remembering me at 3

About 10 days ago i decided to cut down my consumption of meat dramatically. Part of the self care journey i’ve recently been on has me looking back on my instincts and preferences as a kid that were not supported or validated by my family or environment. There were no vegetarians in our family so when i would prefer not to eat meat or eggs i was punished. Nagged. Bribed. Forced to ingest what was put on my plate. Every day meat was part of the faire as often as at every meal. i picked up the pattern.

Over the two decades that meal size, timing, and content has been almost entirely up to me, i have mindlessly followed this pattern. we do as we always have it seems. i’m trying to find a way to let go of the anger that i feel about not doing what i want in something that is so easy and entirely up to me. Grappling with the fact that what has been stopping me in part is that for most people these kinds of food choices are a political act, but, for me it’s about getting back to what i liked when i was 3 (the last time i remember feeling completely serene. Happy in my body. Vibrant with energy – if we’re going to do inner child work can it be this please?).

circles and circles

Less than a week ago i learned something disturbing about how i am still limiting myself. i learned that i’m still stuck thinking that if i speak up for my own needs and wants that someone else has to lose. that in order for me to be happy, peaceful, inspired and rested someone else has to be miserable, stressed out, depleted and exhausted. so instead i have been choosing to be miserable, stressed out, depleted and exhausted myself. this has not been a wining strategy. not by the longest shot. no. instead i have made myself impossible to be around. fortunately i also learned that the power to change myself is mine and that it starts with things like getting enough sleep, and taking long baths. back on the self care waggon i go.

when trust feels foolish

I lay awake in bed the last few mornings in a row having this serial daymare conversation with my daughter. The last two people she has been interested in it turns out were both already in relationships they were not honest or upfront about. To hear from someone that you are familiar and comfortable and that they have feelings for you and then see the very next day on their instagram that they are celebrating their 8 month relationship milestone with someone else. What can i tell her? That it took longer in my day to find out when someone was two or three timing you. This news is not at all or in any way comforting. But it’s all i have – aside from clicking my tongue against my teeth somewhere between empathy and disgust. Shaking my head and helpless shoulder shrugging. Fuck. I see all around the fact that people don’t know how to communicate without fear. Your fear turns you into the last thing you want to be – a liar.

Falsehood reigns supreme it seems. Our Presidential spin doctors trying every angle to get us to believe that JZ wanted to do the right thing all along- really – he didn’t mean to rape us – but you know we were wearing that short red skirt – so it was kind of our fault to begin with. right? I’m so tired of feeling violated, or constantly on the brink of being violated, or avoiding violation by the narrowest  margins. Social media bombards me with things i *need to be aware of; the tortured dogs, the crime stats in my neighbourhood, the violation of the native peoples of wherever…Everywhere this invitation to close my heart – pull inward, become suspicious, paranoid…so so hard to keep my chest open. Heart open, smile genuinely, look the people i meet in the eye. Trust. I’m having a hard time with humanity, and my place in it. Fuck.

*not really

taking up space (uncomfortably)

Right – so the furniture is no longer stagnant – over the last many days we have shifted and reordered the house in such a way that i get to take up a lot more space – naturally i share this space happily with the animals, but, i have a whole room (that isn’t the kitchen) to myself for the first time in a very very long time. I hadn’t really thought about it – when you’re mom at first even your body is not your own. You get so used to being invaded and imposed on that you get comfortable with it, and i’m not sure that is such a great thing?

I have been battling feelings of overwhelm because now i must do something with the space that validates me taking it up. Shyte when did this happen? When did i have to earn space in my own home?? Are there any of you out there who also battle to take up space?

As i type there is a mountain of unorganised shit behind me because i can’t right now face what it means if i sort it all out. What will i do with my time if i’m not fending off chaos at every turn?

on another (entirely unrelated) note – i watched the hateful eight two nights ago…sigh…the stories have been bogged down since Sally Menke (Tarantino’s long time editor) died. Got to cut the dead weight Q, kill your darlings (one would think the idea of killing your darlings would really appeal to you dude)…it (like Django) was tooooo fucking long! Can’t imagine how painful it was watching on the big screen. At least at home i can pause the fucker – take a walk to prevent a deep vein thrombosis, empty my bladder (at least twice through the course of this meandering madness), stretch out my numb glutes…it must have been sheer torture in an over air-conditioned theatre with a bladder straining under a half litre of slush!

 

although it doesn’t feel like it

this weekend i was fortunate enough to talk with a mother whose one child lives on another continent and i got a little bitter and a little salve from her.

The bitter – it’s too soon for me to even tell how i feel about the moving out. This is like that holding a glass of water example. I’ve only been holding it for a few seconds so right now it feels the same. Abandoned furniture sits still in an empty room. This is going to be one of those sneaks-up-on-you fuckers, and i’ll get to it when i do – there is no timetable. 

The salve – the time to myself that i have been so desperate/sad/frustrated/angry/resentful for – that little bit of head space to think, time to meditate, concentrate, get lost in the song world; that time is here! All i have to do is stay grateful, in the moment, and take the doughnut…  (which is a tricky thing – because instead of enjoying the calm before the storm, i’ve been overeating like mad trying to pre-numb myself somehow…and then an invitation to a dark place lurks just there ——> only one little step and i can purge all the overeating – then i never have to choose – eat like a pig and purge myself clean again. for now i’m batting it away ok, but if it gets too close i’ll get help – promise – thanks for caring enough to worry about me – but the sharing of these thoughts is my only hope of not succumbing to them).

then i watched another mother daughter dynamic that had me really get a sharp focus on my last interaction with my daughter.

to set the scene – we’re at an event on a rooftop in braamfontein  – i’m currently hosting my husbands guests while he plays his set. She arrives and wants to dive into one of our just us in our pjs over coffee at the kitchen table kind of discussions (this is fucking amazing because how safe does she feel in our relationship to have our kitchen table right there in this very public place!?), which i cannot give my undivided attention. She fires the first round of – Oh so you don’t really care how it’s going with me. hmmmm! well *two thumbs up* great. **sarcasm** i cannot engage this because i spot another musician i was hoping to have a quick chat with, so i grab him as he’s passing and we dive right into it – small talk about each other’s recent events, a quick tour catch up – i get the telephone number i was after and wish him a belated happy birthday. Shake hands with *mumblesomthingresemblinganame and tracy and they’re off… i turn back to a sad face. She holds it in and excuses herself to go to the toilet.

When she returns she tells me that i left her feeling rejected. that she feels invisible.

fuck- i think – this is the chorus of my favourite feeling sorry for myself blues – i have been singing this song for a longlonglonglong time…no wonder she knows it so well. Which left me with nothing  more to say than i can see how you feel, i’m sorry i left you feeling that way. Thank you for showing me your feelings, i love you – i know it doesn’t feel like it right now.

i want to dwell on and punish myself for having hurt her, but that is a sure way to waste an opportunity to see that i’m blocking my daughter, and actually take responsibility for it. 

why is there not a book – “a mother’s guide to getting out of the young adult’s way” i need that book!

Our relationship is so full of places to get hooked, and trapped, and stuck instead of letting each other go gently. as i type the words letting each other go – my heart aches. There is no painless way to love and release someone. I would like to do this without anger though, without having to hate or hurt each other to take that distance.

blink and you’ll miss it

my child is leaving home.

Saturday.

as soon as i stopped living with my mom i knew i never wanted to live with her again. thinking about that hurts me now. because this time i’m “mom” so while i catch myself crying about this i am also really aware how important this step is. why she needs to take it, and how much i trust her with her autonomy.

will she drive drunk? Probably. god knows i did.

will she make some of the mistakes we’ve been subtly (and perhaps not so) warning her about for years? Yep.

these things don’t worry me. (too much all the time)

what worries me is that she will be struggling and just like me with my mom – she’ll be too stubborn/proud/determined to tell me about it. that she will try to hide heartbreaks from me.  i worry that the years of being confined to a mother/daughter relationship has left little room for us to be friends. i hope not. i hope she’ll save some time in the afternoon to catch a coffee or something at one of those trendy new eateries in town so i can listen to the unfolding story of her life – because that is what i’ll miss the most.

I have had an all access pass to the story of this life. I know exactly how hard she worked just to get earthside – i’m the only one who knows. i have been so lucky to have been there when she sat, stood, walked, talked, drew on the curtains with an Artline marker, cut her hair, when she met her brother, made mud prints on the wall, fell and broke her arm, as she nursed a dying puppy, broke things she’d need in rage, hurt herself. the deeper things i have watched her learn about herself are harder to put into words, but, i suddenly find myself access denied – looking down at the useless pass in my hand and feeling bittersweet. We did it. the best we could with what we had where we were. i love her. i hope she comes back to visit soon.

The Roof Is On Fire

The reason for my absence lately is twofold, but I am just going to tell you about the one: Birth.

No I didn’t literally give birth. I auditioned for and got a part in a play called Birth – by Karen Brody. Brave work is being done to change the current birth culture globally by this organisation BOLD ACTION.

I have some pretty strong feelings on the subject – My own Jasmine Revolution

The story I was challenged to tell is one that gets so little attention. I think, in part, because the idea that these two words could ever be conjoined is so very shocking and sad.

BIRTH RAPE.

A woman screams NOOOOO! Don’t Cut Me! but, she is cut. In that moment her Vagina violated against her wishes. A scar, inside and out, from a wound that in nameless silence will never heal.

Birth rape is defined as forced, painful, un-consented insertion or violation on a laboring woman. Birth rape happens when a doctor, nurse, or midwife tells the woman that they have to perform an intervention that requires either vaginal instruments or hands and the woman declines but they perform the intervention either way. However, it varies from woman to woman.
Major studies conducted in Australia and the UK indicate that between one per cent and six per cent of women will develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder following childbirth. Unfortunately, a diagnosis of PTSD is frequently delayed or missed in women who have experienced birth trauma. And even when it is diagnosed, women struggling with birth trauma don’t receive a lot of support.

“A woman who is raped while giving birth does not experience the assault in a way that fits neatly within the typical definitions we hold true in civilised society. A penis is usually nowhere to be found in the story and the perpetrator may not even possess one. But fingers, hands, suction cups, forceps, needles and scissors… these are the tools of birth rape and they are wielded with as much force and as little consent as if a stranger grabbed a passer-by off the street and tied her up before having his way with her. Women are slapped, told to shut up, stop making noise and a nuisance of themselves, that they deserve this, that they shouldn’t have opened their legs nine months ago if they didn’t want to open them now. They are threatened, intimidated and bullied into submitting to procedures they do not need and interventions they do not want. Some are physically restrained from moving, their legs held open or their stomachs pushed on.” – Wikipedia

Just because birth assault does not fit neatly into the typical definition does that mean we get to avert our horrified eyes, and pretend it isn’t happening?

Typical sexual assault is underreported the world over, and that crime fits neatly into the definition. If that is true, how many women are experiencing assault in their birth process unaware that they have been raped, and therefore unable to understand their postpartum rage/guilt/shame/terror/grief/anxiety?

Not easy reading I agree, but I hope to spark conversation.

May the flames rise, and burn down the house that silence built!

in love and hope

nicole