Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Recently I had an epiphany. I realized – and not just on an intellectual level – that everything in this world, including you and me, is already perfect the way it is! That there isn’t any need to force change… that the change occurs already on its own, whether we like it or not, and that it unfolds in a perfect way and a perfect time frame.
The permanent lifting of the inner burden that was on my mind, made possible by such realization, is simply priceless!
So what exactly happened to me that made me arrive at such a liberating and relieving conclusion?
You’re going to think I’m crazy…. and you wouldn’t be the first person to do so, which is perfectly fine. As I just mentioned earlier: everything is perfect the way it is 😉
I watched a presentation on YouTube called “Forget What You Know” about a young boy name Jacob Barnett. Jacob is autistic. He is also considered to be our ‘next Einstein’. But Jacob did not discover his gift until after he was removed from a state run ‘special education’ program. (To learn more, read: Autistic Boy With Higher IQ Than Einstein Discovers His Gift After Removal From State-Run Therapy)
Watching this helped me realize that my own lack of formal schooling was the best thing that ever happened to me. Even though I have understood that for quite some time already, it is a totally different type of experience to be able to see it with my own eyes through someone else’s common experience. It served as a validation for what I already believed in. In doing so, it opened my eyes to a new perspective on life in general.
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
Back to the start
First I will explain a few things about my childhood. As I described in one of my previous articles, I wasn’t even able to finish the mandatory elementary school education. But learning and books in general are my biggest passions that I’ve cultivated in my heart, literally since before I learned how to walk! On my 1st birthday, following our Polish tradition, my mom surrounded me with different items to see which one of them I would pick up first. This type of game is supposed to help parents to identify what kind of interests a child has, and will develop later on in life, and therefore what type of profession he or she may choose in the future. I crawled towards the book, of course, and I grabbed it as if it was a real treasure. As my mom recalls, I made everyone laugh with my determination of not wanting to let go of it.
After I learned how to read, my passion towards books continued to expand uncontrollably. Whatever books were to be found around the house (mainly the Bible and other religious scriptures) were examined by me on a daily basis. The wonders that the written words and colorful illustrations contained simply blew my young mind off! Mom had to yell at me sometimes for staying up all night, trying to read under the cover with a flash light. “You’re gonna ruin your eyes this way!” I remember hearing the concern in her voice.
Socially speaking though, I was not nearly as talented. I was an introvert (still am). I was considered to be too serious, overly sensitive, and awkward in general. All I ever seemed to do was to read and to think, and often over-analyzed things. I had a speech problem, for which my mom had to take me to a specialist. I remember distinctly practicing the pronunciation of difficult words with my family.
In school I was a straight A’s student. In my fourth grade the teachers observed my higher than average IQ, I guess, because they suggested to my mom that I should be bumped at least one grade ahead. They explained that I was too bored in each class since I knew all the material already. Mom for some reason hesitated, and she didn’t follow the teachers suggestion. I was disappointed, but it wasn’t the end of the world… yet…
In my seventh grade I was chosen to be a president of the entire school body. I was very surprised to win the election since most of the girls in my class didn’t seem to like me. I was proud to be such a “genius.” It seemed to be the only thing I was good at. In my first week of eighth grade — the final grade of my elementary school experience — my mom asked me to stop attending the school for good. Yes, the final decision was up to me, but how was I supposed to not grant her wish, knowing the reason behind her request?
My parents were about to lose their land and the house they build with their own hands, using their own money, to our uncle, who instigated a law suit against them. In a desperate attempt to protest against the Polish legal system that eventually allowed my uncle to evict us from our home, mom thought that my absence in school would get noticed – which it did. But unfortunately our cry for help did not make anyone to extend a helpful hand. With the property, we lost our home – the only home we knew – and my younger siblings and I ended up at an orphanage.
Now, at the orphanage I had the opportunity to continue my education. But something had happened inside of me that simply wouldn’t allow me to. You could say I was suffering from post-traumatic stress. I started to hate the books and the school, which not long ago were my biggest love affair ever. I could not make myself read anything, even if my life depended on it! The books, the school and the teachers started to repulse me. I rebelled against all of it. I rebelled against everything I was ever taught to be true, everything I’ve ever read, and everything I’ve ever learned. I did not graduate from the eighth grade, but it wasn’t because I had failed on the exams. I managed to pass all the final exams despite the fact that I had missed almost the entire school year and had attended classes for only two weeks. I did not get a piece of paper stating that I completed the mandatory education required by the Polish government because only 2 weeks before the graduation ceremony, I chose to run away from the orphanage.
But then, as I hadn’t even realized yet, those latest traumatic events in my young life were already forming a new beginning for me. Although I couldn’t yet grasp the fact, not attending school was one of the best things that would ever happen to me!
The perfect blessing
As I grew older – and as the process of my overcoming the severe depression I was affected by my entire life started to come to an end – I realized that, even though practicing forgiveness helped me to heal my depression, in the end there was really nothing that I had to forgive here! In the end, there was only everything to be thankful for! Why is that? Because if I continued with following the guidance of the educational system, I would have never learned to think for myself. I would have never learned to think critically, I would have never learned to question everything. I would have never had the guts to stand up against the current of the society’s beliefs of what is “normal” or “acceptable”. I would have never found the wisdom that each and every one of us is born with! My brain would have been too contaminated with beliefs of what’s right and what’s wrong, beliefs that others had formed for themselves, and which would have been piled upon my fresh and eager brain. Being the eager student that I always was, I would have had to unlearn everything from the beginning – which wouldn’t be an easy thing to do.
There is a perfect reason why fire departments, for example, prefer to hire fire fighters that don’t have any prior experience whatsoever. The “fire people” that save lives on a daily basis understand that it is much easier to train a complete “rookie” than having to un-teach someone experienced, with all the bad habits or beliefs that they picked up along the previous training.
With that being said, I feel extremely thankful today. I am thankful to my mom for (intentionally or unintentionally) saving me from the brain wash I would have received from the one-size-fits-all school system, if it wasn’t for her desperate decision. I am even thankful to my uncle who by evicting us, for making all this possible. Without the suffering my family endured because of my uncle’s action, I would most likely not have written my book: Self Realized. My website probably wouldn’t exist either. And you wouldn’t be reading my words here today.
And I thank my father for being exactly the way he was with me. I wouldn’t have the understanding I have today without the pain I went through, being abused by him as a child. If it wasn’t for the nightmare I went through, I wouldn’t have nearly as much compassion for human suffering as I do now. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for all those people who helped shaping me, often while hurting me the most.
If it wasn’t for my depression that tormented me for 3 decades, I wouldn’t be here, doing my best to help others overcome their problems. And if it wasn’t for my experience with depression, today I could not fully appreciate what a joy is to be alive! What a joy is to know – and not just understand but actually know through experience – that everything is perfect the way it is. It always was.
I’ll leave you here with a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke, author of “Letters to a Young Poet“…
Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change.
If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.
Editor’s note: ‘Self Realized’
Elzbieta Pettingill is more than a survivor, she’s a thriver!
After suffering from rape and abuse in her childhood, Elzbieta battled with severe depression and suicidal tendencies for 30 years. Let down by the medical and psychological establishments, Elzbieta finally realized that only she could change her mind. Now ‘self realized’, she has learned to use her suffering as an engine to propel her towards not only finding a cure for her ongoing depression, but to understanding who she really is – and who we ALL are – on a much broader spiritual level.
Her journey took her around the globe, in a constant search of true happiness. Ultimately though, through the brave and determined examination of her outer and her inner self, she finally learned to accept herself, and in doing so, transformed herself and her life in ways she never believed possible. She found home. And through her book, she tells her inspiring story in hopes she might help others to do the same.
Open, honest and vulnerable, Elzbieta’s account of her personal experiences, and the lessons she learned along the way, is both uplifting and enlightening. ‘Life Realized‘ isn’t just your average memoir, it is a story of a true shift in spiritual awareness. It is Elzbieta’s testimony that, no matter what life throws at us, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, no matter what, we are always LOVED… even if it seems to be the exact opposite.
‘Self Realized’ is available now on Amazon.com. A highly recommended read!
Previous articles by Elzbieta:
- The Trouble Is… We Think We Have Time
- The Angel That You Are
- Depression and Spiritual Awakening: One Woman’s Story of Overcoming Abuse & Depression
About the author:
Now residing in Honolulu, Hawaii, Polish-born Elzbieta Pettingill is an author, former fashion model and survivor of depression. She suffered abuse and rape in her childhood, and was subsequently diagnosed with a depression that followed her from childhood through to adulthood. Let down by the medical and psychological establishments, Elzbieta finally realized that only she could change her mind, and finally overcame her depression in her 30’s through a process of conscious spiritual awakening.
Elzbieta’s story forms the basis of her book: “Life Realized” – available now on Amazon.com
This article revised and edited by Andy Whiteley for Wake Up World.