Well, hello there. It’s been a while (said every blogger writing a new blog post this side of 2016). I haven’t written anything in a good few months. Not just here, but also not on Instagram. I haven’t spoken in a while. Not on Stories, not on my podcast, not even in real life. I’m usually an avid voice-noter to my friends, but bar a couple of people, I have been pretty quiet on my messaging apps too. I logged into Twitter the other day, scrolled through the notifications and my inbox and logged straight out again. I’m staring at the flickering cursor on this page right now and even it taunts me. You have nothing to say. You cannot write.
Oh, woe is me.
Then the guilt hits hard. Stop being silly. You know you have a voice. You know you have something to say. Just sit down and write. There are people with far more important things to say than you who don’t have a platform at all, so get over this silly anxiety phase thing and get on with it!
I’m not sure where this all stemmed from, but I feel a bit like I have a vulnerability hangover – except not just from a particularly honest single post or share, but from an entire lifetime of writing and being creative. Things I have written have resonated and made light bulbs go off with so many people, but they have also hurt people and made people angry and uncomfortable. Was that something those people need to sit with and work through themselves? Perhaps. Could I have been a little more thoughtful in what I chose to put out there? Maybe. It’s a tough line to draw, this one of expressing oneself whilst also trying to keep everyone happy and maintaining the status quo. You see, the one thing I want in life – my greatest purpose – is for everyone to be happy and at peace. I am a peacemaker. I am a good girl.
I remember once walking unnoticed into a classroom where two teachers were busy having a conversation. About me. They couldn’t see me standing by the bag shelf, watching their words hung above them like a string of fairy lights: “Ah, that little Keri le Roux is such a lovely child. So well-mannered and sweet and kind.” I remember my cheeks burning and my heart beating with a mixture of pride and embarrassment and oops I don’t think we’re meant to hear people saying these things about us. I think I’ve maybe always been an inherently sensitive and gentle person, but once I witnessed that conversation, it became part of my identity. I took on this role and when I felt or said or did things that were out of this character, I was then racked with guilt. And so I began to control anything about myself that wasn’t nice or lovely or sweet or kind. And as I pushed down any other feelings that did not fit into my box, so I began to get angry. And when you get angry, you take it out on those closest to you. The ones who have to love you anyway (sorry mom and dad and siblings and partners).
The problem is that I was born with the gift of a voice. And not just the ability to write and communicate, but also the need to learn and investigate and explore differing opinions and viewpoints until I make up my mind about what I feel is the “right” conclusion. And then, of course, I also feel the deep desire to share, and yes, even teach, my findings and conclusions because they all usually lead to peace and harmony and for goodness sake, can we please all just look further than our own stumbling two feet and just work together for the greater good? Below are some examples of issues I feel we should all share and talk about, but which can also really throw my good girl rep in the gutter (see my inner good girl dialogue in italics):
Veganism – cutting out animal products from your diet and lifestyle will help save the environment, our animals, other people, and indeed, our planet | if you want to be vegan you should lead by example, be a good and kind girl and do not judge others for their choices and certainly do not talk about it, no one appreciates knowing that their roast beef dinner is killing the planet
Childbirth – low-risk, natural, midwife-led births at home lead to less chance of intervention and trauma in birth for both mom and baby | do not have an opinion on childbirth, it is normal and necessary for women to have medicalised births in hospitals, good girls should be kind and mindful of other birth plans
Sexual Abuse – speaking about sexual abuse, really speaking about it, engaging with the uncomfortable whys and hows and whens, can better equip parents to educate and prevent their children from experiencing it or inflicting it upon others, leading to a less abusive world in general | good girls do not speak about sex and we certainly do not speak about sex with children and we definitely do not speak about any of it on public platforms
Menstrual and Hormonal Health – really connecting with our bodies and our natural cycles can lead to greater self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-understanding and encourage a greater level of compassion towards each other, where we can recognise the effects of the patriarchy on women and thus stand together to end it | no one wants to hear about periods and blood and moon cups and the patriarchy – good girls stuff a tampon up there every month, shut their mouths, and carry on with their lives
Ah goodness, writing this all down is making me shake my head. It’s no bloody wonder I’ve been racked with anxiety and questioning everything I write or say over the past few months when it’s always such an internal conflict about who I think I should be and what I believe and put out there. But, in the great words of Naas Botha, on the other hand, this is also not new news to me. I mean, the good girl inner child thing is something I’ve been working on since becoming a mother (if not before) and the conflict of being a writer and wanting to express oneself, whilst keeping your friendships and family intact, is an age old battle. I’ve written about it here so many times. You’re probably sick of it, actually! Expressing yourself means bringing demons to the fore, some of which most would prefer were left buried, especially if they battled those demons alongside you.
There have been a few other reasons behind my silence lately. Since before Christmas, we have not had our home to ourselves. We had my mom here for a bit, and then my brother visited for a couple of weeks, and then my in-laws stayed with us from the beginning of January to the beginning of April. And yes, while it’s lovely to have family visiting, and extra pairs of hands to help with a very busy toddler, it’s also a sure-fire way to lose yourself… and your voice. Literally. There was nowhere in my house to really chat on the phone, send voice notes, record podcast episodes, or even settle down nicely to write. Peace and quiet and solitude are all things I really need to really stretch my creative fingers. Goodness knows, being a mom makes it difficult to find that space – never mind an added contingent of visitors and walls with ears. Then there were the dinners and lunches out, the excess of alcohol and the countless cups of coffee, the lack of space and time for my usual self-care practices, and just an all-round feeling of suffocation. By the time my in-laws started to pack their bags to head north, I was a jibbering ball of anxiety who couldn’t be on social media for long enough to put together a half-decent post, never mind write and create and keep on top of my business needs and family responsibilities. The good girl was angry and everything was my husband’s fault. Anyone else’s fault really. Just not mine. It’s amazing how looking back now I can see just how frustrated and out of balance not being able to write and communicate makes me. It’s a visceral need I have – this need to get everything out. As I write this, I see how healing it is. How necessary it is. How crucial a healthy lifestyle and mindful routines can be to my creative self.
Things that I have found to help nurture my voice:
Monthly energy healing and massage sessions
Honestly, if it wasn’t for my monthly visits with Colleen van Heerden, I don’t know what I do. In the midst of chaos, Colleen’s therapy room in Fish Hoek is a little oasis for me. Her honesty, love, kindness and gentle guidance is something I crave and is the one thing I will not neglect, no matter what. Thank you Colleen for keeping me present. Thank you for writing me letters telling me the things I need to hear (even when I don’t want to hear them). Thank you of reminding me of my power. You feed my soul. You fan my flames. You keep me connected to self. I am so grateful for every session we have because it brings me home to me.
Even if it’s just a short entry into my La Luna La Femme moon journal, checking in with how I feel in my skin is something that keeps me balanced and aware. It’s an age-old truth that the more you write, the. more. you. write. I find that when I spend time journalling, I am filled with creative ideas and inspiration which filter through to all other aspects of my life and work.
Since having the house back to ourselves, I have been alternating mornings of yoga and walking. In an ideal world, I would love to do yoga and go for a walk every day, but this is mom world and “ideal” doesn’t always fit in here! Both yoga and walking really help me connect to the breath and self and I’ve had some of my biggest creative epiphanies whilst walking or lying in savasana.
I recently spoke at the second All About Eve event in Cape Town. This time around, I was a bit more relaxed, and really took the time to listen to the other speakers at the event. Melissa Delport’s talk on Hormonal Health really resonated with me. It was at the tail end of my in-law’s visit and so I was feeling pretty manky in both mind and body, but particularly the body. My husband was away, Imogen had been ill and I was just feeling exhausted. I’ve always known how important nutrition and food is to our health, but because I’ve been blessed with a strong constitution and a fairly ‘normal’ body type, and I don’t eat animal products by choice, I very rarely get sick or visit the doctor. But well-being isn’t always about how many times you’ve visited the doctor in the past few years. It’s about energy levels and self-image and breathing and skin and sleep. I’m not going to lie, none of these have been great lately. A proper, full night of sleep hasn’t happened for me since mid 2016. I’ve been suffering from migraines on and off since September last year, I often feel like my heart is racing and I’ve caught myself tensing up my body and holding my breath for long amounts of time. I even got a clan of pimples on my chin the week before the event – that very rarely happens to me!
The truth is, since becoming a mum, I’ve let my healthy eating habits slide. Smoothies have become peanut butter toast and pancakes; soups have become big, creamy pastas and lasagnes, salads have become pizzas and burgers and chips. And yes, while all these things are perfectly delicious and good for the soul, they should be enjoyed in moderation, not every single day and chugged down with two glasses of wine. So I’m giving myself a bit of a kick up the bum; a bit of a reset, if you will. It began with caffeine, which I cut out the Monday after All About Eve. It was hard and I thought I was going to die from headaches on day 2, but now, two weeks in, I cannot explain how much calmer and more energised I feel. I’m nicer to my husband. I’m nicer to myself. I started doing yoga again. I even have the energy to sit at my desk and write this blog post! I have the clarity to think about what I want to say. I’m not going to claim that it’s just the quitting of caffeine that has caused this, but I definitely feel that it is the first in a sequence of moves that is leading me home to me and my creative voice. As every day passes, I feel less and less like I want to lie in bed eating chocolate, and more and more like I want to get up and onto my yoga mat, into my walking gear, make healthier choices in the kitchen, and get to my desk to write. Next on my hit list is cleaning up my diet and maybe even taking a little break from alcohol for a bit. For me, winter is the perfect time to do this. I’m socialising less, the days are short and cool, and I’m more likely to be watching series with a cup of something warm in the evenings than sitting outside in the sun sinking pink gins and packets of crisps.
Everybody’s favourite! Dealing with the demons and playing with the inner child. God, it’s hard. Delving into those murky depths of the past, prying open those boxes your subconscious had very firmly shut and locked years and years ago… it’s not always pleasant to bring forth those memories that shaped you into who you are today. I’ve found though that having a greater awareness of your patterns and habits really can help you work on those shitty shadow parts of yourself. I mean, this entire post is basically me dealing with the not-all-bad and rather awkward event of walking in on a couple of teachers’ private conversation about me and how that has shaped my identity. I mean, imagine if they’d said I was a broken and naughty child? Imagine how that would have shaped my creative voice and my work? Would it have changed it? Maybe I wouldn’t feel so guilty about my strong opinions if I already thought that I was an inherent troublemaker! Part of my self-study at the moment is the brilliant Sisterhood Coaching course I’m doing, listening to loads of podcasts, keeping track of my natural emotional and physical cycles with my moon journal, and also studying my (and others!) Human Design. (If you have no idea what Human Design is, keep posted – it needs a whole blog post to itself!) All of these are really helping me face up to, and deal with, both the light and dark in myself, which I am finding hugely beneficial, especially in regards to my eternal conflict of wanting to share my truth, but also keep my good girl rep. This good girl also needs to see some of her dark, needs to understand it, see where it comes from and get good and comfortable with it.
It’s been a tough start to the year. I’ve had to relearn the importance of looking after my health and well-being in order to attune to my creative voice and my work. It’s a lesson I’m sure I will be learning throughout the upheavals of life. And in true fuck-it Aquarian style, I’ve decided I’m making my start of the year the same day as the start of the Astrological New Year: the 23rd of March. This day was also the last full moon and the day of the All About Eve event – and the day I decided it was time to start looking after myself and find my voice again.
And so, here I sit. On my yoga mat. The wind blowing in my hair. A little Lulu dog next to me. A husband nearby. A baby girl giggling downstairs. A baby girl who makes me want to explore all these things about myself, to better myself, to truly be my best self, so that I can be the best mother for her. Good girl or bad, helper or hurter, peacemaker or battle-wager… I am all these things. We are all these things. Let’s grow together.
Thank you Colleen for healing me in exchange for this post – you always know how to get me back to my keyboard. To book a session with Colleen (either distance healing, or in person at her Fish Hoek home), pop Colleen a message on 084 603 0603 or DM her on Instagram at @healingyourspirit.