I was living in a really nice hotel/studio flat for R2000 a month. I was working in an industrial laundromat out in the sticks and earned decent money, well semi decent. I hated that job, as I hated every job I was ever in. I have this thing where I feel so trapped when I work for someone that all I want to do is leave and be out there in world. Here in South Africa people pay little money and I have always been very fortunate to get decent work and when I quit or get fired I step straight into another one, and so it carries on. I could never stay at one job for long. I tend to daydream at work too and then I don’t get things done, so needles to say I am not a very good employee
This particular position at the laundry was not very hard work but it was in the middle of nowhere and we had to lock the steel gates all the time, it literally felt like a prison, I didn’t lock the gates because I don’t want to feel imprisoned. So there has been numerous fall outs with the boss lady already and her father who collected the laundry was always on my case, daily, We disliked each other with a passion and I told him so too. He was always up in my face about some issue that was totally not his concern and then he’ll get me all worked up.
He is 75 but in good condition physically but mentally he was not so sound. I tried to like him and sometimes we would get along but I would eventually just feel sorry for him and avoid him. He did attack me once and I pushed him back onto a table and told him sternly to stop his nonsense. I’m not violent but I can get angry and I think I handled it well, some people would have hit him but I kept my cool. I felt bad about it but you have to stand up against these people, old or not. They can’t just attack others at will and expect nothing to happen. Luckily it was me and not someone else who would have done something much worse than just a shove.
So the boss lady hardly ever comes into the laundry because its about 7km away and on this one steele morning she rocked up there and starting giving me a mouthful because I did not want to put pegs on the clothes line when hanging the laundry outside. I argued that we don’t need pegs for the big sheets because they won’t blow away, frankly I didn’t like putting up pegs because it takes too much time. So we argued and I said that is it, I quit. I don’t care what happened to her laundry but I got on my bicycle and rode on home. I might have stopped at the pub on the way but can’t really remember. I love the feeling when I walk out of job that I hate and then go and do whatever I want, don’t care about money or rent, I’m free for a brief moment in time and it feels wonderful.
It was also this move that landed me at my friends house because naturally I couldn’t pay rent. I had a small web design business with about 4 clients but only got me R350 a month and that is nothing, I could eat at least for a few days and then its zama zama again for a few pennies.
I stayed at my friend’s house for a year and during that time is when I probably hit the lowest point of my life. I made a sale now and then to make rent and eat but I never had money There was no way I could match the expensive lifestyle my friend was living and it made me very insecure and I felt just plain worthless, all the time. I had to rely on him for a lot of things- smokes, drugs, alcohol, some food etc. I started spearfishing and diving for crayfish to feed myself and make some bank. You are not allowed to sell fish or crayfish and I poached under size lobsters a lot.
When he was out working I was at home trying to make a sale or on the beach diving or mostly wandering about talking to God. The thing I did the most of all was sleep. Sleep sleep and more sleep. He helped me a lot but I didn’t like myself, I was that poor skinny white guy you always see hanging around the guys with cash, being ordered around and people always asked him why he hangs out with me.
You don’t understand how I hated myself. But I still didn’t go find a job. I’m extremely stubborn. I was determined to make my little business work and sometimes I did make a sale. It was a miracle. In the height of my depression and sadness and despair, I made a sale, through telesales kid you not. I don’t know how I did it but its a sale and I was happy. I eventually bought a scooter from my brother in law for R3000. Payed off in installments of course. I would ride that scooter everywhere and then it will just die in the middle of the highway prrrrr pa pa, scooter dead. Cars would come whizzing by hooting, I then had to push that heavy scooter along the hot tar road to where ever I was heading. It would then just magically start again and prrr off I go again, this would happen every day. The parks board were after me for a while for diving crayfish and selling it illegally, so I had to lay low for some time.
But during all that time of loathing and resentment and depression, there was God. I didn’t know Jesus yet or I knew of Him but never knew that He is the key to salvation. I prayed a lot and when I mean a lot I mean intense prayers. I would fight with Jesus and God and I would curse out in agony and wonder why He would not bless my efforts for business success and give me a better life. I mean I was spending money to make money and then would have nothing left to feed myself or pay rent and then I have to rely on other people for basic needs. Its embarrassing. Why didn’t He help me?
I have been very angry at God in my life, trust me. I didn’t understand why he would let me go through so much heartache and pain. This is the question on everyone’s lips all over the world ‘why Jesus, why would you let us suffer so much before you help us?’ You can see I’m in pain and I’m begging you to get me out’, but still nothing happens. We will never truly know why God let things happen to us, but once you start walking the narrow road with Jesus and turn your life around you will understand it. Its a spiritual thing and I can’t explain it really.
You will also see that God was always there with a way out. So in my mind it was one of two things
- Either He wanted me to work a regular job first just to feed and clothe myself and feel better about my situation and then work on the higher things later. He needed me to start at the basics and build a solid foundation from there, not relying on a get rich quick scheme or easy money, or
- He knew that I was not ready for money. To think about it now this could be a very valid reason. God knew that if he gave me lots of money through a good job at that moment I would have squandered it on booze and drugs, I would be reckless and splurge it on my alcoholic friends and partied all the time. Maybe He saw my death and saw I would not be with Him in heaven.” That was a heavy thought just then”, maybe he knew that I would never go through with a suicide and so He kept money from me until I hit rock bottom and turned to Him. It seemed the safer option and He went with that.
There could be many other reasons but He always had several options of escape for me, I just never took it and that’s my own fault. He doesn’t make me do anything, I have freedom of choice and if I choose wrong, well its easier to blame Him and get angry than to admit my own faults and stubbornness. I was steered in the right direction but I never listened and went my own way. I was afraid of positive change. All I know is despair and negative feelings. I was conditioned to that from age 10.
I was never a heavy drinker but drinking caused problems, every single time. Alcohol made me sad and always left me worse off, not better. My family didn’t want to invite me over for family get togethers anymore because I drink and fight and argue and make things unpleasant for everyone. I would complain so much to my family that they must have gotten so sick of me never doing anything about it, but I had no one to talk to that understands and listens, so it had to be them. There is also another strange phenomenon I went through, I actually didn’t want to leave this lifestyle because I was comfortable and I knew how to operate in it.
Man’s worst enemy is “the comfort zone” we’ll rather be treated like dogs and endure endless mental abuse, brought on by ourselves in most cases because of “the comfort zone”. Too scared to step out in faith and better our lives. We also believe that we deserve our fate because we are useless scum, bottom feeders, leeching on others to satisfy our addictions, giving nothing in return. This is who I am, might as well just carry on with it. And then its “ FEAR” public enemy number two. I understand fear all too well, I have a masters degree in it. I was scared my entire life, scared of death, scared of change, scared of anything positive. I would worry constantly and when I don’t worry I’ll worry because I’m not worrying. It was so extreme that I would make up phantom stories about an interaction with someone in my head that has never occurred and never will occur and I’ll believe my own made up story. I talk myself into such a panic stricken state that I can’t function properly.
If it wasn’t for the support of my family, financially and mentally I don’t know where I’d be right now. If they ever read this I want to say thank you, all of you for standing by me through my darkest times. The thing about being depressed and scared and just in a constant bad place is that I didn’t want to change, I thought happiness really does not exist and that all people are like me or worse off so I’m actually Ok. I hated positive people and that is why I hated church. Full of laughter and joy and happy people. Why are you all so happy, there’s nothing to be happy about, you’re all fake. Hypocrites the lot of you. But I kept going back, sitting at the back judging everyone, checking out how fake I thought they were and still I kept going back again and again and again.
About seven months in, staying with the friend, I just thought “what are you doing Mannie, your an absolute mess, look at you man, look at what you have become”. I then decided this is it. No more, you gonna have to change your lifestyle or you are either going to: land up in jail, be picked up by the po po for running naked on peter pan beach and thrown into a psych ward or you are definitely going to die. Death comes to us all but before it gets to me I want to take one last shot at trying to change my life for the better.
The 2nd of January 2015 I stopped drinking. Few months later I worked at a ski boat competition and then 4 months after that I started working at the ski boat club as a barman and moved out from the friends place. March 2016 I quit smoking and that’s also a tough one and I gave up drugs and alcohol all together. Its been 3 years now and life is much much better, its not sunshine and roses all the way but I’m in a semi constant happy state of mind most of the time and that is a big improvement.