I haven’t posted my blog yet this week even though I’ve written it. Why? Because I feel a tad bit shy. But having spent all evening on my phone smsing friends and women I respect about the women’s event I’m hosting this Sunday night (more details at end) I’ve decided that I must post it. So I’m not going to fob off into a light-hearted blog about Prince No. 2 saying he wants to be with me forever (which he is saying daily these days. Very flattering, very, very oediple! He even said he’s going to build me a house to live with him. No I’m not going to analyse it now.)

Tonight I realised how vulnerable a lot of us women feel. How kind of out of things, or just plain shy, alone, and well, careful not to be well-known, we are. This is something I can’t put into words exactly, because it’s other women. All I know is about my stuff – intimately. (Maybe too well.) And I know what it is to have my struggles, to know I’m not perfect, to feel out-of-place, like a stranger in a strange land, like I’m just not getting it right (for example as a school mum. I think the teachers must be sniggering behind my back every time I forget to sign the homework – even though it is done.) And maybe that’s why I like writing this blog and I love Elizabeth Lesser because there’s power in taking our masks away and being human. There’s power in women taking their lipstick off (or for those who don’t wear putting it on) and saying, ‘I’m a woman, human and as vulnerable and imperfect as the next person.’

So what I’m trying to do with this women’s event is take away the ‘safe’ and let go. Unite women’s energy to personally build for each woman a sense of doing something together in a group that creates a sense of safety and place in a group. It’s a personal journey and a group journey, as light or heavy as anyone wishes to make it. I’m actually not selling the event because a lot of women are coming already. (Thanks to you all for being so wonderfully open!!! The food at least will be good. 🙂 And thanks to you all who have been honest enough to say ‘lovely idea – but this really isn’t for me!’)

I’ve been to a couple of workshops in the last couple of weeks – two dance workshops and a dream one. I was WAY out of my comfort zone but somehow I got over my fear and I found a new side of myself. A side that was just human and connected to other humans. We all have our shields. Mine is bright gold and very, very thick. Shields are important but so is letting go and being vulnerable in a safe space. Elizabeth Lesser says that in her work at the Omega institute which hosts many spiritual enlightened teachers one of the best lessons she learnt was that they were all human with their own idiosyncrasies and imperfections, and that’s actually what made them such brilliant teachers.

You can’t learn anything from anyone who hasn’t been human, experienced pain and all those common itchy, uncomfy, fiddley moments of living.

So anyway that’s why I’m posting below even though I’m shy. Just for anyone who may gain hope and courage knowing that they’re not alone.

***

I’m sitting her at a lovely coffee shop in George called La Patisserie. The sun is shining on my back and the rooibos tea is lovely (don’t ask! I’m off dairy, and missing it mucho, mucho, mucho.) I’m not boasting that I’m on a weekend away with my hubbie, because in truth sometimes it’s harder to go away and face yourself than it is to stay home in the busy hub of things. There’s no better distraction in life than children. I’ve been by the sea walking, walking, walking, trying to walk off my ‘Open Secret’.

I never realised the danger of opening a book. I read, read and read and I’m loving the truths I read, as in Elizabeth Lesser’s book ‘Broken Open’, but and here’s the big BUT, you can’t read a book like that and go back to sleep. You cannot, not change. So I sit here with a lot of in fighting in my heart. A lot of old grief and pain resurfacing. All that I usually manage to hide behind a smile. (Which we all so amazingly hide behind our smiles.)

Elizabeth Lesser speaks about children being one of life’s biggest phoenix processes. ‘If you would like to be Broken Open – if you want to pursue a Phoenix Process of the highest order – I would recommend raising children. Parenthood is  a clumsy yet majestic dance in the flames. When you parent you fall in love with a person who is always changing into someone else, and who you know will leave you. Yet most parents will say that they have never given themselves to anyone as fully as they have to their children.’

A phoenix process for those who don’t know (I never knew before I read the book) is where you metaphorically die through a painful situation (or really a part of you dies) and you become reborn, changed, transformed a different version. Just like a phoenix burns and arises from the ashes more beautiful and vibrant than ever before. Sounds beautiful in theory but how many of you have died? I’m sure quite a lot actually, but when you died in your difficult process did you stop and feel the pain.

We live in a society that anesthetises against pain. Every problem has a pill. Why feel pain when there’s no reason to? A guy who works at Discovery Health told my husband that he doesn’t know a woman over the age of 35 who isn’t on antidepressants. I do need to verify this fact as fact but it’s still a scary thought.  And behind the fear I feel when I hear this is a lot of sadness.

I don’t want to be 35 and on antidepressants. Not that I have anything against them, especially when it comes to postnatal depression, which is a real and very scary illness. (A massive phoenix process! That I’m actually a bit in awe of.) Pills definitely has its place. But if we’re all on them??? Well it doesn’t feel right.

When you spend a lot of your life not feeling pain and running away from uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. It hits you hard. I feel such guilt when I feel negative. Hello, aren’t I meant to be joyous and happy? So you can imagine the guilt of going away (finally) for a lovely weekend away with my hubbie and feeling totally in the grips of almost 30 years of sadness. (I love the fact I’m turning 30, besides all the angst and life searching that goes with it. I love the roundness of the number. So you’ll be hearing that number a lot.)

But I’m not going to feel guilty. I’ve actually allowed myself to shed loads of tears. Buckets into the sea. I love the fact that the sea is big and can hold all our tears. It’s never too much for the sea. It’s a comforting fact, especially when it’s too much for everyone else around us especially husbands.

We die alone, we hold our pain alone.

So profound what can I say. I’m laughing a bit at myself, because there’s something very therapeutic in writing this down. It’s cleansing not having to hold a secret so close to my heart. The secret once open isn’t so shameful anymore. It’s not as bad.

What is my secret? That I struggle with motherhood, struggle to find myself within it all. Struggle with society’s perceptions of the feminine and mother and my own perceptions. And this is where my rebirth takes place. If I can mourn that lost youth and grieve all the messages I took to heart which were actually not true (like women should have as many kids as they can, it’s their life’s work. Giving to others as a wife and mother is the true value of a woman etc. etc.) What can I say my children and my twenties have definitely been my Phoenix process.

And as the weekend is now over and I’m back in Joburg sitting at Vida sipping a ghastly soy cafe latte, I’m understanding the grips of dealing with the Phoenix process called children. This is probably one of the reasons I write this blog. I lost myself in my three boys. Coupled with marrying at 20, immigrating at 20 and giving up all that I knew and all who knew me, it’s not surprising I lost myself.

So what I’m looking for is a rebirth of myself, as mother, as woman, as a 30-year-old. (Sorry you’re never going to hear the end of being 30 until I’m 31 – and then I’ll complain that I feel 31 is  a number that feels like it’s walking on a crutch.)

I don’t think it’s going to happen in one weekend. If only it could, I think it’s going to be a process. A day by day process. Meanwhile I’m rather amused at myself for sharing this and wonder if any other women feel this way? How many of us are lost? Elizabeth Lesser shares how she was lost in her own personal story, and I love her all the more for sharing her human and female struggles. It somehow gives me strength.

I know I was meant to be light in this post. I wanted to be…but as Lesser says, you need to go through the pain in order to feel joy again. So here’s to diving into feelings, as unpleasant as they can be and coming out the other side into a soft, warm, dry towel of love, joy and aliveness.

And yes we had a lovely weekend away. Thank you. It was not wasted, and it’s highly, highly recommended. There’s nothing like time alone.

But here is something light. One thing I do know is that women together in a group is a powerful healing thing, especially when we let ourselves go and have some fun. I’ve begun with friends of  mine a group called WE Connect – Women Everywhere Connect. Our next event is this Sunday the 3rd of April. The theme is Let Your Spirit Free. I’m very into touchy, feely sharing, but this is not a touchy, feely event. This is a Mediterranean feast with wine, chocolate and baklava (and healthy eats) with a special letting yourself go program which involves no sharing on your part at all. So all women who want to let go of something, anything, to move forward You can RSVP and get more info to sarah@sarahsassoon.com, or visit our Facebook page at WE CONNECT (you can probably get it off my profile.)

[Another note. I know that this is a painful time in the world. With all the bombings and horrific terrorist attacks in Israel, with the devastating Tsunami in Japan. I think that in the spirit of joy and light maybe we can bring inner healing to ourselves and outer healing to our families, and to the world at large. Everything we think and believe definitely has an effect.]

Okay and that’s it next blog has to be lighter. I feel so anxious and heavy I definitely need to let go. I’ll discuss how awful I am to my liftscheme kids next blog. And at least as promised I’ve attached my most loved, trusted, chocolate cake recipe which is wheat free, dairy free and thus Pesach worthy. This is a real Sydney import as lots of Hungarian Jews live there.

Hungarian Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

250 grams Ground Walnuts of Almonds

8 Eggs

3/4 Cup Sugar

Vanilla (a dash)

programs  Dark Cooking Chocolate (or better quality if you like. I like dark the best. I also usually put a bit more chocolate because chocoholic that I am I worry it’s not enough.)

4 Tablespoons Chocolate or Coffee Liquer (you can leave this out if you wish)

Method

1. Separate Eggs – Beat White of Eggs with Sugar until stiff (but don’t over beat)

2. Add Vanilla and Egg Yolks. Beat on low until buttery yellow and thick.

3. Melt Chocolate

4. Add melted Chocolate and Ground Nuts by hand to mixture.

5. Put in greased round spring form tin. (I stick baking paper at the bottom so it comes out easily.)

6. Bake 45 Minutes at 170C

7. When cake done pour Liquer on top.