How many times does it happen that you give up on something because life is too hard? Well, if you ask me, I'd say too many times to count on my fingers. And when we give up, we blame life and curse circumstances. We dig up every possible excuse to keep ourselves from not doing things that are out of our comfort zone. We give up as soon as we sense danger. But for how long can we put our hands up and just let things be? No matter what you do or don't, life will eventually catch up.
Setting an inspiring example to take things in your own hands no matter what the situation is, is Mumbai-based Natasha Noel.
From having a troubled childhood to finding her peace in yoga, and becoming a yogini, a dancer, a health enthusiast and a lifestyle blogger, Natasha's journey was hard but every time she fell, she stood back strong.
"My birth mother committed suicide. I watched her burn herself. I was three and a half and I can still see flashes of my mother’s burning face in pain and her screams which keep me awake on most nights. It’s like a recording I can never pause. If I block out the imagery the cries haunt me. But now I’m learning not to victimize myself. I know I had nothing to do with that even though the first half of my life I spent hating myself because I blamed myself. I blamed myself for her death. There was a part of me that thought I caused it. I felt that I could help but I didn’t. I realize that I had no control over this."
When Natasha was 7, she was abused by a male servant whose mother even went on to ask her to run away with him and get married. She was 7! An age when most kids are playing with Barbie dolls and racing their mini cars. Unfortunately, this wasn't a one off incident. Till the age of 15, she was molested and abused by uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters.
"I played the victim card for far too long for most of my life. When we go through something difficult, we feel the world is against us. I felt worthless. I was so disgusted that I didn’t even want to look into the mirror. Disgusted is a far simpler word to describe what I was feeling then. I felt grotesque."
"It's like you feel so ugly that you want to simply cut parts of your body. Then maybe you’ll feel better or maybe so that you can just not feel the pain which is internally eating you up. And you start cutting. You try to cut the fat from your body. You start loathing yourself. You become insecure. You isolate yourself. You stop listening to yourself and you start taking other people’s opinions into consideration. Bit by bit, you allow people to take pieces of you. You get pulled into this dark void."
"It becomes difficult for you to trust, to communicate with other humans. Accepting love from people who mean well becomes difficult as well. Forget accepting love, if you can’t love yourself how can you ever believe anyone can love you? And if someone’s being genuinely nice to you, you will always believe that there’s an ulterior motive. Because you believe that you can’t feel, breathe, touch or even come close to happiness."
"I sat in my bathroom crying with blood smeared on the floor."
"With scars on my body that I can cover up. With the pain eating me alive. Where I lost all hope. I was constantly emotionally, mentally and physically drained. I was the walking dead. I did things because I had to. Everything became mundane and mediocre. Every morning I got up with the thought of 'What is the purpose of life?'"
By the age of 17, Natasha had started dancing. But when she was in the second year of her college, she had a major fall. Despite being advised a week's rest, Natasha went on to dance because she hated the very idea of resting or merely walking. After all, there was so much to do, so much to achieve, she thought. Unfortunately, that didn't go too well for her as she tore her meniscus and corneal muscles and had liquid in her knee and had knee cap tears as well.
"Even in my darkest of experiences, I never lost the hope to live. I always said that’s one thing I would never do. I would never kill myself. Because that doesn’t change anything. I felt that constantly bad things were happening and NOTHING good was ever happening. In pain and broken. I’ve been trying to fix myself ever since. I’ve been fighting ever since. I’ve been fighting just trying to breathe. Just trying to survive. But that’s not the purpose of life, to simply survive. The purpose is to live. To live it to the best to your ability. To live wholeheartedly. TO LIVE."
She had been drinking and smoking since she was 15 but it escalated when her 5-year-long relationship ended. She gained a lot of weight and had to deal with the additional torture of stretch marks and cellulite. She couldn't exercise, so she gave up junk food and started eating healthy. Finally beginning to heal herself from all the pain and the hurt.
"For so long I was running away from my wounded child. I was just repressing my emotions and destroying myself piece by piece. In each of us, there is a young, suffering child. We have all had times of difficulty as children and many of us have experienced trauma. To protect and defend ourselves against future suffering, we often try to forget those painful times."
And this is when she started teaching herself yoga. She bought books, saw videos and finally got a certificate as a yoga teacher after learning it professionally.
"Now I am I learning to witness the emotions and not be attached to the anger or pain or joy that enters my heart. I’m learning to be an observer and not be attached to the feelings. I’m learning that it’s okay not to be strong all the time. I’m learning to be my own friend. And most days it’s so difficult to even get out of bed. Most nights I can’t stop crying. Sometimes I do feel numb and these are the times when I remind myself that I’ve come a long and there is still a long way to go."
Today, she not only practices yoga but also teaches dance yoga to people. Her Instagram posts are full of positivity and are a sweet reminder that if you fight for yourself, life will fight for you too.
"This is why I write, this is why I teach, this is why I even post on Instagram. To just to give hope. Hope that you are not alone. That whatever situation you are in however horrible, you will come out if it. A better version of you. And if you allow time to heal you, you will understand that everything happens for a reason and that you survived and then you start living again."
Her advice to anyone who's been through similar situations?
"Be so open that you’re vulnerable and it doesn’t matter what people think or say about you because you’re being God damn truthful about what you want. I write with my heart and emotions. Sometimes it’s extremely painful, sometimes it’s all laughter. But they are my thoughts. They are my experiences. They are what have brought me here today. Stronger and more confident. And I believe that’s what the world needs to be just more open, more honest, more vulnerable and genuine. Because then what can hurt you?"
Natasha, you are the kind of hero that our generation needs today! More power to you.
You can show her some love here on Instagram.
All pictures are the property of Natasha Noel and have been reproduced with permission.