that I couldn’t escape the dark cloud. I didn’t know how to get rid of it. The past seemed to have caught up with me and I couldn’t deal with it. I couldn’t figure out what I really thought about dad. I couldn’t figure out what I thought about christianity. Nothing would seem to resolve itself. A naturally quiet and reserved person, I withdrew into myself even more.


Understanding And Forgiveness

The change happened after I started blogging just over a year ago. Damien’s message that I shared in yesterday’s post gave me hope. I met Bishop Jake Owensby who I eventually confided in after reading a lot of the lessons on his blog. Soon after that I had a couple of personal experiences that changed the way I saw things. In one experience I saw for the first time, that for years I’d been carrying the pain of myself and my brothers as well as that of my father (whom I loved despite some resentments). Soon after, I had another experience where I understood that my father genuinely loved God, following Him as best he could, and that he’s forgiven even as I’m forgiven for my failings. As these things became clear to me I was able to discuss them with Bishop Jake and the dark cloud was rapidly disappearing.


Finding My Voice

At his blog Bishop Jake Owensby has posted at times about the importance of stories. I was interested but didn’t apply it to myself until just the other day when I suddenly realised that all my life I’ve been a nobody in the sense that I didn’t feel free to share my story. Now that my parents have passed away and my brother’s written a book it made me think – well, what’s to stop me telling my story? My talk about Colour was coming up so I decided to publicly share just a little about my background. That was a very big step for me but it dealt a final blow to the dark cloud (which in the face of such defiance seems to have vanished).

For me Understanding, Love and Forgiveness were key to Banishing the Dark Cloud


Links

Looking for God in Messy Places  |  Bishop Jake Owensby’s blog


Text by Liz; Photo: Sunrise at Papatowai taken by Nigel; Exploring Colour (2018)

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48 thoughts on “Banishing The Dark Cloud

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  1. What a journey you’ve been on, Liz! I’m grateful that I’ve gotten the chance to walk it a bit with you and that you’ve walked a bit of mine with me. I just saw a quote that said something like this: I’m most moved by people that I see emerging from the fires of hell with a bucket of water for those who are in flames. That could have been said about you. Telling your story is an act of grace, since it invites others to do the same and to experience the healing that brings. Well done, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bishop Jake, I was amazed by your powerful quote and then even more amazed that you would apply it to me. But then you’re always surprising me! I still wish to walk with you and keep on learning. You understand so much more about grace than me but I want to keep learning. In a much better place now than a year ago! Thanks for reaching out, you’ve made my day! God Bless!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘Liking’ this post feels an inadequate response as it clearly took a lot of writing. The positive responses you’ve received from so many blogging friend show that your story speaks directly to many people. You’ll never know who you have helped with the ripples that will spread out from your brave sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel so happy for you Liz letting the light and the colour back into your life. This is an important step in moving forward and like, you said, not carrying all that weight with you. I remember my first trip to Berlin about 10 years ago when they just opened the Holocaust museum along with a few other commemorations. I felt the whole city had a held breath, even the younger generation. There wasn’t even a speck of dirt on the sidewalks. I felt so uncomfortable as if a whole new generation were still feeling accountable for the trails of the past. Stop, release, breathe, let go.
    That was what kept running through my mind. We are not always accountable for the things done by others or the things that they do to us. And yet we hold onto so much of the guilt as if we were to blame just by relationship, by proximity, by nationality. We must build new houses, brighter houses over the shadows that had their time, their chance, their glory and their guilt. It is up to us to leave colour or darkness behind but we are not bound to the fates of others.
    Congratulations to you for sharing and that’s a beautiful photo by Nigel. Enjoy your sunrises and sun sets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Dami, thanks for sharing and for congrats. It was the right thing to do and you had already beaten that particular path for me. I had felt really conflicted about how I felt about my dad but the last year has resolved that. You’d relate to that conflict. I’ve truly appreciated that while he had his own issues, he did love me and I received much from him e.g. a love of nature – he was very knowledgeable about native flora and fauna. Writing sure does help to resolve a lot of stuff and tidy it away! Not sure yet if you’ve seen the post Giving And Receiving. There’s a very nice comment that refers to the “extraordinary wisdom” of your Rainbow quote that I found so inspiring. By the way Lignum Draco has been posting about Paris in multiple posts at https://lignumdraco.wordpress.com/ He always does fab work! Happiness and hugs, Liz

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a brave thing you have done here Liz. It makes me think of something my grandaughter told me; Be careful with the 20, you don’t know the 80. I was blown away that such wisdom came from a 14 year old. Basically it means we see 20% of a person and we have no idea about the 80% we don’t see so be kind to each other. Be kind to yourself too, dear lady.
    I hope your journey is filled with colour.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Wendy, thank you very much! This is fantastic, an absolute gem. May I share this pearl of wisdom on my blog? I could attribute to “Wendy” or to “Wendy’s grand-daughter (14 yrs)” and give a link to your blog. Talking about it with Nigel, he said “iceberg principle” and yes, I could team it with an iceberg photo as you only see a fraction of the iceberg above the water! If this is ok, pls confirm how you’d like me to attribute. Wonderful! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You have given yourself permission to tell your story. Through the process of confronting and telling, your soul is unburdened and the dark cloud dissolved. The cause of the cloud is unchanged, the difference is in how you are reacting to it. Life is a journey, we must learn, grow and change along the way. This is not always easy, but always possible. Bless you as your journey continues. Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I too am writing a book about the pain in the past. During this period of unraveling my stories to write them down, I find it difficult to expose myself to anything emotional. I guess you noticed how I shut down. We are all related aren’t we? I am happy that you are finding your way out, your brother also. Peace friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for coming back. I did notice, but what impressed me was that you still communicated and reached out. I can imagine you must feel very fragile while working through the process of writing. Thanks for the peace; I feel more at peace now than ever before. And for you, Strength friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m glad you have been able to share your story Liz, and I hope that all the positive thoughts people are sending you (mine too) are helping with your healing. You have been so very brave to face up to life with such a tragedy in your past and then to reveal it. I’m sure your honesty is helping others too.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Opening up about our hopes and fears, all the hurt and bumps that came our way and formed us into what we are, can be so daunting and leave us feeling even more exposed and vulnerable. You’re obviously well on the way to healing and I wish you only blessings on the rest of the journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for allowing us a glimpse into your beautiful soul, Liz. I am glad you are learning to accept yourself and your family, and what has happened to all of you. While many events are completely out of our control, we can learn to control our reaction to them, and try to heal the scars of our past.
    Healing wishes,
    Tanja

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tanja thanks for your great comment! Yes, acceptance is a really good word and it makes a big difference! Thanks for your understanding, acceptance is a big part of the process and I hadn’t touched on that. Best wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. May I add my admiration for your courage, and for your ability to forgive. I’ve found that forgiving those involved in hurtful past experiences releases me from a prison of my own making. I have been forgiven for so much, I can’t withhold it from others and keep a clear conscience. Blessings.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Forgiveness is key to finding release and its clear that you also understand this from your own experience. While I’ve understood the concept of forgiveness for a long time, its been another matter entirely to know how to embrace it into my own life. I’m learning! Thanks for sharing, Candice.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I commend your courage and understanding of others, and how you have exorcised the darkness that has been with you all this time, Liz. I know what you mean by a ‘black cloud’, for that is how I used to visualise it. Yet you have banished it with your inner Light, Liz, and with the help and wisdom of others here you are now elevated beyond the ghosts of the past, living for the Now, and looking towards the future.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Love and forgiveness are very powerful but its difficult to live them, especially when one feels justified in one’s resentments. I eventually realised that I had to let go. I found that when I let my heart be transformed by Love, then that makes a powerful and lasting change. Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding recently was a real blessing too. Thanks Pete!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Telling a story you’ve kept to yourself like a big black cloud can often help release its grip. I hope that is how it will be for you and that you’ll look back and feel the decision to share this story was not just brave but very wise too. I’m glad your mum and you had each other – she sounds like a wonderful lady.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My mum was so warm-hearted. She loved children and related to them easily and she also related really naturally with children who had obvious mental challenges or communication difficulties that would’ve made other people feel awkward. I think she was really gifted. She’d lost her dearly loved father when she was only 4 and her mother when she was 7 so her life had been really challenging from the get-go. Despite all challenges she remained a loving, kind, understanding and even joyous person.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This is such a brave post. I lost a brother when I was 9, and I always hesitate when people ask me how many brothers and sisters I have. I lie and say one sister because it is easier. It is a horrible intrusive thing when your family is struck by tragedy. I had a horrible experience recently when someone unknowingly referred to the school my brother had attended as being haunted by his ghost. They had no idea I was related. I felt really violated, but to say so would have been devastating to this person. I relate to your being a good girl because of the trauma already inflicted on your parents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your own experience Ali. I really feel for you. Things like that can just happen out of the blue. I had someone ask me about my family a few years back and I told her about my brothers. She then commented, because of the age gap, that I must have been a mistake and I assured her that I had been a very wanted child. She then insisted that I was naive! We were both going to a work do so I put on a brave face and let it go. Some people have no idea how wounding their words might be although she should have known better as she was a nurse! Unless you’ve had experiences like ours I doubt that people realise how suddenly a jolt like that can happen and send you into a total spin. And you just cope the best you can. Thank you for sharing this Ali, it assures me I’m not alone when I struggle with such issues from time to time and that knowledge will make me stronger.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It does shape you as a person, for good and bad, but I do think that I have more compassion and empathy for this experience. I remember consciously separating people into those who had experienced loss and those who hadn’t, and I only told those people who had!
        As we get older I suppose there are more and more people who fall into the latter category, and so our experiences are valuable in helped them, and at the same time we no longer need to hide our losses.
        It does take a brave person to write a post like this, and I hope you feel supported and loved by all your readers. x

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Hey Liz 🙂 What a story … and how brave it is to tell it. But that’s the way to deal with it. Don’t burry it inside yourself. Let it out and let it go and turn into another energy that heals. I hope you understand my english ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Oh Liz – your story touches my heart. The burden you have been carrying…. It must be so overwhelming at times. We all have “stuff” sweet lady. You were sure burdened with a heavy load. But you have chosen beauty and color and goodness. Let it out sweet one. People will understand. Some will relate. You will help others. Do what you need to do. And keep growing and seeking to be the best you you can be. You are beautiful! Hugs from Mars!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Thanks for sharing your personal story,Liz. It took a lot of courage to do so. One of the things about social media, including blogging, is that it allows us to selectively present ourselves to the world, a sanitized, curated version of our whole self. I think we all have our own personal demons with which we struggle (I know that I do) and a whole lot of feelings that we are reluctant to share for a whole host of reasons. Some of our battles we have to fight alone, but I hope that you recognize that there is a community of folks to support and encourage you, a community that you have helped to create through your blog. Best wishes and prayers as you continue on your journey. I would like to think that your dark cloud has been banished forever, but recognize that it may reappear from time to time.

    Liked by 5 people

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