By: Ursula ‘Refuse to sink’ is not exactly a religious phrase; it was something my grandfather had told me one night after a very big family fight and ever since it is one that I hold dear to me. I am the middle child of three, and though far from the model “Catholic family”, I was sent to catechism from Grade one until Confirmation – it was something I had to do. I joined the alter serving team and became the head MC of my Church. As with the catechism class, it was just something to be done. I did it out of habit, because it was expected of me and because I couldn’t handle the idea of disappointing my parents. I was never actually really close with my parents. I always preferred to keep to myself rather than to talk about my ‘feelings’. When things are done out of habit there is no soul and so by the end of 2013, although still ‘active’ in the Church, I had completely distanced myself from my family and God. While my gran was fighting cancer, I felt like I was fighting with the world. Soon I found myself in a relationship with a guy who I knew I did not love and I found myself being lead further and further away from God. 2014 was a crazy year. In May, my uncle passed away. Three weeks later I received the troubling news that my grandfather was in ICU. That weekend I traveled up to Mossel Bay to see him. Only 3 hours after I left the hospital, his heart gave in and he passed away. In August 2014 my high school crush and close friend was in a fatal accident and later that month the man I considered my second father died of a heart attack. By the end of August you could physically see the effects the year was having on my family – each of us dealing with it in our own toxic way. I refused to talk to anyone and became distant and destructive. I started over medicating, smoking, drinking to get drunk and even inflicting physical pain on myself when not in the right mind set. Even though I did not talk to my boyfriend, I still had him by my side to keep me from doing any serious damage to myself. Soon all of the emotional turmoil and pain started to bring back memories I had suppressed and forgotten. Memories that for a long time I refused to admit were real. I became self-destructive: cheating on my boyfriend, lying and sinking deeper and deeper. At the start of the New Year, through some grace, I began to face and come to terms with all that had happened. I began to realize that those memories, so long forgotten, were real. I had been sexually abused at the age of twelve. I knew the person but I could not remember details. In the May, faced with these realizations, the few securities I had left were also taken from me. My boyfriend and I broke up after being together for over a year. Along with losing him I lost 75% of my friends because I could not face them, knowing they knew what I had done. I was left barely even being able to face myself. Everything seemed so hopeless and dark. For the next six months I struggled to put a smile on my face, to get out of bed, to live each day. The memories and the loss were overwhelming. The hardest part was not knowing what exactly had happened to me as a child, and having no-one to ask. Finally December rolled around and my cousin, one of the only other Catholic children in our family, invited me to go to Church with her while on holiday in Plett. It was there that it dawned on me that I had not been to church out of my own desire for over a year. I had lost my connection to God, a connection that I realized I needed back desperately. “Faith does not make things easy, it makes them possible” That realization changed my life. I had avoided God because how could He forgive me if I could not forgive myself or forgive the man that had done this to me. All I saw was anger and hurt. Rome was not build in a day, I still struggle to forgive, I still have days where I struggle to get out of bed because the thought scares me. Yet I do, I get up and say a pray. I ask God to give me the strength I need to face the world because I know that with God by my side I can do anything – anything is possible. My life if a testimony to that. I now know that if God can bring me back from a point of so much shame, then He can surely forgive my sins. I want to do my best to live my life for Him. I know what it’s like to feel lost and I also know what it’s like to find my way back. For Him, I want to set the best example I can. I refused to sink because I have an amazing God. About the Author Ursula I am currently a full time intern in an Architecture firm while also studying Architecture full time at CPUT. I love music, animals. movies and you will find me constantly doodling. My family is extremely important to me especially my little brother. Besides my past and the battles I have gone through, the majority of people that know me describe me and a colourful girl who is constantly smiling. I want to see others succeed.