“My childhood was not very easy. I grew up in a Moroccan family with six children. My parents were very authoritarian: their will was law. I was not supposed to make my voice heard. What I thought, felt, later wanted or dreamed that night, it didn’t matter, if I spoke up I was told to keep my mouth shut and I didn’t know what I was talking about anyway.
Everything my parents said was right, but what I thought about something was wrong. I was not allowed to show emotions. My parents were not stars in communication, because they themselves had not learned otherwise in their youth. Instead of asking what was wrong with me, I was slapped. When I cried, a hand was literally held over my mouth. I soon learned to shut up.”
“I became more and more silent, because who was waiting for my opinion? If I found something strange or stupid at school, I didn’t dare say it because I was afraid it would be suppressed again. I clapped often closed when someone asked me something. As a girl I was in a bubble. I played a lot in the attic, there I created my own, safe world where I could be myself.
Slowly I developed a fear of public speaking. I remember once leaning out the window and wanting to say something to someone standing outside. It didn’t work and I started stuttering. My mother saw it and exclaimed, “Have you suddenly gone deaf and dumb?” I thought that was so bad that I dared to say even less after this.”
“Sometimes friends told me they couldn’t get a height from me. And that was true, even as an adult I didn’t really let anyone in. I was very hard on myself and didn’t share my feelings with others, after all I had learned that that was stupid “And what you know, you look it up. I often had dominant boyfriends who also did not listen to me or laughed at my opinion. I attracted that energy, and so I stayed in the same circle.”
“Eleven years ago I was pregnant with my first son. Just before my due date I was folding socks when I heard a powerful voice inside me say very clearly: ‘The baby you are carrying will go back to heaven.’ I quickly suppressed this instinctive feeling, as I always did. A week later I went for a check with the midwife and she couldn’t find the heart anymore. My full-term son Benyamin had died in my belly.”
Terrified during second pregnancy
“I was heartbroken and didn’t dare tell anyone about my previous premonition. After all, who would listen to me? I tried to pick up the thread again and lived on autopilot. I got pregnant with my second son. pregnancy was very hard for me because i was terrified of losing him too.
It was a lonely time, because I didn’t confide in anyone about my fear. I didn’t dare say what I felt and avoided people. Fortunately, my son Daniel was born healthy. My husband and I divorced not long after. We had grown apart, partly because we couldn’t share the grief over Benyamin. I couldn’t talk to him about it either, because I was so drilled to keep my mouth shut.”
“There was a busy period in which I, as a single mother, tried to keep my balls high and also started a new job. At work I saw that things were not right or were being handled inefficiently.
I kept my opinion to myself, but often I saw that I was right in hindsight. See, it’s not all nonsense what I think, I realized then. Cautiously I started to speak out, but not long after I was fired.”
Lump in my throat
“Six years ago I reached an all-time low. My hair fell out, I sometimes fainted and I barely ate anything. An investigation showed that my thyroid gland almost stopped functioning. I started to look into the cause and read that thyroid complaints were often literally for a a lump in your throat, I found that very symbolic.
I had suppressed all my feelings, wishes and thoughts all my life. This was a huge revelation for me. It was time for me to stand up and finally speak out.”
“Such a change is not achieved in a day. The first step was acknowledging my feelings, because even to myself I didn’t dare to admit them anymore. I had to go deep inside and feel myself like an onion layer by layer It was painful because I felt things that I was afraid to feel at all, I realized that I was often afraid to say something, but was that really my own fear?
Then came the insight that this was actually my parents’ fear. In Moroccan culture many things are a shame, you don’t talk about that. They projected this onto me. Apparently I had always embraced other people’s fears and made them my own, but I wasn’t like that at all. I no longer knew who I was, only what others thought of me.”
Tribute to deceased son
“In time I started my own company Rabea Talks, with which I help companies to better deal with their staff and entrepreneurs who are struggling with themselves. Success comes from within. When I started for myself I received a lot of comments: who did I think I was? I started making videos in which I gave tips, and that also led to criticism. Some people around me thought it was stupid: was this necessary?
But then I noticed for the first time that their opinion didn’t matter to me. From now on I drew my own plan. On August 19, 2012 I lost my son. And as a tribute to him, I registered my company with the Chamber of Commerce on that date. Because everything changed after his passing and I conquered my fears.”
“It’s a relief not to be silent anymore. Never again do I want to be silenced or told that my opinion doesn’t matter. I don’t want to be what others think I should be. I was always afraid to failure, but imperfection leads to peace and beautiful insights.Striving for perfection causes stress, because you never do well enough.
I am very close to myself and that gives me a sense of freedom. Nowadays I often speak in front of large groups, who would have ever thought that? Everyone is worthy to be seen and heard, that is my message. I’d like to speak, because that’s my oxygen. My biggest fear turned out to be my passion.”
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