Pain

Reflecting on a Hated 2017

As we come to the end of 2017, it’s that time again when I reflect on the year.  When I say that I cannot wait for 2017 to be over, it is no word of a lie – I am not exaggerating at all.  Although good things have happened, I have hated this year.

I started off 2017 with a plan, but as I have come to realise, plans rarely ever stay on course.  In fact, this year has made me delusional of planning.  After my job came to an end in December, I was going to spend time focusing on Young People Insight (YPI) until April – when I would have attended TCFT in Sarteano – then come home and find a job.  However, I decided to embark on a crowdfunding campaign for YPI that would launch in April, so I decided to hold off looking for a job until that ended, which actually wasn’t one of my problems.

Being trained for, planning and running my crowdfunding campaign actually allowed me to think more concisely about YPI and develop certain skills I could use going forward.  What was a problem was my campaign launching on the day I returned from TCFT, leaving me slightly unprepared, and having to jump into something full on after being drained from the two-week residency.

My crowdfunding campaign was like a full-time job in itself over 35 days, mixed with meetings and other happenings in my life, and on the final day I found myself on the Victoria Derbyshire show, which required me to wake up at a crazy hour in the morning and seriously drained me.

Days after my campaign ended, my mind, body and emotions were just beginning to recover from a crazy couple of months, when I was hit by the sudden death of my uncle.  Death seems to have been following me since last year, when I lost my grandad and aunty, which my heart was still recovering from.  It didn’t seem fair to me, but I would have to keep on fighting, so I did.

I went to regular meetings and events, while starting to plan two relatively large-scale events for August, which was stupid of me; all while dealing with the usual hurt from friends and guys, but I don’t want to spend time on that.  Numbers of my YPI events were falling and I did not even want to be attending them myself, due to feelings of frustration, exhaustion and despair.

Eventually, I cancelled one of my events in August and continued the planning of the other one (TCFT Croydon), which turned out to be a mountain that I fought tooth and nail to climb.  While planning, I completed the Prince’s Trust Enterprise course, where I gained a lot, but it was still a decent amount to take on.

Taking on so much, without taking the time to reflect, and being hit by so many emotional bullets had completely burnt me out.  I was depressed and disillusioned, fed up and fatigued.  I wanted to sleep the days away, with one day when I could not face getting out of bed at all.  Tears regularly flowed and nothing I did brought me joy anymore I wanted to die rather than feel pain.  There were numerous occasions when I thought about stepping in front of a moving car and taking a knife to my wrists – I questioned why it was my uncle, grandad or aunty in the grave and not me.

Then there was my 25th birthday, the one I had been dreading for the longest time.  A birthday that reminded me I wasn’t married or any closer to being married, and I had gone off my life’s course.  The was lovely and barely celebrated like I wanted, but I have not come to love this age and I don’t think I ever will.  The feeling of getting older is not one I like at all.

This week also brought another personal issue, giving December a sour note, which shouldn’t come as a surprise.  However, I did say that there were good things about this year.  Some were mentioned above, including TCFT Croydon, which I was so proud to facilitate.  The day went better than I thought, although the stress leading up to it meant I couldn’t enjoy it, as I just wanted it to be over.

Image by Robert Golden

I have a beautiful godson, and I was able to spend time with my beautiful TCFT family in Sarteano and some beautiful people who come to the soup kitchen at the church I attend, who I also spent time with in Queens Garden.  I reached the target of my crowdfunding campaign, and also wrote a number of articles for the brilliant Black Youth Achievement Awards‘ Stories of Success magazine.

I put on poetry related workshops with young people, which led to regular work with young people in Merton libraries.  I wrote the words for the Anthem of Peace on behalf of the London Mozart Players, which was performed in Buckingham Palace, and I am an ambassador for Croydon’s London Borough of Culture bid, which I created a poem for.

I completed a Political Poetry course at the Roundhouse, learning from the amazing Anthony Anaxagorou, Dan Tsu and Deanna Rodger, alongside some talented poets I intend to stay in contact with.

There were a number of other things that I was proud to be part of, including being asked to speak at Another Night of Sisterhood twice and be on the Thornton Heath Arts Week Question Time panel, but my most special achievement was being named Young Achiever of the Year at the Mayor of Croydon’s Civic Awards 2017, which I was not expecting in the slightest.  It was a humbling moment that I will treasure forever.

Although I hated this year and want it to be over, God has blessed me and I have achieved a lot, but I know there is more I could have done.  I’m still struggling and fighting, but if God has kept me, He obviously has a purpose for my life, so I have to keep trusting in His leading.  I don’t know where I’d be without Him.

P.S. Usually I do thank yous, but this post is quite long, so I think I’ll do a separate post for that, also allowing me to focus a little more on some of the beautiful people in my life.

Advertisements

A Letter to My Aunty Joce

Aunty Joce,

I’m sitting here thinking that I cannot believe it’s been a whole year since you passed.  It’s been a whole year since I felt the shock of those six words, uttered from my mum’s mouth.  It’s been a whole year since you were cruelly taken away from us, without warning.  It’s been a whole year without you and it sucks.

The time has flown by and I guess that doesn’t make dealing with the pain any better.  It feels like you should still be here among us, making me laugh with your dry humour and many brilliant stories.  You should still be in the kitchen, whipping up food like it’s a sport.  You should still be out shopping for your bargains, leaving your reading glasses here and there, watching Judge Judy on TV.

You should also still be here to bring light to our family.  Seriously Aunty Joce, family gatherings and special occasions have not felt the same without you.  It’s like there is a big, gaping hole that will never, ever be filled.  I remember thinking how much you would have loved Uncle Selo and Aunty Doriel’s masquerade party.  There were numerous times when I thought about how you would have had me overflowing with laughter at grandma’s last birthday celebration – there were some wise cracks that only would have come from your mouth and I genuinely missed that.

Twelve months have passed, but that hasn’t stopped the pain I feel and I don’t think that pain will ever fully go away.  That pain feels especially raw now, as I mourn an uncle who was snatched away suddenly – not only am I reminded of the cruel way we lost you, but I don’t have your kind and supportive words to comfort me at this time.  I know that you would have sent me a message, because you were so wonderful like that.

August felt really raw as well, because you know, that’s our birthday month.  I didn’t get a lovely message from you and I wasn’t able to send a message to you either, which felt horrible.  I hate that a month that was so full of birthdays is now emptier without you in it.  However, knowing that we shared that bond will always make it extra special.

I still miss you so much Aunty Joce, but the many memories of you still remain and I hope they will never fade.  They bring a smile to my face as I remember you at your best, rather than the tears that spring to my eyes when I recall that you’ve passed.  I just live in hope that I’ll see you again on that great day when my Jesus returns.

I love you with all my heart, always and forever.

Shan x

A Letter to My Grandad

Grandad,

I can’t believe it’s been a year since you passed, time flies by so fast, yet it still feels surreal.  I don’t see you anymore and you’re not here, buried how many feet down in the ground; but it feels like you should still be here.  Not seeing you feels wrong.

Going to your house, it’s weird not having you greet me at the door with one of your famous lines or watch you slowly descending down the stairs.  It’s sad not seeing you at church on a Sabbath and not hearing from you on my birthday wasn’t nice.  In fact, not being able to tell you happy birthday wasn’t nice either – August is our month and it’s a whole lot emptier without you.

There are times when sitting there thinking about you, suddenly remembering that you’re gone, can bring me to tears.  However, there are times when those thoughts bring a smile to my face, as I remember all the good memories I have of you.  Simple little things I took for granted are no longer the same and I wish I could hear another one of your Burton jokes again – you genuinely did make me laugh.

I still miss you so much grandad, a whole twelve months later, and I still want you to come back.  The pain isn’t so raw, but I don’t think my heart will ever fully recover from having you taken away.  There was still so much more for us to say, so much more time for us to spend together and a whole lot more for me to learn from you.  I keep thinking about the joke you told me about Job’s daughters, which you never finished and I never heard the end of, which saddens me more than I can describe.

Grandad, you were my inspiration and my hero, one of the people I looked up to most in the world.  I just hope I can make you proud and continue your legacy, because you were the most humble, loving, genuinely caring, considerate individual I ever knew.  I can’t wait to see you again.

Love you with all my heart.

Shan-Shan