Worth.

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The first man who should have been my hero, my protector, my defender told me no man would love me if I could not keep a clean house or cook. Consequently, I learnt to cook but cleaning…

I felt hot shame and anger. I was not worthy.

Years later, my inability to keep a tidy house was sited as a reason for my divorce.

I remember those words piercing my heart. I felt shame. I was not worthy.

The next man that came into my life, was my protector for a while. I do not remember when he changed. When he told me if I did not behave in a certain way he would leave me. And so I tried, I tried really hard. I learnt to hold my tongue for a while, I learnt to say nothing but every now and then the anger at the injustice of having to be silent would burn up inside me and I would say something and then I would hear the threat again. If I did not behave, he would leave me. I was destined to fail. I had failed my children too.

I felt hot shame and guilt. I was not worthy.

Men then entered and exited my life in a night. I had lost my voice, I had lost myself.

I felt hot shame. I was not worthy.

The next man to enter was a good man. He gave me back some of my worth. I was grateful.

And then a wonderfully good man entered my life. But he had a secret himself, and that secret destroyed my value I had as a woman. His desire to be normal, to fit in the world, used me to protect himself. It was painful to learn the truth. It was painful to feel the loss.

I did not feel shame just pain. And the pain became shame. I was not worthy.

And then another man entered my life. Again I could do no right. I feared the unpredictable anger. I watched patiently to see what mood would prevail and I would act accordingly. This time I felt relief to walk away, even though I grieved.

I felt no shame. I felt no guilt. But I felt unworthy.

And the last man. A beautifully sad man, his eyes could see the beauty within me. Yet he could not see the beauty of my body, my insignificant breast, my unflattering stomach. He made me feel shame again but this shame was merely a reflection of his own shame for his own ‘unattractive’ beautiful body. He was blind to his own beauty, his own goodness. His shame became my shame. I wanted to give him my eyes so he could see clearly. Yet, I should have realised at the start when he is said, ‘I could love you but…’ that I should have walked away then. I wanted to believe he could change! I wanted to believe he could see his true self through me.

His shame became my shame. I felt unworthy.

And to the first man, who loved me but judged me. I forgive you for you knew no better.

No longer will I accept it. I am worthy!

Today I am worthy, tomorrow I am worthy.

I will always be worthy.

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I don’t remember…

aparentinparis

I don’t remember my hero. The hero of Cedar street. He is quite forgotten in my tapestry of life. The stories squashed and hidden as so who knows if this forgotten memory, this forgotten hero, this forgotten man is real or imagined.

My hero of Cedar Street, is as black as spades. His English acquired through intelligence. His eight other languages through sheer brilliance. I remember him trying to teach me, whilst I sat on the lawn he weeded and he chatted to his friends across the fence but to no avail, I was not gifted like he.

His room was a Pandora’s box. A box room, attached to the outside of the house, in the backyard. The backyard had his room with a bright yellow tin door and next his toilet and shower, and then the laundry, our laundry, not his. His home was in the backyard with the…

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I don’t remember…

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I don’t remember my hero. The hero of Cedar street. He is quite forgotten in my tapestry of life. The stories squashed and hidden as so who knows if this forgotten memory, this forgotten hero, this forgotten man is real or imagined.

My hero of Cedar Street, is as black as spades. His English acquired through intelligence. His eight other languages through sheer brilliance. I remember him trying to teach me, whilst I sat on the lawn he weeded and he chatted to his friends across the fence but to no avail, I was not gifted like he.

His room was a Pandora’s box. A box room, attached to the outside of the house, in the backyard. The backyard had his room with a bright yellow tin door and next his toilet and shower, and then the laundry, our laundry, not his. His home was in the backyard with the golden Labrador.

I loved his room, his Pandora’s box of secrets, of small trinkets, of old photos. His bed was on bricks, it was high, I remember. I remember loving to sit on it because my feet never reached the floor. He was afraid, afraid of the Tokolosh and so the bed was raised on stilts. It was always neatly made, always neat and clean.

I don’t remember a chair. I remember sitting on his floor with a rough red carpet and he was sharing his dinner with me. The exoticness of his mealie meal (pap) and meat. A poor man’s meal or rather the servant’s meal.

I remember loving him like no other, my hero and so I choose not to remember. I choose not to remember…

Apartheid.

I don’t remember when I was no longer allowed in his room. I remember feeling unwanted. Rejected by my hero and so it all changed.

I became the white supremist. He the subjugated black.

Apartheid.

I curse you my mobile/cell phone!

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As I write about online dating I realise I need to include the mobile phone in this web of confusion in the dating world.

In the good old days when off the shoulder tops; pink leg warmers and double belts where in fashion; my then boyfriend and I would leave school together and immediately return home to phone each other and say absolutely nothing to each other, except possibly, discuss the weather or say a hundred times or more:

“You put the phone down.”

He would respond, “I love you”

“No, I love you!”

He would respond, “No, you put the phone down first!”

And hours would be wasted a way with this kind of silly conversation and we were both happy to do it!

Now with mobile phones, these silly conversations have turned into text messages, which could cover a range of topic from arranging holidays together to sex texting etc. and it should be fun and it seems to be the normal way in which we as humans communicate in society today.

However, I would argue that this texting has caused more arguments and probably destroyed more relationships than it has helped. Naturally, I have no evidence for this but it is how I found out my ex-husband was having an affair and it is how I tend to land up in arguments with potential partners.

This communication challenge is doubled when there are cultural and possibly language barriers.

Language on mobile phones can be read in so many different ways, for example, if one does not put a smiley face at the end of a comment it can be totally misconstrued and cause offence, further to this if you write too much on a text (as I have a tendency to do) it can be read as over enthusiastic and rather scary to a potential partner and it is rarely read as someone who is just happy and having fun or the worst error (another case in point for me) is being overly mushy and sentimental with a potential partner, and then when you are trying to express a different point of view or hoping to show an alternative perspective, you land up creating an almighty argument over texts with angry words written and a text fight or argument starts, which could have a potentially damaging effect.

And lets not forget the DRUNKEN texts declaring YOUR LOVE to said potential partner when out with the girls.

And that is just talking about the language, so what happens when the one potential partner does not respond to a witty comment or (in my case) a witty text essay?

The irrational brain kicks in and panic sets in, and one questions- Did I say something wrong? Have I offended them? I better ask and apologise just in case, I wonder what did I do? And the poor potential partner is bombarded with a load of texts that probably put the fear of the Gods in them and the silence goes from being ‘nothing’ to  SOMETHING in a matter of hours and days!

The phone is a CURSE!

I know there are counter-arguments to this, and I should probably learn to exercise text control but my profession is all about writing so that is a challenge!

There is one thing for sure, if there was no ability to text a person, I would probably be happy to receive a telephone call – at least once a day! 😉 , and certainly experience less paranoia when it comes to someone you really like!

I am searching for the funny side and it is hard to find, as very simply without a mobile phone, I would be a perfectly sane woman- well almost sane! 😉

I have just found this related article:

http://www.irishcentral.com/news/irishvoice/How-to-get-a-male-to-show-real-emotion-without-starting-a-real-fight.html?page=2

It seems I am not alone! 😉

Does age matter when in Love?

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This was going to be an outraged rant about online dating and the sheer number of 21 year old men that contact women. It was going to be a rant about not wanting to be a mother figure for a person who hasn’t yet truly experienced life. This was going to be a rant about people being unable to read one’s requirements on an online dating website. It was all of this and whilst I was doing my research and read so many people saying it could never work I thought of my friends who had partners twenty or more years younger and they were working!

So when it comes to the matter of the heart, it does not matter what age the person is, what they do as a profession, how many children they have or whether they are vegan,  as long as both parties are adults and they are willing to risk falling in love, and all the ups and downs that love can be, what does it matter?

My friends who are in love with someone 20 years their junior or my friends who are in love with someone 20 years their senior are in love. And I am happy for them.

I used to think that age mattered, I used to think that there was something psychologically wrong with both parties and then I realised, there is nothing wrong with them at all. In fact, they are better off than I am because they have placed no restrictions on falling in love and just allowed it to be! I am envious!

And whilst I will not be going for the 21 year old man, as I know my type: He is similar in age to me, he carries with him heavy baggage. I have realised that I place too many criteria on my type of man, ensuring that my criteria self sabotages something truly wonderful because somewhere inside, I must be afraid of the risks when falling in love.

What a pity!

I hope I can love freely, just like our friends who have entered into relationships where there is a large age gap!

Internet Dating Etiquette 5: Respect

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In this world of dating where one makes contact with a brief message so that the person will turn to your profile and read it, men and women will have experiences of people ignoring their messages with no response at all. I question the politeness of this action!

One can easily argue that time is short and if you are not interested- why bother? But have we come so far that we just ignore people who have made the effort to contact you, even those one’s who simply send a ‘Hi’ or ‘Do you want BHM sex?’ -Which I received and still have no idea what BHM sex is!

Now, in all honesty, I have ignored emails like those above, but as we have become a society that seems jaded and with our fast-paced lifestyles and our ability to quickly eliminate people, I wonder if we are actually do ourselves a disservice.

In my world, I should be I teaching respect. Where is the respect in me ignoring someone who has made the effort to contact me?

This applies to people when we go on a date, we may have a tiresome hour conversing over a coffee or glass of wine, trying to find a link or a connection and then return home, planning to never to speak to them again. I am guilty of this too!

And I have heard of some horrendous horror stories of women walking out on a date and leaving a man stranded, left to pay for the drinks. Of people writing abusive messages to people when they have expressed their interest in another person. It is no wonder people are becoming afraid of making commitments, if we behave in this manner!

These stories, made me reflect on my own internet dating actions, and whilst I have never behaved in this manner, I have ignored men who have contacted me; which is incredibly rude!

I should and I am capable of politely thanking a person for their interest and politely telling them that they are not what I am looking for. This is in no way hurtful, a person is not left wondering whether what they said or written has offended another, and in general most people seem really pleased just to receive this brief message.

So in this evolving world where we have shifted the way we communicate, we can very simply hold onto respect, respect for yourself and for those taking the risk of contacting you by politely writing to them:

“Thank you for your kind interest. Unfortunately, I feel we will not match. Good luck in your search!”

Three simple sentences; it is not too much to ask for, and the person on the other end will at least know where they stand and appreciate the kind response.

When I do this, most men thank me and wish me well on my dating journey.

A little appreciation will make this online dating world more human and humane!

And to those men who have had women walk out on a date with them; I can promise there are many of us who are well-mannered and polite.

Online Dating Etiquette 4- First Contact

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This is short and sweet.

My advice to you when making contact with a person is to show you have read their profile blurb. One of the best introductions I ever got read:

“I hope the piles of corrections are but a memory and that you survived this hectic season for teachers!

Enjoy the Xmas season”

Signed by the man

That simple message showed he had read my profile, found something that we shared and was able to introduce himself in that manner. It wasn’t too wordy and did not focus on himself but on what we had in common.

That message turned into a string of really beautiful emails and meetings.

So very simply, keep it short and find something in their blurb that you can comment on!

Good Luck!

When I am 65!

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This holiday is all about my daughter and her exam stress and her need to study, so whilst I spring clean our home she sits at her desk and does what looks like revision!

Our respite is our daily gym session where we have got into a range of classes, the most popular being the cycle session. We are developing the good habit of walking to the gym and walking home again, and one hopes in the process of this experience I am loosing those excess pounds or kilograms.

Today was a unique experience. My daughter wanted a mind and body class so that she could do some meditation and calm her mind. I checked the schedule and found a Thai Chi class. I have a friend (who I have unfortunately lost contact with) who did Thai Chi daily and even landed up on the front cover of the New York times, demonstrating Thai Chi, when she was on holiday; so I thought we would give this class a try.

The moment we entered we were surrounded by the silver haired brigade and my daughter was the youngest by generations; we looked around to see if we could make a hasty escape but we’d been spotted.

The class actually started well and it was beginning to live up to my expectations until the instructor decided to actually instruct properly. We tend to prefer the ‘just follow’ method of gym classes and we are back rowers, we never ever progress to the front.

Further to this all the classes are in French, my French is below the basic level so you can imagine my fear if an instructor picks on me. I will just seize up and nod and say, ‘oui’ without much comprehension.

So now he had actually stopped to teach us and demonstrate to us and this is when I became fearful yet at the same time was able to watch the beauty of the game unfold.

It was with admiration that I watched a front row little old lady, dressed in Khaki trousers and a flowered blouse, backchat the instructor and then giggle like a teenager. The instructor was the stereotypical martial arts guru, in fact, he looked a lot like the Karate kid’s master, (the original one,) with his bald head, serious face, taut lean body and his short stature. Our little old lady, was not satisfied with his ignoring her chatter then went in with the light but flirtatious ‘girly’ punch on the arm, and this was followed by another giggle, laughter from the group, and a twinkle in her eye. Still no response so another playful punch as he responded to her twinkle with a retort and some banter.

The class then turned into a little bit of silliness from everyone, which allowed my daughter and I to laugh at our own inside joke but privately, I was thinking that when I am old and wrinkled and a part of the silver haired brigade I would hope I will still be playfully flirting with the Thai Chi instructor; 20 years younger.

Bust most importantly I wished to be flirting with the man who is going sweep me off my feet, if he hasn’t already.