Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

Life is a constant journey to the truth

27 Comments

I was taught at a very young age not to trust my own thinking, not to believe  myself.

When I was born my mother was in a massive depression. My eldest sister, at 8 years old, became my care-giver. A tough task for a young girl but given that taking care of my mother and her two younger siblings had always been her task, she welcomed me into our family and began to care for me too.

For my mother, sad, lonely, far from her family, having her daughter play the role of ‘mother’ was nothing new. When she told me her life story years ago, she shared how she believed it was a daughters responsibility to take care of their parents. For my mother, her depression stemmed from believing she had failed her parents the day she sailed away from India with my father and left them far behind on the shores of the land she loved.

My mother was homesick for family. My father didn’t have one.

Raised by priests in a Catholic boarding school, his parents had divorced when he was young. I never met his mother, even though we lived in England not far from her home for years. My grandfather was a mysterious character whom I only recall setting eyes on twice. He was not the kind of man to send special gifts on birthdays, or cards to commemorate notable dates. He was not the kind of person who stayed in touch.

When I was less than a year old, we moved to England and then a few years later, to France. My mother was happy, or as happy as a woman with severe depression can be. Her brothers and sisters had all fled India when independence came because the passports they held were French. Their choice was to either give up their French connection, or leave. They chose to move to Saigon, a place they’d never been, but a place that still fell under French protection. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a choice that gave them any greater security than India. When the Americans rolled in, they packed up once again and moved to France, the land whose passport they held but a land that held no deep roots for any of them.

In Paris, there were many family gatherings. Smoke filled rooms with loud conversations and wine flowing and music playing and people gesticulating wildly, passionately talking, defending, arguing, while my cousins and I ran between their legs or sat silently in separate groups, looking at each other, wondering how to communicate when we came from such different sides of the world.

We were the outsiders. The Canadians.  They were the ones that belonged.

This was their country. They held the label that gave them ownership of the land. We were the interlopers. The ones who had it easy in the richness of Canada while they were continually displaced, travelling the world looking for a home.

At least, that’s what I saw through my child’s eyes, or it could be that my belief came through the words of my father who despised Frenchmen and in particular, had little time for my mother’s family. My father was very vocal in his disdain and never missed a chance to let other’s know what he thought.

My mother wanted peace at all costs and sometimes that cost was high. I learned to not try to shake my father’s opinions. I learned to seek the conciliatory path.

When I was five, my father was transferred back to Canada. There was a family gathering in Paris. A wedding perhaps, or maybe just a farewell send-off for our family. My mother was distraught over leaving her family in France so when I whined about being tired, about needing to use the facilities, she did not want to leave the gathering and gave me to the care of her favourite brother to take me home.

It was under my uncle’s hands I learned to not believe in myself, to not listen to my truth, to believe that what I experienced wasn’t true if others said it wasn’t. Many years later when I asked my mother why she didn’t believe me when I told her what had happened, she sighed and told me what was true for her, she was powerless to do anything else. “What could I do?” she said. “He was my brother.”

Looking back at those events now, I see where my desire to be heard and seen and believed has fought continuously with my belief I do not deserve to be heard and seen and believed. I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t ‘see’ me.

Today I do. I cannot change the past. I cannot undo what was done. I can love and accept and forgive and stand in my power today. Speak with my voice today. See with my eyes today and create with all my heart today the kind of world I want to live in. A world everyone believes in the sanctity of the human spirit and the power of love. A place where everyone has the right to be heard and all are seen as the magnificent, beautiful and shining lights they truly are.

In learning to trust in myself, to honour my voice, to cherish my thoughts, to create space for my presence, I have learned to honour the voices and presence of others, no matter their condition.

In this space, I do not have to give up my belief in the beauty of humankind and the power of love. I have to give up holding onto the disbelief we are anything other than miracles of life, each of us unique and precious, each of us on our own journey to the truth of who we are.

 

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Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe we each have the capacity to be the change we want to see in the world, to make a world of difference. I believe we are creative beings on the journey of our lifetimes. It's up to each of us to Live It Up and SHINE!

27 thoughts on “Life is a constant journey to the truth

  1. Thank you so much for this gift Louise. You touch my heart and soul.
    “In this space, I do not have to give up my belief in the beauty of humankind and the power of love. I have to give up holding onto the disbelief we are anything other than miracles of life, each of us unique and precious, each of us on our own journey to the truth of who we are.”
    You are awesome and an inspiration to us all! Val x

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  2. My heart aches for you, in the same beat, my heart holds you safely, protecting you and in the next beat, soaring high with you for all you have overcome in life’s journey. You are a beacon of light Louise. Your radiance shines for all to see. I proudly hold your heart next to mine even though we are miles apart. You are a treasured friend to all ~ how special you truly are. ♥♥♥

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  3. Wow what a story. So much for a young child to absorb. Glad you’ve overcome and are able to share with others.

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    • Thank you Lisa. It was the impetus of so much amazing good in my life, once I was able to see it and know it for what it was — not mine. I didn’t cause it. I couldn’t change it. I could heal from it and use it to create good, not more pain, in my life. Hugs.

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  4. Louise, I couldn’t bring myself to ‘Like’ this post . Its not the kind of story that we like. But it did give me the opportunity to reflect on how much I am honored to be your friend and how much strength and wisdom you bring to the world.

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  5. Louise,

    Big step.

    Huge.

    Wow … indeed.

    You are standing naked in front of the whole world.

    You are stronger than you’ve ever been.

    We are, all of us, so much more than most people see.

    Sadly, you see a slice of life most of us are fortunate to never encounter.

    You are empowering yoursefl again, more, still.

    Don’t quit!

    Cheers,

    Mark

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  6. Louise,
    I have been out of town for a while and where I was staying & had hit and miss recepetion so it is nice to come back to full service! Your sharing your childhood just adds more depth to my admiration to you. Knowing the journey you are on, and how you have evolved explains so well why you are such a wonderful teacher now!

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  7. I feel angry anytime I hear about abuse of any kind, even more angry when “others” don’t believe us. Thank you for sharing. It brings me one step closer to finding hope ❤

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    • Nikky, your words give such peace to my heart. To know that my words have brought you one step closer to finding hope, is a wonderful gift. Thank you! Keep stepping. Keep opening up and believing. You are worthy of Love. Of Peace and joy and seeing the magnificence and beauty of who you are shining brightly for all the world to see. Hugs.

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  8. Wow. I am angry. I am mortified. This touched my heart.

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    • Breathe my dear friend. Breathe. The past cannot hurt us — unless we give it power to do so. You have such a big heart. Fill it with love and all things you want in your world! (PS — I wrote you a longer response on the FB group page. 🙂 )

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  9. Louise – my heart wrenches for what you experienced as a child (horror) and how you have confronted and dealt with it with your beautiful love, forgiveness and wisdom.. I salute you over and over again. Julie xxx

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    • Thank you Julie. I have been very blessed in my life to have some amazing teachers, and incredible opportunities to grow. You are one of those teachers my friend. You always remind me to see and move and be with compassion in all things I do. Thank you.

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  10. In this Lenten season, you and I seem to be on a similar path. . . of speaking, finally, truth, of not hiding what needs to be said out loud.

    Last night, as part of a Lenten activity on forgiveness, I watched a video in which the speaker, who is a Ph.D. psychologist and holds a master’s in theology, defined forgiveness first by what it is not: It is not excusing an offense, it is not forgetting the offense occurred. It is about opening a pathway to your own heart and finding peace. Those words were such a help.

    Love and hugs, M

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    • Thank you Maureen. It is so true — we are each of us accountable for everything we do – forgiveness doesn’t excuse, it simply means I have freed myself from carrying the load of his offenses. The bigger offence would be for me to hold myself captive in its pain. To let what he did limit the beauty of my life today. The child doesn’t know those things. The adult does and must embrace the child with the truth and create a heart-filled place for the child to know peace. You are such a beautiful soul Maureen, I am grateful we are on similar paths. I find such beauty and joy walking alongside you.

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  11. You alwasys honor the voice of others, which is why I like it here so much. You know what you are talking about!

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  12. Louise your strong spirit shines so brightly. Although I may not ‘Like’ what you’ve been through, I will Like this post because you are a shining star of inspiration, and I adore your writing. I feel like I too am living proof that beautiful lives can be created from painful pasts. Love this: “I can love and accept and forgive and stand in my power today. Speak with my voice today.”
    You can and you do! Cheers! xo Gina

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  13. I’m very far behind in my blog reading, but… Big hugs from me.

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