GFA Knowledge Sharing BlogMay 7, 2014
Gamal Turawa (AKA 'G')
By Gamal Turawa
Our stories are so powerful in determining who we are and how we look at the world. Yet very few of us are fortunate to have had the opportunity to actually come face to face with our personal stories, living life on autopilot following a path we have been given rather than one we have set for ourselves. Occasionally we all have moments where life gives us a chance to press the pause button and review our direction and awaken to our true nature.
Approximately 16 years ago I found myself at a point in my life where that moment was presented to me. I was at Harrow on The Hill tube station waiting on the platform for the fast train to come along so that I could jump, I was ready to die!! As far as I was concerned nothing in my life was going right, I had too much baggage to be anything but a failure and I had had enough.
At that time I was in major debt, was estranged from family and friends, was drinking heavily and comfort eating as if food was going out of fashion.
Little did I know that my life was about to change in ways I could not imagine but first I had to look into the mirror and face my biggest demons.
How had I got to such a low point? It seemed back then that it was written in the stars that I was to be a failure. I had been born into a time of struggle and taught from as far back as I could remember that I was always going to be downtrodden. I was fostered out from birth to a white foster family in Kent and although they were loving and kind they were also the products of their time and I was a source of ’harmless’ banter and amusement in the village and was constantly reminded that I was different.
I spent the first 8 years of my life in an all-White environment. I went to the local Sunday school for my spiritual education and during the week was beaten up at school by the local bullies for being a coon or a nigger.
My foster parents would often be at the school challenging the teachers but to my young mind nothing seemed to change. There were good times though, the orchards and strawberry fields were like nature’s pantry and my foster brother and I never went hungry. We were free to roam throughout the countryside so long as we came home before dark and roam we did.
Then at 8 years old I was ‘kidnapped’ by my natural father, a big strong Nigerian man, a product of the colonial system and from a town where there was little academic opportunities. He had been brought up by the British Empire’s lash and it showed.
After spending 8 years with my natural parents I was then sent to Nigeria where a myriad of adventures and challenges were to shape my outlook on life in ways that I am still unraveling.
Again after 8 years I left, or rather escaped from, Nigeria and returned to the UK and settled in London and after trying various roles settled on a career in public service from which I am due to retire in the next few months. I really did not appreciate that the baggage I was carrying was getting heavier and heavier
During the early part of my public service because of that weight I paid a heavy price for not stepping into the truths of my identity and that gave others permission to treat me with disrespect. My baggage had become a negativity magnet attracting pain and hardship at almost every turn
More importantly I was on a path that led me to a point where I myself had devalued my own worth to the extent that I had denied the treasures of my experiences that gave my life journey positive value and meaning. That was a heavy toll to pay and in 2001 that mindset broke me down and I couldn’t carry the baggage anymore. I was worn out, I was done!!
I contemplated ending my life and went through various ways in my mind, I decided that the most violent was to jump in front of a train because that was the punishment the world deserved for treating me with such disdain and disrespect.
I sat down, wrote a suicide note and went to the local train station walked down the platform where the fast trains passed and waited. I then went blank, it felt like I had blinked and when I opened my eyes I was sitting at my desk and crying like a newborn baby.
This was the major turning point of my life. It heralded the birth of not only a new chapter but also a whole new perspective. I began a journey of self-discovery that I am still on.
The first step was to acknowledge where I was at and that was painful but when I did so much began to reveal itself. I will be forever grateful to certain powerful key individuals who came into my life at this time, ‘when the students are ready the teachers will appear.’ And boy did they.
I don’t want to give the impression that the rebirth was an easy process, it wasn’t, and it was painful, emotional and challenging. However I can say with confidence and conviction, it has certainly been worth it.
From that moment on I began to value the journey and give up the illusion of having to be perfect. I saw the richness and treasures in my experiences. My identity was no longer a burden it was a joy. I learnt the value of recognising catalytic moments in my life and valuing the transformational power of story sharing. I studied facilitation techniques and started using the Gestalt method and it became my passion to help people find their own answers. I became a Socratic catalyst for positive change.
I have gone from strength to strength, I have delivered workshops both nationally and internationally to both public and private sector organisations using the power of stories to facilitate real change.
I set up Purplefrog Training Ltd to use as a platform from which to facilitate the value of our stories and the power they have to transform us as people and organisations. Showing how they can create a bespoke process of meaningful and lasting change.
Want to know more? Then you’ll have to book a workshop. Contact me and we can discuss your needs.