Women…

Yesterday was Women’s Day here in South Africa. It is a national holiday. The whole weekend, in fact the whole month, has been dedicated to women and their uniqueness as a gender. Throughout history, there have been times where women have been treated as inferior to men in certain ways, and modern women do all they can to correct this balance. I have it easier than previous generations. I take it for granted that I can vote and that I can drive. I do not deny that somewhere, someone had to fight very hard for me to do this and I salute those people.

BUT and herein lies the rub – I get the feeling sometimes that women simply EXPECT to be treated with respect because of the mere fact that they are women.

Yesterday, on Women’s Day, I had a massive fall-out fight with a friend. Someone who has called herself and has been my “best friend” for the past 14 years. Now, the thing which triggered this argument (which is a topic for a different post entirely) was messed up. I accept that. But I apologised and thought we could move on since we are “best friends”. Her reaction has left me reeling. Dazed. Confused. And somewhat perplexed.

Somewhere along the line she made really hurtful remarks about my boyfriend who is currently not gainfully employed. This very same friend had no qualms about not working and following her own passion, while expecting her husband to carry them financially. She also worked part-time because she wanted to spend more time with their child. This in and of itself is not an issue. Lots of women do it.

But why, when the roles are reversed, does it suddenly create a huge social judgement? I had a colleague many years ago who was the sole breadwinner in their household. She had no qualms talking about her house-husband, but even I, much younger than her, and brought up in modern times, felt myself uncomfortable with the idea. Its just not how it’s “supposed to be”?

Why in these modern times, when we claim to want equality, do we still expect to be treated differently just because we are women? You so often hear parents telling their boy-children: ” We don’t hit girls”. While I totally agree with this sentiment, I feel somewhat disturbed by it. Shouldn’t we be teaching them not to hit others full stop? Regardless of gender.

There are still women who expect doors to be opened and to be let into rooms first. Then there are also the extreme feminists who are violently opposed and offended by that sort of behaviour, which to me is equally harmful. While I get very angry when I get told that when men and women who occupy the same role get paid differently, I get equally incensed when women simply expect to be treated differently by basis of their gender.

I had the arduous task of looking after some children one day and at some point I had to reprimand one of the girls for slapping a boy. I took her to one side and told her that if she started slapping people, she really shouldn’t be surprised to get a slap back, because it just didn’t sit well with me.

Brings me back to said friend. On account of being “best” friends and all, I spent a fair amount of time around her and her husband. At any given time when I got to their house, he would be busy cleaning the house. She would be arguing with him non-stop about everything he hadn’t done, tell him to hang out the washing, shout at him for doing the ironing wrong and then still tell him to make us drinks. Then turn around and tell me how useless he was…(My ex-husband always used to say that if I ever treated him like that he would walk out. He walked out anyway, hahaha, but that was on account of something entirely different). Her husband sticks around, but in the way an abused woman stays with a wife-beater…which brings me back to the point of equality.

We (I use the term “we” loosely to describe women) want equality, but it’s a bit like comparing apples and fridge magnets. Women and men are simply not the same and what we should be preaching is not equality, but respect. Respect for everyone. Equally. 

Women and men are different. We will never be the same and we shouldn’t ever try to be. There are those who would claim we are from entirely different planets. We should celebrate those differences, but if we want to be treated as “special”, we need to act it too by showing respect to earn more respect. You cannot simply expect to be treated special because you are a woman. That is almost like admitting we are the so-called “weaker” sex…

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Crazy Cat Lady Proper

I think that I have now completed my training as Crazy Cat Lady. The current count stands at four. Five if you count the little black one I have on my desk at work…(Yes, I am lucky enough to work in an environment where we have not one, but three office cats!)

I never was much of a cat person. “They” (although I still struggle to figure out who “they” might be) say that  “cat people” are people who are more independent while people who are more needy have a higher tendency to be “dog people”. Perhaps this means that I have grown and evolved? I still love dogs too…and horses, of course, but as of late, I am really enjoying my cats. Especially the latest addition to my little collection – the little black-and-white monster.

I really thought that I had enough cats. Then, one day earlier this year, I walked to the dog-and-cat animal shelter next door to where I work. I was in desperate need of some milk for my coffee from the little shop, but when I got there, the shop was closed. Instead, I encountered a man sitting underneath the tree with a cardboard box in front of him. I thought while we were both waiting, I would be polite and chat to him about whatever it was he had in the box. I took a peek inside and was greeted by the cutest furry little black and white face!

How could anyone resist that little face?

I don’t always presume that people of lesser financial means than myself can’t take care of their animals. Many times, they will give up a lot more than I am willing to (proportionately so) to keep their beloved pets happy. I had a little chat with the man and as it turns out, he had only just acquired the kitty and said he would find someone to look after it. So, I offered to take it from him. I took the little cat for checkups and as he was cleared of all dread diseases, he was named “Domino” and welcomed into our family.

I am not afraid of any of you, this is MY bed now!

Well, I say “welcomed”, but none of us really had a choice. This little bugger has one of the biggest personalities I have ever come across for such a little animal! He arrived home, puffed up his little tail and humped his back, chased the “big boys” around the house and thoroughly put their noses out of joint! On day one, he bullied the “Little lion” off the bed and staked out his claim to me by insisting on sleeping on my head. He also had no qualms about picking fights with my big yellow gangster or bopping his grey brother in the head and running away!

“BOP”

 

 

As any animal lover will tell you, animals have their own personalities. Each of my cats is special in his own right, but this little one, is something really special. I might have left him in that box if I knew exactly what I was getting into! He digs in the garden like a puppy. He chews, like a puppy. And the worst thing is, it is impossible to keep him off things! He loves “running” upside down under the couches, by clawing his way underneath them, or along the side of any flat surface. He spends evenings chasing his bigger brothers up, over and under any furniture that may be in their way.

I digs

I chews

Cats, are just too entertaining! You can watch them wash their little faces, sleeping, or amusing themselves with something they found lying around. They are ferocious little predators that can melt your heart in an instant. Everybody knows the “puppy-eye-look”, but I do believe that cats are more masterful at manipulating their human “handlers”, even if they have fewer facial expressions – which is also incidentally why people tend to think cats are more aloof than dogs.

There is nothing more comforting than a cat purring on your chest or more “awwww-inspiring” than watching them lick their little toe-beans. I think I can now truly call myself a cat-lover.

To be “chosen” by a cat is something incredibly special and satisfying…

The gangsta

All the boys

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Life: It’s complicated

In my forty years on this earth, it seems I have only managed to learn one real lesson: as soon as you think you have a grip on things, they change. This constant change is fodder for a lot of social media motivation; don’t worry, good or bad, things will never stay the same for long. This is all good and well, but what most people seem to lose track of is the fact that any change, good or bad, can cause upset and trauma in life. This is why we would all stay in our unhealthy comfort zones much longer than necessary. And why change, any change, is hard.

I have spent the last two years training to be the strong, independent woman. I gathered my tribe of gal-pals and the occasional guy-pal and learnt to face life on my own. In fact, my collection of cats has already hit four and I felt I was well on my way to destination “crazy cat lady”…It has been exhausting! On more than one occasion I have expressed the wish to “just be taken care of”.

So, of course the universe complied and along came…A man! A wonderful, caring, kind man who has absolutely swept me off my feet. He has taken my life by storm. It really took me by surprise. I did not think I was still able to fall in love and I certainly did not go out looking for it. It started as an outreach to an old acquaintance that just took on a life of it’s own. Without even knowing where exactly things “changed” between us, a simple friendly gesture had turned into love.

When you fall in love, you always lose yourself in that new feeling of joy and wonder. It is normal. But at some point you resurface from the haze and regain balance. We do this in small increments throughout life anyway – at some point you grow out of being a child and become somewhat responsible in adulthood. Within every relationship you become a partner and you adapt to the other partner in the relationship. You become a wife, perhaps a mother, an aunty, eventually a grandmother. With each new role you grow and change a little bit and often you don’t even realise that you are effortlessly reinventing yourself.

Life is just a constant strife to find ourselves, only to lose ourselves again as soon as there is the slightest change in the status quo. So here I am once again, re-calibrating, readjusting and reinventing!

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Sending out positive vibes!

Recently, I got told twice in one day that I had to be more careful about my thoughts and my words. Because thoughts and words will manifest as energy and you will get back from the universe what you send out. All this, because I said that I was well for the moment, but who knew how long that would last, as life always finds a way to kick me in the teeth…

It has been hard for me to stay positive. Last year this time I was only just emerging from a deep black hole of despair. And then life did find a few interesting curve balls to throw at me. Read all about them here and here and here and here. So yes, it is rather hard for me to believe that the good fortune and happiness will last forever. But I guess that is the thing about life – nothing really stays the same for very long. (One sees all the nauseating inspirational messages on social media about that all the time!) But it’s still hard to trust in the good fortune, because one is so scared that if one throws caution to the wind and dives too deeply into all of the good times, the disappointment will hit you so much harder! SO, yes, I do feel a little bit like a dog that has been kicked in the face one too many times…

I don’t want to go getting all mushy, but I have had to do some deep soul searching and have experienced personal growth on a level that I am quite unaccustomed to over the past two and a bit years. I thought the drama and the pain would never end. But here I am, at the end of the tunnel, in the light (that turned out not to be an oncoming train!) still just about intact. I am really rather impressed with myself!

I don’t know where life will take me next, and I am not feeling too adventurous just yet, so I am not putting out any grande challenges to the universe, but maybe things will be OK…One day, one step, one breath at a time, we will get to where we are supposed to go I guess.

The little things along the way make up the expedition and we might as well enjoy the journey because the destination is a mystery!

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Is this what it’s like to be nearly-normal?

This post is dedicated to the two true fans of this blog – my godmother who is always encouraging my writing and my financial adviser, who has to keep reading these to see whether I will be withdrawing money from my ever-declining savings and blaming her for not being rich!

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The last couple of years have been a bit of a bumpy ride. Beginning 2017, I quit my job without notice. What started out as my dream job, turned into a nightmare of epic proportions. Anyway, so after a few weeks’ leave, I walked in and quit. I didn’t have any other options at the time, so it was a bit nerve wracking, but it needed to be done.

After a few months of playing house-wife and stay-at-home mom, I started a new job, bought a horse and then my life unraveled completely within a few months! I was told by my husband, who had always been supportive of my riding habit (or so I thought), that if I didn’t sell the horse, we had nothing more to talk about. There was of course, a lot more to that ultimatum, but even though we both agreed that we were doing nothing but making each other miserable, what followed was months of soul-destroying, gut-wrenching, nasty, acrimonious divorce which only ended many months later and destroyed lives.

During that time, I felt like a wild animal trapped in a cage. There was nowhere to go. There was no safe space, even within my own house. I sat outside in the car for hours and when I did go inside, I hid in my bedroom.

After the actual divorce, is when things got really bad! Just trying to find a place to stay turned into a major nightmare, which is described in detail in another post. One would think that after such a tumultuous search for a place to stay, life would give one a little bit of a break. But alas, no. It was as if every time I lifted my head above the waves, life kicked me in the teeth and pushed my head right back under the water, making sure there was blood to attract some sharks, just for good measure!

While I was staying in my temporary, rented home, I was burgled. Not much got taken that wasn’t replaceable, but it’s a rather unpleasant experience all the same. Then, soon after I moved into my new home, my brother-in-law passed away. Not long after that, my phone got stolen inside the shop where I do my weekly grocery shopping! This lead to a whole palawa of it’s own.

By the end of the year, I really thought that Murphy had had his fun with me. But still, no. The year ended with a bit of a light show, so to speak…

The new year, I thought, would HAVE to get better. Again, no. Uncle Murphy and his merry band of men were not yet finished with me. I had a blow-out on the highway, followed by a rather impressive melt-down. I was quite impressed by the damage one exploding tyre could cause; less so by the lack of service from my insurance company. That whole saga can be read here.

Then, my one cat got hit by a car right in front of my house. (He is still very sore, but at least did not need surgery and will be OK.) My car was also still testing my sense of humour by overheating and trying to die at the most inconvenient of times. The final insult to all the injury, was that I did end up having to sell the horse. I am not ready to talk about that yet…

Any of these little series of “interesting times” would have been enough to drive me over the edge all by themselves, so I am really quite impressed that I am still here to tell the story! But I didn’t do it on my own. I have discovered the bestest best friends. Some of them have been in my life for a long time, and others met me at my worst and have miraculously stuck by me! If nothing else, the past two years have taught me the value of having people in your life. No matter how hard I tried, I could not have done it without my tribe! Thank you one and all!

I turned 40 a little over two weeks ago. My entire family from up-country (bar my baby brother who was sorely missed) descended upon me to celebrate and on very short notice a party was arranged. People came from far away and made me feel incredibly special and lucky to be alive. It was the best party I have been to in a long time, if I have to say so myself!

My colleagues have put up with meltdowns, both mini and major ones. My friends have listened to me whine non-stop for hours, cry, shout, swear and they have watched me fall apart and lose the plot (that is assuming I ever had it) more than once. There have been days when I couldn’t and wouldn’t get out of bed. There have been days when I thought I just could not carry on. There have been days where I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, only to realise it was an oncoming train.

But here I am. I made it! Not only did I survive, but I am happy to be here! (Dear Universe, this is not a challenge!)

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Inside the mind of a chronic depressive

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I have had a rough two years, I won’t lie to you. If it wasn’t for a select few friends, I probably wouldn’t be here today. You guys know who you are. ~Thank you~

Can you imagine waking up every day and the only thought that goes through your mind is: “Fuck. Another goddamn day! Why couldn’t I just wake up dead?” You are not actually suicidal, because you don’t want to DIE, you just can’t see any point in living either.

I have been struggling with this, what has now become a full-blown midlife crisis, for a few years now. It started when my horse died in 2014. I cannot picture myself without a horse. I don’t know who I am if I’m not a horse-owner or rider. Since I can remember, all I have ever wanted to do, was ride horses, be around horses and talk about horses. I don’t think that there is anyone on the planet who has met me and does not know this. Yet, when it comes to horses, as in many other things in life, I seem to have an inordinate amount of shitty luck. Every time I think, I am where I need to be to start moving forward, to go where I want to be, something happens; my horse dies, (that happened twice) or I get divorced and can no longer afford to keep the one horse I thought was going to be the horse. The biggest slap int he face was probably the fact that the man who had promised to love me until one of us died, after ten years and two children, told me that if I didn’t sell the horse, we had nothing to talk about. It wasn’t like he didn’t know who I was. I wasn’t as if this was a new whim or hobby I had recently picked up. This is who I AM!

So it brings me to the next point. I have given up a lot to own a horse over the past few decades. I have asked others to give up quite a bit, but I managed to make time to raise my babies because I thought that would make the man happy. Clearly it wasn’t enough. But why am I not where I thought I would be? Why do I keep getting “stuck”? Why can other people give up careers and start riding full-time and make it work and I can’t? Why didn’t I study Equine Science? Why didn’t I want to be a stable manager, a jockey (I am small enough) a riding instructor? Why could I not even make the whole Equine Assisted Psychotherapy-thing work for me? Did I not try hard enough? Did I not give up enough? Did I just have rotten luck? I don’t know…I don’t usually like to dwell in the past and ponder about decisions I made because it doesn’t really help matters. We normally make the best decision we can with what we have at that time.

But this time, things are a little different. I am in a bit of a panic. I am getting desperate and I don’t like making decisions from a point of desperation. They are not clear and there are just no good outcomes.

Last week, for instance, I brought a dog home. I have been feeling lonely and miserable and have been saying for a long time that the right dog will still find me. Then one of our cart horse drivers showed up with a little bedraggled, flea-ridden, tick-eaten mangy little dog. I took it to our neighbouring  NGO who works with cats and dogs seeing as we really only deal with horses, but when they asked me to sign over the pup, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I told myself, maybe this was the dog that had found me? It seemed like a good idea for all of twenty minutes and by the end of the day I was already feeling the twinges of “buyers remorse”. The problem was, I had the kids that weekend. They were so excited about the prospect of a puppy and even slept with it on the floor. Saturday a dear friend came to visit and in her honest straight-forward way, told me that this was not a good plan. She was right, of course. But the kids were hysterical. I was still dithering…we had already bought it a tag, given it a name, “Buddy” and even though it was still very sickly, the kids had just started coaxing the little guy to play a little bit.

The next day, we had to go to the shops and leave the pup home alone. It just did not work, and right at that point I realised that I either needed to commit to two dogs, or try and find this one a home. I put it on social media and within a few hours found it a home. They came and took him away. The kids cried and cried and cried. I’m not entirely sure all their tears were about the dog, but either way, the guilt that I had done this to them was enough to push me into a deep dark hole. They cried for the whole week. It was excruciating! But that is my point about decisions made in desperation. I had to find the dog a home – quickly – before they got even more attached to him. I didn’t vet the new owners properly. I didn’t do a home check before I let him go. This could all have been negated if I never took the dog in the first place, but that just wasn’t the right thing either!

The point of that whole long diversion is just that I do not like making decisions out of desperation. And I am at that point again with regards to me horse, but it’s more than that. Where will I go when I need solace and sanity? How will I stop myself from self-destructing? Who will I be? But I am running out of options. Fast.

People ask me what I’m passionate about. Horses. What do I like to do? Ride. What makes me happy? Horses. It’s always been: Horses.

And now, we have reached a point where horses don’t even make me happy anymore. I have to force myself to even go and see my horse. I jst get sad when I spend time with her, because I wonder what the point is. I can’t remember the last time I actually sat on her back. And I know, that I should be spending as much time with her as I can, while I still have her, but I can’t bring myself to do that. There is just no more joy in my life, nothing to look forward to.

And I know how it sounds to other people. They see you as a bad mother, because “you have your kids to live for?”. You are ungrateful, because you have it so much better than so many other people out there. I know all this. Cognitively. I KNOW. Reminding me of it really only serves to make me feel even more guilty for not being happy with what I do have. It does nothing to actually make me feel better.

This is a long post. I have a lot to say here. I hope you haven’t stopped reading, because this is the important part. These days, with social media, people are very quick to judge. In fact, I have a massive gripe with things we read (mostly posted by women, but men are guilty too) about cutting people off and making diagnoses that really ought to be left to the professionals. How many women do you read about who are being “abused” and ill-treated and have their exes branded as narcissists and abusers when really, we are only hearing the one side of the story. In fact, I got unnecessarily upset with a friend when she wanted to get mad at someone I was talking about because she was trying to be an understanding friend when I wanted an objective opinion (but it was unfair to expect it because she was only hearing my side of the situation!)

These days, everyone is telling everyone else that you “don’t need that kind of negativity in your life”. You should cut off the toxic people and you will be happier. While this is true, and people who truly do get abused should be encouraged to speak out, I refuse to believe that because some guy didn’t agree with you he is now a narcissist. Perhaps you are the narcissist and he was just reacting to you? Anyway. I am off topic again. It just irks me that everyone is a psychologist these days!

The point is, if we were to look at me objectively at this time, I would be the toxic person. And I don’t want to be cut off. I want to be helped! I want to learn to find the joy again. If my friend didn’t take me out on Friday night and listen to me rant, if my other friend didn’t come and just be with me on Saturday when my car fucked out and I was absolutely shit company, if yet another friend didn’t talk to me for an hour listening to me whine about how shit my life was, and if my friends didn’t come to spend Sunday afternoon with me, and if my friend didn’t encourage me to go to the beach after work when all I wanted to do was crawl up into a little ball and feel sorry for myself, then I wouldn’t be here to write this post tonight.

There are people with real psychological issues who are truly dangerous to be around. If you think you are involved with such a person, find professional help.

But if your friend is having a shit year or two, don’t give up on him or her. Feed her wine and tell her to lie on the lawn. Make her come to the beach and drag her running into the icy sea. Listen to her for hours on end even if there is nothing you can do for her and it makes you feel utterly helpless. Let her break a whiskey bottle against a wall to help her get rid of some frustration.

Do not give up on your friends. These little glimpses of joy are all that keep them going…

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Every Time You Go Away….

You take a piece of me with you.

I am hurt. I am angry. But mostly,

I am sorry.

I am so sorry that I can’t be your friend. You were there when I needed a friend. When my life was falling apart around me, you were truly there for me. You checked up on me every day. You listened to me rant and scream and swear. You let me cry. You stayed calm and not only held me together when I was crumbling, but you scraped me up when I melted into a puddle on the ground. You were a good friend and I will always love you for it.

Someone said to me that I should never try yo make more of a friendship such as ours and that I would regret it. Those words will forever haunt me now.

You cannot force feelings that aren’t in your heart. At the same time, I cannot extinguish the ones that are in mine.

I wanted to be your friend. But I also wanted more. I’ve always wanted more. From the day we were not supposed to meet, at that party I was never supposed to be at, we’ve been perpetually saying goodbye. I had hoped we could change that this time round.

Instead, once again I am left broken-hearted. You have infiltrated every aspect of my life. My coffee cup at work is the one you bought me. The stupid stuffed baboon you bought me guards my bed at night. The radio doesn’t co-operate either, with it playing that song…that one you used to play on the piano. Even my last piece of solace has been shattered as the little aeroplanes take off and land from the field next to my horse’s paddock. All I can think of is how much you loved flying once upon a time. How you called me and promised that you would take me flying into the sunset…

I am sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me then. I’m sorry I didn’t stop to listen. I am sorry that then and now, I am not strong enough to not let my feelings get in the way of what you need. I’m sorry that I’ve been a bitch.

I hope you find yourself again. I hope that one day you will realise that love is not deserved – that love is simply given and it’s up to you to take it. I hope you will know that who you are is enough.

I also hope that you will understand that I cannot let anymore pieces of myself go with you, or else we will both be lost…

But don’t forget to let me know when we get to “another time and another place”, because you promised!

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