Answer by Fantasha “Social Yogi” Kassam:
As a sister to 2 brothers who committed suicide within a year of each other, I can attest loosing a loved one feels like a part of your soul dies. That depth of your being that you believed made you who you are becomes shaken to the core. The real struggle becomes finding your way out of true and utter despair. You immediately loose touch with the world around you and become lost in an existence where you have to find a tiny scrap of meaning and cling to hope to keep going. Even worse when you are a parent to a toddler, like I was at the time, because you have the added pressure to heal yourself in order to find happiness again for the sake of your child’s happiness.
Suicide rattles your core even more because you know that your loved ones chose to die. Nothing more tragic and depressing than knowing your brothers chose to end their lives. The thought brings you to such a terrible place where you try to understand their sadness and loneliness. You cry for their pain and you cry for your own. The hardest road is coming back from this place without a hardened heart.
It has been 5 years and I still struggle with being truly attached to people emotionally. It is my goal to remain open and vulnerable but it is such a challenge for me and I hope to get to that place of vulnerability once again.
This past weekend, I attended a life-changing workshop called Rock The Stage. I had to face my greatest fear of public speaking and show up as my authentic self to share my personal story. Here is my speech…
“The success of your life is due to the quality of your relationships. The quality of your relationships is a product of your communication. Here’s what I notice in communication, people in conversation are breaking rapport all the time in unconscious ways. In a world where we are highly technologically connected, it is harder than ever before to communicate effectively.
How many times have you been offended after reading a text? After reading a text you think, what an Asshole! Why? Because they left off what, an emoticon? I want you to think about that from a communication standpoint. Text, the language we use is only a portion of the communication quality. Vocal tonality tells you everything about a person’s intentions, motivation, and emotions. That’s why they put emoticons there because we actually communicate in multiple dimensions.
I grew up in a family of 6 kids to a drug addicted, single mother on welfare. Being noticed for my unique qualities was not even in the equation. To further my confusion about where I fit in the world, I was kicked out of my home and placed into the foster care system only 2 weeks after my 13th Birthday. Imagine that, the awkward time of puberty and trying to figure out who I was, was now having to be discovered while trying to survive in foster care. Talk about overwhelming circumstances! Here I was, a 13-year-old little girl, feeling alone, rejected, abandoned, and utterly terrified.
After being bounced around from receiving home to receiving home, these are temporary placements where we foster kids wait and hope to be chosen for a place to call home. That day rarely comes for teenagers because of course, most people want younger, cuter, less “damaged” kids. So after constantly getting my hopes up only to feel overlooked and rejected time and time again, I decided to move out on my own at 16 years young. It was sink or swim time. Sadly, my 2 brothers never made it and they committed suicide only a year apart from each other, 5 years ago.
Now I’m not sharing this with you for you to feel sorry for me, I share this to let you know my very real experience of relationships. Using organically learned communication techniques, I was not only able to break the cycle of abuse, poverty, and self-harm, but I’ve created a life of tremendous prosperity! I own my own home, I’ve been married for 10 years, I’m a loving and very engaged mother to 2 beautiful, young daughters who are blessed enough to attend one of the best private schools in Vancouver. I’ve owned my own fitness company and gym, I’ve moved to San Francisco to help build and run a start-up, and in my spare time, I became a Yoga Therapist.
Again, I’m not trying to impress you, I’m trying to reveal the power of learning effective communication. Learning to master your presence and how you project yourself to the world, makes all the difference to your success.
I leave you with this quote from Viktor E. Frankl from “Mans Search For Meaning”…
Everything you have in life can be taken from you except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. This is what determines the quality of life we’ve lived. Not whether we’ve been rich or poor, famous or unknown, healthy or suffering. What determines our quality of life is how we relate to these realities, what kind of meaning we assign them, and what kind of attitude we cling to about them. What state of mind we allow them to trigger.”
Every year, I like to accomplish a significant goal. I love knowing I’m stretching my comfort zone and pushing the boundaries, even if I feel uncomfortable doing it at the time.
Last year, I did a boudoir photo shoot for my 30th Birthday in order to get out of my comfort zone. That experience was definitely uncomfortable for me but I received good photos at the end ;) Plus, I walked away feeling like I accomplished another goal I set for myself.
This year, my goal is to face my greatest fear/ challenge of public speaking. So to step up and walk through the discomfort, I signed up for a workshop called Rock The Stage. I am attending this 3 day workshop next week and will be delivering a 5 minute speech on my actual 31st Birthday. What better way to start off my new year than by facing my greatest challenge. Bring it on life!
If you find yourself getting down and feeling blue from the dreary days of Winter, I find the best remedy to fight seasonal depression is exercise. To vividly imagine Summer days, I love dropping into Bikram yoga a couple of times a week. I find the heat really helps fight off the chills and seeing everyone dressed for the beach makes the images of Summer that much easier to recall
How often do we choose to date ourselves? I mean really choose to make time to enjoy being alone? Too often we look to others to make us feel good, feel loved, and just feel like we are enough. This pattern of searching outside ourselves for fulfillment is why so many feel alone on the one day of the year we are reminded of the state of our relationships, Valentines day.
The truth is, you will only ever feel as loved as you feel towards yourself. No matter who you are with and what compliments you receive, unless you believe them for yourself, you will always feel doubt and insecure.
Even though I have created my own family, I still believe it’s important to take time to be with myself to truly reflect on my self worth. Being alone, is a true test to my self esteem. Feeling completely content and fulfilled while being alone, is the ultimate feedback that I am enough. The morning after Valentines feels oh so good 😊
Getting away from all things related to motherhood. I believe it’s essential to escape the constant demands and needs that come with being a mother. I, too, must take a break to recharge and become more grateful for what I have.
Children are amazing, yes, but they come with a whole lot of work and challenges. Those who allude you to believe motherhood doesn’t have to be hard is either loony tunes, or trying to delude you so you too join in the “fun. “
See you in 4 days my beautiful children ❤️