Tag Archives: emotions

A Message for Me

Written by Neshni Naidoo

The perfect wife, doting mother, supportive friend, gracious hostess, always smiling – that is how most people described Jodie. Very few knew that her beautiful smile hid a painful secret. She was dying. Not of a physical illness, but a dis-ease of the mind that was slowly robbing her of joy and purpose.

The shrill tone of the alarm pierced through her dream. Jodie reached over and hit ‘Snooze’. “Five more minutes,” she thought to herself. The alarm jarred her sleep again. “Why don’t you turn that damn thing off if you are not going to wake up when it rings!!” barked her husband, Reese. Cursing silently, she rolled out of bed and into the bathroom. Looking into the mirror, she wondered, “Where have the last 20 years gone? Where was the zeal, energy and passion I had at university?” She splashed cold water onto her face as if to wash away the unwelcome thoughts. As she dressed, each piece of clothing, each layer of make-up served as her armour, preparing her for the day’s battles. The finishing touch was the lipsticked smile. Jodie looked at her reflection, pleased by what she saw, and said to no-one in particular, “Let this be a good day.”

Her two children, 10-year old Sarah and 13-year old Joshua were extra slow that morning, having only got to bed at 10 after completing their schoolwork. It still added to her frustration though and she scolded, “If we don’t leave in the next five minutes, you are going to be late for school. Then you can explain to Mr Steyn why you are late!” They sped up whatever they were doing silently, knowing that it was best not to argue with mom when she was in “one of her moods.” By the time, they arrived at school, Jodie had calmed down a little and feeling guilty, she gave them each a quick hug, saying, “I’m sorry. You know I love you, right?”

The conversation at the school gate revolved around the same issues – too much homework, lack of motivation, too much screen time, and their hectic lives and what to cook for supper. Even though it was reassuring to know that other moms shared the same problems, Jodie’s insecurity still raised its ugly head. “What am I doing wrong? Why are my kids just average and not excelling at anything? Have I done enough to encourage their talents or is it too little? Leaving work to be at home with them hasn’t seemed to make any difference.” Once again, there was no stopping that nagging voice once it started.

En-route to her car, Jodie suddenly stumbled, feeling faint, then felt herself falling as everything went black. When she came to, her friend Laura was at her side, a concerned expression on her face. “Hey, you scared us when you toppled over like that. How are you feeling?”

“Weak…… a little confused…….. Don’t know what happened, “she said, the metallic taste of blood on her tongue.“

“Don’t try and get up, “said Laura, “We’ve called for an ambulance and Reese is on his way.”

The paramedics checked her vitals when they arrived. Her blood pressure was 80/60 which is why she had fainted. She had a split lip from knocking it against the gate as she fell. However, she would have to be taken to the hospital for observation and x-rays to determine if there were any other injuries. Reese arrived just as they were placing her in the ambulance.

“The kids……” she muttered.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything,” Reese assured her.

Thankfully, there were no other injuries but Jodie would have to remain in the hospital for a few days for an MRI and other tests. Initially, she was concerned about the children and how they were coping without her, but relaxed when she saw that her mum and Reese had everything under control. Not used to doing nothing, she used the time between tests, the prodding and pricking, to catch up on her reading, complete a knitting project and plan for the following week.

One morning, she picked up her diary and pen with the intention of compiling her “To-Do” list. She went no further than the date. Her hand began moving across the page as if it was being controlled by another force. A picture began to take shape. Minutes passed, as she drew, unaware of her surroundings. When she finally put down her pen, she felt spent, as if she had finished an intense workout.

Putting her pen aside, she focussed on the drawing. It was a little girl, curled up on the floor, crying. She was alone, surrounded by a protective shield. Around the shield were arrows being hurled at her and bouncing off the shield.

“THIS IS ME,” she thought. As the tears welled up, Jodie went to hide in the bathroom, trying to stifle and mute the sobs that racked through her body. Returning to her bed, she began to write. Every sentence helped her understand. With each sentence, she could feel a part of her protective shield breaking away.

After all the tests, the diagnosis was that she was stressed. The doctor gave her recommendations and suggested a psychologist help her manage her stress levels. Jodie smiled inwardly because she’d understood the message delivered with this incident and received the guidance she needed to start the healing process.


Poem by Neshni Naidoo

You walk alone
But you are not alone
He is everywhere
Ready to wipe away each tear

You stand alone
But you are not alone
He is right beside you
Ready to comfort and console

You feel alone
But you are not alone
He is in your soul
Illuminating your life path

The Gift of Fear by Karin Kelly Lawrenz

The gift of Fear image 1Our culture vilifies fear. But like any emotion, fear is neither bad nor good. Each emotion has an evolutionary purpose. They all have vital messages for us if we dare to listen. What matters, what makes the difference is what we do with each emotion, how we react to it.

Fear, after all, has allowed humans and the rest of our mammalian family to survive eons, to survive unspeakable dangers. At its core, fear protects life. It fights for life. Many think it is a life-stopping emotion, but think of the many times fear has kept you or those you love safe. Think of the times it has warned you. Sent you brilliant intuitions. Kicked in your instincts, your highest most ingenious response. Protected that which needed protecting. Fear keeps us alive. It is vital. But when in shadow, when unconscious or when wounded, fear can harm in a misguided attempt to protect.

But fear itself is not, as so many teach, the opposite of love. In fact, we can use our fear to love better, love more, love deeper. We can use fear to care for ourselves and others, in ways that benefit all, beyond our immediate circle, beyond our town, our nation, our species.

We can use fear to innovate, to collaborate, to intuit the future and create solutions, to unify instead of polarize, to pay attention to and prioritize who and what needs our care, to prepare for change, to get to the bottom of issues instead of pointing fingers in blame. Yes, fear even has the ability to lessen our hate and our blame *if* we use fear wisely, if we use it consciously.

The Gift of Fear image 2But few emotions we find more uncomfortable than fear. Few emotions we blame so many of our personal and societal woes on. Yet, as long as we condemn fear, keep it at arms length, react to it with minimal awareness or demand to replace it with easier emotions, it will incapacitate us. Instead of having fear, it will have us. As long as it is misunderstood and disparaged it will remain unconscious. And the more unconscious it is, the more invisible power it will have over us.

Fear itself is not the problem. It is our fear of fear. Our hatred of fear. Our desire to get as far away from fear that becomes a problem. It is our inability to sit with anxiety that leads to the inability to sit with others different than ourselves. It is our hatred of fear that leads to unjustified hatred of others, to othering, to violence, to greed. It is our inability to be intimate with what we are afraid of that squanders away our lives, that keeps us from living, that attempts to keep us and those around us small. Not fear itself.

Now more than ever our personal and collective fear is demanding our attention, our care, our healing, our consciousness. Now more than ever fear is asking for its redemption. If instead we were to listen to fear’s calls, loud as they are now, urgent as they are now…If instead we were to move with compassion into our bodies and our minds and our hearts where our anxiety dwells and get intimate with what is there, we could use fear to heal and protect not just our own life, but all of life.

So during this time of fear, when it grips you in the night or follows you quietly through the day, instead of compulsively reacting to it, why not move gently towards it. What does it feel like, look like, sound like? How old does it feel? Is it you at 5 years old, or 10 or 30? What is it asking of you? What is the deeper fear? What of it is founded? What of it is not? Is part of it coming from an old script, an old wound? What does this part of you truly need? To know you won’t abandon yourself, even if things got hard? To hold tenderly the uncertainty of all things? To find your true center? To find something more secure and real to stand upon? Who in you can sit with this fear, can tolerate it? Who in you cannot?

woman in green and white stripe shirt covering her face with white mask

Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels.com

It is, however, absolutely understandable that we are so afraid of this particular emotion. Because as many who venture into their fears discover, underneath all the anxiety is often a fear of the unknown, and beneath the fear of the unknown, is a fear of death. Being with fear then is an act of the utmost bravery. It means facing some of the most difficult and uncomfortable aspects of being human. Being with fear means being with that delicate and difficult dance between the fight for life and the honouring of death…Our desire to live and an acceptance that we do not live forever, and the great mystery that follows there. But it is in this tension, in the discomfort of our fears that the potential of life can finally fully expand and extend its reach. With no restrictions placed upon it, life can finally breathe and flower and grow. Life can finally live.

While it is true that sometimes our unconscious reaction to fear cuts off life, it is also true then, that a more conscious reaction can do just the opposite. It can bring more life, to not just ourselves but the world as well.