My Blog

Love found Me

July 10, 2015

I just thought I should share extracts from my upcoming book. For the sake of space, some parts have been purposefully left out but will be included in the book. You can pre-order the book by emailing nono@nonocele.co.za
This is for my parents without whom I wouldn’t be where I am today. I love you, completely. Thank you for giving me wings to fly.

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At eighteen, I moved out of home.
My parents and I stopped talking completely.
There were no more phone calls.
There were no text messages.
No letters.
Just silence.
It was the scariest time of my life.
But I was also relieved. I didn’t have to put up with the pity and rage that I saw in their eyes when our eyes locked. I was tired of feeling guilty and apologetic for every stupid decision I was making at the time. I grew tired of their evident disappointment with my life. Here they were, my role models, they had defied the odds, coming from poverty to build the life even they couldn’t have imagined. They are educated individuals, with eight degrees between them. Successful in every way. Most impressive though is how incredibly grounded, focussed and loving they are. My parents are well respected in our community, but I didn’t see how I featured in their perfect world, I felt like I was ruining the entire picture. I didn’t know who I was. But I was desperate to find out.
I made up my mind that I needed to be on my own. I wanted someone to look at me and see a whole person and not see a young girl who was wrecking her life. I felt confined in the safe haven of my parents’ care. I felt the need to prove to myself that I could stand on my own, after all, I knew what I wanted in life (right?). I had done my best to complete my third year studies early so I could fully invest myself in building my life the way I saw fit. I was confident I was going to pass, I was an excellent student who was committed to her work.
I remember the night I made the decision to leave, I lay on my bed, frantically scribbling words of rage in my diary. We had had another fallout. It ended badly, by that I mean, I didn’t get my way. I was angry at God, at the world, but here lies the truth, I was disappointed with how my life was turning out. I thought (of course) I knew how it should go. I made my decision.
I would leave everything behind and it terrified me. But I wasn’t backing down. The following morning I left. There was no one at home at the time, they had all gone their separate ways tending to the demands of the day. Even in their absence, I felt their disapproval of my behavior piercing through the walls of my heart.
It was clear to me that I was lost. But I didn’t know how to ask for help and so I removed myself from the one place I was most safe.
My heartbeat raced with each step. My palms were sweating, but I credited that to the heavy bag I was carrying. I had made plans to move in with a friend for a few months while we both looked for work (which we were certain we were going to get at first attempt). As they say, ignorance is bliss, we were excited to be on our own, all the while assuming that our parents were the enemies of our freedom. We were so wrong.
As the days passed, I felt guilty. I felt misplaced. I felt incredibly condemned. And I stopped praying. I hid from God. I hugged my shame. I silenced the voice of reason within me.

Those were the darkest weeks of my life. I drowned in the pit I had dug myself. But even then, good news found me in my mess.
I received news that I had passed with six A’s and graduation was coming up soon. That was the time I missed home the most. There was no one to celebrate with. No one to plan my graduation with. I felt alone. Isolated. Unloved. Lost. But I wouldn’t admit that I had done that to myself. I stayed in hiding because it felt easier than admitting that I was wrong. I felt broken. Ashamed. I looked at myself through the eyes of my brokenness and concluded that I wasn’t deserving of love, and I simply couldn’t be forgiven. I didn’t see how God could fix my shattered world.
As graduation drew closer, I started praying again. I had never felt so low. I was miserable. I was tired of being an adult. I simply wanted to go home. I broke down. I prayed. There were no words with which I could express my anguish, only tears. All the pieces I was trying to glue together came crashing down. My heart broke.
The following day, I packed what I could and went back home.
There was no talking. My parents and I sat in silence and we allowed the tears to express the things our words couldn’t say. I fell into their arms as I was- broken. There was no need to punish me, I was already suffering. Shame’s firm grip finally released me.

It took me a long time to open up about what happened to me during that period of my life… I was trying to prove myself to the only people who really saw me and still loved and accepted me. Though my stance was soon forgiven, it took me a while to accept that kind of love. I didn’t realize then that we only know unconditional love in the light of flaws.
What I know and cherish about those miserable weeks is that even when I was at my worst, love looked for me, prayed for me, located me, found me, not to judge me but to embrace me. I can’t imagine what my parents went through during those dark seasons of my teenage years, but I am so grateful that they saw me through it all. I am so glad that at a time when they were justified to give up on me and turn their back on me, they didn’t. They continued to celebrate my life, they continued to parent me when I brought shame to all they had worked hard for.
I’ve been lost on many occasions leading up to this point in my life, and each time I fell, my parents always reminded me that I’m their child. I may be an adult in my own eyes, but to them, I am their child, and children always get picked up by their parents.
It is no surprise that with graduation gift came a note that said, “We were always proud of you.”
I wish I could say that was the last time I ever tested my parents’ love for me but it wasn’t. But after that, I never saw my parents as my enemy again. With that said, while we are still here, let’s celebrate the people who were there for us when they could’ve walked away. Especially our families. Look how love kept you together!

Love always,
Nono Cele
Twitter: @Nono_Cele
Email: nono@nonocele.co.za

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