Now give me a jumping castle, ice cream and a glass of wine

Letter from Limpopo: Thabiso Sekhula has found a friendly space where she can share her sadness and heal from the trauma of our current fu*kdup*ness

I’m forever an optimist. Even on a hard day, I look at the bright side. I give myself a limit on how much bad news I consume, I actively seek positive news in the media and I drink my water and mind my business.

That’s the mantra for glowing girls who don’t have time for drama and stress. But even for the eternal optimist, the past few months in South Africa and the world have been more than I can take.

And that’s just things that are not directly connected to me. In our personal lives, we have work stress, friends are going through a lot, the price of everything has gone up, family members are dying – all in a few years.

It’s very difficult to stay positive. All these could make you want to run and hide, but we are adults with 101 responsibilities which we feel do not allow us to break down.

But you know what, we are at such an unknown state of fu*kdup*ness that sometimes the cure to the build up of tension, anger, fear and helplessness is to allow your body to break down.

Fall down, stay on your knees, cry it out and release the poison which can consume your thoughts and emotions. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be ‘okay’, to keep up this fake picture of thriving despite these incredibly new challenges we have no idea how to navigate.

There’s so much power in not trying to have it all under control. Some of the pressure we feel exists because we try to go on as normal even though this reality is far from normal.

We walk around with trauma, pass bits of it through passive aggressive interactions with those we love, shout at the kids because they are being a bit too loud in the background while you are in your meeting working from home. But all these are symptoms of bigger issues we avoid.

So when a friend of mine started a WhatsApp group a few months ago with the description, “We are all not okay, we have trauma so you don’t have to pretend here”, I wasn’t sure how to take it. I knew some of the people in the group which made it difficult to talk so I waited and just read what others shared.

Seeing them open up about what they are dealing with helped to take my guard down. I related to the pressures they endure daily.

It was like they knew. It created a space where I didn’t need to keep it together all the time, not for my children and not for my family. I didn’t feel ashamed to share my sadness because there were 15 women who were all saying they are not okay, but they are there for me.

And this group of strangers and acquaintances has become such a vital part of my wellness, a place to share my hardships, not always for solutions but to let it out. I’m able to have this space where I can be vulnerable and have guidance and advice so that when I go into my home and family, I don’t project my trauma on them.

It has been a lifeline I didn’t know I needed and I wish everyone had the same. It makes a world of difference. It’s not gonna make the world okay, but it does help me cope with the blows.

All we need now is a real live day out where we can hire a jumping castle and eat ice cream and drink wine for the pain.