When I was 23 I went to Indonesia to teach English at a private college. I spent all my Mom’s money to get there and I was locked into a year contract. I was very naive about what was about to be one of the toughest times in my life I had ever gone through.
It ended up being really bad. I had no friends, no support, no way of getting back home.. I was stuck there. I lived and worked with some of the nastiest adult bullies I have ever met. These were top notch British A-holes who moved to Indonesia to have no responsibilities and live like kings… Even the director of studies was this way. They drank every day, did lots of drugs, and slept with as many prostitutes as they desired.
They set out to make sure I knew every day how pathetic and stupid they thought I was. At work, in the office, at home. Any chance they got they had a keen ability to see my weaknesses and make fun of me. And I had to put up with it.
3 months later I couldn’t eat, sleep, and barely focus. I was so stressed out all I did was cry all the time.. I felt broken and I really believed all the horrible stuff they would tell me every day. They joked about me killing myself and I was seriously contemplating it.
I was breaking down and falling apart and I didn’t know if I could continue on anymore. The worst part was I felt so alone, so isolated, and the worse I got the more powerful they became.
I wrote to a very dear friend of mine, Dr. Mackenzie brooks, one of the smartest women I’ve ever known, and I told her the situation. I told her how bad it was, how everyone hated me, and how they made fun of me any chance they got. How I lived and worked with them and I had no escape except my room in the house we all shared.
And her response wasn’t of sympathy like I was expecting. It changed my life…
She said something along the lines of:
“ Jannine I want you to think of yourself as a clay pot, molded by gods hands, and you have been put into the kiln of life. A lot of clay pots crack and crumble under the intense heat and pressure, but some endure and grow stronger, and come out of the flames with the ability to hold new life…
So you have a choice.. Are you going to crack and crumble under the intense heat and pressure?
Or are you going to grow stronger?
Be like a duck in a rainstorm and allow their comments to wash off your back.”
And so I sat there, taking it all in. She was right. I only had two choices.
Was I going to crack and crumble, give up on my career, give up on my worldly adventures, disappoint my mom and somehow get money from my family to come back to Victoria? Commit suicide? Or was I going to endure and grow stronger.
There was something in me that choose to grow. Something in me told me I needed to preserver as it was all for a very important purpose. I had never stuck anything out to the end before.
So I resolved deep inside my being, deep inside my psyche to grow, to endure, so that I could embrace the transformation life had given me and become stronger.
This decision alone somehow made it easier. I stopped resisting and accepted what was before me. It became my mantra, my silent prayer, and the one thing I would focus on to gain strength and clarity and keep my resolve. Sometimes one thing, one sentence is all we can hold onto for strength and tenacity.
And then a tragedy and incredible miracle happened…
One day I was teaching class, and my director of studies interrupted my class, looked at me and said I needed to call my mom right away. I knew what she would say.
I called her and she told me what I already knew. My Dad was dead.
They found his body in his room at street link homeless shelter. It had been there for a few days after his friends robbed him and took all his valuables. He had filled his prescription of methadone a few days before, and all the pills were gone. I think it was suicide.
I know he didn’t want me to go away. But I resented him for not trying hard enough to be in my life and for not getting his crap together and being there for me… staying out of jail and off of heroine. I thought he had given up on me and didn’t care, so when I left traveling I didn’t call him to say goodbye.
I never got a chance to say goodbye. I had a feeling that it was probably the last time I would get a chance. But I didn’t care.
In that moment, I regretted ever blaming him. I realized he did the most amazing thing he could have. His death saved me from my hell. He saved me. I was now free and able to go home.
You see the only way I was getting out of that contract was either pay about $8000 or a death in the immediate family. And no one in my family had that money.
I was devastated, humbled and relieved all at the same time. And I felt different. I can only describe it as his death saved me from my apathetic way of living. As my whole life I had never spoken up for myself, and let people walk all over me.
I felt stronger. And I felt a rage inside of me that set me free from my internal suppression. I felt a connection I never knew before: deep clarity, purpose and peace. A knowing I can only describe as pure awareness, where all illusion and distraction has been stripped away. What is left is that pure, ever present awareness.
The last of my days there, no one messed with me. They got out of my way when I would walk by. They didn’t write mean things on my classroom board. And some times they would be a little nice.
This time in my life was the amalgamation of my being from a girl into a woman. And as I look back now, the words from Mackenzie still bring me strength in my weakest and loneliest of times.
I can look back and feel gratitude for the unseen gifts it has given me, and how these gifts have since rippled throughout the timeline of my life, serving as a testament to my strength and truth. I know that if I could survive through that, I can survive anything.
I look back now and I can’t help but feel that sometimes we must endure the intense heat and pressure of life alone. It forces us to look within and dig deep into the depths of our being, to find that space inside of us that anchors us into who we are and our eternal truth.
It shows us our truth, and threshes away all illusion. It puts us to the test, and destroys anything that isn’t deeply anchored in our authentic self, in our spirit.
Looking back I can see clearly now that we never know the miraculous gifts our struggles, grief, and heart ache will bring us. We never know what blessings the flames of our lives will shape and mold us into.
And if we allow this to be, to surrender and accept the process and have faith, we can begin that amalgamation process… the alchemy of our soul.
Wherever you are right now in your life, be grateful for all the gifts your lessons have yet to bring you, be grateful for all the ways you are transforming into your true self and letting go of anything that isn’t real.
And what is real? That is real which never changes.
What never changes is inside of you. It’s this anchor point that life’s hardest lessons reveal to you as it burns every facade away.
Allow it to be, surrender to the process, have faith, and be grateful for all the ways the gifts will unfold in your lifetime, all the blessings it will bring you don’t even know about yet. All the lives you will touch with your story throughout your time here on earth, all the love your truth will create in your being, all the truths it will spark in the minds and hearts of others.
Your awareness of this process is the key to the mastery of your life and your ability to surrender to what is and develop your strength of being. Well, that’s how you are going to change the world.
Resolve to grow stronger, so you can hold a miraculous life.
Thank you for sharing one of my most vulnerable moments in mine. All my love, truth, and unconquerable spirit