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How my father's death became the catalyst for my personal awakening and transformation

When I was 18, I laboured day and night to save up for my gap year travels. I worked at the Royal Bank of Scotland as an admin assistant, spending my hours placing folders on shelves (at least that's my main memory of it!) I also grafted three to four nights a week in a high stress environment; a Michelin starred restaurant called Simpsons, as a runner.


I used to come home from work and my mum would help me bathe and massage my feet to help me with the pain. I’ve always known how to sacrifice body in order to achieve what I thought I wanted. A pattern I’ve had to really delve into to understand and release for myself.


I was saving for a five and a half month trip. The first month I went to Sri Lanka and volunteered at an orphanage school. It was probably one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I wanted to improve using my SLR camera and I went with the intention to capture my experience with photos that told the story and emitted emotion. I adored being with the children. They were so touchy feely over there and they loved me. It was so, so cute, especially as I didn’t love myself. I was extremely troubled at the time. I had recently cut all my blonde locks off into a boy-cut and dyed my hair back to my natural golden brown. I had heard stories of young white girls travelling in third world countries and I wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible, short brown hair would be a lot less outstanding than long blonde hair.


I had found out some of the girls from my previous secondary school, (that I wasn’t really friends with anyway) were talking behind my back. They ridiculed me because of what I had done with my hair and said that I had “done a Britney”. I was aching on the inside. It was strange because there were moments I was so happy with these kids, but in my alone time my thoughts were so abusive I felt empty and lost and I didn’t know how to truly help myself.


I continued to travel the world, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Sydney for a week to break up my trip to South America where we went to Argentina, Chile, Peru and Brazil. I continued to find beautiful and tragic experiences with my broken self and couldn’t shake the darkness.


I arrived back home in the August of 2010. I was starting university in September at Nottingham to study philosophy. It wasn’t my number one choice of university, simply because I was desperate to be with my then boyfriend in London, but my spirit had other plans. I broke up with him during the last week of our travels in an attempt to stand on my own two feet and save myself from further turmoil, I deserved so much more than an abusive relationship. I was recovering from the break up and trying to gee myself up for this experience I didn’t want to have at university.


Within a week of being home, my parents sat me down in the conservatory. They told me that while I was away dad had been having issues and taking tests. He had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and it was terminal. He had been given six months to live by the doctors.


My world began to shatter. I had just lost my long term boyfriend and now I was losing my dad. While not healthy relationships, I was broken because, well, I was already broken and these were my pillars, the two main “masculine” figures I’d had in my life. I literally did not know how to stand on my own. I remember going to university and hardly leaving my room, it became impossible for me to eat and I was wasting away. I cried in the dark and sat with the notion of being at a university I didn’t want to be at; of my dad dying and my (ex) boyfriend now dating other women in London who I desperately wanted back. I felt utterly depressed, helpless and very alone.


I began to make friends, despite this. I turned into the type that lived for partying and escaping with drugs. MDMA, ketamine, weed, alcohol, mystery pills, coke. The Nottingham scene was pretty good for that. I was reckless. Despite this being unhealthy, it was the reprieve I needed at the time. Despite how damaging this was to myself, it was the process that I needed to go through. Unfortunately, I got myself into more toxic relationships though, which in the end, hurt me and others even more. I was in self-destruct mode, with an air of grace.


Things pivoted somewhat when my dad passed away. I spent time at home to grieve. Things were really, really loud. Then, when the dust settled, they went super quiet.


Stillness.


Even though I was so used to the victim state, something had lifted. A month before my dad passed I had had a near death experience in a car accident on the motorway. It was a set up from my spirit to wake me up, it was one of three wake up calls in succession within months. The second was my dad dying, the third was actually having my own experience of embodied bliss whilst reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and meditating on his words. This book was actually set reading for my philosophy course where we were studying Buddhist philosophy and thank God for this.


I was so shocked and in awe. I remember coming out of this feeling of connectedness and not long after feeling extremely pissed off and wondering why no one had told me about this and why this feeling of peace had evaded me my whole life. Needless to say, my journey of 13 years from that point has been about how to hone this experience of bliss inside myself and heal myself from everything.


I wrote a piece on my dad a week or so ago, I had more layers of grief arising to heal though and the writing helped me feel. He died on 23rd March 2011. I’d like to have a look back and post something on this anniversary, so stay tuned!


So much love,


Stephi


Photos from Sri Lanka, Ja Ela January 2019




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