Life isn’t perfect.

I can choose to play the blame game, or I can take responsibility for managing my behavior.

This is my Story: Part 3.

I’m trying to answer the age old question of: Why did you paint this?

Life isn’t perfect.

I remember Robben Island.

I was about three or four years old when we moved there. I still remember traveling there by boat for the first time. It was storming with massive waves coming over the front of the boat. All our furniture was lashed below decks with ropes to the central pillars to keep it from sliding around. My mother was up top busy getting seasick.

My dad worked as a lawyer in the office. He was required to also do warden rounds as part of his duty in his uniform of long socks, shorts and a shirt.

The government was very good at looking after their own. Inexpensive housing and labor were provided. Each compound was like a little border town with its own unique feel, and I started my school career as a five year old on Robben Island.

Blaming others

I’ve seen in my own life that fear leads to control. What we do not understand, we have to control.

The tendency to blame others can be traced to my early childhood. No matter how much people love us, our parents, family, friends and spouses, we are all broken. We hurt each other unintentionally. Even a well-meaning joke can hurt others.

We do need to look at situations and recognized that others might have had an impact. It is not wrong to be realistic about personal relationships. But we cannot live full lives and develop into adult and content humans playing the blame game.
I can choose to play the blame game, or I can take responsibility for managing my behavior. If I had continued to blame others, I would not now be able to paint what I do. My art used to be full of anger and screams, shouting out at the world: ‘I hate you all! I do not trust any of you.’
All that happened is that I ended up isolating myself behind a wall of control and efficiency.

The wrong choices I made are MY choices. I no longer blame others for my wrong choices. 

I cannot control how others treat me. But I can choose how to respond to others. 

Life isn’t perfect.

Life is all about making mistakes. It’s only through getting things wrong that we learn how to do them right.


  1. We can explain things more quickly and easily by attributing them to others.
  2. Shifting the blame onto someone else is a subtle way to attack them.
  3. Shifting the blame directly onto someone or something else is the perfect way to avoid having to reflect on my behavior or delve deeply into my own psyche.
  4. it’s easier to tell a lie than it is to deal with the consequences of the truth.
  5. Blaming other people can provide me with an excuse to act in a hurtful manner.

Storms of Anger

I am Brave but I Bleed.

This is my Story: Part 2.

I’m trying to answer the age old question of: Why did you paint this? 

Storms of anger.

All my physical needs were met, but no spiritual or emotional needs.

I grew up in a lake of bitterness and despair, with waves of resentment and storms of anger.

Learned early on that I had to be strong and courageous as no one else was going to protect me. No one would stand up and ransom me. I had to be brave

Much later in life, I learned that each person’s name has a meaning. We are not named randomly. Every person’s name describes their calling.

For example, Robert means, Bright Fame. Gary means Bold Spear. Niel means, Champion or cloud, and my name meant…

Leonie, lioness and little girl with a brave and courageous heart.

My mother also came from a dysfunctional  background.

Her father was a violent alcoholic. She grew up being given too much responsibility at a very young age. At the age of six, she stood on a chair, in front of a cole-stove cooking breakfast for her younger siblings.

She also had a very bad stutter and because of the stutter, she was sent to a special school. She did not have the opportunity to finish school but had to go work to support her family. (She was also a brave girl)

At this point, my grandmother had already divorced her first husband due to his violence and drinking.

Take into account that this was during the depression, and a single divorced woman was an outcast. My mother felt responsible for her family, giving her whole income to my grandmother to help feed the rest of the family. At this point, she was staying with her family in Parrow, a suburb in Cape Town, and working as a nurse at Tygerberg Hospital, also in Belville.

When we have alcoholic parents, we became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures. We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process. We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfil our sick abandonment needs.

The Laundry List.

14 Traits of an Adult Child.

  1. We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
  2. We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
  3. We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
  4. We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
  5. We live life from the viewpoint of victims and we are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
  6. We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.
  7. We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
  8. We became addicted to excitement.
  9. We confuse love and pity and tend to “love” people we can “pity” and “rescue.”
  10. We have “stuffed” our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (Denial).
  11. We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
  12. We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings, which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.
  13. Alcoholism* is a family disease; and we became para-alcoholics** and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.
  14. Para-alcoholics** are reactors rather than actors.

A Family of Orphans

The story behind this painting.

This painting is still a work in progress. You are allowed a sneak peak into my heart and mind.

I’m trying to answer the age old question of: Why did you paint this? 

I see light in the darkness

I was born an orphan in a house full of orphans.

According to Wikipedia, an orphan is; someone whose parents have died, are unknown, or have permanently or emotionally (sometimes unintentionally) abandoned them.

The Bible calls it; A person who has been deprived of parents. 

Lamentations 5:3: “We have become orphans and fatherless, our mothers like widows.” 

My father lost his mother at the age of 10 when he found her dead on the floor. Both he and his younger brother were brought up by their grandmother and various aunts and uncles.

My dad was an extremely clever man with a very high IQ, very sensitive and never had the opportunity or counseling to deal with his loss. He started drinking at a very early age and was already a highly functional alcoholic in his twenties.

During his life, he was very successful at his work but was constantly in and out of rehab.

I have no doubt, that he did the best he knew to do. He did not grow up with a father figure and had no one to tell him how to be a husband and a father.

They call it ACA, Adult Children of Alcoholics

How did it affect me?

They call it ACA…Children of Alcoholics.
If you grew up in an alcoholic home, you never know what to expect from one day to the next. When one or both parents struggle with addiction, the home environment is predictably unpredictable.

Arguments, inconsistency, unreliability, and chaos tend to run rampant. Children of alcoholics don’t get many of their emotional needs met due to these challenges, often leading to skewed behaviors and difficulties in properly caring for themselves and their feelings later in life.

The website, Very Well Mind mentioned 13 characteristics of ACA Children…and I had all of them.

If you were never given the attention and emotional support you needed during a key developmental time in your youth and instead were preoccupied with the dysfunctional behavior of a parent, it may certainly be hard (or perhaps impossible) to know how to get your needs met as an adult. Furthermore, if you lacked positive foundational relationships, it may be difficult to develop healthy, trusting interpersonal relationships later on.

Children of alcoholics often have to deny their feelings of sadness, fear, and anger in order to survive. And since unresolved feelings will always surface eventually, they often manifest during adulthood. 

In my life, it manifested in distrust and hatred of both my parents and seeking affirmation in the wrong places. I was drowning in my own bitterness.

Look out for Part Two: Storms of Anger