First-time author and former Vaalweekblad news editor Melanie Britz, who is a Somerset West resident, has managed to do what some of us only wish we could do – go back in time to our 20-year-old self, and offer her the wisdom gained from years spent in the trenches of life.
In her self-published memoir Dive In – Unlocking happiness and miracles, Britz has literally jumped into the deep end of her young adult life, picking away at the painful memories of a family torn apart by a divorce no one saw coming, and the trauma of a mother’s near-suicide attempt.
“It was really a powerful process to see my younger self so clearly and to realise, 20 years later, how far I had come and how much I had learnt,” explains Melanie.
Her memoir consists of letters penned to her younger self and was recently published as a Kindle eBook on Amazon.
“In this moment, you are in your second year of university in Johannesburg. So innocent, and so unprepared for what is to come,” writes Melanie in reference to the looming divorce of her parents, and the violent murder of a childhood friend.
“This is going to mark the moment we lose our faith in God (and life)”.
The letter, she says, is not only about sharing her life story, but how she overcame the things that impacted on her while growing up.
“As a child, I was never really taught how to handle my emotions. This caused huge problems in my adult life. Over time I learnt how to process difficult emotions and it’s one of the things I share in detail in the letters. Another part focuses on our subconscious programming, which makes an impact on us later on in our life.
“The book also focuses on self-love and acceptance and how one can learn to forgive yourself and others for mistakes that were made in the past.”
Other topics related to programming and which she touches on, include her struggle with her beliefs around money and her weight.
While she has a strong writing background and specialised in marketing, communications and public relations in the past, she laughs when asked about how the memoir came about.
“It’s a weird story and I would not recommend that anyone attempts to write a book in this way.”
“One day, while cooking soup, I got this list of topics, which became most of the chapters in the book, and the urgent feeling that this was the book I had to write,” she explains.
It was this strong feeling, which she calls “Knowing” – and most of us refer to as our intuition – that alerted her to her mother’s imminent suicide attempt, and helped her prevent it.
“I think maybe we all have an ability to tap into this collective consciousness and get snippets of information from it. Most people I know have experienced it in some way. You meet someone and something just doesn’t feel right. You think of someone you haven’t talked to in a while and the phone rings, and it’s them,” she says.
After the research for each chapter had been concluded and fleshed out, Melanie left her writing untouched for a few months.
“I felt insecure about my authority to talk about some of the topics mentioned in the book,” says Melanie, who now lives in Somerset West and works as an estate agent.
She discussed her frustration during a meeting with Shaldon Fitzgerald, a Cape Town hypnotherapist and coach. “As I sat there talking to him, I started crying. That’s when he said: ‘Stop writing this book for everyone else, write it for yourself’.”
On her way home, it hit her – she needed to literally write the book for herself.
“And just like that everything started flowing.”
Melanie has taken the publication of her book a step further, after realising just how many women could relate to what she had shared, and the need for us to show up in our own lives to do the personal growth work needed at that moment.
She has created a website, www.showinguptoday.com, and in the conclusion to her memoir, invites others to share their own letters to their younger selves online.
“Sitting down and really thinking about my life and all the things I wanted to tell my younger self was a moment of deep introspection, but also a moment of power for me. By taking charge of the stories we tell ourselves about the sh*t that happened to us, the bad things we did and the pain we experienced, we are able to transmute them into helpful, shining examples of bravery and kindness to ourselves. It’s a special kind of magic, I think.”
Readers can submit a letter to be published on the website: email firstname.lastname@example.org
* Lynne Rippenaar-Moses is a Stellenbosch resident.