From the Depths of Darkness into the Light_flowers


To write this post, from the depths of darkness to the light, it has needed all of my courage and willingness.



Having always been a very private person, it is hard to say the least to release these thoughts to the world en masse. Private incidents and intense periods of my life that I have shut off, put in a box and filed away, not to be spoken of.


Yet at the same time, maybe someone out there can relate to this, or perhaps it can help you on some level.


You don’t have to come from perfect beginnings.


From the Depths of Darkness into the Light_ smashed window



My father smashed the glass door in the living room, cutting his arm badly. He shouted coarsely, “I will stand here and bleed to death and you can watch me.” My brother walked up to me looked straight into my eyes and said, ” You have two choices, you can either let this destroy you, or make yourself so strong that nothing can touch you.”


My mother didn’t say anything and just carried on sewing away on the machine. My brother had his GCSE final exams the next morning. I cannot remember how the evening ended at all, I don’t even know if my father had any memory of that even happening.


He had been an alcoholic since I was two years old. It had got steadily worse as I grew up and by the time I was in my teens it was now dangerous.



Yet I loved my father insanely and was much closer to him than my mother, I grew up sitting on his lap, twisting him around my little finger and pretty much getting away with anything I wanted.
He was a very clever man and had so much potential. He literally taught himself a high level of English by reading the newspapers, was a union representative during strikes for all the factory workers, was later a crane driver and then a member of parliament. Yet his spirit was broken and I knew by watching him that he was haunted by depression.


By the time I reached my teens I often saw my older brother acting more like my father, than my actual father.
He would often come as a defending wall between my mother and my father, to prevent her from getting hit, and soon I would have to be the go between, for my brother had to leave to for university soon.



From the Depths of Darkness into the Light walking in smoke



Some nights, we had to run out of the house. We had no family. Our community saw us as outcasts, neighbours were not an option. We often went to the local mall. No money. Just sat there on the metal benches. My mother was not great with words and I am sure she was often in shock herself. We would just sit there for as long as possible. I remember looking at the people walking by and thinking to myself, they all have happy families and homes to go to.








I remember some nights we had to lean against the door while he was banging and banging on it, trying to break it down in his drunk state.

At some point he started he started drink driving, which was very dangerous not only to him but to others. I took the car keys once and he pulled a very small knife out and forced me to give the keys over.
Again, I had ZERO recollection how that all ended, I only remember that moment and how afterwards when my mother told him what he did, he really beat himself up over that. He had no memory and blacked out every time he drank.

Anything could have happened if he had driven in that state and many times I remember him being in the back of an ambulance and other times the police where called to our house.


I still vividly remember how one time, my mother tried to call the police, he grabbed her by the hair and dragged her around the living room, with the phone still in her hand.




I had no idea how I digested those moments. I actually grew up fearing the next day and what it would bring. We all had no expectations and just learnt to ROLL with the punches.



Life outside was as normal as possible and my mother worked day and night on the sewing machine to provide for my brother and I. She sent me away on trips to Paris and Holland which is when I fell in love with the need to travel and learn to  absorb the beauty from other cultures.



Distinctly, I can seem to remember one very large drawing that I was doing as part of an Art & Design course just before entering university.

Feeling very angry, annoyed with the world, I pushed and pushed myself. I remember thinking these words, I will use my anger, my pain, our alienation, I will channel this and use it as my strength.




From the Depths of Darkness into the Light sparkle



Later at the end of my Art & Design qualification, I managed to get a distinction (the equivalent of an A*).



Yet it really didn’t matter to anyone but me, because in my community of British-Pakistanis, you were either a doctor, lawyer, bank manager, pharmacist or a dentist.  If you were a hairdresser you were laughable, if you were a beautician you were dubbed as someone with no brains.



But I was very thankful that my mother allowed both my brother & I to pursue what we had a passion for. She said, do whatever you please, as long as it is not unlawful in the sight of God and as long as you work hard and it makes you happy.


My mother has been a huge inspiration to me. The fact that she didn’t run out and abandon my brother & I is something I will never forget. My brother too was like a father and still is there for me, like a rock.








Eventually we left my father. As soon as my brother graduated and started earning he supported us. The day before I left for university, we used it as an excuse to move out and put as much as possible into a car (mostly clothes) and left.

My mother was the first woman who ever left her husband from her generation in her community.



My father passed away three years ago, I couldn’t shed any tears for him. I feel as though my father that should have been died many years before he really did. However whenever I watch a film with a father and daughter moment I well up and have to have a sob (this happened after watching Molly’s game).




Literally right now I have an overwhelming feeling of guilt  – why am I writing this?



Because there is always a way through




From the Depths of Darkness into the Light



Recently, a year ago, when my 15 year old son was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, I went right back to basics. I dove into my art.


This was such an intensely hard time between my mother and me. Even though I love her and cannot possibly return to her the like of how she has sacrificed for me, during this time when I had to stand my my son’s side, I was going through some intense feelings and things were not and are still not all well between us. I’m working on it.


Art gave me solace. It literally saved me from breaking down and was a form of therapy. I stayed nights in the hospital by my son’s bedside with a sketchbook and pencil in had.

I think it has been a source of connection with myself that I needed at those times more than any others.
I dove into doing style shoot after style shoot and one of my most popular designs came from this very time and was later featured on a prominent wedding blog.


I am very thankful that my son is completely healed, we were walking on eggshells to begin with but I am learning to ease back into the normality of everyday life – each day for our family has been a gift. Just simple things like seeing him around the house, rather than in a hospital bed hooked up to a chemo drip is such a blessing.



All my mothers prayers came full circle. She started a career as a high school teacher and I married a wonderful man, who has opened my eyes to joy and a type of happiness and stability I did not know could exist and yet my greatest fear is to lose him.







From the Depths of Darkness into the Light – I don’t think that I am a better designer for having grown up with those experiences, not at all. But I do find that when I channel my pain, and take from the darkness, or let’s say deeper vibes- that it helps me to create something more meaningful and more powerful in the end.








If you are going through a particularly hard time, please read this.



No matter what your situation, where ever you come from and whatever you have been through, your story doesn’t define who you are, you do.






Now I give it over to you.
Have you ever been through a challenging part of your life, hat helped you to overcome it?
Please leave a comment below and continue the discussion.


Recent Comments

  • Anna Winnie
    May 8, 2018 - 1:41 pm · Reply

    Hello, Rubana. You cant imagine how profound and inspiring you are being so opened and so brave to share your story with us.. Thank you for every drop of encouragement you have put in your words. You help many of us to go on. You make this life more beautiful with your art and soul. You have just given me a hope. Thank you. Thank God for you are with us.

    • Rubana Gaspar
      May 8, 2018 - 3:26 pm · Reply

      Dearest Anna, I pray that you are not going through anything like that! But thank you so much for your kind words. It seemed never ending at the time but to be truthful, I didn’t know anything different. I am so thankful it is all in the past yet I know that I carry it deep within my soul.

  • Natalie
    May 8, 2018 - 1:50 pm · Reply

    Dear Rubana,
    You have truly triumphed. Your strength and resilience are remarkable and inspiring. I think that although life may hand us some horrible situations we remain who we are. Your spirit shows in your work — beautiful and unique.

    • Rubana Gaspar
      May 8, 2018 - 3:24 pm · Reply

      Thank you very much dear Natalie. Your words mean so much and I am touched profoundly that you took the time to read through this. I think we are all better and stronger for what we endure, although it is so hard to know that in the moment, or the eye of the storm.

  • Alex Schon
    May 8, 2018 - 2:02 pm · Reply

    Rubana, you are not only one of the most talented people I have had the pleasure of getting to know, but one of the strongest. To overcome everything you have been dealt, and to do it with such grace, is empowering. You’re an amazing woman!

    • Rubana Gaspar
      May 8, 2018 - 3:23 pm · Reply

      Dear Alex, Thank you so much for your words. We all have strength inside, deep inside, we don’t know how strong we can be until we have to go through something like that.

  • Tiziana
    May 8, 2018 - 3:58 pm · Reply

    I want to pause for a minute and truly take in the depth of emotion that is being shared here. This story is a heartfelt testament to the resilience and beauty of the human spirit! It means a lot that you are able to share this. You are healing and using your creative gifts to inspire others. You are the essence of Beauty, Grace and Strength. Much gratitude for your courage.

    • Rubana Gaspar
      May 8, 2018 - 5:37 pm · Reply

      Dear Tiziana, hello and thank you so much for leaving such deep, deep comments. I am pretty blown away right now. Hesitating insanely whilst writing this, I am now quite moved with the level of empathy that my fellow followers and watchers have expressed. My story is indeed heartfelt and I hope that God does give me success with my design adventures!

    • Rubana Gaspar
      May 9, 2018 - 9:20 am · Reply

      Hi Cathy, so many people have it/ had it much worse than me, but I am thankful that is is long gone and long past. Thank you for taking the time to read through!

  • Andrew
    May 9, 2018 - 10:40 am · Reply

    I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life and I feel sheltered after reading your post. I can’t imagine growing up in fear and with violence around the corner, every day.

    To come out of what you’ve experienced and to have found love with your man is testament to your strength and personality.

    You didn’t let us know about your son – is he ok?

    • Rubana Gaspar
      May 9, 2018 - 12:51 pm · Reply

      Dear Andrew, I think that I should add that in, yes my son thankfully is completely cancer free and we hope it stays that way.
      Really appreciate that you took the time to read that! To be honest, I also have no idea how we came through all that, we just had no other choice.

  • Nathanael Clanton
    June 22, 2018 - 12:13 am · Reply

    Wow Rubana, what a story. Thank you SO much for sharing it because it adds so much depth to who you are and what you do. You’re not just an amazing artist, but also a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a mother.

    I know what it feels like to be afraid of telling my story. But each time I’ve been transparent, THOSE are the moments that people have told me they respected the most about me, not the times when I’ve kept on a mask of perfectionism.

    My father also battled alcoholism and depression. And while he never was violent, seeing him so broken when we needed him the most affected me in a big way; it caused me to doubt whether I would have the strength when it mattered most. – It’s taken years to learn that his story and battles are NOT mine, and I’ve been able to have so much empathy and compassion for him because of the revelation that he is imperfect and as in need of grace and love as I am.

    I’m so glad to hear that your son is doing so much better and that you’ve been able to be surrounded by such an amazing community of family and loved ones 🙂

    What a beautifully written post! Thank you for your transparency!

    Keep writing, you’re good at it!
    I believe that as people hear your heart, they will buy your art. (I couldn’t resist the rhyme lol)


  • David Abel
    January 25, 2021 - 7:39 pm · Reply

    What a truly inspiring yet heartbreaking origin story. Rubana, I am so fortunate to have met you. Your openness with your past and what you have had to overcome is truly inspiring. I have only known the person you have become, but now knowing what you have been through and how it has shaped you into the person you are today makes me love you all the more. Thank you so much for sharing this with everyone.

    • Rubana Gaspar
      January 25, 2021 - 9:27 pm · Reply

      Thank you so much David for taking the time to read through the post! I know it might have been a little too much but I wanted to share how we can rise above and overcome our circumstances. It seemed easier to get through as a teenager than if something like this would happen now. So many of the lessons I leant at that time are still with me.

  • Aesha Begum
    January 25, 2021 - 11:01 pm · Reply

    Dear Rubana, thank you for sharing your very personal life story. I admire you even more now knowing all the hardship, pain, struggle you have been through and not losing faith. I was really pleased to hear your son is better now alhamdulillah. May Allah continue to give you barakha in your business and keep you and your family safe. Ameen. Warm wishes Aesha. X

    • Rubana Gaspar
      January 26, 2021 - 9:45 am · Reply

      Hi Aesha, Ameen to that. It’s strange how I hardly think about those times now. while I was going through those moments it didn’t occur to me that happiness could be found once more. A change is always just around the corner.

  • Nancy Ghaida
    January 26, 2021 - 12:49 am · Reply

    Rubana you are a gift
    I could feel your beautiful soul the way you so kindly interact with your followers, and with me, but now reading your story that you so bravely share with us, you can’t imagine how profound and inspiring you are to me !
    I feel hearth full and like I know you longtime and I am blessed to know you, to enjoy your amazing art✨your encouragement and passion for what you do!!
    Love your resilience and giving spirit ✨
    You are Grace✨

    • Rubana Gaspar
      January 26, 2021 - 9:47 am · Reply

      Dear Nancy, thank you so much for your kind message. It was hard for me to share this and I didn’t want to share this over on my Instagram account, but it seems a better space here and I feel safer on my blog for some bizarre reason. Thank you so much for taking the time to read. After hardship comes ease.

  • Susannah Parker
    January 26, 2021 - 10:07 am · Reply

    Dear Rubana, words fail me, such a moving story, intensely sad yet so full of grace. Thank you for sharing, for being an inspiration and for reminding me to be more thankful and to count my blessings. Susannah

    • Rubana Gaspar
      January 26, 2021 - 2:31 pm · Reply

      Hi Susannah, thank you so much for kindly, kindly leaving such a thoughtful message. It was such an intense time, but it certainly put things into perspective for me now passing through these crazy Covid times. I do sometimes pause and remind myself of all the blessings that I do have.

  • Damita
    January 26, 2021 - 8:21 pm · Reply

    I now understand why I have felt such a connection to you. I also grew up in a similar situation. Although, towards the end of his life, I made a sort of peace with him. I think he truly regretted all he had put us through, and the more I learned about his life growing up, I realized that blame goes backwards for generations. You made the right choices to not have that kind of relationship yourself. What a blessing that is for you and your children.

    • Rubana Gaspar
      January 27, 2021 - 8:24 am · Reply

      Damita, this is unreal that we have a similar past with our fathers. I am very grateful that we all made peace as well.
      Towards the end there were much better terms between us. For him it was similar to Richard Burton, it was a lifelong addiction that he didn’t have
      the strength to battle. My brother never tells his children of my father addiction as he doesn’t want to expose them. But I’m exactly the opposite and
      I’m very frank and open with my sons with how it destroyed my father’s life.

  • Gabriela
    January 27, 2021 - 8:54 pm · Reply

    Oh my dear Rubana! What testimony of life…I had to stop reading a couple of time because of my tears…amazing resilience! Your brother was so right about how to decide how to use some circunstances of your life…the half empty glass or the half full. All my love and I send hugs. Gabriela (Gabitherapy from Instagram!your fan!;)

    • Rubana Gaspar
      January 27, 2021 - 10:20 pm · Reply

      Oh my dearest Gabriela, Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. I know it is such a hard post to get through and I am sorry that you got so emotional throughout it. It is strange to think that I lived through all of that. It is as though it was a past life. When I close my eyes I can vividly remember being right back there and use it to gather strength. I am not as strong as when I was a teenager though. Now I have more of a mother’s heart.

  • Pia
    January 28, 2021 - 7:00 pm · Reply

    My dearest, I read this blog post years ago but I neglected to leave a comment. You are such a strong person for sharing this story. As for some of my challenges in life… I’m not ready to share. Although, I’ll say this: It resembles a tiny part of your own.

    Take care,

  • michele mortimer. Highfieldblooms
    January 29, 2021 - 1:38 pm · Reply

    Thank you for sharing with us , opening your heart and writing words that can’t of been easy to write .Im so pleased your son is now well ❤️ Your work is amazing and I can see the beauty and depth in it that I feel from your words as well . I lost my beloved dad last year as well as three other close relatives and have had some very dark days since but I’m trying my hardest to emerge from it and loosing myself in my flowers really helps .You totally inspire me to push forward with my dreams .. thank you x

    • Rubana Gaspar
      January 31, 2021 - 10:42 am · Reply

      Michele, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Losing one person is hard, let alone a few from your family. Take time for yourself to process and come to terms with it all. Death is part of life, yet it is so hard to pass through a major event like this.The fact the I faced losing my son for 6 months was very hard for me to process and I felt raw for almost an entire year afterwards. If I spoke about it I went to a very weird zone and people could see my face change. I could barely be around anyone but my immediate family. Give yourself time and thank you so much for your kind comment.

  • Ashima
    May 27, 2023 - 6:08 am · Reply

    Your story mirrors my childhood and gave me so much healing to know that my story doesn’t exist in isolation. Your mom is a champion!! Glad you made it through to the other side, even though the darkness is something we have to walk through often. Thank you for sharing!

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