Though I’d often thought about it, I’d never pursued that thought.
Whenever I read about it I thought it’d be a wonderful thing to do. So, when I opened the newspaper and saw the headline “Join Lifeline Course,” I knew that it was time. Finally, after years of procrastination, I was going to apply.
My life has been rich in experience; bullying, alienation, robberies, single-parenthood, bereavements, terrible traumas, divorce, retrenchment, unemployment, depression, isolation and insolvency. “When life shovels a(nother) wheelbarrow-full of manure over your head, just remember to be grateful that it knows exactly how much compost you need to grow to your full potential.” Once I came up with this statement, it took more time to appreciate being so “well-nourished.”
I’ve had therapy and explored a cross-section of alternative therapies. I’ve struggled to discover the transformational gifts within those challenging events. Now I am comfortable – thriving – and I believe that this year will be an intense period of growth.
I went to Lifeline’s busy Norwood offices and filled out an application form, which included personal questions that you wouldn’t find on most training application-forms. I was open in my answers.
The following Wednesday, I arrived excited and a little nervous. As I walked towards the auditorium, I saw a whiteboard: “Please do not reveal what work you are doing or what you are studying to other participants.” Everyone was there. Old and young, women and men, some really smart and others decidedly casual; all races represented in ratios that seemed a realistic representation of South African society.
The presenters introduced themselves and appeared welcoming, confident and calm. They began by probing participants’ ideas about what Lifeline does. The audience was encouraged to respond with their ideas, until we reached the point where it was clear that relationships are the core issues that people want to address when they reach out to Lifeline. The basis of all our troubles are how we relate to each other; how we think about ourselves and others.
We split up into small groups and each sat in a circle in one of the small conference rooms next to the hall, with two counsellors facilitating. We were given an article to read – describing a recent violent social outburst – and told to choose someone involved in the story, and discuss or role-play the situation described. It was for the group to see alternative viewpoints; everyone was open to exploring different perspectives as we wrestled to understand the feelings of those involved. No one in the group became angry or overheated. Everyone listened respectfully to each speaker.
Next, we waited for our personal interviews; then Lifeline would decide whether or not we would be accepted on the course. In our personal interview the counsellor discussed our application and where we were in our lives to make sure that the course was right for us right now.
A few days later, I was told that my application was successful. Why had I doubted that this would happen? This is a new turning on my path and next week I will take my first steps on this journey.