“One day the person you love will wake up and not love you anymore, and you will have to be okay with that”I want you to know that you will be forgotten, like stories told between four-year old’s and I am okay with that. You the one who I loved like the sun loves the morning star – they never told you about their love affair. He runs away every morning when she rises. She catches glimpses of him and left over light cause he doesn’t want to be there with her anymore. They never told you about their love affair.In the beginning, there was he and she was made for him. She was crafted from him, to suit only him. His hands knew how to hold hers. This love, we were all told about, but they never told us what would happen if there were 8 billion of us and finding the one that knows how to hold your hand gets just a little more complicated. I mean its’s 8 billion to 1. Finding the one you’re supposed to reach the end with seems doable, so you send all your love with the wind to the one of your dreams. Your wishes of finding them floats on fairy tales and stories long forgotten. So, when you find something that seems to mimic the love shared by the sun and the morning star, before he forgot her, you pour yourself into it. You give completely, you love relentlessly. Until one day the person you love wakes up and decides that they don’t love you anymore. “I loved you on days when you couldn’t love yourself and that is a lot of love to just let go of” – that’s how your story ends. Like forgotten stories, told around fires on cold nights, by forgotten people.
I have had the misfortune of meeting many men who have had the misguided idea that they are smarter than I am. One of those happens to be a man I had a great deal of respect for, that is until he tried to downplay the woman in me. He made it his job to make sure that every sentence I uttered or typed where I stood up for myself and what I believe in he would try and deconstruct and break down, not only my words but also my beliefs and my self-worth. This beautiful man, who towered over most, not only physically, but mentally too, could not see the brain that I nurtured for so many years, behind my beauty.
Too often I have encountered men who think that I am just another pretty face, because the idea of a “yellow-bone” (as they call me) with the mind of a grown, independent, strong, intelligent woman seemed to confuse these men. These men who believe that my conversations are limited to the “new shoes I bought” or “what my friend did or didn’t do” because the idea of someone who looks like me reciting poetry or knowing stats and facts of the top of my head seems unrealistic.
This man, who I admired so much, spent his time trying to convince me that I was nothing more than a heartbroken little girl, who couldn’t see the bigger picture. Because heaven forbid anyone in the room was smarter than him. To him I was nothing more and nothing less than a pretty face, who happened to learn the word “feminist” and would utter it every once in a while, not really sure of the meaning. Not really sure of the magnitude, something he wouldn’t hesitate to ask me “do you even know what it means?” and before I could answer he would tell me “you don’t know, you’re just bitter cause you have a broken heart”. Because my angry little heart and pretty little face left no room for my pretty little brain to grow.
I’m still angry and I’m still a feminist and I’m still learning. I hope one day you start to learn too.
*A Feminist: A person (male or female) who believes that men and women should be equal on a social, political and economic level.
*A Misandrist: A person (male or female) who despises or is strongly prejudiced against men.
These two terms represent two completely different believe systems and they speak to two completely different approaches to the way we view men in society. Now look, I’m a proud feminist, to quote the late Maya Angelou: “I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be on my own side”.
As human beings we change and evolve everyday and with that change a change in mindset happens, our beliefs evolve and our frame of reference expands.
I recently had the misfortune of meeting a man, who strongly believed that I do not have the proper mindset to be feminist, because as he says: “you have a broken heart and you’re bitter so you can’t possibly be a feminist”. On a random Saturday morning we were having a discussion on the man bashing tendencies women have online and how it has somehow turned into a way of bullying men. Yes I agree that some women take it too far. What I don’t agree with is them hiding behind the “feminist flag” to fuel their agenda of breaking men down and diminishing their character. A lot of these women online talking about how “men are shit” are heartbroken girls with a bruised ego and they just want to vent and have their stories heard. They have no idea what generations of women have been fighting for and the values that accompany being a feminist.
Now before you get your knickers in a bunch, I have always tweeted “men are trash” (and I’ll get back to that).
Being a feminist is not about making the man feel small or taking away from his masculinity or even his social status. It’s not about decreasing his salary, or bad mouthing him in public. Being a feminist is not about trying to act like a man by being sexually promiscuous (if you are sexually liberated, good for you! There is no judgement here). It is not about replacing them in society or diminishing his role as the male. It is simply about uplifting women, making sure that they are given the opportunity to provide for their families, get an education, and be viable for that job they always wanted. It’s about making sure women remember that they are beautiful and important and valued. It’s about making sure women are protected, that we are taking care of ourselves and each other.
There are so many other reasons why being a feminist is important to me, but instead of going there I would like to tell you about a conversation that I had with a friend. She told me that she doesn’t agree with “the whole feminist movement”, as she put it, she said that “men and women each have our separate roles to play and that being a feminist takes that away and leaves us with a generation of men and women who don’t know their place”. Needless to say this infuriated me, because I don’t want to be a man and I don’t want to take a man’s place. I just want to be valued, as most women do.
Now, for the “men are trash” topic. I have ranted and raved many times about how men have broken my heart and made me feel worthless and, and, and… but the idea behind “men are trash” is not a broken hearted little girl sulking in a corner about a boy who kissed her and stole her candy shortly after. It’s about the high numbers of rape and domestic violence we face every day in this country. Every day we see headlines like “husband shoots wife and two kids and kills himself after” or “man stabs woman for refusing to give him her number”, we are faced with stories such as “older cousin rapes three year old baby girl” and horrific stories of drugged girls at parties being raped and left for dead. Incidents like these are the reason behind the “men are trash” movement.
So back to a man telling me how I’m not a feminist, he told me that I’m a misandrist, because I hate men. I do not hate men! Never have, never will. I am however angry at the way they treat us women and the cruelty they show us every day. Now as a multifaceted woman, who might I say, is well read and has been alive for a quarter of a century, I would hate to think that I only have one mindset regarding “men”. I’m curious why people think that I can’t be a feminist and be absolutely furious at men at the same time? Like I have to pick one, “you can either view us as equal or be mad at us”. But I want to be mad as hell, cause I’ve been hurt by men who I have loved, I have seen my friends and family get hurt by men they love. I have seen men leave and damage and destroy. I have also seen men build, and love, and protect. I have seen men encourage women, when even our own have torn us down, and for these reasons I cannot possibly only love or hate men. I can be a feminist and believe in what it stands for and take on the tasks that come with carrying that title, but I can also sympathise with the pain my “sisters” have endured.
So in conclusion: stop trying to label me a “man bashing feminist” because you see women on the internet using “feminism” as an excuse or a screen to hide behind while venting about broken hearts and empty promises. Not all of them are feminist and some of us are, but we are still angry and sad and disappointed in the men around us.
Surely when you looked into my eyes you could see that I had lost myself in this life long before you came along. Surely you should have known that the spark you felt between us would be the spark I used to light the fire that would inevitably burn you. See I warned you about my life, this life that is only made for one, you disregarded my warnings and decided to explore it in anyway, and now that you see it, this life that is only made for one, you’re ready to turn and run.
This is a warning to those who want to save a broken soul: don’t come near me with your fragile masculinity and your childlike state of mind that is unable to fathom that we don’t all live in a constant state of bliss. There is no sunshine and roses here. Don’t come near me with your fickle heart that changes because you are unable to change mine.
I told you from the start not to come near me because I don’t want to let you in. I was never ready to have your rainbows infiltrate my darkest spaces. You ignored my warning and decided to “enter at own risk” and when my armoured guards came ready to kick your ass out of my castle, you stood there with your chest out, ready to face them. Head on, strong and brave. I saw you standing there; ready to risk it all and I decided to let you in. I mean what’s the worst thing that this knight in shining armour could do right? People like you don’t leave, right? Now you’re in my castle, experiencing this life that I love so much. Filled with fake shinny things and people that rotate in and out of the picture; like they are doing a dance I know all too well.
I was never ready to tell you all my secrets. I never wanted to share my stories with you. I knew you could never handle the truth. There was always too much innocence in your eyes. You would never be able to deal with the demons that have found a home in my castle. I know that it’s beautiful to look at, and I’m sure you were curious and wanted to touch. These demons make the most beautiful colours when the sunlight hits their skin. From the outside, I’m sure it looks like what your mind imagines utopia looks like.
I’m sorry that you had to find out this way, but there is nothing here for “your kind”. Knights in shining armour don’t know how to dance alone in the dark, while they wait for me to make my way to them. Don’t come near me, these walls are here for a reason. These walls have been put up, not to protect me from you, but to protect you from me. Don’t come near me, I take pride in eating hearts and leaving with blood stains on my hands. Don’t come near me, you are not the one that I need to make these demons leave. Your heart is new and my lungs are struggling to keep up with the pace yours is beating at. Don’t come near me, your mind is pure and mine is minefield, every step could be my last. Don’t come near me, my idea of fun is standing on ledges with my eyes closes waiting to see how long it will take for wind to blow me down.
I told you to stop looking into my eyes; they can only keep you entertained for so long. Leave my castle. The utopia I have inside is not for knights in shining armour. For I have spent too many nights dancing with tears in my eyes, playing the song my favourite demon likes the most. This demon is loneliness.
I have a recurring memory, I’m swinging on a tire hanging from a tree, and I’m laughing and having such a great time. I’m a child and someone is pushing me and every time the swing goes up I scream with laughter and every time it goes down I scream “higher, higher!” the only problem is that I never swung from a tree, not as a child and certainly not in my adult life.
This memory that I have of being overjoyed and feeling extremely happy is not my memory, well not directly. It’s an image I have gotten and its embedded itself in my mind, an image I have gotten from watching TV or reading an author tell the story of their childhood. This memory that is not mine has become a part of my memory and I guess it’s my way of grasping at any bit of happiness I can find, even if it’s not my own.
There are so many things I wish I could tell my 17 year old self, like how many happy moments await her and how she is way stronger than she thinks. So I decided to write a letter to her, that 17 year old girl with stars in her eyes and a head full of dreams.
The lessons you will learn in the next three years, have got nothing to do with what you need to know at 26, if anything you forget most of it. The people you have met become stories you tell and the things you have done become vague and sometimes unnecessary. Life is a shit storm covered in chocolate and alcohol. There will be moments when being strong takes all the energy and acting skills you have, there will be moments when you have to swallow that lump in your throat and hope no one saw the tears in your eyes. You are allowed to be brave and you’re allowed to be broken.
Boyfriends come and go, don’t try to hold onto someone who has already left and don’t stay with someone when you’re ready to walk away. You’re allowed to mourn the good ones when they go, but be careful not to mourn for too long. Life moves on, even if you don’t. The bad ones are always a lesson. Take these lessons and remember them when the next one comes along, this will show you not only what you want and don’t want in your relationships, but also how you should treat others, because often when they leave it’s not just their fault. You are stubborn and you would like to believe that you never do anything wrong, but you have to accept the responsibility that comes with being with someone and them giving you their heart. You will get bored; it’s your default setting. When this happens, you should leave.
Resentment is deep inside your being. It has been a part of you for as long as you have been conscience of your surroundings. Don’t let this feeling control your life. It will be the reason you lose many people that you love. Let go and let God handle it.
Your mother’s advice is gold! You can never go wrong when you listen to her, she will always be the one person who is on your team. Cherish the moments that you spend with her and stop fighting with her, learn to let go. It’s better to lose the fight sometimes. You can always turn to her in times of trouble. She is your safety net.
The friends you have will be the shoulders you cry, pick them wisely. Remember to be a good friend to them; it is so easy for you to be selfish. They won’t always understand that and you can’t expect them to “just deal”. Love them, they will help you through some of your worst times and they will laugh with you during your best times.
Take your time with decisions regarding your future; regret is a “yes” or a “no” away. It’s your life. Only you will be there for it till the end. Always make sure that everything you do is what you want to do, you always have to be happy with the decision. Take care of your heart, your time, your mind and your soul.
Drink a lot of water, oh and watch out for the gate, it hits you in the face and breaks your bone (sorry).
Things you need to do every day: Pray, laugh, sleep, reflect, and spend time with your family.
Wear sun screen and drink that tequila shot. Don’t ever get too drunk, you always need to be able to take care of yourself and those around you. Remember that you are a role model for some and you need to act accordingly. Take a leap of faith; over thinking everything will drive you up the wall. Sometimes you will just have to trust that there will be something soft to land on when you fall.
Fall in love. Fall out of love. Shop (a lot). Be kind to strangers, you never know when you might meet them again. Smile. Remember that you are beautiful; your soul is a utopia that most people want to explore, but most don’t have what it takes to finish the journey, let these people go!
Your sister, she is your best friend. Never let her go. Nurture and inspire and love her. You guys have a long road together. Make it a good one.
Remember that your bad days will be more than the good, but the good ones will be the ones that find a home in your heart. Nothing last forever, not even pain.
I grew up in a house with three women, excluding myself, when I stayed there I was too young to be considered anything close to a “woman”, my mom, my aunt and my grandmother. This is a piece I have been meaning to write for a while, I could never figure out the words though. I think I finally got them:
My grandmother is the strongest woman I have ever met. She has never been anything but strong, even in the moments when being strong seems like a daunting task. My grandmother like most grandmothers took care of me during the day while my mom was at work; we spent a lot of time together. Getting on each other’s nerves and making each other laugh. We used to spend Saturday afternoons making koeksisters, look she can bake anything! But that’s just a small part of what makes her special.
My grandmother got divorced from my grandfather and proceeded to put three kids through school and take care of them financially, emotionally and physically. Not to mention the endless family members who always seemed to need a place to stay. She did all of this without complaining, not even once.
My grandmother has the type of faith that will make you fall on your knees and pray, she loves hard and she has the type of backbone that can only come from “growing through life”. So of all the things that she has ever done, she did a couple of things for me that I would love to share: she thought me how to share. She taught me how to be selfish when I need to be. She taught me how to stand up for myself and to give without expecting. My grandmother kept my secrets, which taught me the value of being trustworthy. She dried my tears and often allowed me to breakdown when the crying was hers to do, because she understood we couldn’t both break. My grandmother taught me to forgive and that often you won’t want to, this is knowledge she imparts with all the stories she tells over and over, which I don’t always have time to listen to but I stay and engage as if it’s my first time hearing them.
My grandmother took me to choir practice on a Tuesday night and church on a Wednesday night, not to mention church on a Sunday morning, because “if you could go out last night, you can go to church this morning”. She had no mercy for my hangovers.
She took me on my first train ride. She used to take me to the casino with her, I would watch a movie she would play the slots. She used to feed me in winter when I was a kid, wrap my whole body in a blanket and feed me while I lay there all warm.
I would write forever if I had to mention all the times she has given me money or advice or prayed for me when I was too weak to do it for myself. When I got stabbed she stayed with me every day, until I wasn’t afraid anymore.
For all the little things that you never counted and all the big things that I lost count of, thank you for being so strong, thank you for being my role model. Thank you for being the backbone of this family and most importantly thank you for all the memories, the stories and all the love. I can only hope one day I can grow to resemble even half the woman you are.