The mindfuck strikes again…

Sometimes, I get too cocky for my own good. I convince myself that I am this invincible force to be reckoned with, and nothing or nobody is going to fuck me over. I have moments where I zealously live my life according to my own rules, on my own terms, and charge like a raging bull, towards what I feel is rightfully mine – success and happiness. I reach out and grab hold of it, like how my girl reaches out to a piece of chocolate, throwing a humongous tantrum if anyone tries to intervene. That’s how life has been for me of late. Don’t mess with me.   Stay outta my way. Proceed with CAUTION because this bitch is on a mission!

And then, the dark forces in my mind come out to play. It never fails to bring me down a notch or two, and it seems to do it effortlessly, too. There aint nothing much in this world that I get intimidated by. But my own mind…well, thats something else, man. It seems to operate on a two-way system.  Either I’m all the way UP there.  Or I’m all the way DOWN there.  There is no in between.

I had a moment on the weekened. There I was, lying in bed, hyperventilating, in the throes of a panic attack, trying to find the point in anything. My man was all up in my face, snapping at me to get over myself. He has never understood my crazy moods in the whole fifteen years he has known me, so I am not even going to go there with the ‘you just don’t get it’ buzz now. He mentions something about getting up and feeding baby, and I bark, unceremoniously, that it’s not hard to make a Weetbix, and does he need me to hold his hand while he does it? I fling a book at his head when he tells me that I’m a drama queen. He responds by slamming the door shut with an almighty bang.

And so I am lying there, bawling my eyes out for no good reason.  The past is flashing like a slideshow above my head, playing every fucking painful memory I ever had.  Trying to fight my way out of this jungle is bullshit. Coz yes thats all it is. Bullshit. An illusion.  There were whispers in the past, that this illusion had a name – bipolar. But I dont believe in bipolar anymore than I believe in santa claus. Another story for another day.

Not a good start to the weekend. But those days happen, even if they are far and few in between now. I felt that old philosophy try take me over that day, the ole ‘fuck the world, and everyone in it.’ It attempted to work its way into the deep recesses of my mind, but I held my ground and just rode the wave, knowing sooner or later the mood was gonna end. Still. Considering I had (over) committed to a shitload of things in the real world, this mind fuck is the last thing I need right now. I have a business to run, a dance class to get up and running, a job to go to if I want to pay bills, a best selling book to write, a daughter to raise, a man to keep happy, and a household to keep in order. But when in those spells, I just want to do NADA. Lying in bed in the dark for an entire day is as hot as I want to get. I cannot fathom doing anything or seeing anyone. I just cant do it.

I just need to BE.

A good couple of hours later of stewing in my own shit, I feel the inner storm coming to an end, and see a bit of sun starting to peek through the grey clouds. There’s a little tapping on the door. I don’t answer, just stare at it blankly, too wrapped up in my own self-absorbed thoughts to even a muster a ‘what.’ The door opens a crack and I glimpse my girls puppy-looking eyes, peeking in at me forlornly. I wipe away my idiotic tears, and force myself to stretch my arms out to her, and she comes charging in, wrapping me in a hug with those chubby arms of hers. She places her palms on my cheeks, and peers closely into my face. “You alright, my mum?” And my heart bleeds. I feel like total and utter shit.  In the back of my mind is a voice saying ‘what did you ever do to deserve a highly-strung mother like me?’ and attempts to shut that voice up is failing miserably.

Still, I manage to nod and smile brightly, ‘You wanna go to the park my darling?’  She jumps up and down, then proceeds to sprint out of the room to tell daddy,  while I try, with all my might, heart and soul to get myself together.

I trudge out of the room. Staring at the ground and shuffling my feet, I manage to get out a gruff ‘sorry, mubs.’ My man just nods, says ‘its allgood mubs,’ and that’s that.  He’s so accustomed to it, that it probably holds little relevance for him anymore.  And I totally understand. We pile into our Ford Boss and venture out, and the incident is forgotten. For me its still there, even as me and dad run a muck around the park with our daughter, looking for all the world like we is a happy family. But there’s always tomorrow. That’s what I keep telling myself. The mind fuck never lasts.  And there’s always tomorrow.

 

 

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My girl, KC

I was known as quite the shy introvert back then. You know the type – always sitting at the back, barely able to get out a boo, the loner type who stuck to herself and preferred to prowl the school halls alone. So not many of my friends, or even family, knew that I had a thing for females. Back in the day, experimenting and ahhh ‘getting down’ with females was sort of like a hobby to me.  And I’m not gonna lie, it was a hobby I enjoyed immensely. I can count on two hands the number of females I’ve hopped into bed with, and have no fingers left over. That’s just how I use to roll back in the old days.

When I think about it, it had nothing to do with being fiddled with when I was younger (another story for another day) nor was it some kind of sinister hatred against men. To put it bluntly, I just found the female form more attractive than a male’s. Even now, when I see a beautiful woman walk by, I’m more likely to be staring along with my man rather than slapping him on the back of the head. I hold fond memories of these years, even though this phase was probably the most craziest period of my entire life.

Anyway, this post is all about my first girlfriend, and her name was KC.

For those who didn’t know, there was a time back then where I considered myself a hearty cow cocky. I started my farming career in a small rural town called Ngakuru, and this is where I met KC. Every Friday, our Agriculture Course met up in a small building near our farming quarters for units and assignments. On one of these days, it was lunch break, and I went doodling to a nearby shop alone, mainly because I was hungry, and mainly because, of all the guys on my farming course, I didn’t get on with a single one of them. I sat in the takeaway store, waiting for fish and chips and pretending to text someone on my phone, when I heard a voice say, “Is this yours aye?”

I looked up and KC stood before me. The first thing I remember thinking was that that soft, melodic tone of a voice didn’t seem to suit the person it belonged to. The second thing I noticed was the chinese symbols tattooed on her wrists and the multiple piercings she had embedded in her lips, chin, her cheeks and all up her ear lobes. And the third thing I noticed was that, despite the fact that she looked for all the world like a child that belonged to Ozzy Osbourne, she was very attractive. Maybe a bit too slim, though. Jet black hair that was mainly slicked to one side, fair skin and deep green eyes that seemed haunted and dark, despite the friendliness in there. I’d seen that look before. Ages ago. It was the look I use to see every time I looked into the mirror. Dead eyes. Eyes looking for a way out because life, this life, was just too hard to hold onto.

She held a crumpled twenty-dollar in her hand. Someone must have dropped it on the concrete outside. I shook my head and remember saying to her “your shout?” to which she threw back her head and laughed. She placed an order, sat down opposite me, and began talking. Which was kind of embarrassing, as being partially deaf, and not having my ears on me meant I could barely hear what she was saying.

“Oh shit sorry,” she said, practically yelling it out when I told her about my hearing issues. Then she said, just as loud “I have borderline disorder, so we’re even huh?” And I remember thinking to myself how is it that you compare borderline disorders to being deaf? I didn’t say it out loud though, only because the ching behind the counter was staring at us oddly, as if we were two aliens from another planet.

She paid for my fish and chips with the lost and found twenty-dollar note, and we swapped numbers. I waltzed back into class where the boys were having a debate about heifer cows and how to best avoid being kicked. I hadn’t even sat down when my phone went off. I jabbed the message button. It was KC. Just a simple ‘BOO.’ I remember smiling to myself, and texting her back a quick ‘Who?’

And that was the start of it. We spent a whole week sending messages back and forth. They started out innocent at first, then quickly escalated into saucy messages filled with sexual suggestions that would have me blushing scarlet red. It was kind of exhilarating for me because, even though I’d had plenty of one-night stands with women, they were mostly always drunken trysts that were never talked about again. But here was one chick who was chasing me down and seemed intent on getting it on with me, drunk or not. I knew, right from the start, that the girl was trouble. Sometimes her messages veered on the edge of plain crazy. I remember her begging me to stay up and text her one night, even though I was hell tired and had to get up in two more hours to milk cows.

‘I feel like I’ve known you my all my life. Don’t go to bed yet. Stay with me. Please, stay with me.’

I picked her up the following week, and took her down to the lakefront. I’m not gonna even be evasive about it, either. She knew what she was doing when we eventually got it on.

We lasted for almost a year. As the months passed, I got to know her more and realised that she was, as I’d first suspected, very suicidal indeed. She had jagged scars up her arms from where she’d cut herself up. One night, we were parked outside the lake front. The rain was pounding down hard. The windows were all fogged up, and we just sat there puffing on a joint when suddenly, she was grabbing me by the hand, and asking me if I wanted to go ‘home’ with her. I knew what she was on about, but pulled my hand away and tried to laugh it off. She then jumped out of the car and I remember watching in horror as her skinny little white form drifted towards the water. I jumped out and, while the rain was pounding us both, struggled to hold her back when she would heedlessly throw herself in the water. I yanked at her arm, yelled at her, slapped her face a couple of times, and in the end, just held her as she collapsed in my arms and cried.

She wanted to die. She’d said it enough times before, but it was only on that rainy night when I realised just how much. She wasn’t just talking crap. She was dead serious.

To be honest, dealing with her was very emotionally draining. I tried so hard to help her turn her life around. Her father sexually abused her constantly when she was a little girl, and her mother sent her to her uncles here in Perth – because she didn’t believe her own daughter. I told KC her mother was an idiot and I was constantly at her to report her bastard of a father. I encouraged her to jump on my farming course when she expressed an interest in it. I told her that she was beautiful because, when she wasn’t acting all crazy and hyper, she was. I tried with her, I really did, but it was like talking to a brick wall. I’d been there and done that, so what did I expect? Seriously…how do you talk to someone like that? What would I have said to my younger self when I was going through all that shit that could have lifted me out of that buzz? What are you meant to say to people these days, people that can’t handle life and feel like they don’t deserve to be here? Back then, when I had KC in my life, I was at a loss as to what to do to help her. Because the truth was, I didn’t know how to help her anymore than I knew how to help myself.

In the end, I had to pull myself away from her. It was either that – or go down with her, and I wasn’t ready to go down. But I did manage to pull myself up again. There are days when that same old depression comes creeping up on me, but the suicidal buzz – that’s long gone. I’m strong enough to deal with it now, and I say that with absolute conviction. As for KC, I heard, through an old friend of mine that she finally got her wish. She died sometime in 2011. She would have been 27 that year. I’m not sure exactly how she died, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was by her own hand. Of course, there’s that part of me that accepts some of the guilt. I could have done more to help her. But I can confidently say that the guilt is only minimal now. Because if there’s one thing I’ve realised in this life, it’s that you just can’t help people who can’t help themselves. No matter how hard you try.

The world can be a cold, harsh place to some, but I’m living proof that it can – and it does get better. The main regret I have when it comes to my friend – and to all the people out there who have succeeded in taking their own life – is that they didn’t live long enough to realise just how beautiful life can be. All you have to do is hang on to it. Firmly and tightly and with both hands.

I think about her now and then, even though I am a hell of a lot more settled now than what I was then. I believe KC was bought to me as a lesson, you know, and may have even been partly responsible for the deep changes that I underwent after associating with her, because there is nothing more frightening than seeing someone so very much like you. It forces you to face the mirror, to face your own truth, and this is what she made me do. This is probably going to be a selfish thing to say, but I totally believe that, wherever she is now, she is probably far better off. I say that because some people are just too good for this world that can, at times, show you no mercy.

I don’t believe in suicide. But I do believe that KC is in a better place, even if she did die by her own hand. Make of that what you will, but this is my opinion that I’m gonna hold, no matter what anybody says. So…from me to a very dear friend – I just want to say R.I.P beautiful girl. I wish I had the chance to speak with you before you passed on. I wish I could have known what to say or do that could have helped ease, or even erase all your pain. But…it all worked out for you in the end, didn’t it?  No more heavy burdens on your shoulders. In the end, you got your wish to be free …

 

A story about perspective

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.

Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. He began to l

ive for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye, as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with such descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

 

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Sixteen CD’s, fifteen notes

by F.P.Biddle

There was a young guy named Brad, who suffered from cancer.  He was given six months to live, and spent most of his days indoors as his mother cared for him.   

One day, he asked his mother if he could go to the record store, and buy a CD.  His mother drove him to the store, and waited for him outside.  Brad walked into the shop, and came to a standstill when he saw at the counter the most beautiful girl he had ever laid eyes on.  He opened the door and walked in, not looking at anything else but her. He walked closer and closer until he was finally at the front desk where she sat. 

She looked up and asked, “Can I help you?” 

She smiled, and he thought it was the most beautiful smile he has ever seen before, and wanted to kiss her right there. 

He said, “Uh… Yeah… Umm… I would like to buy a CD.” 

He picked one out and gave her money for it. 

“Would you like me to wrap it for you?” she asked, smiling her cute smile again. 

He nodded and she went to the back.

She came back with the wrapped CD and gave it to him, smiling.

Brad went home, and that night he could think of nothing else but that smile.  And so, once a week, for four months, he went back to that same store and bought a CD, and each time, she wrapped it for him.  Always smiling.  He wanted to ask her out, but was too shy, and just couldn’t bring himself to do it. 

Eventually, his mother, curious about her sons constant visits to the CD store, asked Brad all about it.  Blushing a deep shade of red, Brad told her all about his crush.  His mother smiled, and gently encouraged and persuaded him to ask her out. 

So the next day, he decided he was going to do something about it.  Summoning up every ounce of courage that he had, he went to the store, grabbed a CD and, when she disappeared to the back to get the wrapping paper, Brad placed a note with his number on the counter, then ran out of the store!!

The very next day, the girl decided to ring Brad.  She was nervous as she waited and, when Brad’s mother picked up, asked if she could speak with her son. 

“Oh.  Who is this, sorry?”

“My name is Denise.  I work at Superfly Records.  Your son gave me his number, and I’m just calling to say hey.”

The line went quiet for a while.  Then the mother said hoarsely, “Oh dear, I’m sorry to tell you Denise…my son passed away this morning.  He had been sick for a while, but is now resting in the Lord’s bosom.”

Speechless and, at first unable to find her voice, Denise couldn’t think of what else to say, except that she was sorry.  The mother sobbed loudly, too engulfed in her own grief to hear the pain and shock in the voice of the girl on the other side.  Denise offered to come by for the service, and say goodybye to Brad. Then she hung up.   

Later on that evening, the mother went into the boy’s room to be closer to her son. She stared at his bed, and her heart lurched in her chest.  Even though she knew he was no longer in pain, it still hurt to see the bed empty. She floated over to his draws, tentatively touching the portrait of a younger her, her late husband and Brad, when he was eight years old.  Memories filled her vision, causing a fresh set of tears to fill her eyes, and roll down her cheeks. 

She sighed heavily, and was about to walk out when something caught her eye..  Sitting on the floor next to the draw, half hidden under a t-shirt, was a stack of the unwrapped CD’s Brad had brought from the store.  The mother bent down to pick them up, and, sitting on her sons bed, carefully began to remove the wrapping from one of them.

A note fell out, and floated to the floor.  The mother picked it up, and read it out loud.  “Hi there, I think your really cute.  Do you want to go out with me?  Denise xoxo.”

Stunned, she opened another one, and the same note fell out.  “Hi there, I think your really cute.  Do you want to go out with me?  Denise xoxo.”

There were sixteen CD’s in total, and fifteen notes to Brad, asking him out.  One for each week of the four months that he had been going to the store.  

Brad never opened them.  If he did, he would have seen that the girl from the record store was just as taken with him, as he was with her.  

Moral of the story – always tell someone how you feel.  Regret can last a lifetime once the opportunity to tell people that you love them is lost.  And that can happen in the blink of an eye.

Hold On, Pain ends – a story about suicide

I was eleven the very first time I tried to take myself out of this world.  It was winter, and the year was 1991.  Opposite our home was a vast rugby field, our childhood stomping grounds, where me and my cousins, in younger days, would often frolic and run a muck, playing rugby and tiggy, but mostly bull rush.   Splayed beyond this field were lush, green hills that rolled on endlessly.  Over these hills was a river which had these magnificently huge willow trees jutting over the water.  One day, I found myself down there, sitting under one of those willow trees.  I hugged my knees tightly as I looked out at the water,  wanting nothing more than end it all.  I held a long rope in my hand that I’d found in our shed, and I remember, so clearly, that feeling of utter hopelessness – like a tonne of lead weighing down heavily on my mind, my heart and my soul.

I was only eleven at the time, but had the mind and maturity of an adult.  Life, circumstances and events had made me that way.  You may think that, being only eleven years old, there was possibly no reason for me to want to knock myself off.  After all, I was at an age where life hadn’t even begun to mess with me yet, right?  Maybe so, maybe not.  There’s no way I can pinpoint exactly why it was that I no longer wanted to exist.  Except, perhaps to say, that I had always had a very strong, heightened sense of awareness, which opened my eyes to seeing things that no child should ever have to see until they have matured enough to handle it.  The other thing would have been having this in-built sense of sadness, even from a young age.  A melancholy, which was seemingly as much a part of me as my arms and legs.  Later on, I came to realize this melancholy was, in fact depression.  And it has visited me often throughout my life, like a faithful dog that always comes back, and never really forgets its Master.

You may think that someone intent, and on the verge of knocking themselves off, to be an intense, overwhelming experience.  Where maybe thoughts are racing through your head like cars on an expressway, the heart is beating away madly, like a bongo drum in your chest, and your convulsing, or on the verge of an epileptic fit or something.  That was definitely not the case with me.  When I stood up and forced myself out onto one of those thick branches, intending to tie the rope around the branch, then around my neck, all was just black, and quiet, and oh so very still.  Like the world was on pause, waiting, with breathless anticipation, for me to make the move.  I lowered myself carefully so I could saddle the branch, then set to work tying a knot as tightly as I possibly could.  Dark, dark thoughts in my head.  Tears falling freely down my face.  Wrapped in a blanket of hopelessness so tight, that death seemed a relief from it all.  You don’t even think about the pain of the rope squeezing the life out of your neck, because the pain within simply  overpowers it all.

The universe decided to intervene that day.  As it has intervened many times since.  Being as overweight as I was, the branch suddenly snapped before I even had the chance to get the noose around my neck, and I went tumbling into the water with an almighty splash.  I remember trying to let myself drift under, spreading my arms and legs like a starfish, eyes upward to the grey sky, teeth chattering as I begged the river to claim me as its own, surrendering myself, even as my body was going all spastic from the freezing cold.  But it isn’t as simple to drown yourself as it is to hang yourself.  I wouldn’t be alive today, if that were the case.

I remember reading this article, not so long ago.  And it outlined the statistics of suicide in my homeland, New Zealand.  It’s been popping up randomly in my mind ever since.   It hurts whenever I think about it.  It hurts, because I know exactly what it’s like to be in that mind frame.  And it hurts because there are far, far too many people out there, going through the motions, wanting to die, wanting to give up on a life that can be so beautiful, if you just hang on to it.

I feel deeply for family members who live with the consequences of having a loved one succeed at taking their own life.  I feel for my mum for everything that I put her through, even though it’s been some twenty something years since I was giving her grief because I was absorbed in a world that was so dark. It is difficult for family members to deal with someone who just can’t see the point in anything anymore.  Like walking on eggshells, basically.  You want to help them, but you just don’t know how.  When I look back on my own experiences, I realize one thing – that it is all inner conflict.  Wanting to cease existing, is like being in a sort of state.  Like how one gets into a state of ecstasy when making love, or a state of equilibrium when meditating.  So wanting to kill yourself off I will describe as being in a state of despair.  You cannot see a way out.  You cannot feel anything but the deep-seated pain that is causing you to want to shut your own lights out.  You feel worthless, and feel your loved ones will be better off without you anyway.  It hurts to smile, and it hurts to pretend.  This state takes you to a place where you are so far gone, that it seems like nobody can reach you.

But remember this – nobody wants to kill themselves.  Nobody.  And I honestly believe that, with one hundred percent certainty.  They just want whatever is causing the inner pain, to stop.

If you are struggling to bring someone you love out of their state of despair, I really don’t know how you’re supposed to do that.  I myself have dealt with a few teens who have come to me, crying that they just don’t want to live anymore.  And even as a fellow suicidal sufferer myself, with the shoe on the other foot, I had no advice to give because, as I have mentioned before in some of my other posts, saying the wrong thing seems to be my forte.  And when dealing with a suicidal loved one, that’s the worst thing you can do.  So I just sat there – and listened.  Because words, no matter how good the intentions, can be quite useless and have zero effect whatsoever.  When I swallowed a whole bottle of pills at age fourteen, and ended up in hospital because of it, my mum spoke with me about it for the first time, I suppose, and asked me why I done it.  And I couldn’t tell her.  Even though she cried waterfalls of tears over me, and said she loved me, and wanted more than anything for me to just be happy, and even did her best thereafter to help me – her words basically rebounded off me and disappeared somewhere into the air.  That’s how out of reach people get.  Yes, it is selfish.  But more than anything, it is a nightmare for the sufferer – and deep deep down inside, they really just wanna wake from it – but don’t know how.

See, I feel that a majority of people, when dealing with someone who is suicidal, they don’t feel comfortable going to such a dark place, you know.  Because that is where all the ugliness and the heavy issues dwell, and facing them can be too much for some to handle.  Sometimes, I feel that, if only someone had come to me while I was down there, and they had stayed, and talked, and wrestled with me about what was causing the pain, I would have come out of that suicidal buzz sooner, rather than later.  If you’re loved ones are dwelling in these realms, then maybe that’s where you need to go, no matter how ugly it is.  I mean, that’s your loved one down there.   If your down there with them, maybe you have a better chance of pulling them out.

Struggling with suicide is a heavy business, and one that’s going to be a long, arduous journey, for those suffering from it, as well as for those who are trying to help a friend or loved one through it.  To those with a son, daughter, mother, sister, brother, friend etc  contemplating suicide, all I ask is that you please, be kind. Open your mind to their struggle, without judgement, without prejudice, and maybe they will open their mouths and spill their guts about what is wrong.  Because it is always something.  It is never just nothing.  Most often, it is deep-seated pain and even mental illnesses that take people to that dark place of not wanting to exist anymore.

These days I feel so lucky, you know.  But more than anything, I feel overwhelming pride for coming as far as I have.  I have survived so many attempts, and yet have emerged out the other side, stronger, with a heart and eyes that now see the best in life, rather than the worst.   I always try not to judge people by their surface actions, you know, because going through so much inner conflict has allowed me to be keyed, almost automatically, into other people’s pain, pain that I can see as clear as day, even if it’s not so obvious to others.

So to my fellow friends and readers, wherever you are in the world, if you are reading this, and it hits some kind of nerve, I just want to say this.  You are worth it.  You are.  You, reading this, are worthy of life.  Of living.  Of enjoyment, laughter and mostly of giving and receiving love.  You are a bad-ass survivor.  And you are a fighter.  Next time life tells you that you ain’t worth shit, turn around and give it a big, fat karate chop, and say ‘YES I AM.’  And say it like you mean it, because you are.  And when you truly, truly start believing that, I promise you, everything will get better.

There’s going to come a day where you’re going to rise up.  You will find your feet, and you will find your niche, and when the storm is over, and you have evolved and grown, just as I have, you will look back on that part of your life and laugh, just as I laugh now when I think about the day I went tumbling into the freezing cold water during my first attempt.

Hope.  Hang onto it friend. Tightly and with both hands.  It will help you more than you think, and eventually, it will set you free.  It will.  You know what HOPE stands for?  It stands for Hold On, Pain Ends.  And it does end.  Maybe not tomorrow, or next week…but one day xx

 

 

Raising strong children in a world that can be unkind

It was at the young, tender age of four, when my girl had her first taste of bullying. Fortunately for her, that is an age where, thank God, she is still innocent to cruel jibes and taunts, and has no idea what ‘fatty watty’ even means.Unfortunately for the girl’s mother, it just so happened to be MY daughter on the receiving end of the bullying.  A big hell no as far as I was concerned.

I bit my tongue for a bit. I mean, I tried so hard to refrain. But after ten minutes of listening to this little brat chanting ‘fatty watty,’ while poking at my girls protruding gut, as well as waving and pointing a toy gun in her face, I snapped as politely as one person could possibly be expected to snap, considering the circumstances.

“Hey, hey. Don’t you bloody do that? How would you like it if I poked you in the stomach and shoved a gun in your face you wouldn’t like that would you?”

The brat had the cheek to look crestfallen. I thought I had used a really nice tone, even if there was an underlying threat in there. I look at my baby, who is giggling at the brat, and also chanting ‘fatty watty, fatty watty’ in a sing-song way. Then out of the corner of my eye, I glance at the mum, who is peering at both girls with what I can see is a tight smile on her face.

Uh oh.  I know I’ve offended her.

My baby prances back inside to her daddy, while the brat sits in the corner, staring at me as if I am the wicked witch of the north.

Meanwhile, I attempt to brush away the awkwardness that has all of a sudden permeated the air by picking up where we left off from our conversation. But I know I’ve blown it. I’m aware that the woman sitting across from me, whom I have only known all of three weeks, is not happy that I’ve just told her daughter off. Not happy at all.

This was a few years ago. I haven’t seen the mother since, and I’m not really surprised. I guess it can now be stated as fact that my tendency to blurt out things that I should maybe not say, or at least learn to re-phrase, is one of the many reasons why I find it hard to keep friends. I still say I wasn’t that harsh though. Or at least I don’t think I sounded as harsh as I felt. Additionally, it can also be stated that, lately, the FACT that I seem to lose friends at a rapid rate when I do this hasn’t been bugging me as much as it used to.

Which, I think, is a good thing

Anyway…moving on. Of course, when I say ‘brat’ I don’t mean that in a nasty, evil-ish kind of way, even though it sounds like it. I love kids. Let me just point that out. But there were two reasons why I told this girl off aside from the obvious fact that she was just being downright mean. One – no parent likes to watch their kids get picked on. If the shoe was on the other foot, I’m positive that mother would have done the same thing. Furthermore, if my daughter was teasing another kid in front of me, I would have told her off myself, as respect for others is something I hope to teach her, and teach her well.

The other reason why this brats antics got up my ally is…well, a bit more personal…to be completely honest with you.

I’ve been a victim of bullying. Being overweight and tipping the scales at ninety something kg’s at the age of twelve, as well as wearing hearing aids, AS WELL as being fitted with braces in Intermediate through to third form, made me a juicy target for schoolyard bullies. When I put it in perspective, I guess watching my girl getting prodded and teased brought back memories. And feelings. And painful ones at that.

My girl – she has always been on the chubby side. She was the type of baby that strangers on the street ooh-ed and ahh-ed over because her multiple layers of rolls and balloon cheeks were impossible to resist. Fast forward to a few years later, and she’s still getting the oohs and ahhs as well as the occasional side-looks that clearly say “oh my god, what does her mother feed her??” Her seventh birthday is in December, two days before Christmas, yet she constantly gets mistaken for an eight or nine year old. Clothes shopping is a mission. Shopping here reminds me of when I would walk my size twelve self into an Asian clothes store in New Zealand and feel like a giant because even just a fourteen was a tight squeeze.  Standard eight year old clothes are too small for my daughter.  Australian sizes. KIds here are too skinny anyway. But maybe I’m just making excuses.

It used to be cute, watching my baby get attention from strangers due to her overflowing chubbiness. What’s not so cute is listening to her breathing at night. Or watching her run (or attempt to run) after kids her own age. Previously, it made me giggle when watching her get her waddle on, but these days it’s about as funny as cancer. If there’s one thing I realised after witnessing my baby getting taunted, it’s that I don’t want her to go through what I did. Ever.

About a month ago, my girl came home saying something that hurt me deeply.  She told me some kid at school said that everyone hates her.  The manner in which she said it made me realize she was unaware of what it meant.  But I knew.  My rage was so huge, that I caused a bigger commotion down at the school than was probably necessary.  Everyone got involved at my insistence – right from the principal to the boys parents.  The boy was made to apologize and I check in with my girl everyday to see how her day has gone, and gauge whether she is being left alone.

It’s possible I am blowing this up into intergalactic proportions and over-reacting (what else is new?) For starters, baby wasnt even worried about what was said. The fact that this boy needed to be taught a lesson in respect was something that could have probably been dealt with another way.  Furthermore, its been some fifteen years since my school days. Yet this experience brought it all back as if it happened just yesterday.

My school years were hell.

It’s not the bullying itself that sticks out like a green bush in a brown hay-field. It’s the way it makes you feel for, like, yeeeeeears afterwards. Worthless. Hopeless. Not good enough. Not pretty enough. Never going to amount to anything…and the list goes on. As you get older, you don’t realise that bullying is a major contributor to self-doubt – the same self-doubt that has followed you throughout your life like a faithful lap dog.

Sure, I put on a show of being untouchable. Sure I chose to rise above it and keep on keeping on, because that’s what the experience taught me to do. But the pain, the anger and the resentment was always there, throbbing away underneath it all. It took fifteen long arse years for the rawness of that wound to heal, but at least it got better. At least I overcame it. Some people never do.

In a way, I’m grateful to my bullies from days gone past. Not just at school, but within my home life as well. The lesson I learnt here is this – that it’s the bad experiences that shape you into either one of two moulds. One, you become a bitter person. Or two, you become a better person, and I believe that this is what I am no matter what any tom, dick or harry may think. So I may not be on this brat’s mother’s favourite people’s list anymore? She’s hardly the first one I’ve pissed off because I’ve my tendency to be blunt. I’m probably on a lot of lists of ‘Most Unfavourite People’ and right at the top too. On the other hand, maybe I do need to learn to zip my mouth in the heat of the moment. But the important thing is I know I mean well, even if that is hardly ever obvious. I know my heart is in the right place. I know my intentions are pure. And I like to think that’s all that matters?

I’m proud of the head-strong and determined woman that I am today. Some things I never learn. Other things I’m still trying. But this lesson I learnt very well – that even though life can be utterly beautiful, it can also be a downright bitch. And it’s the bitch times that make you stronger. Still, despite all this, the whole point is I would not wish any of what I’ve been through on anyone, least of all my daughter. I’m probably being overly serious and possibly paranoid about something as trivial as some little girl poking my babies gut with a toy gun, trying to ‘pop her.’ But I can’t help it. Like most parents, I want my girl to lead a sweet charmed life, but that’s just not the way the world works. Times like this I just want to wrap her, tight and snug, in a cocoon and keep her out of harm’s way for all eternity.

But I know I can’t do that. I may not be able to protect my girl forever. And I may be looking a bit too far into the future here. But if there is one thing I hope to install in my daughter, it would be to have supreme and utmost confidence in herself so she can stand tall and proud in a world that isn’t always so kind. And isn’t that what we all want for our children???

Correct me if I’m wrong on that one.

In the meantime though, I think a lifestyle overhaul is in order for her. Because, after all this banging on, the truth is…yes, she is a fair bit overweight. So the brat had a point. Too much noodles and not enough physical activity. If I could chuck her on Herbalife I would, but I think I’ll chuck her on some kind of physical regime instead. I’m getting onto her health now. Honestly, its hightime I did something about it anyway.

FORGET IT!!! The only solution to negativity.

The power of negativity is much stronger than most people realise. The more me and my partner pull ourselves away from the norm in attempt to move forward, the more we are becoming aware of just how prevalent negativity is in today’s society.

Everyday, we are nose deep in books and studying philosophy on the greatest men and women that ever lived.  We are doing this in an effort to shift our mindset, and eliminate the negative influences going on in our own lives. We did not count on the deep awakening that would take place. Even my partner is alarmed, now that he is becoming more self-aware.

When you step back from something, and look at it with eyes truly open, you really begin to see things for what they are. This is becoming apparent the more we deal with each other, with the people that we love, or just with people in general. And its fast becoming a powerful lesson for us, in terms of learning how to counter it, rather than react to it.

Negativity rules the majority. And we don’t even realize it. That’s stating it how it is. It comes in many forms and disguises, and we have become so wrapped up in it that we wouldn’t recognize it if it came up and jabbed us in the nose.

Throughout most of my life, I considered myself to be a fairly positive person. And now I’m beginning to realize that, even though the intentions were right, the way I went about it was so very wrong.

For example, I’ve always felt the need to prove myself to others. This was the strong, fixed mindset that I had, and it drove me incessantly. Proving people wrong was power to me, and I would gloat silently when I ended up achieving something nobody ever thought I could achieve.

I also had this unexplainable need to always be in competition with my partner – probably one of the main reasons why we were always at loggerheads!!

Without going too much into it, I can say with one hundred percent certainty that years of egotistical power trips, and unjust pride, have run its course in my life. It took me falling down and nearly losing everything for me to realize that there is nothing positive about one-upping anyone, as the only person you hurt is yourself.

This is just my battle with negativity. It comes in so many other forms. It comes disguised as fear, no self-faith, or no self-love. It could be your reaction to the world around you – a world where so much ugliness is pushed in front of your nose everyday. It could be that your brewing inside with frustration, resentment, jealousy, bitterness, and just don’t know how to stop it.

On Saturday just gone, I attended a training seminar in Melville, and one of the guest speakers advised something that resonated deeply with me. This woman has about eight hundred plus people under her, yet she is so down to earth – no airs – just all humbleness, with a quirky sense of humour to boot. In her speech, she emphasised the importance of moving on rapidly, when something isn’t working. If you are conducting your business a certain way, and it isn’t working – forget it. If you are dealing with someone who is negative – forget them. If you make mistakes, or trip up – forget it. This is something she repeated at vantage points, throughout her entire speech.

I’m not even sure why I was so touched, as I have heard this saying a million times. The only difference with this time is…it actually hit home…and hard. I guess that can be attributed to the fact that both me and my partner are absolutely ready. Ready for change – and ready to receive the message.

But that saying, it definitely can be applied to the negative forces in your life.

Forget it. Just forget it.

If it doesn’t make you feel good – forget it.

If it doesn’t support or encourage you – forget it.

If it gives you yukky feelings – forget it.

If it doesn’t lead you to happiness, success, wealth, good health – which is something WE ALL deserve by the way – forget it.

Don’t try to fight the old, but concentrate instead on building the new.

Focus all that energy, not on the negative, but on the positive of every situation.

As whatever you give your energy to, that’s what manifests more of in your life.

Anything negative going on in your life – just FORGET IT!!

When life starts to make sense

When I think about it, it’s no surprise that I ended up as I did.  The list of obstacles littered upon my path since birth is something I could probably boast and laugh about now, even though back then, I thought it was about as funny as a cancerous tumor.

Freda Biddle: Adopted out at nine months, after an incident involving adults put me in hospital. Growing up in an environment where my  (adopted) mum was always trying to force God down my throat. (Spiritual nutcase.)  Partially deaf, and living in a silent world – of which my low to average social skills could be attributed to.  Add to that, being morbidly obese all my primary, teen and college life, having braces fitted at age twelve, and eventually becoming the brunt of asshole schoolyard bullies – it’s no wonder I ended up a weirdo, oddball, loner type with no friends.

God – he did not seem at all bothered when he was in the process of making me.  Nor did he seem to have second thoughts about throwing every ugly challenge my way in adulthood – challenges that could have broken me by now, if not for the fact that I was such a stubborn ass mule, with an intense drive to overcome ANYTHING.  He got that bit right.  I’ll say that much.  Intense drive is something I believe he gave me, and in abundance.  Maybe that was all part of the balancing act, you know.  In which case, I should probably be grateful that he gave me such a shocking start in life.

I wouldn’t be the person I am today, otherwise.

Of course, if you have read some of my other blogs, you would know exactly what I am talking about. I don’t know why people are so surprised when I open up, and admit my truth. It’s not just my truth, but the truth of women and girls everywhere. Truth is that self-hate that sticks to your side like a powerful glue. It’s best friend is self-loathing, and it’s sister is insecurity. And its something that follows you throughout your life, like a faithful lapdog that never truly forgets its master. Truth is when you attempt to hide all that you are, because you are ashamed to be different.

And the highest truth? When you finally overcome it – and live to tell the tale.

I find myself pondering a lot these days. Not dwelling or regretting. But just…pondering. About how I’ve wasted half my life worrying about irrelevant, trivial shit, that has done me absolutely no favors in this life whatsoever. And how its finally reached it’s expiry date. As you get older, I guess you realize just how precious time really is.

A new day is dawning today.  An awakening so profound, I’m getting dizzy just writing this.  Times are a changing, and I can feel myself changing with them. Its something echoing in me so powerfully, that no words I use to describe it will do it justice. I am coming into my own and, bit by bit, ridding myself of old habits and behaviors that have been self-destructive to not just me, but also to my family. The change is causing a massive shift in my psyche.  And the lessons of yesteryear have finally been learnt – all that has gone on before, done and dusted.

It’s an overwhelming feeling.   Its only the future that counts now.  That’s basically all.

Better late than never.  If I could go back, and teach my younger self one thing, it would be to love ME.

Yes, it really is that simple, and really that complicated.

Love thyself and mostly, be thyself.  Merely saying it isn’t enough, but think it, take it in, believe it…and feel it with every part of your soul.  

Feel it, show it off, embrace it and revel in the glorious, magnificent person that YOU ARE.

There’s nobody else on this planet who is more qualified at being yourself than you are.  Love yourself, fully and completely.  Love those annoying flaws, your shit past, your stupid mistakes and your oddball quirkiness.  Love your craziness, your belly rolls, your crooked smile and your fluctuating moods.  Love your bitchy side, your tendency to be a drama queen, and the fact that we are all gonna fall at some stage in our lives

Just fall deeply, crazy and madly in love with it ALL.

Yes, it is easier said than done. I get it.  But I bet you this…it will be the best love that you have ever felt in your life.

Freda Biddle: Loving and devoted mother. Committed partner. Musician and budding entrepreneur. Humanitarian. Forgiving and accepting. Empathetic to others. Visionary.

I love the person that I am today.  Just the way I am.

The girl who picked up cigarette butts

I felt a strong sense of urgency as I stood there, in the middle of the aisle.  I don’t remember ever feeling so anxious in my life.  I held onto the overhead railing tightly, gripping it with one hand to steady myself as the bus swayed from side to side, rumbling forward towards Morrison Street.  In my other hand, and clutching it to my chest as if it were treasure, was a plastic bag that didn’t contain much – a stack of ham and egg sandwiches, a bottle of Charlies orange juice.  Chicken potato chips and a king-size bar of caramello chocolate.   There was also a small, pink Hello Kitty jacket in there, and I’d spent all night last night fishing through the mammoth contents of my wardrobe just to find it.  I squeezed the bag even tighter.  It contained nothing much of special value to the average human being, but to a little Maori girl, it might just mean the world.

When the bus screeched to a halt on the corner of Morrison and Richard Street, I stepped off it and was hit with a gust of wind so savage that it almost toppled me over.  My eyes squinted as I looked up at the bus driver and thanked him.  He gave a gruff bow, pulled the bus doors shut and down the road it went rumbling.  I stood there watching it until it disappeared.

The day was strangely cold considering it was a summer’s day, and the wind continued to blow with a savageness that had me bracing myself in case I went blowing like a tumbleweed down the street. Overhead grey skies loomed dark and foreboding, a tell-tale sign that rain and maybe a storm was on its way.  I exhaled, my eyes searching up and down each side of the street.  But for a lone man walking his dog, it was completely deserted.

I sat down on the bench and, just like I had done so in the last couple of days, decided to wait for one hour approximately.  As cold and as windy as it was, and as much as I wanted to be at home, cuddled under my blankie, none of that over-powered this unexplainable need I had, to see this little Maori girl just one more time.

It had been a month since I had spotted her, at this very spot.  Yet the image of her hollow eyes remained vividly implanted on my brain like a camera-shot, the sound of her voice playing and replaying on my mind, like a sad song on repeat.  Her dark, toothpick-like legs shuffling along the curbs of the road as she peered at the ground, eyes searching desperately for something, as if she had to find whatever it was that she was looking for, as if her little life depended on it.  For but a brief moment, the little girl had raised her head and smiled a half a smile at me

“Kia ora,” she had said shyly.

“Hello,” I had replied, trying to smile back at her.  But her eyes had fled back to the ground again, and she’d proceeded her search with the determination of a gold miner, trying to find gold.

There was something about this little girl that tugged at my heartstrings.  Something that poked at my conscience, and told me something was amiss.  In my mind, I had assumed that either she was homeless, or she was living in an environment where maybe food was scarce.  She couldn’t have been more than eight or nine, and she’d been popping up on my mind constantly, more so over the last few days.   In between travelling to and from my Tafe classes, I would keenly keep an eye out for her, and this was the fifth time I had come back to this spot, hoping to run into her again.  Each time, I had brought a little something with me in the hopes that I could present it to her.

But each time, she’d never appeared.  And now I was wondering to myself, as I sat there, pulling my jacket tightly around me, that maybe she never would.

I sighed deeply, glanced at my watch and felt slightly despondent as the minutes ticked by.   I had no reason to believe that she would just suddenly come wandering by, especially in weather like this.  In the distance, further down the street, I spotted the five’o clock bus motoring towards me.  I contemplated waving this one down so that I could make my way home.  But then I spotted a small, dark figure, shuffling along the curbs of the sidewalk.  I squinted my eyes, and my heart did a flip-flop in my chest.

It was her!

I had found her.  A strange sense of overwhelming happiness flooded through me. It felt like I was seeing a long-lost child of mine.  A preposterous notion, I realize, considering I didn’t even know the girl.  But nevertheless, I waited, with utmost trepidation and growing excitement, as she neared closer.  Even in the distance, I could see she was wearing the exact same short-sleeved dress she wore the day I first met her, and she was doing the exact same thing, eyes to the ground, searching, or more like, hoping for some nameless object to materialize.  She held her dress down with two scrawny arms and seemed to be struggling to push against the wind, her hair flying in all directions.

I wasn’t certain what I was going to say to her when she reached me.  All I knew was I was going to say something.

She was but a few feet away from me when I said, with as much friendliness as I could muster, “What you looking for there, missy?”

I may as well have shot her with a magical dart that freezes people, the way she came to a halt, and froze.  She stayed glued to the spot and, for the longest time, just continued staring at the ground.  I was worried she was going to ignore me.  But ever so slowly, she lifted her eyes to mine and just shook her head in reply.

I said, softly, “It’s cold out here, isn’t it?”

The little Maori girl shrugged her bony shoulders. “It ain’t too bad, Ma’am,” she replied, ever so polite.

I stood up and slowly stepped towards her.  When she took a wary step back, I smiled.  “It’s ok,” I soothed.  “I’m not going to hurt you.  I just wanted to give you something.”  I extended my hand to offer her the plastic bag.  “Here, take this.  There’s some sandwiches in there.  And a jacket you can put on, too, for when you get cold.”

The little Maori girl blinked, disbelief in her big, brown eyes.  The more I looked into those eyes, the more bright and prominent the shadows seemed.  It jabbed at my heart as I watched her uncertain gaze go from me, to the bag, then to me and back to the bag again.  To show her I meant it, I knelt down to level with her, and encouraged her by tilting my head.  “Here you go,”  I said.  “It’s all yours.”

She reached out a skinny arm and a huge smile slowly spread across her features.  Very slowly she took the bag from out of my hands.

“What’s your name, missy?”  I asked as her eyes scanned the contents within the plastic bag I’d just given her.

She looked up at me, eyes shining.  “My name’s Aroha, Ma’am,” she answered.

“A-ro-ha,” I tried to pronounce it the way the little Maori girl had pronounced it, but found I couldn’t roll my R’s.  This caused her to let out a little giggle.
“It means love,” she added, looking at me with such tender innocence I felt my heart lurch again.

“Well it’s a pretty name,” I said.  “You live around here, A-ro-ha?  Your mum and dad know where you are?”

At the mention of her mum and dad’s name, the brief bit of happiness that was evident on her face just a few seconds ago drained away, like a sink being emptied of water.  The shadows returned to her eyes, and she looked down at the bag, all of a sudden doubtful.

“They know I’m out, they sent me,” she replied, timidly.  “My house is down there,” she pointed the way she had came, her eyes widening, as if something was giving chase.  Suddenly, she gazed up at me and, for a fleeting second, I glimpsed pain and sorrow so deep it made my heart cry out.  She gave a deep bow, then extended the bag to offer it back to me.  I stared down at her, not understanding.

“You can take it, A-ro-ha,”  I said.  “I brought those munchies especially for you, you know.”

“Thankyou for being so kind.  But if I may ask, Ma’am,” her head bowed to the ground as she spoke, “Is there any kind of chance that you might have some cigarettes on you instead?”

The question threw me off guard.  At first, I didn’t understand, much less know how to respond.  The wind nearly blew the contents out of her little hands so I was forced to grab it anyway.  I gently gripped her wrist, and held it in my hand.  She was so cold.  The little Maori girl was refusing to look at me.  Her eyes stayed downcast, to the ground, so I couldn’t see them.

“I don’t smoke,” I said, even though that was a lie.  But I wasn’t about to tell her that.  “Why do you want smokes, ain’t you a little bit young for that yucky habit?”

The girl shook her head, her stringy hair flying in the wind.  Still, she would not look at me, nor would she speak.  Now that I was so close to her, the smell of her strong body odor drifted to my nostrils.  I knelt on my knees as she stood there, hands clasped, head down, and pulled the Hello Kitty jacket out of the plastic bag.  I held it up, and ordered her to put her arms through, which she did.  After zipping up the jacket, I took out the packet of potato chips, opened it, and started shoving some in my mouth.  I then offered the bag to her.  And finally she looked up.

Her eyes glistened as she took a big fat chip out of the bag and brought it to her mouth.  She proceeded to nibble on it much like how a mouse would, and all this time, two tears were coming down from each eye and slowly sliding down her dark cheeks.  She seemed deep in thought. I reached out my hand to wipe them away, feeling my own eyes welling up.  And then she stated again, “Are you sure you don’t have a cigarette on you, Ma’am?  Just maybe one?”

I shook my head.  Then realization hit me.  “It’s for your parent’s, isn’t it?  The smokes?”

She nodded her head, and reached into the bag for another chip.  “Just my Ma.  She gets angry without them.  But sometimes, Pa has no money to buy any.  Coz he needs it for beer too.  That’s why they send me on the street, to find some smoke butts for Ma.”

I don’t know how to respond to this.  I have never felt so at a loss in my life.  I want, more than anything, to wrap her up in a bear hug, and whisk her away to my house, but I know I can’t.  The tears are rushing down my own face, and I wipe them away furiously.  The little Maori girl stares at me curiously.

“Well, I can’t help you there, missy,” I say, reverting back to pronouncing what’s easier.  “But do me a favour, ok.  Take this bag anyway.  Now, you can sit with me as I wait for my next bus, and eat some chocolate.  Or you can carry on doing what you’re doing, and eat chocolate while you’re at it.  Either way, just take the bag ok?”  Then when I saw her begin to shake her head, I added.  “It’ll save me from carrying it all the way home?  You’ll be a hero!”

I don’t know why I expected that she would sit there with me.  Because she didn’t.  After telling me that she was going to make her way home now, I bent over to give her a tight hug.  I felt her bones digging into me, and did not want to let her go.

“My names Kathy,”  I whispered as a I held her.  “Next time you see me, don’t you be afraid to say hello, ok?”

When I finally released her, I reluctantly sent her on her way.  She walked away slowly, turning back to me often as she did so.  Then, even, though she had the Hello Kitty jacket hood over head, I saw her proceed her search, head bowed to the ground, searching, searching.  What kind of parents did that to their own child, I thought?  Forced them out onto the streets in search of cigarette butts.  I imagined the little girl returning home empty-handed, and wondered what would happen.  It filled me with anger, but more than anything, it weighed down on my heart like a lump of lead.

I watched the little Maori girl until she disappeared around the corner.  She turned to look at me once more, and lifted a hand to wave out to me.  In the next second, she was gone.

Hopelessness.  That’s what I felt as I boarded the last bus that would take me back to my nice warm house.  Hopelessness.  It’s knowing that something is wrong, but also knowing that, on a grand scale, there was nothing you could do about it.  I didn’t know their life.  I didn’t know their story.  And, as wrong as I thought the situation was, I had no right to judge others for the life that they chose to lead.

I would see her again, though.  That little Maori girl.  I had already made up my mind about that.  On random days, I would go back to that same place and sit there, at that bus stop, and wait for her to appear again.  Maybe next time, I’ll even walk her home.  The thought buoyed me up and filled me with hope that, even though I couldn’t change her situation, I could at least make it a little easier for her, just by being there.  And just by being her friend…

The importance of MUTUAL RESPECT for couples who work together

Couples who work together can go either one of two ways – it can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience – or it can be downright disastrous!

Me and my man, we are about to have that theory tested out.

As a couple, whom have been together for fifteen odd years, me and my partner have come a long way from where we once use to be. In the past, our relationship was very volatile.  Explosive arguments, fighting and scrapping it out was a regularity in probably the first ten years of our relationship.  I had a bad habit of running back and forth. which is what I did as recent as last year.  Domestic violence, jealousy, defensiveness, fighting for control, blaming, cheating – the whole she-bang – that was us.  Once upon a time.

But we have definitely turned over a new leaf.  The maturity in our relationship has finally ripened after some fifteen years together, and its been a beautiful thing to witness.  But more than that, the calmness in our relationship, as compared to what it use to be, is a beautiful thing to feel. We have been knocked about mercilessly by the tides of life, and yet, as a couple, we stand today more united than ever.  It’s not the good times that have made us stronger but, rather, how we have carried each other through the bad times.

We are not sure how we have survived this long.  But I am grateful that we have.  We have a lot of hurt in our past that still needs to heal and, as we step into  entrepreneurship, this is becoming more evident to me.

The reason I say this is because me and my partner have always been, and probably always will be, total opposites.  We cannot change who we are at our core, or we would have done so by now – fifteen years later.  Although we share so much in common in terms of what we both want out of life, the way we operate as individuals clash, big time.

For example, I’ve always lived my life through emotion and instinct.  These two things run deep in me.  I’m the type of person that makes decisions based on how it ‘feels’ rather than how it looks on the outside.  Empathy is something I have always identified as one of my strongest attributes – an attribute gauged from a difficult childhood, I would say.  When I network, I analyze the energy of a person, rather than how they are portraying themselves – and read between the lines, rather than listen, and take from what is being said.  When I communicate, I tend to communicate very passionately, especially if its something I’m really into.  This is something I have trained myself to keep in check, as it took me a while to realize that it can sometimes be a bit too much for some to take.  A lot of the time, I have foot and mouth disease, and tend to blurt things out without much thought to the consequences. Further more, I have a ground-breaking record for jumping the gun, and diving head first into things that I probably shouldn’t.  From this, I have learnt some pretty painful life lessons, but believe myself to be a bit wiser because of it.

Now, my partner on the other hand, is absolutely NOTHING like me.  We are chalk and cheese.  Night and day.  Yin and Yang. The keyword with my partner is ‘logical.’  Whereas I am a feeler, he is a thinker.  My man is very strict – a trait I believe he picked up whilst training as an army cadet – and he has a no-nonsense approach to most things in life.   He is analytical of a situation judging by whats happening ‘on the surface,’ and rarely bothers with whats going on underneath, or behind it.  At times, I feel he can come across as very judgemental, as to him, there is only right – and there is wrong.  That is all.  There is no in between.  His discipline and focus when it comes to work, finances and routine, is rock solid, and he is extremely cautious when it comes to making decisions.  He can be witty and intelligent in conversation, and at times, even commanding.

In business, our differences can work either for, or against us.  But seeing as both of our walls are slowly, but surely, crumbling down, I’m making my bet today, on the 11th of January 2017.  That although it is going to be a challenge – it is absolutely going to work for us.

I have  always believed my partner to have the discipline, commitment and focus required to be a great businessman.  Furthermore, he is excellent with money.  Now, if he takes the time to understand people  then he can achieve great things, as it is people that we need to create a sustainable business.  Which is where I come in, as observing, understanding  and empathizing with people is my forte.

On the other hand, I am learning, from my partner, to exert discipline, practice routine, and be organized.  He is teaching me, through example, that the trivialities of life really do not matter and, now that we have our eye on bigger and better things, it is time to leave all that behind.  I am learning, swiftly, that I don’t necessarily need to look into the depths of every single person or situation, and that sometimes, it is good to just step back, take it for what it is, and leave it be.

I think it all comes back to the basics of any relationship, really.  Which is mutual respect for each others differences.  We are at a point in life where, for once, we are on the same page.  We find ourselves trying to talk an issue out, rather than overpower and dominate the other.  We attempt to understand each others point of view, rather than bite and point and blame.  We are both open-minded to learning as much as we can from each other, and growing as individuals, which, in turn, is going to help us grow our business.

It’s a great start. I feel confident that we are onto something good here.

The best thing about all this is that me and my partner, although chalk and cheese, we share similar strengths that are definitely going to help us along our journey.  We are both extremely determined individuals.  And we both have unshakeable focus when it comes to doing what is best for our family.  At the end of the day, it is love – and family that has kept us together.  And it is love and family that, no matter the trials and tribulations, is going to help us see this thing through to its inevitable conclusion.